Our media and our politicians are continually telling us what ISIS is and what its connection to Islam is or is not and, regardless of which side of the political aisle they are on, they almost always get it wrong. If you truly want to understand what ISIS is, and why so many “moderate” Muslims are attracted to it, then stop listening to those who don’t know (often because they do not want to know), and start listening to those who have committed themselves to the ideology of ISIS. The following is the conclusion from an article entitled “Why we hate you & Why we fight you” in DABIQ[i] (an ISIS propaganda Magazine). It offers real peek into the motivation of those who have embraced ISIS, and why it is so attractive to so many Muslims. Here is the explanation from ISIS about why they want to kill us.
“What’s important to understand here is that, although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah[ii] and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then, as we would stop fighting any disbeliever who enters into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.
What’s equally, if not more important, to understand is that we fight you, not simply to punish and deter you, but to bring you true freedom in this life and salvation in the Hereafter, freedom from being enslaved to your whims and desires as well as those of your clergy, legislatures, and salvation by worshiping your Creator alone and following his messenger. We fight you in order to bring you out from the darkness of disbelief and into the light of Islam, and to liberate you from the constraints of living for the sake of the worldly life alone so that you may enjoy both the blessings of the worldly life and the bliss of the Hereafter.
The gist of the matter is that there is indeed a rhyme to our terrorism, warfare, ruthlessness and brutality. As much as some liberal journalist would like you to believe that we do what we do because we’re simply monsters with no logic behind our course of action, the fact is that we continue to wage — and escalate — a calculated war that the West thought it had ended several years ago. We continue dragging you further and further into a swamp you thought you’d already escaped only to realize that you’re stuck even deeper within its murky waters… And we do so while offering you a way out on our terms. So you can continue to believe that those “despicable terrorists” hate you because of your lattes and your Timberlands, and continue spending ridiculous amounts of money to prevail in an unwinnable war, or you can accept reality and recognize that we will never stop hating you until you embrace Islam, and we will never stop fighting you until you’re ready to leave the swamp of warfare and terrorism through the exits we provide, the very exits put forth by our Lord for the People of the Scriptures: Islam, jizyah, or — as a last means of fleeting respite — a temporary truce.”
While this article declares over and over the “hate” that ISIS has for us, it is not the kind of “hate” that most of us understand. In the very same breath, the article tells us that their “hatred” is motivated out of a desire for our spiritual well-being, for our eternal redemption, to bring us out of darkness and into the light, and to liberate us so that we can enjoy the blessings of life. In order to understand ISIS, one must understand their embrace of these very contradictory ideas, only then will we begin to understand why ISIS is so attractive to so many.
Taking the time to understand ISIS helps us to see those who have embraced its ideology through God’s eyes. People are attracted to ISIS, not because they are “bad people,” but because they have been deceived by bad theology, and bad theology is deadly! Scripture tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)” and this truth is clearly evident when we read the words of ISIS. And while the theology of ISIS is frightening, we must remember that those who have been deceived by it are people whom God dearly loves and with whom he calls us to share the Good News of the Gospel; they are our neighbors and Scripture tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39) and to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44).” As we seek to understand ISIS, let us not forget how God has called us to respond to those who are trapped in it.
[i] DABIQ, Issue 15
[ii] Jizyah is a tax paid by non-muslims living in a state under Islamic rule.