Tim Dieppe explores the evil ideology of Islamism and its basis in the Qu’ran and the life of Muhammad following the London Bridge terror attack.
Hot on the heels of the worst terrorist attack for twelve years, another terrorist attack in London on London Bridge. Many more people killed and injured. Security services are to be congratulated on foiling five other credible terrorist threats since the Westminster attack in March. However, since the Manchester attack it has been revealed that there are some 23,000 jihadists in Britain, of which some 3,000 are subject to monitoring in some 500 operations being run by security services. Clearly with that level of threat, some attacks are going to succeed.
A single evil ideology
Theresa May was quite right to say that all these attacks are “bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.” At least this time she mentioned Islam, something she failed to do after the Manchester attack. As she went on to say: “Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time, but it cannot be defeated by military intervention alone.”
A perversion of Islam?
She then stated:
“It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.”
Now the question is, is that right? Is Islamism a perversion of Islam? How do we determine what is or is not a perversion of a particular faith?
What does Islamism seek to achieve?
It is very clear that Islamism seeks to turn Britain into an Islamic state ruled by sharia law. Is that aim a perversion of Islam? It is hard to claim so since this is something that Islam has always sought. Islam is a political religion that seeks political influence, and to obtain territorial and political power.
How does Islamism seek to achieve it?
Let’s define Islamism as Islam that promotes violence against unbelievers as a means to achieve this aim. Clearly most self-identifying Muslims do not promote violence against unbelievers and so are not Islamists. That means that Islamism is a minority position within Islam. Does that mean Islamism is a perversion of Islam? Well it does mean that a majority of self-identifying Muslims would like to think so.
What does the Qur’an say?
Those who advocate violence as a means to promote Islamic aims can point to multiple texts in the Qur’an to justify their approach. Here are some of them:
“And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.” Q 2:191
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.” Q 8:12
“And fight them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah”. Q 8:39
“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows.” Q 8:60
“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Q 9:5
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” Q 9:29
“Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed.” Q 9:111
“So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favour afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.” Q 47:4
There are also some more tolerant verses in the Qur’an, but these are traditionally regarded as abrogated by the later more violent verses. The more peaceful verses were given in the earlier period of Muhammad’s life when it was expedient to live peacefully with his neighbours. As he gained followers he became more violent and engaged in more battles.
What is the example of Muhammad?
Muhammad was a warrior who fought in many battles, and personally ordered or supported the killing of multiple people. One example is with the Banu Qurayza tribe. It is narrated in Ibn Ishaq’s biography that Muhammad dug a trench and beheaded over 600 men from that tribe.  Those who commit violence in the name of Islam can legitimately claim that that they are following the example and teaching of Muhammad.
Of course, Jesus by contrast never killed anyone, in fact he did the opposite, by healing and raising people to life. Anyone who claims to commit violence in the name of Christianity cannot claim to be following Jesus’s example.
What about the history of Islam?
Jihad has continued by Muslims for the last 1400 years. Islam has expanded violently throughout its history. Attacks continue to this day, now including in Britain. There have been some 18,000 deadly Islamic terrorist attacks just in the last ten years. Other religions combined have accounted for perhaps a dozen or so. People committing acts of violence in the name of Islam have plenty of historical precedent in Islamic history for their actions.
What is extremism?
Theresa May went on to criticise ‘extremism’ more broadly, and talked of “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.” If she had said “far too much tolerance of Islamic extremism” that would be clear. As it is, she has left open what counts as ‘extremism’.
As Home Secretary in 2013, Theresa May banned Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from entering the UK on the grounds that they are extremists. Spencer and Geller are critics of Islam who have never advocated violence. If they are extremists, then so am I.
We need to be clear that we are not fighting “extremism in all its forms”, but one particular form of extremism. The single evil ideology of Islamism.
How are Islamists radicalised?
Theresa May talked of regulating cyberspace to “prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.” Once again, ‘extremism’ is not defined here. Whilst the internet undoubtedly plays a role in radicalisation, it is all too easy to focus on the internet and ignore the offline networks and teachers.
Professor Peter Neumann and Dr Shiraz Maher of Kings College London write that “radicalisation rarely happens exclusively online.” They say: “our research suggests that the decisive factor in moving people from being extremists in terms of their thoughts and beliefs to becoming terrorists is not online propaganda but offline social networks.”
The mother of one Jihadist who went to fight for Isis claimed that he was radicalised in just 17 days after attending sermons at local mosques in London. If we are going to take radical Islam seriously, then we are going to have to shut down some of these Mosques. This has already started to happen in France and Germany.
Defeating the ideology
We are at war with an evil ideology – Islamism. We need to understand this ideology, and determine to defeat it. This will require decisive action. It is not good enough to blame the internet or undefined ‘extremism’. We have welcomed Islamists and Islamic teaching into our midst. This is a result of abandoning our strong sense of Christian identity as a nation. Repentance is also required.
One of the attractions of Islamism is its very strong sense of identity, purpose and values. People are attracted to Islam, partly because the church and Christianity look weak. We need bold and courageous Christians who are unashamed and unafraid to confront Islam. Most Muslims have never met a confident Christian who will question their beliefs. Moderate Islam is not the answer.
We also need prayerful Christians who will intercede for the state of the nation. You are part of this battle. How is God calling you to respond?
 Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, Alfred Guillame (translator), Oxford University Press, 464. See also: Al Tabari, Volume 8, Victory of Islam, Michael Fishbein (translator), 35-36