Islamic Politics – Introduction
The politics of Islam are confusing and controversial:
“Jihad has been made obligatory, which means that the individual should, when the occasion arises, offer even his life for the defense and protection of Islam and the Islamic state.”1 — Khurshid Ahmad
“Islam is international in its outlook and approach and does not admit barriers and distinctions based on color, clan, blood or territory...It wants to unite the entire human race under one banner.”2 — Khurshid Ahmad
Islamic Politics – The Concept of Jihad
One of the most controversial aspects of Islamic politics is the concept of jihad, or “holy war.” Since September 11, 2001, many Muslims have sought to soften jihad, relegating it to the realm of the personal struggle with sin. While the Qur’an does allow for this view of jihad that is not all the Qur’an has to say about it. Most passages in the Qur’an teach that jihad is warfare against peoples who oppose the Islamic faith.
A Muslim is one whose outlook on life is permeated with this consciousness [of the pillars of Islam]. He is committed to the values of life given by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. He tries to live according to the guidance given by God and His Prophet and he strives to promote the message of Islam through his word and actions. This striving is known as Jihad which means a striving and a struggle in the path of God. It consists in exerting one’s self to the utmost in order to personally follow the teachings of Islam and to work for their establishment in society. Jihad has been described in the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the natural corollary of these pillars of faith. Commitment to God involves commitment to sacrifice one’s time, energy and wealth to promote the right cause. It may be necessary at times to give one’s life in order to preserve Truth. Jihad implies readiness to give whatever one has, including his life, for the sake of Allah.3
Islamic Politics – Islamic Theocracy
Islam, as with Christianity, is a worldview with the vision to encompass the entire world. Whereas Christians hold to the Great Commission—the call to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and proclaim the ministry of reconciliation to the whole world (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)—Muslims hold to the call of global Islam, a goal accomplished if need be through the force of jihad. Global Islam means that all nations would be ruled under an Islamic theocracy. “Islam is international in its outlook and approach and does not admit barriers and distinctions based on color, clan, blood or territory,” explains Khurshid Admad. “It wants to unite the entire human race under one banner. To a world torn by national rivalries and feuds, it presents a message of life and hope and of a glorious future.”4
Zaki Badawi speaks to the reality that many Muslims exist with minority status in non-Muslim countries. While it is a struggle some Muslims have always faced, it is not a satisfactory situation in their eyes. He explains,
As we know, the history of Islam as a faith is also the history of a state and a community of believers living by Divine law. The Muslims, jurists and theologians, have always expounded Islam as both a Government and a faith. This reflects the historical fact that Muslims, from the start, lived under their own law. Muslim theologians naturally produced a theology with this in view—it is a theology of the majority. Being a minority was not seriously considered or even contemplated. The theologians were divided in their attitude to the question of minority status. Some declared that it should not take place; that is to say that a Muslim is forbidden to live for any lengthy period of time under non-Muslim rule. Others suggested that a Muslim living under non-Muslim rule is under no obligation to follow the law of Islam in matters of public law. Neither of these two extremes is satisfactory. Throughout the history of Islam some pockets of Muslims lived under the sway of non-Muslim rulers, often without an alternative. They nonetheless felt sufficiently committed to their faith to attempt to regulate their lives in accordance with its rules and regulations in so far as their circumstances permitted. In other words, the practice of the community rather than the theories of the theologians provided a solution. Nevertheless Muslim theology offers, up to the present, no systematic formulation of the status of being a minority. The question is being examined. It is hoped that the matter will be brought to focus and that Muslim theologians from all over the Muslim world will delve into this thorny subject and allay the conscience of the many Muslims living in the West and also to chart a course for Islamic survival, even revival, in a secular society.5
Currently this situation is a reality in Canada and Australia. The Muslim population in Canada has gained a significant voice regarding the implementation of Shari’ah within their communities. In Australia, Christian apologists are regularly hassled in courts, sometimes being forced into silence regarding their critique of Islam. Recent court decisions are very troubling in this regard. While Muslims may continue their critique of the Christian faith, standing alongside the political and anti-Christian leftist movements, Christians in turn are threatened with loss of income or home as Muslims sway the courts to rule in their favor.
Islamic Politics – Global Islamic State
The vision of Muslims is that Islam will one day be global in extent and authority. Yet some people refuse to convert to Islam or to submit to Muslim conquest and rule. When this occurs, these individuals are deemed aggressors against Islam and are seen as legitimate targets for jihad if they seek to stop Islamic practice and growth.
When we understand this Muslim vision, especially in light of the fact that most Western nations have refused Islamic demands to establish Shari’ah (or even to permit Muslim ghettos to practice Shari’ah among their Muslim populations), then we cannot fail to see that Muslims view such refusals as aggressive toward Islam. These nations are deemed aggressors against Islam because they refuse to permit Muslims to live as they please—not only in regard to ruling their own subcultures, but also because of a refusal to adopt and propagate Islam (as Muslims believe they are commanded to do).
More fundamentally, though, because the world was created in submission to Allah and every human being is born a Muslim, to refuse Allah’s demands to seek to restore the world and its inhabitants to that state is to perpetuate rebellion against Allah. This sets such people or nations up in opposition to Islam itself and causes them to become a legitimate target for jihad. Jihad, while being called “defensive,” is nothing less than the offensive posture of Muslims intent on seeing the world Islamicized.
Thus when a modern Muslim claims that jihad is only a defensive action, the typical non-Muslim understands that in terms quite different than Islam teaches. What the typical non-Muslim understands as military aggression, especially as expressed in the early conquest history of Islam, is seen by Muslims as a defensive action against those who oppose Islam. But if this Islamic viewpoint of the world is not understood, then it is easy and natural for us to take modern Muslim statements (that Islam is a religion of peace or that jihad is only defensive) quite differently than how this has been understood throughout Islamic history.
Islamic Politics – Conclusion
Although there is some diversity among Muslims regarding Islamic politics, the historical patterns and precedent support the self-ascribed agenda of more traditional Muslims. Early Islam spread largely through force; the radical Muslims of the twenty-first century desire to return to that golden age.
Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.
1 Khurshid Ahmad, Islam: Its Meaning and Message, 3rd ed. (Leicester, UK: The Islamic Foundation, 1999), 39.
2 Ibid., 40–41.
3 Ibid., 23.
4 Ibid., 40–41.
5 Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 149–150.
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