As we continue to see homegrown terrorist attacks in nations across the globe, it is important to ask certain questions about our own vulnerability:
- How are Americans radicalized despite the long distance between ISIS (the Islamic State) and us?
- How does ISIS use social media to indoctrinate Americans so they will kill and die for them?
- Why are ISIS leaders able to attract so many Muslims around the world who become dedicated enough to the cause even to die for it?
- How ISIS influence some of the Islamic Centers (mosques) in the West so much that these mosques turn into recruiting centers?
Many journalists and researchers have given answers to these questions in past months, but the true answer is simple and shocking: The main strategy of ISIS is not to promote itself on social media and through local mosques. For the most part, the leaders of ISIS do not directly call Muslims around the world to come join them. So why they are so successful?
ISIS Strategy: A Call to Faith
Contrary to what many people believe, the main emphasis of ISIS online and around the world in Islamic Centers is not to promote itself; the main emphasis of ISIS is to call all Muslims to be serious in their Islamic faith.
You see, most Muslims are lukewarm Muslims who do not strictly follow the teachings of Quran. They have learned to pick and choose from the verses they like and obey the ones that they agree with. (Don’t some of us Christians do the same?) The politically correct name for these lukewarm Muslims is “moderate Muslims.”
One question people ask is, “Why don’t the moderate Muslims speak up against ISIS?” The answer is that they cannot speak up because they have no basis in Quran to support their position.
But any Muslim who decides to dedicate themselves to the teachings of Quran and follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad will easily become a candidate for ISIS recruitment.
Any Islamic Center (mosque) with a leader dedicated to teaching the whole Quran and who asks the people to obey Quran opens the doors to ISIS recruiting, even if the leader does not intend to do so.
Some will take up that challenge to study Quran and the life of Muhammad seriously. They decide in their hearts to do what Quran says and to do what the Prophet did in the first Islamic century to fight with and destroy infidels. It is then that they wake up and realize that ISIS is doing exactly those things: following Quran and Muhammad. It is then that they are attracted to ISIS and its mission. It is then that they are convinced that today’s situation is similar to the situation when the Prophet led the first Muslims, and that Muslims should respond as he did: with violence.
This is when these Muslims start to admire ISIS and believe the Islamic State’s cause is from God. This is when American Muslims decide to join ISIS to advance its cause.
So all ISIS needs to do to radicalize Muslims in America and around the world is to challenge Muslims to read Quran and do what it says. Radicalization follows naturally. They are just asking moderate Muslims to be dedicated Muslims. Becoming radical is automatic.
So what is our answer to this strategy?
Our Response: A Call to Faith
Many of us, my dear Christian brothers and sisters, could also be called “lukewarm.” It is time for us to call our fellow believers in Christ to move from “moderate” to “dedicated”—to study the Bible and the life of Jesus and do what He did: love our enemies, lay down our lives for others, comfort the brokenhearted. If we do these things well, we, too, will be called “radical.” If we do these things well, as Jesus did, we will bring peace to those who have none.
As an army of radical Muslims spreads hatred and brings death around the world, an army of radical Christians can spread love and bring life wherever they go. We will be winners because we are promised that we can overcome evil with good (Ro 12:21). And we know one thing: the light always overcomes the darkness (John 1:5) no matter how dark the darkness appears to be.