The Australian Christian pastor and Islam scholar writing about ISIS has nailed it. He says that far from being nihilistic or a death cult, ISIS has a “sacred” strategy.
Whatever we do, we must not underestimate our enemy, as many in the West seem to do.
Mark Durie is a scholar and an Anglican pastor who gets it in his post “Paris attacks were not ‘nihilism’ but sacred strategy.”
Challenging Janet Daley, an American-British journalist who wrote a piece titled, “The West is at war with a death cult,” Durie tells us to think more deeply. ISIS’s belief that they love death more than Westerners love life comes from theology and the Qur’an.
The claim that ISIS does not ‘revere life’ seems to refer to any number of statements by Islamic radicals, including an ISIS militant who vowed to ‘fill the streets of Paris with dead bodies’, and boasted that ISIS ‘loves death like you love life’ (see here). This is a theological reference to a series of verses in the Qur’an in which Jews are criticised for desiring life (Sura 2:94-96, 62:6-8).
According to the Qur’an, loving life is a characteristic of infidels (Sura 3:14; 14:3; 75:20; 76:27) because it causes them to disregard the importance of the next life. The taunt much used by jihadis, ‘We love death like you love life’, implies that jihadis are bound for paradise while their enemies are hell-bound.
The point of these statements is that Muslims are willing to fight to the death, while their infidel enemies will turn back in battle. This is not about reverence for life, but about who has the will to win. This has nothing to do with nihilism, which is a belief that there are no values, nothing to be loyal to, and no purpose in living. In fact ISIS fighters have strong and clear loyalties and values, alien though they may be to those of Europe.
Next, Durie reminds us that ISIS see themselves on the right side of history because they are doing Allah’s will.
It is irresponsible and dangerous to claim that a tenacious enemy is insane and incomprehensible. To refuse to acknowledge the ideology of ISIS, and to deny its relevance is tantamount to a death-wish.
Like so many other revivalist Islamic groups, ISIS believes that it will be successful if it stays faithful to its divinely-mandated goals and tactics. It believes the nations of Europe are morally corrupt, weak infidels who love life too much to fight a battle to the death with stern Muslim soldiers who have set their hearts on paradise. It believes Europe stands on the wrong side of history.
Finally, Pastor Durie offers this advice to Western powers. President Hollande has heeded it, but at his press conference in Turkey on Nov. 15, 2015, Obama the peacenik waxes eloquent about how wise he is in his strategy against ISIS (never mind that it was his non-strategy that got us into this mess).
Durie states the obvious about military strength:
There is still much that European states could do to defeat ISIS. They could, for example, inflict catastrophic military failure upon it as a powerful counter-argument to its theology of success. This will not deliver decisive, final victory against jihadism, but it will make the supremacist claims of ISIS less credible and hurt its recruitment. Islam’s laws of war allow Muslims to suspend their battle with infidels temporarily if there is no immediate prospect of victory and the risks to their cause are too great.
I would respectfully add that we can wipe ISIS off the map, so that they don’t even have the opportunity to “suspend their battle with infidels temporarily.” They can be forced to suspend it permanently. But whether Europe’s degraded and underfunded military alone could do this without American leadership is doubtful.
This article has a companion post:
This article appeared on American Thinker, on Nov. 19, 2015, but has been updated here.