10 September 2014

Four Questions for the President's Four Point Strategy Against ISIS

President Obama addressed the United States of America Wednesday evening concerning America's response to and efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. After reading his speech, I have four remaining questions for the President:
  1. While it may be true that "no religion condones the killing of innocents," does the Qur'an hold infidels as innocents? Many verses in the Qur'an would indicate the answer is no.
  2. If the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which the United States continues to call the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, says it is Islamic, who are we to say it is not? That's a question for Islam itself and while many Islamic leaders have condemned the brutality of the Islamic State, they have not condemned the IS's use of the Qur'an for its brutality (at least not the leaders of which I am aware).
  3. Mr. Obama is right to note that the Islamic State poses a great threat not only to Iraq and Syria but to all of the Middle East. He is also right to note that the Islamic State "could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States." Why, though, did the President not mention the fact that the Islamic State is already in the Indian Subcontinent or that the Islamic State may already be in North Africa?
  4. The President twice mentioned a "broad coalition" which will coordinate with the United States of America to "ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL," but he never mentioned which nations are in this coalition. Which countries are part of this broad coalition?


  1. Father, I think your fourth question is indeed a good one. And I commend you for acknowledging (unlike many commentators) that a good many Islamic leaders/teachers have indeed condemned ISIS. However, you question why those leaders have not condemned ISIS for missuing the Koran in its effort to spread its hatred and brutality. I suppose the implication is that the Koran supports violence against "infidels."

    Nonetheless, I would argue that criticizing Islamic leaders who are critical of ISIS overall (including because those who believe ISIS is not true to genuine Islam) is unfair. I would offer this analogy. Like most mainstream Christians (Catholic and Protestant alike), I reject the notion that the Westboro Baptist Chuch is really a "Christian" church. Yes, they call themselves that, but their beliefs and actions and words reveal that they are thousands of miles removed from the heart and soul of genuine Christianity. Must I then proceed to demonstrate, in detail, how WBC has perverted individual passages from scripture? Most likely, WBC members are adept at quoting scripture out of context -- e.g., Christ's admonition that he has come not to bring peace but to divide; or the Old Testament declaration that fornicators and homosexuals must be stoned; or the line in Psalm 137 (verse 9) that reads, "Blessed is the one who seizes your children and bashes them against the rock,;" etc.

    You will acknowledge, I'm sure, that extremists who claim membership in a wide variety of religions are pretty skillful at taking lines of scripture out of context and using them to justify heinous acts. Those of us Christians who condemn WBC do not feel any serious obligation to explicate the individual scriptural missteps and hateful distortions that WBC promotes. Rather, we say, "They've got it all wrong. Based on their actions, they aren't Christians at all." Those Muslims who condemn extremists who claim to be Muslim do not owe it to the world to provide a detailed rebuttal of the precise verses ISIS has used to pervert the teachings of the Koran. Extremists will play fast and lose with sacred texts. We already know that.

    By the way, here's an article that does a pretty good job of discussing Islamic leaders who have condemned ISIS. (The article quotes Vatican Radio, by the way.)


    1. Two thoughts, Steve:

      1. If you followed my regularly updated post with news articles about the Islamic State (http://dzehnle.blogspot.it/2014/08/do-you-know-whats-happening-with-isis.html), you would know that I have included several links to the reports of Muslims condemning the IS, but still my point above remains firm.

      2. What you and countless miss - or purposely ignore - is this (and as I've said repeatedly before):

      Muslims can legitimately claim the example and words of their founder (Muhammad) to justify violence in the name of Islam. This is precisely what the IS is doing by following the very example of Muhammad.

      Christians cannot legitimately claim the example and words of their founder - Jesus of Nazareth, the Only Begotten Son of God - to justify violence in the name of Christianity.