It’s July 2014 and we find the Islamic world at war. Muslim is against Muslim… at least that is how it appears from a western perspective. What follows is a recap of conflicts in the Islamic world. First let’s take…
The Sunni government has been fighting Sunni extremists:
Al-Qaeda Organization in the Maghreb (AQIM), or al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) since 2005 (known in the past as Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) since 2003);
Islamic Salvation Front (Fis);
Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Afriqqiya (“Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in West Africa”) has broken away since December 2011.
Algeria’s government is nominally Sunni but in practice largely secular. The Islamist opposition took up arms after the secular, but rather corrupt and incompetent, National Liberation Front (FLN) government refused to turn over power when they lost the election.
Sunni Egyptian Military vs. Muslim Brotherhood and their military arm HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) *Note that HAMAS has not been operating in Egypt nevertheless Sunni Extremists operating in the Sinai fight against the Egyptian military and these extremists help supply weapons to HAMAS in the Gaza*;
Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni Extremists) vs. Pro-Military Sunni Moderates;
Muslim Brotherhood vs. Coptic Christians.
As for Egyptian society, the Egyptian military leadership still tends to be more secular than the “rank and file”. Also, the commercial sector and liberal arts sector of academia tends to be more secular than the working class, peasants, rural people, and many medical professionals.
Sunni Libyan government vs Sunni Extremists;
Sunni Extremists (Al-Qaida Affiliates) vs. Any Western presence;
Sunni Extremists vs. Any Muslim cooperating with the West.
The situation in Libya is a very long-standing tribal and regional conflict between two distinct tribal groups as a religious battle. The Tripolitanians and Cyrenaicans were separate for most of their history, even when under the Arabs and Turks. It was the Italians who placed them together, and the UN Trusteeship that kept them that way after Italy lost its colony. This is similar to what happened in Afghanistan, Pakistan (where almost everyone is Sunni), and Iraq (an extremely hopeless case because of both ethnic AND religious diversity).
Sunni government vs. Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), or Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), since 2005 (know in the past as Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) since 2003), Ansar Allah group linked to al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In Mauretania and across the rest of the Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad, CAR, Sudan, S. Sudan), there is a significant ethno-religious conflict between Tuaregs, Islamicized “black Africans,” and non-Muslim “black Africans.” Outsiders from Libya and Algeria have helped radicalize some of the Muslim tribal groups, exacerbating existing conflicts.
In North Africa, the conflict pits Sunni against Sunni. Salafist groups are crossing the Algerian Mauritanian frontier to fight in both countries. The Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya are also Salafist but do not belong to the same Algerian based groups. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not a Salafist organization. It was created by Egyptian and Palestinian Islamists. The Ikhwan (“Brotherhood”) wants to instill Islamism through the political process though its offshoot HAMAS (The Islamic Resistance Movement) is sworn to the destruction of Israel.
Sunni Extremist’s (Al-Qaida Affiliates) vs. Iraqi Government;
Sunni Extremist’s vs. Iraqi Shi’a;
Sunni Extremist’s vs. Kurdish Sunni’s and Iraqi Christians.
Within Iraq, the Shi’a are not united. There is division between the al-Maliki regime, the Khatai’ib Hizballah and PASDARAN allies and their militias and the al-Sistani Shi’a and Muqtada al-Sadr’s militias. At times, these groups refuse to cooperate at all, and the latter group are as vehemently anti-Tehran as they are anti-US. They’re probably the only real “Iraqis,” but they only represent about a fifth of the population (or a third of the Shi’ites). Mesopotamia had been ruled by Sunnis for most of its history to include peninsular Arabs, Turks, Kurds. It was ruled by Persian Shi’a for a few centuries between the Arab and Turkish caliphates. The Shi’a majority came to power in Iraq as a result of US intervention in 2003. In the aftermath of the 1st US-Iraq war, the US urged the Shi’a to revolt against Saddam but had no intent to assist them [because Riyadh, Amman and Cairo were all vehemently opposed to strengthening their Shi’ite enemies – with good reason].
IDF vs. HAMAS (Sunni Extremist’s);
IDF vs. Hezbollah (Shi’a Extremist’s);
IDF vs. Iran and Syria.
Although Hezbollah has no presence in Israel, and little left in either Gaza or the West Bank. Israel vs. Iran is a conventional state-vs-state conflict that is driven by religious ideology on Iran’s part [strategically, the Shah was much smarter — Israel was a natural ally against their mutual Arab enemies].
Sunni Extremist’s (Al-Qaida Affiliates) vs. Lebanese Hezbollah (Shi’a);
Sunni Extremist’s vs. Lebanese Christians.
Hezbollah remains in control of about 1/3 of Lebanon and has Christian and Druze allies who control another quarter of that failed state.
Syrian Government vs. Syrian Sunnis;
Syrian Alawites, Lebanese Hezbollah (Shi’a), Iraqi Shi’a, Iranian IRGC vs. Syrian Sunnis and Sunni Extremist’s (Al-Qaida Affiliates);
Sunni Extremist’s vs. Syrian Sunnis;
Al-Qaida (Sunni) vs. Iraqi State of Syria and Iraq (Sunni);
Arab Sunni Extremist’s vs. Assyrian Christians and Kurdish Sunnis.
Syria is an extension of Lebanon. They were one country until arbitrarily separated by France to make Lebanon a Christian Arab homeland, but Christians are now a minority there with less than 25% due to exile/expulsion, deaths, & non-reproduction. The Syrian gov’t is Alawite… thanks to a treaty and associated fatwa between Hafez al-Asad and Ruhollah Khomeini, the Alawites are considered true Shi’a (even though in fact they have wildly heretical beliefs with lots of Nestorian & Arian Christian heresies and rituals blended in). As in Lebanon, the Druze, the Alawites, and the Shi’a, along with some of the Christian sects, are allied against the Sunni Islamists who rose to prominence after “Black September” 1970, when the Hashemites drove about 3/4 million Sunni Arabs out of Jordan after they attempted to replace King Hussein with Yassir Arafat. The Syrian Kurds are seeking help from the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey. The Syrian secularists have largely sided with the regime, which was always secular, politically and legally, despite its Alawite rituals. The Alawites, Druze, and other perpetual minority sects dissimulate in public and practice their faith secretly. A small number of secular Sunni Syrian Arabs began the movement against the Alawite/Ba’ath regime because they wanted to move away from ties to Iran and get closer to Europe, especially France, Italy, and Greece. This backfired badly because they soon lost control of their small protest movement to violent Sunni Islamists who turned it into a bloody and largely unsuccessful rebellion that shattered what had been a tolerably functioning secular state. It is unlikely that Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will ever become viable states again.
USA vs. Sunni Extremist’s;
Yemeni Government vs. Sunni Extremist’s;
Sunni Extremist’s vs. Yemeni Shi’a.
While there is a Sunni vs. Shi’a component in the on-going collapse of this long-dysfunctional state, it is mainly tribal conflict. The Huthis, like the central gov’t, and like most of the South Yemenis, are all Sunni. This makes it a tribal conflict. Yathrib and other interior tribes in northern Hadrawmat and eastern parts of old (north) Yemen are Shi’a. All of these lived more or less peacefully under the old monarchy (as had been true in Afghanistan). But the Nasserites destroyed the monarchy back in the late ’60s in a lengthy civil war, and the north and south have fought several wars (including launching SCUD’s at each other). The north was nominally independent while the south was a former British colony (Aden) that won “independence” under a Marxist insurgency in the late ’60s to early ’70s, and has on-again, off-again been unified with the north (usually against its will). Yemen once was fertile, prosperous, and stable. That has all disappeared. Aden City used to be an important port for the British. Now it is just a desolate wasteland. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operates in Yemen because it is by far the easiest place to hide, train, move contraband, etc. in the Arabian peninsula. AQAP is not admired by the tribes, but it pays its way, and doesn’t usually threaten the tribal chiefs. The tribes accept them because they are a helpful ally against the corrupt, useless central gov’t and its army, which are only out to squeeze revenue out of the tribe but have nothing useful to offer them.
The only nexus between North Africa and the Middle East is that both the Egyptian Military and Israel oppose the Ikhwan and HAMAS; otherwise, the conflict in the Middle East is mainly Sunni vs Shi’a with Israel and Yemen being exceptions. In Syria, the Alawite minority government (Shi’a) ruled the majority Sunnis. In Iraq, the Majority Shi’a rule over the minority Sunnis. In Syria, the majority Sunnis gained the advantage until the Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah entered the conflict. The Alawites hold the West-southwest in Syria and the Sunnis control the east-northeast. In Iraq, the Sunni minority had been using suicide operations against the Shi’a. Now that ISIS, the Al Qaida offshoot, has entered the Iraqi conflict, the Sunnis also control western and northwestern Iraq. The goal of Sunni ISIS is to create a Sunni Caliphate to include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Cyprus. So stay tuned.
USA/Coalition Forces vs. Taliban (Pashtun) Sunni Extremist’s;
Taliban (Pashtun) Sunni Extremist’s vs. Afghan Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara’s (Shi’a).
There is no real Afghanistan. There are Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkomens who ethnically belong to their namesake (being former Soviet republics to the north); the Hazara who should be part of Iran, and the majority of the people and land which are part of a greater Pashtunstan that was artificially divided intentionally by the British-drawn Durand Line that neither Kabul nor Islamabad accepts as a valid border. Pashtunstan is a country that should never be a state or part of one. Its people hate the idea of a state and want to remain in their family-clan-tribal structure. Pashtunstan exists in the southeastern 2/3 of ‘Afghanistan’ south of the Hindu Kush as well as Paktika, Paktiya and a couple of other provinces in the northeast. It also includes the Pakistani northwest Frontier Province, the Frontier And Tribal Area, parts of Waziristan, and a couple of other more-or-less autonomous regions west of Punjab and northern Sindh.
Indian government vs. Islamic separatists of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) since 1977 and Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), or Hezb-ul Mujahedeen (HuM), since 1989.
India has dropped its claims to Punjab and Sindh long ago, and has stated it will formally accept the loss of the western 1/3 of Jammu-and-Kashmir to Pakistan if Pakistan formally recognizes that the far more fertile and populous eastern 2/3 of Jammu-and-Kashmir is part of India. Pakistan claims the entire province, whose Hindu raj begged for India to annex it despite a heavily Muslim majority population. Instead of the UN-endorsed UK-India-Pakistan partition agreement, India sent troops to secure the province. It has been a matter of Pakistani paranoia and Indian stubbornness ever since. India’s overt support to Bangladesh’s secession from Pakistan further fueled Pakistani belief that India intends to dismantle and eventually absorb all of Pakistan. In reality, the last thing India needs or wants is to absorb over 250 million mostly impoverished and mostly radicalized Muslims (the combined populations of Bangladesh and Pakistan) to add to their already substantial and mostly impoverished but relatively secular Muslim minority of similar size.
Taliban (Pashtun) Sunni Extremist’s vs. Pakistan Government;
USA (Drones) vs. Taliban (Pashtun) Sunni Extremist’s;
Pakistani Sunni Extremists vs. Pakistani Shi’a.
The caveat here is if the US completely withdrew from Afghanistan, Pakistan would be able to go back to its usual divide-and-conquer games with the Baluch and Pashtun/Pathan who populate the western half of the country. The Punjabis and Sindhis VASTLY outnumber them, control a very powerful military, and make most of the money in the country. Once they no longer have to try to minimally placate the US, and the westerners are largely gone, the Islamabad government & military (dominated by Punjabis) will cut the necessary deals out west and restore a semblance of order. The US presence in Pakistan is a huge liability for Pakistani security, even though it is lucrative for the corrupt elites. The Pakistani military attacks are against Afghan Taliban and pro-Al-Qaida elements in Pakistan, like the pro-Islamabad Haqqani Taliban Network, NOT against the Tarik-e-Taliban who are anti-Islamabad and supported by Karzai. The ‘real’ Pakistan is Punjab and Sindh. They are the same as the Muslim Indians who reside on the Indo-Gangetic plain. Baluchistan is a similar sort of region, but even more desolate, that makes up the southwest quadrant of Pakistan and the southeast edge of Iran. The Baluch, like the Pashtun/Pathan, are stubbornly tribal.
Once the US pulls out, the Sunni Pashtun Taliban will gain control of most of the country. They will be opposed by Shi’a Hazara’s and Sunni Tajiks and Uzbeks. These groups will only be able to hold onto northern regions of Afghanistan. Although the Pakistani military is pounding the Taliban in Pakistan they will not commit the ground troops to finish them off. When the Americans leave Afghanistan the drone attacks will stop. Nothing can stop the Taliban from using the Hindu Kush as a sanctuary to launch attacks into Afghanistan. India’s conflict involves Sunnis who claim Kashmir and the Punjab as entities separate from India.
Russia vs. Caucasus Sunnis;
Russia vs. Arab Sunnis in the Caucasus
Sunni/Sufi Turkish military vs. Kurds Sunni
The Russians have definitely gained the upper hand against the Caucasus Sunnis. Russia’s attention is now mostly focused on the Crimea and eastern Ukraine. As for the Turkish, they have internal struggles and will be carefully watching developments in Iraq. If Iran invades in the face of an Iraqi Shi’a collapse or if Kurdistan is declared in Northern Iraq, Turkey may invade and widen the regional war.
Central African Republic:
Sunni Muslims vs. Christians
War against tuareg and islamist militants. Since January 12, 2013 the French army and Malian army (with help from armies of others African countries) are fighting radical Islamist groups that have seized northern Mali.
Nigerian Sunni Extremist’s vs. Nigerian Christians & Government
Somali Sunni Extremists vs. Somali Warlords;
Sunni Extremists vs. Kenya;
Somali Sunni Pirates vs. International Shipping.
War against rebel groups, South Sudan (civil war)
Muslim Youth Center (al-Qaeda-linked Somali militia in Kenya);
Conflict in Sub-Sahara Africa involves Sunni against Sunni and Sunni against Christian. Boko Haram in the west is almost exclusively targeting Christians. Al-Shabab in the East is targeting Kenyans. In the Central African Republic (CAR), Christians have been fighting back against the Muslims. In Sudan, Arab Sunnis are fighting African Sunnis and Sunnis in general are against Christians and Animists.
East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) or East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) or Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM). China’s Islamic conflict comes exclusively from the Turkic Sunni minority in the West, known as Uighars.
In spite of what we see, Muslims of all persuasions still consider Islam a religion of peace. For an outsider like me to consider anything else would be insulting to Muslims and would cause them angst. Since all Muslims consider Islam a religion of peace, how do they explain all of the conflict in the Islamic world? First, it’s important to understand that all Muslim groups that fight consider themselves good Muslims. What comes next applies to all Muslims. Each Muslim group from completely peaceful to the most extreme refuse to consider the ‘other’ Muslims they are fighting as proper or good Muslims acceptable to Allah. The ‘other’ muslims are labeled as Takfir (which means “apostate and traitor”), Renegade, Heretic, or Hypocrite. Those labeled are considered worthy of death unless they immediately and fully repent. This is how all the different Muslim groups rationalize killing people in other groups who also call Allah “God” and Muhammad “the Rasul of Allah”. Therefore. when one infers that Muslim extremists are Islamic Literalists, the other Muslims reject this explanation because what these other Muslims believe is far from any authentic rendering of Islam. The secular, observant, and so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims, which often contains Muslim Brotherhood supporters, reject the violent Jihadists because they use violence from the get go. Muhammad did not use violence while he was in Mecca the first 12 years of his mission. Therefore, the non-violent Muslims claim that the violent Jihadists do not follow the Prophets example. The violent Jihadists claim the other Muslims are not Muslims because the Qur’anic revelations of the last 10 years of Muhammad’s life abrogated the earlier Surah’s in the Quran. The last 10 years advocate violence in the Cause of Allah; therefore, they practice true Islam. Furthermore, the first 12 years of Muhammad’s mission were not successful because the Prophet was driven out of Mecca.
Most westerners know nothing about the authoritative texts of Islam. This also includes many to most in Western governments. When they seek to know more about Islam they turn to Muslim colleagues or Muslim appointees. These folks refuse to connect Islam to the violent actions of the violent Jihadists. Since any other rendering would upset these ‘moderate’ Muslims the official version states that Islam is a religion of peace and those who do violence in the name of Islam pervert or misrepresent Islam. The question not being asked is: Who or what determines what is true Islam? We cannot ask Muslims what constitutes true Islam. Why? Every Muslim group at odds with other Muslim groups refuses to acknowledge the others as Muslims. There is only one person who can determine true Islam…and that is Muhammad. Every word in the Qur’an came out of his mouth and the authoritative texts of Islam (Sirah, Hadith, Tarikh) describe Muhammad’s words and actions. In 2013, after 20 years of research, I wrote my second book The Dawn of Islamic Literalism: Rise of the Crescent Moon. It made no sense to me as to how Islam can be a religion of peace when the totality of what is called the Islamic world is anything but peaceful. The violent Jihadists decided through their spiritual mentors: Al-Banna, Qutb, Azzam, Maududi, Khomeini and Qardawi that literalist Islam is the true Islam. In other words, if Muslims imitate the words and deeds of Muhammad (570-632 AD) then they are halal (“acceptable”) Muslims. I wrote my book to demonstrate that these Muslims literally apply concepts from the Quran and Sunnah (“Traditions”) of the Prophet. All of the Salafis, Wahhabis, Muslim Brotherhood adherents, etc. and their Shi’a counterparts consider themselves to be living, preaching, and fighting in adherence to the literal word of the Qur’an, the Shari’ah, and the Hadith. Where they differ is over which school of Islamic jurisprudence they follow and the particular version of Shari’ah and particular body of Hadith they view as valid. When arguing amongst themselves, Muslims treat later surahs as more authoritative than earlier surahs, but when dissimulating to non-Muslims, if it is convenient, they will quote early surahs that come across as more peaceful, flexible, or tolerant. First of all, it is legitimate and lawful for Muslims to lie and confuse non-Muslims according to the Qur’an, and secondly, the discussion usually is not in Arabic, and thus from the Muslim mind they are not misquoting or even discussing the Qur’an, but only the MEANING of the Qur’an as presented by different translators, so it is doubly permissible.
These are the questions I pose to the Islamic community and western Islamic apologists: Were the Muslims who refused to engage in violent Jihad, between 622-632 AD, hypocrites as Allah and Muhammad declared? If so, are Muslims who refuse violent Jihad in contemporary times also hypocrites? Was Abu-Bakr a good Muslim when he initiated the War of Compulsion against Arabs who decided to leave Islam after Muhammad’s death? Was Umar a good Muslim when he decided to invade the Byzantine and Persian empires?
According to Hadrat Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali (ra) 4 Vol. Set:
“From the mosque Umar was carried home. When he regained consciousness he asked who was his murderer. He was told that his murderer was the Persian slave Firoz. Thereupon, Umar said, ‘Praise be to God that I have not been murdered by a Muslim.’ According to Umar’s admission he believed it possible that another Muslim could commit an act of violence against him. He was relieved, though dying, that a Muslim did not attack him.”
Was Uthman a good Muslim when he continued Islamic military expansion in Egypt? Were the Egyptian Muslim converts good Muslims when they murdered Uthman? Was Aisha, one of Muhammad’s wives, and Zubayr, Muhammad’s companion, good Muslims when they fought Ali during the Battle of the Camel? Was Ali a good Muslim when he fought the Ummayyad Muawiyah and nearly destroyed the Kharijites? Were the Kharijites good Muslims when they murdered Ali at Kufa? Was Hussein a good Muslim when he marched from Syria to Karbala to fight Yazid the Umayyad? Were the Umayyad good Muslims when they destroyed Hussein’s forces, killed Hussein and murdered his family?
The Western power elites, politicians, entertainment moguls, news organizations, teachers unions and educators largely reject Biblical Christianity and have set a societal course to redefine right, wrong, good, and evil. Of course, some cling to their denominations but clearly the teachings of Jesus, as he interpreted the Hebrew Bible, are being discarded. How does the progressive ideology that prevails today in the West, confront, stop, and defeat Islamic ideological expansion? Who is the progressive prophet or deity that can counter violent and stealth Jihad, suicide bombings, beheadings, and the implementation of Islamic law while at the same time advocate that Islam is a religion of peace? Because those in power reject the revelation of God’s divine will in the Judeo-Christian scriptures they cannot see that Islam has to dominate the heartland of the eastern hemisphere so that the Biblical prophecies pertaining to Armageddon can come to pass. The powers of the north, east, and south (Europe/Russia, Araby/Turkic peoples/Persians, Islamicized Africans and African Arabs) must unite, follow the anti-Messiah (Mahdi according to Islamic eschatology) and attack the Jewish state in the Holy Land.
Jesus did curse a fig tree that withered to demonstrate what will happen to people who bear bad or no fruit and he did turn over tables in the Temple in response to the Sadducces sanctioned corruption. Paul had a disagreement with Peter and Barnabas. Paul also advocated removing unrepentant professing Christians from the church. This is the extent of any acts of the apostolic church that could be considered confrontational. That’s it. Muslims in their devotion cannot be expected to flee all that Islam claims to be for the progressive notions of westerners. They can be engaged in conversations concerning what we hold in common… Jesus. Yes, Muslims reject the notion of Jesus as the Son of God but most do this without any reading of the New Covenant. If the Bible is corrupted as Islam asserts ask a Muslim friend to go through the Bible with you. Let the Bible talk to the heart of your Muslim friend. Christians of good will must also come to understand the barriers that exist. Muslims, in or out of government, do not want to read the Bible because they believe it has been corrupted by Iblis (their pseudo-Satan) and could deceive any Muslim who reads it. Unlike Western Christians and Jews, Muslims (like Orthodox Christians and some Roman Catholics) believe they cannot fully understand spiritual matters and must rely on the teaching of their imam, mullah, or priest. Those whose curiosity has been enflamed by the Holy Spirit to the point where they are willing to break this taboo have already taken a major step towards salvation by His grace.
As for those who are ideologically violent we can only address them with the Gospel message through the World Wide Web. Once concerned Westerners take the time to understand their authoritative texts and understand the salvation message as described in the Old and New Covenants, we, with the Lord’s guidance, can begin to present the Gospel message to the Islamic world. This is not an easy endeavor but a worthwhile endeavor for, with the Lord’s direction, we may save some of them and also help the fence-sitting professing Christians to really commit to the gospel message of the apostolic church that salvation comes through Jesus the messiah and Jesus alone. Optimistically, outreach evangelism has a place in reaching Muslims. When Christian missionaries have provided aid to Muslims and demonstrated the love of Christ, even for those who are enemies, and follow up with a carefully and culturally appropriate presentation of Scripture (Injil (“Gospel”), JESUS Film, audio teaching with Scripture sections read, etc), they have had considerable success.
So, dear friends, why do I take time to do this and why do you spend your time reading this? Notice what Paul said in his second letter to Timothy in chapter 3: “But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days.” Paul goes on to describe present day evils, or better yet, those who can influence their listeners with these results “always trying to learn but never able to reach a knowledge of the truth.” Those who do not have a centered relationship with God’s messiah will not get it right. “But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.” This is why we must trust and be obedient to what follows:
“… you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”