current, religion

ISIS and the Growth of Early Islam

early_islam

Day after day we are bombarded with terrible accounts of “Christian genocide” in Iraq, a term that virulent Christian skeptic Richard Dawkins felt appropriate to describe the systematic beheading of Christian children in Iraq by ISIS, or the Islamic State.

Christian homes are being marked with the Arabic letter ن (nun) for Nazarene, reminiscent of the Jewish Star of David in the early days of Nazism in Germany. Thousands are fleeing, dying, or being left for dead by having food and water sources cut off from them.

The question may people are asking is, why? What terrible organization would commit such atrocities that even Al-Qaeda would distance themselves from it? To understand why, we must roll the clock back on Islam to the very beginning when the religion was rapidly expanding.

The early (and phenomenal) growth of Islam went hand-in-hand with military and economic conquest. The Muslim expansion, or Fatah (opening), of the Middle East occurred for roughly one hundred years. During this time, Islam spread as far west as the Iberian Peninsula, as far south as modern–day Yemen, as far east as modern–day Pakistan, and as far north as modern–day France from one location in Mecca.

Anyone interested in the exponential growth of early Islam need look no further than to ISIS.

Much ink has been spilled on exactly how Islam experience such incredible growth. The general consensus is that Muhammad’s earliest followers, influenced by his teaching, spread the religion by sword.

Consequently, the Fatah paints a violent picture of Islam’s beginnings. Some Muslim apologists fearing such an image maintain that the Fatah was a spiritual conquest in an attempt to downplay Islam’s violent birth. They argue that the Fatah was done through extremely persuasive Islamic missions work; however, this is highly improbable.

Not only does archeological evidence suggest otherwise, but the Qur’ān itself seems to imply a combination of Islamic missions work and military conquest; “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful (Sūra At-Tawbah 9:5).”

When an invading force entered a non-Muslim land, individuals had three choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax (jizya), or die. Fast-forward to today and this is the very same thing that is happening to Christians in Iraq by the Islamic State.

Whether or not Islam is a religion that promotes violence has been hotly debated ever since its beginnings. One thing is clear, however; Islam may easily and readily be used by evil men as justification for violence. We are seeing just that with the Islamic State, men reenacting the Fatah. Anyone interested in the exponential growth of early Islam need look no further than to ISIS.

The question remains – how long and how far will these men go? Better question – when will we wake up to the needs of our brothers and sisters in peril?

Follow the Vicar of Baghdad for an on-the-ground perspective of Christians in Iraq. Follow Open Doors for updates on the worldwide persecuted church.

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