For moderate Muslims it's the elephant in the room. For those of a more jihadist bent, it's too perfect a synergy to ignore. ISIS' amazing victories against huge odds, its lightning advance and its territorial ambitions are a modern day version of the birth of the Islamic Empire. But what is altogether more disturbing (and potentially fatally embarrassing for Muslim apologists) are the other parallels between the two movements, and in particular those tactics that all moderate, liberal, sane people dismiss as being barbaric and beyond the pale.
Take beheading. We have all seen the awful pictures and read the horrific accounts of ISIS using this method of execution. Some may even have been traumatised by watching the videos posted by the jihadists.
Muslims know - or at least those who bother to read the salient verses do - that the Koran contains instructions to behead "the unbelievers" and that Mohammad himself ordered the beheadings of many captives.
When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives 47:4.If my convert friend is typical, educated Muslims maintain that here God is teaching the Muslims a more humane way of waging war since prior to this time, the pagan Arabs would crush their enemies with heavy stones. Muslims are also taught that any verse which allows violence does so only for purposes of self-defence and that there are other more peaceable verses which instruct Muslims to live side-by-side with "the people of the book". A careful study of when the various verses were "revealed" gives a different picture, however. When Mohammad was trying to gain followers by preaching alone, the tone is peaceable, but as soon as the Muslims settle in Medina and more followers join the Muslims, the verses become more bellicose. Such is the case here.
Take crucifixion. Again we have read the accounts of ISIS using this barbaric method for torturing and killing their prisoners or displaying their corpses.
The idea for such brutality comes not from the crazed minds of the jihadists though. No. They are simply following the instructions contained in the Koran:
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter 5:33And what of the disturbing reports of the members of ISIS taking the women of those they have beaten in battles for their sex slaves? Again the jihadists are simply taking their inspiration from their holy book and their own prophet.
O PROPHET! Behold, We have made lawful to thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowers, as well as those whom thy right hand has come to possess from among the captives of war whom God has bestowed upon thee. 33:50Here the phrase "whom thy right hand has come to possess" refers to slaves taken a spoils of war. God is telling Mohammad that he may have sex with his slaves taken in war without committing a sin. And in 23:1-6 this allowance is extended to his believers who are told that to get to paradise they must abstain from sex apart from with their wives or their slave girls:
TRULY, to a happy state shall attain the believers: those who humble themselves in their prayer; Who abstain from sex; Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame,Many Muslims will tell you that one of the proofs of the truth of Islam is the way in which God helped a small band of believers to conquer an empire against astounding odds. Battles were won when Mohammad and his followers were out-numbered by ten-to-one or more. The speed with which the Muslims over-ran territory and established the Caliphate, they say, was truly astounding and can only be explained if one understands that God was helping His prophet.
And now we have a small band of believers, who use the tactics that Mohammad himself used so successfully to inspire his followers - promises of wealth, glory and eternal bliss surrounded by doe-eyed virgins, and threats of terror and punishments without mercy to cow their enemies into submission - who are enjoying victory after victory against huge odds, making lightening advances and gaining huge amounts of territory.
Is God helping ISIS? Unless you're a heartless lunatic or your brain has been turned to mush by an extremist preacher presumably you think not. You dismiss them for what they are. Crazed, homicidal psychopaths whose minds have been turned by poisonous propaganda.
And yet...didn't you say you believe Mohammad was the prophet of God partly because of his unlikely victories?
Where's the difference?