At first glance, comparing ISIS to Protestants like Martin Luther and John Calvin seems ridiculous. However, let’s think this through, starting with a couple basic questions: What is Christianity? What is the Gospel? The answer to these questions today would be much different than if you were asking someone in the Middle Ages. The “death, burial, and resurrection of Christ,” and the fact that “Jesus died for our sins on the cross and imputed his righteous to us,” may be heard today to describe the Gospel. However, someone in the Middle Ages probably would have focused simply on being part of the Roman Catholic Church, which meant Baptism, penance, and perhaps even a buying of an indulgence to supposedly spring a soul out of purgatory. Of course, there have always been those who have understood the Gospel; it’s not that the message has changed, but rather truths are sometimes forgotten or even suppressed. I would argue this is what has happened with Islam.
It’s been well over a thousand years since the prophet Muhammad lived and taught on the earth. Many Islamic people were largely ignorant of the history or practices of Islam as time went on, especially as they emigrated outside the Middle East. Just as the Protestant reformation was made successful by the printing press, printing bibles and tracts to affect social and religious change, so Islam is using the advent of social media, videos and technology to inform fellow Muslims of “true Islam.” Just as Martin Luther opposed the hierarchy of the corrupt Pope of his day, Isis and other Jihadists organizations are convincing large amounts of people to stand against the “fake” Islamic powers that be, particularly since many governments are Shi’ite Muslims, while 90% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni. Similar to the Reformation opposing the corrupt Catholic Church, many Muslims are rebelling against those in power who have been compromising to the Western powers for money and power. The reason the Protestant Reformation was successful was that they were right. They accurately took people back to scripture and only scripture as an authority. Isis and the terrorists are doing the exact same thing: taking people back to the Quran and to the Historic Islam of Muhammad and his predecessors. We can call it “Radical Islam,” but it’s Quranic Islam akin to Protestant Christianity, based on the religious text, and not modern inventions and classifications.
I’m sure at this point, someone will say “but nowhere in the Quran does it advocate violence against innocent people.” However, that simply isn’t true. There are 109 documented verses in the Quran that advocate violence against the infidels, non-believers, or Polytheists (which they consider Christians to be since their belief in the Trinity). For example, in the Quran, 2:191, Muhammad their prophet directly instructs his followers to “Kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out.” Unlike the views of many modern Americans, the notion of “innocent” is much different in most of the world. For Islam, there is no innocent victim. They may have had tolerance for those who hadn’t heard the message of Islam and would go in and share Islam (usually by the sword). But to a Muslim, rejecting Islam has made you guilty. Embracing Christianity, Judaism, or even secularism has made you an infidel and enemy of Islam. And in one sense they’re right. These ideas are all enemies of Islam. We may not see Muslims as our enemies but their ideology is diametrically opposed to ours. Thus the Muslim is at least honest in realizing the myth of pluralism. All religions or ideologies are not the same and don’t have basic tenants we can all agree upon. They get it, but Westerners unfortunately don’t, and probably won’t anytime soon as we have over 100 years of cultural brainwashing to undo. The rainbow colored Coexist bumper sticker won’t be one you see on a Muslims car anytime soon.
I am of the opinion that Islam is undergoing its own so-called Reformation. Corrupt Islamic leaders who were in bed with the US and other Western powers to keep power will fall one by one, just as the church leaders who were in bed with kings and princes in the Middle Ages. It’s inevitable. In fact, many have already been removed from power. Some of the ones that remain, like Assad, may keep their positions, but they don’t control the hearts and minds of the Muslim community. The Jihadists, the radicals, and ISIS are the ones getting the allegiance of Muslims. This will not be undone by denouncing Islam any more than Protestantism was undone by denouncing and excommunicating Martin Luther or other church leaders. If anything, this made the Protestants bolder in their opposition toward the powers that be. So it is with ISIS and Islam.