Research the root of radicalization. Look at heart and soul issues. Ask why young men, and sometimes women, are drawn to radical Islam. Many in Muslim-majority nations are experiencing a loss of spirituality. They need to learn about how to be reconciled with God, self and others.
Discredit the dangerous ideologies of Islamism, Salafism and jihadism. We must not support nations that export or fund terrorism. Servant leaders must replace ego-centered political leaders, religious dictators and warlords. We cannot tolerate political parties that support violent End Times theologies. Muslims must learn to disagree without using violence.
Narrowly define the enemy. Some Islamists are more dangerous than others. Keep the conflict measurable. Applaud countries like Tunisia that are resisting radicalism and transitioning to democracy.
Train and equip parents. Recognize that radicalization usually occurs when parents don’t take a strong role in the lives of their children. Parents must learn how to speak to their kids about the dangers of radicalization. The number one factor that stops a suicide bomber is his or her mother.
Focus on economic reform. Grinding poverty is the impetus for thousands to join death cults in the Islamic world. Many Muslims need help with education, microenterprise and savings programs. NGOs and churches can assist them.
Create advocacy networks. The King of Jordan invited many world leaders, including Americans, to advise him on peacemaking and recovery projects. Such networks must include researchers, clerics, businesspeople, policymakers and stakeholders. Religious advisors should not only be older males, but women, and young people as well.
Empower women. This includes training, not only in earning a living, but also in raising families that are committed to building free and civil societies. We must speak out against gender segregation and support girls’ education at all levels.
Leverage the media and the arts. Share testimonies of former extremists and victims. Show role models. Rather than restrict free speech on TV or the internet, provide a counter narrative of life and peace. Enlist soccer stars and celebrities to promote a message of peacemaking.
Embrace religious freedom. Challenge Muslims to explore other faith traditions and the benefits of secular society. As new democracies are formed in North Africa and the Middle East, Islam should no longer be the state religion. When governments are neutral on religion, religious leaders focus less on power and conflict, and more on civil society and social issues that concern their constituents. We must challenge Muslims to transition from black martyrdom (violence) to white martyrdom (service).
Peaceful Martyr: The Life and Mission of Francis of Assisi
At the mention of the name Francis of Assisi, images of a peaceful, eccentric, medieval monk who loved to talk to animals may come to mind. But he was also a Christ-loving, innovative missionary to Muslims during the Crusades. Here’s how that matters for missions today.
Why is that no one seems to mind if Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Jews or nominal Christians use a Chapel in Duke or Washington D.C., but when Muslims want to do so, the gloves come off? Based on a survey by LifeWay Research, nearly half of pastors surveyed agreed that ISIS represents the true nature of Islam. Here are five things about Islamophobia in Church.
Taking theological cues from the news: Americans are inundated with hate-filled media, demonizing all Muslims because of the actions of a few. Many conservative “Christian” websites and blogs have jumped on this bandwagon, playing on the fears and emotions of the Church.
Syncretism between nationalism and faith: Politically-motivated organizations have become increasingly hateful toward Muslims and are well-funded in their efforts. Too many Christians have been captivated by a misguided call for patriotism that asks them to oppose Islam as part of their faith. It should concern us when a pastor who says, “convert them or kill them” is invited to be the keynote speaker at a political leadership conference.
We have forgotten who the enemy is: We must remember that Islam is not the enemy. Scripture is clear: our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the evil one (Eph.6). He is cunning and will use anything he can to keep people from knowing Jesus. Are Muslims more depraved than others? Groups like ISIS are evil, but why does that surprise us? This type of behavior isn’t new and it didn’t begin with Islam.
Stay out of our churches: Some years ago, a denomination’s city headquarters called the Zwemer Center to ask if we would conduct a seminar titled “What to do if a Muslim comes into your Church.” We suggested a few tips for reaching out to Muslims but discovered they had something else in mind. They wanted ideas on how to gently remove Muslims from the building–if they showed up.
Stay out of our chapels: There are some who believe that if a Muslim prays somewhere it means they have conquered it. Not true. Which American citizens should not have access to freedom of religion?
Islam isn’t the problem, we are. One big problem is the President’s statement, “no religion condones killing of innocents.” It implies that true believers (whatever religion) never condone killing although every religion, at one time or the other has done so … it is the nature of humanity.” We should not say Islam is inherently peaceful or violent. Islam is much more complex than that.
If “the Roll were called up yonder” today would our work on earth be done? COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. Lockdowns, failed businesses, crashing stock markets, soaring unemployment, and church closures have some Christians in these parts wondering if we are already in the End Times. There is a lot to lament these days, but we must also ask what God wants to accomplish in the midst of such tough times…