This battle between fear and love was clearly demonstrated in several experiences when I visited churches wearing a headscarf. An older gentleman at the first church visited, who was a greeter at the church, was not able to recover from his fear after seeing a woman wearing a hijab approaching the church. As a result, he blatantly ignored me, which came across as very unloving. In this instance, fear drove out love. On the other hand, at the second church visited, a woman was hesitant at first and kept her distance. She was uncertain as to how to react, but eventually she made the decision to allow love to triumph over fear. Although she initially sat at a distance from me, she eventually moved down to sit directly beside me, engaged her in conversation, and hugged me before leaving. In this case, love drove out fear. In another scenario, I walked into a large lobby and was clearly confused as to which direction to go for the service. At least three greeters and volunteers stood around and watched me, clearly lost. Evidently the volunteers were scared or unsure of what to do, so they did not help, and instead let the me wander around. In contrast, at the fourth church visited, I was once again lost, but this time a greeter overcame fear and helped. He personally gave me a tour of the entire church so I would know how to find my way around. Lastly, at the first church, when instructed to greet those nearby, a woman half-turned toward the me, but upon seeing the the hijab she hesitated and almost turned back around. Fortunately, she managed to overcome fear and made the decision to greet the me despite her initial uncertainty.
Many Muslim theologians consider Jesus Christ the most important aspect of Islamic eschatology. In fact, the Qur’an declares Mary and Jesus as a “sign for all people” (19:21; 21:91; 23:50).² When he returns, he will slay the false Messiah (Anti-Christ, or dajjal) and establish peace and righteousness on earth. Some commentators feel that the Qur’an is referring to this occasion when it says, “And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them” (4:159).
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).
What Americans Don’t Understand About Charlie Hebdo
It seems that many in the West still haven’t caught on. Eastern thinking people will defend their honor. One of the worst things you can do to them is to bring dishonor or ridicule on them. In the case of Muslims, they uphold the belief that “with blood I can wash my shame away” (Abu Tammam). As such, when they are ridiculed in the western press, especially through cartoons that stereotype and ridicule them, they feel justified in their violent reaction. No amount of clamoring about freedom of speech will change this. It only makes Muslims more determined to bring Islam to Europe, so that the ridiculing and bullying will stop.
If I published a cartoon that criticizes a well-known person, perhaps making him out to be a pedophile, without any truth behind it, I should expect to be sued for liable. So if a Muslim feels his honor, and the honor of his religion, and the honor of his prophet have been robbed of him by someone’s libelous actions, how does he get the shame removed and honor restored? We do not think of this in our western society. Winning a court case may make some feel somewhat justified, but their reputation will have been forever damaged. Islam’s answer is: this is so important, that it is worthy of a death sentence. So when the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published their cartoons, they committed an error worthy of the death penalty in some parts of the world. Unfortunately for them, people of that persuasion lived in their own country, and in their own city. Many Muslims just shrug and say: “They brought it on themselves.”