The Islamic Middle East
THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF the escalation of wars and rumors of wars in these last days. God’s Word also speaks of nations becoming confederate to cut Israel off from being a nation. The events happening in the Middle East are shaping the nations that will play a part in God’s prophetic plan.
Countries like Libya, Egypt, and Ethiopia are mentioned by Daniel the prophet 2,500 years ago. Syria, Lebanon, Philistia, modern day Gaza, Iran (formerly known as Persia), Turkey, and many other Middle Eastern nations are also specifically mentioned as players in the last scene of this age. The one thing that all these nations have in common is Islam. There’s no doubt the world is vastly changing, and with Islam being a major catalyst. To better understand this, let’s examine the role of Islam in the Middle East by looking at some of its origins and governing law known as Sharia law.
THE SPIRIT OF ISLAM
The spirit and character of Ishmael and his descendants is described in the Bible in Genesis 16:12. From The Expositor’s Study Bible, we read:
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. (These predictions describe the Arab people perfectly. They cannot get along with anyone in the world, and they cannot even get along among themselves. The descendants of Ishmael dwell in the presence of all his brethren [Israel], but do not subdue them and, in fact, never will subdue them!)”
The literal translation reads, “And he is a wild-ass man, his hand against every one, and every one’s hand against him—and before the face of all his brethren he dwelleth” <(Young’s Literal Translation).
This aptly describes the spirit of those who follow Islam. The tribal life of the Middle Eastern Bedouin was embroidered into Muhammad’s Islamic dream. The hero image of the warrior male, and submissive women who were their rewards, characterized the essence of male glorification and mistreatment of women. The use of the word Islam since the time of Muhammad means submission but, before Muhammad, it meant “warrior-like.” Changing the use of the word did not change the spirit behind it.
Today, the nations of the Middle East have predominately remained uncivilized. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s Islamic population is illiterate. Many Muslims quote the verses of the Koran in their prayers with little comprehension of what it says or means. Their religious zeal can often be manipulated and aroused to jihad by a perceived threat or alleged criticism of its Prophet Muhammad or religious book.
SHARIA SOURCE AND DEFINITIONS
The term Sharia literally means “the path to a watering hole.” To a Muslim, Sharia is a religious code for living. Sharia is used to refer both to the Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life. Sharia is derived both from the teachings of the Koran and the Sunna, which is referred to as Islamic custom and practice; particularly that which is associated with the exemplary life of the Prophet Muhammad, comprising of his deeds and the utterances as recorded in the hadith. The word hadith literally means “report” or “narrative.” Whatever Muhammad said or did is what a Muslim says or does. The way he fought, treated others, and even the manner of how he cleaned himself is closely followed or imitated. Islam can be better understood by the West as the “cult of Muhammad.” Although he is not to be worshipped as God, Muslims around the world will defend his honor above the name of their god, Allah.
FOUNDERS AND SCHOOLS OF ISLAM THAT FORMED SHARIA
There are two predominate recognized founders of Sharia law in Islam. Although their names may not have great significance to the reader, I will mention them for clarity of understanding — Malik ibn Anas and Ibn al-Shaf’i. The first established the Maliki School of Jurisprudence and relied heavily on the hadith to establish how a Muslim should live. Al-Shaf’I was one of his students and disagreed in part with his teacher about the reliability of the hadiths. He felt that it was necessary to trace each hadith from the time of Muhammad through its chain of devout followers. Out of this suggestion Muslim scholars began to question which hadith were true and which were not. The conflicts amongst scholars led to different applications of Islamic law.
To add to the evolution of Islamic Sharia law, Ibn al-Shaf’i promoted the idea of reasoning by analogy to develop new laws from existing laws. He also incorporated a technique of accepting consensus of the Muslim community. His reasoning was that Allah would not allow an entire community to be in error on a basic Islamic principle. This is what is so confusing to the West when dealing with Muslims. Here in the United States of America, Islam is recognized as just another religion and we should champion its freedom to practice its expression of worship. True adherents to Islam know that Islam goes beyond just worship and incorporates all aspects of their lives. In other words, a Muslim cannot be limited to just worship; he must ever be seeking to establish Sharia law to govern his whole life and thinking.
STRATEGY OF MUSLIMS TO OBTAIN SHARIA IN SECULAR SOCIETIES
The reader must never underestimate the goal of Muslims in the United States to establish Sharia law. The first step is for them to create a dual legal system. Many majority Muslim countries have a dual legal system in which the government is secular, but Muslims can choose to bring familial and financial disputes to Sharia courts.
Examples of this can be seen in Nigeria and Kenya, which have Sharia courts that rule on family law for Muslims. In Tanzania, civil courts apply Sharia law or secular law according to the religious backgrounds of the defendants. Lebanon and Indonesia have a mixed jurisdiction of courts based on residential colonial legal systems and supplemented with Sharia law. Qatar officially uses a dual legal system. Their civil courts operate independently of the Sharia system to legislate secular laws.
In 2008, Britain allowed Sharia tribunals governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance to make legally binding decisions if both parties agreed. The controversial Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Roman Williams, argued that this would help “maintain cohesion” in European societies increasingly divided by religion. Today, just seven years later, we see all too clearly what this type of inclusive decision-making has reaped in Britain and Europe.
SHARIA IN AMERICA
Sharia is creeping into America and our legal system is beginning to recognize it. Recall Tampa, Florida, where a dispute arose over who controls the funds a mosque received in 2008 from an eminent domain proceeding. Former trustees of the mosque claimed they had the right to those funds. Mosque leaders disputing that claim wanted the case decided according to secular Florida civil law, and their attorney argued the case accordingly. The former trustees of the mosque wanted the case decided according to Sharia law. But here’s the kicker: the judge ruled saying, “This case will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic law,” (Sharia law), “pursuant to the Qur’an.”
Recent examples include the Islamic Tribunal Court that opened in Irving Texas. Members of the newly established court asserted that the purpose of the Tribunal is to give an Islamic perspective on how Muslims should act. “We are not here to invade the White House or invade Austin …We are humble and want to settle a problem between Muslims,” said Imam Moujahed Bakhach. Voluntary or not, Sharia law and principals are to be considered foreign laws and unacceptable in the United States. The idea of a “creeping Sharia” should be settled by every state in the Union establishing clear and specific laws to forbid any aspect of Sharia law from being practiced or considered in any civil or criminal disputes.
Until America awakens from its sleep of unrealistic expectations born out of apathy and political correctness, Islamic law will gradually make its way into every aspect of legal resolutions, civil matters, and special rights given to Muslims who cry victimhood at every occasion. I applaud the efforts of many states to preemptively stop Sharia law in the United States.
Please pray for Muslims; they are the biggest victims of Islam. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ now more than ever. Please pray for our leaders for they are blinded by the wealth of the Islamic nations made rich by American money and protected by American blood. We gave them the wrong sacrifice. We gave them our lives instead of the life God gave for us all—Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
A version of this article ran in the June 2011 issue of The Evangelist.