what's up with ISIS's crusade?
In case I ever want to visit Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, &c. (and want to keep my head attached to the rest of my body), I'm just gonna confirm that I am Muslim. And because I'm getting on a plane later this month, I also want to confirm that I am not a terrorist, I never have been, and I never will be.
In fact, I think (as any normal person would think) that terrorists are dumb. I think that the people involved are dumb, I think what they're doing is dumb, and I think that what they believe is dumb. But the problem is: these dumb people are winning.
And that's exactly what they're doing. They're being violent, obviously, that's their whole deal. And if you think that they're not intimidating the rest of the world, then you must be French, I guess.
"But wait," you say. "They're not pursuing political aims; this is some sort of religious pursuit." And to that I say:
Okay, so I recently got my hands on a little magazine called Dabiq.
Dabiq, named for the countryside just north of Aleppo (where the apocalypse is gonna happen), is the must-have subscription for members of ISIS. I'm not gonna link to it, because I'm probably on a list for writing this, and I don't wanna get that kind of promotion.
This magazine talks about what Muslims should be doing now that they have an official state and caliph (ISIS thinks they're the official state and Caliphate). Mostly, this involves fighting non-Muslims. This isn't surprising. What's surprising is what they call non-Muslims.
Crusaders- they call their enemies crusaders. And that's certainly indicative because it contextualises everything that's going on with these fools.
Simply put, the crusades are a "religious" conflict between Christians and Muslims. You see, the Muslims were all up in Jerusalem, which holds significance in Islam and in Christianity. And Christians were like "nope!" and swooped in. You should not that, around this time, the common Christian thought that a Muslim was a literal demon-person that looked more like Krampus than Ben Kingsley.
And because of this belief, it's super easy to rally people to defend your Holy Land. And that's basically what it was, Muslims killing Christians and Christians killing Muslims for a fancy (and tiny) piece of land. That piece of land is now contained in Israel, which Muslims are not too happy about, and the crusade continues.
If you're like me, you thought the crusades ended when Han Solo helped his father, James Bond, find the Holy Grail.
But apparently, that's not the case. If you're a European Crusader, you'd probably think the Crusades ended in 1291 with the fall of Acre. If you're a Spanish fanboy, you may think that it ended in 1588 with the Spanish Armada. But if you're in the Islamic State, there's no reason to believe the Crusades aren't alive and well right now. And from a certain point of view, that would be true.
And to understand that point of view, you have to understand what the Crusades actually were. The Crusades weren't actually a holy war, at least not to the people that started it. And the guy that started it was Pope Urban II; this guy.
Y'see, Europe kinda sucked back then. Everyone was at war with everyone else, and the working class is poor and sick and hungry. And life all around was nasty, brutish, and short.
So, Pope Urban II put on his ridiculously tall thinking cap and figured out he needed to unite Europe, and the best way to do that is by giving them a common enemy. At this point, having those aforementioned demon-people worked in his favour. His next problem was to get his people to go and fight those people.
Now, at this point Europe really didn't want to fight. They wanted to tend their farms and die of preventable diseases. But they were also super religious. And Pope Urban II new exactly how to play into that.
The Pope decided to spread the word that if one was to go fight in these crusades, then all their sins would be absolved and they would go to heaven. Now he's got a bunch of people who really want to fight for what he wants. But the part we need to take note of is that the people on the ground, the people fighting, think they're doing it for God.
This is also what the leaders of extremist Muslim groups are doing. They're taking their own political aspirations and using religion to get people on their side.
It's also important to note that the Crusades were way before every Tom, Dick, and hotel room had a Bible in their back pocket. So, when the bishop comes around and says: "go kill the eff out of some Mahometans" you can't really reply with "actually, God said 'don't do that'."
But this isn't really the case with today's crusade. You see, Qurans are really easy to get. And you see terrorists waving their Qurans in all their videos. It's available online with a bunch of translations. There's at least a half-dozen apps for it on your phone. I have four copies that were just handed to me by random people. If you don't have one, here's a place that will send you one for free. Heck, Pastor Terry Jones managed to get his hands on a few and he doesn't even want them. So, what's the problem?
Whenever I hear about violence or terrorism in the Muslim world, a bunch of my Muslim friends jump onto social media with this verse from the Quran.
That's the 32nd verse of Chapter Table. The part people like to quote is where it says: "If you kill one person, it's as if you've killed all of mankind. And if you save one life, it's as if you've saved the life of all mankind." That's a very straightforward 'don't kill people' notion. That's an awesome way to put it, too. Why would anyone want to burn this book after reading a passage like that? But, even if you can't read Arabic, you can tell that's way too many words for that single part that I quoted. If you look at a translation, you'll see that that part is prefaced with the fact that this was decreed not for Muslims, but for the "children of Israel". And we already know what Muslims think of the Children of Israel.
This is the immediate next verse. And it tells Muslims what to do with people who "wage war" against Islam. I won't tell you what all the options are, but here's a hint:
This is just one of the many versus that say it's okay to fight a holy war. And the problem with the Crusades is that nobody told the Muslims that it wasn't a holy war. Remember, the Crusaders in the Middle East thought they were fighting for Christendom, and despite being from what's documented as another iteration of the same religion, Muslims thought they were fighting for God.
After the Crusades, the Crusaders chilled out a bit to rebuild (Spain did not chill). But the Muslims did not chill. They have yet to chill; and the reason comes from the Quran itself. And every time another culture comes to the Muslim world, it's framed in this Muslim/Crusader mindset.
We're often told not to go grocery shopping when we're hungry. Don't make decisions when you're angry. Don't text your ex when you're drunk. But the problem with Islam is that it wrote its immutable document that everyone has to follow in the middle of a big huge religious conflict. And you can tell that when you read it... kinda.
See the Quran was revealed in two parts: before the migration to Medina and after. And there's very stark contradictions between the two. The verse that I quoted above was revealed way after the migration. But if we look at a verse on a similar topic (non-believers) from before the migration, we get something like this:
That's from the "Chapter of the Non-Believers", which could've set the standard for laissez-faire pluralism, had a bunch of non-believers pissed off the Muslims in the middle of their book. Instead, there are countless verses that talk about how people who fight are better than those who don't, how you should never stop fighting, and how if you die fighting you'll get the greatest reward possible (yes, all those verses I linked to were written after the migration). And because this book is supposed to be utilised till the end of time, Muslims are always going to have a warlike, antagonistic mentality. Every conflict for a Muslim is a conflict of Islam versus Crusader. The difference between Pope Urban's Crusade and ISIS's is that one has the scripture to back it up, and that makes it dangerous.
So, where do we go from here? The Crusaders set out to conquer the Holy Land and unite Europe: that's a definite end goal. They didn't achieve it, but that's fine. They had a goal and they stuck to it. ISIS has a goal, too. And they're not shy about sharing it.
They want the end of the world. Despite what the leaders' political aspirations are, despite what anyone wants. The people on the ground, the people fighting want nothing less than complete destruction. And if that's not violent and and intimidating, I don't know what is.