About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The word "Islam" means "surrender."  The word "jihad" means "struggle."  When you combine these two words you have "a surrender after a struggle."  The Islamic world is divided over how to practically understand these two words.  It all depends on how one views the life of Mohammed, the Koran, and the Hadith (the canonized commentaries on the Koran).


More liberal leaning Muslims view the word "Islam" as a surrender of the individual to Allah.  More conservative leaning Muslims view the word "Islam" as a surrender of non-Muslims to Islam after being conquered by war.  Liberal Muslims view jihad as a struggle between the individual's will and Allah's will.  Conservative Muslims view jihad as a struggle between Muslims and non-Islamic infidels.  The historical setting of these words clarifies who is right.    


During the first 13 years of Islam, when Mohammed supposedly received revelations from the angel Gabriel, Islam was peaceful.  After that, it became violent.  Surah 8 of the Koran describes the Battle of Badr, the first battle that Mohammed and his small band of soldiers fought.  During the last 9 years of his life Mohammed led his soldiers into 86 wars (mostly offensive) as they fought their way across the Arabian Peninsula.  The most famous war was the Battle of Mecca where Mohammed and 10,000 soldiers conquered the city of his youth.  The primary intent of these wars was not to convert people to Islam but to conquer territory for Muslims to dominate.  Evangelization was secondary.  


The historical roots of the word "Islam" makes it clear that Islam means a surrender of non-Muslim territory to Muslims after being conquered by war.  History also tells us that jihad means a struggle between Muslims and non-Muslims. 


Surah 9 is the last supposed revelation Mohammed received from Gabriel.  It says that jihad must be waged, not with self, but with Christians, Jews, and polytheists.  Here is where the Islamic doctrine of abrogation comes into play.  This doctrine states that the later revelations from Gabriel have priority over the earlier revelations.  That means the peace verses of earlier revelations are nullified by the war verses of later revelations.  For this reason Islamic extremists today reject the progressive views of moderate to liberal Muslims.  In fact, they believe they are in the midst of an Islamic Reformation; restoring Islam to its roots when Muslims dominated two thirds of the culturally Christian world.    


In contrast, Christians are not to wage jihad against non-Christians ((John 18:36).  We, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, conquer, not nations, but the hearts of individuals through preaching the gospel (Matthew 28:18).  Furthermore, our struggle is not with unbelievers but with the demonic forces who rule this age.  Thus, our weapons are spiritual, not material (Ephesians 6:10 - 18). 


Jihad will be waged, but not by Christians.  "The Lord will go out and fight against those nations as He fights on the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:3).  "When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations  ... to the valley of Jehoshaphat.  There I will put them on trial for what they did to my people ... Israel.  Prepare for war!  I will sit to judge all the nations. Swing the sickle for the harvest is ripe (Joel 3).  Admittedly, the Bible speaks of jihad, but it's a jihad based on justice that the Lord God Himself wages as He, not us, brings this age to an end.          


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