The first question that comes to mind is...what's the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist? Is there a difference? Muslim? Islam? Are they one and the same? Well, according to DifferenceBetween.net, there is a difference. Here is what it says:
Definition of Islam and Muslim
Islam – the meaning comes from the Arabic verbal noun (like a gerund) s-l-m. When appropriate vowel markers are added the word Islam appears. The etymology of s-l-m is to submit, accept, or surrender. From this comes Islam’s conventional definition of surrender to God.
Muslim – also has its roots in the s-l-m verb. It is a participle of the verb and refers to a person who engages in the act of submission, acceptance, or surrender. Therefore a Muslim is a person who submits to the will of God, or a follower of Islam.
Uses of Islam and Muslim
Islam – is generally used in conversation to denote the religion or community of believes as a whole. For instance: “The Islamic community in town will be celebrating Eid next week.” It is also used when talking about the religion as a noun unto itself. For instance: “Islam is based on the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed that have been written down in the Quran.”
Muslim – is generally used in conversation to qualify or distinguish a person. For instance, “Remember the Muslim man who works at the bank?” It can also be used as a simple description of one’s religious beliefs. For instance: “He is Christian but she is Muslim.” Because Muslims are a minority community in many countries and most of the West, describing someone as Muslim may also reflect on their lifestyle and choice of dress in addition to their religious beliefs.
Misuses of Islam and Muslim
Islam – grammatically speaking, Islam should only refer to the religion or acts done in the name of that religion, never a person who practices that religion. Islamic community and Islamic art are correct, Islamic man is not.
Muslim – should be used to describe all people of the Islamic faith but not the faith itself. You may say that you are interested in the religion of Muslims, but never in the Muslim religion.
Apparently then, my use of "Islamist" was incorrect. But the use of it does help put its meaning into context. For example, DanielPipes.org uses the word "Islamist" to describe certain members this way:
'Islamists' are the ones who believe that the peaceful methods do not work. The vast majority of Muslims do not object to the 'Islamist' methods because their goals are the same.
So whether you agree "Islamist" is a correct usage of the word, it doesn't matter. The fact that it is used by certain people to describe this sect of religion gives it some credence to its use.
Now, here's where it gets a little confusing. Guess how many different sects of Islam there is? According to real-islam.org, there are 73 divisions in Islam. To be quite frank, I have looked at these divisions and I have tried to read up on them, but it's very, very confusing to me. There are so many historical figures that are mentioned and I have no clue as to who they are and how they fit into the big picture. However, it appears that there are three major denominations of Islam. They are the Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufism. I think I can try to wrap my head around that.
At this point, I still don't have a real firm understanding of what Islam is. I have read the definition above, but it still isn't real clear to me. So, now I look at this website (and there are MANY such websites) from truthnet.org that, from my perspective, gives a better explanation than the others on Islam. You can read this for yourself, and it's an interesting read for sure, but the bottom line is that Islam follows a god named Allah, which the last prophet Muhammad received visions from. Then there's the Quran, which is pretty much the bible by which they go by, and their Five Pillars of Faith. Again, you can read it all at truthnet.org. My purpose here is only to get to the basics.
Back to my original question: Is Islam a peaceful religion? I was actually struggling with this part due to recent, and some not so recent, events. I was thinking about 9/11, the Fort Hood incident, and the Time Square bomber. But are these isolated incidents from extremists? Or could it be that these attacks are the norm for a religion that refers to non-Muslims as the derogatory term infidels? I have to admit that I'm not 100% sure I know the answer. The only thing I can say for sure is that the Quran, for which if you are a devout follower, would have you take the position of war, or jihad. The Quran says this:
Sura 5:51 - "O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."
Sura 9:29-31 - Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled. The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah." That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.
Even after this, let me be clear. I know that just as there are those who claim to be Christians that aren't, I also believe that there are those who claim to be Muslim, but aren't. (I am NOT claiming that Muslims have the Holy Spirit and could show evidence of God in their lives, just that there are pretenders.) And there are apparently many, many different sects of Muslims that believe in different things. So I do believe it's possible that there are nominal Muslims that do not advocate killing unbelievers of their faith. I also believe it's possible that they seek peaceful relations. But the question of peace boils down to this. If you are a devout follower of the Quran, the bible of Islam, you most certainly have to follow the doctrines that lead you to jihad, or you're not the follower you claim to be.
Let Us Reason and Contender Ministries. They are real eye-openers. But if you want to get a better translation of the text, find a verse you want to verify, and look that verse up at Quran.com. It breaks down the Quran chapter by chapter and gives you a translation to your liking.
What's even more frightening to me, though, is the position our current administration has taken in regards to the Muslim faith. Our president really doesn't take this threat seriously. It seems that his main concerns are the conservatives and the corporations (or Big Business). But according to Dr. Erwin Lutzer, our country should be taking the threat of Islamist extremism seriously. Not just from a terrorist perspective. But from a global dominance position. Watch this youtube video on Muslim demographics. You might, then, appreciate what is at stake.
Think about this: If the Muslim population already has a quarter of the world's population, how much longer do you think it'll take for them to control all the world's governments? Do we really want to be ruled by Sharia law? Do women? Do minorities? Does the homosexual community? Don't think it can happen? Think again. Already we see certain Muslims being appointed in our current administration favoring Sharia law. And no, I'm not even talking about President Obama. Unless someone comes up with a case for it. But Muslims are now greatly represented and it will not take long for them to have complete control. They already have control over the U.N. Take a look, what is the leadership of the United Nations like? If they continue at this rate, the statistics are frightening. Will our country look like Israel does today, posturing against the Palestines? How much longer will that take? We may end up fighting for our very lives.
All of this may seem dismal. And humanly speaking, it is. I personally do not believe that Islam is a peaceful religion. I think they have ulterior motives and when they gain control through global dominance, it's going to be devastating unlike anything we've ever seen. We'll see persecution of Jews and Christians, unlike we've ever seen. And that's saying a lot considering there have been numerous martyrs of the Christian faith and of Jews just from the time when Jesus was here.
But...is that the end? The end of all hope? Of course not. As Christians, we know the ending. But don't we also know what are supposed to be the final few chapters of our history? Something about the tribulation? Something about a world population with different kings and nations rising up against Christians, and more importantly, our Lord Jesus Christ? I may be mistaken, but I think the end times are coming. And we're seeing the signs. Jesus had a lot to say about this in Matthew 24:
Signs of the End of the Age
1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.
26"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29"Immediately after the distress of those days
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
30"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
32"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So for all you Saints out there, be prepared! And be alert! The end is near.