Since the “Arab Spring” the Middle East has seen the overthrow of numerous governments, the rise of The Caliphate (or The Islamic State) and the increased military intervention activity of Iran. The recent intervention of Russia on behalf of the Assad Government in Syria’s civil war has drastically changed the former world power status of the United States as its influence disappears and Russian domination fills that vacuum.
Yet, all of the involved Western powers and Russia still misunderstand the fundamental motivation behind the rise of The Caliphate and Iran’s war making. This is a war of apocalyptic proportions, not merely territory and politics. It is a war of worldviews, neither of which can tolerate nor accommodate the other.
Islam: Vision and Violence
Islam began with a vision which assumed the form of a religion. Muhammad was as much a nationalist as prophet. In striking similarities to others such as the founders of Mormonism, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Muhammad saw that a nationally-originated religion would unify a people and spread with its new identity. Arabia in the seventh century was a mix of Jewish, Christian, and idolatry-based religious communities. The most common deity among the Arabs was the Moon goddess. Muhammad saw a people of city dwellers, nomads, and the other beliefs and was moved to unify them under a doctrine that drew on the concepts he learned from Jews and Christians, combining them with local traditions such as the Kaaba.
Islam drew an audience which spread the green banner of Muhammad and expanded rapidly. Islam sees no secular or religious separation. It is a way of life and a worldview and individualism is not welcomed or in many sects even tolerated. Apostasy is punishable by death. It has developed into two major sects, Sunni and Shia, the differences being in who was considered the rightful successor to Muhammad. Other sects such as Wahhabi (Sunni) and variations within sects are considerable.
But the common denominator is full belief, acceptance and obedience to the Quran. Islam has worked towards a goal of world submission through Pan Islam either by missionary type of conversion or forced submission such as The Caliphate is engaged in along with its rapidly increasing affiliates in Russia, China, Africa, and other locations.
The Mahdi Apocalypse
Both Shia (The Caliphate) and Sunni (Iran) are working towards the ultimate goal of bringing about The Mahdi, the End Times leader of Islam who will move the world towards total submission. The Caliphate uses brutality and a clever strategy of social media and internet technology to recruit those who see their form of Islam as a place to position themselves in a movement which uses power as a tool and rewards fighters with the spoils of war. It has a cult-style community and is spreading far beyond its borders in Iraq and Syria. Iran uses a more sophisticated international type of warfare. It finances and supplies proxy armies and factions to support its expansionist and Mahdist goals.
Perhaps the simplest way to determine why both sects are so heavily involved in warfare and why Western powers cannot effectively confront the aims of each is to examine the conflicting worldviews. Western society is essentially secular and individualistic. Religion is separate from government policy and in personal life it is a part time commitment. There is a separation of church and state and in Islam this does not exist. The Semitic worldview includes Judaism and Islam and the individual finds their place within their faith and within their tribe. The present status of Western society devalues the family and secularism is dominant. This gives cohesion to the Semitic viewpoint that is lacking in the Western intellect. Western minds cannot fathom the attraction of an apparently absolutist Islam and a Judaism that obeys Torah; laws that govern lifestyle choices including food, worship, and other daily events.
Israel: the key to confronting the enemy.
Until the governments of America, Europe, and other combatants learn to think with the mind of their Islamic adversaries, attempts to stop the violent march of extremist Islam are doomed to frustration and failure. Israel has dealt with the minds and acts of violent extremists and her survival in the face of overwhelming odds and wholesale desertion by former allies is proof. World leaders would do well to work with Israel in confronting the rise and apparent success of extremists in both the Sunni and Shi’a camps.