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Michael Youssef Talks Straight On Islam

Michael Youssef Talks Straight On Islam

By Andrew Harrod
http://philosproject.org/michael-youssef-on-islam/
May 27, 2015

Arab-American pastor Michael Youssef writes that "militant Islamists demand conformity to an ancient and merciless code of laws" that stems from the "original and authentic Islam of the seventh century." Youssef's compelling new book Jesus, Jihad, and Peace: What Bible Prophecy Says about World Events Today expounds on that claim, offering a fascinating analysis from an Egyptian native about Islam's essential character and its relationship to the free world.

Not everyone will agree with Youssef's analysis. Those who see militant Islam as a perversion of the faith will be troubled by Youssef's claim that Islamic Republic of Iran's founder Ayatollah Khomeini "was not expressing a distorted view of Islam." Youssef cites global supremacy as a "basic Islamic doctrine," and sees Khomeini's statements as perfectly aligned with Koranic teachings. According to Youssef, "Genuine biblical Christianity does not impose itself, but Islam, by contrast, is a religion of law, submission and punishment with a history ... of massacres, enslavement, torture and brutality far exceeding the crimes of the Crusaders."

Some apologists claim that Islam is a religion of peace, suggesting that the word "Islam" comes from the Arabic salaam. But Youssef contends that "anyone with even the most elementary knowledge of the Arabic language knows that Islam comes from aslama, or 'total submission.'" Efforts to rebrand jihad as warm and fuzzy (like a recent attempt by the Council on American-Islamic Relations) "appear more intended to confuse than educate." The idea of jihad as an inner struggle is actually "relatively uncommon" among Muslims, Youssef says.

What many do not know -- although this idea is well understood by those who take the Koran seriously -- is that Islam's central religious text leaves no room for moderation. While God blesses Jews and Christians (and Sabeans) in Koran 2:62, Youssef points out that "Muslim scholars generally interpret this verse as a blessing on the Christians and Jews who lived before Muhammad and his complete revelation." Muslim orthodoxy additionally maintains that "any nonliteral interpretation of the Koran is a compromise with Western godlessness."

Youssef correlates Islam's harshness with that faith's "unknowable deity," or Allah in Arabic. In Islam, God is an "entirely separate form of being -- remote, aloof and distant," while the "Christian assertion that we are created in God's image is blasphemy." The Muslim view of Allah is intertwined with the Arab view of leadership in which rulers must be absolute monarchs or dictators. Youssef points out that because Muslims see Allah as an unyielding and vengeful god, "they tend to interact with others in a judgmental, unforgiving way."

Youssef sees Islam as a threat to both Muslims and non-Muslims. "Almost since its inception, Islam has been at war with itself," Youssef wrote, adding that Shiites and Sunnis "have battled and killed one another in order to prove themselves to be the purest, most zealous, most dogmatic Muslims of all." Meanwhile, the existence of Israel on land that Muslims believe once belonged to the House of Islam strikes at the heart of Islamic ideology. "Muslims will not rest until the Jews either accept the Islamic religion or leave Palestine."

Youssef speaks about a "growing trend in Muslim countries ... toward Islamic fundamentalist ideology, regardless of which branch of Islam is advocated." Under Egyptian dictators Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak since 1973, for example, Islamic governments became more radical in an attempt to appease the extremists. Yet jihadists still assassinated Sadat in 1981 and a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated uprising deposed Mubarak in 2011. "Appeasing extremists never earns their gratitude -- only their contempt," Youssef remarks.

Outside of Muslim-majority societies, "'Islamophobia' is merely a label that radical Muslims use to silence and intimidate ... a form of jihad." With such tactics, "universities are becoming willing accomplices in squelching free speech, oppressing women and girls in the Islamic world and advancing ... a 'stealth jihad' agenda for America." "Islamically correct" views also dominate media organizations like the New York Times. "America, following in the footsteps of Europe, has made a seemingly suicidal decision not to defend its culture from being infiltrated and undermined by Islamists," he says.

"Islamic extremists see Christianity as the most potent ideological threat they face -- far more potent than other religions, communism or atheism," Youssef writes, adding that Christianity blocks the advancement of Islam on virtually all geographic, historical and ideological fronts. Radical Muslims view Christians and other non-Muslims as infidels who are faithless and treacherous.

But Youssef is careful to note that most Muslims are not radical. In 2013, in Youssef's native Egypt, "Muslims threw off the yoke of political Islamism and provided a historic proof that there are truly moderate Muslims and that extremists are probably no more than 20 percent or so of the Muslim world." But a May 2014 Pew poll showing 13 percent support for Al-Qaeda across 11 Muslim countries approximated 208 million Muslims, a not-so-small number that Youssef says worried him. He also wonders why Muslim moderates who "interpret the Koran according to their own conscience often do not speak out against the excesses of the fundamentalists who do not hesitate to respond with force and cruelty."

Notwithstanding Islam's "false worldview," Youssef says that he has "genuine affectation and appreciation for Muslim people," among which he has "many dear friends and acquaintances." "My heart aches for the Muslim," he writes, adding that the "Christian concept of salvation for sinners is completely unknown in Islam." On this earth, Muslims can never know if they have done enough to earn Allah's favor. "Islam is surrender without any guarantee of peace."

Ultimately Youssef recognizes that this struggle is not just a material one -- it's ideological. "No matter how many terrorists you kill, there are always more lining up to take their place in the name of entrenched Islamic doctrines," he concludes, emphasizing the need for a war of ideas. "Though the War on Terror is critically important in restraining the jihadist onslaught, war alone is not the answer. We must also fight for the hearts and minds of those who would do us harm."

Michael Youssef is the rector of The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia. It was founded in 1987 by Youssef. He left Egypt to attend college in Australia and immigrated to the United States in 1977. He founded the church with the theme of "Equip the Saints and Seek the Lost". The church now has over 3,000 members. The church radio and television ministry is called "Leading The Way".

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