Horrific events like Tuesday’s jihadist attacks in Brussels should not come as a surprise, says noted evangelical preacher Franklin Graham, since hatred and violence against nonbelievers are central to the teachings of Islam.
“Why does Islam hate so much?” Graham asked in a recent Facebook post. “It’s because the Quran teaches its followers to hate.”
“Jews, Christians and others are to be subdued so that Islam may ‘prevail over all religions,’” he added. “It’s all in the final chapter of the Quran—‘Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits,’” he said.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) March 24, 2016
Rev. Graham, the son of celebrated evangelist Billy Graham, is part of a growing group of scholars and preachers who suggest that the evil actions committed by Islamists around the world are not exceptions to the “real” Islam, but rather stem from the very heart of what Muhammad himself lived and preached and what is written in the Quran.
In the past, scholars like Thomas Aquinas and Hilaire Belloc were convinced that the problem for the West did not come from Muslim “extremists,” but rather from Islam itself. Belloc famously called Islam “the most formidable and persistent enemy” of Western civilization.
In his post, Rev. Graham references the testimony of a former Muslim who recounts his story in a USA Today article titled “The Quran’s Deadly Role in Inspiring Belgian Slaughter.”
The writer, Nabeel Qureshi, says, “I am concerned how little we in the West understand why peaceful Muslims who live among us are drawn into radical Islam.”
Qureshi writes that he began to investigate the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad’s life, stating, “I found to my genuine surprise that the pages of Islamic history are filled with violence.”
The author downplays other explanations that have been given for Islamic radicalization, such as the State Department’s suggestion that a “lack of opportunity for jobs” was to blame, or that religious concerns and a drive to bolster one’s personal identity moved Muslims to radicalize.
“ISIL’s primary recruiting technique is not social or financial but theological,” Qureshi writes, adding:
With frequent references to the highest sources of authority in Islam, the Quran and hadith (the collection of the sayings of the prophet Muhammad), ISIL enjoins upon Muslims their duty to fight against the enemies of Islam and to emigrate to the Islamic State once it has been established.
Qureshi says that the Internet “has made the traditions of Muhammad readily available for whoever wishes to look them up, even in English,” effectively bypassing centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations. When Muslims do this, “they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.”
If Qureshi’s thesis is correct, a new conversation may be needed about the reality of Islam and its relationship with violent jihad. If the catalyst to terror is not Muslim “extremism” but Islamic belief itself, Islam will have a harder time presenting itself as a “religion of peace.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome.