Islamic State of…
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) call themselves simply “Islamic State” because their goal is to use violence to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, meaning kingdom. They believe that the 12th Imam, an historical figure from the 9th century A.D., also called the Mahdi, will reappear and lead Muslims in a worldwide holy war. He reappears at the start of the Islamic extremist version of the End Times. What happens next? An apocalyptic war in which all who refuse to convert to the extremist version of Islam are put to death. And that is how ISIS believes its worldwide Islamic State will be established. They also believe that, in order to usher in the End Times and prepare for the reappearance of the Mahdi, they must start a major war with the West.
An article in The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, discusses the belief system that drives this extremist organization. ISIS “considers itself a harbinger of — and headline player in — the imminent end of the world.” They intend to kill all the “infidels”, that is to say, all non-Muslims. But devout peaceful moderate Muslims will also be killed by them. For extremist Muslims consider all moderate Muslims to be apostates — as if they were not Muslims at all.
“the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim ‘apostates’ are the most common victims.”
Currently, non-Muslims who do not resist the authority of ISIS are allowed to live. They are under severe subjugation, have no rights, may not worship publicly or privately, and must pay a heavy tax. However, this tolerance for non-Muslims is temporary. Their theology, if it could be called that, has the ultimate goal of a world with zero Christians, zero Jews, zero non-Muslims. The driving tenet in the ISIS belief system is “Convert or die.” That is how they think to establish a worldwide Islamic State. Everyone who disagrees will be dead.
ISIS is seeking a war to end all wars: “the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.” Who is this enemy, that they are anxious to battle? It is the western nations: the U.S., the European nations, and Israel. They are not fighting us because of our foreign policy decisions, nor because we fought the two Gulf wars in their region of the world. They fight us because we do not adhere to the extremist version of Islam. We are the main obstacle between them and the worldwide Islamic State which they consider to be their destiny. They believe they have a right and duty from God to conquer the world and to kill all who refuse to covert.
They actually believe that Jesus Christ will appear with the Mahdi (12th Imam), as if Jesus were the lieutenant of the Mahdi. They think these two will fight together against Christians, Jews, all non-Muslims, and all who are considered to be unfaithful Muslims.
What did Jesus say, in the Gospels, about this situation? “But the hour is coming when everyone who puts you to death will consider that he is offering an excellent service to God. And they will do these things to you because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that, when the hour for these things will have arrived, you may remember that I told you.” (John 16:2-4). The extremists consider that they are offering an excellent service to God by killing Christians and many other persons, but instead they are greatly offending God. Pope Francis was right to say that killing the innocent in the name of religion is a type of blasphemy.
The current political and religious leadership of Iran has more or less the same beliefs as ISIS on the End Times. They are all Twelvers. They believe in the reappearance of the 12th Imam as the Mahdi who leads Muslims (just the extremists, of course) in a holy war against everyone else in the world. If I were to describe the apocalyptic beliefs of the Iranian leadership, I would just be writing again the above text on ISIS beliefs. Now I’m sure, to the Sunni adherents in ISIS and the Shiite adherents in Iran, there are differences of belief they consider to be important. But from a Christian point of view, it is essentially the same. The Iranian leaders believe that Iran will have a special role in the End Times, to start an apocalyptic war that will prepare for the reappearance of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam. And that is what ISIS also believes.
Iran’s strategy differs from that of ISIS. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. They have all the components needed to build an implosion-type uranium-based nuclear bomb — except enough weapon-grade uranium. They agreed to severe limits on their nuclear program for two reasons. The agreement gives them access to billions of dollars in frozen assets, which they can use to go to war against the West. And — in all likelihood — they possess one or more hidden uranium enrichment plants, where they can continue making weapon-grade uranium despite the agreement.
Soon Iran will have nuclear weapons, and they will announce it to the world. This announcement is necessary so that they can ramp up production of weapon-grade uranium at their non-covert facilities, to build more nukes in a shorter period of time. The West will not intervene after the announcement because Iran will threaten nuclear retaliation if we try to stop production in their known nuclear facilities.
Since they have the same goals, why are ISIS and Iran currently enemies? On one level, it is because they are two different sects of Islam: ISIS is led by Sunnis and Iran is led by Shiites. On another level, it is a question of power. If they work together, each group has to cede some power to the other, or one has to dominate the other. But I think this situation will change.
Iran plus ISIS
The Iranian announcement that they possess nuclear weapons will cause great rejoicing in the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. They will see this milestone as an increase in power and prestige for them. The extremists in every one of those nations will take heart and renew their fight for power. In the Western nations, perhaps radicalized Muslims will riot or suddenly undertake terrorist attacks.
But the reaction of ISIS will be the most troubling. ISIS will see that joining with Iran will give them a sudden increase in power, and the ability to actually undertake their desired war against the West. Iran will see that joining with ISIS gives them a sudden increase in territory and a large body of radicalized soldiers to send to war. Despite their theological differences, Iran and ISIS will form a pact against the West, and against all the non-extremist leaders of Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa.
Next, a small upheaval occurs in that region, whereby extremists, supported by Iran and ISIS, take control of the nations of that region. Only Israel will stand unconquered by the extremists. The other nations of that region will fall under their power, including Saudi Arabia. Iran and ISIS will thereby unite those nations as one group. With this increase in soldiers, territory, and other resources, and with the nuclear weapons that Iran will make, they will be able to undertake World War 3.
A new Sect
How can the Sunnis and Shiites be united, so as to undertake a major war, when their religious differences have kept them at odds with one another for centuries? I believe that the extremists will form a new sect, which is neither Sunni nor Shiite. It will be an extremist sect of Islam, with strong apocalyptic beliefs (as described above). For an extremist Sunni is really not so different from an extremist Shiite. Extremists are not known for theological subtleties. They use theology as a tool to justify their quest for power and their grave sins. But once they have enough power over Islamic society, I expect them to construct their own formal version of Islam, and to require all Muslims under their control to adhere to the new sect, abandoning the Sunni and Shiite sects altogether.
This establishment of a new sect occurs because persons who have power through religion, ultimately desire to control that religion, so as to keep and increase their power. The extremists will not tolerate Muslim scholars teaching or correcting them, based on the Sunni or Shiite understanding of Islam. So it is inevitable that the extremists will create their own new radical Muslim sect.
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