Will Donald get his way on the travel ban or won’t he? His executive order against 7 Muslim majority countries has caused uproar and various legal challenges. But would a travel ban be effective against terrorism in the first place? Can only Muslims from these particular countries be considered a threat?
Many liberals are suggesting that Donald has just got the wrong countries; in particular, he should have stuck one of his drawing pins in Saudi Arabia. After all, 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. The other argument is that Wahhabism – the puritanical version of Islam favoured by radicals – is a Saudi product. But this misses the point. Firstly, there’s not much migration from Saudi Arabia to the US. Some women who’d like to drive and go to the shops their own might be keen to live there, but due to the Kingdom’s twitchiness about dissent, we don’t get to hear from them much. But more importantly, Wahhabism is not subject to border controls. All you need is a yearning for Paradise, the commitment to take Islam very seriously and a broadband connection.
We know about this in Europe. All four of the bombers in the 7/7 attacks in London were British. Most of the Paris attackers were either French or Belgian. And where does Islamic State recruit from? From the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland – not including the rest of the world. Radicalisation is a global phenomenon.
So perhaps Donald should go back to his earlier idea, of banning Muslims altogether from entering the US? Mightn’t it, through volume alone, reduce some of the risk? And yet many Americans, including those on the Christian Right, baulk at the idea of banning someone from Land of the Free based on their religion alone. This aversion has its roots in Christianity; when asked who our neighbour is, Jesus replies ‘the Samaritan’ – in other words, someone very foreign to us, with very different beliefs and practices. He also tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Practically speaking, a blanket Muslim ban is also hard to implement; think large numbers of fake conversions to Christianity. But more to the point, it still doesn’t address the ideological root cause of radical Islamic terrorism, based on the violent edicts in the Qur’an and the violent life of Muhammad.
Back to the ‘yearning for paradise.’ There is no guarantee of heaven in Islam: but your best chance of obtaining it is by dying as a martyr in jihad. Sura 4:74
Hence, let them fight in Allah’s cause – all who are willing to barter the life of this world for the life to come: for unto him who fights in Allah’s cause, whether he be slain or be victorious, We shall in time grant a mighty reward.
Does this sound like motivation for Maryam, the British woman who went to Syria to fight in 2013? I wonder if she’s still alive. Here’s what she said back then:
“I couldn’t find anyone in the UK who was willing to sacrifice their life in this world for the life in the hereafter… I prayed, and Allah ruled that I came here to marry Abu Bakr…You need to wake up and stop being scared of death… we know that there’s heaven and hell. At the end of the day, Allah’s going to question you. Instead of sitting down and focusing on your families or your study, you just need to wake up because the time is ticking.”
The Bible talks about our longing for an afterlife in Ecclesiastes 3:11: God has “set eternity in the human heart,” which Calvin called our ‘sense of the divine.’ Atheists think this is something we need to repress, whilst reconciling ourselves to our destiny as plant fertiliser. I don’t see why a Muslim with a yearning for paradise would become an atheist. But listen to Jesus’ alternative:
“For God so loved the world that he gave His One and Only Son, so whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)
Jesus, God made flesh, guarantees salvation for everyone who believes in Him. Not that our Muslim friends will accept this at face value; it will take confronting and offending and demolishing sincerely held beliefs. But what an alternative we have to offer! What radical Muslims need most are radical Christians, brave enough to tell them the Good News – wherever they are in the world.