Fortress of Faith

Christian Apologetics toward Islam and Missions to Muslims

Islamic State of Syria and Iraq

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al-baghdadi-1Today I want us to look at what is going on in the Middle East, especially with the terrorist organization that first called themselves ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). This is a Sunni organization that has been fighting in Syria for some time. They have taken the Christian city of Raqqa as their capital for their new caliphate.
According to Al Jazeera, the Islamic news agency, they have re-branded themselves as IS (the Islamic State). They have declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere.”.This has been the growing desire of Muslims for some time.
We are going to address what has led up to this situation. We will look at what I think will happen over there and what it means to us here in the West.
Who is the leader of this group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? In his 30’s he was a Muslim Cleric with out any prestige. Later he studied for a PHD in the University of Baghdad. It is unclear whether or not he finished his studies. He formed a small group and became an insurgent fighter against America in Iraq. He was capture and detained by the US from 2005 to 2009. He was released when Obama pulled out of Iraq. When he was released he told the US guards “See you in New York.”
When Obama pulled us out of Iraq he did not get any kind of cease fire with the enemy. He just declared the war over and pulled our troops out, leaving the fledgling Iraqi government to fend for themselves. He would not agree to the Iraqi government’s status of forces agreement. He just wanted to leave 3,000 troops while his military leaders and the Iraqis were asking for a minimum of nearer to 20,000. When the Iraqis refused the agreement because of it being insufficient, Obama had the excuse he needed to pull out saying that it was the fault of the Iraqis if there was no status of forces agreement. As a result of Obama’s policies there has been a void in Iraq since we pulled out.
Since he was released in 2009, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his militia group has been fighting in Syria. They have not had the successes there that they thought they would get. They thought that Assad would be more easily overthrown. They saw an easy pick in Iraq because of Maliki’s policies which excluded the Sunni from the government and military leadership. They also saw that Iraq did not have the defenses needed to defend itself and so they turned their attention in that direction. They have easily taken control of one third of Iraq.
As a result this group has become one of the wealthiest  jihadist groups in history, reportedly holding up to $1 billion (Telegraph). Baghdadi’s forces hold land twice the size of Israel, spanning two countries. Neither Zawahiri nor his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, ever controlled territory even though Al Quaeda is the largest terrorist organization.
I believe that Baghdadi is premature. I think that because of the victories he has had the power has gone to his head.
He has proclaimed himself Caliph, but what does it mean to be a caliph? A caliph is a successor. According to Islam the Muslim world is to be ruled by one leader. The caliph is like the Pope in Catholicism. He is the religious, military, and political leader of all of Islam.
The Islamic world is looking to return back to the days of glory of the Ottoman Empire. That came to an end just before 1920. The Islamic world was set back on it heels. There were about 300,000,000 Muslims in the world at that time. Over the last 100 years they have experienced numerical growth, and they are now in the midst of revival.
In 100 years the Muslim population has grown from 300,000,00 to 1.6 billion. The discovery of oil in many of their lands has made them wealthy. They believe that this is their time because Allah has put wealth under their feet and grown their numbers. This is what the Arab Spring was about.
In the West we were led to believe that the Arab Spring was a movement away from fundamentalism toward democracy. Actually the opposite was happening. The people were actually trying to overthrow secular leaders and replace them with imams. If you follow Fortress of Faith you already know this.
There is also a war going on between the Shiite Muslims and the Sunni Muslims.  This is what has given ISIS the ability to make such great gains in Iraq. This war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims goes back to the death of Muhammad. He did not appoint the next caliph. It was clear to his closest associates that Abu Bakr, his best friend and closest associate, was to be the next caliph.
Abu Bakr ruled for about two years. He died a natural death. Umar was the next caliph and he ruled for about 10 years. When he died Uthman ruled for 12 years. There was a division building because some Muslims felt that the caliph should be someone from Muhammad’s bloodline. Because of this, many wanted Ali (Married Fatima) to be caliph. Ali was Muhammad’s cousin and had married Muhammad’s daughter.
The supporters of Ali assassinated Ulthman and Ali became the next caliph. He ruled for 5 years and was killed while praying in the Mosque in Kufa, Iraq. This was the beginning of the fighting between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. The Sunni do not believe that the caliph needs to be from Muhammad’s bloodline, but the Shea believe that he must be. The Shea are the smaller group and make up between 10 and 15 percent of the Muslim population.
After the death of Ali what we call the divided kingdom began. The Shea are mostly in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. The main Shea terrorist groups are Islamic Jihad from Syria and Hezbollah founded in 1982 from Lebanon. The main Sunni groups are Al-Quaeda founded in 1988 with Osama bin Laden (1988–2011) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (2011–present) as its leaders and, the Taliban, Here are some other Sunni groups:
Al Shabaab (The Youth) Somalia 2006 – Joined Al Quaeda 2012
Boko Haram (Western Education Forbidden) Nigeria
Mujahadeen (Strugglers – Workers of Jihad) Afghanistan
Hamas – 1987 – Palestine branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Maliki, the prim-minister of Iraq, is a Shiite. He is friendly with Iran because Iran is a Shiite nation. When you look at the alignment of the different groups that are fighting one another you can now see why they are doing so.
This information should help you see what is going on in the Middle East at this time. We will cover more of this in later posts.

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Updated: July 4, 2014 — 8:44 AM
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