IRAQ - WHAT AMERICA DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
People living in America have little understanding about the conflict with the fanatics in Iraq. The talking heads on the news programs always judge the issue from a military or political standpoint. Every politician has a remedy they claim will work and many people blast the President for mishandling or misjudging events. The real problem is that most Americans, including the majority of politicians in the United States, have no concept of the Islamic traditions connected to Iraq and how this is coming into play in the war. The average American has these questions:
These questions can only be answered when we understand the following:
1. The division between the Islamic religion – the Sunnis and the Shiites
2. The Islamic prophetic beliefs concerning the destiny of Iraq
3. The Islamic beliefs concerning the western powers
The Divisions Within the Islamic Religion
Muslims around the world agree on one thing: They all despise Israel and the Jews. If a person travels anywhere in the world and asks a Muslims about Israel and the Jews, all Muslims will have a negative opinion concerning the Jewish state. This is because the Islamic holy book, the Koran, states that the Jews are "swine" and that God turned some of the Jews into monkeys. This is taught in mosques and Islamic schools around the world.
The fact that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are the third holiest sites in the Islamic religion, and that Jews and Christians surround it, is a major conflict in the theology of the Muslims. According to Islamic theology, there should be no Christians or Jews in any area that is or has been Islamic controlled and marked with a major mosque. From 1517 to 1917, the Turks (Muslims) controlled all of Palestine, but the British seized the nation in 1917.
Because America is a staunch ally of Israel, the Muslims see America as having an ulterior motive for being in the Middle East, and that is to help protect Israel from dangerous dictators, such as Saddam Hussein. In the Arab world there are always numerous conspiracy theories that swirl from city to city and nation to nation. For some reason, the common people are very suspicious of those from western countries and believe they are linked to the CIA or some hidden government organization.
The War Between the Sunnis and the Shiites
After the death of the Islamic Prophet Mohammad, the religion split between two main groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites. Immediately, the two groups began to fight among themselves over who was the true heir of the "prophet." The conflict became so violent that the Sunni leadership actually killed the first 11 Shiite leaders. In fact, one of the early leaders of the Shiite branch was killed in Iraq, along with 70 of his followers. To this day the two branches are Muslim in belief. However, there is a great hatred between them. In Israel the Sunnis tend to be more moderate and the Shiites tend to be more fanatical.
This causes a problem in Iraq. The southern part of Iraq is Shiite Muslim, with strong links to Iran. Around Baghdad, there is the Sunni Triangle, where many of the rebels who are fighting American troops live. During the rule of Saddam, the Sunnis received special treatment and the Shiites were persecuted. Years ago, during an uprising, thousands of Shiites were murdered by Saddam and his henchmen. The Shiites remember their treatment under Saddam and also remember how most of Saddam’s army was Sunni Muslims.
Iraq has been the center of conflict between the two groups for over 1,350 years. There have been times of peace, but remember that Saddam fought Iran in a war for ten years. This was basically a Shiite verses Sunni conflict, since Iran is 98% Shiite Muslim. These two groups were killing each other long before the war of liberation by America and its coalition. The struggle today is partially caused by fanatics from both sides that are still at war.
The Prophetic Implications
One of the strongest beliefs that fuel the fire of conflict is the belief of the coming Islamic Messiah, the "Mahdi." Since 1993, I have been teaching from a prophetic perspective the important connection between the Islamic expectations of this future leader and the strange parallels with the future Antichrist of New Testament prophecy. The Muslims expect a special enlightened one, called Al Mahdi, to make his appearance on the world scene. He will convert the world to the Islamic religion, and he will punish anyone who rejects Mohammed and the Islamic religion. The punishment will be by beheading (Revelation 20:1-4). According to many traditions, especially among the Shiites, this final leader will appear in the area of Iraq, from the cities of Karballa or Samarrah. Recently, there was a cleric named al-Sadr who had formed a Mahdi army that was fighting and resisting U.S. troops. He is one of the many thousands who believe it is time for this Islamic leader to rise and defeat the west. He knows as long as America is in the region, the rise of Al-Mahdi will not occur.
This is an important point. As long as the United States remains in Iraq, our presence will "hinder" the appearance of the Islamic Mahdi. This is why there are so many kidnappings, bombings and demands that America pull out of Iraq. This is also why terrorists are increasing their attacks. If America can establish a democracy in Iraq, it will greatly hinder the ideas and the personal agenda of the fanatics in the area. It will also interrupt the prophetic expectations of many Muslims in the region.
I must also point out that many of the terrorists in Iraq are Muslims, but are not necessarily Iraqis. They are fanatics from other nations that have come into the country from across the borders to fight in this jihad against the west.
News commentators often ask the question, "Why is there such silence in the Islamic nations when fanatics behead an innocent person?" The answer is that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, teaches that Muslims can behead those who fight against them. Any Muslim country that would stand against the beheadings would, in reality, be contradicting the words of the Koran.
The truth is that during the past two years, America has placed a major dent in terrorism. However, after examining prophecy and studying Islam, I am confident this is the war that will lead to the rise of the Antichrist and the final mother of all battles in Israel, the battle of Armageddon.
There is no way to negotiate with the fanatics in Iraq, or in any other nation, since they are convinced they are doing the "work of God" by killing innocent people. The best way to handle these people is to do exactly what the U.S. troops are doing, and that is engage them head to head in conflict and remove as many as possible.
Will this battle come to an end? According to my prophetic view, this is a prophetic war that will open the door for many other major prophecies to be fulfilled in the future. If we are in the time of the end, then we as Christians should not be surprised or take on a negative spirit concerning what we see. God is still in control of the affairs of men, even in the time of war! If the conflict is eventually resolved, Iraq has the manpower and the intelligence to become the greatest power in the Middle East (next to Israel) in the coming years.