Radical Islam seeks to attack us. Apocalyptic Islam seeks to annihilate us.
Radical Islam (al Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, etc) uses violence for the purpose of persuading Jews, Christians and other so-called “infidels” to withdraw from — and leave entirely — the holy lands and holy places they consider their own, namely the Middle East and North Africa.
Apocalyptic Islam (such as the top leaders of Iran, and the leaders of the Islamic State) do not merely seek to drive infidels out of their region. They are driven by ancient Islamic prophecies. They believe the End of Days is at hand, that their messiah (known as the Mahdi) will come at any moment to establish an Islamic kingdom or caliphate that will rule over the entire globe, and that the way to hasten the coming of the Mahdi is to annihilate the infidels who refuse to submit to their brand of Islam.
To be clear: having an eschatology is not necessarily wrong. What is both wrong and horrific is having an eschatology that requires a person or an entire religion to rob, kill, destroy and even commit genocide to achieve their religious objectives.
Devout Jews believe the Messiah will come one day to establish a global kingdom (see Daniel 7, Jeremiah 23 and Isaiah 9, among other passages). Christians believe this as well and believe that Jesus of Nazareth is, in fact, that Messiah and that He will come again to establish His kingdom in the last days (see the Book of Revelation, among other passages). Having said that, it’s important to understand that both devout Jews and Christians believe God will supernaturally achieve these objectives. We do not believe that God requires us to slaughter our enemies en masse to bring about the End of Days and establish His kingdom.
Most world leaders do not understand these issues. Most citizens don’t either. But the rise of Apocalyptic, genocidal Islam makes it urgent that we and our leaders study and understand these distinctions. We cannot defeat an enemy we cannot or will not define.
There are some similarities within Islamic, Jewish and Christian teachings about the End Times. Indeed, when it comes to the study of eschatology, most devout Muslims (Sunnis and Shias), Jews and Christians — that is, those who take their holy books seriously and haven’t rejected or drifted from the orthodoxy of their religions — agree on five basic points.
- Ancient prophecies in our holy books give us signs to watch for that will indicate when the End of Days has come.
- So many signs are coming to pass in our time that we can be confident that we are, in fact, living in the End of Days.
- The Messiah is coming to earth, and it is possible that this will happen very soon.
- The coming Messiah is the King, He will establish a global kingdom, and He usher in justice and righteousness on the earth.
- Each of us must live differently in view of the fact that we are living in the End of Days and the fact that each of us will face the Final Judgment soon.
That said, the vast majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are not dangerous. Polling research indicates about 7% to 10% of Muslims worldwide subscribe to the concept of violent jihad to achieve their objectives. And while all devout Muslims believe the Mahdi is coming in the End Times to establish a global caliphate, the vast majority do not support violence much less genocide to achieve those ends. But some do, including the leaders of Iran and ISIS, and that’s what makes them so dangerous.
What, then, are the main differences between Apocalyptic Islamic eschatology (based on the Qur’an and the hadiths) and Biblical eschatology (based on the Old and New Testaments)? I’ve prepared a simple chart to draw out some of the important distinctions.