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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 19 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Talk of the ‘End Times:' Millenarian Vision, Frightening Reality

By A. Rahi, New Age Islam

19 August 2015

This was in the mid 1970s, when I was hardly ten. A deadly civil war had broken out in Lebanon between Muslims and Christians.  “This might be the start of a Third World War, and the end of the world!”—that’s what maybe I heard someone say. Or perhaps that was what the newspapers were then whispering.

I still shudder when I think of those days—of me as a little child in a boarding school a thousand or more miles away from home, terrified at what I thought was the impending destruction of the world, and with no one in whose arms to rush into for safety and comfort.

That was the first time that I heard about the possibility of the end of the world, or the ‘end times’ as some religious traditions refer to it. Over the years, I’ve learned about how some religions envisage the end of the world and also what many scientists believe is the inevitable eclipse of the earth, or even of the whole universe, one day. This world has had a definite beginning, and it will have a definite end, too—this is what many religions and many scientists say.

In various religious traditions, different signs or happenings are believed to indicate the advent of the ‘end times’. In some traditions, the end of the world will be ushered in through an enormous global war, in which a vast number of people will be killed, and at the end of which good will ultimately triumph over evil.  ‘End times’ scenarios can seem terrifying, to say the least.

Christians and Muslims, taken together, form well over half the population of the world. Both the Christian and the Muslim religious traditions have much to say about the ‘end times’, although some scholars believe that at least some of this is apocryphal, being later concoctions. In both the Christian and the Muslim cases, it involves the emergence of an evil figure, an arch-enemy of God, who will deceive many people and will trigger off a war of global proportions, which will finally lead to his death and will herald the end of the world as we know it. In the Christian tradition, this evil figure is known as the Antichrist, and in the Muslim tradition, he is called the Dajjal.

Today, a far from small number of Christians and Muslims believe that the Antichrist or the Dajjal is either round the corner or has already arrived in the world. The Internet abounds with articles speculating on the identity of this person. A not inconsiderable number of articles claim that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed Muslim Caliph and leader of the terrorist ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS), is or might be this epitome of evil that is believed will appear at around the ‘end times’. They cite scriptural references for their assertion.

While, as can be expected, some Christians think Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is, or may well be, the Antichrist, interestingly, some Muslims think he may be the Dajjal, who it is believed, will deceive a great many Muslims by falsely claiming to champion Islam and by spreading hate, terror and violence on an enormous scale, and who will finally be killed by Jesus.

That Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his supporters are definitely enemies of God is obvious. The gut-wrenching evil that he and his henchmen are fomenting, and which they want to hoist on the whole world in the name of establishing a global so-called Islamic Caliphate, is, needless to say, nothing short of waging war against God.  Whether he is the Antichrist or Dajjal or not God alone knows. But judging by their fruits—by the horrific crimes that they continue to commit—Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his men are definitely arch-enemies of God and godliness. The Bible tells us: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”

In an article titled “Did Prophet Muhammad Warn Us of ISIS?”  Human rights activist Kashif Chaudhry writes:

A study of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad also demonstrates that he warned us of the rise of religious extremism in this age in astonishing detail.

1,400 years ago, he prophesized that a time would come when nothing would remain of Islam but its name, nothing of the Quran but its word, and that many "Mosques would be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance" […]. In these latter days, the true spiritual essence of Islam would be lost, and religion, for the most part, would be reduced to a ritualistic compulsion. He foretold that the clergy would be corrupt and be a source of strife during these times.

He also went on to describe terrorist groups such as ISIS that would try to hijack the Islamic faith. At this time of dissension, he said there would appear "a group of young people who would be immature in thought and foolish." They would speak beautiful words but commit the most heinous of deeds. They would engage in so much prayer and fasting that the worship of the Muslims would appear insignificant in comparison. They would call people to the Quran but would have nothing to do with it in reality. The Quran would not go beyond their throats, meaning they wouldn't understand its essence at all, merely regurgitating it selectively. The Prophet then went on to describe these people as "the worst of the creation."

Prophet Muhammad furiously and painfully described these evildoers, and admonished Muslims to beware of their evil and fight it. "Whoever fights them is better to Allah than them," he proclaimed

Reflect on this critical point. Whenever ISIS kills in the name of Islam, claims to follow the Quran, or […] spread[s] anarchy across the globe, know that Prophet Muhammad explicitly warned us of these imposters, and entrusted us to root them out.

If Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is indeed the evil one that the Christian and Muslim traditions prophesy will emerge towards the ‘end times’, he must certainly be opposed—by Muslims, as well as by others. And even if he isn’t the Dajjal, he, his army and his ideology must still be opposed, for he and what he stands for are definitely Dajjal-like.  Muslims, in particular, must speak up and out against him and his followers and the false, Satanic interpretation of Islam that they champion.

The Dajjal, it is said, will deceive many Muslims, enticing them to engage in horrific crimes against humanity. A number of Muslims, from different parts of the world, the media tells us, have already fallen into Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s trap, deceived by his rhetoric, enticed by the crimes he is falsely passing off as ‘Islamic jihad’. Let those Muslims who want to remain faithful to God wake up to the evil that this man and his followers are spearheading in the name of Islam. Let them reach out to their co-religionists, to warn them and save them from being swayed by their false claims. Let them expose and oppose the Satanic nightmare that this army of criminals, parading in the guise of champions of Islam, are seeking to hurl the whole world towards.

A hundred or so years ago, the destruction of the world by human hands was not a real possibility. But today, in the nuclear age we live in, it isn’t any longer so. What seemed impossible a century ago is quite possible today. There are enough and more evil-minded men around who, claiming to champion this or that religion (in most cases, Islam and Christianity), seem to be pining or even plotting for the grand destruction of the world. Some of them might even be goaded into trying to make the final global war that their religious traditions talk about into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Terrifying, isn’t it?

That’s exactly how I felt as a child, some four decades ago, when news about war between Muslims and Christians in far-off Lebanon gripped the headlines.

Yes, it can be unnerving, to put it mildly. The comforting fact, however, is that this world is God’s. It was made by Him. It belongs to Him. And it is He, and no one else—and certainly no Satanic monster who claims to speak in His name—who will decide its destiny.