Recently I have joined many others following the IS actions in the Mideast. Any seminary graduate knows about the Muslim original Caliphate in history and now once more proclaimed by IS. What most people are foggy about are the original details and its implementation by some of today’s Muslims. I mean, when might it become dangerous to me?
News reports are filled with many executions by IS of persons not deemed pure enough, other Sunni Muslims, Shia and other Muslim “heretics”, non-Muslims who are all kafir, or ‘unbelivers’. As a result of their extreme fundamentalist Islamic views, IS has chosen to recognize a conversion to Islam as the only response by unbelivers as acceptable. They usually dismiss the paying of a tax and avoiding harassment or death, but will sometimes allow non-Muslims to immediately leave IS territory.
Last weekend we happened to watch the 5 hour PBS presentation on Jewish history. What shook me up was the reports of what went on in Northern Lithuania 1941. Survivors of that year shared what had happened to them when Soviet forces invaded their country followed immediately by German Army troops who ousted the Soviets. The graphic descriptions of numerous genocide events which wiped out 740, 1220, and other smaller numbers of Jews by the Nazi forces sounded very similar to IS reports from today. German SS choices of method were different. They did not cut off heads, but were equally effective by other gruesome methods of annihilation perhaps more barbaric. It was the similarity of these separate events which got me thinking about the meaning of actions some 74 years later.
IS, of course, is fueled by religious extremism. They see themselves purifying and converting the world, and have stated they expect their version of Sharia Law to rule the world. It is a religious crusade to please Allah and, of course, bring enlightenment and joy of acknowledging Allah to all. In an exceptionally short time, surprising everyone, they graduated from guerrilla forces to conventional army. Much of their heavy weapons were originally supplied by the USA to Syria and other countries and captured by IS forces.
Nazi Germany also saw itself as purifying and taking over the world. Hitler expected that eventually German rule would be the world’s rule. It was not only Jews which were eliminated. The list included the physically handicapped, homosexuals, Gypsies, various religious groups, racial groups not Aryan, and others. The Nazis often waited a brief time before including groups other the Jews. Hitler used the Jews as the source of all unfairness and difficulties which the German Volk (people) had been experiencing. So, Hitler initiated the Nazi cleansing of his territory and elimination of the problems.
If you read the expectations of the German groups targeted by their Nazi government, many believed such persecution would never happen to them in civilized, moral Germany. Such brutality was unthinkable that Germans would stoop to such levels. What happened to criminals was what they deserved. It was the state protecting them. Some Jews thought their military service and medals would protect them. Hitler, after all, had served with a Jew in his unit in WWI.
Such similarities as these has made me wonder if we might not be observing history about to repeat itself if corrective action is not applied sooner rather than later.