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OSU Rampage and Islamic Theology

By Gary F. Zeolla


      A Somali refugee and Ohio State University student plowed his car into a group of people who had just evacuated a campus building after a caller reported a gas leak — then slashed them with a butcher knife, leaving nine injured, before he was shot dead, according to officials and a report.

      When the attack began, police issued an “active shooter” alert that prompted a campus-wide lockdown and chillingly ordered students to “run, hide, fight.”

      A cop was on the scene within a minute and killed the attacker, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who became a legal permanent resident of the US, NBC News reported…

      A motive for the bloodshed was not yet known. ISIS militants and al Qaeda have publicly called for supporters to use vehicles as weapons — as an attacker who killed dozens in France did this summer (New York Post; Rampage at Ohio State: Somali refugee with knife attacks students. 11/28/16).


The Motive


      Authorities are focusing on a Facebook post by Abdul as to his motive for the attack:

       Just minutes before an 18-year-old Somali college student used a car and butcher knife to attack people on the Ohio State University campus Monday morning, he said in a Facebook post that he had reached a “boiling point” and was “sick and tired” of seeing Muslims around the globe “killed and tortured,” law enforcement officials told CNN and NBC (Washington Post, Ohio State attacker complained bitterly in Facebook post of treatment of Muslims ‘everywhere,’ reports say, 11/29/16).


      This claim of his was probably a red herring as it made little sense. More likely, the roots of his rage can be seen in an article that appeared in Ohio State’s student newspaper previous to this rampage in which Abdul was quoted.


      “I just transferred from Columbus State. We had prayer rooms, like actual rooms where we could go pray because we Muslims have to pray five times a day.

      “There’s Fajr, which is early in the morning, at dawn. Then Zuhr during the daytime, then Asr in the evening, like right about now. And then Maghrib, which is like right at sunset and then Isha at night. I wanted to pray Asr. I mean, I’m new here. This is my first day. This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray.

      “I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed” (reprinted at The Lantern, “From the archives: Ohio State attacker featured in Humans of Ohio State.” 11/28/16).


      Note the words “we Muslims have to pray five times a day.” Not “we get to” or “we are able to” but “we have to.” This legalism is part of the Islamic way of salvation, as seen in the *Five Pillars of Islam.

Follow the link for the article I wrote on this subject previously. This requirement to pray is the Second Pillar. In my discussion on it I relate that this legalistic attitude towards prayer grows out of the Islamic concept of God. I will not repeat that whole section here, but I will encourage the reader to read it.

      In fact, I wish the authorities would read that and my other articles on Islam. If they did, maybe they would be better able to understand Islam and why we here in the USA and in Europe keep suffering from one attack after another by Muslims.

      These attacks are not happening in a vacuum. They are not due to the attackers being “radicalized.” They are an outgrowth of Islamic theology. That most Muslims are not violent has more to do with them being westernized than their Islamic faith. The violent Muslims are acting in perfect accordance with what their faith teaches them. 


Contrast with Christian Attitudes 


      Islam is a salvation by works belief system. By that I mean, in Islam, as in all religions except true Christianity, a person must earn their way into heaven, or paradise, or Nirvana, or however salvation is defined in that religion.

      In Islam, salvation is defined as earning one’s way into paradise. And the way to earn this entrance is by abiding by the Five Pillars of Islam. One of these Pillars, as Abdul explains in the OSU newspaper, is by praying out loud a specific prayer five times a day, in a specific manner, with specified body positions.

      These prayers and prayer positions are unique to Islam, most notably the required body position of kneeling with one’s forehead to the ground. As such, if Abdul prayed these prayers in the open, he would be quickly identified as a Muslim. Given the many attacks by Muslims of late, he was afraid he would be identified as one such violent Muslim and suffer persecution as a result. That is why he was outraged at not being given a private prayer room.

      There are several things happening here that are in contrast to the Christian attitude on these matters. First, as a Christian, I do not consider prayer a requirement but a privilege. I do not have to pray; I get to pray. I want to pray, and I know that my prayers are heard due to what Jesus did for me on the cross. He opened the door for free access to God the Father.


      14And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we shall be asking anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have requested from Him (1John 5:14-15).

      Second, as a Christian, I can prayer anywhere, in any body position, at any time. I do not need a special room to pray. I do not need to use a specific set of words. I do not need to take a specific body position. I can pray wherever I am, in my own words. I can stand. I can sit. I can kneel. I can even lie down. None of that matters. All that matters is that prayer is from my heart. If I do not know how to pray, the indwelling Holy Spirit will lead me in my prayers:


            26So in the same manner also, the Spirit helps our weaknesses; for what we will pray for, according as it is necessary [for us], we do not know, but that very Spirit makes intercession on our behalf with inexpressible groanings. 27Now the One searching the hearts knows what [is] the mind-set of the Spirit, because according to God He pleads on behalf of [the] holy ones (Rom 8:26-27).


      But a Muslim knows nothing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the personal relationship with God this provides. To a Muslim, prayer is a requirement, not a relationship with God.

      This leads to the third point. As a Christian, I am not trying to earn my entrance into paradise by my prayers. I am praying as an outgrown of my relationship with God. It is simply me talking with the One who loved me enough to die for me. But to Muslims, prayer is a means of salvation. They must pray or they will not attain entrance to paradise.

      This is why Abdul was so outraged at not being give a room to pray. He probably took this as OSU trying to keep him out of paradise. It was not just a religious freedom issue with him. It was life and death; salvation or damnation. OSU was keeping him from keeping the requirements that would enable him to enter into paradise.

      How unlike this is from the Christian faith. No one can keep a person from salvation, as salvation does not require any kind of action on the part of a person. All a person has to do is to trust in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for their sins, and they will be saved. And nobody, not a university, not a government, not anything can keep a person from trusting in Jesus. It is from the heart, not an outward action.


      8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” [Deut 30:14]—that is, the word of the faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth [the] Lord Jesus [or, [that] Jesus [is] Lord], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from [the] dead, you will be saved! [cp. 1Cor 12:3] 10For with the heart it is believed to righteousness, and with the mouth it is confessed to salvation (Romans 10:8-10).


      The mention of confession leads to the fourth point. True Christians do not fear to confess publicly that they are Christians. This has been the case since the beginnings of Christianity and the early persecutions of Christians. It is dramatically portrayed in the “Martyrdom of Polycarp,” one of the books among the Apostolic Fathers that I translated recently (see Analytical-Literal Translation of the Apostolic Fathers). In it, faced with being thrown to the wild beasts in a Roman stadium, Polycarp boldly declares, “I am a Christian!” (MPo 10:1). This boldness is possible again due to the indwelling Holy Spirit:


            19But whenever they are handing you* over, you* shall not be anxious how or what you* should speak, for it will be given to you* in that hour what you* will speak; 20for you* are not the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your* Father [is] the One speaking in you* (Matt 10:19f).


      But again, Muslims know nothing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They thus do not have the boldness to proclaim their faith in the midst of persecution, especially when they are in the minority in an area. Instead, they have been the persecutors throughout their history, going back to Muhammed himself. In his later years, Muhammed used the sword to propagate his new belief system, and the latter portions of the Quran declare that Muslims should use violence against unbelievers. Thus throughout its history, Islam has been spread by the sword. And today, especially when they are in the majority or even a significant minority, they will persecute non-Muslims, especially Christians.

      How unlike this is from true Christians, who do not use force but persuasion to bring others into their fold, while being willing to suffer for doing good.


            15But sanctify [the] Lord God in your* hearts, and always [be] prepared with a defense to every[one] asking you* an account concerning the hope [or, confident expectation] in you*, with gentleness [or, considerateness] and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that in what they speak against you* as evildoers, they shall be ashamed, the ones slandering your* good conduct in Christ. 17For [it is] better to suffer [for] doing good, if the will of God might be willing [it], than [for] doing evil (1Peter 3:15-17).


      This relates to the fifth point, that although Muslims will shy from being martyred for confessing their faith, they will kill as a means of propagating their faith, even if it means they will die in the process. This has been seen in the many instances of Muslim suicide bombers and other Muslim terrorist attacks we have seen of late. They will sacrifice themselves to kill others as they believe that by killing people in the name of Allah, they will gain favor from Allah and thus earn entrance into paradise. How, unlike this is from Christians who follow the example and teaching of their Founder, Jesus Christ.


            43“You* heard that it was said, ‘You will love your neighbor,’ [Lev 19:18] and you will hate your enemy, 44but I say to you*, be loving your* enemies; be blessing the ones cursing you*; be doing good to the ones hating you*, and be praying on behalf of the ones mistreating you* and persecuting you*, 45in order that you* shall become [or, prove to be] sons [and daughters] of your Father, the [One] in the heavens, because He causes His sun to rise on evil [people] and good [people], and He sends rain on righteous [people] and unrighteous [people] (Matt 5:43-45). 


Muslims Coming to Christ


      True Christians do not and will not persecute those who are not Christians. If self-proclaimed Christians commit acts of violence in the name of Christ, they are doing so in direct contradiction to the example and teaching of Jesus. They are not true Christians. They are hypocrites, who need to repent and turn from such sinful and despicable actions. But so do Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Muhammed and Allah. But in their case, they are following the example and teaching of their founder. Until the authorities realize this, the problem of Islamic violence will never be solved.

      But Christians know the problem of Islamic violence will only be solved by Christians reaching out to Muslims in love with the truth of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is only by Muslims being freed from the violent and legalistic religion of Islam and coming into a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ that they will experience the joy and confidence of knowing they are saved.

      And this has in fact been happening among Iranian Muslim refugees in Germany. A priest who has baptized many of them states:


      “A lot of them come to Germany and think, here I can choose my religion and I want to choose a religion of freedom,” Mr Linke said. “For many Iranians that I’ve baptised, Christianity is the religion of freedom.” (Independent. Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity in Germany).


And it’s not just in Germany:

      These movements are occurring across the world even while Muslims face death and violent persecution if their [new Christian] faith is discovered. Many converts worship in underground small groups. This makes it difficult to determine the exact number of new believers, but Garrison estimates between 2 and 7 million….

      Garrison said one reason why this movement is prevalent now is more available Bible translations and multimedia evangelism. He added, “God has brought several elements together uniquely in our time. Some of them are old elements – Muslim violence is not new, this is one of the least violent centuries in Muslim history – but what’s different is today when Muslims experience this violence, they can see an alternative… they can switch on their Internet, they can turn on their television and hear an evangelist speaking Farsi or Kazakh or Uzbek” (The Greatest Movement of Muslims Turning to Christ is Happening NOW). 


New Testament Verses


      These Muslim converts to the Christian faith probably read New Testament verses like the following:


            17By this, love has been perfected [or, completed] with us, so that we shall be having confidence [or, a joyful sense of freedom] in the day of the judgment, because just as that One is, [so] also we are in this world. 18[There] is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. But the one fearing has not been perfected in love. 19We love Him, because He first loved us.

      20If anyone shall say [or, claim], “I love God,” and shall be hating his brother, he is a liar; for the one not loving his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to be loving God whom he has not seen? 21And this [is] the commandment we have from Him, that the one loving God should also be loving his brother (1John 4:17-21).

            11And this is the testimony, that God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in His Son. 12The one having the Son has the life; the one not having the Son of God does not have the life.

            13These things I wrote to you*, the ones believing [or, trusting] in the name of the Son of God, so that you* shall know that you* have eternal life, and so that you* shall be believing [or, shall continue believing] in the name of the Son of God (1John 5:11-13). All verses from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament.


OSU Rampage and Islamic Theology. Copyright 2017 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.zeolla.org).

The above article was posted on this Web site January 1, 2017.


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