“If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here; this is the real Disneyland. You need to come here and join us, and take pleasure in this fun.” So said Muhammad Al-Amriki in a video titled: “Minnesota’s Martyrs: The Path to Paradise.”
Al-Amriki was born Troy Kastigar and lived in Minneapolis. He apparently died several years ago while fighting in Somalia. The video is part of a larger strategy by al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda proxy group in Somalia that staged the Kenya massacre last month. They’re in the news again after the aborted U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 attempt to capture one of their leaders.
So far al-Shabaab has recruited more than two dozen young men from the Somali-American population of Minneapolis-St. Paul to radical Muslim training camps overseas. Reports indicate that up to three of the Kenyan mall gunmen were Americans. A Somali leader in Minnesota lost his nephew to this recruitment strategy. His response to the video is telling: “We and Al-Shabaab have one thing in common: we are competing for the hearts and minds of the young people.” He’s right.
In his new book, The Global Public Square, Os Guinness quotes Johari Abdul-Malik, director of outreach at the Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia: “Before Allah closes our eyes for the last time, you will see Islam move from being the second largest religion in America—that’s where we are now—to being the first religion in America.”
Guinness also quotes Omar Ahmad, the cofounder of the influential Council on American-Islamic Relations: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. . . . The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” (Ahmad has denied making this statement, but the reporter who quoted him continues to stand by her story.)
The Qur’an instructs Muslims to “invite all to the way of thy Lord” (Sura 16:125). Like Muslims, Christians have a mandate to take our message to the world. Jesus commissioned us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Of course, our strategies are far different from those of radical Islamists. But our commitment to our calling must match theirs.
Charles Peace was a notorious British thief and murderer. Leonard Ravenhill, in his classic Why Revival Tarries, tells the story of Peace’s execution. The condemned man was led to his death by a prison chaplain who was “routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses” regarding the afterlife. Peace “was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell.” He said to the chaplain, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!”
Whose soul are you praying for today?