Contre nous de la tyrannie l’étandard sanglant est levé…

It appears that many of our national leaders are clueless as to the history and orthodox teachings of Islam. That would be excusable if they admitted their ignorance. Instead, however, they offer wildly inaccurate statements and attack “straw men” in order to perpetuate a myth about Islam as a religion of peace.

While all Western societies stagger from news of the recent atrocities in Paris, no one doubts that ISIS has proudly taken credit for this slaughter. Some leaders (Hollande, Cameron, Putin) have rightly identified “radical Islamic terrorism” as the source of this most recent evil . But our administration (and all the Democratic candidates running for president) are peculiarly unwilling to link this and most other terror attacks to the religion of Islam.

At the recent Democratic presidential candidate debate, held the evening after the massacre in Paris, each candidate was asked if they would agree (with Marco Rubio) that “we are at war with radical Islam.” All three offered incoherent responses. Martin O’Malley declared, “I believe calling it what it is … radical jihadis,” as if “jihad” has somehow become detached from its origins in the Qur’an and Islamic theology as a term of warfare against the non-Muslim world. Bernie Sanders eschewed the term used by Rubio, declaring that those words are not “what’s important.” Instead, the real issue is groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda who are “a danger to modern society” principally in their treatment of women and children.” Apparently Mr. Sanders hasn’t taxed his mind enough to ask what motivates such groups to spring to life, and why they pursue the dangerous course they are on. Hillary Clinton gave the most expansive, yet vacuous answer: To say we are at war with radical Islam would be “…painting with too broad a brush.” She dismissed the phrase as “not particularly helpful,” and then went on to set up and knock down straw men — “I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists.” Thank you very much for that scintillating analysis. From what source, pray tell, do these jihadists spring? Buddhist monasteries? Secular humanistic think-tanks? Western capitalists planning the overthrow of the world? Right wing Christian seminaries? Taoist sleeper cells?

Parroting Mr. Obama, she offers up the bromide that the world is at war with “violent extremists,” meaning those who use “religion” for power and oppression. I wanted to see the expression on her face as she spoke, but I couldn’t because of the elephant in the room blocking the TV cameras. Is there any question which “religion” is directing its power and oppression against the rest of the world such that the world feels the need to protect itself?

The dog and pony show continued with Mr. Obama’s press conference and John Kerry’s later comments to the American Embassy staff in Paris. We’re winning against ISIL (known by everyone except our administration as ISIS); this terror attack is just an unfortunate, but minor, setback. Make sure you don’t confuse this group with anything tied to Islam, because as we all know, Islam is a religion of peace. What is the rationale for this attack, then? Apparently it is just the irrational desire to destroy — nihilism. When our present secretary of State, John Kerry, addressed our diplomats, he said that one could perhaps understand the “legitimacy” — then changed that word to “rationale” of the mindset behind the Charlie Hebdo attack (after all, cartoonists had offended Muslims by drawing caricatures of Muhammad, so why shouldn’t the aggrieved respond by killing the cartoonists and others behind the French magazine?). But now, this slaughter of 132 innocents, with hundreds more injured, by ISIS terrorists. In Mr. Kerry’s mind, there can be no rationale — certainly no religious (i.e., Islamic) one.

Perhaps a reading of the ISIS missive, entitled “A Statement on the Blessed Onslaught in Paris against the Crusader Nation of France,” would help those unable to grasp the motives of these particular terrorists. It begins with the bismillah, the phrase which opens every chapter of the Qur’an save one: “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” followed immediately by a quotation 59:2 of the Qur’an: “Allah said, ‘They thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah; but Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and he cast terror into their hearts so they destroyed their houses by their own hands and the hands of the believers.’ So take warning, O people of vision.” The terrorists are variously referred to as “brothers,” “soldiers of the Caliphate” and “believers.”  The attack is termed a “battle” which was victorious due to Allah. Paris is described as “the capital of vice and prostitution, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe” (not many in the Western world would think of Paris as leading the mission of Christ in Europe, but in the eyes of fundamental Muslims, this fantasy justifies their hatred). The “believers” targeted this enemy in hopes of being “…killed for Allah’s sake, doing so in support of his religion, his prophet…, and his allies.” By their efforts, Allah “…cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland” (a reference back to the quotation of Sura 59:2). The letter culminates with a warning to France and all non-Muslim nations that they will remain at the top of the ISIS target list and that “…the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake in the crusader campaign, as long as they dare to curse our prophet…, and as long as they boast about their war against Islam in France and their strikes against Muslims in the land of the Caliphate….” This warning is punctuated with “God is the greatest” (i.e., Allahu akbar, rendered in English), and the letter closes with a final quotation again from the Qur’an: “And to Allah belongs all honor, and to his messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know” (63:8).

In spite of this direct communication from ISIS principals demonstrating their clear, Islamic mindset, Western leaders as illustrated by British Home Secretary Theresa May continue to declare that these attacks “…have nothing to do with Islam.”

Certainly it is true that not all Muslims subscribe to the orthodox Islam promoted by ISIS. But Islam by its very nature is hegemonic, supremacist, power-hungry and violent when necessary in order to advance its religiously-driven tyranny over the rest of the world. The problem is not Muslim people by and large, who are more victims of this terrible scourge than perpetrators of it, but the tyranny of Islam will continue to bloody the world body until non-Muslims have the will to decisively resist.

The title of this blog comes from the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, written in another time under very different circumstances. Yet in the mysterious ways of Providence, these words still steel the backbone of those under threat of subjugation: “Against us the bloody standard (banner) of tyranny is raised….” May the French today (and all the free world) be heirs of those who centuries ago resisted tyranny, and may we stand strong against those who would force an Islamic wasteland on those who love freedom. “Marchons, marchons…!”




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13 Responses to Contre nous de la tyrannie l’étandard sanglant est levé…

  1. Pat Nichols says:

    i learn so much from your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.


  2. Frank Norment says:

    I agree with Pat—could explain the difference between ISIL and ISIS.


    • mateenelass says:

      Frank, ISIL and ISIS are acronyms referring to the same terror group. The first three letters “ISI” are initials for “Islamic State of Iraq….” The last letter refers to the region of Syria, using two different terms: the “S” refers to the name Syria or Sham (a colloguial way in Arabic to identify Damascus specifically or Syria more generally. The “L” refers to the term “Levant,” which is an older European way of referring to the larger region of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel/Palestine. I’m not sure why the US administration is so doggedly determined to keep using ISIL when the rest of the English-speaking world seems to have settled on ISIS, but my guess is that they want to avoid mention of Syria and their foreign policy failures there as much as possible, and so go with the acronym using “the Levant” (which hardly any Americans have ever heard of) rather than the one naming Syria. By the way, in Arabic the acronym for ISIS is “Daesh”, which is sometimes used by John Kerry. Arabs don’t use acronyms nearly as much as Americans, so Daesh sounds kind of funny and unimportant to Arab ears, and comes across as kind of insulting to ISIS, which is the intention of using the acronym.


  3. Sandra Laughlin says:

    amen and amen…thank you for this. I am posting where ever someone might read it! We are ignorant. I told a bleeding hart for the poor refugees yesterday that having a heart should not preclude having (& using) a brain! WE are called to turn the other cheek, to show love, compassion & mercy, our government is called to protect us!! Different “rules”.

    When are you coming to see us?



  4. Susan Chunn says:

    Thank you for the clarity on this subject . Years ago you some at a New Life retreat and spoke of the difference you found in the vengeful God of Islam (and other faiths you investigated, using the illustration of the King inviting his children to the banquet table . You talked about the servants and how they would never be invited; the class divide would never be breached. Then you spoke of Jesus’ parable of the invited children not coming to the table so the King scandalized them by inviting the servants and strangers to his table and shaking up the expected order of things, illustrating a very different kind of King.
    I wonder if, in the vast lack of knowledge we Westerners have on the basic concepts of an angry, vengeful god of Islam compared to at least one of the views we hold, a loving, merciful God, if it would be helpful to speak about this foundational tenet of Islam that Western minds cannot comprehend as epithets are hurled re our bloody demise as the intention, command of their god.


    • mateenelass says:

      I’m not so sure today I would characterize the God of Islam primarily as angry and vengeful, but rather more as cold, distant and uncaring. Certainly to those who are doomed according to the Qur’an for not submitting to Islam his judgment would be experienced as angry and vengeful.


  5. Pat Dickinson says:

    Thank you, Mateen, for your courage and clarity. I pray that the rest of us will gain courage enough to stand firm against this terrible evil. I think one of the things I appreciate the most about your blogs is your willingness to point out how frightening this organization has become to the entire world. ?.not just a segment of it. We absolutely have to recognize who we’re dealing with and I hope it is becoming more and more clear. I don’t have any wonderful answers except prayer, and The sure knowledge that nothing is happening that is beyond the scope and the power of our God. Thank you for helping us to hear God more clearly and to help us be more determined To follow him more closely. Bless you.


  6. Kenny Brown says:


    Your concern about the nebulous response of Democratic politicians is convincing. They seem to avoid any recognition that ISIS is associated with any true form of Islam.

    Last night at the Gathering, our class at FPCE had a discussion of the related issue of the Syrian refugees and the call from many governors and Republican presidential candidates to block future immigration of Syrians. As you would guess, strong opinions emerged on that issue. Someone pointed out the the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a statement of strong support for the continued welcoming of Syrian refugees. Our church’s denomination, The Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), recently became a member of NAE.

    What is your thinking on this controversial issue that seems to split on political party lines?



    • Jay Norton says:


      I missed last night, unfortunately, as I was chasing middle schoolers around Wal Mart to fill Christmas “shoe boxes”. Suffice to say, I tend to agree with the NAE’s position, personally. With all due respect to our national leaders, I do not think it’s helpful to try to make sound policy decisions in the heat of passion. What I am seeing on TV and online seems to be a lot of headline-grabbing, and not much thoughtful analysis. Hardly anyone seems to have noticed, or even cared to to a Google search on what our refugee vetting process for Syrians has been this whole time. Short version: it’s extensive, and can take 2 years or more. Maybe it needs improvement, maybe not. Maybe there’s other areas like he VISA-waiver for EU passport holders that need examining like a few folks in Congress have pointed out. (All those Paris attackers that had EU citizenship and passports could have just bought plane tickets and flown here is what THAT potentially means).

      That said, I don’t remember Jesus putting conditions on when we were to help the poor and downtrodden. I don’t think we get a pass because we don’t think it’s 100% safe, or convenient, or the people in need of help are dirty Samaritans….I mean Syrian Arab muslims. I’m not saying our government should throw the door open wide, come one, come all…that we should throw discernment out the window…I’m just saying the last thing we need is to show the unbelieving world that our faith comes with conditions. It seems like a massive wasted opportunity to evangelize and witness. “Welcome to America, come and eat, let your kids play in the park and relax…the horror is behind you now.”

      PS I say this having never voted Democrat in my entire life… 😉


    • mateenelass says:

      Kenny, I’m going to try to write a blog for tomorrow on the question of how to respond compassionately yet wisely to the refugee crisis.


  7. Dear Brother Mateen,

    I am very confused about the distinctions between “radical Islam” and Muslims that renounce the actions of the “radical jihadist.” How do “normal” or “regular” or “moderate” Muslims cling to the belief that Islam is peaceful if, as you have said, it is “by its very nature is hegemonic, supremacist, power-hungry and violent

    When we consider the basic doctrine of Christianity, most would probably say that “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mt 22:37-40

    While the basic doctrine of Islam, as is believed by most Christians, is something like… “And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush.” Taubah 3:5 and other similar verses from the Koran. That is what makes it really hard for Christians to understand the meaning of “moderate” or “normal” Muslims vs “radical Muslims” or “jihadist”.

    When we look at the “whole counsel” of God we form a Biblical theology that explains the whole plan of our God and helps us to explain the verses that are terrible and ugly that cannot be explained when pulled out of context. (for example there is no way to explain, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him,” if it is taken out of context of “the whole counsel of God.” (Really it sounds a lot like the verse above from Taubah).

    Also when excegeting the bible we consider what are “descriptive” and “prescriptive” parts of what we are reading. Some “describe” and event but that is not to say that we must replicate the event. Others are didactic teaching that we are meant to do as “prescribed”. What happens when we use this hermeneutic when reading the Koran? How does that change the interpretation? Or, does it?
    So the question is, what is the “Koranic Theology” or “the full counsel of Allah?” Can it be explained in a simple way for Christians to understand how so called radicals will bomb and kill and so called moderates will not??

    Basically I am asking how a Muslim, against these acts of terror, deals with their own holy writings that speak of “killing the infidel” and such.

    Thank you for any help you can provide for me to understand these issues. If you have can think of any books to recommend, that would be great.

    Rhonda Haynes
    Missionary to Bolivia


    • mateenelass says:

      Rhonda, you have asked excellent questions that deserve far more attention than I can give in the comment response section. I intend to write a blog on the differences between moderate and radical Muslims. I hope that will be of use as you work through these questions. But let me say for starters the following:

      Unlike biblical exegesis, which depends on understanding context and authorial intent, quranic exegesis assumes that Allah is the direct speaker of all the words of the Quran. That is why so many suras begin (and contain in repetitive fashion the imperative “Qul”, which means “Say” or “Recite.” The command is given to Muhammad, who is simply the mouthpiece of Allah. Hence, the whole of the Quran is the whole counsel of God in a rather timeless fashion. The one, major interpretive rule of quranic exegesis is known as the law of abrogation, so that when there are known revelatory contradictions, whatever is the later or final revelation on a particular matter becomes the revelation that trumps all previous ones (a rule based on acceptance of progressive revelation). This law of abrogation is accepted by all 4 Sunni schools of jurisprudence. The only place they may differ is in trying to decide which revelations or earlier or later than others (something often difficult to do since the Quran itself offers very few temporal or historical markers to pin down when a particular recitation was first delivered).

      As relates to the question of jihad, unfortunately, there is no question that the last revelations on the subject are the most aggressive and violent (such as the so-called Sword Verse (at-Taubah 9:5) which you quote. For the orthodox Muslim, these most violent, anti-infidel passages abrogate the earlier, more tolerant “live and let live” passages.

      Likewise, based on Surat al-Ahzab 33:21, where Allah declares Muhammad’s life to be a “beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the final Day,” observant Muslims take seriously Muhammad’s example and try to pattern their lives after his. Since in the final decade of his life Muhammad participated in some 27 raids/battles himself, wielding the sword, and commanded his followers to engage in many more, and since he order the enslavement, or execution or ransoming of many prisoners of war as well as those captured and considered “war booty,” many of the most committed Muslims today believe they are pleasing Allah most when they imitate Muhammad and carry out the commands of the Quran and Hadith Qudsi (those particular hadith traditions which portray Muhammad as speaking Allah’s words directly, even though such words were not ever recorded in the Qur’an.

      As to how moderate Muslims “get around” the hegemonic, violent, power-hungry and supremacist teachings of Qur’an and Sunna, the best general answer is that they determine, against orthodox teaching, to simply overlook or jettison them in favor of a more sane and peaceful outlook on the world. (That’s my unvarnished opinion, for what it’s worth.)


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