Why do Muslim terrorists slaughter less devout Muslims?
Islamic terrorists are curious things. Not content with killing Christians and Jews, they also seem keen to slaughter their less-devout fellow Muslims.
We weep for our Christian brothers and sisters who had their lives tragically snuffed out in Pakistan and Kenya: we are commanded to pray for our fellow believers who are imprisoned or endure persecution. And yet there are many scriptures which exhort us to pray for all those who suffer, of whatever race or creed. They are all our neighbour.
The zealous Muslims of Boko Haram ("the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad") in Nigeria deem their lukewarm brothers worthy of death, and so they assaulted an agricultural college and gunned down dozens of students, aged 18-22, as they slept in their dorms.
"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," one surviving student told Reuters.
"They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them," Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.
Almost all of those killed were Muslims. Those who had to identify the dead were Muslims. Those who now wail and mourn their loss are Muslims. Those who have to live their lives in the shadows of this horror are Muslims.
In the picture above, one student has his fists clenched to his chest, in seeming self-defence; another has his arms raised, apparently in surrender; yet another has his hands clasped under his chin, as if in prayer.
Boko Haram aims to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. The Christian south needs to be 'cleansed', and the north encouraged to become more 'pure'; ie to adopt the precepts and practices of the Boko Haram sharia school of Islam. The group has developed something of a habit of attacking schools and colleges - where 'Western' educators of any faith are executed, and the youngest pupils often burned alive. It isn't only the churches - though these are also attacked and their priests and pastors tortured and killed.
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of (Islam), (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Christians)" (Sura 9:29).
There is not much 'Religion of Peace' for those whose vocation is to exterminate the non-believer. And for Boko Haram that includes those who are infected by the Western world (including anyone who agitates for democracy). And all assessment of that infection is carried out by Boko Haram. There is no trial, no judgment and no appeal. Punishment is summarily meted out - even if you're an imam.
Because some Muslims believe and some Islamic clerics teach that "Islam is known to be a religion of peace and does not accept violence and crime in any form." Ergo Boko Haram does not represent Islam.
Let us leave that debate today for the theologians and jurists of Islam. And let us Christians weep with those who weep, and pray for those all over the world who are persecuted, tortured and murdered for their faith (or lack of it).