Disenchantment with Islam under Islamists?
Christianity Today has an interesting article by J. Dudley Woodberry, dean emeritus and senior professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. Titled "Muslim Missions: Then and Now" (September 8, 2011), it compares Christian missionary work among Muslims before and after 9/11, but also draws some general inferences about the consequences of Islamism for Christianity -- and allows, I suggest, for even more general inferences of a secular bent, as we shall see:
[M]ore rigid or militant forms of Islam often increase receptivity to the gospel. This happened during the Khomeini Shiite revolution in Iran in 1979 (22 years before 9/11) and the Sunni Taliban takeover in Afghanistan that facilitated 9/11. In fact, Iran and Afghanistan reveal a broader pattern: Whenever Muslim governments have adopted a militant type of Islam or have tried to impose a form of Shari'ah law -- and where there has been a local example of an alternate, friendly Christian presence -- Muslims are attracted to the gospel. But persecution [by Islamists] often follows.I think that we could draw an even more general inference. Wherever Islamist governments are set up, those Muslims who have to live under the repressive shariah that regulates every detail of life become disenchanted with Islam and more open to democracy and human rights. An Iranian student of mine confirmed this about Iran under the mullahs and their rigid Shi'ite Islamism. Millions of nominal Muslims in Iran have no interest in Islam and would reject it instantly if given a choice. Attendance at mosque is very low, despite governmental pressure upon the population to conform to Islamic values. The government is widely seen as corrupt, and rightly so, for it is corrupt.
The receptivity has also been particularly noticeable when Muslim factions are at odds [and fighting each other] -- such as the Mujahideen militias after they had driven the Soviets out of Afghanistan in 1989, the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, and the herdsmen and villagers in Darfur [in Sudan]. Such hostilities and their resultant migrations, natural disasters in Bangladesh and Aceh [where Christians provided more aid than Muslims did], and ethnic resurgence among the Kabyle Berbers [in reaction to Arabizing Islamists] in North Africa have all led to an increased receptivity to the gospel.
In the long run, Islamists will prove the demise of Islam itself . . .