Through the modern geopolitical lens of Western categorical convenience, the world’s countries are invariably ascribed a religion, or at least identified by majority ethnic religious adherence. Hence terms like ‘Muslim world’ or ‘Islamic world’ to describe those lands where the Qur’an is preeminent, Mohammed revered, and Sharia identified as the rule of law. Little consideration is given to the variety that exists within and between those cultures: the diversity of political models, economic systems, social mores, religious differences or Sharia distinctions. A Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim, and their countries constitute ‘the Islamic world’ because at various times in history they projected a certain Muslim power, and so today are associated with the mission of Mohammed, which is to establish the Caliphate. It’s all very simple and straightforward, really.
It ought not therefore to surprise ‘the West’ (which is itself a geopolitical construct of a shared history, common values and a dominant or primal religion) that many Muslims in ‘the Islamic world’ do exactly the same to ‘the West’, not least because many in ‘the West’ still cling to notions of Christendom, or at least to the mission of projecting certain Christian values to the world (only certain ones). So those countries whose elected leaders go to church must be populated by Christians, whom they are elected to lead to church, or at least to a land flowing with Christian values (only certain ones). Those countries where tinsel trees celebrate the birth of Christ, and Easter Eggs commemorate his crucifixion and resurrection, are simply and straightforwardly Christian. Forget repentance and transformation; forget faithfulness or discipleship or being born again: if you were born at first into a ‘Christian country’, you are a Christian. And through the lens of Wahhabi-Saudi-Salafism, that makes you an infidel or kafir. Believing without belonging has become believing without believing: you are the religion of the ground beneath your feet.
There is also, of course, Jewish Israel, Hindu India and the Sikh Punjab, not to mention Taoist China, Buddhist Tibet and Shinto Japan. But these aren’t relevant here.. well, Jewish Israel might be a bit relevant, but only if you replace ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist’..
And you can certainly forget the immense diversity in these geo-theological cores: we are dealing here with simplicity.
The perpetrator of the Westminster terror attack was born on Christmas Day in the nice seaside town of Rye in East Sussex, to nice Christian Afro-Caribbean parents. His Christian name was Adrian, and his surname Elms. He grew up and went to school in Kent. All very nice, English and Christian. We don’t know that he was actually christened, but it’s customary in East Sussex even for nominal Christians to be so, so he probably was, especially since his parents were Christian Afro-Caribbeans and he shared a birthday with Jesus. Islamists, incidentally, don’t care much about the tedious arguments over infant and believers’ baptism: if you have a Christian name, you’re a Christian. If you’re born in East Sussex on Christmas Day to Christian parents, you certainly are. It’s the culture, you see.
Adrian Elms had a string of criminal convictions going back to the age of 18: criminal damage, knife possession, assault, grievous bodily harm and other public order offences. No doubt he was a naughty child, as well. It appears that his capacity and propensity for violence predated his conversion to Islam, so Adrian Elms was a violent Christian before he became Muslim terrorist Khalid Masood. His character was impossible; his heart was hard and his soul deeply troubled. Islam didn’t make him an evil bastard; he was already a nasty piece of work.
Now, you may believe and argue that his adherence to Islam radicalised him, and that the example of Mohammed’s moral vision inspired his extremism. But it would be closer to the truth (and so more helpful) to say that his conversion to the Wahhabi-Saudi-Salafist strain of Islam was responsible for inculcating his simplistic “Allahu Akhbar! God curse the infidels” mentality. What is undeniable is that the violence in his struggling heart predated his conversion. Power rampage and political brutality were already his distinctive ethic and part of his identity. The Christian Adrian Elms hated before he discovered a hateful strand of Islam to sanctify the jihadi-hate of Khalid Masood. Now, you may say that wasn’t particularly Christian: millions upon millions of Sunni, Shia and Sufi Muslims will say that Wahhabi-Saudi-Salfism simply isn’t Islam.