Tsak Cynbler Auschwitz survivor 2005
Has Christian theology on a “Just War” influenced the rhetoric of hard line Islamic rants? This has become a valid question after a recent rant by an Adelaide Islamic preacher Sheikh Sharif Hussein which was videoed and uploaded to the Internet.
The video was published by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute has called for all Buddhists and Hindu's to be killed as well as the normal rant against the Jews, the West and even former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
According to Sheikh Sharif Hussein “tens of thousands” of women have been raped in Iraq by American soldiers aided by Australian troops. His words: “Listen, oh Obama, oh enemy of Allah, you who kiss the shoes and feet of the Jews. Listen! The day will come when you are trampled upon by the pure feet of the Muslims. Oh Allah, count the Buddhists and the Hindus one by one. Oh Allah, count them and kill them to the very last one.” (the political editor of Adelaide Advertiser has confirmed this as a true translation).
The articles cites Federal and State Politicians who came out strongly against this rant and moreover, City councillor and Muslim Houssam Abiad, said Muslims owed their allegiance to Australia and that Islam was “a religion of peace and tolerance” that taught believers to respect a country’s laws.
City Counsellor Abiad went on: “Many have migrated to Australia escaping war and political persecution, unfortunately some people also packed in their bags many ideologies representative of their experiences and brought them with them. As an Australian Muslim … I have survived a war and I recognise that Australia has given me opportunities that will never be equal to any other in the world, and we should owe our allegiance to this country and what it has given us.”
On face value, this therefore represents the two sides of Islam in Australia, on the one hand, those of City Counsellor Abiad's ilk, who have realised the blessings that have come their way by being allowed to migrate and settle in Australia with its historical Christian roots, and the other, that of Sheikh Sharif Hussein wanting to see us all killed.
A valid question nonetheless needs to raised, however uncomfortable it might be, that of the influence of the Christian theology of a Just War - upon such hard line Islamic expression. The Christian theory of the just war begins with Augustine of Hippo and later Thomas Aquinas. It's developed over these past seventeen centuries.
Augustine was the first to publicly assert in his writings that a Christian could be a soldier and serve God and country honourably. He claimed that, while individuals should not resort immediately to violence, God has given the sword to government for good reason. Christians as part of government should not be ashamed to protect peace and punish wickedness. This sounds familiar!
Aquinas nine hundred years later laid out the conditions under which a war could be 'just'.
First, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain (for example, "in the nation's interest" is not just) or as an exercise of power. (Proper authority is first: represents the common good: which is peace for the sake of man's true end - God.)
Second, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state. (Just Cause: for the sake of restoring some good that has been denied. i.e., lost territory, lost goods, punishment for an evil perpetrated by a government, army, or even citizen population.)
Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence. (Right Intention: an authority must fight for the just reasons it has expressly claimed for declaring war in the first place. Soldiers must also fight for this intention.)
More recently Murray Rothband claimed that a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.
An alternative theory of a Just War is that of 'Militarism' in that the belief that war is not inherently bad but can be a beneficial aspect of society. Some theoreticians in the recent television documentary series on US Presidents and their philosophies claimed that this form of militarism greatly influenced the presidency of George W Bush.
That war enhances an economy is not in dispute, historians are of one mind that America was pulled out of the great depression in the 1930's as war loomed in Europe.
In this context, theologians struggle with the question of where the line is drawn between the good guys with their rhetoric, and the bad guys with their rhetoric? Moreover which is which? This is particularly relevant in the light of different kinds of war, for example, such as waged by “Wikileaks” - revealing that the good guys are involved in wicked things, sometimes creating wars.
There are never any easy answers. Consider Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's national Apology to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia (was it a war?). The Boer War? (propping up British interests?) More recently Vietnam? (All the way with LBJ?). What about Iraq? (what weapons of mass destruction?) The War against Terrorism (after 9/11). The Arab Spring (Muslim turning against Muslim).
Usually, there are more questions than answers.
Albert Brokman and grand-son – Auschwitz survivor 2005
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html