Review of “The Third Jihad”

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By: Michael Youssef
Published: 2019

Does radical Islam pose a threat to the West? That is the question that Michael Youssef, founder and president of Leading the Way, examines in his book The Third Jihad. His was raised in the Middle East—born in Egypt and later lived in Lebanon—and brings his perspective to a western audience who must increasingly face this question as more Muslims become neighbors, coworkers, and government leaders. Specifically, Youssef is addressing a Christian audience, and how Christians in the US should evaluate whether or not there is the possibility of a future threat.

The central question of the book is could an Islamic State, an imposed theocratic totalitarian government, be created in North America (across the United States, Mexico, and Canada)? He wants his readers to think critically about what is possible and what are the stated aims of key groups inside the United States. Youssef is careful to not sound alarmist while maintaining vigilance about possibilities. He challenges his readers to consider that “many big moments in history were unthinkable—until they happened.” He uses the Iran hostage situation 1979, Rwanda in 1994, and September 11th as examples of events that seemed unthinkable until they happened—and have since become pivotal moments in current events. 

Much of the book is a historical account of the origins of Islam, the first and second jihads (622- 751 and 1302- 1922, respectively), the Barbary Wars, and the role of radical Islam in recent world events. He provides historical context for the clash between radical Islam and America by tracing its roots back to the Barbary Wars of 1801- 1815.

There are a few things quoted below that I think are important for anyone considering the book to understand. I leave the rest to the reader to evaluate critically and read carefully.  

From the outset, Youssef makes the following clear:

“I spent my formative years as a Christian in the Islamic Egyptian culture. Most of my school friends were Muslims, and I have many Muslim friends to this day. I frequently travel in the Middle East and often talk to Muslims there. I live with one foot in the Christian West and one foot in the Islamic East, and I want to be clear about this: There is a distinction between Islam and Islamism, between moderate Muslims and Islamists. Though all Islamists are Muslims, not all Muslims are Islamists.”

Also, Youssef makes important distinctions about the following terms:

Moderate Muslims – “[Those who] believe that the harsher, more militant passages of the Koran were for an earlier era and should not be interpreted literally today. Moderate Muslims believe in peaceful coexistence with Christians, Jews, and Western culture as a whole. They tend to accept American constitutional principles … and have no desire to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims.” He believes that moderate Muslims are probably a minority of the total Muslim population. 

Militant Muslims – “[Those who] seek the full implementation of Sharia law and a global Islamic caliphate. They are willing to use any and all means, including violence and terrorism, to achieve their goals.” He believes that militant Muslims are  also likely a minority of the Muslim population. 

Political Muslims – “[Those who], like militant Muslims, believe Islam is engaged in a struggle for world domination. …political and militant Muslims have essentially the same goals–a global caliphate ruled by the Koran and Sharia law–but … political Muslims prefer to use the Western political and legal systems to achieve those goals.” He believes that “political Muslims, who sound like moderate Muslims while quietly pursuing the same goals as militant Muslims, are the vanguard of the Third Jihad.”

Thank you to the team at Tyndale House Publishers for a copy of this book.

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