To read the item by leading commentator Janet Daley which Dr. Durie is criticizing, kindly click on this link:
Whatever this is, it is not a clash of civilisations. The concept of “civilisation” scarcely comes into it. Nor is it a struggle between competing sets of values, or a religious war, or a battle with an alien culture. There is no debate here – as there was in the Cold War – about how it is best for men to live: the enemy has stated explicitly that it does not revere life at all. On the contrary, it is in love with self-inflicted death, which it sees as the highest moral achievement.
Here is a bit about Dr. Mark Durie:
Dr Mark Durie is an academic, human rights activist, pastor, Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre of the Melbourne School of Theology. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. Holding a PhD in Linguistics from Australian National University and a ThD in Quranic Theology from the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.
Paris attacks were not 'nihilism' but sacred strategy
Despite this, Daley then ventures to offer analysis of and explanations for ISIS’ actions, but in doing so she relies upon her own conceptual categories, not those of ISIS.
Her explanations therefore fall wide of the mark.
The claim that ISIS does not ‘revere life’ seems to refer to any number of statements by Islamic radicals, including an ISIS militant who vowed to ‘fill the streets of Paris with dead bodies’, and boasted that ISIS ‘loves death like you love life’ (see here). This is a theological reference to a series of verses in the Qur’an in which Jews are criticised for desiring life (Sura 2:94-96, 62:6-8).
According to the Qur’an, loving life is a characteristic of infidels (Sura 3:14; 14:3; 75:20; 76:27) because it causes them to disregard the importance of the next life. The taunt much used by jihadis, ‘We love death like you love life’, implies that jihadis are bound for paradise while their enemies are hell-bound.
The point of these statements is that Muslims are willing to fight to the death, while their infidel enemies will turn back in battle. This is not about reverence for life, but about who has the will to win. This has nothing to do with nihilism, which is a belief that there are no values, nothing to be loyal to, and no purpose in living. In fact ISIS fighters have strong and clear loyalties and values, alien though they may be to those of Europe.
Daley’s claim that the deaths are ‘the whole point’ is also mistaken. While it is true that the jihadis consider killing infidels a meritorious act, potentially earning the killer a place in paradise (see here), and they consider being killed in battle against infidels a ticket to paradise, in fact the killings do serve a strategic purpose. This is to make infidels afraid, and thereby to weaken their will to resist Islamic dominance.
This strategy is commended by the Qur’an, for example in Sura 8:12, 'I shall cast dread into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike above (their) necks and strike (off) all their fingers!', as well as by the successful example of Muhammad in fighting the Jews of Medina, referred to in Sura 33:26-27, ‘He brought down from their fortifications those of the People of the Book who supported them, and cast dread into their hearts. You killed a group (of them), and took captive (another) group. And he caused you to inherit their land, their homes, and their wealth, and a land you had not set foot on.’ A similar passage is Sura 59:2, which ISIS has in fact been quoting in its celebrations of the Paris carnage.
It may seem to Daley that ISIS’ often-stated intention of defeating the West is fanciful, but the point is to understand ISIS, and as far as it is concerned, these deadly attacks are instrumental in weakening the will of infidels and hastening eventual victory.
Daley wonders what possible point these attacks could serve. She speculates: '… what is the alternative that is being demanded? Sharia law? The subjection of women? An end to liberal democracy? Are any of these things even within the bounds of consideration? What could be accomplished by national self-doubt or criticism at this point, when there is not even a reasonable basis for discussion with the enemy?' It is hardly a secret that the ultimate goal of ISIS is to bring non-Muslims everywhere to convert to Islam or live under an Islamic caliphate as dhimmis. Sharia law and the subjection of women are part and parcel of this.
It is odd that Daley laments having no reasonable basis for negotiating with the enemy. ISIS is not playing by a Western-style negotiating rule book. It is following Muhammad’s instructions to his followers to offer three choices to infidels: conversion, surrender, or the sword. Bin Ladin has explained that the West’s rejection of this framework is the whole reason for its conflict with what he calls ‘the authority of Islam’:
“Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue; one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice, and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam:  either willing submission [conversion]; or  payment of the jizya,through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or  the sword, for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.” (The Al Qaeda Reader)It may seem unimaginable to European elites that ISIS is fighting for the goal of the surrender or conversion of Europe, but ISIS is thinking in time frames which extend to centuries, and their forebears conquered vast territories using such tactics. A final act of conquest can be preceded by decades, or even centuries, of military raids.
While killing is currently the main mode of ISIS’ attacks inside the West, if they could they would use other tactics as well, such as taking booty and slaves or destroying infrastructure, as they have been doing in Syria and Iraq.