As recent events in the Gulf of Mexico dominate the nation's headlines, we once again are reminded of how the world economy continues to be driven by oil. The West is dependent upon oil for its manufacturing (heavy crude) and for its transportation (lighter crude and refined oils, including gasoline). The United States is the world's largest importer of foreign oil. As much as some American economists might like to deny it, the U.S. has become dependent on a system that, to a great degree, can bring the world's strongest economy to its knees.
As long ago as the mid-70s, the United States imported nearly 50% of its oil needs. Just a decade before, America was importing only 12% of its daily requirements. And the consumption only continues today. According to NationalJournal.com, the U.S. imported 66% of its oil in 2008. The West can flood OPEC nations with geologists, petroleum engineers, economists and diplomats, but until these "experts" come to grips with Islamic ideology, it will be impossible for them to have a full understanding of the Middle East oil picture.
There are two basic Islamic beliefs that are closely related to the issues associated with money and oil. The first is that Muslims regard economic success as a sign of God's pleasure. Prior to the rise in oil consumption, and increased drilling in Islamic nations, the Muslims tended to measure Allah's blessing by whether a war was won or lost. From the very beginning, Muslims have held to a belief that Allah "reveals" the weaknesses of other faiths. Therefore a victory in war was regarded as a revelation of deficiencies on the part of the nation or people defeated. And since most of these conquered nations held to a non-Muslim belief system, military victories were seen as a victory authorized by Allah for the advancement of Islam.
Beginning with the Battle of Badr in 624 A.D., victories of war were regarded as "proof" of divine support. This conviction deepened during Islam's first millennium (600 A.D. to 1600 A.D.) as it spread across the Middle East, North Africa and as far west as Spain. In the past several decades, Islam has interpreted financial success as evidence of Allah's blessings on Islamic advances. This belief is one of the reasons that even so-called moderate Muslims, as embarrassed as they were by Khomeini's excesses during the Iranian revolution, would not totally disown him. The economic success of Iran under his leadership was "proof" to most in the Islamic world that Khomeini enjoyed the "pleasure of Allah."
The second basic Islamic belief to contend with is that oil is regarded as a material gift from Allah so that Muslims (and Islam as a religion) might achieve world superiority. J.B. Kelly, the author of "Arabia, the Gulf and the West," wrote:
"The Arabs see the oil weapon as a gift sent by God to redress the balance between Christendom and Islam ... and to fulfill the destiny which God in His infinite wisdom has ordained for those to whom He has chosen to reveal the one true faith."
Oil in the 21st century is tantamount to the sword of the seventh century. It is a means of exerting the greatest possible force on non-Muslim adversaries:
■Economic success is proof of God's favor.
■Success results in Islamic superiority.
■Other religions and culture must be subjugated.
OPEC began using the oil weapon in 1973 as a punitive measure against those nations which supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. OPEC's oil embargo resulted in a 366-percent increase in oil prices. The exorbitant cost of oil dealt a harsh blow to the world's major economies in 1976, including the loss of a half-million jobs and a worldwide decrease of GNP that amounted to nearly $20 billion.
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