Will Guns Win the War Against ISIS?

“Will guns win the war against ISIS? And even if they do, will guns end an ideology of hate? Will guns keep ISIS from ever coming back?”

There are people who develop their ideas about peace through study. There are people who develop their ideas about peace through prayer. And there are people who develop their ideas about peace by putting their bodies on the line daily.

Our colleague and friend Sadiq is one of those people.

When the terrorist group ISIS declared their rule in Iraq, from a historic and beloved mosque in the northern city of Mosul, that was the scariest thing that ever happened in Sadiq’s life. Sadiq knew that the brand of hate that ISIS peddles is devastating for all—regardless of faith, sect, tribe, or nationality. He was committed to seeing ISIS wiped out of his country, and did what seemed most logical at the time—he joined a militia that fought against ISIS.

Sadiq, during his time in the militia. Photos provided by Sadiq Al Rumaithi.

Sadiq didn’t know how to use a gun before, but he learned. Not because he loved death, but because he loved life…and valued the lives of all Iraqis.

On the battlefield, Sadiq had a front row seat to the unfolding war. He saw ISIS members killed, as well as fellow soldiers in his brigade—all young men like him from his hometown. Between barrier ditches and minefields, he saw the best and the worst of humanity. And in the midst of it all, one question haunted Sadiq.

“Will guns keep ISIS from ever coming back again?”

Bullets and bombs can kill bodies. Airstrikes can extinguish whole villages, it’s true. But as Sadiq knows well now, there are no weapons in the world that can kill ideas.

The ISIS ideology can’t be shot out of existence.

But it can be loved away.

Sadiq left behind the life of a soldier, and focused his energy on loving those suffering because of ISIS.

Sadiq arranged many of the aid deliveries you paid for–everything from securing permissions to hefting heavy bags of flour, and bringing communities together–whatever was needed. He paved the way for the renovation of primary health centers and drilling of wells that you funded.

When you made donations to ease suffering in the wake of ISIS, Sadiq was often the one behind the scenes making sure the aid got exactly where it needed to be.

It was a decision that came with a high cost. Sadiq was nearly killed in airstrikes while delivering aid you provided to families fleeing Fallujah, and came face to face with a community leader who called for the attack that ended the lives of his friends. His life has been threatened. He has faced despair again and again. But because he knows the way of peace deep down in his bones, he keeps pressing in.

Managing the distribution of food and hygiene kits. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love Coalition

Sadiq believes that, “Differences in belief does not mean we lose love. Love enriches our humanity. Love allows us to accept and understand each other. Because the way to the mind is the heart. And if we open our hearts to each other, it will open our minds as well.”

You can hear more about the night Sadiq and our colleague Ihsan nearly lost their lives, when our aid delivery trucks got stuck in the desert with an ISIS convoy making a run for the border with Syria. Listen at our new podcast, Love Anway.

Sadiq always makes sure everyone feels seen and heard. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love Coalition

Sadiq is no armchair pundit. He’s no social media warrior. Sadiq puts his life on the line to create the conditions for peace in his country—to make the communities he visits feel respected and well-loved.

End war with the pursuit of love. Give now.