Loyola vs Al-Adnani of Islamic State: who is the militant terrorist?

It is written in Ignatius Loyola’s autobiography:

‘While he journeyed on, a Saracen mounted on a horse came up with him. In the 

course of the conversation mention was made of the Blessed Virgin. The stranger 

remarked that though he admitted that the Mother of Christ had conceived without 

detriment to her virginal purity, yet he could not believe that after the conception of 

her divine Son she was still a virgin. He was so obstinate in holding this opinion, 

that no amount of reasoning on the part of Ignatius could force him to abandon it. 

Shortly afterward the Saracen rode on, leaving the pilgrim to his own reflections. 

These were not of the most peaceful nature. He was sorely troubled as he thought 

over the conduct of his recent fellow-traveler, and felt that he had but poorly acquit- 

ted himself of his duty of honoring the Mother of God. The longer his mind 

thought upon the matter, the more his soul was filled with indignation against him- 

self for having allowed the Saracen to speak as he had done of the Blessed Virgin, 

and for the lack of courage he fancied he had shown in not at once resenting the 

insult. He consequently felt impelled by a strong impulse to hasten after him and 

slay the miscreant for the insulting language he had used.’ 1

This important revelation of Ignatius shows that he was willing to kill arbitrarily a member of another faith just for not sharing his beliefs. Though he did not in the event kill the man he never disowned the idea, never said that the idea itself was a travesty of the Christian religion. In the autobiography, there is no statement that any such action was anathema, and the emotional source and the idea is evil.

Unlike Ignatius, we have secondary sources for Al-Adnani.

Graeme Wood wrote:

‘‘’To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.”’2

Wood wishes to see this as religious passion and sees commentators as driven by ‘a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature’. 

Wood’s reference to religion is an enormous act of self-deception. It seeks to place this hatred into a world of ‘medievalism’ so we have no part of it. He writes:

‘’Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.’

It is hard to see any difference in devotion between Ignatius and Al-Adnani. 

There are 3 issues to address, 

  1. Religious devotion
  2. Backward looking
  3. apocalypse/ end of times 

Wood is suggesting that these three matters separate us today from the Islamic State, separate us, the ‘modern’, from the ‘medieval’.

Religious devotion

In terms of religious devotion it is difficult to see any difference between Loyola and Al-Adnani.

Wood argues that Islamic State is mired in religious views which are backward looking as the cause of the problem.  However this is self deception. By describing the past views as ‘religious’ allows secular liberals to say religious views are a matter of the past… ‘centuries have passed …’. Yet Pew found: ‘Nine out of 10 American adults identified as Christian as recently as the early 1990s, according to the Center’s September 2022 report, “Modeling the Future of Religion in America,” 3

( https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2020/08/26/on-the-intersection-of-science-and-religion/ )

There is a huge element of the ridiculous here. Western liberals refer to the religious beliefs and religious wars in a way intended to show that these views are out of date  and pre-modern. Yet in their place they recommend a set of beliefs that they locate in 5th century BC Athens.  So one set of beliefs that have their roots in a thousand years ago are absurd but another that have its roots in two thousand years ago are almost holy, sacred and worth dying for.

Apocalypse/ End of times

Wood sees Islamic  State as devoted to an apocalyptic view of history which justifies killing vast numbers of people. He writes:

‘‘Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people’.

But belief in the end of times/apocolypse is widespread in the US. According to Pew, 40% of Americans believe we are living in the End of Times, of which 55%  of Protestants, 67% of evangelical Protestants. 

Whereas the earlier Western eschatology was fundamentally Christian it has been replaced by a secular eschatology relating to democracy and ‘freedom’.

Yet the key issue is eschatology not religion. Previous western eschatology was that the triumph of Christianity was the critical issue for triumph of the divine will, but today it is the triumph of democracy and US views of freedom that is the critical issue for the triumph of the divine will. What we have is a devotion to a modern US eschatology of freedom and ‘democracy’

We know the official US State position is:

‘The United States uses a wide range of tools to advance a freedom agenda, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral engagement, foreign assistance, reporting and public outreach, and economic sanctions’ and we should add military intervention. (https://www.state.gov/policy-issues/human-rights-and-democracy/ )

According to the Wolfowitz doctrine reported in NYT by Tyler: ‘the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to insure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territory of the former Soviet Union.’ 4

In order to establish this the US may need to use military force. As Soros stated:

‘Incidentally, the combination of manpower from Eastern Europe with the technical capabilities of NATO would greatly enhance the military potential of the Partnership because it would reduce the risk of body bags for NATO countries, which is the main constraint on their willingness to act. This is a viable alternative to the looming world disorder.’  5

Summary of Ignatius position:

To return to Ignatius, we should ask if a person was found today and overheard saying that he planned  to engage in a mass killing of Christian Westerners or even just one arbitrarily but he left it to a toss of the coin and did not carry it out because the coin toss was negative, would the security services treat him as a dangerous terrorist or just a devout person?


1.    (Loyola, n.d., Chapter 2)

2.   (Wood, 2015)

3.   (Diamant, n.d.)

4.   (Tyler, 1992)

5.   (Soros, 1993)


Diamant, J. (n.d.). About four-in-ten U.S. adults believe humanity is ‘living in the end times’. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 15 July 2023, from https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2022/12/08/about-four-in-ten-u-s-adults-believe-humanity-is-living-in-the-end-times/

Loyola, I. (n.d.). The Autobiography of St. Ignatius. Herstellung und Verlag. Retrieved 15 July 2023, from https://www.scribd.com/book/394456653/The-Autobiography-of-St-Ignatius

Soros, G. (1993). Toward a New World Order: The Future of NATO. Open Society Foundation. https://www.georgesoros.com/1993/11/01/toward-a-new-world-order-the-future-of-nato/

Tyler, P. E. (1992, March 8). U.S. STRATEGY PLAN CALLS FOR INSURING NO RIVALS DEVELOP. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/08/world/us-strategy-plan-calls-for-insuring-no-rivals-develop.html

Wood, G. (2015, February 16). What ISIS Really Wants. The Atlantic, March 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/