Here's Ben in Electronic Intifada:
Jumping to more on this "rod of anger stuff", Ben White asked Sookhdeo what it all meant:
To which Richard Bartholomew responds:
All very unpleasant stuff. According to Richard, this Sookhdeo chap has quite a good academic pedigree and his work has won serious praise but the appropriateness of his advisory role to the UK military is surely questionable.This is somewhat disingenuous: the notion of Islam as the “rod of God’s anger” clearly fits into a long tradition in which disasters are explained as being expressions of God’s chastisement; being placed into a category of calamities is hardly a positive comment. Further, the expression itself is derived from Isaiah 10, where it is applied to Assyria; the Biblical author suggests that being the “rod of God’s anger” has its downside:“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!”… When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes… Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it?… Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors;… The Light of Israel will become a fire… The splendor of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy…”Further discussion of how Christians used the “rod of God’s anger” concept in the context of early Islam can be found in a couple essays in the book Redefining Christian Identity: Cultural Interaction in the Middle East Since the Rise of Islam, edited by J.J. van Ginkel, H.L. Murre-van den Berg, and T.M. van Lint (Leuven: Peeters, 2005).Vulgarized versions of the general concept can also been seen in contemporary American conservative evangelicalism: post-9/11, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell notoriously suggested that God had allowed the attack to occur (which is quite not the same thing as causing it) because of liberalism in American society; a current American bestseller called The Harbinger claims that American failure to return to religion following the attack means that further disasters will occur. Last year, an anti-gay evangelist named Bradlee Dean suggested that God would “raise up” Muslims to execute gay people because of the USA’s unwillingness to implement less severe anti-gay measures.