It seems that we ought to differentiate a collection of Islamic expressions—Islamic militarism, terrorism and extremism—from “authentic” Islam, but that’s not easy to do. The relationship between “authentic” and “crazy” islam is very close as they have a lot in common from the prophet to the the book to pyjamas to wanting women to be grabbed like ghostly cloth hangers while being mute, dependent and submissive. Crazy islam is an extension of islam and not something that exists or has existed in and of itself. It does not bill itself as a competitor to Islam or an alternative but as the true Islam. (Of course, there’s liberal or enlightened or wayward islam but that’s not the focus of this musing.) That’s not to say that it is the true Islam but rather to say that it sees, and demonstrates thanks to ISIS/ISIL, that the moderate Islamics are as legitimate a target.
The danger with extremism is that the same fundamental contact points in history, culture and heritage gets used as flashpoints justifying the targeting and abuse of unarmed persons … or is that actually the case?
What we’re facing is a difference in worldview, of different ways of seeing, being and doing in the world. If crazy islam could be contained on an island that would be fine. Their crazy islam can be self-regulating, ensuring conformity and culling nonconformity. But that’s not the case and, thanks to Sharia Law, at its heart both authentic and crazy islam are intolerant. Over the years we’ve seen Islamic communities springing up amidst other cultures. Once a stable community is reached noises are made about how the broader culture thinks, eats and behaves and how it must change or conform to islam. Somewhere along the way crazy islam sneaks in through association of culture, faith, heritage, family, etc. and/or is gestated. Then “kaboom” or “blam” along with the questions about how this happened and expressions of how shocking it is.
Crazy islam dovetails nicely with normal islam and they’re going to be found together. We must turn our attention to the real issue, to the conflict of culture and faith (or non-faith which is in itself, by definition, a faith). The majority of us, speaking on behalf of westerners, have not yet entered the true war, the deeper war, the ideological war. We’re concerned with issues such as personal freedom and self-determination, of poverty and economic success, of poor education and intellectual freedom, of exploring identity and meaning and sexuality, etc. We mistakenly believe that other educated and prosperous peoples share the same objectives. But is this the case? What is crazy islam concerned with? What do they care about? Why do they think its perfectly justifiable to crash planes into buildings, behead journalists and aid workers, gun down cartoonists, etc.?
In our eyes they are targeting innocents and bystanders. They are targeting unarmed and innocent civilians in a cowardly manner. But how do the crazies see this? Are these people innocent and innocuous? What are these people in their eyes? They are considered real threats and legitimate targets—yes even children, women and non-militants—and are bravely and self-sacrificially and righteously responding to having been attacked.
With crazy islam cowardly murdering people for what they say and think and how they conduct their lives. What would the world look like should we start doing the same? In some parts of the world the freedom of faith, and therewith non-persecution for it, is valued but its clear that in those same contexts that crazy islam does not agree and expresses such disagreement violently. Crazy islam seeks to, in those countries, persecute people for their faith and beliefs and practices.
My concern is not so much with how we’re dealing with crazy islam in deserts and foreign countries but with how we’re going to address crazy islam on our own soil.