OK, this is what I think

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Posted by Student on June 20, 2015 at 13:51:46

In Reply to: Re: Islamist? posted by humanist on June 18, 2015 at 19:46:10:

First, I do think that apocalyptic christian cults led by people like Koresh, Manson, Berg, Jeffs, Jones, et al, do represent a form of the religion on which they are based. This does not mean I think these cults are mainstream, but they are expressions of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition--the same way the gnostics were a variant form of Christianity in the 2nd century CE.

Second, you don't give me any basis on which to agree that ISIS is not an Islamist movement other than to say Muslims you know think they're terrorists. ISIS wants to establish a caliphate governed by Islamic law. Sounds Islamist to me, even if they are violent and fringe. ISIS hurts other Muslims they see as takfir, or apostate. That's everyone who isn't in their club.

Islam was founded in a tradition of jihad, where the founder/prophet let a military to conquer cities in the Arabian peninsula and Levant. While "mainstream" Muslims adhere to a notion of peaceful jihad, there is a very longstanding tradition of warfare to protect the ummah, or Muslim community. Militarism of this sort did not develop in Christianity until the 7th century as a response to Islamic militancy in the holy land. I could make a very good argument that the early Christians who followed Jesus were pacifist, whereas the early Muslims who followed Muhammed made war to advance their cause. It may have been a defensive or justified war, but it certainly wasn't singing praise to God while passively being thrown to the lions.

Finally, you seem to base a lot of your opinion of ISIS on conversations with Muslims you know personally. You also assume that I don't know any Muslims personally and that I feel uncomfortable with this ethnic/religious minority. Well, you know what they say about ass-u-me! Of course I know peaceful Muslims. I just don't base my understanding of current geopolitical phenomena on what westernized immigrants tell me, or, for that matter, what a few people told me when I studied in Egypt for a summer.

I am arguing that ISIS does represent a major tradition in Islam, albeit not what one would call mainstream. ISIS represents Islam the way apocalyptic cults represent Christianity, except there are more violent Islamic nut cases than Christian ones at this point in history. Apocalyptic cults were big in Christianity during the Middle Ages but this still isn't a perfect analogy to what militant, apocalyptic Islam is in the modern world, because (I think) the founder of Christianity was not a warrior/sheik--which holds true even if you claim Paul as the founder of Christianity as a religion.

I believe there is a struggle for the soul of Islam going on, and it is going to be very hard to get the violent strain of the religion under control or even eradicated, in large part due to the history on which the religion was established.

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