Understanding Religious Fanatics – Violence of Islam

Perhaps Islam has come to be the most publicized religion with members who display fanatic tendencies. Ever since Osama bin Laden’s fatwa in 1998, the world has known about radical jihad. Bin Laden’s concept, though, is very different from the actual meaning of the term. In the religious context, jihad most nearly means “working urgently for a certain godly objective, generally a positive one”. According to Steffen, there are portions of the Qur’an where military jihad is used. As Steffen says, though, “Jihad in these uses is always defensive. Not only does ‘jihad’ not endorse acts of military aggression, but ‘jihad’ is invoked in Qur’anic passages to indicate how uses of force are always subject to restraint and qualification”.

This kind of jihad differs greatly from the kind most commonly discussed today. Osama bin Laden’s fatwa illustrates the goal of fanatic jihad: “In compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it”.

Fanatic jihadists’ beliefs, as Ellens says, stem from a feeling of inferiority to Western civilization. He says:

Because of its sense of inferiority in power and its sense of arrogant superiority in spiritual and religious quality, this militant form of Islam feels thoroughly justified in resorting to the most vicious forms of violent assault on its identified enemy. America is the perceived source and center of its problems.

Thomas Farr, in an essay titled “Islam’s Way to Freedom”, goes further, saying that, “Even though most Muslims reject violence, the extremists’ use of sacred texts lends their actions authenticity and recruiting power”. (Freedom 24) He goes on to say, “The radicals insist that their central claim—God’s desire for Islam’s triumph—requires no interpretation. According to them, true Muslims will pursue it by any means necessary, including dissimulation, civil coercion, and the killing of innocents”. (Freedom 24) This disregard for others and rampant use of violence is markedly different than the peaceful message that jihad is meant to employ. Although fanatic jihadists have committed many terroristic acts throughout the world, perhaps the best known is the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center. According to Ellens, the al-Qaeda members who took part in the terrorist attacks did so out of their belief that, by doing it, they would “enact a devastating blow against the evil of secularized and non-Muslim America. They were cleansing this world, God’s temple”




Filed under Abou Ali, Religion

2 responses to “Understanding Religious Fanatics – Violence of Islam

  1. Finious

    Christians have often presented their religion as a religion of love and peace while presented Islam as a religion of war and sword. In the modern media Muslims and Islam have often been covered in a way which reinforces this old perception. For Muslims who have time to think about such things the Christian and Western perceptions appear as a complete disregard of the most obvious facts. In what follows I discuss this issue from the point of view of the teachings of the two religions as well as the conduct of their adherents through history.

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