December 16, 2015

"What's the Strategy?"

It is nearly 15 years since the events of 9/11 and terrorist acts have evolved from that tragic day’s complex plot to the seemingly unpredictable “lone wolf” scenarios. Beyond the constant worrisome jargon and media attention given to the "War on Terror," there is little focus on the opposing interpretations of the Quran and religious polarization in the Muslim world.

Questions about “why jihad?” and the hateful ideas fomented by the “radical Islamic” movement are subjects that mainstream media will barely, if ever, broadcast. And yet there is a wealth of scholarly debate that is occurring on the Quran and the controversies that surround differing interpretations of the Muslim Holy Book. An online search for such material yields informative websites that cover the pros and the cons of these issues.

Some of the ideology of the radical terrorism of ISIS (ISIL) concentrates on the so-called “sword verses.” Because the Western world’s media seems to find only the effect of terrorism worthy of coverage, it refuses to shed light on the cause of such tragedy and bloodshed. Specifically, what verses state that Muslim followers should kill "non-believers," or Westerners, or those who hold different religious beliefs?

Here's what needs to be done:

It is time for Muslim scholars to deconstruct the Quran and to locate those sections in the Quran that radical Islamic terrorists are using to recruit young Muslim men and women to join in their cause and engage in Jihad. Scholars of the Quran should historically and contextually interpret the "sword verses" and all other verses that putatively incite to violence, subjecting them to a close reading and precise translation. Then the scholars must reach out to ISIS and those Muslims that perceive the Quran scriptures from their radical perspective, and invite them to participate in a worldwide, televised debate about the Quran and its various interpretations.

Let Islamic scholars from both sides help us understand how we have become poised on this precipice of imminent destruction and, most importantly, to answer this question: is there not a compromise position where we can share the world in peace?

IMAGE: Created by Karl Sharro; reproduced on Atlantic Monthly website, July 31, 2015; Institute of Internet Diagrams/@KarlreMarks; © Copyright 2015 by Karl Sharro.

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