Just published: a new article by Professor Jonathan Brown, an American scholar of Islamic studies.
In his ‘piece’ titled ‘The Quran’s deadly role in inspiring Belgian slaughter,’ Nabeel Qureshi asserts that his “point is not to question the faith” of ordinary Muslims nor “to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims.” But he then argues that ISIS radicalizes Muslims “primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings” of Islam’s scriptures, “interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam.” So, if Muslims read their own scriptures, interpret them consistently and against the background of the career of their prophet Muhammad, then they will come away with a message of violent extremism. – Isn’t that the same thing as saying that ‘true Islam’ is violent? For religious traditions like Christianity and Islam, which root themselves in foundational scriptures like the Bible or the Quran and in the example of founding figures like Jesus or Muhammad, isn’t impugning the nature of those foundations the equivalent of saying that the religion has a rotten core? What if we said that about Christians who read the Bible consistently and in the light of the trajectory of early Christianity? If the core of Islam is so rotten, then why does such a tiny, insignificant minority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims choose to carry out acts of violence in the name of their religion (only 0.007% of Muslims, based on Peter Bergen’s CNN estimates and the Pew survey on the world Muslim population)? Have the vast, vast majority of Muslims worldwide and over fourteen centuries simply not understood their scriptures “consistently”?
Who should we allow to define the meaning of a religion’s scriptures? The vast majority of its adherents or a statistically insignificant percentage of extremists (whose interpretation of Islam Qureshi also thinks represents the original teachings of Islam)? Qureshi concludes, “As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements” like ISIS. But Iraqi Muslims had been reading the Quran and were aware of Islam’s early history for many, many centuries prior to the emergence of ISIS. As anti-terrorism experts like David Kilcullen, President Obama and no less than Iraq War stalwart Tony Blair have all acknowledged, ISIS is a result of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Is not a result of the Quran. Another ‘gem’ in Qureshi’s piece was his remark that Islamic history is full of violence. Take a look at this fascinating map of every battle fought in the last four thousand years, one quickly notices that the major concentrations are not within the areas usually associated with Islam. They are in Europe and North America.