Of the world's great faiths, only two are territorial:
- Biblical Israel is required to worship in Jerusalem and to live under a theocracy in “the good land.”
- The Koran requires an Islamic theocracy, which is to be actively spread to all the world.
Point 2 is the source of World War Three, which has been going on for twelve years, at least. Islam is the youngest of the global faiths, 1,400 years, with a following of 1.3 billion. Considering that religions last millennia, Islam is in its adolescence! Until it grows up, it will be a source of global instability. Religions become more tolerant with age.
The largest faith (2.1 billion) is presently Christianity, and though it is not inherently territorial ("My kingdom is not of this world"), medieval Romanist Christianity certainly was (e.g. the Crusades), and the Protestant Reformation period (14th-17th Centuries) was marked by warfare that led to the current division of the world into three regions dominated by Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant practice.
Although Hinduism, the world's oldest active faith (4,000 years or older), is mainly esoteric, and Buddhism (aged 2,500 years) even more so, both experienced sustained periods of conflict during their "spiritual adolescence", the teen centuries (~1,500 y of age). Together, 1.3 billion follow one or both of these esoteric faiths.
Judaism, though not a great faith in numbers, only 15 million, has had a great, continuing effect on the world. It is the third-oldest faith, at 3,400 years. It underwent several upheavals, but its most warlike period was very early in its history, as the "children of Israel" wrested Canaan from its inhabitants. The spiritual teens for Judaism and a long struggle for national survival began in the Maccabean period, lasting from two centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, until 70AD. From then until 1948, Judaism was a territorial faith without territory, but matured as the jingoistic language of the old Hebrew prophets was reinterpreted in a more spiritual way.
If these faiths are any guide, religions tend to be very unstable as they pass through an adolescent stage after the first millennium or so. They are bad citizens of the world for a while, like self-centered, spiteful "young adults".
Thus it seems almost inevitable for Islam to be in a period of sustained upheaval. 'Tis a pity it occurred in a generation that has access to nuclear weapons! But few of us in the West have observed that Islam's internal struggle is more intense, and its outcome more crucial, than the external struggle we call Islamic Terrorism. As a point of plain fact, the struggle within Islam will determine whether "the war on terror" lasts one generation or ten.
Mary Habeck, formerly a popular lecturer at Yale, now an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins, teaches and studies military history. She asks a wonderful question, "What do the Islamic extremists say about why they are at war with the West?" She brings us the answer in her new book, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror. To me, this book is required reading for every human on the planet. The outcome of Islam's internal conflicts will have some impact on the lives of us all, every one of us.
Hitler didn't invent the Big Lie, he is just the first to embrace it publicly. Today the jihadists are its most ardent practitioners. They know if they say it often, say it loud, and stifle all other voices (make them feel guilty for their virtues), they will win hearts. Professor Habeck outlines their motives and their reasoning, from their own writings. In a world where perception is everything, it doesn't matter that they are twisting the Qur'an (Koran) and their other semi-sacred writings. The studies of millions of Islamic scholars don't matter; such scholars are vilified as false Muslims. To some extent, the hope of the world rests in the laziness of the majority of Muslims.
Ms Habeck has a brilliant suggestion. We must rename the "war on terror" as the "war on the khawarij." To quote her, "They khawarij were heterodox Muslims who appeared soon after the death of Muhammad to claim that they alone were true believers...", precisely the position the jihadis take today.
As I have written elsewhere, should the majority of Muslims embrace the Jihadist view, a generations-long conflict will result in extermination, either of jihadism, or of the rest of us.
Forget what the Western commentators are saying, forget both liberal and conservative viewpoints. The jihadists themselves make it clear that their purpose is entirely religious. They really, really believe that God requires them to bring the entire planet and every person on it into subjection to Allah, or to the grave.
Think on this: Does the Devil know he is Evil?
Think on it some more.
I think, No. He thinks he is Good, even the Best. The Devil thinks he got a raw deal from God, that he is the victim of bad press, that he ought to be running things. The Devil thinks the problem of sin in people is because they are too free; he'd love set up really strong law with superior—even supernatural—enforcement, to take away all causes of straying, until nobody has the opportunity to disobey. That's how he'd run things: nobody can steal from his neighbor, because neither party has anything worth stealing; nobody can commit mayhem, murder, or adultery, because everyone works too hard and is too tired; nobody can lie because the demons can read minds and they'd be everywhere (they outnumber us...); and coveting? a level of mind control that would make Mao blush would take care of that. Then, he thinks, everyone would love him.
Absent mind-reading minions, the above is a fair description of Shari'a, at least as defined by the Jihadists. The religious heart is the power of the movement.
Get Knowing the Enemy. Read it, learn its lessons, keep it handy and read it again. And again. Until jihadism is eliminated.