Roots of rancor

Examining Islamic militancy

Commentary since September 11 has produced a cognitive dissonance among Americans about Islam, the world’s second largest religious tradition. On the one hand, selected Muslim leaders declare that “Islam is a religion of peace” and President Bush asserts repeatedly that the U.S. has no quarrel with Islam, “which is a good and peaceful religion.” On the other hand, taped messages from Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman abu Gaith, the five-page document of suicide bomber Muhammad Atta, and large public demonstrations supporting bin Laden in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq and Gaza reveal clear connections to a militant Islam.

Basic questions still abound: What does the Qur’an teach about jihad? Why do so many Muslims appear to hate the U.S.? How can we make sense of the mixed messages about Islam? What terminology is most appropriate to describe the Muslims who are demanding change?

 

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