With an authorization looming in Congress for our ongoing war against the so-called Islamic State, a muddled conversation has sprung up about the group’s relationship to mainstream Islam, its relationship to American and European policy in the region, and the military and political measures needed to counter it. Graeme Wood interviewed scholars and activists to shed light on what ISIS is trying to accomplish and why. His resulting story—a long tour through the theology, history, and practice of this particularly brutal offshoot of Salafist Islam—is alarming, not least to Wood himself.
I was brought up in the Catholic religion by my Spanish mother, but I never stopped trying to be united with the tolerant and generous religion of my father and of my Hindu ancestors. This does not make me a cultural or religious “half-caste,” however. Christ was not half man and half God, but fully man and fully God. In the same way, I consider myself 100 percent Hindu and Indian, and 100 percent Catholic and Spanish. How is that possible? By living religion as an experience rather than as an ideology.