There appears, to be something especially potent about Islam in fomenting terror and persecution. Contemporary radical Islam is the religious form through which a particular kind of barbarous rage expresses itself.
So, to understand why jihadis have been drawn into a moral universe that allows them to celebrate inhuman acts, we have to understand why political rage against the West takes such nihilistic, barbaric forms, and why radical Islam has become the primary vehicle for such rage.
So writes Kenan Malik the Indian-born English writer, lecturer and broadcaster, trained in neurobiology and the history of science in the best and most truthful piece I’ve ever read on Islam and terror.
Please read this Guardian essay, and respond here. This is a must read to talk about… with huge implications for all of us.
“The day before the Paris carnage, two suicide bombers killed at least 40 people in a Shia district of Beirut. The week after, two suicide bombings in Nigeria killed 49 people. Faced with such atrocities, we can often do little but reach for adjectives such as ‘barbarous’, ‘depraved’ – even ‘evil’. But what is it that makes people act in such depraved, evil ways? Kenan Malik” writes, he continues…
“The sad truth,” Hannah Arendt wrote in The Life of the Mind, “is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” Marc Sageman, once a CIA case officer in Afghanistan, now an academic and counter-terrorism consultant, makes a similar point about today’s jihadis. “It’s comforting to believe that these guys are different from us, because what they do is so evil,” he argues. “Unfortunately, they aren’t that different.”
But jihadis are different. They are, after all, jihadis. How are people “who aren’t that different” from you and me able to commit the most brutal of mass murders?
When we talk of an act as depraved or evil, we are not merely describing something particularly abhorrent. We are making a claim about the boundaries of morality itself.
People often disagree about the most fundamental of moral issues. Some, for instance, view torture as always wrong; others think it acceptable to obtain vital information. Each may view the other as immoral. Yet they are likely to agree that both are debating questions of right and wrong.
If someone were to say, however, that “Torturing people is an unalloyed good”, few would see him as making a moral argument at all. And most people would call such a claim “evil”.
Evil, in other words, is not simply about defining an act as being particularly wicked. It is also about defining the space within which we can have a meaningful debate about good and bad, virtue and wickedness.
What makes the actions of jihadis so inexplicable is that they seem to take place beyond the moral universe most of us inhabit. So, what is it that leads people “who aren’t that different” to cross the normal boundaries of morality?
People have, of course, always committed depraved and evil acts, but simply to say “It has always happened” does not explain what is distinctive about contemporary terrorism. Nor does it address perhaps the most incendiary question today: why do Islamist groups in particular seem so much more sadistic, even evil? PLEASE READ THE REST HERE
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace