The selling point for the Daesh is purity, as it is for other extreme religious groups. The idea is to establish in today’s world an ideal society based on the flawless design for a Caliphate described in Muslim holy books. There are several obvious flaws in this quest.
First, the Caliphate of the eighth century was by no means the perfect society, unless you were a male in position of power, in which case you were served by the rest of society, by women in particular. Women were judged inferior, and had no power. They could serve only their husband or their father, could do nothing else, and could never achieve any other sort of status. Men controlled every aspect of their lives. In fundamentalist Islam this has not changed.
Second, is the idea that eventually the whole world would belong to the Caliphate. This is contrary to Islamic teaching as well as the writings of every other religion, not to mention that the very thought is odious to almost everyone. All those who did not join voluntarily would be compelled to become Muslim and would be forced to participate in the practices of the Caliphate. This is against the teachings of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Third, the practices of the Daesh are very much contrary to teachings of the Q’ran and Islam in general, and are condoned neither by Muslim religious authorities nor by practitioners of Islam or anyone else. The Daesh are, quite simply, a band of ruthless murderers, and nothing else. Needless to say, this is a dismal and unacceptable prospect to nearly everyone other than fundamentalist males who have already decided it’s the perfect path.
But there are other factors that drive Muslims into the arms of radical militants. Without them, the Daesh would gradually lose power and fade away. Those factors are national and personal intolerance, some of which leads to violence against innocent Muslims.
Intolerance of right-wingers everywhere toward immigrants and foreigners of any stripe is probably the strongest force driving a few refugee Muslims into the ranks of extremists. A few Muslim refugee immigrants learn to hate their hosts when they are disrespected, lied about, physically attacked, and otherwise treated badly in their new homes by the ignorant and intolerant. Intolerance is worsened by politicians like the current crop of Republican campaigners, particularly Donald Trump, whose rants have been adopted for Daesh recruiting films. The susceptible newcomers experience radicalization, as I have previously described, and once recruited make it their business to kill totally innocent people. They believe this serves Islam, but it does not, and violates Islamic laws. There are only a few such people, but that’s all it takes.
Millions of people in the Middle East are being driven from their homes, their houses destroyed, their livelihood gone, family members killed by these militant murderers. They flee the grave danger from these Daesh monsters at great cost and with endless suffering. Right-wingers, no matter where they are, are the most significant generators of hatred toward those fleeing war and violence, who seek only refuge and relief, and do not hate or harm anyone. Creating fear of anyone deemed “different” fits right in with Republican plans. All the presidential candidates harp on the great danger to Americans, which, ironically, creates more danger because of their harping.
Refugees, after proving to several suspicious international and national authorities over two long years that they are not terrorists and will harm no one, are allowed to emigrate to the US. And how are they greeted? They are greeted by right-wing fools who lack the most basic level of courtesy to strangers, let alone Christian empathy, who call them names, threaten, and even physically attack them. It wouldn’t take too many such fools to create hatred in a few hotheads, and we have no shortage of fools.
There have been daily Islamophobic attacks, ironically in North America, since the Paris attacks, attacks in which innocent people were forced to take cover or defend themselves. It is not hard to understand that this kind of treatment may, all by itself, sufficiently radicalize some small number of people to kill at random. And it is a small number. Very small. Even the Mumbai and Paris attacks involved only a handful of people, out of 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide. Alas, even small numbers of people with sophisticated military weapons and high explosives can create havoc, kill many, and even bring down war.
The difference between Democrats and Republicans often boils down to the Democratic belief in humanity and true democracy versus the Republican belief that the worst of which humanity is capable is the norm, and we should trust no one and retreat to our own gated and heavily armed islands. Thus, the Republican candidates preach hatred, and demand that we be protected from Mexican children and other such dangerous undesirables.
I don’t believe the Islamic religious authorities are doing their duty. The Daesh break practically every principle and law of Islam. The highest Islamic religious authorities should loudly and repeatedly condemn them for this. But they fail to do this in any significant way, and that is one of the reasons the situation worsens.
Here are the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in Not In God’s Name:
“No soul was ever saved by hate. No truth was ever proved by violence. No religion won the admiration of the world by its capacity to inflict suffering on its enemies. Despite the fact that these things have been endorsed in their time by sincere religious believers, they are a travesty of faith, and until we learn this, religion will remain one of the great threats to peace in the world.”