På First Things finns en initierad, balanserad och välskriven artikel på temat islam och terrorism, skriven av en kristen islam-forskare vid namn John A. Azumah. Den förklarar hur den muslimska traditionen fungerar generellt och vad de olika traditionerna betonar. Sedan lägger den ut medelvägen mellan två förenklingar som ständigt dyker upp i debatten:
It is therefore simplistic if not misleading to argue that groups like IS and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam. Nevertheless, it is equally misleading to argue that the jihadi groups represent the true face of Islam.
Denna del av analysen är särskilt viktig:
The truth about religious lives is not so simple. The vast majority of Christians and Muslims don’t live by sola scriptura, or by Qur’an and sunna alone—and this is the case even when they claim to do so. A complex, shifting web of sociopolitical, geopolitical, racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, historical, and existential realities inform the way all of us live out our faith. My own view is that Islamic texts contain seeds of violence. In the corruption, illiteracy, poverty, and oppressive governments that plague many Muslim societies, those seeds find fertile ground in which they take root, sprout, and flourish—as well as in historical memories, foreign-policy missteps by Western governments, and alienation felt by Muslim youth in Western societies.
We cannot make sense of the jihadi mindset, let alone work out a credible and sustainable response, without taking such background conditions seriously. Undoubtedly the disorientation caused by modernity and postmodernity is key. Economic development and an increasingly global commerce in movies, TV, and other forms of popular culture weaken traditional Islamic institutions and disturb and disorient many Muslims. It is in this context that heretical groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State flourish. They’re part zealot, part thug, part political entrepreneur, in societies undergoing profound social transformations.
What, then, are we to say about Islam and terrorism? There is no question that the jihadists quote mainstream Islamic texts to justify their actions. But bear in mind that, in itself, quoting Islamic texts does not necessarily make one’s views and actions Islamic. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda quotes the Bible, as did the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, the People’s Temple of Jim Jones, and many other eccentric Christian cults. That does not make their views and actions Christian.
Azumah avslutar med att varna för generaliseringar och essentialism som låser debatten och egentligen inte löser några problem (”If the Qur’an and Islam are the problems, what is the solution? Drop bombs on the Ka’bah in Mecca?”). Samtidigt, när man kommit bortom demoniseringen, är det dags att börja samtala. Och då är det både riktigt och viktigt att ställa kritiska frågor – det är att ta sin samtalspartner på allvar:
If there is a danger of being seduced into imagining that the horrors of jihadism can be explained simply by blaming Islam, there are also temptations of multicultural ideology and of the spirit of “inclusion,” which only too quickly make excuses for jihadist violence. Let’s treat Muslims as the mature and intelligent adults they are and engage them in hard conversations. Muslims are not captives of Islamic traditions with no escape or alternatives. There are competing schools and sects among the faithful. We should not be shy about expressing our judgments as to which are the better and which are the worse traditions. If we withhold those judgments, we fail to engage with Muslims as men and women capable of moral agency.