ISIS vs other Sunni interpretations of the role reason plays in Islamic thought

2 Sep

From Robert Reilly:

Why does the Islamic State (ISIS) behave in the strange ways it does? What inspires it to rampage through the libraries and museums of Mosul, Iraq, destroying priceless manuscripts and artifacts? Why does it take jackhammers to priceless archaeological relics from the Assyrian Empire? Why does it line up Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, face them north across the Mediterranean, and then slit their throats? Why is it so keen on reestablishing the caliphate? Why, in short, does it behave sounreasonably?

Of course, one can answer these questions by simply quoting ISIS spokesmen and repeating their justifications, which are laced with quotations from the Qur’an and the hadith (the canonical accounts of the sayings and doings of Muhammad). But that is not a great help, because other Muslims have lived under the same injunctions without wreaking the havoc that ISIS does. There must be a deeper reason.

And there is.

ISIS and its al-Qaeda predecessor are incomprehensible to most Westerners because they are unaware of a pivotal theological struggle waged within Islam more than a millennium ago. It was a battle over the nature of God and the role of reason—and the side of irrationality won. The resolution of that conflict has had profound consequences for much of Sunni Islam—and the rest of the world—ever since.

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