It is almost a dogma, even among some conservative commentators, that there is a radical disconnect between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims. A charming young Muslim with an Australian accent and dressed modestly in a nijab appears on television to tell us that radical Islam is not true Islam. Islam is as peace-loving as she is. Indeed, she radiates peace as well as charm. ISIS warriors, brandishing their swords and mockingly dangling severed heads in front of us assure us otherwise.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the current President of Turkey has angrily rejected the distinction between moderate Islam and radical Islam. There is only one Islam he has insisted. Indeed, but what is it? Dangerous fish swim in calm waters. The ordinary person in the West is inclined to think of Islam in terms of Western thought and traditions, rendering their knowledge of it seriously deficient. Continue reading Getting the history right about political Islam