By JOHN ZMIRAK at The Stream
Donald Trump exasperated journalists when he spoke hyperbolically about President Obama as the “founder” of the jihadist organization called ISIS. It is hard to tell, behind all the dodging and weaving and sarcasm, what Trump was actually saying:

  • That Obama’s pullout from Iraq handed the terrorists a golden opportunity?
  • That the intolerant Shiites whom Obama left in power drove Sunnis to such extremes?
  • That Obama is secretly a Kenyan Muslim mole?

With Trump you can never tell, since he often sprays several such messages out to the public, without confirming which one he really means. Trump is that rare candidate whose statements you need to parse as if he were the unreliable narrator of a novel, because you’re not sure even he knows precisely what he meant.
Not that it matters much. In three months the campaign will be over, one way or another. But ISIS we will have always with us, or its equivalent, in one part of the world or another, for as long as Islam exists — because the organization ISIS is only the latest form taken by one perennial, historically and theologically grounded, interpretation of Islam.
That’s what Graeme Wood argues in his carefully researched essay, “What ISIS Really Wants.” As Wood writes:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

Muhammad was many things. He said that he was a prophet. We know that he was a warlord, a theocratic ruler, a persecutor of religious minorities, and a conqueror who claimed that it was legitimate to take as concubines (that is, sex slaves) the wives of unbelievers whom he defeated in battle. The religious law which he proclaimed as divinely inspired, and intended by God to prevail across the earth, prescribed the death penalty for “crimes” such as adultery, homosexual conduct, and “apostasy” from Islam. Muslim authorities teach that Muhammad was not a god or even an angel, but the “perfect model” of human conduct for a male — and hence that his every action as a Muslim is worthy of imitation. Read More at The Stream

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