Take the 2-minute tour ×
Islam Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Muslims, experts in Islam, and those interested in learning more about Islam. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This may be off topic, but I am curious why there are so many radical Muslims. There are, of course, violent radicals in every branch of religion and atheism. But, Islam has more than its fair share of such people.

I've seen similar questions here, and the response is that these people are ignorant. However, Islam has the most religious education out of the religions I know. Most, or all, of the radicals come from centers of Islamic teaching. Most of the violence takes place muslim against muslim based on Islamic theology they disagree on. Ignorance is not the cause of this radicalism.

However, this violence is not based on true logic either. I've asked a question here, and so have others, which show that Islam is not against Christianity. For instance, nowhere in the Quran it teaches the Christian Trinity is false. But, interpreters have incorrectly read it that way, which is shirk.

My question is, then, why are so many muslims taught that violence against other religions is the way of God? It looks to me as if the majority of muslim teachers have twisted the Quran to make muslims violent. Why do muslims not speak out against these teachers and show they are wrong?

UPDATE: Islam really is inherently violent and radical. See the following article that explains ISIS is following the original formulation of Islam: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Bleeding Fingers Jan 10 at 18:12

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I find your question important, thoughtful, and needing to be talked about. However your question is about Muslims and not about Islam and therefore off topic. I am not saying that your question does not deserve discussion, I am saying that your question doesn't fit the scope of this SE. I'm sorry. HOWEVER, chat is an awesome vehicle! –  Dan Andrews Aug 26 '14 at 14:02

5 Answers 5

The simple answer is political instability in their lands. The longer answer will require a reframing of the perspective of the questioner - it is more accurate to think of them not as "radical Muslims" but "people who happen to be in Muslim countries with political grievances who resort to violence." The connection between their Islam and their radicalism is tenuous.

By the way, the Qur'an is very clear in saying the trinity is absolutely false (e.g. 5:73). However, you are right in that theological differences are not a ground Islamically for violence. These radicals you speak of are indiscriminate in their violence toward other Muslims and non-Muslims. The reasons behind what they do are geopolitical, not religious. See what's happened in their lands that drove them to do what they're doing. They are not educated or truly believing enough to let true Islam restrain them from oppressing others.

To ascribe a religious basis to the primary motive is to ignore far more obvious and plausible reasons behind why there is violence. It's a lazy and convenient analysis that is rarely applied to actors in other conflicts.

share|improve this answer
"The reasons behind what they do are geopolitical, not religious". How about And slay them wherever ye catch them (Quran 2.191 usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/quran/verses/…)? –  haim770 Aug 26 '14 at 8:40
@haim770, Ansari's original answer explains your question I think. You cannot generalise all Muslim's as fighting. Otherwise I can ask you why Christians did Crusades. Or why did Christian(?) Nazis attacked Russia(Christian?) and other Christian countries? I am not a Muslim and I don't think that Islam is fully peaceful too, at least not in my sense of peace. –  Mert Aug 26 '14 at 16:18
@haim770 Comments are not intended for argument or debate; if you feel this answer is wrong, feel free to post your own instead. –  goldPseudo Aug 26 '14 at 20:05
@haim770: quoting out of context isn't helpful; see this which I've appended as another answer to this question; as its far too long to go into a comment; please feel free to add an answer as to explain your POV further. –  Mozibur Ullah Aug 27 '14 at 15:41
@yters I can't explain Islamic history in 600 character comments. Please pick up a book. The Arabian peninsula was not militarily conquered for the most part. There were some military battles with Quraish and allies (inevitable the way they expelled their own), but other than that the other tribes just changed political and religious allegiances once they saw the Quraish had surrendered. –  Ansari Oct 4 '14 at 2:57

..But, Islam has more than its fair share of such people...

That is not true. Here is the list of top 10 wars by death toll, i hope none of them has fair share of Muslims(remember Islam is the second largest religion) & all wars are taken place after formation of Islam.

  • 60,669,200–84,589,300 – World War II (1939–1945),
  • 40,000,000–70,000,000 – Mongol conquests (1206–1324)
  • 25,000,000 – Qing dynasty conquest of Ming Dynasty (1616–1662)
  • 20,000,000 – Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864)
  • 20,000,000 – Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945)
  • 16,563,868–40,000,000 – World War I/Great War (1914–1918)
  • 13,000,000 - An Lushan Rebellion (755–763)
  • 7,500,000 – Chinese Civil War (1927–1949)
  • 7,000,000–20,000,000 – Conquests of Tamerlane (1370–1405)
  • 5,000,000–9,000,000 – Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention (1917–1922)

Even if there is a war that has some share of muslims then the more number of causalities will be Muslims.


The reason may be:

There is no good police system in some of the islamic countries(such as afganistan, iraq, syria, libya). so there will be no control on flow of arms to criminals. What will happen if criminals got weapons, and no police system? think about this way, what if people in jails in US got weapons and no police system in US. can you expect peace??

please watch the film Bicycle Thieves, even a simple loss of bicycle led to an honest man to steal, since he didn't got justice. This process gets repeated without stop, that is the nature of human. this has nothing to do with religion. All religions(islam,christian,jews,hinduism,buddhism,sikhism...etc) led to peace.


From my experience, Islam lead to peace.. If you follow islam(ie pray 5times a day, don't set partners with god..etc) you will have a good life in this world.

share|improve this answer
Good historical perspective. Today, however, radical Islam appears to be the only significant religiously motivated violence. I am asking why this is. –  yters Sep 3 '14 at 21:27
@yters i have updated my answer, please take a look. –  suhail Sep 5 '14 at 11:17
Well, there are many areas of the world without good police systems where the same level of violence doesn't occur. And, most of the large terror attacks are carried out by well educated Westernized Muslims. –  yters Sep 21 '14 at 19:58
@yters i am sure that there will b no problems in iraq if america didn't attacked iraq. Will you let me know a reason for america to attack iraq? –  suhail Sep 24 '14 at 8:39
Before America attacked Iraq Saddam was gassing whole villages, raping and killing innocent women, building chemical and nuclear weapons, etc. Right now, without anyone attacking them, ISIS is massacring muslims and non-muslims in Iraq and Syria. Muslims need to stop blaming other people and take responsibility for themselves. –  yters Sep 24 '14 at 12:15

There are, of course, violent radicals in every branch of religion and atheism. But, Islam has more than its fair share of such people.

War is not entered into lightly; when examined on a global basis one needs to take a suitable time frame and not one centered on the present moment/decade. For example, one might choose the whole of the 20C; Hobsbawms, a famous Historian, chose this time period in his book Age of Extremes; this showed the enormous turbulence in Europe caused by the radicalisms of Nazism, Fascism, Marxism & Anarchism in a globally dominant West in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire; then the loss of colonial possessions and the resulting pax Americana.

More recently there has been two great wars in Africa involving nine nations centred on the Congo due political instability post (European) decolonisation.

One ought to conclude from this that violence (as well as peace) is the lot of nations and not that "Islam has more than its fair share of such people".

Its also worth noting that the cold war division between Western Europe & Eastern Europe was marked by the the Western Capitalist 'Free World' versus The Eastern Communist 'Evil Empire'; whats less noted is that the division also falls between Catholics/Protestants and Eastern Orthodox in terms of the Christian religion. Is this important - possibly; or it may show that the argument is not religous, but ideological; or even not ideological but geo-political.

Islam is not against Christianity

Agreed. It simply has theological differences with it; as there are indeed within Islam itself.

For instance, nowhere in the Quran it teaches the Christian Trinity is false

Islamic theology is explicit that Allah is One and indivisible (tawhid); Catholic theology is centred on the Trinitarianism - where God is three persons (coexisting consubstantially in One being); but notably there are minor positions like Unitarianism which adopts a position similar to Islamic tawhid. Darwin, Newton & Emerson for example were Unitarians.

My question is, then, why are so many muslims taught that violence against other religions is the way of God?

The argument is against other religions per se; the argument should be centred on the geo-politics; but one should note that political identities are intertwined with religous ones; for example Iran, a regional power is mainly Shi'ite.

The Middle East has been central to geopolitics globally for securing energy policies; and has been a theatre of European interests until the collapse of European stability after the second world war, and whose positions were then taken up by America as the globally dominant & western power. This explains in a very crude way the regions relations with the outside world.

One then needs to take into account various regional & religous rivalries - for example between Sunnis & Sh'ites; and many other factors that I'm too ignorant of to list here.

Why do muslims not speak out against these teachers and show they are wrong?

The Pakistani Islamic Scholar Tahir ul-Qadri has written a Fatwa against Terrorism to underline that terrorism is illegal under Islamic law, and grounded his argument in the Sunnah & the Qu'ran. It has been endorsed by al-Azhar university:

"The special committee of Islamic Research Council, Al-Azhar commenced its [the Fatwa’s] examination and scholarly review and found that the author’s book discusses terrorists who reside in Muslim states...are like the Kharijites who appeared during the time of the Messenger. The author quotes the opinions of Islamic scholars who considered it a religious duty to fight and kill the Kharijites if they refused to renounce their doctrine after receiving warnings and advice.

The author identifies the terrorists in Pakistan as rebels and purveyors of corruption, and contends that their traits and actions correspond to the Kharijites.

The author maintains that these traits put the terrorists at odds with the main body of Muslims; and he considers it obligatory to warn them and advise them and, if unheeded, to fight against them until their threat subsides.

This examination committee maintains that the author’s conclusions are in agreement with the principles and directives of Islam, especially considering the fact that he furnishes his judgments against them with proofs from the Book [Qur'an] and Sunna detailing their traits and actions".

share|improve this answer
As a non-orthodox Christian with unitarian beliefs, I find your answer enlightening and thoughtful. I could further illustrate that "nowhere in the Quran it teaches the Christian Trinity is false" can be turned around by saying "nowhere in the bible does it directly teach that the trinity is true". However this has little to do with Islam. –  Dan Andrews Aug 26 '14 at 14:08
That's a very good answer. It would be even more conclusive I believe if we add the important role that state actors play in creating and/or escalating terrorism through agitation, manipulation, funding and training of potentially violent groups usually done mainly with quite secular, worldly purposes. There are actually ample evidences that state actors played and continue to play a major role in the evolution of the so called muslim terrorism in the Middle East. –  infatuated Aug 26 '14 at 15:55
@Andrews: Possibly a case could be made that trinitarianism was the influence of pagan Greece/Rome on the levantine monotheism - but this is probably simplistic given that polytheisms isn't solely associated with Greece/Rome; it just that they're famously associated with it. –  Mozibur Ullah Aug 26 '14 at 19:36
Yes, for sure the atheistic ideologies of the 20th century have caused more bloodshed than anything else in the history of humanity. That is undeniable (and makes one wonder when atheists point the finger at religion). However, putting the blame entirely on politics raises the question why Islam uniquely has a political problem. Is it just an unfortunate coincidence of oil land and religion, and greedy world leaders exploit religion to control oil? If so, why aren't other religions used the same way? Politics doesn't explain enough, unfortunately. –  yters Sep 3 '14 at 21:35
@yters: No-one describes the Palestion/Israel situation as a conflict of religion; but as one of politics; Indonesia is a major Islamic nation but one does not hear about them as having a 'unique' political problem; for sure in the middle-east religion does have a strong influence; but then again it does in India. –  Mozibur Ullah Sep 3 '14 at 22:01

Its worth adding another answer from a different angle, as haim770 points out that the Qu'ran has the sentence

And slay them wherever you catch them in the sura Al-Baqara (The Cow).

But this is a single sentence taken out of context of the verse that it is in; reading this sole sentence makes it appear that Qu'ran condones pre-emptive violence; however the full context (which is not the full verse) is as follows (from the Pickthal translation) and makes the full story somewhat clearer:

Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.

That is when attacked one can defend oneself; but do not start hostilities.

And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

In battle both killing and banishment are allowed (within limits); there are limits to where battle can be done; but if those limits are transgressed by the enemy then one can fight.

But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

If they surrender, then one should not fight on.

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.

Once battle is begun one should fight on until a sustainable peace is possible. Hostility should only be directed towards aggressors and not towards

The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil).

Again it is permitted to be as violent as the hostilities require; that is violence in contemporary language should be proportionate; it is a temptation (evil) to meet hostility with disproportionate force; this should be avoided.

Islam isn't a pacifist religion; in which hostility must never be met with any form of defence that includes violence; violence is permitted under certain conditions; in Europe this is called just war theory or jus bellum iustum and is a tradition of:

military ethics studied by theologians, ethicists, policy makers and military leaders. The purpose of the doctrine is to ensure war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just.

The criteria are split into two groups: "the right to go to war’' (jus ad bellum) and ‘'right conduct in war’' (jus in bello). The first concerns the morality of going to war and the second with moral conduct within war. Recently there have been calls for the inclusion of a third category of just war theory - jus post bellum - dealing with the morality of post-war settlement and reconstruction.

Just War theory postulates that war, while very terrible, is not always the worst option. There may be responsibilities so important, atrocities which can be prevented or outcomes so undesirable they justify war

The parallels of this with the verse quoted from the Qu'ran are obvious; and no doubt that this verses in the Qu'ran as well as others are used in a theory of similar standing in Islam that I'm too ignorant of to explain here.

share|improve this answer
Doesn't the Quran teach that the whole world should submit to Allah? As the verse above states: "And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah." Furthermore, perceived persecution is shaky ground for vengeance, as just about everyone perceives themselves as persecuted when they don't get their way. –  yters Sep 3 '14 at 21:28
@yters: well thats why there is a legal process, and rules of engagement in the pursuit of war; its not talking about 'percieved' persecution but actual persecution; and this is why there is a theory of just war in Islam as there is in the Western World; the Qu'ran doesn't teach that the whole world should submit to Islam; otherwise it wouldn't recognise 'the people of the book - ie the Jewish & Christian faith. –  Mozibur Ullah Sep 3 '14 at 22:11
Well, if religious persecution is defined as people not submitting to Islam, then muslims will always be fighting against non-muslims. This is what we see today. –  yters Sep 21 '14 at 19:59
  1. The scholars who are grounded in knowledge are very few, to add to that some leading scholars have died recently including Shaikh Albani, Bin Baz etc. If you look at the fatwa of these scholars then you will find that they have denounced terrorism in harshest way possible.

  2. When these true scholars speak out against extremism it does not have the same value in terms of sensationalization which the modern media channels work on. So if the grand mufti of saudi arabia gives fatwa against terrorists and asks for harshest possible action it hardly makes any news. But tomorrow if a gang of criminals say something in the name of islam then it would be the headlines in most news channels

  3. Through the rise of communication channels like TV, internet & social media it has become easier for pseudo-scholars & people with vested interests [who use religion for their personal or political gains] to reach out to the masses.

  4. Some of the characteristics of pseudo-scholars who promote extremism (knowingly or unknowingly) which helps them influence people: a) They appeal to the emotions of the people rather than their intellect. This relates to many muslims who are living in places where they are being oppressed. b) They quote references from islamic scriptures out of context to justify their actions.
    c) They use LOGIC/AQL (their narrow intellect) as opposed to EVIDENCE (from Quran, Sunnah & methodology of pious predecessors) d) islam preaches that means should justify the ends - the pseudo scholars focus on the ends rather than the means.

  5. If people stick to Quran and Sunnah as per the understanding/interpretation of the sahabas and as preached by prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam only then can this problem be resolved.

share|improve this answer
Good answers, it will be more solid if you can find references. –  a20 Aug 26 '14 at 12:02
inshallah, will add references as i get more time.. –  Naheed Akhtar Aug 27 '14 at 13:00
If you're quoting text from a third party, including lists of references, you must block-quote it and cite it properly otherwise this post risks being deleted for plagiarism –  goldPseudo Aug 27 '14 at 15:01
And any posts the majority of which contains copy-pasted text rather than original content runs afoul of our policy on copy-paste, which is discussed on meta here: meta.islam.stackexchange.com/q/953/22 –  goldPseudo Aug 27 '14 at 15:04
Yes, that's all quite plausible. But, why doesn't this happen with other religions, such as Buddhism and Christianity, which are much much larger? There is something about Islam that allows tricksters to persuade people to be violent. –  yters Sep 21 '14 at 20:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.