Inside the Minds of Orthodox Muslims

Tuesday

The following are excerpts from an article in The Week entitled, Inside the Minds of Jihadis. It is a book review:

As with any enemy, the best way to defeat the Islamic State is to understand it. And to do that, the best place to start is a new book by Graeme Wood, The Way of the Strangers. This book gives us the best insight yet into what makes the Islamic State tick.

Wood, a national correspondent at The Atlantic and lecturer in political science at Yale, spent years from the streets of Cairo to London to the Philippines to Australia, interviewing supporters of the Islamic State and getting inside their heads. What results is a series of gripping, fascinating portraits. Wood's subjects have little cageyness towards him. Since everything is foreordained by Allah anyway, revealing your plans to a Western journalist won't change the outcome. Plus, Wood has the talented journalist's skill for interview and observation. He's an astute psychologist and a good writer to boot...

The book's implicit thesis, one which is both inarguably true and persistently denied by so many decision makers in the West, is that ideas have consequences. While the motives of any individual and group of people are always multifaceted and almost always include a good helping of interest-seeking and self-delusion, it is also impossible to deny that large sections of Islamic State members and supporters, from its leadership down to foot soldiers, make decisions on the basis of what they believe.

As the Islamic State keeps repeating over and over through its high-polish propaganda apparatus, it has a theology, and this theology has content, and an internal logic, that can be understood on its merits. Once this theology is understood, and once the proponents of this theology are actually listened to, and their actions watched, it becomes impossible to deny that this theology is a key cause (maybe not the cause, but a key cause) of the actions of the Islamic State, most of its leaders, and most of its supporters.

What's more — and this is the source of the willful blindness of elite policymakers and commentators towards the Islamic State — this theology does have Islamic roots...

All Muslims agree on at least one thing, which is that Muslims should follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad. And the Prophet Muhammad did do many of the things that the Islamic State is most reviled for, such as waging absolute religious warfare, engaging in slavery, stoning adulterers, and so forth...

It's a great read. But more importantly, Wood's book reveals truths about ISIS that are hiding in plain sight — but that our leaders make themselves willfully ignorant of. They ought to read his book, too.

Read the whole article here: Inside the Minds of Jihadis

Read more...

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