Like all other major religions, Muslims interpret and practice their religion in very different ways. There are scrupulously observant Muslims and others who are more lax in their observance, and there are several major theological disputes that have led to the division of Islam into its Sunni, Shi'a, Druze, and Sufi sects. Much terrorism in the Middle East in the past few decades has been committed in the name of Islam; terrorist organizations opposed to Israeli or American policies have declared a "jihad," or "holy war," against their "enemies" from those countries. Such persons see the Muslim call to jihad as the duty to violently fight against and kill the enemies of Islam. Other Muslims disagree and believe Jihad refers to the individual's duty to fight against evil internally, as in an alcoholic's duty in Islam to liberate him or herself from the addiction to alcohol. Similarly, some Muslims applaud and support the use of terror and violence in the name of Islam while others find this to be a direct, strident violation of their religion. Some Muslims see Western ideas of pluralism, the separation of church and state, and freedom of speech to be incompatible with Islam. Others see no incompatibility between Islam and democracy. Some Islamic fundamentalists call for violence against the "enemies" of "true Islam." Many other works peacefully in hospitals and schools to improve their societies. It is a complex dynamic.
Questions to keep in mind: What are the radical and moderate views of the Islamic obligation to do "jihad"? What are the objections some Muslims have to Western-style democracy? Are there any democracies in Muslim countries? Will Islam and the West always differ? What is the religious justification some Muslims make for attacking violently American or Israeli targets? What is the Islamicist stance on Israel? Why is Islam's pull so strong? Are all fundamentalist Muslims violent? Why do some Muslims think the United States makes too much of a big deal about terrorism? How do they believe the U.S. can undermine support for such acts of terror among Muslims? Will there be a rivalry between secular and religious persons in the 21st century?
Understand these terms: Islamicist, Jihad. Check out "God Fights Back" about religious fundamentalism generally, and The Islamic Resurgence about Islam specifically. Also, read this essay on the Ayatollah Khomeini and that one to get a feel for the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and why it was so important in the Muslim world and the Islamicist movement.
Beyond the Veil is an excellent link about Iran and the Islamicist changes that have occurred there over the past few decades. It includes a fascinating dialogue between two women, Iranian Sima Daad and American Deborah Whitley. Also check out these links: Islam in Iran: The origins of Islam and its evolution in Iran; The Islamic Revolution: Explore why the '79 Revolution took place and what has happened since then; Women In Iran: Women's rights in Iran, pre-Islamic Revolution through today.
Read an excellent article About the Many Facets of Political Islam. Also, read all about Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. Check out every link about Yassin. Read many articles about Hamas at Britannica.
The following links have both audio and text files: Understand the opinions of Algerian Muslim warrior Abu Mohammed and a militant Islamicleader (Mr. Kamereddine Kherbane from Algeria) who says, "We Muslims must return to our roots." Next, listen to Nadir Remli: Why Islam is the answer. Finally, read No concessions - Israel does not exist',
The Terrorist and the Superpower: Osama bin-Laden, Talking With Terror: Interview with Osama bin-Laden, Transcript of Osama Bin Ladin interview, "Islam and the West: Is There a Clash of Cultures?", NBC's "HAMAS: Can terror succeed?" Special.
Check out this page: Understanding Terrorism, but also go to all the links inside with the forum questions, follow up reports, etc. Also check out The Coming War and the follow up articles. Also, look at Many World Orders, as well as this link about religious zealotry and fundamentalism. Finally, read one last article about Islamic militancy and how supposedly the Muslim world is still dominated by the West. See how some Muslims believe the U.S. overreacts to Islamic militancy. Also, read this article on a possible Radical Religious Resurgence in the Future.
Check out the following Hamas websites: Charter of the Hamas, Truth about Hamas, the Unofficial Hamas Website, and this Hamas Website and this one.
Read all about Afghanistan here, and check out all the various links in that page -- an excellent source of information about Afghanistan. See what it is like to live with the Taliban.
This page has tons and tons of links for you to explore. Use caution when exploring these links.
Hamas Covenant (Verbatim English Official Version), Hamas Communiques (at assabeel online), Izz al-Din al-Kassam Brigades, Palestine Times, Islamic Association for Palestine, Sawt al-Haq wal-Hurriyah (Voice of Truth and Freedom), Islamic Movement is Palestine 48, Palestine Children's Relief Fund, Unofficial Hamas Website, The Hamas Covenant (Israel Foreign Ministry Translation), Covenant of the HAMAS Covenant Main Points (Israel Foreign Ministry), HAMAS Background and History (Israel Foreign Ministry), Political Leader Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas: Radical Islam in a National Struggle, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (Sept 97),
The Truth About Hamas - By Ahmad Rashad, Prof Isreal Shahak on the Popularity of Hamas, Prof Isreal Shahak on Hamas' Prestige, Dr. Eyad Sarraj: Why We Have Become Suicide Bombers, A Chapter from the Office of International Criminal Justice's
The Rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society - A Book Review, ADL's Nizkor Project: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood: Islamic Extremists and the Threat to America, Is HAMAS Extremist ? : Harakah Online, HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement): Internet Resources on Hamas, Counter-Terrorism Page, "Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Holy War, Brief Histories" .. Pictures, 100 Portes: HAMAS, HAMAS: Painful Wake-Up call for HAMAS, Palestinian Islamists: The New Generation, Where do the HAMAS kamikazes come from?, From Nakba (Great Calamity) to Thawra (Revolution) to Intifada (Uprising), Fateh, Hebron Institute for Political and Religious Studies, and Islamic Association for Palestine. Human Rights Abuses in Islamic Countries
NPR Broadcasts: ISLAM AND VIOLENCE.