Religious Extremism

Essay by sthomasUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 2006

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Love and compassion are central themes to most of the world's religions. While subscribing to this philosophy, they also share another more sinister philosophy - that of extremism. We would like to look into the three major religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity (including cults) and how that they all have a history of extremism and also extremist activity today. We would like to study why extremists believe what they do so we can better prepare for them.

Islam Extremism

Islamic history has been a product of culture and conflict. One strong root of this conflict comes from Jihad, which in its original and basic meaning translates to the struggle to be a good Muslim or the struggle to live by the codes of Islam. The Greater Jihad, which is the more prominent form in Islamic culture, is the internal struggle to improve one's soul. Then there is the Lesser Jihad which is the external and physical struggle of Islam.

Under Lesser Jihad, Muslims would have the right and responsibility to physically defend the faith.

"Permission to take up arms is hereby granted to those who are attacked, they have suffered injustice, God has all the power to give them victory" (22:39, Qur'an). This form of Lesser Jihad would show one of its first faces during the period of the Crusades which began in the 11th century. It was only later in history during the 18th century that a radical interpretation of the Qur'an soon took hold of many Muslims. One such radical extremist is Seyyid Qutb, who wrote the book Milestones. In it he justified the armed struggle for Islam against those who stood in its way and he used the Qur'an to legitimize the struggle by saying that the world has changed and Muslim governments are...