CBS News | U.S. Hostage Beheaded In Iraq | September 21, 2004�08:02:46

“The militant on the video called President Bush “a dog” and addressed him, saying, “Now, you have people who love death just like you love life. Killing for the sake of God is their best wish, getting to your soldiers and allies are their happiest moments, and cutting the heads of the criminal infidels is implementing the orders of our lord.” ”

From the Muslims I’ve talked to, this is not Islam. As an outsider, I’d say that Muslims are at a point in history where they have to decide what is genuine Islam and what isn’t. We can’t do that by (1) just reading the Qur’an, (2) declaring at the beginning that Islam is a “religion of peace,” or, (3) listening to a terrorist – or any other single speaker.

As to (1), the Qur’an clearly can be read in a variety of ways. One way some Muslims are doing this is by doing what some might call a “fundamentalist” move – going back to the Qur’an alone, setting aside the Haddith (traditions of the Prophet).

As to (2), many religions can be described as “religions of peace.” But this moniker begs several questions: What does “peace” mean? What does is look like? Peace for whom? By what means? Under what conditions?

Finally, (3) is insufficient because a religion is to complex a thing to identify on the word of any one person on any one occasion. It takes time. If Islam is in flux now, it will not be resolved quickly.

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