The world that we “live in” has most certainly changed in extreme ways over the last 2 decades. Terrorism is today’s object of greatest attention and fear on a world-wide basis. We hear constantly the term “Islamic extremism” being used by both politicians and the “every-day man” alike … as a matter of constant discourse.
But do most really understand the foundation from whence this particular “extremism” derives ?
Islam per se is not inherently violent and does not inevitably lead to terrorism, but at the same time, Islam cannot be considered a pacifist religion. Most assuredly, many other religions have promoted violence throughout the ages, but Islam, in particular, seems to possess all of the necessary ingredients for being violent-prone, or, at least, for following non-democratic methods of conflict resolution.
As part of their dictatorship or theocracy, 57 nations in the world support Islam, and, it is the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion among the oppressed and disenfranchised. There are effectively no formal “denominations” other than Shiite and Sunni, but all mosques are ostensibly” non-denominational”, and, as such, it is therefore more accurate to consider the religion as comprised of schools of thought, sects and/or cults.
Even then, those categories fail to fully capture the richness and depth of Islamic variation since there are "religious" schools of thought (i.e., Sunni and Shiite), "political" schools of thought (chronological and geographical Renaissance periods), "legal" schools of thought (Islamic jurisprudence regarding Koran interpretation), and, the traditional distinctions between sects (i.e., Salifism) and cults (i.e., Qutbism).
It is almost as if the ascetic monotheism in Islam insists that the religion be defined more by opposition than affirmation. Notwithstanding, Islam and Islamic extremism are undeniable social movements to be reckoned with, as believers think that their prophet, being the last to appear in the Holy Days, makes Him the true messenger of God.
As we instruct at Police Science Institute, in our Course on “Terrorism Studies”, there is however a strong anti-secular thrust in Islam along with a belligerent superiority that make it truly dangerous (as we have witnessed in present times) … but perhaps no more than puritanical strains in other religions when carefully examined.