The Vicious Cycle of Jihadism and Patriotism
By Ross Caputi
May 02, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- Many in the U.S. believe that we are locked in a clash of civilizations with the Islamic world, meaning that the American (Western) and Islamic conceptions of the world are so fundamentally different that conflict between us is inevitable. There are obvious differences between the Islamic world and the U.S.—linguistic and cultural differences (although it is hard to say exactly which cultural differences doom us to conflict). Perhaps the greatest perceived difference, from an American perspective, is the Islamic belief in jihad. “Jihad” is a very scary word in America. It is widely believed that jihad is a call for Muslims to wage holy war against infidels, and it is quickly associated with terrorism.
Unfortunately jihad is pitifully misunderstood in the U.S.. The widespread belief that jihad sanctions terrorism is completely false. I remember when I was in Marine Corps boot camp my drill instructors told us that we were fighting terrorists because Islam taught them (“terrorist” was nearly synonymous with “Muslim”) that if they killed an American they would go directly to heaven when they died and receive 72 virgins. For a while I believed it. I believed it all the way to Fallujah, where my command told us that Fallujah had been taken over by terrorists and we were going to “liberate” the city by killing everyone who picked up arms against us. Evidence of their acts of terrorism was lacking (and attacking U.S. troops when we were clearly the aggressors was not an act of terrorism), but the fact that they believed in jihad and fought back against us was enough to condemn them.
Jihad is a broad and complex topic in Islamic theology. It literally means “struggle” or “effort”, and it is a duty for all Muslims. Jihad usually takes on three forms: an internal struggle to
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