Scott Carson of An Examined Life links to a Crisis article by fellow Ohio University professor David Curp about Jihad and the Islamic world's resentment towards the West. Curp's thesis is that the resentment of the Islamic world towards the West is not so much a result of their "oppression" by Westerners from the Crusades through the colonial period, but rather a sense of futility and frustration that the world is now upside down. For centuries the Dar al-Islam could, almost at will, conquer more territory from the Christian world, and realistically looked forward to the prospect of a Muslim empire stretching the length and breadth of the known world.
Until Turkey's decisive defeat by Western forces in the 1600s, and the West's explosion of political and economic growth resulting from the colonization of the Americas, Islam could realistically imagine a future in which all infidels would be brought Allah's banner. However, as the Islamic world quickly moved from being a major threat to a near forgotten curiosity in the 18th and 19th centuries, the forces of Islam were left with a sense of frustration and futility. If Allah rewards virtue with military victory, how could the Dar al-Islam be so completely left behind by the Western world?
The more westernized segments of Islam have responded to this new world order by further personalizing the Islamic faith, more or less dropping the idea of the Lesser Jihad (the struggle to militarily subdue the infidel) to emphasize the Greater Jihad (the struggle against one's own sinful inclinations). In this direction (to the extent that Islam does contain elements of real revealed truth) lies stability and sanity. With the possibility of traditional, successful military Jihad all but gone, the choice for Islam is between this personalized version of Islam, and the conspiracy-minded rantings and resentments of groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad.
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