Dr. Kilpatrick was recently interviewed by Maureen Mullarkey for The Federalist. Here is a brief excerpt from that interview.
Maureen Mullarkey: You consistently warn against what we might call the fallacy of root cause. Much mainstream commentary explains the origin of Islamic terrorism in foreign policy issues or socioeconomic factors. You reject that reasoning. Why?
Kilpatrick: The root cause of Islamic terrorism is Islam. Historic conflicts between Muslims and Christians were primarily religious wars. They were not, as many contemporaries suggest, wars for resources. The Islamic creed belies bromides about the “religion of peace.”
It is faith in Islam that fuels jihadists. The doctrine of jihad—the belief that Muslims have a religious obligation to fight unbelievers—is solidly based in the Koran, the hadith, and the “Life of Muhammad.” It is also rooted in the long bloody span of Islamic history.
Enthusiasm for violent jihad is not a result of poverty or of social justice issues. Violence is a theological imperative. The Koran makes it clear that performing acts of charity or praying in a mosque are less worthy than fighting for Allah’s cause (9: 19-20).
MM: This points to the Islamic concept of heaven. Why should non-Muslims worry about those virgins in paradise?
Kilpatrick: The adolescent fantasy that jihadists will be rewarded with 72 virgins in paradise is one of the prime motives for acts of terror. Muslims believe that an act of jihad will erase your past sins, and earn you, and your parents, as well, a place in paradise.
Non-Muslims who don’t want to become some young Muslim’s ticket to paradise have a vested interest in debunking this male-friendly, harem-in-heaven depiction of the afterlife. Take away the virgins and you take away one of the chief incentives to commit jihad.
MM: How feasible would it be to critique this belief? Muslims believe that the Koran was dictated by God. Thus, any attempt to question the text is blasphemous.
Kilpatrick: Muslim apologists have ready answers for critiques of their beliefs, but, in the end, their rationales assume that the Koran was dictated by God. Ironically, however, their defense of that belief is extraordinarily weak. It comes down to this: the Koran is such an outstanding literary masterpiece, they say, that only God could have written it.
Yet the Koran has to be one of the most clumsily written books in existence. Historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle described it as “a wearisome, confused jumble.” Although the Koran contains occasional lyrical passages, it is, as a whole, lacking in continuity, coherence, and clarity. The author, whoever he was, had some poetic talent, but practically no skill in composition. Indeed, from the view point of composition, almost any book you pull from your shelf is better written. In short, it strains credulity to believe that the Author of Creation was incapable of doing better.
There is little evidence that God wrote the Koran. On the other hand, there is quite a bit of evidence within the Koran itself that it is a purely human fabrication. For example, the book contains numerous “revelations of convenience” that seem designed to grant Muhammad a favor (e.g., as many wives as he wanted; a larger share of battle spoils) or to help him out of a jam.
The Koran could not withstand the kind of critical textual analysis that the Bible has been subject to for over a century and a half. But, for obvious reasons, scripture scholars have been reluctant to undertake the task.
The interview from which this excerpt is taken originally appeared in the March 22, 2021 edition of The Federalist.
Pictured above: Alhambra Palace, Granada
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