Islam is a religion that originated in the 7th century. It is the religion of peace and its followers are known as Muslims. From when the religion was first revealed till today, there have been many different interpretations of various verses of the Holy book in Islam which has led to a difference of opinion not only on minute issues but on some very large ones as well. Over the years there have been misinterpretations as well as some deliberate attempts to wrongly interpret the Holy words. This has been the reason for the unacceptable image that Islam has today; its association with terrorism and violence and a misconception of Jihad are just the tip of the iceberg.
Some people associate radical Islam with Islamic fundamentalism. When we talk about radical Islam, it brings to mind the early days of Islam when the people carried out armed struggles every few years. Islam was spreading and there were tribes that opposed the growing force that undermined their dominance. Therefore they did their best to cause hindrance in the path of Islam. The battles that were fought against them are more or less the motivation for fundamentalist groups today that fight in the name of Islam and the religion they claim to be following is termed radical Islam. The most important difference between the concepts of these people and other Muslims who are claimed to be following true Islam is their concept of Jihad. Whereas the latter try to spend a simple life guided by the faith, the former consider it their responsibility to spread Islam and convert people. They consider themselves responsible to wage war against any anti-Islamic factor in society or in the world. Islam in its pure form is a religion of peace. Muslims greet each other by wishing peace to each other. In fact, Islam or Salamati means peace. But like every other religion, there are those radical interpreters who believe in extremism. Radical Islamic terrorism is considered to be one of the greatest concerns of the middle-east and true Muslims consider that these radicals do not follow the Holy Book and one of the most important concepts of Islam which is peace.
Tolerance is another level where there is difference of opinion. There are verses in the Holy Book of Muslims that call for tolerance and good relations towards those of another religion. The radicals however, consider themselves righteous and consider it their duty to convert the rest to Islam even if it involves war. Furthermore, true Muslims accept that Christianity and Judaism are also divine religions and recognize their religious books as divine too. They believe that they also follow a religion that was revealed upon them by the same God as themselves.
Moving on, Islam in its true form is a religion of giving. Zakat, Sadqa, Chanda are various forms of charity in Islam and they can be given to people irrespective of their caste, colour, creed or religion. The radicals, as opposed to this are far away from giving something to others; they rather try to take away the freedom of choosing what religion to follow.
The radicals are known to interpret the Holy words according to themselves in such a way that it makes Jihad seem of the utmost significance. There are many more duties for a Muslim to fulfil first and Jihad comes later on. Also, the love and peace that Islam wants it followers to spread are exactly opposite of what these radicals spread. Their ideas are considered extremist, chaotic and psychopathic.
Summary of differences expressed in points
- Islam-a religion in its true, pure form; radical Islam, early Islam and its battles, fundamentalist views
- Radical Muslims-concentrate too much on Jihad; true Muslims focus more on the pillars of Islam (prayer, fasting etc.)
- Concept of Jihad- for true Muslims-fighting evil within themselves, family/society and then any oppressing forces; radical Muslims consider Jihad to be fighting against non-Muslim forces
- True Muslims believe in freedom of religion for all, also accept other religions as being divine and their scriptures coming from the same source as the source of Quran; radical Muslims consider it their duty to convert non-Muslims to Muslims
- Very low tolerance showed by radical Muslims compared to their counterparts
- True Muslims; try to spread love and peace; radical Muslims believe in struggling and fighting for the slightest anti or un-Islamic thing that happens