“I understand the impulse people of faith have to excise extremists in their communities. They’re not really Christians or Jews or Muslims. Many extremists appear to violate the fundamental values that many hold dear,” he says.
“The problem is that there is no single authority who decides who is a Jew or a Muslim or a Christian, what is the proper behavior. It’s up to the individual. Whoever says he or she is a Muslim, he is. ISIL — with their sexual slavery, beheadings, killing of women and children, killing other Muslims — some might say is a violation of the Qu’ran. But because they choose to define themselves as Muslims, it has to be taken seriously.”
“. . . The power of scripture can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s up to the interpreter.”
An open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State from more than 120 Muslim scholars denounced them as un-Islamic. The writers used Qur’anic citations against torture, against attributing “evil acts to God,” and against declaring people non-Muslims “until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”
Aslan says he is “not in the business of saying who is [Muslim]. They would not call me Muslim. I don’t pray five times a day. But we have to deal with the fact that they are part of our community. They use things to justify their beliefs [that are] the same things we use to define our religion.”
“A Christian blowing up an abortion clinic can find justification in the Bible” says Aslan. “Those blowing up a mosque can find justification. Jews killing Palestinians can find justification. The power of scripture can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s up to the interpreter.”
Reza Aslan: Radical Islam Is Still Islam