Have you noticed how the great majority of terrorist acts recently have been perpetrated by those who uttered words, or left written evidence, that indicated they were acting as Muslims in the service of God? And have you also noticed that almost every politician, with the two exceptions of the current President of Egypt and the French Defense Minister, has refused to even use the word "Islam" in anyway when referencing the terrorist acts? Does that seem as strange to you as it does to me?
After multiple readings of English translations of the Qu'ran, it would seem that the answer to the question posed by my title is...both.
The two major publications that we look upon as the basis for Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are the Qu'ran and the Bible. According to Muslims, the Qu'ran was written by the Prophet, Mohammad. We know the Bible was written years after the Jesus lived, not by him. The Bible in the Old Testament is largely historical and allegorical; it provides tenets for living a live oriented to God, and provides specific instruction as to how to live one's life. The New Testament is the story of Jesus' life and the message of redemption through faith in Jesus with the promise of rewards in Heaven. The Old Testament in particular describes historical events when God instructed his "people" to conquer other lands, but nowhere contains any instruction for present day readers to take on any such political activity, even in defense of the religion. The same is true of the New Testament. Such actions have been undertaken in the name of Christianity in the past...the Crusades and the Inquisition come readily to mind...but they were movements driven by men who claimed to interpret or receive guidance from God, not from written direction in the Bible. All religions speak to a higher existence that disdains violence in this life with rewards to come in the next life...except for one: Islam!
Islam in the west seems to be a religion of Peace. Yet we are aware that in nations where Muslims are in the majority, or have political control, they have absolutely no respect for any religion other than Islam; they require all to obey Sharia Law and any who are not converted take on "dhimmi" status, a second-class level of existence...or are killed. To westerners, this is problematic...a conundrum that they apparently have no interest in understanding and definitely no interest in discussing publicly. Why do you suppose that is?
To understand, one first must read the Qu'ran and understand not only its contents but also its authority. As I wrote earlier, the Qu'ran was authored by Muslims Prophet, Mohammad while alive, not some historical remembering of him or things he said. As such, it has absolute authority for devout Muslims...Mohammad spoke for God, and through the Qu'ran continues to speak for him. There are no accommodations, no interpretations, no bargaining...if it is written, so it is and shall remain. There is no room for asking what "is" is!
With that in mind, know that the Qu'ran commands that Muslims respect all religions so long as Muslims are in the minority. They are to live a devout life, but honor others' beliefs and remain peaceful. If and when Muslims become equal in power or equally influential in political circles, the Qu'ran then commands that Muslims require that Islam be given equal respect with other beliefs, and honor given to those that worship Allah. So far, all this fits in with the western view of freedom of religion...live and let live, right? Absolutely. However it is the next step that means trouble.
The Qu'ran goes on to instruct the devout that should numerical or political superiority be achieved in a country, region or nation, the faithful shall impose Sharia Law and command all to convert to Islam. If they refuse, or do not abide by Sharia Law, they either become "dhimmi" or are slain.
Some of you about now are thinking that that is ridiculous. Really? Consider the governance of Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal. Not enough? How about: Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, and Uganda. Shall I go on to the Americas? Consider: Guyana and Suriname. In Asia, as just a sampling, we have: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh...well, you get the picture. In each of these cases, Islam rules and all are answerable to Sharia. Lashings, beheading and stoning to death are not unusual. Remember the spate of honor killings here a number of years ago? In lands ruled by Sharia, those don't even make the news, much less be other than proper responses by the heads of house holds.
Many have told me that this kind of thing cannot happen in America...or even in most western countries. Really?! How do you know. Those Muslims who denounce the terrorists do so for one of two reasons. The one that we wish to be true is that they do not agree with the terrorists in any part of their beliefs. But there is a very real possibility that some of "our" Muslims are devout, and as such do not try to rush the acquisition of numerical or political superiority...which they think that the terrorists are doing wrongly. The devout are content to await their ascension to political power and then will, in accordance with their devoutly held beliefs, happily establish Sharia Islamic rule and require all to convert to Islam or take the degrading status of dhimmi while not in any way granting immunity from the application of Sharia law and its punishments. Western women who like fashion, men or women who like alcohol, unrelated sex, or belong to the LGBT community will find no comfort if that happens. But meanwhile, devout Muslims...those we could correctly call "fundamentalists"...will continue to get a head start on destroying the West they see as a threat to true Islam...and they will include any Islamic groups they see as no conforming to their vision of what true Islam is...
Anyone can see the politically correct conundrum that these facts would put on today's western diplomats, office holders, militarists should they be required to acknowledge them. Their cowardice in the face of such a large potential problem is totally understandable...even as it is nonetheless inexcusable.