When politicians, heads of State, and pundits speak of events in the Middle East and terrorist acts around the world, their statements never agree when talking about motivation...and President Obama even refuses to consider Islam as any portion of the motivation. Now, generally speaking, it is actors themselves who declare their motivation, not the victims or observers. So...why is there confusion?
I suggest it is not because answers don't exist, but that each speaker is more motivated by their own political and ideological needs than by the desire to develop facts. So...how does one get facts? I suggest that a careful reading of the Qur'an (many translations are readily available on line and you can order a hard copy of you like books), listening to various Imams as they explain their religion and talking to Muslims in your community readily provide an understanding sufficient to our purposes.
The Qur'an commands its followers to strive for political power. While doing that, followers are commanded to respect all other religions and their practices while Islam is in the minority. If Muslims become equal in number and power, then they should demand equality of respect of Islam with any and all other religions. Significantly, if Muslims do acquire political power and control, they are commanded to institute Islam as the only recognized religion, to impose Sharia Law and punish all violations as laid out therein. Those who refuse to convert are then declared "dhimmi" or...and the circumstances are not entirely clear...killed. There is a presumption that such an imposition is "Peaceful" since it is done by a gradual process of gaining power, although the imposition itself may involve violence, hence the claim that Islam is a peaceful religion.
One may logically ask,..."...but, what about the terrorists?"
Good question. Islam countenances quite a bit of violence, for a variety of reasons. Insulting the Prophet, as we have seen recently, can motivate Muslims to murder. Simply the presence of behavior that is not acceptable under Islamic Law is enough to motivate some Muslims. ISIS and other Islamic-based (as defined by the actors themselves) terrorist organizations and their members do not see any prohibition against establishing political power and control by gradual, much less peaceful, means and wish to make their supremacy happen NOW!
All of these statements and facts come out of the Qur'an, hadith, and Sharia Law. They are remarkably easy to research, read and study, and I have found all Muslims prepared to speak of the contents and their beliefs.
When listening to all manner of people speaking of the terrorist actions as being totally outside acceptable Islamic behavior, and pointing to surveys of Muslims living in the West as proof, it is probably a good idea to be aware of the concepts within Islam of "Taqiyya." "idtirar," "kitman," "hiyal" which relate to different Islamic sects and allow dissemination (lying) to protect the faith or the practitioner. So, any reliance on such polls or surveys is questionable at the very least.
Islam is the only "religion" that I have found that advocates achieving dominance here on earth by force. Because it is so firmly based on a political goal, I have always believed that the only way for the politically correct West to fight this threat (very real if numerical and political supremacy is ever achieved in any country) is to use this ideological focus as a reason to define Islam as a political ideology with a religious base. Such a view would allow control of its precepts, and prevention of adoption of its exclusive views of behavior without violating our concepts of freedom of religion. I seriously question that non-Muslims would see required conversion as an acceptable practice of Freedom of Religion. Nor would I.
But wouldn't it be logical, responsible and responsive...so say nothing about nice...if our leaders and our pundits did a little research on their own and present us with all the facts, instead of ill-based opinions? It would be refreshing...and reassuring that our leaders can actually look our for our country and its citizens.