Among the “universalist” intellectuals (wrongly named, from the leftwing) there are no great specialists in Islamist radicalism. Not being a specialist in the tribal-religious Middle East is unacceptable.
Within the “conservatives” we can differentiate two sub-schools: the first affirms that Islam is essentially radical because of radical theological premises. Important spokespeople are Robert Spencer or the activist and writer Ayaan Hirsi-Ali. The second school of thought argues that the Islamic religion does not have to be radical, which may be moderated and reformed as others have been, even though the main agenda, especially in the Middle East, is dictated by the radicals. Among other noticeable spokespeople, there is Bernard Lewis or the analyst Daniel Pipes. The author of these lines is part of the latter sub-school. On one hand, it is false that the Islam “is as radical” as other monotheistic religions and that there is no relation between the theological bases of the Muslims and their radicalized manifestations. Yes, the agenda of the religion has been kidnapped by radicals, but this will change. What is the basis for essentialism? The 114 revelations (Suras) divided between those from Mecca and from Medina, which are those that impose the case of contradiction (abrogation principle – Naskh). Those from Medina are more radical (read revelations number 9 and 47, that are from Mecca). The Hadiths (conduct based on actions or sayings from Mohammed) can also be very radical. The pre-Modern Muslims developed Hiyal (tricks) and other gimmicks for maintaining the intention of the law but relieving its implementation. Daniel Pipes calls this “The Medieval Synthesis”. The modern Islamic radicals are “purists” and try to impose the law exactly as it is written. Nowadays, we are living the prime of “purism”, the consequence of the deep crisis that the Islam suffered after World War I.