Defusing Islamic Terrorism
Why did the terrorist fly the plane into the building?
Because he didn't have a nuke.
... But firstly because he believed that his Creator (Allah in this case) wanted him to do so, and will reward him for having done so - because the Quran told him so, and he believed the Quran to contain authoritative instructions from Allah.
Atheists propose a solution to this problem which has been adequately addressed elsewhere. For this essay I'm assuming a God and an afterlife because my target audience assumes it.
Other religionists will, of course, propose conversion to their religion. But very few Muslims will convert out of Islam, least of all the ones we have to worry about. Muslims are scripturalists, meaning they believe the God to whom they are accountable inspired a particular set of writings as his authoritative instructions to them, or to the world.
Liberal scripturalist of all kinds propose the following solution: Since there are no authoritative rules for interpreting scripture, just interpret it in such a way that best conforms to common sense, or pragmatics, or any way that doesn't require you to do things most people consider abhorrent. So what if your interpretation is illogical or absurdly improbable? That works for most scripturalists including Muslims. Unintelligent, ignorant, and/or hypocritical Muslims fit right in with the rest of the world, and cause no problems. But an intelligent Muslim, who understands what the Quran says, and has the integrity to admit it would often rather strap on a suicide vest than stoop to such tactics.
If you don't want him to do that, you have to persuade him that his Creator doesn't want him to do that, and will not reward him for it. That cannot be done as long as the Quran is the foundational premise for his thinking. But it can be done if his Creator is the foundational premise for his thinking, even if he thinks his Creator is Allah.
Scripturalist thinking is backwards. It says, "God says this. Agree with it, and think accordingly." Frontwards thinking starts with the most obvious premises and uses logic and common sense to build less obvious premises on top of them.
Scripture is useful to introduce children to the concept of a personal Creator. But a mature theist should start with this premise:
Your Creator designed your mind.
If that premise is your foundation, you will not be tricked by anyone who tells you that your Creator wants you to think something he never designed you to think.
Your Creator also designed your sense of morality, justice, right and wrong, good and evil. But those senses get corrupted over time by the pressures of life - economic and social pressures, internal pressures caused by emotions and hormones, all telling you it's in your best interest to believe lies.
If our Creator is just, he would not design us to think one way, command us to think contrary to it, and then punish us for not thinking as instructed - or reward us for doing what he never told us to do. He designed us to recognize justice, and prefer it over injustice - in fact to hate injustice. If a set of scriptures tells us that God is just, but then tells us he does things which we are designed to recognize as unjust, then those scriptures speak of a God who is not our Creator.
If our Creator rewards or punishes us in an afterlife based primarily on which set of scriptures we believe to be inspired by him, why would he allow sincere people, who are trying to obey him, to be deceived by counterfeit scriptures? How could such a Creator be anything but unjust? If any being, including the Supreme Being, is demonstrably unjust, why would anyone assume that he will pay off on his promise of reward?
The solution: Do what you believe a just Creator would want you to do. Don't believe what people tell you about him when it conflicts with what he designed you to think. Now anyone may tell you some true things about your Creator. But that doesn't mean everything he says about your Creator is true. Even if he means well, he may get parts of it wrong.
Let's say your Creator is just, and he runs a just universe, and it's Judgment Day. Your Judge asks you why you did what you did.
You answer, "Because my scriptures told me to."
Your Judge asks, "Why did you believe those scriptures?"
What do you say? Can you possibly say anything that isn't circular nonsense?
Let's try it again. Suppose you say, "I did what I believed my Creator wanted me to do."
Judge asks, "Why did you believe your Creator wanted you to do those things?"
You answer, "Because I repeatedly asked him for correction if I was wrong, and got no correction."
The Judge then looks at your records. If you're telling the truth, you get rewarded. If you're lying, you get punished.
Islam is more firmly tied to the Quran than Christianity is tied to the New Testament, and much more than Judaism is tied to the Torah. In order for Muslims to bypass the Quran and go directly to their Creator, in this case Allah, Jews and Christians are going to have to show them how it's done. So I'm not talking to Muslims; I'm talking to Jews and Christians, primarily Christians because Jews pretty much have all this down, intuitively if not logically.
Assuming that scripture is in some way inspired by God, then its purpose is to get people connected up with God. It must be simplistic because people are ignorant. It must be assuring because people are frightened. It must promise condemnation of disbelievers, because if your scripture is correct, disagreeing scripture must be incorrect. After scripture has accomplished the connection, it has no further spiritual value. All subsequent spiritual progress comes from personal interrelationship with God. Scripture then becomes the refuge of those who want justification of ignorance and reassurance of safety without further spiritual maturation.
Christians, your scriptures have led you to God. You are now connected up via the Holy Spirit to Jesus, and thru him to the Father. Declare yourself a non-scriptural Christian, and show the Muslims how to become non-scriptural Muslims.