Islam is far more than a religion. It is a way of life. This way of life is very rigid. It presents very few options for people to live within. This makes it difficult for those who are raised in this style of life to accept other ways of living. Islam also has mechanisms to encourage and force expansion upon others. (Jihad is a big part of this) The penalty for leaving is death, so adapting Islam is a one-way street. People do find comfort in having a few, straightforward options. It would be difficult to accept alternatives if you are comfortable with such a limited set of options. In contrast, we have been brought up to look for alternatives and actually have many to choose from. This would seem repulsive to many that are comfortable with a very rigid lifestyle. Take women for example.
I have heard Muslims state that Islamic options for women is one of two:
1) Get married.
2) Become public property.
I don’t know what they mean by ‘public property’ but I would guess that it is to be avoided at all costs. Many Muslim women accept this and feel comfortable with this. I am guessing that many of these are successful in being courted to marry and can be found in privileged positions. I doubt if this is a majority of women, but I really do not know. This option set is totally unacceptable to our society. We wish our women to realize their full potential, and nobody else can say what you are best at except yourself. Additional options are required to enable women to pursue what they view to be their own best interests. Within Islam, men also have a number of limitations.
Although the limits are fewer than those placed upon women, men also have many more restrictions placed upon them than what we in the U.S. would find acceptable. The restrictions upon unmarried people (Both genders) are an additional source of difference between Islam and the ‘West’. In general, Islamic lifestyle is very restricted. An overall problem here is one of mindset. Growing up and living within such a restricted lifestyle would make for a narrow set of views regarding personal interactions. It would be difficult even for a moderate person to accept the openness that is present within Western societies. They would find these options threatening and sometimes even repulsive. This narrowness of mindset could easily penetrate other viewpoints. Political and prejudicial views fall into this category.
Openness is how racism is defeated. When different races can interact with each other and discuss problems, racism becomes far less of a factor. If the very idea of interaction is rejected, then reduction of prejudice will be very difficult, if not impossible. This is a contributing reason as to the prevalence of racism throughout the Muslim world. Much of the problem is that they are not even aware of most, if not all of it. It takes openness and the ability to see beyond a limited set of views to become aware of prejudice and then to decide to reject it. This is an evolution that the Islamic world has difficulty with. Much of this difficulty has its origins within the limited mindset that is present within a culture that lives within such a limited range of options. This would make it difficult to assimilate into ANY other culture. You would see threats everywhere. Seeing everyone breaking all of the rules, it would look like anarchy. This would not only make you uncomfortable, but also encourage you to either move away, or to attempt to bring about change that you would find more acceptable. These efforts could easily advance to violence. Warfare is organized violence taken to its highest level. Islam knows all about warfare already. It would not be a difficult leap to move to this level, even for a moderate person from this culture.
Yet Islam is remarkably lax when compared to the reasons we would wage war over. Many requirements in waging war in Islam are subjective, easily interpreted to your advantage. Personal violence would naturally spring from less discouragement to kill others who are not like you. This is the dark side of Islam that is worth waging war over to eliminate. It is the classic good and evil. And we have lots of Good Muslims that are caught up on the wrong side. A problem here is that life is not fair. The good Germans and good Southerners had to be defeated. And in order for them to lose, a lot of good ones will be killed every time. We cannot avoid it. I am not saying that we wage punitive warfare. Wars of conquest are always more fruitful in the long run. However, nuclear weapons are the most punitive weapon designed by man. It kills everything, no discrimination. We will eventually be forced into this situation. It is only a matter of time. The only way to slow it down or to prevent it is to actively wage aggressive warfare. More governments will need to fall, and they must be Islamic governments who actively support irregular warfare in other countries. I do not believe that this is politically possible until the first nuclear weapons go off.