I skimmed Esposito's article and discovered a spew of al-Taqiyya which deserves refutation. As is my habit, I will quote the most egregious passages and let those who want to read the entire article use the link above.
"Islam, like all world religions, neither supports nor requires illegitimate violence." [Emphasis added.]
illegitimate violenceAllah, through his conquest imperatives, legitimatizes aggression. Is it legitimate to wage war because your intended victim does not share your beliefs & ritual practices? Surah Al-Anfal 38 identifies "those who have disbelieved" as the target of violence commanded in the next verse : 8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone... . The explicit casus belli is disbelief. Allah & his slaves think that is legitimate, do you?
In Surah At-Taubah, Allah commands Muslims to fight Jews & Christians until they are subjugated and make annual extortion payments called jizya.
9:29. Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. Is disbelief a legitimate casus belli? You be the judge. In my opinion, John Esposito practiced kitman to convey a false impression.
"The Quran does not advocate or condone terrorism."
Quran does not advocate terrorismThat is not what Allah said. In Surah Al-Imran 3:151. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allâh, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrongdoers). What did Allah say he would do? That could be a reference to the afterlife, is it? Here is the answer from Tafsir Al-Jalalayn. "We will cast terror (read ru‘b or ru‘ub) into the hearts of the disbelievers: after departing from Uhud they resolved to return in order to exterminate the Muslims, but they were terrified and did not return;..."
Islam does not get off so easily, the reference is temporal, not eterna. In Surah Al Anfal, Allah again says that he will cast terror. 8:12. (Remember) when your Lord inspired the angels, "Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes."
Yeah, right, Allah issued the command to the angels; so why was he reminding his companions of the command? Obviously it was something he wanted them to do. Examine verse 57 carefully. 8:57. So if you gain the mastery over them in war, punish them severely in order to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may learn a lesson. The meaning reaches full clarity in the light of Surah Al-Hashr 2.
59:2. He it is Who drove out the disbelievers among the people of the Scripture (i.e. the Jews of the tribe of Banî An-Nadîr) from their homes at the first gathering. You did not think that they would get out. And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allâh! But Allâh's (Torment) reached them from a place whereof they expected it not, and He cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. Then take admonition, O you with eyes (to see). Allah terrorized the Bani An-Nadir so that they destroyed their own settlement, so you should take admonition. Learn a lesson : take admonition. Get it? By what agency did Allah cast terror? Verse 13 has a clue for you. 59:13. Verily, you (believers in the Oneness of Allâh - Islâmic Monotheism) are more awful as a fear in their (Jews of Banî An-Nadîr) breasts than Allâh. That is because they are a people who comprehend not (the Majesty and Power of Allâh).
The Jews were more afraid of Moe's army than of Allah. Ain't that the general idea? Examine Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation of 8:60. Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of God and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom God doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of God, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. [Emphasis added.]
Maximize your army to strike terror. Got that clue yet?
"As with other faiths, a radical fringe distorts and misinterprets mainstream and normative Islamic doctrines and laws."
distorts and misinterpretsWhat did Allah command Muslims to do? What did Moe and his "rightly guided caliphs" do? Just how did Islam expand to rule all of Arabia, northern Africa, southern Europe and nearly half of Asia? Sahih Bukhari's books of Jihad, Khumus & Expedition have some clues for you. Sure, there is an injunction against suicide. There is a difference between wasting your death and killing Jews or pagans. Get a clue. The phrase "fought until he was killed" occurs in several ahadith. Sunan Abu Dawud 14.2567, Sahih Muslim 19.4413, 20.4678,4679,4681,4683.
"They pay no attention to Islamic law which draws on the Quran to set out clear guidelines for the conduct of war and provides no support for hijacking and hostage taking."
no support for hostage takingA search of Hilali & Khan's Noble Qur'an turned up ten matching Surahs for "ransom". Most of them are not relevant, but one is particularly relevant.
8:67. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter.
The parenthetical expressions come from tafsirs used in the translation. Allah reprimanded Moe for not killing enough of the enemy because he wanted ransom money. Tafsir Al-Jalalayn makes matters abundantly clear. "The following was revealed when they ransomed those taken captive at Badr: It is not for any Prophet to have (read as an takūna lahu or an yakūna lahu) prisoners until he has made slaughter in the land, going all the way in fighting disbelievers. You, O believers, desire the transient things of this world, its ephemeral gains, by ransoming, while God desires, for you, the Hereafter, that is, its reward, through your killing them; and God is Mighty, Wise: this was abrogated by His words [and set them free] afterward either with grace or by ransom [Q. 47:4]." Surah Muhammad 4, as mentioned in the tafsir, reinforces the concept beyond all doubt. 47:4. So, when you meet (in fight Jihâd in Allâh's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islâm), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allâh to continue in carrying out Jihâd against the disbelievers till they embrace Islâm (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allâh's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allâh, He will never let their deeds be lost,
Moe was given permission to release captives for ransom after he had killed a sufficient number.
"Islam's relationship to violence and terrorism, as well as the primary causes of global terrorism, are often concealed and confused by the religious language and symbolism that extremists use."
Islam's relationship to violence and terrorismWhat is that relationship, if not that which is revealed in the Qur'an & hadith? What texts do the "extremists" quote?
causes of global terrorismIslamic doctrine. Not poverty, not repression, not occupation, not ignorance, not illiteracy; Islamic doctrine. What did Allah command them to do? What did Moe do? The objective is accumulating "good deeds" to weigh against their sins on judgment day. If one does not die in battle, his sins are weighed against his "good deeds". Allah has a clue for you in Surah At-Taubah 120, I will emphasize the crucial clause for clarity. 9:120. It was not becoming of the people of Al-Madinah and the bedouins of the neighbourhood to remain behind Allâh's Messenger (Muhammad when fighting in Allâh's Cause) and (it was not becoming of them) to prefer their own lives to his life. That is because they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue, nor hunger in the Cause of Allâh, nor they take any step to raise the anger of disbelievers nor inflict any injury upon an enemy but is written to their credit as a deed of righteousness. Surely, Allâh wastes not the reward of the Muhsinûn
Muslims earn Brownie points by angering or injuring disbelievers. That is the cause of terrorism.
"Religiously legitimated violence adds divine, authority that increases a terrorist leader's authority as well as moral justification, obligation, certitude, and heavenly reward, all of which enhance recruitment and a willingness to fight and die in a "sacred struggle." "