The new atheists are on the case of ISIS and, as I am not quite familiar with that aspect of Islamic militants, but aware enough to see the issue, I am not going to do the usual counter to the new atheists on religion.
I have indulged a number of cavalier commentaries on Xtianity, concluding with an instance of the ‘virtual church’ in action (Preface to LFM): the virtual church of Munzerian communism, but with Islam the questions are more difficult. I have once or two twice been critical of the historical realization of Islam via a series of books on medieval jihads as ‘undisciplined military abuses’ of jihad, but have come to see more recently the complexity of Islamic history. New atheist rhetoric with its know-it-all dismissal of Islam didn/t/won’t work, so the question is to study this phenomenon to figure out what we are seeing. As in my case I suddenly realized that ‘sufism’ was a phantom of the religious mind, there, but not there in Moslem culture: fooled me, I guess. Never knew what hit me. So the test of correct historical study is not simple with Islam. None of the secular critics have really gotten Islam right, and I include Schopenhauer, a man I respect, with a harsh take.
I have instead lambasted sufism in decline, and sufis who are in fact one of the most mysterious spiritual gnostic groups in world history. My barbs in attack are par for the course, and have no anti_Islamic intent: moslems themselves are wary of the whole phenomenon. And the confusing boundary of that world, shows figures like Gurdjieff (who never used the term sufism to my knowledge), who I have taken on at The Gurdjieff Con. This dimension of sufism is highly problematical.
Whatever the case, there is nothing in ISIS to match the scale of mass murder perpetrated by the US and Israel in Iraq, so I am in need of a larger perspective here than simple condemnation. If you drive whole cultures to insanity to steal their oil moral judgments of the avengers is a bit shallow, eh?
Beyond that my interest is in the question of global revolution: these Islamic groups are stuck in a premodern protest that aims for the wrong goal, and are stuck in a series of probably useless military subroutines. All that revolutionary energy should be directed to something basically saner: why can’t we induce a degree of secularization in Islam consisting not of the bilge of the new atheists but of a stance that can see Islam against the backdrop of the Axial Age. It is a movement destined to remake itself, if it can, in a future that is still unknown: it could be of assistance in the reckoning with modernity and capitalism at a time of crisis. They cannot understand the secret of success: ally with modernity, instead of opposing it. Study, not the postmodern sophisters, but the analogs of Marx/Engels, men who found one way to embrace and critique modernity, next to the Protestants who, ditto and copy, shew one line of potential futurity to Islam, an as yet unrealized potential.
If it were up to me I would say remorph sharia law into a transmodern (not antimodern) canon dealing with a new society moving toward postcapitalism in a Reformation after the fashion of their sibling Xtians, whose theology may be a basket case, but whose dna is essentially that of Islam.
Groups like ISIS need some really tough religious/jihadic Sargeants to get this undisciplined rabble to ‘Dress Right’ and adopt a more cogent ideology. In that case the result could be an unbeatable combination, even to the point of taking on the American system, but with a project to assist toward a postcapitalist future.