Is Islam the most violent religion?
Yes, it is now. But Islam is not inspiring so much violence now because it is so different from other religions. The violence is due to its similarities with other faiths. The world’s most successful religions all succeeded due to their political usefulness. Any politically useful religion must contain both commands to violence and exploitation, as well as promoting peace and goodwill, because such powers are necessary for political leaders. Every politically successful religion contains the dichotomy between violence and peace. The world’s first empire, The Akkadian, was formed by Sargon I, with his goddess, Ishtar. She was the ultimate violence/peace deity. The goddess of love and war was useful to Sargon because she rallied his troops, provided the organization for grain production, and promoted trade. She even presided over prostitution and beer. What more could a warlord king want out of a goddess? Every politically successful religion of West Asia has been a variation on the Ishtar model since the Akkadians, because no war is successful without the productivity of peace. That dichotomy of love and violence in deities is not contradictory. it is the secret to their success.
Ishtar in warrior aspect handing the measuring rod and line
to King Zimrilim. As a successful warrior king, Zimrilim
was in charge of measuring the fields for grain production.
Ishtar’s heirs, Christianity and Islam, are the two greatest political success stories in the history of religion. They succeeded through war, exploitation, and oppression, as well as by promoting peace, innovation, and economic success. However, the West left the East in the dust by side lining religion. The West used Enlightenment ideals to form secular governments, pursuing both their peaceful and violent ambitions with an increasing reliance on science and reason and minimizing religion. It turns out that using facts gets one further than using mythology. The West can wage war and produce grain on a scale that Sargon could not imagine.
Both Christianity and Islam are now antique political systems and secularism is the clear victor. Christianity only seems more peaceful than Islam because it is protected within secular political systems. For a time, West Asia was moving in the direction of secularism with leaders like Ataturk, and Mohammed would have gone the way of Ishtar if not for oil. Islam only succeeds today because of the economic success of a few Muslims, due to the exploitative technologies developed by the West. Political Islam is resurgent for exactly the same reason political Christianity became such a force in the USA: oil. People who have extraordinary wealth due to oil are using religion to maintain and advance their political power within their respective cultures. The Koch brothers and the Saudi Royal family utilize the same antique methods of leading people to their advantage.
The weakness of the secular system is that it only requires a few people using reason and science to achieve great success. The masses can still be managed with the antique systems, especially under Islam because secularism is not a tradition in Islamic culture. Even most American Christians exalt our Constitution as the law of the land, not the Bible. Muslims simply do not share our value of secular government because they do not share our history.
Islam already lost the war with secularism. But, no war is a success without ending in peace, and terrorism is a method of stealing our peace. Committing to engage in a never-ending military battle against terrorism is a mistake. Declaring an “inherent resolve” to fight ISIS with the expectation it will take decades to resolve is to slash our wrists and slowly bleed out on the writhing body our defeated enemy. We need to win the peace and do it quickly. The only way to achieve peace militarily is to blast Islamic strongholds to smithereens, which would mean genocide. Whether we do it slowly with “inherent resolve” or quickly with really big bombs, the result will be the same. The only difference is how many years of peace we sacrifice for it. We will lay our science and reason on the altar of war, rather than using it to master peace and prosperity for the greater good of all people. A much better option is to cut off the hand that feeds Islamists with oil profits. We need to wage an economic war on Islam and minimize our military action. We must find a way to side line the political power of religion in all governments if we are ever to win the peace.