Across a violent divide: reclaiming jihad from extremists

The spread of Islamic militarism and the threat posed by Islamic State in the Middle East sparks an endless and circular debate.

Muslims need to acknowledge and loudly condemn the violence being waged in the name of Islam, say Western political leaders, notably Tony Abbott. Islam is a peaceful religion and Islamic State has nothing to do with us, comes the indignant reply from Muslims, who grow ever more weary at being expected to condemn the terrorism they abhor.

It is a polarised conversation that ultimately goes nowhere. To probe deeper — to question the construction of religion and to analyse faith, today and through the ages — is akin to walking through a field of landmines.