The Quran is a a work of literature not a scientific text, literary works derive their value and meaning from their comprehension by humans, unlike scientific texts which state their value through the verifiable facts contained within their words or acknowledge that a certain hypothesis is not yet proven correct. It is true some Quranic verses on waging war against the infidels stipulate that they- the infidels- initiate acts of hostility first, but there are also some verses that can explain why ISIS and AlQaeda are doing what they are doing.
Here are some few examples;
[Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,
Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.]
Allah is a undefined term, his messenger has been dead for hundreds of years, and corruption is a stretchable word with many connotations. In this verse the cause for waging war on a group of people is solely defined by the reader, so are the people whom will be fought.
[[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”
That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.]
When was the last time you saw an angel beheading a human being? Since the answer is probably never, then this verse can be easily interpreted as an order for believers.
8:36 – 40
[Indeed, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert [people] from the way of Allah . So they will spend it; then it will be for them a regret; then they will be overcome. And those who have disbelieved – unto Hell they will be gathered.]
[[This is] so that Allah may distinguish the wicked from the good and place the wicked some of them upon others and heap them all together and put them into Hell. It is those who are the losers.
[Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] – then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place.]]
[And fight them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah . And if they cease – then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do.]
[But if they turn away – then know that Allah is your protector. Excellent is the protector, and Excellent is the helper.]
“Those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert [people] from the way of Allah,” this covers three major groups; Atheists and Agnostics who speak against religions, and also promoters of other religions or creeds, because the word used is Allah not god.
More importantly, the Quran also contains verses on peacefulness and companionship, this is more telling than anything. The book is a collection of allegories, wise sayings, prohibitions, and hellfire threats for disbelievers. It’s not a completely coherent text, and Muslims take it literally as the absolute perfect word of Allah.
When Muslims followed Abu-Hamid El-Ghazali – abolishing what they considered heathen philosophy and the application of critical thinking to religion- the Arab world into a downward spiral barring itself from exposure to the Renaissance coming down the road in Europe. Till this day, Muslims are – willingly- still under the full control of men of god, whether they are the Azharis, satellite channels Sheikhs, or Mosque Imams. Lives based on a medieval book and its ancient interpretations in the age of the Large Hadron Collider, no evaluation, no critical thinking, just sacred words.
A notion of a primal world where the sword is the law lives healthily in the minds of modern Muslims. In Arab countries, Islam is considered by the majority as both a constitution and a creed, religious classes are mandatory in almost all schools, criticizing religion is against the law, and men of god are free to spew whatever they want. Since the Sheiks know nothing about life on Earth, their speech focuses mainly on death and what comes after, the other world. Young minds are taught that this life -the here and now- is trivial compared to an eternity in heaven. The glorious days of Muslims are way behind them, primitive life seems brighter (i.e. What ISIS is doing)
That’s why the concept of Jihad and being a soldier of god seems appealing to some Muslim youths, that’s why ISIS finds recruits, and that’s why some Quranic verses can be interpreted to uphold Jihad.