No, no it isn’t. Buddhism is a religion of peace. The Buddha didn’t reach enlightenment, get on a horse, gather an army and create an empire stretching over an equivalent area from the Atlantic ocean to China in less than a century. Islam is what it is: it’s a religion that states that there is one God, with one divinely revealed set of laws. Any government which isn’t constituted under sharia law is simply illegal and illegitimate in the eyes of Islam, we’re in something akin to Hobbes’ state of nature because anywhere outside of dar al Islam is essentially in a state of ignorance and needs to be overthrown.
It’s amazing how trapped within our western weltanschauung we are. We see all other cultures as just being reflections of our own, we really struggle to comprehend that other people might see the world in a totally different way. We really struggle with the idea that a seventh century middle eastern religion is not about twenty-first century European values like plurality, diversity and peaceful coexistence with other cultures. To us the idea that someone wants to kill us because their magic man in the sky has created a universal order where the rules and morality laid down by that magic man fourteen hundred years ago are civilised and any other political system is wrong and must be destroyed, is nearly impossible to imagine.
Now it’s true that a lot of “Muslims” in the twenty-first century, and especially in the west, do not see things quite that way but that is a different statement from saying that Islam does not teach that there is a divinely sanctioned universal order laid out in the Quran which, since it was laid out in the seventh century, we in the west find abhorrent. Isam does sanction slavery, a muslim cannot say that they find slavery abhorrent because Allah himself as decreed that it is moral. A muslim cannot say that fighting non-believers is wrong because the Allah is quite clear that Muslims are to offer non-believers three options: Conversion, dhimmi status, or war. Think about it: how can a community based on divine law, who holds that divine law to be superior to all other laws coexist with states and peoples living under other legal systems unless those other states and peoples agree to live by that divine law? How are treaties possible unless they are based on a sharia framework?
So I find that the statement “Islam is a religion of peace” simply doesn’t bear simple scrutiny. The borders of the Islamic world are largely the stop lines where Muslim armies were halted or pushed back to. IS today acts no differently to Muhammad did fourteen centuries ago and Muhammad was supposedly the perfect man. Universal orders, orders which proclaim that they are for all humanity, are not peaceful orders. A muslim can no more admit that the west is a collection of legitimate states with legitimate laws than we can admit under our own universal humanist system that IS can be a legitimate state with legitimate laws. One universal system has to defeat the other or at least outlast the other.
The west will never fully understand the middle east or islamists until it can get past it’s assumption that everyone on earth sees the world the same way. We can’t afford to be dismissive when we have Jihadis coming home because they’re worried that if they die fighting the wrong people that they won’t get into paradise and get their virgins. We have to start taking what looks like totally insane and delusional thinking and accept that it is rational thinking albeit based on the insane premises that there is a magic man in the sky and that the magic man has dictated a book to a prophet and that the magic book is true.
These people are not secular humanists, they are religious people with a divine worldview, who see things through the prism of that divine worldview and believe that they are recipients of a revealed truth that us numpties don’t get. Submission to the will of God is not only for the believers, divine truth is not exclusive to the believer, it is not something the believer can put aside to embrace a pluralistic worldview any more than we can say that universal human rights are only for those cultures that believe in them. The believer must enforce their worldview because it is, in their view, the only correct world view. God’s will is not correct here and incorrect there, God is not a being that is accepting of pluralism and diversity. These are western concepts and if there are Muslims who believe them it is because they have picked them up off us.