An excellent article from Crisis Magazine; sometimes the simple reason is the best one.
According to the principle known as Occam’s razor, the best explanation of an event is usually the one that is simplest. Yet Western analysts persist in using the most convoluted hypotheses to explain Islamic terrorism. Take a recent address to the UN Security Council by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. In encouraging the Security Council to address the “root causes” of terrorism, he observed:
Young people traveling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies.
In other words, the culprits at the root of it all are the usual suspects—poverty and discrimination. Well, yes, that may have something to do with why young men go off to foreign lands and risk being blown to kingdom-come, but why look for a complicated cause when a simple explanation will do? In other words, is it necessary to go any further in the explanatory process than kingdom-come itself—and what kingdom-come entails?
For many a young man, the certainty that there are seventy-two high-bosomed maidens waiting for him on the other side is reason enough to risk the sacrifice of life and limb. And according to most Islamic interpretations, the only sure way of securing paradise is through martyrdom. Thus, the Islamic view of achieving paradise creates a very real temptation for young men to take the shortcut to get there. As Professor Louis René Beres points out in a recent article for Gatestone Institute, “The jihadi terrorist claims to ‘love death,’ but in his or her mind, that ‘suicide’ is anything but final”:
The would-be killer has been promised that death will represent just a trivial and momentary inconvenience, a minor detour on just one more glorious ‘martyr’s’ fiery trajectory toward a life everlasting, in Paradise.
It’s a hard combination to beat: life everlasting plus the kind of afterlife that a young man can readily appreciate. One advantage of the Islamic conception of paradise is that it’s considerably easier to understand than the Christian idea of heaven as union with God through the Beatific Vision. That may be why most Christians prefer to die in their beds rather than on the battlefield. As I said a couple of years ago:
Most Christians are not sure if they are quite ready for union with God, but most young men, of whatever religion, are pretty sure they are ready for the rewards offered in the Islamic paradise.
Retrieved October 4, 2014 from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/fools-paradise