Ralph Sidway on Raymond Ibrahim's site explains the difference between Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists. These are some excerpts from The Religious Equivalency Fallacy:
I personally know many fundamentalist Christians who exemplify qualities of charity, generosity, kindness, peacefulness, and with their lives refute the various caricatures that have become attached to the word fundamentalist. That they base their faith on the fundamentals of the Christian kerygma is to their credit, when so many “nuancey” Christians seem to get it all muddled up and one can’t tell if they really stand for something, or if they’re liable to fall for anything.
Interestingly, in Orthodox Christianity, one does not really see fundamentalism so much as what the New Testament calls “zeal not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). That is to say, that Orthodoxy is so rich and varied with its many sources of tradition — Scripture, oral tradition, early church writers, worship, liturgical texts, Church councils, canon law, iconography — that the term fundamentalist does not comprehensively describe the phenomenon of one who is somehow getting worked up over issues of observance and correctness.
Thus, in the Orthodox Church we sometimes speak of the “crazy convert” syndrome, or the “correctness disease,” where strictness of observance and proper fulfillment of the externals of Christian life become the focus, to the point of judging others, and ultimately to the exclusion of basic Christian virtues of warmth of heart, forgiveness, and charity towards one’s neighbor. In Biblical terms, this can also be termed Pharisaism, holding to the letter of the law while denying the heart of it. (This is much of what Jesus Christ warned against, and to this day this wrong-headed attitude turns people off to Christianity.)...
For a Christian, “zeal not according to knowledge” is a passion, a sickness of the soul to be rooted out...
As visually hinted in the comparison photo at top, the most “extreme” form of Orthodox Christian “fundamentalism” — both interior and in rejection of the world — is monasticism. The most common form of Christian monasticism is cenobitic, in which monks or nuns live in a community, under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in order to live out the Gospel teachings of Christ as fully as possible, and to strive to know God through unceasing prayer. Stillness, even in the midst of activity (and monastics work hard, with daily chores, or “obediences” assigned for the upkeep and provision of the monastery’s needs) is foundational; one will often see at a monastery little signs reminding one of the rule: “Prayer — Work — Silence.”...
Muslim apologists in the United States seek to convince non-Muslims that jihad merely means an interior struggle, and that the term has been hijacked by Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. They often cite a hadith in which Muhammad, after returning from battle, said “We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.” When his followers asked him “What is the greater jihad?” he replied “The jihad of the heart, the jihad against one’s ego.”
Yet, in Islamic jurisprudence, the hadith supporting this statement is not considered a sound hadith and is rejected by such authorities as the 14th century classical Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyya, and significantly also by Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and by Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of Al Qaeda and mentor of Osama bin Laden. The understanding of warfare against infidels as the “higher jihad” is codified in The Reliance of the Traveller, the Shafi’i manual certified by the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Al Azhar University in Cairo, which states:
Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying warfare to establish the religion.Indeed, seen in the light of traditional, mainstream Islamic teaching, and understood in the context of Islam’s history of jihad warfare against non-Muslims, the inner jihad is a devout Muslim’s pious preparation for the external jihad of war against non-Muslims.
The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus (def: b7) is such Koranic verses as:
“Fighting is prescribed for you” (Koran 2:216); “Slay them wherever you find them” (Koran 4:89); “Fight the idolators utterly” (Koran 9:36);
and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet said:
“I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah”;
and the hadith reported by Muslim,
“To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.” (Reliance of the Traveller, o9.0, o9.1, o9.8, o9.9)
Regarding this pious preparation, Nicolai Sennels writes:
Both the Quran and Muhammed… mentions several times how important it is for Muslims to be willing to give up everything, even their lives, in order to wage jihad for Allah…Thus, according to canonical, legitimate Islamic sources, the inner jihad is meant to prepare the true Muslim for the external jihad of warfare against non-Muslims. This is the whole purpose of devotion, piety, zeal and the interior struggle, as the Muslim follows the teachings and example of Muhammad. Muslim terrorists are revered in the Islamic world as Mujahideen, “strugglers,” or more literally, “people doing jihad.”
Greater jihad is thus an inner psychological process of removing emotional obstacles, such as the survival instinct and the natural biological attachment to offspring, spouses and a safe and comfortable dwelling, making the believer ready and willing to submit and give up every personal desire and attachment to spread Islam.
The greater jihad, the mental replacement of personal desires with an absolute loyalty towards Allah and his prophet and laws, is aided by what could be called the cultural psychological spine of Islamic culture: the recitation of the Islamic scriptures (some even learn the whole Quran by heart), expressions of loyalty through prayer five times a day by repeating the salah (“O Allah, how perfect You are and praise be to You. Blessed is Your name, and exalted is Your majesty. There is no god but You.”), and the well-known and severe religious and social control that ensure the rule of Sharia in Muslim societies…
Seen from a psychological perspective, the greater jihad is nothing but self-radicalisation — an inner holy war of brainwashing oneself that is deeply ingrained in Islamic tradition — to go against human nature, which includes basic survival instincts and the natural aversion — also among animals — to the killing of members of one’s own species.
Before concluding, we must address the notion that the Sufi tradition is an example of a more mystical, peaceful form of Islam, the better to be compared with Orthodox Christian monasticism. For many Western writers, the Sufi strain seems like a ray of hope, holding potential for reform within Islam. Is Sufism mystical? Yes, but peaceful? Not so much. In fact, as Andrew Bostom shows in his exhaustively researched 2005 article Sufi Jihad?, Sufism is just as committed to Islamic supremacism and jihad as the most extreme Wahhabist or Salafist sects:
Throughout the 20th century, and at present, Sufi ideologues and mass movements (especially the Naqshbandiya) have been engaged in defensive—offensive jihad campaigns designed not only to expel real (or perceived) ‘colonial powers’, but also to create supra—national (regional) shari’a states, or even a frank Caliphate (i.e., a single unified global shari’a state). The restored Shi’ite theocracy in Iran, whose contemporary shari’a—based system of dhimmitude was drafted by a leading Sufi—Sultanhussein Tabandeh—provides a sobering example of what ‘Sufi ecumenism’ towards non—Muslims means in practice.
Why No Podvig Terror Attacks?
So, turning back to Orthodoxy, which has a lively and vigorous tradition of interior struggle, why is it we never once hear of a podvig [“ascetic spiritual struggle” in Orthodox Christian theology] terror attack? This is an especially relevant question, as the demographics are so similar; there are almost exactly the same number of Orthodox Christians in the United States as Muslims, and many of each group consider themselves members of a “diaspora”: Russian, Greek, Serbian, Lebanese, Syrian, Coptic Orthodox —Somali, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Indonesian Muslims.
Even when bishops of the Orthodox Church call for “podvig” against the corrupting influences of the contemporary world, we never see that manifested in attacks against people or property. We see it through increased prayer, fasting, charity, kindness, as Christian strugglers internalize the teachings and example of Jesus.
Nor out of geo-political motivations do we see podvig terrorist attacks.
Even though President Bill Clinton led the United States into war against the Serbians (an Orthodox Christian people), siding with the Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav war, we do not see Serbs or other Slavic sympathizers waging podvig on American streets with suicide vests, cleavers and guns. And we certainly do not see sedition being preached against the United States in Serbian Orthodox Churches in America (compared to four separate studies over the last decade which reveal that 80% of mosques in America preach violent jihad and Islamic supremacism).
Instead, it is axiomatic that as an Orthodox Christian grows in piety and zeal according to knowledge, the more peace-filled they should become. One of the most beloved saints of the Church, Seraphim of Sarov, condensed this teaching down to the following saying:
“Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand will be saved around you.”
It should be clear that in Orthodox Christianity, the 2,000 year tradition of inner ascetical struggle — podvig in Russian — has as its goal deliverance and purification from the passions, so that one can ascend to illumination, and eventually to union (theosis) with God. There is no double-speak in Christianity, beguiling outsiders with platitudes about “inner struggle” while preparing believers through that very inner struggle to wage harsh warfare against the unsuspecting infidels. Individual Christian believers may have challenges due to “zeal not according to knowledge,” but the goal is to be healed of such ailments.
Conversely, as a devout Muslim grows in knowledge of his faith, the more he realizes he is called to wage jihad. Proper zeal, and worship pleasing to Allah —“Zeal according to knowledge” — for a Muslim means joining the ranks of the Mujahideen. In contrast to the saying of St Seraphim of Sarov, a zealous Muslim might use these words cited above from The Reliance of the Traveller:
"To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it." (Hadith from Sahih Muslim)
“Fight the idolators utterly.” (Koran 9:36)
Defilement or Honor?
Now, let’s look again at the one line refutation of the “religious equivalency fallacy”:
They [Christian and Muslim fundamentalists] certainly both defile their religion, but one group becomes intolerant and arrogant, the other intolerant and violent.Although this is a clever spontaneous rejoinder to purveyors of the religious equivalency myth, I think we have seen that zealous Muslims, the Mujahideen, do not defile their religion at all. Rather, by waging jihad they honor the teachings of their religion and their prophet in the most fervent, traditional, way.
We ought never hear of a Podvig Terror Attack, whereas, tragically, we will continue to see multiplied before our eyes ever more Jihad Terror Attacks, especially as Islam’s Rule of Numbers is borne out in Europe, the U.K and the United States, and zealous Muslims feel ever more emboldened and compelled to openly honor the actual teachings and commands of their prophet and their religion.