There are a number of explanations as to why this is so, but taken together, they point to the same basic problem: Willful ignorance.
There are many examples of this, but one that struck me recently, and which gets to the heart of why the Muslim world has such a problem, comes from a recent BBC article entitled "Me and Abu Taubah", by Nina Arif. It demonstrates the utter inability that moderate Muslims have to successfully convince their co-religionists that they are wrong about their "perverted" understanding of Islam, and bring them back to the true peaceful, loving teachings of the Qur'an. (#sarc)
The article documents Arif's six-month period of online and mobile conversations which an ISIS jihadist calling himself Muthenna Abu Taubah. After describing how she tried to learn about his ideology, and admitting that she agrees with his "grievances about Muslims having their freedoms curbed", she goes on to ask an absolutely unbelievable question:
But why had Taubah (Arabic for "repentance") chosen the path of jihad as a response to injustice?
This is unbelievable because the answer is in the question.
Taubah is not just Arabic for "repentance" - it is also the name of a chapter of the Qur'an. Chapter 9 - Surat al-Taubah - is without question the most violent chapter in all of the Qur'an, and contains the key war proclamations that sanction "jihad against injustice" (i.e. non-belief) in Islamic thought and law. These include, among others, the following:
“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (9:5)
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)
“Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth...” (9:111)
O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination. (9:23)
O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous. (9:123)
Could it be that Muthenna Abu Tauba named himself after this sura because it reflected his devotion to jihad? If she was honest, Arif would ask the question, since if she knows what Taubah means in Arabic, she must also know that it is the name of a Qur'anic sura. But if she does know that, she gives no sign of it in this article.
Her dishonesty shows itself up again right at the very end of the piece, when she observes:
Aside from a lesson in scripted jihadi responses, our exchanges brought me insight into an individual who perhaps lacked the absolute conviction he first tried to project. It left me wondering how many others in the seemingly impenetrable Isis army could also be having doubts.
Read the entire article for yourself. See how many times she describes Abu Taubah as having rejected her claims that Islam is a religion of peace, and insists that what he is doing is Islamically correct and morally justified. Then ask yourself whether her claim that he is "having doubts" about anything remotely resemble the conversation you have just read about.
One of the most significant reasons "moderate Islam" has failed so miserably to curb so-called "extremism" within the faith is because it has demonstrated itself time and time again to be completely incapable of challenging the jihadis on ideological grounds, and in complete denial about the gruelling and searingly self-reflective work that needs to be done in order to undertake that task.
That is why, as much as I wish more than anything for Islamic reform in the sense championed by the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I also remain entirely pessimistic that such a thing will ever even begin seriously in my lifetime.