The "they're not really Muslims" vs "no true Scotsman" fallacy strikes me as somewhat interesting.
On the face of it, it's a classic no true Scotsman; people point out the things members of a group do, the defence is that they're not really members of that group.
But personally I think it's a little more complicated then that.
The no true Scotsman example works because, setting aside immigration, changing citizenship and the like, one is born a Scotsman, cannot stop being one until they die and there is no "test" or "requirements" to be a Scotsman.
But religion isn't like that...
Pretty much all religions (I suspect it's actually all but I'm leaving myself some wiggle room) do
come with a series of required beliefs to be a member of that religion; the most obvious example for most is a belief in the relevant God (or gods). And many likewise come with a set of behavior standards that one is meant to at least aspire to and attempt to follow. If someone doesn't believe in the God in question and doesn't believe in or attempt to follow the behavior standards proscribed in the religion, can they (or we) really say they follow or believe that religion? I don't believe in the Christian God and I don't directly follow the 10 Commandments (although many match my morality)... if I were to say I was a Christian I think someone would actually be in a strong position to argue that I wasn't
a true Christian.
But again it's not that simple.
Almost all religions have different interpretations and different sects/denominations. Catholic and Protestant, Sunni and Shiite etc etc. The Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the protestant Anglican Communion) and the Pope (the head of Catholic Church) have vastly different views on many areas when it comes to religion, theology and standards... yet outside of the radicals within each denomination I doubt many would say they weren't true
Christians. A simple difference in doctrine does not strike me as a strong enough reason to claim someone is not a "true" follower of a wider religion.
And so onto ISIS and other Islamic extremist/fundamentalist groups.
Are they really
I don't think it can be denied. Their take on Islam may not be the majority view, it may not be a representative view and it may not be a view that anyone likes... but it is still Islam, albeit a twisted version. To me the Westboro Baptist Church are
Christians, just as ISIS are Muslims.
I think at the end of the day when a group is talking about the same God, the same prophets and the same writings even if their interpretation of such writings and which to place emphasis on is radically different to others, they are
part of that religion and thus it's a no true Scotsman fallacy to try to say they aren't.
Onto the wider point.
Is Islam a religion of peace?
But what religions are?
If you show me any religion which has been established for a significant amount of time and has a significant amount of followers, I'm pretty sure I can show you pretty serious violence related to it. I think we're all aware of this violent history of Christianity but to give a starker example, Buddhism is stereotypically the most peace-loving and "hippyish" of all religions... yet there's a history of violence there
and, somewhat ironically considering what has been said elsewhere in this thread, it has largely been Buddhist Monks in parts of Asia who have fueled a Buddhist vs Islam conflict which has turned violent
When this topic comes up the comparison that is frequently made is between Christianity and Islam (as it has been here), with the basic position seeming to be a debate pointing out that Christianity has a bloody history itself but countering that point with the idea that Christianity had largely reformed to the extent that it's no used as a justification for violence these days.
I'm somewhat cautious of looking at events... both historical and modern... and always
slapping religion as the main or only cause. The conflict in Northern Ireland could be written as a straight fight between Catholic Republicans vs Protestant Unionists but that would ignore the centuries of other issues that were at the heart of that conflict. One could point to the various Yugoslav Wars as a conflict between Muslims, Catholics and various Orthodox Churches... but that would miss the vast ethnic and national concerns. One could point to the various pre-Napoleonic conflicts in Europe as a battle between Protestantism and Catholicism... but that would miss the other issues. There is pretty much always a large geo-political element to any such conflict with religion being an easy answer, explanation and justification for it.
But does that mean religion should be absolved of responsibility? I don't think so. Religion may not be the sole cause or even necessarily a major one of such conflicts but it was
a cause; anything that says that you are undoubtedly
moral and right while the others are evil is going to cause issues.
To turn to Islam, is it the most violent of the major religions in the modern world? I suspect the answer is yes; one can obviously find examples of violence in other religions but for the moment unfortunately Islam is the religion most guilty of this.
But is it inherent to Islam?
My posts are long-winded to begin with and to go into all the factors that tie into such things and
that form of Islam would take longer than even I dare go on. One can look to the geo-political events, one can look to tribal identities, one can look to how historical customs and traditions have been integrated into supposed Islamic thought (to give a simple example of that from what I understand female genital mutiliation doesn't
have its routes in Islamic theory but in tribal culture... but over the years the two became melded together to the extent that some... again from what I understand mainly African Muslims... believe it's a religious requirement), one can look at a whole host of things.
I'll simplify by looking at one.
Christianity was a truly brutal religion that had brutal things done in its name. For every objectionable passage from an Islamic Holy Text we can supply one from the Bible. For every historical Islamic act of violence or aggression we can supply a Christian one. Even today for every radical fundamentalist Muslim preaching death to unbelievers on the internet we can likely find a Christian equivalent.
But the difference is the power each holds.
Christianity went through the reformation and the renaissance, both of which moved power away from the non-secular to the secular. Political and moral authority started to be separated from Christianity while things that run counter to the Church's teachings were no longer widely viewed as heretical things worthy of punishment. There are degrees of this of course; in Europe the Church and State are largely separated in reality if not technically even in heavily religious countries while the US (despite being technically seperated) has a more powerful Christian influence depending on where one lives and in Africa there is still some deeply unpleasant fundamentalist power.
Islam hasn't really had the same thing.
Why is another huge question worthy of a thread of its own... my quick view would be a combination of the Crusades, Mongol Invasion and collapse of the Ottoman Empire... but the effect is that Islam all too often stands in the same position that Christianity did 500 years ago. Then if one were to insult Christianity there would be violence... now there may be complaints, boycots and the like but little violence. Insult Islam and well... riots and murders aren't exactly unexpected.
And I guess that's my view.
There's nothing inherent about Islam that makes it more violent or "worse" than other religions, notably Christianity. It's just not as far along in its development... and unfortunately it's growing pains are rather violent.