Matt asks in the comments:
I do have a question for you Isaac, as one who used to follow Islam. In the US you have (broadly) a division in Christianity between those who believe what the Bible says literally (Conservatives like the Southern Baptists) and those that interpret it in modern times (like Episcopalians with gay and female priests). I know there are more divisions, but those are two general/large ones.
Would you say there is a division within Islam between the "Fundamentalist Radicals" who whole to everything within the Koran and Hadith and more moderate Muslims that ignore certain strictures and live reasonably peaceably in the West? I'm not arguing that the latter group have a powerful voice. But is that a way to explain why all of the Muslims in the US & UK aren't engaged in Jihad? Or is there another explanation?
There is certainly a division in effect but not much in the religious sense.
I'll elaborate. All of the following listed items are considered forbidden (haram) in Islam.
- The meat of a pig.
- The owning of dogs as pets.
- The wearing of gold by males.
- Interest and therefore mortgages.
- Paintings or photographs of animated creatures.
You can look around in the West and see numerous Muslims who don't follow, let alone know, most of these rulings. In addition, it's tough to decipher the moral angle of these matters -- but that's Islam for ya.
So, in effect, we have many Muslims who don't follow Islam to the fullest (and thank God! for that). However, this does not mean that most of these mussulman are pushing for their view in the Muslim community. (As you've realized they do not have a powerful voice.) And on the rare occasions when they do speak up, the other Muslims simply beat them by saying, "Aha, the Quran and/or Muhammad say that so-and-so is haram! End of debate."
These points should be plain to see but instead the spectacularly wrong view has become the consensus: Islam is a harmless and peaceful religion that is being hijacked by a bunch of demented thugs. That's not true. The reality is that Islam is an evil faith that has, fortunately, not managed to obliterate the shreds of humanity in all of its adherents.