The question of how to understand the Muslim world is taking on greater importance at the national, social and individual levels. The terrorist attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the militant group's apparent murder of two Japanese hostages have fueled a sense of urgency for finding answers.
The vast majority of Muslims are no different from other people, religious believers and nonbelievers alike. They are peace-loving, law-abiding citizens. But some Muslims do embrace a particular interpretation of the political and military norms contained in the teachings of Islam -- one they feel compelled to realize, if necessary, by force in the name of jihad.