The Battles That Changed History, by Fletcher Pratt has been carefully hand typed and posted at :
...the more things change the more they stay the same...
(from Chapter 4 - Kadisiyah And The Cost Of Conquest. The rise of Islam.)
"...At the time of Muhammad this nascent civilization was suffering from a malaise. There were two basic causes. One was a persistent overproduction of children in spite of the common practice of female infanticide. The consequence was emigration by seepage; Arab stocks had heavily infiltrated the whole of Syria, Palestine, and even Egypt, where they readily mingled with kindred stems that had no basic differences even in language. By the sixth century these emigrant Arabs even had two kingdoms of their own, Ghassan at the northwestern edge of the desert and Hira on the northeast. Ghassan was subdued and broken up into districts by the Byzantines while Hira became a Persian dukedom. But the key fact was that throughout most of Syria, Iraq, and Mesopotamia the bulk of the population was strongly Arabic, with blood and clan connections back in the homeland.
The second difficulty was economic: both on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf shipping had become efficient as a common carrier. As water transport is always easier and cheaper than that by land, the old caravan routes that had provided a way of life for so many Arabs fell into decline. That is, there was unemployment in the overpopulated peninsula, and almost anything would have touched off some kind of explosion.
That the energies of the explosion were directed outward and not inward was due to several causes. One was the nature of the Prophet's teaching, which contained several features unique to an area where prophets were not uncommon. It made positive virtues out of several things that were necessities of life in the desert--abstemiousness, the avoidance of luxury, the laws of hospitality. This made it very easy to be a Muslim. It forbade the infanticide which is contrary to every human instinct and offered a viable substitute in polygamy. It turned fighting and plunder into profoundly religious acts, provided they were directed against unbelievers; and it provided a common ground on which every Arab could meet every other Arab, without distinction of tribe or clan. The appeal of Islam on a purely spiritual basis is not to be neglected; but it is worth noting that if the faith had been put forward in the most cold-blooded rationalism as a solution to the problems of place and date, it could hardly have been better conceived..."
As the article suggests, islam is really an Arabic religion. That is significant, because nonArabic muslims are really second class citizens of the faith. Muslims must take Arabic names, prostrate themselves 5 times daily to an Arabian city (Mecca), and the Qu'ran must be read and written in Arabic (translations are allowed, but God's true word was written in Arabic).
I wonder how deeply rooted Islam can be in countries such as Aghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philipines, where it clashes with the natives traditions and culture?
The article also suggests that Islam was designed for a medieval civilization, which may explain why it has been unable to adapt to the 21st Century.
I'd hazard a guess that like the spread of christianity, the local flavor is an amalgam of traditions prior and post. Like christmas being a spin off of earler mid winter celebrations: Pope St Gregory was a man way ahead of his time. He realised that the Church would make more converts by 'adding on' to what was already an inherent practice, rather than trying to eliminate everything as 'wrong' or 'bad', or as we are now inclined to phrase it, 'pagan'.
Even in the majority arab lands, there are many flavors of islam: from www.amideast.org/offices/kuwait/saud/islam_branches.htm
"There are many branches of both Sunni and Shi`a Islam. Some of the more well known are briefly described below:
The Khariji`i were the first group to break with the larger Islamic community in CE 658. Believing in absolute purity of conduct and belief, the Khariji`i attacked everyone they considered an apostate. They exist today in small groups in North Africa and southern Arabia.
The Muwahhidun (Wahhabis) adhere to the teachings of Ibn Taimiya condemning all innovations in Islam. These teachings were adopted as the official doctrine of Arabia by the Sa`ud family in 1803.
The Imami (Twelvers) believe that the twelfth Imam after Ali is now hidden. The Imami are the dominant branch of Shi`a Islam and are found in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and especially Iran, where they form the majority. This branch of Shi`a Islam was made the official religion of Iran at the beginning of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501.
The Ismaili (Seveners) came to power in Egypt during the Fatimid Dynasty in the tenth century and believe in only seven Imams following Ali. Various small groups of Ismaili are found today in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Yemen, and East Africa, but their precise numbers are difficult to establish.
The Alawite of Syria and the Druze, found mainly in Lebanon, Israel, and Syria, are thought by many to be offshoots of the Ismaili. The Druze community was closed to outsiders in 1043 and the details of their doctrine remain secret, but it is generally believed to be a movement that grew up around the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, who proclaimed himself divine in 1017. Its relationship to Islam is mostly historical, as the Druze diverge greatly from mainstream Islamic believe and practice.
The Zaidi accept five Imams after Ali, ending with Zaid ibn Ali, but they do not accept the concept of the Hidden Imam. They are found in Yemen, where they established a state in the beginning of the tenth century.
The Sufi are the mystics of Islam. They follow an ascetic lifestyle in search of the truth, and some believe in the possibility of obtaining a mystical union with God through ritual dancing, music, or meditation. Over time, the Sufi organized themselves into orders that may loosely compared to Christian monastic orders. These orders provided a way to popularize Islam among the general population, especially in the non-Arab Muslim world. Aspects of popular Sufism can be seen in many activities of daily life: for example, songws that are sung—especially by women—when rocking children to sleep, grinding grain, sweeping, and other repetitive activities. Some of Islam’s greatest poets and philosophers have been Sufi."
I think that's the real challenge of coexisting with Islam, it's not just *one* thing. The implication is there will not be *one* solution either.
Actually, muslims probably attack and murder fellow muslims more often than Christians, or Jews, because of their different Islamic faiths. To a Sunni muslim, a Shi'ite is a heretic and vice versa, whereas Jews and Christians are "Children of the Book" to be afforded due consideration and respect.