Non-muslims often struggle to understand Muslims because they fail to grasp the role that the Prophet Muhammad plays in our lives. Failing to realize the breadth of the Prophet’s teachings and the depth of love for the Prophet throughout the Islamic world, many non-Muslims are quick to believe ISIS, the Wahhabis, and other militant groups when they claim that it is they who adhere to the precepts set by the Prophet Muhammad and are thus the true followers of the “prophetic model.”

Yet the understanding of the prophetic model among militant Islamist groups falls far short of what is conveyed by the classical Islamic tradition. Far from being the literalists that some portray them to be, militant Islamists choose to ignore or explain away those teachings that expose their wanton violence for what it is. When non-Muslims fail to recognize this, they succumb to...

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