“You can make parallels to things that have happened here in America. Like the Ku Klux Klan saying they are the Christian knights.”*
A Divine Justification for Inhumanity
There are a great many people who think Mr. Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a good point in his statement above. Of course in order to think this is a good point, one has to ignore the fact that it is an obvious fallacy. The reality is that whether ol’ Kareem likes it not, the KKK are most certainly Christians. The very fact that the group is protected by the US government as to their legal rights on the basis of religious freedom should make this quite obvious to anyone who cares to actually see it. Of course, it's often much easier to draw attention away from the real issue by proposing the notion that people are just stereotyping and trying to make hasty generalizations.
The real problem with Kareem's line of thought, and it's one not only shared by the religious but also by atheists who are really just religious apologists as well, is that the KKK are in fact Christians. One can argue that they're really shitty Christians and I would certainly agree, but to say they aren't Christians is just dishonest. Kareem wasn't really wanting to talk about the Klan however, he was just alluding to a parallel between the KKK and ISIS. And naturally, as a Muslim, Kareem was quick to try and play the no true Scotsman card in hopes to convince the world that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam.
But is anyone really buying the idea that an Islamic caliphate that almost directly mimics the Ottoman and Turkish conquests of the early Islamic conquests of some 1,400 to 1,600 years ago, honestly has nothing to do with Islam? And honestly... can we afford to be naive enough to buy it?
Now, I'm not trying to suggest that ISIS is representative of all Muslims in any way. However, what I am saying, what I've been saying for quite some time now, is that they are most certainly representative of Islam, because Islam is what the Qur'an says it is rather than what parts the majority choose to follow. The other issue is that no one group has any valid authority in determining exactly what interpretation of their doctrines are valid. One can argue all day that the Qur'an or bible or Torah should not be read and applied in a literal manner, and yet no one has any supreme authority in making such a statement. In the end it's simply a matter of opinion, and while I am glad that most are of the non-literal stripe, that doesn't absolve the doctrine for offering a justification to any who would have one, for any atrocious act they please.
In the end, the only being that can say which interpretation of a doctrine, if any, is right and true, would be "god". This god fellow has been suspiciously absent since forever, so I'm fairly certain we won't get any such concrete word on the matter.
Imagine No Religion
In John Lennon's timeless classic Imagine he flirts with the notion of a world free of religion. I've often been asked if I honestly believe a world without religion would be better than the world we live in now. I'm not really sure, and I tend to think that we as a species haven't outgrown the instinct towards territorialism and aggression, however I can tell you what the world wouldn't have if religion didn't exist. ISIS and the KKK would both not exist if there was no religion. Charlie Hebdo wouldn't have happened without religion. The Jonestown and Branch Davidian massacres wouldn't have happened without religion. Many other terrible things would very well have happened, but those things and so very many others, including the crusades and inquisitions and the murdering of Christians in Africa, simply wouldn't happen without religion.
The real problem here is that what Islam is to Kareem or Reza Aslan is not the definition of Islam, but rather is their definition of Islam. It's the version of Islam they have chosen to embrace. And in the same way that we can't characterize all Muslims based on the actions of fundamentalists, we also can't act as though the majority is all there is to an ideology either.
Even if no religious person actually cuts the hands and heads off of nonbelievers, that doesn't change the fact that this is exactly what the Qur'an says a Muslim should do.  In the same respect, the fact that Christians do not stone their children to death for disobedience, does not change the fact that this is exactly what the bible prescribes.  Because of this, the actions and attitudes of religious believers are not the measure of an ideology when it comes to religion. The measure of any religion is the doctrine on which it was founded. Christians don't represent Christianity, the bible does. Muslims don't represent Islam, the Qur'an does. And so on and so forth.
You Gave Me a Ruler, So Don't Get Angry at the Measurements
The standards by which I and many others judge religion is the standard which these religions have given as measured against reality. What this means is that if I state that Christianity or Islam is an insidious and divisive force and I specifically can point to doctrinal scripture to show that this is true, then the fault lies with the doctrine, as it is the source of this enmity. Anyone who chooses to apply that doctrine to their cause now has some supposed divine justification for that behavior. Since nearly all religions claim to offer absolute truth, those who follow these doctrines literally can claim absolute righteousness. This is true of all religion and many other ideologies such as nationalism.
The simple truth I want you to understand is that the KKK and ISIS are in fact religious groups. And while these groups are not representative of all people who follow those religions, they are representative of the doctrine of those religions. How could they possibly be anything else? I mean, the very idea of fundamentalism is to follow an ideology literally as the doctrine prescribes. The actions of ISIS come directly from a literal interpretation of the Qur'an. The ideas and actions of the KKK come from a literal interpretation of the bible and the notion that all people other than white people are the descendants of Seth and are unclean in the eyes of god. Most importantly however, if there were no Qur'an or bible these groups simply wouldn't exist. Sure, other hate groups or terrorists might exist, but these surely would not.
My whole purpose for fighting against religion is to remove these supposed justifications for inhumanity and to propose a world where all people are accountable for every action they undertake. My purpose is to remove the divine justifier and ask the world to judge our actions on the basis of ethics and what is best for humanity as a whole. This goal can never be achieved as long as there are those who want to try and deny that there is a fundamental flaw with these doctrines and the ideologies that are borne of them.