The Koran as software.
I will not dispute what many say about an average Muslim and what have they
observed from the behaviour of their Muslim friends. Yes, there are Muslims who
are very nice people. And there is very good reason why -- I would say most
Muslims are very nice people.
All human being, whatever part of the globe they might belong to, are not much different from one another -- what makes them act differently is the ideology they follow. I have no doubt that the people you mention were excellent human beings -- because that is the innate nature of human beings to be so till it is corrupted otherwise. Human beings are like hardware -- completely harmless like a computer without a software is completely useless box -- what makes them act differently is the software you load them with.
To make a point -- The Germans were no problem and are no problem today but they became a problem when they followed the ideology of Nazism and the same holds good for the Russians when they followed Stalinism. What is software to computers, ideology is to humans.
Another to explain may be that most Muslims have the software of Koran installed in them as we install e.g. Microsoft Word on our computer but how many of us use all aspects and capabilities of MS Word -- not many. Most of those who install MS Word never even learn the whole range of its features. But that does not mean that MS Word does not have those features. Now who is the real expert of MS Word -- one who knows only a few aspects of it or one who knows and uses its entire range of features?
Similarly most Muslims don't use or follow all the precepts of the Koran but that does not mean that the Koran does not have those principles as its guiding factor. Many don't even learn the Koran (and Hadis) in its entirety. As a matter of fact very few do.
Following the Koran to the letter is a duty intrinsic in being a Muslim -- all don't do it is a separate matter.
Even Rafiq Zakaria, by no means a fanatic or fundamentalist Muslim, will not deny that. For in Struggle within Islam he wrote:
"A Muslim is one who declares publicly: 'There is no God but God and Muhammad
is His Prophet.' He must also accept that Muhammad is the last of God's
prophets on this earth..... A Muslim must also accept the Quran as the word of
God, immutable and unalterable; it contains guidelines which a Muslim must
follow." (Rafiq Zakaria, "The Struggle within Islam" Penguin Books, 1988,
Even according to Zakaria the Koran contains guidelines which a Muslim must
follow. Again, I accept that not many do.
Look at the larger picture -- they do want to follow the Koran
Why do the Muslims have Koranic laws?
Why was there and continues to be such hullabaloo about Uniform civil code? Why was the constitution changed and the writ of the supreme court overturned? Because the Koran says so.
How following the Koran makes one act?
To give one example, Aurangzeb was a scholar of the Koran and he had memorized it by heart and see what he did to the Hindus?
What were the instructions of bin Hajjaj, governor of Baghdad to his cousin Muhammad bun Kasim who was sent by him (Hajjaj) to invade Sindh were:
"But the way of granting pardon prescribed by law is different from the one adopted by you.....The Great God says in the Koran 'O true believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads.' The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed."
Bin Kasim did not know his Koran but Hajjaj sure did.
Why Timur Lang came to India?
"About this time there arose in my heart the desire to lead an expedition against the infidels, and to become a ghazi; for it had reached my ears that the slayer of infidels is ghazi, and if he is slain he becomes martyr. It was for this reason that I formed my resolution… but I was undetermined in my mind whether I should direct my expedition against the infidels of China or against the infidels and polytheists of India……. In this matter I sought an omen from the Koran and the verse to which I opened was this: 'O Prophet, make war upon the infidels and unbelievers, and treat them with severity."
Taliban are the latest example of those want to follow the Koran. The problem are not the Muslims -- the problem is the ideology they have subscribed to. Some commentators have called the Muslims victims of Islam.
Yes, I have no doubt that what you say is true, most Muslims don't know what is in the Koran but there are enough when need be to remind them what their religious duty is?