1. TWISTED

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    The killer of four U.S. Marines in Chattanooga maintained a short-lived blog that hinted at his religious inner life. Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s blog had only two posts, both published July 13 and written in a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning. 

    The first post was entitled “A Prison Called Dunya,” referring to the temporal world. In it, Abdulazeez uses the hypothetical example of a prisoner who is told he would be given a test that would either take him out of his earthly prison—or send him into a more restrictive environment.

    “I would imagine that any sane person would devote their time to mastering the information on the study guide and stay patient with their studies, only giving time for the other things around to keep themselves focused on passing the exam,” Abdulazeez wrote. “They would do this because they know and have been told that they will be rewarded with pleasures that they have never seen.”

    This life is that test, he wrote, “designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire.”

    The second post is called “Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men.” It suggests Abdulazeez felt his fellow Muslims had a “certain understanding of Islam and keep a tunnel vision of what we think Islam is.”

    He uses the example of blind men who feel an elephant but can’t quite tell what the creature is. He says Muslims have a similar understanding of the earliest companions of the Prophet Muhammad. That they were “like priests living in monasteries is not true,” he says; rather they were “toward the end of the lives were either a mayor of a town, governor of a state, or leader of an army at the frontlines.”

    “We ask Allah to make us follow their path,” Abdulazeez wrote. “To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world.”

    — Katie Zavadski

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