I just read The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer. Fascinating read. A couple thoughts came to my mind as I read. The first is that Islam is, unlike every other "great" religion I know of, a very sensual (or sensuous) system. Christianity, for instance, paints a picture of the Afterlife as being completely spiritual: at most, it promises the chance to hear unending harp music. Buddhism views life after death as being either rebirth or, if you achieve Enlightenment, an end to desire and all earthly struggles.
Islam, on the other hand, makes Paradise a completely materialistic place. Unending fountains of water, milk, honey, and wine flow. Now some have pointed out that to a desert-dweller, that is Paradise. Fair enough, I guess. But according to the Koran, if you get there the correct way (i.e. killing infidels), then you also get a harem of virginal women (if Spencer has it correct, you can "opt out" of this part, and get a bunch of handsome young men instead. In the words of a famous Jew, "not that there's anything wrong with that".) This is a concept that's a little tougher to handle. Not very spiritual, but very materialistic. And this is the centerpiece of a religion- "Kill your neighbors and get all the women you want"? Sorry, but while I don't adhere to any religion, I don't buy this tenet.
The other problem is that Mohammed sometimes seems to receive revelations from Allah that are awfully convenient for him. For instance, he might announce in one spot that he received a "thou shalt not" law regarding a certain matter. Fair enough. But then at a later date, he might suddenly inform his followers of a new revelation- one which reinforces the first, but also makes a noticeable exception- for the Prophet himself. And only for the Prophet. Great way to lead your people, huh? This is expressly forbidden by God, except for me. So bring me your daughter so I can take advantage of this new Perk, which was just given to me.
Also, I think it's convenient for Mohammed to start it all off by announcing that there won't be anyone to ever come along and contradict him. Again, I invoke the "That's awfully convenient" clause. Not only does it make him (literally) the Last Word, but it has the other effect of ensuring that Islam will never rise out of it's medieval dogma.
So once upon a time, a new religion was born. A charismatic leader comes out, and builds upon the writings of his predecessors, but adds new twists. These new twists promise his followers earthly riches, and eternal pleasure. But they have to give blind and complete obedience to a leader that is not bound by the same rules, and who they are expected to share their Goods with. All I can say is that Jim Bakker and Jim Jones had the wrong "role model". Christianity was the wrong venue for them. Had they built their churches on an Islamic foundation, they'd likely still be in business. Unless of course they were killed by a peaceful, tolerant Muslim.
Not that there's any chance of that happening, right?