Friday, August 22, 2008

Why radical muslims hate us

It is true that medieval Islam has come forward in time relatively untouched by such events as the industrial revolution or any sort of religious reformation and that it is inherently opposed to separation of church and state, but modern Islamism isn’t entirely medieval Islam. What has changed is that a few political revolutionaries, primarily Maududi from Pakistan, Sayyid Qutb from Egypt, and Ruhollah Khomeini from Iran politicized Islam in a manner that is new.

To understand modern political Islam, one should start with Abd al-Wahhab in Saudi Arabia. He did have a precursor in Ibn Taymiya and if you explore Wahhabi literature (which is readily available on the Internet, you would find Ibn Taymiya mentioned prominently). To simplify, Wahhab took a literalistic stance in areas where traditional Islam was more nuanced and reflective. Wahhabism has been compared with some justification to Christian Dispensationalism. Abd al-Wahhab lived in the 18th century and managed to convert the house of Saud to his theology. The Wahhabists were intensely evangelistic but never had much success until oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. After that it was a force to be reckoned with.

Wahhabism was unsophisticated. It needed someone to make it more comprehensive and better able to deal with modern exigencies. Maududi, writing largely before the creation of Pakistan wrote extensively and more or less created the philosophy of modern day Islamism, but it took someone more radical than Maududi to inspire the tactic they call Jihadism and we like to call ‘Terrorism.’ That person was Sayyid Qutb. Qutb became a member of the Muslim Brothers whose founder Hasan al-Banna had been influenced by the Wahhabis. Qutb at one point traveled to the U.S. and attended University in Colorado where he became convinced of Western decadence. Qutb wrote extensively and his writings remain important, but his specific teaching that most concerns us pertained to the Jihad. Prior to Qutb, the Jihad was sort of like Ephesians 6. The Major Jihad was against sin. There was a minor Jihad pertained to defensive war in case you were attacked. After Qutb got done with his theological interpretation it was every Muslim’s duty to kill infidels. Kill them with a gun and if you don’t have a gun, use a knife, but if you can’t get a knife, find a stick, one Islamist wrote.

Sayyid Qutb taught that the Crusades were still going on, that Israel was a Western Outpost, and that the West had always been bent upon suppressing the Islamic world so that it couldn’t rise up and complete the task that Mohammad had assigned it, i.e., to convert and/or conquer the entire world for Islam.

To complete the circle in regard to the modern situation, Osama bin Laden was taught by the brother of Sayyid Qutb at the University of Medina.

Ruhollah Khomeini was for the Shiites what Qutb was for the Sunnis.

Even if Radical Islam is defeated, we are still faced with Medieval Islam which is opposed to separation of Church and State. We saw that conflict at work as the government in Iraq was being formed. We would like to see a Liberal Democracy in Iraq, but the Iraqi leaders, more or less politely, told us that is never going to happen. The problem for advocating a pure Liberal Democracy any place in the Middle East is that one was attempted, and it hasn’t been a good example. After World War One, Attaturk created such a government in Turkey over the objection of almost everyone. He was a great hero and saved Turkey from being cut up as the rest of the Middle East was. He knew that in order for Turkey to compete and play a significant role in the modern world, Turkey had to modernize and become more like the Western Democracies. However, elections were always iffy because the populace in the country-side favored the old ways. Periodically, some politician would attempt to undo some of Attaturk’s policies so the army would step in and restore things. Thus, when we advocate Liberal Democracy in modern-day Middle Eastern countries, they can counter with some justification, “what, you want us to become like Turkey?”


No comments: