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Understanding the roots of militant Islam

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted December 2, 2002

The religion of Islam represents an enigma to most Americans, especially in the aftermath of the atrocities perpetrated by radical Islamists on September 11th. There's just too many conflicting statements being disseminated that only add to the confusion. Is Islam really a "religion of peace", as consistently asserted by President Bush, or is it a vehicle for violent Jihad? Well, history reveals that both versions of Islam have emerged at various points over the course of the past 1500 years, according to author Stephen Schwartz in his informative tome, The Two Faces Of Islam.

Schwartz exhibits a notably sympathetic approach to Islam, underscoring that there is nothing intrinsically violent, or perverse about traditional Islam, one of the world's magnificent religions. Unlike "clash of civilization" proponents, Schwartz eschews the notion that the Islamic world was inevitably poised to wage Jihad on western cultures. Rather, the variant of Islam known as Wahhabism (Wahhabi cult) is currently at the root of Muslim extremism, and attacks upon western societies. And Schwartz is of the opinion that "the great majority of the world's more than one billion Muslims do not support Wahhabism".

Moreover, Schwartz maintains that the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, is often quoted out of context, such as the familiar verse, "Slay the idolators wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them". Accompanying verses, which would provide further clarification, are generally ignored such as : "Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers, except for those idolators who have honored their treaties with you. With these, keep faith, until their treaties have run their term. God loves the righteous". Or, the lines that exhort: "God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion nor driven you from your homes. God loves the equitable". Therefore, a more comprehensive reading of the Qur'an reveals a kinder, more flexible understanding of Islamic beliefs.

The author's major points can be summarized as follows:

  • Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist organization are practitioners of the Wahhabi "death cult" within Islam, a Jihadist group with an apocalyptic bent.

  • The official belief system of Saudi Arabia is militant "Wahhabism", dating back to its inception during the 18th century. The House of Saud aligned itself with the puritanical and "heresy hunting" cleric Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his adherents, which engaged in violent Jihad against all other sects of Islam, thus ushering in the rule of the House of Saud on the Arabian peninsula. The Wahhabi - Saudi alliance established a unique power-sharing arrangement, in addition to cooperating with the British in efforts to depose Ottoman rule.

  • The Ottoman Empire is illustrative of Islamic cooperation and peaceful co-existence with a variety of religions. The author notes that, "a multi-ethnic, pluralistic, and tolerant Ottoman Empire established a new, all-powerful caliphate and fostered an Islamic style that set the intellectual pace for the faith for the next 450 years."

  • The Muslims of the Balkan region (Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, etc.), individuals considered "uniquely European and Islamic", generally rejected advances of the radical Wahhabi movement during the 1990's when the Saudis orchestrated considerable proselytization efforts. The Balkan Muslims refused to be radicalized despite the enormity of their suffering, including "ethnic cleansing" atrocities at the hands of non- Muslims. The author notes that Wahhabism attracted few recruits in the region: "Instead Balkan Muslims rebelled against Wahhabi attempts to impose puritanical strictures on their pluralist culture."

  • The Saudis continue to be thoroughly enmeshed with Wahhabi ideology and the Jihadist movement that seek to destroy western societies including America as "The Great Satan". Make no mistake, the Saudis are committed to lavishly funding and disseminating their malevolent Wahhabi beliefs around the globe. And these Saudi activities pose an enormous threat to the safety and security of Americans.

  • Therefore, author Stephen Schwartz issues a clarion call for America to reject the Saudi propaganda "myth" that they are "moderates", and that Saudi Arabia is a "friend", and an "ally" to our nation. As Schwartz indicates, "The success of the 70-year campaign of disinformation in the West to protect Saudi power has reached its end. Difficult as it may be for our leaders to say so in public, it is clear that Wahhabism- Saudism is part of the 'axis of evil', and possibly the most dangerous part".

  • Importantly, American Muslim leadership has become radicalized, with an estimated 80 per cent of American Mosques now under Wahhabi influence. The author states: "The Wahhabis had imposed the Saudi monarchy by bloodshed; but they had carried out a bloodless coup within the American Muslim community thanks to American constitutional protections, which they exploited, as well as the ignorance and accommodating attitude of the non-Muslim majority and the timidity of non-Wahhabi Muslims in the face of a careful and well-crafted Wahhabi campaign". Now the salient question is whether traditional Muslims here in America will speak out against the "Islamo-Fascist" dictates of their leaders.

Let's just admit it, the Saudis have been up-to-their-eyeballs in support of terrorism for quite awhile. Logically, any person or nation that is funding the Wahhabi "death cult", is in effect funding the terrorism that it produces. And America can no longer ignore the unholy alliance between the Saudi royals and the al-Qaida organization that perpetrated the heinous assaults upon New York City and Washington DC.

Just recently, allegations surfaced that the wife of Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar funneled monies through third parties to two of the September 11th hijackers. In the minds of many Americans, there is undeniable Saudi complicity in the deaths of approximately 3 000 individuals on that "Day of Infamy". The calls for Senate investigation into Saudi financing of al-Qaida terrorism, particularly the September 11th terrorist strikes, is well-founded and arguably an imperative undertaking. The average American has grown exceedingly cynical, and wants these Saudi scoundrels held accountable for their misdeeds. If it means filing a multitude of lawsuits against them, freezing their bank accounts, and confiscating their assets, so be it. As for American foreign policy, it will just have to adjust to the changing landscape. We can no longer do business with individuals implicated in the mass murder of our citizens, nor should we depend upon them in any way. Let them keep their military bases.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

Buy Stephen Schwartz's The Two Faces Of Islam at Amazon.com for only $17.50 (30% off)

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