Oleh : Alwi Shihab
Oleh : Alwi Shihab
Islam and terror are two contradictory words and incompatible to each other. Islam Islam which is the last of the three monotheistic faiths signifies the commitment of its adherents to live in total submission to God. Islam is an Arabic word in which it contains three –consonant root S-L-M connotes peace (salam), soundness and safety.. That is to say, Islam gives one inner peace and soundness of nature in this life and safety from divine retribution in the life hereafter.
Terrorism, though has a variety of definition, it is premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatants or innocent civilians.
The two terms (Islam and Teroorism) are far removed from each other because Islam place high sanctity of life of individual as Islam sees life as God’s spirit bestowed upon human. The Quran says, whoever eliminate a single life it is in the sight of Allah as if eliminating the whole humanity..
However we all puzzled to the tragic event of September 11; why such terrorist act occurred and perpetrated by individuals claimed to be true Muslims with excessive zeal on Islamic teachings.
Let us try to examine this dangerous phenomenon and seek to remedy the wounds with the hope to be able to restore true and bright image of Islam as religion that promote peace and condemn evil doer who perpetuate mischief on earth. The Quran says;
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land , is execution or crucifixion or the cutting of hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land. (Surah 5 verse 33)
This verse puts the nature of crime and evil on equal footing between those who wage war against God and His messenger and those who perpetuate evil and terror on earth.
Through this seminar I want to invite us to try to reflect with a clear mind and objectivity the root cause of such dangerous phenomenon encounter by humanity today Let us seek the real cause in order to find the correct solutions for us to live in peace and harmony.
No-one denies hostility in the Islamic world against the US and the West has roused in unprecedented way in the wake of the tragic events of September 11. A number of hypothesis have surfaced to explain these attitudes. Many argue that these hostile feelings are an expression of the contradiction in culture and civilization between Islam and the West. The incompatibility between them is rooted in the long history of competition and conflict. Such opinion clearly accentuates the Samuel Huntington thesis of the eventual “Clash of Civilization” between the east (Muslim) and the West.(Christian)
The rivalry between Islam and the West is evident from the fact that almost 100 years after the birth of Islam, the Muslims manage to establish an empire that extended across North Africa, Middle East, Iberia, Persia and North India. Yet at the end of the 11th century , after about 2 centuries of stability tensions began with the first crusade in 1095. The Christian East called for help from the Christian West to defend its territory against the expanding Muslim Saljuk . Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East was threaten by the Muslims in the wake of the fall of Anatolia.
Out of this long history of relations emerged two significant factors which led to the current feeling of hostility which in turn triggered the tragic event of September 11.
Before I proceed to present those two factors I would like to draw to our attention that the terrorist actions of September 11, are stark reminders of the high stakes that are involved in trying to find solutions to the major problems and seeking understanding of the dynamics of relationship between Islam and the West. The Interaction between Islam and the West are an important part of the structure of contemporary global affairs. Without positive relations between them, a constructive global network of peoples and societies will not be possible. For almost a millenium and a half Islam and the West can be viewed as two civilizations interacting in conflict and dialogue.
To reach those objectives namely constructive dialogue, and seeking answer to what are the obstacles and solutions, it is important to think in terms of actual existing conditions of the contemporary world of the twenty first century and not to try to impose concepts and programs from an earlier age.
Re-imposition of the concepts and structures of a west-centered imperialist hegemony in one hand and nostalgic memories of past ages of power and glory on the other, will not provide the answers needed for humanity in the new millennium.
The central reality of the 21st century world with the spread of terrorism demonstrates that our era is globally interdependent but far from integrated. According to Norman Daniel in his book “ Islam and the West”, up to the present time the mentality of the middle age Christian (viewing Islam as a real threat and the worst enemy) still lingers the minds of many westerners.
The External Factor
Having said the above let me invite you to reflect with all honesty and objectivity regarding the external factor that triggered the September 11 tragedy.
It goes without saying the great impact of the differences in culture and civilization between the two sides (Islam and the West) into the tragedy. Yet what is equally important is the impact of the US policy, Western world Policy towards the Islamic world, towards the Muslims and in particular the US policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Need to be revisited Such policies which viewed by the Islamic worlds as ambivalent and partial in favor of the Israelis, trigger sentiments of hostility and aggravate the feelings of difference in culture and civilization.
Today’s Islamic radicalism is almost anti-nationalist. Its practitioners dream of uniting the people of an entire Islam (Muslim Ummah). The US is viewed as the prime obstacles holding up governments that stand in the path of this transnational Islamic vision. They see the US as providing the means for these regimes they abhor to stay in power. They see these regimes are uncommitted to the pure teachings of Islam. This explain why Osama bin Ladin keeps a close link with both the Egyptian Jamaat-al-Islamiah and Islamic Jihad groups intent on eliminating president Husni Mubarak, and successfully assassinated President Anwar Sadat
The Internal Factor
The implications of the empirical control over the Islamic world by the West is evidently clear when examining Islamic reform movements in the modern Arab world. With the end of the Ottoman Empire, reform movements started to emerge in various part of the Arab world as a reaction to the acute deterioration of the Ottoman empire in comparison to Europe’s renaissance.
These movements are often known in two broad categories;
- The Salafi, puritan WahhabiKnown to seek a return to the pure primary teachings of Islam and refuse to submit to western culture
- Modern Islamic movements which seek to merge Islam and European civilization . In other words it seeks to make compromises between Islam and European modernization and not to reject it . The most notable proponents of this movement are Jamaluddin al- Afghani and Sheikh Mohammad Abdo
Both of these movements, sought to purify Islamic thought from all aspect of weakness and deterioration. However the Wahhabi movement took a stringent course in its vision and mission. The Wahhabi is a sunni-puritanical movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahab (1703-1791). It rejects all religious practices adopted after the 3rd century of the Muslim era Philosophy, Sufism, Shiism and local practices even which are embodied with Islamic spirit are rejected and branded heretic. This movement familiarizes the term Bidah or religious innovation as an act of misguiding and thus contrary to the purity of Islam. The house of Saud formed a pact with Imam Muhammad bin Abdulwahab in 1744 and began their conquer of Arabia 20 years later.
A 14 century firebrand a sharp tongue notable scholar by the name Of Imam Ibn Taymiyah is the prime source of the ideological inspiration of this movement. Ibn Taymiyah out of his sincerity to Islam and with a high noble intention sought to cleanse Islam from the stain and contamination of alien culture which for him constitutes a real threat to Islam and Muslim. He is known to be critical to Philosophy, Sufism and Shiism as well Christianity. One of his book entitled : The Correct response to those who altered the religion of Christ” He is prolific writer and the product of his environment in which hostility was its height between Muslim and the Mongol and the Christians in the wake of the crusades. In his Fatwas (religious decrees) he stated un equivocally that : Jihad against the disbelievers is the most noble action.
Wahhabism, unquestionably one strain of Islamic thought and practice is found in and around the new fundamentalism. It follows a literal interpretation of Islam as strict as its origin. It seeks to remove the multi various reading of the Quran that evolved in the centuries after the prophet. Infidels were to be dealt with harshly, local customs , laws, saints or rituals, anything not found in a literal reading of the Quran were to be abandoned as idolatry. The destruction of the statue of Buddha by the Taliban regime is a clear manifestation of the Wahhabi’s teaching.