Almost the entire public discussion and debate about Islam over the last four decades had been one dimensional, focussing on the political side and neglecting Islam’s religious and civilizational sides.
This one sided scrutiny of a multi-dimensional and complex entity has rejuvenated some of the reciprocal prejudices against Islam and the West.
The rise of political Islam and its jihadist offshoots are the direct result of this unbalanced focus. At a time when the world is grappling with issues of post-modernity and when Muslims are passing through a transformative phase of adapting to an emerging reality of ‘structural globalisation and cultural fragmentation’ a radicalised political Islam is winding the clock back and wants to Islamise modernity.
The brand of political Islam that is bent on Islamising the prevailing World Order by establishing an Islamic State (IS) or Caliphate as the first step is the product of an Islamic resurgence born in the late 1970s.
It was a resurgence born out of cumulative frustration and disappointment, particularly in the Muslim Middle East, at the failure of successive models of political and economic experiments, which only resulted in oppression, humiliation, poverty and deprivation to a vast majority.
Inspired by the flood of petro-dollars, a successful mullah-led revolution and the communist invasion of Afghanistan, the call for an Islamic solution to all grievances became louder as the 1980s ushered in.
Of the three immediate triggers however, the last has exhausted itself, but the first two, while still providing nourishment to this religious awakening, have also renewed the age-old Sunni-Shia sectarian division in Islam that was lying dormant until the aftermath of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2000s. This sectarianism has spiralled out of control and has led to a reign of terror in the Arab Middle East.
Today, the IS-IWO project is championed entirely by the Sunni members led by the Salafi-Wahhabi (SW) puritans of Saudi Arabia and their off-shoots in the Middle East, Pakistan and elsewhere.
This brand of puritans, (There had been many such brands throughout Islamic history) funded, trained and equipped by the Saudi and Gulf donors have opportunistically exploited the political chaos created by the US-UK debacle in Iraq, NATO bombing of Libya and Western inaction in Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS/L), Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, in spite of their mutual suspicion and leadership rivalries, are all united in the single ideology of establishing a world Caliphate with the SW version of shariah laws and are therefore determined to redraw the map of the Muslim Middle East.
While arrogating to themselves the right to speak on behalf of God and Islam and preferring to use violence and cruelty to achieve their objective they have become the new face of terror and ugliness.
As a result, the world is witnessing the naked image of holy fascism which, if left to spread, is destined to corrupt a world order that was intricately structured on the foundation of national sovereignty, balance of power, plurality, freedom and tolerance.
The SW brand of Islam is textually literalist, exclusivist in scope, and staticist in vision. Its ultra-rigidity in interpreting narrowly the Quran, the Prophet’s Sunna and the shariah leaves no room for any discursiveness or contextualisation in understanding these holy sources.
Its exclusivity dehumanizes and de-legitimises the existence of anyone who refuses to conform to the SW brand of Islam. Its staticism compresses the entire history of Islam into the so called forty-year Golden Era between 622 CE, when Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina and established an Islamic umma, and 661 CE, when the fourth caliph, Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet, was murdered by a puritan fanatic.
Contrary to the SW mis-perception, Islam actually reached its civilizational zenith or ‘High Noon’ not in the 7th century but between the 8th and 10th centuries, when cities of Islam became the magnet for attracting multitude of scholars, students, scientists, poets, architects, mystics and musicians, all coming from different parts of the world and from different cultural affinities.
It was an age when Muslim philosophers and scientists became the proud guardians and developers of Greco-Roman antiquity, which was lost by the Europeans until it was handed back to them by Muslims in the 15th century. The Islam that accomplished this magnificent achievement was one that embraced the values of human diversity, intellectual freedom and cultural synthesis and not the militarized Islam of the SW puritans that imposes uniformity, indoctrinates conformity, denies cultural coalescence and kills aesthetic beauty.
It is unfortunate that the one dimensional debate on Islam has made the world community to forget this beautiful side.
Young Muslims of today are no doubt aware of the fact that they are the progenies of a majestic civilization without which even European Enlightenment would not have occurred when it did. But what they are unaware of and what they have not been told by the interlocutors are the ethical norms and enlightened values which underpinned that civilization. The fact that, that particular civilization was unique and collective achievement of a phalanx of individuals, communities and institutions operating in a multi-religious and multi-cultural ambience with mutual respect to each other, humility and tolerance has been deliberately concealed in the simplified and stereotyped history of SW Puritans.
It is tragic that the ethical ingredients of this wonderful heritage have been denied by the puritan evangelists and surprisingly, even forgotten by many Muslim modernists.
This is where Muslim educators have failed miserably and this is why the youngsters have gone astray and fallen prey to the false propaganda. There is an absolute necessity for re-educating the Muslims of their own history. That task has to start by re-educating and retraining the preachers and by rewriting even the textbooks on Islam and Islamic history with objectivity and discursiveness.
Resource rich countries in the West that are home for hundreds of Muslim intellectual émigré’s with extensive knowledge on Islam, its theological dynamics and historical development should be utilised by the governments to counter the threatening wave of SW Puritanism.
It is unfortunate that while the West encourages and glorifies the writings and publications by Islam-haters the world of Islam on the other hand continues to promote the writings of blind apologetics and SW stereotypes.
Iwt is time Muslims look into their past with introspection and rescue Islam from haters, apologists and simpletons.
I love deluded people like you. Your stupidity balances out all the intellect in the world. All religions should be banned. They are all just as bad as each other and preaching nothing but hatred of each other.Religious leaders are the scum of the Earth.
Asantha Thursday, 30 April 2015 10:44 AM
Really good article.must be read by all muslims and non mullims
Hussain Fahmy Thursday, 30 April 2015 07:47 PM
Either the writer is ignorant or trying to pervert Islam with his brand of identifying Muslims with the term (SW) Salafi Wahabi. The term Salafi, were the first three generations after the Prophet Muhammed. (pbuh) The Salafi scholars were a bygone era. Muslims are required to take the interpretations of the Salafi scholars as a guide to apply Islamic values at all times.
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