NationStates Jolt Archive

Islamism study thread (for serious scholars)

The Holy Womble
27-07-2005, 00:27
Obligatory disclaimer: this thread is NOT about the religion of Islam. This thread will NOT deal with the religion of Islam except in the context of the Islamist political doctrine.

Mission statement: This thread will attempt to examine the history and ideology of the Islamist political doctrine, that constitutes the ideological basis behind Al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups and radical organizations, and how it affects present day politics and world affairs.


Islamism (as opposed to Islam) is a set of political ideologies derived from conservative religious views of Muslim fundamentalism which hold that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that governs the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state. The goal of Islamism is to establish a Muslim empire governed according to a strict conservative interpretation of the Islamic religious law.

he media often confuses the term Islamism with related terms such as fundamentalism, militant Islam, and Wahhabism. Although the groups and individuals representing these are not mutually exclusive, each term does have a distinct definition.

Salafism (Salafiyah)
Deobandi (also Darul Uloom)
Muslim Brotherhood (Jama'at al-ikhwan al-muslimin, also Ikhwan)
Hizb ut-Tahrir
Islamic Jihad (Egyptian and Palestinian)

Sayed Ahmad Khan
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi
Ismail Raji al-Faruqi
Sayed Qutb
Hasan al-Banna
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab
Shah Waliullah's
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

First article to be posted shortly- either later today or tomorrow morning.
The Holy Womble
27-07-2005, 01:02
Sayed Ahmad Khan

With the collapse of Moghul Empire in India in 1857, the Muslim bourgeoisie, who prefer to call themselves Muslim Indians and not Indian Muslims have been struggling to keep the Indian Muslims under a mental blockade by using Islam as weapon. They treat their community members as a communal constituency to bargain with the contemporary ruling class to share political power. Assertive insistence of Islamic clerics on a separate Muslim identity in a diverse but united society worked as a catalyst to accelerate the movement for Muslim separatism launched in this country for centuries.

At that time, several Muslims movements were born that suggested tactical moderation and modernization of Islam. Sayed Ahmad Khan, a Mogul scion, launched the Aligarch movement- a unique Muslim separatist movement with a political and educational ideology and an objective to restore the lost pride of his community after the fall of Mogul Empire. Deeply aggrieved with the plight of Muslim Indians particularly after the failure of Sepoy Mutiny in 1857and acutely sensitive to the ending of Mogul dominance, he has come to be regarde as the founder of Islamic modernism in India. Though a staunch believer in Sunni order of Islam, his outlook took a decisive change after the Sepoy Mutiny in which he had personally witnessed the sufferings of his community members at the hands of the British. But as a part of his tactical move to bring back the Muslims into the confidence of the British, he continued his loyalty to the British throne till his death.

While taking inspiration from Shah Waliullah's concept of tactical moderation of Islam, Sayed Ahmad Khan formulated the two-nation theory which not only formed the basis for the demand for a separate Muslim land of Pakistan but also coincided with the 'hate-Hindu campaign', launched by prominent Muslim personalities such as Shaikh Sarhind, Shah Wai-Ullah and Ahmad Barelavi. Khan's theory suggested that the Muslim and the Indian identities could not be reconciled and demanded political separation between the Muslim and the Hindu population.

Through scientific and modern education of Muslims, Khan's movement produced a sizeable section of Muslim middle class with doctors, engineers, scientists and scholars of modern subjects. This new class of Muslims, however, also came under the influence of the fundamentalist forces, worked as the fighting force for Muslim elite and gradually succeeded in besieging the mindset of common Muslim masses. Strongly opposing the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885 on the plea that it was a Hindu dominated organisation, Ahmad Khan prevented the Muslims from joining it. Rather than making any sincere effort towards the Hindu-Muslim unity, Sayed Ahmad attempted, with considerable success, to convince the British rulers that the two major religious communities of India were not capable for unity.

A noted Muslim scholar M.R.A.Baig also observed:
“ Being a descendant of high Mogul officials, he emotionally could not accept that Muslims should be ruled by their former subjects. He also feared that Hindu rule will result in the imposition of Aryo-Dravidian culture on the Muslim Perso-Arabic civilisation”

Religious obsession of Muslims remained a potential factor during freedom struggle and formation of All India Muslim League (AIML) in 1906. Internationally known historian R.C.Majumdar in his book 'Struggle for Freedom' maintained:"Aligarh movement gradually alienated the Muslims from the Hindus in the political field…..The anti-Hindu feeling was conspicuously shown in the Muslims' attitude towards Indian National Congress since its very inception... It occurred to the Muslims that in order to counteract the political organisation of the Hindus, particularly the Congress, they must have a central organisation of their own... The spirit of Syed Ahmad dominated the Muslims who with rare exceptions, regarded themselves as Muslim first and Indian afterwards".

The educational ideology of Sir Sayed Khan provoked a violent reaction from Islamic orthodoxy but his followers gradually overcame this problem. Aligarh Muslim University, a citadel of Muslim Middle class played a major role in Pakistan movement under the guidance of Muslim elite. The then Muslim leadership used this new class to strengthen the siege of Islamic orthodoxy over the common Muslims with the ultimate objective to achieve its political hegemony. Even today Indian Muslims are proud of Aligarh Muslim University.

The ideology of Sayed Ahmad Khan, along with the beliefs of the Deobandi movement, spawned a militant Islamist movement in Afghanistan known today as the Taliban.
27-07-2005, 06:43
Now THAT is a well written piece !

Shah Waliullah and Maududi make very interesting characters. I will attempt to give a short history of the time period of salafi movement in India from my POV. I am afraid I do not know much details about the actual doctrines of them, as I know of the history.

The first muslim sultanate in Delhi was the slave dynasty which was established in 1206 by Qutb-ud-din Aybak as ex-slave of Mohammed Ghori who defeated the last Delhi hindu king Prithviraj Chauhan. From then on for around 500 years most of northern India was under muslim rule with various dynasties from the Slave dynasty to Khalji to Lodhis to Moghuls who were the prominent and last muslim rulers of India. In 1737 the Maratha Peshwa, Balaji Baji Rao I, rode into Delhi victoriously, marking the decline of the muslim rule in India. The Marathas ( modern day state of Maharashatra - meaning great country - is derived from them ) were reclaiming India from the muslim rule and would have destroyed political Islam if they had consolidated their hold on Delhi.

Here is a map , the middle areas with yellow color were under Maratha rule.

It is the actions of a Indian muslim scholar called Shah Waliullah at this juncture which marks the start of the islamist movement in India. Waliullah feared that the rise of Maratha power would make the spread of Islam in India impossible due to the loss of the patronage from the muslim sultans. So he invited an Afghan muslim king called Ahmad Shah Abdali (he is known as father of Afghanistan) to invade Delhi. Now this Abdali character is the worst barbarian one can come across even by the standards of medieval barbaric kings. In 1756-1757 Ahmad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan sacked Delhi. The Maratha Peshwa sent an army to challenge the Afghans but the Maratha army was decisively defeated on January 13, 1761 at what is now known as the Third Battle of Panipat. The loss prevented the Maratha capture of Delhi and checked their expansion and thereby saved political Islam in India.

With the failure of Marathas, the Sikhs rose to power who defeated Abdali's forces and his successors and they were on the verge of driving back any pretenders to the erstwhile muslim rulers.

Note: you have a wonderful collection of maps of India here

Enter the British. With three Anglo-Maratha wars and two Anglo-Sikh wars, Britain defeated these two prominent empires and all of India with both muslims and non-muslims came under British rule.

Now coming back to Waliullah, his request to Abdali was to come invade and save Islam in India. He, a person born and brought up in India, had no qualms in requesting the assistance of an outsider, a barbarian invader, a known homosexual and paedophile, because for him the cause of spreading Islam could justify the use of any barbarity for that ends. Abdali was the type who puts the E in Evil. And Waliullah knew about him fully well but still he invited him because Abdali was a "muslim" and for Waliullah, India was destined to become a part of dar-ul-islam - a part of the green arc from Morocco to Malacca - from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of Indonesia. He thought that survival of political Islam in India was the only way religious Islam can be spread or protected and he was the first person to use "Islam is in danger" slogan to achieve his objectives.

I am fast forwarding to the events surrounding Indian independance and partition. The fall of the Ottomans was already a blow to the islamists. And when it became clear that an independant India will be a secular democratic country in which with 70% population the hindus will be the dominant segment, the descendants of erstwhile muslim ruling classes and the muslim elites, needed a sperate state to lord over. Their logic was that since the British took India from them, when the British leave it, the muslim ruling class would be the rightful inheritor !

It is interesting to note that Maududi, the foremost islamic scholar in India actually opposed the partition bitterly. His reasoning was that if a seperate state for muslims is created out of India, then the muslims who are left behind in India would never be able to bring India under Islamic rule! His reasoning was correct. If India had stayed together, the combined muslim population would have been 160 mill from Pak + 140 mill from BD + 140 mill from India = 440 million or 30% approx ! A very formidable bloc.

Anyways, Maududi later migrated to Pakistan and founded the Jamaat-e-Islami party, a virulent islamist party, which has been a part of all islamist phenomenon like the kashmir jihad, Afghan jihad, taliban, anti-shia and anti-ahmadiya sectarian riots etc. His writings, speeches and thoughts have contributed immensely to the rise of islamism around the world. For ex his ideas greatly influenced Sayyid Qutb, another scholar of Egypt who founded the Jamiat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (“Muslim Brotherhood”) party in Egypt. Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Al Quaeda #2 was a leader of this party. Maududi and Sayyid Qutb are considered the founding fathers of the global Islamist movement that one witnesses today in the form of taliban, al quaeda etc.

More about him , here

It is an ultimate irony that this virulent kafir hating and kafir dominated modernism hating Maududi had to come to the US for a medical operation when he was old !

Holy Womble,

I would love to know more about how the Maududi school in Indian subcontinent and Wahabi school of KSA found common cause. Can you touch upon it when you come to that ?
The Holy Womble
27-07-2005, 08:53
Thanks Aryavartha. Very nice contribution. :)

I would love to know more about how the Maududi school in Indian subcontinent and Wahabi school of KSA found common cause. Can you touch upon it when you come to that ?
I'll try. Now, keep in mind that just like you, I am using open sources and my previous article was a combination of materials found on a bunch of websites. I think I will post the next entry about Wahhabism, and it could be nice if you expanded a little about Maududi and his ideology.

The way it looks, we can make a nice encyclopedia of Islamism here :)
The Holy Womble
27-07-2005, 09:30
Actually, I think I've expand on Maududi myself.

Maulana Abu'l a'la Maududi (1903-1979)

Abu'l a'la Maududi was an extremely important figure in the development of radical Salafi Islam in the 20th Century. Although his influence has often been overlooked, Maududi provides the missing link between the relatively vague programme of Hassan al-Banna's Ikhwan al-Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood, MB) and the sophisticated ideology evidenced by the later works of Sayyid Qutb.

Although both Maududi and al-Banna recognised the importance of science and technology, they concurred that technology could only profitably be harnessed by Islamic, not Western methods, as they believed the Qur'an and Sunnah provide a guide to all aspects of life, inlcuding government.

Maududi's assumptions and methodology were quintessentially Salafist, presupposing that the contemporary, mainstream understandings of Islam were unreliable because of the drift in understandings of Arabic over the centuries. (Here's your link between Maududi and the Wahhabis, Aryavartha- the Wahhabi beliefs are also Salafist, as we will hopefully soon demonstrate). Building on that presupposition, Maududi critically reviewed the Qur'an, the hadith, and the writings of ancient and medieval scholars in minute detail, building his own reconstruction, or reinterpretation, of their original meanings.

An example of Maududi's reinterpretation of older ideas in Islam was his concept, "new jahiliyya", which has been so influential for radical Islamists. Jahiliyya had originally meant ignorance, and referred to the pre-Islamic state of pagan ignorance said to prevail in Arabia before the coming of Islam. Medieval radical scholar Ibn Taymiyya had modified the understanding of the meaning of jahiliyya by declaring that the King of the Mongols, despite converting to Islam, was jahili because he continued to implement the Yasa code of law, rather than implement Sharia. Maududi's "new jahiliyya" theory went much further, proposing that the bulk of Islam had become estranged from the original intentions of Islam, and were therefore apostate. Through hubris, such Muslims had usurped divine authority, designing their own laws. He also characterised governments in Muslim countries that did not implement strict Sharia as actually apostate (ridda), obliging the true believer to wage jihad against them.

In the manner of the Muslim Brotherhood, Maududi saw the period between Muhammad's first revelation and the establishment of the Muslim state at Mecca in 630AD as a sort of instruction manual for the formation of revolutionary theory. He believed that the nascent Islamic jama'at (society, group) would begin with a 'period of weakness' and gather strength before waging jihad, just as Muhammad's jama'at was weak in Mecca and gathered strength in Yathrib (Medina) before returning triumphantly to Mecca. That the revolutionary jama'at must be a vanguard, remaining outside the jahili government until society has been islamised, follows from these ideas. The ultimate goal of the jama'at would be the establishment of an Islamic State, which Maududi called a "theo-democracy".

Maududi founded the Jama'at-i-Islami (Society of Islam) in 1941 as a centralised, strictly hierarchical organisation, similar to the Muslim Brotherhood. JI has served as a model for other Salafist organisations. As a parliametary party, it deliberately remained out of goverment until 1948, when it accepted the idea of gradual reform within government. Having originally opposed Indian nationalism in favour of pan-Islamism, Jama'at-i-Islami also later discarded this idea. This and similar ambiguities are indicative of the flexible heritage later Salafist movements drew upon.

Maududi's Jama'at-i-Islami gave rise to the two most important mujahideen factions in the Afghan civil war, that of Ahmad Shah Masud (who leavened his Salafism with traditionalism), and Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. The hierarchical structure of Jama'at-i-Islami, considered unconventional from an Islamic point of view, was apparently inspired by modernist organisational methods. Masud's and Hikmatyar's organisations were also organised on a modern, hierarchical basis that mirrored that of the Soviet invaders.
However, the most important aspect of Maududi's legacy for those attempting to understand the origins of contemporary problems of international relations is in the depth of his political/theological contribution to Egyptian Salafi thought, particularly that of Sayyid Qutb.

Why do I get a feeling that Qutb's name absolutely pervades the Islamist studies? Might do the next entry on him actually
The Holy Womble
28-07-2005, 12:01
Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966)

Sayyid Qutb was one of the most important figures in the development of jihadi Salafi ideology. Despite coming from a slum area along the Nile Valley, Qutb enjoyed both a Western education and an Islamic education, a typical background for a Salafi intellectual.

Through his life Qutb followed a trajectory from optimism to dark pessimism about the prospects of smoothly reconciling Western ideas and Islamic ideals. Early in his career, he admired many aspects of Western civilisation. He accepted science, technology and rationalism, but was adamant they must not supercede the sovereignty of Allah. Although some writers consider Qutb to be simply antithetical to modernity, others such as Roxanne Euben recognise his attempts to synthesise elements of Christianity (particularly the reformation) and Communism with a modified Islam. He promoted the idea of pan-Islamic state, governed exclusively through Sharia (Islamic law), as an idea whose time had come, in an age of extranational ideologies. He said:

"The whole world today coalesces in large ideological formations predicated on doctrines and beliefs. Striving towards Islamic unity is, hence, much more in the spirit of the times we live in."

Qutb was an admirer of America until, in his capacity as an employee of the Egyptian education department, Qutb travelled to America in 1948, remaining until 1951. The decadence he perceived during this trip had such an impact that on his return to Egypt, he joined Hassan al-Banna's "revolutionary" Ikhwan al-Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood, MB), losing his Education Ministry post in the process. In describing this life choice, Qutb said, "I was born in 1951".

Sayyid Qutb was to become a prominent intellectual in the vaccuum that followed al-Banna's death and the 1952 Free Officer's Coup, elaborating on ideas derived from Maulana Maududi, whom he had met in Cairo and by whose books he was greatly influenced. In particular, Qutb's final and most influential book, Ma'alim fi'l-Tariq (Milestones on the Road), was clearly influenced by Maududi's 1941 book, al-Mustalahat al-Arab'a fi'l-Qur'an (The Four Arabic Technical Terms of the Qu'ran).

By the time of the Free Officers' Coup which overthrew the Egyptian monarchy on 22nd July 1952, Qutb was the head of the MB's propaganda department. Although the new Free Officers set out to establish a one-party state based on pan-Arab nationalism, the MB was exempted from the ban on political parties on the basis that it was a social or cultural organisation. The pan-Arabist Free Officers and the pan-Islamists of the MB felt their causes were compatible, at least to an extent.

In the new regime, Qutb was given the position of Cultural Advisor to the Revolutionary Command Council. However, he resigned in 1952 over the regime's refusal to establish an Islamic State. While some members of the MB cooperated with the Free Officers, in 1954 the MB was formally banned, and later that year a MB member attempted to assassinate President Gamal Abd'el Nasser. As the MB was repressed and its members imprisoned and tortured, the organisation began to separate into factions delineated along ideological/methodological faultlines that had been latent in the organisation.

Qutb wrote prolifically, particularly in prison. His master work, Fi Zhalil al-Quran (In the Shadow of the Quran), a commentary (tafsir) on the Quran, is an enormous, multi-volume work that has yet to be fully translated into English. However, Qutb's most influential work was Ma'alim fi'l-Tariq (Milestones/Signposts on the Road).

Qutb wrote Milestones against a background of torture and betrayal during his periods of imprisonment. The book is simultaneously an analysis and a call to arms. Qutb believes that the creative energy of the West is spent, with the systems of the West bankrupt and drawing on Marxist models which themselves have failed. Drawing on Maududi's theories, Qutb asserts that all contemporary societies have reverted to a state of jahiliyya or pre-Islamic ignorance, in which the authority and primacy of God has been replaced by other sources of authority. Qutb pointedly draws comparisons between the alleged state of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad (ruled by dictators on behalf of foreign powers) and its state in the 20th Century.

In true Salafi style, Qutb re-analysed the Quran to find a new ideology. He looked at the course of action Muhammad and his jamaat (movement) took in the face of their own jahili society. He stated that God had revealed his plan to Muhammad in a specific sequence (hence 'Milestones' or 'Signposts' on the Road), which the contemporary jamaat needed to follow if it was to restore the Muslim world to its past glory. In the process Qutb raised several alternative courses of action Muhammad could have taken, but did not, neatly dismissing the equivalent policy proposals taken by contemporary revolutionary groups in Egypt - pan-Arab nationalism, programmes of social welfare in order to convert the masses (the da'wa wing of the MB), and movements of moral re-armament.

For Qutb, the awakening of a single individual to 'True Islam' would lead naturally to the awakening of others and the formation of a jama'at (movement), which would separate itself from jahili society, culture and institutions, while also maintaining some (unspecified) connections. The jama'at would be a necessary prior stage to the establishment of a community, which itself would be the necessary precursor to the establishment of actual rules flowing from the Quranic revelation.

According to Maududi's and Qutb's interpretation, Muhammad (and other prophets) had endured a period of persecution and weakness when they set themselves apart from society and declared that all authority was due to Allah alone (thus challenging the human wielders of power). Qutb predicted that the contemporary jama'at would also encounter a period of weakness as it built itself. He alluded to Muhammad's hijra (migration) to Yathrib (Medina), leading to the establishment of the Islamic community, at the invitation of the Ansar (helpers). Qutb said that the contemporary jama'at would need to follow this lead, establishing a community then engaging in jihad (struggle) in various forms against jahili society until 'True Islam' gained sway.

Milestones essentially represented a new way of thinking about political change by using a particular Salafist interpretation of the Quran as a manual for revolution. It was intended to be the first in a number of volumes, however its publication led to Qutb's arrest and imprisonment and in 1966 he was executed by Nasser's regime. In the wake of his death, there was confusion amongst Muslim Brothers over the interpretation of Milestones. Some played down its implications, claiming that the terms hijra, separation mufassala or I'tizal and jihad were used metaphorically, while many youth took the book literally. The latter category accepted Qutb's (really Maududi's) premise that contemporary society and State were jahili or kufr (infidel), and therefore constituted the takfiri category of Salafism. This is the main defining line within Salafism to this day. Within the takfiri camp, there was also disagreement over whether the hijra and mufassala involved physical or spiritual withdrawal from society. Questions of this sort have formed the framework for much of the debate within Salafi circles ever since.

In the Arabic language, qutb means pole star, or the pivot around which all else rotates. This has proven an appropriate epithet for Sayyid Qutb's relationship to Salafis in Egypt and elsewhere.
Although many ideas attributed to Sayyid Qutb originated with Maulana Maududi, Qutb's role in the radicalisation of Egyptian Salafism was of central importance. The ideological distinctions between such seminal figures as Shukri Mustafa, Muhammad Abd'us-Salaam Faraj and Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri are differences in the application of ideas that originate with Sayyid Qutb.
28-07-2005, 12:39
Well .... okie dokie then.

Hope this all works out for ya.
28-07-2005, 12:49
Would it be wrong to say that Saudi Arabia currently opperates under Islamist rule? Becuase over there they are very extreme with they're system and dont let Non-Muslims become citizens etc. Or is that some other much nastier system which is just Islamisim perverted (I suspect the latter)
28-07-2005, 12:52
Obligatory disclaimer: this thread is NOT about the religion of Islam. This thread will NOT deal with the religion of Islam except in the context of the Islamist political doctrine.

Incidently, you may want to take note that there is part of Qur'an that outlines exactly how a Muslim government should be. There should be no separation of Islam and Government in Muslim controlled nations.

Oh ... and just so you know ... what's outlined in Qur'an is Democracy.
28-07-2005, 12:59
Oh ... and just so you know ... what's outlined in Qur'an is Democracy.

Facinating, I'd like to look at this more. Where abouts in the Qur'an?
28-07-2005, 15:34
Facinating, I'd like to look at this more. Where abouts in the Qur'an?

Oh it's scattered here and abouts where it's needed.

For example: “Believers decide their affairs by counsel among themselves.” (AL Shurah 42:38)

“Surely the land is Allah’s. He gives it for inheritance to such of His servants as He pleases.” (Aaraf 7:128) (So much for property laws)

And so on. I'll find more for you later.
Drunk commies deleted
28-07-2005, 15:43
Oh it's scattered here and abouts where it's needed.

For example: “Believers decide their affairs by counsel among themselves.” (AL Shurah 42:38)

“Surely the land is Allah’s. He gives it for inheritance to such of His servants as He pleases.” (Aaraf 7:128) (So much for property laws)

And so on. I'll find more for you later.
Is it really a democracy when only beleivers "decide affairs by counsel among themselves"? Seems to me that would disenfranchise alot of people.
28-07-2005, 19:00
Is it really a democracy when only beleivers "decide affairs by counsel among themselves"? Seems to me that would disenfranchise alot of people.

That's why I said "Muslim controlled", ie. majority Muslim. There are safeguards in place for non-believers, of course, provided they at least show common courtesy. In a Muslim country, being Muslim has its advantages as well as obligations.

For instance, in a Muslim country, there is no obligation for non-Muslims to serve in the Army, but every able bodied Muslim male is required.
The Nexire Republic
28-07-2005, 19:30
The Qur'an doesn't support anything as simple as democracy. It supports As-Shura (its not Al shura, that would be incorrect arabic), a group effort, a council to guide the people. But it also supports individual groups governing themselves.

So, though the Federal government must obey an islamic structure, there is no need to exclude minorities or other parties of people from having representative power. But, individual groups should focus their rights in their region, their soveriegn areas within the greater muslim nation, like states or pockets.

But the Shariah has been widely mis-implemented, focusing on rules rather than the underlying principles. That is the work of many anti-modernization forces, such as Wahhabism. There is no need to restrict peoples rights with law, for law is always fallible when man is to implement it. Instead, the federal government should push for freedoms, while the lower governments implement law the way they interpret it.
Coincidently, Shariah has always been picked out by bits and pieces, quoting the Qur'an and Sunnah, such that things may be out of context or misplaced. You can't just say "look here" to find a suitable definition of Shariah.
Brians Test
28-07-2005, 21:36
Is it true that the Qur'an says that anyone Muslim who converts to Christianity must be killed?
28-07-2005, 22:59

The thread is about islamism, not islam. There is an "Ask a mulsim" thread for these types of questions. Please ask there or ask the ever-willing and patient Keruvalia in any of the other islam specific threads.


No. KSA is ruled by the House of Saud. OBL want to overthrow them so that the caliphate that follows can have the ownership of Mecca and Medina, the two most holiest cities for muslims thereby giving legitimacy to the caliphate.

Pan - Islamists don't recognise sovereignity of nations.

Holy Womble,

Thanks for the info on Qutb. So He and Maududi are indeed the fathers of modern islamism. So it is their ideology that is the basis of the salafi movement in ME and Pakistan. How powerful is the Muslim Brotherhood movement now? Is the recent Egypt bombings a handiwork of them ?

Who's next ? Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab ?
The Holy Womble
28-07-2005, 23:43
Would it be wrong to say that Saudi Arabia currently opperates under Islamist rule? Becuase over there they are very extreme with they're system and dont let Non-Muslims become citizens etc. Or is that some other much nastier system which is just Islamisim perverted (I suspect the latter)
An interesting question.

Saudi Arabia's laws are indeed largely based on the Islamic Sharia law. However, Saudi Arabia does not qualify for a Chaliphate/true Islamist state for a number of reasons:

1)A true Chaliphate/Islamist state can only be governed by a true Chaliph. The word "Chaliph" translates literally as "successor", because only a direct successor of the prophet Mohammad can be a lawful Muslim Caliph. The Saudi royal family, who rules Saudi Arabia, are not descendants of Mohammad and therefore do not qualify. In fact, the ONLY bloodline in the modern world that can produce a lawful Caliph is that of the Hashemite dynasty (Jordanian royal family). This poses a serious theological dilemma for the Islamists, since the Hashemites had been consistently opposed to Islamism and the idea of the Chaliphate for at least three generations by now. In fact, it was the Hashemites who rallied the Arabs AGAINST the previous Chaliphate- the Ottoman empire- successfully destroying it with British help. The current Jordanian king is also a supporter of modernization and secular rule.

2)A true Chaliphate/Islamist state is by definition a "pious state", that should be governed strictly in accordance with the Shariah law, and no decision can be taken that would contradict it. That requires that decisions be taken by people who have recognized theological authority. In the Islamist interpretation, the quote provided by Keruvalia- Believers decide their affairs by counsel among themselves- does not imply people's democracy, not even one only limited to the "believers", as interpreting Islamic law cannot be left to the ignorant and incompetent masses. Rather, this verse suggests that the "true Muslim state" should be governed by a council of clerics, in a way similar to the Iranian Guardian Council. Saudi Arabia's rulers do not have any such council and do not consult clerics on every step.

Aryavartha- I think I'll be making the next entry on Banna, as the Muslim Brotherhood lists him alongside Qutb as its founders. Will try to expand on the MB as well.
28-07-2005, 23:59
Would you say that the rise of Islamisim is similar to the rise of Facisim in Germany after WW1?

I mean, Facisim rose because the world neglected Germany after their defeat, and just made them pay for the damage.

World governments have allowed corrupt middle-eastern regimes to stay in power in exchange for a steady supply of oil.

So, in their helplessness and poverty, these people have turned to islam to try and find an explaination for all this.

Just like the reich wanted to invade all other countries and impose a perfect race, Islamists want to invade all other countries (Through killing unbelievers) and impose the perfect religion.
29-07-2005, 01:00
Is it true that the Qur'an says that anyone Muslim who converts to Christianity must be killed?
Under Islamic law (Shariah), apostasy is punishable by the death penalty. Adult males receive the death penalty however female apostates are not subject to capital punishment.

Note that the Shariah is only found in Muslim states.
Via Ferrata
29-07-2005, 01:20
Holy Womble, do you also finetune between Judaism (religion) and Zionism (the movement)? When you are who I think, I allready know your informed answer :)
BTW, I appreciate, seeing you post from Israel, to know that you make a difference between Islam and what you call "Islamism" (I don't think that that word is choosen for what it stands for, wrong word, like in the Jewish link to "Zionist terrorisme").

Please PM me, I think that I know who you were before .Wom.....don?(left the 5 letters blanco) We know eachother and had fine debates before (under another name, must be 1 year ago or so).
Best regards.SMW
29-07-2005, 01:57
Is it true that the Qur'an says that anyone Muslim who converts to Christianity must be killed?

Qur'an? No. Apostacy is punished by Allah after death, not by man before. Apostacy is conversion to anything from Islam, not just Christianity.

Shar'iah? Yes. Through the misdguidance and alteration and subjugation of men who desire power, Shar'iah has become so far removed from Qur'an that it's not even funny anymore. People are dieing because of it. Some of them good, innocent people. I find it very sad.
The Holy Womble
29-07-2005, 08:54
Would you say that the rise of Islamisim is similar to the rise of Facisim in Germany after WW1?

I mean, Facisim rose because the world neglected Germany after their defeat, and just made them pay for the damage.

World governments have allowed corrupt middle-eastern regimes to stay in power in exchange for a steady supply of oil.

So, in their helplessness and poverty, these people have turned to islam to try and find an explaination for all this.

Just like the reich wanted to invade all other countries and impose a perfect race, Islamists want to invade all other countries (Through killing unbelievers) and impose the perfect religion.
That's a very accurate observation. There are many striking similarities between Islamism and fascism. That is no surprise, as the Islamist thought was to a large extent influenced by European romantic nationalism, and later by Nazism and Italian fascism. Like the German fascism was born out of the collapse of German power during World war I, Islamism, too, was born out of the collapse of Muslim powers- the Ottoman empire in the Middle East and the Mogul empire in India. Both fascism and Islamism are movements advocating inherent superiority of a group of people over the rest of the world, and using it as a basis for terrotirial expansion without any pre-defined limits. I suppose a valid comparison can be drawn between the Nazi drive for absolute racial purity and the Islamist drive for absolute piety.

Moreover, during World war II the Nazi and fascist ideology were extremely popular among Muslim Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa ("No more monsieur, no more mister, in heaven Allah, on Earth Hitler", as a then popular song used to go) and had a great impact on both secular and religious thought in the region. Haj Amin AL-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time and one of the key Islamist political figures, has spent the entire World war II in Berlin, recruiting Muslim soldiers for the Nazi SS troops and developing theological foundations for anti-Semitism and racial hatred (his book "Islam und Judentum"- "Islam and Jewishness- more than qualifies for the title of Islamist Mein Kampf).

There are, of course, certain important differences, such as fascism being a secular modernist movement founded on pseudo-scientific ideas mixed with neo-Paganism and Islamism being a religious movement with neo-medieval tendencies. Fascism attempted to deal with modernity by adopting the advances of modernist thought and exploiting them for the benefits of ideology, while Islamism tends to be more on the rejectionist side, yearning for the past Golden Age rather than the all new future one.
The Holy Womble
29-07-2005, 09:00
Holy Womble, do you also finetune between Judaism (religion) and Zionism (the movement)? When you are who I think, I allready know your informed answer :)
Zionism does not base itself on Judaism as its theological foundation in the way Islamism bases itself on Islam. Zionism is a secular national movement, that has in fact been known to regard Judaism as an obstacle on the way to forging a new Jewish national identity. The only exception is the "religious Zionism" of the Mizrahi movement (present day National Religious Party in Israel), but it played no significant role in the history of the Zionist movement.

BTW, I appreciate, seeing you post from Israel, to know that you make a difference between Islam and what you call "Islamism" (I don't think that that word is choosen for what it stands for, wrong word, like in the Jewish link to "Zionist terrorisme").
You've lost me here.

Please PM me, I think that I know who you were before .Wom.....don?(left the 5 letters blanco) We know eachother and had fine debates before (under another name, must be 1 year ago or so).
Best regards.SMW
Yep, that would be me :)
The Holy Womble
29-07-2005, 09:39
Hassan al-Banna (1906-1948) and the Muslim Brotherhood

Hassan al-Banna (a.k.a. Majmu'at Rasayil Al-Imam Al-Shaheed Hassan Al-Banna) was an Egyptian Salafi Islamic Modernist/Reformist and a member of the Hasafiya Sufi order. His father was a recognised Hanbali scholar, and by trade a watch maker. While most earlier Islamic Modernists had sought an accomodation of the positive elements of Western secular models, Hassan al-Banna believed that they had become a source of decadence and decay, observing ominously that,

...the civilization of the West, which was brilliant by virtue of its scientific perfection for a long time, and which subjugated the whole world with the products of this science to its states and nations, is now bankrupt and in decline.

Furthermore, he believed the West's malady was afflicting the Muslim world, weakening and corrupting it, and "anaesthetising" its faith:

They imported their half - naked women into these [Islamic] regions, together with their liquors, their theaters, their dance halls, their amusements, their stories, their newspapers, their novels, their whims, their silly games, and their vices. Here they countenanced crimes they did not tolerate in their own countries, and decked out this frivolous, strident world, reeking with sin and redolent with vice, to the eyes of deluded, unsophisticated Muslims of wealth and prestige, and to those of rank and authority. This being insufficient for them, they founded schools and scientific and cultural institutes in the very heart of the Islamic domain, which cast doubt and heresy into the souls of its sons and taught them how to demean themselves, disparage their religion and their fatherland, divest themeselves of their traditions and beliefs, and to regard as sacred anything Western, in the belief that only that which had a European source could serve as a model to be emulated in this life.

He created the Jamaat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Society of the Muslim Brotherhood, MB) in 1928 in the wake of the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, with the aim of revitalising that faith. The eventual objective was to establish a Government that ruled "on the basis of Muslim values and norms." Such a goal, he said, could not be achieved without the re-Islamisation of people of all classes. Thus the MB began with the immediate task of carrying out da'wa, and the ultimate goal of establishing Islamic government. Al-Banna also rejected the distinction between lesser and greater jihad as based on a false hadith.

Al-Banna was a highly effective organiser and charismatic leader, and consequently his hierarchical movement and its model spread throughout the Muslim world. However, al-Banna's dominant personality was also a weakness, both because it stifled the development of the group's human capital and because al-Banna did not develop a systematic methodology for implementing the MB's political philosophy.

Al-Banna was a devout admirer of a young Austrian writer named Adolf Hitler. His letters to Hitler were so supportive that when Hitler came to power in the 1930s he had Nazi intelligence make contact with Al-Banna to see if they could work together. Hitler had Al-banna establish a spy network for Nazi Germany throughout Arabia. Al-Banna promised Hitler that when General Rommel’s Nazi tank division arrived in Cairo and Alexandria, the Muslim Brotherhood would ensure all of the British troops would be killed.

During the 1930s, the Brotherhood became more political in nature and an officially political group in 1939.

In 1942, during World War II, Hassan al Banna set up more Brotherhood branches in Transjordan and Palestine. The headquarters of the Syrian branch moved to Damascus in 1944. After World War II, Egyptian members took violent action against King Farouk’s government. When the organization was banned in Egypt, hundreds moved to Transjordan. Many also participated in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-1949.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood initially supported Gamal Abd an-Nasser's secular government, shaped after the Italian fascist model, and cooperated with it, but resisted left-wing influences. A Muslim Brother assassinated Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi on December 28, 1948. The Brotherhood was banned, and Al Banna himself was killed by government agents in Cairo in February 1949.

The MB involved itself in public services as a form of da'wa, had a military wing and ran in parliamentary elections, but was unable to articulate a single, clear methodological model for taking power. At the same time, Arab nationalism and socialism were gaining in power, polarising the Islamic Modernists. Unsurprisingly, after al-Banna's assassination in 1949, the organisation drifted, until its collision with the reef of the 1952 Free Officers' Coup brought the differences within the MB into stark relief.

The Muslim world today lives in the wake of Hassan al-Banna's vigorous efforts to build and spread his Muslim Brotherhood. His political and religious legacy is enormous, including both radicals such as Maulana Maududi and Sayyid Qutb and the more moderate Muslim Brothers of the al-Dawa persuasion. However, al-Banna ultimately failed to bequeath a unified, successful movement. Rather, he left a directionless, bickering body of conflicting factions with little in common but their nihilistic quest to replace prevailing religious and political institutions with a politicised and therefore limited interpretation of the Sharia. Assessing Banna's legacy, it is difficult to conclude other than that the destructive elements of his legacy (the aforementioned nihilism) outweigh the constructive elements (which include an emphasis on public service and social integration).

As for the history of the Muslim Brotherhood after the assassination of Banna, it continued in an increasingly active and violent fashion, bringing upon itself harsh responses of the Arab governments. Muslim Brother Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf allegedly tried to kill Nasser on October 26, 1954. The Brotherhood was outlawed again and more than 4,000 of its members were imprisoned, including Sayyid Qutb, who later became the most influential intellectual of the group. He wrote several important books while in prison. More MB members moved to Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

The organization opposed the alliance Egypt had with the USSR at the time, and opposed the communist influence in Egypt, to the extent that it was reportedly supported by the CIA during the 1960s.

Nasser legalized the Brotherhood again in 1964, and released all prisoners. After more assassination attempts against him followed, he had some MB leaders executed in 1966 and imprisoned most others again.

Nasser's successor in Egypt, Anwar Sadat, promised reforms, and that he would implement Sharia. However, Sadat's peace treaty with Israel in 1979 angered the Brotherhood, which led to his assassination in 1981.

In the 1950s, Jordanian members supported King Hussein of Jordan against political opposition and against Nasser's attempts to overthrow him. When the King banned political parties in Jordan in 1957, the Brotherhood was exempted.

The Syrian branch was the next to be banned when Syria joined Egypt in the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958. The Brotherhood went underground. When Syria left the UAR 1961, the Brotherhood won 10 seats in the next elections. However, the Ba’th coup in 1963 forced them underground once more, alongside all the other political groups.

The appointment of Hafez al-Assad, an Alawite Muslim, as the Syrian president in 1971 angered the Brotherhood even more because the majority of Muslims do not consider Alawites true Muslims at all. Assad initially tried to placate them, but made very little progress. Assad’s support of Maronites in the Lebanese Civil War made the Brotherhood re-declare its jihad. They began a campaign of strikes and terrorist actions. In 1979, they killed 83 Alawite cadets in the Aleppo artillery school. Assad’s attempts to calm them by changing officials and releasing political prisoners did not help. Eventually the army was used to restore order by force.

An assassination attempt against Assad on June 25, 1980, was the last straw. Assad made the Syrian parliament declare Brotherhood membership a capital offense and sent the army against them. In the operation, which lasted until February of 1982, the Syrian army practically wiped out the Brotherhood, killing an unknown but large number of people in the Hama Massacre. The Syrian branch disappeared, and the survivors fled to join Islamic organizations in other countries.

The Saudi Arabian branch convinced king Ibn Saud to let them start the Islamic University in Medina in 1961. After the Six-Day War in 1967, the movement as a whole split into moderates and radicals. The latter faction in Syria declared jihad against the Ba'th party leaders. King Hussein allowed the Jordanian branch to give military training to Brotherhood rebels in Jordan.

In 1973, the Israeli government allowed local leader Ahmad Yassin to run social, religious and welfare institutions among Palestinian Muslims. In 1983, he was arrested for illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to prison. When he was released 1985, he became more popular then ever. When the first Intifada begun in 1987, he became one of the founders of Hamas.

In 1984, the Muslim Brotherhood was partially reaccepted in Egypt as a religious organization, but was placed under heavy scrutiny by security forces. It remains a source of friction.

In 1989, the Jordanian Brotherhood's political wing, the Islamic Action Front, won 23 out of 80 seats in Jordan's parliament. King Hussein tried to limit their influence by changing the election laws, but in the 1993 elections, they became the largest group in the parliament. They strongly opposed the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1994.

In the early days of the Soviet-Afghan war, the Muslim Brotherhood was seen as a constituent part of the Afghan anti-communist opposition.

The resistance movement in Afghanistan formed in opposition to the leftist policies of King Zahir Shah. The movement had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Russian government alleges that the Muslim Brotherhood is a key force in the ongoing Chechen revolt. Russian officials accused the Muslim Brotherhood of planning the December 27, 2002 suicide car bombing of the headquarters of the Russian-backed government in Grozny, Chechnya.

Today, however, the Muslim Brotherhood is viewed as a far more moderate group than other Islamist organizations operation in the Middle East, such as al-Qaida. In countries where they are permited to, the Brotherhood has competed in and supported free elections.
29-07-2005, 19:29
Holy Womble,

I think it would help if you can define some of the terms.

What is Hanbali , Hanafi, Salafi, Wahabi, Barelvi and Deobandi ?
The Holy Womble
29-07-2005, 20:58
Holy Womble,

I think it would help if you can define some of the terms.

What is Hanbali , Hanafi, Salafi, Wahabi, Barelvi and Deobandi ?

I was going to post separate articles for all of these, but here they are "in a nutshell":

Hanbali-one of the four schools (Maddhabs) of religious law within Sunni Islam. It is considered to be the most conservative of the four schools. The school was started by the students of Imam Hanbal or Ahmad bin Hanbal. Hanbali is predominant among Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula, although students of Islam throughout the world study and may choose to observe its conclusions about Islamic practise. Hanbali is followed by less than 5% of the world's Muslim population. The Hanbali school was greatly supported by Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab who used this system of law. It is thus the school of jurisprudence used in modern day Saudi Arabia.

Hanafi- Hanafi is one of the four schools of religious law within Sunni Islam. Founded by Imam Abu Hanifa, it is considered to be the school most open to modern ideas. For example, under Hanafi jurisprudence, blasphemy is not punishable by the state, despite being considered a civil crime by some other schools.

Salafi- from the Arabic world Salaf سلف (meaning predecessors or early generations), is a practitioner of Salafiyyah (Salafism). The Salafis view the first three generations of Muslims, who are the prophet Muhammad's Companions, and the two generation after them as perfect examples of how Islam should be lived and practiced. These three generations are often referred to as the Pious generations.
In modern Islam, the term Salafi has come to describe various sects and groups sharing their views. These include the Saudi-based Wahhabis, and the India based Deobandi school, and the related schools in South Africa. More often, it is the Saudi-based school of thought that are referred to as Salafis, as they seek to 'purify' modern Islam, sideline classical and much of medieval Islamic jurisprudence, and promote the interpretations of Salafi Islamic thinkers such as Ibn Taymiya. These modern Salafis are sometimes called "neo-Salafis" (often disparagingly) or Salafists in order to distinguish Salafism from the early generations of Muslims (the original salaf).

Wahhabi: reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.1703–1791), who taught that all accretions to Islam after the 3d cent. of the Muslim era—i.e., after c.950—were spurious and must be expunged. This view, involving essentially a purification of the Sunni sect, regarded the veneration of saints, ostentation in worship, and luxurious living as the chief evils. Accordingly, Wahhabi mosques are simple and without minarets, and the adherents dress plainly and do not smoke tobacco or hashish. Wahhabism is the major sect of the government and society of Saudi Arabia. It is claimed to be followed by Osama bin Laden, who was raised in Saudi Arabia.

Deobandi- The Deobandi are Muslims of South Asia and Afghanistan who follow the Hanafi tradition of jurisprudence (see Hanafi). The name comes from Deoband, India, where the madrassa Darul Uloom Deoband is sited. They consider the Shia sect to be an apostate group. Although the Deobandis follow the school of Abu Hanifa and are Maturidi in creed, they have reformist tendencies similar to that of the wahhabis, and similarities in bith beliefs and methods between the two groups are many.

Maturidi- followers of the theological teachings of Abu Mansur Al Maturidi, which form one of the three main theological branches of the Sunni Islam (Maturidi, Ashari and Athari). The Maturidis state that belief (iman) does not increase nor decrease but remains static; it is piety (taqwa) which increases and decreases. They also believe that the unaided human mind is fundamentally good and is able to find out that some of the more major sins (such as alcohol or murder) are evil without the help of revelation. However, they also maintain that the existence of God is so obvious, that one who has intellect and time to think (not the mentally retarded etc.) and was unreached by the message of Islam and does not believe in God will end up in the hellfire. This theology is popular wherever the Hanafi school of law is followed.

Barelvi-originally, the term for the residents of Bareilly a small city in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In modern usage, it refers to the followers of Imam Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi, an important Muslim scholar of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More commonly, Barelwi is used as a mainly pejorative term by South Asian Wahhabis to refer to non-Wahhabi Sunni Muslims. In practices, the Barelvi are close to the Deobandi. However, unlike the Deobandi and most Islamic groups, the Barelvi tend to deify the Prophet Mohammad as a superhuman figure whose presence is all around us at all times; he is "hazir", present; he is not "bashar", material or flesh, but "nur", light. They regard Mohammad as a semi-divine figure with unique foreknowledge.
04-08-2005, 21:03
Bump ^


I think Deobandis are Hanafis and Hanafis are "the school most open to modern ideas".

I disagree. Deobandis are the most socially backward class in India and they are at the bottom of the pool in many socio-economic indicators. Their interpretations are archaic and they give ridiculous fatwas.

A month or so ago a woman was raped by her father-in-law and the Deobandi clerics have ruled that the rape annulls her marriage to her husband and now she is the wife of her previous father-in-law. The Deobandis have not backed down from that fatwa yet. As usual, the islamic rulings extend only to women and not the rapist who should have been stoned to death as per islamic rulings, but the misogynistic beards won't do that.

Some months ago the Shias of India split from the All India Muslim Personal law board to form their own All India Shia muslim personal law board, citing the archaic nature of the Deobandis and such reasons.
04-08-2005, 22:16
Oh it's scattered here and abouts where it's needed.

For example: “Believers decide their affairs by counsel among themselves.” (AL Shurah 42:38)

“Surely the land is Allah’s. He gives it for inheritance to such of His servants as He pleases.” (Aaraf 7:128) (So much for property laws)

And so on. I'll find more for you later.

To my knowledge The Qu'ran is like The Bible or The Tao Te Ching in that, 'what can be summised as examples of endorsement to a particular form of governance or ordered systems' are actually complete and more importantly wholesome. But further more, the depiction of them is also complete and wholesome and only realised by concidering the texts in their entirity.

As in they do not focus on any extremity at all, be it; democracy/social concensus or infact a dictatorship/personal endeavor.

In fact they quite often empower man with a resonsipility to act upon his own beliefs even if they conflict with other peoples. Yet at the same time these books can contradict that stance by endorsing that a person takes stead the feelings and beliefs of those people that share your cummunity before acting.

Unfortunately; people will always focus upon segments from these books that support their extreme belief and just happen to ignore or completely forget about the other side to their example: while the book of divinity they quote has not, therefore remaining wholesome.
09-08-2005, 20:56
Hey Womble, it's me, Mars05..

Well, just wondering, if you have an opinions section on islamism, feel free to use my stuff:
The Holy Womble
11-08-2005, 12:17
Bump ^


I think Deobandis are Hanafis and Hanafis are "the school most open to modern ideas".

I disagree. Deobandis are the most socially backward class in India and they are at the bottom of the pool in many socio-economic indicators. Their interpretations are archaic and they give ridiculous fatwas.
I've researched it a bit further now. It would have been more accurate to say that while the Deobandi started off as Hanafi, they have been largely influenced by immigrant clerics from the Arabian peninsula, who were Wahhabi and belonged to the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. So, while formally remaining Hanafis, in practice the Deobandi subscribe to a mix of Hanafi and Hanbali interpretations, and the Hanbali/Wahhabi component is growing increasingly strong.
12-08-2005, 06:18
I never knew that there is a Hanafi beginning to the Deobandis. My personal observation of them has been very repulsive and unpleasant. It would be interesting to know when the change happened and under whose guidance or influence. Was it before Maududi or after him or was it because of him ?

IIRC, Maududi left India and migrated to Pakistan and I think the Indian board wanted to prove that its islam is better than the Paki board's. And how better to do that other than making every effort to go back to 7th century !

Take the rape case I cited above.

The poor woman was raped by her father-in-law. See the ridiculous fatwas and antics of the Deobandi beards.

Copy of the fatwa can be found here
If someone has committed adultery with the wife of his son, and if this has been proved by the depositions of witnesses or if his son confirms it or if the woman herself admits and confirms it, the wife of the son becomes haram forever for the son. If the father copulates with a woman either legally after marriage, or illegally without marriage, in both cases it becomes haram for a man [son] to keep her her in his marriage.

Habibur Rahman, Mufti, Darul Uloom, Deoband

more about the deobandis..

The Shias are lot better. They are generally more progressive amongst all muslim communities of India.
Striking a discordant note on Darul Uloom's edict in Imrana rape case, the all India Shia Personal Law Board today said if a man rapes his daughter-in -law, the victim cannot become the mother of the husband.

"If a man rapes his daughter-in-law, the victim cannot become the mother of her husband as she is not the wife of the perpetrator of the crime," an AISPLB spokesman said.

He said Imrana should be allowed to live with her husband and harsh punishment should be handed over to the rapist.

Btw, can you write up on Wahab and finish up on the personalities, so that we can move on to the organizations (the "juicy" part) ?
The Holy Womble
13-08-2005, 22:17
Btw, can you write up on Wahab and finish up on the personalities, so that we can move on to the organizations (the "juicy" part) ?
I've been seriously busy lately, but I'll try.

Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Tamimi was an Arab theologian and the most famous scholar of the fundamentalist movement within Islam known as the Wahhabi movement and after whom the movement is named. He considered this movement an effort to purify Islam by returning all Muslims to what he believed were the original principles of Islam, as typified by the as-salaf as-saliheen, the earliest converts to Islam, by rejecting what he regarded as corruptions introduced by Bida (innovation, reformation) and Shirk (idolatry).

Al-Wahhab was born in 1691 (or 1703) at al-Hauta of the Nejd in central Arabia, and was of the tribe of the Bani Tamim. His father was a learnt Hanbali scholar, who sent him to study Islamic theology in Mecca, Medina, Baghdad, Basrah and Damascus, as well as in Iran and India.

At the age of thirty-two, Al-Wahhab came back to Najd and started working as a teacher for Bedouins; he showed his proficiency in academic debates and his independence in judgment. He was by no means disposed to accept to abide by the principles of one of the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, but was fond of independent reasoning and incline to criticize even those authorities that were regarded by all Muslim scholars as indisputable. Step by step, he became convinced that the Islamic society was degenerated, and that a reform was necessary. According to his point of view, traditional veneration of Muslim saints should be identified with idol-worship, and those who were involved in it must be regarded as apostate from Islam. In his analysis of supposed "deviations" and "degenerations" he became more and more extremist, and for this reason was refuted and excommunicated by his former teachers and even by scholars of his own family.

Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab's mission in his own district was not attended by success, and for long he wandered with his family through Arabia. Realizing that he needed political support and authority to effectively reverse the status quo, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab presented his program of reform to the governors of the central Arabian city-states. He began by approaching Othman ibn Mu’amar, the governor of Uyayna, his home state. Ibn Mu’amar was receptive to Abdul-Wahhab’s ideas and allowed him to preach within the city. As word of the movement spread, however, strong pressure to silence Ibn Abdul-Wahhab came from powerful tribes in the region, concerned by the extremism of Al-Wahhab's followers. Fearing invasion, Othman ibn Mu’amar felt compelled to ask the reformer to leave Uyayna.

Having returned to his native region of Nejd, Al-Wahhab allied himself with the local warlord, Ibn Saud, who married his daughter. The poor, unlearned Beduins from the clans controlled by Ibn Saud proved receptive to Al-Wahhab's version of Islam, as the ideal Islamic lifestyle as described by Al-Wahhab was strikingly similar to their own primitive lifestyle. Shortly after that, Al-Wahhab declared he was ready to publish a "fatwa" where non-Wahhabi Muslims were described as apostates and idol-worshippers; this point of view obviously represented a religious authorization for Ibn Saud’s mob to attack other Muslims under the pretext of spreading "true Islam".

Al-Wahhab's instructions in the matter of extending his religious teaching by force were strict. All unbelievers (i.e. Muslims who did not accept his teaching, as well as Christians, &c.) were to be put to death. Immediate entrance into Paradise was promised to his soldiers who fell in battle, and it is said that each soldier was provided with a written order from Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab to the gate-keeper of heaven to admit him forthwith.

The new "shaykh" also appointed some representatives (wakîls) and send them to preach his cult in Mecca, but scholars living in the Holy City were ready in understanding how dangerous this doctrine was. Sayyid Ahmad ibn Zaynî Dahlân, the Chief Muftî of Mecca, wrote in the book Al-Futûhât al-Islâmiyyah,

To deceive the ‘ulemâ’ in Mecca and Medina, those people sent emissaries in al-Haramayn, but these missionaries were not able to answer questions asked by Sunni scholars. It became evident that they were ignorant heretics. Muftîs of the four schools wrote a fatwa that declared them renegades, and this document was distributed in the whole Arabian Peninsula. The Amîr of Mecca, Sharîf Mas‘ûd ibn Sa‘id, ordered that the Wahhabis should be imprisoned. Some Wahhabis fled to Dar‘iyyah and informed their leader of what was happening.

Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s own brother, Sulayman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, studied his works and tried his best to invite him to repentance. At least, when he realized verbal admonitions had no effect, decided to write a book called As-Sawa’iq al-Ilâhiyyah fî Raddi ‘ala al-Wahhabiyyah, to refute his brother's herecies.

Another contemporary scholar, Muhammad Ibn Sulaymân Effendi wrote:

O Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhâb, do not slander Muslims! I admonish you for Allah’s sake! Does anyone of them say that there is a creator besides Allah? If you have anything to argue against Muslims, please, show them authoritative proofs. It is more correct to call you, a single person, "unbeliever", than calling millions of Muslims "unbelievers". Allah Ta‘âlâ says, "If anyone contends with the Messenger after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than the one followed by Believers, we shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Jahannam, quite an evil refuge!" This verse (ayah) points to the situation of those who have departed from Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah.

Although thousands of Muslims were killed by Wahhabis, the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah continued to refute them in their books. An example is what the Muftî of Mecca, Ahmad Zayni al-Makki ash-Shafi wrote in a work titled Fitnah al-Wahhâbiyyah, stating,

In 1217 of hijrah they [the Wahhabis] marched with big armies to the area of at-Tayf. In Dhû al-Qa‘dah of the same year, they lay siege to the area occupied by Muslims, subdued them, and killed the people: men, women, and children. They also looted the Muslims’ belongings and possessions. Only a few people escaped their barbarism.

They even plundered gifts in the Noble Room of the Prophet (sall-Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam), took all the patrimony that was there, and did similar acts of profanation.

In 1220 of hijrah they lay siege to Mecca the Blessed and then surrounded it from all directions to tighten its siege. They blocked the routes to the City and prevented supplies from reaching there. It was a great hardship on the people of Mecca. Food became exorbitantly expensive and then unavailable. They resorted to eating dogs.

By 1806, the converting armies of Wahhabism had conquered most of modern Saudi Arabia as well as a large part of southern Iraq. None of this went down well in Constantinople, as western Arabia was, at least in theory, part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1812 the empire retook western Arabia, and by the end of the 19th century the Al-Saud had retreated to Kuwait, where they were given sanctuary. Al-Wahhab did not live to see his armies defeated, as he died in 1792. However, in 1920, the British empire brought the Saud dynasty back from obscurity. The British needed Muslim allies against the Sharif of Mecca and his son Feisal, leader of the Arab nationalists. Generously supplied with British weapons and money, the Wahhabis went on their second conquest, firmly establishing themselves in the Arabian peninsula and giving birth to the present day Saudi Arabian Wahhabi theocracy.
15-08-2005, 05:32

Is that why Shias are considered kafirs by Wahabbis, since their Imam veneration is taken as shirk?

I know of instances where Arab and Paki Wahabbi militias overran Shia communities in Gilgit and Baltistan (Northern areas of Pakistan) and then the taliban which massacred Shias wholesale in Afghanistan. Also the presence of anti-Shia orgs like Lashkar-e-Janghvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba in the IIF. I knew there was some ideological thing that is behind but thanks for clearing that up.

Btw, did you see this piece? Maududi turns up in..........the Guardian! It is kinda amusing for me to see UK media "discovering" pan-islamist terrorism.,,1548786,00.html
The strain of Islamic ideology favoured by the MCB leadership and many of its affiliate organisations is inspired by Maulana Maududi, a 20th-century Islamic scholar little known in the West but hugely significant as a thinker across the Muslim world. His writings, which call for a global Islamic revival, influenced Sayyid Qutb, usually credited as the founding father of modern Islamic radicalism and one of the inspirations for al-Qaeda.

In Maududi's worldview all humanity was split into believers (practising Muslims) and non-believers, whom he describes as 'barbarians'. He was deeply critical of notions such as nationalism and feminism and called on Muslims to purge themselves of Western influence.

In 1941 he formed Jamaat-i-Islami and remained its leader until 1972. His writings do not advocate terrorism. But the language of Jihad in Islam, written in 1930, may seem violent to a Western reader: 'The objective of Islamic "jihad" is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.'

Abdul-Rehman Malik, contributing editor of Muslim magazine Q-News, said: 'Maududi saw the world in the same way that Sayyid Qutb saw the world: they both divided humanity into true believers or those in a state of ignorance. Many of the affiliates of The Muslim Council of Britain are inspired by Maududi's ideology.'
21-08-2005, 22:37

Just one person is missing in the initial line up. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi. I don't know much about him other than he is a pan-islamist of Palestinian origin. Can you write up on him ?
21-08-2005, 23:51
bumped for further reading.
22-08-2005, 00:09
Salafi- from the Arabic world Salaf سلف (meaning predecessors or early generations), is a practitioner of Salafiyyah (Salafism). The Salafis view the first three generations of Muslims, who are the prophet Muhammad's Companions, and the two generation after them as perfect examples of how Islam should be lived and practiced. These three generations are often referred to as the Pious generations.
In modern Islam, the term Salafi has come to describe various sects and groups sharing their views. These include the Saudi-based Wahhabis, and the India based Deobandi school, and the related schools in South Africa. More often, it is the Saudi-based school of thought that are referred to as Salafis, as they seek to 'purify' modern Islam, sideline classical and much of medieval Islamic jurisprudence, and promote the interpretations of Salafi Islamic thinkers such as Ibn Taymiya. These modern Salafis are sometimes called "neo-Salafis" (often disparagingly) or Salafists in order to distinguish Salafism from the early generations of Muslims (the original salaf).

Wahhabi: reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.1703–1791), who taught that all accretions to Islam after the 3d cent. of the Muslim era—i.e., after c.950—were spurious and must be expunged. This view, involving essentially a purification of the Sunni sect, regarded the veneration of saints, ostentation in worship, and luxurious living as the chief evils. Accordingly, Wahhabi mosques are simple and without minarets, and the adherents dress plainly and do not smoke tobacco or hashish. Wahhabism is the major sect of the government and society of Saudi Arabia. It is claimed to be followed by Osama bin Laden, who was raised in Saudi Arabia.
A few things to clarify:
#1. Salafism is Wahhabism. "Wahhabi," is a term that's offensive to Salafis. It's rather clear to any outside observer, that Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab created his own sect of Islam, but his followers claimed he was just holding to the true roots of Islam. So, it isn't Wahhab's beliefs, but just simply Islam. So, Wahhabis call themselves Salafis (because Wahhab, himself, claimed to follow a previous Muslim, Al-Salaf Al-Salih) or they call themselves Muwahhidun, meaning, "the monotheists."

#2. Bin Laden has never identified himself with any sect of Islam. He clearly has problems with the Wahabbi clerics in Saudi Arabia (they recently announced fatwas against terrorism). Qutbis claim Bin Laden is a Wahhabi, while Wahhabis claim Bin Laden is a Qutbi. There's no definitive evidence, one way or another. It's likely, in my opinion, that he's a Wahhabi, but Wahhabis follow no Islamic schools of thought, but their own. They claim to follow God only. So, even if Bin Laden is a Wahhabi, that doesn't mean all Wahhabis are terrorists. After all, America and Britain don't consider the Saudi royal family of being terrorists.

And finally... I wrote the majority of the article on Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Though I couldn't characterize his beliefs precisely (I haven't read any of his writings yet), I did write a brief history of his life, and some generalizations about Wahhabi thought.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (محمد أحمد عبد الوهاب) al-Tamimi (1703 C.E. – 1792 C.E.) was an Arab theologian born in Najd and the most famous scholar of the fundamentalist movement within Islam known as the Wahhabi movement and after whom the movement is named. He considered this movement an effort to purify Islam by returning all Muslims to what he believed were the original principles of Islam, as typified by the as-salaf as-saliheen, the earliest converts to Islam, and rejecting what he regarded as corruptions introduced by Bida (innovation, reformation) and Shirk (idolatry). Specifically, during his time, he denounced various sects of Sufism. He is considered by some to be a great reformer of Islam, while others regard him as the "father of Islamic terrorism." Some consider his ideas irrational and unoriginal, merely re-iterating primitive interpretations of the Qu'ran, while others believe he was a very innovative and learned scholar. In any case, he had a tremendous impact on modern Islam, and terrorism has been at least partially influenced by his teachings, whether intentional or not.

He also revived interest in the works of Ibn Taymiya; those who follow the "revival" (see Islamism). His followers are often called Wahabbis, but they themselves reject the term, on the grounds that his teachings were the teachings of Muhammad, not his own. Thus, they refer to themselves as Salafists or Muwahhidun, meaning, "the monotheists."


The early life of Muhammed b. Abd al-Wahhab remains fairly uncertain despite several studies on the issue. Historians at the time had no interest in the life of an obscure, young scholar and most of the contemporary journals do not cover it. Thus, there are only two official histories of Wahhab and his religious movement, Ibn Ghannam's Tarikh Nadjd and Ibn Bishr's 'Unwan al-Madjdj fi Tarihk Nadjd.

Three things should be taken into account when using these sources for the early life of Wahhab. First of all, they rarely mention specific dates of events. Second, both authors were Wahhabis themselves and therefore had a political and religious agenda to consider. Third, they were writing after Wahhab's death.

In the year 1744, a Wahhabi movement did not exist, and Wahhab was trying to attract followers in the small town, al-Uyayna, within the Nadj region (within the center of modern Saudi Arabia). His position, weak at that time, was challenged by Sulayman b. Muhammed al-Hamidi of the Banu Khalid, the chief of al-Ahsa, and Qatif. The latter threatened the ruler of the city, where Wahhab lived, that he would not pay him a land tax for his properties if he did not kill the Shaik, Abd al-Wahhab.

Wahhab may have made a name for himself outside of the town he lived in for three reasons: First, after he returned to Uyayna, he persuaded the ruler of the town to destroy a previously sacred tomb because of how local Muslims revered such shrines (a central criticism of Wahhab's). Secondly, he ordered that an adulteress be stoned to death, which was of great significance of the time, because the punishment for adultery was rarely executed in Islamic history. And finally, he practiced the Islamic concept of rihla fi talab al-'ilm, traveling the land in order to seek knowledge, though where and when he traveled is highly uncertain.

It's known that he spent some time in Basra (within modern day Iraq), and it's reasonably assumed that, being a devout Islamic scholar, he traveled to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina before traveling to Basra. It's not certain which city he went to first and the two official sources on Wahhab's life put them in different chronological order.

Almost all sources agree that his reformist ideas were formulated while living in Basra, becoming somewhat known for his debates with the Islamic scholars there as well as writing the Kitab Al Tawhid ("The Book of Unity"). Dates are missing in a great many cases, so it would be impossible to reconstruct a chronology of his life up until 1743, when the Meccan Epistle was written.

The Egyptian Islamic scholar Abd al-Wahhab b. Ahamd Barakat al-Shafi'i al-Azhari al-Tandatawi (not to be confused with the al-Wahhab) wrote an early criticism of Wahhab's reforms in the book, Kitab Rad' al-Dalala wa Qam al-Djahala, meaning, "the book of the prevention of error and the suppression of ignorance." Oddly enough, Tandatawi did not specifically name Wahhab in the text, but referred to him as Sheik al-Nas. This could be interpreted in a number of ways, the main two being: either he did not want to humiliate Wahhab or did not want to draw more attention to Wahhab's movement. Tandatawi wrote that he received word of Al-Wahhab's teachings through word-of-mouth and letters from local "authorities." The content of Tandatawi's arguments also suggest this, as they don't appear to be based on any writings of Wahhab's, though he disputes Wahhab's general ideas, quoting a considerable number of Qu'ranic verses.

Tandatawi's criticisms of Wahhab were also delivered to 10 highly-respected scholars in Mecca. One of the scholars, Hanbali Mufti stated, "Yes, my answer is similar to the ones of our Lords, and of Sheik Abd' al-Wahhab." Historians note that Hanbali Mufti went to the same legal school as al-Wahhab, likely sharing some of his religious beliefs, but gave an ambiguous response to avoid criticism from either side, and having to choose between his acquaintance, Wahhab, and his fellow clergymen.

Another critic of Wahhab at the time was Ali al-Shafi'i al-Basri al-shahir bi'l-Qabbani. A historian at the time, Ibn Turki, considered Qabbani to be among the four most prolific refuters of Wahhbism, particularly because he had actually read Wahhab's writings, unlike Tandatawi. Qabbani wrote two texts criticizing Wahhab, the Fasl al-Khitab fi Radd Dalalat Ibn Abd al-Wahhab ("the unmistakable judgement in the refutation of the delusions of Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab,") and the Kashf al-Hijab an Wadjh Dalalat Ibn al-Wahhab ("lifting the veil from the face of the delusions of Ibn al-Wahhab,"). Qabbani later wrote a formal, anti-wahhabi tract, citing both sources.

Some time later, Wahhab also allied with Muhammad bin Saud, ensuring that the nations that Saud conquered, which would one day become modern Saudi Arabia, would be ruled according to Wahhab's teachings on Islam. Though the official religion of Saudi Arabia is simply Islam, their theology continues to be dominated by Wahhabism.
The Holy Womble
22-08-2005, 01:39

Is that why Shias are considered kafirs by Wahabbis, since their Imam veneration is taken as shirk?
I think the Wahhabis consider not just Shias kafirs. Their "war on shirk" often reaches ridiculous points. I believe Al-Wahhab's Kitaab At-Tawheed claims that even wearing rings and other jewelry constitutes an act of shirk.[/quote]

I know of instances where Arab and Paki Wahabbi militias overran Shia communities in Gilgit and Baltistan (Northern areas of Pakistan) and then the taliban which massacred Shias wholesale in Afghanistan. Also the presence of anti-Shia orgs like Lashkar-e-Janghvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba in the IIF. I knew there was some ideological thing that is behind but thanks for clearing that up.
Seems so.

Btw, did you see this piece? Maududi turns up in..........the Guardian! It is kinda amusing for me to see UK media "discovering" pan-islamist terrorism.,,1548786,00.html
Yup, interesting. Although I would have thought they should've discovered it when the hired a Hizb ut-Tahrir man as a journalist a while ago.

Salafism is Wahhabism. "Wahhabi," is a term that's offensive to Salafis. It's rather clear to any outside observer, that Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab created his own sect of Islam, but his followers claimed he was just holding to the true roots of Islam. So, it isn't Wahhab's beliefs, but just simply Islam. So, Wahhabis call themselves Salafis (because Wahhab, himself, claimed to follow a previous Muslim, Al-Salaf Al-Salih) or they call themselves Muwahhidun, meaning, "the monotheists."

I believe the Salafi Islam is not limited to Wahhabism alone, although the Western media uses the two as synonyms. There is, of course, a great deal of overlap, but there's also the non-Wahhabi Salafi streams represented, for example, by Al-Albani ( and by the Deobandi sect, who are influenced by the Wahhabis, but distinct from them.

Bin Laden has never identified himself with any sect of Islam. He clearly has problems with the Wahabbi clerics in Saudi Arabia (they recently announced fatwas against terrorism). Qutbis claim Bin Laden is a Wahhabi, while Wahhabis claim Bin Laden is a Qutbi. There's no definitive evidence, one way or another.

That's why, I believe, my definition said that it is "claimed" that bin Laden is a Wahhabi. There does, however, exist some indirect evidence of him being influenced by Qutbi ideas. He is believed to be a follower of Abdullah Azzam, who is a known Qutbi and who was actually friends with Sayyed Qutb's family. One of bin-Laden's closest aides, AL-Zawahiri, was in a Salafi sect while at the same time being closely acquanted with Mohammed Qutb, brother of Sayyed- and also with Azzam. Zarkawi, apparently, learned from Azzam's student, Jordanian cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdissy.

Quite a tight group they all were.

Oh and by the way, I've recently encountered someone who has written a fairly good paper on Qutb. Here ( it is. Worth a read.
22-08-2005, 07:37
Although I would have thought they should've discovered it when the hired a Hizb ut-Tahrir man as a journalist a while ago.

Lol. When did that happen? Can you give me any references?

I believe the Salafi Islam is not limited to Wahhabism alone, although the Western media uses the two as synonyms. There is, of course, a great deal of overlap, but there's also the non-Wahhabi Salafi streams represented, for example, by Al-Albani ( and by the Deobandi sect, who are influenced by the Wahhabis, but distinct from them.

IMO, Salafi-ism is a movement and not a clearly defined sect. Most of the taliban types in NW Pakistan are sunnis of Deobandi school but they are into salafi movement, but they are not yet wahabbis, although some are. But, as you said, there is a lot of confusion in the media which in turn confuses more the unsuspecting public. Usama himself is deliberately (and cleverly) non-committal on this since he does not want to be bracketed into any sect, but gives general calls to go back to the pure state from the new jahilya.

Thanks for the article. A Good read indeed.
The Holy Womble
22-08-2005, 08:15
Lol. When did that happen? Can you give me any references?

The Guardian and Dilpazier Aslam. (,3604,1534499,00.html)

He was exposed by this blogger (

Here (,3604,1527323,00.html) is the article Aslam managed to get published in the Guardian. His more explicit articles can be found on the Hizb ut-Tahrir website
The Holy Womble
27-08-2005, 12:48
Recommended reading for the participants in this thread:

Milestones ( by Sayyed Qutb.

Notice that chapter 8, titled "The Islamic Concept and Culture", is not accessible. There is a good reason for that. I have not read it in its entirety, but I have managed to obtain a quote from this chapter that gives a rough idea of its contents:

The statement that "Culture is the human heritage" and that it has no country, nationality or religion is correct only in relation to science and technology-as long as we do not jump the boundary of these sciences and delve into metaphysical interpretations, and start explaining the purpose of man and his historical role in philosophical terms, even explaining away art and literature and human intuition philosophically. Beyond this limited meaning, this statement about culture is one of the tricks played by world Jewry, whose purpose is to eliminate all limitations, especially the limitations imposed by faith and religion, so that the Jews may penetrate into body politic of the whole world and then may be free to perpetuate their evil designs. At the top of the list of these activities is usury, the aim of which is that all the wealth of mankind end up in the hands of Jewish financial institutions which run on interest.
02-09-2005, 21:58

Do you want to elaborate more on the ideology behind pan-islamism or can we move on to the organizations following the ideology?

I would like to start off with Hizbut Tahrir / Hizb al-Tahrir (the party of liberation), since they are on the spot following the London bombings and they have been banned in UK now. IMO, it should have been dealt with a long time back, but then it is only terrorism when one gets thier country bombed.

HT is a classic pan-islamist organization, set up in Jerusalem in 1953 by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, a qazi (religious judge), as a breakaway from the Muslim Brotherhood, which carefully projects the image of a non-violent organization. This makes them particularly dangerous since they do not carry the AQ like stigma and make use of the liberal policies in western countries to their advantage.

From their official website

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology. It works within the Ummah and together with her, so that she adopts Islam as her cause and is led to restore the Khilafah and the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political group and not a priestly one. Nor is it an academic, educational or a charity group. The Islamic thought is the soul of its body, its core and the secret of its life.

The Reasons for the Establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir

Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in response to the saying of Allah (swt),

"Let there be among you a group that invites to the good, orders what is right and forbids what is evil, and they are those who are successful" [TMQ 3:104]

Its purpose was to revive the Islamic Ummah from the severe decline that it had reached, and to liberate it from the thoughts, systems and laws of Kufr, as well as the domination and influence of the Kufr states. It also aims to restore the Islamic Khilafah State so that the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed returns.

HT includes as part of the Khilafah, any land where there was a muslim rule in any part of the world during any time of past history, which includes India, Israel and Andulas (Spain) and other such countries which were invaded and/or ruled for some time by muslim invaders. And although they don't say this outright so as to avoid mroe scrutiny and backlash, the HT's Khilafah also include parts which may become majority muslim in the future. More info on this in the intervew given below.

The Aim of Hizb ut-Tahrir

Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khaleefah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.

The Party, as well, aims at the correct revival of the Ummah through enlightened thought. It also strives to bring her back to her previous might and glory such that she wrests the reins of initiative away from other states and nations, and returns to her rightful place as the first state in the world, as she was in the past, when she governs the world according to the laws of Islam.

It also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.

The HT is a very carefully run organization. Their office bearers are the suited and booted kind. HT members themselves do not engage in direct jihadi violence, like AQ or LeT or JeM etc. But HT funds go to such orgs and HT has been known to provide foot soldiers for Kashmiri jihadi groups. The Al-Muhajiroun group in UK is but a front for the HT. Sheikh Omar bin Bakri Muhammad is both the founder of the London branch of HT and of the Jama'at Al-Muhajirun.

HT also had a hand in the recent upsurge of violence in Uzbekistan.
45. The needle of suspicion in respect of the incidents of this year points towards the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Hizbut Tahrir . An Islamic website claimed responsibility in respect of the July 30 blasts on behalf of these two organisations, but the organisations themselves remained silent. The reliability of the web site is not known.

46.There is so far no evidence to show that the suicide bombers of July 30 might have gone to Tashkent from South Waziristan. If it is established that they belonged to the IMU, they might have been recruited locally by the local cells and need not have necessarily come from South Waziristan. This would show that despite the strong measures taken by the Karimov regime, secret cells of the IMU have managed to survive in Uzbek territory and that their motivation and capability for action remain unimpaired.

47. The Hizbut Tahrir of Uzbekistan, led by Vahid Omran, is estimated to have more local support than the IMU. It denies involvement in acts of terrorism. Like the IMU, it advocates the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, but claims that it wants to achieve its objective through political means and not by resorting to terrorism.

48. Like the Hizbut Tahrir of Pakistan, its Central Asian counterpart is also a highly clandestine organisation, which seeks to achieve its objective not through overt acts of violence, but through covert penetration of the security forces and the intelligence agencies. In the long term, it could be even more dangerous than the IMU.

They have also been found to incite jihad in Afghanistan and Central Asia. It's kinda their homeground actually, given that HT's major base is in Pakistan. HT enjoys huge support amongst Pakistani public and they have members from the Pakistani army and intelligence itself. HT is strongly anti-Musharraf and they even circulated amongst the military personnel copies of anti-Musharraf statements calling Musharraf a traitor, during the Wana operation which ended as a disaster for the Pakistani army. Later when another operation was to be mounted in the region, the statements were re-circulated again and Musharraf dropped the idea. The statements were attribute to Naveed Butt, HT's spokesperson.

This is an interview of him.
Revolution without bullets or ballots
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - From the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, there are violent reactionaries in the Muslim world who will kill and get killed, but beyond these fanatics there exists a real hardcore silently swaying the hearts and minds of many in the Muslim world.

Their religion is not obvious from their demeanor or the cut of their clothes, yet it is embedded in the very core of their hearts, and is the driving force behind all their actions.

They are an overwhelming emerging force, and even though they have been widely banned, they don't believe in retaliation. They have made a hub in Pakistan, where they outnumber many large religious parties, yet they remain difficult to pinpoint as they are political, but have been forced underground. They are the largest single movement in the Islamic world, the Liberation Party - Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).

In in the mid-1990s, a large conference was held in London, where the topic was the revival of a caliphate in the Muslim world for the "implementation of pure Islamic doctrine", as is the goal of the HT. The conference was attended by delegates from around the world, and a key question was to determine an ideal place for the Islamic revolution. Many agreed on Pakistan, a land of valiant Muslim tribes that have traditionally responded enthusiastically to Islamic issues. And strategically, the country is well situated to embrace the Asian sub-continent and Central Asia - where initially the caliphate will be created. [IIRC, Osama moved to Afghanistan from Sudan, following this]

Subsequently, hundreds of HT members, British but of Pakistani origin, many of them students at the London School of Economics and other centers of excellence, packed their bags and departed for Pakistan. [Omar Sheikh who wired money to Mohd Atta and killed Daniel Pearl, the WSJ reporter was one such person] By 2000, the HT had established itself in all urban centers of the country, but within three years it was banned. All police stations were given strict instructions to round up any person who claimed an association with the HT.

Hundreds of HT members were rounded up, and may reports of torture emerged. Of those produced in court, the only charges that were made to stick were those related to being a member of the HT.

This correspondent has spoken to senior Pakistani officials on the reason for the HT being banned, but none of them appears to have a clue - especially as the HT does not espouse violence or militancy.

HT members have even been encouraged by the authorities to change the name of the organization, as most other banned outfits do so that they can carry on with their activities, but the HT has refused to do so. [Now you know what is the effect of Musharraf "banning" terrorist organization. The organizations simply change their name and its business as usual]

Pakistan, especially as a leading ally in the US "war on terror", has been urged by international intelligence agencies to continue cracking down on the HT. President General Pervez Musharraf has visited the United Kingdom and publicly advised parents to beware of the HT and keep their children away from its influence.

Asia Times Online spoke to the HT's chief in Pakistan, Naveed Butt. Butt is a graduate from Illinois University, Chicago, in engineering. He is a tall and smart man in his late 30s, and has devoted his life to the cause of HT. As a result, he is a wanted man. He traveled from Lahore to Karachi for this interview [1].

Asia Times Online: You claim that you are a political organization, yet you operate underground. Why?

Naveed Butt: The HT is a political party and cannot afford to operate underground. We have to remain in touch with the masses and cultivate them for our mission. Our leadership was open when it founded the HT in 1953 in Jordan. However, soon after the HT was established, Jordanian authorities brutally crushed it. Hundreds of our workers were arrested. So to preserve the organization, our top leadership - Shiekh Atta Abu Rashta and others - went underground. Since then, the HT has been unacceptable to rulers, and we have been forced to work underground all over the Muslim world.

ATol: Who is your central leadership?

NB: It is somewhere in the Middle East. I do not know their names and where they are located.

ATol: How come a political party can survive with no leadership visible to the public eye, nor even a party structure?

NB: We do not hide. We openly claim that we are members of HT. Hundreds of our workers were recently arrested by Pakistani law-enforcing agencies. We admitted that we were members of HT. However, we do not disclose the names of our top leadership because then they would not be able to operate and would face unnecessary obstructions.

ATol: You claim that HT is non-violent, but we saw HT supporters turn violent in Uzbekistan.

NB: It was not HT. Our leadership has already taken a position on that issue. We never did violence, nor will we in the future apply any violence in our struggle. Our goal is to mobilize the masses and bring about a peaceful revolution and revive the institution of caliphate. What happened in Uzbekistan is in fact a continuation of what previously happened in Georgia and other Central Asian states, it was an obvious power-struggle between Russia and the US to dominate in the region. Some agent provocateur used the Akramia group [an Islamic extremist organization] for their designs and created violence. There is no doubt that the HT is the strongest force in Uzbekistan and is facing state suppression, but we would rather bear state torture than turn violent.

ATol: So, the HT is non-violent, very intellectual and non-militant. Then why is it not tolerated, whereas other Muslim organizations are somehow tolerated and even co-exist in societies?

NB: To begin with, we do not accept the existing system, which all other religious parties accept. They claim that they are against the West, but they support Western democracy. In other ways, too, they are very much part-and-parcel of the system. This inclusion has silently rounded up those sharp edges which the West considered a threat. They raise Islamic slogans, but they have nothing to do with the Islamic cause. We have the examples of Pakistan and Turkey, where Islamists won [in elections] but failed to make any impact. Neither bullet nor ballot can bring about sustainable change in society. It is only when masses willingly mobilize and demand a change and adopt non-violent ways and replace the system with a real Islamic system, that real change will emerge.

ATol: Don't you think this will create anarchy?

NB: Anarchy is generated when the masses mobilize without any ideal. When they have an ideology, they will march towards the right path. We know our job. We have to float our constitution and manifesto among the masses and convince them fully that it is the real salvation.

ATol: At a conference in London in the mid-1990s, it was suggested that Pakistan would be an ideal state to establish an Islamic state, and from there proceed to caliphate. What is the significance of Pakistan in your world mission?

NB: Important decisions evolve with the passage of time. These decisions are not taken in conferences. Several participants expressed their opinions about different Muslim states, which would be ideal an Islamic state. Pakistan was among them. There is no doubt that Muslims in Pakistan have emotional commitment with Islam. It is situated at a place where an Islamic state could further its influence up to Central Asia and Turkey, where already Islamic movements have taken strong roots, and then this unit could work effectively for the liberation of Muslim-occupied territories.

ATol: In a way, the HT represents the concept of Pakistan's strategic depth developed by the generals in the 1980s, which suggested the Muslim Central Asian states Afghanistan and Pakistan come together in one confederation. [HT and many such jihadi orgs were allowed to grow by the Paki establishment, as part of their strategic policies in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The Paki army establishment thought that they can always direct the jihad outside of Pakistan, just like how US thought it can direct jihad against USSR alone. ]

NB: We are not inspired by the establishment's rhetoric. We draw our strategy from the Koran and Sunnah [the sayings and the traditions set by the Prophet Mohammed].

ATol: You are branded as anti-Zionist ...

NB: Islam is not racist at all. However, we talk about the liberation of Muslim territories and bringing them back into the discipline of khilafah [caliphate]. We talk about the liberation of the entire Palestine, and we want to establish Muslim rule over there. We don't talk about Kashmir alone. We talk about the liberation of India, because India was ruled by Muslims, and it was a Muslim state.

ATol: Excuse me. India was invaded by Muslims and they established their rule for 1,000 years. However, India was never an Islamic state. There were some adventurers who happened to be Muslim and they captured India.

NB: There are a lot of misconceptions which are required to be addressed. The Muslim caliphate remained intact in its letter and sprit for 30 years. After 30 years it turned hereditary, yet it was a caliphate because all other tenets were fully practiced. For instance, it was compulsory that subjects would pledge their allegiance to the caliph (bait). The system of the judiciary remained intact, which strictly enforced Islamic laws. Different schools of jurisprudence worked independently, but their work remained part-and-parcel in the system of governance. It was the same in Hind [India]. There were monarchs who were Muslims, and many were not upright in their character. However, if you see the system of the judiciary, it was Islamic. The education system was Islamic, etc. Therefore, Hind was an Islamic state and part of a Muslim caliphate.[In other words, wherever there was ever a muslim rule in past history, it is forever muslim land and is a part of the caliphate. This includes Spain, although Naveed does not mention it here.]

ATol: In the West, the HT is perceived as a serious threat to social liberties, concepts of civil society, etc. And also in Muslim states. Why?

NB: They know exactly why we are a threat. We do not believe in using patches of the Western social system and calling it Islam, or in applying tenets of the capitalist economy and calling it Islam. We are not the kind of Islamists who say that since Islam does not forbid such systems, therefore there is no harm in adopting them. For commodities, though, we can say that since Islam does not forbid something, therefore it is allowed. For instance, if somebody drinks a syrup in which there is no prohibited ingredient, there is no debate. It is allowed.

However, all actions and mechanisms in life must be substantiated and drawn from Islam, whether it is in the economy, politics, trading and even agriculture. This kind of purist approach does not suit the West or its allies in the Muslim world, who work to establish riba-free [interest-free] banking, but at the same time allow multinational corporations to circulate like blood in their economies.

ATol: You mean the HT would not allow multinational corporations [MNCs] to operate?

NB: Let me explain that there is a difference between MNCs and non-Muslim traders. Non-Muslims can trade with an Islamic state, and they are allowed to freely operate. However, MNCs are the flag-bearers of the colonial system and Western capitalist economies. Whether it is Coca-Cola or McDonalds, it is not simply the name of the commodities that is marketed. It is a complete culture which impresses on societies, and such cultural intrusions in the garb of MNCs would not be tolerated.

ATol: I will repeat my question. Are you anti-Zionist?

NB: A Muslim cannot be anti-Zionist or anti-Christian. Jews always had a golden period in Muslim empires. When there was a full season against Jews in the Christian world, Jews were given refuge in the Ottoman empire. Hasidic Christians and Christian Orthodoxy are still very well preserved in the Middle East and in Egypt. Had Muslims been so intolerant, what prevented them from eliminating Christians? The Koran says there is no coercion in religion. At the same time, our name is Hizb ut-Tahrir. Liberation Party. We are not Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami [Islamic Party of Liberation]. Therefore, we think of salvation of the whole of humanity, as the Prophet Mohammed was sent for the whole of humanity, and we are working to liberate humanity from the cruel clutches of the Western capitalist system.

ATol: What about Shi'ites? In the political history of Islam, they opposed a caliphate. [HT is often labeled in the Western media as being a "Sunni" group".]

NB: Not in the early period. Shi'ites of the early period were not against a caliphate. It was a very late development when they brought the concept of Imamat [2] versus caliphate. We don't engage in such debates. We would accept Imamat if it practices true Islam. After the Iranian revolution [1979] a HT delegation went to Tehran and welcomed the revolution. We presented Iranians [most of whom are Shi'ites] our constitution and offered that if they implemented it we would pledge our allegiance to the leader of Iran. Ayatollah Baheshti, who was later killed in bomb blast, was very appreciative of the HT's role and its literature. Imam Shoqani of the Zaidiya sect wrote a book on the Islamic state, which is a very important part of the HT's syllabus.

In fact, we never talk about Shi'ites and Sunnis. We talk only about Muslims. This is what the Koran does. In Iraq, we had historic relations with the Da'wa Party [a Shi'ite party]. The slain [Shi'ite] Iraqi scholar Baqir Sadr [executed by Saddam Hussein] was very close to HT circles. [B]Recently, when the HT held a conference in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr's representative attended the meeting. [ Muqtada is a Shi'ite cleric] [yeah right, Moqtada is the representative of Iraqi Shia !]

In fact, there is no bitter division between Shi'ites and Sunnis. As far as killings are concerned, they are all isolated events. Had there been any division, there would have been Shi'ite-Sunni riots everywhere in the world where Shi'ites and Sunnis lived side-by-side. It is again the Western imperialist agenda which fans Shi'ite-Sunni divisions in Muslim societies for their ultimate objective.

ATol: What is your strength in Pakistan?

NB: I would never tell, but it is so significant that the state machinery thought it necessary to ban us after only three years of our existence [in the country].

The funny part is that, some salafi/wahabi scholars denounce HT for allowing shaving of beard, wearing western clothes and more importantly for questioning certain hadiths that have been narrated by only one person at any stage in their chain of narration. For those purists, even the HT is "moderate" !

That's it for now. More later. Please add to the body of knowledge here but a humble request..please post stuff relevant to HT alone for the time being. We can move on to other orgs when we fully dissect and discern HT. Thanks.
03-09-2005, 08:53
Random news links about HT,,22989-1722618,00.html
...At his regular Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister also announced that two Islamic groups, including Hizb Ut-Tahrir, would be banned...,,176-1151411,00.html
Revealed: radicals who backed girl in dress fight
Nicholas Hellen, Social Affairs Editor
THE teenage girl who fought a two-year legal battle to wear full Islamic dress to school was influenced by an extremist Muslim splinter group.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), which is legal in Britain but banned in Germany and much of the Middle East, advised Shabina Begum, a 15-year-old orphan
Islamic group banned by Britain wins over middle-class Pakistan
The Muslim Council of Britain said it could support some of the proposals, but criticised the decision to ban Hizb ut Tahrir as "undermining our own democratic values"

The irony is that HT's stated goal is to subvert or overthrow "kufr" systems like democracy and impose the caliphate.


I don't know much about HT's activities from the 50s to the 80s. HT was given a fillip in CAR and Afghanistan by the Paksitani establishment as part of their strategic depth policy. This was sometime around the mid 80s, when the Afghan jihad was underway. HT did not have much of a presence in that area before that. It could mean that they were active only in ME. Do you have any info on their activities from the 50s to the 80s?
The Holy Womble
22-09-2005, 08:01
Sorry for my long absence, Aryavartha. Great articles. I suspect that the British decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in the wake of the London bombings means that they strongly suspect a direct link.

I don't know much about HT's activities from the 50s to the 80s. HT was given a fillip in CAR and Afghanistan by the Paksitani establishment as part of their strategic depth policy. This was sometime around the mid 80s, when the Afghan jihad was underway. HT did not have much of a presence in that area before that. It could mean that they were active only in ME. Do you have any info on their activities from the 50s to the 80s?

You know, its strange. Information on Hizb ut-Tahrir's activities are pretty difficult to find. I'll dig some more later, but so far I came up with nothing.

As for your request to elaborate on the ideology of pan-Islamism, I think a few quotes from Sayyed Qutb's "Milestones" on the matter will be in order.

Throughout every period of human history the call toward God has had one nature. Its purpose is 'Islam', which means to bring human beings into submission to God, to free them from servitude to other human beings so that they may devote themselves to the One True God, to deliver them from the clutches of human lordship and man-made laws, value systems and traditions so that they will acknowledge the sovereignty and authority of the One True God and follow His law in all spheres of life. The Islam of Muhammad - peace be on him-came for this purpose, as well as the messages of the earlier Prophets. The entire universe is under the authority of God, and man, being a small part of it, necessarily obeys the physical laws governing the universe. It is also necessary that the same authority be acknowledged as the law-giver for human life. Man should not cut himself off from this authority to develop a separate system and a separate scheme of life. The growth of a human being, his conditions of health and disease, and his life and death are under the scheme of those natural laws which come from God; even in the consequences of his voluntary actions he is helpless before the universal laws. Man cannot change the practice of God in the laws prevailing in the universe. It is therefore desirable that he should also follow Islam in those aspects of his life in which he is given a choice and should make the Divine Law the arbiter in all matters of life so that there may be harmony between man and the rest of the universe. [See Towards Understanding Islam, by A. A. Maududi, for an explanation of this point.]

Jahiliyyah, on the other hand, is one man's lordship over another, and in this respect it is against the system of the universe and brings the involuntary aspect of human life into conflict with its voluntary aspect. This was that Jahiliyyah which confronted every Prophet of God, including the last Prophet-peace be on Him-in their call toward submission to One God. This Jahiliyyah is not an abstract theory; in fact, under certain circumstances it has no theory at all. It always takes the form of a living movement in a society which has its own leadership, its own concepts and values, and its own traditions, habits and feelings. It is an organized society and there is a close cooperation and loyalty between its individuals, and it is always ready and alive to defend its existence consciously or unconsciously. It crushes all elements which seem to be dangerous to its personality.

Do not be fooled by the seemingly "liberationist" rhetorics. "Jahiliyya", as interpreted by Qutb, means no less than any society governed by man made laws. This is the central idea of Islamism- opposition to the "jahili systems", all societies and political structures that are not governed strictly by the Islamic law.

Throughout every period of human history the call toward God has had one nature. Its purpose is 'Islam', which means to bring human beings into submission to God, to free them from servitude to other human beings so that they may devote themselves to the One True God, to deliver them from the clutches of human lordship and man-made laws, value systems and traditions so that they will acknowledge the sovereignty and authority of the One True God and follow His law in all spheres of life.

This pseudo-liberationist dualist view assumes that only one society- the Islamic one- can be seen as a truly free environment, and anything that deviates from Islam is inherently oppressive, even if it is based on free and willing participation of the society members and does not involve compulsion. The very fact of a society not being Islamic is seen as inherently compulsive, as it erects various obstacles on the way to the "true freedom" in its Islamist interpretation. Therefore, the only way to free mankind- and Islamists view themselves as active liberators of entire mankind from Jahiliyya- is to physically destroy all Jahili systems:

It is not the intention of Islam to force its beliefs on people, but Islam is not merely 'belief'. As we have pointed out, Islam is a declaration of the freedom of man from servitude to other men. Thus it strives from the beginning to abolish all those systems and governments which are based on the rule of man over men and the servitude of one human being to another. When Islam releases people from this political pressure and presents to them its spiritual message, appealing to their reason, it gives them complete freedom to accept or not to accept its beliefs. However, this freedom does not mean that they can make their desires their gods, or that they can choose to remain in the servitude of other human beings, making some men lords over others. Whatever system is to be established in the world ought to be on the authority of God, deriving its laws from Him alone. Then every individual is free, under the protection of this universal system, to adopt any belief he wishes to adopt. This is the only way in which 'the religion' can be purified for God alone. The word 'religion' includes more than belief; 'religion' actually means a way of life, and in Islam this is based on belief. But in an Islamic system there is room for all kinds of people to follow their own beliefs, while obeying the laws of the country which are themselves based on the Divine authority.

As you can see, this is a radical redefinition of the concept of freedom, completely different from those offered by the Western philosophy and alien to the Western civilization at all. What Qutb says here, essentially, is that FIRST, people must be forced under an Islam based political system, and only THEN their choice of faith can be considered a free choice- as long as they comply with the Islamic society laws. It is very important to understand this point in order to realise what Bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists mean when they say they are fighting for freedom. They do not mean freedom in the Western sense. They mean freedom in Qutb's interpretation- that is, "freedom" under Islamic compulsion.
22-09-2005, 21:44
Sorry for my long absence, Aryavartha. Great articles. I suspect that the British decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in the wake of the London bombings means that they strongly suspect a direct link.

No problems.

Reg, the HT purge in UK, although I am still not discounting the involvement of HT in the 7/7 bombings, it may also be that the law enforcement must have long awaited a chance like this so they can freely act without being encumbred by the islamist-sympathetic (wittingly and unwittingly) liberalist UK media. ;)

I haven't seen any direct links between the bombers and HT although there are plenty of links between the bombers and LeT which inturn is linked to HT in Pakistan. It could very well be a joint operation.

You know, its strange. Information on Hizb ut-Tahrir's activities are pretty difficult to find. I'll dig some more later, but so far I came up with nothing.

It is indeed strange. I am completely blank on them before the late 90s. I think I may have to hook up my old hard disk and search in that, although I doubt if I have anything on them. It seems like the HT's rise in the 90s as a multi-national pan-islamist organization is a very orchestrated move.

Btw, have you read Vincenzo Oliveti's book "Terror's Source"?

I caught this in a review of the book, it captures the essence of what you have said above.

A favorite saying of the Salafists, according to Oliveti, is nahnu rijal wa hum rijal , which he translates loosely as "We are all men so why should we accept that anybody knows better than us?"
The Genius Masterminds
22-09-2005, 21:46
For one, I thank you THIS MUCH for actually making a civilized, serious and educational thread, especially about a religion that has MANY TIMES been misunderstood by MANY.
22-09-2005, 21:47
Cross posting from another thread. I think this goes in with this thread better.

From the book "The Quranic concept of war" by Brig. S.K.Malik of Pakistan. He was a protege of Gen. Zia Ul Haq.

Excerpts from a review

The instrument of this is Jehad — "the most glorious word in the vocabulary of Islam" — which both the author and President Zia describe as total war. "Jehad is a continuous and never-ending struggle waged on all fronts." Another point that Brigadier Malik makes is that the war should be carried out in the opponent’s territory. "The aggressor was always met and destroyed in his own territory," he tells us. It is puzzling that he should call this a ‘defensive war’, until one recognizes the Orwellian sense in which it is used to mean aggression. And what is the goal of this aggression — or of ‘defense’ as the book calls it? Here the author leaves no room for doubt.

"The central theme behind the causes of war as spelt out by the Holy Quran, was the cause of Allah… In the pursuit of this cause, the Muslims were first permitted to fight but were later commanded to fight the Way of God as a matter of religious obligation and duty." As a result, those who resist it are the aggressors, and it becomes necessary to fight a defensive war to overcome them in their own territory!

The principal tactical tool to be used in achieving this divinely ordained mission is terror. "The Quranic military strategy thus enjoins us to prepare ourselves for war to the utmost in order to strike terror into the heart of the enemy, known or hidden, while guarding ourselves from being terror-stricken by the enemy." It is not hard to see that Pakistan has put this terror doctrine into practice in its proxy war in Kashmir, as it did in Punjab earlier and in Afghanistan recently. Its recent atrocity of returning the mutilated bodies of captured soldiers is part of the same strategy — of striking terror in the heart of the enemy.

But the terror doctrine does not stop here, for Brigadier Malik tells us: "Terror struck into the hearts of the enemy is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved… Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him." That is to say, the enemy is to live in a state of perpetual terror. This is necessary in order to bring ‘justice and freedom from oppression’.
22-09-2005, 21:57
Is it true that the Qur'an says that anyone Muslim who converts to Christianity must be killed?

in a rounded up answer, Yes.

It is believed better to be dead than commite such a sin... but, then, that would mean dying in a state of such sin. meaning going to hell anyway? you see, this is the problem me and my girlfriend have.

And to be quite honest, it stinks.
22-09-2005, 22:12
Originally Posted by Brians Test
Is it true that the Qur'an says that anyone Muslim who converts to Christianity must be killed?

in a rounded up answer, Yes.

It is believed better to be dead than commite such a sin... but, then, that would mean dying in a state of such sin. meaning going to hell anyway?

Not exactly.

Apostacy is punishable by death if the apostate is engaged in activities like "striving after corruption in the land". Of course, what constitutes "corruption in the land" and what is "striving" after that is open to intrepretation of the islamic court.

It is quite easy to accuse any apostate for that and get him killed. Reason why you have very few open apostates in islamic states.

This lincese to kill because of people arguing that "Islam says so" is kinda the boundary of islam and islamism.
The Holy Womble
22-09-2005, 22:29
Those are interesting books you've found, Aryavartha. "The Quranic concept of war" definitely has a lot in common with "Milestones":

The second aspect of this religion is that it is a practical movement which progresses stage by stage, and at every stage it provides resources according to the practical needs of the situation and prepares the ground for the next one. It does not face practical problems with abstract theories, nor does it confront various stages with unchangeable means. Those who talk about Jihaad in Islam and quote Qur'anic verses do not take into account this aspect, nor do they understand the nature of the various stages through which this movement develops, or the relationship of the verses revealed at various occasions with each stage. Thus, when they speak about Jihaad, they speak clumsily and mix up the various stages, distorting the whole concept of Jihaad and deriving from the Qur'anic verses final principles and generalities for which there is no justification. This is because they regard every verse of the Qur'an as if it were the final principle of this religion. This group of thinkers, who are a product of the sorry state of the present Muslim generation, have nothing but the label of Islam and have laid down their spiritual and rational arms in defeat. They say, "Islam has prescribed only defensive war"! and think that they have done some good for their religion by depriving it of its method, which is to abolish all injustice from the earth, to bring people to the worship of God alone, and to bring them out of servitude to others into the servants of the Lord .

... It is in the very nature of Islam to take initiative for freeing the human beings throughout the earth from servitude to anyone other than God; and so it cannot be restricted within any geographic or racial limits, leaving all mankind on the whole earth in evil, in chaos and in servitude to lords other than God.

It may happen that the enemies of Islam may consider it expedient not to take any action against Islam, if Islam leaves them alone in their geographical boundaries to continue the lordship of some men over others and does not extend its message and its declaration of universal freedom within their domain. But Islam cannot agree to this unless they submit to its authority by paying Jizyah, which will be a guarantee that they have opened their doors for the preaching of Islam and will not put any obstacle in its way through the power of the state.

This is the character of this religion and this is its function, as it is a declaration of the Lordship of God and the freedom of man from servitude to anyone other than God, for all people.

Keep in mind that Qutb's definition of "liberation from servitude" means abolishing any secular or non-Islamic political system and forcing people under a Sharia based system.
30-09-2005, 00:44
Found a recent interview by HT spokesman Naveed Butt (yes 'Butt' is his last name which is morphed from 'Bhatt'- a hindu caste/community name of Kashmiri origins)
Hizbul Tahrir shares its aims and objectives with peshawar1

PESHAWAR: Naveed Butt, the spokesman of Hizbul Tahrir (HT) in Pakistan declared in an interview that the party wants to bring a new system purely based on Quran and Sunnah a common man paying no taxes and enjoying right to cultivating as much barren land as he or she can.

This prominent figure of Hizbul tahrir in an interview with peshawar1 said that its ideology is Islam and its goal is to implement it (Islam) through the establishment of Khilafat (Caliphate) in the unified Ummah.

"And unification means no borders among the Muslim world with one Khalifah (Caliph) ruling it," said Naveed Butt, HT spokesman in Pakistan, in an exclusive interview with

He said Hizbul Tahrir, a non-militant political party, wanted to spread Islam not only in the Islamic world but also in all the regions of the world as, "Islam came to protect the rights of humanity whereas the capitalism is a set of laws that only protects the hegemony of those in power and multinationals that support them for vested interests."

Giving a brief account of his party, the spokesman said HT was established in 1953 in Al Quds Baitul Maqdas by Sheikh Taqiuddin Annabhani, a Shariah court judge in Palestine who graduated from Egypt's renowned Al Azhar University. "It was banned in late 50s in Jordan and in other parts of the world at different times and today the Arab world has slapped a ban on its activities," he said.

However, Mr Butt added, in some Islamic countries including Pakistan, Sudan and Indonesia Hizbul Tahrir exists.

Elaborating on reasons for a ban on HT activities, Naveed said a state or an individual could not own and have control over its natural resources including oil, gas, minerals, forests etc in the economic system of Islam, leading to the elimination of rulers and multinationals, their masters, that collude with each other to exploit the poor. He said rulers in these states obliged the multinationals to prolong their rule with their support.

"Natural resources are a public property," said Mr Butt.

He said a common man would not pay any taxes in the Caliphate system the Hizb was offering to the Ummah. "This is going to be the first and major relief," said the spokesman. Islam taxed the rich and landlords who paid taxes in the form of Ushr and Zakat.

He said oil and gas would reach people at cheaper rates in the Hizb system and would not be privatized. Mr Butt said land could not be leased in Islam. People could cultivate as much barren land as they wanted and become landowners, he added.

"And if someone doesn't work the land within three years, land is taken back from him or her and distributed among the landless people," he said.

In Pakistan, Naveed said, out of 71 million hectares of cultivable land only 21 million hectares is under cultivation and the rest is barren.

Naveed said Hibzut Tahrir that literary meant the Liberation Party and the largest political party in the world was striving to generate awareness in urban areas about bringing a change in the ruling system through "a popular movement." "Now people are openly talking about Muslim unification following US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq and the Hizb movement is fast spreading in Central Asia," but not yet active in Afghanistan but will be soon , said the soft-spoken Hizb leader.[Recall the upsurge in insurgency in Uzbekistan which I am sure I must have posted somewhere above]

He said scores of HT activists were martyred in Central Asian states and thousands imprisoned. "In Pakistan too, cases were registered in anti-terrorist courts and our boys were harassed by the intelligence agencies to frighten us," he said.

On legislation, Mr Butt said: "Islam says legislation is not with a select group or people in general because of the vested interests."

He said Only Allah Almighty could legislate and His laws could not be changed, not even by a Khalifa (Caliph).

Mr Butt said Khilafat was neither democracy nor dictatorship. "Democracy is dictatorship of the elite." He said in Khilafat, Majlis-e-Ummat would be the decision-making authority whose decisions would be binding on Khalifa who would be an elected person.

He said Hizbul Tahrir had a comprehensive program on Khilafat constitution that enshrined economic, social, ruling system etc. "We have done our research on the basis of Quran and Sunnah and nothing would be against Allah's commandments."

On the rights of women, the Hizb spokesman said Islam viewed woman as a human, adding women are a vital and affective member of the society. "We view women as part of the society. She could be in Majlis-e-Ummat and take part in politics," he remarked. Mr Butt said women could participate in TV programs in purdah (veil) except acting, which he described as haram (forbidden in Islam) even for men. He further added that western society has "overburdened" the women in the sense that they are working in the offices as well as running their homes and looking after their children, but Islam is the only religion in which women have respect, dignity and security.

The Hizb said his party had got a tremendous response in the Middle East and Central Asia where women demonstrated in favor of Hizbul Tahrir. He said HT was operating in over 13 Islamic countries besides the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany but in the latter the party was banned recently for its anti-Semitic views. The spokesman said if the Hizb system was established, even the non-Muslims would support it for US hegemonistic designs.

Heavy dose of appealing socialistic and anti-imperialistic rhetoric. It sells. HT is a party to be closely watched.
The Holy Womble
03-10-2005, 23:33
Speaking of the Islamist understanding of freedom- some quotes from an article at the Hizb ut-Tahrir website

In the Arab world, nationalists when referring to liberation from Western colonialist invaders used the word hurriyah. Sati al-Husri, the Syrian social philosopher who first formulated the ideas of Arab nationalism in the 1920’s, was influenced by 19th century German nationalist thought which opposed liberty. His view was “patriotism and nationalism before and above all … even above and before freedom”. Husri’s ideas were adopted by Michel Aflaq, the founder of Ba’athism, which again used the word in the sense of an anti-imperialist struggle. The same can be said for the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who used the term in his speeches to ostensibly mobilise the masses against Western imperialism in order to consolidate his authoritarian rule. The advent of Western-backed Arab satellite stations and newspapers has only recently led to the use of hurriyah in the sense of liberty.

Although it can be traced back to ancient Greece, freedom as understood today originates with the Renaissance when there was a rediscovery and reappraisal of Roman and Greek ideas. This period marked a clear shift away from viewing the world as being centred on the Creator, to a viewpoint that emphasised man and how he could succeed in life by dominating and exploiting his environment. The humanist philosophers of the period criticised Christianity as being a barrier to material progress. Machiavelli, for example, attacked religion for not valuing ‘worldly honour’. He held that man should be free to achieve power and glory without the constraints of religion, even if it necessitated murder as in the case of the legend in which Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome.

The modern-day concept of freedom was perhaps first clearly defined in 1651 by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan: “Liberty, or freedom, signifieth, properly, the absence of opposition; by opposition, I mean external impediments of motion”. Hobbes continued ‘One is free when he is not hindered to do what he has a will to do’. This definition was reiterated by a number of political theorists, among them the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham who, in his An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), wrote: “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. To them…we refer all our desires, every resolve we make in life.” Bentham further declared that ‘Every law is an evil, because every law is a violation of liberty’.

The word freedom in its basic form means to think and act as one desires. Bertrand Russell defined freedom as ‘the absence of obstacles in the realisation of desires.’ In the political context, Orlando Patterson, a Harvard professor and award-winning author of Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, states in his book that freedom is the ‘supreme value of the Western world’. He describes it as the ‘catchword’ of Western politicians, the ‘secular gospel’ of free market economics and as the foundation of Western culture.

Freedom is viewed the world over as a natural concept and consequently, it has become the clarion call of the Western states to those who live under occupation in Iraq and Palestine and indeed for those who live under oppressive Muslim rulers. The political culture of Western countries is built upon the bedrock of liberal-capitalist values. Ideas which form the pillars of liberal democratic societies such as personal freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, right to own property are all drawn from liberalism, which per se is built upon the secular thought of division between the spiritual and the temporal.

...Some modern day Muslim scholars and thinkers have been seduced by the concept of freedom due to the relentless barrage from the West to promote their values. Some have even written extensively in an attempt to reconcile Islam with the notion of freedom. There are many methods employed from such endeavours ranging from a rather crude view that Islam created freedom as an idea per se, and the rather more sophisticated, but equally false idea that somehow Islam can adapt to accept foreign ideas that are dominant. What then is the correct understanding of freedom in Islam? Is man free to act as he wishes? Can a Muslim subscribe to any of the freedoms mentioned and be a Muslim in the true sense?

The refutation is that a slave cannot serve two masters. In Islam, a believer’s declaration of faith (shahaada) requires him to submit unconditionally to the laws of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) in all aspects of his life. This coincides harmoniously with the purpose of his life:

مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ
“I have not created Jinn and mankind but to worship me.” [TMQ 51:57]

Muslims cannot therefore be ‘free’ in any sense of the word if they have sincerely accepted the supremacy of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) to legislate. A believer cannot indulge in intoxicants or be promiscuous because he is ‘abdallah,’ the slave of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) and not the slave of his desires. The Muslim is explicitly prohibited by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) from doing so...

The West’s vision of economic freedom is analogous to rape and exploitation; its freedom of expression and religion is a farce; its value of individual freedom produces misery, chaos, perversity and sexual depravity. Islam seeks to liberate humanity from the slavery of man, globalisation and individual freedom to the worship and obedience of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala).

Taken from this ( article.

I have to repeat myself again: understanding the Islamist interpretation of what constitutes freedom is essential to understanding Islamism itself as a political and social phenomena, as well as its goals. Their definitions of what constitutes freedom and what constitutes oppression are NOT the same as those used by the Westerners, and those who think that the whole big deal is about Western policies in the Middle East is being severely misled.
04-10-2005, 02:09
To elaborate on the notion of freedom...

There is a saying in Arabic which is roughly translated as "100 years of despotism is better than a year of anarchy". I think I read it in Raphael Patai's "The Arab Mind" (not sure though).

One among many reasons why many muslim societies (a significant proportion anyway) are tolerant of dictators.
14-10-2005, 00:12
A good commentary. Talks about HT's agenda.
The Islamic agenda
By Ehsan Ahrari

President George W Bush's speech of October 7 regarding al-Qaeda is not likely to be remembered for its phrasemaking, even though he depicted the "war on terror" as "the central undertaking of this century".

In Central Asia, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) is increasingly coming under focus as a party that is determined to establish a caliphate. Even though the HT's goals are very similar to that of al-Qaeda, it has no known linkage with that organization. Second, and this is the most important difference, the HT wants to achieve its objective through peaceful means. According to one recent report, "The group insists that an Islamic world will be delivered, country by country, through proselytizing and capitalizing on popular discontent with the corrupt and sometimes brutal leaders in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus and the Middle East."

In other words, the HT believes in the power of persuasion, not the use of Kalashnikov or suicide bombers, to achieve the establishment of a caliphate. That very fact has been creating a major dilemma in Washington as well as in London - where the HT maintains offices - about whether to depict it as a terrorist entity.

The Central Asian specialists in Washington remain divided in their recommendations for the Bush administration toward the HT. The conservatives and neo-conservatives (the two groups are not synonymous) want the US government not to trust the HT's public rhetoric and imminently declare it a terrorist organization. The liberal or neo-liberal groups of experts, on the other hand, are advising a policy of watch and wait.

What is emerging in different regions is a heightened awareness of an "Islamic agenda" and America's reluctance to come to grips with it. Organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) - which was declared as a terrorist organization by the US in 2000 and in 2001 and Bush officially declared it to be linked with al-Qaeda - may be stealing the limelight through orchestrating terrorist attacks either in Iraq or in Indonesia, Morocco or Uzbekistan. The real challenge (not a threat, and there is a world of difference between these two phrases) to the United States in the long run is likely to come, not from al-Qaeda, but from the HT.

The HT is working very assiduously and systematically in a number of Muslim countries - and especially in Central Asia - to enhance Muslim knowledge and awareness of their religion. Since there is no recognized separation between religion and politics in the Islamic frame of reference, the HT is using all opportunities to insist that the chief cause of Muslim backwardness and downtroddenness stems from the fact that they have neglected the true path of Islam. Only by returning to that true path - ie, by totally committing to Islam and to the ways of the Aslaf (the pious ancestors), it argues, will Muslims regain their past glory.

In essence, the debate in Indonesia and Central Asia - as is also true of the rest of the Muslim countries - is how to regain past glory. Why are Muslims not at the cutting edge of power and upward mobility? In the absence of any other alternate template for regaining the past glory related to the golden age of Islam, returning to the ways of Islam is becoming a generally accepted theme.

There are important tactical differences, however. Al-Qaeda has one recipe to establish the Islamic caliphate, and the HT is offering another. That also might be one of the goals of the PKS of Indonesia, which "also does missionary work, with the aim of gradually persuading people that an Islamic state is the best option". It should be noted, however, the the PKS "has consistently avoided making any pronouncements about the possible imposition of Islamic Sharia law". Such a nuanced stand has confused its critics, who have often accused the party of "being a wolf in sheep's clothing, but others argue there is nothing to worry about because the Indonesian people will never accept the creation of an Islamic state". By the same token, the HT is also confusing its critics.

The challenge for the US is what to make of the call to return to the ways of Islam. Bush may be able to condemn al-Qaeda and its terrorist tactics (as he should), but he is likely to run into problems talking about neutralizing the growing influence of the HT, the PKS, or other similar organizations that are epitomizing the collective Muslim anguish about how to regain the path to glory.

In this sense, the central undertaking of the post-September 11 era may turn out to be not how to conquer al-Qaeda, but how to neutralize the growing effectiveness of Islamist organizations that are resolute in continuing their call of return to Islam as a way of regaining Muslim glory
Sierra BTHP
14-10-2005, 00:28
Bush isn't the only one with myopia. Democrats, including the recent Kerry, seem to think that this whole thing would be over if we had only killed Bin Laden.

I call it "revivalism". A return to the ideals posited by Zangi during the First Crusade.
17-10-2005, 19:02
HT..making hay while sun shines..
The Hizbut Tehrir (HUT) has reportedly been circulating pamphlets in the military barracks, accusing him of being more interested in protecing American lives in Afghanistan than in protecting Pakistani lives in the POK and the NWFP.

They did this note circulating business before too. After the first military strikes against militants in Wana (in the NWFP), HT circulated letters in army circles and the Musharraf circle had to drop idea of following up the operation with another offensive.

HT is also making huge inroads in Bangladesh. From their website
Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh organized a public rally and demonstration today Friday 2nd September after Jummah prayers outside the national mosque (Baitul Mukarram) on the occasion of the destruction of the Khilafah. The rally was organized to proclaim a call from Hizb ut-Tahrir after the Jummah prayers on this day in all Muslim countries in which Hizb ut-Tahrir works. These include: Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Turkey, Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and so forth.

Womble, I think we have covered HT enough and we can move on to other orgs. If you have an particularly Middle-eastern org with pan-islamist ambitions, please write about them, else I think I will start on the taliban.
27-10-2005, 23:20
I am planning to do a write up on the taliban and about the events before and after the soviet withdrawal which led to the taliban etc.

But before I spend time on that, I just wanted to make sure if anybody is finding this thread that I don't feel like I am talking to a brick wall or something..:p...especially since I am taking on a new job and spare time is becoming rare and precious...
The Holy Womble
27-10-2005, 23:26
I most certainly find it useful. And we've had some comments from others along the way that would indicate that they, too, are interested.
28-10-2005, 00:10
I'm still interested, you gentlemen have contributed a lot to my understanding.

I've been away, but have still managed to check this thread several times.
The Holy Womble
28-10-2005, 18:58
A spectacular example of the openly voiced Islamist agenda- straight from the recent scandalous speech ( by the Iranian president Ahmadinejad. It also explains the true underlying reasons of the Islamist hostility to the state of Israel:

...We must see what the real story of Palestine is... The establishment of the regime that is occupying Jerusalem was a very grave move by the hegemonic and arrogant system [i.e. the West] against the Islamic world. We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [i.e. the West] and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.

"'In this historical war, the situation at the fronts has changed many times. During some periods, the Muslims were the victors and were very active, and looked forward, and the World of Arrogance was in retreat.

"'Unfortunately, in the past 300 years, the Islamic world has been in retreat vis-à-vis the World of Arrogance… During the period of the last 100 years, the [walls of the] world of Islam were destroyed and the World of Arrogance turned the regime occupying Jerusalem into a bridge for its dominance over the Islamic world...

"'This occupying country [i.e. Israel ] is in fact a front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world. They have in fact built a bastion [ Israel ] from which they can expand their rule to the entire Islamic world... This means that [b\the current war in Palestine is the front line of the Islamic world against the World of Arrogance[/b], and will determine the fate of Palestine for centuries to come.

This is a classic, textbook example of the Islamist understanding of history, in which all the components of the philosophy laid out by Maududi and Sayyid Qutb are present: the dual vision of the world as "world of Islam" versus "world of arrogance/ignorance/jahiliyya", interpretation of the entire world history as a "historical war" between these two worlds, the mind boggling extra-long-distance historical references tied to yesterday's politics, conspiracies- and hatred of Israel not for what it does, but for the world it is part of.
28-10-2005, 19:43
"World of arrogance" = Darul Harb = House of war!
The Holy Womble
28-10-2005, 19:55
"World of arrogance" = Darul Harb = House of war!
Perhaps, but I think he is using it in the sense of "dar-ul-kufr"- which can be either Dar-ul-Harb or Dar-ul-Sulh (house of treaty, which is a temporary state conditional on the non-Muslim party eventually accepting Islam). Although Ahmadinejad obviously does not see the West as Dar-ul-Sulh.
02-12-2005, 21:09
Good artice on funding of islamist terrorism and how islamist orgs are tying up with criminal enterprises. Talks about a "criminal economy" (which is closely tied to "conflict economy") that has a very symbiotic relationship with terrorism. Particular case in point is Dawood Ibrahim - the head of the so-called D-company - the mafia of Mumbai. He carried out the Mumbai bomb blasts of 93 which killed 250 and injured 750 and escaped to some ME country and eventually found refuge in Pakistan. Currently he is taking over the mafia of Karachi.

A year back, the US designated him as global terrorist, because he was lending his drug-smuggling and hawala (illegal money routing) channels for Al-Qaeda.

Note the irony of AQ claiming moral authority of Islam and calling for a return to Islamic purity whilst having no qualms in colluding with Dawood Ibrahim types. Apparently the crimes of Dawood are forgiven in return for his services.

Paying for Terror
How jihadist groups are using organized-crime tactics--and profits--to finance attacks on targets around the globe
By David E. Kaplan

The first blast struck at 1:25 p.m., shattering the walls of the Bombay Stock Exchange, leaving a grisly scene of broken bodies, shattered glass, and smoke. Next to be hit was the main office of the national airline, Air India, followed by the Central Bazaar and major hotels. At the international airport, hand grenades were thrown at jets parked on the tarmac. For nearly two hours the carnage went on, as unknown assailants wreaked havoc upon one of the world's largest cities. In all, 10 bombs packed with plastic explosives rocked Bombay, killing 257 and injuring over 700.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

What happened in Bombay on that day, March 12, 1993, was a chilling precursor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a careful choreography of death and destruction, aimed at the heart of a nation's financial center and intended to maximize civilian casualties. Engineered by Muslim extremists, the attacks were meant to exact revenge for deadly riots by Hindu fundamentalists that had claimed over a thousand lives, most of them Muslim. But more than vengeance was at work in Bombay. Indian police later recovered an arsenal big enough to spark a civil war: nearly 4 tons of explosives, 1,100 detonators, nearly 500 grenades, 63 assault rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Within days of the attacks, police had gotten their first break by tracing an abandoned van filled with a load of weapons. The trail soon led to a surprising suspect: not a terrorist but a gangster. And not just any gangster but an extraordinary crime boss, a man known as South Asia's Al Capone.

Virtually unknown in the West, Dawood Ibrahim is a household name across the region, his exploits known by millions. He is, by all accounts, a world-class mobster, a soft-spoken, murderous businessman from Bombay who now lives in exile, sheltered by India's archenemy, Pakistan. He is India's godfather of godfathers, a larger-than-life figure alleged to run criminal gangs from Bangkok to Dubai. Strong-arm protection, drug trafficking, extortion, murder-for-hire--all are stock-in-trade rackets, police say, of Dawood Ibrahim's syndicate, the innocuously named D Company.

Dawood, as he is known in the Indian press, is very much on Washington's radar screen today. Two years ago, the Treasury Department quietly designated Ibrahim a "global terrorist" for lending his smuggling routes to al Qaeda, supporting jihadists in Pakistan, and helping engineer the 1993 attack on Bombay. He is far and away India's most wanted man, his name invoked time and again by Indian officials in their discussions of terrorism with U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers. As a result of those discussions, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration each have active investigations into Dawood's far-flung criminal network, U.S. News has learned.

Understanding Dawood's operations is important, experts say, because they show how growing numbers of terrorist groups have come to rely on the tactics--and profits--of organized criminal activity to finance their operations across the globe. An inquiry by U.S. News, based on interviews with counterterrorism and law enforcement officials from six countries, has found that terrorists worldwide are transforming their operating cells into criminal gangs. "Transnational crime is converging with the terrorist world," says Robert Charles, the State Department's former point man on narcotics. Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, agrees: "The world is seeing the birth of a new hybrid of organized-crime-terrorist organizations. We are breaking new ground."

Blood money. Some scholars argue that terrorists and traditional crime groups both now exist on a single, violent plane, populated at one end by politically minded jihadists and at the other by profit-driven mobsters, with most groups falling somewhere in between. Mafia groups and drug rings in Colombia and the Balkans, for example, commit political assassinations and bomb police and prosecutors, while terrorist gangs in Europe and North Africa traffic in drugs and illegal aliens. Both crime syndicates and terrorist groups thrive in the same subterranean world of black markets and laundered money, relying on shifting networks and secret cells to accomplish their objectives. Both groups have similar needs: weapons, false documentation, and safe houses.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

But some U.S. intelligence analysts see little evidence of this melding of forces. Marriages of convenience may exist, they say, but the key difference is one of motive: Terrorist groups are driven by politics and religion, while purely criminal groups have just one thing in mind--profit. Indeed, associating with terrorists, particularly since 9/11, can be very bad for business--and while crime syndicates may be parasitical, most do not want to kill their host.

What many intelligence analysts do see today, however, is terrorist organizations stealing whole chapters out of the criminal playbook--trafficking in narcotics, counterfeit goods, illegal aliens--and in the process converting their terrorist cells into criminal gangs.

The terrorist gang behind the train bombings in Madrid last year, for example, financed itself almost entirely with money earned from trafficking in hashish and ecstasy. Al Qaeda's affiliate in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah, engages in bank robbery and credit card fraud; its 2002 Bali bombings were financed, in part, through jewelry store robberies that netted over 5 pounds of gold. In years past, many terrorist groups would have steered away from criminal activity, worried that such tactics might tarnish their image. But for hard-pressed jihadists, committing crimes against nonbelievers is increasingly seen as acceptable. As Abu Bakar Bashir, Jemaah Islamiyah's reputed spiritual head, reportedly said: "You can take their blood; then why not take their property?"

The implications are troubling because organized crime offers a means for terrorist groups to increase their survivability. A Stanford University study conducted after the 9/11 attacks looked at why some conflicts last so much longer than others. One key factor: crime. Out of 128 conflicts, the 17 in which insurgents relied heavily on "contraband finances" lasted on average 48 years--over five times as long as the rest. "If the criminal underworld can keep terrorist coffers flush," says Charles, the former State Department official, "we will continue to face an enemy that would otherwise run out of oxygen."

The growing reliance on crime stems from the end of the Cold War, when state sponsorship of terrorism largely faded along with communism, forcing groups to become much more self-sufficient. Accelerating the trend, analysts say, is the crackdown since 9/11 on fundraising by Islamic radicals from mosques and charities, which has pushed their operations further toward racketeering. "The bottom line is if you want to survive today as a terrorist, you probably have to support yourself," says Raphael Perl, a counterterrorism specialist at the Congressional Research Service. The drug trade, in particular, has proved irresistible for many. Nearly half of the 41 groups on the government's list of terrorist organizations are tied to narcotics trafficking, according to DEA statistics.
Scams. The new face of terrorism can best be seen in western Europe. "Crime is now the main source of cash for Islamic radicals in Europe," says attorney Lorenzo Vidino, author of the new book Al Qaeda in Europe. "They do not need to get money wired from abroad like 10 years ago. They're generating their own as criminal gangs." European police and intelligence officials agree: The Continent's most worrisome cells, composed largely of immigrants from Morocco and Algeria, have in effect become racketeering syndicates. Their scams are as varied as the criminal world: Drugs, smuggling, and fraud are mainstays, but others include car theft, selling pirated CD s, and counterfeiting money. One enterprising pair of jihadists in Germany hoped to fund a suicide mission to Iraq by taking out nearly $1 million in life insurance and staging the death of one in a faked traffic accident. Some cells are loosely bound and based on petty crime; others, like the group behind the Madrid bombings, suggest a whole new level of sophistication.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

The terrorists behind the Madrid attacks were major drug dealers, with a network stretching from Morocco through Spain to Belgium and the Netherlands. Their ringleader, Jamal "El Chino" Ahmidan, was the brother of one of Morocco's top hashish traffickers. Ahmidan and his followers paid for their explosives by trading hashish and cash with a former miner. When police raided the home of one plotter, they seized 125,800 ecstasy tablets--one of the largest hauls in Spanish history. In all, authorities recovered nearly $2 million in drugs and cash from the group. In contrast, the Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people, cost only about $50,000.

Similar reports of drug-dealing jihadists are coming out of France and Italy. In Milan, Islamists peddle heroin on the streets at $20 a hit and then hand off 80 percent of the take to their cell leader, according to Italy's L'Espresso magazine. The relationship, surprisingly, is not new. As early as 1993, says Vidino, French authorities warned that dope sales in suburban Muslim slums had fallen under the control of gangs led by Afghan war veterans with ties to Algerian terrorists. What is new is the scale of this toxic mix of jihad and dope. Moroccan terrorists used drug sales to fund not only the 2004 Madrid attack but the 2003 attacks in Casablanca, killing 45, and attempted bombings of U.S. and British ships in Gibraltar in 2002. So large looms the North African connection that investigators believe jihadists have penetrated as much as a third of the $12.5 billion Moroccan hashish trade--the world's largest--a development worrisome not only for its big money but for its extensive smuggling routes through Europe.

Along with drug trafficking, fraud of every sort is a growth industry for European jihadists. Popular scams include fake credit cards, cellphone cloning, and identity theft--low-level frauds that are lucrative but seldom attract the concerted attention of authorities. Some operatives are more ambitious, however. Officials point to the case of Hassan Baouchi, a 23-year-old ATM technician in France. Baouchi told police last year that he'd been held hostage by robbers who forced him to empty six ATMs of their cash--about $1.3 million. Investigators didn't quite buy Baouchi's story and soon put him under arrest; the money, they believe, has ended up with the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group--the al Qaeda affiliate tied to the bombings in Casablanca and Madrid.

Another big racket for European jihadists is human smuggling. "North Africa and western Europe are somewhat like Mexico and the United States," says a U.S. counterterrorism agent. "But now imagine if Mexico were Muslim and jihadist cells were the ones moving aliens across the border." Jihadists do not dominate Europe's lucrative human smuggling trade, but they are surely profiting by it. Authorities in Italy suspect that one gang of suspected militants made over 30 landings on an island off Sicily, and that it moved thousands of people across the Mediterranean at some $4,000 a head. Particularly active is the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Algerian al Qaeda affiliate known by its French acronym, GSPC. Two years ago, German authorities dismantled another group moving Kurds into Europe, tied to al Qaeda ally Ansar al-Islam, a fixture of the Iraq insurgency. A recent Italian intelligence report notes that jihadists' work in human smuggling has brought them into contact with domestic and foreign criminal organizations. One partner in the trade, sources say, is the Neapolitan Camorra, the notorious Naples-based version of the Mafia, which operates safe houses for illegal aliens. Italian court records show contact between Mafia arms dealers and radical Islamists as early as 1998.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

Prison recruits. The prime training ground for Europe's jihadist criminals may well be prison. There are no hard numbers, but as much as half of France's prison population is now believed to be Muslim. In Spanish jails, where Islamic radicals have recruited for a decade, the number has reached some 10 percent. Ahmidan, leader of the Madrid bombing cell, is thought to have been radicalized while serving time in Spain and Morocco. Prison was also the recruiting center for many of the 40-plus suspects nabbed by Spanish authorities last year for plotting a sequel to the Madrid bombings--an attack with a half ton of explosives on Spain's national criminal court. Nearly half the group had rap sheets with charges ranging from drug trafficking to forgery and fraud.

Al Qaeda's leadership, however, has proved more wary about jumping into the drug trade. Holed up in the forbidding mountain refuges of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Osama bin Laden and his remaining lieutenants have steered clear of the largest horde of criminal wealth in years: the exploding Afghan heroin trade. Press reports of bin Laden's involvement in the drug trade are flat wrong, say counterterrorism officials. Long ago, al Qaeda strategists reasoned that drug trafficking would expose them to possible detection, captives have told U.S. interrogators. They also don't trust many of the big drug barons, intelligence officials say, and have encouraged their members not to get involved with them.

Bin Laden continues to come up with funds raised from sympathetic mosques and other supporters, but the money no longer flows so easily. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have banned unregulated fundraising at mosques, and western spy agencies now watch closely how the money flows from big Islamic charities. One result: Cash-strapped jihadists in the badlands of the border region are staging kidnappings-for-ransom and highway robberies, Pakistani officials tell U.S. News . "Those people are now feeling the pinch," says Javed Cheema, head of the Interior Ministry's National Crisis Management Cell. "We see a fertile symbiosis of terrorist organizations and crime groups." Some jihadists have joined in wholesale pillaging of Afghanistan's heritage by smuggling antiquities out of the country--a trade nearly as lucrative as narcotics. Among the items being sold clandestinely on the world market: centuries-old Buddhist art and other works from the pre-Islamic world. Apparently, al Qaeda's interest is not new; before 9/11, hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta approached a German art professor about peddling Afghan antiquities, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office revealed this year. Atta's reason, reports Der Spiegel magazine: "to finance the purchase of an airplane."

Al Qaeda may be avoiding the heroin trade, but nearly everyone else in the region--from warlords to provincial governors to the Taliban--is not. The reasons are apparent: Afghanistan's opium trade is exploding. The cultivation of opium poppies, from which heroin is made, doubled from 2002 to 2003, according to CIA estimates. Then, last year, that amount tripled. Afghanistan now provides 87 percent of the world's heroin. "We have never seen anything like this before," says Charles, the former State Department narcotics chief. "No drug state ever made this much dope and so quickly." The narcotics industry now makes up as much as half of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, analysts estimate, and employs upward of 1 million laborers, from farmers to warehouse workers to truck drivers. And now Afghans are adding industrial-level amounts of marijuana to the mix. U.N. officials estimate that some 74,000 to 86,000 acres of pot are being grown in Afghanistan--over five times what is grown in Mexico.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

Corruption. And if al Qaeda itself is staying out of drugs, its allies certainly are not. The booming drug trade has given a strong second wind to the stubborn insurgency being waged by the Taliban and Islamist warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Both the Taliban and Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami army control key smuggling routes out of the country, giving them the ability to levy taxes and protection fees on drug caravans. Crime and terrorism experts are also alarmed over the corrosive, long-term effects of all the drug money, not just within Afghanistan but across the region. The ballooning dope trade is rapidly creating narco-states in central Asia, destroying what little border control exists and making it easier for terrorist groups to operate. Ancient smuggling routes from the Silk Road to the Arabian Sea are being supercharged with tons of heroin and billions of narcodollars. Within Afghanistan, drug-fueled corruption is pervasive; governors, mayors, police, and military are all on the take. A raid this year in strategically located Helmand province came up with a whopping 9 1/2 tons of heroin--stashed inside the governor's own office.

The smuggling routes lead from landlocked Afghanistan to the south and east through Pakistan, to the west through Iraq, and to the north through central Asia. Throughout the region the amounts of drugs seized are jumping, along with rates of crime, drug addiction, and HIV infection. Particularly hard hit are Afghanistan's impoverished northern neighbors, the former Soviet republics of Kirgizstan and Tajikistan. Widely praised demonstrations in Kirgizstan this year, which overthrew the regime of strongman Askar Akayev, have brought to power an array of questionable figures. "Entire branches of government are being directed by individuals tied to organized crime," warns Svante Cornell of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. "The whole revolution smells of opium."

Neighboring republics are little better off. Central Asia's major terrorist threat, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has largely degenerated into a drug mafia, officials say. In Kazakhstan the interior minister tried to investigate corruption by going undercover in a truck packed with 9 tons of watermelons, motoring 1,200 miles from the Kirgiz Republic to the Kazakh capital. His team had to pay bribes to 36 different police and customs officials en route--some as little as $1.50. (Others merely accepted their bribe in melons.) The cargo was never inspected. What is happening in Iran, meanwhile, is "a national tragedy," according to the U.N.'s Costa. So much Afghan dope is being shipped into the country that it now has the world's highest per capita rate of addiction. The ruling mullahs in Tehran have taken it seriously; Iranian security forces have fought deadly battles with drug traffickers along their border, losing some 3,600 lives in the past 16 years. But even as their troops fight, the corruption has reached high officials of the Iranian government, who are using drug profits as political patronage, sources tell U.S. News. "There are indications," says Cornell, "that hard-line conservatives are up to their ears in the Afghan opium trade."
Nor has Russia escaped the heroin boom's impact. From central Asia, growing amounts of Afghan heroin are entering the south of the country; drug-control officials report that large numbers of Russian military are on the take, even trucking the stuff in army vehicles. The level of corruption has, in turn, raised concern over the ultimate black market: in radioactive materials. Russia's "nuclear belt"--a chain of nuclear research and weapons sites--runs directly along those heroin smuggling routes. How bad are conditions in the area? Bemoans one intelligence expert: "We know so little."

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

Iraq, too, is starting to see its share of narcotics, but drugs are but a bit player in an insurgency that has also blurred the lines between terrorism and organized crime. Within Iraq's lawless borders exists an unsavory criminal stew composed of home-grown gangsters, ex-Baathists, and jihadists. "Terrorists and insurgents are conducting a lot of criminal activities, extortion and kidnapping in particular, as a way to acquire revenues," Caleb Temple of the Defense Intelligence Agency testified to Congress this July. Among the biggest cash cows: The insurgents take part in the wholesale theft of much of Iraq's gasoline supply, earning millions of dollars in a thriving black market. Extortion and protection are also rife, and kidnapping for ransom has ballooned into a major industry, with up to 10 abductions a day. Among those targeted: politicians, professors, foreigners, and housewives. Those with political value may find they've been sold to militants.

The insurgents are also key players in the graft and corruption that have enveloped Iraq. So much foreign aid money has disappeared that two U.S. intelligence task forces are now investigating its diversion to the insurgency, U.S. News has learned. Western aid agencies, Islamic charities, and U.S. military supply programs all have been targeted, analysts believe. Occupation authorities cannot account for nearly $9 billion of oil revenues it had transferred to Iraqi government agencies between 2003 and 2004, according to an audit by a special U.S. inspector general set up by Congress. "Even if a little bit ends up in insurgent hands," says one official, "it doesn't take a lot to build a truck bomb." The implications are troubling: The insurgents may be using America's own foreign aid to fund the killing of U.S. troops.

Back at home, U.S. officials are looking warily at the growing rackets of terrorist groups overseas and voice concern that the trend will grow here. "We see a lot of individual pockets of it in the United States," says Joseph Billy, deputy chief of the FBI's counterterrorism division. "Left unchecked, it's very worrisome--this is one we have to be aggressive on." Federal investigators have uncovered repeated scams here largely involving supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, and they have traced tens of thousands of dollars back to those groups in the Middle East. "There's a direct tie," says Billy. The list of crimes includes credit card fraud, identity theft, the sale of unlicensed T-shirts--even the theft and resale of infant formula. Most of these U.S. rackets have been low level, but some, involving cigarette smuggling and counterfeit products, have earned their organizers millions of dollars.

Foreign fish. The big fish--the Indian mobsters, Moroccan hash dealers, and Afghan drug barons--are swimming overseas, however, and U.S. law enforcement is starting to train its sights on the worst of them. After being shut out of Afghanistan for two decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration is making progress in going after top Afghan traffickers tied to the Taliban. DEA agents are applying the same sort of "kingpin strategy" that helped to break the Medellin and Cali cartels in Colombia by targeting whole trafficking organizations. The agency has identified some 10 of these "high-value targets," led by Afghans who have amassed fortunes of as much as $100 million, officials say. Two already have fallen this year: In April, agents nabbed a man they've dubbed "the Pablo Escobar of Afghanistan," Taliban ally Bashir Noorzai, by enticing him to a New York meeting. Noorzai is said to have helped establish the modern Afghan drug trade, and so lucrative were his operations that the indictment against him calls for the seizure of $50 million in drug proceeds. Then in October, the Justice Department announced the extradition of Baz Mohammad, another alleged "Taliban-linked narcoterrorist," charged with conspiring to import over $25 million worth of heroin into the United States and other countries. Mohammad, according to an indictment, boasted that "selling heroin in the United States was a 'jihad' because they were taking the Americans' money at the same time the heroin was killing them." He is now awaiting trial, in a New York jail.

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

The DEA's experience, however, illustrates some of the problems in grappling with the nexus between organized crime and terrorism. Despite post-9/11 calls for cooperation, the DEA's ties to other U.S. agencies are often strained; the drug agency is not even considered part of the U.S. intelligence community. Pentagon officials, worried over "mission creep," routinely refuse to give DEA agents air support in Afghanistan. Other turf issues still plague the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and other agencies, making collaborative work on the crime-terrorism issue problematic. The intelligence community, for example, remains leery of seeing its people or information end up in court. "It's the same wall we saw between law enforcement and the intelligence world," says one insider. "Only now it's between terrorism and other crimes."

"We have stovepiped battling terrorism and organized crime," agrees Charles, the State Department's former top cop. "You cannot meet a complex threat like this without a similar response. And we don't have one." Indeed, interviews with counterterrorism and law enforcement officials in a half-dozen federal agencies suggest that cooperation across the government remains episodic at best and depends most often on personal relationships. "The incentives are all still against sharing," complains one analyst. "The leadership says yes, the policies say yes, but the culture says no. The bureaucracy has won."

Washington looks like a model of cooperation compared with Europe, however, where the walls between agencies and across borders stand even higher. "If we don't get on top of the criminal aspect and the drug connections, we will lose ground in halting the spread of these [terrorist] organizations," warns Gen. James Jones, head of the U.S. European Command, who has watched the rise in terrorist rackets with mounting concern. "You have to have much greater cohesion and synergy."

For a brief moment in the early '90s, American cops, spies, and soldiers did come together on a common target of crime and terrorism--Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar's killers were blamed for the murder of hundreds of Colombian officials and the bombing of an Avianca airliner that killed 110. To get Escobar, firewalls between agencies came down, information was shared, and money and people were focused on destroying one of the world's most powerful crime syndicates. During the 1990s, transnational crime continued to be seen as a national security priority, but it fell off the map after 9/11. Until January of this year, the federal government's chief interagency committee on organized crime hadn't even met for three years. The intelligence community's reporting on the area, although boosted in the past year, remains a near-bottom priority. One knowledgeable source called the quality of work overseas on crime "sorely lacking" and said the best material comes from other governments. Domestically, meanwhile, years of neglect by the FBI of analysis and information technology have left the agency without much useful information in its files. "Everyone thinks we've got huge databases with all our materials on organized crime," says one veteran. "We've got nothing close."

A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics

An unlikely criminal crossroads

Still, the growing criminal inroads by terrorist groups have raised alarms among a handful of tough-minded policymakers in Washington, and they are pushing for change. The National Security Council has begun work on a new policy on transnational crime that promises to make the crime-terrorism connection a top priority. The CIA's Crime and Narcotics Center is spearheading the work of a dozen agencies in revamping the government's overall assessment of international crime; their report, with special attention to the nexus with terrorism, is scheduled for release early next year. One program that has caught U.S. attention is underway in Great Britain, where London's Metropolitan Police now routinely monitor low-level criminal activity for ties to terrorism, checking over reports of fraud involving banks, credit cards, and travel documents. Similar work is being done by the feds' Joint Terrorism Task Forces in some U.S. cities. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement has prioritized cracking rings smuggling people from high-risk countries, with good success.

"Draining the swamp." In some ways, the deeper involvement by terrorists in traditional criminal activity may make it easier to track them. Criminal informants, who can be tempted with shortened prison time and money, are much easier to develop than the true believers who fill the ranks of terrorist groups. Acts of crime also attract attention and widen the chances that terrorists will make a mistake. Take, for example, a case uncovered this July, in which four men allegedly plotted to wage a jihad against some 20 targets in Southern California, including National Guard facilities, the Israeli Consulate, and several synagogues. Prosecutors said the planned attacks, led by the founder of a radical Islamic prison group, were being funded by a string of gas station robberies. The break in the case came not by an elite counterterrorist squad but by local cops who found a cellphone one of the robbers had lost during a gas station stickup.

Getting a handle on terrorism's growing criminal rackets will not prove easy, however. "Draining the swamp," as counterterrorism officials vow to do, may require more than even a seamless approach by intelligence and law enforcement can offer. Many of the worst groups owe their success to a pervasive criminality overseas, to failed states and no man's lands from Central Asia to North Africa to South America, where the rule of law remains an abstract concept. In other places, it is the governments themselves that are the criminal enterprises, so mired in corruption that entire countries could be indicted under U.S. antiracketeering laws. Together, they help make up a criminal economy that, like a parallel universe, runs beneath the legitimate world of commerce. This global shadow economy--of dirty money, criminal enterprises, and black markets--has annual revenues of up to $2 trillion, according to U.N. estimates, larger than the gross domestic product of all but a handful of countries. Without its underground bankers, smuggling routes, and fraudulent documents, al Qaeda and its violent brethren simply could not exist. But taking on a worldwide plague of crime and corruption might be more than the public bargained for. "Ultimately, cracking down means trying to impose order where there's instability, good governance where there's corruption and crime, and economic growth where there's poverty," says the University of Pittsburgh's Phil Williams, a consultant to the United Nations on crime and terrorism finance. "As long as the only routes of escape are violence and the black market, then organized crime and terrorism will endure as global problems."
With Bay Fang and Soni Sangwan
Neu Leonstein
07-12-2005, 08:29
Hey Womble and Aryavartha...I trust you are more serious scholars than me, but I'm trying to find out more about an interesting hypothesis.

What is the connection, or similarities between Leo Strauss and Sayyid Qutb and their respective philosophies?
07-12-2005, 11:54
Well .... okie dokie then.

Hope this all works out for ya.
I think that these guys are really the same guy who likes to write things then pat himself on the back through the words of his alter ego.
But it could be just me...
The Holy Womble
07-12-2005, 18:32
Hey Womble and Aryavartha...I trust you are more serious scholars than me, but I'm trying to find out more about an interesting hypothesis.

What is the connection, or similarities between Leo Strauss and Sayyid Qutb and their respective philosophies?
That is an interesting project to research:D I seriously doubt that there is much connection or any broad similarities. For one, Straussian philosophy was a rediscovery of the classic Socratic-Platonic-Aristotelian political philosophy, while for Qutb everything began and ended in the Qur'an.

At first glance, the closest you can get is that both believed that the philosophical principles of modernity as practiced by the West in the 20th century ultimately lead to relativism, and that in turn results in a society permeated by nihilism. One could, I suppose, also claim that both stood for absolute morality, founded on principles that transcend history- although by no means were their ideas of morality any similar. However, they were on the totally opposite ends on the issues that matter the most. Qutb called for a worldwide Islamic empire- Strauss was fearful of the idea of a world state in any shape or form, as he believed that such a state would inevitably become a tyranny. Qutb was an outspoken revivalist- Strauss scorned political agendas of "return" even more than he disliked modernist relativism. Qutb was a pure "revelationist", while Strauss cautioned that the tension between reason and revelation is unresolvable and any attempt to resolve it once and for all in any society is extremely dangerous.

I would need to read up more on Strauss though, before I take it any further.
10-09-2006, 20:16
A good article on Qutb in western media.,,584514,00.html
Is this the man who inspired Bin Laden?

Robert Irwin on Sayyid Qutb, the father of modern Islamist fundamentalism

Thursday November 1, 2001
The Guardian

As the west struggles to get to grips with its newest enemy, pundits, scholars and journalists have combed every inch of Osama bin Laden's life story for clues to what turned an apparently quiet and unexceptional rich Saudi boy into the world's most feared terrorist. But the most useful insights into the shaping of Bin Laden may lie not in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, or the rampant materialism of 1970s Saudi Arabia, but the biography of a long dead Egyptian fundamentalist scholar called Sayyid Qutb.

Qutb, regarded as the father of modern fundamentalism and described by his (Arab) biographer as "the most famous personality of the Muslim world in the second half of the 20th century", is being increasingly cited as the figure who has most influenced the al-Qaida leader. Yet outside the Muslim world, he remains virtually unknown.

Qutb was the most influential advocate in modern times of jihad, or Islamic holy war, and the chief developer of doctrines that legitimise violent Muslim resistance to regimes that claim to be Muslim, but whose implementation of Islamic precepts is judged to be imperfect. Although Qutb is particularly popular in Saudi Arabia, his copious writings have been translated into most of the languages of the Islamic world. In the 1960s and 70s, when many Afghan religious scholars came under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qutb's ideas attracted particular interest in the faculty of religious law in Kabul, and the scholar Burhanuddin Rabbani translated him into the Afghan language of Dari. However, though Qutb is studied everywhere from Malaysia to Morocco, there are many versions of fundamentalism and his writings have been read and interpreted in many ways (and some Islamic fundamentalists have actually written polemics against Qutb's version of Islam).

Qutb was born in 1906, in Mush, a small village in Upper Egypt. Later he was to look back on the superstition and backwardness of village life. He was mostly educated at Dar al-'Ulum, a secular secondary college, and subsequently worked for the Egyptian ministry of education as an inspector of schools. In the 1930s and 40s he led a second life as a literary man about town. He haunted cafes, published literary criticism as well as a not particularly successful novel.

Everything changed in 1948 when he was sent to study education in the US. It was a fateful decision. Perhaps those who sent him thought that it would broaden his horizons. What happened was that on the voyage out he decided that his only salvation lay in an unswerving allegiance to Islam. Almost immediately his newfound resolve was tested on the liner, as a drunken American woman attempted to seduce him. Qutb did not succumb, nor was he later won over by the charms of the American way of life. He was repelled by prejudice against Arabs and shocked by the freedom that American men allowed their women. He described the churches as "entertainment centres and sexual playgrounds". After two and a half years of exposure to western civilisation he knew that he hated it and, on his return to Egypt in 1951, he joined the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

In the early 1950s the Muslim Brotherhood was in transition, as many of its members abandoned faith in gradualism and education as the way to bring about an Islamic revolution in Egypt and came to espouse violence instead. Qutb followed a similar trajectory. In 1954, he and many other Muslim Brothers were rounded up by Nasser's regime. He was to spend 10 years in prison. Though conditions were harsh, Qutb was not prevented from writing. He was released in 1964, then rearrested in 1965 after members of the Muslim Brotherhood had attempted to assassinate Nasser. He was routinely tortured before being brought to trial and then hanged on August 29 1966.

What Qutb wrote is of more significance than his somewhat shadowy life. His major work is Fi Zalal al-Koran (In the Shadow of the Koran), a commentary on the Koran in 30 volumes which began to appear in 1952 and was completed in prison. Apart from its length, two things are striking about the commentary: first, Qutb's unfailing sensitivity to the Koran's literary qualities; secondly, Qutb's relentless insistence on the unconditional demands made upon those believers. From his reading of the Koran, he deduced that the Christians are all destined for hell and in other, shorter, later works he polemicised against Christians, Jews and the western way of life.

Orientalism was another engine of the Jewish conspiracy: "It would be extremely short-sighted of us to fall into the illusion that when the Jews and Christians discuss Islamic beliefs or Islamic history or when they make proposals concerning Muslim society or Muslim politics or economics, they will be doing it with good intentions."

However, Qutb's fiercest polemics were reserved for those who were Muslims - or rather, those who claimed that they were Muslims. Neither Egypt under Nasser's dictatorship nor Arabia under the Saudi monarchy had made any serious attempt to implement the Shari'a, or religious law. More generally, the territories of Islam were governed by corrupt, westernised dictators and princes whose spiritually heedless and ignorant ways could only be compared to those of the Jahili Arabs - that is to say, to the pagan ways of the Arabs prior to the coming of Mohammed and the revelation of the Koran.

The corrupt regimes had to be resisted and overthrown. In order to find a hallowed precedent and legitimisation for such resistance Qutb had to go back to the era of the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt and to the writings of Ibn Taymiyya (1268-1328). Taymiyya, a somewhat curmudgeonly Islamic purist, had been outspoken in his opposition to almost everything that was not explicitly sanctioned by the Koran and the Prophet and his intransigence several times led him into conflict with the Mamelukes and, consequently, imprisonment.

However, when they found themselves at war with the Muslim Mongol Ilkhans of Iran, the Mamelukes asked him for a judgment sanctioning the holiness of their cause and, surprisingly, he obliged. He declared that, though the Mongols might have professed Islam, they did not follow absolutely all the prescriptions of the religion and that therefore they were Jahili pagans against whom jihad had to be waged. Taymiyya's verdict has underwritten Islamic resistance movements from the 1950s onwards. It was cited by the assassins of Sadat in 1981 and it is also used to justify the struggle against the Saudi monarchy.

Qutb seems to have rejected all kinds of government, secular and theocratic, and, on one reading at least, he seems to advocate a kind of anarcho-Islam. On the one hand his writings have exercised a formative influence on the Taliban, who, under the leadership of the shy, rustic Mullah Omar seem to have been concentrating on implementating the Shari'a in one country under the governance of the Mullahs. On the other hand, Qutb's works have also influenced al-Qaida, which, under the leadership of the flamboyant and camera-loving Bin Laden, seems to aim at a global jihad that will end with all men under direct, unmediated rule of Allah.

In the context of that global programme, the destruction of the twin towers, spectacular atrocity though it was, is merely a by-blow in al-Qaida's current campaign. Neither the US nor Israel is Bin Laden's primary target - rather it is Bin Laden's homeland, Saudi Arabia. The corrupt and repressive royal house, like the Mongol Ilkhanate of the 14th century, is damned as a Jahili scandal. Therefore, al-Qaida's primary task is to liberate the holy cities of Mecca and Medina from their rule. Though the current policy of the princes of the Arabian peninsula seems to be to sit on their hands and hope that al-Qaida and its allies will pick on someone else first, it is unlikely that they will be so lucky.

· Robert Irwin is Middle East editor of the Times Literary Supplement

Another interesting article.
The roots of Islamic terrorism
By Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst International Herald Tribune

LONDON Fundamentalism and fascism

Most commentators argue that Islamic terrorism is a fanatical perversion of Islam which deviates from its true teachings. They call for a Western-style modernization of the Muslim world, hoping thereby that radical Islam will be tamed.

This analysis misses the point. The nature of the terrorist threat is unambiguously Islamic and is not so much a deviation from Muslim tradition as an appeal to it. Al Qaeda's ideology draws on two traditions to legitimize itself: one classical, the other modern.

Regarding classical Islam, the oft-quoted remark that Islam is a religion of peace is false. It is historically illiterate to claim that war is foreign to Islam and it is theologically uninformed to argue that jihad is merely a personal inner struggle with no external military correlate.

On the contrary, Islam is linked from the beginning with the practice of divinely sanctioned warfare and lethal injunctions against apostates and unbelievers. Islam experienced no period of wandering and exclusion; from its inception, Islam formed a unitary state bent on military conquest.

The Prophet died a successful military leader who created a single Islamic polity that expanded - through warfare - all over the known world. The caliphate combined the double logic of a religious community and an imperial state.

This dual identity explains how Islam can be simultaneously peaceful and warlike. While the Koran enjoins that there shall be "no compulsion in religion," Islam still regards it as a holy duty to extend militarily the borders of the House of Islam against the demonic world of unbelievers: "He who dies without having taken part in a campaign dies in a kind of unbelief."

Coupled with this irreconcilability between Islam and its enemies is an extreme territorial sense of the sacred. Hence bin Laden's principal demand for the departure of all infidels from holy Muslim lands. When extremists say they are killing in the name of Islam, they are in part appealing to Islamic traditions of long standing. Al Qaeda's modern origins go back to Wahhabism, named after the revivalist movement founded by Muhammad Ibn'Abd al-Wahhab in 1744. Wahhab called for a return to a pure and unadulterated form of Islam closer to the ideals of the Prophet.

Faced with a decadent society, Wahhabism (not unlike some radical Protestant sects) reduced Islam to a scriptural literalism, an absolutism utterly hostile to other more medieval traditions. In this sense of direct rule by God, Wahhabism is a truly modern theology. Not unlike Descartes and Kant, it argues for the unmediated and total knowledge of its object.

Al Qaeda then blended this theology with fascism. The Indian Muslim Abu Ala Maududi (1903-1979) condemned the degraded nature of all contemporary Muslim communities. He characterized Muslim governments that did not implement stringent Islamic law as apostate and commanded true believers to wage jihad against them.

Maududi was a decisive influence on Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood. Like Maududi, Qutb fused the history of Mohammed's travails with a revolutionary vanguard-type ideology that removed medieval limits on warfare by championing a modern death cult in the quest for a revivified caliphate.

The ideology instigated by these two figures is fuelled by dreams of a prior Islamic golden age. Al Qaeda sympathizers avidly read European fascist literature and pursue religious ends via atheist methods. Recruits to the cause are not the excluded uneducated poor, they are intellectuals with a radical critique of Western society and its impact on Islam.

Neither the "war on terror" nor political negotiations will overcome Islam's totalitarian turn. Western repression is everywhere fuelling the ranks of radical Islam. Equally, there can be no accommodation with an ideology that seeks to fashion the whole world in its own image. The essentially Islamic nature of this terror demands nothing less than a reformation in the name of an alternative Islam.

Islam, with good reason, will never embrace Western secularization. But it could begin to develop a critique of its history by recovering some of its aborted traditions. Islam must place true religious conversion (like that of Sufism) over territorial conquest.

Islam needs to restore the legislative authority of communal consensus to allow Muslims to develop along with, rather than against, the future.

(Phillip Blond lectures in philosophy and religion at St. Martin's College, Lancaster. Adrian Pabst is a research fellow at the Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies.)

More on Maududi here.
10-09-2006, 20:45
Details of Qutb's experiences in the US,,1868732,00.html
Those who know the field will be undismayed by the singling out of Greeley, Colorado. For it was in Greeley, Colorado, in 1949, that Islamism, as we now know it, was decisively shaped. The story is grotesque and incredible - but then so are its consequences. And let us keep on telling ourselves how grotesque and incredible it is, our current reality, so unforeseeable, so altogether unknowable, even from the vantage of the late Nineties. At that time, if you recall, America had so much leisure on its hands, politically and culturally, that it could dedicate an entire year to Monica Lewinsky. Even Monica, it now seems, even Bill, were living in innocent times.

Since then the world has undergone a moral crash - the spiritual equivalent, in its global depth and reach, of the Great Depression of the Thirties. On our side, extraordinary rendition, coercive psychological procedures, enhanced interrogation techniques, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Mahmudiya, two wars, and tens of thousands of dead bodies. All this should of course be soberly compared to the feats of the opposed ideology, an ideology which, in its most millennial form, conjures up the image of an abattoir within a madhouse. I will spell this out, because it has not been broadly assimilated. The most extreme Islamists want to kill everyone on earth except the most extreme Islamists; but every jihadi sees the need for eliminating all non-Muslims, either by conversion or by execution. And we now know what happens when Islamism gets its hands on an army (Algeria) or on something resembling a nation state (Sudan). In the first case, the result was fratricide, with 100,000 dead; in the second, following the Islamist coup in 1989, the result has been a kind of rolling genocide, and the figure is perhaps two million. And it all goes back to Greeley, Colorado, and to Sayyid Qutb.

Things started to go wrong for poor Sayyid during the Atlantic crossing from Alexandria, when, allegedly, 'a drunken, semi-naked woman' tried to storm his cabin. But before we come to that, some background. Sayyid Qutb, in 1949, had just turned 43. His childhood was provincial and devout. When, as a young man, he went to study in Cairo, his leanings became literary and Europhone and even mildly cosmopolitan. Despite an early - and routinely baffling - admiration for naturism, he was already finding Cairene women 'dishonourable', and confessed to unhappiness about 'their current level of freedom'. A short story recorded his first disappointment in matters of the heart; its title, plangently, was Thorns. Well, we've all had that; and most of us then adhere to the arc described in Peter Porter's poem, 'Once Bitten, Twice Bitten'.But Sayyid didn't need much discouragement. Promptly giving up all hope of coming across a woman of 'sufficient' moral cleanliness, he resolved to stick to virginity.

Established in a modest way as a writer, Sayyid took a job at the Ministry of Education. This radicalised him. He felt oppressed by the vestiges of the British protectorate in Egypt, and was alarmist about the growing weight of the Jewish presence in Palestine - another British crime, in Sayyid's view. He became an activist, and ran some risk of imprisonment (at the hands of the saturnalian King Farouk), before the ministry packed him off to America to do a couple of years of educational research. Prison, by the way, would claim him soon after his return. He was one of the dozens of Muslim Brothers jailed (and tortured) after the failed attempt on the life of the moderniser and secularist, Nasser, in October 1954. There was a short reprieve in 1964, but Sayyid was soon rearrested - and retortured. Steelily dismissing a clemency deal brokered by none other than the young Anwar Sadat, he was hanged in August 1966; and this was a strategic martyrdom that now lies deep in the Islamist soul. His most influential book, like the book with which it is often compared, was written behind bars. Milestones is known as the Mein Kampf of Islamism.

Sayyid was presumably still sorely shaken by the birth of Israel (after the defeat of Egypt and five other Arab armies), but at first, on the Atlantic crossing, he felt a spiritual expansion. His encyclopedic commentary, In the Shade of the Koran, would fondly and ramblingly recall the renewal of his sense of purpose and destiny. Early on, he got into a minor sectarian battle with a proselytising Christian; Sayyid retaliated by doing a bit of proselytising himself, and made some progress with a contingent of Nubian sailors. Then came the traumatic incident with the drunken, semi-naked woman. Sayyid thought she was an American agent hired to seduce him, or so he later told his biographer, who wrote that 'the encounter successfully tested his resolve to resist experiences damaging to his identity as an Egyptian and a Muslim'. God knows what the episode actually amounted to. It seems probable that the liquored-up Mata Hari, the dipsomaniacal nudist, was simply a woman in a cocktail dress who, perhaps, had recently drunk a cocktail. Still, we can continue to imagine Sayyid barricading himself into his cabin while, beyond the door, the siren sings her song.

He didn't like New York: materialistic, mechanistic, trivial, idolatrous, wanton, depraved, and so on and so forth. Washington was a little better. But here, sickly Sayyid (lungs) was hospitalised, introducing him to another dire hazard that he wouldn't have faced at home: female nurses. One of them, tricked out with 'thirsty lips, bulging breasts, smooth legs' and a coquettish manner ('the calling eye, the provocative laugh'), regaled him with her wish-list of endowments for the ideal lover. But 'the father of Islamism', as he is often called, remained calm, later developing the incident into a diatribe against Arab men who succumb to the allure of American women. In an extraordinary burst of mendacity or delusion, Sayyid claimed that the medical staff heartlessly exulted at the news of the assassination, back in Egypt, of Hasan al-Banna. We may wonder how likely it is that any American would have heard of al-Banna, or indeed of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he founded. When Sayyid was discharged from George Washington University Hospital, he probably thought the worst was behind him. But now he proceeded to the cauldron - to the pullulating hellhouse - of Greeley, Colorado.

During his six months at the Colorado State College of Education (and thereafter in California), Sayyid's hungry disapproval found a variety of targets. American lawns (a distressing example of selfishness and atomism), American conversation ('money, movie stars and models of cars'), American jazz ('a type of music invented by Blacks to please their primitive tendencies - their desire for noise and their appetite for sexual arousal'), and, of course, American women: here another one pops up, telling Sayyid that sex is merely a physical function, untrammelled by morality. American places of worship he also detests (they are like cinemas or amusement arcades), but by now he is pining for Cairo, and for company, and he does something rash. Qutb joins a club - where an epiphany awaits him. 'The dance is inflamed by the notes of the gramophone,' he wrote; 'the dance-hall becomes a whirl of heels and thighs, arms enfold hips, lips and breasts meet, and the air is full of lust.' You'd think that the father of Islamism had exposed himself to an early version of Studio 54 or even Plato's Retreat. But no: the club he joined was run by the church,:D and what he is describing, here, is a chapel hop in Greeley, Colorado. And Greeley, Colorado, in 1949, was dry

'And the air is full of lust.' 'Lust' is Bernard Lewis's translation, but several other writers prefer the word 'love'. And while lust has greater immediate impact, love may in the end be more resonant. Why should Qutb mind if the air is full of love? We are forced to wonder whether love can be said to exist, as we understand it, in the ferocious patriarchy of Islamism. If death and hate are the twin opposites of love, then it may not be merely whimsical and mawkish to suggest that the terrorist, the bringer of death and hate, the death-hate cultist, is in essence the enemy of love. Qutb:

'A girl looks at you, appearing as if she were an enchanting nymph or an escaped mermaid, but as she approaches, you sense only the screaming instinct inside her, and you can smell her burning body, not the scent of perfume but flesh, only flesh.'

In his excellent book, Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman has many sharp things to say about the corpus of Sayyid Qutb; but he manages to goad himself into receptivity, and ends up, in my view, sounding almost absurdly respectful - 'rich, nuanced, deep, soulful, and heartfelt'. Qutb, who would go on to write a 30-volume gloss on it, spent his childhood memorising the Koran. He was 10 by the time he was done. Now, given that, it seems idle to expect much sense from him; and so it proves. On the last of the 46 pages he devotes to Qutb, Berman wraps things up with a long quotation. This is its repetitive first paragraph:

'The Surah [the sayings of the Prophet] tells the Muslims that, in the fight to uphold God's universal Truth, lives will have to be sacrificed. Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of God, are honourable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described as dead. They continue to live, as God Himself clearly states.'

Savouring that last phrase, we realise that any voyage taken with Sayyid Qutb is doomed to a leaden-witted circularity. The emptiness, the mere iteration, at the heart of his philosophy is steadily colonised by a vast entanglement of bitternesses; and here, too, we detect the presence of that peculiarly Islamist triumvirate (codified early on by Christopher Hitchens) of self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred - the self-righteousness dating from the seventh century, the self-pity from the 13th (when the 'last' Caliph was kicked to death in Baghdad by the Mongol warlord Hulagu), and the self-hatred from the 20th. And most astounding of all, in Qutb, is the level of self-awareness, which is less than zero. It is as if the very act of self-examination were something unmanly or profane: something unrighteous, in a word.

Still, one way or the other, Qutb is the father of Islamism. Here are the chief tenets he inspired: that America, and its clients, are jahiliyya (the word classically applied to pre-Muhammadan Arabia - barbarous and benighted); that America is controlled by Jews; that Americans are infidels, that they are animals, and, worse, arrogant animals, and are unworthy of life; that America promotes pride and promiscuity in the service of human degradation; that America seeks to 'exterminate' Islam - and that it will accomplish this not by conquest, not by colonial annexation, but by example. As Bernard Lewis puts it in The Crisis of Islam

'This is what is meant by the term the Great Satan, applied to the United States by the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Satan as depicted in the Qur'an is neither an imperialist nor an exploiter. He is a seducer, 'the insidious tempter who whispers in the hearts of men' (Qur'an, CXIV, 4, 5).

Lewis might have added that these are the closing words of the Koran. So they echo.

The West isn't being seductive, of course; all the West is being is attractive. But the Islamist's paranoia extends to a kind of thwarted narcissism. We think again of Qutb's buxom, smooth-legged nurse, supposedly smacking her thirsty lips at the news of the death of Hasan al-Banna. Far from wanting or trying to exterminate it, the West had no views whatever about Islam per se before 11 September 2001. Of course, views were then formulated, and very soon the bestseller list was a column of primers on Islam. Some things take longer to sink in than others, true; but now we know. In the West we had brought into being a society whose main purpose, whose raison d'etre, was the tantalisation of good Muslims.

The theme of the 'tempter' can be taken a little further, in the case of Qutb. When the tempter is a temptress, and really wants you to sin, she needs to be both available and willing. And it is almost inconceivable that poor Sayyid, the frail, humourless civil servant, and turgid anti-semite (salting his talk with quotes from that long-exploded fabrication, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion), ever encountered anything that resembled an offer. It is more pitiful than that. Seduction did not come his way, but it was coming the way of others, he sensed, and a part of him wanted it too. That desire made him very afraid, and also shamed him and dishonoured him, and turned his thoughts to murder. Then the thinkers of Islam took his books and did what they did to them; and Sayyid Qutb is now a part of our daily reality. We should understand that the Islamists' hatred of America is as much abstract as historical, and irrationally abstract, too; none of the usual things can be expected to appease it. The hatred contains much historical emotion, but it is their history, and not ours, that haunts them.

Qutb has perhaps a single parallel in world history. Another shambling invert, another sexual truant (not a virgin but a career cuckold), another marginal quack and dabbler (talentless but not philistine), he too wrote a book, in prison, that fell into the worst possible hands. His name was Nikolai Chernyshevsky; and his novel (What Is To Be Done?) was read five times by Vladimir Lenin in the course of a single summer. It was Chernyshevsky who determined, not the content, but the emotional dynamic of the Soviet experiment. The centennial of his birth was celebrated with much pomp in the USSR. That was in 1928. But Russia was too sad, and too busy, to do much about the centennial of his death, which passed quietly in 1989. (Continues)
10-09-2006, 20:49
This is an excellent study thread, keep up the good work!

P.S. I'm amazed this thread hasn't been jacked by people like Gauthier, DK, or New Mittani...
10-09-2006, 21:00
Second part.,,1868743,00.html
The age of horrorism (part two)

An exclusive essay by Martin Amis, continued.

In The Unknown Known my diminutive terrorist, Ayed, is not a virgin (or a Joseph, as Christians say), unlike Sayyid, on whom he is tangentially based. He is, rather, a polygamist, confining himself to the sanctioned maximum of four. On top of this, he indulges himself, whenever he has enough spare cash, with a succession of 'temporary wives'. The practice is called mutah. In her justly celebrated book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi tells us that a temporary marriage can endure for 99 years; it can also be over in half an hour. The Islamic Republic is very attentive to what it calls 'men's needs'. Before the Revolution, a girl could get married at the age of 18. After 1979 the age requirement was halved.

In Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, VS Naipaul looks at some of the social results of polygamy, in Pakistan, and notes that the marriages tend to be serial. The man moves on, 'religiously tomcatting away'; and the consequence is a society of 'half-orphans'. Divorce is in any case unarduous: 'a man who wanted to get rid of his wife could accuse her of adultery and have her imprisoned'. It is difficult to exaggerate the sexualisation of Islamist governance, even among the figures we think of as moderate. Type in 'sex' and 'al-Sistani', and prepare yourself for a cataract of pedantry and smut.

As the narrative opens, Ayed is very concerned about the state of his marriages. But there's a reason for that. When Ayed was a little boy, in the early Eighties, his dad, a talented poppy-farmer, left Waziristan with his family and settled in Greeley, Colorado. This results in a domestic blow to Ayed's self-esteem. Back home in Waziristan, a boy of his age would be feeling a lovely warm glow of pride, around now, as he realises that his sisters, in one important respect, are just like his mother: they can't read or write either. In America, though, the girls are obliged to go to school. Before Ayed knows it, the women have shed their veils, and his sisters are being called on by gum-chewing kaffirs. Now puberty looms.

There is almost an entire literary genre given over to sensibilities such as Sayyid Qutb's. It is the genre of the unreliable narrator - or, more exactly, the transparent narrator, with his helpless giveaways. Typically, a patina of haughty fastidiousness strives confidently but in vain to conceal an underworld of incurable murk. In The Unknown Known I added to this genre, and with enthusiasm. I had Ayed stand for hours in a thicket of nettles and poison ivy, beneath an elevated walkway, so that he could rail against the airiness of the summer frocks worn by American women and the shameless brevity of their underpants. I had him go out in all weathers for evening strolls, strolls gruellingly prolonged until, with the help of a buttress or a drainpipe, he comes across a woman 'quite openly' undressing for bed. Meanwhile, his sisters are all dating. The father and the brothers discuss various courses of action, such as killing them all; but America, bereft of any sense of honour, would punish them for that. The family bifurcates; Ayed returns to the rugged borderland, joins 'the "Prism"', and courts his quartet of nine-year-old sweethearts.

As Ayed keeps telling all his temporary wives, 'My wives don't understand me.' And they don't; indeed, they all want divorces, and for the same embarrassing reason. With his paradigm-shift attack on America now in ruins, and facing professional and social disgrace, Ayed suddenly sees how, in one swoop, he can redeem himself - and secure his place in history with an unknown unknown which is sure to succeed. For this he will be needing a belt

Two years ago I came across a striking photograph in a news magazine: it looked like a crudely cross-sectioned watermelon, but you could make out one or two humanoid features half-submerged in the crimson pulp. It was in fact the bravely circularised photograph of the face of a Saudi newscaster who had been beaten by her husband. In an attempted murder, it seems: at the time of his arrest he had her in the trunk of his car, and was evidently taking her into the desert for interment. What had she done to bring this on herself? In the marital home, that night, the telephone rang and the newscaster, a prosperous celebrity in her own right, answered it. She had answered the telephone. Male Westerners will be struck, here, by a dramatic cultural contrast. I know that I, for one, would be far more likely to beat my wife to death if she hadn't answered the telephone. But customs and mores vary from country to country, and you cannot reasonably claim that one ethos is 'better' than any other.

In 1949 Greeley was dry... It has been seriously suggested, by serious commentators, that suicide-mass murderers are searching for the simplest means of getting a girlfriend. It may be, too, that some of them are searching for the simplest means of getting a drink. Although alcohol, like extramarital sex, may be strictly forbidden in life, there is, in death, no shortage of either. As well as the Koranic virgins, 'as chaste', for the time being, 'as the sheltered eggs of ostriches', there is also a 'gushing fountain' of white wine (wine 'that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason'). The suicide-mass murderer can now raise his brimming 'goblet' to an additional reward: he has the power, post mortem, to secure paradisal immortality for a host of relations (the number is a round 70, two fewer, curiously, than the traditional allotment of houris). Nor is this his only service to the clan, which, until recently, could expect an honorarium of $20,000 from Iraq, plus $5,000 from Saudi Arabia - as well as the vast prestige automatically accorded to the family of a martyr. And then there is the enticement, or incitement, of peer-group prestige.

Suicide-mass murder is astonishingly alien, so alien, in fact, that Western opinion has been unable to formulate a rational response to it. A rational response would be something like an unvarying factory siren of unanimous disgust. But we haven't managed that. What we have managed, on the whole, is a murmur of dissonant evasion. Paul Berman's best chapter, in Terror and Liberalism, is mildly entitled 'Wishful Thinking' - and Berman is in general a mild-mannered man. But this is a very tough and persistent analysis of our extraordinary uncertainty. It is impossible to read it without cold fascination and a consciousness of disgrace. I felt disgrace, during its early pages, because I had done it too, and in print, early on. Contemplating intense violence, you very rationally ask yourself, what are the reasons for this? And compassionately frowning newscasters are still asking that same question. It is time to move on. We are not dealing in reasons because we are not dealing in reason.

After the failure of Oslo, and the attendant consolidation of Hamas, the second intifada ('earthquake') got under way in 2001, not with stonings and stabbings, like the first, but with a steady campaign of suicide-mass murder. 'All over the world,' writes Berman, 'the popularity of the Palestinian cause did not collapse. It increased.' The parallel process was the intensive demonisation of Israel (academic ostracism, and so on); every act of suicide-mass murder 'testified' to the extremity of the oppression, so that 'Palestinian terror, in this view, was the measure of Israeli guilt'. And when Sharon replaced Barak, and the expected crackdown began, and the Israeli army, with 23 casualties of its own, killed 52 Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin, the attack 'was seen as a veritable Holocaust, an Auschwitz, or, in an alternative image, as the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Wehrmacht's assault on the Warsaw Ghetto. These tropes were massively accepted, around the world. Typing in the combined names of "Jenin" and "Auschwitz"... I came up with 2,890 references; and, typing in "Jenin" and "Nazi", I came up with 8,100 references. There were 63,100 references to the combined names of "Sharon" and "Hitler".' Once the redoubled suppression had taken hold, the human bombings decreased; and world opinion quietened down. The Palestinians were now worse off than ever, their societal gains of the Nineties 'flattened by Israeli tanks'. But the protests 'rose and fell in tandem with the suicide bomb attacks, and not in tandem with the suffering of the Palestinian people'.

This was because suicide-mass murder presented the West with a philosophical crisis. The quickest way out of it was to pretend that the tactic was reasonable, indeed logical and even admirable: an extreme case of 'rationalist naivete', in Berman's phrase. Rationalist naivete was easier than the assimilation of the alternative: that is to say, the existence of a pathological cult. Berman assembles many voices. And if we are going to hear the rhetoric of delusion and self-hypnosis, then we might as well hear it from a Stockholm Laureate - the Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago. Again erring on the side of indulgence, Berman is unnecessarily daunted by the pedigree of Saramago's prose, which is in fact the purest and snootiest bombast (you might call it Nobelese). Here he focuses his lofty gaze on the phenomenon of suicide-mass murder:

'Ah, yes, the horrendous massacres of civilians caused by the so-called suicide terrorists... Horrendous, yes, doubtless; condemnable, yes, doubtless, but Israel still has a lot to learn if it is not capable of understanding the reasons that can bring a human being to turn himself into a bomb.'

Palestinian society has channelled a good deal of thought and energy into the solemnisation of suicide-mass murder, a process which begins in kindergarten. Naturally, one would be reluctant to question the cloudless piety of the Palestinian mother who, having raised one suicide-mass murderer, expressed the wish that his younger brother would become a suicide-mass murderer too. But the time has come to cease to respect the quality of her 'rage' - to cease to marvel at the unhingeing rigour of Israeli oppression, and to start to marvel at the power of an entrenched and emulous ideology, and a cult of death. And if oppression is what we're interested in, then we should think of the oppression, not to mention the life-expectancy (and, God, what a life), of the younger brother. There will be much stopping and starting to do. It is painful to stop believing in the purity, and the sanity, of the underdog. It is painful to start believing in a cult of death, and in an enemy that wants its war to last for ever.

Suicide-mass murder is more than terrorism: it is horrorism. It is a maximum malevolence. The suicide-mass murderer asks his prospective victims to contemplate their fellow human being with a completely new order of execration. It is not like looking down the barrel of a gun. We can tell this is so, because we see what happens, sometimes, when the suicide-mass murderer isn't even there - as in the amazingly summary injustice meted out to the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in London. An even more startling example was the rumour-ignited bridge stampede in Baghdad (31 August 2005). This is the superterror inspired by suicide-mass murder: just whisper the words, and you fatally trample a thousand people. And it remains an accurate measure of the Islamists' contortion: they hold that an act of lethal self-bespatterment, in the interests of an unachievable 'cause', brings with it the keys to paradise. Sam Harris, in The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, stresses just how thoroughly and expeditiously the suicide-mass murderer is 'saved'. Which would you prefer, given belief?

'... martyrdom is the only way that a Muslim can bypass the painful litigation that awaits us all on the Day of Judgment and proceed directly to heaven. Rather than spend centuries mouldering in the earth in anticipation of being resurrected and subsequently interrogated by wrathful angels, the martyr is immediately transported to Allah's garden...'

Osama bin Laden's table talk, at Tarnak Farms in Afghanistan, where he trained his operatives before September 2001, must have included many rolling paragraphs on Western vitiation, corruption, perversion, prostitution, and all the rest. And in 1998, as season after season unfolded around the president's weakness for fellatio, he seemed to have good grounds for his most serious miscalculation: the belief that America was a softer antagonist than the USSR (in whose defeat, incidentally, the 'Arab Afghans' played a negligible part). Still, a sympathiser like the famously obtuse 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, if he'd been there, and if he'd been a little brighter, might have framed the following argument.

Now would be a good time to strike, John would tell Osama, because the West is enfeebled, not just by sex and alcohol, but also by 30 years of multicultural relativism. They'll think suicide bombing is just an exotic foible, like shame-and-honour killings or female circumcision. Besides, it's religious, and they're always slow to question anything that calls itself that. Within days of our opening outrage, the British royals will go on the road for Islam, and stay on it. And you'll be amazed by how long the word Islamophobia, as an unanswerable indictment, will cover Islamism too. It'll take them years to come up with the word they want - and Islamismophobia clearly isn't any good. Even if the Planes Operation succeeds, and thousands die, the Left will yawn and wonder why we waited so long. Strike now. Their ideology will make them reluctant to see what it is they confront. And it will make them slow learners.

By the summer of 2005, suicide-mass murder had evolved. In Iraq, foreign jihadis, pilgrims of war, were filing across the borders to be strapped up with explosives and nails and nuts and bolts, often by godless Baathists with entirely secular aims - to be primed like pieces of ordnance and then sent out the same day to slaughter their fellow Muslims. Suicide-mass murder, in other words, had passed through a phase of decadence and was now on the point of debauchery. In a single month (May), there were more human bombings in Iraq than during the entire intifada. And this, on 25 July, was the considered response of the Mayor of London to the events of 7 July:

'Given that they don't have jet planes, don't have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons. In an unfair balance, that's what people use.'

I remember a miserable little drip of a poem, c2002, that made exactly the same case. No, they don't have F-16s. Question: would the Mayor like them to have F-16s? And, no, their bodies are not what 'people' use. They are what Islamists use. And we should weigh, too, the spiritual paltriness of such martyrdoms. 'Martyr' means witness. The suicide-mass murderer witnesses nothing - and sacrifices nothing. He dies for vulgar and delusive gain. And on another level, too, the rationale for 'martyrdom operations' is a theological sophistry of the blackest cynicism. Its aim is simply the procurement of delivery systems.

Our ideology, which is sometimes called Westernism, weakens us in two ways. It weakens our powers of perception, and it weakens our moral unity and will. As Harris puts it:

'Sayyid Qutb, Osama bin Laden's favourite philosopher, felt that pragmatism would spell the death of American civilisation... Pragmatism, when civilisations come clashing, does not appear likely to be very pragmatic. To lose the conviction that you can actually be right - about anything - seems a recipe for the End of Days chaos envisioned by Yeats: when "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity".'

The opening argument we reach for now, in explaining any conflict, is the argument of moral equivalence. No value can be allowed to stand in stone; so we begin to question our ability to identify even what is malum per se. Prison beatings, too, are evil in themselves, and so is the delegation of torture, and murder, to less high-minded and (it has to be said) less hypocritical regimes. In the kind of war that we are now engaged in, an episode like Abu Ghraib is more than a shameful deviation - it is the equivalent of a lost battle. Our moral advantage, still vast and obvious, is not a liability, and we should strengthen and expand it. Like our dependence on reason, it is a strategic strength, and it shores up our legitimacy.

There is another symbiotic overlap between Islamist praxis and our own, and it is a strange and pitiable one. I mean the drastic elevation of the nonentity. In our popularity-contest culture, with its VIP ciphers and meteoric mediocrities, we understand the attractions of baseless fame - indeed, of instant and unearned immortality. To feel that you are a geohistorical player is a tremendous lure to those condemned, as they see it, to exclusion and anonymity. In its quieter way, this was perhaps the key component of the attraction of Western intellectuals to Soviet Communism: 'join', and you are suddenly a contributor to planetary events. As Muhammad Atta steered the 767 towards its destination, he was confident, at least, that his fellow town-planners, in Aleppo, would remember his name, along with everybody else on earth. Similarly, the ghost of Shehzad Tanweer, as it watched the salvage teams scraping up human remains in the rat-infested crucible beneath the streets of London, could be sure that he had decisively outsoared the fish-and-shop back in Leeds. And that other great nothingness, Osama bin Laden - he is ever-living.

In July 2005 I flew from Montevideo to New York - and from winter to summer - with my six-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old sister. I drank a beer as I stood in the check-in queue, a practice not frowned on at Carrasco (though it would certainly raise eyebrows at, say, the dedicated Hajj terminal in Tehran's Mehrabad); then we proceeded to Security. Now I know some six-year-old girls can look pretty suspicious; but my youngest daughter isn't like that. She is a slight little blonde with big brown eyes and a quavery voice. Nevertheless, I stood for half an hour at the counter while the official methodically and solemnly searched her carry-on rucksack - staring shrewdly at each story-tape and crayon, palpating the length of all four limbs of her fluffy duck.

There ought to be a better word than boredom for the trance of inanition that weaved its way through me. I wanted to say something like, 'Even Islamists have not yet started to blow up their own families on aeroplanes. So please desist until they do. Oh yeah: and stick to people who look like they're from the Middle East.' The revelations of 10 August 2006 were 13 months away. And despite the exposure and prevention of their remarkably ambitious bloodbath of the innocent (the majority of them women and children), the (alleged) Walthamstow jihadis did not quite strive in vain. The failed to promote terror, but they won a great symbolic victory for boredom: the banning of books on the seven-hour flight from England to America.

My daughters and I arrived safely in New York. In New York, at certain subway stations, the police were searching all the passengers, to thwart terrorism - thus obliging any terrorist to walk the couple of blocks to a subway station where the police weren't searching all the passengers. And I couldn't defend myself from a vision of the future; in this future, riding a city bus will be like flying El Al. In the guilty safety of Long Island I watched the TV coverage from my home town, where my other three children live, where I will soon again be living with all five. There were the Londoners, on 8 July, going to work on foot, looking stiff and watchful, and taking no pleasure in anything they saw. Eric Hobsbawm got it right in the mid-Nineties, when he said that terrorism was part of the atmospheric 'pollution' of Western cities. It is a cost-efficient programme. Bomb New York and you pollute Madrid; bomb Madrid and you pollute London; bomb London and you pollute Paris and Rome, and repollute New York. But there was the solace given us by the Mayor. No, we should not be surprised by the use of this sempiternal ruse de guerre. Using their bodies is what people do.

The age of terror, I suspect, will also be remembered as the age of boredom. Not the kind of boredom that afflicts the blasé and the effete, but a superboredom, rounding out and complementing the superterror of suicide-mass murder. And although we will eventually prevail in the war against terror, or will reduce it, as Mailer says, to 'a tolerable level' (this phrase will stick, and will be used by politicians, with quiet pride), we haven't got a chance in the war against boredom. Because boredom is something that the enemy doesn't feel. To be clear: the opposite of religious belief is not atheism or secularism or humanism. It is not an 'ism'. It is independence of mind - that's all. When I refer to the age of boredom, I am not thinking of airport queues and subway searches. I mean the global confrontation with the dependent mind.

One way of ending the war on terror would be to capitulate and convert. The transitional period would be an unsmiling one, no doubt, with much stern work to be completed in the city squares, the town centres, and the village greens. Nevertheless, as the Caliphate is restored in Baghdad, to much joy, the surviving neophytes would soon get used to the voluminous penal code enforced by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice. It would be a world of perfect terror and perfect boredom, and of nothing else - a world with no games, no arts, and no women, a world where the only entertainment is the public execution. My middle daughter, now aged nine, still believes in imaginary beings (Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy); so she would have that in common, at least, with her new husband. (Continues)
10-09-2006, 21:12
Part three.,,1868746,00.html
Like fundamentalist Judaism and medieval Christianity, Islam is totalist. That is to say, it makes a total claim on the individual. Indeed, there is no individual; there is only the umma - the community of believers. Ayatollah Khomeini, in his copious writings, often returns to this theme. He unindulgently notes that believers in most religions appear to think that, so long as they observe all the formal pieties, then for the rest of the time they can do more or less as they please. 'Islam', as he frequently reminds us, 'isn't like that.' Islam follows you everywhere, into the kitchen, into the bedroom, into the bathroom, and beyond death into eternity. Islam means 'submission' - the surrender of independence of mind. That surrender now bears the weight of well over 60 generations, and 14 centuries.

The stout self-sufficiency or, if you prefer, the extreme incuriosity of Islamic culture has been much remarked. Present-day Spain translates as many books into Spanish, annually, as the Arab world has translated into Arabic in the past 1,100 years. And the late-medieval Islamic powers barely noticed the existence of the West until it started losing battles to it. The tradition of intellectual autarky was so robust that Islam remained indifferent even to readily available and obviously useful innovations, including, incredibly, the wheel. The wheel, as we know, makes things easier to roll; Bernard Lewis, in What Went Wrong?, sagely notes that it also makes things easier to steal.

By the beginning of the 20th century the entire Muslim world, with partial exceptions, had been subjugated by the European empires. And at that point the doors of perception were opened to foreign influence: that of Germany. This allegiance cost Islam its last imperium, the Ottoman, for decades a 'helpless hulk' (Hobsbawm), which was duly dismantled and shared out after the First World War - a war that was made in Berlin. Undeterred, Islam continued to look to Germany for sponsorship and inspiration. When the Nazi experiment ended, in 1945, sympathy for its ideals lingered on for years, but Islam was now forced to look elsewhere. It had no choice; geopolitically, there was nowhere else to turn. And the flame passed from Germany to the USSR.

So Islam, in the end, proved responsive to European influence: the influence of Hitler and Stalin. And one hardly needs to labour the similarities between Islamism and the totalitarian cults of the last century. Anti-semitic, anti-

liberal, anti-individualist, anti-democratic, and, most crucially, anti-rational, they too were cults of death, death-driven and death-fuelled. The main distinction is that the paradise which the Nazis (pagan) and the Bolsheviks (atheist) sought to bring about was an earthly one, raised from the mulch of millions of corpses. For them, death was creative, right enough, but death was still death. For the Islamists, death is a consummation and a sacrament; death is a beginning. Sam Harris is right:

'Islamism is not merely the latest flavour of totalitarian nihilism. There is a difference between nihilism and a desire for supernatural reward. Islamists could smash the world to atoms and still not be guilty of nihilism, because everything in their world has been transfigured by the light of paradise...' Pathological mass movements are sustained by 'dreams of omnipotence and sadism', in Robert Jay Lifton's phrase. That is usually enough. Islamism adds a third inducement to its warriors: a heavenly immortality that begins even before the moment of death.

For close to a millennium, Islam could afford to be autarkic. Its rise is one of the wonders of world history - a chain reaction of conquest and conversion, an amassment not just of territory but of millions of hearts and minds. The vigour of its ideal of justice allowed for levels of tolerance significantly higher than those of the West. Culturally, too, Islam was the more evolved. Its assimilations and its learning potentiated the Renaissance - of which, alas, it did not partake. Throughout its ascendancy, Islam was buoyed by what Malise Ruthven, in A Fury for God, calls 'the argument from manifest success'. The fact of expansion underwrote the mandate of heaven. And now, for the past 300 or 400 years, observable reality has propounded a rebuttal: the argument from manifest failure. As one understands it, in the Islamic cosmos there is nothing more painful than the suspicion that something has denatured the covenant with God. This unbearable conclusion must naturally be denied, but it is subliminally present, and accounts, perhaps, for the apocalyptic hurt of the Islamist.

Over the past five years, what we have been witnessing, apart from a moral slump or bust, is a death agony: the death agony of imperial Islam. Islamism is the last wave - the last convulsion. Until 2003, one could take some comfort from the very virulence of the Islamist deformation. Nothing so insanely dionysian, so impossibly poisonous, could expect to hold itself together over time. In the 20th century, outside Africa, the only comparable eruptions of death-hunger, of death-oestrus, were confined to Nazi Germany and Stalinite Kampuchea, the one lasting 12 years, the other three and a half. Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama: such men only ask to be the last to die. But there are some sound reasons for thinking that the confrontation with Islamism will be testingly prolonged.

It is by now not too difficult to trace what went wrong, psychologically, with the Iraq War. The fatal turn, the fatal forfeiture of legitimacy, came not with the mistaken but also cynical emphasis on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction: the intelligence agencies of every country on earth, Iraq included, believed that he had them. The fatal turn was the American President's all too palpable submission to the intoxicant of power. His walk, his voice, his idiom, right up to his mortifying appearance in the flight suit on the aircraft-carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln ('Mission Accomplished') - every dash and comma in his body language betrayed the unscrupulous confidence of the power surge.

We should parenthetically add that Tony Blair succumbed to it too - with a difference. In 'old' Europe, as Rumsfeld insolently called it, the idea of a political class was predicated on the inculcation of checks and balances, of psychic surge-breakers, to limit the corruption that personal paramountcy always entrains. It was not a matter of mental hygiene; everyone understood that a rotting mind will make rotten decisions. Blair knew this. He also knew that his trump was not a high one: the need of the American people to hear approval for the war in an English accent. Yet there he was, helplessly caught up in the slipstream turbulence of George Bush. Rumsfeld, too, visibly succumbed to it. On television, at this time, he looked as though he had just worked his way through a snowball of cocaine. 'Stuff happens,' he said, when asked about the looting of the Mesopotamian heritage in Baghdad - the remark of a man not just corrupted but floridly vulgarised by power. As well as the body language, at this time, there was also the language, the power language, all the way from Bush's 'I want to kick ass' to his 'Bring it on' - a rather blithe incitement, some may now feel, to the armed insurgency.

Contemplating this, one's aversion was very far from being confined to the aesthetic. Much followed from it. And we now know that an atmosphere of boosterist unanimity, of prewar triumphalism, had gathered around the President, an atmosphere in which any counter-argument, any hint of circumspection, was seen as a whimper of weakness or disloyalty. If she were alive, Barbara Tuchman would be chafing to write a long addendum to The March of Folly; but not even she could have foreseen a president who, 'going into this period', 'was praying for strength to do the Lord's will'. A power rush blessed by God - no, not a good ambience for precautions and doubts. At that time, the invasion of Iraq was presented as a 'self-financing' preventive war to enforce disarmament and regime change. Three and a half years later, it is an adventurist and proselytising war, and its remaining goal is the promotion of democracy.

The Iraq project was foredoomed by three intrinsic historical realities. First, the Middle East is clearly unable, for now, to sustain democratic rule - for the simple reason that its peoples will vote against it. Did no one whisper the words, in the Situation Room - did no one say what the scholars have been saying for years? The 'electoral policy' of the fundamentalists, writes Lewis, 'has been classically summarised as "One man (men only), one vote, once."':D Or, in Harris's trope, democracy will be 'little more than a gangplank to theocracy'; and that theocracy will be Islamist. Now the polls have closed, and the results are coming in, region-wide. In Lebanon, gains for Hizbollah; in Egypt, gains for Sayyid Qutb's fraternity, the Muslim Brothers; in Palestine, victory for Hamas; in Iran, victory for the soapbox rabble-rouser and primitive anti-semite, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the Iraqi election, Bush and Blair, pathetically, both 'hoped' for Allawi, whose return was 14 per cent.

Second, Iraq is not a real country. It was cobbled together, by Winston Churchill, in the early Twenties; it consists of three separate (Ottoman) provinces, Sunni, Shia, Kurd - a disposition which looks set to resume. Among the words not listened to by the US Administration, we can include those of Saddam Hussein. Even with an apparatus of terror as savage as any in history, even with chemical weapons, helicopter gunships, and mass killings, even with a proven readiness to cleanse, to displace, and to destroy whole ecosystems, Hussein modestly conceded that he found Iraq a difficult country to keep in one piece. As a Sunni military man put it, Iraqis hate Iraq - or 'Iraq', a concept that has brought them nothing but suffering. There is no nationalist instinct; the instinct is for atomisation.

Third, only the sack of Mecca or Medina would have caused more pain to the Islamic heart than the taking, and befouling, of the Iraqi capital, the seat of the Caliphate. We have not heard any discussion, at home, about the creedal significance of Baghdad. But we have had some intimations from the jihadis' front line. In pronouncements that vibrate with historic afflatus, they speak of their joyful embrace of the chance to meet the infidel in the Land Between the Rivers. And, of course, beyond - in Madrid, in Bali (again), in London. It may be that the Coalition adventure has given the enemy a casus belli that will burn for a generation.

There are vast pluralities all over the West that are thirsting for American failure in Iraq - because they hate George Bush. Perhaps they do not realise that they are co-synchronously thirsting for an Islamist victory that will dramatically worsen the lives of their children. And this may come to pass. Let us look at the war, not through bin Laden's eyes, but through the eyes of the cunning of history. From that perspective, 11 September was a provocation. The 'slam dunk', the 'cakewalk' into Iraq amounted to a feint, and a trap. We now know, from various 500-page bestsellers like Cobra II and Fiasco, that the invasion of Iraq was truly incredibly blithe (there was no plan, no plan at all, for the occupation); still, we should not delude ourselves that the motives behind it were dishonourable. This is a familiar kind of tragedy. The Iraq War represents a gigantic contract, not just for Halliburton, but also for the paving company called Good Intentions. We must hope that something can be salvaged from it, and that our ethical standing can be reconsolidated. Iraq was a divagation in what is being ominously called the Long War. To our futile losses in blood, treasure and moral prestige, we can add the loss in time; and time, too, is blood.

An idea presents itself about a better direction to take. And funnily enough its current champion is the daughter of the dark genius behind the disaster in Iraq: she is called Liz Cheney. Before we come to that, though, we must briefly return to Ayed, and his belt, and to some quiet thoughts about the art of fiction.

The 'belt' ending of The Unknown Known came to me fairly late. But the belt was already there, and prominently. All writers will know exactly what this means. It means that the subconscious had made a polite suggestion, a suggestion that the conscious mind had taken a while to see. Ayed's belt, purchased by mail-order in Greeley, Colorado, is called a 'RodeoMaMa', and consists of a 'weight strap' and the pommel of a saddle. Ayed is of that breed of men which holds that a husband should have sex with his wives every night. And his invariable use of the 'RodeoMaMa' is one of the reasons for the rumble of mutiny in his marriages.

Looking in at the longhouse called Known Knowns, Ayed retools his 'RodeoMaMa'. He goes back to the house and summons his wives - for the last time. Thus Ayed gets his conceptual breakthrough, his unknown unknown: he is the first to bring martyrdom operations into the setting of his own home.

I could write a piece almost as long as this one about why I abandoned The Unknown Known. The confirmatory moment came a few weeks ago: the freshly fortified suspicion that there exists on our planet a kind of human being who will become a Muslim in order to pursue suicide-mass murder. For quite a time I have felt that Islamism was trying to poison the world. Here was a sign that the poison might take - might mutate, like bird flu. Islam, as I said, is a total system, and like all such it is eerily amenable to satire. But with Islamism, with total malignancy, with total terror and total boredom, irony, even militant irony (which is what satire is), merely shrivels and dies.

In Twentieth Century the late historian JM Roberts took an unsentimental line on the Chinese Revolution:

'More than 2,000 years of remarkable historical continuities lie behind [it], which, for all its cost and cruelty, was a heroic endeavour, matched in scale only by such gigantic upheavals as the spread of Islam, or Europe's assault on the world in early modern times.'

The cost and cruelty, according to Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's recent biography, amounted, perhaps, to 70 million lives in the Mao period alone. Yet this has to be balanced against 'the weight of the past' - nowhere heavier than in China:

'Deliberate attacks on family authority... were not merely attempts by a suspicious regime to encourage informers and delation, but attacks on the most conservative of all Chinese institutions. Similarly, the advancement of women and propaganda to discourage early marriage had dimensions going beyond 'progressive' feminist ideas or population control; they were an assault on the past such as no other revolution had ever made, for in China the past meant a role for women far inferior to those of pre-revolutionary America, France or even Russia.'

There is no momentum, in Islam, for a reformation. And there is no time, now, for a leisurely, slow-lob enlightenment. The necessary upheaval is a revolution - the liberation of women. This will not be the work of a decade or even a generation. Islam is a millennium younger than China. But we should remind ourselves that the Chinese Revolution took half a century to roll through its villages.

In 2002 the aggregate GDP of all the Arab countries was less than the GDP of Spain; and the Islamic states lag behind the West, and the Far East, in every index of industrial and manufacturing output, job creation, technology, literacy, life-expectancy, human development, and intellectual vitality. (A recondite example: in terms of the ownership of telephone lines, the leading Islamic nation is the UAE, listed in 33rd place, between Reunion and Macau.) Then, too, there is the matter of tyranny, corruption, and the absence of civil rights and civil society. We may wonder how the Islamists feel when they compare India to Pakistan, one a burgeoning democratic superpower, the other barely distinguishable from a failed state. What Went Wrong? asked Bernard Lewis, at book length. The broad answer would be institutionalised irrationalism; and the particular focus would be the obscure logic that denies the Islamic world the talent and energy of half its people. No doubt the impulse towards rational inquiry is by now very weak in the rank and file of the Muslim male. But we can dwell on the memory of those images from Afghanistan: the great waves of women hurrying to school.

The connection between manifest failure and the suppression of women is unignorable. And you sometimes feel that the current crux, with its welter of insecurities and nostalgias, is little more than a pre-emptive tantrum - to ward off the evacuation of the last sanctum of power. What would happen if we spent some of the next 300 billion dollars (this is Liz Cheney's thrust) on the raising of consciousness in the Islamic world? The effect would be inherently explosive, because the dominion of the male is Koranic - the unfalsifiable word of God, as dictated to the Prophet:

'Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme' (4:34).

Can we imagine seeing men on the march in defence of their right to beat their wives? And if we do see it, then what? Would that win hearts and minds? The martyrs of this revolution would be sustained by two obvious truths: the binding authority of scripture, all over the world, is very seriously questioned; and women, by definition, are not a minority. They would know, too, that their struggle is a heroic assault on the weight of the past - the alpweight of 14 centuries.

Attentive readers may have asked themselves what it is, this ridiculous category, the unknown known. The unknown known is paradise, scriptural inerrancy, God. The unknown known is religious belief.

All religions are violent; and all ideologies are violent. Even Westernism, so impeccably bland, has violence glinting within it. This is because any belief system involves a degree of illusion, and therefore cannot be defended by mind alone. When challenged, or affronted, the believer's response is hormonal; and the subsequent collision will be one between a brain and a cat's cradle of glands. I will never forget the look on the gatekeeper's face, at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, when I suggested, perhaps rather airily, that he skip some calendric prohibition and let me in anyway. His expression, previously cordial and cold, became a mask; and the mask was saying that killing me, my wife, and my children was something for which he now had warrant. I knew then that the phrase 'deeply religious' was a grave abuse of that adverb. Something isn't deep just because it's all that is there; it is more like a varnish on a vacuum. Millennial Islamism is an ideology superimposed upon a religion - illusion upon illusion. It is not merely violent in tendency. Violence is all that is there.

In Philip Larkin's 'Aubade' (1977), the poet, on waking, contemplates 'unresting death, a whole day nearer now':

This is a special way of being afraid

No trick dispels. Religion used to try,

That vast moth-eaten musical brocade

Created to pretend we never die...

Much earlier, in 'Church Going' (1954), examining his habit of visiting country churches and the feelings they arouse in him (chiefly bafflement and boredom), he was able to frame a more expansive response:

It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,

In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,

Are recognised, and robed as destinies.

And that much never can be obsolete,

Since someone will forever be surprising

A hunger in himself to be more serious,

And gravitating with it to this ground,

Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,

If only that so many dead lie round.

This is beautifully arrived at. It contains everything that can be decently and rationally said.

We allow that, in the case of religion, or the belief in supernatural beings, the past weighs in, not at 2,000 years, but at approximately five million. Even so, the time has come for a measure of impatience in our dealings with those who would take an innocent personal pronoun, which was just minding its own business, and exalt it with a capital letter. Opposition to religion already occupies the high ground, intellectually and morally. People of independent mind should now start to claim the spiritual high ground, too. We should be with Joseph Conrad:

'The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is - marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvellous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural, which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.

'Whatever my native modesty may be it will never condescend to seek help for my imagination within those vain imaginings common to all ages and that in themselves are enough to fill all lovers of mankind with unutterable sadness.' ('Author's Note' to The Shadow-Line, 1920.)

© Martin Amis
29-01-2007, 18:38
bumped with an update of Hizbut Tahrir in Australia.
Australian officials are split on whether to ban a radical Muslim group that has called for the establishment of an Islamic superstate.

About 500 Muslims packed a hall in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba to hear speakers of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) outline the vision of a single Islamic state created by overthrowing "dictators, invaders and governments" in all Muslim countries of the world.

One of the group's leaders, Indonesian firebrand cleric Ismail Yusanto, called on "all the sons and daughters of Islam, both domestically and externally" to support the establishment of a Muslim state under a single religious leader.

He said the members of such a state would have to be prepared for jihad, or holy war, to defend it.

New South Wales state Premier Morris Iamma said the government should follow the lead of other countries and ban Hizb ut-Tahrir because "this is an organization that is basically saying it wants to declare war on Australia, our values and our people."

The opposition Labor Party spokesman on immigration, Anthony Bourke, said Yusanto's visa should be withdrawn as he wanted to impose Sharia law in Western countries.

But Attorney General Philip Rudduck told reporters while he regarded the group's message as "unacceptable in a pluralist society like ours ... it doesn't mean they can be proscribed as a terrorist organization."
29-01-2007, 21:08
Qur'an? No. Apostacy is punished by Allah after death, not by man before. Apostacy is conversion to anything from Islam, not just Christianity.

Shar'iah? Yes. Through the misdguidance and alteration and subjugation of men who desire power, Shar'iah has become so far removed from Qur'an that it's not even funny anymore. People are dieing because of it. Some of them good, innocent people. I find it very sad.

you're back! good to see you back here
12-08-2007, 14:41
Reviving this topic with Hizbut Tahrir's show of strength in Indonesia
Islamists urge caliphate revival
Some 100,000 Islamists have met in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to press for the re-establishment of a caliphate across the Muslim world.

The Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir - which organised the conference - said it had been the largest gathering of Muslim activists from around the world.

However, the group is illegal in many countries and key speakers have been stopped from entering Indonesia.

A caliphate - or single state for Muslims - last existed in 1924.

Hizb ut-Tahrir regards this as the ideal form of government, because it follows what it believes are the laws of God as set out in the Koran, rather than laws designed by man.

The group says it seeks to set up a caliphate by non-violent means - but many experts see it as ideologically close to jihadist groups.

It is banned in most of the Middle East and parts of Europe.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Jakarta says that of the estimated 100,000 people packing the stadium hired for the event, the overwhelming majority were women, who have travelled from across Indonesia to attend.

If the audience turnout was impressive, not so the speakers lined up to address the crowd, our correspondent adds.

One by one, over the past few days, seven of the delegates invited to speak have dropped out.


Controversial Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was asked to stay away on security grounds, while three national leaders cancelled at the last minute.

The Palestinian delegate was unable to leave the Palestinian Territories, and representatives from Britain and Australia landed in Jakarta on Friday but were refused permission to enter the country.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's spokesman in Indonesia said he was disappointed about these problems and said that the Indonesian authorities had not told the group why its speakers had been barred.

Hizb ut-Tahrir - or Liberation Party - was founded in Jerusalem in the 1950s by Palestinian religious scholar Taqiuddin an-Nabhani.

Today it has a mainly clandestine following in the Middle East, a large presence in Central Asia - where hundreds of its members have been jailed - and active supporters in the West, including London, which is believed to be one of its main bases.

Many experts see it as ideologically close to jihadist groups, and suspect its commitment to peaceful means is purely tactical.