For the past six months, I’ve spent hours piled upon hours studying the Arabic World and the religion of Islam. I’ve applied countless, mind-numbing hours attempting to unravel the sand-filled Islamic almanacs of thought, thrusting myself deep into Quranic thought and into the vast depths of Islamic conquest history. I’ve studied the mind of Muhammad and his Caliphate, the Islamic royalty that ruled half of the world for most of the Dark Ages. Islamic power, at her height, is a self-functioning, self-rewarding system of belief and law, focusing on prime strength, commitment, and the abolishment of foreign entities – a structure of communal understanding that supports a strict adherence towards the development of a certain community, – “the community of the Quran”.
In light of recent events, the English-speaking Christianized world has come to some startling conclusions about the Islamic east. The two cannot, and will not, co-mingle, co-exist, or co-live. They are as separate as the sea is from the sky, and because of this disparaging conflict of thought, thousands and millions have already died, and more is yet to come unless these two powers come to an agreement of thought – an unlikely and hopeful miracle. The Islamic ideal of the establishment of one, cohesive, sparkling city of religious passion, bodily passion and beauty of the Quranic scriptures will never co-exist with the Christianized western world because the two conflicting ideologies both present radical and exquisite developments towards the state of law, belief, and culture. And yet, in these modern times as our Earth quickly becomes one vast community through advances in communication and technology, it is imperative that we resolve our differences before more blood is spilled or more nations are crushed by the hand of ideological passion.
This paper will explain why these worlds cannot exist through the use of Quranic example, historical reference, and the modern threat of religious zealotry. My hope is that this paper will inspire some people to rethink their previous mode of thought and attempt to forge a brighter future by avoiding some of the horrible mistakes of the past.
This paper will discuss different Quranic passages, important verses from the Holy Book with my own commentary and the overall affectedness towards the Islamic community.
This paper will further bring up startling new information regarding the insurgence of Islamic violence and the separation of Muslims from the rest of the world. I will address the goals of the Islamic State and various methods to achieve those goals with Quranic passages as references.
This paper will present the life of historical Muslim society and its progress into Europe, the failure to do so, and the lasting impact of the historical Islamic conquest wars. I will build up these historical battles using Quranic proof.
I will highlight some of the modern events, especially in the last few years. The resolve of Islamic militancy now haunts many countries, most now democratic, including the United States of America. Islamic military power threatens to unravel the “democratic”, and she is not bashful about spreading the establishment of an Islamic Sharia state in place.
This, however, is not new. For over 1500 years, Islam has fought against everything in order for the establishment of the Islamic State. Maybe in hallowed whispers you heard of the Christian Crusades, the battle of Poitiers, the Fall of Constantinople, the invasion of Vienna, and the conquest of the Russian land by the Mongols. All of these were Islamic battles, where hundreds of thousands perished between sword and shield. The Islamic battles have raged from her humble beginnings in the deserts of Mecca and Medina up until the leveling of the World Trade Centers in New York City and into the warm jungles of modern day Indonesia. No – this is not new.
Confrontation with Islam
When I was in fourth grade, I befriended a foreign student who recently arrived in California because his family was ousted from Iran in a political takeover. When I met his family at their apartment in downtown San Carlos, I learned his father was a Muslim and his mother was of the Bahai faith. This instance was my first encounter with the mysterious eastern religion, and I did not think much about the religion until I was twenty years old and working for a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C. This organization worked against many radical Islamic military groups and countries attempting to thwart the inclusion of other faiths.
Islam was and still is in my respect, a strange religion to me. Perhaps this is because I became a western Christian at the age of four; I grew up in the secure and homogenized lands of democracy, freedom of thought and economic freedom. I envision mystical temples glittering like gold stones and a golden desert, the snaked melodies of Islamic hymns and a thousand prostrated figures in a multi-color of red, brown, and green robes bending toward Mecca and the Kaaba. I imagine the jinn flickering at the edge of sleep and reality, the inspiring battles on the Arabian desert with scimitar wielding warriors perched atop camels hurling insults toward the knights opposite. My perspective on Islam has been widely shaped by what I’ve heard and my experience in Washington, D.C. While I was working in the capital, I discovered a dark side to Islam – the inspiration of violence and hate in the name of a greater purpose – and the propagation of such violence and hate and purpose. I learned that the grip of Islamic militancy is not new, but as ancient as the Quranic tenants. “O you who believe, when you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, turn not your backs to them. And whoso turns his back to them on that day – unless maneuvering for battle or turning to join a company – he, indeed, incurs Allah’s wrath and his refuge is hell. And an evil destination it is.” (34, 8:15-16)
True, people get carried away. But in my studies of Islam both in the office and out of the office, I learned that this certain Islamic violence is inspired, taught and propagated through the Quranic Scriptures. I learned that there can never truly be peace in the Islamic State of mind until there is only the Islamic State of mind. “He it is who has sent his messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth that he may make it prevail over all religions. And Allah is enough for a witness.” (34, 48:28) The Quran teaches to view non-Muslims as viable enemies and teaches the art of Islamic terrorism in between the beautiful and peaceful chords of the Islamic songs. “The only punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is that they should be murdered, or crucified, or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides, or they should be imprisoned. This shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.” (34, 5:33)
Of course, Islam is a word for ‘peace’, as many will explain verifiably to you. Islam is a peaceful religion they will say, because Islam’s purpose is peace. This is true; for the ideal Islamic State is one where all are Muslim and worship Allah, follow the guidelines of the Quran, and participate in the Islamic prayers. Now, because that much of the world has not adopted the Islamic statement, there is much more for Muslims yet to do. The world must be convinced through methods of enticement and force, that Islamic Sharia law must be adopted. “Mankind is a single nation.” (34, 2:213) Numerous attempts have already been made, failing against some of the strongest governments on the face of the earth. In the past, nations have been torn to rags because they would not accept the religious law. Actually, the refusal or acceptance of Islamic Sharia law has formed most of history from the years of 622 CE until the present.
My studies have brought startling conclusions. The first and most important of my discoveries is the dominating features of Islam over any other religion. The Quran enforces a nationalistic form of Muslim elitism. “You are the best nation raised up for men: you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah. And if the People of the Book had believed, it would have been better for them. Some of them are believers but most of them are transgressors.” (34, 3:109)
In many other world religions, the goal is not world conquest but rather personal growth and personal pride, but in Islam the goal is to reform the entire world into a new culture, a new belief, and a new law. “But nay! I swear by the Lord of the eastern lands and the western lands! That we are certainly powerful to bring in their place others [people or laws] better than them, and we shall not be overcome.” (34, 70:40-41) The Quran repeatedly enforces the superiority of the Muslim over other people and creatures of the earth, and the Quran also establishes the requirement that all Muslim must recognize this. “O you who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends to each other. And whoever amongst you takes them for friends he is indeed one of them. Surely Allah guides not the unjust people.” (34, 5:51) And a conclusion to this, the Quran also states the purpose of the Muslim is to turn all into Muslim, or else slay those in their path. “So when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters, wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free. Surely Allah is forgiving, merciful.” (34, 9:5)
As such I take over the prospect of explaining some of the unexplained to you, the reader, in hopes that you may not be turned too soft by much that is spoken or read to you. It is important you understand I do not hate Islam or Muslims, and neither do I tell you they are evil nor do I tell you not to worship where your heart leads. However, I do intend to clear up some misconceptions, explain some misunderstandings, and press a few warnings to Muslims and non-Muslims alike that may be more trouble than worth in these modern times. It is my opinion that no man should claim superiority over the other, and should allow all others to discover themselves in their own time. For this reason, it may reason that my opinion is against the establishment of a pure religious state and I shall not be silent in expressing this. If history has taught us anything, then peace comes only when freedom and decision flow freely as clouds on a summer day.
What the World Knew
Karen Armstrong, radical theologian, ex-nun, and liberal superwoman formed most of the western knowledge of Islam from the years 1980 to around the bend of the new millennium with her books, A History of God and Muhammad – A Biography of the Prophet. The secular media tended to ignore any stream of Islamic thought as such matters were of little concern to the western media, dominated by nationalistic politicians, lucid movies, and the idolization of sports. To Islam, these three concentrations of activity are blasphemies upon life. “Without being inappropriate to Americans and Westerners but most of them lack morals and do all kinds of sexual sinnings such as sex without marriage and sodomy which are reasons that GOD Almighty had drowned the people of Lot and Noah in the past for. Nude beaches, bikinis (exposing 99% of the woman’s body), living together without marriage (boyfriend and girlfriend), porn business, oral sex, mixing genders in grade and high schools to promote sexuality among teenage kids are all indications of a satanic and sexually open society.” (36)
As Islam is focused on the creation of a combined church and state, Islam is ignored in most of the western world, which after the fall of the Soviet Union adopted a similar model of separating the church and state. (37) Some countries such as France and Russia have taken this meaning so far that in France hundreds of religious groups politically and religiously active in the United States of America are termed illegal in France because of their alleged cult status. (37) In Russia religious groups are constantly under the strain between government and a broken KJB still trying to wrest the tide of law. (37)
A small number of organizations actually preached against the nature of Islam, such as the Pen and Sword group based out of Washington, DC, who wrote pamphlets based upon some of the extreme teachings and founding fathers of Islam. However, due to the sensitive nature of attacking a minority force in a country with a majority of Christians and the American sensitivity to the minority, these groups were often threatened, crushed, and dismantled by the media as being “hate groups,” and “Muslim haters.” (43) The proof of this conclusion is existent in today’s media, the immense exaggeration of certain theological falsity’s present in United State politicians and major newspapers. (44) The only force with the power to extol itself was of the minority in a Muslim country, and these stories many times included stories of persecution, torture, and sadness because of the intolerance of the Islamic State. (37)
What follows is what the western world did know about Islam, however little. It is sad this information was not applied earlier to the media studies, for with the founder often comes the followers.
Oh When the Saint Comes Marching In
Mohammed was born sometime between 570 CE and 580 CE, about five centuries after the birth and death of Jesus, to the merchant Koreish tribe in the city of Mecca in the ancient land of Arabia. At the time, the dusty desert land thrived on tribal feuds and traveling merchant caravans. The people worshiped thousands of different gods, and Mecca, being a trading city, was abounding in quaint religious trinkets ready-to-serve to a visiting tourist or traveler. Mohammed was born to a single parent family, his father dying before Mohammed was born, and his mother dying soon after his birth. He was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib, who although a member of the Koreish tribe, was a poor man and lived with a small amount of wealth. When Mohammed was 25 years old, he married a wealthy widow, the lady Khadijah, who owned a caravan outfitting business. The soon-to-be prophet began driving caravans and camels throughout Arabia, and his adventures took him from his abode in Mecca all the way to Syria and back.
It is important to understand the religious aura of the land. Amid the polytheistic vein pumping a thinning spirituality into the land was also a thread of Christians and Jews. Christianity had already reached down and plucked a group of followers in the land who eventually settled in the Christian City of Abyssinia. Hundreds of Jewish families already lived in the area, usually settling on the outer limits of cities. The land was brimming of religious understanding. Mohammed was a gentle man, and often he would venture outside of Mecca and meditate inside a cave away from the thousands of gods and beliefs. No one can truly know the mind of Mohammed, but I believe he hated the gods and beliefs of Mecca, and he felt stifled by the stagnancy and outlandishness of it all.
Mohammed was a reformer. He believed in the reconstruction of laws, forbidding infanticide, restructuring the merchant laws so that corrupt practices of tribal merchant families would desist in plaguing many honest merchants, raising the bar on children and women, uniting a separated people and advocating the arts, such as poetry and music. He also believed in the destruction of polytheistic beliefs and glorification of a single, undeniable god. He did not believe in violence as a treat for men to partake when they wished, which were often the case in ancient Arabia. He wanted a single, united Arabia, with one mission of gathering together people and bowing them unto a single god.
Around 611 CE Mohammed was meditating in his cave at Mt. Hira when he was visited by a vision of Gabriel, an angel. He fled the cave in fear, and when he came home he discovered the angel still followed him, even inside his home. For the next few months, the vision of the angel appeared again and again, ordering Mohammed to preach the name of Allah to the people of Arabia. Mohammed began to preach, telling the Meccans to abandon their polytheistic ways and resort to a moralistic belief in one god.
Mohammed also began his path of reforming law, by preaching about the corrupt merchant practices and cultural stigmas eating away at the Arabs, and offering solutions to these problems. Eventually, the higher-ups in Meccan society began to feel Mohammed was like an itch, and they wanted no more of his telling people they (the merchants) were evil and greedy. He was cutting away at business and showing a bad light on Mecca, so they (the merchants) organized a boycott against his Koreish tribe, who withdrew their protection from the prophet. Even without his family’s protection, Mohammed managed to survive, but eventually, he had to flee the city, him and his 100 followers. The night the Muslims fled was June 22, 622 CE. (33)
Thus, the Hegira began – the holy march of the first Muslims across the ten miles of desert to the oasis of Medina. When the Muslims arrived at Medina on September 24, 622 CE (33) (or Hijra 1 on the Muslim calendar), the Medinese granted Mohammed the governorship and appointed him the judge of the city. Now established in a principal of power, Mohammed began to seriously reform law and justice and belief. He built up his army, converted the city (although he did have to destroy any opposition in his path), and even reformed some of his religious beliefs. Mohammed became a different man when he entered Medina, a man who now had to put into practice what he preached. He became a warrior, a politician, a businessman, and his status as a messenger of god was raised to a divine rulership. Mohammed’s main goal was now to exact a political and vengeful move on the city that ousted him, Mecca.
The prophet began to attack Mecca in 624, when his small army would hijack Meccan trade caravans. Probably the biggest of these small battles, the battle of Badr (which the second sura of the Quran is taken from) pitted 313 of Mohammed’s caravan hijackers against a caravan of about 1000 people. In this battle, Mohammed and his warriors won, not because of any strategic or brilliant tactical maneuver, but because an army of 5000 angels in white turbans was led by the angel Gabriel in a golden turban beside Mohammed’s army. (35) Eventually, after the number of cities, villages, and tribes had been converted to Islam by these raids, Mohammad was welcomed back into Mecca, and established as the Messenger of Allah. He was pronounced as the ruler of Mecca. Even the former governor of Mecca, Abu Sufyan, converted to Islam. Mohammad died in 632 CE.
After his death, the Caliphs (successors) ruled in his place, creating the ulema, a group of scholars dedicated to deconstructing the Quran and the different hadiths into what is called the Shariah law. The Quran is the holy book of Islam, a collection of verses and books based upon the recitations of Mohammed while in Mecca and Medina during his prophethood. The hadith are collected sayings of Mohammed from close friends and relatives. Shariah law constructs the foundation and implementation of the Islamic State. And since the founding of the first Islamic state in Mecca and Medina, Islam has spread throughout the world using the traditional forms of evangelism: missionaries, propaganda, and war.
A Contemplation of Clash
And now I must say, so what! When confronted with the reality that besieges us everyday, why should we embroider our life with the study of a man named Mohammed and his desert life in ancient Arabia? Of what consequence does this have for us, the future rulers of our small lives, the moderns of a land far from that land of humid dreams and harsh dunes? It is of every consequence and every need that we must understand our ancient brethren of the desert.
Islam is a code of thought, an ideology of a perfect world with a perfect people. “It is a universal ideology meant to liberate all of mankind.” (1) Islam is a force of construction and destruction in our modern world, one with increasing prevalence, and being an ideology and more than a mere belief in the supernatural, must be understood so that we can confront it with a positive or negative understanding.
The life of Mohammed was one of a dream and of harsh natures. He lived in a world where the rule of the people was nothing more than two groups of people lowering their fists. He lived in a world where an insult bloomed into massive bloody wars. He lived in a world where gods were like stars, too distant and too incomprehensible to be understood, far too many for dedication and so outrageously evil that even some of the gods were to be pitied. (33) Much like our world, is it not?
If you had to compare Mohammed with someone of our time, think of the street preacher who stands on the corner and cries out to the city dwellers and shoppers, who cries out against the terrible problems of a people and cries out the answer is to unite as one people and worship an awe-full god, the one god that knows everything, created everything, and is not to be questioned under any circumstances. Mohammed would say, if the two greatest commandments of Christianity are to love your god with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself, then the two greatest commandments of Islam are to fear god with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to worship god with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And when he was done preaching he would curse the merchants and their foul practices, much like people stand on our city corners and tell the corporations and politicians they are wrong. He was a young man and glowing with energy when he did this, much like our street shouters are. So, what gave him the advantage? His message and his people.
Mohammed’s message was entirely positive for ancient Arabia. He spoke of becoming moral, eradicating confusion, eliminating petty hatred, and reforming a land whose people wanted to be something more than a desert people but a civilization. “And, O my people, let not opposition to me make you guilty so that there may befall you the like of that which befell the people of Noah, or the people of Hud, or the people of Salib. Nor are the people of Lot far off from you.” (34, 11:89) And his people loved him because he gave them hope. In return, they gave him power, prestige, and prayer. In return, they gave him an empire.
The Beastly Eyes
The ICC Experience
Here begins my memories of an unlikely term of events.
Around the middle of the month of July, I found myself on the steps of the office of International Christian Concern. ICC is a human rights organization specializing in the concern, nurture, and liberation of persecuted Christians around the international world. The office was a small two-room appendix, with a network of computers and a copy machine, a fax machine, a closet, and a much needed paint job. My work at the office included the maintenance of the database, updating the website, assisting the assistant and the president, and learning the ropes of the fanciful game of protecting the innocent.
Islam found her way into my work around the first day of work, because many of the countries we worked in are controlled by budding Sharia Islamic States still trying to excise any remnant of a western Christianity from their soil. My previous knowledge of Islam centered in a cornerstone of a college course I partook with Prof. Donald Wagner, and while an enlightening course, my studies did not prepare me for modern Islam. I understood the tenants and basic understandings of Islam, as any good student should, the application of the five pillars and the mystical sixth pillar, the nature of God, and the nature of Muslims toward God. I was not prepared for experiencing the threat of radical fundamentalism in our modern times. I hardly knew a radical religious group existed, and I considered myself fairly learned.
I soon learned of such countries as the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and the intolerance of competition. “Genocidal, slavery-ridden Sudan continued to be used as a haven by groups including associates of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization, Egyptian al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Palestine Jihad and Hamas.” (4) When I arrived in the ICC office, the current case was centered on a group of two Filipino men who had been deported from Saudi Arabia for telling others they were Christians. (37) ICC was conducting studies on the Sudan because of knowledge that the Islamic regime in Khartoum was bombing southern Christian villages, murdering the men and enslaving the women and children. (37)
I began to comprehend a division then, between the society of western people and the society of eastern people, but this was not manifested until the end of my internship six months later. However, at that moment I understood things were different in countries dominated by the Islamic life, but I did not understand why. I did not understand the need to maintain the strength of the Muslim spirit in the face of any opposition. I did not understand why many Muslims resorted to fundamentalism and the killing of innocents when faced with the threat of losing their identity. I did not understand why young Palestinians threw themselves upon Israeli citizens with bombs strapped to their chests. “Blessed is he who fights Jihad in the name of Allah, blessed is he who [goes on] raids in the name of Allah, blessed is he who dons a vest of explosives on himself or on his children and goes in to the depth of the Jews and says: Allahu Akbar, Blessed be Allah. Like the collapse of the building upon the heads of the Jews in their sinful dance-hall, I ask of Allah that we see the Knesset collapsing on the heads of the Jews.” (9) I did not understand why Antonov bombers eradicated Christian villages in southern Sudan. “October 7, 2001: The Government of Sudan dropped six bombs over each village of Gukic and Mayom Deng Akol in the Mangok District of Aweil East County, northern Bahr El Ghazal, murdering 15 non-Muslim children and one elderly woman, and injuring 8 more children.” (37) I did not understand why groups of sword-wielding jihad warriors in the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, hacked Christians to death and why they torched entire Christian villages to ash. (38)
I faced these calamities everyday at International Christian Concern, and thus it is not difficult to assume why I was so angry when President George W. Bush and the media cohorts began preaching to the American people a message of peaceful Islam, that “Islam is peace.”
My second encounter with Islam was a gruesome and particularly confusing encounter. What I did not understand was the incredible mindset of a Muslim. The mindset that speaks volumes for anyone who is religiously devoted to a cause, a dedication that moves beyond the mere consequence of the mundane, but into the spiritual essence. “The religious obligation, and the religious loyalty imposes on every Muslim to support his brothers in every place, otherwise, corruption will spread in the earth. Allah Most High said: “And those who disbelieve, they are patrons of one another, if you do it, there will be tribulation in the earth, and great corruption. (23, 34, 8:73.)’” The Muslim mindset is one that configures the human mind to believe in the greater cause because a greater force defined, willed, and forced the new being into reality, the being a land free from idolatry and pain, filled with the exuberance of piety, devotion, and a limitless god.
The Entombed History
Around the beginning of September of 2001, I began an intensive study of Islam. I burrowed deep into the ancient pages of the holy text, the Quran, and into various secondary books and sources written from perspectives, Muslim and non-Muslim. I learned valuable sense from these books, and although I had not learned the Muslim mindset yet, I began to understand the reasoning behind some of the actions.
Now, a death was not an inhumane act of violence, but a message of the state against any that defy the majority. “[Fodha] was killed in accordance with the Shariah ruling against apostates. A group of Muslim ulema [scholars], including At-Azhar Mosque scholars, ruled that he reneged on Islam and Shariah entitles a devout Islamic group to implement its provisions since the ruler [President Mubarak] is an atheist. Killing Faraj Fodha was our Islamic duty.” (32) In my eyes, the capture and torture of Saudi foreign nationals was still a destination of inhumanity and the absence of good, but I accepted it for what it was – a law. (37)
One lonely night, a group of Saudi foreign national Christians gathered to celebrate a birthday. They brought along hymnbooks and sang praises to God and celebrated the birthday of a close friend. Unfortunately for them, the Ministry of the Interior of the Saudi Islamic government kept one eye open and one eye closed. After the group went their separate ways, the Ministry began to chip away at the group covertly and with a government intemperance. Two members of the birthday party were arrested, interrogated, tortured, and deported by the government in a matter of a month. Over the next few months, everyone that attended the party, a total of over 400, had disappeared or been deported. The Ministry of the Interior arrested perhaps 20 or more of these individuals, put them in desert prisons without water and food, and deported the lot of them. In Sharia law (Islamic state law, based upon the Quran and sayings in the Hadith), private worship is allowed for the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), but for this instance the Ministry considered a gathering of 400 to be more than a private gathering. Hence, the Christians broke the law.
In addition to studying the Quran and various parts of other Islamic texts, I also studied Islamic history and modern studies in Islam. Islamic history is embroiled with a tempest of violence, war, and peace, just as any history is. The difference with Islamic history against any other history, that being democratic, Christian, communist, Marxist, or fascist history, is of a unity circumstance. Islam was the same, all the time. When Islam moved, the Muslims moved. (21) The decree of law was brought directly from the ulema (the Muslim lawgivers), which devised law directly from the Quran and the Hadith. When we speak of Islamic conquests over a period of 1500 years, the same pursuit is still in consequence – to change the world into an Islamic state. “At best, its legal meaning can be understood as ‘using military force, where diplomacy fails, to remove the obstacles the Islamic State faces in carrying its ideology to mankind.” (1)
And likely, the same pursuit will continue. Islam prospered when emperors ruled the court of Constantinople, Islam prospered when Europe felt the shadow of the Dark Ages, Islam prospered when the throne of France was riddled in the Holy Roman Empire, Islam prospered when the Czar of Russia drank his mead, Islam prospered when England sat in her suited homes and argued about the daily badminton tournament, Islam prospered when colonists fought against Britain in the revolutionary war, Islam prospered during the American Civil War, and Islam prospers today.
My pursuits brought me closer to a common truth, and if we are to be honest, everything in this world has a common truth, but too often a veil of lies covers that truth. I did not see my studies as the attack of an ancient, eastern religion, nor did I see my studies as the enlightenment of a fabulously mysterious theology. Rather, I saw my studies as an opening to the western world, a bright light illuminating a haven of knowledge to bring people closer together in understanding, and hopefully, to come across any differences they may have. You see – if the object of Islam is to establish the Islamic State, and if in a country the Islamic state has not been established, then the dilemma is severe. For a Quranically correct Muslim, they must pursue, or jihad, against the majority, using their whole will to establish this state. For with this state, comes the advent of peace, and with peace, comes the allowance of achievement in god’s name.
My pursuits also brought me closer to the Muslim mindset, although it was not until the end of my studies that I fully understood. In studying the Quran, a stark emphasis is placed on the importance of the Muslim, especially in an Islamic State. There are two types of individuals allowed inside an Islamic State: the Muslim, and any member of the People of the Book. The People of the Book are a group of people who follow the original understanding of the Judeo God, which included Jews, Christians, and various other minor sects now long extinct.
Above the People of the Book stand the Muslims, who are honored and given authority over all. “In spite of its exhortations on behalf of Islam and its virtual demonizing of Jews and Christians in innumerable passages, the Koran also says: ‘There is no compulsion in religion,’ and that believers among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) can be saved.” (19) The People of the Book may live peacefully in an Islamic State, as long as they pay the Jizyra, or a religious tax. “Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and his messenger have forbidden, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” (34, 9:29)
There are numerous verses in the Quran that state the importance of the Muslim over the polytheists (Christians, because of the belief in the trinity and deity of Christ) and the forgotten (Jews, because they strayed from the original path of God). “Do you hold the giving of drink to the pilgrims [non-believers] and the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque equal to (the service of) one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and strives hard in Allah’s way? They are not equal in the sight of Allah. And Allah guides not the iniquitous people.” (34, 9:19) What these verses do, in affect, is create a Muslim elite majority and a minority of lower peoples.
In Pakistan, there are certain Islamic laws that carry a heavy sentence. In my work for ICC, I rewrote a court case of a man named Ayub Masih who is still growing older in a Pakistani prison for an alleged comment about the Prophet Muhammed in a derogatory fashion. (39) Such blasphemy against the prophet demands life imprisonment, deportation, and sometimes death. Ayub Masih is a Christian, as denoted by his last name Masih (which is a last name many Pakistani Christians take), and was accused of calling Muhammed a liar and a magician. Ayub Masih is one case among many that proves the minority created by a Sharia sentence of law. Christians in Pakistan are not held high in society, often holding poor jobs and surviving on the edge. In most Islamic States, this is true, excepting a few north African countries where the Sharia law has not been implemented fully yet, including Egypt, Nigeria, and Eritrea.
The Islamic State is restrictive and not permissive of alternate ideas. Because God created the Islamic State, the state is a perfect and whole idea. “Whatever message We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it. Knowest thou not that Allah is Possessor of power over all things?” (34, 2:106) Therefore, to change or alter the state would be blasphemous, even in modern times. Several times over the last century, groups of people have attempted to reform Islamic law. They called themselves the Islamic Modernists, and they based themselves out of Egypt. (21) Unfortunately, their dream of combining western institutions with Islamic ideals ultimately failed because of the inaccessibility of the two ideologies. “First, they [the Arab countries] tried feudalism and it failed. Then they tried Pan-Arabism, which also failed. After that, they flirted with the Western culture and were disappointed. Now, they [the extremists] are very frustrated and they [the terrorists] seize upon a seventh century code that they feel justifies them in killing the ‘infidel.’” (3) Western ideology seeks material growth, flexible institutions, and an ever-changing environment, whereas Islamic ideology seeks non-material growth, rigid institutions, and a god-inspired, non-changing environment.
The Islamic State is not the only aspect of Islam, however. Especially in this modern age when technology has taken the place of divinity and democracy seeks to eradicate lower forms of government, the theological implications of Islam rise from the depths of ancient Islamic times to meet our modern with in what is termed today, “Islamic Rage.” (45) This term of rage merely is a survival attempt to establish the Islamic State using a theological basis of glorifying death.
Paradise is attained in two ways through Islam. The first is through luck, by participating in the five basic pillars of Islam and following God against anything that comes in the path of temptation – following the Islamic law, and obeying God’s commands. And perhaps, if God it be so, then paradise shall be granted. “Say: Surely I have manifest proof from my Lord and you call it a lie. I have not with me that which you would hasten. The judgment is only Allah’s. He relates the truth and he is the best of deciders.” (34, 6:57) The second path to Paradise is through participation in a jihad. “You should believe in Allah and his messenger, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, did you but know! He will forgive you your sins and cause you to enter Gardens wherein rivers flow, and goodly dwellings in Gardens of perpetuity – that is the mighty achievement.” (34, 61:11-12) Some have defined jihad as the mystical sixth pillar.
Some claim jihad is the Islamic term for Holy war in the name of God. “Jihad is presented as the diabolical call of ‘bloody-thirsty people’ to convert others to Islam by ‘the sword.’ To Muslims, on the other hand, it has been promoted as a self-help concept whose aim is to make one a model citizen in whatever society he finds himself in. Neither of these ideas represents the reality of Jihad.” (1) Some esoterics maintain jihad is merely a term for striving at the utmost for God, either through personal life, through occupation, through war, through embitterment, in a self-help concept.
Jihad ultimately is the connecting point of becoming a superior Muslim, for if you participate in Jihad, then your goal is to participate in the ultimate goals of Islam. “The universality of the Islamic Resistance Movement: Article Seven: By way of the distribution of the Muslims who adopt the system of the Islamic Resistance Movement in all parts of the world, they work towards aiding it, accepting its stands and amplifying its jihad. Therefore it is an international movement and it is prepared for this (task) because of the clarity of its ideology, lofty goal and the sanctity of its objectives. Upon this basis it should be considered, given a fair evaluation and admission of its role… The reward is for those who are early.” (27) The ultimate goals of Islam are to establish an Islamic state across the entire earth, and to obey and worship God with the utmost devotion and love. “The command to participate in jihad and the mention of its merits occur innumerable times in the Koran and the Sunna. Therefore it is the best voluntary [religious] act that man can perform. All scholars agree that it is better than the hajj (greater pilgrimage) and the ‘umra (lesser pilgrimage), than voluntary salaat and voluntary fasting, as the Koran and the Sunna indicate.” (17)
To conclude this section is ironic, because my scholarly pursuits in Islam shall never end. I intend to stay this course until some solution can be realized. One danger I realized during my studies of Islam is that the solution is one that cannot be achieved through the might of man, for the sword of Islam is always ready to conquer the oppressors. In the Moro Islands and the Christian State of Eritrea Muslim warriors gather against their governments because of the oppressive actions. (23) In the country of Sudan in Africa the government attempts Islamic ritual cleansing, ridding the new Islamic State from polytheists and animists. (37) In the vast network of the al Qaida organization headed by Osama bin Laden, Muslims from all walks of life work together to fight against a tyrannical force known as America, which threatens to destroy and dislodge all morality and decency from the world. (40) America creates serfs out of once great Muslim warriors and inserts pornography, sex, unsubstantiated violence, and materialism into the noble Islamic culture. “I send recordings to Cairo in which I call upon my people to attack tourists. I explain to them that we must stop tourism to Egypt. Tourism is a plague. [Western] women come dressed in provocative clothing in order to arouse the believers. Tourists use drugs, they party all night in the clubs and casinos, and feel up to the belly dancers. And our people [the Egyptians] their eyes are popping out from envy in trying to imitate the infidel tourists.” (31, Sheik Umar Abd al-Rahman) The effort is international, to rid the world of filth and leave only that which is inspired by God. “The store – Holy Land Bakers and Grocery – is located on North Kedzie Street in downtown Chicago. Its walls are covered with PLO flags, intifada texts, HAMAS communiqu’s, pictures of Jerusalem and reliefs of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Intifada slogans adorn every possible corner. An entire wall is dedicated to the display of extremist Palestinian propaganda material: posters, videotapes, leaflets and newspapers.” (26)
Enigma – the Modern World
In the stormy jungles of Indonesia, religious warfare is rampant. (38) Indonesian Christians hide under palm and bush, waiting until the jihad guard-warriors pass the road in their camouflage jeeps and heavy automatic rifles. The Christians clutch their children tight to their breasts, and cover their mouths with their callused hands. Finally, the warriors disappear around the next bend of the mossy jungle, and the Christians rush out of the bush. The moment they do so, a stray jihad warrior shouts out and points at the Christians. The jihad warriors are thrilled. They have been hunting these Christians all morning, and finally outside the burned Christian village, they have found them at last. The warriors leap out of the jeep and in a maze of bullets, the Christians fall to the ground in a bloody sea of cries. Later, the warriors bury the Christians so their whereabouts cannot be found or reported.
The number is rising, but a total of 13,000 people have died in the small skirmishes in Indonesia between the Christians and Muslims. (37) The affair began when some of the Muslims decided the time had come to implement Shariah law upon the islands. The small band of warriors, trained by terrorist cells in Afghanistan and the Sudan, began hunting the island and both killing or converting Christians and followers of other religions.
The Holy Quran gives the People of the Book a special place in Islamic society. But for the radical Muslims of Indonesia, the Christians are in their way to establishing an Islamic State on the islands. As long as Christians exist in Indonesia and the Indonesian government, there never will be Shariah law, because the Christians would never permit it. The Quran states explicitly that in order for the state to be realized, Muslims must do anything. “And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is only for Allah. But if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.” (34, 2:193) Slay anyone who gets in the way. Change everything. The matter is not for discussion, because for the Muslim who wishes to partake in the ultimate striving of Islam, the jihad, the Muslim must first of all establish a safe house for Islam – the Islamic State.
The accomplishment of this arrives by an unlikely destination. Palestinian suicide bombers walk themselves into Israeli restaurants and marketplaces and explode their fingers, hands, legs, and eyes onto the sidewalk, along with five to ten other people. They believe that once they die, because they died in a jihad, they shall find themselves immediately in Paradise, a land flowing with sweets, collections of rich foods, delicate and nonalcoholic wines, and houris (eternal virgins). “The dutiful will be surely in Gardens and bliss, rejoicing because of what their Lord has given them; and their Lord saved them from the chastisement of the burning fire. Eat and drink with pleasure for what you did, reclining on thrones set in lines, and we shall join them to pure; beautiful ones.” (34, 52:17-20) These suicidal Muslims are usually young, idealistic, and zealous for their faith.
People of the western world question this idealism. Do these young men realize what a mistake they are making? “This action was simply a mass assassination. And they used their god as an excuse. How repulsive is that? How mentally deranged is that? How evil is that?” (5) My God! How can they be so stupid and belligerent and ignorant? “They believe their god is going to elevate them to paradise for executing innocent human beings. If that isn’t a mental illness, I don’t know what is.” (5) The same can be said of the western world, in a similar vein. If the western world’s religion is money, materialism, television, and sex, then what is to stop someone from accusing the western world of throwing away their life to a dead god and acting stupid, belligerent, and ignorant? The fact is, they do. “The Jews are the Jews. There never was among them a supporter of peace. They are all liars… the true criminals, the Jewish terrorists, that slaughtered our children, that turned our wives into widows and our children into orphans, and desecrated our holy places. They are terrorists. Therefore it is necessary to slaughter them and murder them, according to the words of Allah… it is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them anyplace that you may find yourself. Any place you encounter them – kill them. Kill the Jews and those among the Americans that are like them… The Jews only understand might. Have no mercy on the Jews, murder them everywhere.” (11) In Muslim newspapers, they accuse the western world of doing this, and as the western world has more power than Islam and because the western world is constantly trying to infuse these ideas into the Islamic ideal, obviously this is a threat.
As I write this, I realize the difference between the theology and the culture of Islam. The theology in Islam is simple. Follow the five pillars, maintain yourself, and see what happens. If you are attacked, or the Islamic world is attacked, fight back. “The battle with the Jews will surely come… the decisive Muslim victory is coming without a doubt, and the prophet spoke about in more than one Hadith and the Day of resurrection will not come without the victory of the believers [the Muslims] over the descendents of the monkeys and pigs [the Jews] and with their annihilation.” (10) Strive to achieve the Islamic State. “One suggestion that was not disputed among participants was the source of the solution to the present plight of Muslims all over the world. This was agreed to be reliance on the solution given by the Quran and the Sunna [Islamic traditions]. Since land cannot be compromised in Al Islam it means that the Intifada must be rejuvenated and encouraged. This is the only way the liberation of Palestine could be achieved.” (30) The methodology is so simple, so elementary. The depth of Islam comes when the Islamic State is realized, and how the policies and actions of the government are in accordance with the policies God set forth in the Quran.
There are no questions about the divinity of Muhammed or the nature of God, nor is their any question about the correct version of the Quran. Muhammed was a man, and he was God’s prophet and therefore must be respected. God is distant, difficult, and acts as an unknowable spirit who claims to be the steadfast in every living thing, and yet also be the judge, judicator, and jury. The Quran is holy and has never been changed, according to scholars, (although we know this to be untrue), and is the spoken word of God through the mouth of the angel Gabriel and the pen of Muhammed. (33)
Fundamentalism (as a system) is at the center, a combination of the affects of modern society and a return to the ancient beliefs of the original Muslims, dating back to Muhammed. Fundamentalists believe in the original style of Muhammed, in his battles and the way he dealt with his opponents. “Peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad bin Abdallah, who said: I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but God is worshiped, God who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders.” (41) They believe in the absolute nature of everything in Islam, and therefore, they also believe in the strict adherence of the Shariah implementation and the following of the jihad.
But fundamentalism is not the only strain of Islam alive in the world. Fundamentalism is a percent of Muslims who strive for a better world in their ideology, but there are numerous other Muslims, including the Sufi Muslims and Shiite Muslims. The Sufi is a mystical branch of Islam, claiming to preach love and a devotion to God. The Shiite is a brand of persecuted Islam, once part of the original tribe of Muslims, but after the death of Muhammed, they were cut off from the Caliphate and sentenced to years of persecution from the Sunni tribe of Muslim. The Shiite believe in the God-granted divinity of the leader of an Islamic State, much like the Catholics believe the Pope was given his place by God. Both of these groups contend for the Muslim heart.
In the United States of America, Sufism took a rapid turn. Sentenced to years of persecution in the Middle East, Sufis finally found a place to explore their belief in the United States, and much of Sufi thought permeates throughout America. The desire for an Islamic State may still exist for the Sufi, but the desire to meet God and to love God exists on a much higher plane, almost a deafening plane. The American Sufi experience may be a reminder of some of the gentler aspects of Islam, but remember that Sufism in general is still not accepted within Islamic society, and breaks several of the fundamental concepts. Such can also be said of the Bahai, who are at the foundation, reform Muslims. The Bahai were thrown out of the Islamic land, just like the Sufi.
This is the modern world. What comes now is a mixture of religious bickering and hopefully, the abstaining of religious violence in hopes for a better tomorrow without past haunts of war, rivalry, and lust for power. As the world comes closer together, we begin to understand more about each other than ever before. If the Islamic world is going to change, so must the western democratic world; a consensus must be reached. In the past this has been done with war, death, and rebirth. Hopefully in the future the solution may come with agreement and a sacrificing of ancient tradition in the face of a much greater dream – community and growth.
September 11, 2001
I remember the morning like today was the day after. I woke at 7a to the sound of my alarm radio. For some odd reason, I decided to wake to the sound of the local news. I remember, half-asleep, hearing the droning voice of the radio announcer saying something about a plane crashing in New York City. I didn’t pay much attention to the matter. I turned off my radio, pulled up the covers, and fell back into sleep for a few hours. Around 10a, I woke up, dressed myself, and headed off to the theatre to work the projectors. When I walked into work, my manager said something to me about canceling work because of some plane crash, but I ignored the thought and walked upstairs to the projection booth. Around 2p, I heard my manager tell me on my personal radio set everyone was taking off work. The government has called an alert. So I went home, and discovered that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. One of the news announcers on television said Arab terrorists controlled the planes. I shrugged my shoulders. Yeah, what’s new? I’ve been dealing with them for the past two months.
I was prepared. For some people, the idea that Muslim terrorists would board two planes and murder thousands of lives was non-existent. After all, Islam was a peaceful religion, full of tolerance and happiness and all the good things in life. But never, no never, would they attempt to destroy the God-given lives we have, and murder countless people!
Perhaps I’m being insensitive, but hello? We’ve had time to prepare for this. “They are no different from the concentration-camp butchers of the Holocaust, and any nation in the world that harbors them or condones their behavior should be ostracized, whether that nation produces oil or not.” (5) We’ve had over 1000 years to prepare for this. What do you expect from a people who conquered Constantinople, who plundered the Christian castles of Spain, who raided the Balkans and ruled the sparse forestland for almost 400 years? Perhaps we forgot the Crusades, where Crusader and Saracen matched sword for scimitar and horse for camel? Perhaps we forgot about the Ottoman Turks, who fought alongside their German comrades in World War I, and who fell at the battle of Gallipoli? Perhaps we forget about the Moors, the North African Muslims, who held Spain in an iron grip for almost 800 years? Perhaps we forgot about the golden age of Islam, while Europe was festering from the Black Plague, the lands south of Turkey were feasting on the richest foods and succumbing to the most hearty of poetry and art. Perhaps we forgot about the army of Ghenghis Khan, who after they had their fill of Muslim land, decided to convert to Islam and ride upward to Russia, to conquer and hold that land in the Mongol claw for more than 500 years. (33) Perhaps we forgot.
The letter Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind behind the World Trade Center attacks, wrote before his departure into Paradise is not dissimilar to many Quranic passages and many sayings in the Hadith. “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.” (42)
His letter is not dissimilar from many of the letters ailing Muslim warriors wrote home to their families before they were to march into battle on the ancient Spanish frontier. “Ye fight in the service of Allah… This is your first deed of arms. After it shall follow either a glorious martyrdom and the joys of Paradise, or victory and rich spoils.” (33, p.188, said by the General Abu Hafas, 1195 CE) His letter is not dissimilar from the battle chant of the Laskar Jihad that are terrorizing modern Indonesia or from the Mujaheeden, the holy warriors that fought against Soviet Russia in Soviet-controlled Afghanistan in the 1980’s. “Ready to die, we are ordinary people who seeks for heaven; fear nothing but Allah, striving in the Cause of Allah.” (46) His letter is not any different than the cry of Khartoum Muslims during British occupation in the latter part of the 19th century or than the shout of the Bedouin tribe in Arabia during World War II. “God knoweth that there be some among you sick while others travel through the Earth for the bounties of God; others do battle in his cause; recite, therefore, as much as may be easy and observe the prayers; this will be best and richest in the recompense.” (47)
The only consolation I have in the truth of Islam is that even the most peaceful can be stirred to battle, because the Quranic verses preach that battle must be fought to establish the Kingdom of God, with the sword, with the pen, and with the mouth. “ ‘Osama bin Laden was quiet-spoken, respectful and humble. When he met my father, he did not look him in the eye. That is the greatest honor an Arab can bestow on an elder,’ said Deedat. ‘He moved me to tears. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke in public, he had this magnetic affect on all who listened to him.’” (2) Islam is the only religion that is not only a religion, but also a meaning in life, culturally, politically, theologically, economically, and socially.
Mohammed Atta was a student, a scholar, and zealous for his faith. He believed in what he was doing. What other reason to do this than for the benefits of Paradise? What more reason does he need? His work would help establish the Kingdom of God on earth and provide a safe haven for all Muslims from their persecutors. “We must prepare a foothold, for the coming army of Allah, by divine predetermination. May it be Allah’s will, this oppressing state shall pass, Israel shall pass. This oppressing state, America, shall pass, the oppressing state Britain, shall pass, [those] that brought this catastrophe [nakba] of this nation.” (16) His sacrifice was a benevolent action, to persevere in the name of Islam and become God’s soldier.
But he murdered thousands of people in his action. Thousands of people corrupted by the Great Satan, America. (36) Thousands of people who didn’t deserve to live, because they lived in a land where sexual immorality, polytheism, materialism, and a general lack of respect for God existed, and they did nothing to create a better place. Revolution! Revenge! Throw down the towers of the sickest and mightiest kingdom on earth, and perhaps make way for the most beautiful. “Their Bible [of the Jews] today, has no light and no teachings. Their Bible today, is just a bunch of notes that were written down by people who lie about God, his prophets and his Bible… Those who do these kinds of things are the descendents of Abelis, meaning the descendents of the Satans… They fabricated a Jewish history book full of promises to Abraham, Issac and Jacob that He will give them the land of Palestine… The entire Bible comes to claim ownership on the land for the Jews.” (14)
The issue is not confusing. Yes, the issue is confusing if the viewpoint is one-sided from the victim viewpoint. But if the viewpoint of the situation is expanded, two viewpoints can be seen as each wanting a separate system in place with separate goals. “Before long, Palestine will return to the bosom of Islam, we this with certainty, in accordance with the religious texts… The glorious Islamic nation, to whom is promised victory by Allah.” (15) Democracy is the antithesis of Islamic law. Democracy rules by the people, and Shariah rules by God. Democracy is subject to change, and Shariah is subject to the same as Shariah was 1500 years ago. Democracy promotes the freedom of all people, and Shariah promotes a single, Muslim elite, with various other minority groups never sharing in the same amount of power. Democracy is outdated, whereas Shariah (if you think about it) is perhaps the newest form of law available for people to choose from except for Marxism.
God is the centerfold for the Muslim life. God means everything. In the Holy Quran, God has 99 different names, different attributes. (34) God is everything, never nothing. Muslim scholars believe that within every atom is a whole New World, perhaps the same world. (33) They believe this because of the immensity of God’s power. However, this God is a distant, away God, who cares nothing for the human soul save the worship of him. “And Allah makes obeisance every living creature that is in the heavens and that is in the earth, and the angels (too) and they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them and do what they are commanded.” (34, 16:49-50) And this is, perhaps, the only flaw I might address.
The Sufi Muslim is constantly seeking to be nearer God. Yet with a God who is so infinite and so distant and so uncaring, can a person ever touch him? Would he even like it? Would he scream in terror, or warm at the feeling? Or would he zap with you a huge stream of fire, and turn you to ash for even trying?
Are we but pawns in a giant game of humanity for a great God who cares nothing for his people, save the establishment of his worship? Perhaps he gives meaning and hope to those in dark corners, but once in the light what is there but the expansion of our human properties? Was Mohammed Atta the pawn of God, and is he truly in Paradise, sipping wine, eating cookies, and kissing his houris?
Or perhaps he is chained to a hot branding iron, screaming in torment for the rest of eternity.
Interview with Dr. Dudley Woodberry
How long have you been involved in Middle Eastern affairs?
How long involved in Middle Eastern affairs? Since 1954. I went out and worked in an agricultural center there, and was writing for a newspaper at the time.
What was your initial purpose in wanting to do Middle Eastern affairs?
Well, my initial interest came through listening to Samuel Zwemer, who presented the need for ministry in the Muslim world and presented some of the difficulties, and I heard him as a boy, so I had felt called to do that, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I made my first trip to actually be living with them.
Has your interest changed?
Not really. It has still been a mission interest and evangelistic interest, but it certainly has broadened and I’ve gotten a lot more appreciation and understanding and so forth, but it’s still essentially the same direction.
Do you view the Middle Eastern world any different than when you began?
Yes, I’ve gotten a lot of insight into the injustices done by the West in situations like the Palestine situation, although, I might say right off even back that summer I went down and visited both the Arab and Israeli sides, and saw Muslim and Arab refugee camps and then lived with Jews on the Jewish side and worked on a boat that preaches and had been used to take Jews illegally to Israel. They were not doing that when I was on it. I had some interest, some understanding, way back then, but I certainly by doing both a Masters and a Ph.D. on Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, I’ve certainly been brought up quite a bit.
How can the two ideologies – eastern and western – merge successfully, or is there a different solution?
I don’t think they will merge, well that they will certainly get closer together, but I think on many of these issues what we need is for each side to seek to understand the “why,” the why people act the other way, for example we in the West are more individualistic, they are more group conscious, and values of that nature. I think the main thing is to understand each others’ values sufficiently, so that we can work together. Now with all the globalization going on there is certainly going to be some merging, although with globalization it’s basically the merging by the easterner becoming more western, because that’s the form of most globalization. Still, for me, the major solution is for us to understand each others’ values. When we do that, then we know why people do what they do.
How should the western world prepare for this new wave of Islamic passion?
I would say, first of all, by thinking to understand why it has happened, or the grievances, let’s put it that way, that has led to much of it and I would say the grievances, what they state, the Palestine situation, the results of the sanctions against Iraq, even though those are not the intent of the sanctions, the sense of humiliation and endangerment that Muslims feel, and fourthly, the sense that with globalization they’re losing family values and religious values and the whole globalizing process, they are losing values which they consider to be better than the western values, and they don’t seem to be able to stop the westernization going on. The preparation, first of all, is understanding some of the issues they have, the grievances they have, and then with understanding them, do whatever we can where we have been unjust or insensitive to try to deal with that and wherever we don’t feel we can, at least explain the way we are, so there is far more communication and understanding going on.
Do you think history will repeat itself?
You mean like the events going on right now?
Right, and past Islamic events.
Ever since Ibn Khaldoun in the 14th century, he indicated there are about three generations that you have a repeat, that is you have the first generation is, there is vitality, sort of out of the desert, is the way he describes it, and then they get second generation, rulers get a sedentary life, and then the third generation, they get corrupted and there is a decline and that leads to trauma and then the trauma leads to a revival, and it sort of goes through a cycle like this to reach every third generation which would be roughly every hundred years or so, and you can certainly trace this throughout history. What we are seeing in our day, with the communication, the age, and the speed of change, it has been far more catastrophic type of resurgence. I would see this same trends going on. I would see probably a repeat of some sort, unless we get a much better understanding than I think we have thus far, because I don’t think we are going to solve things by basically bombing and fighting in this way. There is going to have to be a lot more understanding and a lot sense that we are working for justice.
1. Jihad – The Foreign Policy of the Islamic State, http://www.obm.clara.net/islamicissues/jihad.html
2. Stuijt, Adriana, Osama bin Laden: The South Africa Connection, Newsmax.com, November 15, 2001, p. 36
3. Browne, John Douglas, Haig to Newsmax: Warn Rogue States, Newsmax.com, November 15, 2001, p. 18
4. Brennan, Phil, How Rogue Nations Aid Terrorism, Newsmax.com, November 1, 2001, p. 30
5. O’Reilly, Bill, Evil on Display, Newsmax.com, November 15, 2001, p. 44
6. Islam’s Mandatory War Against Jews in PA Religious Teaching, http://shalomjerusalem.com/jerusalem/jerusalem42.htm
7. Sheikh Muhammed Abd al Hadi La’afi, Responsible for Religious Teaching and Instruction in the Office of the Wakf in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper
8. Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, Palestinian Television, July 28, 2000
9. Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, Friday Sermon, Palestinian Television, June 8, 2001
10. Sheikh Muhammed Abd al Hadi La’afi, Responsible for Religious Teaching and Instruction in the Office of the Wakf in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida, May 18, 2001
11. Dr. Ahmed Yousef Abu Halabiah, Palestinian Sharianic and Rector of Advanced Studies at the Islamic University, Palestinian Television, October 13, 2000
12. Sheikh Yousouf Abu Sneina, Palestinian Television, September 8, 2001
13. Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, Palestinian Television, April 13, 2001
14. Palestinian Authority Television Religious Class, December 17, 1998
15. Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, Palestinian Television, May 4, 2001
16. Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, Friday Sermon, Palestinian Television, June 8, 2001
17. Taymiyyah, Imam Ibn, The Religious and Moral Doctrine on Jihad, http://www.islaam.com/ilm/ibnta.htm
18. Jihad and the Crusades, http://www.twf.org/Library/Jihad.html
19. Pensar, Jed, A Critique of Islamic Jihad, http://philippines.com.ph/ColonialRP/jihad.htm
20. Woodberry, J. Dudley, The War on Terrorism: Reflections of a Guest in the Lands Involved
21. Davidson, Lawrence, Islamic Fundamentalism, Greenwood Press, London, 1998
22. Imad Shehadeh, President of Jordan Evangelical Seminary, Some Brief Thoughts on Islam & Terrorism, Monday, October 15, 2001
23. The Governing Regime is a Terrorist Regime Which Acts With Enmity Against the Eritrean People, Nida’ul Islam Magazine, http://www.islam.org.au/articles/22/eritrea.htm
24. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood: Islamic Extremists and the Threat to America, http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/american/adl/hamas
25. Forward, January 1, 1993
26. Ma’arit, February 5, 1993
27. Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement – HAMAS, Article 7
28. HAMAS Communiqu #53, Translated and distributed by the Islamic Association for Palestine in North America (IAP), February 14, 1990
29. Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement – HAMAS, Article 7, This passage regarding the Day of Judgement is quoted from the Hadith
30. Muslim Journal, January 12, 1990
31. Ahronot, Yediot, “The Sheik Who Murdered Egyptian Tourism,” Israeli Daily, January 1, 1993
32. Al-Safir, Lebanese Daily, July 21, 1992
33. Fregosi, Paul, Jihad in the West, Promestheus Books, New York, 1998
34. Mohammed, The Holy Quran, Editor: Maulana Muhammad Ali, Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Kha’at Islam Lahore Inc., Columbus, 1917
35. Gibbon, Edward, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol.6, “The loose expression of the Quran allows the commentators to fluctuate between the numbers of 1,000, 3,000, and 9,000 angels.”
36. Abdallah, Osama, “Why Do Some Muslims Call Americans and Westerners “Great Satan?” http://www.answering-christianity.com/que1.htm
37. International Christian Concern, (Country) Profile, http://www.persecution.org
38. Duin, Julia, Christians Terrorized by Laskar Jihad, Monday December 17 2001, Washington Times
39. Khan, Abdul Ghaffar, In the Court of Mr. Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Sessions Judge, Sahiwal, Sessions Trial No. 05 SU of 1998, The State Versus Ayub Masih, Sadar, Arifwala District, Pakpattan Sharif
40. Bin Laden, Osama, First War of the Century, al-Jazirah TV, December 27, 2001 19:38 GMT Transript
41. World Islamic Front, Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, February 23, 1998
42. Atta, Mohammad, Letter (the night before the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001), Reuters
43. CAIR, TV Critics Downplay Positive Impact of PBS “Islam: Empire of Faith” Series Airing Tonight, May 8, 2001, Washington, DC
44. CAIR, Canadian Newspaper Publishes Apology For Anti-Muslim Article, January 1, 2001
45. Zakaria, Fareed, The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?, Newsweek, October 15, 2001
46. Laskar Jihad, Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, http://www.laskarjihad.or.id, (declaration of mission)
47. Spiegel, Sam, Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
The beginning of my understanding took place in January, in front of my television. I was watching Lawrence of Arabia, a story about an eccentric Englishman who travels to Arabia during his term in the army and unites the Bedouin tribes. He captures Damascus and ousts the Ottoman Turks. The film was outstanding. The film was brilliant. The characterizations were right on the money. But however great the film was, this was not the reason the film changed my understanding of Islam. My understanding changed when I suddenly was thrust into this world of dunes and heat, the world where Mohammad gleaned his sword against his foes. Movies have this affect on me. Hours after that movie was over, I still felt the bite of sand and the blood of my body boil over in song. I began to understand, in a more detailed way, of the cultural difference between cultures – namely the Islamic ideal and the western ideal. And from this, I unraveled my own twists and nooks of my western upbringing, and began to understand the need of the Quranic scriptures inside the heart of every Muslim.
I was placed in a unique situation. I found myself, for the briefest moment, as a Muslim, garnering under the Arabian sun, shouting to Allah and being altogether very happy to be alive. It was a romantic vision that lasted perhaps a few hours of my life, but during this time, what I took away was a beauty towards this culture, a beauty towards this ideal of establishing a united people under one beautiful God, so great that even the atoms in the sun bowed to him. I found myself prostrating on the floor, bowing and praying towards Mecca and the mysterious god-sent Kaaba. I found myself hating the western world for destroying what I loved so much – my morality, my pride, my love for tradition. And when the ecstatic feeling left, I was back in the United States, and now I faced both realities with nothing but an unprotected heart. I began to see, then, that our cultures are so very far apart, and yet within both is the human dilemma – to discover purpose. Islam is one of these human purposes, and a brilliant vision by the trader known as Mohammad. Of course, the conflict with western culture and perhaps even far-eastern culture remains, and will always be a mountain to climb for even the most devout Muslim.
In my scholarly chapter of this paper, I said the end of my studies would be an ironic twist. I repeat myself, for my conclusion to Islam shall never come to pass. Islam is more than a religion – Islam is a way of life, a path of action. Ayatollah Khomeini, an Islamic revolutionary stated, “We must strive to export our Revolution throughout the world, and must abandon all idea of not doing so, for not only does Islam refuse to recognize any difference between Muslim countries, it is the champion of all oppressed people… We must make plain our stance toward the powers and superpowers and demonstrate to them despite the arduous problems that burden us. Our attitude to the world is dictated by our beliefs.” (1) It is clear as long as Islam remains in the hearts of people Islam will remain. And because of that, there shall always be the peaceful, the neutral, and the violent.
Jed Pensar, a Christian-Islamic scholar stated, “The existence of angry passages urging believers to commit acts of physical violence in the Koran makes Islam susceptible to violent sectarianism, much more than say Buddhism or Christianity… Teaching the angry passages of the Koran to a Muslim population is like letting the proverbial jinn out of the bottle… Unfortunately, these passages undeniably still exist, written in stone in the sacred scripture of Islam forever. If a concept exists, it can be used.” (2) There are peaceful attributes of Islam that must be recognized, however much the violence of the Quran is pictured.
The Quran preaches a limitation to violence (3, 2:190) and restricts the violence to self-defense. The Quran preaches that religion should not be obsessive (3, 2:256) and preaches alternate forms of striving in God’s way beside violence (3, 8:61), including abstaining from violence and the modes of speech, writing, and personal revelation. (3, 16:90)
Muslims are forbidden to hurt the innocent. (3, 22:39-40) However, once persecution against a people begins to turn the terrible, painful wheel, Muslims must act as heroes to the oppressed. This is perhaps the greatest commandment of Islam – the total devotion to the blessed people (Muslims) of God.
The goal of Islam is, like most world religions, to gain sovereignty over all the people on Earth. The end of Islam is reborn in the formation of the Islamic State – the Kingdom of God on Earth, where all Muslims may partake of the glory of God before their death. It is a mighty and lofty goal, and until all realize this, there shall be much bloodshed.
I am troubled by the weight of such a call. To understand that no one person can ever live in true peace – freedom of thought, mind, and body – without another human being imposing a system of belief. But perhaps it is the way of the world – to impose upon each other until the time for inquisition arrives and through death the final imposition is cast upon us, in a silent, earthly breath, a cleansing of our belief of greatness over others.
(1) Imam Khomeini, Islam and Revolution (Trans. By Hamid Algar), London: KPI, Ltd., 1981, p.286
(2) Pensar, Jed, A Critique of Islamic Jihad, http://philippines.com.ph/ColonialRP/jihad.htm
(3) Mohammed, The Holy Quran, Editor: Maulana Muhammad Ali, Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Kha’at Islam Lahore Inc., Columbus, 1917