The war against ISIS | GHASSAN KADI* argues against self-serving dogma substituting as analysis, and for the renovation of Islam
Islam, real Islam, is a religion of piety, wisdom and peace, and Muslims, real Muslims are not terrorists. Even though all terrorists that have been caught involved in terrorism are “Muslims”, this does not give a blanket description of all Muslims as beings terrorists.
Those who “use” terrorism to spew hatred towards Islam and indiscriminately against all Muslims have their own agenda. These are the true Islamophobes. These people do not need a reason to hate Islam and Muslims. They are now having a field day with the terror issue and using it to feed their hatred and to justify it.
I wanted to start this series of articles with the above statements in order to keep some who will try to put words in my mouth at bay. I had to make my position clear here, because inspired by The Saker**, I want to have “my rant”.
In making my position clear and saying the above, I emphasize that we need to be able to discern what is what and what is not when it comes to Islam, Muslims and terrorism. In between the two extremes of 1) turning a total blind eye to the violent segment within Muslim communities in fear of being wrongly and unfairly branded as an Islamophobe and 2) clamping down on all Muslims and persecuting them, there is definitely an elusive fine line that needs to be identified. I am yet to see anyone trying to do this.
The EU has been towing the line of option (1) above. The American presidential hopeful Donald Trump is promising to enact option (2).
Option (1) led to the Paris November 2015 and the Brussel March 2016 attacks. This option is not leaving only the EU poised to suffer more terror, but the entire West. Option (2), if ever enacted, has unforeseeable consequences that I will not even try to imagine and discuss.
In between the extremes of fear and hatred, the West finds itself incapable of dealing with the Daesh phenomenon that has infiltrated into its heartland.
The problem with Daesh is certainly not restricted to the West. Its bigger impact is within the Muslim World. Its Western operatives have brought it to infamy in the West, turned the spotlights towards it, but its roots and recruitment base are without any shadow of doubt within the Muslim World.
I have in recent times expressed views about IS/Daesh that go against the grain of the politically-correct mainstream mindset of many friends of Syria. As a result, I had to weather quite a bit of harsh criticism, but this will not silence me.
I have serious concerns about the turn of recent events, and I humbly, but firmly, believe that with my upbringing in a city that became a major hub for Jihadis, having gone to school with and rubbed shoulders with many who became Jihadi leaders, and having been personally targeted as a potential recruit, my opinion is based on a broader-than-average exposure to different angles of the crisis in Syria and the rise of fundamentalism. I am not forcing my views on anyone, and all I am hoping for is that my views, that are based on my actual first-hand experience, can shed more light on the underlying issues behind the IS/Daesh phenomenon.
the biggest confusion originates from the opinions of analysts (mostly Western) who do not know the roots of the problem, and yet for some mysterious reason, they assume a leading role in the debate.
There seems to be a huge deal of misconception about what Daesh is and who directs it. Some of this is the direct result of the confusion caused by the rather big number of Islamist organizations and sponsors, but the biggest confusion originates from the opinions of analysts (mostly Western) who do not know the roots of the problem, and yet for some mysterious reason, they assume a leading role in the debate.
This confusion will probably go on for a long time, and it may never get resolved. However, I believe that it is time that a proper debate is conducted; a debate in which analysts with opposing views come in and bring their argument with them, if and when they have any.
We are on the cusp of an “enough-is-enough” moment. Whilst this attempt may not succeed, it is however an invitation, a challenge, to put this argument to rest once and for all.
It is easy to get bogged down in the details of which organization, the name of its leader, his association with different sponsors, why and when different leaders and the followers rebunk from one organization to another. All of those complications mask the simple reality behind what the current IS state is all about.
Daesh/IS is a new name, but in reality not different from its Islamic fundamentalist predecessors. The origin can be traced back in recent history to Wahhabism, but on examining the roots, it can be traced back to a very ancient fundamentalist Fukih (theology) that is based on false interpretations of the Holy Quran. Such theology is much more ancient than Wahhabism and even European settlement in America. Hence, the United States of America and the CIA cannot be held accountable for its existence.
When Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) was attacked by his own people (Quraish tribe), self-defense weighed in and battles were fought. Later on, as Islam expanded into other regions, for reasons not exactly clear to us now, wars associated with Islam were fought, but that was more than a thousand years ago. Furthermore, that modus operandi was not meant to stick, but it did. It goes against the teaching of the Quran, but to complicate things even more, the Quran was interpreted in a manner that endorses those widely accepted but false interpretations, and consequently, all Quranic translations are based on them. I have written at length and depth about this miscontrued theology before, and there is no real need to repeat the same message.
Wahhabism then adopted and fostered such pre-existing radical views, but it did not “invent” them either. They pre-date Wahhabism. The discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia lubricated the process and gave it a new momentum.
Wahhabism then adopted and fostered such pre-existing radical views, but it did not “invent” them either. They pre-date Wahhabism. The discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia lubricated the process and gave it a new momentum. Saudis became able to sponsor and finance Islamic schools that taught this perverted version of Islam. The Saudi funds were not spent only on preaching, but also on military training and setting up militia groups in different regions of the world. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the invasion was seen by Islamists as the attack of a “Kafir” (heretic nonbeliever) Communist nation on a Muslim nation. As a result, and in accordance with a Brzezinski-initiated plan, Afghanistan became a fertile ground for Jihadis, Saudi funds and American support.
The Al-Qaeda/American alliance broke up when America put boots on Saudi soil leading up to Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
At that point in time, the Islamists and the Americans found common interests. Even Bin Laden was on America’s side during this stage. This alliance however was not a permanent mark as some insist and refuse to see otherwise. The Al-Qaeda/American alliance broke up when America put boots on Saudi soil leading up to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. To Bin Laden that was a redline. To him, the Muslim Holy Land was not to be desecrated by “Salibyyin” (Crusaders).
Those who were fixated on seeing Bin Laden as an American lackey, especially those who weren’t in a position to understand his many speeches, let alone listened to them, could not understand the underlying nature of the conflict that turned Al-Qaeda from an ally of the Americans to a fierce foe. In all of his speeches, which were never translated in their entirety into English for public broadcast, Bin Laden had one single demand from the Americans, and that was for them to leave Islamic lands in general and the Islamic Holy Land in particular.
This was exactly how Bin Laden recruited Muslim youth. Every time he appeared on Al-Jazeera making his harangues, he reached out to the hearts and minds of those youth and had them flocking in droves to join him. Yes, Al-Jazeera was a huge recruiter playing his messages.
Those who come from the “blame-Daesh-only-on-America” camp find themselves in a logical dilemma that they refuse to see. Even if Bin Laden, Al-Baghdadi and others are indeed CIA operatives and are working under the direct orders of America, even if they are paid by MI6, the KGB, the Peruvian Intelligence or the Zimbabwean underground, this makes no difference at all. For as long as they are using widely-accepted Muslim theology to lure in recruits, a theology that they know cannot be refuted by other Muslims, then this means one and only one thing. It means that they have found in the theology a weakness that they could use as a recruitment drive. For as long as the theology that supports this drive is in existence, then it can be employed again and again, and this is where the problem is.
In the meantime, as many confused adversaries of Daesh continue to reiterate that the USA and the DAESH are one, the latter continues to capitalize on this, and makes itself look like the long-awaited Muslim movement that is going to restore the former ancient Muslim glory, and thus continue to be able to lure more and more recruits.
If anything at all, Jihadists loathe the West and detest Westerners enough to want to kill them all. They regard themselves as pure and all others (especially Westerners) as filth. They will use them, take their money and arms and use their women for their pleasure, but they will never trust them and/or partner with them in any manner, shape or form. It is totally against their doctrine to partner as equals with them.
What is most pertinent here is that fighting DAESH entails nipping its ideology in the bud, where it festers within decayed and ancient fundamentalist Islamist theology. Any diversion from this focal point of attention is dangerous, distractive and divertive.
Now here is the irony. Every time I discuss this subject with a native Arab (mostly Muslim), who is fluent in Arabic and familiar with the history of Islam and current distorted beliefs, I do not find any resistance in expressing the message. Some know all of this already, others may confess that they have never thought about it before, but contend with the fact that the current and archaic Muslim interpretations of the Holy Quran do lend themselves open to violence.
The staunch opposition for this analysis invariably comes from people who don’t speak a word of Arabic, have not studied Islam through Arabic language texts, lack total historical perspective, never lived among Muslims, and do not know the first thing about Muslim theology. How audacious indeed. How would they like the shoe to be on the other foot? For example, how would they like someone from a country and culture so removed from anything American, someone who doesn’t speak a word of English, has never been in the West, never studied its history and never mingled with its people to lecture them, in their own very remote language, about American politics?
The “blame-Daesh-only-on-America” camp has got to accept the fact that the Muslim world is full of people who give themselves the title of “Da’iyeh”, a term that simplistically translates into “preacher”, but it puts the person on a very high pedestal. A “Da’iyeh” therefore is someone who is a preacher of very high acclaim.
The question here is not about the funds. We all know the funds came from Saudi Arabia and the USA and recently from the stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil. It is about the ideology.
If anyone or any group of people want to take the challenge to prove without any reasonable doubt that the Daesh mentality is only exclusively the works of the CIA, I then invite them to come forward to present one single shred of evidence. The question here is not about the funds. We all know the funds came from Saudi Arabia and the USA and recently from the stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil. It is about the ideology.
If Daesh recruiters are not using archaic Muslim theology, advocates of the “blame-Daesh-only-on-America” camp owe their readers and followers presentation of proof of any alternative ideology those recruiters are using. They will have to listen to Arabic videos, understand them, and have them translated. They will have to learn Muslim theology in order for them to be able to substantiate their claims. There is no other way for them to prove their claims, but this is what they have got themselves into.
In asking for this, I must mention that there are thousands upon thousands of videos on the Internet and YouTube of Muslim preachers misusing the Holy Quran in order to lure Jihadi recruits. Not unless and not before Islam reforms and denounces this theology that lends itself to violence, then that same theology will be used again and again now and in the future.
I can provide the Internet/YouTube evidence, miles and miles of it, and the “blame-Daesh-only-on-America” camp can present their counter evidence. I invite them to take the challenge, put up or shut up.
*Ghassan Kadi, a native of Beirut, is an analyst of Middle East affairs. Visit Intibah and Ghassan Kadi’s website.
**Refers to Vineyard of the Saker, where this article originally appeared.