Beware of the exaggerators: From ISIS to Islamophobes
While indeed justice requires to be served, especially when innocent lives have been sacrificed to the pyre of fascism, let us be cautious as we assess blame, or else we could stand to play directly in those hands we abhor most of all – those of Daesh, this plague which claimed itself of Islam.
As the world stands in mourning, its people united in the rejection of radicalism, voices have begun to rise above the crowds, crying for vengeance and swift retaliation against those they perceived as the guilty parties. More often than not, the weight of guilt has been thrown on Islam, the designated target of well-thinking seculars.
But while indeed justice requires to be served, especially when innocent lives have been sacrificed to the pyre of fascism, let us be cautious as we assess blame, or else we could stand to play directly in those hands we abhor most of all – those of Daesh, this plague which claimed itself of Islam.
While many groups and many men over the centuries have come bearing vengeful swords, admonishing the public for their transgressions against Islamic laws, most did so not in Islam’s name or out of love for its tenets, but to destroy those Islamic principles of compassion, measure and reason which continue to live on and inspire communities.
Bloodletting is not a pillar of Islam. Extremism, radicalism and spiritual devolution are the very negation of Islam’s message and the Truth it stands for.
This black flag army, those militants which sow death everywhere they go, breathe and move outside the realm of Islam; they are not of its people and they are not of its faith – their actions and their beliefs absolutely position them beyond the tenets of Islam and the message the last prophet of God, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) carried forth a millennium ago.
Islam cannot be found in the heresy which was born in the arid and unforgiving sands of Nejd (Saudi Arabia). Islam should never be associated with the deviation of a pseud-scholar, and let’s face it – Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, who brandished theo-fascism in the Hejaz several centuries ago so that his ambitions could be served.
One needs only to look back in the pages of history to recognize that this “new” terror we see shape up under ISIL’s flag is actually an old fear, one which was born at the end of the 18th century from the alliance of the House of Saud and Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, the reformer.
Takfirism remains the founding principle of Wahhabism, the faith embraced by ISIL so completely that the two cannot be distinct from one another.
This marriage, or one might say alliance of convenience in between Al Saud and Wahhabism gave birth at the turn of the 19th century to a bloodshed of such genocidal proportion that can be compared to the horrors we are witnessing today.
As he sought to establish an independent kingdom, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Muhammad, Ibn Saud’s son and successor, used takfir to justify the wholesale slaughter of resistant populations. In 1801, his army sacked the holy city of Karbala in what is now Iraq, plundered the tomb of Imam Husayn, and slaughtered thousands of Shias, including women and children; in 1803, in fear and panic, the holy city of Mecca surrendered to the Saudi leader.
Daesh’s terror is indeed an old one.
But here is where we need to learn from past mistakes to ensure that evil is not repeated.
Terror returned because terror was allowed to return – by the agents of political powers who imagined themselves entitled to rule over the masses.
Just as Wahhabism rose a giant on the back of the House of Saud’s imperialistic ambitions several centuries ago, to become this cancer which has spread so far and so wide into the Islamic world that too many believe its philosophy to be that Islamic, Daesh was raised from the sands of Iraq and Syria so that Western powers could play their grand game of mass destabilization.
Let us remember the injunctions of Imam Ali, the son in law of the Prophet Muhammad and first Imam of Islam when he stressed, “Two types of people will be destroyed because of me: the extremist and the enemy.” He also stated that “The best stance towards me belongs to those who choose a moderate way.”
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir professed that “there are two categories of my Ummah which do not benefit from Islam: the extremists and those who believe in predestination.”
Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq warned, “Beware of the exaggerators lest they deviate your children.” He stated that “The smallest thing that diverts a believer from his faith is sitting next to an extremist, listening to him, and confirming his words.”
Islam’s Imams foretold the heresy which we see today play out, and therefore their words should stand testimony of this war we wage against ignorance, bigotry and radicalism.
But if millions of Muslims across the world have recognized the danger lurking behind the black flag army, the same cannot be said of Western capitals.
This November, as Europe woke up to the reality of takfirism its people might want to ponder over the bounty their foreign policies brought to their door. And while the West will mourn its dead, let us remember the thousands and the millions whose lives were too cut short by the blade of terror. Where is the outrage as Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Yemenis and so many others die by the hands of takfirism? Where are the calls for vengeance, and the display of solidarity?
Have Western capitals fallen so completely under the spell of ethnocentrism that its people can no longer recognize the cruelty their grief underscores as they shun those cries the Middle East have let out for so many years?
France paid the ultimate price for the ultimate betrayal its officials committed by aligning themselves with those “moderate” militias in Syria which have committed heinous crimes against civilian populations. For they could not see beyond their desire to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, they brought home the evil they thought they could control and wield.
Ultimately, France was beaten by the very monster it helped create.
And if fault indeed needs to be asserted, I’m afraid fault lies with those powers which continue to stand by terror’s side so that their armies could rise new empires to serve their leaders.
In an interview with Democracy Now, US General Wesley Clark shun an interesting light on those dealings Western powers have entertained in their conquest of the Middle East.
Recalling a conversation he had with US officials at the Pentagon, Gen. Clark noted: “I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!””
Until we learn to face those political realities we are collectively running from, it is difficult to imagine how we could possibly offer but a weak defense against terror.
This fight against terror requires a grand alliance, a coalition of nations such as the one presented by Iran and Russia – one which is rooted in international law and the respect of national sovereignty.
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting.