On 6th July 2016, Muslims everywhere celebrated EID ul fitr, the festival of the breaking of the fast. It is usually a time for family, joy, celebration and community. However, on that day horrendous bombing attacks hit Muslims in the Middle East, killing 33 people. Who was behind these attacks and where did they occur? It was Assad’s Syrian army, and the targets were Idlib and Aleppo .
Despite the EID ceasefire truce, Assad’s army, uncaring about the sanctity of human life, let alone EID, dropped bombs indiscriminately on the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo killing 33 men, women and children .
Despite this horrendous act, we heard almost next to nothing from notables, public speakers and scholars. No one decryed Assad as a ‘Khawarij’ for committing such heinous sacrilege. Instead, many people are distracted by the media’s focus on the horrendous bombings by other militant groups in the Muslim world. This focus elsewhere (rightly) produces an outcry, however, the slanted media coverage has directed this outcry only at one source of the violence, despite the majority of the death and violence being caused by secular regimes. This had led many individuals to blame an ideology for these killings – but not Secularism, Liberalism, Communism or any such ideas, no, instead some Muslims unwittingly adopted the Western narrative and began turning upon eachother, blaming ‘deviant interpretations’ of Islam for the killings.
What ‘interpretations of Islam’ was the PKK following when they detonated bombs in turkey DURING RAMADAN?
What ‘interpretations of Islam’ were the Secular Baathist regime of Bashar al Assad following when it starved to death 798 Syrian civilians, and killed a further 706 civilians during Ramadan by bombing again DURING RAMADAN, plus an additional 33 more on EID day itself – despite the ceasefire it was meant to be observing.
What ‘interpretation of Islam’ is Russia following? What about the Iraqi death squads that operate under the wing of the sectarian Iraqi government?
The fact that should remain painfully obvious to anyone who studies ALL the violence that occurs in the Middle East, is that most organisations, governments and militaries commit it. To blame one sect or school of thought is not only being in denial about the phenomena that affects almost every faction in Middle East politics, but actually participating in perpetuating the sectarianism of the Muslim world.
The Western Narrative and the Reformation of Islam
Secularisers in the West and the Muslim world overly focus on one groups violence and ignores another because it offers them an opportunity to achieve their goals in the Muslim world. Firstly, they want Muslims divided and fighting each other. This allows them to attempt to imitate (rather ignorantly) European history, when Secularism was introduced as a solution for sectarian fighting.
Secondly, Secularisers want Muslims to reject orthodox Islamic laws and jurisprudence, however they can’t get all Muslims to agree to that directly, so instead they settle for taking an indirect approach by telling Muslims to blame ‘one sect’ or ‘school of thought’ instead.
Secularisers argue that Muslims should blame this sect as the cause of the violence. Once Muslims accept that premise, the next step is easy. The Secularisers then tell Muslims that the violence of the blamed sect comes from their belief in the Sharia, Hudud, Caliphate/Imamate, Jihad, Sunnah and the apparent meaning of the Quran. Ultimately, they say that this blamed sect comes from orthodox or classical Islam, and in order to disconnect them from Islam, Muslims will have to change Islam into a lobotomised and secular-compliant ‘religion’. A process they call ‘reformation’.
The fallacy of this is, two-fold. As any historian, sociologist, political analyst and even military expert will tell you, the violence by militant groups is better explained by more obvious factors: social and intellectual decline, failed states/anarchy, colonialism, invasions, government oppression and identity politics (asabiyyah). Blaming the violence on an ‘interpretation’ is actually DENYING the true reason for the violence (and why groups outside that sect are doing it too – and killing more people).
Additionally, most people of the blamed sect are actually peaceful (and in most cases apolitical, or passive supporters of their governments). Blaming an entire sect or group for the actions of a few, means that Muslims are guilty of the same error they accuse Islamophobes of, when they blame all Muslims for the actions of a few. Golden rule here is, don’t do to others, what you don’t want done to yourself.
Secondly, the big elephant in the room is that all Muslim sects believe in the same basic classical Islamic ideas, including taking the dhahir (apparent) meaning of the Quran [E.g. If God describes himself as without a partner, the apparent meaning is that there are no other Gods], and yet these ideas generated an Islamic golden age of discovery and tolerance.
In the past, you had schools of thought based almost exclusively of interpretations by apparent meanings, like Ibn Hazm al Andalusi’s Dhahiri school. You’d be surprised how sophisticated and nuanced it was – and unlike anything we have today. Furthermore, there exist no sects or schools of thought that disbelieve in Sharia, Hudud, Caliphate/Imamate, Jihad, and the Sunnah of the Prophet. While Muslims may have theological differences, the differences in understanding of basic laws and Islamic government have the least variation amongst Muslims.
Is there an Ideology Behind Terrorism?
There actually could be an ideology behind terrorism. The PKK are communists, and in the 20th century, many ‘revolutionary’ Communists believed in guerilla warfare as a method to establish Communism, and committed terror attacks in europe and around the world. However, the biggest culprit is Secular Liberalism itself (ironically the ideology of the secularisers who claim they want to see Muslims adopt Western ideology to become peaceful). Secular Western armies have for at least 200 years (since the rise of Secular Liberalism), have used deliberate targeting of civilians to win wars. From French colonialism in North Africa, to English colonialism in Ireland, India, Kenya, Iraq, Afghanistan, China etc… Winston Churchill, considered the ‘Greatest Brit’, used what he called ‘Strategic Bombing’ to win his war by ‘spreading a lively terror’ into German civilians [his words], by targeting their cities – in one instance in Dresden burning to death at least 20,000 women and children with firebombs.
Furthermore, it could actually be pointed to, that two of the foremost philosophers of Secular Liberalism, John Rawls and Michael Waltzer, made philosophical arguments permitting the use of terrorism according to Secular Liberalism, calling its use a ‘Supreme Emergency Exemption’ from the normal rules of warfare.
Terror groups in the Muslim world, cannot cite any Islamic text that permits them to deliberately target civilians – because none exist. However, they argue that ‘modern warfare’ has abrogated ‘old’ Islamic prohibitions, which they argue ‘are not set in stone’ [sic]. They then argue that the Quranic verse ‘fight them as they fight you’, gives them ‘permission’ to copy their enemies . In essence, they say that the Quran allows them to copy the methods of the West! [Sounds like the exact same logic of the Secularisers].
Of course, these groups ignore the verses of Quran that limit this and say ‘but do not transgress the limits of Allah’. Terrorism is, and always will be, absolutely morally prohibited in Islam. Can a Secular Liberal say the same? And if not, why are the Secularisers saying Muslims will become peaceful, when their own ideology justifies it and had caused many (usually CIA supported) ‘anti-communist’ terror groups to proliferate in the 20th century during the Cold War?
Bashar al Assad’s murderous bombing of Aleppo and Idlib, is no different to his secular predecessors in the West who used the same tactic across the globe. Likewise, ISIS’s command structure are composed of former-Baathist Secularists, had the same approach to putting down rebellions during Saddam’s time – and are continuing the same horrific traditions of (secular) Saddam Hussein.
If tomorrow America or Israel invaded Syria and occupied it, Bashar al Assad would probably go into hiding, grow a beard, and cynically form a religious based insurgency that would use Islamic symbols, publicly carrying out hudud to claim ‘authenticity’, kill collaborators, and probably use suicide bombs. If you think that has never happened before, please study the last days of the twin secular tyrants of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. Besides, this is not so far fetched even today, as Assad already uses Hezbollah as a religious military group to shore up his regime.
The problem in the Muslim world never has been due to interpretation of Islamic text, but rather due to imitation of the West and the absence of an interpretation of the Islamic text.
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