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Extremist Does Not Mean Terrorist!

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Splitting a widely followed religion like Islam down the middle: either extremist or moderate; with us or against us, is the wrong path to take. In an article for Common Ground News, Asma Khalid, a Muslim woman pursuing her master’s degree in Middle Eastern/Islamic studies at the University of Cambridge, England, wrote:

I am a Muslim who embraces peace. But, if we must attach stereotypical tags, I’d rather be considered “orthodox” than “moderate.”

“Moderate,” in this context, implies that Muslims who are more orthodox are somehow backward and violent and that, in our current cultural climate, progress and peace are restricted to “moderate” Muslims. To be a “moderate” Muslim is, thus, to be a “good,” malleable Muslim in the eyes of Western society.

In the aftermath of 9/11, much has been said about the need for “moderate Muslims.” But to be a “moderate” Muslim also implies that Osama Bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence.

I refuse to live as a “moderate” Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful. True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to adhere piously to a religion’s tenets.

My theory was re-affirmed by an article in Arab News — one of the best I have ever read. Dr Khaled Batarfi basically called Islamic terrorists: invisible soldiers with nothing to lose and a desire to die fighting for their cause. In short, an enemy that cannot be defeated by military might.

But that is exactly what the U.S. has attempted to do — with invasions of two Muslim countries and complicity in the bombardment of Muslims in Somalia and the continuation of the occupation of Palestine. By living up to the extremist’s claims of U.S. imperialism and conspiracies of a war against Islam, the U.S. is alienating the moderates and increasing the following of the radicals.

The gist of another of Dr Batfari’s statements was: with 2.2 billion Muslims in the world, even if U.S. policies are successful in ensuring 99% are moderate towards the U.S. and their allies, that still leaves 22 million extremists. According to western interpretation of extremism and Dr Batfari’s description of terrorists, that is 22 million, invisible, highly motivated and suicidal killing machines.

I am sure that far more than 1% of Muslim’s that feel a certain degree of anti-Americanism and would thus not be classed as moderate. But though terror attacks are numerous, they are nowhere near what would be carried out by more than 22 million Jihadists dedicated to attacking the west and willing to kill themselves to do it. This proves both that the West’s (U.S.’) meaning of extremist is inherently wrong and that the divide between moderate and extremist is not clear cut. There is another divide between extremists and terrorists.

Non-Muslim’s have come to associate the Salafist strand of Islam with extremism and terrorism, but it is not so. Salafism is anti-modernist, putting it at odds with the capitalist and technologically driven western world. But with so many followers of Salafism around the world, and most attacks happening in only a few places it shows that most Muslims and even those adhering to Salafism are quite happy to live and let live.

The extremists that do seek to attack the west, justify their actions by creating their own interpretations of Islam, and attempting to convince (brainwash) disillusioned Muslims that they are the ones interpreting their faith correctly. They attract the biggest following from countries and areas where the west, with the U.S. at the forefront has displayed its worst qualities — often to the severe detriment of the Muslim populations.

Countries like Afghanistan: predominantly Salafist and used as a proxy battleground in the super power-struggle that was the cold-war. In that country and the surrounding area there is understandably deep resentment even hatred for the west’s actions. The feelings are heightened in the current N.A.T.O./U.S. occupation, with every civilian death — much more with incidents like troops opening fire on a crowd of civilians.

In Iraq, support of Saddam Hussein’s slaughter of the Kurds and Shiites laid the same understandable resentment in those Muslim populations. Sunnis came to hate the west for turning on Saddam in 1991 and again in 2003. Like Afghanistan their hatred mounts with every incident of “collateral damage” and more so with the atrocities committed by U.S. forces. Muslim patriotism and identification with Islamic land puts them against lengthy occupations anyway — especially by the country that has largely made Israel’s oppression of Palestine’s Muslims easier than it would have been without their support.

And now the U.S. has embroiled itself in another proxy war in another Muslim country, Somalia, and is complicit in the deaths of over 1,500 innocent Muslim’s — far more than the number of combatants killed.

Somalia has become yet another front in “the War on Terror”, simply because the predominant group within the Union of Islamic Courts — overthrown by the U.S.’ Ethiopian surrogates — followed Salafism and were therefore extremists and terrorists in the U.S’ eyes. But as countless thousands of innocent Muslim’s die in the “War on Terror” it is increasing the likelihood that any moderates will become extremist in their views of the West and that any extremists will go the next step to terrorism.

If the U.S. wants to continue fighting every Muslim who does not fall into their category as a moderate Muslim. Either because they follow a particular strand of the religion or don’t not agree with the U.S.’ actions in and policies for Muslim countries, then they will be fighting forever. I just hope they realize that having an extreme belief in true Islam does not make you a terrorist, before a “clash of civilizations” becomes a dreadful reality.

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About Liam Bailey

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Liam, the title is dead on, but there’s a basic flaw in the logic of this article, of your primary source and of a lot of people who look at contemporary islam.

    The mistake is conflating the political and theological aspects of Islam. That’s what creates the misunderstanding about extrmism and orthodoxy which you site.

    Islam has always had a peculiar dual nature, starting from the time of Mohammed, as both a religious and a political movement. In that context, it is possible to be religiously conservative yet politically moderate, and religiously relatively unmotivated and politically radical or extreme.

    There are great examples of this going both directions. For example, Hezbollah as a group is not particularly religious by nature. They’re certainly muslims, but their radicalism is political, not religious. Conversely, Sufis as a group are religiously quite extreme but politically they are very moderate or even apolitical.

    Another comparison. Under Saddam Iraq was more or less a secular society and thus religiously moderate, but it was politically radical with its support for terrorism in Palestine and hostile attitude towards the US and its neighbors. Iran’s government on the other hand is relatively politically moderate – despite a certain amount of posturing – while they’re religiously much more extreme.

    The most reasonable Islamic states seem to be those which are both politically and religiously moderate, like Lebanon before the Iranians and Syrians and Israelis destroyed it. Kuwait and many of the UAE states still fit that model, however.

    So my point is that you’ve got to look at Islam as both a political and a religious movement, and often consider those two aspects separately to really understand it.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    “The mistake is conflating the political and theological aspects of Islam.”

    But doesn’t Islam demand that political aspects are determined by the theological? Didn’t mohamed unite the two? Are you trying to create schism in Islam?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    But doesn’t Islam demand that political aspects are determined by the theological? Didn’t mohamed unite the two? Are you trying to create schism in Islam?

    No need. They already did it themselves. This is a large portion of what the disagreement between Shiites and Sunnis is all about.

    Dave

  • DEW

    Mr. Bailey,

    Currently, a majority of U.S citizens and residents are held captive to the Bush administration’s policies. Soldiers are forced within our laws to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. At home, mass illegal immigration is being fought to no avail . Our politicians, both dems and repubs are useless, no backbone. We are in a mess and hoping that the next election starts to rectify the situation. If the next election does not start to alieviate the insanity, then a second revolution will ensue.

  • http://vincep312.home.comcast.net Vince P

    What always strikes me about these conversations are the Leftists insistance that us Non-Muslims jump through hoops trying to sort out who is who.

    Well.. good luck.. one must first understand what Islam is before you can go around labelling what kind of Muslim an individual is.

    And from the comments here, such understanding of Islam seems lacking.

    Here’s an email I wrote to an Islamic group that is protesting a sign a church put up that said you don’t see christians or jews being suicide bombers. The response by the group was the typical one “Islam is a relligion of Peace”.

    So read my letter and let me know if you knew these doctrines:

    From: Vince P
    Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 08:45
    To: Subject: To Debbie: “The Islamic faith really calls for peace.”

    Can you please provide me the doctrinal basis for this statement attributed to you in the news?

    According to Surah 2:177, A Muslim must accept all these things:

    QUOTE
    It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets
    UNQUOTE

    The Last Day is the most important thing after belief in Allah. The Last Day consists of the coming of the Imam Mahdi along with the appearance of the Muslim Jesus.

    For the Last Day to come, the Muslims must go to war and slaughter the Jews

    QUOTE
    The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
    UNQUOTE

    But the Muslims don’t stop there.. once that’s accomplished:

    QUOTE
    al-Mahdi will receive a pledge of allegiance as a caliph for Muslims. He will lead Muslims in many battles of jihad. His reign will be a caliphate that follows the guidance of the Prophet. Many battles will ensue between Muslims and the disbelievers during the Mahdi’s reign…
    UNQUOTE

    Harun Yahya, a moderate and very popular Muslim author refers to the Mahdi’s invasion of numerous non-Muslim lands:

    QUOTE
    The Mahdi will invade all the places between East and West.
    UNQUOTE

    In today’s world.. non-Muslims are not killed or forced to convert if they pay the Jizya in Muslim lands and agree to live as dhimmis. Well apparently even that wonderful option will be eliminated during the Muslim Last Day. I’m assuming the pigs in this quote means Jews.

    QUOTE
    Volume 3, Book 43, Number 656: Narrated Abu Huraira:
    Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).
    UNQUOTE

    Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368) from The Reliance of the Traveller, the classic Shafi manual of Islamic jurisprudence states:

    QUOTE
    “… the time and the place for [the poll tax] is before the final descent of Jesus (upon whom be peace). After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent (upon him and our Prophet be peace) …”
    UNQUOTE

    Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini clearly articulates this vision:

    QUOTE
    The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.
    UNQUOTE

    Sheikh Kabbani, Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America clearly articulates the Islamic perspective regarding Jesus’ evangelistic role when He returns.

    QUOTE
    Like all prophets, Prophet Jesus came with the divine message of surrender to God Almighty, which is Islam. This verse shows that when Jesus returns he will personally correct the misrepresentations and misinterpretations about himself. He will affirm the true message that he brought in his time as a prophet, and that he never claimed to be the Son of God. Furthermore, he will reaffirm in his second coming what he prophesied in his first coming bearing witness to the seal of the Messengers, Prophet Muhammad. In his second coming many non-Muslims will accept Jesus as a servant of Allah Almighty, as a Muslim and a member of the Community of Muhammad.
    UNQUOTE

    Al-Sadr and Mutahhari, likewise articulate this same expectation:

    QUOTE
    Jesus will descend from heaven and espouse the cause of the Mahdi. The Christians and the Jews will see him and recognize his true status. The Christians will abandon their faith in his godhead (sic).
    UNQUOTE

    So tell me Debbie: How is your death cult religion of war a “religion of peace”