20 December, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 04/13/2007
ISLAM
Islamism, a disease of the Muslim world
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
Literal interpretations of the Koran emerge when Islam finds itself in moments of crises and are at the root of extremist violence. The Imams further its’ spread. Muslims must be encouraged to reject this invasive interpretation. The second in a series of articles.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Islamism, not to be confused with Islam, is a threat to the survival of the very religion it claims to represent and to the entire world.  Until thirty years ago, there was one single word in the Arab language to refer to “Muslim”, and it was Muslim. Then, starting with Egypt, a second noun came into use which quickly spread, Islamiyy, separate from Muslim, which referred to a radical or fundamentalist Muslim who aims to create an Islamic project based on sharia. This neologism has been in place since, to define this new tendency within Islam, a tendency which has become increasingly strong, dynamic, and invasive and in the end violent and intolerant. 

I propose to that European languages begin to discern between these two appellatives:  “Muslim” and “Islamist”, and to abandon the term “Islamic” when it refers to a “Muslim” but to use it only as an adjective.

Let us defend Islam from Islamism

Given the evolution in the islamic world over the last 30 years, we must clearly distinguish Islam (which I will write with a capital “I”), as a religion which first appeared in Arabia at the beginning of the seventh century (Muslim history dates to 622, when Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdallah fled from Mecca to Medina – the higra,– and created the city founded  on the principles of Islam) from islamism (which I will write with a lower case “i” )  which is a recent trend within Islam. 

This is the meaning of the title: islamismi s a current which is disfiguring the nature of the religion, Islam.  It is not just chance that many young Arabs, Iranians, Asians distance themselves from the Muslim traditions because of islamism’s terrorist violence.

How this current was born and why it was born, I will have to leave for further discussion.  Either way, it has distant roots, which have always existed in the Islamic society, but which are reawaken each time the islamic world is in crises: thus islamism presents itself as a “re-awakening” of the religion, in the arab-islamic world it is referred to as “sah-wah” or “rebirth”.

Today we are living one of the most dramatic moments in the Arab and islamic history.  Why? Because the drowsiness, the period of our civil and cultural decadence, which we call “asr al-inhitât”, has gone on for too long, more or less from ‘300 to ’800. At the end of the ninetieth century there was the “Renaissance”,  Nahdah, which was slowed down if not totally blocked in 1928 with the birth of Hassan al-Banna’ movement “the Muslim brotherhood”, to then be fully blocked by the creation of Israel in 1948 with all the wars and conflicts that it spawned, as well as the Egyptian revolution (1952), Iraq (1954), etc. The islamist tendency was further reinforced in 1974 with the arrival of the petrol dollars of the Saudi Arabians, rather, by the wave of petrol dollars and the consequent wahhabism.

Disease of the Arab and Muslim world

But islamism is not Islam: it is only an extremist tendency which presents itself as the true spirit of Islam.  How does it succeed in attracting so many Muslims though?  The military defeat, economic crises, dictatorships, political divisions of the arab-islamic world, western imperialism, cultural invasions, etc.. Fail to properly explain islamism fatal attraction for the Muslim masses.  These are but a few pieces to a lager puzzle that allow us to understand why people search for derivatives; they are not the root of the problem, no, of the evil.  They are all external elements to the Muslim world.  The roots of the problem need to be sought within this world; otherwise we simply confuse the symptoms with the cause of this disease.  Because the Arab and Muslim society is diseased.  Gravely so!  

The roots are part of the tree. Thus the disease is to be found within the tree, not without.  The roots of the disease are to be sought within Islam itself, not outside.  This root is double.  The first is some of the texts of the Koran and some sayings and practices taken from the Sunnah (the muhammadiana tradition), which are the foundations of the official teachings of Islam.  The second are the teachings of certain “men of religion” (rigâl ad-dîn) – an Arab – islamic term which corresponds to the western “clergy” – based on a certain determined choice made in the Koran and the Sunnah. These two roots need to be examined, if we want to identify the cause of the illness, better, if we – like good doctors – want to diagnosis the origins of the disease. 

Conclusion

Islam does not identify itself with radical islamism.  But radical islamism is not foreign or separate to Islam: it is one of the possible readings of Islam (that is the Koran and the Sunnah); in short the worst possible reading.  Yet this interpretation is openly promoted by the imam, who are convinced it is the most authentic, because it is the reading they themselves received, and because it is the most literal.  It does not require an intellectual interpretation to reflect on the sayings and practices of the founders of Islam. 

This is why it is not only essential that Islam and islamism are not confused, but that Muslims are encouraged to reject islamism as an unnatural alteration of authentic Islam, and to combat this invasive tendency.  Western society must also take action to defend Muslims from islamism.  Giving in even minimally to the slightest islamist request, means regressing beyond hope of recovery.  

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
07/08/2011 VATICAN - M. EAST
Middle East Synod close to Arab spring
by Samir Khalil Samir
03/06/2009 ISLAM
An Islamic world in crisis, anti-Americanism and the fight against Israel
by Samir Khalil Samir
04/19/2007 ISLAM
West weak, Muslims mute when it comes to Islamism and terrorism
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
03/10/2010 ISLAM
A fatwa against religious justifications for Islamic terrorism
by Samir Khalil Samir
03/22/2010 ISLAM
Islamic prayers on the streets and the rule of law
by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ
ISLAM
West weak, Muslims mute when it comes to Islamism and terrorism
ISLAM
Islamic terrorism, a disease within the Muslim world
ISLAM
Salafist Islam spawns Islamic terrorism

Editor's choices
IRAQ - VATICAN
As 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' continues, Mosul bishop notes that Jesus is born amid refugee containers
by Amel NonaPersecuted by the Islamic state, refugees have lost everything: belongings, home, jobs, school, and their future. Yet, their faith and mission remain strong. For them, almost 900,000 euros have been raised and sent. Pope Francis sends a message of closeness. The campaign continues according to the Patriarch of Baghdad's proposal of fasting and moderation at Christmas and New Year, with the money saved offered to the Christians of Mosul.
IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch calls for fasting on Christmas Eve for refugees' return to Mosul
by Joseph MahmoudMar Louis Sako calls on the faithful not to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a "worldly" fashion, with pomp and abundance, out of solidarity with the people who fled the Nineveh plains, persecuted by the Islamic Army. AsiaNews is joining the fast proposed by the Patriarch and calls on all readers to give what they would have otherwise spent in support of the campaign 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul'.
IRAQ - ITALY
Letter from Archbishop of Mosul: Thank you for your aid, supporting the plight of refugees
by Amel NonaThe donations made through the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign are used to buy food, warm clothes, blankets for refugees and rent houses or caravans given the early onset of winter and. Two women have defended their Christian faith before the Islamist militants who wanted to convert them, despite the threat of death. A refugee among refugees, Msgr. Nona discovers a new way of being a pastor.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.