2 September, 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-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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.