The resurgence of Islamic terrorism after the Arab Spring
by Samir Khalil Samir
Christians , moderate Muslims , Shiites are strangled by terrorist violence in Syria , Egypt, Kenya , Pakistan ... This flare up is a sign of the deep crisis of Islam, which has not yet addressed the discernment of the modern world and prefers to take refuge in an outdated Islam. The Islamic world must recognize connivance with such violence. The commitment of Christians to dialogue with Islam and modernity.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Recent events in the news have confronted us with a series of Islamic terrorist attacks: the two suicide bombers on the Church of All Saints in Peshawar , the kidnapping and killings in the commercial center of Nairobi , the agony of many Christians in Egypt , the threats to Christians in Maaloula and throughout Syria ...

The Arab Spring , which united Christians and Muslims , had raised hopes for a better future and a partnership for human rights , democracy , religious freedom . Instead it seems we have been propelled back to the past of a few years ago, during the American occupation in Iraq and internationally, with executions, beheadings, car bombs even during religious services.

The phenomenon of Islamic terrorism

In fact we have - Egypt, Pakistan , Kenya , Syria - the common point that unites them all is the phenomenon of terrorism and the fact that they are all Islamic terrorists. How can we explain that?

In some cases they are Sunnis attacking Shi'ites , sometimes attacking the police, the symbol of the order that they want to destroy, in most cases, they attack Christians . Their psychology deserves to be underlined. They are terrorists ready to risk their lives to bring death to others, without any explanation. They do this against innocents, against categories seen as enemies, Shiite Muslims or Ahmadis, but more often against Christians.

All of these people suffer a hardship. In Somalia, where al- Shabab the group behind the massacre in Nairobi originate,,the problem is among Muslims (given that there is only a small number of Christians), but they have exported the problems to Kenya , with the excuse that Nairobi is helping the Somali government to regain control of the country. The motivation is political , but whatever motivation is expressed , it is translated into violence. And the worst is that it is expressed as a violence carried out in the name of Islam.

How do Muslims react?

It is also worth evaluating the reaction of Muslims. In some cases, they say: This is unacceptable! But what does this mean? What is being done to stop these groups? To answer this question we need to understand where the violence comes from. In fact, it is the mental formation , the education received, which drives the terrorists to violence. Backed by a learned imam , who emits a fatwa (legal judgment) , they become accustomed to using violence against anyone who does not think like them.

In Pakistan, the Imam Hafiz Noman Kadir , who is against terrorists, has expressed solidarity "with our Christian brothers and sisters ", explaining that they have been affected by "terrorists who have no religion." The same Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the suicide attack , saying, " The terrorists do not observe any religion ."

This is not correct: the religion of terrorists is declared, and how! They declare themselves Muslims. In fact, they claim to be the true Muslims, who faithfully apply Shari'a . Unfortunately, moderate Muslims, almost manically, attempt to water down all criticism of Islam , saying that terrorists "have no religion", or "are not true Muslims, because Islam is a peaceful religion , the ' Islam is the religion of the middle ground ( dīn al- wasat ) and can not be extremist . " I would also like to believe them, but I would like to ask: What are you doing to combat this false Islam ?

Every week there are new fundamentalist groups that are born, inspired by Islam , supported by the imams who guide them and support them in using violence against Christians or against a Muslim group , or against the disbelievers ( kuffar ) .

The majority of Muslims say: "This is not true Islam !" So then we must fight against this falsehood, give precise details, ask the police to stop these massacres.

I terroristi sono guidati da veri e dotti imam fanatici

A Nairobi, lo sheikh che guida il gruppo degli Shebab somali, autori dell'attacco, è sheikh Ali Mahmoud Raji, loro portavoce. Egli ha pubblicato questo messaggio: "Autorizziamo i nostri mujāhedīn ad uccidere i prigionieri in caso di attacco. I cristiani che stanno muovendo verso i nostri uomini, abbiano pietà degli ostaggi all'interno dell'edificio".

Già l'uso del termine "mujāhedīn" mostra l'origine islamica: il mujaheddin è colui che pratica il jihad, come è riportato nel Corano e nelle hadith.

La tattica che hanno usato è anch'essa islamica. Ad un certo punto hanno fatto uscire dall'edificio i musulmani. Per distinguere gli uni dagli altri, hanno chiesto a tutti: Conosci il nome della madre del Profeta? (Āmina). Chi ha risposto giusto ha potuto uscire e salvarsi; gli altri sono rimasti ostaggi e diversi sono stati uccisi.

The terrorists are driven by real, scholarly and fanatical imams

In Nairobi , the sheikh who leads the Somali Shabab group,  the authors of the attack, is Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Raji , their spokesman . He has posted this message: "We authorize our Mujahedin to kill the hostages in case of attack . Christians who are moving towards our men, have pity on the hostages inside the building ."

Already the use of the term "mujahedin" shows the Islamic origin: mujahideen is the one who practices jihad , as is reported in the Koran and the hadith .

The tactics they used are also Islamic . At one point they let the Muslims out of the building . To distinguish from each other, they asked everyone: Do you know the name of the Prophet's mother ? (Amine) . Those who answered correctly could leave and save themselves , the others were hostages and several were killed.

It is an Islamic fanaticism in various forms. Muslims first of all must protest against this , and not just with words. The terrorists attitude is based on the teaching of some imams who form them to Islamic disciplines, guide them , support them, educate them up to give everything in order to kill.

As long as people continue to ignore that this attitude is the responsibility of Islam, and that those who remain silent are complicit in some way, then it is useless to condemn the violence , even if you then console the families of the killed Christians.

These considerations hold true for Pakistan , Kenya , Egypt, Syria.

The Islamist trend is taking power everywhere

In some of these countries, especially Egypt and Tunisia, there was a new spirit brought by the Arab Spring : they have brought out a new vision of human rights , citizenship common to Christians and Muslims , placing religion in a secondary place, a secular style open to all religious and non religious. But this only lasted about three months. After that, they were replaced everywhere by Islamist groups : the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Salafis , in Syria all the fundamentalist bands from abroad, paid for by the Arab Gulf countries, even Western converts , in Tunisia the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood (under another name) .

There is a desire in the Muslim world for true freedom, democracy, for an Islam open to the world today , but the awareness is not a great enough to lead to action as a counterweight to the Islamist restoration . Everywhere the Islamist trend is taking power , because the groups are well organized and know how to operate on crowds in Tunisia, in Egypt (even if it is losing ) , Libya , Syria , even if they are still unaware ...

The Muslim world is in deep existential crisis of civilization

The real issue is that Islam is in deep existential crisis of civilization. The Muslim today presents itself as a block, like a Umma that knows no geographical or political boundaries, but moves from one border to another to spread their ideas , their vision of Islam and to fight in accordance with this vision. This is not the case for the Christian world , divided by national, cultural character, etc. ..

Muslims feel politically weak, militarily weak, culturally poor, scientifically weak or reduced to a flicker . This malaise is even heavier when they think about their past, in the VII - XIII centuries. It was a powerful empire, open to so many cultures, the most advanced of Europe. It was the great period of the Renaissance, our Enlightenment!

To explain this large step backwards by Muslim fundamentalists there is a simple and convincing explanation. It can be summarized as follows: as long as we faithfully followed everything that was prescribed in the Koran and tradition of our prophet, we were the best in everything, the more we strayed from this tradition, the weaker we became. Therefore, the solution is clear: let's return to the seventh century ! This simple analysis has convinced many Muslims.

And since the Koran says of Muhammad : "There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often" ( Sura 33, Faction allies , Al - Ahzab , v . 21) , imitation of the Prophet of Islam becomes an obligation. Now, he has fought against unbelievers by all means, including war (according to tradition , he made more than sixty raids ( ghazawāt ) in less than ten years). The return to the origins raises therefore the ideal of jihad (the struggle in the way of God).

Finally, with the oil windfall , it became easy to buy arms and keep groups of fighters (mujahideen). With the money they take from the West weapons , and we see as much in Syria, where weapons are pouring in from Europe, the U.S., from Arabia, Qatar. Money is needed for violence, in a vicious circle that closes in on itself without producing a way out . They kill a few thousand Christians , then - most importantly - they kill their co-religionists in droves.

 

The real problem is Islam's need to confront modernity

But violence brings no solution because the urgent problem is Islam's need to confront modernity , to discern what things in Islam need to be reviewed and what things can be accepted or rejected. It is a discernment process as individual Muslims and as a civilization. Such discernment is used to discriminate between positive and negative, then one can start building on the positive.

This idea is a simple, but very difficult, and never put into practice. Thus the struggle continues between Muslims themselves , between those who want to embrace modernity at all costs, taking and those who fight it, rejecting it en masse as atheist , as neo - paganism ( the new jāhiliyya) , inspired by Muhammad, who fought against paganism ( the jāhiliyya) . This is the theory of Sayyid Qutb , the eminent thinker and member of the Muslim Brotherhood , which was developed in his book ʿMaʿālim fī al-ţarīq ( " Milestones on the road " ), written in prison during the years 1965-66 , shortly before being executed August 29, 1966 by hanging .

Questo islam integralista, vede la modernità proprio come un neo-paganesimo. Essi sono convinti che vinceranno se combattono il neopaganesimo che è rappresentato dall'occidente, dai cristiani visti come emissari dell'occidente[1], e dai musulmani liberali.

This fundamentalist Islam , sees modernity as a neo- paganism. It is convinced of victory if believers fight neo-paganism which is represented by the West , Christians, seen as emissaries of the West[I], and liberal Muslims .

Unfortunately, not many Muslims arrive at making this analysis, although the considerations which I summarize here are present among some Muslim authors . But out of more than one billion followers of Islam, even a thousand scholars remains lit a small number . Tunisia, for 50 years, under Bourguiba (who was president from 1957 to 1987 ), had a critical approach that was positive, with an evolution towards modernity without creating terrorism.

Unfortunately, this modernity takes place almost always with a dictatorship. You can not propose a modernity without dictatorship. This is because the population , not having walked with the intellectuals feels they are being imposed lifestyles that they do not understand . For their part , presidents , dictators often , are forced to impose a method of modernity on the masses, which they might need in order to be educated .

In Syria and Iraq a similar thing took place with the members of the Baath party (or Baas ) , in Syria from 1963 to 1966 , then from 1970 to the present , in Iraq from 1968 to 2003 : they had introduced some important education and social reforms, but always with the strong hand of the dictatorship.

The founder , Michel Aflak , an Orthodox Christian , is a pillar of the secular party , while recognizing the predominant role of Islam in Arab "nation". For this reason, when we started to fight the dictatorship , everything went up in smoke. By removing the dictatorship , only Islam remains, an enemy of modernity ( coming from the West ) and secularism .

For this it would be necessary that universities like Al Azhar and other Islamic universities in Tunisia, in Morocco, or outside the Arab world , such as Indonesia or Malaysia, undertook this task of discernment of Islam and modernity.

This work , which began in 1870 , lasted for 60 years, until 1930. There are texts of great thinkers , whose books were once banned , who have made these steps . An example : we compare the fatwa of a great character of Al Azhar, Mohammed Abdo (died in 1905 ) , with the fatwas issued now, on the same topics : his fatwas are much more intelligent and open to reality, a true master of Islam.

In the Islamic world today, people can either submit to the dominant Islam, stay silent, or flee to the West.

We Christians have already experienced this labor between faith and modernity, faith and reason.

For this we can help our brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith, pushing them in this work, to help Islam to respond to today's needs of their countries.

Reconciling classical thought of Islam with modern thought is the real answer to the fanaticism of the terrorists.

Instead , a lot of the Western world believes it can help the Islamic world with military aid , or business relationships with the countries of the Middle East : these relationships are dictated only by the respective national interests and cannot bring about evolution . Instead , we need a total rethinking of Islam for the contemporary world .

 


[I] Here, too, there is little discernment: is the West really Christian? Is Christianity really the religion of the West?

 

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