| Where Recherche duTemps Perdu
---- meets Kirchliche Dogmatik
What happens to Osama now is between him and Allah. Given the interpretation that many Muslims gave to his actions after 9-11, to which he finally owned up with pride, he does not seem to have much of a chance. Actually, he would probably have a better chance if we used "Allah" in a totally generic sense as "God" and included the God of the Bible, Who sent His Son to die for Osama's sins as well as mine and yours, but--to the best of my knowledge--he never trusted Christ to receive that free salvation. Instead he killed people on behalf of a radical version of Islam that is generally rejected by most Muslims.
I wonder: Over the last few years I have mentioned off and on that the ideology motivating Osama bin Laden was not Islam in general, nor Hanifite Islam, nor its adaptation by the Wahhabite movement, but the Qutbist movement, originated by Seyyid Qutb. I have recommended that folks should read Milestones, Qutb's blueprint for converting the world to Islam. Has anybody done so over that time? It is essential to understand what al-Qaeda is all about. Please read Milestones !!!
Here's a point of difference between Qutbism and other contemporary schools of Islam that should make the distinction pretty clear. Have you discussed with a Muslim lately the idea that "Islam was spread by the sword"? Chances are that, if you bring up that idea, your Muslim acquaintance will go to intense lengths to say that it is not true;
In short, they resist the notion that Islam was spread by violence. Here is how Hammudah Abdalati, a 20th century Muslim writer, summarizes the early spread of Islam:
The Qur'an says invite (sic) to the way of God by wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue in the most gracious manner. But who was there prepared to listen to the peaceful call of God? . . . The early experience of Arabia taught the Muslims that it is more effective to be peaceful and at the same time stand on guard; that you can move in peace only when you are strong enough to guard your peace; that your voice of peace would echo better when you are able to resist pressure and eliminate oppression.
Now they had, by the order of God, to make Islam known to the outside world, but there was no telecommunication system or press or any other mass medium of communication. There was only one course to take, namely, personal and direct contacts, which meant that they had to cross the borders. But they could not do that in small or unarmed groups. So they had to move in large protected groups which must have appeared like an army, but was not an army in the real sense. They crossed the borders in various directions at different times. What took place then deserves consideration. In some areas they were warmly welcomed by the natives, who had long been oppressed and subjugated by the foreign powers of Rome and Persia. In some other areas they were first to offer Islam to those who were prepared to accept it, and there were many. Those who did not embrace Islam were asked to pay tributes equivalent to the Islamic tax (Zakah). . . .
Those who rejected Islam and refused to pay tributes in collaboration with other sectors to support their state made it hard for themselves. They resorted to a hostile course from the beginning, and meant to create trouble, not so much for the new Muslim comers as for the new Muslim converts and their compatriots, the tribute payers. In a national sense, that attitude was treacherous; in the human sense, mean; in a social sense, careless; and in a military sense, provocative. But in a practical sense it needed suppression, not so much for the comfort of the newcomers as for the sake of the state in which these very traitors were living. This is the only time force was applied to bring such people to their senses and make them realize their responsibilities: either as Muslims by accepting Islam freely, or as loyal citizens by being tribute payers, capable of living with their Muslim compatriots and sharing with them equal rights and duties.
Thus, without doing a thing, people who had been free citizens one day suddenly were traitors the next. They simply neither wanted to accept the religion of the Muslims nor pay them tribute for the privilege of living under their authority. Abdalati’s point is, of course, to describe matters in such a way as to avoid Islam being guilty of the charge of spreading by aggressive warfare.
If this account sounds forced to you, you are not alone. There are many Muslims who do not accept it either, though those are not likely the ones who come to your class to speak and defend Islam. In the meantime, even if we take this description at face value, there are some aspects to it that would still trouble me greatly.
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29 Yusuf Ali translation)
Submission and being subdued add up to toleration at best, not equality in rights and duties. And, from a purely rational point of view, if you set up a state on the basis of a religion, it only makes sense not to give too much power to those who do not accept that religion. It would be silly to squabble with that aspect. It would be contradictory to have non-Muslims in places of authority in a Muslim state, which is supposed to be governed by the shari’a. The alternative would be a secular state, which I would prefer, but which is certainly not the intent of Islam. See my article, “God in the Early Twenty-first Century: Ayodhya as Test Case” (CSR 34/2 (2005):167-85).
Historically accurate or not (and I vote for "not"), this is the understanding that contemporary Muslim apologists by and large advocate. It is totally rejected by many who have no interest in maintaining a likeable face towards the West.
"Piffle!" or the Arabic equivalent of the term ( ?) said Seyyid Qutb, and his contemporary followers do so likewise. Sure, the Qur'an says that people should not be compelled to become Muslims. People should have a free choice in the matter. But the way in which the world runs these days, that is not possible. All people are enslaved because submission to any human government is slavery, and slaves cannot make free decision. Thus, Islam needs to revive the methods of the early years, rid the world of all governments (including allegedly Muslim ones), let the entire world be governed by a single shari'a based on the Qur'an alone, and only then will people really have the freedom to make an informed choice whether to accept Islam or not. The present state is in the state of darkness, jahiliyyah, just as the time before Muhammad. There are very few true Muslims, and the fight must eventually be directed against them, the hypocrites just as much as against the infidels. First, there must be the violent overthrow of all governments, then shari'a can be implemented. Many opponents may get killed in the process; this is only to the good because in the end, the entire world will benefit from the universal rule of Islam.
This is the ideology that motivated Osama and al-Qaeda. He moved a step or so further than the Wahhabite form of Islam in which he was brought up and embraced Qutbism. Please read my web piece on "Groups of Islam" for more information on these groups.
Here is a quote by Osama bin Laden, going all the way back to 1994:
|The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."|
Don't get me wrong. The Qur'an advocates violence, but draws certain boundary lines. At least in theory, and often in practice, Muslims respect those lines. Not so Osama. This quote is a garbled version of the quote we cited above, conflating "people of the book" and "pagans," and the Qur'an specifically forbids the killing of civilians in war. Sura 5:32 equates the killing of a civilian with the killing of all humanity--perhaps because such a killer has extinguished humanity in himself. Issuing so-called rulings (or fatwas) has become a popular pastime in certain Muslim circles. However, they have lost sight of the fact that according to shari'a, one can only issue a fatwa after proper judicial proceedings. Islamic jurisprudence is similar to Anglo-Saxon common law in that it is case-driven. Be that as it may, these pseudo-fatwas have been sufficiently potent to rally those who enjoy killing people whom they don't know, but don't like.
What will happen next? I can issue some hunches, claiming neither prophetic status nor any other spiritual input.
June and I are about halfway to Columbia, SC, trusting to get there tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for your prayers for our safety on the highway and for a successful trip, both with people and with the projects that are on the agenda and that will find their way on the agenda yet. Thanks.
There is a large collection of responses by Muslim heads of state, leaders of organizations, academicians and celebrities, compiled by Charles Kurzman at http://islam.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=islam&cdn=religion&tm=42&f=00&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.unc.edu/~kurzman/terror.htm
Then, in a lengthy video presentation, he not only claimed all “credit” for himself, but also related how he came to this decision, beginning with the destruction of certain towers in Lebanon by American bombs in 1982. A full transcript of this broadcast can be found at “Transcript of Osama bin Laden's Speech” Aljazeera.net (online publication), Doha, Qatar, October 30, 2004 on Worldpress.org. URL: http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/1964.cfm. See also the summary and commentary “Bin Laden claims responsibility for 9/11” CBC News, Friday, October 29, 2004. URL: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2004/10/29/binladen_message041029.html. There are two dates given here (October 29 and 30 because Osama made the speech on October 29, and the first American translations and comments were based on direct observation of the broadcast, which carried the text in Arabic subtitles. Aljazeera did not publish the full content until October 30, by which time it was already known to the world from the video.)Hammudah Abdalati, Islam in Focus (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1975), pp. 149-50.