Who Feeds Fundamentalism
20 Nov, 2005
Stories of the atrocities and the bigotry of Muslim fundamentalists embarrass the moderate and educated Muslims who desire to live in harmony with their non-Muslim neighbors and feel nothing but compassion for the rest of the world. As we all condemn these religious extremists who blow the buildings, make bombs and engage in acts of terrorism as misguided fanatics we have to question ourselves whether we have any part in these terrorist acts of our most radical fellow coreligionists. Are we, the moderate, intellectual, law abiding, good citizen Muslims strengthening Islamic fundamentalism by merely upholding Islam? Is really Islam a religion of peace that is being misinterpreted and abused by few unstable individuals who use it as an excuse to justify their criminal tendencies, or is perhaps their crimes against humanity inspired by the teachings of Quran, the very book we call holy and the sacred words of God?
The Palestine/Israel war may be over land, but the hatred of the Jews is fomented in Quran. (Bellow)
One of the biggest misconceptions is that religions were pure in their original state and became contaminated by misinterpretations. Nothing is farther from the truth. Islam for example, started with violence. The pure Islam, as is understood from Quran and exemplified by its author, is an uncompromising, intolerant and fundamentalist religion. Any attempt to mask Islam with a humane face goes against the tenets of Islam and is doomed to fail. Any expansion of Islam fuels the fundamentalist zeal of its adherents and promotes terrorism.
The assumption that religions were pure in their original state has given rise to thousands of sects each trying to revive the original purity of their religions according to their biased thinking.
The other danger in upholding this false belief is giving credit to the doctrines that essentially preach hate. You cannot say Muhammad was a messenger of God and Quran is the word of God, then ask those who want to live by it, killing the disbelievers, usurping their properties and rights, abusing and beating their own wives, not to. Why not? If Quran is the word of God, then isn’t this, what Quran teaches?
To try to keep Islam and work within it, in order to make it a tolerant and humane religion is not only impossible it is also dishonest. It is impossible because it goes against the spirit of Quran and the Sunnah (life examples) of the Prophet. It is dishonest because a tolerant Islam is no more Islam. It would be “bid’a” an innovation, which is considered to be heresy and according to Islam is punishable by death. It would be the same as Nazis tried to make their party more humane. The question is, if it is good why change it? And if it isn’t why keep it?.
I do not blame the brainwashed fundamentalists for doing what they are doing. At least they are honest. Their faith and their deeds are consistent. I blame the moderate intellectual Muslims for being dishonest, for upholding a doctrine that promotes hate while giving lip service to “love” and “tolerance”. To claim that Islam is a religion of peace that teaches tolerance is as accurate as saying the same thing of Nazism. Muslims are not bad people (Except those true ones who would joyfully and readily kill the person whom they think is an apostate). The average Muslim knows nothing of Islam. Very few Muslims have really read the Quran and understood it. If the good people who mistakenly call themselves Muslims read that book, very few of them will remain faithful.
This very fact that good intentioned moderate religious people try to give a “mystical interpretation” to the inhumane and intolerant teachings of the religions is the very cause of the problem. The originators of these religions were all liars, with no spiritual insights or compassion. They were religious bigots, fanatical nut-heads who lied compulsively and convincingly. They were charismatic psychopaths like the modern cult leaders that emerge everyday in our own time. Their early followers were a bunch of illiterate foolhardy ignorant people. They believed these impostors and followed them with heart and soul. They gave their lives and took the lives of others to establish those lies. They interpreted the harshness and the intolerance of their leaders as the evidence of the truth. When their prophets died many came up with stories of miracles that they claimed to have witnessed, thus gaining attention and respect among their peers. The subsequent generations elaborated on the absurd teachings of those so-called “revealed books” and tried to interpret them into something that would make sense. Philosophers and mystics gave esoteric meanings to the blatantly foolish talks of these prophets and finally the religion became the way of life, each person taking the faith of the others as the proof of the truth of that religion. “How can all these people be wrong?” they would say and is the only force that keeps religious people going.
As a matter of honesty it is important that we sever our emotional umbilical cord from the religions and question their truth impassionedly the way we would question any scientific, literal or historic thesis. It is a mistake to read what Rumi or other Sufis say in order to understand the inner meaning of Quran. Quran has no inner meanings. The book of Quran is clear. Any inner meaning attributed to it would be the interpretation of the good hearted people who could not accept the absurdities and the errors of that book and tried to interpret it in a way that could measure up to their more refined humane and intellectual understanding.
One can take any book and give it an “inner meaning” and interpret it to suit his expectations. If someone told you that the inner meanings of Hitler’s orders to cremate the Jews is to burn all your attachment to the world and become spiritually enlightened, you would probably take that person to a psychiatrist, especially when all those atrocities took place during Hitler's own life time and were ordered and supervised by him. You would not be fooled if someone told you that Hitler’s desire to conquer and subdue other nations was to bring peace and prosperity and love of God everywhere. You would not be that stupid to believe if someone told you that all the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis were due to the misinterpretations of Hitler’s orders. Then why are you so willing to fool yourself when similar absurd excuses are made for Muhammad? He massacred 600 to 900 of the Jews after cutting the water to their quarters burning their plantations and capturing them as the prisoners of war, for no reason at all except his desire to enrich himself with their wealth and the sale of their wives and children as slaves. He sent assassins to the houses of his opponents during the night to kill them. One of them was a mother of 5 small children whose only crime was to compose a poetry that Muhammad found insulting. He raped beautiful girls whom he captured during his raids and sold the rest of the women as slaves. Are there any “mystical interpretations” to these atrocities?
For how long we want to fool ourselves? For how long we are going to keep our heads under the sand? For how long should we try to look for gems of wisdom in the dung?
Muslim’s find their strength in their number and the stories of conversions that they so joyfully share with each other. If there are no such stories, they fabricate them. It does not matter to them if Islam is true or false? They don’t think it is up to them to make an independent search of the truth and find the facts on their own. If they hear stories of the conversion of others it is enough proof to them of the truth of Islam. The say to themselves: “not all these people can be wrong!” and then go about applying the atrocities that are prescribed in Quran and Ahadith and the result is what you see.
It is up to us to stop this vicious cycle. As Muslim intellectuals we have to reverse this trend. We have to separate ourselves permanently from Islam, denounce it, and write about it. When our numbers increase the masses who believed in Islam relying on us will eventually feel lonely and follow us. That is the only way to stop this lie from spreading. Sitting by the side, trying to educate Muslims to be nice won’t work. Telling Muslims that Islam is a tolerant religion that respects women’s rights and the rights of non-believers, won’t work. Because they know that it is not true. It has not worked for 1400 years and it won’t work now. Mo’tazalies tried and failed, Sufis tried and failed, Ataturk tried and failed. Every attempt to make Islam more humane will fail because Quran is on the side of the fundamentalists. As Taslima Nasrin wrote, “Fundamentalism is a poisonous branch that stems from the trunk of religion”. Until you do not uproot the tree, that poisonous branch will keep shooting out.
The following is an article from The New York Times that confirms my thesis that the new conversions to Islam in one part of the world feeds Islamic terrorism in another part.
August 26, 2000
Behind the Veil, a Muslim Feminist
By BARRY BEARAK
Barry Bearak/ The New York Times
Asiyah Andrabi makes her demands for equal rights for women from behind the all-enveloping burqa worn by conservative Muslims.
RINAGAR, Kashmir -- Asiyah Andrabi, conservative Muslim and radical feminist, believes that women should be heard and not seen, so she makes her demands for equal rights from behind the black cloth curtain of an all-enveloping burqa.
"The veil is for security as Allah wishes it," she said, pausing to refresh her hidden mouth with sips of Coca-Cola. "If gold is left uncovered along a roadside, anyone will grab it, because it is a precious thing. It is the same with an uncovered woman."
There are other reasons for Ms. Andrabi to conceal her face. She is a militant who opposes Indian rule here. For most of the last decade she has been living either in jail or on the lam, alternating her efforts between the liberation of women and that of Kashmir.
Indian intelligence agents say they suspect that she is a conduit for money to guerrilla groups.
But her notoriety is owed to flamboyant rather than clandestine activities. As head of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, she has led hundreds of women in street protests. At times they have carried brushes and paint cans beneath their burqas, blackening any advertisements that show scantily clad models.
With the same sense of righteousness, Ms. Andrabi has also tossed colored dye into the faces of Muslim women who shun the veil. Western dress is popular here in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Often Ms. Andrabi is not.
"Such upstarts are like a plague for us," said one older Muslim woman.
With so well-known a reputation and so little-known a face, Ms. Andrabi, 37, carries about her short frame a sense of mystery. But she is hardly press-shy, alerting favorite reporters whenever she calls a protest.
Interviews with her are rare, though. She phones the reporters, not the other way around. Rendezvous are set, broken, reset. Finally, she kept a date, arriving late with her 8-month-old son asleep on her shoulder.
"To people from the West I may seem a contradiction," she said in excellent English, her diction a tip-off to an upbringing in a wealthy family and a college education. "But I have never felt that this veil -- this purdah -- has been a hardship to my work."
As if to serve up a suitably vexing contradiction to her self-declared feminism, she said that lately she had been nagging her husband to marry a few extra wives.
She explained: "Allah says a man can marry one, two, three or four wives, but he must have the means to do justice to them all. The jihad against India has left so many widows and orphans. A man has a responsibility to look after them."
She told her life story.
Her father, a doctor, was a devout Muslim. But while he urged her to get a secular education, he encouraged only his sons to study the Koran.
She studied biochemistry at college in Srinagar. But when she wanted to get an advanced degree, she said, her family refused to let her leave home. While in a prolonged sulk, she happened on a book about women who had converted to Islam.
"It shocked me that I was so unfamiliar with my own religion," she said. "It is a tragedy that only men go to the mosque, and women are told their only duty is to look after the children. In truth, Islam grants individuality to men and women. In heaven, before Allah, a woman, too, will be asked about her worldly deeds."
She studied the Koran -- and encouraged other women to do the same. "Our society cruelly restricts women, from the words of the Prophet, from school, from jobs," she said, her voice taking on an angry edge. "But in today's world women can even be astronauts. So they must be educated. You know, an ignorant woman cannot answer even the simplest question from her child, and a mother must be the first school for her children."
In 1989 a revolt erupted in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir Valley, an insurgency that still goes on. Ms. Andrabi believes now, as she believed then, that Kashmir ought to sever itself from India and become part of Pakistan, an Islamic state that in her view needs to do better by its own women and be truer to its faith.
"I believe the whole universe should be governed by the laws of Islam, and Allah says all Muslims should be united as one," she said.
The Kashmir dispute involves dozens of political parties and soldierly factions, some foreign, some domestic, some Islamic, some secular.
There is usually little role for women in such a male-dominated occupation as holy war. "The social milieu does not allow it," said Abdul Ghani Bhat, the leader of an umbrella group of Kashmiri organizations. "It's hard for a woman to go into the market to make a speech or go into the forest to shoot a gun."
Ms. Andrabi, then, is quite the exception. Her husband, Muhammad Qasim, who belongs to the militant group Jamiat-ul-Mujahadeen, is her life partner in jihad. In 1990, at age 27, she told her father that she would accept an arranged betrothal so long as the groom was active in the insurgency. She met Mr. Qasim on the day of their wedding, she said.
Each has been arrested several times. Indian jails are brutal places, Ms. Andrabi complained. In 1993, when their first son was a baby, she was jailed for 13 months. The infant was allowed to stay with her. "But all he had was my breast milk," she said. "They gave him not even a biscuit."
She wants her sons to grow up with gun in hand. "I want them to be mujahids," she said. "I never pray or dream that they be doctors or prime ministers. I want them to be mujahids who fight for the cause of holy Islam."
If she ever has a daughter, she said, maybe she will be a prime minister.”
There you have it. In the above story we have an educated women of well to do middle class family turning a terrorist, tossing colored dyes in the faces of women without Hijab, advocating violence, who wants to raise her sons as terrorists with gun in their hands and has scooped so low that even she encourages her husband to take other wives.
What made a nice middle class girl brought up in a good family become a terrorist? A book that she read about the conversion of women to Islam! That is all she needed to be blazed by fanatical fervor and turn a terrorist.
New conversions, feed Islamic fundamentalism. Moderate Muslim intellectuals feed Islamic fundamentalism. Any success of Islam, feed Islamic fundamentalism. In a most bizarre way, even the scientific contributions of a Muslim in the United State, feeds Islamic fundamentalism.
Muslims suffer from a complex of inferiority. The stories of the conversions of westerners, give them reassurance, renew their hopes and encourage them to hold fast unto their religion. But Islam is a fundamentalist religion. Militancy is encouraged in Quran. The more the roots of Islam are expanded the more the fundamentalist branches are invigorated. You cannot fight Islamic fundamentalism without fighting Islam itself.
The responsibility is upon moderate Muslim intellectuals who care and who want to demolish the walls of mistrust that exist between the West and the Islamic world, who are concerned of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and who long to see Muslims opening up to the West being more cooperative and acting as responsible citizens of a new united world.
This will not happen until Islam is not weakened or completely eradicated. The self-righteousness, the hate of the unbeliever, the advocacy for the use of violence are all part of Islam, and prescribed in Quran. How can one be a “true” Muslim and not hate the unbelievers?
This is what Quran teaches.
"Oh ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers and let them find harshness in you." Q.9:123
"Slay the idolaters wherever you find them" Q. 9: 5
"Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day... and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior" Q. 9: 29
“Fight them on until there is no more tumult and religion becomes that of Allah” Q. 2: 193
For more verses like these click here
Ali Sina is the editor of Faithfreedom.org. He is has contributed in 'Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside Islam'. His latest book is Understanding Muhammad: The Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet.