Recapturing Islam From the Terrorists © Abdal-Hakim Murad

As New York turns its gap-toothed face to the sky, wondering if the worst is yet to come, Muslims, largely unheeded by the wider world, are counting the cost of the suicide bombings. The backlash against mosques and hi abs has been met by statements from Muslim communities around the globe, some stilted, but others which ha!e clearly found an articulate and passionate !oice for the first time. "n comparison with the pathetic near-silence that ho!ered around mosques and ma or organisations during the #ushdie and $ulf %ar debacles, the communities now seem alert to their cultural situation and its potential precariousness. Many of the condemnations ha!e been more impressi!e than those of the American &resident, who seems unable to rise abo!e clich's. The moti!es are twofold. (irstly, and most patently, )unni Muslims ha!e been brought up in a uni!erse of faith that renders the taking of innocent li!es unimaginable. *y condemning the attacks, we know that we defend the indispensable essence of "slam. )econdly, Muslims as well as others ha!e died in large numbers. The (riday &rayers in the %orld Trade +entre always attracted more than ,,-.. worshippers from the office community, many of whom ha!e now surely died. The tourists, who spent their last moments choking on the obser!ation deck, waiting for the helicopters that ne!er came, no doubt included many Muslim parents and their children. *ut the %estern powers and their fearful Muslim minorities, both battered so grie!ously by recent e!ents, now need to think beyond press-releases and ritual cursings. %e need to recognise, firstly, that there has been a steady /mission-creep/ in terrorist attacks o!er the past twenty years. 0i ackings for ransom money ga!e way to parcel bombs, then to suicide bombs, and now to kiloton-range urban mayhem. "t is not at all clear that this escalation will be terminated by further anti-terrorist legislation, further billions for the (*", or retina scans at Terminal Three. America1s tendency to assume that money can buy or destroy any possible obstacle to its will now stands under a dark shadow. (ar from being a clima2 and the catalyst for a hi-tech military solution, the attacks may be of more historical significance as an announcement to the militant subculture that a )tar-%ars superpower is utterly !ulnerable to a handful of lightlyarmed young men. There could well be more and worse to come.

which owns rich resources for the respectful acknowledgement of difference within itself. Maliki ulama do not become suicide-bombers. because we now know their destination. and suggest. "t is true that not e!ery committed %ahhabi is willing to kill ci!ilians to make a political point.ealots. )haykh 0isham 9abbani of the "slamic )upreme +ouncil of America. Two years ago. . The la!a-stream that flows from "bn Taymiyya. corporate America may ust pro!e powerful enough to face A"&A+ down. Threatened with disaster. %hy is there so much hatred of the 4nited )tates. knows that the !ery idea is absurd. that the ne2t time "srael asks %ashington to !eto the 4N1s desire to send obser!ers to 0ebron. firmly. 7!en if a Middle-7astern connection is somehow dispro!ed. lea!ing behind only a merciless hardcore of well-financed . 8ne of the unseen. Among Muslims. accompanied by a mass e2odus from %ahhabism. Those who ha!e tried to take o!er the controls of "slam. but contain that rage fore!er through satellite technology and intrepid double-agents5 *usinessmen and bankers will now start to read carefully enough to discern that it is not 4) national interest. the only possible alternati!e to their position.)obered by this. They must realise that it is traditional "slam. that tends to dri!e %ashington1s policy in the world1s greatest troublespot. 0owe!er it is also true that no orthodo2 )unni has e!er been willing to do so. they cannot deny fore!er that doctrinal e2tremism can lead to political e2tremism. it pauses to consider where its own interests might lie. we hope. unsung triumphs of true "slam in the modern world is its complete freedom from any terroristic in!ol!ement. and so much yearning to poke it in the eye5 Are the architects of policy sane in their certainty that America can enrage large numbers of people. 7!eryone. the longer-term aftershock will surely take the form of a crisis among 6moderate %ahhabis1. become enormously strengthened in the aftermath of the recent e!ents. whose fierce 2enophobia mirrored his sense of the imminent Mongol threat to "slam. has a habit of closing minds and hardening hearts. warned of the dangers of mass terrorism to American cities: and he was brushed aside as a dangerous alarmist. Muslim organisations are no doubt beginning to regret their treatment of him. but the power of the American-"srael &ublic Affairs +ommittee. the )tate 3epartment is likely to come under pressure from business interests to ask the question it ne!er seems to notice. will ha!e to relinquish them. and with unbelie!ers. The mo!ement for traditional "slam will. enemies included. No-one has e!er heard of )ufi terrorism. after reading books from weknow-where.

8nly a radical amputation of this kind will sa!e "slam1s name. and has a rich life of ethics. )uicide bombing is so foreign to the =uranic ethos that the &rophet )amson is entirely absent from our scriptures. Addendum Although the response from Muslims in the 49 seems to ha!e been !ery fa!ourable to my essay. weapons of "slam. some Muslims consider premature any attempt to begin a debate among oursel!es about the cultural and doctrinal foundations of e2tremism.%hen that happens. it is ine!itable that under pressure from real or potential rioters and cross-burners. so desolating. instead of enemies fit for burning ali!e. and spirituality. and "slam. and historically-successful. or perhaps e!en sooner. mainstream "slam will be able to make the loud declaration in public that it already feels in its heart< that terrorists are not Muslims. as they li!e and work in %estern cities. with one or two requests that it be sent to national newspapers for reprinting on their pages. "f that takes place. could pro!ide the moti!e and the space for such a reclamation. then future catastrophes by %ahhabi ultras will ha!e little impact on the image of communities. )uch are the real. "t is true that no con!ictions ha!e been secured. the )tate 3epartment. 0owe!er it is also regrettably the case that these suspects . will in the longer term be percei!ed as so radical in their denial of what is necessarily known to be part of "slam. Targeting ci!ilians is a negation of e!ery possible school of )unni "slam. the #e!erend >im >ones1s suicide cult. The controls of two great !ehicles. architecture and literature. say. because they are the instruments that make friends of our neighbours. missionary work. and that in the )hari/a suspects are innocent until pro!en guilty. need to be reclaimed in the name of sanity and humanity. or the *ranch 3a!idians at %aco. whose spokesmen can simply say that Muslims were not implicated. out of cultural impotence or impatience. that the authorities of the religion are likely to declare them to be beyond its reach. and the physical safety of Muslims. "slam is a great world religion that has produced much of the world1s most sensiti!e art. but there are also grounds for hope. "t is always hard to accept that good might come out of e!il: but perhaps only a catastrophe on this scale. Those that refuse them. To conclude< there is much despair. particularly women. This is the approach taken by +hristian churches when confronted by. and so seemingly hopeless.

and that we need. This is particularly urgent in this case. 72tremism can dri!e people right out of "slam. takes its cue primarily from the 49 situation.alian approach. As such.a prayer for the hi ackers that was held two days ago at a ?ondon %ahhabi mosque @the term %ahhabi is more useful. in the %est and in +entral Asia and elsewhere. Algerians were among the year/s 7aster baptisms. "n our communities in the %est. but also because we need to reassure those !ery many born Muslims who are made unsure about their attachment to "slam by e!ents such as this that they can belong to the religion without being harsh and narrow-minded. in the absence of a traditional framework of accusation and assessment. since those people appear so determined to destroy Muslim unity. which endea!oured to kick-start this debate. %e Muslims are now at /ground . but not indisputably. for instance. which is no doubt less intense than in the 4). but is nonetheless serious. we cannot simply ignore this on grounds of /Muslim unity/. 0a!ing spoken to the editor of one of this country/s ma or Muslim maga. and endanger the security of our community.ero/. Al-$ha. My essay. since /)alafi/ can also refer to the Abduh-#ida reformism and is hence confusingA. +learly. lie at the root of these e!ents. is !ehement and ad!ersarial.ines.ali recommends a tolerant !iew of non-Muslims. "n . to hold our own discussions. we cannot simply ignore the duty to ask each other what has caused the attitudes that probably. as Muhammad Memon has shown in his book on him. they reported that the change was the result of the spread of e2treme forms of "slam in Algeria. Noting that ten years earlier Muslims ne!er con!erted at all. Not ust because we need to reassure our neighbours.. it is clear that the small minority of !oices which ha!e been raised in support of the terrorist act were in e!ery case of the %ahhabi persuasion. and indeed worldwide.BBB the +onference of (rench +atholic bishops announced that C. and is prepared to grant that many of them may be sa!ed in the ne2t world: "bn Taymiya. the ana. is !ery considerable. since the damage to the honour of "slam. we surely need the $ha. "n particular " am concerned to insist that Muslims distance themsel!es from. not the rigorism of "bn Taymiya. and the physical safety of innocent Muslims. and towards narrowmindedness. . " hope that the recent e!ents will spur Muslims to consider the implications for the wider ethos in which we understand our religion of the shift which we ha!e witnessed o!er the past twenty years or so away from accommodationist and tolerant forms of "slam.will not be tried under )hari/a law.

The shift away from traditional "slam. "t means< /8 ?i!ing. %e must ask Allah to open the hearts of the Muslims e!erywhere to recognise that narrowmindedness and mutual anathema will lead us nowhere. bi-rahmatika astaghiith/. and that only through spirituality."n Afghanistan. in his chapter /+hallenging "slam/. which is recommended in a hadith in cases of fear and misfortune. too. The most appropriate du/a/ for our situation would seem to be< /Ya 0ayyu Ya =ayyum. for instance by Ahmad #ashid. 8 )elf-)ubsistent: by Your mercy " seek help. The )audi-%ahhabi connection has been !ery conspicuous. toleration and wisdom will we be granted success. has been widely documented. and " ha!e heard from one e2-Taliban member that this is because of the e2tremism with which "slam is imposed on the people. and towards "bn Taymiya/s position. there are now +hristians for the first time e!er. in his book on the Taliban./ .

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