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January 25, 2005

Wahabism Delenda Est

Peter S., in a mailing list I'm on, made the following observation -

I am struck by what I perceive as a parallel between these utterances and that of Christianity in the fourteenth century Anno Domine. This is the fourteenth century of the Muslim calendar.

There are many parallels in the words of and influence of Christianity upon the secular rulers of Europe at the time. The whole Age of the Enlightenment and the Protestant revolution were yet to come. The whole concept of state democracy had yet to be articulated.

He was talking about this:

Here are a few quotes from the book "Milestones" by Sayyid Qutb:

"Islam is not a theory based on assumptions; rather it is a way of life working with actuality. Thus it is first necessary that a Muslim community come into existence which believes that "There is no deity except God," which commits itself to obey none but God, denying all other authority, and which challenges the legality of any law which is not based on this belief."

"When the purpose is to abolish the existing system and to replace it with a new system which in its character, principles and all its general and particular aspects, is different from the controlling jahili [ones ignorant of the Divine guidance of God] system, then it stands to reason that this new system should also come into the battlefield as an organized movement and a viable group."

"It is in the very nature of Islam to take initiative for freeing the human beings throughout the earth from servitude to anyone other than God; and so it cannot be restricted within any geographic or racial limits, leaving all mankind on the whole earth in evil, chaos and in servitude to lords other than God."

"Islam is not merely a belief, so that it is enough merely to preach it...Other societies do not give it any opportunity to organize its followers according to its own method, and hence it is the duty of Islam to annihilate all such systems, as they are obstacles in the way of universal freedom."

"Jihaad in Islam is simply a name for striving to make this system of life dominant in the world"

(hat tip to Jim G)

This is a part of the source documentation for what we are fighting. Compare the underlying thrust of that with the writings of Christian scholars in the Middle Ages.

Something that the "Enlightened Classes" many times don't get - they see this as rhetoric. Bombast. Just as they did Mein Kampf. Just as they did Lenin's writings. The point is - follow the money and the actions. Just as with Lenin and Hitler - the money, the actions, the results - they match the rhetoric.

Michael Moore and Barbra Streisand do rhetoric. Osama, and al-Zarqawi act.

Therein lies the difference. Therein lies the truth that this will be a long fight - and ultimately, a fight of ideas. And that fight needs to be carried to the enemy.
It took a long time to change the direction of the Roman Catholic Church, which was a huge, hugely powerful institution. It also had easily defined centers of gravity. The Islamist threat is not that huge, not that monolithic, and has many smaller, dispersed centers of gravity. Which means that while there will be clashes of arms, the real fight is in the world of ideas - and while we suck at that in terms of policy, over time I think we will overcome. The point being we can't just kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out - we have to engage them, on their own turf, in their own terms, and, most importantly help them do it themselves, and only physically inserting ourselves sparingly.

Yeah - I still support what we did and are doing in Iraq - no worries. I'm really thinking about the next steps - Iran, Syria, and wondering what the hell to do with Saudi Arabia! The tsunami has actually been a boon in that regard... many asian/pacific islander muslims have noted that the West has responded with substantial matériel support, while Arab muslims, despite all the calls in the Koran for charity, have been nowhere near as forthcoming... and the Islamist response has been "Don't take the infidel aid - better to die." which is not really a message that resounds well in a disaster area.

Even if it at times seems the Indonesian Government is composed of an ungrateful lot, and UN bureaucrats are a real piece of work (apologies to the ones who shoulder the real work while the Poseurs pose) - we are doing the right thing, and sending messages to those people that I'm sure are being understood - if not always in ways we recognize. We live in interesting times, and I suspect our children will, too.

If you're still reading and want the rest - hit the Flash Traffic in the extended post.

One of the things I have said around here before - and have up on the left sidebar is: Wahabism Delenda Est, my little homage to Cato the Elder's solution to the Hannibal problem Rome was suffering from. And no, Latin-Speaking Guy, I'm not changing it to Wahabismus, just like we talked about earlier...

Another little theme of mine has been (and this has generated what very little hate mail I've gotten) is that Islam, considered in context of 'organizational maturity' sits now where Christianity sat in the 1400's. This analogy won't stand up under detailed scrutiny - such comparisons rarely do - falling hard on the quick response of "Islam has *no* central authortiy structure" (or hasn't, since the fall of the Second Ummayid Caliphate anyway) that is analgous to the Church in Rome. The purpose is to provide a loose framework of a working hypothesis that can then be further developed. Part of my point being - I'm talking about destroying Wahabism, as practiced now - not Islam. There are Muslims who agree... though we might not agree about much else.

The point remains that Islam has been around, more or less, for fourteen hundred years, and has not had a unifying central authority (though many have tried), Abbassids, Fatimids, and Ummayids. Just as western political thought on the nature of democracy has a 3 thousand (or so) legacy of thought behind it, and Christianity has 2000 or so years (excluding, somewhat conveniently, the thousands of years of Hebrew thought which precedes it) and you begin to see what I mean in terms of time of development. Even though we live in an era of unprecedented knowledge expansion and sharing, the fruits of that are not as widely shared in the Muslim world, as much of it is not fully connected to sources of that data. Add to that there is no strong central authority pronouncing on doctrine and providing for wide dissemination of that doctrine, and the power of the Imam in the Islamic world... I contend that the confluence of factors gives us a religion that is nowhere nearly monolithic as we tend to think, but which, in it's most strongly reported (both self and from the outside) form, can be loosely equated to the 14th Century Roman Catholic Church. As the Left, Right and Protestants will quickly point out - the Catholic Church was once a rabid, forceful, and brutal proselytizer. Not that Protestants haven't had their days at that, too, they've just never had the mass (no pun intended) the Roman Catholic Church enjoyed. Combine that with secular rulers searching for wealth and power...

Enter Sayyid Qut'b, spiritual father of today's Islamists. You should read the stuff I linked to there - it provides an interesting perspective on both one of the sources of today's conflict with Islamists, as well as a benchmark for how Qut'b's message is being changed by events, issues and people. The message of jihad.