Modern islamism


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A follow-up of a pitch on Arab Nationalism and Islamism given in 2005

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Modern islamism

  1. 1. Modern Islamism Ramana 1/22/07 Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  2. 2. Introduction• Since 9/11 many Western scholars have studied the Middle East and Islamic societies to understand resentment against the West.• Root causes for anti-Western rage in Middle East – Arab Nationalism – Islamic Fundamentalism Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  3. 3. Arab Nationalism• Arab nationalism refers to a common nationalist ideology in wider Arab world. – Arab nationalism is a form of ethnic nationalism. – claim to common heritage — that all Arabs are united by a shared history, culture, and language.• Pan-Arabism is a related concept, which calls for the creation of a single Arab state, – Not all Arab nationalist are also Pan-Arabists.• Arab independence refers to – the concept of the removal or minimization of direct Western influence in the Middle East, and – the dissolution of regimes in the Arab world which are considered to be dependent upon favorability with the West to the detriment of their local populations. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  4. 4. Arab Nationalism• Early beginnings in Syria in 1860 and launch of affiliate societies in other lands. – Emigration of Syrian Christian to Egypt led to spread of ideas. – Early demands were modest under the Ottoman Turks • Limited autonomy, • Use of Arabic language • Local deployment of Arabic recruits in peacetime. – “Turkicisation” program of Young Turks led to radicalization. Repression led to Arab resurgence• British supported Arab nationalism against the Turks but repressed it after the award of the British Mandate.• Arab nationalists generally reject religion as a main element in political identity, and promote the unity of Arabs regardless of sectarian identity.• Arab Nationalists are modernists in the French revolution mode and reject monarchies Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  5. 5. Examples of Arab Nationalists• Nasser• Saddam Hussein with his daughter• Bashir Gemayal of Lebanon Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  6. 6. Arab Nationalism• Grievances are: – Control of Arab lands • Economic and political • Cultural – Establishment of Palestine • This is a major grievance • Litmus test of Western acceptance of Arab nationalism – Israel • Extremists view Israel as an unnatural entity • Feel that Western Europe was responsible for the Holocaust and should have to provide restitution and not in the Middle East as things have moved on since the Roman Empire • Reminiscent of Reconquista – Persian and Greco-Roman empires had similar ideas of re-conquest – Germany under Hitler which wanted to undo the Peace of Versailles after WWI Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  7. 7. Death of Saddam• Marks an end of an era of Arab despots/strong arm leaders• Shows the failure of Arab dictatorships when Western democracies are ranged against them.• Could mark a new beginning in the Arab mind• Might see the emergence of a representative movement in modern Arab minds and bring back the original goals of Arab Nationalism Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  8. 8. Islamic Fundamentalism• Islamic fundamentalism in the West refers to Islamism• Islamism refers to – Set of political ideologies derived from various conservative religious views of Muslim fundamentalists, which hold that • Islam is not only a religion, but also a • Political system that governs the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state.• Islamist movements seek to re-shape the state by implementing a conservative formulation of Sharia.• Islamist movements are different from Islamic states which have been there since Prophet Muhammed set up the first state in Medina. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  9. 9. Islamism• Failure of secular Arab Nationalism – Governments based on secular Arab nationalism have found themselves facing economic stagnation and disorder. – Some Muslims place the blame for these flaws in Muslim societies on the influx of "foreign" ideas; a return to the principles of Islam is seen as the natural cure.• Persecution complex – A persistent Islamist theme is that Muslims are persecuted by the West and other foreigners. – Islamist ideas developed in several different settings. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  10. 10. History of Islamism• Although Islamic states based on Sharia law have existed since the earliest days of Islam, Islamism refers to modern movements that developed during the twentieth century in reaction to several forces.• Following World War I, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and the subsequent dissolution of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (founder of Turkey), some Muslims perceived that Islam was in retreat, and felt that Western ideas were spreading throughout Muslim society, along with the influence of Western nations.• During the 1960s, the predominant ideology within the Arab world was pan-Arabism which deemphasized religion and emphasized the creation of a socialist, secular state based on Arab nationalism rather than Islam. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  11. 11. The Deobandi Movement• In India, the Deobandi movement developed as a reaction to British actions against Muslims and the influence of Sayed Ahmad Khan, who advocated the reform and modernization of Islam. Named after the town of Deoband, where it originated, the movement was built around Islamic schools (principally Darul Uloom) and taught an interpretation of Islam that encouraged the subservience of women, discouraged the use of many forms of technology and entertainment, and believed that only "revealed" or God-inspired knowledge (rather than human knowledge) should be followed.• Though the Deobandi philosophy is puritanical and wishes to remove non- Muslim (i.e., Hindu or Western) influence from Muslim societies, it was not especially violent or proselytising, confining its activity mostly to the establishment of madrassas, or Muslim religious schools. They are a major sector of Muslims in the region (the followers of Sayed Ahmad Khan being a significant minority). The Taliban movement in Afghanistan was a product of the Deobandi philosophy and the madarassas. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  12. 12. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi• Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi was an important early twentieth-century figure in India, then, after independence from Britain, in Pakistan.• Strongly influenced by Deobandi ideology, he advocated the creation of an Islamic state governed by sharia, Islamic law, as interpreted by Shura councils.• Maududi founded the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941 and remained at its head until 1972. His extremely influential book, "Towards Understanding Islam" (Risalah Diniyat in Arabic), placed Islam in modern context and enabled not only conservative ulema but liberal modernizers such as al-Faruqi, whose "Islamization of Knowledge" carried forward some of Maududis key principles. Chief among these was the basic compatibility of Islam with an ethical scientific view. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  13. 13. The Muslim Brotherhood• Maududis ideas were a strong influence on Sayyed Qutb in Egypt. Qutb was one of the key philosophers in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which began in Egypt in 1928 and was banned (but still exists) following confrontations with Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser, who jailed Qutb and many others.• The Muslim Brotherhood (founded by Hasan al-Banna) advocated a return to sharia because of what they perceived as the inability of Western values to secure harmony and happiness for Muslims. Since only divine guidance could lead humans to be happy, it followed that Muslims should eschew democracy and live according to divinely-inspired sharia. The Brotherhood was one of the first groups to advocate jihad against all those who do not follow Islam. As al-Banna said: – [Muslim] lands have been trampled over, and their honor besmirched. Their adversaries are in charge of their affairs, and the rites of their religion have fallen into abeyance within their own domains, to say nothing of their impotence to broadcast the summons [to embrace Islam]. Hence it has become an individual obligation, which there is no evading, on every Muslim to prepare his equipment, to make up his mind to engage in jihad, and to get ready for it until the opportunity is ripe and God decrees a matter which is sure to be accomplished… Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  14. 14. Wahabism• Another influential strain of Islamist thought came from the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia.• The Wahhabists, who emerged in the 18th century led by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, also believed that it was necessary to live according to the strict dictates of Islam, which they interpreted to mean living in the manner that the prophet Muhammad and his followers had lived in during the seventh century in Medina.• Consequently they were opposed to many innovations developed since that time, including the minaret, marked graves, and later television and radios.• The Wahhabis also consider those Muslims who violated their strict interpretation to be heretics, and thus used violence against other Muslims.• When King Abdul Aziz al-Saud founded Saudi Arabia, he brought the Wahhabists into power with him. With Sauds rise to prominence, Wahhabism spread, especially following the 1973 oil embargo and the glut of oil wealth that resulted for Saudi Arabia.• The Wahhabists were proselytizers, and made use of their wealth to spread their interpretation of Islam. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  15. 15. Role of Afghan Jihad and Kosovo• The takeover of Afghanistan by FSU was considered a major challenge to modern Islamism.• It hurt the sensibilities of Islamists and nationalists as a godless nation had taken over an Islamic believing nation – Dar-ul-Islam -> Dar-ul-Harab• Early jihad did not take off till the US brought together the lesser jihad (external struggle) and the greater jihad (internal struggle) or the Wahabi and Deobandi streams together in training camps in Pakistan in the mid-80s.• Arab and non Arab jihadis were brought together for training in camps run by ISI of Pakistan and funded by KSA.• The ejection of FSU is being taken as a victory for the forces of Islam and has spurred the Islamists to taken other projects.• Serbian repression on Kosovo Albanians was another grievance. Again the defeat of Milosovic forces was taken as another victory for Islamism and affirmation of ‘Force of History’ Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  16. 16. Sunni Islam In India Shaikh Ahmed Wahabism Sirhindi 1524-1624 1760 Shah Walliullah 1760 Colonial age Saiyyad Ahmed Shahid 1857 1831 Deobandi Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan Movement ~ 1867 1875 Ahle Hadith Group 1880 Aligarh Muslim Ahmed Reza MovementIlyas Barelvi 1903Tablighi Jamat1927 Madudi Others Jamat-e-Islamic Memons, Ahmediyas etc. 1941 Pakistan 1947 Bharat Rakshak - India Post-Colonial age Forum
  17. 17. Modern Islamism Diagram Shah Walliullah Wahabism 1760 1760DeobandiMovement ~ 1867 Communism Madudi Muslim (1928) 1941 Brotherhood Fascism Syed Qutb (1960s) Khomeini Revolution 1978 Afghan Jihad US manipulation 1985 Islamism 1990s Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  18. 18. Islamist Grievances• Decline of Islamic countries – Feel that post-colonial nation states were futile – Want to restore a Caliphate based on the early “Four Pious” Caliphs• Modernity – And its impact on societies. – But like the modern conveniences• No ‘Crusader’ troops in the Hejaz peninsula. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  19. 19. What do the Islamists want?• Re-establish the primacy of a purer Islam – Want to go back to the times of the “Four Pious” caliphs when Islam was monolithic and driven by Arabs – This is Arabism heavy. Whereas Arab Nationalism is Arabism light.• The return to roots will re-establish the political center back to Arab lands.• Re-Arabize the ummah and reverse the Sufi led progress of Islam• Important distinction: – Modern Islamists want Islamic rulers who represent them. Wahabist support the current rulers. This is a major impact of the Afghan war. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  20. 20. Venn Diagram • Islamism – Parochial or• Arab Nationalism religious based – Secular/non- – Global confined to sectarian -Hate – Regional- Western all Muslim lands Confined to control – Implement Shariat Arab lands – Modern in - Palestine – Acquired elements outlook of Communism and – Based on Islam in Arab lands fascism Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  21. 21. Current assessment• Arab nationalism is in retreat – The fall of Nasser and Saddam has dealt it a body blow. US role in both events for other reasons. – Elements are marginalized – Not a threat to the monarchies and states in the Middle East – However death of Saddam could shift the movement from autocrats to representative nature• Islamism is becoming an strong ideological force beyond the Middle East. – Spreading to the immigrants in the West Europe, USA – Spreading in the East in Indonesia, Chinese Turkestan (Uighers), Bangladesh, Thailand etc• Both streams are leading to NATO rethinking of its roles and missions that will impact India Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  22. 22. Strategy• Political & ideological – Need to show how the non-Islamic system is better • The political reforms be implemented equitably – Have to make it clear that the rest will deal severely with Islamist political center if redlines are crossed. • Same as Total Nuclear War was there to deal with FSU.• Economical – Need to show that people benefit equitably in non-Islamic & non- Western societies • The economic reforms are implemented equitably – Second prong has to be to reduce dependence of Middle East oil. • Alternate energy sources have to be exploited• Religious – Nothing irks the Islamist than to deal with irreligious people. They despise plural societies. • Need to reconcile how to square the circle with political factors. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  23. 23. Background• Recent History• Modern Islamism Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  24. 24. Recent history• Islamism went through its major political and philosophical developments in the early part of the twentieth century, but it was not until the 1980s that it became active in an international arena and rose to great prominence in the 1990s.• The reasons for the rise of Islamism during this period are still disputed. The ideologies that had dominated the Middle East since decolonization such as Baathism, Arab Socialism, and Arab Nationalism had, by 1980, failed to attain the economic and political goals expected of them. By the late 1980s the distinct Shiite version of political Islam had been drained of its vigour in the Iran-Iraq War. During the conflict against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, many Islamists came together to fight what they saw as an atheist invading force and were heavily funded by the United States. In Pakistan, military dicators brought into power through coups (especially Zia-ul-Haq) exploited Islamist sentiments to consolidate their power, bringing Islamist political parties into prominence and all but destroying the traditional secularism that stemmed from the secular stance of the Muslim League and its leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan).• In his book Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam Gilles Kepel argues that the central importance of Islamism in the 1990s was a product of the Gulf War. Prior to 1990 organized political Islam had been mostly associated with Saudi Arabia, a nation founded on Wahhabism and an ally of Islamist groups in Egypt and in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia, as a close ally of the West and with a strong interest in regional stability, played an important restraining role on Islamist groups.• The Shiite clerics in Iran had long argued that Saudi Arabia was an apostate state, a puppet of the West that espoused a corrupted Islam. During the 1980s these accusations had little effect, largely because of their Shiite origin. However, Kepel argues that when Saddam Hussein turned on his former allies, he embraced this rhetoric, arguing that Saudi Arabia had betrayed its duty to protect the holiest sites of Islam. Kepel states that Saddam Hussein embraced Islamic rhetoric and trappings and tried to draw leading scholars and activists to his camp. Some of the main Islamist groups remained loyal to Saudi Arabia, but a number such as parts of the Muslim Brotherhood and Afghani mujahideen aligned themselves with Saddam. Far more groups declared themselves neutral in the struggle.• According to Kepel the rapid defeat of Saddam did not end this rift. As Saddam had likely predicted Saudi Arabia had found itself in a severe dilemma, the only way to counter the Iraqi threat was to seek help from the west, which would immediately confirm the Iraqi allegations of Saudi Arabia being a friend to the west. To ensure the regimes survival Saudi Arabia accepted a massive western presence in the country and de facto cooperation with Israel causing great offence to many in Islamist circles. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  25. 25. Recent history• After the war Saudi Arabia launched a two pronged strategy to restore its security and leadership in Islamist circles. Those Islamist groups who refused to return under the Saudi umbrella were persecuted and any Islamists who had criticized Saudi regime were arrested or forced into exile, with most going to London. At the same time Saudi oil money began to flow freely to those Islamist groups who continued to work with the kingdom. Islamist madrassas around the world saw their funding greatly increased. More covertly Saudi money began to fund more violent Islamist groups in areas such as Bosnia and the former Soviet Union. Saudi Arabias western allies mostly looked the other way seeing the survival of their crucial ally as more important than the problem of more money and resources flowing to Islamist groups.• In the 1990s Islamist conflicts erupted around the world in areas such as Algeria, the Palestinian territories, Sudan, and Nigeria. In 1995 a series of terrorist attacks were launched against France. The most important development was the rise to power of the Deobandi Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996. In the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan a number of anti-Saudi and anti-Western Islamist groups found refuge. Significantly, Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi influenced by Wahhabism and the writings of Sayed Qutb, joined forces with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad under Ayman al-Zawahiri to form what is now called al-Qaeda.• A considerable effort has been made to fight Western targets, especially the United States. The United States in particular was made a subject of Islamist ire because of its support for Israel, its presence on Saudi Arabian soil, what Islamists regard as its aggression against Muslims in Iraq, and its support of the regimes Islamists oppose. In addition some Islamists have concentrated their activity against Israel, and nearly all Islamists view Israel with hostility. Osama bin Laden, at least, believes that this is of necessity due to historical conflict between Muslims and Jews, and considers there to be a Jewish/American alliance against Islam.• There is some debate as to how influential Islamist movements remain. Some scholars assert that Islamism is a fringe movement that is dying, following the clear failures of Islamist regimes like the regime in Sudan, the Wahhabist Saudi regime and the Deobandi Taliban to improve the lot of Muslims. However, others (e.g. Ahmed Rashid) feel that the Islamists still command considerable support and cite the fact that Islamists in Pakistan and Egypt regularly poll 10 to 30 percent in electoral polls which many believe are rigged against them.• An alternative direction has been taken by many Islamists in Turkey, where the Islamist movement split into reformist and traditionalist wings in 2001. The reformists formed the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (Ak Party), which gained an overall majority in the Turkish parliament in 2002, and has sought to balance Islamic values with the requirements of a secular and democratic political system. Some in the Justice and Development Party see the Christian Democrat parties of Western Europe as a model, which has led some to question whether it is a genuinely Islamist movement. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  26. 26. • Modern Islamism The foundation of modern Islamist thought is the many centuries of Islamic theology and political science, but the development of modern Islamism was also both a reaction to and influenced by the other ideologies of the modern world. Modern Islamism began in the colonial period, and it was overtly anti-imperialist. It was also opposed to the local elites who wanted independence, but who also supported adopting western liberal ideals. Writers like the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb and the Pakistani Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi saw western style individualism as counter to centuries of tradition, and also as inevitably leading to a debauched and licentious society.• In the years after independence the most important ideological current in the Muslim world was socialism and communism. This influenced Islamism in two ways. Much Islamist thought and writing during this era was directly addressed to countering Marxism. For instance Muhammad Baqir al-Sadrs main works are detailed critiques of Marxism, paying much less attention to capitalism and liberalism. Another option was to try and integrate socialism and Islamism. This was most notably done by Ali Shariati. At several points Islamist and leftist groups found common cause, such as during the early stages of the Iranian Revolution, and several organizations, such as the Islamic Socialist Front in Syria, were both overtly Marxist and overtly Islamist. While most Islamists reject Marxism, the influence of socialist ideologies during the formative period of modern Islamism means that Islamist works continue to be infused with Marxist language and concepts. For instance Qutbs view of an elite vanguard to lead an Islamic revolution is borrowed directly from Lenins Vanguard of the Proletariat. Bharat Rakshak - India Forum
  27. 27. • Modern Islamism During the 1930s a number of fascistic groups arose in the Middle East. Some such as the SSNP and the Kataeb Party were mostly supported by Christians and other minority groups others like the Egyptian Misr al-Fatat were mainly Sunni Arab. The fascist method of seizing power did inspire Islamist Hassan al-Banna, who founded organizations directly based on the Brownshirts and Blackshirts to try and seize power. This method proved ineffective, and since then most Islamists have used the cell based structure commonly used by leftist groups. Ideologically there is little evidence that fascism had much influence on the development of Islamism. The far-right French doctor Alexis Carrel had an important influence on Qutbs thought, and the well-read Qutb also seems to have had a passing knowledge of Mein Kampf. Several Islamist groups have embraced Nazi like anti-Semitism, as an outgrowth of Islamist anti-Zionism.• Several authors, among which Daniel Pipes [2] and Michael Ledeen [3] have prominently equated Islamism to fascism and coined the word Islamofascism. Cavelos and Laidi state in A World without Meaning that Islamism shares more characteristics with fascism than with communism, in that it does not have a definite progress belief, which communism has, and that three characteristics are shared by Islamism, communism and fascism: a totalitarian political claim, a global discourse about society in which the theme of exclusion is central and a political and social apparatus which respond to the demands of disadvantageous groups. The most direct western parallel to Islamism is, however, not fascism, but Dominionism (put in place in the past such as during The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell). Bharat Rakshak - India Forum