Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Islam and the Theology of Power (An article well-worth the time necessary to read it)
The Middle East Report ^ | Winter 2001 | Khaled Abou El Fadl

Posted on 02/19/2005 4:40:54 PM PST by quidnunc

"Supremacist puritanism in contemporary Islam is dismissive of all moral norms or ethical values."

Since the early 1980s, commentators have argued that Islam is suffering a crisis of identity, as the crumbling of Islamic civilization in the modern age has left Muslims with a profound sense of alienation and injury. Challenges confronting Muslim nations — failures of development projects, entrenched authoritarian regimes and the inability to respond effectively to Israeli belligerence — have induced deep-seated frustration and anger that, in turn, contributed to the rise of fundamentalist movements, or as most commentators have preferred to say, political Islam. But most commentators have been caught off guard by the ferocity of the acts of mass murder recently committed in New York and Washington. The basic cruelty and moral depravity of these attacks came as a shock not only to non-Muslims, but to Muslims as well.

The extreme political violence we call terrorism is not a simple aberration unrelated to the political dynamics of a society. Generally, terrorism is the quintessential crime of those who feel powerless seeking to undermine the perceived power of a targeted group. Like many crimes of power, terrorism is also a hate crime, for it relies on a polarized rhetoric of belligerence toward a particular group that is demonized to the point of being denied any moral worth. To recruit and communicate effectively, this rhetoric of belligerence needs to tap into and exploit an already radicalized discourse with the expectation of resonating with the social and political frustrations of a people. If acts of terrorism find little resonance within a society, such acts and their ideological defenders are marginalized. But if these acts do find a degree of resonance, terrorism becomes incrementally more acute and severe, and its ideological justifications become progressively more radical.

Asking Why

To what extent are the September 11 attacks in the US symptomatic of more pervasive ideological undercurrents in the Muslim world today? Obviously, not all social or political frustrations lead to the use of violence. While national liberation movements often resort to violence, the recent attacks are set apart from such movements. The perpetrators did not seem to be acting on behalf of an ethnic group or nation. They presented no specific territorial claims or political agenda, and were not keen to claim responsibility for their acts. One can speculate that the perpetrators' list of grievances included persistent Israeli abuses of Palestinians, near-daily bombings of Iraq and the presence of American troops in the Gulf, but the fact remains that the attacks were not followed by a list of demands or even a set of articulated goals. The attacks exhibit a profound sense of frustration and extreme despair, rather than a struggle to achieve clear-cut objectives.

Some commentators have viewed the underpinnings of the recent attacks as part of a "clash of civilizations" between Western values and Islamic culture. According to these commentators, the issue is not religious fundamentalism or political Islam, but an essential conflict between competing visions of morality and ethics. From this perspective, it is hardly surprising that the terrorists do not present concrete demands, do not have specific territorial objectives and do not rush to take responsibility. The September 11 attacks aimed to strike at the symbols of Western civilization, and to challenge its perceived hegemony, in the hope of empowering and reinvigorating Islamic civilization.

The "clash of civilizations" approach assumes, in deeply prejudiced fashion, that puritanism and terrorism are somehow authentic expressions of the predominant values of the Islamic tradition, and hence is a dangerous interpretation of the present moment. But the common responses to this interpretation, focusing on either the crisis of identity or acute social frustration in the Muslim world, do not adequately explain the theological positions adopted by radical Islamist groups, or how extreme violence can be legitimated in the modern age. Further, none of these perspectives engage the classical tradition in Islamic thought regarding the employment of political violence, and how contemporary Muslims reconstruct the classical tradition. How might the classical or contemporary doctrines of Islamic theology contribute to the use of terrorism by modern Islamic movements?

-snip-


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Philosophy; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: islam; muslim; power

1 posted on 02/19/2005 4:40:54 PM PST by quidnunc
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

bttt


2 posted on 02/19/2005 4:46:11 PM PST by Dark Skies ("The sleeper must awaken!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

Thing I have against the war is simple. We should pull our troops out. Then nuke Iraq until everything is dead over there. We should take their oil and colonize their empty cities. Then shout to all Islam , "Our God beat your God's ass !"



3 posted on 02/19/2005 4:48:23 PM PST by Clear Rivers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: Clear Rivers

You talk of God but for some reason I don't think you mean Jesus.


5 posted on 02/19/2005 4:54:33 PM PST by Dark Skies ("The sleeper must awaken!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Dark Skies

6 posted on 02/19/2005 4:57:50 PM PST by pke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: pke; USF; jan in Colorado; broadsword; Fred Nerks; All

Ok...I am wearing mine now...well, it is a used tin foil Orville Reddenbacker bag...but what the f*ck is your point.


7 posted on 02/19/2005 5:05:16 PM PST by Dark Skies ("The sleeper must awaken!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Clear Rivers

[We should pull our troops out. Then nuke Iraq until everything is dead over there. We should take their oil and colonize their empty cities. Then shout to all Islam , "Our God beat your God's ass !"]


This is just f^!@#$% stupid.


8 posted on 02/19/2005 5:05:58 PM PST by spinestein
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Dark Skies

Listen, I know that nothing will get better. The Islamics will take the world. But hey, its ok,I lost my only link to the future last year. My life will end soon. May your chains not be too heavy.


9 posted on 02/19/2005 5:19:56 PM PST by Clear Rivers
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Clear Rivers

My chains are quite heavy, thx. Be a little more specific.


10 posted on 02/19/2005 5:21:38 PM PST by Dark Skies ("The sleeper must awaken!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

FYI
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/402
Weblog
Khaled Abou El Fadl Reveals His Islamist Outlook
February 4, 2005
Khaled Abou El Fadl Reveals His Islamist Outlook I have devoted considerable attention to the deceptions of Khaled Abou El Fadl, professor of Islamic law at the University of California, Los Angeles and famed Muslim "moderate." (My article on him calls him in the title a "stealth Islamist.") Abou el Fadl has just helped me make my case in comments he made to the Dallas Morning News about the recent Freedom House report detailing the diffusion of Saudi materials in American mosques. Here is an excerpt of the news item, written by Jeffrey Weiss:

Opposition to Israel, to colonialism and to immoral aspects of Western culture – all cited in the report – aren't evidence of Wahhabi extremism, he said. Freedom House suggested that the U.S. government should crack down on distribution of the material. But Dr. Abou el Fadl said that's not a good solution. "When we resort to bannings and manipulative use of immigration laws and national security laws to counter this literature, all we end up doing is transforming the Wahhabi side into a world victim by feeding into conspiracy theories," he said.

This desire to continue the distribution of Saudi publications hardly comes as a surprise to me, given Abou El Fadl's record of apologizing for Wahhabism and even lending his skills to it, as documented in my 2004 article. How long will it be until his Islamist outlook is generally recognized? (February 4, 2005)

Note: Click on source for more


11 posted on 02/19/2005 5:31:33 PM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc
That sure is a lot of fancy words to say that the terrorists are not really good Muslims. The violent history of Islam keeps me from agreeing with that viewpoint completely. If I read this several more times I might figure out where he was going with this. I understood that he wasn't apologizing for the terrorists, but trying to explain where they are coming from. The only thing that made me happy in reading this was the idea that Islam is on the ropes and the fundamentalists are a sign of it's demise. He didn't really draw that conclusion, but I will take what I can get out of the article.
12 posted on 02/19/2005 5:34:39 PM PST by dog breath
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clear Rivers

Clear Rivers, "Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid."

Heinrich Heine

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Pipes, Don Rumsfeld, Dr. Benard Lewis...etc, and me say you're wrong. Who supports your position?


13 posted on 02/19/2005 5:39:45 PM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

Islam----religious, political, scientific, cultural----offers nothing to the world except another brand of tyranny.


14 posted on 02/19/2005 5:39:46 PM PST by jolie560
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jolie560
Islam----religious, political, scientific, cultural----offers nothing to the world except another brand of tyranny.

I think it offers something much worse than tyranny. It introduces a new kind of warfare that involves a religion of hatred, institutional cowardice, and the love of death and violence without a national face or a definable front line.

Add to that the fact that Islam has been seeded into the minds of Muslims for more generations than they can remember. Think of it. Entire bloodlines...Muslim...demonic...for over a thousand years.

15 posted on 02/19/2005 5:50:48 PM PST by Dark Skies ("The sleeper must awaken!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

I read through most of it, and it seems to be mostly pompous hot air.

Why would someone like Bin Ladin be full of despair because of colonialism? He has all the money and privilege in the world.

I also don't think he disproves the contention that Islam has always been aggressive. Morever, whatever the Muslim legalists might occasionally argue, Muhammed himself broke solemn treaties, lied, murdered, and enslaved whenever he felt like it.

Yes, probably there are more fanatical Muslim movements, and the significance of the Wahhabists is widely known. But Islam itself is sick. Not powerless, but power drunk. Islam is a religion that attracts bullies.


16 posted on 02/19/2005 5:54:23 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clear Rivers

"In the Bible, God called for the destruction of every man,woman and child in war."

You need to keep things in context. This only occurred when the Children of Israel was conquering Canaan under Joshua. The reason was that the people there were so corrupt that God didn't want anything of them left to pollute/corrupt the soon to be formed Israel theocracy in the "promised land."

We have, I believe, a God given right to protect our country from Islamic militancy. However, I don't think that God given right includes total genocide of a people. They are lost souls also, just like many here in this country.


17 posted on 02/19/2005 6:10:17 PM PST by Sola Veritas (Trying to speak truth - not always with the best grammar or spelling)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

"the classical tradition in Islamic thought regarding the employment of political violence"

Hashishin, anyone--aka assassins?

Uthman, the 3rd caliph, was murdered. Ali, the man from whom all Shia derives, both 7ers and 12ers, also had an untimely end. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads, etc, etc.

In 1979, during the hostage crisis, I warned that the Iranian brand of Shi'i would die for their cause, and were extreme in their attitudes.

The Muslim Brotherhood, funded as we know, in part, by the Nazis, have connections to Sadat's assassins, and, Zawahiri.

Islam as a word means 'submit.'

What do we think is not logical in the Occidental mind? Merely that we do not agree with or understand it? But, then, we understand Roman roads, and marvel that camel roads are not as straight?

There will come a time when we will simply have to stand up and fight, realizing that the other man wants us all dead, because we are infidels. Either we do that, or, we, too, submit.


18 posted on 02/19/2005 7:19:15 PM PST by combat_boots (Dug in and not budging an inch.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

marking for later


19 posted on 02/19/2005 7:40:03 PM PST by djreece
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Valin

Valin, what do you think of this article on Khaled Abou El Fadl?

http://www.secularislam.org/articles/bostom.htm


20 posted on 02/19/2005 7:45:00 PM PST by secretagent
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: secretagent

I think Daniel Pipes can put it better than I.
"I have devoted considerable attention to the deceptions of Khaled Abou El Fadl, professor of Islamic law at the University of California, Los Angeles and famed Muslim "moderate." (My article on him calls him in the title a "stealth Islamist.")


21 posted on 02/19/2005 8:01:18 PM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: quidnunc

Muslims left with a profound sense of the fact that their so called religion is a murderous, phony, failed disaster.


22 posted on 02/19/2005 9:56:26 PM PST by tkathy (Tyranny breeds terrorism. Freedom breeds peace.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Clear Rivers

Knock off the genocide talk.


23 posted on 02/20/2005 5:29:41 AM PST by Lead Moderator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson