Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Reformed Jihadist Thoughts

In the aftermath of the Doctor Jihadi terrorist attempts in the United Kingdom, the Daily Mail finds a reformed Islamic extremist. The western media that insist on discussing religious violence only in terms of the secular paradigms of their own world view are actually prolonging the problem. It’s the theology, stupid.

I was a fanatic: When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this "Blair's bombs" line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in the name of their religion? There isn't enough room to outline everything here, but the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a model of the world in which you are either a believer or an infidel.

For centuries, the reasoning of Islamic jurists has set down rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

But what radicals and extremists do is to take this two steps further. Their first step has been to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr (The Land of Unbelief). Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.

For decades, radicals have been exploiting the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state - typically by starting debate with the question: "Are you British or Muslim?" But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.

They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.

As the media engages in annual plaudits about our institutional commitment to the idea that all men are created equal, I hope they remember their exultant words are hypocritical posing, without a concurrent commitment to discredit all ideas that some humans are fundamentally inferior.