The Foundations of Islamist Terrorism

September 17, 2001


Since the 11th of September 2001 observers and analysts have never been talking so much about Islamism or, in fact, about Islam itself. Their different, often hasty and superficial, comments fluctuate between “Islamophobia” - encouraged by the dangerous construct Islam = Islamist terrorism; and the other face of Janus of ignorance - the idea of the “Islamically correct” in accordance with which the recurring Islamist attacks are seen as an opportunity to criticize the said construct and to boast of the intrinsic qualities of the Koran as “the text of peace” and of Islam as “religion of love”, this serving as an inversed and redemptive recepticle of the whole Western Judeo-Christian bad conscience. Let's try to look into it more closely.


About the Unique Nature of Islamist Totalitarianism

Unlike Protestant fundamentalism and Catholic traditionalism (integrisme), Islamism (al-Islamiyya) is characterized by three dimensions: theocratic, conquering and violent, all of which make it more an ideology of totalitarian type than just simple religious fundamentalism. Neither Judaism – which is opposed to any proselytizing, nor Christianity – whose holy texts reject all violence and lie at the root of the specifically Western idea of secularism – have invented any system which would be equivalent to Islamism. Of course, Islam is not Islamism and Muslims are the latter's primary victims. Yet, the origins of Islamist fascism have deep roots in the very foundations of Islamic orthodoxy - which continues to be taught in famous Muslim universities all over the world and which has remained unchanged since the 11th century; and in the Koran and the Hadiths – the sources of Shariah which explicitly proclaim the holy war. For Jihad constitutes one of the means of the “natural” expansion of Islam – Mohammed himself having participated in almost 80 armed combats and having taken tribute from the Infidels. In the Koran the armed combat is called “the path of Allah” and the fallen Mujahadeen are compared to the “martyrs” of faith” (IX, 52; LVIII,19). The Koran is overflowing with surahs calling for the holy war against the unsubdued Jews and Christians or the Polytheists: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9,29). “Fighting is prescribed for you and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not.” (2, 216). “It is not ye who slew them, it was Allah: when thou threwest (a handful of dust), it was not thy act, but Allah's: in order that He might test the Believers by gracious trial from Himself: for Allah is he who heareth and knoweth (all things)” (8, 17). “And fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease verily Allah doth see all that they do” (8, 39). “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most-Merciful” (9,5). “O ye who believe! Fight the nonbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him” (9,123); or still more: “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them); thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah, - He will never let their deeds be lost” (47, 4).

Thus the famous orthodox Muslim thinkers and commentators of the Hadiths (sayings and deeds of Mohammed): Al-Bukhari, Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), Nawawi, Ibn Taimiyya, Malik and others developed the idea of “the holy war (struggle) as a path to Allah (jihad fi sabill'illah) and regulated the modes of the extermination of the “Infidels”: “ a war against the Infidels the law forbids to kill: minors, mentally sick, women and hermaphrodites (...) but one is allowed to kill: monks (except for hermits), mercenaries used by the Infidels for their service, old people, the sick etc...”, writes Nawawi. The assassination of seven Cictercian monks of la Trappe de Tibhirine was based, therefore, on the Islamic legal-theological prescriptions.

From the Absence of Reforms to the “legal” Foundations of Islamist Terrorism

According to the Grand Mufti of Marseille, Sohaib Bencheikh, a theologian following a “republican” Islam, “... the men from GIA (...) behave in a legally acceptable manner. That's why we see them pray as well as rape(...). The woman is part of the war booty in the same legal sense. I denounce the hypocrisy of the Muslim theologians who, indeed, denounce those practices and killings but fail to subjuct to scrutiny the very theology which gives support to these killings and practices”, Bencheikh dares to assert. “They must take an opportunity to secularize the Muslim law, especially those aspects of it which these barbarians use as a pretext to give their criminal actions legal sanctity. And, indeed, because Jihad is charged with a considerable religious legitimacy, all the contemporary Islamists (Mawdudi, Al-Banna, Qotb, Farag, Kichk, Osama bin Laden, etc) have made it into their central leitmotif.

Will the denial of this fact help us avoid new World Trade Center incidents? Nothing could be less certain, as the reasons for the failure of Muslim reforms and, therefore, for the Islamist resurgence are to be found in the undisputable nature of the sacred Muslim texts and the typically Islamic rejection of any theological innovation (bidaa). To be sure, some attempts of reform were undertaken during the reformist wave (salafiyyah) which agitated the Muslim world towards the end of the 19th century. The heralds of this movement Jamal ad-din-al-Afghani and Mohammed Abdou wanted to adjust the Muslim law to modern demands. Al-Afghani, thus, wanted to abolish the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (shafiism, hanafism, malikism and hanbalism), deploring the backwardness of Islam and its closing of the doors of l'ijtihad (interpretation of the holy texts) which was the cause of the decadence of the Muslim world and the colonial humiliation. But, from the beginning the Salafiyya decided to separate the field of reforms from theological questions. The secularizing reformers were then soon faced with a competition on the part of the ancestors of modern Islamists, and these were also advertising themselves as salafiyya, that is, “Islam of the pious ancestors” (Salaf). Secular salafists and anti-secular salafists did not criticize religious conservatisme for the same reasons and the usage of the same rhetoric allowed the Islamists to salvage the “reformist” movement for their own benefit. Besides, today's blood-thirsty fanatics of the Egyptian Gamaa, of the algerian GIA or from the group of Osama bin Laden all claim to be Sunni salafists!...This allows us to rip apart the common assumption according to which the Shiites (10% of Muslims) are said to be terrorist Islamists par excellence (Iranian fools of Allah or Lebenese Hizbollah), and the Sunnis (85%) are said to be “moderate”. Let's remind every one that, contrary to Sunni Islam - which is more frozen than the Shiite one - the latter never accepted the closing of the doors of “l'Itjtihad” considering it only to be the principle of taqlid (theological and legal conformism). This capacity of reinterpretation on the part of Shiitisme explains the Shiite origin of the majority of Islamic heterodoxies condemned by Sunni Islam such as: Ismailism, Druzism, Alawism, babism, Bahaism etc. This was equally best manifested in the latent war in which Iran opposed the Taliban.

Moreover, the Muslim reformers were always accused of having appropriated the “foreign”secular ideologies imported by the Western colonizers. The very idea of a separation of religion (din) from society (dunya) and the state (dawla) had no meaning in classical Islam. This was so all the more so for Islamists who follow the ideas of Hanbali Ibn Taimiyya who is also the common source of reference for the Wahhabis, the Afghan Salafists or the Muslim Brothers. That's why the reformist tendencies and attempts to secularise Islam, discredited generally from the beginning and percieved as alien, ended up being progressively marginalized. Besides, with support of the Petrodollars of the Gulf states, the trend of radical re-Islamization is being carried through an unprecedented demographic explosion which has its roots, by the way, in the backwardness and poverty, both conditions being conducive to Islamist activities. Thus, one of the first Islamist movements, the Association of Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon), founded in 1924 in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna, a disciple of Rashid Rida and the heir of Jamal ad-Din and Abdou and Rashid Rida, was created as a reaction to the Muslim regimes of that epoch which, due to the influence of the West, tended towards secularization. Always strongest in Egypt as well as in other parts of the Islamic world (Kuwait, Turkey, Tunisia etc), the said organization made set for its aim the re-establishment of Islamic states everywhere in the world as much through violence as also by the means of electoral competition. The same objective was followed by the Pakistani counterpart of the Brothers: Jamat-i-Islami, founded in 1941 by A.A. Mawdoudi which advocated the establishment of a separate Islamic state with Shariah as its law. It was considered to be the only way to avoid the “Infidel power” (houkoum al-Jahili) of the Hindus. That separatist process was at the root of the creation of the state of Pakistan in 1947. Furthermore, the principle of the “refusal of the Infidel power” is behind the majority of conflicts which set Muslims against the “non-believers” in Kashmir, in Sudan, Armenia, Chechnya or even in Kosovo and Macedonia where the Muslim population have become dominant. The Koran specifically says: “Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost; for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds” (47, 35).

Europe: Territory of Refuge or Territory of Jihad
In Europe and in non-Muslim territories in general the Islamic imperative to flee or to fight the Infidel power expresses itself in a somewhat different manner. The Islamic orthodoxy offers a geopolitical doctrine dividing the world into two hostile zones: the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb), the latter being the Infidel world. In the Dar al-Islam the non-Muslims are “tolerated” on condition of paying a tribute and submitting to the Shariah provided they are followers of an Abrahamic religion, that is, they are Jews or Christians. As for the Dar al-Harb, this one constitutes a totally hostile geopolitical and religious space with which the only relations are those of war. However, the Koran foresees an exceptional situation: the House of Islam can make a truce with the House of War if this “truce”, due to the principle of necessity (darura), allows Muslims – who have been compelled to live in the House of War – to preach there their doctrines without however giving, in return, the right to non-Muslims to do the same in Islamic countries. More than that, the Islamists are able to express themselves more freely in the West than in their countries of origin!. This half-way situation is called the “House of Cocilliation” (Dar al-Dawaa) or the “territory of preaching”and this refers to proselytizing. It is thus for the sake of dar-al-Dawaa that the Islamists and the guarantors of orthodox Islam such as strongly negotiation-oriented Tariq Ramadan - who is at the moment the undisputed leader of the movement of the “Brothers” in Europe (represented by the UOIF in farnce) and grandson of Hassan al-Banna - justify the presence of Muslims in Europe. From this point of view, the West seems to have already internalized the principle of the superiority of Islam – a phenomenon which a British-Egyptian Islamologue Bat Ye'or calls “dhimmitude”. They did this by accepting the ‘agreement of dupes' in accordance with which the proselytizing of the countries like Saudi Arabia (which was behind the creation of the mosque of Rome in 1994, the biggest in Europe) is officially permitted by the Western countries while, in return, not a single chapel can be opened in Saudi Arabia... Well, in classical orthodox Islam the peaceful relations with non-Muslim territories continue only on condition of the respect of the unilaterality. This then explains why Great Britain or Sweden, which give almost total liberty to Islamists, have so far been spared the terrorist attacks; unlike secular France – guilty of “persecuting” the veiled girls - or even America, which broke the contract of dar al-Ahd by occupying the territories forbidden (haram) to Infidels, that is, the land of Arabia which shelters the holy places of Islam. Some people retort by saying that Saudi Arabia is an ally of America and the American military are occupying it after having assisted Kuwait and Saudi Arabia against Saddam. They forget that the purpose of Islam always is to dominate and that the allied Infidels must submit to this principle, as the Koran says: “Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors” (3, 10).

And once again, the gesture of Mohammed who thanked the Jews of Medina - who had received him after his exile from pagan Mecca - by putting them to the sword; and the invocation of Muslim scholarship which has never been subjected to any scrutiny constitute – keeping in mind that Islam has never had any Vatican II – the chief sources of the legitimation of Islamic violence. It's a resounding and terrible message for America which continues to support fundamentalist and enslaving Saudi Arabia after having supported Bin Laden and the Taliban against the Slavo-Orthodox Communist Bloc (the war of Kosovo marking the apogeum of the strategy of the “green belt”). But it is also a resounding and terrible lesson for the West in general which continues to welcome the worst Islamist fanatics in the name of the “freedom of expression” and the “right of refuge”; and recent attacks of the 11th September show us that the lesson of Ayatollah Khomeini – who thanked his French and American protectors with the worst hostage crisis and Drakar attacks – has not been learned.


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