Islam is a religion of moderation and inclusion. Today, it is threatened by a Takfiri ideology of extremism, fueled by fanatics with misplaced faith in their own exclusive access to ultimate truth.
Yesterday, one of the Takfiri rebel groups in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executed the secretary general of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ammar al-Wawi.
The ISIL and the FSA are supposedly fighting on the same side. But the roughly 1000 rebel groups fighting against the Syrian government seem to hate each other as much as they hate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Takfiris execute Christians as well as Muslims. They have been brainwashed to hate anyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do.
The fragmented Syrian opposition, mired in internecine conflict, is getting mopped up by government forces. The Syrian government, unlike the opposition, has managed to create a united front including Christians and secular-oriented people as well as Sunni, Shia and Sufi Muslims. Ironically, this is more in keeping with Islamic tradition than the “my way or the highway” attitude of the self-styled Islamic-extremist Takfiris.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s chief sponsor of Takfiri extremists, and its ally Israel, are both panicking. The Saudis are launching a last-ditch effort to save their Syrian mercenaries by throwing six billion dollars at them. That is how the Saudis always try to solve problems.
The Israelis, meanwhile, are lobbying the US government to support the Saudi effort to save the doomed Syrian insurgents. The US establishment is split between those bought and paid for by the Saudis and Israelis, versus those committed to some version of the US national interest. The latter group is getting increasingly fed up with Takfiri and Zionist fanaticism.
Takfirism, like Zionism, is an angry ideology of aggression and exclusion. Both the Takfiris and the Zionists define themselves by excluding and hating “the other.” Takfiris exclude and hate all non-Takfiris. Zionists try to exclude all non-Jewish natives of Palestine from their “Jewish state,” and hate everyone who dissents from Zionist orthodoxy. Both the Takfiris and the Zionists are aggressively expansionist. The Takfiris dream of taking over the whole Ummah (Islamic nation) by force. The Zionists keep grabbing more and more land as they dream of annexing everything between the Nile and the Euphrates. As the Zionists dream of a final ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the Takfiris dream of a final religious cleansing of non-Takfiris. These deranged dreams are nightmares for the whole world. The Takfiris, who pose as radical Muslims, are a threat to Islam – and to the Islam-inspired politics of the Islamic Awakening.
Islam has always prospered by its inclusiveness, its reasonableness, and its ability to forge coalitions. From the early days when the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions created the Constitution of Medina and forged alliances with a wide variety of tribes of different faiths, Islam has always included a respected place for the religious and ethnic “other” within the Islamic system. Most Muslim societies have always protected non-Muslim minorities and respected pluralism among the legal schools of Islam.
During the heyday of the Ottoman empire, thousands of Jews and Christians fled Europe to the Muslim lands to escape religious persecution. Andalusia (Islamic Spain) was even more pluralistic and tolerant than the Ottoman empire – and in many ways more tolerant than any modern society, as Maria Menocal explains in her book The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain.
The West subjugated both Andalusia and the Ottomans through a “divide and conquer” strategy. By forging alliances with first one Muslim city-state and then another, the forerunners of the Spanish Inquisition were able to pick off the Spanish Muslim societies one by one. The Andalusians, and their fellow Muslims around the world as well as non-Muslim allies, failed to unite to defend what many believe was the most advanced society that has ever existed on Earth.
The West used a different kind of divide-and-conquer against the Ottomans. It took advantage of conflict between the Ottoman and Persian empires, and stoked the rabid fires of nationalism among the many tribal and religious groups of the Ottoman lands – while enslaving the rulers through usury. One of the Europeans’ favorite tribal nationalist groups was the Wahhabis of Arabia – the forerunners of today’s Takfiris. Beginning in the late 18th century, the British imperialists encouraged an alliance between the Wahhabis and the House of Saud. The British were delighted when Wahhabi fanatics massacred the people of Karbala in 1802, sparking conflict inside the House of Islam. And they were even more delighted to see the Wahhabis and their Saudi patrons become a permanent thorn in the side of the Ottomans.
During World War One – a Rothschild-sponsored holocaust designed to destroy the Ottoman empire and plant a toxic Zionist entity in the heart of Islam – the British sent their agent T.E. Lawrence to open a Saudi-Wahhabi front against the Ottomans. The destruction of the Ottoman and Persian empires, following the earlier British demolition of the Mughal empire in India, subjugated the entire Islamic world to the Rothschild-funded European imperialists.
Today, Islam is rising as the Western sun slowly sets. Hard-line Zionist strategists, inspired by British Orientalist Bernard Lewis, are fighting a rear-guard battle to stymie the Islamic resurgence and preserve and expand the Zionist empire. Once again, the Takfiris and their Saudi sponsors are doing the imperialists’ dirty work.
As the West’s dominant Zionist faction continues to encourage the rise of the Saudi-funded Takfiris, dissenting voices point out the potential for “blowback.” These realist foreign policy experts argue that the Takfiris and their radical Zionist allies are out of control and “bad for business.” The realists have managed to stop the US from bombing Syria. They have succeeded in getting a preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran, despite the opposition of the Zionist faction. Whether they will manage to rein in the extremists permanently remains to be seen. In this case, what is good for Islam is good for the world.
If Muslims can return to their traditions of inclusiveness, tolerance, and coalition-building, and avoid the Takfiri temptations of extremism and obscurantism, political Islam will continue to rise as a force for justice; and the religion of Islam will spread even faster as the reality, rather than the Takfiri distortion, becomes better known throughout the world.
This article was written by Dr. Kevin Barrett for viewpoint page of Press TV on 16 December,2013. Dr. Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
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