Terrorist theology

Hassan Butt:

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous 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 the '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.

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... what drove me and many of my peers to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain, our own homeland and abroad, was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the world.

How did this continuing violence come to be the means of promoting this (flawed) utopian goal? 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 dualistic model of the world. Many Muslims may or may not agree with secularism but at the moment, formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian theology, does not allow for the separation of state and religion. There is no 'rendering unto Caesar' in Islamic theology because state and religion are considered to be one and the same. The centuries-old reasoning of Islamic jurists also extends to the world stage where the rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) have been set down to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

What radicals and extremists do is to take these premises two steps further. Their first step has been to reason that since there is no Islamic state in existence, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr. Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world. Many of my former peers, myself included, were taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In Dar ul-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians.

This understanding of the global battlefield has been a source of friction for Muslims living in Britain. For decades, radicals have been exploiting these tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state for their benefit, 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 Islamic institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology. They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex topic of violence within Islam and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace, focus on Islam as personal, and hope that all of this debate will go away.

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What he is revealing is the religious bigotry that is the driving force behind the terrorist attacks. When the Islamist say that the west is at war with them, it is because we reject their theology. That is why there is such hatred of the Jews who also reject the Muslim theology of the terrorist. As he points out in his essay, liberals who excuse the attacks as a protest against British or US foreign policy are way off the mark. It is our very existence as secular states that they are at war with.

The Belmont Club links to a nine part multiple choice answer on the reasons for the attacks. Interestingly, none of the nine include the answer given by Butt.

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