As if all the massacres that occurred in the name of Islam were not enough, in a few days were added a new carnage in Bali and another in Moscow, with meanwhile the capture of Washington’s psychopathic serial killer who happened also to be a convert to Islam since 17 years! And as if this last feature was not enough, Mr. John Allen Muhammad had had also to be a veteran of the Gulf war, a supporter of Ummat al-Islam’s leader, Louis Farrakhan, and a fervent militant who took part to the one million Muslims march, and last but not least, an admirer of the September 11’s sinister kamikazes. No wonder then that the question rising almost everywhere in the West is today: Why terrorism is to that extent linked to Islam?
Though the importance and the complexity of such a question are obvious, the trouble is that nobody can exclude it. Everybody – included those who do not know a lot about Arabs and Islam- has the right to raise such questions. Nobody can actually ask people to have another approach, if we acknowledge that they are not all experts in Arab and Islamic affairs. The majority may be even ordinary people with a moderate level of education. As they watch the news, they notice that many terrorist attacks are really perpetrated by Muslims? Hence, the inevitable question: Is it Islam that causes all that murderous hatred against us?
Already at the peak of the Cold War, an important trend of thought was launched in France at the hands of the “new philosophers”, whose focus consisted in searching thoroughly the Marxist texts basically believed to hold the theoretical ground for the Gulag. Thus, for the “new philosophers”, it was in the texts of Marx that we should find the causes and the reasons of the Stalinist dictatorship as well as all the flaws of the system that gripped Eastern Europe and many other countries.
Whether these thesis are able to sustain a close examination or not, does not matter anymore. The point is that this historic example shows that it is still possible – maybe even inevitable- that some Western intellectuals try to explain the violence and the terrorism by focusing on the Islamic texts. Of course, the Muslim scholars may reject such an approach, but it is almost impossible to stop this trend today, even if some of its expressions cannot stand to an objective argumentation. I am not hinting to Salman Rushdy or Taslima Nasrin, whose texts are fictitious, and cannot be evaluated by other criterions than the esthetical ones, but rather to other writers who do not need to stand behind the screen of fiction in order to launch a rationalized campaign against the text of the Koran itself, holding it as directly linked to violence. The campaign may be conduced under varied titles, such as: critic of the Salafi thought, or objective exegesis of the Koran, or anything else.
In this context, we ought to recall that the Western writers did not hesitate to criticize the new and the old testaments, as well as the Christian teaching and the instructions of the clergy. The books that have been published about this topic are simply countless. Their importance to the build up of the secular state, which has prevailed in the West, does not need more arguments. Hence the difficulty of shunning such a typical development concerning Islam. For as long as violence – in the name of Islam- would persist, the research of its causes and reasons would also continue. Naturally, not all the observers would stop at the threshold of the political causes and the contemporary phenomenon. Some of them would go as far as the religious and judiciary Islamic texts. Why wouldn’t they? After all, the terrorists justify their crimes with religious and judiciary decisions. So what would prevent the Western writers from taking them seriously and thus widening up their researches in order to include the Koran, the Hadith, and the judiciary corpus, until they reach conclusions charging Islam of all the evil that happened? Didn’t one of the most important American scholars – Huntington- claim that after the collapse of the communism, the enemy expected to struggle with the West is Islam?
Hichem Karoui is a writer and journalist living in Paris, France.