Religious Extremism and the Terrorist Attacks of September 11th

Since the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, Zionists have stepped up their assault on Palestine. Yet, it is not only Palestine that became a post September 11th lighting rod for Zionist rumbling. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also the target of an insidious attack, along with Islam in general. Some assume that these attacks have purely political purposes, the conquest of Palestine being paramount among them. Yet, the reality may be that along with the final conquest of Palestine, and attempts to destroy U.S. Saudi relations to facilitate this goal, Zionist are also interested in a re-writing of what they have deemed “Islam,” but is more appropriately defined as Wahabism. Their reasons have mostly to do with a brand of Judaism practiced by Israel’s right wing settlers’ movement and the Likud government that seeks the destruction of all Gentles (non-Jews), and their religious beliefs. In an article by Ha’aretz writer Israel Shamir, “The Cornerstone of Violence,” Shamir informs his readers that the crimes of Zionists, who he calls “Jewish Supremacist” have religious as well as political ramifications, and that the religious objectives may be more important than anything else we might suspect.

At the risk of sounding as bizarre as those of whom he speaks, Shamir spells out in his article the methods and objectives of a Jewish brand of mysticism. According to Shamir, it was spells cast by the “wizards” of this particular sect, or cabal, that brought about the death of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin. The sect, says Shamir, is committed to an ancient Jewish myth that calls for the building of a Third Temple in Jerusalem, which once accomplished, will supposedly usher in what Shamir describes as the Jewish domination of all Gentiles. Shamir says:

The mainstream media of the West usually presents the conflict in terms of Muslims vs. Jews. But the conflict as seen by these Jews, is the Jews vs. Gentiles. In their minds, the Temple Mount is a magical Ring of Power, one they should assume when the time is right. As the Ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it should bring forth the Messiah. For the Jewish mystics, this Messiah is not a gentle Jesus with a message for all mankind. Their messiah would forever enslave the nations of the earth and make the Chosen people the masters of the universe. Their Messiah, Lord Enslaver of the Peoples of the earth, is the Antichrist of prophecies.

Whereas this might explain much of Zionist’s behavior since September 11th, the silence of honest Jewish people, and the bravado of the fanatics included, it also explains for us a greater problem, and this is the problem of religious extremism, no matter what form it takes, or from where it originates. That Saudi Arabia is innocent of the many claims being made against it seems of little importance, even though U.S./Saudi relations are key to future relations between the United States and Muslims everywhere. This is so because Saudi Arabia is the home of Mecca and the site of the pilgrimage made by millions of Muslims each year, and is therefore seen by Muslims as the Holiest place in Islam, and it’s keepers most honored. No doubt the emphasis being placed on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wahabism, and the Saudi culture, is the result of the Zionist lobby’s desire to eliminate all religion that is not Jewish, and particularly religion that is public, missionary, and that holds the Jews accountable for their numerous and controversial intrigues. Earlier this year a group of Jews conducted a Bible burning in Israel that made international headlines, the reason given for the Bible burning was to protest the supposed anti-Semitism of the New Testament where historical narratives are offered of the Jewish persecution of Jesus and what many believe was his subsequent crucifixion.

Saudi innocence of any crime against the United States, or wrong intent as a nation is being obscured by the fact that a form of Wahabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia, unintentionally lends itself to the present day definition of religious extremism. Even some Muslims are blaming Saudi Arabia for promoting extreme Wahabism, when this is not the type of Islam practiced by most of the people of Saudi Arabia, nor anywhere else, and it is not the type of Islam that is practiced by the royal family, nor do they promote it. The religious beliefs of Muhammad Abdul Wahab, the cleric who assisted al-Saud in his conquest of the Arabian peninsula in the early 1900s, was a brand of Islam that was understood by the ancient Arab tribes as a cure for the superstition, idolatry and pagan customs that had become prominent again in a society, once freed from these things by Islam. That some now view these ideas as extreme is not completely unreasonable, but to attribute this extremism to the Saudi government is just another form of extremism, one that seeks to collectively punish, or stigmatize everyone in Saudi Arabia due to the excesses of a few.

Muslims, particularly Saudi’s are unfairly being disgraced, and an entire nation, or government is being criticized, due to the teachings of a small and until now, innocuous sect of clergy. Strangely, this argument, that the Saudi government is responsible for the clergies ideological extremes, is being made by Western pundits who are for the most part secularist, and who would be the first to condemn their own government of violating the first amendment and religious freedoms as a matter of principal if not law, should it attempt to dictate the tenets of any faith, or religious sect in the United States. The tedious relationship between Church and any state, even a Muslim state, is difficult to sustain when there is little progress in thinking, or understanding that provides openings for the state to exert its authority to protect society from extremisms of all kinds, and this is the protection that secularism offers religious extremism. It removes authority from the government to oversee the development of religious thinking, and allows for very stark distinctions between the needs of modern societies and the theologies of antiquity. In Islam the state is the guardian of the people, it Shepard’s them through God’s laws to human development based on the tenets of faith, and modernized codes of religious law that meet the complexities of modern societies.

If the Saudi royal family is guilty of anything, it is that they have never acted as a truly religious authority, and left the progress of the faith, its teachings and interpretations to a cadre of isolated clergy who have little knowledge or understanding of the outside world, or even the changes taking place in their own world due to the intellectual progress of Saudi society. Their brand of Islam is attractive only to those who take comfort in the past, since they fear the future, a future that is often illustrated as a cold and inhumane interlude in time, where the weak, and poor, and disabled have no reason for hope. A future dominated by Western culture, and Zionist ideals. It appears as an immoral and godless future to those who have not seen the lights of hope that are permeating darkness all over the world, and from within perhaps untraditional circles other than their own, but never the less Muslim.

The Saudi clergy’s inability to recognize the potential for fanaticism inherent in their religious dogmas that claim to own exclusive truths and then tethers an exclusive understanding and the supremacy of a particular racial group to that truth indicates either a sort of naiveté, or negligence on their part. Yet how could they have foreseen the reality of their refusal to advance their own thinking, and to challenge their followers to see themselves as part of a universe of people, and not just a tribe, or a race, or a nation? What incentive did they have when the state relinquished its authority over religion to the clergy, and refused to be involved in the progress of Islamic thinking, not recognizing that in an Islamic polity the religious beliefs of the people are the primary motivator of activity and not necessarily the mundane interests of the state. The most that can be expected of a government in such a situation is to advise adherents of the faith about universal Islam, promote clerics who are mainstream but not heretics, and encourage more open research, discussion and religious scholarship from different segments of the society, including women.

The characteristics of this controversial brand of Wahabism that is the focus of Zionist and others are shared in part with the volatile brand of Jewish racism explained by Shamir. The same is true of Christian fanaticism, which following 911 raised its ancient head, took every opportunity to revive the religious concepts that led to the European Christian Crusades, energizing ancient concepts of Christianity, and calling all Christians to recommit to the role that Christianity sought to play historically in regions of the world that are clearly not Christian, meaning that the only way their religious fantasies could be accomplished would be through violence. Hitler, who could not be defined by any stretch of God’s divine message to mankind as a “believer,” also invoked religious themes and mysticism in his quest for what were purely racists’ objectives, which led him to attempt the elimination of all non-Aryans, who he deemed inferior peoples.

All three of the monotheistic faiths have been usurped, corrupted and exploited by renegades who are taking advantage of a universal collapse in religious authority, and credibility, which began in the 16th century. This exploitation is not designed to impose religious beliefs upon people, but rather to impose the racial superiority of one group over another by artificially installing a racial group in power over others. They legitimize their imposition through claims of ownership of a particular religion or ideology, and the right to rule based on this ownership.

In the case of the Taliban and al-Qadea, it is quite possible that what we are seeing is the ultimate form of this modern day hypocrisy. On December 13th, 2001, the Arts and Entertainment channel featured a documentary called “Quest for the Lost Tribes of Israel.” This documentary was a purely anthropological examination of the origins of several of the tribes in Afghanistan. A considerable amount of attention was focused on the Kandahar region and what were referred to as “Pushtans.” According to the narrator, these tribes are likely one of the lost tribes of Israel. His thesis is premised upon interviews with tribal leaders and others, as well as observation of their religious and cultural rites. What most impressed the narrator about these people was the fact that although they read the Qur’an, and outwardly appear to be Muslim, they live according to an ancient Mosaic law.

The narrator was shocked by the fact that these people practiced a form of Mosaic Law that was unforgiving, violent and extremely backwards, and oppressive of women. In an interview with one tribal leader the narrator asked why the children in the schools, although they read the Qur’an, move their bodies back and forth as do Jews when they are praying? The tribal leader answered that it is an indication of the distinction between the outward and inward beliefs of the tribe. “We read Qur’an,” he said, “and we call ourselves Muslim, but we follow our cultural laws which are the laws of Moses.” It would not be an extreme stretch of the imagination to suppose that those who founded the Taliban movement, and perhaps converted Osama bin Ladin from a mere mercenary to a so-called Islamic “jihadist,” may have very well transmitted to him what they believe are tenets are of the ancient Mosaic law, rather than the teachings of Muhammad (saws). Their laws are tribal, which, in modern terminology is equal to racist. This fits quite well into my theory that when religion is usurped and exploited or combined with racism, or tribalism, and not necessarily nationalism, (but this can be included since it can be very similar to racism), religious extremism is born. This is important only because we see in this situation a recurring theme, and that is that ancient codes of religious law and ethics may not be compatible with modern situations complicated by diversity and a greater potential for mass destruction. The isolated tribal feud can now take on global proportions and the exclusivism and chauvinism of tribal and racial or nationalist religion can serve as passionate motivators for campaigns that are aimed towards domination rather than cooperation between disparate groups. Add to this any ancient grudge, myth of supremacy, or dream of world domination, gender hatred or conflicts and a potent brand of politico- religion is born that is intolerant, extreme and potentially violent. When religion ceases to be an avenue of redemption and service to God, and rather seeks to be served as an entity standing alone on superficial merit, propped up with claims of racial or national superiority tied to divine rights, it is outside of the definition of religion.

Its interesting that those who support the Israeli claim to ownership of Palestine due to a Biblical promise do not recognize that this claim is based on religious extremism and the result that we are witnessing in Palestine is the result of our capitulation to the concept that people are bound to religion by race, rather than virtue.

If we learn anything from the history of religion, it should be that throughout time God sent prophets. He did not send one prophet, one time for all of mankind except at the conclusion of His promised communication and guidance to mankind. The advent of Islam and the distinction of the prophet Muhammad (saws) as the final prophet were never intended to be the final word in religious progress, thinking, or understanding. In fact the prophet (saws) himself said to his companions that they were not his brothers, but merely his companions, and that another generation of people would be his brothers, since they would follow him unseen. This could mean that they would be closer perhaps in understanding and faith, since they would inherit a completed Qur’anic text, a body of literature that would chart the transformation of mankind from unbelievers to believers, from less than animals to higher than the angels. They would be his brothers in that they would share his challenges, having to face a world of non-believers, and hypocrites who would contend with the truth.

There is no way to challenge the merit and esteem of those who first followed the prophet Muhammad (saws) and sacrificed life and limb in pursuit of the elevation of humanity that he set out to them as the goal of religion, yet he said that his brothers would be of a later generation, and perhaps we are that generation. The prophet is not with us in flesh, nor do we have the convenience and comfort of a small tribe, one common language, or even similar cultures and traditions, yet we are all Muslims, charged with the same mission. The mission, in my view is to spread the hope that lies at the core of God’s message to mankind, to spread the good news that evil cannot win, and neither can it proliferate so long as good people refuse to be silent, and that we are worthy of the angels prostration when we allow the truth to elevate us from lowly preoccupation with only acquisition, and carnal desire, and to illuminate us and guide us toward the higher goals of peace, prosperity and greater love for good, for God, and God’s creation.

In Islam we have a saying that suggests that at the beginning of each century God sends a messenger to restore the faith to purity. This faith is monotheism, the worship of one God. It is not a racial religion, and no one race of people, or nation has been promised any greater degree of knowledge, insight, or command over the tenets of this faith. If in fact this saying is true, then how ironic that we find ourselves in 2002 faced with the evils of corrupted and extreme religious interpretations that manifest as hatred, and racism, and are the source of suffering for mankind throughout the world. The solution to this problem might be found in a passage of the Qur’an, which is easily equated to a modern day messenger, being the last of the divinely revealed Books of revelation to mankind. In it God says:

And Jesus shall be the sign for the coming of the hour of judgment: therefore have no doubt about the hour, but follow ye me, that is a Straight Way.

Let not the evil one hinder you; for he is an enemy avowed.

When Jesus came with clear signs he said: “Now have I come to you with wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the points on which ye dispute: Therefore fear God and obey me.

For God, He is my Lord and your Lord: So worship ye Him: this is a Straight Way.

But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement; then woe to the wrongdoers, from the penalty of a grievous day. Do they only wait for the Hour-that it should come to them all of a sudden, while they perceive not?

Friends on that day will be foes, one to another-except the “Righteous.”

My “devotees” No fear shall be on you that day, nor shall you grieve- being those who have believed in our signs and submitted to God’s law.

Qur’anic scientist and transliterations expert Abdullah Yusef Ali explains these verses saying: “An appeal is made to the pagan Arabs, that Islam is the religion of Abraham their ancestor; an appeal is made to the Jews that Islam is the same religion as was taught by Moses, and that they should not allow their leaders to make fools of them; an appeal is made to the Christians that Islam is the same religion as was taught by Jesus, and that they should give up their sectarian attitude and follow the universal religion, which shows the straight way.”

Religious extremism is not a new phenomenon, the first to practice such faith were the ancient Jews who refused to accept that the divine message should progress and be introduced to Gentiles. Nationalism, and racism or egotism also are not new, and were central to the Jewish rejection of Jesus and his message of redemption, religious brotherhood and renunciation of the world.

In today’s world of global communication, transportation, and weapons of mass destruction, these are all very dangerous evils, since they have the potential to inflict devastating destruction upon mankind, guilty and innocent alike. We must begin to disrobe the imposters who disguise themselves as men of God, yet do the bidding of the devil. We begin by renouncing sectarianism, and moving toward the restoration of monotheism in its purity, which is the recognition of One God, who created, guides and loves all of mankind; and yet promises salvation only to the “righteous” those who shun evil and shameful deeds, and who obey His Laws and commands. Contrary to the assertion of some, that religion is the cause of violence, what is being clearly proven to us, is that only religion, in its purity can save us from the extremism that is racism, egotism, exclusivism, and hatred that has sought over the years to disguise itself in the rituals and outer trappings of faith, but that manifests sadly as violence carried out for the sake of conquest, which has nothing to do with God.

The writer is director for Public Affairs at the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), a Washington, DC area Islamic think tank.