Preventing a Repeat of 9-11 from a Muslim Perspective
Posted September 07, 2006 by Kamal Nawash
In remembrance of the Fifth anniversary of 9-11, www.counterideology.com has produced an anti-terror TV commercial for the Free Muslims Coalition (FMC). This commercial is based on the belief that the war on terror is an ideological battle and good Muslims are essential to winning this battle.
In addition to fighting terrorism from an Islamic perspective, FMC has produced numerous studies on the causes of extremism by Muslims. On this painful anniversary we feel it appropriate to restate the root cause of extremism and terrorism.
Extremism among Muslims is the result of a recent man-made political ideology that has been successfully marketed as a fundamental tenet of Islam. This man-made political ideology is called "Political Islam". Political Islam is an ideology that totally rejects the separation of religion and state and instead seeks to create theocratic "Islamic States" or one large "Islamic state" based on the delusion that Muslims are not sufficiently religious and that if they were to return to a strict interpretation of God's "laws", the Muslim world would achieve a period of glory and prosperity as they enjoyed in the early days of Islamic history.
Unfortunately, governments that choose to enforce "God's laws" by integrating religion and state do not work. Every modern example of an "Islamic State" has been a total failure. Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan (under the Taliban) have arguably failed to deliver the prosperity they envisioned or promised their followers. Ironically, the failure of Iran, Afghanistan and Sudan has not quelled the desire to create "Islamic states." Instead, those who call for theocratic "Islamic states" continue to argue that theocracies are the best governments but that Iran, Afghanistan and Sudan "did not implement 'true Islam' correctly."
It is important to keep in mind that Islamic theocracies are not the only theocracies that fail. Christian theocracies failed just as miserably. In fact, history continues to refer to the time of Christian theocracies as the Dark Ages. It was only after Europe finally rejected the theocratic model, that Europe experienced a Renaissance and prospered.
More importantly than being inherently flawed, Political Islam will often lead to extremism and terrorism. Because Political Islam is based on the desire to enforce God's laws, it leads to religious absolutism. Religious absolutism results from a belief that a particular faith represents the absolute truth and therefore must be accepted by everyone else without question. Such an absolutist ideology inadvertently encourages bigotry and promotes hatred of others who do not share or follow similar beliefs.
Moreover, political ideologies based on religion, more often than not, have to reject intellectual enlightenment to guarantee their survival. This is because intellectual enlightenment respects diversity, freedom of choice and expression which are inconsistent with the long term survival of religiously based political ideologies. Consequently, Political Islam will naturally result in anti-intellectual and repressive political and social systems that give birth to extremist attitudes and behavior that include terrorism. That is why those who call for the creation of "Islamic States" tend to be fundamentalists. They preach literalist philosophies and demonstrate an intrinsic repulsion for modernity, liberalism and open societies.
To prove that Political Islam leads to terrorism, consider that the phenomenon of "Islamic terrorism" is approximately 25 years old. This period coincides with the Islamic revolution in Iran which ignited Political Islam throughout the Muslim world. There is a direct relationship between the rise of Political Islam and the rise of "Islamic terrorism."
In dealing with the problem of Political Islam, it is imperative to understand that most Muslims who seek "Islamic States" are generally benevolent and pious people. They sincerely and passionately want to create just and fair societies. Unfortunately, the system they are using is more likely to produce repression rather than justice, cruelty rather than fairness and backwardness rather than modernity.
This is why the Free Muslims Coalition constantly argues that the war on terrorism has to be more than a military battle. It must also be an ideological battle where Muslims are essential to defeat the unintended consequences of Political Islam. This will occur when enlightened Muslim scholars expose Political Islam as a political ideology designed to gain power rather than being a religious requirement.
Finally, it should be noted that the Free Muslims Coalition is made up of devout and conservative Muslims. It is because we love our religion that we take these positions. Having said this, we again urge the American Muslim leadership and Muslim leaders throughout the world to come to terms with the fact that Political Islam does not work. We also encourage Muslim organizations to advocate for the separation of religion and state in the Muslim world. This is the only way we can defeat extremism, terrorism, improve relations with the rest of the world and help Muslims achieve the prosperity they deserve.