By Yuram Abdullah
“Muslims should be at the forefront of Islamic unity, saying enough with Muslims massacring Muslims... When the ‘Kuffar’ kill Muslims, they do not ask them if they’re Sunni, Shi’a or Sufi,” writes professor, author and research scholar Dr. John Andrew Morrow.
The western world, with typical short-sightedness, has picked the date of September 11, 2001 as the point in time when the world changed. The terrorist attacks executed on that day, which have been packaged as a watershed event, a modern-day Pearl Harbor to be embedded in the 21st century western consciousness, propelled terrorism to the forefront of the American political agenda, and provided the perfect pretext for Washington to launch a bellicose response, the War on Terror, whose repercussions are still being felt throughout the Greater Middle East.
From a broader perspective, the assaults now commonly referred to as 9/11 were little more than minor skirmishes when framed in the context of the thousand-year-long holy war initiated in 1096 by the European Christian Crusaders against the highly successful and rapidly expanding Islamic Ummah. This ongoing war, whose goal is the complete elimination of Islam, has raged on for over a millennium in varying degrees of intensity, claiming countless Muslim lives as Christendom followed later by the European colonial powers and nowadays the United States have poured unimaginable quantities of money, material resources and human lives into this age-old abyss of attempted annihilation dispatching death and destruction to the Islamic world.
This continual conflict against Islam has defined what it means to be European and, as of late, American, with Muslims, since the fall of Granada in 1492, always being cast in the role of the “Other.” As scholar Anouar Majid points out, “Without Islam, there would be no European identity to speak of, and no America, with all the consequences the ‘discovery’ of this continent has entailed for the future of human civilization.” Even the term “cold war,” guerra fria, was coined in the 13th century to describe the tense, unsettled relations between Christians and Muslims in the Mediterranean region. This conflictual relationship between Christendom, whose banner is now flown by the democratic-secularist Anglo-Americans, and Muslims, whose fractured Ummah is divided rather unequally between Saudi-supported Sunnis and Iranian-influenced Shia’s, persists to this day.
Brutality has been the byword in this long war waged by Christendom and its successors, the Euro-American colonizers, against the Islamic Ummah. When Al-Quds / Jerusalem fell to the Crusader armies in 1099, regarding the barbarism of the conquering Christians, the Archbishop of Pisa wrote, “...in the portico of Solomon and in his Temple, our men rode in the blood of the Saracens [Muslims] up to the knees of our horses.” This historically documented Christian brutality is likely what first fanned the flames of Islamic extremism towards the West. In stark contrast to the Christian Crusaders viciousness was Salah al-Din’s treatment of the vanquished when Muslim forces under his command recaptured Al-Quds on October 2, 1187. The great Islamic leader, known as Saladin to the Western world, negotiated a peaceful surrender; no one was injured and not a single building was looted.
So if there was a defining moment in Western relations with the Islamic world, it was probably then in 1099 in Al-Quds and not in 2001 in the United States, as scholar Tim Wallace-Murphy explains, “The origins of our current Western attitude towards Islam can most probably be traced back to the onset of the First Crusade, since when there has been an almost permanent state of hostility between the Christian West and the world of Islam.”
Although the Islamic Ummah rebounded after the Mongol hordes under Genghis Khan sacked Baghdad, the Abbasid capital of the Islamic world, in 1258, its resurgence under Ottoman Turkish rule was effectively neutralized by World War I, when the European colonial powers in league with the United States carved up the remnants of the so-called “Sick Man of Europe,” forming nation-states corresponding to their respective spheres of political self-interests. Wallace-Murphy explains, “In the aftermath of the First World War, the world of Islam was bullied, exploited and degraded by arrogant Westerners and experienced its deepest humiliation in the twentieth century.”
While the barbaric brutality of the Christian Crusaders has been exchanged for signature strikes executed by the world’s self-proclaimed humanitarian watchdog, namely the United States, whose remote controlled drones carry out the lethal orders of its assassin-in-chief on the Potomac in stealth sterility, the sheer number of Muslims slaughtered by the Americans and American-led forces already has exceeded some estimates of the those killed during the Crusades. A credible estimate by Harvard professor Stephen Walt puts the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. over the last 30 years at well over a million, or roughly 100 Muslim deaths for every American.
More repugnant has been the “secular” West’s manipulation of the different schools of theology within Islam, pitting Muslim against Muslim for their own self-centered purposes and profit. Such was the case in the Sacred Defence, the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War as it is known in the West, with Muslims killing Muslims – Sunni and Shi’a from Iraq side by side fighting against their brothers and sisters in Islam from Iran. And who benefited from this internecine bloodbath that claimed over half a million lives? The West, of course, for the war provided a convenient excuse for the U.S. to expand its military footprint in the Persian Gulf region because of “national interests” as stated in the Carter Doctrine declared by U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Also, U.S. and British arms manufacturers did quite well selling weapons and raw materials to Saddam for poison gas. And lest there be any doubt that the U.S. was desirous for this carnage to continue on to the bitter end, Henry Kissinger, referring to Iran and Iraq, unambiguously declared, “I hope they kill each other. Too bad they can’t both lose.”
Saddam was effectively given a green light by then U.S. President George H.W. Bush to invade and repatriate Kuwait, which had been carved out of the Ottoman province of Basra by the British after the First World War. Following a morning briefing on July 28, 1990 by then CIA Director William Webster who announced that Saddam had 35,000 troops on the Kuwait border poised to attack, Bush sent the Iraqi dictator a message expressing concern which concluded: “Let me assure you that my administration continues to desire better relations with Iraq.” Later, apparently after realizing that to allow Saddam to annex Kuwait would put him in control of another 10% of the world’s oil reserves and effectively doubling Iraq’s market influence, Bush reversed himself and organized an international coalition force that included troops from the Muslim nations Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to rout out the tyrant.
However, it wasn’t enough for Bush that he incited Muslims to fight against Muslims to regain control of Kuwait’s oil fields; in February 1991, he then called upon the Shi’a of Iraq to rise up against the Baghdad regime. The resulting rebellion, known in Iraq as the Sha’aban Intifada, began in March of that year and was suppressed ferociously by Saddam. According to Sayyid Majid al-Khoei, “The biggest reason for the intifada is that they [the Shi’a rebels] thought the Americans would support them,” which of course, they did not, due to U.S. fears of Iranian involvement. As a consequence, an estimated 150,000 Shia’s were slaughtered by their fellow Iraqi Muslims. And the United States benefited by regaining control over Kuwait’s oil reserves and retaining some degree of control over Iraq’s.
Similarly, by importing Wahhabi extremists from Saudi Arabia into Pakistan, the U.S. managed to fight and win a proxy war against the former Soviet Union which had invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979 in response to the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Turning against their erstwhile masters, the Afghan mujahedin transmuted into the U.S. arch-enemy Al-Qa’ida, and offshoot “franchises” of the CIA-developed and funded organization began to crop up throughout the Greater Middle East and North Africa. So now, thanks to the U.S., there are misguided Wahhabi-influenced Muslims killing their fellow Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Islamic world.
Since February 2011, Wahhabi extremists, backed and financed by the United States, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states, have been engaged in a bloody insurgency pitting Muslims against Muslims in Syria, whose goal is to topple the government of Bashar Al-Assad. At least 80,000 and possibly up to 120,000 Syrians have lost their lives and over 1.6 million have been turned into refugees, fleeing from the violence. Since the start of the insurrection, which is now an almost exclusively Sunni affair, more and more young men are joining the Salafist ranks. The reason for their attraction to the Wahhabi doctrine, according to one researcher, is that “it helps them manifest a Sunni identity in the most radical way possible, while also providing them with a theological explanation for the war against Shia Muslims.” Needless to say, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is the main financial backer and arms supplier of the Salafist insurgent groups in Syria, which include foreign Jihadis from Iraq, Lebanon, Chechnya, Central Asia, Turkey, Pakistan, and even Sweden.
Like the religious fanaticism of the Christian Crusaders, the fervour of the Salafists appears to be spinning irreversibly out of control, as recently demonstrated in Syria by the act of a foreign-backed insurgent cutting out and biting into a victim’s heart. Further evidence in support of this observation comes from Saudi “mainstream” Salafi clerics, such as Sheikh Adnan al-Arour, who has warned the Jihadis in Syria against “the killing of civilians based on their creed, faith, background, origin or ethnicity” and the practice of Takfir: labelling other Muslims as infidels. Even Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) whose Islamic philosophy is felt by some to form the framework for Salafist theology said, “The Prophet (S) has said, ‘The Muslim is brother of the Muslim’ ... How then can it be permitted to the community of Muhammed (S) to divide itself into such diverse opinions that a man can join one group and hate another one simply on the basis of presumptions or personal caprices, without any proof coming from God?” And, all the more so, how can one Muslim join a group and kill another Muslim on the same basis?
It seems most appropriate to conclude with the words of the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, whose country, now under the leadership of his son, Bashar, is currently the target of a western-organized international global attack. Referring to the Muslim extremists, he said, “Nothing is more dangerous to Islam than distorting its meanings and concepts while you are posing as a Muslim. This is what the criminal Brothers are doing ... They are killing in the name of Islam. They are butchering children, women and old people in the name of Islam.”
Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a freelance writer and political critic who has written dozens of articles on the Middle East and US policy. A former engineer with a background in mathematics and a convert to Islam, he currently writes perspectives on Islam, social justice, economics and politics from the viewpoint of an American convert to Shia Islam, focusing on the deleterious role played by the US in the Middle East and elsewhere. A dissenting voice from the “Belly of the Beast”, he lives with his wife in Denver, Colorado. More articles by Yuram Abdullah Weiler