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A Brazen Rise in Islamic fanaticism: The case of Al Shabaab that wants Somalia rid of Christians


By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

18 April 2012

A very powerful wave of Islamic fanaticism and intolerance is blowing all over the world. One idea ties them all, that Islam is the best religion and it will bulldoze all other religions. This has dangerous consequences for the Muslim communities worldwide and leaves moderate Muslims between a rock and a hard place.

A case in point is Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM), a Somalia based terrorist organisation.  Somalia, famous for its piracy, arms deal, human trafficking, and terrorism is again in the limelight. With its links with the al Qaeda, al-Shabaab wants to rid Somalia of all the Christians and more especially Christian converts from Islam.  The weak transitional government backed by an African Union peacekeeping force is unable to exert influence outside the capital and is at risk of being toppled by Islamist insurgents.

Al-Shabab is one of the most feared and powerful militant jihadist outfits in Africa. There are other armed and radical Islamist groups, but they are not identified as terrorist groups—and al-Shabab is the only one of real consequence at the moment. It was formed as a Sharia court militia in the nation’s capital, Mogadishu in the 1990s. Shabab was a small but effective fighting force and its leaders included committed jihadists, some of whom had served with the Afghan mujahideen. The group enjoys a great deal of support from the Somali population.

 The “Mujahideen Youth Movement” as of 2012 controls large parts of the south Somalian region where it has imposed its own stricter version of Sharia law. Last year Al Shabaab’s troop strength stood at around a staggering 15, 000 militants or Mujahids, who already consider themselves dead, and who want to kill the “enemies of Islam” and “purge the world”.

Al Shabab wants to “purge” the Somalian nation from Christians and Christian converts from Islam (blasphemers), as those who convert from Islam to any other religion is blasphemy according to their version of the Sharia law, and the punishment for it is death in this life and hell in the hereafter. Shabab designed an eye catching message that the Christian infidels of Ethiopia reinforced by the infidel United States, were oppressing Somalis. The images tapped into the minds of the local people, this made them angry towards the infidels and sympathetic towards Shabab.

Al Shabaab is engaged in combat against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). TFG is the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Somalia and AMISOM is an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations in Somalia. These two organizations are under threat from Al Shabaab because they are the biggest impediments in the way of Sharia for the entire country.  The Mujahid group members have scared away relief agents. They indulge in intimidation, kidnapping and killing aid workers; this has led to suspension of humanitarian operations.

It seems strange to me that the approach of the fanatics may be different but their ideology always remains the same i.e., ‘only I am right’. They can use any way to reach their targets; they do not care about the consequences. They are being constantly reminded that ‘this life is only a test for the hereafter’, ‘this life is a mere deception’, and the biggest motivator, ‘hoories are waiting for you if you die fighting in the way of Allah’. All these messages are constantly bombarded, it is no wonder that al-Shabaab has around 15, 000 mujahids, and God alone knows how many militant Islamists are there around the world who are ready to kill and be killed.  

All these fanatic elements want one thing: the flag of Islam to spread in the entire word. Boko Haram is doing the same thing and is going in the same direction as al Shabaab, the only difference is that they want to implement the Sharia in a different country i.e., Nigeria. Last month Sheikh Anjem Choudhary tried his best to demolish the democracy of India but he failed. He too wanted to bring the Sharia law to be implemented in India. In his view, the Indian constitution is man-made, hence it is full of grave defects and the implementation of Sharia will solve all the problems of alcohol, Bollywood, Indian political parties etc. He did not want to kill all the non-Muslims under the Sharia law but they would be given zimmi status.

Al Shabaab uses various mediums in order to spread its propaganda. Besides traditional radio, the internet is the most heavily utilized by al-Shabaab and other militant Islamic groups such al Qaeda because it is the easiest and most cost-effective way to reach a large audience. It has also begun using Twitter to make sure that their messages of extremism and violence reach vast audiences.

One of the most disturbing things is that al Shabaab not only hunts for Christians and Christian converts from Islam to kill, but they also legitimize the killings. They believe that killing non-Muslims will yield fruits on the Day of Judgement. They do not have any guilt hence there is no chance of improvement, unless there comes to them a flash of revelation.

Just like our body, minds can also be trained. In South Africa, during Apartheid, dogs were trained to hate black men; similarly these fanatics are being trained to hate the so-called non-believers, even though thye may well be just the ummah of previous prophets whom the Holy Quran asks us to consider equal to our own Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). So it should come as no surprise to anybody that “Islamic” terrorism is on the rise all over the world.

The poster of Al Shabab is such that it has become the poster of Islam: the Quran in the centre and two AK 47s in a crossing position and on top of it is written in Arabic, La Ilaha Illalah Muhammadur rasool Allah (There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God). Anyone will link the Quran with violence and terrorism. What are we, the moderate Muslims, to do? We are the ones who are standing between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, we try to explain to the rest of the world that Islam is not about violence, it is about peace; on the other hand we cannot leave the fold of Islam because of its beauty and simplicity and when these fanatics corrupt the image of Islam and play with the Quranic verses as and when they like, it disgusts us. We are under a double burden and let me tell you this burden is very heavy.