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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 7 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Fears Over Islamic Extremism Rising


By New Delhi Times

Aug 7th, 2014

Islam, the religion of more than a billion believers faces a grave precariousness regarding its fate today. Islam, in prevalent scenario, is experiencing the perils of deteriorating into a manifesto for terror. However, ironically, Islam as a religion does not preach radicalism in its scripture, the Quran. But among the believers of Islam, there is a certain segment of followers who have interpreted Islam in an utterly unrighteous way and have hijacked Islam by a discourse of anger and rhetoric of rage. While it is as true as sunrise that there are radical Muslims, there has never existed something known as radical Islam. “Beware of extremism in religion, for extremism destroyed those who went before you” said Prophet Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of god.

There are intensely anti-human forces in each corner of the world today, from United States to United Kingdom, India, Africa, Australia, Middle East, and Europe. Human horror is being perpetrated in the name of religion, and the religion being Islam. In a misleading turn of events and layer upon layer of violence, Islam today is widely associated with terrorism. Going down the history, an event which has great influence in the history of Islam is the symbolic decision of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to abolish the Islamic Caliphate. This shocked the entire Islamic world. Especially the decisions, particularly the secularization of the state and the de-Islamisation of society: equality of the sexes; prohibition of the use of the Islamic veil in public places; ban on beards for public officials; adoption of the Latin alphabet in place of Arabic etc. Since then, many groups have tried to revive the caliphate and Islamize various countries and governments.

In nearly all cases, the Jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Shari’a. Or, extension of the Islamic territory across the globe, and the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate’ founded on Shari’a law. Leaders of terrorist organizations have time and again openly declared this goal. The biography of one of the most influential Islamist thinkers of recent times and an influence on Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam declared that his life revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah’s Rule on earth and restoring the caliphate. Bin Laden himself spoke of ensuring that the pious caliphate will start from Afghanistan. Another Al-Qaeda leader, Fazl ur Rehman Khalil, in a magazine declared that due to the blessings of jihad, America’s will be defeated to be followed by the creation of a caliphate. Iraqi jihadist leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also announced that he would henceforth be known as Caliph Ibrahim, emir of the faithful in the Islamic state. He further stated that stretch of terrorist-run territory in Syria and Iraq is the rebirth of the long-expired Caliphate. ISIS has already started imposing Sharia law in the towns it controls, such as boys and girls must be separated at school; women must wear the Niqab or full veil in public, music is banned and the fast is enforced during the month of Ramadan.

Another phase which escalated the spread and intensity of radical Islam was during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. During this time, Palestinian born Abdullah Yusuf Azzam preached the need for a defensive jihad and encouraged Muslims to either donate to the Afghan Mujahideen or to travel to Afghanistan and take up arms in defence of their Muslim brothers and sisters. This started radical Islamism on a transnational, globalised dimension, crossing borders and vast areas. Azzam was a lecturer at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, it is believed that during this period, Osama bin Laden contacted Azzam and decided to join the fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Bin Laden funded and helped Azzam set up the group Maktab al-Khidmat. Apart from gaining the funding of rich Arab individual such as Osama Bin Laden, Maktab al-Khidmat also managed to gain funding from the CIA, with America viewing this as an opportunity to defeat Communist ideology of the Soviet Union. Interesting to note, that at the time of the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the United States of America did not consider the Mujahideen or Maktab al-Khidmat as a terrorist threat. Clearly, America itself sowed the seeds of the 9/11 attack.

After the Mujahideen defeated the Soviet troops and the death of Azzam, Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, the ex-leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, began to lay the foundations for a new group, Al-Qaeda. However, this new group differed in its ideology compared to its predecessors. While the former by Azzam supported defensive jihad, Al-Qaeda strongly believed in a new sense of religious jihad or what we are experiencing today as Radical Islam- a certain group’s interpretation of religion. This led to an era in which Muslim extremists interpreted their faith as a license to kill foreign enemies of God or Allah. Radical Muslim clerics scoured Islam’s sacred texts for justifications of violence.

Started as an act of defense towards the Soviet Union, the rise of radical Islam has taken the world by storm. Many countries today experience the menace of radicalism sweeping their society. Hard-line Muslims have been growing in worrisome numbers that violently challenge constitutional frameworks of countries, along with working aggressively to alter the basic societal fabrics. Even Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country is no exception. Despite of being made up of Muslims majority, Indonesia is not governed by the Islamic law. In 1945, Indonesia opted out of having an Islamic constitution. However, radicalism in Indonesia is on the rise with a small but vocal group posing a threat to peace, democracy and stability in Indonesia. Bali Bombings of 2002, attack at the Australian embassy in 2004, attack on J.W. Marriott hotel in 2003 and 2009, showcased the growth of radicalism in Indonesia.

Islamic radicals have bombed hotels, stations, and kidnapped children, hijacked airplanes to attack and have killed thousands of innocents without a single moral qualm. Over the past few years, there has been a growing tendency to dub every Muslims as a terrorist or look down upon Islam. But not all Muslims are favorably disposed to accept the use of any form of compulsion as a method for the propagation of Islam under any guise or circumstance. Reality is that only one out of two million Muslims might be associated with terrorism for different reasons. However, what is immediately required out of the rest of the community is denouncement of terrorist act, condemn those who inflict terror on innocent people do not respect the true principles of Islam. Even tolerant and rational Muslim individuals should start their fight against terrorism because those who terrorize the world in the name of Islam are victimizing Muslims as well.

On a special episode of Hannity on Fox News called “Radical Muslims on the March,” host Sean Hannity skeptically asked self-described moderate Muslim Michael Ghouse of the America Together Foundation if the voices of the Islamic community are loud enough to counter “the radicals hijacking the religion.” Even Michael stated that the voices are not loud enough. “We need to gather momentum. Nearly thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on our own soil, the moderates who are supposedly the vast majority of the Islamic community are still struggling to gather momentum and make their voices heard” conceded Ghouse.

It’s also crucial to remember that the animosity of radical Islamists is not just directed towards the non Muslims, you’re as much at risk if you are a westerner, an American, an Indian, Asian, a non-Muslim, or a Muslim of a different stripe than they, then radical Muslims hate you. They overall wish to hijack Islam itself and destroy centuries of Islamic civilization, which the world is aware of and preach their interpretation of the religion. It’s not a war between two civilizations of Muslims and non- Muslims rather a war with an enemy of every civilizations. To stop the regression, the moderate majority will have to argue against the mobilization of Islamic religion for war. Individuals may rely on their faith to inspire them in adversity. Religion may be invoked at times of loss. But it is impossible to deploy religion to justify killing and self-immolation, without undermining the foundations of the religion itself.

In abolishing the continuing threats posed by the radical jihadist movement, the rhetorical voice of ‘war against terrorism’ must be met with public diplomacy. Moreover, for states with radical threats, there is a need to build bridges with moderate Islam as the understanding and experience gained from such cooperation can be used to precede other forms of international diplomacy related to the tide of global jihad.