Minimizing a religious explanation for Islamic terrorism while emphasizing political and socioeconomic causes of Muslim violence is a disingenuous ploy which serves only Muslim apologists and appeasers. The true nature of the outburst of Muslim violence and unrest the world over is, rather, to be found in the religious culture in which [Islamic terrorism] is rooted and nurtured, a culture in which there is no distinction between religion and politics.
Modern international Islamist terrorism is a natural offshoot of twentieth century Islamic fundamentalism. This fundamentalism was fed by perceived Muslim acceptance of western domination and culture. This was perceived as a natural injustice which could only be rectified by a return to the original mores of Islam.
In the worldview of the Islamic fundamentalist, there is no separation between the political and the religious. Islam is, in essence, both religion and regime, and no area of human activity is outside its remit. Whatever the nature of the problem, “Islam is the solution.”
In other words, Islamic fundamentalists believe that Islam is the final dispensation for humanity as revealed to Muhammad and the task of restoring it to its true essence and pristine form is the job of jihad.
In the world view of the Islamist fundamentalist, there exist only two camps—Dar al-Islam (“The House of Islam”—i.e., the Muslim countries) and Dar al–Harb (“The House of War”—i.e., countries ruled by any regime but Islam)—that are pitted against each other until the final victory of Islam.
However, these radical concepts, which are the wellspring of so much hatred and grief today, have deep roots in mainstream Islam.
Rooted in mainstream Islam is the belief that there are two kinds of war in Islam: one is called Jihad (Holy War), which means the conquest of other countries in accordance with certain conditions. The second type is war to preserve the independence of all Muslim countries and the repulsion of foreigners. Jihad or Holy War, which is for the conquest of other countries and kingdoms, becomes incumbent after the formation of the Islamic state in the presence of the Imam or in accordance with his command.
In this mainstream interpretation of jihad as just, fundamental Islam believes entire civilizations need to be saved by all means available—the Islamic civilization of the Middle East and the civilisations of the un-believers alike. National borders are seen as Western imperialist creations that serve to divide the umma, the world community of Muslims.
Restoration of the caliphate in the Middle East is only a prelude to the reconquest of all lands that were once under Muslim rule in a bid to regain its lost glory.
Millions of fundamentalist Muslims the world over have never reconciled themselves to the loss of Islam’s colonies as embodied in the glory days of the Ottomans, nor are they reconciled to the loss of lands beyond the Middle East. Many such Muslims believe in the restoration of Spain and consider their 1492 expulsion from the country a grave historical injustice.
In France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Britain, a rapidly expanding Muslim population due to cheap immigration labour, higher rates of child birth, and conversion to Islam form the building blocks of a growing foreign minority which has located Europe, home to the world’s largest Muslim diaspora, at the heart of the battle over Muslim identity.
And it is this frighteningly large minority who are inspired and guided by the words of Muhammad’s farewell address: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah.’’
On the other hand, those who naively champion moderate Muslims have to take seriously the words of moderate Muslim scholars like Dr. Zaki Badawi, long-time director of the Islamic Cultural Centre in London, when he says, albeit in far more tempered language, “Islam endeavours to expand in Britain. Islam is a universal religion. It aims to bring its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community.”
It is the stated intention of billions of non-Muslims the world over, that this will never happen. Religion will always remain a matter of choice. Forcing a particular world-view at the expense of all others, is fascist, bigoted, supremacist behaviour.
The long war will continue, and in between the battles, we will continue to live, love, give birth, celebrate, make careers and die. It cannot be any other way.