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fredag, juli 21, 2006

  Boktips islam | Mary Habeck: Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror

"Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror," by Mary Habeck presenteras och citeras flitigt i First Things, April 2006, av Richard Neuhaus. Några smakprov:

"Some speak of “radical” or “fundamentalist” Islam, others prefer the terms “Islamism” and “Islamists.” Habeck suggests that the more accurate terminology is “jihadis” and “jihadism.” She leaves no doubt that, whatever the terms used, the threat is inextricably part of Islam. For perhaps understandable reasons, she wants to distance herself from the Huntington argument which critics depict—falsely, I think—as over-heated. She writes, “The conflict that jihadis believe is inevitable has nothing to do with Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations.’It is the jihadis, she contends, who believe in the Huntington thesis:

"In their reading of history, the conflict between the United States and Islam is part of a universal struggle between good and evil, truth and falsehood, belief and infidelity, that began with the first human beings and will continue until the end of time. A literal clash of civilizations is taking place around the world and, in the end, only one system can survive: Muslims must rid the earth of democracy or else the supporters of democracy (especially the United States, but the entire “West” as well) will destroy true Islam. "

A particular merit of Habeck’s book is that she takes with utmost seriousness the centrality of religion in the jihadist view of the world. Economic and political factors related to modernization and the history of colonialism of course play a part. But Habeck writes:

"In contrast to Western critics of colonialism, who attribute European imperialism to capitalism, power politics, or greed, the jihadis argue that religion alone explains this hostility. The entire purpose of imperialism was, in this view, to destroy Islam. . . . The decline of Islam is thus not mainly the result of internal weaknesses or sin by the Muslims themselves, but is rather the deliberate policy of an external religious enemy whom jihadis can—and do—blame for all the evils suffered by Muslims around the world."

- - In this view, the Crusades have never ended. Habeck writes, “The five-hundred-year gap between the ending of the Crusades and the start of French and British incursions into Egypt is glossed over as if it does not exist. To eliminate Islam, the Christian colonizers used every wicked tool at their disposal.” Missionary and educational efforts, the imposition of European legal codes, and every other facet of colonialism were aimed at destroying Islam. “With the collapse of the European empires, the United States took up the cause and—through its ideology of liberalism—is now the leading spirit behind the attempts by falsehood to destroy Islam and kill or convert the Muslims.” For this reason, the United States is called the “Greater Unbelief,” worse even than the unbelief of apostate Muslims (of whom, in the jihadist view, there are many).

Sympathetic Western writers about Islam laud the period in which Islam was an advanced culture, integrating Greek philosophy and scientific curiosity, and employing the capacities of human reason to interpret sacred texts. “The jihadis,” writes Habeck, “will have none of this argument, since for them the intermixing of Greek and Western ideas with Islam only further polluted an already weakened religion.”The jihadist interpretation of Islam, she underscores again and again, is the traditionalist interpretation. They are not the innovators who have “hijacked” Islam for alien purposes but are the defenders of a faith that they believe has been lethally compromised by Muslims in thrall to the seductions of modernity. Here is Habeck’s central argument: "The consistent need to find explanations other than religious ones for the [jihadist] attacks says more about the West than it does about the jihadis. Western scholars have generally failed to take religion seriously. Secularists, whether liberals or socialists, grant true explanatory power to political, social, or economic factors but discount the plain sense of religious statements made by the jihadis themselves. To see why jihadis declared war on the United States and [try] to kill as many Americans as possible, we must be willing to listen to their own explanations. To do otherwise is to impose a Western interpretation on the extremists, in effect to listen to ourselves rather than to them." It is the great merit of Habeck’s book that she compels us to listen to them rather than to ourselves. Extreme jihadist thinking goes way back, certainly long before the modern period, colonialism, and developments such as the establishment of the State of Israel. The ideological lineage is traced from the thirteenth century up through Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) of Saudi Arabia’s officially promoted Wahhabism, Mohammed Rashid Rida (d. 1935), Hassan al-Banna (d. 1949), and the powerfully influential Egyptian theorist Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966). Although there are variations and disagreements among these figures, this is the religious-ideological lineage claimed by al-Qaeda and figures such as Osama bin Laden. If one asks what they want, the answer is that they want the world to submit to Islam, which is to say, to Allah as revealed in the Qur’an and authoritatively interpreted by what they consider to be authentic tradition. The generally accepted Muslim belief is that “the Torah and Gospels were sent down for a particular people at a particular time, while the Qur’an is for all of humanity throughout all time.” While all Muslims believe that Islam is intended for the entire world, jihadis believe the world “must be brought to recognize this fact peacefully, if possible, and through violence if not."



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