Dr Patrick Sookhdeo superbly summarizes the historical roots and the theological components of the Islamists” ideology in this way:
“¢ Historically Islam continually faces the same challenges which it is facing today
o Difficulty in coping with change
o Constant quest to return to what is pure and authentic
“¢ These pressures have frequently led to violence and conflict
“¢ Quest for authenticity has led to violent reactions
o Wars of apostasy
o Wars of succession
o Wars of takfir
o Wars against the infidel
“¢ Set the parameters for contemporary violence
“¢ All of the main Islamic sources can be used to justify violence:
o Qur’an — abrogation of peaceful Meccan by aggressive Medinan verses
o Hadith — traditions recording words and deeds of Muhammad related to violence
o Muhammad’s Model (Sira) — his normative example in dealing with opponents (raids, wars, assassinations, Jews) and his explicit command
o Shari”˜a and classical scholars — codified laws of Jihad
o Violence in Islamic history
“¢ Civil wars Sunni-Shi”˜a, Kharijis, dynastic, tribal
“¢ Conquests and expansion
o Model of recurring revivals: purifying Islam, return to Shari”˜a, expansion by Jihad.
“¢ The influential Islamist Abdallah “˜Azzam celebrates Muhammad’s role as a military leader:
o “Jihad was a way of life for the Pious Predecessors (Salaf-us-Salih), and the Prophet (SAWS) was a master of the Mujahideen and a model for fortunate inexperienced people.
o The total number of military excursions which he (SAWS) accompanied was 27.
o He himself fought in nine of these; namely Badr; Uhud, Al-Muraysi, The Trench, Qurayzah, Khaybar, The Conquest of Makkah, Hunayn and Taif . . . This means that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) used to go out on military expeditions or send out an army at least every two months.”
“¢ [Abdallah “˜Azzam, Join the Caravan, p. 30]
“¢ Faisal Shahzad, the suspected perpetrator of the failed car bombing in Times Square, NYC, commenting on a Muslim opponent:
o “I bet when it comes to defending the lands, his opinion would be we should do dialogue, etc., which is not the proven way from history and has not worked in current time and will not work in the future because it simply wasn’t the way of the Quran.”
“¢ The well-known Egyptian scholar, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd [died 2010], has noted:
o “If we follow the rules of interpretation developed from the classical “science of Koranic interpretation”, it is not possible to condemn terrorism in religious terms. It remains completely true to the classical rules in its evolution of sanctity for its own justification. This is where the secret of its theological strength lies.”
— Resurgent in first half of 20th century
— Accelerated spread since 1970s
“¢ View of Islam as inherently political: Unity of religion (din) and state (dawlah) —
“¢ no dichotomy
o Islam aims at political dominance everywhere.
o State is the best tool for implementing Shari”›a.
o Seek to gain power in state and then use its coercive power to enforce Shari”›a.
o Peace only possible under Islamic rule.
o Qu”ran and Shari`a contain recipe for complete social and political system (nizam)
“¢ Theological Components
o Takfir — Judging jahiliyya (idolatry) wherever it is found. Legal, official declaration of heresy and apostasy
— Jahiliyya demands response of jihad
o Jihad against internal “apostates” (secular Muslim regimes) and external infidels (the West)
o Istishad — glorification of martyrdom
— Renewed the Khariji and Assassin principle of suicide missions
o Khilafa — restoring the Caliphate a shari”˜a duty
o Tawhid — unitary and uniform vision of God, universe and society: One God, one people, one law
— God’s physical laws imposed on the universe
— God’s religious law (shari”˜a) imposed on society
— God’s unity enforced on all in unitary shari”˜a system
o Hakimiyya (rabbaniyya) – God’s sovereignty, implementing tawhid
“¢ All legal and political systems must be based on shari”˜a
“¢ Islam as revolution — Protest of poor and oppressed, “wretched of the earth”, purifying violence, liberation theology, third-worldism.
“¢ Utopian — NaÃ¯ve and holistic view of man’s inherent goodness (fitra) flourishing under a totalitarian worldwide Islamic system that ensures God’s will on earth.
“¢ Shari”˜a centered — Shari”˜a only criterion of legitimacy. Must implement Shari”˜a in state to fulfil God’s will.
“¢ Binary dichotomies — Good vs Evil, God vs Satan, everyone must choose – no neutral ground, no innocent civilians.
“¢ Conspiracy theories — Scapegoating. Identify evil enemies who always, at all times and places, seek to destroy Islam.
“¢ Permanent battle — Constant fight in God’s way.
As Dr. Sookhdeo reminds us, “the mainline Islamist movements are a seedbed out of which the terrorist groups originate, and with which they continue to exist in a symbiotic relationship:
— The Wahhabi-Salafi movement (Saudi Arabia, worldwide)
— The Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, worldwide)
— The Jama”˜at–i-Islami (Indian Subcontinent, worldwide)
— The Deobandi movement (Indian Subcontinent, worldwide)
— Ahl-i-Hadith (Indian Subcontinent)
— The Shi”˜a revolutionary Islamist movement founded by Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Ayatollah Khomeini and Ali Shariati.”
The terrorist networks have become increasingly decentralized, as the focus shifts to self-reliant individuals and groups. Al-Qaeda does not necessarily have much direct influence over their “affiliates”, which use their association with al-Qaeda to gain credibility and funding, but remain essentially autonomous. There may well be further decentralization after Bin Laden’s death, and confusion over the succession.