ISLAM is not the source of terrorism, but its solution (2-2) [Archives:2003/671/Culture]

September 25 2003

By Harun Yahya
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

The Bedouin Character in the Qur'an
In the period of our Prophet, there existed two basic social structures in Arabia. City-dwellers and Bedouins (Desert Arabs). A sophisticated culture prevailed in Arab towns. Commercial relations linked the towns to the outer world, which contributed to the formation of “good manners” among Arabs dwelling in cities. They had refined aesthetic values, enjoyed literature and, especially poetry. Desert Arabs, on the other hand, were the nomad tribes living in the desert who had a very crude culture. Utterly unaware of arts and literature, they developed an unrefined character.
Islam was born and developed among the inhabitants of Mecca, the most important city of the peninsula. However, as Islam spread to the peninsula, all tribes in Arabia embraced it. Among these tribes were also Desert Arabs, who were somehow problematic: their poor intellectual and cultural background prevented them from grasping the profundity and noble spirit of Islam. Of this God states the following in a verse:
The desert Arabs are more obdurate in disbelief and hypocrisy and more likely not to know the limits which God has sent down to His Messenger. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba: 97)
The Desert Arabs, that is, social groups who were “obdurate in disbelief and hypocrisy” and prone to disobey God's commands, became a part of the Islamic world in the Prophet's time. However, in latter periods, they became a source of trouble for the Islamic world. The sect called “Kharijis” that emerged among Bedouins was an example. The most distinctive trait of this perverse sect (which was called “Kharijis” the rebels because they greatly deviated from Sunni practises), was their extremely vulgar, wild and fanatical nature. The “Kharijis”, who had no comprehension whatsoever of the essence of Islam or of the virtues and the values of the Qur'an, waged war against all other Muslims and based this war on a few Qur'anic verses about which they made distorted interpretations. Furthermore, they carried out “acts of terrorism”. Ali, who was one of the closest companions of the Prophet and was described as the “gate of the city of knowledge”, was assassinated by a Kharijite.
In latter periods, “Hashashis”, another brutal organisation, emerged; this was a “terrorist organisation” made up of ignorant and fanatical militants bereft of a profound understanding of the essence of Islam and thus who could be readily influenced by simple slogans and promises.
In other words, just as the Crusaders distorted and misinterpreted Christianity as a teaching of brutality, some perverted groups emerging in the Islamic world misinterpreted Islam and resorted to brutality. What is common to this sect and the Crusaders was their “Bedouin” nature. That is, they were ignorant, unrefined, uncultivated, vulgar, and isolated people. The violence they resorted resulted from this social structure, rather than the religion to which they claimed to adhere.

The Actual Source of Terrorism: The Third World Fanaticism
These examples from history are enlightening for a better understanding of the phenomenon, the so-called “Islamic terror”, which is nowadays on the top of the international agenda. That is because those who emerge and carry out acts of terrorism in the name of Islam or those who back such acts -these people, no doubt, represent a minority in the world of Islam- stem from this “character peculiar to Bedouins”, not from Islam. Failing to understand the essence of Islam, they try to make Islam, essentially a religion of peace and justice, a tool of barbarism, which is simply an outcome of their social and cultural structure. The origin of this barbarism, which may well be called the “Third World Fanaticism”, is the benighted initiatives of people who are devoid of love for humans.
It is a fact that, for the last few centuries, Muslims in all corners of the Islamic world are being subjected to violence by Western forces and their affiliates. The colonialist European states, local oppressive regimes or colonialists backed by the West (Israel, for instance) caused great suffering for Muslims at large. However, for Muslims, this is a situation that has to be approached and responded to from a purely Qur'anic stance.
In no part of the Qur'an does God command believers to “respond to violence with violence”. On the contrary, God commands Muslims to “respond to evil with goodness”:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surat al-Fussilat: 34)
It is no doubt a legitimate right of Muslims to react against this cruelty. However, these reactions should never turn into a blind hatred, an unjust enmity. God warns about this in the following verse: “… Do not let hatred for a people who debar you from the Masjid al-Haram incite you into going beyond the limits. Help each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity. Heed God Allah (alone)…” (Surat al-Ma'ida: 2)
Consequently, carrying out terrorist acts against the innocent people of other nations under the pretence of “representing the innocent nations in the world”, is by no means compatible with Islam.
Another point that deserves a special mention here is that all Western nations cannot be held responsible for the aforementioned violence and oppression against Muslims. Actually, the materialist, irreligious philosophies and ideologies that prevailed in the 19th century are responsible for these dismal acts. European colonialism did not originate from Christianity. On the contrary, anti-religious movements opposing the values of Christianity led the way to colonialism. At the roots of the greatest brutalities of the 19th century lies the Social Darwinist ideology. In the Western world today, there are still cruel, mischievous and opposing factors as well as a culture dominated by peaceful and just elements that have its roots in Christianity. As a matter of fact, the main disagreement is not between the West and Islam. Contrary to the general opinion, it is between the devout people of the West and of the Muslim world on the one hand, and the people opposing religion (materialists, atheists, Darwinists etc.) on the other.
Another indication that Third World Fanaticism has nothing to do with Islam is that, until recently, this fanaticism has been identified with communist ideology. As is known, similar anti-West acts of terror were carried out in 1960s and 70s by USSR-backed communist organisations. As the impact of the communist ideology faded, some of the social structures which gave birth to communist organisations have turned their attention to Islam. This “brutality presented under the guise of religion”, which is formulated by the incorporation of some Islamic concepts and symbols into the former communist literature are entirely against the moral values constituting the essence of Islam.
A last remark about this issue is that Islam is not peculiar to a particular nation or geography. Contrary to the dominant Western perception, Islam is not an “Eastern culture”. Islam is the last religion revealed to mankind as a guide to the true path that recommends itself to all humanity. Muslims are responsible for communicating the true religion they believe in to all people of all nations and cultures and making them feel closer to Islam.
Consequently, there is a unique solution for people and groups who, in the name of Islam, resort to terror, form oppressive regimes and turn this world into a dreadful place instead of beautifying it: revealing the true Islam and communicating it so that the masses can understand and live by it.

Conclusion: Recommendations to the Western World
Today, the Western world is concerned about the organisations that use terror under the guise of Islam and this concern is not misplaced. It is obvious that those carrying out terror and their supporters should be punished according to international judicial criteria. However, a more important point to consider is the long-term strategies that have to be pursued for viable solutions to these problems.
The assessment above reveal that terror has no place in Islam and that it is a crime committed against humanity. They further show the inherently contradictory nature of the concept of “Islamic terror”. This provides us with an important vantage point:
1) The Western world, especially the United States, will surely take the most dissuasive measures to cope with terror and it has the right to do that. However, it has to state explicitly that this is not a war waged against Islam and Muslims but, on the contrary, a measure serving the best interests of Islam. The “Clash of civilisations”, the dangerous scenario envisioned in the 90's should be at all costs prevented.
2) Support should be provided for the spread of “True Islam”, which is a religion of love, friendship, peace and brotherhood and for its true understanding by Islamic societies. The solution for radical factions in Islamic countries should not be “compulsory secularisation”. On the contrary, such a policy will incite more reaction from the masses. The solution is the dissemination of true Islam and the appearance of a Muslim role-model who embraces Qur'anic values such as human rights, democracy, freedom, good morals, science and aesthetics, and who offers happiness and bliss to humanity.
3) The source of terrorism is ignorance and bigotry and the solution to terrorism is education. To the circles who feel sympathy with terror, it should be said that terror is utterly against Islam that terror only does harm to Islam, Muslims and to humanity at large. Besides, these people have to be provided with education in order to be purified of this barbarism. The United States' support to such an education policy will yield very positive results.
Our hope is that these measures will help to the world get rid of terrorism and all other bigoted, brutal, barbarous structures. With its Christian-dominated population, the United States that defines itself as “a country under God's protection” is in fact a real friend of the Muslims. In the Qur'an, God draws attention to this fact and informs us that Christians are those who are “most affectionate to those who believe”. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 82)
In history, some ignorant people (for instance, Crusaders) failed to understand this fact and caused conflicts between these two religions. To prevent the repetition of this scenario, true Christians and Muslims need to come together and co-operate.
1 Alan Ereira, David Wallace, C r u s a d e s : Terry Johns Tell the Dramatic Story of Battle for Holy Land, BBC World Wide Ltd., 1995.