Many Americans don’t talk about Islam for the fear of being labeled Islamophobic. When logical and factual discussions are avoided, only simplistic and extreme positions prevail. Thus there are people on the far right who totally fear Islam, and there are people on the left who can only repeat clichés such as, “Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.” Here’s a quick overview of Islam and the elements within Islam that give rise to extremism and terrorism.
First of all, it’s not easy to generalize Islam, since there are different sects and theological beliefs. Add in such factors as culture, region and time period, the concept becomes more nuanced. Thus, the liberal-urban-Syrian-1990s-Shiite Islam will be very different from the ultra-conservative-rural-Saudi-1940s-Sunni Islam.
Sunni v. Shiite
Broadly speaking, there are two major divisions in Islam: Sunni and Shiite. Within both, there are different schools of thoughts and subsects. Although they both follow the Quran, the Sunnis also use Hadiths, which are compilations of what Mohammed said and did.
Historically, the division of Sunni versus Shiite is based on disagreements about the successor of prophet Mohammed. It’s a family feud between Mohammed’s father-in-law and son-in-law. Sunnis for the former and Shiites for the latter. The son-in-law (Ali) was assassinated by Sunni caliphs during Ramadan. Thus it’s not a coincidence that Shiites are still attacked by Sunni terrorists every year during Ramadan.
Radical Sunnis claim that Shiites aren’t even Muslims. In Syria, most rebels are Sunni extremists and they have massacred Shiite civilians and destroyed Shiite shrines. The biggest conflict in the Middle East is between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and it’s a Sunni-Shiite power struggle. Saudi Arabia’s biggest fear, as exposed by Wikileaks, is the “Shiite Crescent” of Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
In terms of demographics, 85% of the Muslims in the world are Sunnis.
Wahhabism, Salafism and Jihadist-Salafism
These are three important terms that drive geopolitical Islam. Wahhabism refers to the Saudi-version of Sunni Islam. Named after an Islamic preacher of the 18th century, it’s extremely dogmatic and puritanical. Salafism is almost identical to Wahhabism in terms of theology and doctrine. Both insist upon a society that mirrors what Mohammed and his companions did back in the 7th century.
Then there are Jihadist-Salafists who want to defend and spread Salafism through jihad. By “jihad,” they don’t mean “internal spiritual struggle.” They mean armed conflicts, guerilla warfare and terrorism. These are the people who originally came out of the Mujahideen project in Afghanistan. Give thanks to Saudi Arabia and the CIA for these violent Islamists who are now the biggest threat to stability of nations around the world.
Almost all the terrorist groups around the world are Jihadist Salafists. Al Qaeda, ISIS, most Syrian rebel groups, Boko Haram (Nigeria), Al Shabaab (in Somalia), Abu Sayyaf (in Philippines), Taliban etc. are all the same soup in different bowls.
Salafism and their extreme Sharia Law
Islam has been a merger of state and religion from the very beginning. Around the world today, there is a spectrum of Sharia Laws. Most Islamic countries use similar civil Sharia Laws for family-related issues. Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia uses laws straight out of the Quran and Hadiths for criminal laws as well. This is why there are beheadings, crucifixions, amputations, stoning of women etc.
In Saudi Arabia, women are second-class citizens. For her entire life, a Saudi woman lives under a male guardian – either her father or husband. A woman cannot go to school, get a job, travel or even marry without written permission from her male guardian. Of course, women cannot drive a car at all and they get arrested if they don’t cover themselves from head to toe in public. Here’s a good article on the abysmal state of Saudi women. Two other extreme Sharia Law practices that hurt Muslim women a lot are child marriages and female genital mutilation.
Under Salafism, it’s permissible to kill Muslims who leave Islam, kill anyone who denigrates the Quran or the prophet, kill atheists, kill gays, kill adulterers, kill people for pre-marital sex … and that’s a partial list.
Salafism has been spreading to moderate Muslim countries over the last 30 years. For example, in Indonesia, new Sharia police are stopping women for “tight jeans” and forcing them into Sharia-compliant dress. People – including Christians – are being publicly caned for non-Islamic activities such as selling alcohol or an unmarried girl simply hanging out with a male friend. In Pakistan, a college student was attacked and murdered by other students for posting something on Facebook that was construed to be blasphemy. In Turkey, which used to be a very secular country, women are being randomly attacked by strangers for not dressing modestly. In another case, extremists savagely attacked young men in Istanbul for drinking beer during Ramadan.
Salafists don’t integrate when they come to the West. Muslim women still suffer under Sharia courts in the U.K. Undercover documentaries have revealed Saudi-funded mosques in Europe and the U.S. preaching what would indisputably be bigotry, misogyny, anti-Semitism and homophobia.
No political correctness in Salafism
While Americans and Europeans are warned about Islamophobia, there are no similar sentiments in Salafism. Saudi Arabia explicitly prohibits non-Muslim places of worship; in Qatar, churches have to be very discreet and not display a cross. In Brunei, Christians are not allowed to openly celebrate Christmas; no Santa Claus or Christmas trees are allowed in public. In Pakistan, churches, Hindu temples, and even Shiite mosques are often bombed. To add to the depravity, the terrorists choose major religious days such as Easter to maximize the deaths and terrorize the minority religions who are 3% of the population.
In Egypt, churches have been bombed repeatedly for many years; all the Christians in a town were persecuted and driven out; few months ago, a bus on its way to the monastery was stopped and all the Christians were massacred in cold blood. In Indonesia, a popular Christian governor of the capital city, Jakarta, was jailed for two years for merely saying that the Quran doesn’t prohibit people from voting for a non-Muslim. In the Philippines and in Syria, Jihadist Salafists have destroyed and burned down numerous churches (video #1, video #2). The Arab Spring in Syria turned into “Christian Winter” as thousands of Christians were massacred by Salafists.
From Salafism to Jihadist Salafism
Most Americans don’t realize that fanatical Imams casually spread terrorist messages on national televisions in the Middle East. Here’s a video where an Imam talks about what happens when Muslims invade and take over a land of infidels. He talks about how all the properties, men, women and children belong to the Muslims. He goes on to discuss the details of a slave market and how to sell the infidels/Kafirs. This is a barbaric message that doesn’t belong in the modern world, but it does resonate with Salafist groups like ISIS who actually perform such atrocities.
Here’s another popular Imam in Iraq who says, “Yes, Islam was spread by the sword. Yes, we invade, kill and enslave. So what? That’s what Allah commands us to do and that’s what Mohammed did.”
Bin Laden himself used Quran verses 9:73, 5:51, 8:39, 8:60 and 8:12, which say, to paraphrase, “Non-Muslims are evil, so fight them; don’t take Jews and Christians to be your friends; fight the non-Muslims until everyone follows Islam; do whatever is within your power to terrify the enemy; and God will cast terror in the hearts of non-Muslims, so behead them.”
Even killing of women and children are justified by Jihadists who claim that Mohammed gave the permission to do just that during a war.
The master plan for indoctrination
Saudi Arabia has created a worldwide army of zealots using mosques and schools. This is a massive project that costs billions of dollars every year. In the 1980’s, as a part of the Mujahideen project, Saudi Arabia established thousands of Islamic schools – known as Madrassas – for poor people in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The real goal was to brainwash the kids to become jihadists. It was so successful that in the last 30 years, Saudi Arabia has built tens of thousands of Islamic schools all over the world, including Europe, US, Canada and Australia.
Syria is a perfect example for how Saudi-funded institutions can become powerful tools to overthrow governments. After Assad Sr. banned the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi mosques sneaked into Syria in the 1990’s. In the next twenty years, Salafism would grow large enough to spark a civil war.
In areas held by Al Qaeda in Syria, Islamic camps indoctrinate kids to become suicide bombers. Saudi preachers go to Syria, recruit kids to become suicide bombers, and proudly post pictures on social media. A Salafist Syrian rebel even sent his own 8-year-old daughter as a suicide bomber to destroy a police station in Damascus.
When US politicians and media talk about poverty being the source of Islamic terrorism, they’re partially right, but they deliberately hide the puppet masters – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Muslim Brotherhood etc. – who invest a vast amount of money and efforts to recruit and convert people into Salafists and jihadists.
Islam needs a major reformation, especially Sunni Islam that has been hijacked by Salafism and Wahhabism, which insist that everyone live as if we are all tribal desert warriors from the 7th century. From the 1920’s until 1980, Islamic countries around the world eagerly embraced westernization and enlightenment. Then fundamentalists took over and have caused enormous suffering all over the world. Can we turn the clock back and make the Muslim world great again?