The world is undoubtedly at a critical juncture dealing with the grotesque violence of the ISIL/IS. The IS are hell bent on punishing the West for attacking their occupied lands in Iraq and Syria and the West want to put an end to the IS barbarity and have declared war on them in retribution to Paris atrocity.
The West is rightly outraged by the IS’s heinous crime of attacking and killing innocent civilians in Paris who were going about in their normal day-to-day lives. Attacking unarmed civilians – men, women and children – without any reason and without any warning is most cowardly and beyond contempt. The West feel that IS are out to cower down the West, damage and destroy the fundamental values of the West, their culture and civilisation.
The face of the female suicide bomber (Hasna Aitboulahcen) who blew herself up yesterday (18 Nov 2015) when Police raided a flat in Saint-Denis, where the ring leader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was also killed.
But from the IS perspective, it can be seen that they are doing exactly what their religion asks them to do. Admittedly there are strong elements of visceral antipathy of the IS operatives towards the West, but the main driving force comes from the Scriptures of the religious book of Islam, Quran.
There are two broad strands in Quranic teaching. If a Muslim strays out of Allah’s prescribed path here on earth, he or she will be punished in hell-fire for eternity. On the other hand, adhering to Allah’s path, one will be rewarded with a place in paradise where wine, women and all other extravagance will be in abundance to enjoy forever! Under this carrot and stick approach of the religion, it is no wonder that the large majority of illiterate, simple-minded Muslims fall for it and adhere to Islam blindly.
There are, of course, numerous specific verses in Quran where Allah’s directives and wishes are defined clearly. The verse 2:191 prescribes: Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, you kill them. Such is the reward for disbelievers. The verse 4:89 says: Do not take any of your disbelievers as allies. If these disbelievers turn away, kill them. The verse 5:33 says: Those who ‘spread corruption’ (a vague term widely believed to include blasphemy and apostasy) should be killed or crucified. The verse 5:33 clearly states: The thieves, male or female, should have their hands cut off. The verse 47:4 prescribes beheading of disbelievers encountered in Jihad. The verse 2:193 reads: Allah says that you keep fighting until there is no more persecution and everyone on earth is a Muslim. Then you can stop killing people. There are numerous other exultations of grotesque violence and killing in Quran.
The believers in Islam take these exultations as Allah’s words, as they are stated in the Quran. Although religious scholars claim that most of these verses are stated metaphorically and should not be taken literally, the adherents of fundamentalist ideology (Salafists/Wahhabists) reject them as revisionism. If Quran is the message from Allah, why would He give the message in metaphoric terms, they argue? Indeed, why and how would He prescribe killing and beheading people when He simply meant treating them firmly?
Disregarding all these interpretations or re-interpretations of Quranic verses, Salafism / Wahhabism clung on to fundamentalist ideology of Islam as existed at the time when Islam came into existence. Saudi Arabia for political purposes is the strongest advocate of Wahhabism. She had spent more than $50 billion over the past 50 or so years promoting this Wahhabism, not only in that country but also throughout the whole world. From financing mosques, madrassahs, Islamic Centres etc. throughout the world, Saudi Arabia and its cohorts of GCC countries had been funding terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and ISIL/IS and so forth to promote and propagate Wahhabism (a particularly virulent version of Sunni ideology).
It should be remembered that Saudi Arabia is the land where Islam came into being in their own language and in their own culture and hence the country rightfully takes the proprietory role for this religion. There are 1,600 million Muslims (of all denominations) worldwide spread over almost all the countries of the world. In 54 countries Muslims are in majority, although not all of them are Sunni.
Prophet Mohammad founded this religion to address the socio-economic problems of a small desert tribe called Quraysh some 1400 hundred years ago. In keeping with other prevailing monotheistic religions, divine heritage of the message was central to its acceptance by the fiercely independent tribal population. As Islam is claimed as the last and final message from the ‘Almighty’ Allah, it is immutable and sacrosanct. In other words, whatever is there in the holy book, it is the final word from Allah and no human beings can change it – that is the standpoint of the fundamentalist Salafism/Wahhabism.
Thus Islam faces two major problems – how could it transform itself from a desert tribal religion to an international religion stretching from Iceland to Antarctic, from Japan to Jordan to Chile. Islam’s unprecedented success is the root cause of its present existential problem. The second most important handicap is that, if Islam conveys the ultimate and final words of Allah (which only addressed the prevailing situation in the 7th century) and cannot be changed at all, how relevant and adaptable is that religion to the conditions and knowledge base of the modern society? (For example, earth was at the centre of the Universe and the Sun goes round the earth in the 7th century religion, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Another example is that Allah is the Creator of everything including human beings and so the evolutionary theory of Darwin is blasphemous, according to Islam).
Faced with such irreconcilable and conflicting positions, Islamic fundamentalists chose to adopt a forceful and aggressive position to silence any dissent to their religion. Killing of humanists, secularists and, bloggers in general, in Bangladesh, in Pakistan and in other countries by vicious and barbaric Islamists show this attitude. The so-called IS Caliphate and the Wahhabi ideology’s proclivity to Sharia Law is another unmistakable indication of Islam trying to go back to the 7th century.
The atrocity in Paris is a clear indication of IS’s opposition to Western values, Western culture. The West at long last has woken up to realising and facing this existential threat from the IS are something to be admired. But it must be realised that the IS are only the symptom, the messenger; not the originator of this depraved ideology. The IS can be bombed out, IS Jihadists can be evaporated by the West; but until and unless the root which created and nourished this ideology and spawned IS is taken out, IS in new form, in new name, in new place will keep propping up.
The French President has declared war on IS. But unless this war is extended to fighting the corrupt ideology of Wahhabism, his war would be no more than a mere battle. The West may have to fight such battles many a times, many a places and for many a year. The source which nourishes the roots must be taken out, otherwise the green shoots of IS would keep popping up in unforeseen places leading to recurrence of gratuitous violence.