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October 4, 2006

Muslim on Muslim Violence: What Drives It? (And Where Is It Taking Us)

... the intensity and persistence of Muslim violence against Muslims - the intra-Christian violence is now an exception when it occurs and not the norm - requires an explanation. Muslims need to confront their record on this matter, if they are going to break out of this cycle, by acknowledging the problem, understanding what are the sources of such violence, and then engaging in that brand of politics which will guide them into a democratic future and allow them to construct an alternative vision of Islam than the one that has been so destructive and counter-productive in the making of their history.
Given the never-ending Muslim on Muslim violence that we see ongoing throughout the world, and especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Sudan, it's time to revisit a couple of Salim Mansur's writings which include "Muslim on Muslim Violence - What drives it," and "Islam's worst enemies: Extremists' violent perversion of religion threatens us all."

Mansur is a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, and a Muslim, who believes that Muslim violence against Muslims is a symptom of politics whose origins may be traced back to the earliest years of the history of Islam and Muslims. He writes that this history became a closed cycle of group solidarity and tribal politics, and its victims continue to be Muslims who accept this history as the norm. He also says that an escape from this history is possible, however "'useful idiots' (in Lenin's memorable phrase) give pause to the vast majority of Muslims -- in particular those in North America and Europe -- whose silence in the face of evil feeds the bloodlust of Muslim terrorists."

The internal war within the Muslim world, which is as old as Islam itself, went savagely global in the final decades of the last century. On 9/11 this internal conflict among Muslims erupted inside the United States, awakening America to the international menace of radical Islam in much the same way as Japanese militarism did 60 years earlier at Pearl Harbor.

But there are legions of Americans and Europeans, with supporters elsewhere in other continents, who are wilfully blind and deaf to the reality of radical Islam that Bush has sought to make plain in his public remarks.

They continue to insist that the violence of Muslim terrorists, despite being despicable, must yet be explained by reference to some "root causes" linked with the history of Western colonial imperialism.

Hence, these "useful idiots" (in Lenin's memorable phrase) give pause to the vast majority of Muslims -- in particular those in North America and Europe -- whose silence in the face of evil feeds the bloodlust of Muslim terrorists.

Bush is right when he says the "murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century." It can only be met successfully, however, if we have learned sufficiently from 20th-century history.

In his "Muslim on Muslim Violence: What drives it?", Mansur drives these points home more forcefully, while displaying his knowledge of the historical basis of Muslim on Muslim violence (as well as upon non-Muslims):

Muslims in general have refused to critically examine this period to understand how the evolution of their history was shaped by events of those fifty years. Instead a culture of denial took shape, and the majority of Muslims have continued to live in a traditional world of politics where tribal instincts of clan solidarity prevail and politics is predominantly a calculus of honour-shame that binds one clan, one tribe, one nation against another. In tribal politics an individual is inconsequential, and the highest regard is placed for maintaining the collective reputation of the tribe in respect to other tribes. This politics of denial and of group solidarity allowed the murder of Husain and his family go unanswered might be labelled as the Karbala Syndrome.

Ibn Khaldun wrote his penetrating works on the philosophy of history some 700 years after Karbala. In Al-Muqaddimah he offered his theory of `asabiya, or group solidarity, to explain the rise and fall of Arab dynasties. In Aziz Al-Azmeh's reading of Ibn Khaldun, there is a teleological destiny of `asabiya to establish rule of the group, the clan, the tribe over others: "the subjugation to its will of an ever-widening circle of groups with a progressively more obscure and higher tie of kin to the central group which is exercising leadership, a subjugation as if by suction into a vortex whose centre is progressively elevated from headship to kingship to the state."9 This is a fine description of the `asabiya of Saddam Hussein and his Tikriti clan that squeezed Iraq and its people for all their worth.

In Ibn Khaldun's view the transformation of the office of the successors to the Prophet, the khalifat, into kingship occurred as a natural decline in the quality of faith among believers and the compensating increase of `asabiya. Ibn Khaldun wrote: "A change became apparent only in the restraining influence that had been Islam and now came to be group feeling and the sword... Then, the characteristic traits of the caliphate disappeared, and only its name remained. The form of government came to be royal authority pure and simple."10 The Quran is, however, categorical about the nature of faith among the Arabs of the desert (49:14). The Quran declared that the desert Arabs merely submitted to the reality of power, since faith had not penetrated their hearts.

... Those among believers who understood Islam as an inner journey towards God gradually distanced themselves from the world of power and politics. They came to be known as sufis by reference to their simple garments of wool (suf), and through their efforts Islam was carried deep into the lands of Asia and Africa.11 The spread of Islam in India, for instance, was more the work of sufis than men who wielded swords.

... In all of the violence and counter-violence among Muslims, between those who control the state and those who are in opposition, the one common element has been the appeal to Islam as Muslims have engaged in the killings of Muslims. The abuse of religion in such a manner is not confined to Muslims only; Christians have their own history of violence. But the intensity and persistence of Muslim violence against Muslims - the intra-Christian violence is now an exception when it occurs and not the norm - requires an explanation. Muslims need to confront their record on this matter, if they are going to break out of this cycle, by acknowledging the problem, understanding what are the sources of such violence, and then engaging in that brand of politics which will guide them into a democratic future and allow them to construct an alternative vision of Islam than the one that has been so destructive and counter-productive in the making of their history.

... Muslim violence against Muslims is a symptom of politics whose origins may be traced back to the earliest years of the history of Islam and Muslims. This history became a closed cycle of group solidarity and tribal politics, and its victims continue to be Muslims who accept this history as the norm. An escape from this history is possible if Muslims can imagine what the alternative history of Islam and Muslims might have been if the successors to the Prophet had chosen a different path than the one that led from the portico of Banu Sa`idah to Karbala.

It is this final point of these excerpts that is of such great importance to Muslims and non-Muslims alike; when, if at all, will Muslims escape from the history of violence in Islam, and overcome the "closed cycle of group solidarity and tribal politics," the "everything for the ummah," and the politics of denial? When will the Muslim community finally cure itself of the "Karbala Syndrome"? For unless and until the Muslim community finds a cure for KS, in other words - makes up their minds that Islam does indeed need reform and finds a way to do it internally, the modern world (basically, the West) is under a grave threat to its continued existence as free and democratic societies.

We all need to realize just how serious the threat from the Islamists is, and how global terrorism is fueled by the intensity and persistence of Muslim violence against Muslims, and an ideology more appropriate for the Middle Ages than the modern world. Recalling Mansur's comment that the internal war within the Muslim world is as old as Islam itself, and that the international menace of radical Islam derives not from anything the West has done, we are not the root cause of the problem, rather, the root causes lie within Islam itself.

Once we acknowledge that this is the case, we can move on to solving the problems related to the jihadist threat. So far, we haven't done this, and there's no excuse for us having done so poorly at recognizing the threat has been with us all along. That this is the case is exemplified by a 2004 book by Olivier Roy, a Professor of Social Sciences in Paris, France. His books are found primarily in French and are a part of a growing trend of academics who theorize that Political Islam has failed and this surge of violence represents its last gasp. In his 2004 book, "Globalized Islam: The Search for the New Ummah," we essentially laid out for us what would happen - and it did. His book is reviewed in Strategic Insights, Volume IV, Issue 7 (July 2005):

... Understanding where the Islamic militant movement is going and exploring various scenarios is vital in today's military studies. His book is an exploration of how Islamic militancy has become infused with Third World theories, Marxism, fascism, and nationalism. It cannot escape the whirlwind of ideas that has drifted over the decades into the Middle East. All militant websites seemed to urge for a peripheral jihad in the frontiers (Chechnya, the Philippines island of Mindanao, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kashmir) and for an imaginary ummah (Islamic society) in which they hold dominion under the guise of piety. He points out that many of these websites originate not from the periphery but from Europe, Malaysia and even North America areas in which there is access to technology. This is a key observation: for the Islamic militants, a cell requires access to free societies and western technologies to propagate and acquire tools for their rejectionist movements. The author also debates whether Al-Qaeda is a strategic threat or merely a security problem. He observes that Islamic radical ideologues like Qutb, Banna, Zawahiri and Al-Mauwdudi found more of a following in young educated youths in their early days of promoting their militant ideas than the traditional ulama (clergy). Yet in 2005, these ideas could become more main-stream if not checked by a Muslim counter-argument to the insanity of jihadic rhetoric.
Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, away from a newspaper or a television set, and have had not a single person to converse with, you are well aware that "a Muslim counter-argument to the insanity of jihadic rhetoric" hasn't been offered from the Muslim community, and so far, there is little promise of it being forthcoming in the near future.

Until then, until a great vociferous cry of outrage against jihadism comes flowing out of the Muslim community as a whole, Muslim on Muslim violence will continue, Muslim on non-Muslim violence will continue, and the insane pursuit of the caliphate and world domination by Islam will remain the "as of yet unchecked" sick dream and pursuit of islamic extemists and much of the Muslim world.

Cross posted from Hyscience



Posted by Richard at October 4, 2006 8:55 AM





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