Hezbollah. Hamas. Taliban. Muslim Brotherhood. Al Qaeda. The names have become household words since 9/11/2001.
Though each group has an individual agenda, they each have at least one major philosophy in common; militant Islam.
Perhaps Leon Uris said it best in his novel The Haj when he wrote “before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world. And all of us against the infidels.”
What it really boils down to is the warlike nature of Islam against anyone who is a non-believer.
It doesn’t really matter what name an Islamic terrorist organization calls itself, the goal is the same, the elimination of all things non-Muslim.
Historically the contemporary attitude of these groups finds its roots in the 18th century when Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab established a return to the purest form of Islam as taught by the Prophet Mohammed.
Wahhabism is ferocious in its enforcement of a stark and ancient social code.
In 1744, Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of Diriyah, near modern day Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab made a covenant under which ibn Saud established the first Saudi state and ibn Abdul Wahhab determined its official creed. It was, in short, a political bargain: ibn Saud would protect ibn Abdul Wahhab and spread his creed, while ibn Abdul Wahhab would legitimize Saudi rule over an expanding circle of Bedouin tribes, which were subdued through a new jihad, or holy war.
With this political-religious alliance, tribal raiding could now be carried on as a religious cause. Significantly, ibn Abdul Wahhab legitimized jihad against fellow Muslims for the first time, and thanks to his military alliance with ibn Saud, he was allowed to duplicate the Muslim conquests of the seventh century at the time of the Prophet Mohammed.
Struggling for survival in the intense heat of a barren desert region, the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula relied heavily on tribalism as a way to endure. They trusted no one. Suspicion and paranoia were a way of life. That belief system still exists today, much as it did during the time of ibn Abdul Wahhab.
Tribalism was a serious problem for any Arab leader seeking to unify the Arabian Peninsula. One Middle East expert identified ninety-seven separate major tribes in the peninsula, and Ibn Saud needed a means to unite these highly independent groups. Wahhab made it his goal to renew Mohammed’s ancient and ruthless social code of the 7th century.
For ibn Abdul Wahhab, the pact with ibn Saud brought legitimacy to his war against fellow Muslims. Politically, ibn Saud took control of his now “unified” country.
Religiously, a group called the Ikhwan slowly evolved from Wahhab’s teachings, insisting that people live according to strict Wahhabi tenets. It was this “glue” that held the tribes of the emerging Saudi state together with its severe way of life.
As one source observed, “since the Ikhwan often came from Bedouin backgrounds which usually did not have extensive training in Islam, they tended to exhibit zealotry, if not fanaticism, in applying their newly found religion to their everyday lives.”
As a society, Saudi Arabia remains medieval in its outlook. It is not a complex, intellectual culture. The Kingdom retains many of its early tribal traditions. True, oil has made Saudi Arabia wealthy, but it is probably the least cultivated country in the Arab world. Were it not the birthplace of Islam or rich from the black gold beneath its sands, Saudi Arabia would likely still be a desert wasteland.
The Prophet Mohammed taught simplistic and brutal conceptions of social relationships and, a thousand years later, ibn Abdul Wahhab revitalized them. Saudi families are headed by patriarchs, and obedience to the patriarch is absolute. The only values that count in Saudi Arabia are loyalty and submission – first to Islam, then to the clan.
In recent months much has been written about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which evolved from Wahhabi teachings. Many have claimed the Muslim Brotherhood has become moderate in its philosophy, but a close review of its credo shows that nothing could be further from the truth. It features a strong message of Islamic militancy based upon brutality and intolerance saying, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; struggle is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.”
In essence, there is no such thing as Islamic extremism because Islam is, by definition, extreme.
Islamic fundamentalism? Yes.
Islamic extremism? No, because followers of Islam, as taught by both the Prophet Mohammed and by ibn Abdul Wahhab, are merely adhering to the original tenets of the faith.
As Robert Spencer, founder of Jihad Watch, puts it, “Islamic apologists often point out that Islam is not a monolith and that there are differences of opinion among different Islamic schools of thought. While there are differences, there are also common elements. One of the common elements to all Islamic schools of thought is jihad; to conquer and subdue the world in the name of Allah and rule it under Sharia law. The four Sunni schools of Islamic religious jurisprudence — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafei, and Hanbali — all agree that there is a collective obligation on Muslims to make war on the rest of the world.”
Regardless of what a militant Islamic group calls itself, they all have the same basic goal. Until the West is willing to stop being politically correct and recognize that Islamic terrorism is a violent, radical way of life, we are deluding ourselves into believing there can be viable solutions to the complex problems of the Middle East.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
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