Such is the enigma of American policies in the
In Spencer’s example, if a person in the West makes a statement saying “we need to build a “bridge” between our countries,” that implies unity and a good faith effort to seek harmony despite differing ideologies.
But look at the perspective of Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb who uses the same word, “bridge,” for an entirely different purpose. “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah (the society of nonbelievers) is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”
In 1981 Sheik Mohamed Abdul-Salam Faraq, an Egyptian radical, published a book called The Forgotten Obligation, which changed the meaning of an important word, jihad. In Arabic jihad means “struggle” which, as with so many words in English, can have many definitions.
Until The Forgotten Obligation was printed however, jihad was primarily interpreted by Muslims as their personal struggles through life. To be a truly pious Muslim there are five mandatory pillars which must be practiced: Shahadah (declaring this is no god except God and Muhammad is His Messenger); Salah (ritual prayer five time a day); Sawim (fasting); Zakat (tithing to the poor); Hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if physically and/or financially able to do so.
One of the attractions of Islam is its simplicity. A dedicated Muslim need only follow the five pillars and believe in the words of the Koran.
Farag’s book added a new dimension by creating a sixth pillar, jihad. Not the jihad of individual struggle, but violent jihad which uses passages of hate from the Koran to make them a virtue.
Though jihad is not one of the pillars of Islam, many followers have come to believe that to be a truly pious Muslim they must also practice violent jihad.
Two major Islamic events had the greatest impact on the problems we face in the
The first was the development of Wahhabi Islam in
Second was the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in
Because of this and our naiveté of the subtleties of the various factions involved, the best policy in
Meanwhile, there are things that can be done to minimize Islamic extremism at home. Already seven states have taken action,
The decision by
That would be a good start toward reducing a serious problem in our own country.
Meanwhile, we should be ever vigilant about gaining knowledge of the nuances of Islam in the Arab world by realizing we are being purposefully manipulated by ambiguity
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
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