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How to Understand Islamism: Read What Its Leaders Actually Say

June 13th, 2013 - 1:39 pm

To read Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s 1984 book Islamic Education and Hasan al-Banna is to get an Islamic education. Nobody should be allowed to talk about Islam or political Islamism without having read this or similar texts. Just as Marx claimed in the Communist Manifesto of his movement, the Islamists, too, disdain to conceal their aims. Yet those who don’t read their actual texts, speeches, and debates and only read their public-relations disinformation know nothing.

It’s easy to see why al-Qaradawi is the leading Sunni Islamist thinker in the world today, the spiritual guide behind Egypt’s Islamist revolution. He knows how to express his ideas clearly and persuasively. Here is his depiction of the Muslim world before the rise of revolutionary Islamism to power and prominence:

Just imagine a waste land which has no sign of leaf or tulip or hyacinth far and wide, but which blossoms forth immediately with the first sprinkle of the rains of blessing, and fields of flowers begin to bloom. Lifeblood starts circulating in its lifeless body. …

The condition of the Muslim nation was like a wasteland in the middle of the fourteenth century Hijri (mid-nineteenth century). The pillars of caliphate had broken which was the last display of unity under the flag of Islamic belief. Islamic countries were breathing their last under the talons of capitalist countries like Britain, France and others, so much so that Holland, whose population was [small] dominating over the ten million strong population of Indonesia with the help of force and weapon. It had spoilt the face of Islamic decrees and putting Quran behind was busily engaged in its disrespect. Blind imitation of self-made Western laws and appreciation of foreign values had set over the lives of Muslims. The youths and lovers of new culture who were bearers of the so-called modern culture were particular victims of this. Western domination upon the field of education and means of communication was producing heaps of Westernized “Khan Bahadur” (honorable people) whose names were no doubt Islamic but brains were West-bred.

There is a huge amount to analyze in this passage. Notice his different angle on what, for the Western author, would be a tale of Western imperialism, and his different angle on the technological and organizational backwardness of Muslim peoples. Al-Qaradawi does not put the emphasis on Western strength or even on injustice, but on Muslim weakness. He does not flinch from facing the humiliations of the situation. He promises — as the Arab nationalists did sixty years ago — that his doctrine will bring rapid development and tremendous power. Like Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev once did, al-Qaradawi pledges to the West: “We will bury you.”

Islamism is a formula to turn inferiority into superiority, to make the Muslim world number one. It uses religion and is formed by key themes in Islam, but ultimately it has nothing to do with religion as such. This is a political movement.

Al-Qaradawi is not upset by recent U.S. policy, but by well over a century of Western policy. This bitterness is not going to be conciliated. The problem is not in Western actions — which, anyway, cannot be undone — but with the interpretation of these actions. They are seen as rooted in a desire to destroy Islam, as being based on a permanent enmity, and no gesture by contemporary Western leaders can lead to the end of this view. On the contrary — such things will be interpreted through the prism of this view as a trick, or as a sign of retreat and weakness.

Moreover, al-Qaradawi does not talk about the need for urbanization, the equality of women, modern education, and greater freedom as the solution. Indeed, his view is totally contrary to a leftist or liberal or nationalist Muslim, who would stress the need to borrow any ideas and methods other than purely technological ones from the West in order to gain equality and even superiority. Think of how Asia has succeeded — Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and now even China — through eagerness to blend borrowings, adaptation, and its own historic culture.

For al-Qaradawi, the issue is completely the abandonment of Islam.

Equally — while defeat in World War Two taught Japan to forget about military conquest, and China’s decades of relative failure taught it to change course — al-Qaradawi favors blood and violence, revolution, and totalitarianism.

Note, too, that al-Qaradawi is far more sophisticated than a demagogic firebrand. He does not criticize the Muslims who wanted to become Westernized. Rather he feels sorry for them, calling them “victims.” That’s how one builds a movement with a wider base of support, though the actual Islamists in the field rarely show such a tolerant pity.

Moreover, as a man of religion, al-Qaradawi feels no need — at least consciously so — to create a new ideology. Indeed, human action is not at all the fountainhead of their view of history. Nevertheless, al-Qaradawi refers to the movement as revolutionary. He knows that its goal is to seize state power and then to use that position and the compulsion it offers to transform the society.

More al-Qaradawi:

When circumstances reached this limit, God’s will came into action. He took over the responsibility for the protection of Islam. … To revive Islam, to put life in the dead spirit of the nation, and to carry it to the climax of success and development He chose Hasan-al-Banna who laid the foundation of the [Muslim Brotherhood] movement.

This passage is notable for claiming that al-Banna was divinely inspired, literally a prophet. If Muslim Brotherhood supporters honestly believe that, they certainly cannot deviate from diamond-hard hatred of Christians, Jews, and the West.

There is an important clue here, too. To say that al-Banna was divinely inspired implies that he altered Islam, moved it in a different direction. This would be an admission of heresy, since Muhammad is supposed to be the last of the divinely inspired prophets.

Here is a weakness of the movement. For a long time, conservative, traditional Muslims did view Islamism as heresy, but as it gains hegemony there are fewer and fewer such people. In Syria, for example, non-Islamist pious traditionalists in rural areas were transformed into Islamists. The combination of Westerners saying that Islam is merely plagued by a few extremists and those who say that Islam is inevitably radical keeps people from understanding this all-important reality.

Western observers often take for granted or discount the seriousness of a movement claiming that it is a direct instrument of God’s will. They are used to subverting far weaker contemporary Western religious impulses, or look at those from the past that crumbled in a test of wills with rationalism, modernism, material interests, and personal hypocrisy.

Yet if it is sincerely and profoundly believed that one’s worldview is a product of divine will (an attitude that not a single leader or party in any industrialized state does), this has profound implications. It means that you don’t sell out, get seduced by materialistic lusts, or moderate your ideas and goals except as a conscious, short-term tactical expedient that you reverse at the first possible opportunity.

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Top Rated Comments   
Appeasement of fanatics always, ALWAYS, results in disaster. Instead of half-assed spying on the Obama regime's domestic political opponents, we should be hunting down radical Islamists like the violent animals they really are.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, No, No! This "totalitarian convulsion" is not a deviation from a norm, it is a return to normalcy after "corruption" by the West. That's the entire point of the article: that Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s and the other Islamist leaders are conservative Muslims, seeking to return Islam to its basic theology. To see them as an aberration is to miss the whole point!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Some of us have studied what Islam is about, and it's frightening. The key thing to remember is that Islam means SUBMISSION, not peace. It is a theology that tells its adherents how to conduct themselves in every facet of their lives. It is hardly consistent with a society that practices self-determination.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (41)
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Until I see the "peaceful, tolerant and moderate" Muslims stand up against this war (at least in the United States) I have no reason to believe there is any good at all in the Islam/Muslim religion/faith. I believe it's a political/cultural stance, not a religious belief.
Their very own Bible teaches to mislead the infidel, gain his confidence and then convert him or kill him.
I haven't seen anything to tell me that the good Muslims are doing anything other than what they've been taught. so to me, they're not very good.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
http://oogenhand.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/yes-islam-can-change/

Islam didn't become more vicious, it became more vicious to us, to the West. Yes, Qaradawi does ascribe Al-Banna Prophethood, even if he doesn't realize it. Thus...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thomas Jefferson had it right. He formed the Marines and sent them to Tripoli to answer the then leader there who's comment that it was his/their due to capture and hold for ransom our sailors and our merchant ships. He quoted the Koran and precedent, in effect, blackmailing the infant US of A government just as other countries governments were being blackmailed. Dhimmies must pay the jizya(sp) because they are inferior and must also abide by Allah's Laws. Jefferson didn't think so and the 'Leathernecks' were born, named for the leather they wore around their necks to protect against sword slashes meant to behead them. The current government of the US of A obviously does not meet the standards of Jefferson and has not for the last 50 years or so. If we don't wake up soon and insist that our government faces the real and imminent threat of Islam, which has been at war with the rest of the world going on 1700 years now, we will ultimately also become a Muslim nation. God help us, but he only helps those that help themselves and the first step to our selfhelp is to educate ourselves.

Coeurmaeghan in Tentynine Palms, CA
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And then he turned right around and caved in the Treaty of Tripoli with the ridiculous "we are not a Christian nation" belly grovel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not quite Coeurmaeghan...
The United States Marine Corps traces its institutional roots to the Continental Marines of the American Revolutionary War, formed by Captain Samuel Nicholas by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775, to raise 2 battalions of Marines. That date is regarded and celebrated as the date of the Marine Corps' "birthday". At the end of the American Revolution, both the Continental Navy and Continental Marines were disbanded in April 1783. The institution itself would not be resurrected until 11 July 1798. At that time, in preparation for the Quasi-War with France, Congress created the United States Marine Corps.[30] Marines had been enlisted by the War Department as early as August 1797[31] for service in the new-build frigates authorized by the Congressional "Act to provide a Naval Armament" of 18 March 1794,[32] which specified the numbers of Marines to be recruited for each frigate.

The Marines' most famous action of this period occurred during the First Barbary War (1801–1805) against the Barbary pirates,[33] when William Eaton and First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led eight Marines and 500 mercenaries in an effort to capture Tripoli. Though they only reached Derna, the action at Tripoli has been immortalized in the Marines' hymn and the Mameluke Sword carried by Marine officers.[34]

The term "Leathernecks" is derived from the article of uniform issue that the Marines wore during (and for a period time after) the War of Independence.

Other than that, not bad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They're not on a mission from G-d. They are on a mission from Allah, or my god of the Kaaba, also known as Sin, or Tammuz.

Now, let's continue letting millions of them inside these United States, so we can hurry up, and die.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
An irrelevant point. THEY believe they are on a mission from the one true God. The sooner we comprehend that, the better off we'll be. People motivated by religious fervor do not respond the same way as people motivated by economic factors.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just like the NAZIS you could find out all about Hitlers plans by reading Meine Kampf so with Islam you can find out all you need to know about its world domination aims by reading the Koran and all about Mohammad by reading the Sahih aHadith. Read and learn what they are trying to stop you knowing and what the Left Wing moonbats are so ignorant of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A few years ago Raymond Ibrahim published " The Al Qaeda Reader ". He transcribed many essays of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It stuck me as some of the most calm, pious, almost angelic analysis of why people like me should be killed.

Those people are on a mission from God.

They are not Jake and Elwood, they are true believers. The obvious key is energy. If it wasn't for oil they'd make a great amusement park showcasing a very primitive human culture - their prophet was an illiterate pedophile, what the hell do you expect ?

After going on 40 years of " petro dollars " flowing through the world's financial system - who the hell do you think is calling the shots ?

2 logical alternatives as I see it. 1, a lot of dead people. When Iran goes nuclear, the countdown starts. It's the likely scenario. 2, We completely put these people under with new energy sources. Highly unlikely.

So, who are the ones who die. People like me ? Or them ?

In the mean time the little Dutch Boy and his friends are doing their level best to push the inevitable time line further to the right. Amazing work they do when you think about it. Enjoy living, I do. Success is the best revenge.

And besides, they have no idea idea who they're f...... with.

Beware the fury of a free people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Barry, I submit one way to take on those deformed souls, reprobates, scoundrels, scalawags, and similar ilk who clothe themselves in the cloak of Islam is to pay more than lip service to the Jewish Scholar written about here:

http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/06/08/how-a-jewish-lawyer-came-to-devote-his-career-to-protecting-christians-in-the-palestinian-territories/

The question is, how many in the US, indeed the Western world, is willing to do so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're so wrong when you said Islam has nothing to do with religion. The religion of Muslim world is tied closely to the politics of Islam - of the Muslim - world. They have a worldview, a religious point of view, a political point of view. politics and religion is one in the same
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Precisely. The religion of Islam demands the formation of a theocracy. Islam, by its very nature is a welding of the religious and political.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
NOT ISLAMISM, THAT'S ISLAM.

Al Qaradawi is the greatest Muslim authority recognized in the whole Sunni Muslim world.

Saying "Islamism" is just political correctness at its best and confuses the issues.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Appeasement of fanatics always, ALWAYS, results in disaster. Instead of half-assed spying on the Obama regime's domestic political opponents, we should be hunting down radical Islamists like the violent animals they really are.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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