Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

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The World’s New Order

Events unfolding since the dismemberment of the Soviet Union indicate the emergence of a new world order - a world order in which non-state and militant entities like Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Lashkar-e-Taiba, have come to play an influential role on the world stage. They have not only been able to influence the direction of the world events and the policies of the major world powers but have also forced the common man to bring about changes in his daily life.


The world powers, despite their abhorrence of these entities, have found themselves compelled to enter into negotiations with them. Russia held direct talks with Hamas after it won the Palestinian elections and a Reuters news report quoted a Hamas leader as saying that the United States and the European Union have been in contact with the militant group despite having listed it as a terrorist organization. Pakistan has never completely severed its relationship with the Taliban and it is believed that Islamabad also maintains some kind of a liaison with Al Qaeda.


The non-state players have used all possible tactics and have exploited all available opportunities to make themselves relevant for their constituencies. In Pakistan, Palestinian Authority territories, and Lebanon, these groups have successfully exploited the democratic process to transform themselves from non-state actors to elements of the legitimate government through participating in elections. 


Consequently in Pakistan, the groups and madrassahs that spawned the Taliban, empowered the Al Qaeda mentality, and successfully revived the institution of jihad, formed governments in two of the four provinces. The significance of their political success cannot be overemphasized as both these provinces, the Northwest Frontier province and Baluchistan, not only border Afghanistan but have been a hotbed of jihad against the United States of America. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri and other prominent Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding somewhere in this region.


The best example of how a terrorist group can coerce acceptance for itself by the international community is Hezbollah. Hezbollah was founded by the followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Iran’s Islamic revolution to spread their Islamist revolution in the world. It was also committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. 


Taking advantage of a weak and impotent central government in the country, Hezbollah has been able to entrench itself as the most powerful politico-military group in Lebanon. Iran has also played a very vital role in enhancing Hezbollah’s power. Tehran not only financed the group, but has also provided it with weapons, manpower and training. The latest Hezbollah terrorist attack of July 12, 2006, when it entered Israeli territory and killed three Israeli soldiers, kidnapped two others and began launching rocket attacks against Israeli cities, proved a non-state player’s ability to hijack a state’s sovereign right to make its own war and peace.  Many people now believe the latest Hezbollah terrorism is part of an Iranian plan to test U.S. resolve to fight terrorism and destabilize Lebanon. Chaos in Lebanon suits Hezbollah and its masters in Iran and Damascus perfectly as it gives them a chance to keep the world focus away from Tehran’s nuclear activities.


In Iraq, too, Al Qaeda-inspired insurgency has proven that without engaging the terrorists in a dialogue, the country will remain destabilized and in a perpetual state of an undeclared civil war.  The world has come to recognize that Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are quite capable of frustrating any effort on the part of the major world powers to affect peace and stability in the world. The United States and its coalition partners, despite their resources, have not been able to defeat a Wahhabi insurgency led by groups inspired by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi militia remains a force to be reckoned with and Ayatollah Ali Sistani continues to be the real source of political power in post Saddam Iraq.  Consequently, Iraq remains in the grip of chaos, blood continues to flow on the streets and the citizens are losing their life, honor and property without any hope of redemption.


The fact remains that in this competition between state and non-state players to establish their authority over men and material, non-state players have emerged as winners for many reasons, forcing the world to take a pause and ponder on the reasons behind their successes.  First, the Western powers, despite their resources, have not been able to find a single ruler who is sincere, honest, above corruption and law abiding to represent them in a world that is historically and traditionally suspicious of them. Pro-West rulers are too frequently known to be the most corrupt, tyrannical in their conduct of state affairs, and insincere toward the causes that they professed to uphold.


Second, the Muslim states, despite being rich and resourceful, have failed to fulfill their basic obligations. The common man in these parts has remained a destitute. He has no hope and no future and naturally blames the western powers for imposing incompetent and corrupt rulers on him.  There are many states, like Somalia, Afghanistan and Lebanon, where the writ of the state is either very limited or remains impotent. Such states provide an ideal shelter for a non-state entity to gain strength and develop.


Third, there are states, like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, who for their own reasons find it beneficial to support, and empower non-state actors to be used to advance their strategic causes in different parts of the world.  They have established agencies that take care of the destitute, helpless and needy. They provide jobs for the jobless, health care for the sick, education for the children, financial support for widows, and shelters for battered and abused women. By providing such basic human services, these non-state players win the confidence of the masses. Once they achieve a position of trust, they then exploit a trusting mind to work for their hidden agendas. Madrassahs, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are the most trusted institutions and groups in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood are loved by the people in their regions.

These religious extremists understand what people under an unrepresentative and corrupt government miss; they make sure to fill the vacuum. People feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward these agencies and find it rather impossible to betray them.


Over time, popular gratitude turns into an unflinching faithfulness, invested in such individuals as Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization. This trust makes it extremely difficult for the West to apprehend terrorist leaders.  These murderers abroad are playing the role of modern day Robin Hoods at home.  So long as these non-state players have a way with the masses, they will remain a formidable foe. This war on Islamist terrorism cannot be won by military means only. A way has to be found to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim masses.


Can we win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world? We can, but we must find a way to prove that we are their friends, not the source of their trouble. We will have to find Muslim leaders who are honest and who sincerely believe in an open and pluralistic way of life. And eventually we will have to free ourselves of the leaders and groups who have won our trust just to misguide us and ultimately destroy our way of life.

Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.