Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Islam and End Times: The Confrontation of Ideology and Culture

On November 2, 1981, General Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina addressed leading Republican Party members at a luncheon in Washington D.C. In his address, Galtieri said: "The First World War was a confrontation of armies. The second was a confrontation of nations. The third is a confrontation of ideologies."


Today, four years after Galtieri's death, those words have developed a wider resonance as significant as Samuel P. Huntingdon's now-famous phrase and thesis from 1993, "the Clash of CIvilizations."


Huntingdon stated that the civilization clash will not be ideological, but cultural. Yet in the threat currently posed to the Free World, a cultural clash is being driven by extremist ideology. For most Muslims, Islam is cultural and rarely political, yet for Islamists, a ruthless political ideology is seeking to create conflict. The ideologues of Islamism draw from the cultural history of Islam, selectively interpreting religious texts to justify Holy War. By proclaiming a strict adherence to these religious texts, they aim to drive the cultures of Western freedom and the cultures of Muslim peoples into an irreversible conflict, certain that Islam will prevail. The methodology of Islamists may differ – from the political insinuations of the Muslim Brotherhood to the violent actions of al Qaeda – but the ultimate aim is still the same: subjugation of non-Muslim cultures through conflict.


Last November, General John Abizaid, head of U.S. CentCom, spoke at Harvard. He said:


"We must defeat the extremism of bin Laden and his associated movement. It's murderous. It's ruthless. It's very capable. It's got strength as a network unlike any nonstate actor [the world] has ever seen before. We've got to defeat it... Think of it as an opportunity to confront fascism in 1920 if only we'd had the guts to do it then. I believe that if we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we will move toward World War III tomorrow."


General Abizaid was discussing the need to prepare for a long war in Iraq. He said: "We can walk away from this enemy, but they will not walk away from us." He listed the three major challenges to the world – the conflict between Arabs and Israel, the rise of extremist groups and what he called "Shia revolutionary thought".


Last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran and a firm believer in "Shia revolutionary thought,” was in New York. His speech at Columbia University was not as well-received as he had hoped. Ahmadinejad may not be the most powerful individual in Iran, as that role is reserved for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. Despite this Ahmadinejad has, since his election as sixth president on June 28, 2005, been involved in implementing programs which have added to the instability of the Middle East.


Within Iran, he has used the vigilante "Bassij" group to enforce his policies at street level, and to mount fake "demonstrations" for media consumption. Since October 25, 2005, Ahmadinejad has ranted about "wiping Israel off the map" and he has denied the Holocaust (ideas he repeated at Columbia). His Revolutionary Guards, in which he formerly served as a commander, have set up a regiment of volunteer suicide bombers, called the Setad Pasdasht Shohadaye Nehzat Jahani Islam or Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign. This group has recruited inside Britain, and last year claimed 100 European members amongst a total of 56,000 esteshhadioun (martyrdom volunteers). Though trained to attack Israel, the U.S. and Britain, Israel is their main target.


In Iraq, frequent accusations have been made that Iran has been involved with fomenting sectarian violence. In March this year, Colonel Justin Maciejewski of the British Army claimed Iran was giving "sophisticated weaponry" to insurgents and "Iranian agents" were paying local Iraqi Shias to attack troops. These claims were repeated by Tony Blair in April. Just over a week ago, Rear Admiral Mark Fox, a U.S. military spokesman, named some of the Iranian weapons found in Iraq. These included the infra-red guided surface-to-air missile called the Miqsah 1, the RPG-29 rocket-propelled grenade, as well as Iranian rockets and armor-piercing bombs for roadside use.


Ahmadinejad has flouted IAEA directives and U.N. Security Council condemnations regarding its nuclear programs, and has continued to fund terror groups such as Hizbollah, as well as Sunni groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.


There is a deeply sinister side to Ahmadinejad's beliefs, which would explain his attempts to foment chaos in the Middle East. On Wednesday, November 16, 2005, three months after assuming the presidency, Ahmadinejad addressed senior Shia clerics. He spoke of his belief in the second coming of the messianic figure known to Shias as the “12th Imam.” He said: "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi... Today, we should define our economic, cultural and political policies based on the policy of Imam Mahdi's return. We should avoid copying the West's policies and systems."


Shias believe that this mythical individual is the same as the "Mahdi," a descendant from the line of Fatima (Mohammed's daughter) whose appearance is predicted in the Hadiths of Sunan Abu-Dawud and Muslim, but not in Bukhari nor the Koran.


The Mahdi who will appear at the Last Hour is believed in by many Sunnis and Shia, but belief in the Mahdi as the "12th Imam" is an exclusively Shia belief. The Shia split from the Sunni after the fourth Caliph, Ali bin Abi Thalib, husband of Fatima, was murdered in 661 AD and his son Husayn was killed in 680 AD. The Shia disagree with Sunnis about the succession of the Caliphs. Globally, 80% of Shia revere a line of succession of the individuals they consider to be the 12 true imams, and thus are called "Twelvers." Iran since 1979 has officially followed Twelver Shia ideology.


The last of these 12 imams was Abul-Qassem Mohammed (also called Hojjat ibn al Hasan), who was born in 868 AD and then is said to have disappeared in 941 – his "occultation." Some Shia believe that the 12th Imam will return from his occultation to rule the world as the Mahdi, and Ahmadinejad is one of these believers. A fiery conservative cleric who also believes this is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi. Before the 2005 elections, Mesbah-Yazdi issued a fatwa to the two million-strong Bassij, endorsing Ahmadinejad. This cleric has close ties to the Haqqani theological school in the holy city of Qom. The Haqqani seminary was formed by a group called the Hojjatieh Mahdavieh Society. This society was founded in 1953 by Mahmoud Halabi to counter the spread of the Baha'i faith in Iran. Banned by Khomeini in 1984, the group has been increasingly re-emerging from the shadows since 2002.


What should be of deep concern to all who watch Ahmedinejad's progress should be the belief propagated by the Hojjatieh Society and also Mesbah-Yazdi. The 12th Imam can only come out of his occultation to rule the world with justice after the world has been plunged into chaos. Four of the ministers in Ahmadinejad's cabinet were said to be Hojjatieh members. Before Khomeini banned the group, many of the non-clerical individuals involved in the 1979 revolution were Hojjatieh followers.


The 12th Imam is popularly believed to currently reside down a well at Qom. After Ahmadinejad's election victory, presidential aides officially denied a rumor that the president had ordered his cabinet to write a letter to the 12th Imam and drop it down this well. Ahmadinejad's actions, meddling in Iraq, in Palestine, colluding with Syria and North Korea, and using taqqiya to spread contradictory reports of his nuclear intentions/activities, appear designed to create chaos in the Middle East.


The Sunni Islamists are not driven by Messianic prophecies of a 12th Imam, but there is an element of a similar belief in an impending crisis, connected with "End Times" – Islam is under attack and its power has diminished because of the corrupting influence of infidels. By going back to the basic tenets of the Koran (which contains more than 100 verses referring to armed Jihad) they aim to spread Islam as it was spread during the time of Mohammed and his successors.


Though Islamists claim to act with a future purpose, they are looking backwards for their inspirations and for the sources of their grievances. Most of the Taliban follow Deobandi ideology. The first Deoband institution was founded directly after the Moghul empire in India was crushed by British imperialists. Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood four years after the Ottoman Caliphate was dissolved on March 3, 1924. Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem after lands perceived to be "Muslim" had been incorporated into Israel. It was founded by an Islamic jurist whose family had been judges in the defunct Ottoman empire. Salafism began in 19th century Egypt when the country was under control of the British, and aim to recreate the deeds of Mohammed's successors (al-salaf al-salihin, or "pious ancestors"). Al Qaeda are continually referring back to the Crusades in their broadcasts.


One former colony of Islamic imperialism in Spain, known as al-Andalus lasted from the 8th century until 1492, when the last Moors were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Al-Andalus has featured in al Qaeda's messages. In October 2003, five months before the March 11 2004 bomb attacks at Madrid, which killed 191 people, Osama bin Laden directly called for the return of Al-Andalus to Muslim hands. Javier Zaragoza, a senior Spanish prosecutor, blamed bin Laden's message for inspiring the 2004 bombings.


In April this year, the terror group Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC) issued a statement proclaiming that: "We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus." This month, an 80-minute video was released by al Qaeda. In this, Ayman al-Zawahiri again referred to al-Andalus. He said: "O our Muslim nation in the Maghreb (north Africa) restoring al-Andalus (is impossible) without first cleansing the Muslim Maghreb of the children of France and Spain, who have come back again after your fathers and grandfathers sacrificed their blood cheaply in the path of God to expel them." The Spanish colonies in the Maghreb are Ceuta and Melilla, which have high Muslim populations.


Islamists desire to "reclaim" territories they historically conquered, but the ideology of Islamism goes beyond issues of territory and history. Understanding the ideology behind Islamist aspirations also requires comprehension of the "prophecies" and mythologies of Islam.


Most Islamists want Israel destroyed. Jerusalem is said to be a sacred Muslim place because it was from here that Mohammed ascended to heaven on the back of a burak (a winged horse or donkey). Yet Mohammed never conquered Jerusalem, and had not even set foot in the place.


The tenuous link connecting Mohammed to Jerusalem involves a dream, the "Night Journey" mentioned in Sura 17:1 and 17:60 of the Koran. In this dream he is taken to the "Masjid al-Aqsa" or "the farthest mosque." There was no mosque in Jerusalem during his lifetime, and Egyptian writer Ahmad Muhammad 'Arafa has argued that the "farthest mosque" was a reference to Medina, not Jerusalem. The present Al-Aqsa Mosque (Dome of the Rock) was constructed in 691 AD, 55 years after Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and 59 years after Mohammed died. A Bukhari hadith, written down in the 9th century, states clearly that Jerusalem was where Mohammed made his "Night Journey." Mohammed's kinsmen did not believe his claims, so he again described Jerusalem from a vision which Allah conveniently provided.


 Despite never physically visiting Jerusalem. Mohammed is said to have ordered that Muslims should pray at Bayt al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem), and if not able to reach there, they should send oil for lamps. The symbolic importance of holding Jerusalem was maintained during the times of the Crusades against Christians who saw Jerusalem as their Holy City.


Islamists' contempt for Israel and Jews touches on issues embedded within Muslim eschatology. Bukhari stated: "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, 'O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!'" Imam Muslim has similar Hadiths: "Ibn 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me); kill him."


Mohammed's prophecies mostly involve the events to come at the end of the world and the day of judgment (Qiyamah), and are recorded in the Hadiths. The fighting against Jews is one of the many "signs" of the final days. Islamist ideologues are fully aware of the end-time prophecies, and are working to implement them.


Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the "spiritual leader" of the Muslim Brotherhood. He uses Muslim prophecies to inspire his followers. He wrote of the conquest of Constantinople (predicted in Hadiths) and added:


"Nowadays, the conquest of the other city Romia [Rome] remains unfulfilled. Namely, Islam will return once more to Europe as a conqueror and as a victorious power after it was expelled twice from the continent....I assume that next time the conquest [of Europe] will not be achieved by the sword [i.e., war] but by preaching (daawa) and spreading the ideology [of Islam]....The conquest of Romia [Rome] and the expansion of Islam will reach all the areas where the sun shines and the moon appears [i.e., the entire world]....That will be the result of a planted seed and the beginning of the righteous Caliphate's return....[The Islamic Caliphate] deserves to lead the nation to the plains of victory."


Qaradawi is referring to a hadith by Muslim, which claims that the last hour will not come until 70,000 persons advance upon Constantinople but “they will neither fight with weapons nor would shower arrows but would only say: ‘There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest,’” causing it to fall into their hands.


Al Qaeda already has a plan by which global conquest will be achieved. Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein interviewed Seif al-Adi, an al Qaeda planner, for a book entitled "Al-Zarqawi: The Second Generation of Al Qaeda," (published in Arabic). The Egyptian terrorist's description of Al Qaeda's seven-point strategy was described in Der Spiegel in 2005.


Stage 1 – the "Awakening" – involved provoking the U.S. to wage war on the Muslim world, and had already been "achieved." Stage 2 – "Opening Eyes" – began in 2003 and involved making the world aware of Islam. Stage 3 – "Arising and Standing up" – was expected to last from 2007 to 2010. This would involve a focus on Syria and would also include attacks against Turkey and Israel. Stage 4 – From around 2010 to 2013, Arabic governments would be destabilized to make them collapse, with attacks upon oil supplies and cyber terrorism against the U.S. Stage 5 – around 2013 to 2016, an Islamic Caliphate will be declared. Stage 6 – from 2016, the Caliphate will instigate all-out war between believers and infidels. Stage 7 – around 2020, the world would be browbeaten in submission, and Islam will have won.


The timeline seems overly optimistic. Assuming Hussein's source is truthful, it is interesting to note that Syria and Turkey should be a focus for battle in Stage 3, as these are mentioned in Islamic prophecies. According to Imam Muslim, the last hour would not come until Romans (Christians) would arrive at al-A'maq or Dabiq in Syria. An army from Medina would meet them, and the victors would go on to conquer Constantinople. Secular Turkey is blamed for the 1924 dissolution of the last Caliphate, but "Turks" are specifically mentioned as combatants in the events of the last days.


Bukhari states: "Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Turks; people with small eyes, red faces, and flat noses. Their faces will look like shields coated with leather. The Hour will not be established till you fight with people whose shoes are made of hair."


Many of the details in Islamic eschatology are common to other faiths. Religion will decline, with mosques in conflict and no imams available, there will be earthquakes and smoke. The Mahdi will appear, and will give people money without counting it. Another figure, the Dajjal (a sort of Antichrist) will appear, but will be defeated by the Mahdi. Christ will return, but he will wield a sword, unlike the Biblical Christ, and he will “kill pigs.” Once all the signs are fulfilled, there will be no infidels left on earth, and Muslims will live happily for an unspecified time until their Resurrection.


Ten signs will appear:


"land-sliding in the east, and land-sliding in the west, and land-sliding in the peninsula of Arabia, the smoke, the Dajjal, the beast of the earth, Gog and Magog, the rising of the sun from the west and the fire which would emit from the lower part of 'Adan... out of the ten one was the descent of Jesus Christ, son of Mary (peace be upon him), and in another version it is the blowing of the violent gale which would drive the people to the ocean."


A rough chronology of Islamic end times can be found here. Prophecies can be made to fit any number of real world scenarios, if one chooses. But the eschatology of Islam, as described in the Hadiths, needs to be understood if we in the West are ever to face down the threat of Islamism, which believes in these ideas, and attempts to put them into action.


 It could be argued that, much as Millenarian ideas took root at times of crisis, such as the Black Death, or the cult of the Arapaho Ghost Dancers in the 19th century arose at a time of certain defeat, Islamism's ambitions are born out of desperation. Al Qaeda has tried to mount spectacular attacks and draw attention to itself, but within its hierarchy there appears to be some disagreement between bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.


The Muslim Brotherhood has tried to present a more "moderate" front, and has already managed to gain favor in Western circles. U.S. politicians such as Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have met Muslim Brotherhood political leader Mohammed Saad el-Katatni in Egypt. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office supports "engagement" with the MB. In France, the third largest Muslim representative group is the UOIF, founded in 1983. This is a MB organization and has been praised by Nicolas Sarkozy, who is now France's president.


In the 21st century, many Western politicians do not appear to understand the true agenda and ideology of Islamism. They mistakenly believe that negotiation with Islamists is possible, as if these do not have an intransigent agenda, designed to infiltrate or weaken the West. Islamists have failed to influence so-called most "Muslim countries" to accept their ideology, yet the West accepts Islamists' "advice" at its own peril.


Since 2001, coalition troops have fought to give Afghanistan some measure of freedom and democracy. The Taliban allowed al Qaeda to freely operate on Afghanistan's soil, and encouraged Western Muslims to attend training camps to prepare for armed Jihad. Yet after six years of fighting an implacable enemy, Britain appears ready to capitulate to Taliban demands. In 2006 under the leadership of General David Richards, the British negotiated ceasefire deals with the Taliban in Helmand province. These deals allowed the Taliban to strengthen and re-arm.


Last Monday, Britain's Defense Secretary Des Browne claimed that the Taliban should be involved in future political solutions. He said: "In Afghanistan, at some stage, the Taliban will need to be involved in the peace process because they are not going away any more than I suspect Hamas are going away from Palestine." The Taliban has since released its 2005 "Constitution of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in which it states that its own version of Sharia would be held above any national laws.


Britain has no written constitution, yet in a sign of defeatism it is already trying to change its own domestic culture to accommodate Islam. This is happening under political pressure from "respectable" British Islamists. After the upcoming U.S. elections, a similar scenario could happen in America. In a war of ideologies, it is important for the politicians and people of the West to remember what their own ideologies are.


Failure to adhere to fundamental principles of belief will be the signs of weakness that will only strengthen the hands of those who have already declared that we are their enemies.


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Adrian Morgan, aka Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance, is UK-based writer and artist. He also writes for Spero News, Family Security Matters and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.


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