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Clash of Civilization and the Moderate Islam

by Alamgir Hossain

07 Jan, 2006

There is an abundance of violent contents in the Koran as well as violent acts in the history of Islam. Prophet Muhammad himself had perpetrated unprovoked violence and barbarity against the Pagans and Jews of the Arabian Peninsula, which overwhelmingly justify the present-day radical Muslims' destructive acts of violence and terror against the non-Muslims and the so-called un-Islamic activities. These violence and incitement-ridden foundational elements of the Islamic faith feed Muslim radicals with inspiration to indulge in the violent acts of terror, we witness today. The teachings of the Koran and the Sunnah, which are thoroughly at odds with the Western values and ways of life, also act as a precipitating factor in fueling the conflict between Islam and the West. The readers should bear in mind that the genesis of Islam 14 centuries ago and its subsequent history to the present days is organically related to the heightened Clash of Civilization between Islam and West today. In this essay, I will the dissect the wider Muslim community and their psyche.

Most Muslims are Peaceful people

It is frequently being mentioned by political and community leaders and the common man of both Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds that the majority of Muslims are tolerant and nonviolent people. This indeed is true. Despite the world-wide scourge of blood-letting acts of terror and violence by Islamic radicals, an overwhelming majority of the Muslim populace do not indulge in acts of violence. It is estimated that only about 0.1% of the Muslims of UK support violence and are potential suicide bombers or likely participants in violent Jihad activities in various forms. Yet those Jihadis, who rammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon Headquarters on September 11, (2001) and bombed transportation systems in London on July 7 (2005), bombed trains in Madrid, nightclubs in Bali and elsewhere, represent the true legacy of Prophet Muhammad as per the history of Islam and injunction of the Koran. It is binding on every Muslim to keep fighting the infidels until all faith systems other than Islam are either annihilated or subdued (into paying Jiziya; Koran 09:05) as explained in an earlier section. The Prophet of Islam and the early superstars of Islam had followed this and other similar Koranic injunctions with absolute precision whereby they had exterminated and/or subdued the Jews, Christians and Pagans to establish absolute Islamic authority over vast parts of the world - spanning from India, to central Asia, to Middle East to Africa to Europe.

Yet, it is absolutely true that most Muslims do not indulge in violence today. That is not because of Islam but despite the incitements by Islam. It is because of their human conscience. It is also because of their learning from the life and works of generations of brilliant humanists, intellectuals and thinkers that this mother earth has created over the centuries and millennia. It is because of the response of their conscience to the progress in human rights, humanism, justice, nonviolence and compassion in our world. Those Muslims, who went to school to read Shakespeare, Gandhi, Buddha, Tagore, Voltaire, Kant, Aristotle, Socrates, Mother Teresa, Bertrand Russell, Einstein and many more great humanist social thinkers, are the ones who do not indulge in violence or preach hate. But those, who go to the Madrasas (Islamic schools) and read only the Koran and history of Prophet Muhammad's raiding expeditions and terror campaigns, are the ones engaging themselves in the acts of violence and terrorism. Still, those who take Koran and Sunna (Muhammad's actions and deeds) seriously despite their having a secular education (like the UK-born Omar Sheikh who went to fight Jihad in Kashmir and killed Daniel Pearl) - often indulge in such violence and terrorism. Most Muslims, who are nonviolent, either take religious teachings lightly or never have read the Koran with understanding or have secular and humanistic modern education alongside the teaching of Koran and Sunna and find greater rationality in secular humanistic values. They take Islam or religion in their life only spiritually. These are the Muslims who hardly follow Islamic rituals like prayers and fasting strictly. They are not serious and good Muslims but are the mere spiritual ones.

Yet, there have been some suicide-bombers who are known to have led rather loose life contrary to the real Islamic doctrine. One such example is one of young suicide bomber of July 7 attack in London who used to hide in back-alleys to sip beer with the local youths. Another such suicide bomber was the 32 year-old Jordan-born California man who had committed one of the most devastating suicide bombing in Iraq that killed 132 people and injured about 120. He used to live a very American life-style. Yet, all these bombers are known to have become more religious, more serious in religious rituals and withdrawn from worldly activities prior to becoming the suicide bombers. Thus it becomes clear that most Muslims are not violent because they are not serious Muslims - they are only Muslim in name and in selective rituals of convenience. Those who have taken part in all sorts of terrorist acts including suicide bombing have been very religious or have become so prior to their acts of violence. It is the real Islam that leads to radicalism and violence. The nonviolent majority of the Muslims are not the true Muslims - they are the secular, moderate, selective, pseudo or spiritual Muslims.

Moderate Islam: A Myth

Many modern secular education-groomed Muslims often claim that the current malaise of Islamic radicalism and violence that grips our world is not because of true Islam but due to misinterpretation of it by a minority of deviant radicals. They as usually claim that Islam is a religion of peace and harmony and those radicals have hijacked Islam for their personal agenda. They claim that Osama bin-Laden, his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Iraq) and the Taliban are not real Muslims, they do not represent real Islam and that they misinterpret Islam. Yet, these are the Muslims, who are highly proficient in the Islamic doctrine, including the knowledge of Koran, Sunna and the history of Islam. They thoroughly follow the standard rituals prescribed in Islam, including praying 5 times-a-day, doing fasting and performing hajj etc. without failure. Not only that but almost all the learned Muslim scholars and Imams, who lead a visibly religious life as per the standard prescription of Islam with conviction, are also known to interpret Islam the same way Osama bin-Laden and other prominent Islamic radicals do. The more interesting thing is that these radicals also mention passages from the Koran and examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad (Sunna) to justify that their violent actions and incitements are valid as per the true teachings of Islam. We have seen not a single Muslim - educated, moderate, spiritual or whatsoever - has ever refuted these proofs of Islamic bases for the violent and terror acts of the radicals. Yet, it appears that those so-called moderate Muslims - who are Muslims just because of their birth in Muslim family and who might not have read the Koran, Sunna and Islam's history at all or only in insufficient details (if at all) - are the ones overly enthusiastic to give verdicts on these radicals who are unrivalled in their knowledge and understanding of the Islamic faith. This is a case like an illiterate street vendor giving a verdict on whether "Einstein's Theory of Relativity" is correct or not.

This bogus claim of so-called hijacking or misinterpretation of Islam seems to have been successfully transmitted into the minds of the Western people and leaders by the claimed-to-be moderate sections of the Muslims. Even the British prime minister (PM) Tony Blair and the US president George Bush, who have been at the fore-front of the fight against the Islamic terrorists and radicals, also appear to have been impressed by such deceptive notions of the Muslims. They also think that Islam is actually a religion of peace but the present problem of Islamic terrorism is because of misinterpretation by the personal interest-driven fringe groups. Following the 7/7 terror attacks in London, Tony Blair went further to strengthen is conception by terming it as "poisonous interpretation" of the otherwise peaceful Islam. And to substantiate this claim, the British PM has a vast majority of the nonviolent Muslims to present as example.

However, most recently the British PM have become more straightforward and he has now coined the new term, namely evil ideology, which he considers as a vicious strain of Islam. This means that there exist elements in the theology of Islam from which this so-called "evil ideology" emerges. But discussion in the earlier sections in this commentary - under the subtitles "Islam and Peace", "Violence and Koran" and "Genesis of Islam and Violence" - clearly demonstrate that there are ample elements or incitements in the Koran, Sunna and the history of Islam that can easily form the basis of such an evil ideology right from the core if Islam. These elements are not remote but instead are overwhelmingly dominant in the Islamic doctrine. In other words, PM Blair's coining of evil ideology, in reality, stands for nothing but dominant theme of Islam which has been abandoned by the great majority of the Muslims. Thus in the true doctrine of Islamic theology, there does not exist anything like what is called moderate Islam since a violent theme dominates the scriptures of the Koran, the actions of Prophet Muhammad and the history of Islam. The presence of so-called moderate Islam or Muslims is, thus, nothing but a myth.

Bangladesh - an instance of Moderate Islam

Let us now examine some sample of what is called moderate Islam in more detail. The Western governments, including the UK and United States, have repeatedly called Bangladesh a model for moderate Muslim state. Yet in this so-called moderate Bangladesh, entertainment theatres and traditional cultural and entertainment events have been bombed over the last 7-8 years killing dozens of innocent people. Many secular writers and journalists have received Islamic fatwa for their heads or have faced death threats from fringe Islamist groups. There was a fatal assault on secularist writer and Professor Dr. Humayun Azad who died an untimely dead in Germany a few months after the assault whilst another prominent poet Shamsur Rahman was attempted for assassination. Yet another writer and poet, named Taslim Nasrin, upon a death fatwa fled the country and is now living in exile. One cannot express opinions critical of Islam openly in Bangladesh and a desperate minority of liberals and freethinkers keep mum for the fear of their lives.

Selling alcohol is banned in Bangladesh despite ~10-15% of her population are non-Muslims. If eating places are opened in the month of Ramadan (fasting), those are attacked and raged down by violent vigilantes. Even if a non-Muslims person eats something outside the confines of their houses during the fasting month, that person faces bodily assaults. The terrorists tried to kill the UK ambassador by bombing. Very recently, 65 Hindu families were evicted from their homes in Bangladesh ( and such events are rather the norm than exception. Women and girls of minority Hindu religion are often gang-raped in front of their siblings, parents, husbands and children. These acts are committed with almost absolute impunity as rarely someone is brought to justice for these horrendous crimes.

Such actions are designed such that either the people of those community will convert to Islam to avoid such violation and harassments or will leave the country because of the terrible shame. The Hindu population has fallen from ~30% in 1947 to ~10% now - thanks to eviction from their homes and properties and massive rapes of their women, which lead them to make a journey across the border to India. Millions of them have moved to India from Bangladesh and a steady exodus is on over the last few decades. Although these acts criminal violation and oppression failed to get many converts on the Bangladesh side, where Hindus chose to leave for India, it worked brilliantly in Pakistan where the Hindu population have been reduced from ~15% in 1947 to ~1% now mainly through conversion - not exodus across the border to India.

When the much disputed Babri Mosque was demolished by the Hindu zealots in India in 1992, each and every Hindu temple in Bangladesh was attacked and the idols there-in were smashed into pieces by the Muslim vigilantes. A few million Hindus took shelter in refugee camps as they were driven out of their homes. Hindu properties were looted and their women were raped - despite the fact that Hindus of Bangladesh had nothing to do with the issue in India. In the aftermath of 2002 parliamentary election, when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist alliance swept into power, the cadres of these parties went on a spree of rape and violence against the Hindu community who are traditionally known to vote for the ousted secularist party, the Awami League. One investigative report in the respected Daily Star newspaper in Bangladesh cited ~1000 cases of rapes in one district (Bhola) that included an 8 year-old minor girls to a 72 year-old grandmother. And no one was punished for this massive wave of heinous crime. This is the true color of a country that the Western Governments, including the UK and US, proudly call a "moderate Muslim state".

Most recently, this model moderate state has shattered all the speculations when an unprecedented 500 bombs where let off all over the country within 2 hours in amazing synchrony. This was followed by a wave of suicide bombings in the succeeding weeks. Such things happened despite the fact that Bangladesh in neither an ally of the US/UK in the war on terror, where the Islamist parties are in the Government in alliance with a pseudo-secular Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Neither did Bangladesh have any strong relationship with the US or UK during this Government's tenure. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Governments have formed strong alliance with the US and UK, there is absolutely no basis as to why there should be any suicide bombing in Bangladesh. The reason for these suicide bombings is to turn Bangladesh into a Taliban-style sanitized Islamic nation whose governance will be modeled after the governance policy of Prophet Muhammad and of the early caliphates of the 7th Century Arabia which will conform to the Koranic and Islamic laws (This again proves how relevant is the Koran and the history of the genesis of Islam to the behavior and actions of today's Muslim). Given these facts, Bangladesh could be easily termed as one of the most radical Islamic country in stead of a moderate one.

In reality, there is no such thing as moderate or peaceful about Islam. Indeed, there is only one Koran and one Prophet in Islam that form the basis of the true Islamic theology. There is no second Koran, which is moderate in teaching or a second Prophet whose actions were moderate and nonviolent. But the true Islam based on the contents of the Koran and actions of the Prophet of Islam represent a rather violent ideology, not a moderate or peaceful one. None of the Imams and Islamic scholars, who have been allowed to express their views freely, has disagreed with the on-going terrorist acts, including the justification of suicide bombings. Nor have any Muslim scholar been able to interpret those violent verses of the Koran to counter the justification of violent actions of the Islamic fringe groups. The religion of Islam is based on the ideology and legacy of intimidation, hatred and violence as per the Koran. Islam was initiated by its founder Prophet Muhammad on this theme and we have been experiencing the continuation and revival of that legacy of hatred and violence today at every step. Islam has crippled the lives and psyche of the Muslims themselves who have failed to contribute anything worthwhile in our modern world and yet have been destroying innocent lives and properties by violence and terrorism on a daily basis from India to Europe to USA to Africa.

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