Binladenism - The Heresy that must be Expunged
by Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal
In 2006, I wrote an article : The Heresy That Must Be Exposed in which I discussed the fact that this heresy had insinuated itself as a legitimate expression of Islam, and needed to be exposed.
With the escalating intensity of mindless vandalism, violence and terrorism continuing to wreak mayhem against innocent victims of all faiths, and with the concomitant Islamophobia this generates, it has become an urgent imperative for all Muslims to expunge this heresy as having absolutely nothing to do with the core values and belief system of Islam. Here are excerpts from the 2006 article:
“When so many innocent minds have been ensnared by, and so many innocent lives sacrificed to an ideology that now threatens the very foundations of the religion it has usurped, the condemnation of terrorism is not enough. While repudiating the notion that there is anything intrinsically “Islamic” about terrorism, only Muslims themselves can identify and expurgate the heretical dogma that has taken hold :that the slaughter of innocents is Islamically acceptable. This is the heresy that is now propagated as though it were a part of Islamic scripture, and is distorting the message and tarnishing the image of Islam.
The charge of heresy is a grave one. An individual who accepts Islam with the simple declaration of faith that God is One and Mohammed is His prophet, (short of renouncing Islam, or introducing subversive doctrines that contravene the fundamental principles of Islam), remains a Muslim till death. However, it does not require an expert of Islamic jurisprudence to recognize that any individual or group that calls for or commits the indiscriminate mass murder of Muslims, Christians, or Jews, as for example, what we are today witnessing in the internecine sectarian carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan (and now Syria and Libya) and seeks justification for such abominations in Islam, is guilty of the gravest heresy.
It is ironic that those who indoctrinate the ideology of hate and terror and market the ‘jihadist’ propaganda as though it were a part of Islam, were once lionized as the ‘mujahideen’ who rescued the Muslims of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. However,what once originated as a quest for justice and a liberation struggle against the godless communist oppressors has now become a mission of mindless vengeance against the free and innocent in any and every corner of the globe. Under the pretext of rectifying the injustices and humiliation that the “West” has heaped upon Muslims , the ‘neo- mujahideen’ have been able to package their criminal violence against innocents as a justifiable retribution (‘jihad’)against ‘oppressors’. They have propagated their mission as though it were sanctified by Islam, when in fact it is the total antithesis.
If the heresy is not expunged, there will be a generation of lost youth growing up in the belief that jihad (an intense personal struggle for self purification, but also a fight for one’s rights, freedom, justice and dignity) is the slaughter of innocent human beings. This is neither jihad nor Islam but absolute heresy, that can only bequeath a legacy of horror. Today’s heretical views threaten both Muslims and non -Muslims and are being prepared, orchestrated and hyped to unleash actions of devastating consequences unless they are recognized, challenged and neutralized. Thus instead of the sermon of hate, the countervailing message for the angry, disenfranchised, misguided and jobless potential recruits of the demagogues should be that the murder of innocent peoples is not jihad, but an act of heresy. This sentiment needs to be echoed across the entire spectrum of Muslim opinion and not from just the so-called ‘moderates’, portrayed as lackeys of the West.
Every Muslim who takes a stand against heresy must do so with an inner conviction emanating from a position of strength and not of weakness. He is doing it for no other reason than to please Allah. He is not an apologist for Islam and does not need to to ingratiate himself to the ‘civilized’ and ‘cultured’ ‘West’. His stance will not compromise his unyielding opposition to the neocon-driven so-called ‘global war on terror’, that has magnified the terrorist threat a thousand-fold and now threatens to extend into Iran. To reclaim his religion is to purify it from the contamination of heresy.”
Since 2006, the combination of a shell-shocked attitude of incredulity among most Muslims, a savage rage on the part of a small minority, and the zealous onslaughts of a broadening coalition of those with an anti-Islamic agenda, the Muslim world is drowning in a tsunami of extremism and of Islamophobia. The tectonic forces generating such a world-wide upheaval are the opportunistic violent eruptions of terror by any and all extremist entities linked to the ubiquitous ‘Al Qaeda’, and the reactionary tactics of the ‘Global War on Terror’.
Each energizes the other and the end result is the explosive Islamophobia we experience today. However, to contextualize the problem — it is not Islamophobia (as ‘savage’ and repugnant as it is) that primarily tarnishes the image of Islam and deracinates Muslim civilization. The image of Islam is tarnished by the inertia of Muslims themselves in confronting the cancer of Binladenism that has invaded the corpus of Islamic principles and values, and our procrastination/indecisiveness in eradicating it totally from within.
As far as the external forces that exploit the abject disunity, plain stupidity or mere impotence of the Muslim world, these merely reflect the opportunism of those who are ready to take advantage of this weakness. The extent to which the Muslim world is being destabilized and dismantled is simply a function of the free hand that those who wish to provoke a “clash of civilizations” are being given to move forward with their agenda. That there are some who have such an agenda is exemplified by the following barbaric comment, “We need to satirize and ridicule ....(Prophet Mohammed PBUH)...until the Muslims fly into uncontrollable tantrums, then ridicule them even more for their tantrums, and repeat the process until they froth at the mouth and steam comes out of their ears.” Such a destructive agenda has been drafted with a diabolic unscrupulousness by a cabal of Islamophobes who would be better categorized as neo-fascists because it is their supposed supremacism that they trumpet over the ‘savage’ Muslims.
But enough said about Islamophobic neo-fascists who have their own reasons for hating Islam. They cannot be changed, nor will they be changed because their stated goal is to totally eliminate Islam.
It is thus time for Muslims to take a stand. They must be more critically introspective about the intrinsic flaws and short-comings in their own systems of governance or lack thereof and respond to this existential threat. They need to evaluate the strength of their combined resources, analyze their needs, and utilize their resources as a God-given responsibility to share with their fellow Muslims and mankind at large. While some measures may be seen as long term goals, there is one that has an over-riding imperative. And that is the eradication of the greatest threat to Islam, the poisonous venom of the heresy of BinLadenism, and extremism that has spread to so many communities worldwide.
Bin Laden may be dead but his legacy lives on. Motley groups in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan who adopt this deviant ideology for a variety of reasons under different circumstances, are for want of a clarity of better understanding somehow linked to a phantom ‘Al Qaeda’ network, rather than as misguided reprobates who have been forced fed a diet laced with BinLadenism, and seek to find ‘justification’ for their hateful extremism in Islam.
As long as we continue to focus our resources on this nebulous entity that emerges like a hydra— every time we decapitate one module, another two appear — we are wasting our time. To get at the ideology that is represented by ‘Al Qaeda’ and other such extremist groups, Muslims must declare BinLadenism a heresy. Any potential recruit ( operating under any extremist name) seduced into performing acts of terror in the name of ‘jihad’ must get an immediate reality check. Terror is not jihad and it is against the principles of Islam. On this the Qur’an is categorically explicit, anyone who takes an innocent life will go to hell! This is the single message that has to be developed by the leaders of the so-called Muslim countries, not just in the US, and broadcast throughout the chambers of all mosques, schools, colleges, and media.
There should be no ifs and or buts in the unambiguous unconditional condemnation of terrorism as a direct outcome of the heresy of Binladenism which is savage and uncivilized.
The Amman Declaration, was an important first step in acting as a unifying force among different factions of Muslims, and undercutting the false foundations of terrorist ideologies. As S. Abdallah Schleifer wrote
The scholars repudiated the perverse and unqualified misuse of fatwas - the murderous equivalent of storefront religion in Islam (whose most outstanding practitioners are bin Ladin and Al Zarqawi) by first signing off as Sunnis and Shiites, on the fundamental validity of all the eight traditional and authoritative Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, adherence to any of which define that a Muslim is a Sunni, an Ibadi (a Sunni sub-sect to be found in Oman and Tunisia), or a Shiite, It was significant that as well as Iraqi and Iranian mainstream Shiite scholars, representatives of the smaller Shiite currents the Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan and the Bohra Ismailis , as well as the Shiite Zayidis of north Yemen, signed off on this document.
This is the key building block whereby these religious scholars and Muslim intellectuals have re-asserted the classic doctrine that only those trained and recognized as authorities within all of the eight schools of Islamic Jurisprudence have the authority to issue fatwas. By these standards, none of the outrageous fatwas issued by extremists that predate 9/11 and have been used since then to justify 9/11 and other acts of radical Islamist terrorism are legitimate.
This document will have an impact. It will be remembered as that moment in Amman when a broad, authoritative body of Muslim scholars decisively moved beyond those defensive condemnations or even evasions, like the mantra “Islam is the religion of peace” that have too often characterized our response to those acts of terrorism being committed on a daily basis in the name of Islam. And by terrorism I unequivocally mean the conscious targeting— wherever and by whoever— of unarmed civilians, that we may put an end to those sleazy moral equivalencies that have been invoked by defensive Muslims and even non-Muslim, left-wing Western apologists of terror committed over the past decade. It will be remembered as that moment when mainstream Muslim scholars acknowledged that terrorism was not only a security problem to be dealt with by state security agencies enjoying growing community support, but a theological problem within to be dealt with boldly by scholars and Muslim intellectuals.
This message needs to be taken to the masses, not only discussed among the intellectuals and scholars.
Extremists will seek justification for their abominable acts by claiming that they are responding to real grievances. Genuine grievances exist and need to be addressed, but no sane Muslim would agree that there is any provocation or grievance that can in any way provide one iota of justification for the ongoing mindless vandalism, violence, and slaughter of innocent people.
Sadly most of the governments of so-called Muslim countries are totalitarian, or in the process of restructuring themselves from the collapse of dictatorial and corrupt tyrannical regimes, but have yet to establish a viable and transparent system of governance in which law and order are respected. This is so painfully obvious in Libya, and is likely to be the tragic outcome in Syria. Many governments are self-serving and remain servile to their ‘supporters’ in the West who help to prop up their undemocratic regimes.
These ‘leaders’ are at best treated with condescension, and certainly command no respect for themselves or for Islam. Apart from their incompetence and their obscene self-indulgence, these ‘leaders’ leave their subjects or fellow Muslims in famine, poverty, illiteracy, joblessness, and suffering from a lack of infrastructure in healthcare, sanitation, education, industrialization, and a conspicuous absence of humanitarian outreach. In short the Muslim masses in most of these countries are living in a state of abject hopelessness and explosive resentment.
Nevertheless, even in such dire circumstances, the Qur’an is quite explicit about the civility it expects of its believers in times of adversity:
“O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do,” 5:8.
“O YOU who have attained to faith! Seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: for, behold, God is with those who are patient in adversity.” 2:153
[But whatever they may say or do,] repel the evil [which they commit] with something that is better: We are fully aware of what they attribute [to Us],” 23:96.
While all Muslims are expected to follow these injunctions with civility and trust in God, clearly fascists of whatever stripe are not bound by such constraints!
The obscenely rich and self-indulgent Muslim states (Turkey with Malaysia and possibly Jordan being exceptions) that act as vassals of the ‘West’ and at the same time propagate an intolerant version of Islam, and squander billions of dollars in high tech military hardware that can only serve in endless wars of self-attrition, are the root causes of the ‘appeal’ of BinLadenism, and the real problems Muslims face. For their servitude to their earthly masters they deserve nothing but contempt. For their wanton neglect of the rest of humanity (not just Muslims), they will be severely tested on the Day of Judgment.
It is a tragic irony that while Europeans struggle to prop up their economically hapless member states, the Christian right flaunts its political power despite being citizens in a country long steeped in the tradition of separation of Church and State, and some in the Jewish community unabashedly flex their muscles in support of Israel right or wrong, the Muslim nations behave like craven minions. When they are not annihilating their long suffering populations, they indiscriminately butcher one another, as they devastate their infrastructures, and in the process blight their great religion, prompting Islamophobic bigots to depict them as ‘savages’ that must be suppressed by “civilized” men.
In the rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiments, do Muslims have a lifeline to the moral high ground? Yes they do! That lifeline is to align their thinking and their actions with the true principles of Islam, (“Cling to the rope of Allah and be not divided.” 3:103), by sharing their goodwill and friendship with all of God’s creatures (“To each of you God has prescribed a law and a way. If God would have willed, He would have made you a single people. But God’s purpose is to test you in what he has given each of you, so strive in the pursuit of virtue, and know that you will all return to God ( in the Hereafter), and He will resolve all the matters in which you disagree,” 5:49).
This lifeline ensures the safety of all who believe in the Almighty and perform good deeds, so will it pull the plug on the purveyors of hate and evil - the BinLadenites as well as their symbiotic neo-fascist Islamophobic bed-fellows.
Lewis Carrol wrote of ‘cabbages and kings’, today fascists write about ‘savages and supreme beings’. What our current situation brings to mind for me is the profound observation by Jiddu Krishnamurti:
“It is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”.