Islamic Fundamentalism – Birth and History

UI – Part 221a – Islamic Fundamentalism – Birth and History

When I hear the term “Islamic Fundamentalism” what immediately comes to mind is ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘Wahhabism’, ‘Egypt’, ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Saudi Arabia.’  Also, an essential term ubiquitous is ‘Political Islam.’ Other terms also pop-up such as ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘terrorism’, ‘Allah’, ‘Sunni’ and ‘Muslim.’  What about you?

The Head of the Snake

The Head of the Snake of Islamic Fundamentalism today is the Muslim Brotherhood.  I cannot identify the titular leader of the whole of the Brotherhood.  There are, however, many factions, many influential historical persons, much history, and a concern over the intentions of this organization and what people, nations, should do in dealing with the Brotherhood.

All associations affiliated with the Brotherhood are to be a concern, to be watched, listened to, and to be properly identified. The most troublesome is and will be the youth groups on university and college campuses.  These are training centers where religious Islamic education is emphasized.  The goal is a worldwide all for Allah, under Sharia Law in a Wahhabist format, with Israel eradicated and Western ideals made past history.

When it comes to Muslims, and this will be repeated in my blogs, the extremists, the fundamentalists are opposed, violently opposed, to moderates, nationalists, centrists, and secularists.  They are intent on eliminating, thru assassination or other militarily harmful actions, those factions within Islam today that are against theocracies.

America might remain as the only base for Christians,  that is if Europe and the United Kingdom never experience a reawakening of their Christian heritage.  Even though the US Government is secular in structure, its nationalistic pride, love of freedom, to include freedom of religion, may afford protection for a future. It can never forget, I contend, however, its Christian biblical underpinnings.  In Europe and elsewhere any expressions of belief in Christ as savior will be relegated to the underground if the people themselves cannot restore their faith in Christ.

There is a resistance movement in America which cannot be ignored.  Atheists resist any reference to God, having their own no-god religion, and appeal to the politically correct by legally challenging anything that features a cross, the ten commandments, ‘under God’, and other religious symbolism.  They claim it is verboten to display anything they considered religious, which they object to, on public lands.  To thwart their efforts will take an American voting base that understands the traditions, the foundations and the meaning of our Constitution and a godly belief in formating the strongest moral fiber a nation can have.  America needs to bring a leader into the oval office that loves and respects America and its history.  A leader who has a relationship with our Lord and Savior and can apply his/her knowledge, cutltural understanding and skills to unifying a nation, a melting pot of beliefs, under our Flag.  There is nothing wrong with Patriotism.  The exit door will always be open to those who do not feel the same about this Country.

As all persons have a sense of God in their lives, some more strongly than others and some in denial, Russia may also realize a need to allow Christians to emerge from their hiding places and grow within its vast territories.  Russia has mastered to an extent a control over religions, as well as a distain for religions as a body that can threaten their communist ideas; yet as a secular culture they may find opening the doors to all faiths rewarding, especially in countering the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and its political emphasis within its borders.

When a religion, more an ideology, such as Islam as spread by the Islamists, becomes dangerous to the security of all people, threatening lives, it is then that the people must act to curb such an unhealthy intrusion into the lives of others.

The Financier

Who is the financial backer for the growth and establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood and its bases for educating adherents?  It is and has historically been Saudi Arabia and the monarchy that created this Theocratic Islamic Nation where the most severe form of Sharia Law is practiced.  It is cash from oil exports from the Middle Eastern countries with vast quantities of oil still to be realized.  After the oil embargo in the 1973-1974 timeframe a significant increase in the price of oil only enabled the Saudi’s to increase its expenditures to expand Wahhabism through the fundamentalist movement of the Ikhwan – the Muslim Brotherhood.  They became a vessel and tool of the Saudi consciousness towards Islam.  After the Afghan war the Brotherhood discovered a military might that it could also put to use to exploit its goal. Al Qaeda is the member that is most identifiable, but there are many other spin-offs.

The Saudi’s recently supported the ouster of Morsi and the military position in Egypt.  Was this resistance towards the Muslim Briotherhood?  I do not have that answer, but suspect Morsi was moving too quickly, and violently, to impose Islamic Law while at the same time caring less as to the economic future of Egypt.  His methods were  untenable to those more patient in establishing a world All for Allah.  It may be the case that Morsi’s Islamic Law and teachings were at odds with Wahhabism as promoted worldwide by the Saudi’s.

Where are the schools of learning?  It is the mosques built with Saudi dollars with the stipulation that Wahhabism be a major component of the teaching and lecture series conducted, and the laws emerging from Wahhabism be defined as Sharia.  The Saudi’s have supported the Brotherhood from its beginning in 1928 in Egypt, and even prior, indirectly, when the Ikhwan were a religious element in the monarchy in the 19th century.  Then we have the Muslim World League founded in the 1960’s by the Saudi’s Islamist activists.

Islamic Awakening

The roots of fundamentalism were first put down on the Arabian Peninsula. To bring the dessert tribes out of a state of confusion, and ‘ignorance’, in Muhammad’s own words, Muhammad had an epiphany of a sort and began preaching in his hometown (Mecca) that all those who lived on the Peninsula should be of one faith, respecting and worshipping one God.  For years he was as a street corner barker proclaiming but one god.  He requested his people should retreat from worshipping many to embrace the true god.  He was shunned and persecuted by those preferring to be left alone.

Eventually he moved to what is today Medina and continued his quest with followers and a more receptive audience.  Where there was resistance his patience was diminished to the point where a more violent approach to altering the views of non-believers, conversion, became the norm.  His brotherhood, you can call it that, grew, enjoyed the spoils from raiding caravans and displacing non-followers.  When he died, with no named successor, the choice to take up his cause fell to close Companions and his youngest wife, Aisha.  Her father, Abu Bakr, became the 1st Caliph.

Taking Muhammad’s collection of warrior/followers, the chosen successor and those that followed took the practices of Muhammad beyond the Arabian Peninsula.  Those vanquished were informed their new overlords succeeded as god’s (Allah’s) chosen and became subject to new laws, new authority and new requirements to continue living.  As the successors (Caliphs) continued and expanded their empire for god, their god, Allah, the foundations for the ideology of Islam were established.  The methods to spread this ideology as a religion, under the cloak of Allah, became part of the history of Islam.  Violence was and is a component of the growth of Islam.

From the time of the death of the Prophet, 632 CE, Islam grew with new followers, by way of conversion of the vanquished, and children born into the families of the conquered and conquerors as a cultural body of followers of the prophet.  There was no uniform religious beacon except for the one that began to shine centuries later as the Ottoman Caliphate became central to the whole of the ideology, while separate countries established their own nationalism.  The words of the prophet and the ideology spread as poems were shared and the heritage of the followers was related.

More than a hundred years after the prophet’s death a few began to publish documents claiming they contained the ways of the prophet and words spoken by him, as well as a collection of the laws and expanded detail that might explain more fully the Quran.  The Quran was and remains hard to interpret, as well as incomplete as many who had potential to recall specifics died in battle before their memories were tapped.  But enough was being made available that Islam could be better defined and the laws more clearly articulated by scholars or academics who took the time, many as their vocation, to lead the people in the mosques where they worshipped.

Abdul Wahhab

In the early 1700’s a scholar who formulated his own interpretation of Islam, Abdul Wahhab, began to travel and spread his views, the Muslim Billy Graham of his day, visiting as much of the Muslim world as he could.  His home base was the Arabian Peninsula. From Robert Dreyfuss’s book[i], The Devil’s Game, he writes,

“In the middle of the eighteenth century, an itinerant Muslim preacher, sort of an Arabian Elmer Gantry, began crisscrossing the northern reaches of the peninsula and the Fertile Crescent, from Mecca and Medina to the al-Hasa Oasis in the east of Basra, Baghdad, and Damascus.  Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, born in 1703, was not a city dweller, and he didn’t bother with the kind of learning that occurred in the Arab world’s intellectual centers.  Spreading the Islamic version of fire and brimstone, Abdul Wahhab thundered that the Muslims needed to purge themselves of everything that had been learned since the days of the Prophet a thousand years before.  It was a revivalist movement in the classic sense, with eager followers packing tents thrown up by Abdul Wahhab’s organizers.”

This may have been the birth of Political Islamic Fundamentalism. A following grew along with a fervor of religious zeal with the dictates and interpretations of Islam according to Wahhab.

Saudi Arabia

Dreyfuss’s goes on to write, “Wahhab’s most important convert was the founder of the Al Saud dynasty.”[ii]   He was a conqueror in the vein of the Caliph’s immediately after Muhammad, “an eighteenth-century version of the Prophet Mohammad, conquering lands for Islam and imposing his faith on the conquered.”[iii] Abdul Wahhab, Ibn Saud, and their followers had the unfortunate habit of slaughtering anyone who disagreed with them and demolishing their cities, their mosques (places of worship), and their shrines.”  The descendants of Wahhab, called ‘the Teacher’, were “called the Al-Shaikh.”[iv]  Saud and Wahhab became a team (and remain so, basically) representing the temporal and the spiritual to the people of the Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia was born out of the collective conquests of the Al Saud family. It was 1932 when it was recognized as the Nation of Saudi Arabia[v]. It was a continuation of the Saud monarchy.  The religious zeal of factions formed and influenced by Wahhab, and an Ikhwan (Brotherhood) supported by al Saud in 1902, aided in the establishment of this dessert nation.  The Ikhwan became the fighting force for the Sauds.  The Wahhabs the religious guides.  Saud combined the two to create a Theocratic State and become the spiritual ruler of all the areas in his domain.  From Dreyfuss, “The Islamic fundamentalist movement that Ibn Saud rode to power was essential to the origin of Saudi Arabia.[vi]

Has Saudi Arabia changed in its intent, and with patience and abundant capital, imposing its Wahhabism, via support for the Muslim Brotherhood (the new Ikhwan) and goal of a world All for Allah.

Oil began to bubble in the Middle East at the end of the 19th century.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are the vessels for the largest deposits in that locality.  The wealth created by the oil aided the Sauds in their continued dominance in the Arabian Peninsula as well as the growth of Wahhabism by funding the Muslim Brotherhood and mosques throughout the world.

The oil wealth exploded after the oil embargo of 1973-1974, some claim 4 fold, and the Saudi’s made use of that money plying their influence, Islamic Wahhabism, and political Islam far and wide.

The Saudi’s are Sunni and the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood is greatest, if not predominantly, in the Sunni strongholds of the Muslim world.

More on this topic – Islamic Fundamentalism’s Birth – next week. This is the first of 3 articles on this topic (221a-221c)

Grace and Peace

[i] Devil’s Game, by Robert Dreyfuss, 2005, Henry Hold and Company, New York, pg.36

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid.  Teacher in Islam is al-shaikh.

[v] From Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932, although the conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud, referred to in Arabic as Al Saud. The Saudi Arabian government has been an absolute monarchy since its inception, and it describes itself as being Islamic.

[vi] Devil’s Game, pg. 44

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