UI – Part 404 – Islam in Conflict with Islam
There are two principle conflicts today in Islam. They are internal. This is not a reflection of the war between Islam and the West, per se, but more appropriately an Islamic war between fundamentalism and modernity as well as a fight to insure total control of the minds of those who claim to be Muslim. The battles are rooted in the Arab Middle East, from Iran to the Maghreb and from Yemen to Syria. The battles are also in Asia, where Islam dominates, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia. The battles also continue in Turkey and Kurdistan and the Caucasus areas.
One battle ground is with the populations, their make-up. It is between the young and the old, a division of youth versus the mature, between those employed and those unemployed. It is not an issue of education for both the educated and the uneducated find themselves on one side or another of the conflict. There is a cry to be free, independent and able to choose without being punished or incarcerated.
The other is a power struggle between factions, seen as Sunni versus Shiite, but even more than that. The Sunni vs Shiite problem exists in the government hallways of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Arabs versus the Persians. It is as the gulf, the Gulf of Arabia versus the Persian Gulf.
The Arab Spring revealed that the Arab youth see benefits in a democracy. Robert F. Worth, his book, A Rage for Order, noted, “Arab youth staked their claim to a democratic future in Tahrir Square.” (pg. 170) There in January 2011 voices were heard shouting, “Our freedom. Our freedom!” What they sense as a democracy is primarily free elections. However they also believe in their hearts that with free elections comes freedom, freedom from the oppressive, intolerant, restrictive nature of Islam and the police state that the Imams and mullahs desire for those they advise who in turn govern. They want to be free from the fusion of politics and religion. The nature of a ‘rightly guided leader’ is to be redefined, which would be in opposition to that which is embodied by the life and actions of Muhammad and the selection of the rulers after his death. The barrier to be overcome has theocracy on one side and a secular state on the other. The preferred secular nation would be one without naming Islam as the religion of the State. A complete separation of mosque and State is one objective; the other, the opposition, a melding of the two. The hurdle that must be overcome is that of the tenets of Islam itself. The texts from which scholarly interpretation flows allows little room to deviate if one wishes to remain or be called a Muslim. Calls for civil rights and decency in unity were as beaming a spotlight on a marque with in large letters, “secularism.”
A sign of progress could well be the emergence of tolerance by the people and the government, governments in what are today known to be Muslim dominant nations. The government’s tolerance would be reflected in an appropriate, rapid, response and punishment for crimes committed against non-Muslims. In addition sharia Law would not be common law, and more humane treatment of women and minorities would prevail. The burka or coverings for women would be optional and education of all children, boys and girls, would flourish. Lastly Christians would be able to proselytize, speak the name Christ and share the Gospel in public, in Muslim areas; and churches could be repaired and new worship centers constructed. Can you possibly imagine this taking place in Saudi Arabia, a location that is more reluctant to take in Syrian refugees than Europe or America, let alone open their doors to Jews or Christians?
Unfortunately, except for Tunisia, the desires of the revolutionaries have been dashed. A problem was the inexperience and preparedness of the throngs to take on the systems of running a Country. They did not have the connections, the contacts, to assume roles in providing electricity, water, trash collection, welcoming and ensuring safety for tourists, collecting taxes, overseeing the military, and the myriad of other bureaucratic functions. Loyalists to past regimes were knowledgeable in providing services and just waited for them to be needed. They tended to be older and indifferent, having enjoyed their salaries and power base above the expressed freedoms sought by the mix of social classes, activists and others gathered together chanting for change and modernity.
Given the opportunity the revolutionaries remain ready for modernity, “a modern state, the kind they have in Britain and Europe,” so said by a gentleman in Yemen interviewed by Robert F. Worth.
The Same Texts, Different Interpretations
For the Sunni and the Shiite interpretation of texts is a minor factor. What is important is who among the people can lay claim to the bloodline of Muhammad or who are the true scholars that can inform the world as to ‘true Islam?’ Must the scholars be Muhammad’s blood relative? Are the scholars, to be regarded as authorities in this ideology or religion, to be most knowledgeable as to the Quran, the Hadiths and the example of Muhammad, or are they to contain the DNA of Muhammad, received from his daughter Fatima, as well as know the books and what they say? From this comes the element of superiority. Who among them are the more superior? As Muhammad was not divine his DNA is a contributing factor, but as to knowledge, awareness, or proper guidance, I have my doubts. As for criminal actions and brutality, an insane male machismo, as well as a need for dominance, do the DNA beneficiaries lay similar claim to a potential overtly selfish demon within them? The differences extend to the respective sect’s definition of an ‘Imam.’ Khomeini is Shiite. Quoting Robert F. Worth, from his book (A Rage of Order), “The Arab world has never built a peaceful model for political succession, and some say this is the key to its repeated agonies.” (pg. 8)
Into the wrestling ring we go. Who will defeat the other? Who has the greater strength or the sharper sword or is more skilled in combat. Is it the bully that is the victor or the nerd, able to talk the talk and walk the walk (private lives excepted), using rhetoric and references that require compliance? Who then has the governing authorities on their side, able to bring forth an army to defeat the muscle-man? It is akin to tag-team wrestling. But then next week or year might be different. More oil, more money, more muscle, and on it goes. The house of war continues as the house of peace will always be at risk. Gain support from USA or Russia and take sides. Those sides can change, and have historically. “This great battle between Sunni and Shiite was really just a cynical power struggle between the regions’ two biggest oil producers.” (RF Worth, The Rage of Order, pg. 86)
The wars are wars boiling in the chaos of interpretation, Islamic Law, the desires of the people, young and old, common sense, cultural heritage, Islamophobia, modernity verses 7th century foundations, and the inherent nature of Islam to seek a world All for Allah by any means, most often violent means. The ring may well be called the House of Peace as well as the House of Pain. In the arena, though, the competing parties are always damaged. And there is more than just Sunni and Shiite, so many lesser sects, some derived from either Sunni or Shiite and others of their own convictions, such as the Ahmadi’s. The Ahmadi’s in the Middle East and the Muslim areas of Asia are considered heretics, no different from a non-Muslim, yet their Scripture is the Quran. Tribal and religious rivalry seems to be continuous wherever there are Muslims.
There may always be Islam. But there will always be chaos, to include killing and death within the walls of the Islamic State. So many different mindsets exist within this ideology, called a religion because of Allah. Each faction carries a weapon, a sword, ready to dismember parts of the opposition, physically or territorially. The Bedouin chess game will continue, as the Crusade of Islam itself, Muhammad as the example, has endured for over 1400 years. It is a power struggle. It is jihad, and the jihadists do not all agree. What is holy in any way about jihad except for the excuse they use that a supernatural power, they think, is on their side? Yet the example is a mortal! Most moderates would prefer freedom and take jihad out of the ring of fire of the Islamists. The fundamentalists view them as heretics, to be eliminated. Plurality, living with others, a secular environment, and many belief systems residing side-by-side exist in a democracy. The rule of law is common law, applicable to all. Maybe Christ needs to enter their lives. The new covenant of the Muslim can also be the New Testament. Salvation comes to those who believe, and those that so believe can live in hope and joy without killing any non-believer.
Grace and Peace