The recent spate of murderous attacks by ‘home-grown’ Islamic inspired fundamentalists, in Europe and the UK, has led to the promotion of the concept of an ‘enemy within’. This term has now been used by quite a few individuals and repeated by some news agencies. This concept is certainly accurate – as far as it goes – for increasingly the perpetrators are individuals who live in the countries whose citizens they decide to assassinate by bomb, gun, knife, cleaver or motor vehicle. However, this term does not go far enough for the inspiration and motivation for these atrocities is international, if not global. The inspiration stems from the international trend of Islamic fundamentalism (in the form of ‘Islam against the West’) which is traceable back to some Muslim intellectuals in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The more recent motivation for Islamic fundamentalist assassinations in Melbourne, Manchester, London, Paris and elsewhere in Europe, has been prompted by the new generation of Islamic fundamentalists who attempted to create an Islamic state in the middle-east.
It is important to realise that the ideology which underpins this rise of 20th and 21st century Islamic fundamentalism and it’s terror inspiring atrocities arises from within mainstream Islamic ideology. Islamic terrorism has not sprung from nowhere nor matured in an ideological vacuum. It is impossible to understand why young men are prepared to die whilst ending as many (predominantly) working class lives as possible, if the power of socially reinforced religious ideology is not seriously considered. Whatever other motives may be involved in the process of what is termed their ‘radicalisation’, religion is certainly a crucially important one. If it were not for the social, cultural and psychological reinforcement by significant others that the Qur’an contains religious truth and Allah’s will, then it is almost certain that fewer would undertake the murderous and self-destructive martyrdom that this form of fundamentalist Jihad requires. If you doubt the veracity of this assertion, then consider the following;
“It is He who has sent His apostle with guidance and true faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it.” (Qur’an. Surah 9. 33.)
So the declared objective of the so-called true faith of mainstream Islam is, and always has been, to make it triumphant over all other religions, whether non-Muslims like it or not. If that is the true goal of the religion of Islam, then it must also be the belief of all true believers in Islam, whether they – or we – like it or not. Every Muslim must openly or silently accept this Qur’anic pronouncement or deny it and cease to be a true Muslim. The religious logic is compelling once the initial premise is accepted. So fundamentalist Muslims, including, as we shall see, those who terrorise, are merely adhering to the fundamentals of Islam, and there is little that is more fundamental to Islam than the Qur’an. This stricture of course only sets the goal of Islam, but does not indicate the means rendered acceptable to achieve it. We must look elsewhere in the Qur’an for the suggested means to assure it’s victory over all religious or secular opposition.
“When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them.” (Qur’an. Surah 9.5)
There are 9 other references in the Qur’an of when it is appropriate to kill, almost 30 references to physically fighting for Islam and there are 195 suggestions of suitable punishment for non-belief. So those Muslims and non-Muslims who say there is nothing in Islam which justifies killing, fighting with (or punishing) non-believers, they are either ignorant of their own scriptures, or are being deceitful. Or perhaps alternatively, they are in complete denial. All of these three possibilities are problematic because it is only by a recognition of the tap roots of violence within this particular Abrahamic scripture that can lead to its open rejection and begin to erode its inhuman and despicable influence. But again these previous extracts only establish that the fundamentals of Islam – as portrayed in the Qur’an – allow killing and punishing of ‘other’ people. It still does not explain why those so dedicated, willingly take their own lives in the process. For an explanation of this we need to delve further into the Qur’an. For example;
“Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of Allah; whether they die or conquer, We shall richly reward them.” (Surah 4.74.)
In the Qur’an there is the repeated promise of reward for living, fighting and dying in the unswerving cause of Islam. Indeed, rewards for doing as instructed by the Qur’an are mentioned over 90 times. Reclining on couches with fruits on hand, dwelling with bashful dark eyed virgins, amid gushing fountains (Surah 55); robes of silk, silver dishes, goblets and boyish attendants with eyes like sprinkled pearls (Surah 76) are mentioned numerous times as being among the so-called bountiful rewards of what amounts to a paper promise of Paradise for fighting the ‘good fight’ (sic). But as a further illustration of the Qur’anic promise of reward for fighting and dying in the name of Islam consider the following;
“As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish. He will vouchsafe them guidance and ennobled their state. He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them. ( Surah 47. 9)
Many of the (mainly) young people who take gun, knife or truck in hand or strap on an explosive vest as well as perhaps being angry over the situation in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere are also convinced by something else. They are utterly convinced – they are doing Allah’s work – and as a consequence will be rewarded by eternity in a paradise of willing virgins and luxurious living. We need to ask ourselves by what means are they so thoroughly convinced by this grotesque sectarian logic and patriarchal fantasy if not by the fact that the whole of the Islamic community believe in the so-called absolute ‘truth’ of what is written in the Qur’an as Allah’s (their God) will. Only unanimous peer pressure from the Islamic community and religious indoctrination from early childhood could have convinced them that the de-humanised reasoning and self-indulgent fantasies written in the Qur’an are valid ideas to adopt in the 21st century.
In one sense all believers in Islam are direct or indirect accessories in the radicalisation of Islamic youth. Without the continuous religious and cultural collective imput by Islamic leaders and communities, these ideas of religious superiority and heavenly rewards would not have entered their young minds let alone lodged there as convictions to ultimately act upon. Furthermore all those who fully subscribe to the other two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity and their Old and New Testament scriptures have also provided low-level but general ideological support to the idea of an imaginary eternal life in an imaginery heaven governed by an imaginary – invisible (!) – male super-being. In addition, they have invariably failed to condemn or even acknowledge that their scriptures too justify killing in the name of their particular version of the patriarchal monotheistic belief system.
Clearly, converts to radical Islamic, weapon-wielding activism, do represent an ‘enemy within’ their respective communities and nations, but that’s not the only problem! At the ideological level – their religious ideas, as with Judaism and Christianity also represent an alien ideological cancer within the ranks of humanity. These Abrahamic religions, of which Islam is one, were created when humanity was organised in patriarchal tribal formations which subordinated women and divided humanity into competitive groups – each one convinced of the superiority of their antique belief system. Such ideas are no longer relevant to the inter-dependent globalised world we are now all living in. And, problematically, unlike other forms of terrorist activity, Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists do not wish to negotiate with those they claim disrespect or oppress them.
They have no political or social demands to make; they do not want better wages or social conditions nor the right to practice their religion. They already have these by courtesy of long working class struggles for establishing basic human rights and welfare provisions – for all. These rights have been established by the very class of people they indiscriminately murder whilst these ordinary working people are out shopping, eating or listening to music. The sum total ambition of these converts to aggressive nihilism is to kill and be killed so they can escape to an imaginary paradise (eg the gardens of delight – in Surah 31.4) and send their victims to an imaginary hell of eternal torture. Eg;
“As for the unbelievers, the fire of hell awaits them. Death shall not deliver them, nor shall it’s torments be ever lightened for them. ( Surah 35.34,
In the face of all we now know about the galactic universe and the evolution of life – including humanity – isn’t it time that all the mystical, imaginative and dangerous nonsense of an invisible, male, super-being creator, is abandoned as we did with our childish belief in fairies and Father Xmas?
Roy Ratcliffe (June 2017.)
Roy, almost immediately after reading your review and with little time for deep though I posted the following in my newsletter REG REPORT. I linked then to your piece.
Roy, almost immediately after reading this I posted this to my little Newsletter with a link to your piece as you will see. I confess I didn’t contemplate on it for more that a few minutes, so….
REG REPORT: RELIGION, SKY GODS, TERRORISM, TERRORISTS AND WELL BEYOND
Someone will say the analysis below is Islamaphobic. What it is, in fact, is the simple truth about religion. The author refers to only the Abrahamic religions, but lets not forget right now in other parts of the world Buddhists are killing in the name of Buddha (of all things), Hindus are killing Muslims in the name of their faith, everyone is killing everyone in the name of this or that God or theology. I do not agree that religion has no purpose. I used to think that, but I don’t anymore. It has not only been a regressive force but it has historically also played at times a progressive role. It has also been an attempt at trying to understand the mysteries of the world.
Most people do not kill in the name of their religion, not these days anyway. Many people profess to be religious but really pay no attention to religious teachings one way or the other. Some people find solace in their faith (are we here to crush that). Some folks find a source for their particular more progressive beliefs in their religion. Do we want to stamp that out? Personally, I do think sky gods and the like are an absurdity best relegated to the distant past. However, this does not mean I have no “faith” as it were. I look to the universe itself. Quantum physics offers me what I need in the way of a path into the universe, and beyond. I can’t prove all of it either, some of what I accept in my quantum belief system I guess, I, too, take on faith. I will say this though nothing in my faith says go out and kill your neighbor in my name. In fact, my “faith” stipulates that I don’t even have a neighbor since we are all obviously connected in a “reality” we don’t even yet come close to understanding.
I don’t need theology to find a moral compass. Social ecology and nature provide a good grounding there. A simple notion of humanity does not require gods. If you want a religious maxim, you can’t go wrong with these words from Hillel, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.” If you like the way Jesus put it, fine by me.
In any event, much of what the author of the piece linked below simply cannot be argued with. As I read through this, I was afraid the piece was going to single out Islam though I know the author well enough to know he would not do that. He didn’t.
What he did do is provide a partial explanation the whats and whys in the crazy world and minds of the actors of terror. There is more to it then religion, but religion is at the core of it and pretending that it is not gets us nowhere.
Donald Trump and his ilk do not really give a f**k about theology. They oppose radical, fundamentalist Islam (where they do) because it is a threat to their own ideology and power. They don’t, you might notice, seem to care about all radical fundamentalist Islam. Mr. Trump seems more then at home in Saudi Arabia from which much of this has spilled forth. Trump and his ilk don’t really care who gets killed or maimed in Manchester, Paris, or New York. If they did they could not maintain the politics and policies they themselves unleash on the world, on working people, on the poor. They don’t care if children die of contaminated water in Flint, are killed by police in Ferguson, are blown to bits by their bombs here, there, and everywhere. They don’t care about dead children. If they did, they would not cause so many to die. They care about power and wealth and control. They care about white supremacy and global capital. They care about patriarchy and the subjugation of women. They, hence, care about all those things which keep them and their ilk in power over all the rest of humanity. They cry crocodile tears for the victims of terror while they simply go about the business of killing the entire planet.
Yes, the evils and absurdities associated with virtually every theology should have been thrown in the garbage long ago. However, you know what, even if that had happened we would still be dealing with other evils and absurdities. We would still be dealing with Donald Trump, with Putin, with May and Merkel, with Abe and Duarte, with Netanyahu and Erdogen. We would still be dealing with nationalism, capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. Their would still be hatred and fear of gay people, ongoing genocide of indigenous people, and war. The bastion of repression known as the State would still be with us. One of the cornerstones would be gone, but the others would still be there ready to take up any slack.
Would the world be a better place without, in my view, the tribal sky gods? Yes, I believe it would. However, we would still have a whole lot of work to do.
Anyway, pick your evil and do your damndest to get rid of it. Pick them off one at a time or all at once.
On the all at once front, there are two places in the world where that is being done. One of those places is with the building of Democratic Confederalism by the Kurds and their allies in the north of what is now Syria…in Rojava and beyond. The other place is in the autonomous zones of Zapatista Mexico. What is interesting is that while in both of those places (especially in Rojava) part of the battle has been against the evil forms of fundamentalist religion, in neither of those places has their been any attempt made to eliminate all religion or forms of spirituality. Religion may be an opiate of the masses, but we have to realize sometimes opiates are necessary to alleviate some of the pain.
I get that.
“In one sense all believers in Islam are direct or indirect accessories in the radicalisation of Islamic youth. Without the continuous religious and cultural collective imput by Islamic leaders and communities, these ideas of religious superiority and heavenly rewards would not have entered their young minds let alone lodged there as convictions to ultimately act upon. Furthermore all those who fully subscribe to the other two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity and their Old and New Testament scriptures have also provided low-level but general ideological support to the idea of an imaginary eternal life in an imaginery heaven governed by an imaginary – invisible (!) – male super-being. In addition, they have invariably failed to condemn or even acknowledge that their scriptures too justify killing in the name of their particular version of the patriarchal monotheistic belief system….Clearly, converts to radical Islamic, weapon-wielding activism, do represent an ‘enemy within’ their respective communities and nations, but that’s not the only problem! At the ideological level – their religious ideas, as with Judaism and Christianity also represent an alien ideological cancer within the ranks of humanity. These Abrahamic religions, of which Islam is one, were created when humanity was organised in patriarchal tribal formations which subordinated women and divided humanity into competitive groups – each one convinced of the superiority of their antique belief system. Such ideas are no longer relevant to the inter-dependent globalised world we are now all living in. And, problematically, unlike other forms of terrorist activity, Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists do not wish to negotiate with those they claim disrespect or oppress them.”
ENEMIES WITHIN? (Part 1)
Hi Randy. Thanks for providing a link to the article. Of course as you say, there are many other motivations for killing folk other than religions, but I felt it important to deal with religious ones – again – because of the recent events. As I wrote elsewhere the capitalist systems insatiable desire/need for markets and sources of raw materials has prompted colonial and Imperialist wars as well as two world wars. (1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945.) On the question of religions doing good and being a source of solice I see things the other way around. First my own view is that all religions contain a humanist element ( the good bits) because they are human creations and therefore couldn’t be completely inhuman for that reason. However, the humanist element has been swamped by the generations of patriarchal, self- interested crap built into them from the get go and layered on ever since. (Buddhism and Hinduism included.) Second, on finding solace in religion I think this is also problematic for finding solice in something that isn’t there – is doing more harm than good. And at the same time this process takes away the focus of the real source of solice – human support, human companionship and love. But that is just my view for what it is worth. Best regards, Roy