A History of Islam and Islamism

This is a long article. I don't know anything about the author. I thought the article was good enough to post and worth the read. I've read a few books about the history of Islam and its spread throughout the world, and it's an interesting topic. In some ways the Muslim Faith seems to me to be the greatest danger to the New Paradigm. The PTB that sometimes haunt our western dreams are a cabal of a few hundred. They are nothing against the monolith of Islam. Anyway, the following article discusses Islamic extremism from the standpoint of history and someone who's been there.


The Real History Of
Saudi Arabia & The
Roots Of Radical Islam

By Dr. Harrell Rhome
The Nationalist Times
Our focus is on Wahabist Islam and the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, excluding other extremist factions and nations such as the interesting
and intriguing Shiite movement and many others. The Arabian Peninsula
is the original seedbed of Islamic extremism. Wherever one starts searching
for the roots of present-day Muslim ultra-fundamentalism, the geographical
trail eventually leads to Saudi Arabia and the intellectual/theological
trail leads to the Wahabist ultra-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
It is already a fact that certain sects would dearly
love to oust the corrupt Saudi royals and replace them with a Wahabist-inspired
regime. May Yamani, a Saudi political analyst with Islam Online says:
"They are clamping down not only on the jihadis but also on the
reformists. If the [the Saudi royal family doesn't] win the support of
the middle class ­ the educated class in the country ­ there will
be more and more people who will throw themselves into the arms of the
jihadis. The royal family is losing control of the situation... They have
no solution for this violence."
The Saudi holy land is the seedbed of Islamic extremism.
"The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history.
Springing from a land and a people alike previously negligible, Islam
spread within a century over half the earth, shattering great empires,
overthrowing long established religions, remolding the souls of races,
and building a whole new world ­ the world of Islam. Arising in a
desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race previously undistinguished
in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest
human backing and against the heaviest material odds. Yet Islam triumphed
with seemingly miraculous ease." (T. Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising
Tide of Islam.)
The arid Arabian Peninsula was home to Muhammad and the
first Muslims back in the 7th Century A.D. Geography and climate color
the theology of Islam. It was born in a harsh environment, and is an ascetic
severe and rigid desert faith. It is based on the Abrahamic heritage
of the Old Testament, but old pagan moon gods, Talmudic Judaism, Gnosticism,
and Christianity are part of the mix. Muhammad was a clever and functional
religious eclectic. He put together a theological system, with its own
unique book of holy writ, from many and varied influences. By the beginning
of the 8th Century, it ruled the desert lands of Arabia.
During the time of Muhammad, Arabia was briefly the center
of Islam, but by the end of the 7th century, the area was disunited. While
Mecca and Medina retained their importance for pilgrims, Arabia was the
cultural center for only a short time. The real flowering of Islamic culture
found its expression in other locations ranging from Moorish Spain (Al-Andalus;
perhaps the apex of The Renaissance) to Damascus and Baghdad. When Europe
was in its dark ages, Islamic mathematicians, astronomers, physicians,
and scholars of all types were not only preserving in Arabic the classical
Greco-Roman learning, but making new discoveries as well. The oldest continually
existing universities are not European, but those of the Islamic world.
But while all this was going on, Saudi Arabia, as it had done for eons,
continued to cook in the desert sun, and life changed little for the hardy,
ascetic desert tribes who lived in a land with virtually no useable natural
resources. Back in those days, they knew nothing of the hidden petrol-billions
in a land where water was worth more than gold.
"Modern Saudi Arabia owes its existence to Ibn Saud,
an adherent of the puritanical [Wahabi] Muslim sect. Beginning in 1902,
he conquered Nejd, Al-Hasa and Hejaz regions, and in 1932 he proclaimed
himself King of a united Saudi Arabia." (Concise Columbia Encyclopedia,
1983, p. 732.) The Saudis and their tribal allies eventually conquered
and united most of the peninsula by 1932, when ibn Saud, with British
backing, proclaimed himself monarch of a country named after himself and
his clan.
The new nation was one of the poorest countries in the
world. When it officially began in 1932, the new kingdom's treasury had
less than £35,000, but oil reserves were located in 1936. Less than
two years later, oil began to flow out of the barren peninsula and a non-stop
pipeline of money began to flow back to the Saudi royals and their chosen
It is the duty of every Muslim to share as he can with
others, a duty of alms demanded by the Prophet himself, and the Saudi
Arabian people (numbering 27 million, with 60 percent under the age of
21) also received benefits from the oil wealth. Life is good in the paternalistic
and outwardly benevolent kingdom - for select groups. Certainly some women
and dissidents of various types severely disagree with the regime. But
many live a satisfied life, and the thousands of royals and their relatives
hope to keep it that way.
But not so far beneath the surface, a stew-pot of extremist
beliefs cooks on, slowly approaching an eventual boiling point - under
the right conditions. The bloated, pompous, hypocritical and morally
corrupt Saudi royals and their entourage could be replaced ­ and they
know it. The visage of the Shah of Iran, another worldly monarch dethroned
by fundamentalists, looms ominously over the not-so-old House of Saud.
While OPEC nations supply (in 2002) 57 percent of U.S.
oil, Saudi Arabia only provides about 10 percent. Nonetheless, it controls
a fourth to a third of the world's known oil supplies. Europe has practically
no strategic reserves, so Saudi Arabia and other oil suppliers are crucially
important. Oil-poor Europeans are dependent on Saudi oil reaching them
As we see, even a slight change in production levels
drastically affects world prices. Our crucial, but uncomfortable (for
both sides) alliance causes the Saudi royals to abet our support of the
Israeli ministate and its state-sponsored terrorism toward Palestinians.
Yet this is only one element of our foreign policy and our dechristianized
Western culture that devout Muslims oppose.
However, up to now, Saudi police and security forces
have suppressed this opposition. Conversely, our dependence on Saudi oil
and stable prices causes us to overlook a whole host of things: like the
Saudi treatment of women (ranking near the bottom); restrictive laws and
punishments for Christians; severe Sharia "justice" such as
floggings and beheadings; a Saudi princess lost hers a few years ago.
She was an adulteress; in 2007, a rape victim is to be flogged; few if
any Saudis do menial work with hordes of indentured servants, virtual
slaves, from the Philippines, Malaysia, etc.; there's more, including
Saudi covert (and sometimes not so covert) moral and financial support
for what we call terrorism.
As we see in recent events, decapitation appears to be
a particular predilection for Islamist extremists. Naturally, the Saudi
monarchy works hard to keep the lid on the extremist boiling pot mostly
out of fear, hence purchasing "anti-terrorism insurance" against
an extremist actions in their own country. But who are these Islamic
purists, the fundamentalists who both so frighten and fascinate the aristocratic
Saudi oil lords?
Extreme Wahabism is a Saudi Arabian religious phenomenon.
"The first spark [of modern Islamic revival] was fittingly struck
in the Arabian desert, the cradle of Islam. Here, at the opening of the
19th century, arose the Wahabi movement for the reform of Islam, which
presently kindled the far-flung Mohammedan Revival, which in its turn
begat the movement know as Pan-Islamism." (T. Lothrop Stoddard in
The Rising Tide of Islam.) "Wahabi [or Wahabism; also Wahhabi):
the religion of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia founded by Muhammad
ibn al-Wahab (c.1702-1792) who converted the Saud tribe. He taught that
all accretions to Islam after the 3rd century of the Muslim Era, i.e.,
after c.950, were spurious and must be expunged. The movement, although
centered in Arabia, has also spread eastward to India [hence Pakistan,
Central Asia and western China], and Sumatra and westward to North Africa
and the Sudan." (Columbia Desk Encyclopedia, p. 902.)
Ibn Abdul Wahab was born near present-day Riyadh, becoming
a revered and expressive Koranic scholar. In a little over 200 years,
Wahab's strict and rigid interpretation of Islam gained far-reaching and
widespread acceptance throughout the Muslim umma, or world community.
Wahabism is rigid, intolerant and fanatical to the core, as well as hyper-aggressive
and ultimately violent. It is the official doctrine of all the Arabian
peninsular states, but its theological, intellectual and political influence
is worldwide.
As an example of severity, look at doctrinal disputes
with fellow Muslims. Wahabism sternly opposed Shia Islam and the Sufi
mystical movement. Both were reform movements and thus rivals of Wahabism.
Both sects made more than a few innovations, regarded as illegitimate
by the Wahabis. "Among those [Shiite] innovations was the reverence
given to dead saints as intercessors with Allah, and the special [metaphysical,
mystical] devotions of the Sufi orders. The reformers made an alliance
with Muhammad ibn Saud, ruler [tribal chieftain] of a small market town,
Dir'iyya, and this led to the formation of a state which claimed to live
under the guidance of the Sharia Islamic law code and tried to bring the
pastoral tribes all around it under its guidance too. By the first years
of the 19th century the armies of the new (Wahabist) state had expanded;
they had sacked the Shi'a shrines in southwestern Iraq and occupied the
holy cities of Hejaz (1926)." (Hourani, Albert, A History Of The
Arab Peoples, Harvard: 1991, p. 258.)
Actually, what most devout Muslims ultimately want is
an Islamic World Order under Sharia law. This is seen by many as not only
inevitable, but the rightful and natural successor to the outmoded and
dysfunctional nation-states of the Western world order. Some devout ones
maintain that the world has not yet seen a truly Islamic government, so
differences exist as to precisely how this is to be carried out. Some
moderates say that individual believers must establish the Islamic way
in their hearts and lives, so that this personal regime, with hope and
prayer, someday spreads over the world.
In this interpretation, the effort within oneself is
a struggle, a jihad. First, it is established in the person, then in his
family, then in the tribe and state, and later to the whole world. Suffice
it to say, this is not the only interpretation. Jihad by war may be employed
when all else fails, or more importantly, in response to attacks on Muslims
and Islam.
Most of the 1.25+ billion Muslims believe the West is
finished, in the last stages of decay. Are they right? Only time will
tell, but the events of the early 21st century do not bode well. "The
Western Age Is Finished." (Sayyid Qutb.) "The path to the creation
of a truly Muslim society [begins] with individual conviction transformed
into a living image in the heart and embodied in a program of action.
Those who accept this program would form a vanguard of dedicated fighters,
using every means, including Jihad, which should not be undertaken until
the fighters had achieved inner purity, but it should then be pursued,
if necessary, not for defense only, but to destroy all worship of false
gods and remove all obstacles which prevent men from accepting Islam.
The struggle should aim at creating a Universal Muslim Society in which
there are no distinctions of race, and one which was worldwide. The western
age is finished': it could not provide the values which were needed to
support the new material civilization. Only Islam offers hope to the
world." (Hourani, p.446.)
Wahabism is the direct ideological inspiration for Osama
bin Laden and other extremist movements. Wahabi-influenced and inspired
organizations include Al Qaeda networks, the USS Cole bombers, the Khobar
Towers bombers in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian radicals who slew Anwar Sadat
and later massacred the European tourists at Luxor, Algerian fundamentalists,
the first World Trade Center bombers led by Ramzi Yusef and the Blind
Sheik, Abdul Rahman (whose son is with Al- Qaeda) all the way to the Taliban
(means seminarians or religious students) of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
While the Taliban were in power, the Islamic Emirate
of Afghanistan gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: the
United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, all of them directly
inspired by Wahabism. It is lavishly supported by many Saudis, including
the bin Laden family and every other rich family in the country, including
the numerous wealthy and prolific royals (there are hundreds of them)
and assorted sheiks of the aristocratic caste. Through private banking,
these wealthy families can transfer all the funds they want to whomever
they want and never be challenged or traced. When the various pundits
talk about tracing terrorist funds, it is rarely mentioned that Saudi
Arabia, for its entire existence, has consistently refused to allow any
probe into its arcane financial connections and murky dealings.
Wahabist influence is intense and worldwide as it controls
and dominates Islam's holiest shrines. Ironically, as they oppose most
modern developments, the fortunes of doctrinaire Wahabism rose with the
development of cruise ships and airlines. From shortly after the death
of Muhammad, the holy places of Islam were controlled by the sophisticated,
educated elites in Damascus, Baghdad and Istanbul. In 1926, the Saud family
and the militant Wahabi sect seized control of Mecca and Medina.
From then on, this desert sect has controlled the holy
sites. They use these prominent pulpits to impress a single, extremely
limited and intolerant version of Islam on the millions of pilgrims who
come. Until the 19th Century, the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca was limited
to those with time to walk there, or with time and money to go by sailing
ship. Pilgrims were counted only in the thousands. Soon after the Wahabi
conquest, modern transportation enabled increasing numbers of pilgrims,
many funded by the Saudi state. There are now two million or more pilgrims
each year. Increasingly, a large number are non-Arabs who read little
or no Arabic and come from non-Arabic traditions, yet they are taught
the strict Wahabi way, often taking the message home with them.
Severe Islamic fundamentalist militancy often seems baffling,
especially if one cannot transcend cultural boundaries a bit. For instance,
most Westerners do not understand the concept of Shahada, or active martyrdom.
In the face of almost insurmountable public opinion, and ignorance, Islamist
martyrs do not commit suicide in our Western sense of the term. Some Wahabis
and related sects teach that Islam is justified in using Jihadist tactics
because the West has attacked Islam, not only by aiding, abetting and
enabling (we provide money, weapons and equipment) the atrocities against
the Palestinians, but through our pagan, consumerist self-centered, sexually
exploitative culture, which they see us forcing upon the world.
The believers, especially the impressionable young, are
told that those who choose Shahada make a crucial contribution to the
divine jihad, and will receive the greatest heavenly rewards. Westerners
just do not "get" this concept. Just as hara-kiri is seen as
an honorable and brave death by the Shinto Japanese, Shahada is never
viewed as a disgraceful death, but as an act of supreme and glorious,
hope, dignity, and deep faith. Even in the West, we make exceptions.
Consider that Judaism celebrates and now teaches the doctrine of "Jewish
Holocaust martyrs" in holy awe, and we must not forget the numerous
martyr-saints of the Roman Catholic tradition. On top of that, the West
has seen political and military martyrs (JFK, WWII heroes, etc.) at various
And, while I know some don't want to hear it, one might
call the Shaheeds brave. We respect and honor military heroes from many
wars. In reality, how does this differ? Our cultural blindness and deafness
is why we do not understand this supreme sacrifice and dedication. What
does Western civilization have that any of us would die for any more?
Will you give your life for Wal-Mart, McDonald's, the now so gay and liberal
Christian churches, the Democrat and Republican parties? The list could
go on, but the point is clear. Other than our unfortunate military personnel,
whom we allow to die for our rather curious way of life, only a miniscule
few or willing to die or greatly sacrifice for anything at all!
Moreover, how long will we accept the civilian deaths
in Iraq and Afghanistan? We seem so aware of military deaths, yet we think
nothing of the innocent victims, including children, we have killed -
or helped kill - in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. The Islamists see
us with blood on our hands.
But more importantly, how do we intellectually and physically
defend against such dedicated ­ and brave, if I may so opine - foes?
They are willing to pay the ultimate price, relying that, in the long
run, we will not stay the course. Suicide martyrdom has become an effective
and useful tactic. Dedicated and serious Muslims are willing to die for
principles they believe should govern the world. Christians once felt
this way, but that is but a distant and faded memory. Stay the course,
indeed! Who even knows where we were/are going?
"Islam is the solution" is the cry of the Wahabist-inspired
modern- day international Islamic renaissance and revival movement. Billions
of people have heard, are presently hearing, and will continue to hear
this entrancing message. What is our reply? What does Western culture
have to offer as an alternative? And if, sadly and regrettably, we have
no viable alternatives, what does this mean for our eventual fate in this
"war on terrorism"? Are we really in "for the long haul",
as our leaders tell us? If not, then the most dedicated and faithful ones,
the resistance forces with determination and patience, will eventually
triumph. We do not demonstrate staying power ­ they do. Who cares
how long it takes if you are devoted to a cause that has already triumphed
over many obstacles. Frankly, it doesn't look promising.
This should be genuinely frightening, not only to my
dear readers, but to our leaders. Since U.S. foreign policy will probably
continue in its already well-established, arrogant, blundering and deadly
paradigm, the sparks that light fires in the eyes of the Shahada martyrs
will grow white-hot many more times. The next generation of Mujahadeen
is already in place, and so is the one after that.
So, are you sure we're in for the long haul? Or is it
time to consider some form of détente? That could be most meaningfully
manifested by getting our troops out of the Muslim holy land, but most
markedly by a fair and unbiased policy to obtain genuine peace in Palestine.
Scrap the failed and so-called "Road Map to Peace", which was
nothing more than the old, embedded and entrenched neo-con and pro-Zionist
interests that are solidly aligned for Israel, not for the USA. Get honest,
be fair, involve all parties, and something creative might happen. Americans
must be spiritual and recapture our older values, or the next line is
truth. "No one is more distant than the Americans from spirituality
and piety", said Sayyib Qutb, after living in the U.S., 1948-50.
What would he say now! Look at the vast cultural changes in just the last
50 years. Only a concerted effort and change of heart will prove him wrong.
Another media misrepresentation is to imply that Islamic
warriors are ignorant peasants, trained in Madrassah schools, which are
just "indoctrination centers". While this is true in some cases,
it again turns a blind eye to the 21st century Islamic renaissance. Since
most Westerners know nothing of this, let's take a quick look. In the
1930's, an era of political and cultural change movements of all kinds,
radical Islam began to chafe under the colonialist yoke. Many of the writings
and movements begun in those days are still with us, but one need not
look to writers long gone. Probably not one Westerner in a thousand could
name any of these men (no women), yet they are household names in Islamic
world communities.
When Islamic Jihad assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981,
a small 54-page document was found, entitled "The Neglected Duty."
This is apparently one of those explosive little books that pop up at
various times and places when revolution and upheaval are in the air.
While Islam, like Christianity, teaches subservience to rulers, the anonymous
author(s) say it is the duty of good Muslims to overthrow a ruler who
has abandoned true Islam. It is this philosophy, and resulting actions,
that so frighten Islamic leaders who have sold out to the West ­ and
Israel - like the Saudi royals, or those who have become inextricably
and compromisingly entangled with the infidels, as are the rulers of Egypt,
Pakistan, etc.
This all goes back to a medieval movement called Salafiyya,
which gave rise to later Wahabism. Not only did Salafis believe hypocritical
Islamic rulers should be overthrown, but that the Western, Christian world
is equivalent to the state of barbarism (Jahiliyya) that existed before
Muhammad manifested as the Prophet, and which he ordered Muslims to overthrow
and displace.
A major exponent of this belief, and a spiritual godfather
to Osama and many others, is Sayyib Qutb, executed in Egypt in the mid-1960s.
His best-known work is Signposts On The Road. An influential theologian,
Ibn Taymiyya, who lived in Damascus in the 13th and 14th centuries, was
an inspiration for Qutb. Also circulating are pamphlets by the blind sheik,
Abdul Rahman, now imprisoned for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
and in 1996 A Declaration Of War Against America was released by Osama
bin Laden.
Did you know that 80 percent or more of U.S. mosques
and Islamic societies are controlled by Wahabist Imams, according to U.S.
Sheik Muhammad Hisham Kabbani at a State Department forum held in 1999?
We must assume similar conditions in Europe. More than a little of the
money given to both legitimate charities and fronts that fund radical
networks come from American Muslims. Funds are transferred both legitimately
and through the underground network of informal Halawa Islamic money brokers,
and over the Internet. This is not to say that all American Muslims support
such groups, but it does beg the question of how many contribute alms
- remember it is a religious duty - to organizations that are largely
unaccountable, contributing to an ignorance-is-bliss mentality. The Saudi
government provides millions each year. Where does it all go? Given our
close relationship with the Saudis, does anyone in the chambers of power
seriously care?
Will policies toward our unfriendly Saudi friends ever
change? The royals don't think so. "I summon my blue-eyed slaves
anytime it pleases me. I command the Americans to send me their bravest
soldiers to die for me. Anytime I clap my hands a stupid genie called
the American ambassador appears to do my bidding. When the Americans die
in my service their bodies are frozen in metal boxes by the US Embassy
and American airplanes carry them away, as if they never existed. Truly,
America is my favorite slave." (King Fahd Bin Abdul- Aziz, 1993, in
The Saudis never allowed us direct access to the alleged
Khobar Towers bombers, who were beheaded, making further interrogation
a bit difficult. Did they merely round up "the usual suspects"?
This same scenario was repeated with the June 2004 beheading of an American
contractor. It seems reasonable to say that if all Saudi funding and moral
support for extremist Islamic groups were cut off, the problem would ease
This will likely never happen because the corrupt royals
know they would be signing their own death warrants. Indeed, radical Islamists
in the Kingdom are already boldly striking out. The Saudi royals are
not real friends as the history of this ill contrived nation shows. First,
it is against the Koran to be friends to either Jews or Christians (Sura
5:51) and secondly, they are not going to suffer and die for the corrupt
and depraved West. But more importantly, if the regime is to survive at
all, it must not be perceived by their subjects as being any worse than
the willing lackeys they already are. Given this mindset, meaningful change
from the Saudis is unlikely. Given our dependence on Saudi good will to
keep the pipelines open and the prices from skyrocketing, it is unlikely
we will put any significant pressure on them. Business as usual continues.
We must be even more wary than ever of excessive energy
dependence on, among others, this unreliable and ill-intentioned "partnership".
They do not like us nor approve of our culture. If they could withdraw
without consequences, and if they were able to raise the same money through
sales strictly to the Islamic world, they would do so, and turn their
vast resources against us.
However, they are somewhat afraid. Osama predicted that
if Western infidel troops came to the holy Arabian lands, they would never
leave - and they have not. They are, of coarse, there to protect the oil,
but is this guaranteed always and forever to include bailing out the
royals if an Islamic revolution sweeps over them? Remember, we betrayed
the Shah. This is the root of their fears. After all, an American-led
blitzkrieg with naval and air power could seize the strategic Arabian
Peninsula without much trouble. And we could oust the royals, renting
local armies and political blocs as in Afghanistan. But they are more
afraid of their own fundamentalist Islamic people, who, without the presence
and threat of Western military action, might overthrow the fat cat, fake,
self-appointed royals and set up a strict Islamic state.
The Saudi "petrol pashas" exist in a rich,
opulent - albeit increasingly uncomfortable - nether world, drifting precariously
between the worldly West and the eternal asceticism of their desert Wahabi
faith. Will this Humpty Dumpty kingdom eventual fall from its precarious
wall and shatter? As we know, revolutionary events sometimes happen in
the blink of an eye.
Under the two Bush regimes, even deep in the midst of
"wartime", the same winking dealmakers play cozy bedfellow games,
as they always have. The rich Bushes, their Halliburton allies, the bloated
Saudis and their protégés, such as the bin Laden family,
grow richer and richer while the larger Islamic world is left in the economic
backwaters. And all the while, the American people/sheeple get stupider
and stupider, believing the lies and con games thrown at them 24 hours
a day in the media, the schools and the churches. No one among The Powers
That Be is really serious about alternative energy, and Europe is even
more vulnerable. For the foreseeable future, we seem solidly and irrevocably
wed to these odd - but perhaps not so inscrutable - oriental bedfellows.
The facts are there ­ if you want to see them. Are there solutions?
Is it all too brief and simplistic to say that peace
in the Middle East is not that difficult to understand? It's a two-part
plan. Get our troops out of Islamic countries, especially the Saudi holy
places, and then bring a fair, genuine and lasting peace to Palestine.
Hey, I said it was short and simple, not easy! But, the badly needed foreign
policy changes regarding either Palestine or Saudi Arabia is unlikely
to come from what some are calling a pro- Zionist, Judeo-centric American
government. Albeit unlikely, freedom and fairness in Middle Eastern policies
could, indeed, work wonders. However, without major regime change in certain
Western governments, this is unlikely to happen.
# # #
Dr. Harrell Rhome, an investigative writer and researcher,
contributes to print and on-line publications, including The Nationalist
Times newspaper, www.anu.org. He is a Contributing Editor for The Barnes
Review historical journal, www.barnesreview.org, and also an English-language
contributor on Tsunami Politico, a multilingual on-line nationalist magazine
out of Buenos Aires. See articles on rather diverse topics at www.tsunamipolitico.com/truth9.htm
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