I can’t be alone in being somewhat in the dark about the origin of militant extremism in the Middle East. Like many people, I’ve known bits of the puzzle but not how the jigsaw all fits together into a complete historical, political and religious picture. I’ve attached a .pdf here (see above) of an article published in the very first Seasons Journal in 2003 from the then Zaytuna Institute. The article clarified for me the origins of the problem and I hope it does the same for others. Please read it. I believe the vast majority of human souls of every persuasion condemn violent religious and especially Muslim extremism but are at a loss to know why it exists, it being so contrary to natural morality, justice and religious teaching and practice. This article, by Abdulwahab Saleh Babeair was at the time of writing, the Dean of the College of Education, King Saud University, Abha, Saudi Arabia.
Judging by the huge response to my last post, people are generally concerned about all this, and so they should be, but are left with the opinions of a few journalists, paid to fill a TV news broadcast or fill some column inches, to understand what is happening. What is needed is a careful distillation of history and an informed insiders’ view of religious communities from people who know their religion.
As a result of my post, I was sent by a colleague a digital copy of the original Mardin fatwa manuscript referred to, showing clearly the original wording. We can only surmise that whoever changed it, did it deliberately. It’s shown above with the critical section enlarged.
The tragedy of extremism, whether terrorism or even just racism in this time is not, I believe, primarily from political or economic causes at root, but rage and hatred in the hearts of men which ignored, has been allowed to fester and metastasise. Moderation, mentioned in the first sentence of the attached article is a foundation stone of real religion, not some compromise position. Even the word ‘compromise’ has been given in recent times a nuance of failure by hardliners, and must be reclaimed as something positive, a Prophetic middle way to be cherished. The simplistic Manichaen black and white view of the world is the real enemy within and is seized upon by judgmental racists and salafists as their own truth, though so far from it.
Maybe it is because we live in a sports oriented world where the only success is to win – a Darwinian idea of the survival of the successful. This was one of the motivating forces of Nazism and the idea of the master race, I do believe. Mankind obviously needs, in this time, to seriously review its moral options and have new clearer ideas of what is right and wrong. Evidently many people have forgotten this. Whatever happened to the ten commandments? It’s a starting point.•