(English) Some Remarks on the Evolution of Islamism in the Middle East


According to Ashgar Ali Engineer in his text on Religion and Communalism (http://www.asianoutlook.com/articles/june/29.htm), human beings cannot live without religion or some kind of ideology which gives human life a meaning and direction and whatever the nature of ideology or thought or value system it creates its own ‚other‘. It follows that some form of struggle starts between followers of one or the other ideology. Religion can be defined as a system of beliefs and values with associated rituals to give these beliefs and values a concrete form. When these beliefs and values are held in common and rituals are performed it gives rise to a sense of commonality and a religious community comes into existence. This community is also product of a pre-existing social structure and this social structure deeply influences the religious community and its practices. No religious community can totally transcend this pre-existing social structure. One thing at least seems certain: a religious community induces a sense of identity. This identity, for its members, in course of time, becomes more important than the beliefs and values. And it is this sense of identity, which creates problems rather than religion would do, since over assertion of differences often lead to religious tension and social unrest. It is important to keep this in mind. It is equally important to note that a community exists in this world and hence represents worldly interests of its members. These worldly interests become as important, if not more, as religious beliefs, rituals and values. In any event, religion permeates the life of people in the Middle East. It is an ongoing concept with increased influence and continues to claim a prominent role in attempts to understand the past, to grapple with the present, and sometimes to prophesy the future1. Recently, the question of the role of religion in the modern world has taken on a new and urgent intensity.

Islamic discourse in confusion

It is obvious that since the advent of modern times Islam has faced the fundamental challenge of modernity. Over the past few decades, many Muslims began to feel that it was time to stop importing foreign ideologies, ideas, and concepts, and instead sought to attain a more indigenous form of collective identity and expression: Islam. Hence, Islam has emerged with a political profile on the international arena. In the second half of the 1970s political Islam or Islamism began to influence interstate regional politics and international relations. This development has been accompanied by a desire among Muslims for a greater ‘authenticity’ in the understanding and implementation of the social, moral, political and economic imperatives to be discovered in the Qur’an and the Hadiths. The search for authenticity, purity, and uniqueness has led to the articulation of political policies with Islamic edge at a national, regional and international level. It is, of course, clear that Islam came to play an important and powerful role at multiple levels as millions of people sought to make it a more central part of their lives2. Today, the Islamic discourse is influenced by the political, intellectual and cultural circumstances prevailing in the Muslim countries and the economic, social conditions, and mental formations affecting their societies. It seems rather more to the point to consider the internal and historical variations of the Islamic cultural traditions as structured historical units, subject to evolutionary and revolutionary change. Being an expression of the prevailing conditions, the Islamic discourse swings between strength and weakness, moderation and extremism, ability and feebleness, adequacy and inadequacy, depending on the environment, the society, and the internal to the external circumstances in which it evolves.

There is reason to believe that the reversion to Islamic teachings and ethical ideal is the result of uneven economic development in the post-colonial era. Conditions of inequality, economic oppression, and historical injustice have given rise to passive emotions in many Muslim countries. Precisely because Muslims were weak militarily and politically they responded to the challenge by seeking refuge in their faith, whereby the discourse of umma (community of believers) revivalism provided an identity, a purpose, and a wide range of methods for social struggle particularly in the Middle East. Their anger was expressed in religious language. Hence, the rise and spread of Islamic conservative discourse and Islamic fundamentalism can be traced back to three interacting factors. The first is the cultural contradiction produced by the rapid access to modernity in most Muslim countries. The second is the crisis of efficiency and legitimacy of the political systems established after independence. The third is the intense demographic growth without adequate economic development3. The relative material deprivation has led to feelings of alienation, frustration, and hence, a growing sense of powerlessness. Against the background of disappointment, bitterness and gloom in this life, fundamentalism became a ray of light, provided emotional fulfilment, and inspired the faithful Muslim with hope in this life and eternal grace in the life to come.

When the question is posed, why, after a variety of experiments in social change over nearly a century, do Muslim societies remain economically underdeveloped, poor, and politically repressive? Muslims, traditionalists and fundamentalists alike, would claim that a return to Islamic heritage would resolve these problems4. That is to say that a strict adherence to Islam and its norms is the only answer, for Islam is believed to be the vehicle by which one can realize God’s ultimate unity (tawhid). Its message is pervasive in the sense that covers all aspects of life and society. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood movement viewed Islam as a total system that transcended national boundaries, believed in the unity of religion and politics, and considered Western culture decadent. It follows that all the precursors of Islamic fundamentalism insisted on unconditional fealty to Islam and questioned the validity of any sources of learning that were outside the Islamic cosmological doctrine5. Their struggle at Islamizing society ranged from the development of a defined ethical self and the establishment of community organizations and social welfare institutions (Muslim Brothers and Salafi movements), to the mobilization of violent insurrection groups and guerrilla warfare (al-Jihad, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya and al-Qaeda networks). It is obvious that such variation is not about purpose but rather in the methods they used. While the radical Jihadis with their extremism, revolutionary path, and hateful discourse are willing to do anything to establish an Islamic political order even in non-Muslim societies, the non-violent trend in the Islamic movement is pragmatic, engaged in advocating social transformation and has developed a moderate discourse which illustrates an ambiguous respect of some civil liberties, human rights, and the acceptance of certain democratic elements. In fact several Islamist movements in a number of Islamic countries have sought to advance their political agendas through contesting elections. Recently, they even have experienced success at the polls, as evidenced by elections in Egypt, Bahrain and Palestine. With Islam as its reference this discourse claims that it is not inherently anti-Western and some of its representatives are keen to build bridges of understanding and communication with people and institutions in the West. Yet, many observers still question their real commitment to democracy.

Initially, it is important to note that the resurgence of political Islam is a counter-process to unhappy encounter with the West and its modernity. Many Muslims were unable to see, what went wrong? What caused the decay of their past heritage? And what contributed to their marginalization and impotence? Furthermore, they were unable to reconcile their modern reality (pervasive humiliation from comparison between present misery and past achievements) with God’s proclamation: “You are the best umma created (by God) on earth”6. The Arabs in particular were unable to concede the disastrous and humiliating defeat in the 1967 six-day Arab-Israeli war. Secular Arab nationalism had been proved a failure and was dead. It was in this time of great danger, difficulty and anxiety that the fundamental voice claimed that negligence in applying Shari’a (Islamic law) provoked the anger of Almighty God. That is to say that the crisis is a form of God’s punishment resulting from laxity in applying God’s rules. This voice called for tawba (the notion of repentance) and a return to religion. With the passage of time, a broad acceptance of the fundamentalist message developed throughout the Muslim countries that the reason for the plight of Muslims is that they and their governments had fallen away from the original principles of Islam. Thus, people were able to realize what they had left behind and remembered what they had forgotten. A return to the straight path of Islam will restore the identity, power, and wealth of the Muslim umma. In this context, fundamentalist theorists such as Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb in Egypt, Abul A’la Mawdudi in Pakistan, Mustafa al-Siba’i in Syria, Abbasi Madani, Mahfouz Nahnah, and Ali Belhaj in Algeria, Hasan al-Turabi in Sudan, Rashid al-Ghannushi in Tunisia, and Abu Bakr Bas’asyir in Indonesia, adopted an identifiable approach to a common obligation to implement the fundamentals of the truth in the Qur’an and Sunna in their lives and societies. They believed that Islam as a body of faith has something important to say about how politics and society should be ordered in the contemporary Muslim world. Therefore, Islam forms the ideological and often the cultural and social context for their sophisticated movements of reaction against modernity and its threatening features of contemporary world7. Given the diversity of their backgrounds, cultures, and differences in time and space, there are considerable variations in their discourse and orientations. At the same time, understanding the dynamics of the sometimes contradictory discourses on any given issue requires an appreciation of the diversity of the contemporary Islamic experience.

So it can easily be seen how the Islamic fundamentalist movements do not constitute a monolithic phenomenon. Each movement is shown to have been a belated reaction to internal and external forces. Though they share the common purpose of establishing a new social and political order based on Islam (Islamizing society) and have similarities in the vocabulary of their discourse, there is an infinite variety of ideological differences. They differ also on how this goal should be realized. As there are various insights into the Islamic ethical ideal contained in the sacred text, many fundamentalist movements divided along ideological and sometimes sectarian lines. For instance, while the vast majority have insisted on the application of Shari’a with a more ambitious agenda for its implementation, the promotion of the Islamic law has not been the priority of other fundamentalist groups in Indonesia, such as the Laskar Jihad and Jema’ah al-Turath al-Islami and Islamic Youth Defence Surakarta. These groups should be considered among the Salafis. Some of them do subscribe to violence and are called Salafi Jihadis8. Furthermore, while most of the Salafi movements prefer to stick to their traditional activities, like personal salvation through faith (iman), preaching (da’wa), and the promotion of Islamic law, some Salafis are not political activists and their groups restrain themselves from adopting a political agenda like the majority of Indonesian Salafis and the Tablighi Jama’at group in Indo-Pakistan. Again, while some fundamentalist groups are pluralistic in terms of inter-Muslim relations and relations between Muslims and minorities, others are not9. The fact is that some fundamentalist groups, while ideologically radical, might nevertheless be nonviolent in their methods.

On the other hand, there are movements that make no distinction between politics and religion, regard Islam as a complete, unchangeable and finished system and are usually associated with authoritarianism10. Their ideology is based on an assumption that Islam has a predominant political mission. Hence, the ability to practise Islam fully as a religion is dependent upon the ability to create an Islamic political system. What is particularly noteworthy is that political Islam comes in many strains and certainly not all are marked by an attachment to violence. Some Islamic movements cannot be easily labelled as radical or moderate, because radical and moderate wings can coexist within the same movement. Furthermore, extremist groups can evolve into moderate ones, and moderate groups can become radicalised11. However, while it may be appropriate to speak of the Muslim Brotherhood’s movement within Egypt as non-violent (it has given up on the use of force since the late 1960s), some of its branches and sister- movements outside Egypt do subscribe to violence as a method of achieving their ends. The Islamic resistant movement (in the Gaza Strip) Hamas is a case in point. It is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. It is further of interest to note that, Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, the most authoritative Muslim theologian who is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, while condemning terrorism in Britain; he supports suicide bombings against Israel referring to it as form of Jihad12. It has often been noticed that, though the growth of several radical Islamic groups occurred outside the context of the Muslim Brothers, the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood remained the mother organization from which the various splinter militant groups sprang13. Having spent years in jail and endured its brutality, many young Brothers turned radicals.

Among the Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt, was the prominent thinker and ideologue Sayyid Qutb who was executed in Cairo in 1966. He is the author of a number of controversial writings, which had a significant impact on Muslim fundamentalists up to the present day. Qutb’s writings such as In the Shadow of the Qur’an, and Milestones, first started to circulate widely among the Muslim Brothers, exercising a powerful influence on the regeneration and redirection of Islamist ideology14. Qutb’s basic ideas about Jihad are found in chapter four in his controversial work Milestones, published in 1964. In this chapter, Qutb explained his thesis of how to turn Islam into a political movement in order to create a new society based on Qur’an principles. In this new society, domination (hakimiyya) should be reverted to God alone. Hence, the ultimate objective is to re-establish the Kingdom of God on earth with Shari’a as the law of the land. He considered that modern society is a sinful one because it existed in a state of jahiliyya (i.e. pre-Islamic barbarity) with moral ignorance. In another book, Qutb described modernity as responsible for stripping humanity of its spirituality and its values and reducing human beings to the level of animals. In order to bring society out of the yoke of this modern jahiliyya and revert to the sole domination of God (hakimiyya), it would be necessary to form a vanguard of faithful and dedicated Muslims prepared to undertake Jihad through armed struggle against the existing sinful modern society15. If the term jahiliyya should refer to the period of ignorance in pre-Islamic Arabia, Qutb has adapted it to the contemporary period to mean a similar state inherent in modernity. Qutb wrote:

We are also surrounded by Jahiliyya today, which is of the same nature as it was during the first period of Islam, perhaps a little deeper. Our whole environment, people’s beliefs and ideas, habits and art, rules and laws – is jahiliyya, even to the extent that what we consider to be Islamic culture, Islamic sources, Islamic philosophy and Islamic thought are also constructs of Jahiliyya. It is, therefore, necessary….that we should remove ourselves from all the influences of the jahiliyya in which we live and from which we derive benefits. We must return to that pure source from which those people derived their guidance, the source which is free from any mixing or pollution16.

According to Qutb the condition of jahiliyya prevailed in Egypt, where the people were no longer worshipping God but revering Nassir and his regime.

It was, indeed, Qutb who boldly expressed the view that God alone possesses truth and human beings must simply have faith in that fact. Furthermore, he made an assault on the historical evolution of the Islamic experience. In his view, the lessons to be learned from the early Muslims are not to be found in the rules they articulated but in their response to the challenges they encountered. Having lived in the first period of jahiliyya, they responded with revolution. Hence, contemporary Muslims must respond similarly to the challenge of modernity (modern jahiliyya) in this age of secularism. He defined the road as follows:

Our aim is working to change the jahili system at its very roots…. Our first step will be to raise ourselves above the jahili society and all its values and concepts. We will not change our own values to make a bargain with this jahili society. Never!” “Islam is God’s religion for the whole world. It has the right to take the initiative. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions…..in order to release mankind from servitude to human beings so that they may serve God alone”. “To proclaim the authority and sovereignty of God means to eliminate the dominion of Man and to establish the rule of the kingdom of God over the entire earth.” We know that in this we will have difficulties and trials, and we will have to make great sacrifices17.

There is little doubt that Qutb’s ideas on jahiliyya, the sovereignty of God, and jihad owed much of their original inspiration to the writings of Hanbali jurists such as Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328), his disciple Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d.1350) in addition to Abu al-A’la Mawdudi (1903-1979). In fact, Qutb quotes extensively in his Milestones, from the book Zad al-Ma’ad of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. As far as Abu al-A’la Mawdudi is concerned, he has discussed the concept of jahiliyya and was the first to condemn modernity and to emphasise its incompatibility with Islam18. Qutb borrowed heavily from Mawdudi’s vision of an Islamic state, but he broke new ground in his analysis of how to realize it. In fact, it was Qutb who radicalized these ideas and produced a programme for political Islam, the purpose of which is the creation of a universal political system in which national and ethnic differences are to be disregarded. Current political systems in the Muslim world, as well as the political systems in the West, were seen as obstacles to this scheme. Since belief alone cannot be complete unless it is coupled with action, it is conceivable that violence is an indispensible means to the achievement of such a system. In a word, Qutb’s Milestone provided the religious justification for all Muslim radical groups and showed them the way forward19.

It may not be irrelevant to note that the defeat of three Arab countries by Israel in June 1967 and its after-effects, the failures of the Arab regimes to build socio-economic justice in their societies, and their failure to reach a satisfactory and just solution to the Palestinian problem, have only served as a fertile ground for the growth and spread of Qutb’s programme of Islamism in the Muslim world. It is quite clear that his radical vision was a product of the crises of contemporary social and political conditions in the Middle East. Precisely because of the widespread poverty and the staggering figures of illiteracy in many Muslim countries, his discourse became the basis of many new militant political discourses. His writings constituted the guide for the ideas and practices of the radical Islamic groups in the Middle East. In the course of time, Qutb’s books have been translated into most languages that Muslims read and have exercised a formative influence on “global jihadism”: the Taliban and al-Qaeda international networks, which harbour a hatred for, and advocate violence against, all versions of a consensual world order20.

While understanding how Qutb’s ideas have influenced and continued to inspire many younger Brothers, the old guard brotherhood leaders, nonetheless, felt that Qutb had gone too far. They opposed the radical tendencies articulated in his manifesto (Milestones), particularly the practice of identifying someone as unbeliever (kafir), and the call for active revolution in order to revert domination (hakimiyya) to God alone21. Hence, the Brotherhood leadership repudiated the more radical and militant ideas of Qutb informally in 1969 and formally in the early 1980s. This in turn would seem to have created disputes within the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, with radical members at times breaking away to form secret revolutionary groups committed to the use of violence in the 1970s; among them, al-Jihad, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya and al-Takfir wa-l Hijra (Apostatization and Migration) with divergent and conflicting interpretations of Qutb’s teachings. But they agreed on declaring Jihad against the jahili regime in Egypt22. Thus, Islamic militant groups have become a phenomenon in many parts of the Muslim world since the mid seventies and were strengthened by the 1979 revolution in Shi’ite Iran. All of them shared the background of negative social and economic conditions, colonial experience, and a rigid religious tradition. It was only under conditions of crises, when the government was weak or excessively oppressive and corrupt, that rigid religious traditions tended to assert themselves and gained ascendancy. In order to communicate anger and disappointment at the government, the mosque became an appropriate place where political opposition was articulated. In this way the militant movement has been particularly powerful as the principal opposition force in several Muslim countries like Egypt and Algeria23.

The decentralization of religious authority in Sunni Islam

Unlike the situation in Western Christendom, where religious authority was concentrated in the Roman Church until the Reformation, there was no single source of religious authority for the domains under the control of the Muslim caliphate. Precisely because there was no single locus of religious authority within Islam, religious doctrine was highly fluid and hotly debated. In Shi’ite theology, however, God does not guide solely through authoritative texts, but through specially equipped humans, the imams of the community. Since those imams were the spiritual successors to the Prophet Muhammad and proper heirs to his authority, they were and still are unable to err in pronouncing dogma as doctrinally defined. This concept is called wilayat ul-faqih. While the Shi’ites developed this rather elaborate clerical hierarchy in the sixteenth century, Sunni Islam religious authority continued to be decentralized24. One would not, in fact, be wrong in saying that the absence of a hierarchically organized clergy capable of acting as the central religious authority and scriptural interpretation and the consequent nonexistence of institutional mechanisms within the religious infrastructure to control extremists, made Sunni Islam vulnerable to manipulation. This in itself “provided a great deal of scope for religious entrepreneurs to advance their political and personal goals in the name of Islam”25.

Traditionally, the ‘ulama and fuqaha (Islamic religious scholars) were guardians of the Islamic faith and the leading authorities in religious matters. In the past they were divided by the schools of Islamic law to which they belong. Their legitimacy rested on their possession of religious knowledge, partial independence from the state and their dual function of representing the interests of the state to the laity and the interests of the laity to the state26. As long as the rulers protected the domains of Islam (dar al-Islam), promoted Islamic law, and didn’t interfere with their Muslim subjects’ practice of the faith, theulama gave a title of legitimacy to the political institution and accepted their rulers’ right to rule. The point of all this is that in the classical age of Islam religious and temporal spheres had for all practical purposes come to be considered quite separate. Furthermore, from the very beginning tolerance of both diversity of views within schools of Islamic thought and of other faiths was the rule rather than the exception.

Yet, with the advent of Modern times and decline of Islamic civilization, “the traditional institutions that once sustained and propagated Islamic orthodoxy – and marginalized extremism – have been dismantled”27. It was from the 17th century onward in the Ottoman Empire, that the state’s domination of the religious sphere was institutionalized when the senior religious functionaries were incorporated into the imperial bureaucracy and Sheikh ul-Islam (a prestigious position that governed religious affairs) served at the pleasure of the Ottoman Sultan. However, it is fair to say that, when most Muslim nation states gained independence from the political hegemony of the West around the middle of last century (between 1947 and 1963), the state has grown extremely powerful and centralized at the expense of the authority and autonomy of the ‘ulama. The most vivid scene in various Muslim countries is a type of Islamic autocracy, in which leaders use Islam to justify and concentrate their own powers. To do that, the state had to control religious institutions such as mosques, schools of religious learning, state offices producing textbooks and statements related to Islam. In most Muslim countries, the state now tightly controls the private religious endowments (awqaf) that once provided for the scholars of religion. This development took place in Egypt in 1961, when Nassir nationalized al-Azhar and placed the mosque-university under the supervision of the Ministry of Endowments. All its finances were to be directed through the appropriate state channels. Moreover, a law was enacted to institute as part of al-Azhar University a school of medicine, a school of engineering, a school of agriculture, and a college for women. This reform also involved major administrative changes within al-Azhar. Whereas, the Egyptian regime sought control of al-Azhar to secure fatwas (religious legal opinion) that safeguard its domestic security and legitimize foreign policy, it soon became obvious, from a religious point of view, that the wholesale reform have far-reaching effects on the texture of society. A worthwhile class of physicians, engineers and agriculturists was created with some knowledge of and an interest in Islam28.

On the other hand, it followed from this reform that Al-Azhar, as Sunni Islam’s most esteemed institution of religious learning became an arm of the Egyptian government and the state has co-opted the ‘ulama, i.e. the establishment ‘ulama and transformed them into its salaried employees. Of course, the state assumed the authority to appoint al-Azhar’s Grand Imam (Grand Sheikh) and the State mufti. It should be noted that Dar al-Ifta’ (department of fatwa) was instituted in 1895 to provide official guidance for the Egyptian State and public on how to live in accordance with the requirements of Islam. It is not under the jurisdiction of al-Azhar, but under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and it directs its fatwas to the Muslim umma as a whole. Hence, this transformation has reduced legitimacy of the state- appointed ‘ulama, diminished the popular authority they once enjoyed, and created a profound vacuum in religious authority. It was a mere coincidence that this development took place when Islam came to play an important and powerful role at multiple levels as millions of people sought to make it a more central part of their lives in Egypt. For that has proved conductive to the emergence of alternative groups seeking to speak on behalf of Islam29.

It should be noted, however, that the attack on the independence of al-Azhar has provoked opposition among the non-establishment ‘ulama and laid the foundation of a generation of rejectionists within its university30. The ‘ulama’s desire to express more independent views often caused internal dissent with contradictory fatwas in al-Azhar, leading to its further degradation and undermining its ability to speak in one voice and exert religious authority. One can not refrain from remarking that, if al-Azhar is an official institution and subordinate to a secular state, it has, nonetheless, a basic ideological interest in the Islamization of the Egyptian society and the implementation of Shari’a. No wonder that most Azhari ‘ulama are sharing a conservative, literalists approach to Islam and have interaction and mixing with the non-violent Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups31. Whereas, the Islamic resurgence of 1980s and 1990s and the subsequent increased interest in religious knowledge and literature allowed the Azhari ‘ulama to interact more effectively with broader segments of society and enhanced their integration in the public political and social discourse, it created, at the same time, the potential for lay fundamentalist organizations and radical groups to speak for Islam. Precisely because, al-Azhar found itself competing with radical groups with an agenda like its own, namely Islamization of society and implementation of Islamic law, it radicalized its own rhetoric accordingly to win the hearts and minds of the people. Thus, al Azhar “became a plural and diversified body that is now itself in competition with other religious entrepreneurs”32.

Again, while the ‘ulama in the Muslim nation states continued to see themselves as the primary interpreters of Islam, they did not hold a monopoly on religious interpretation. The argument here is that the basic principles of Islam have been rendered unalterable and that no religious authority is in a position to subvert or circumvent them. Since there is no official clergy in the doctrine of Sunni Islam, interpretive authority became accessible to sufficiently educated and well informed lay Muslims. That is to say that the power to interpret the sacred text may be granted to any individual who is socially recognized by a given group of people for his piety and knowledge. Though individuals without any official religious status or formal religious education are not authorized to issue fatwas or any form of religious ruling on Shari’a, pluralism is in the tradition of Islamic fiqh that tolerates differences of opinion on matters of interpretation and is said to testify to the flexibility of the Shari’a. According to Sheikh Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905), since the Qur’an must be understood first and foremost through reason, any Muslim who is capable of rational inquiry had a direct responsibility to read, contemplate, and interpret the text for himself. Furthermore, Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi also tried to undermine al-Azhar’s monopoly over the field of preaching (da’wa) by claiming that da’wa is not the sole mandate of the sheikhs and the imams of al-Azhar, but is the duty of each and every Muslim according to his abilities33.

It was even before the middle of twentieth century that lay literate Muslims leaped into the arena and claimed the right to interpret Islam. They were not trained in the religious sciences and largely unfamiliar with the accumulated traditions of Islamic theology, jurisprudence, and the tools required to interpret the ethical truth in the Qur’an and Hadith. It is thus, not surprisingly that a process of literal interpretation of the sacred texts without adequate reference to context began to define Sunni fundamentalist Islam. This new group of lay activists, drawn largely from modern professions such as journalism, secular education, engineering, and medicine, along with a few non-establishment ‘ulama began to work out an Islamist ideology which combines religious reform (based on literal reading of the Qur’an) and political mobilization. Three key intellectual-activists, Hasan al-Banna (who founded the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt), Abul A’la Mawdudi (who created Pakistan’s Jama’at-i-Islami), and Sayyid Qutb (godfather and martyr of Islamic radicalism) have been so influential in articulating the vision of Sunni political fundamentalism. With every justification it can be said that, “the leadership of most major Islamic movements, mainstream and extremist, nonviolent and violent alike, has been influenced by their ideas on Islam, Islamic revolution, jihad and modern Western society”34.

The new Jihadist culture

With the emergence of new radical groups in several countries in the Middle East in the 1970s the field of interpretation became dangerous. They took Sayyid Qutb’s interpretation of Jihad, considered themselves the vanguard, and pushed for its realization through armed struggle in the defense of Islam against the existing sinful secular regimes in the Muslim world and Egypt in particular, as well as against the Western governments that have supported them. They sought to overthrow the jahili regimes and create a true Islamic society. Therefore, they were critical of the pragmatic policy of the Muslim Brotherhood and their strategy of gradual change and of working through the established social and political institutions. Yet, it should be noted, that even the radical jihadist movement itself is not monolithic. While subscribing to the same general tenets, there are nonetheless several groupings that differ in terms of cultural background, diversity of objectives, tactical and strategic priorities, and mechanisms of control and organization. However, two distinct strands of jihadism ought to be identified, the first is the doctrinaire jihadists, who have used violence against both their own jahili regimes (the near enemy) and the West and the United States in particular (the far enemy). They include the local secret revolutionary groups in countries like Egypt, Algeria, in addition to al-Qaeda organization. The second is the so-called irredentist jihadists, who struggle to redeem land considered to be part of Dar al-Islam (domain of Islam) from non-Muslim rule or occupation, like the Islamic resistant movements’ al-Jihad, Hamas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah (Hizb’allah) in Lebanon, and similar groups in Kashmir, Chechnya and Mindanao in the Philippines35. Since much ink has been spilled and volumes have been written on the jihadist groups and their networks, I will not present a detailed analysis. Yet, critical attention should be turned to the ideological development of radical Islam in the Middle East since the execution of Sayyid Qutb.

It would be true to say that members of the secret revolutionary groups in Egypt (al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in particular), were frustrated young people from the lower middle class, often university students – especially those who temporarily or permanently resided away from their families. Many of them had rural background. Even young women were extensively involved in activities of the groups. Young militants, men and women, appeared on university campuses to radicalize the student bodies. With the passage of time increasing participation in prayers at mosques, growing beards and wearing the veil among students became fashionable. It should be evident that, recourse to puritanical beliefs is more tempting when people can associate the failure of their governments in meeting the challenges of modernity with a deep economic, social and military crisis. Hence, members of the radical groups integrated the Islamic vocabulary into their political claims. Though they were a minority, the militants engaged the debate about the failings of government and generated many of the radical interpretation about Islam such as the interpretation of Jihad and the injunction of ‘commanding right and forbidding wrong’. They considered it their duty to use force in implementing the principle of ‘forbidding wrong’. Precisely because they were anxious to impose what they understood as God’s will on society and to curb immoral behavior, they adopted a rationale for militancy based on Qutb’s teaching. Their revolt was directed not only against the secular regimes, which they considered as morally sinful, but also against Islamic institutions such as Al-Azhar and the Sufi orders. Such radical ideas eventually filtered into the minds of the illiterate and semi-literate segments of society. Similar development could be observed in other Muslim countries and Algeria in particular, namely a radicalization of thought in the last decades of twentieth century as young Islamists, stimulated by social, economic and political crises, came into conflict with ruling regimes. Thus, the tide influenced modern Muslim perception of the long bygone past and inspired in some young people a mood of violence36.

What needs stressing, however, is that while the rhetoric of the new radical groups accused the establishment ‘ulama of ignoring Jihad, failing to address the moral crisis of society and harmful innovations (bida’); and denounced them for being unable to give more than an official interpretation of Islam that answered the needs of the jahili rulers, some militant groups tended to invite members of the non-establishment ‘ulama to join their organizations and even assume leadership in order to provide necessary spiritual guidance. The blind Azhari scholar Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman who is currently serving a life sentence in the USA (for his involvement in the first attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993) is a case in point. He was an associate professor of Islamic religion at Al-Azhar university branch in Asyut (Upper Egypt). In the late 1970s he developed close ties with two of Egypt’s most radical jihadist groups namely, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya. By the 1980s he became the spiritual leader of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, the largest student group in Egypt. As the group was oriented to action rather than to the elaboration of theory, it needed the guidance of the blind Sheikh. He played a key role in defining and articulating the goals, policies and tactics of that group37. The group is responsible for many acts of violence against Egyptian government officials, intellectuals, Coptic Christians, churches, and foreign tourists in Egypt. The fatwas of Omar Abdel-Rahman provided legal and moral dispensation for the group’s acts of violence that are deemed to fulfil Jihad under his extremist interpretation of Shari’a. It is true that he issued fatwas that provided the religious justification for the assassination of President Sadat in 1981, killing and plundering of foreign tourists (preferably Israeli), and for waging a war of urban terrorism against the United States, which included the first attack on the World Trade Center in 199338. These fatwas has been passed on to other groups, the Islamic Jihad which carried out the assassination of Sadat, and al-Qaeda which carried out the massive second attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers on September 11, 2001.

On the other hand, the group known as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Tanzim al-Jihad al-Islami) was first uncovered in 1978. It began as a small underground group in Cairo under the leadership of an electrical engineer in his mid-twenties by the name Muhammad Abdel-Salam Farag. He articulated the ideology of the jihadists in a small manuscript entitled Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-gha’iba (Jihad: The Neglected Duty), which was printed in a clandestine edition after his trial and execution in April 1982. In the opening paragraph, he begins by stating that “Jihad for God’s cause in spite of its importance for the future of religion has been neglected by the ‘ulama of this age39. Following in Qutb’s footsteps, Farag rejects the traditional interpretation of the tenet of Jihad as primarily one of personal struggle for moral rectitude. He asserted that the real character of the duty of Jihad is clearly spelled out in the text of the Qur’an,it is fighting, which means confrontation and blood.40 In his view fighting is the only solution to the Muslims’ problems. Having defined Jihad as an act of violence, he elevated the tenet to the status of a pillar. It is a duty for every Muslim no less than the obligatory five pillars that Muslims are obligated to perform. That is to say he maintained that violent Jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam, forgotten by the believers. “As long as it is a pillar (Fard ‘Ayn) like praying and fasting (the holy month of Ramadan), one should not seek his parents’ permission before going out to undertake Jihad.41 Farag claimed that the ultimate triumph of Islam has been prophesied, and all that remains is for Muslims to fulfil the prophecy. As present-day Muslims are living in nation states that are ruled by apostates, governing according to laws that are not based upon the Shari’a, it is imperative for Muslims to establish a Muslim rule. The mission of Islamic Jihad was to create a true Islamic state and society in Egypt as the first step in achieving the long-term goal of a single Muslim government under a true Islamic caliphate. Given the authoritarian and corrupt nature of present-day regimes, a true Islamic state could not be established through nonviolence but only through confrontation and blood42.

It is important to notice that under the subtitle “the near and far enemy”, Farag addressed the issue of priority in undertaking militant Jihad. While Arab public opinion and the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood have maintained that Jihad against the state of Israel should take precedence over toppling the existing sinful regimes (through armed revolution), Farag confronted this trend for the first time, stressing that it is more important to fight the nearby enemy, i.e. the enemy at home (the jahili regime) than the enemy that is far (Israel). Jihad’s first and foremost priority must be to replace the infidel rulers with a comprehensive Islamic system. If the militants began with the faraway enemy, the illegitimate Muslim ruler (the infidel) would turn the struggle to his advantage. In other words, Farag was anxious that the liberation of Jerusalem would strengthen and consolidate apostate Arab regimes:

Muslim blood will be shed in order to realize this victory (over Israel). Now it must be asked whether this victory will benefit the interests of an Islamic state. Or will this victory benefit the interests of infidel rule? It will mean the strengthening of a state which rebels against the laws of God. These rulers will take advantage of the nationalist sentiments of these Muslims in order to realize their un-Islamic aims, even though these aims look Islamic at the surface. Fighting has to be done (only) under the Banner of Islam and under Islamic leadership”43.

That is to say that the first battlefield for Jihad is the extermination of these infidel rulers and to replace them by an Islamic Order and an Islamic state. As violence against those who support the apostate regime could very well kill Muslims, yet it is the responsibility of true Muslims to prove themselves. According to Farag’s interpretation, this gives Muslim radicals the freedom to fight and to kill nominal Muslims with the excuse that they should know better than to support the apostate regime. In this context, Farag used Hadith literature extensively in addition to the Qur’an as a source for his deliberations44.

It is obvious that many of the ideas put forward in al-Farida al-gha’iba were not new. Farag drew heavily upon the writings of two men in particular: the medieval Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya and the prominent Sayyid Qutb. Ibn Taymiyya (1268-1328) lived during one of the most disruptive periods of Islamic history, which witnessed the Mongols’ conquest of the Abbasid Caliphate and the fall of Baghdad in 1258. His family was forced to flee to Damascus, and it may will be that his painful experience as refugee coloured his attitude toward the Mongols throughout his life and reflecting his emotional engagement with Jihad. There is no reason to doubt that a deeply felt injury can become like a cancer of the spirit, eating away at an individual or a community. Though the Mongols of Persia had embraced Sunni Islam by the late 13th century, their expansionist drive and violence continued. Hence, Ibn Taymiyya’s traumatic experience inspired his militant spirit and accounted for his readiness to issue radical legal opinions (fatwas) based on a rigorous, literalist interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna. As a true Hanbali jurist, Ibn Taymiyya was anxious to impose God’s Will. In his view, a Sunni ruler becomes illegitimate if he does not apply the Shari’a or when he breaks major injunctions of the Faith. He equates between illegitimacy and apostasy. So, when a Sunni ruler neglects or transgresses the Shari’a, he becomes an infidel or rather an apostate. In this context, Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa was that the Mongols, by implementing ‘man’s made law’ (the Yasa code) instead of the Shari’a, were in fact living in a state of jahiliyya. He challenged the Mongol’s understanding of Islam, pronouncing them un-Islamic. Consequently, Jihad against such apostates was not only allowed, but also obligatory45. It is, of course, important to acknowledge that declaring the Mongol leaders un-Islamic or apostate (according to Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa) relieved the Mamluk Sultans and gave them a free hand to fight other Muslims, but it set a dangerous precedent that is at the heart of modern jihadists’ violence against the apostate rulers in the Muslim world46.. What is particularly noteworthy, is that he asserts in his fatwa that “Jihad is better than going on hajj and ‘umra” (pilgrimage and visiting the holy land), paving the way for Qutb to define Jihad as an individual and permanent obligation (fard ‘ayn), for Farag to maintain that Jihad is the forgotten sixth pillar of Islam, and for ‘Usamah bin Laden’s claim that Jihad is second in importance only to belief (Imaan)47.

As has already been observed, Jihad, for Qutb, was a permanent revolution against internal and external enemies who usurped God’s sovereignty (hakimiyya). It is probable that his ideas were as much the product of the brutality he experienced for years (1954-1965) in jail. Hence, “his teachings recast the world into black and white polarities. There were no shades of gray.”48 He painted and condemned all modern societies as anti-Islamic (jahili) and called for its destruction. As the creation of an Islamic government was a divine commandment, a vanguard of faithful believers must strive through violent Jihad to implement it. Precisely because his ideas are simple and simply expressed in fateful words, it is easy to see why his revolutionary ideology became popular and bore fruit across the Middle East and why his example has been repeatedly emulated49.

While Qutb produced an influential ideological manifesto for the contemporary Jihadist movement, Farag translated its meanings into operational terms. Farag was an activist who preached Jihad in local mosques, recruited militants, and plotted underground in coordinating the assassination of President Sadat. From 1979 through mid 1981 and under his charismatic leadership, the Jihad group managed to absorb many members and leaders of other dismantled secret revolutionary groups which had been established in the early 1970s such as al-Takfir wa-l Hijra and the Islamic Liberation (sometimes called The Military Academy group)50. The Jihad group’s well-educated members included, among others, familiar names like Lieutenant Colonel ‘Abboud al-Zumor, Lieutenant Khalid al-Islambouli (the assassin of President Sadat) and two physicians: Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, know as Dr. Fadl and Ayman al-Zawahiri. The bulk of the Jihadist movement accepted Farag’s call to Jihad against the near enemy and his definition of the enemy as being the local unbelieving regimes.

However, the radical project of the Jihadi groups, notably the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, inspired confrontation with the state through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The behaviour of these groups alarmed the state. The authorities realized the large size of these groups was growing even larger with the passage of time. Both groups were considered a danger to Egypt’s Arabo-Islamic and Christian-Coptic social fabrics. Not only did the state use its security forces to maintain its pressure on what remained of the country’s terrorist cells, but also began attempts to contain radicalism and to deradicalise these groups. This was not an easy task as deradicalisation attempts faced some difficulties and setbacks at times. But by the end of the 1990s, the victory of the state over the Jihadists was inevitable and the radical attempts to violently change society and politics had failed in Egypt.

1De Vries, Von Hent (ed.), Religion Beyond a concept (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), 1

2(1) Cf., Ehteshami, Anoushiravan, “Islam as political force in international politics”, in: Lahoud, Nelly and Anthony Johns (eds.), Islam in World Politics (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), 29-53. For a precise, and analytically more useful, definition of Political Islam, see: Denoeux, Julian, “The Forgotten Swamp: Navigating Political Islam”, Middle East Policy (June 2002), 61.

3Guazzone, Laura, “Islamism and Islamists in the Contemporary Arab World”, in: Laura Guazzone (ed.), The Islamist Dilemma. The Political Role of Islamist Movements in the Contemporary Arab World (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1995), 4. Cf. also, Esposito, John (ed.), Voices of Resurgent Islam (Oxford and New York: Oxford University press, 1983), 11.

4Cf. McDaniel, Timothy, “Responses to Modernization: Muslim Experience in a Comparative Perspective”, in: Hunter, Shireen, and Huma Malik (eds.), Modernization, Democracy, and Islam (Westport/Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 35. However, the distinction between fundamentalist and traditional Islam is endemic to the scholarship on Islamism and often marks political versus quietist forms of Islamic activism. On the other hand, Islamism is a term with no universally agreed definition, but which is usually used to suggest that a particular group or movement is seeking to build political structures it deems Islamic. However, Islamic fundamentalism and Islamism have become synonyms in contemporary American usage. Cf.:http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Islamic_fundamentalists. (Accessed online, on July 24, 2009).

5Cf., Moaddel, Mansoor, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), 5; Moussalli, Ahmad, Moderate and Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: The Quest for Modernity, Legitimacy, and the Islamic State(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 111-12.

6The Qur’an: 3 (Surat al-‘emran): 110.

7Cf., Voll, John, “Fundamentalism in the Sunni Arab World”, in: Martin Marty and Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalism Observed. The Fundamental Project, vol. I (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991), 347; Martin Marty and Scott Appleby,” Conclusion: An Interim Report”, in: Martin Marty and Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalism Observed, 814; Fuller, Graham, The Future of political Islam (New York: Palgrave, 2003), xi; Cook, David, Understanding Jihad (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005), 106-107.

8On the now disbanded Laskar Jihad group, see: Hasan, Noorhaidi, Laskar Jihad: Islam, Militancy and the Quest for Identity in Post-new Order Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell South East Asia Program Publications, 2006); Davis, Michael, “Laskar Jihad and the Political Position of Conservative Islam in Indonesia”, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 24/1(2002), 12-32; Mulyadi, Sukidi, “Violence under the Banner of Religion: The Case of Laskar Jihad and Laskar Kristus”, Studia Islamika-Indonesian Journal for Islamic Studies, 10/2 (2003), 77-101. Cf. also : Hasan, Noorhaidi, “The Salafi Movement in Indonesia: Transnational Dynamics and Local Development”, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 27/1 (2007), 83-94.

9Arjomand, Said, “Unity and Diversity in Islamic Fundamentalism “, in: Martin Marty and Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalisms Comprehended. The Fundamentalism Project, vol. 5 (Chicago and London: the University of Chicago Press, 1995), 183; for more details on the Tablighi Jamaat movement, see, Mumtaz Ahmad, “Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia: The Jamaat-I-Islami and the Tablighi Jamaat of South Asia”, in: Martin Marty and Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalism Observed. The Fundamentalism Project, vol. 1: 510-24. Cf. also, Moussalli, Moderate and Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, 69.

10Cf., Halliday, Fred, Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East (London, New York: I B Tauris, 1996), 110-12.

11Rabasa, Angel, et al. The Muslim World after 9/11 (Santa Monica/CA: Rand Corp, 2005), 14. On political Islam see, Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Cambridge/MA: Harvard University Press, 2002). On political Islam in Egypt see, Baker, Raymond, Islam without Fear: Egypt and the New Islamists (Cambridge/Mass., London: Harvard University Press, 2003), 165-211.

12Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Fatwa 23, in: Gräf, Bettina, Medien-Fatwas @Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Die Popularisierung des islamischen Rechts. [= Studien des Zentrum Moderner Orient, 27] (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2010), Anhang III, 506. Cf. also, BBC News, ‘Al-Qaradawi Full Transcript’, Newsnight, 7 July 2004; Strawson, John, “Islam and the Politics of Terrorism: Aspects of the British Experience”, in: Gani, Miriam and Penelope Mathew (eds.), Fresh Perspectives on the ‘War on Terror’ (Canberra: The Australian National University Press, 2008), 14.

13Mustafa, Hala, “The Islamist Movements under Mubarak”, in: Laura Guazzone (ed.), The Islamist Dilemma. The Political Role of Islamist Movements in the Contemporary Arab World (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1995), 172.

14Sayyid Qutb developed a literary appreciation of the Qur’an and a methodology for its literal interpretation in his extensive commentary (tafsir), cf., Qutb, Sayyid, Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (In the Shade of the Qur’an). Rev. ed. (Beirut: Dar Al-Shuruq, 1973-1974), 6 vols. However, late in his life and while he was in jail, he synthesized his ideas and personal experience in his most influential work Ma’alim fi al-Tariq, which is considered a religious and political manifesto for what he believed to be a true Islamic system. See: Qutb, Sayyid, Ma’alim Fi al-Tariq (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1987); Eng. Trans. n.t., Milestones (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2007). Cf. also, Dekmejian, Hrair, Islam in Revolution. Fundamentalism in the Arab World (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press,1995), 90-92; Musallam, Adnan, From Secularism to Jihad: Sayyid Qutb and the Foundations of Radical Islamism (Westport/Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), 137-98.

15Cf., Sayyid Qutb, Islam: The True Religion, trans. Ravi Ahmad Fidai (Karachi, Pakistan: International Islamic Publishers, 1981), 25-26. On the other hand, in the introduction of his book Milestones, Qutb declared the following: “I have written ‘Milestones’ for this vanguard, which I consider to be a waiting reality about to be materialized”. See: Qutb, Milestones, 12. Cf. also, Sivan, Emmanuel, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990), 21-25; Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, 90-93.

16Qutb, Milestones, 20-21. For an explanation of the term Jahiliyya and Qutb’s use of it. See: Shepard, William, “Sayyid Qutb’s Doctrine of Jahiliyya”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 35 /4 (2003), 521-45.

17Qutb, Milestones, 21, 22, 58, and 75.

18Cf. Qutb, Milestones, 53; Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad, 180. Mawdudi founded Jama’at-i- Islami in colonial India in 1941 as an Islamic revivalist party, later it became a powerful political force in Pakistan. He advocated an Islamic state based on the application of Shari’a. Cf., Mawdudi, Sayyid Abul A’la, The Islamic Movement: Dynamics of Values, Power, and Social Change, ed. Khurram Murad (London: The Islamic Foundation, 1984), 71-94; Sivan, Radical Islam, 22; Salim Ali al-Bahnasawi, Al-Hukm wa-Qadiyyat Takfir al-Muslim (Domination and the Issue of Identifying Someone as Unbeliever) (Kuwait, 1981), 48.

19Strawson,“Islam and the Politics of Terrorism“, 17. In the eyes of Muslim activists, Qutb died as martyr. His defiance, life in prison and death provided the younger militants with a model of martyrdom to emulate. He is the godfather to Muslim extremist movements around the globe, see: Esposito, John, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 56; Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, 90.

20Cf., Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad. 172; Moussalli, Moderate and Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, 153; Irwin, Robert, “Is This the Man Who Inspired Bin Laden?” The Guardian, November 1st, 2001, at: www.guardian.co.uk; Zimmerman, John, “Sayyid Qutb’s Influence on the 11th September Attacks”, Terrorism and Political Violence, 16 /2 (Summer 2004), 238-40 and (endnotes) 250-52. It is further of interest to notice that, while Islamic fundamentalist movements are observable in the Middle East throughout its modern history, the most violent “global jihadism” did not emerge until the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). At that time, Muslims from around the world came together to fight along side the Afghan mujahideed with the blessing and sponsorship of the USA. The after-effect of this experience was the development of a global infrastructure of jihad driven and eliminationist brand of militant Islam. Cf., Mamdani, Mahmood, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (New York: Pantheon Books, 2004), 130. On the post- cold war political topography of the Middle East, see Sandra Halperin in: http://www.theglobalsite.ac.uk/justpeace/110halperin.htm . (Accessed online, July 14, 2009).

21Hasan al-Hudaybi, the general guide of the Brotherhood, while in prison wrote a Book entitled “Missionaries, Not Judges” (Du’ah la Qudah), published in 1969, in which he criticized Milestones. Cf., Voll, „Fundamentalism in the Sunni Arab World“, 373. Furthermore, Al-Azhar condemned the book as heretical, cf., Kepel, Gilles, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and the Pharaoh (London: Saqi Books 1985), 101.

22On the composition of membership of these groups cf., Voll, Fundamentalism in the Sunni Arab World, 381-84. Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, 92-93. Cf. also Salim Ali al-Bahnasawi, Al-Hukm wa-Qadiyyat Takfir al-Muslim, 4-42; Salim Ali al-Bahnasawi, Sayyid Qutb bayna al-‘atifah wa al-mawdu’iyyah (Alexandria, 1986), 91.

23On the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt, and Algeria, see: Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism, 197-220 and 265-91.

24It was the Shi’ites who first articulated the doctrine of ‘isma (infallibility) and applied it to their imams, see: Brown, Daniel, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 60-61.

25Rabasa, et al., The Muslim World after 9/11: 39.

26Cf., Khaled Abou El Fadl ,“The Place of Tolerance in Islam: On reading the Qur’an – and misreading it”, at: http://www.bostonreview.net/BR26.6/elfadl.html. (Accessed online, August 14, 2009).

27Khaled Abou El Fadl, “The Place of Tolerance in Islam”. Cf. Also: “Who Speaks for Islam?” paper prepared by Dialogues: Islamic World-US-The West, as background material for the February 10-11, 2006 conference in Kuala Lumpur, at: http://islamuswest.org/pdfs_Islam_and_the_West/whospeaksforislam.pdf. (Accessed online, August 15, 2009).

28Cf., Fazlur Rahman, Islam & Modernity. Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 101- 104; Gaffney, Patrick, “The Changing Voices of Islam: Professional Preachers in Contemporary Egypt”, The Muslim World, 81 (1991), 29; Zeghal, Malika, “Religion and Politics in Egypt: The Ulama of al-Azhar, Radical Islam, and the State (1952-94)”, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 31, no.3 (1999), 371-91; Fahmi, Georges, “The Islamic Religious Elite in the Mediterranean: Preacher for Dialogue or vanguard for the Clash. The Egyptian Case”, at: www.humanrights-observatory.net/…/GEORGE%20FAHMI.pdf. (Accessed online, on August 18, 2009).

29“Who Speaks for Islam?” 6-7; Khaled Abou El Fadl, “The Place of Tolerance in Islam” Cf. also, Moustafa, Tamir, “Conflict and Cooperation between the State and Religious Institutions in Contemporary Egypt”, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 32 (2000), 3-22; Starrett, Gregory, Putting Islam to Work: Education, Politics and Religious Transformation in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 89; Esposito, John, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 100. On religiopolitical activism and the scholars of religion (‘ulama), see: Zaman, Muhammad, The Ulama in Contemporary Islam. Custodians of Change (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2002), 144-80. For a comprehensive history of the office of the State mufti and Dar al-Ifta’ see, Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob, Defining Islam for the Egyptian State: Muftis and fatwas of the Dar al-Ifta’ (Leiden and New York: Brill, 1997).

30Abdo, Geneive, No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 50. Cf. also, Moustafa, Tamir, “Conflict and Cooperation”, 5; Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, 53.

31On the affinities between some Azhari ‘ulama and the Muslim Brotherhood, see: Mitchell, Richard, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 211-12. Cf. also, Barraclough, Steven, “Al-Azhar: Between the Government and the Islamists”, Middle East Journal, 52/2 (1998), 236-49.

32Zeghal, Malika, “Religion and Politics in Egypt”, 372, 381-85. Cf. also, Bachar, Shmuel et al., “Establishment Ulama and Radicalism in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan”, Hudson Institute, at: http://www.futureofmuslimworld.com/docLib/20061226_UlamaandRadicalismfinal.pdf (Accessed online, on August 19, 2009).

33Abduh, Muhammad, The Theology of Unity, Eng. trans. Musa’ad, Ishaq and Kenneth Cragg (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966), 30-31 and 156; Al-Liwa’ al-Islami, September 11, 2003. Cf. also, Bachar ,Shmuel et al., “Establishment Ulama and Radicalism in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan”, Hudson Institute, at: http://www.futureofmuslimworld.com/docLib/20061226_UlamaandRadicalismfinal.pdf

34Esposito, Unholy War, 50. Cf. also, “Who Speaks for Islam?”, 9, 18.

35Cf. Gerges, Fawaz, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad went Global (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-15; Ackerman, Gary and Jeremy Tamsett (eds.), Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Growing Threat (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009), xviii. On the common characteristics of these groups in Egypt see: Mustafa, Hala, “The Islamist Movements under Mubarak”, 172-76.

36Cf., Rugh, Andrea, “Reshaping Personal Relations in Egypt”, in: Marty, Martin and Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalisms and Society. The Fundamentalism Project, vol. 2 (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), 153; Ayoubi, Nazih, “The Politics of Militant Islamic Movements in the Middle East”, Journal of International Affairs 36, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 1982-83), 271-83.

37For more details on al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, see CDI Terrorism Project at: http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/algamaa-pr.cfm. (Accessed online, on August 25, 2009). Cf., Kepel, Gilles, The War for Muslim Minds. Islam and the West (Cambridge, Mass., and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004), 82; Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad, 194-96.

38Bar, Shmuel, Warrant for Terror: Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty of Jihad (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006), xiii. On how the blind Sheikh acquired a U.S.Visa in 1990, cf. Ensalaco, Mark, Middle Eastern Terrorism: From Black September to September 11 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 131.

39Farag, Muhammad Abdel-Salam, Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-Gha’iba (Beirut, n.d.), p.2; Eng. trans. Jansen, Johannes, in: Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Saddat’s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (New York: Macmillan, 1986). Cf. also, Sivan, Radical Islam, 127.

40Farag, Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-Gha’iba, 13.

41Farag, Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-Gha’iba, 14. On the other five pillars of Islam, see: Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad, 186.

42Cf., Cook, David, Understanding Jihad , 107-10; Esposito, Unholy War, 62-64, and 90.

43Farag, Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-Gha’iba, 11; Cook, Understanding Jihad, 108. Cf. also, Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds, 81.

44Farag, Al-Jihad: al-Farida al-Gha’iba, 8; Cook, Understanding Jihad, 107-109.

45Cf., Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din Ahmad, Majmu’ al-Fatawa (Cairo, n.d.), XXVIII: 410-67, 501-8, and 589-90; Cook, Understanding Jihad, 63-66; Sivan, Radical Islam, 94-100; Esposito, Unholy War, 45-46; Jansen, Johannes, “Ibn Taymiyyah and the Thirteenth Century: A Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism”, Quadreni di Studi Arabi, 5-6 (1987-88), 391-96; Morabia, Alfred, “Ibn Taymiyya: Dernier grand theoretician du Ğihad medieval”, Bulletin d’études orientales, 30 (1978), 85-100.

46McGregor, Andrew, “Jihad and the rifle Alone: Abdullah ‘Azzam and the Islamist Revolution“, The Journal of Conflict Studies, 23/ 2 (Fall 2003), 96.

47Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu’ al-Fatawa, XXXV: 160. He based his fatwa on a rigorous and over interpretation of certain verses in the Qur’an, cf., The Quran: 9 (Surat al-tauba): 19-20.

48Esposito, Unholy War, 60.

49Cf. Cook, Understanding Jihad, 102-7; Esposito, Unholy War, 56-62.

50The Society of Muslims’ group, known as al-Takfir wa-l Hijra followed an extreme tradition that rejected all of society as unbelieving, advocated withdrawal from it and the formation of a new believing society. This group was involved in the kidnapping and killing of Sheikh Husayn al-Dhahabi, Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, in 1977. Shukri Mustafa, the leader of the group, was executed among others in March 1978. On the other hand, the Islamic Liberation Group (sometimes called The Military Academy Group) was formed by Salih Siriyya, a Palestinian living in Egypt. The group worked for the creation of a strict Islamic society and an Islamic government. Siriyya and his followers tried to instigate a coup d’état in Egypt. His failed attempt to take over the Technical Military Academy in 1974 led to his execution. Cf., Voll, John,“Fundamentalism in the Sunni Arab World”, 382-83; Sivan, Radical Islam, 19-21 and 112; Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, 94-96; Ayubi, Nazih, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), 73; Kepel, Gilles, The Roots of Radical Islam, Eng. trans. Jon Rothschild (London: Saqi Books, 2005), 70-104.

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