Democracy Terrorism and Extremism

True Islamic teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine

31The Review of Religions – April 2004 There is a growing realisation that the War on Terrorism needs to be fought in the mind, at least as much as it is being fought on the ground. The importance of the ideological dimension in the current terrorist threat is being recognised; even Donald Rumsfeld has accepted that defeating terrorism requires not just military victories but a ‘war of ideas’1. This war of ideas needs, an understanding of the terrorists’ worldview and ideology before effective countermeasures can be determined. I intend first to set the context in which we must try to understand Al Qaeda’s doctrine. We need to understand and agree on the relationship between religion and politics; we need to know how extremism enters religion and how extremists adopt terrorism. We need to understand terrorism as a phenomenon both histor- ically and contemporarily. These steps, especially the last one, will enable us to develop a better understanding of the generic characteristics of religious ter- rorists and it will help us determine where Al-Qaeda fits into this model and where it sits apart. We are then ready to examine Al-Qaeda’s doctrine. Specifically, we can begin to see how the organisation uses religious scripture to justify its worldview, its strategy and how it uses religion to inspire support and action. The process allows us to identify contradiction and conflicts in its theological justification as well as deter- mining when theological beliefs shape ideology and when ideology (particularly political objectives) shape theological beliefs. Only after this stage are we in a position to consider effective means of countering the i d e o l o g y, both in the Muslim world and in the West. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine A paper submitted at the European Union’s Seminar in Brussels. By M A Ashraf – St. Andrews University, Scotland 32 The Review of Religions – April 2004 The Context – Religion and Violence There is one school of thought that assumes religion is the cause of violence and another suggests that religion opposes it but that people hijack religion for political purposes. To explore this ques- tion in a way that would be persuasive and ‘accessible’ from a Western perspective, the actions of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa have been analysed. The Church went from a position of arguing against segregation of Black and White communities in the 17th Century to supporting Apartheid in an increasingly aggressive manner in the last century. This change of position was brought about due to a change of political outlook in its congregations and Ministers resulting from economic threats posed by the Blacks and by immigrants as well as a strategic threat posed by the British occupation. A summary of the analysis based on Susan Ritner’s work is attached at Annex A. The point of most interest is the way in which the Church formulated scriptural arguments to support its position. From this we can conclude that: a ) Doctrines of extremism develop progressively in response to perceived political threats. b) Religious scriptural justifi- cation is offered for the extremists’ policies to motivate its members and to counter criticisms from the moderate parts of the religion. These themes are repeated in other religions. In the case of Al Qaeda, we see a clear trend in its doctrine’s historical development from the writings of Ibn Tamiyya who responded to the 13th Century Mongol onslaughts against Muslims, to Maududi, founder of Jama’at Islami, who developed the ideas of j i h a d against colonialism, through experience of the British rule in India. We also see the trend of Syed Qutb, who advocated rebellion against corrupt secular Arab regimes, and Abdul Azam whose writings on achieving a new world order were an inspiration to Osama bin Ladin. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 33The Review of Religions – April 2004 Despite the fact that the over- whelming message common to all religions is of peace, compassion and brotherly love, many believe that religion is responsible for great misery, suffering, violence and terror. We ought, therefore, to persuade both Western and Islamic peoples that religions in themselves do not pose a threat through violence but it is political manipulation of religions, which in fact does. In the words of Mark J u e rg e n s m e y e r, what is needed ‘… is an appreciation of the power religious imagination still holds in public life, and the recognition that many will find in it a cure for violence instead of a cause.’2 Islam and Politics There is a belief that Islam is incompatible with Liberal Democracy and it is intrinsically political, having not experienced the separation of religion and state as the West did during the Enlightenment. These views are, at best, sweeping generalisations and fail to understand the detail and the dynamic nature of the religion. In particular they do not fully account for the delayed and disrupted influence of modernity on Islamic nations in comparison with the West. This topic is both broad and deep and needs careful analysis. Some brief thoughts are included in Annex B. Suffice to say, Islam as a religion can be apolitical and it can be compatible with Liberal Democracy. To what extent it is either of these things depends as much on the We s t ’s political attitude towards Muslims as it does on the interpretations of the religion within Islamic countries. From Extremism to Terrorism So what makes extremists turn to terrorism in the name of God? The prevailing view amongst academics is that a mixture of religion and ‘day to day practical political considerations’ moti- vates religious terrorists3. The relationship between these moti- vations is seldom considered and needs to be more closely explored. Most commentators make the implicit assumption that of these two motivations, the religious one is the strongest. My True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 34 The Review of Religions – April 2004 hypothesis is that the fundamental motivation is solely political, and religion merely offers the moral justification to employ the force, often in a reprehensible manner, necessary to achieve political objectives. Walter Reich in his book, Origins of Te r r o r i s m4, explains the necessity of moral justification and of obscuring personal agency. He identifies the premise that human beings have a self- sanction mechanism that stops them from committing inhumane acts. Overcoming such scruples can be done by ‘…reconstructing conduct as serving moral purposes, by obscuring personal agency in detrimental activities, by disregarding or misrep- resenting the injurious conse- quences of one’s actions, or by blaming and dehumanising the victims.’ What this means in essence, is that people need moral justification before they indulge in horrific actions. The need for this justification and the strength of the case put forward is strongest in societies with the strongest ethical codes. These tend to be religious and in the case of Islam, where politics needs most moral justification, the scriptural arguments are the most elaborate. The development of a justi- fication leads to the development of a particular worldview where political threats are presented as religious ones. For example, in 1991 the initial motivation of Al- Qaeda was to try to convince the Saudi government that Arabs, instead of Western troops, should expel Iraq from Kuwait. Yet their rhetoric emphasised, amongst other things, the presence of un- veiled female troops in the land of the ‘two sacred places’ as a major threat against which Muslims should rise. Similarly, Al-Qaeda despises many aspects of globalisation and considers secular liberal democratic insti- tutions a threat to Islam. They use this threat to justify their political objectives of establishing a caliphate (in this context, a religious leadership similar to the Papacy) in Saudi Arabia, which would replace the existing Arab monarchies and provide unifi- True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 35The Review of Religions – April 2004 cation of all true believers (most of the Sunni Muslim world, at least). This construction of a worldview where Muslims are under threat from every quarter leads to a sense of ‘serious crisis’. Magnus Ranstorp describes this crisis as ‘multifaceted, at once in the social, political, economic, cultural, psychological and spiritual sphere.’ Fighting against this, the terrorists ‘perceive their actions as defensive and reactive in character’.5 Clerics play a crucial part in shaping this worldview. Their ‘language and phraseology shapes the followers’ reality, reinforcing the loyalty and social obligation of the members to the group and reminding them of the sacrifices already made, as well as the direction of the struggle.’6 The role of the Imam and his Friday Sermon in stirring up popular unrest is commonly reported but this phenomenon is not limited to Islam. According to Sprinzak: ‘There has been no act by the Jewish underground which did not have a rabbinical backing.’7 It is this process of converting political goals into religious imagery and language by the clerics that causes confusion over the source of motivation. What started out as a political objective is transformed in the mind of the terrorist foot soldier into a religious duty. Trends in Religious Terrorism Religious terrorism has ancient roots. David C Rapoport compared the activities and beliefs of 3 ancient terror groups—the Thugs, the Assassins and the Zealots–Sicarii8. Many pertinent trends emerge. For example, the Zealot-Sicarii used theological argument to interpret the political situation of the Jews under the contemporary super- p o w e r, the Romans. It alleged that prominent Jews were being culturally absorbed by heathen Romans and were complicit in ‘the desecration of God’s name’. Although it mostly killed Romans and Greeks, it also killed Jews. Indeed, one of its first victims was a Jewish priest. The Group indulged in both clandestine True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 36 The Review of Religions – April 2004 assassinations as well as military combat with the Roman army. Its rhetoric and strategy has remarkable similarities to those of Al Qaeda today. Despite these roots, religious terrorism is a relatively new trend in the contemporary field of political violence. Bruce Hoffman identified that in 1968 there were no groups who could be described as religious terrorists to well over quarter of terrorist groups having a religious motivation by 1994 9. This proportion has subsequently risen further and, with the advent of Al Qaeda, the global effect of religious terrorism seems to have eclipsed other types of terrorism. What, then, are the characteristics of this phenomenon? Characteristics of Religious Terrorists Baruch Goldstein, a member of the Jewish fundamentalist group, the Kach movement, shot 90 rounds into a crowded mosque in Hebron on 25 February 1994. He killed 29 and wounded 150 worshippers before being over- powered and killed. Although the Prime Minister and others expressed disgust at Goldstein’s actions, many militant and Orthodox Jews saw him as a m a r t y r. One of his mentors, a Rabbi, spoke of Goldstein in fond terms saying that he was a man ‘who could no longer take the humiliation and the disgrace. Everything he did was in honour of Israel and for the glory of G o d . ’1 0 This incident, when taken in conjunction with other examples, tells us a great deal about the characteristics of ‘religious’ terrorism. Some of these charac- teristics are not exclusive to this particular form of terrorism but they take on a greater significance in a religious context. The characteristics could be described as: 1 . Such groups seem more inclined to target civilians and do so without discrimination of sex or age. 2. The location and date of their attacks tend to be chosen with True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 37The Review of Religions – April 2004 symbolic overtones. The Mosque symbolised the dif- ference in the identity of the Israeli Jews and the majority of Palestinians who are Muslims. Even the town of Hebron had significance; it was the site of a massacre of 69 Jews in 1929. The date of the attack was the 2nd Friday of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. 3. Religious terrorists are dis- owned by the majority of their own faith but enjoy a great deal of respect, support and a ffection by a significant number of people within their own faith, even those who do not belong to their particular movement or organisation. 4 . Their actions are an inspiration to others, particularly if they die and are allocated the status of a m a r t y r. 5 . They invariably have a mentor who gives them spiritual indoctrination to reinforce the political grievances they feel as well as to provide a justi- fication for their action. This goes beyond making their act seem right or just, to it being seen as a necessary divine duty that would earn the pleasure of God. 6. The theological justification is often related to an ancient religious ruling provided for a different context. 7. They see themselves as the down trodden who are standing up for the oppressed of their faith against humiliation and injustices committed against their people by others of a d i fferent faith or their own people who are under the influence or pay of their e n e m i e s. 8. Most significantly, their religious and political objectives are complexly inter- twined. Whilst religion pro- vides a long-term vision and an essential motivation for committing acts of terror, their actions are invariably triggered by a political crisis and political objectives are often their immediate goals. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 38 The Review of Religions – April 2004 Yigal Amir a young Jewish student who assassinated the Israeli Prime Minister Yi t z h a k Rabin in 1995 further demonstrated these points. Amir, like Goldstein, saw Rabin as a traitor to the cause of Israel. He was influenced by militant Rabbis who provided him with a justification based on a religious ruling first advocated in the 12th century by a Spanish Jewish s c h o l a r, which states that a witness to the act of an individual trying to kill another is allowed to kill the potential assassin. In this case, Rabin’s political actions were seen by Amir and his supporters as attempting to kill Israelis and the state of Israel. Therefore, his murder was a necessary religious duty. Characteristics of Al-Qaeda and Associated Te r ro r Movements Al-Qaeda was hardly known in the mid 1990’s when Magnus Ranstorp analysed features of religious terrorism from which the above characteristics were extracted but it fits the profile like a glove. It originated out of the ‘crisis’ of the first Gulf War when Osama bin Ladin offered to repel Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. He felt eminently qualified for the task having beaten the Soviet Union, in Afghanistan. The Saudi regime rejected his offer and his fears that the invader would use the invasions as an excuse to dominate the region were confirmed during the following decade when a large part of the 300,000 strong Western force deployed during the war, remained in the Gulf. Bin Ladin and friends had averted the crisis first faced by Islam in the 1980’s from the USSR but they now saw Islam face a more menacing threat, this time from a united Western world. Bin Ladin employed powerful rhetoric to articulate the political and social injustices committed against Muslims by We s t e r n powers. He combined this with f a t w a s (religious edicts) to declare rebellion against the status quo a religious obligation. This complex mixing of generally acknowledged disadvantages in True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 39The Review of Religions – April 2004 Muslim politics and society with plausible sounding theological arguments are amongst the most powerful factors behind Al Qaeda’s success. Although many see bin Ladin as a religious mentor, he shares this role to some degree with his number two, Dr Ayman al- Zawahari. They both, in turn, draw on the ideology of the late Abdullah Azzam, Bin Laden’s intellectual mentor. The scriptural justification for their use of force traces its precedence to the writings of Sayyid Qutb, Abul Al’a Maududi, and Ibn Tamiyya, as already mentioned. The religious credibility amongst the followers of Al Qaeda’s doctrine is crucial to their worldview and motivation. Without it, Al Qaeda’s influence will be greatly reduced. As Joseph Conrad put it, ‘Every extremist is at least sincere’.11 The majority of Muslims have rejected Al Qaeda and its associated groups as un-Islamic. As such the situation is in keeping with the pattern of other religious terrorists but the critical difference is that the moderate majority seems powerless to offer a credible alternative argument. Why this is so is a question that needs deep analysis as part of the war on terror. In the meantime, support for such terrorists is on the increase. Al Qaeda’s operational method- ology and targeting also fits neatly into the generic model of a religious terrorists’ modus operandi. Their targeting of the two African embassies and the World Trade Centre were highly symbolic of their enemy, the US Government and its values. They displayed a call us disregard for the lives of innocents whilst glorifying as martyrs, their comrades whose suicidal actions led to the attack. The precision and audacity of the attacks have earned Al Qaeda considerable respect in parts of the Muslim world. This no doubt will inspire more recruits. Al Qaeda’s characteristics are not restricted to the generic list. A couple are peculiar to Islamic True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 40 The Review of Religions – April 2004 terrorist groups. Islamic govern- ments initially support militants for political purposes but it is a feature of these groups that they invariably bite the hand that feeds them. For example, Anwar Sadat initially supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a political e x p e d i e n c y. He ended up being assassinated by the extremists. S i m i l a r l y, Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haqq accommodated Muslim militants when they presided over P a k i s t a n1 2. Bhutto was hung and Zia was blown up in his aircraft. Al Qaeda was initially supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. It is seriously threatening the Saudi regime as well as worrying others in the region. Another non-conventional aspect of Al Qaeda is that it is not a monolithic organisation. Many of the attacks attributed to it have been carried out by separate o rganisations that share Al Qaeda’s worldview and doctrine. As such Al Qaeda is described as less of an organisation and more of an idea. The types of individuals involved in this loose federation of terror groups also defies conventional assumptions. Their leadership characteristics have been described as: The leaders, from the affluent and privileged segment of society, are highly educated and relatively We s t e r n i s e d . They are not the under- privileged, impoverished and e m b i t t e red isolates who usually constitute the pool that breeds terrorists and radicals. These Islamist terrorist leaders are different f rom the typical Euro p e a n middle-class re v o l u t i o n a r i e s and terrorists … because the Islamists have become popular leaders of the underprivileged masses, while European terrorists remained isolated from a generally hostile population.13 Un-picking Al Qaeda’s Doctrine Although many commentators have pointed out contradictions between Al Qaeda’s ideology and Islamic teachings, they have invariably made piecemeal assessments. The objective of my True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 41The Review of Religions – April 2004 research is to consider all of the relevant statements in order to draw out themes, to show the development of the theological arguments in response to political threats and in support of the Group’s strategy. And the role these play in motivation and propaganda. By way of example, I will give just a sample of some the points emerging from the analysis. ‘In our religion there is a special place in the hereafter for those who participate in Jihad. One day in Afghanistan was like 1,000 days of praying in an ordinary mosque’14. This is the religious significance of the Afghan experience for Osama bin Ladin. It reinforces the comment he made in 1993 to Robert Fisk when he said, ‘What I lived in two years there, I could not have lived in a hundred years e l s e w h e r e ’1 5. He is in eff e c t quoting a Hadith out of context16. These apparently ordinary statements reveal a flaw in Osama bin Ladin’s understanding of Islam. Whilst a Jihad aimed at restoring the freedom of conscience is an obligation in Islam, it does not eclipse the greater Jihad of the struggle between man and his ego. The Hadith records the Prophet after returning from a battle as saying to his followers ‘we must now return to the greater Jihad against o n e ’s ego’1 7. This is achieved through worship, the primary means of which is through the five daily congregational prayers – something that the Prophet never allowed to slip even during intense combat. Osama bin Ladin’s comments betray a distinct weakness in religious knowledge and reveal his subordination of spiritual enlightenment (the primary purpose of religion) to political prowess. The Strategic Context Analysis of statements made clearly shows the development of Al Qaeda’s strategic objectives in response to external political threats. The Afghan war’s strategic objective was merely to remove the Communist govern- True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 42 The Review of Religions – April 2004 ment. This needed only the declaration of a Jihad. The establishment of shar’ia was no more than an aspiration in a few Mujahideens’ minds. The first Gulf War and the subsequent US “occupation” were crises that demanded a change to the system of government in Islamic states. This required the establishment of an alternative system and shar’ia was considered the solution. Bin Ladin’s belief that ultimate political vision, direction and power should rest with religious rather than secular leaders is articulated on several occasions. In 1996 he said, ‘Our trusted leaders, the ‘Ulama’, have given us a fatwa that we must drive out the Americans.18 As far as he is concerned, secular regimes are working towards the interest of Western governments whilst suppressing their own people. ‘When the American tro o p s entered Saudi Arabia,….there was a strong protest from the ‘Ulama’ religious authorities and from students of the Shari’a law all over the country……This big mistake by the Saudi regime of inciting the American troops revealed their deception. They had given their support to nations that were fighting against Muslims. They helped the Yemen Communists against the Southern Yemeni Muslims and helping Yasir Arafats’ regime fight Hamas who opposed the peace process in the Middle East. After it insulted and jailed the Ulama 18 months ago, the Saudi regime lost its legitimacy.’19 He goes on to declare that political truths stem from the pulpit, ‘Now the people understand the speeches of the ‘Ulama’ in the mosques—that our country has become an American colony.’20 The shift from conflict centred ideology to crisis centred ideology led to a change in strategic goal from reactive defence of the status quo to active pursuit of a caliphate. The reasoning is that S h a r’ i a l a w requires an Islamic state, which requires jihad to establish and True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 43The Review of Religions – April 2004 protect the state, a caliph must head a true Islamic state but a caliph has authority over ‘all’ Muslims. The inevitable conse- quence is an Islamic confederation of states or an empire. Therefore, the intrinsically linked concepts of jihad, s h a r’ i a, Islamic state and caliphate will drive Al Qaeda’s grand strategy now and for the f u t u r e . Jihad The intoxication of victory over the Soviet Superpower comes out clearly in many Al Qaeda statements. Less often stated is the subsequent anticlimax and disappointment felt by bin Ladin at the disunity and infighting amongst the Mujahideen. It is evident that the political unity and military success of a Jihad hold a tremendous attraction for Bin Ladin, an attraction which translates in his mind to spiritual fulfilment. All of this blinds him and his followers to the Qur’anic limitations of Jihad to a struggle restricted to the establishment of freedom of conscience. Indeed, they have concocted elaborate a rguments to expand the very narrow rules of engagement which forbid attacking non- combatants, property etc. S i m i l a r l y, they have overcome the prohibitions to justify the use of suicide bombers and weapons of mass destruction. This realist political approach to theology applies to Al Qaeda’s international relations policy. On the one hand it misquotes the Qur’an to forbid any cooperation and friendship with the ‘Jews and the Crusaders’ on the other it makes a pragmatic allowance for cooperation with the atheistic Socialist21. Denying the existence and unity of God is considered the worst sin in Islam and so the logic of Al Qaeda’s ruling betrays a naked political manifesto rather than religious purity. Many of Al Qaeda’s aff i l i a t e d groups support Huntington’s thesis of the Clash of Civilisations. It very much fits their political worldview and it helps justify their violent response. The war on terror, with its emphasis on overt military action and its resultant deaths of True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 44 The Review of Religions – April 2004 thousands of civilians (greater in number than that killed by terrorists), is a useful propaganda tool. The future conduct of the war will determine if the threat of terrorism will be diminished or become what Tariq Ali calls the ‘clash of fundamentalisms’22. Countering the Ideology Understanding Al Qaeda’s ideology and how it contradicts Islamic teachings will serve a useful purpose in fighting terrorism but it must be understood in the context of the political and social causes of terrorism. What is needed is a fuller understanding of the options available to counter terrorism and an appreciation of the limitations of each option, both in the West and in the Islamic world. Europe has begun to debate many options to address the threat. These include language tests for immigrants, licensing of clergy and controls on the establishment of religious education. These are all relevant issues but they are more tactical than strategic in nature. The primary step in a solution is to agree, both at a public and policy level, the relationship between religion and politics and the need to safeguard religion from political exploita- tion. Particular attention needs to be given to ensuring the support of the Islamic ‘Diaspora’ whilst limiting the political freedom of manoeuvre of clerics. A specific challenge will be to positively influence the ‘Cyber Umma’. The solution, however, primarily rests with the Islamic world. The greatest challenge it faces is empowering the ‘muted’ mod- erate majority. They lack unity due to sectarian divisions. The past association of senior moderate Ulama with the ‘failed’ Islamic regimes has damaged their credibility. This lack of unity and credibility has led to a vacuum of religious authority amongst Muslims. There is a growing sense amongst Muslims that the situation will only be rectified by the advent of a promised reformer or Messiah. However, every time a reformer has come, the clergy have turned True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 45The Review of Religions – April 2004 against him, declared him a heretic and banned his followers. Of the most effective measures that the West can take to speed up reform would be to put pressure on Islamic countries to un-ban peaceful organisations currently proscribed for religious reasons and to encourage tolerant religious debate. Conclusion There is no silver bullet for use against Al Qaeda. Indeed, each bullet used against them has the potential to strengthen them. Their strength is their religious doctrine and it is this that needs to be t a rgeted in order to weaken their commitment and to isolate them from their supporters. An essential prerequisite is a clear understanding of and agreement on the relationship between politics and religion, the characteristics of terrorism and the political causes that fuel it. We need to dissect Al Qaeda’s doctrine in order to criticise it. We need also to help create an atmosphere in the West and in the Islamic world where criticism can be openly and constructively debated. This will help provide the conditions for much needed r e f o r m. ANNEX A – Religion in Politics – The Dutch Reform Church Experience A case study that reveals a great deal about religion in politics is that of the role of the Dutch Reform Church (DRC) and Apartheid. Susan Ritner describes the DRC role in ‘…. the more and more precise refinement of an ideology of apartheid, and to exercising pressure on successive governments to accept this ideology as the basis of race policy.’23 In the 17th Century, when the church came into existence in South Africa, it did not practise racial discrimination. Discrimination only existed ‘between Christian and heathen, baptised and unbaptized.’ Later, in the 18th C e n t u r y, the introduction of We s t African and Malay slave labour to meet the needs of white settlers and the settlers’ increasing dispersal amongst the Bantu tribes of the interior led to a feeling of cultural isolation. This reinforced in their minds the link between ‘whiteness, C h r i s t i a n i t y, civilisation as against colour, heathenism, inferiority.’24 These social prejudices resulted in demands by congregations to seg- True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 46 The Review of Religions – April 2004 regate whites and coloureds. The Church initially blocked these on the grounds that they were a violation of Christian principles. In 1857, h o w e v e r, the DRC succumbed to social pressure. Interestingly, it justified the segregation on social grounds, as being of benefit to both communities and confirmed that it had not compromised its ideological belief in the equality of mankind. The separation of congregations naturally led in 1881 to the separation of churches, with the establishment of a Mission Church for the coloured population. The threat from increasing intervention of the British in South Africa and the fear of Anglicisation developed political nationalism in the Afrikaner population. It also made for a closer bond between the Afrikaner and the DRC. The subsequent Boer war further changed the way the Afrikaner saw themselves, from a cultural group to a political entity. The DRC established itself at the forefront of the preservation of Afrikaner identity – its language, culture and religion. Nationalism was a buffer against British domination. Gradually the DRC and the National Party fused as the two pillars of Africkaerdom.2 5 These two organs of ‘state’ worked collectively to protect the interests of the poor whites by negotiating property and land rights over blacks. The post depression social crisis of the thirties presented the Afrikaners with a “choice between two stark alternatives: integration, leading first to cultural and eventually to ‘biological’ assimilation; or total separation of racial groups at every point of contact to ensure absolute Afrikaner group identity and racial p u r i t y. ”2 6 The Church made the second choice. As a Minister put it, ‘only carrying out the policy of apartheid in the light of God’s Word and with G o d ’s blessing would provide deliverance from the dark danger of c o l o u r-mixing and bastardisation’.2 7 Authority of ‘God’s Word’ was necessary for the confidence of the ‘theocratically-inclined lay Afrikaner’ as well as necessary to defend against criticisms of the English Protestant Church that the DRC contradicted Christian teachings. To fulfil both requirements, the DRC con-structed elaborate Scriptural arguments. It is not necessary to expand the religious a rguments here but briefly, the Scriptural references supported three principles: unity in diversity (‘pluriformity’); it is God’s command that separate peoples keep their separateness intact; Christian unity is spiritual rather than racial. These a rguments were developed pro- True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 47The Review of Religions – April 2004 gressively over decades and became stricter with each revision. I m p o r t a n t l y, the process of scriptural justification converted what was a desire for segregation, motivated by Afrikaner self-preservation, into an ideology that made it a religious d u t y on the Afrikaner to resist racial integration. The political manifestation of that duty became more extreme with time as did the religious justification and the Afrikaners’ commitment to the ideology. An important limitation in the application of the DRC case study to other extremist organisations is that the DRC did not overtly justify extreme violence and killing. But just as Clauswitz said, war is politics by other means, it could also be inferred that killing and persecution is merely the application of law and order by extremist states. The point is that, having provided religious justification for apartheid and having a “partnership” with the Government who enacted laws to enforce it, the Church had no need to explicitly advocate violence against blacks. It did, however, support the use of violence by the Government in enforcing the law; some of it resulted in the killing of women and children. It was also noticeably passive in its reaction to terrorist acts by other Afrikaner groups and individuals. The DRC’s ideological manipulation of Christian teachings gives us themes that are repeated in the case of other religious extremists. These themes can be summed up as follows: a Doctrines of extremism develop progressively in response to perceived political threats. b Religious scriptural justification is offered for the sect’s policies to motivate its members and to counter criticisms from the moderate parts of the religion. ANNEX B – Islam in Politics Islamic Government The most common point made about Islam and politics is that unlike the West, where there was a separation of politics and religion (Christianity) during the Enlightenment, Islam and politics seem inseparable. The extre- mists believe, (as do a growing number of ‘non-extremist Muslims’) that a true Muslim cannot subscribe to any system of government other than by Islamic law – the sharia, that this requires an Islamic state and that to establish and protect the state may require fighting (Jihad). On the other hand, some Muslims have argued that Islam is compatible with democracy, in that the concept of consensus True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 48 The Review of Religions – April 2004 (Ijma) in public affairs is ingrained in the Qur’an, as is the concept of a debating assembly (the S h u r a)2 8. They are, however, losing the argument to the increasing influence of the extremists. The fact is that Islam does not prescribe any particular form of government. Rather it merely provides guidance and prescriptions on the values the government should conform to and seek to establish. Nowhere in the Qur’an or Hadith is the concept of monarchy or other totalitarian rule expressly forbidden. However, both scriptures indicate a clear preference for consultative and representative administrations. So what is the role of Islam in such governments? Islam provides, the ethical and moral basis for the government. It places a burden of responsibility on the rulers to provide for their subjects’ material and spiritual needs. Above all, it charges them with ruling with absolute j u s t i c e .2 9 Why then have Muslim countries failed to provide models of successful governments and more particularly, why have they failed to embrace democracy? To address these issues, we need to briefly consider how Western Liberal Democracies achieved pre-eminence. Democracy Democracy as a concept has been in existence for over 2000 years but it only began to take a political form in the contemporary world during the 18th Century. This happened as a result of dramatic social changes, which included the development of the printing press, literacy, industrialisation, urbanisation etc. These changes enabled the exchange of information and ideas among the majority and so permitted the decentralisation of power from a monarch to a parliament. A simultaneous influence on the development of democracy, partic- ularly its form, was the growing revulsion of Europeans to the sectarian violence that plagued the Middle Ages. The institutionalisation of religious authority in the Christian Church and the growing rivalry between Catholics and Protestants created political structures that repeatedly came into bloody conflict. This conflict existed at every level. In the villages, sectarian lynching, burning and looting were common. In the government, the sovereign, the church and the parliament or nobility were often locked in violent intrigue. And, at the national level, wars were fought along sectarian lines. As a consequence many Christians, led by the Puritans, began to set out the True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 49The Review of Religions – April 2004 foundation for secular democratic rule in the New World. Others, like Oliver Cromwell, attempted to do the same in England. They did not fully separate the church and state but they did establish the principles of secularism and parliamentary rule. These developments allowed democracy to take root in the USA and the UK albeit with limited emancipation of the p o p u l a t i o n . In the meantime, the rest of Europe clung on to monarchy or flirted with nationalism and communism. Democracy only became widespread in Europe following a battle of ideologies largely fought during the two horrific world wars and the quietly bloody Cold War. The point is that Western Liberal Democracy is a relatively new construct, one of several political ideas to emerge from the process of modernity. It became pre-eminent not just because of the strength of its arguments but because of its success in the bloodiest internal30 and external conflict the world has seen. Whilst these cataclysmic events were taking place in the West, the Muslim world was experiencing military defeats and colonial occupation. Muslim countries were slow to experience modernity and many are still undergoing the process. Whilst sectarian violence occurs in Muslim populations, its frequency and ferocity rarely come close to the experience in Christendom. Under these conditions democracy and secularism have little on which to take root. It is in this light that the postcolonial political experiments and conflicts of Muslim countries need to be seen. Post Colonial Challenge With the exception of Turkey, Islamic countries have known independence for little more than half a century. In terms of literacy, urbanisation and other modernising influences, they are in a position that is little better than Europe was in at the turn of the 20th Century. Post independence, we saw Islamic states demonstrating behaviours that are remarkably similar to that of European nations a hundred years ago. We saw the establishment of a number of monarchies (mostly installed or protected by the British); we saw experimentation with Nationalism; as in the case of Nasser’s Egypt; we saw seduction of some countries, such as Libya, by revolutionary Socialism and we saw attempts at secular democracy as demonstrated by Mosaddeq in Iran and by Qaid-i-Azam in Pakistan. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 50 The Review of Religions – April 2004 These events suggest that the social and political evolutionary mecha- nisms in the Islamic world were similar, if not identical, to those in post industrialised Europe. The results, however, were different. F a i l u re to Adopt Liberal Democracy The failure of Islamic states to adopt Liberal Democracy was caused, in part, by complex external influences. The ‘chemical reaction’ of the various conflicts that led to the domination of democracy in the crucible that was Europe, was a pure one. Apart from the USA, with its democratic ideals, there was no external political or ideological contamination. Public institutions and social structures needed little modification when a country went from one form of government to another. Those countries that lost the battle of ideas were nursed back on their feet through generous financial and other assistance by democratic nations, for example, the Marshal Plan in Germany. The Islamic world on the other hand, evolved its political structures under very different conditions. There was often an unseemly haste with which colonial powers handed over power. Public institutions were immature and there was little leadership experienced in managing them. There was the corrosive influence of the Cold Wa r, which forced alliances with either of the super-powers. That, in turn, resulted in local rivalries and tensions. Apart from monarchy, all political ideas were imported from the We s t . Whilst these ideas were not in themselves un-Islamic, the leadership always introduced them with We s t e r n social and cultural practices that did not translate well in a Muslim society. The imposition of alien cultural values (sometimes forced), continuing subservience to Western powers and the universal failure of secular Islamic governments to achieve social and political security gave rise to the belief that impoverishment and humiliation resulted from association with the West. Real success and respect could, therefore, only be achieved through n o n – Western means – through Islam. In the meantime, Maududi had developed a politically radical form of Islam to fight colonialism in India. This Islam was waiting in the wings as a tempting alternative and formed the ideological basis of Islamic extremism in many parts of the Muslim world. From Extremism to Terrorism Given the relatively small number of early extremists and the lack of resources at their disposal, asym- metric warfare was the only option True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 51The Review of Religions – April 2004 available to exert political will. Terrorism provided the most cost- effective means of making an impact on the national and international stage. At first, extremism was limited to a few small terrorist movements revolting either against colonial oppression, as in Algeria, or against dictatorial secular regimes, as in Egypt. Later, following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent USA involvement in Iraq, they took on a more global and popular hue. It is important to note that for most o rganisations the transition from extremism to terrorism was a gradual one. Many extremists were imprisoned and tortured, sometimes for merely expressing critical views31. The brutality of the justice they received made them consider a more violent voice for their views32. The time for contemplation of ideology and strategy as well as the scope for camaraderie between like-minded individuals that imprisonment of political prisoners in Arab countries provided is a little considered factor in the rise of terrorism from the region. References 1 Reuters: Rusmfeld Herlads Shift to ‘War of Ideas’ on Terror. 24 Oct 03. 2 Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God, (University of California Press, 2001), p.xii. 3 Magnus Ranstorp. Op Cit p.44. 4 Walter Reich, Origins of Te rro r i s m, ( Washington DC: Woodrow Wi l s o n , 1998) p.161. 5 Ranstorp. Op Cit. p.47. 6 Ibid. p.51. 7 Ehud Sprinzak, Yediot Aharanot, March 18, 1994. 8 See David C Rapoport, Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Tr a d i t i o n s, The American Political Science Review (1984). Vol 78 pp. 658- 675. 9 Bruce Hoffman, Holy Te rro r: The Implication of Terrorism Motivated by a Religious Imperative (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, P-7834,1993), pp1-2. 10 See Dr Magnus Ranstorp, Terrorism in the Name of Religion, Journal of International Affairs, Vol 50 No 1 (Summer 1996) pp 41-43. 11 C o n r a d ’s letter to R.B Cunninghame Grahame, 7th October 1907 (Cambridge: CUP, 1970): p170 12 Graham E Fuller, Islamic Fundamentalism in Pakistan – Its Character and Prospects. RAND (Santa Monica CA 1991). P.5. 13 International Policy Institute for C o u n t e r- Terrorism, Herzliya, Isreal. 9 Dec 99. p.1. 14 The Paladin of Jihad, Time, 6 May 1996. 15 The Independent , 6 December 1993, interview by Robert Fisk. 16 ‘A day and a night of fighting on the frontier is better than a month of fasting and prayer’. Kanzul –‘Ummal. 17 Hadith recorded in Kanzul-’ Ummal Part 4. 18 ‘The Politics of Jihad’, Time, 6 May 1996, interview by Scott Macleod. 19 Ibid. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine 52 The Review of Religions – April 2004 20 Ibid. 21 Osama bin Ladin audio tape broadcast on al-Jazeera on 11 Feb 03. 22 Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms. (Verso Books, 2002) p xi. 23 Journal of Contemporary History Vol 2 Number 4 1967. The Dutch Reform Church and Apartheid, Susan Rennie Ritner. P. 17. 24 Ibid. p. 18. 25 Ibid. p.21. 26 Ibid. p. 23. 27 Ibid. p. 24. 28 Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Vol.19 No 4 Oct-Dec 1996. Threat of Militant Islam D G Kibble. P. 361. 29 Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, I s l a m ’s Response to Contemporary Issues , (Islam International Press Ltd. 1993). P.182. 30 Even in the USA, the Civil War was l a rgely fought to extend liberal democratic values to the Southern States that wanted to continue with slavery. Universal suffrage of the Blacks was not achieved until a century later (the late 1960’s) following the unrest initiated by the Civil Rights movement headed by Martin Luther King and others. 31 “One terrorist said: ‘I wasn’t a terrorist, until they came for me and told me I was.’ Every beating pushed him further over the line between the Islamist and the terrorist.” From: The Observ e r, Inside the Mind of a Terrorist. 9 Mar 03. 32 “al-Zawahari was sentenced to three years in prison on a weapons charge. A former friend suggests that al-Zawahari was set up by an enemy who threw an assault rifle into the garden of his f a m i l y ’s villa in the affluent Maadi district of Cairo. It was during his incarceration, says the friend, that al- Zawahari snapped, the torture he was subjected to in prison sending him over the edge.” From: Janes. Inside Al Qaeda. 28 Sep 01. True Islamic Teachings Compared to Al-Qaeda’s Doctrine Mr Ashraf is a wing commander in the Royal Air Force and was undertaking a year of full-time study leading to a MPhil in International Relations. The topic for his research degree was Al-Qaeda’s doctrine and Islamic Teachings. In 1999, he obtained an MA in Defence Studies at Kings College, part of which was a dissertation on the rise of Islamic Militancy. This article is an edited version from a speech delivered by Mr Ashraf at the EU Commission’s DGRELEX Seminar, on Networks of Instability i n Brussels on 3 December 2003 ABOUT THE AUTHOR