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Middle aged heterosexual, WASP male. Semi retired, semi-sane and semi-serious. And endangered species and I'm not going quietly!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Chuch of Allan - The Plain Truth About God

A serialization of the book, The Plain Truth About God.

Chapter 11. Jihad Inc.

It would be a major mistake to think, as some people do, that Islamic fundamentalists form a homogeneous group with common beliefs, objectives and a united leadership!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even within the different groups, as with the Shiite and Sunni sects, there are disparate groups and movements. All of which are lumped together by the media as being fundamentalist.

The “fundamentals” that they go back to are an attempt to renew their religion once again by going “back to the basics.”

It is either that or watch their religion slide into secularism.

Now remember that all religions are capable of rise and fall. All cultures have their ups and downs over the course of their existence. Any religion, as well as any civilization, is always vulnerable to decadence and therefore has to be continually renewed.

One of the great strengths of Islam is that it does not have any one “official” person or institution. (Even though “unofficially” the Imam’s carry the same clout as the cardinals, or even the Pope, as they do in Christianity)

In theory every Muslim, every believer, has direct access to God and direct access to the sources of his religion.

Unfortunately, in practice they are all swayed by the hierarchy of the religion and affected by both the dogmatic and cultural forces at play.

There are many different man-made interpretations of the Holy Koran (just as in the bible), and this leads to the fact that many sayings and traditions were fabricated and attributed to the Prophet Muhammad in order to support one or more understandings of the Koran text according to the interpreters.

These understandings were constantly adjusted to fit the socio-economic situation as well as the political views of the time. As a result, they were in a constant state of flux, sometimes close to the intended message and at other times quite removed.

In spite of this, the Koran and the religious philosophy it espouses is arguably the most pristine and simple of all the major world religions with the possible exception of Baha’i.

(With the meaning that simple is less convoluted and therefore better and more to the point. As in “clear and simple”)

Where we run into a problem is that, as in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, there is no actual copy of the Koran that can be said to have come directly from the hands of Mohammed.

The earliest written record of the Koran (and the 45 scribes who supposedly documented it) was written in the biography of Mohammed by a certain Ibn Ishaq who wrote Sirat Rasul Allah, (The life of the Prophet of God) about 100 years after the death of the prophet Mohammed!

From this point on, it gets even hazier since there is no actual record of this document as well, but rather, it is extensively quoted in an even later work by al-Tabari who lived close to 200 years after the death of Ibn Ishaq. Suddenly we have a space of 350 years (close to 1000 C.E.) that cannot be properly documented.

With this in mind we can look back to about 620 C.E. when Mohammed, (or someone like him,) started on a campaign of dominance.

Here in less than 100 years Arab tribesmen, riding on horseback, emerged out of the Arabian deserts to conquer Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Spain.

Now the great question we have to ask here is whether the Arab armies were fuelled during their expansion by religious fever; or was the religion “spiced up” during the 350 years where it was not documented properly.

In other words, was this re-vamping of Islam the manipulations of a politically dominant group whose aim was to establish a religious justification for Arab imperialism?

Or was it based on a religion that advocated the expansion of its ideals by force?

Don’t forget, during the first 200 years of this great expansion Arab conquerors were a minority against a non-Moslem majority.

Then, once the Arabs had acquired a sizable empire—a coherent religion was necessary in order to hold that empire together.

(Note: in the long run, over the centuries, the main purpose of any religion, once it had gone beyond the “sect” stage, was to perpetuate itself and also act as a glue to hold the empire together.)

So once again, was the religion in place and acting as the fuel for Arab hegemony, or was it the glue that was manufactured “after the fact” to hold the whole empire together.

This is a question that will never be properly answered - as it is now lost in the mists of time.

However, we can draw certain inferences from it.

One of the facts that we have to consider is that while Christianity was founded on the premise of “love” for others, the main driving force behind Islam is that it was bound up in war and aggression from its very inception.

As a result, no matter how close or far from the intended message of the Koran it was, portions of it were always used to justify an Arab extremist and expansionist view.

History has now given us an almost unbroken string of militant Islamic movements from the “Assassins” of the 11th-12th century to the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers.

(Even if he is technically a Persian and not Arab.)

The crusades were the first catalyst that got Islam to “rally round the flag” in Middle East terms and the second was the Mongol invasion shortly after.

Arab society became full of hatred to both Eastern and Western invaders. Many lives were lost and cultures destroyed before the infidels were defeated by the religiously mobilized Islamic armies.

The early result of this hatred was the emergence of Ibn-Taymeyah as one of the first Arab extremists. He was born in 1263 C. E. during the Mongol invasion and died in jail for his extremist views in 1328 C.E.

During his lifetime, almost all of the main Islamic schools of theology (to their credit) rejected his extremist views and he was constantly at odds with the authorities, but had a great and loyal following among the masses.

This seems to have set the tone for the following centuries with constant upheaval among theologians and clergy. (Much the same as in the early Christian church)

One of the modern day results of this dissension in the religion was the establishment of Wahhabism in the mid part of the sixteenth century.

This brand of ultra-conservative Islam, which we now loosely call fundamentalism, was established by Mahammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab around 1715.

Mahammad ibn ‘Abd Al-Wahhab’s ideas spread amongst the villagers of Dar’iyya and were adopted by their chief, Mahammad ibn Su’ud.

Those who accepted his ideals, which were termed Wahhabiyya, were called Wahhabis.

Al-Wahhab was very aware of the fact that he was not a mere preacher but the leader of a movement that sought to effect a real change in society.

Like all practical social reformers, he was convinced of the necessity of power for the realization of the goals that he advocated.

Unfortunately, like so many before him, he mistakenly turned the Divine message from God “outward” to try and influence others instead of turning it “inward” to effect personal betterment as he was supposed to.

Islam makes the same mistake that Christianity and most other religions make.

That is taking the “message” of God and applying it outwardly against people who are not in sync with their own personal idea of how things should be.

Rather, we should all be turning the message inward and changing ourselves for the better.

In other words our goal is to change “ourselves,” not to “get others to do what we think is best for them!”

*Take God’s message and turn it inward to attain a state of grace.

*Turn it outward to control others and it becomes corrupted.

*Lead by example; do not use the example to lead!

The Wahhabis main practitioners were the Bedouin tribes in the deserts of what is now Saudi Arabia.

The Wahhabis point of view is that anyone who does not follow their particular brand of Islam is a disbeliever and infidel.

As they increased in number, Wahhabism was firmly established by 1737 C.E.

It now forms the basis for most of the religious and political life in Saudi Arabia, and by extension of their money and influence, other areas of the Middle East.

It has slowly become the standard by which a lot of Islam is being held accountable to.

TOMORROW: The Arab Muslim

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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Anonymous Leslie R. said...

Thank you for writing this article. I enjoyed how informative it was.

Sunday, March 16, 2008 7:52:00 p.m.  

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