Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Muslim Terrorism

In their brilliant introductory book 'The Vision of Islam' that I advise everyone to read, Murata and Chittick nonetheless commit the same error of generalisation that I commented on in the previous entry by reducing wide-ranging Muslim practices to 'modernist Islam'. But what I agree with is their analysis of Muslim terrorism. I state that the phrases 'Islamic terrorism', 'Islamist terrorism' and 'Islamic rage' are all clever lingual constructions that mostly conceal the actions of the state that is engaged with them, but there indeed is a segment of Muslims that participates in ways which are both ignorant and criminal. Murata and Chittick argue that modernist Islam rejects the intellectual understanding of the tradition. I will not employ their term, because it is deficient in itself. Instead I will use Karen Armstrong's phrase "Qutbian terrorism" in its place.

One is the tremendous stress placed upon tanzih and the almost total eclipse of tashbih, at least among those who speak up vocally for Islamic values [eg. Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda], especially those with political agendas. In some cases, the celebration of God's wrath and anger is used to justify methods of warfare - such as mass killing and terrorism - that are explicitly forbidden by the Shariah....Islam does have its own political teachings, but these have always remained peripheral: To place them at the cent[re] is to break with the tradition. Of course, the political ideologies of contemporary Muslim movements are seldom rooted in Islamic teachings; rather, they are reinterpretations of the [Qur']an and the [Ah]adith based on modern presuppositions concerning democracy or other "good" forms of government...[1]

I think this is a really good analysis, and it basically explains in a few words what they don't tell us. They is more than they here. Yes, it is.


Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick, The Vision of Islam (New York, USA: Paragon House, 1994), pp. 333-334.