Shafaqna (international Shia News Agency) – Speech entitled “Islam and West” delivered by Dr Sayyed Ataollah Mohajerani at theÂ Al Khoei Conference on “Human Dignity” held on 6th and 7th June 2015 in London. In his speech he said “I believe our jurisprudence is the main source behind the emergence of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and so on. Mujtahed Shabastari, who is one of the remarkable Iranian thinkers and theologians, has a very sensible and sensitive article, in which he addresses the Grand Ayatollahs in Qumâ€™s seminaries and points out that the demands and beliefs of Daesh actually exist in the classic books of Figh. I think the disaster began after the point when instead of Quran, Hadis started to play the main role in our Figh. In other words, Hadis and Figh are the two faces of one coin;Â This is the mainÂ problemÂ that we as Muslims are facing”.
According to Shafaqna, the full article reads:
Islam and the West
Sayyed Ataollah Mohajerani
I think it is very difficult to define these two very complex yet crucial terms, Islam and the West.
A few questions come to mind in this regard. The first question is, which Islam, and which West are we talking about? There are various interpretations of Islam, and different understandings of the West like a rain-bow, these varieties should be taken into account in both cases.
The second question is, which part of the world are we talking about? Is it Europe, America, Asia, Africaâ€¦?
Thirdly, what is the specific subject that we want to focus on?
Fourthly, which period of time are we concentrating on?
Fifthly, who are our main audiences? Are we talking to political decision makers, the people, the religious leaders, or the elites?
And finally, what logical ground are we basing our arguments on? What is our approach?Â Did we build it on a fair and stable Â ground, as it said?
Sabbet al-arz somma an-ghosh!
Lets me shorten the long story, I want to focus on the Middle East, talk about Radical Islam and Jihadists on the one hand and America and Europe on the other hand.
I want to go further than the traditional EasternÂ approach, which is built on the view that it is the others who are the source of disaster, so we should name and blame them. I will try to talk about the problem as a phenomenon.
Basil Mathews published a book called Young Islam on Trek, a study in the clash of civilization in 1926. I have a copy of the book.
Twenty years after the publishing of Basil Mathews book, Arnold Toynbee, a remarkable English historian, published a very important book in 1948,Â the book is called, civilization on trial.Â In the 10thchapter of the book he explains his views about Islam. He notes:
â€œPan- Islamism is dormant-yet we have to reckon with the possibility that the sleeper may awake if ever the cosmopolitan proletariat of a Westernized world revolts against Western domination and cries out for anti-Western leadership. That call might have incalculable psychological effects in evoking the militant spirit of Islam-even if it had slumbered as long as the Seven Sleepers-because it might awaken echoes of a heroic age.
On two historic occasions in the past, Islam has been the sign in which an Oriental society has risen up victoriously against an Occidental intruder.
Under the first successors of the Prophet Islam liberated Syria and Egypt from a Hellenic domination, which had weighed on them for nearly a thousand years. Under Zangi and Nur-ad-din and Saladin and the Mamluks, Islam held the fort against the assaults of Crusades and Mongols. If the present situation of mankind were to precipitate a race war, Islam might to move to play her historic role one again. Absit omen! (Absit Omen in Latin means: La samaha allah!) (2)
When Huntington, used this idea as the central tenet of his famous book â€˜the clash between civilizationsâ€™, Bernard Lewis, who is a Zionist historian and aÂ masterÂ of Netanyahu, claimed that this idea belongs to him! (3)
Nowadays, thatÂ idea has become more widespreadÂ in the world, especially in the Middle East. To be honest, all radical and extremist groups such as Al-Qadeh, ISIS, Al- Nusreh and soÂ on are the iconÂ of radical Islam. On the other hand, most of the victims of these groups are not from the West, they are Muslims. In other words, both the murderers and the victims are Muslims. While there were times when Christians and Izadis were also among the victims, their numbers are considerably fewer than the Muslim victims.
So is this the new face of the Islamic world in the second decade of the 21stcentury?
Now letâ€™s focus on discovering the founders of these extremist groups
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I believe our jurisprudence is the main source behind the emergence of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and so on. Mujtahed Shabastari, who is one of the remarkable Iranian thinkers and theologians, has a very sensible and sensitive article, in which he addresses the Grand Ayatollahs in Qumâ€™s seminaries and points out that the demands and beliefs of Daesh actually exist in the classic books of Figh.
I think the disaster began after the point when instead of Quran, Hadis started to play the main role in our Figh. In other words, Hadis and Figh are the two faces of one coin;Â This is the mainÂ problemÂ that we as Muslims are facing.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The political founder of Militia Islam, in our current times, is America and its allies. When I was reading the Journey by Tony Blair, or Blier as he mentions in the book, I found it unbelievable how he very bluntly admits to the strategic mistakes made by America and the U.K. He explains:
â€œ In the 1980s we had armed Saddam as we had the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, so as to thwart Iran in the one case and the Soviet Union in the other. It was a tactical move but a strategic mistake.â€(4)
3. Unfortunately, some Muslim countries are the main supporters of these extremist groups and radical Islam. There is no need to name these countries, as we all know them, and as it has been said kal -nar ala-al manar. Rumi has a delicate poem,
Be sare manareh oshtor ravad o afghan bar arad
Ke nahan shodastam inja, makonidam ashkara!
Our holy book, the Quran, talks about the government of Davvod:
We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and sound judgment in speech and decision.Â Quran, 38/20
We are living in a time when there is a lack of Hikmah in our countries. The governments think they can strengthen their position through military and security forces, and an iron fist.
And fear tumult or oppression, which affected not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong: and know that Allah is strict in punishment. Quran / 8/25
I think, our seminaries, both Sunnis and Shia, need to rethink their views, strategy, and curriculum. The sacred crime and ignorance that we are facing in the Islamic world is mainly a product of achievement and methodology of Islamic studies in our countries.
America and Europe need to change their strategy, and Muslim countries are also in desperate need of changing their policies.
1-Basil Mathews, young Islam on trek, the society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, London, 1924
2-Arnold J. Toynbee, civilization on trial, Oxford University press, London 1948.
3-Bernard Lewis, notes on a century, Phoenix, London 2013, p.258
4- Tony Blair, a journey, Hutchinson, London 2010, p.388