Barcelona’s attack – Understanding Terror’s ideology and Terror’s ideologues’ motivations

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SHAFAQNA – Back in 2015 I wrote that “Our century so far has been overshadowed by a plague which roots, western powers have proclaimed, can be found in Islam and its practice” … two years have passed and we are still chasing our tails as to the true nature of that disease: religious exclusionism, which has blotted all of our skies with its contagious hatred.

Hatred we may want to consider is never born, but taught and fanned by those who most benefit from its miasmas – religion has little to do with anything … rather, geopolitical ambitions and one imperious desire to exert control over communities through manipulations. A nation raised on fear and prejudices is more malleable to the concept of perpetual war than one fed on tolerance and democratic principles.

It is also easier for heads of state to call for war when the very people they are calling to invade have been thoroughly dehumanised: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen …

Here I would say that America’s irrational fear of all things Islamic serves as a cautionary tale, if not proof to my argument.

If not for Terror, it is unlikely the United States would have acquired – not to say carved, so many military outposts in the Greater Middle Eastern region. All in the name of democracy building of course, and never so that corporations could gain access to lucrative markets and natural resources!

Terror, in this insane equation that is our current socio-geopolitical reality, was really wielded as a weapon of neo-colonialism before it could be risen an uncontrollable plague onto humanity. I say humanity for we stand to lose ourselves in our desire to out-root Terror without taking the time to identify its ideology within its true parameters.

More dangerous still, we may one day wake up to be that Terror we claimed to fight if we insist on engaging to its frequency. Arguing exclusion to fight that which is built on exclusion only makes you another terrorist.

To the risk of angering a few well-to-do politicians … and most likely one very American President Donald Trump, Terror is not rooted in Islam, rather Terror has defiled Islamic communities by claiming a legitimacy that was not its own,  speaking a theology that is contrary to Islam’s tenets by way of decontextualisation.

Allow me to explain.

Terror outfits – might it be Daesh (aka ISIL), the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Nusra and others, have claimed  self-righteousness over Islam and thus ownership of its people by arguing that only its clerics carry the true tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. Only Terror is the forgery – the fallacy that countless scholars and clerics have denounced as operating outside the very principles which define the Islamic faith.

Islam’s creed while pluralist, cannot be claimed by those who stand in opposition to its core principles. Key to understanding and combatting Terror is an examination of its ideological underpinning: takfirism, the foundation upon which Wahhabism/Salafism was risen into existence.

The definition of Takfir goes as follow: Pronouncement that someone is an unbeliever (kafir) and no longer Muslim. Takfir is used in the modern era for sanctioning violence against leaders of Islamic states who are deemed insufficiently religious. It has become a central ideology of militant groups such as those in Egypt, which reflect the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad Ibn Abdelwahhab, the forefather of Wahhabism.

The principle of Takfir has long been rejected by both Shia and Sunni scholars on account it is based on bigotry.

Takfirism is a centuries-old practice of judging someone to be an unbeliever and rendering them an apostate or hypocrite through the most dogmatic of lenses. Those thirsty for power use it to legitimize inequities and de-legitimize anyone who disagrees with their authority.

For all our lengthy discourse on terrorism, and those tenets intellectuals, politicians, and heads of states have alleged gave life to radicalism, we have abysmally failed to profile Terror on the basis of its ideology – and thus identify that its construct may claim itself holy but nevertheless serves very geopolitical goals.

Such failure has now translated in abominable acts of violence such as those we witnessed only this week in Barcelona – Spain.

How many cities will have to fall prey to Terror’s arms before we turned our faces towards those who pull its strings? Saudi Arabia here may be a good place to start.

In an article for the Huffington Post Dr. Yousaf Butt is a senior advisor to the British American Security Information Council and director at the Cultural Intelligence Institute puts it in no uncertain terms, he writes: “How Saudi Wahhabism Is the Fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism”.

Fair question given how Wahhabism, and its many variants: Salafism and Deobandism have polluted our waters – warping our reality to the extent we have now adopted hatred and bigotry to define our world views.

Barcelona, London, Paris, Brussels … Beirut, Baghdad, Sana’a, Quetta, Kabul, Cairo, before Terror could hit, it had to be bred and thought out.

To be disappeared Terror would have to be profiled and its narrative debunked so that eventually communities can be freed.

If we were not so focused on our irrational bias aka Islamophobia,  we may want to cast our sight on the town of Awamiya in Saudi Arabia, to realise that Terror’s ideology is in fact state-sponsored and terror militants pawns in yet another Great Game.

Terror is no more Sunni than it is Shia. Terror is not an Islamic school of thought, only a perversion enacted by a minority few to assuage a hunger which exists beyond any theological debate.

By Catherine Shakdam – Director Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies

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