SHAFAQNA -Â Muslims once again stand in the eye of a ferocious storm as ISISâ€™ legions have spelled fear across three continents. But anger has been misplaced as the real face of terror lies not with Islam but hidden in Saudi Arabia where Wahhabism reigns all powerful.
If the world ever needed a reminder that terror truly stands an enemy of civilization and of all people: beyond class, faiths, ethnicity and political affiliation, the triple attack this June 26 by ISIS extremists in Lyon (France), Sousse (Tunisia) and Kuwait should stand testimony to the evil which has besieged us all.
And while western politicians, especially the far-right will likely exploit France’s attack to push forth their own security agenda, calling on the western world to fear and abhor Muslims as they themselves plot to encroach further onto their nationals’ civil liberties and trample over a few more human rights, many will fail to recognize where the true monster really lies.
To reduce the world’s terror crisis to Islam on account a few twisted and let’s face it, psychotic individuals have decided to brand themselves Muslims, is as ridiculous as blaming the Bible or the whole of Christianity for that matter for the abuses of the Spanish Inquisition. There are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, of which less than half a percent have pledged themselves to the black flag of ISIS. Branding 23 percent of the world population as religious criminals falls under the very rationale of discrimination and prejudice terror ideologues have used to build their army – exclusion is an epidemic which has cost the world too much blood already for us to perpetuate.
Men across history have long abused the name of God and religion to serve their own selfish goals, claiming holiness as a shield against criticism while perverting the holy scriptures to brainwash communities into absolute submission. Where religion offers freedom, bigotry has only ever ambitioned to enslave and abuse.
Islam, like Judaism and Christianity before it, carries a message of peace and compassion; how men interpret it takes nothing away from its message; if anything it says more about our ability, or rather inability as a people to respect the sanctity of faith.
If religions are a reflection of the divine, our practice of it has proven to be inherently flawed – hence our ability to use God to breed dogmatism.
This terror we have labeled as Islamic radicalism could not be further remote from Islam. Everything from the promises of bloody retributions to its militants’ heinous crimes against humanity, ISIS and its sisters in abomination are a negation of Islam tenets.
As hatred and fear are fast replacing reason and logic it is time we all learn of the roots and driving forces behind this monstrosity – Wahhabism. If indeed our goal is to eradicate terror, we might want to start where it is bred, instead of appointing blame where it is not warranted.
This Islam the world has come to loathe is in fact a perversion which was born in the desert of Nejd in Saudi Arabia back in the 18th century. This ideology Muslims and non-Muslims alike have to come to fear and despise is but an engineered religious deviance rooted in hatred.
Wahhabism is merely the misguided expression of one manâ€™s political ambition – Mohammed Abdel-Wahhab, a bigot who was recruited by Empire Britain to erode at the fabric of Islam and crack the armor of the then-Ottoman Empire by breeding sectarianism and dissent. It is Abdel-Wahhab’s alliance to the house of Saud which ultimately unleashed this now seemingly unstoppable evil we know today under the tag of Islamic radicalism.
If not for Al Saud Royals’ billions and the silence of western powers, Wahhabism would never have crossed the deserts of Saudi Arabia. If not for the kingdom’s lavish sponsoring of the Wahhabi school of thought, extremism would never have come to be in the first place. Although exact numbers are not known, it is thought that Saudi Arabia has spent over $100 billion on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various, much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades, notwithstanding its efforts in the West.
ISISâ€™s obscene savagery epitomizes the violence which is inherent and central to Wahhabism and Salafism, its other radical branch. Let us all remember how eagerly the kingdom carries out death sentences by beheading or stoning; how generously its officials hand out lashings and other barbaric corporal punishments to its citizens before theorizing on the source of ISIS’ murderous streak.
ISIS is simply a studious disciple of Wahhabism. It learned its craft and its hate within its schools; it was forced-fed its poison by a clergy which idolizes death and torture in the name of a misplaced and misguided understanding of what constitutes the holy. Ascetic, reactionary, murderous and cruel, Wahhabism is a terror which needs to be named before it can be defeated.
If the world stands indeed united against terror why is it that it cannot recognize that Saudi Arabia stands but a more established and diplomatic version of ISIS? Is it not true after all that both ISIS and Saudi Arabia share in the same Wahhabi theo-fascist ideology? And if indeed ISIS was to successfully built a state, would it be such a stretch to imagine that it would resemble that of Saudi Arabia?
More than any other people and religious community, Muslims have suffered under the black flag of ISIS, prisoners of a faith which strives on the pain it inflicts on others and which they do not recognize as their own. And yet, Muslims continue to be blamed for the crimes those Wahhabi legions inflict on the world.
Would it not be better to admit that Wahhabism is not of Islam and thus free over a billion people from carrying such a collective burden of guilt?
Ultimately, however drastic our security measures or violent our military interventions will be against radicals, what reach such campaigns can ever hope to carry if we continue to allow Wahhabis to spew their poison through religious patronage?
Terror will end with the death of its ideology.
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna Middle East Studies Department