Roots Of Modern Terrorism And Religious Fundamentalism
By G. Asgar Mitha
– Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity – Pope Benedict III – Pope from 855 – 858 AD.
– Fear is the basis of the whole – fear of the mysterious, of defeat and death. Fear is the parent of cruelty and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand – Bertrand Russell
I‘ve quoted Bertrand Russell after reading his rather interesting essays titled Why I’m Not a Christian delivered on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch and that inspired me to write this article.
The horrors of the Catholic Church are well documented while even today the modernists, historians and politicians are turned off to discuss those horrors and are involved in discussing the horrors of a Muslim civilization. No civilization has been without its dark ages. Europe and America burnt people alive by tying them to stakes after accusations of witchcraft. Ancient Egypt used to cut off the limbs of their citizens from opposite ends and then crucify them. Rome too crucified their citizens. All kinds of horrors have been recorded in history books. One of the best movies I’d seen was The Name of the Rose starring Sean Connery regarding the Holy Inquisition involving the Church. The procedures of the Holy Inquisition involved examination of charges of heresy by the Church. Even those innocent were not spared by trumped up charges. Such was the terrorism due to religious fundamentalism within the European religious system that the Church reaped wealth, mainly from the poor and destitute while protecting the wealthy aristocrats. The Church was not only a religious entity but it also embodied politics.
The Spanish Inquisitions from 1474-1834 AD were held under Pope Sixtus IV mainly against the Jews and Muslims but also against Christian heretics. Those refusing to take up Catholic faith were led to the stake to be burnt alive in a ceremony known as auto-de-fe (act of failth) and their properties confiscated to the Church.
The horrors of the Catholic Church are provided in brief in the above paragraphs. However the roots of current situation of Muslim terrorism and fundamentalism need to be examined. The basis of all terrorism and fundamentalism is not religion (as correctly postulated by Karen Armstrong) which condemns both but rests in politics and powers of the state and the religious authorities. Both politicians and clergy have used religion to consolidate their power over the weakest of their audience condemning them as heretics and kafirs (heathen unbelievers).
While I was growing up in Pakistan until 1968, there was harmony and religious tolerance among the Shia and Sunni sects. Christians and Hindus too were accepted and tolerated and there were no Islamic laws that discriminated them. Hotels used to serve alcohol and advertise striptease shows of women from many countries. After having completed my education in the US, I returned to Pakistan in 1977 under the martial law rule of President Zia-ul-Haq only to find a Pakistani society devoid of all tolerance and one of extreme religious fundamentalism but not yet of visible terrorism. It was in the germinating stages. Zia was a diehard Saudi supporter who closely held the Wahhabist-Salfist belief of forcibly imposing religion upon the people. In exchange Zia received large Saudi monetary aid to breed religious extremism among the Taliban (students) in madressas (religious schools) operated as seminaries to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. The Saudis in turn received the political support from the US. The students were not taught true Islamic values which are based on knowledge and free learning that benefits mankind. The Wahhabist teachings are instead based on fear aptly described by Bertrand Russell.
The other Wahhabist-Salafist fundamentalist Saudi citizen, Osama bin Laden, led the Afghan Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Taliban against the Soviets under the umbrella of Al-Qaeda (the base). He was supposedly killed in Pakistan in May 2011 by the Americans. The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted over nine years from December 1979 to February 1989. Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash. He’d served his masters well and the Americans and Saudis rewarded him with a plea to God to open the doors of Heaven for him and for the houris (female angels) to entertain him. Unfortunately I perceive the same fates for other current Pakistani leaders who are serving their masters.
IS (Islamic States), for example, has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with fear, cruelty, politics and religious intolerance. IS does not represent Islamic moderation, tolerance, respect and knowledge. The IS Jihadists being recruited from Europe and N. America are most likely not mainstream Muslims but lunatics and converts in a society they hate. They could well have been victims of political and extremist religious brainwashing similar to the Taliban. Just like al-Qaeda and Taliban were recruited against the Soviets, the IS may have been created to plunder the Arab countries. The IS is conducting inquisitions against everyone regardless of their minority (Christians and Yezidis) or sectarian beliefs (Shias and Sunnis) and their methods of torture and murder (beheadings and burning) are as horrifying as was practiced by the European Churches.
Following the war’s end, Afghanistan was in ruins and those same political parties (the seven party Jihadists) that had allied against the Soviets engaged in trivial disputes and fighting among themselves. America abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan only to return in 2001 with a war against the former and military threats and promises of monetary aid for the latter. The Taliban returned victorious to Pakistan after having defeated the Soviet infidels. They now believed they were God’s chosen people and like Zia, it was their bounden duty to forcibly impose Wahhabism upon a nation. Terrorism and fear became their instruments and many of these Taliban also infiltrated the political parties in Pakistan in order to gain power and wealth similar to the norms of the Christian Church of the dark ages. America watched and learnt how hyenas fight over a carcass. Pakistan and Afghanistan were ushering in the dark ages. The lessons were going to be applied throughout the Muslim world with the objectives of once again gaining not only power but control of the precious black gold resource.
Saudi Arabia and other Monarchist Arab Wahhabist countries have been natural economic allies of America and its European vassals as they are weak and in need of protection. America continues to support the Saudis in exporting their perverted religious dogma across the Muslim countries in order to breed religious intolerance, cruelty and terrorism. Some of the countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria and Palestine have been war victims, others like Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt have survived upon American and Saudi aids. Iran is the only Muslim country where America and the Saudi monarchy have failed for exporting terrorism and religious extremism and both fear it as a regional power. Iran has adopted values of democracy, tolerance, moderation, justice, knowledge and learning – the hallmarks of Islam. The roots of Wahhabism are based on an extremist form of Islam, of intolerance of all religions, injustice and implementation of fear by their religious police known as mutawwas supported by the monarchies which the west supports. The one thing common among the Arab monarchies and the western ‘democracy’ is deep hypocrisy.