Islamic Fundamentalism Essay
“Fundamentalism” is a short-hand word for born again Christians Protestant which evokes literal truth of the Bible. This word was coined by media pundits to represent the movement launched by United States Protestants in the early twentieth century. As a matter of fact, there exists no such parallel in Arabic to represent. Muslims fanatically devoted to the same issue of seeking literal truth of Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. Since translation had to be done, this word after being patched up with Islam, which started representing as Islamic Fundamentalism.
Ironically, this word fundamentalism, nowadays, represents those zealous preachers of Islam who believe in savage punishments and long leggety fanatics, who believe that whatever the faults and vices, currently, present in their societies are brought from the alien shores of west. They vow to purge their societies from the cultural invasion of the west, in addition, most of them even think their leaders as western stooges. In order to clear this self supposed mess, they are ready to utilize all methods of repressions or even bombing the market places, killing their so-called enemies, hijacking aeroplanes, kidnapping’ the foreigners taking hostages where ever possible.
WHAT REALLY IS FUNDAMENTALISM FROM A FUNDAMENTALIST PERCEPTION.
To them, the men of God put the decline down to the degeneration of their faith, and to. the pollution mat blows in from the outside world.They say, that the word of God has been corrupted over centuries by the lip-serving rulers, and that is how the things started going wrong. Now they call for the recreation of the Islamic societies on the pattern followed in the seventh century according to the Sunnah of the Prophet and his four immediate successors. What they really want is a recourse to the Holy Book and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) for the solution of all the worldly problems,and salvation there after. In simple words it reflects justice, fair play and rights (even to the minorities), in addition, they prefer spiritual well being over that of material well being, hence in order to do so, they are ready to wage “Jihad” against any society or nation.
OPPOSING.IDEAS WITHIN THE ISLAMIC WORLD.
The theory is not well received, even in the Islamic world. Broadly speaking, there appears three kinds of Muslims.
Apart from Fundamentalists (as explained above) moderates believe that they need to bring their religion with an up-to-date way of life. They do not believe in militancy and violent methods. They wish to achieve spiritual and material well being at parity but not one at the cost of other. Whereas seculars are of the view, that religion is nothing but ones personal level of faith. The relationship between man and God is highly personal. A man cannot be forced to follow the thirteen hundred years old rules and regulations, they believe that time has changed and as a result, values have also changed, “ailing for a revision in the religion doctrines.
VIEW POINT HELD BY NON-MUSLIMS.
As far as ordinary non-Muslim, especially westerns, their deepest instincts are to shrink from much an ideology. To them, it is an out right fanaticism and is gradually shaping out into a major threat. Sammuel P. Huntimagtos, in his article “Clash of Civilization” argued that “Islam .has bloody border”, he further stressed that after the fall of communism Islam is the only threat which could play havoc with the western societies. He added that the west need to counter it with strict measures. Before going into the details of the current state of fundamentalism and finding out whether it is desirable loathable or adjustable, we need to briefly scan the causes of the growth of fundamentalism.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROWTH OF FUNDAMENTALISM .
We cannot, altogether, create a business like cycle to depict the rise and fall of fundamentalism in the history of this century but we find that certain trails are ascertainable.
FAILURE OF POLITICAL STRUCTURE.
It is nonetheless, true that fundamentalism grows and proliferates in the troubled environment. It is always a product of inherent vices present in the political administration. Several examples can be quoted in this respect. Iran in the era of Raza Shah Pehalvi, presented a weakening political structure standing on its feet with the crutches of America and other Western European support. Another immediate example can be quoted in respect of our own country. Fundamentalism in Pakistan took concrete shape in the era of dictatorship. What is important to note that in both of the circumstances there existed a lack of the freedom of expression. The opposing political theories were crushed savagely, leaving only the door of religion. General Zia in order to legitimize his illegitimate rule stood on the vulnerable crutches of religion.
Thus what primarily move the politics into the fabric of religion were these despotic attitudes of the rulers. These new men were religious laymen and politicians who hitched themselves for opportunist reasons to the Islamic wagon: Many dictatorial leaders in various parts of the world for example Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Libya allowed no secular opposition in order to prolong their own rule, hesitated, though not for long, to persecute the men who challenged them from the mosque while hesitancy prevailed Islamic militancy was the safest Rome to dissent, and by the time these rulers realized that situation was getting out of control, it was already too late, later persecution of these religious dissenters made heros of- salvation out of them. More and more support began together against these tin pots dictators. This had not only made them dependent on the foreign support but had made them highly unpopular in a substantial segment of their society which provided more vigor to the movements led by fundamentalists.
Secondly, in the various parts of the Islamic worlds, political elites have also used religion in crisis situation. Whenever there appeared a , rule political or cultural vacuum which could have proved fatal for their own rule, these rulers started preaching “Islam in order” to avert the danger of political despondency. This political use of Islam has further aggravated the situation. Militancy in a way is also like a woman, whom if given an inch would desire a mile. Thus few enactions of Islamic laws had heightened their desire to subvert the current structure, over nightly, into an Islamic·state, without caring for the circumstances and consequences afterwards.
Thirdly, the growing secularism which is viewed as cultural and religious evasion planned against Islam by most of the moderates and fundamentalists. The western political thoughts in the shape of Democracy and capitalism has always been looked down upon in the Islamic world. Even to a moderate Muslim, the western way of life, though not loathable is undesirable to a many extent. To some it seems like corrupting the political cultural and religious structure of the Islamic world. Since the fall of Ottoman empire west has always been viewed as enemy of the mankind, leading the world towards virtual disaster.
Another prominent factor which contribute a lot towards this extremism is mass illiteracy present in the Muslim world. Here illiteracy does not represent a static attitude towards secular knowledge or acquiring more westernized style of living and thinking. But here illiteracy represents non-comprehensibility of the average Muslim to skew out the dogmatic tune of Islam, which means a lot more than what an average Muslim understands and in most cases unable to differentiate between what is good for him, even if it comes from the west, and bad.
COLLAPSE OF COMMUNISM.
And lastly the “Collapse of Communism” the fall of the so called evil empire and the end of cold war has erupted an altogether new phenomenon in the international ‘affairs. The policy makers of the world has grown accustomed to an adversary, which now they see in the shape of growing Islamic fundamentalism. It is to assert that role played by the international media is also biased, one knows that only equality results in opening up of deadlocks and hearty talks, such phenomena always results in militant attitude of the oppressed.
CURRENT STATE OF ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM.
There is hardly any place left in the Islamic world which has not witnessed any religious repercussions. Some historical instances are enlisted below.
1. “HAMAS” the fundamentalist group for the liberation of Palestine refused co-existence with the Israel. Currently the fragile peace process has brought a new way of hope for a concrete peace settlement in the Middle East, but the “HAMAS” group has refused to accept it and is currently creating troubles to jeopardize the peace process.
2.The “Muslim Brotherhood” party in Syria, which has been brutally suppressed since 1980 is widely believed to be working under ground.
3. “Hezb-ullah” fundamentalist trained by Iran. and “Amal” in Lebanon group generally thoughts as two major mercenaries.
4. Underground Shia group in Iraq. It is a bloating idea that during “Operation Desert Storm” United States Policy was to remove Saddam Hussain from the rulership of Iraq but later these policy makers found out that this would give rise to fundamentalism in Iraq which would be worse than unseating
the present Baghdad government.
5. The warring fundamentalist groups in Afghanistan are fighting brutally among themselves to capture Kabul and fill out the power vacuum created by the evacuation of Soviet Union.
6. The fall of Soviet Union has not only created troubled environment in Afghanistan but has also brought instability in the Central Asian Republics.
After the fall of Soviet Union, the most prominent aspect present in the Central Asian Republics is the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism, for example, Islamic renaissance party in Uzbekistan is gradually gaining currency. “Muslim Brotherhood” party in Egypt, though founded in 1982, is yet to take openly active part in the political arena of their :country. It fought in alliance with two secular parties in 1987 elections and gained substantial seats and votes. Unstructured Islamic groups in Libya are the greatest internal and external threat. Libya has been declared as promoter of Islamic fundamentalism along with exporter of terrorism. Renaissance party in Tunisia has widely been suppressed. after the alleged surfacing of a plan of Islamic revolution in 1991. Islamic groups in Morocco current resurgence in Thailand and various other eastern countries has mobilized world opinions regarding Islam as the most primitive and savage religion of the world. Among contributory factors was the statement of King Fahd in 1992 that western style of democracy was not suitable for Saudi Arabia.
Though western countries along with United States of America became conscious of the growing might of Islamic. World in respect of religion But “Fundamentalism” is a Christian short hand which evokes against Protestant who believe and seek the literal truth or the Bible. There exist no such parallel word in the Arabic language, as the traits of these zealously religious were same, the media had applied it as Islamic fundamentalism. These Islamic Fundamentalist wants to reach back to the literal word of God, as Christian did in their times, cutting out roughly 100 years of middlemen. Whereas Islamist wish to recede back around 1400 years. Fundamentalism emerged in 1979 when Islamic revolution occurred in Iran with the ascendancy of Khomeni, but they were so engrossed in the cold war that they decided to treat it leniently but not unchecked. Part of the cold war strategy was to check Islam as far as possible without losing the sight of growing communism. The “Kirkpartic doctrine” devised by the Secretary of State in the Regan administration considered authoritarian regimes as less incompatible with the interest of the United States, it was precisely the reason why the so called tin pots dictators of Middle East and Asia received moral and economic support, it was not only to combat Communist forces present in that area but also to curb the growing might of Islamic fundamentalism. One such example was Iraqian regime, which after the fall of Soviet Union witnessed a remarkable switch in the American Policy.
THE POST COLD WAR ERA.
The post-cold-war-era is witnessing a confusing state of affairs regarding its policy towards fundamentalism. The failure of US sponsored New World Order has created a perplexing state of affairs. Though in contemporary circumstances Islam is considered as potential threat, being the only example of an idea which claims universal relevance after burying the communist remnants of Soviet Union, yet the NATO countries are yet to devise a policy which would promote democracy and market oriented constitutionalism without encouraging Islamic forces. Running sacred is silly, as considered by most of the Westerns but on the other hand crushing life out of the movement is unlikely to work, even secularist of all (but born Muslim) cannot refuse the Universality rife.
IS IT DESIRABLE OR NOT.
It is clear enough to say that this militant fundamentalism is not desirable in the least. It is nonetheless true that time has changed and from moderate view point, material and religious ascendancy should not be achieved at the cost of other in this highly competitive and would be “Global Village, fanaticism of any kind, least of all motivated by religion, is incompatible but in doing so we should get astray from the path divinely lit.
The use of old cold war vocabulary with the talk of crusade and jihad by the Islamist from the western view point is highly fallible. It is particularly wrong to present current Islamic revivalism as global ideology which needed to be tackled the way cold war was handled. The west in particular reference to the United States (the super power) should have learnt a hard lesson by now, from her experience in the Vietnam. It was a wrong war, at the wrong place for a wrong ideal at a wrong time. Going after each and every person who cried foul play and fixing a bullet in his skull is unlikely to work. US did the same in order to combat communism in Vietnam and seems likely to repeat the same mistake in the contemporary circumstances. The latest it did was to topple the results of Algerians elections in the year in 1991 where FIS won the major amount of seats. It is true that if Islamist have been allowed their victory it certainly would have been a risk, they would have overturned the democratic process they despised and of what they boasted but?within a system there might have been a lot of constraint. Secondly this does,not wipe out the problem but instead gives a new vigor, which resulted in a bloody civil war to which there seems no end in the near future.
The concept of democracy cannot be flourished with the curtailment of freedom. This was one of the major pitfalls which resulted in the fall of Soviet Union and perhaps one of the causes of its economic collapse. The current theme”of things depicts the same. Despotism is desirable to none even to the one who is most illiterate. The cold war trap of keeping nasty dictators clad in funny uniforms is not a desirable course in the post-cold war era to combat religious militancy. This is the same kind of militancy which was present in the Europe before the advent of 19th century when monarch ruled there constantly pushed by the extremism of Church to follow a particular course of life. Religious persecution were dominant theme which is one of the major cause of American, Australian and New Zealand’s Colonization. How did Europe and America came out of this deary trap. Though educating the people of the benefits of democracy and give imparting knowledge and creating literacy among the people. This is exactly the course required by the Islamic world but with one exception i.e. not at the cost of their religion as a whole.