Islamic internal dissent and the resurgence of fundamentalist terrorism

The Telegraph offers an interesting essay by a Muslim scholar titled ‘Islam’s civil war between medievalists and modernisers‘.  Here’s an excerpt.

The anti-Western ideology known today as “political Islam” is largely a response or reaction to the breakdown of the traditional Islamic order under the pressures of modernity. Unlike Europe and North America, Muslim territories did not get the opportunity to evolve into modern states over time. The British and the French in the Arabic-speaking lands, the Russians in Central Asia, the Dutch in Indonesia and the British in India and Malaya brought new ideas and technology to Muslim lands.

The Muslim elite responded to this change of fortunes in one of two ways. The first response, adopted by some Muslim elites especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was to learn from and imitate the west. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, told a peasant who asked him what westernisation meant: “It means being a better human being.” Others, however, recommended “revivalism” or a search for glory through rejection of new ways and ideas.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, there was considerable emphasis among Muslim scholars and leaders on modernising the Muslim world. By the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, however, those seeking the reverse – to Islamise the modern world – appeared to have gained greater momentum.

. . .

 The resort to asymmetric warfare – the idea that a suicide bomber is a poor man’s F-16 – has often followed each significant Muslim military defeat. Yasser Arafat and his Al-Fatah captured the imagination of young Palestinians only after the Arab defeat and loss of the West Bank in 1967. Islamic militancy in Kashmir can be traced to India’s military victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh war.

Revenge, rather than willingness to compromise or submit to the victors, is the traditional response of Islamist Muslims to the defeat of Muslim armies. And for them, this battle has no front line and is not limited to a few years or even decades. They think in terms of conflict spread over generations. A call for jihad against British rule in India, for example, resulted in an underground movement that began in 1830 and lasted well until the 1870s, with remnants periodically surfacing well into the 20th century.

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading for those who are prepared to accept that not all Muslims can be legitimately tarred with the fundamentalist brush.



  1. I don't think anybody has argued that every single Muslim is evil.
    But Islam remains evil.
    And a large percentage of Muslims forthrightly state that their religion requires them to conquer and subjugate the world, with many, many more mouthing platitudes to deflect the question but ultimately agreeing.

  2. Odd how this excellent article by Pakistan's former ambassador to the U.S. only gets a "Recommended" while the (IMHO) worthless article by Jim Wright got a "Highly Recommended".

    Mr. Haqqani has it exactly right, the problem is not any (real or putative) misdeeds perpetrated by the West against Muslim nations. The problem is the resistance by Muslims to let go of their DOMINANCE model and switch to a COEXIST stance.

    Allow me to refer to a point of view held by some historians of the Jewish people. These historians claim that the cruel and draconian punishments mandated by a literal reading of Torah (stoning for adultery, homosexuality, etc.) and the constant internecine warfare amongst different variants of Judaism were overcome by the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism, but only after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago. It was only after this total and utterly devastating defeat that humane and sane readings of holy scripture took precedence, even if it meant turning black into white by means of clever argument, even sophistry.

    According to this viewpoint, Judaism did not have the strength to grow from a bronze-age religion with a cruel and vengeful deity into a life-affirming faith, capable of compromise and pragmatism, of its own accord. Perhaps, then, the greatest gift the West could make the world's Muslims would be to nuke Mecca. Expecting them to reform and become more reasonable during a time in which the Islamists, as Mr. Haqqani writes, are dominating the discourse seems doomed to fail.

  3. Pass. After that 'recommended reading' over at Jim Wright's – I've had a bellyful of sanctimonious elderly hippies and greasy appeaseniks.

    Where is all the outrage from your supposedly 'good' moslems, Peter? Why aren't they rising up to confront these nutters themselves? I will tell you why – it's because those that aren't animals themselves, are craven cowards.

    Maybe you guys need to do some thinking? Like how did you lose a war in Iraq when you won every battle you fought and Saddam Hussein ended up dancing on the end of a rope and bin Laden was fish food?

    Moslems know idiots when they see them and how to use them to their advantage. Where is the sense in appealing to the moderates when they cover for and allow the nutters to hide within their ranks?

    Treating your enemies well does not make them your friends.

  4. Like they say, a radical muslim wants to kill you, while a 'moderate' muslim wants the radical muslim to kill you!

    I guess you don't live near Dearborn, Michigan, where the huge muslim population cheers every time some muzzie completes a deadly attack against the West.


  5. Another anon

    Hypocrisy alert!

    Pakistan supported conservative Islam and terrorism while he was ambassador. Still do…

    Thanks to Zia for this (former pk president). If he had included a mention of Pakistanis reaction to the losses in every war with India. The article would be much better if he discussed how pk government grew grew the Taliban and Islamic terrorism, as a counter balance to Indian conventional arm sepremacy. Of course then he could probably never safely visit Pakistan again…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *