WASHINGTON – The official, sanitized Western narrative about Islamic terrorism is that Islam is a religion of peace practiced by hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people.
Islam has been hijacked
That said, unfortunately –and we really do not why and how– some strange individuals within the Muslim world “hijacked” Islam and now use it to justify a violent jihad against the West. We should all agree that, although these people call themselves Muslims, clearly their beliefs and their deeds are totally inconsistent with Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance.
Well, it is just not so. Not by a long shot. Aly Salem, an Egyptian writer living in New York and a Muslim, provides a much different and perhaps more accurate picture in a WSJ op-ed piece, (Let’s Talk About How Islam Has Been Hijacked, October 27, 2014).
The fact is –as Salem explains– that tens of millions of the supposedly pious, peaceful and tolerant Muslims subscribe to the basic teachings of Sayyed Qutb, the famous author of In The Shadow of the Quran, and the acknowledged spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qubt’s teachings explain how the decline of modern Muslim societies is mostly due to nefarious Western influences. It is only by going back to basic religious and cultural orthodoxy that Muslim societies will be able to regain their strength and their self-confidence.
As Salem writes in his WSJ piece, “Today, Qutb’s outlook –Islamism– is the dominant political ideology in most Muslim-majority countries…”.
Got that? A basic anti-Western feeling is not embraced by only a few radicals. Just like the jihadists, most Muslims believe that their societies need to go back to their roots, while avoiding or rejecting Western ideas, customs and norms. As Salem continues, “…In many Muslim countries, the population is overwhelmingly in favor of veiling for women, the death penalty for leaving Islam and stoning as punishment for adultery; rabid anti-Semitism is rampant…”
Jihadists inspired by Qutb’s teachings
Of course, a broadly shared anti-Western sentiment does not imply that most Muslims will actively engage in a violent jihad against America or Europe. But it does mean that the jihadists have taken inspiration and guidance from a recognized and indeed revered body of Muslim scholarship whose pillars are a strong and motivated anti-Western sentiment, and the advocacy of a return to medieval customs.
Well, if this is indeed so, then we have a much bigger problem in our hands. We are not dealing with just a few lunatics who for mysterious reasons concocted a crazy plan aimed at fighting the West.
A culture hostile to the West?
If Salem’s assessment is correct, we are confronted with a deeply rooted and broadly shared Islamic culture that seeks to advance and develop Muslim societies through a regression into medieval customs, while teaching that everything Western is evil.
Again, to be clear, let’s agree that violent jihad is embraced by only a few people within Muslim societies. But the issue is that many of the ideas that inspire the jihadists are part of the mainstream.
In other words, our problem is much bigger than what we are told.