Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Former Terrorist Speaks Out On Wahhabi / Salafi Islam and Tells the West Not to be Silenced

Tawfik Hamid, a former member of Ayman al-Zawahiri's terrorist organization, Jamaal Islamiya has written an editorial in the WSJ making several important points. Dr. Hamid points out that Wahhabi Islam, (that he calls Salafi Islam - a differnece in terminology, not substance) is at the root of the radicalization of Islam, that Islam needs to evolve and modernize out of the strict Wahhabi dogma, and that this imperative requires assistance by the West who need comprehend the anti-liberal nature of Wahhabi Islam and then, one, refuse to be silenced, and two, unapolegetically criticize Islam when and where warranted. Only through such actions can the West assist those Muslims who want to see Islam evolve and modernize. Think of his message as the polar opposite of CAIR's - itself a Wahhabi / Salafi organization.

Once you have read Dr. Hamid's article below, please see here, discussing Wahhabi / Salafi Islam in the context of attempts to silence the West.

The Trouble With Islam

Sadly, mainstream Muslim teaching accepts and promotes violence.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world's decline, entitled "What Went Wrong?" Astonishingly, there was, among many Western "progressives," a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis's implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.

But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists' defense.

These "progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name--Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.

It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the "end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.

The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals--who unceasingly claim to support human rights--have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.

Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria--which happened in the last few decades--or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict

Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a fa├žade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.

The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.

Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine's formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America's enemies.

Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.

Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand--but so far haven't--that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered "moderates."

All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.

Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.

Dr. Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.

For this article as it appears in the WSJ, please see here.


New Heretic said...

You are incorrect. Salafism and Wahabism are not the same thing. Wahabi is a subset of Salafism. It's like saying Protestant and Christian are the same thing. All Protestants are Christians, but not all Christians are Protestant. Not all Salafis are Wahabis - and in fact Wahabism is the "root" of terrorist ideology.

You are giving Tawfik Hamid way too much credibility. Having studied under al-Zawahiri and having been a member of one of Egypts most notorious terror organizations did anyone ever think that he might be giving out DISinformation?

If you've ever studied Islam, and if you've ever considered the differences between culture and religion, you would know that most of what he says in this article is unsubstantiated, incorrect and invalid. Check your facts before you buy into this guys DISinformation campaign.

He claims that Americans "restrict reformation of Islam" but that is a BS excuse. Nobody can reform the extremists or radical Muslims except Muslims.

He claims that there is a "deafening silence of the Muslim majority" - well, why then, were the leaders of the Arab world discussing extremism at the recent Arab League summit March 28-29? Musharraf and al Khalifa both spoke out about this and the need to counter radicalism. That's not a "deafening silence."

What people in the West need to do, and what non-Muslims need to do, is to become educated about Islam - and to check their facts before buying into everything that they read.

Anonymous said...

Wahhabis work for Zionists.
"Sheikh" Muhammed Nasir ad-Din al-Albani, considered by most "Salafis" to be the biggest scholars of their sect (after the death of their Mufti), has issued a Fatwa few years ago saying that ALL Muslims in Palestine, Southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights should leave their land in mass and go somewhere else. His proof was (and he is still clinging to it) that any Muslim land occupied by non-Muslims becomes a non-Muslim land. Thus, it is prohibited for any Muslims to keep living there.
When some people asked him, in mockery, that no country in the world would admit the whole Palestinian nation, even "Saudi Arabia," he said, "They might try to go to Sudan; it might admit them!!!"

Isn't this what Israel wants?


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