Islamic Extremism - How to Combat it.

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Islamic Extremism - How to Combat it.

Post by newcastle »

An interesting (and very lengthy) article getting to the root of islamic extremism....I print only the introduction:

July 25, 2016Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.1261
Following ISIS Attacks, Arab Journalists Call To Acknowledge Existence Of Muslim Extremism; Reexamine Religious Texts
By: D. Hazan*
Introduction
The large number of terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Western countries over the past year – including the July 14 truck attack in Nice, France (84 dead, some 100 wounded), the June 12 shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida (49 dead, over 50 wounded), the March 22, 2016 combined attacks in Brussels, Belgium (32 dead, over 300 wounded), and the combined attacks in Paris, France in November 2015 (129 dead, 350 wounded) – has sparked a wave of harsh criticism in the Arab and Islamic world, both due to the fear of Western responses and the increase of Islamophobia, and due to the torrent of youths who flock to the extremist organization.

Alongside the many articles that stressed that terrorist attackers do not represent Islam and operate out of outside interests, there have been an increasing number of articles in the Arab media calling to acknowledge that Islam, and the obsolete interpretations of it that are still applied today, are indeed related to the wave of global terrorism. Writers called on Muslims to be honest and admit the existence of Muslim religious extremism instead of blaming others, and to uproot it. The writers argued that the source of ISIS's extremist ideology is the Muslim social and cultural structure and that Muslims must therefore declare a war on this "cultural affliction" in their midst. According to them, this war requires fundamental reforms in Islamic interpretations alongside reforms in cultural, governmental and education patterns in Arab countries, which, they say, cause many Muslims to harbor covert sympathy for ISIS.
Many writers argued that most of ISIS's religious practices are drawn from the most important Islamic law books, while stressing that these laws do not reflect explicit Koranic dictates, but rather the opinion of jurisprudents that lived in a certain reality that is no longer relevant today. Therefore, they explained that in order to rescue the universal values of Islam from the culture of ignorance, backwardness, and violence, the Islamic jurisprudents of today must critically and rationally review the history of Islam and its religious texts, and adapt Islamic interpretations and laws to the spirit of the times, while taking into account the current circumstances and the greater good. In their opinion, some Islamic dictates should even be cancelled altogether to conform with universal progressive values such as liberties and human rights.

The writers harshly criticized the passive response of Muslims to ISIS crimes. According to them, clerics make do with condemning the crimes of terrorist organizations, and some even take part in spreading extremist ideologies themselves. They argued that "ideology can only be combatted with ideology" and that no one other than clerics can "defeat and eliminate terrorism based on uncompromising ideology." Therefore, the clerics must combat extremist religious discourse that captures the hearts of many youths, and systematically refute its ideas and rulings as part of ideological, practical, and informational programs. In this context, some of the writers mentioned the silence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they said begat these extremist takfiri organizations and now refrains from coming out against them and their ideology.

The writers also pointed to the confusion afflicting the common Muslims today, whether due to the refusal of Islamic religious institution to accuse ISIS and its ilk of apostasy, or whether because matters that were once uncontroversial in Islam – such as offensive jihad and slavery for prisoners of war – are currently forbidden according to modern world norms.

The writers stated that changing the religious discourse was a vital and urgent step, since the ongoing political and cultural situation in the Arab and Muslim world is "a wonderful recipe for extremism and backwardness," and that preserving and sanctifying ancient Islamic heritage would birth groups even more extreme than ISIS and lead Muslims to their doom.

The following are excerpts from these articles:(there follows detailed comments from journalists across the Arab world)

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/9345.htm

Incidentally: I am well aware of the origins of MEMRI....The institute was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former Israeli military intelligence officer and Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-born American political scientist.

Critics charge that despite portraying itself as neutral, it aims to portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light through the production and dissemination of incomplete translations and by selectively translating views of extremists while de-emphasizing or ignoring mainstream opinions.

Notwithstanding, I stand by the tenor of the above article and the views of the journalists canvassed.


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Re: Islamic Extremism - How to Combat it.

Post by Hafiz »

Newcastle - I agree MEMRI is a resource - what type resource I'm not sure. I read it a lot but remain suspicious, more of this in a second.

You are a bit coy about its founders. One of them was a governor of occupied Palestinian territories. Lots of ways to interpret that but one way is that these people are actual political actors at the very pointy end of Israeli politics. They are not disinterested academics and may not be performing a neutral public service. Give you an example. What would you think if the IRA had only written and published in very obscure Gaelic and the only source for the UK papers for all of this was the former military commander of UK troops in Northern Ireland who had the only skills to do the translation for the London newspapers? Not an exact example but you get my meaning. The Londoners are being bombed and they have only one source for the thinking of their adversaries. I exaggerate.

As regards suspicions - D Herzan is the claimed author of the small analysis of this melange of translated journalistic extracts. There are no other sources to validate even the existence of these articles (all only published in Arabic) let alone the accuracy of the translation. He is not listed on their website as one of their staff and his (strange) lack of a forename makes it difficult to check who he is and his background. The article you post has no information on him - this is unlike most media where you can find some bio data to prove he exists. Their other workers are listed and their backgrounds described - most of them seemingly neutral and academically respectable. His language is even more turgid than my own which isn't good and speaks to a poor education. :)

Its all a bit of a storm in a tea cup anyway. The call for Islamic theology to adapt to modern linguistics, archaeology, modern historical methods etc is far from new. The problem is that the article quotes nobodies who don't count in the reform of Islam. They are just journalists who think that a few articles are going to change the fundamentals of thinking in the Islamic world.

The so-called reform of Islam (nothing more than the application of high academic critical standards) is much more vexed and has been tried from outside and been caught up in bigger debates about the rights of (so called imperialists) westerners to even look at Islamic questions.

Its sad but true that all of the giants of modern Islamic studies, including the history of religion, have been western based academics. Many of them Jewish. Martin Kramer (much available on downloads), Bernard Lewis and Rodinson (the definitive biographer of the Prophet) are three Jewish examples. Their work has been disparaged by modern leftist theorists.

Meanwhile Al Ahzar and others have not led the world in scholarship on their own subject matter but have been quick to play the Jew card. Modern methods of understanding old texts have been not their forte - unlike modern Christian theology.

Even if al Ahzar adopted modern scholarly standards and started to interpret the Koran in a less rigid and literal way little may happen. Unlike Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular, Islam lacks central control over theology and changes in Cairo probably won't have much impact in the sticks. Having said this the preservation of their own texts and training of al Ahzar scholars in ancient languages wouldn't go amiss. They could also do what everyone else does - hold public seminars, sponsor debates and establish a refereed journal. A computer based library index and allowing overseas scholars into the archives could only do harm to the ignorant. The proper training of Imams wouldn't go amiss.

For those with more time than sense an extreme clearly written view about the current dismal state of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies is the right wing Israeli academic Martin Kramer at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uplo ... Towers.pdf

The debate against western study of Middle Eastern cultures which led to deskilling of western universities is broadly covered by 'Orientalism' and there are millions of internet articles on this vexed question.
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