The Rise of Muslim Fundamentalism

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Ray, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The Rise of Muslim Fundamentalism

    Fundamentalist Muslims have emerged in recent years as a major political force in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Although their activities sometimes do bring advantage to the United States (as in the Afghan civil war), these more often pose a danger to American interests.

    It was fundamentalists who, for example, overthrew the pro-Western regime of the shah of Iran, attacked the Grand Mosque in Mecca, assassinated Sadat, and blew up the U.S Marine barracks in Beirut.

    From Morocco to Indonesia, fundamentalist Muslims pursue a political program that derives from their understanding of the Islamic law, the Sharia. For them, the regulations contained in this divine code are the key to politics.

    The Sharia is a massive body of regulations based on precepts found in the Koran and the other holy books of Islam. It covers both the most intimate aspects of life (such as personal hygiene and sexual relations) and the most public (such as taxation and warfare). The law of Islam has changed very little during the past thousand years; it represents the permanent goals incumbent on believers.

    In the public sphere, however, the Sharia sets out goals so lofty Muslims have never been able fully to achieve them. The ban on warfare between fellow believers, for example has been repeatedly breached, while judicial procedures have almost never been followed and criminal punishments have not been applied.

    In centuries past, pious Muslims coped with the problem of not attaining their religion's goals by lowering their sights. They postulated that full application of the law would occur only some day in the distant future. For the meantime, they agreed, it had to be adjusted to meet the needs of daily life; this they did by applying only those regulations that made practical sense. For example, by devising ways to ignore the prohibition on usury, they enabled pious Muslims legally to charge interest on loans. This pragmatic approach to religion, which predominated for hundred of years, is known as traditionalist Islam.

    Traditionalist Islam began to lose its hold in the late 18th century, as the success of the West began to cause a steep fall in the power and wealth of the Muslim world.

    As Muslims increasingly experimented with Western-influenced interpretations of the sacred law, their efforts resulted in three new approaches to Islam: the secularist, reformist and fundamentalist.

    Secularists Muslims believe that success in the modern world requires the discarding of anything that stands in the way of emulating the West; they therefore argue for the complete withdrawal of religion from the public sphere.

    If secularists push away the Sharia entirely and embrace Western civilization, reformist Muslims incorporate parts of both. They interpret the Sharia in ways that facilitate the acceptance of whichever Western practices they wish to see adopted.

    Fundamentalists, in contrast to both these groups, and to traditionalist Muslims as well, believe that the law of Islam must be implemented in its every detail.

    Although aiming to recreate what they think of as an ancient way of life, fundamentalists in fact espouse a radical program that has never been implemented. They claim their goal is to return to traditional ways but their program differs from the traditionalists' in many respects. Where traditionalist Islam is pragmatic, the fundamentalist version is doctrinaire. The former allows for human frailty, the latter demands perfection.

    The appeal of fundamentalism grows most where Muslim societies intensely experience modernization. The first Muslims to encounter the modern West — government, officials, military officers, aristocrats, merchants — tend to experiment with secularism and reformism. But as the masses get caught up in modernizing, they try hard to preserve accustomed ways. Fundamentalism attracts them precisely because it promises to fend off Western influences and practices.

    Fundamentalist organizations grow in strength as Muslim masses seek solutions to modern dilemmas. Their goals are a penal code based on the Koran, taxation according to Islamic levies, second-class citizenship for non-Muslims, warfare against non-Muslims only, harmonious relations between Muslim governments, and ultimately a union of all Muslims living in peace under one ruler.

    In sum, fundamentalists believe that Islamic law holds the answers to modern problems and that they alone are sincere about implementing the law. They disdain non-fundamentalist Muslims, are hostile toward non-Muslims and act with the self-assuredness and determination that accompanies absolute certainty about knowing God's will. Accordingly, they feel justified in using any means to achieve power and often adopt extreme tactics.

    Most important for relations with the United States, fundamentalists have a deep and abiding hatred of Western civilization, which they see as the supreme obstacle to their goal of applying Islamic law.

    From this point of view, the United States and the Soviet Union appear more alike than dissimilar. The two countries share much that fundamentalists reject. Americans and Russians are historically both Christian peoples whose culture derives from Western civilization. They share a scientific methodology, humanistic idealism and secularism. Political differences between the two countries appear relatively minor to fundamentalists.

    Of the two, however, the United States poses greater problems. The result is a slight but consistent bias among fundamentalists in favor of the Soviet Union and against the United States because American culture is the more threatening, its ideology the more alien, its power the more feared.

    Soviet influence derives almost exclusively from its military prowess; its dreary state culture and moribund economy have virtually no impact on the Muslim world. It is the United States and Western Europe, rather, that influence Muslims everywhere. Their pop music, movies, video games, comics, textbooks, literature and art reach throughout the Muslim world. Their clothing, foods, household items and machines are found in towns and villages. Their universities, banks and oil companies beckon aspiring Muslims. Their sexual customs—contraception, abortion, dancing, dating, nightclubs, pornography, mixed social drinking, tight clothing, scant swimming suits, mixed bathing, beauty pageants, co-education and female employment — break down the divisions required by Islamic law.

    This wide appeal of American and West European culture deeply disturbs fundamentalists. They condemn Western culture as aesthetically loathsome and morally decadent, they spread conspiracy theories to inspire fears in Muslims of American motives; and they warn of disasters befalling those who abandon the Sharia.

    Fundamentalists also strongly discourage instruction of European languages and attendance at American schools.

    A dilemma confronts the United States whenever friendly governments face major fundamentalist opposition. The U.S. is tempted to assist them but the more aid they accept, the more vulnerable they are to fundamentalist accusations of selling out to Washington. Often referred to as the "kiss of death," the problem of contamination by association is especially delicate in the Muslim world (where it plagues the Soviet Union no less than the U.S.).

    What then should be U.S. policy for dealing with the fundamentalist Muslim threat in the Middle East and elsewhere?

    First, in the case of Muslim governments friendly to the United States, such as Morocco, Egypt, the Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan:

    No help for the fundamentalists in the opposition. U.S contact with them helps, of course, to understand their views and monitor their influence, but no assistance should be provided to them.

    Dissuasion of Muslim governments pre-empting fundamentalists. Bringing them into the government or applying their program inevitably leads to repression, instability and anti-American policies.

    Reduction of public U.S links to Muslim governments, especially in countries where powerful fundamentalist movements exist. Discreet cooperation, not visible ties, are to be built

    In the case of Soviet-backed Muslim governments, including Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, U.S. policy should be to:

    Assist fundamentalist groups only with great caution and as a last resort.
    Refuse assistance that establishes fundamentalist groups as the major alternate opposition to the Soviet allies.
    Help non-fundamentalist Muslim opposition groups organize against Soviet-backed regimes.
    As for neutralist governments, Iran especially, try to convince them that the U.S poses less of a threat than the U.S.S.R.

    Daniel Pipes is a member of the faculty at Harvard University and a Heritage Foundation visiting fellow.

    The Rise of Muslim Fundamentalism :: Daniel Pipes

    While surfing, I stumbled to find this link.

    There is immense turmoil in this world, especially the ME.

    How far is this article relevant to the situation that was created by interested parties and how far is it relevant to the unfolding events around the world and the Middle East?
  3. fyodor

    fyodor Regular Member

    Apr 18, 2014
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    Muslim countries are incapable of peace. In India wherever muslims are >25% troubles rise and riots happen. Later they blame it on the kuffars. They want more and more rights in kufr countries. But as soon as they are majority >45% they declare Shariah law and all kufr become subservient to the believers(muslim). Example scenario: Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir
  4. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

    Mar 21, 2009
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  5. Abhijat

    Abhijat Regular Member

    Apr 17, 2014
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    @Ray sir ,

    The author is right in the sense that their is conflict within society in West Asia , but the explanation of why it happens is wrong. I will try to present the reason given by author and then will present my argument why his reason is wrong.

    To my understanding author had tried to describe the cultural conflict between Western civilization and Arabian/Persian civilization due to cultural contact between two different civilizations. This contact was already present , but catalyzed by Globalisation. This is more of materialistic and technological .

    Also, the author tried to convene that the "westernization" process led by West has created a fault line between people , based on who were able to adopt the "culture" in letter and spirit (Secular & Reformist) and those who are not able to accustom to change ( Fundamentalist) . This change is more of ideological and sociological change than the materialistic and technological change.

    My argument is that , in any society (for example:Indian society) , their can be two types of change with time:

    1. Due to cultural contact between two cultures , known in anthropology as Diffusionism .
    2. Due to natural evolution of culture , known as Neo-evolutionism.

    1. Diffusionism happens when their is exchange of Ideas, Materialistic objects, Social values etc. , between two cultures. Here assumption is that one society is well developed (Western) and other is undeveloped(West Asia etc.) . So when their is contact between the two , the ideas, values, culture etc. flows from developed one to undeveloped one. This theory was famous in 18'th Century among the scholars , due to their "Racial pride". So the Undeveloped society should be obliged of Western society , as they are giving them wisdom and knowledge.

    So based on this mentality , author tried to present his "rational" view of why their is conflict in society and the secular & reformist are right and fundamentalist are wrong ,in opposing the wisdom and knowledge given by Western countries , so all must adopt the Culture of West and be happy about it.

    But , this explanation based on assumption that , man is not innovative and intelligent , and culture develops in those areas where environment suits the formation of same(Here Environment of Europe and USA). So their is "natural force" which makes the Culture of Western countries superior to that of others,if any. So western countries are place where culture have originated. This theory was quashed by later scholars and it was proven to be tactic of Western domination over Colonies.

    So, the reason presented by author i.e. conflict due to more Western contact (facilitated by globalisation) doesn't stands true. Therefore the opposition of West is not the fault line faced by people. West is only a part of the problem , due to some other compelling reason , and not the center of the conflict.

    2. Neo-evolutionism , this theory explains the concept of cultural evolution , i.e all cultures faces same stages of development with time.

    It can be better explained with treating Society and Nature as analogues to each other, because nature determines the physiological and survival of human being , which defines the culture . Example : In Eskimo society , due to very low temperature and lack of food material , Polyandry is practiced as two or more men would be better able to serve women's need of security and food , thus survival of their society.

    Now for evolution , both in nature and society to take place , we need a mutation which can initiate the change process in environment. These mutagens are object that cause mutation. These mutation is successful in bringing evolution in nature , when it gives some type of advantage and have "adoptive fitness" in current environment. Thus every mutation does not bring evolution. Same in case of society , the mutagens are external forces like technological change, or ideological change, that can initiate the change in society , but will only be successful in bringing evolution when they can bring real advantage to the society and have adoptive fitness i.e survive on their own in the given societal environment.

    So as nature evolves with time , thus society also evolves with time so cultural evolution takes place , depending on the environment, physical ( in case of nature's evolution) and Socio-cultural( in case of society).

    In case of West Asia (or even in India) their is process of "Modernisation" taking place as society is evolving to the next phase. This "modernisation" process is different from "westernisation" as defined by the author.

    Difference between the two is that , "westernisation" takes place on an individual level i.e it depends on person to person , so a person may adopt clothing style, food habit , music, art etc. of West and so the change is not visible in whole society but at individual level. So their can be conflict in society between two groups, i.e one who imitate the Western culture and other which opposes the same. This is like a mutagen(western food, clothing etc.) trying to bring cultural evolution in present Societal structure.

    But in "Modernisation" , the process is adopted by whole society i.e they become more liberal in their ideology ( example the Criminal system is reformist based rather than punishment based etc.) , values etc. This bring the overall change in society so the chance of conflict in society is less. This is like their is evolution of whole environment so that the mutagens( Westernisation tools like clothing , food etc.) have adoptive fitness in current environment.

    In West Asia the process taking place is that of "westernisation" , so secular and reformist(to some extent) are trying to imitate the western culture , without evolving their own culture which can take their whole society to the objective of "modernisation". This "westernisation" process is initiated due to a external force , here Western culture, and is analogues to mutation occurring in nature. As in nature the evolution takes place due to mutation , which may or may not bring change , depending on the adoptive fitness , which is defined by the society itself i.e "modernisation" of society.

    So the conflict is between "westernisation" tools , which is creating a group , which is not able to have adoptive fitness in the current society as society as a whole is still not able to go through process of "modernisation" , so these external mutagens and group representing them are facing conflict with the rest of society and also with themselves in ideological and cultural sphere.

    But , as given by neo-evolutionism model, like every society , Islamic society will also change with time. These tools of western culture have nevertheless started to initiate the change , but depending on whether they can take the whole society to next phase of cultural evolution they will survive or not.
    So here conflict is not between western countries and West Asian countries , but with the agents of these western culture and fundamentalist which are opposed to it because of the nature of inertia as explained by newton's first law of motion, i.e. a body will remain in state of rest or motion unless an external force is not applied on it. So the society is state of rest i.e their inertia is zero , and they are resisting the change , but eventually change is law of nature .

    So eventually fundamentalist will be reduced and in their place reformist will help to bring change in Islamic society.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
    Ray likes this.
  6. abhi_the _gr8_maratha

    abhi_the _gr8_maratha Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2014
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    muslim countries have great history of democracy cause it is time to time attacked by western countries - Noam Chosky (on his twitter account)

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