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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 28 Sept 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Fundamentalism Has Transported Religion Out of Its Spiritual Realm

By Adil Rasheed

28 September 2018

It might seem ironic but religious fundamentalism is quite a modern, sui generis phenomenon. As its quest for truth is driven more by casuistry than spirituality, it strives to confute the orthodox and traditional practices of various faiths, polities and cultures.

Thus, fundamentalism is modern not merely because of its emergence in relatively recent times, but because it attempts to impose a systematic structure to dogma and is generally averse towards religion’s essentially metaphysical and esoteric dimensions.

By discarding the intricacies of the metaphorical, fundamentalism clings to a literalist defence of scripture that invariably gives its arguments a reductionist, absolutist and intolerant streak.

In its pursuance of minimalism to ostensibly achieve pristine purity of faith, it sets itself up against intellectualism, aestheticism and mysticism, and so it finds few scholars, thinkers or artists among its obscurantist following.

Metastasizing Menace

The term fundamentalism originated in late 19th century when it referred to the extremist beliefs of certain Protestant sects in Britain and the US, which insisted on the literal inerrancy of the Bible.

However, this mimetic threat soon spread to other religions including some segments of Islam, even though this trend has arguably shown signs of general regress in recent times.

Although simplistic in its vehement adherence to “the inviolable basic principles”, fundamentalism in our times is remarkably innovative in that it has transported religion out of its spiritual realm and brought its distorted version into the socio-cultural, political and even economic domains.

Surprisingly like neo-liberalism, fundamentalism rejects tradition and “cultural specificity in favor of abstract universalism”. Thus, Muslim fundamentalist movements generally reject all the orthodox schools of religious jurisprudence or doctrines. In this, they are remarkably anarchist, even post-modern.

Post-Modern Moorings

In an article titled “Post-Modern Jihad”, published in The Weekly Standard soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Waller Newell (Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Carleton University) wrote “the ideology by which al-Qaeda justifies its acts of terror owes as much to baleful trends in Western thoughts as it does to a perversion of religious beliefs. Osama’s doctrine of terror is partly a Western export.”

In the article, the scholar traces the influences of Nazi philosopher Heidegger and post-modern ideologues like Foucault on the Iranian Revolution and al-Qaeda.

He writes: “The relationship between postmodernist European leftism and Islamist radicalism is a two-way street: Not only have Islamists drawn on the legacy of European left, but European Marxists have taken heart from Islamist terrorists who seemed close to achieving the longed for revolution against American hegemony.”

According to noted expert on Islamist terrorism Olivier Roy, “In the 1960s, in Western Europe we had a tradition of youth radicalization from the Marxist revolution. Suddenly around the 1990s, the dream of the Marxist revolution disappeared and al-Qaeda and ISIS filled the vacuum”.

Similarly Ofri Ilani writes: “Individualism, hatred of the establishment and a cult of emotion activate the jihadists, just as they activated the anarchist assassins in the 19th century or the Red Brigades in the 1970s”.

The Loss of Meaning

Since ancient times, religion instituted meaning in human consciousness through its spiritual injunctions, ethical distinction of right from wrong as well as restrictions on the bestial and carnal instincts. With the coming of European enlightenment, rationalism and science set new standards of personal, societal and universal values.

However, with the rise of post-modern philosophies, certitude in established institutions of faith, ethics and even reason started to crumble and thereby the very construct of meaning began to blur. A similar trend is perceptible in the descent of militant fundamentalism from its avowed pursuance of essential religious truths to a near complete breakdown of any ethical construct it claimed to cling to.

Like post-modern Marxist revolutionaries, the bestial has gained pre-eminence over both the spiritual and the rational, leading to a near collapse of faith and any semblance of good sense. Borrowing ideas from their post-modern ideological mentors, groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS have violated the very basic injunctions of their avowed faith.

As Newell puts it: “For Foucault as for Fanon, Hezbollah, and the rest down to Osama, the purpose of violence is not to relieve poverty or adjust borders. Violence is an end in itself … That is how al Qaeda can ignore mainstream Islam, which prohibits the deliberate killing of non-combatants, and slaughter innocents in the name of creating a new world, the latest in a long line of grimly punitive collectivist utopias.”

One could definitely add the name of ISIS on the list of these post-modern, neo-fundamentalist purveyors of violence. Not surprisingly, militant fundamentalism strives in places of utter chaos and confusion.

The remedy to clearly lies in restoring religion to its rightful and exclusive preserve of spiritualism, while leaving socio-political issues to institutions of national and international polity. There can be no space for religion in the political domain.

Dr. Adil Rasheed is Research Fellow at the Institute for Defense and Strategic Analyses (IDSA) based in New Delhi since August 2016. For over 20 years, he has been a journalist, researcher, political commentator for various international think tanks and media organizations, both in the United Arab Emirates and India. He was Senior Research Fellow at the United Services Institution of India (USI) for two years from 2014 to 2016, where he still holds the honorary title of Distinguished Fellow. He has also worked at the Abu Dhabi-based think tank The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) for eight years (2006-14).



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  1. All the Prophets who gave the law were necessarily Kings or Rulers with the required political power to lay down the law as well as ensure compliance to the law. Some of the Ruler Prophets in the Judaic transition are: David, Solomon 931 BC, Ahab 852 BC, Hezekiah, Zedekiah 618-561 BC, Jehu 814 BC, Saul, Asa 870 BC, Amon of Judah 664-641 BC.  


    Hammurabi[a] (c. 1810 BC – c. 1750 BC) was the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, reigning from 1792 BC to 1750 BC. He brought almost all of Mesopotamia under Babylonian rule.


    Hammurabi is best known for having issued the Code of Hammurabi, which he claimed to have received from Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice. Unlike earlier Sumerian law codes, such as the Code of Ur-Nammu, which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator. It prescribed specific penalties for each crime and is among the first codes to establish the presumption of innocence. Although its penalties are extremely harsh by modern standards, they were intended to limit what a wronged person was permitted to do in retribution.


    Hammurabi was seen by many as a god within his own lifetime. After his death, Hammurabi was revered as a great conqueror who spread civilization and forced all peoples to pay obeisance to Marduk, the national god of the Babylonians. Later, his military accomplishments became de-emphasized and his role as the ideal lawgiver became the primary aspect of his legacy. For later Mesopotamians, Hammurabi's reign became the frame of reference for all events occurring in the distant past. Even after the empire he built collapsed, he was still revered as a model ruler, and many kings across the Near East claimed him as an ancestor. Hammurabi was rediscovered by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century and has since become seen as an important figure in the history of law.


    Hammurabi has all the characteristics of a King who was a Prophet. Let us replace Muhammad (pbuh) in place of Hammurabi, and we may expect the historical narrative for ancient history which was forgotten but rediscovered, to read as follows.


    Muhammad rose from humble beginnings to declare himself a Prophet when he was forty. He was bitterly opposed and forced to migrate from his city Mecca but returned militarily triumphant some 10 years later and spread his political influence far and wide with amazing conquests in a very short period. He gave the Book the Quran which contains the law as well as the ideal way of living and founded a religion called Islam, which he claimed was not a new religion but the only religion from the first man Adam and that his mission was in continuation of the same mission of every prophet. He asked all his followers to exclusively pay obeisance to Allah, who he said was the only true god, and cease worshiping every other god they had previously worshiped along with Allah. He claimed the Book was revealed to him by Jibrail aka Gabriel who is one of the trinitrin gods in Christianity but considered only an Angel in the Quran.


    The Code of Hammurabi, the Law of Moses in the Torah and the Law of the Quran, contain numerous similarities, as they should if they are revelations from the same God.


    By Naseer Ahmed 16/11/2018 05:40:34
  2. Good to see that he has abandoned the outrageous claim that Quranic laws on adultery are 7th century pagan Arab laws! The very thought!


    There is no moral principle whatsoever which is not of divine origin as well as the punishment for it. As I have brought out in several of my articles, without divine revelation of the moral way of living, the progeny of Adam would have remained “insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish”. It is religion that has transformed man who started to form elaborate structures called cultures based on common values given by religion which gave rise to civilizations.  Each of the moral principles is counter intuitive, and therefore was unavailable to man in foresight, which is why it needed divine revelation. A counter intuitive moral principle had to be implemented strictly with harsh penalties for contravention. Once these were practiced, and the utilitarian value became evident, and the willingness to live by the moral principles increased, the severity of the punishments was progressively decreased. You will therefore find, extremely harsh penalties in the past such as stoning to death, burning, tearing the body apart by pulling the limbs in different directions, drowning, strangulation etc. Which of these punishments were of human or divine origin is difficult to say, but corporal punishment has been a part of divine law and is also the punishment in the Hereafter. Whether this makes Allah merciful or cruel has been answered in my article: Was Allah Unjust in Creating Adam and Favouring His Progeny Over All His Creation?



    Even though every past religion has moved from monotheism to paganism (10:19) “Mankind was but one nation, but differed (later)”, the pagans continued to live by the moral principles within their own tribe. Theft within the tribe was theft but not stealing from someone outside of the tribe. Laws on adultery became only property rights and implemented as such. Paganism and loose sexual morals go hand in hand which is why the two most heinous crimes in Islam for a believer are (1) Associating partners with Allah which is an unforgivable sin and (2) Adultery for which the punishment cannot be reduced once the crime is established.

    The two practices that make a believer a Muslim are (1) Establishing regular prayers and (2) Spending in charity.


    The Prayer also helps prevent shameful deeds the most shameful being adultery 29:45 “Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds”

    The seduction of Satan is through attracting man to immodest practices the most extreme being adultery.

    (7:27) O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same manner as He got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where ye cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith.


    It is only those without faith who are friends of Satan and easily seduced into shameful deeds, the worst being associating partners with Allah and committing adultery.


    Also verse 24:2 makes clear that once the sin/crime of adultery is established, there is no discretion for the judge, but to award the punishment prescribed by Allah if he believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment. A believer and a practicing Muslim cannot therefore even consider decriminalizing adultery or reducing the punishment for it. It is only one who does not believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment who can oppose the divine laws of Allah in the Quran.


    The path from shameful deeds to loss of faith in Allah and in the Day of Judgment, is the shortest and most direct path.


    For a believer, the Quran is the most reliable source of knowledge. Verse 24:3 prohibits an adulterer marrying a non-adulterous person of any monotheistic faith but permits marrying a Pagan. This is enough evidence that what Islam considers as adultery, had no criminal, legal or social consequences in Pagan society and socially acceptable.  Verse 60:12 provides further proof, in that all those who approached the Prophet for being accepted into the fold of Islam, had to swear an oath that they will not commit adultery. If the Pagan norm and punishments were the same as in Islam, there would have been no need for this.

    Quranic laws on adultery are quite different from all laws preceding it, or of what survived in practice of those laws. The Judaic and Christian laws also tend to be property rights and little else. I quote below from the very same source from which GM sb quoted:

    The Quranic concept of adultery is not just different from the Pagan concept, but also from the Biblical concept, according to below quoted scholars.

    Pagan Society – no concept of adultery – only property rights

    Schacht writes: "To the pre-Islamic Arabs, zina was  not a sin but regarded in certain circumstances as an injury to the rights of property of a fellow-tribesman." Peters, in a similar vein, remarks: "The Qur'an disapproved of the promiscuity prevailing at that time in Arabia and forbade e.g. the prostitution of slave-girls by their masters (XXIV, 33).,, Even Hodgson, describing the moral tone of the pre-Islamic Bedu, writes: "Even those who might prefer a different way of responding to life were dragged into the pattern by the voice of public opinion, urging vengeance as the most practical means of justice, and praising transient delights of drink and sex...,"

    Biblical Concept – married woman in sexual relationship with other than husband is an adulteress – man, only if in relationship with a married woman not his wife.

    Paterson: "The biblical conception of adultery is often expressed by saying that, as in Roman law, a woman could violate only her own marriage, a man only that of another. In other words, an unchaste wife was guilty of adultery, an unchaste husband was guilty of it only if he sinned along with the wife of another. If in certain cases the law took cognizance of a husband's licentiousness, it was because it involved infringement of property rights, and gave rise to a claim for damages (Ex 2216, Dt 2229)

    A married woman in the ancient world was, according to this understanding, the property of her husband and, in that sense, a theft-able object - the means being called 'adultery,' but still operating on the general principle of theft. Cook, writing on marriage, notes: "The prevailing type in the Semitic world is that wherein the woman follows the husband, who has paid a 'bride-price' (Arab. mahr, Heb. mohar) to her kin, whereby he has compensated them for the loss of her services, and has acquired the right of possessing sons who shall belong to his tribe. By this act the man has practically acquired the exclusive property-rights, and deprives the woman of disposing of her own person." Furthermore, this status as property extends to unmarried women as well, for as Cook further notes: "Under the ordinary type of marriage, known as the baal or marri age of subjection, the Semitic woman, if unmarried, is entirely under the authority of her father; if betrothed or married, of her husband. It is necessary, therefore, to observe that, if adultery is primarily an infringement of the husband's rights, seduction is no less a matter for the father of the unbetrothed virgin. "

    Understanding this ancient mindset is of great benefit in making sense of how the ancient codes deal with adultery. From this perspective it becomes very clear that a great deal of a woman's value in ancient Hebrew society revolved around her chastity, whether that of the virgin within the property considerations of her father, or that of the wife within the property considerations of her husband. It was the seducer / rapist who might impinge on the former; the adulterer on the latter. A woman's chastity and faithfulness was a precious possession, and if she was complicitous in its theft from the rightful owner, she was to pay with her life. Obviously, this conception resulted in a rather one-sided application of adultery penalties. We have seen Paterson's observation that "an unchaste bride was guilty of adultery, an unchaste husband ... only if he sinned along with the bride of another," and to this we might add Poucher's comment that "in the Israelitic as well as Romaic law, the term was confined to illicit intercourse of a married or betrothed woman with any other man than her husband." Nor did this one-sided application change in the post-biblical period, as Abrahams notes: "The law continued to regard as adultery only the intercourse of a married woman with any man other than her husband. Thus a married man was not regarded as guilty of adultery unless he had intercourse with a married woman other than his wife.

    Islamic concept – both man and woman in sexual relationship without being legally married to each other are guilty of adultery.

    It is noteworthy that the Qur'an, through its wording in Q.24:2 of "al-zaniya wa al- zani, "is in direct opposition to this ancient concept. Both the adulterer and the adulteress, it is made clear, are to be punished equally - a principle taken up by the fuqaha' and very much in evidence throughout the regulations relating to zina. Unmarried woman in sexual relationship with an unmarried man is also zina in Islam but not in any other society.


    The article from which GM sb quoted is an academic research paper submitted by a student for his MA degree. It is not from any established reputed scholar. The article labours to show the sources from which Muslim society took to the practice of stoning to death the adulterers. This is a non-Quranic practice to be found only in pre-Quranic traditions. The most obvious answer would be that this practice was copied from the Mosaic law which was what any Orientalist would say, but this student being a young research scholar, is trying to make his mark and break fresh grounds, by trying to establish non-Judeo-Christian influence. Did this practice exist among Arabs other than the Jews and the Christians? We can look to the Quran for an answer.


    (2:62) Those who believe (in the Qur´an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.


    The Sabians and the Hanif were among the non-Pagan Arabs and these people may had the same laws as the Mosaic laws. The Quran makes no mention of the Hanif who followed the religion of Abraham probably because all of them had already accepted Islam and did not exist as a separate community. The Sabians were possibly a community in Yemen which also subsequently merged into Islam which is why so little is known of them.


    Definition of Adultery

    As far as definitions go, the meaning of both adultery and incest varies from community to community, and any definition that is not completely generic, but specific, holds good only for some people, but not all. The generic definition of adultery that holds for all people is:

    Adultery is extramarital and pre-marital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds.

    There can therefore be societies that have no concept of adultery other than incest, and what is incest to one society, may not be for another. Incest is a sub-class of adultery.

    By Naseer Ahmed 15/11/2018 00:48:09
  3. I shall let Naseer sb., wallow in his abusive and undignified verbal assaults but I shall end my participation in this thread with the assertion that cruel corporal punishments mentioned in the Quran for various offences are, in my opinion, of human origin (7th century Arab).

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 14/11/2018 13:27:46
  4. [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] does not realize how stupid it is to consider something as adultery, that has neither criminal nor legal consequences but considered as a perfectly legal transaction!

    Where can this discussion go except with the conclusion that the Quranic Law on adultery has nothing to do with 7th century Arab pagan laws and in fact a complete departure in the concept of adultery itself?

    If [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] has realized it, he should accept it and end it and not go on like a windbag without a leg to stand on.
    By Naseer Ahmed 14/11/2018 00:00:04
  5. I have to again explain to [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] that  even if the wife of a man with the husband’s consent has sex with another man in pagan societies it is still adultery. But that does not tell us what the laws were. The only reference to the laws is in the quotation that I posted half a dozen times. Absence of vignettes in Islam does not prove anything. Mullahs have been charging sizeable fees to carry out halala, which is, strictly speaking not even legal in Islam. 

    [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] does not produce any evidence to support his assertions but keeps on asking others for more and more evidence.

    By the way, this debate is not going anywhere. How about closing it?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 13/11/2018 23:49:52