Political Violence of Deviant Islamists

Political Violence is a tactful term to refer to the conflict over power, either to stay in power or to come to power. Such conflict is as old as human societies. At the time Europe disposed this behavioral deformity following a war that killed millions of people, the Arabic World continued this behavior as the best way to gain power or keep it. The deviations of Arabic Spring are mere representations of this mentality.  

As Arabic Regimes have always practiced political violence in the most unhuman manners, Radical Islamic Organizations have been practicing political violence to restore their claimed right to politically lead their societies. They want to rule through a vision that twists the scripts of Islamic doctrine to restore their abducted right to rule from military dictatorships or deformed secular regimes that have got a deformed view of Islamists trends. Ever since the fall of Islamic Caliphate, political violence has been ongoing among these opponents. This political violence takes different forms that derive legitimacy from religion to keep or come to power.   

However, when talking about political violence of Islamists, I need to ask whether Muslims have used this kind of violence or they have been exposed to it. Going back to the beginning of Islamic message, we see that Muslims were exposed to political violence. When Prophet Muhammed – Peace be upon him – declared his prophecy in Mecca, leaders of Dar Al-Nadwah [1]immediately felt that Muhammed (PBUH) was trying to taking over and depriving leaders of Al Nadwah from their political, economic and social privileges. Therefore, they decided to fiercely confront him. It known that when Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) suffered from their repulsion, he didn’t force them; he asked them for freedom to spread his message instead. He said: “Do not put barriers between me and people”.   

But, leaders of Dar Al-Nadwah, were fully aware of his messages and its connotations. Those vulnerable found in the Prophet message a pure spiritual haven and an escape from suppression and slavery. They were very liable to join him. When leaders of Al Nadwah failed in terrifying and tempting average people, they decided to resort to political violence when they plotted the assassination attempt against Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in his house which forced him to emigrate to Al Madinah.

Muslims practice political violence against among themselves

When Muslims managed to lead the Arabian Peninsula through a social consensus-based contract, historically known as “Al Madinah Journal[2]”, the seeds of political violence started to appear among Muslims themselves through the assassination of the fourth Caliph, Othman Ben Affan. This assassination established a political conflict over power whose traces and results are still affecting Muslim culture and behavior. 

The assassination of Othman Ben Affan divided Muslim in a vertical manner and led to political conflict over Islam, not for it. This conflict extended to Mua’awia ben Abi Sufian and Ali Ben Abi Taleb who fought each other for power. We can easily notice the effects of these conflicts in the Syrian Revolution and how it has deviated the Revolution from its course. Political Islam pushed the Syrian Revolution into a dark underpass. Islam and Muslims are the losers in the battle and the Syrian people have paid a high price when Syrians found themselves trapped in a battle in which they sacrificed themselves, a battle that is not the one they originally went for in the Revolution. Syrians didn’t mean to sacrifice in such a battle.  

The conflict over Islam is a political issue rather than a religious one

This conflict which started between Mua’awiah Ben Abi Sufian and Ali Ben Abi Taleb was not a religious one; it was purely political. Godfathers of this political conflict succeeded in changing it from a political conflict int a religious and ideological one. The concepts of political conflict were successfully converted into doctrinal ones which enabled each opponent to have his own interpretation of Quran until these interpretations became even more sacred than Quran itself among the social and religious institutions. They went further to fabricate hadiths and attribute them to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) just to add a religious perspective to their political theory   which the public can never escape. Much has been paid for these fabrications. 

Nobody is talking about the political whatness of the conflict, and all parties are utilizing religious interpretations and different scripts to give this theory a heavenly perspective which legitimize political violence of all parties. Then Islam will cry its followers who underestimate their blood, destroy their homeland and cause retardation for their societies. All these losses are for a case which is not theirs. Power, not religion, is the ultimate goal.

This conflict has been clearly embodied in the Syrian Revolution when cunning persons managed to deviate it from its initial course and objectives. They converted it from a revolution for freedom and dignity against an unprecedented tyranny into a sectarian conflict between a Persian project which used Shite and a brutal destructive project represented by Islamic State in Iraq and Sham ISIS and the like. The term “Caliphate” and the implementation of Sharia have been used as a means for conquering power. I swear to God that both are blatant liars and perpetrators against Islam, humanity and free will of peoples. Both teams depended on false scripts for their political projects. These false scripts talk about the only community that will be granted salvation. Such mentality divided the Muslim nation into many sects and parties, and each party is enjoying its own madness. 

Going back to the history of Islam, we will find that political violence was present in the conflict between Abbasids and Umayyads which ended up in a very brutal genocide of the Umayyads. Power was the aim, and violence was the means. The divine theocratic right was used for legitimacy.  In the name of revenge for the Prophet family members and the restoration of their rights, Umayyad were executed. However, Abbasids immediately assassinated members of the prophet’s family themselves so that no competitors for power can stand in the way.  

Two big events that made political violence legitimate.

First event:

If we rationally search history away from emotions, we can find out that the day Imam Ahmad Ben Hanabal [3]won the battle against Mu’tazila [4]marks the beginning of neutralization of mind. Research and analysis were done away from logic, and Salafi interpretations of scripts dominated political theories.

Undoubtedly, it was a great moment when Ahmad Ben Hanabal defeated Mu’tazila because they went astray in a wrong way of sharing their ideas and ideologies. They used to impose their ideas on people exploiting their ties with the authorities. Upon investigating that remarkable victory, we can see that it marks the defeat of intellect and rationalism of the Islamic thought. 

The victory of Ahmad Ben Hanbal was wrongly invested and that led to domination of script-bound trends. Knowledge transmitters dominated religious knowledge. The third and fourth centuries of the Islamic calendar were characterized with Hadith narrators. Consequently, intellectual processes for interpreting religious scripts and religious philosophy were considered as heresy that intended to destroy religion.  

Until today, any traditional scholar will suspect any philosophy or philosopher and consider them to be heretic. Asha’erya  [5]school, which followed a moderate course and reconciliation policy in between scripture school and Al Mu’tazila who are named as Discourse school, were not able to score any victory for rationalism. This failure has been due to the domination of Sofi conceptions and their dominance of Mu’tazila on one hand, and because Sofi figures were advocates of tyrannies and supporters of dictatorships under the pretext of prevention of turmoil on the other hand.

This victory of Iben Hanbal produced today’s Jihadi Salafism which views nothing but violence as a means to fulfil its political objective i.e. the restoration of Caliphate. Such ideology pushed the nation away from maturity and got it into a political violence whirlpool under religious titles of which Islam is innocent. 

Second event:

The second event was the domination of Mamaleeks – military wing of political violence – over Al Kader Bellah (381-423 AH). He was just a doll in their hands. Upon their orders, he issued a degree that prohibited any scientific essays, linguistics, justice and the theism. Again, scripture Salafism dominated the scene. If we investigate Al Kaderi degree, we can see the political perspective. 

Scholars outlining and legitimization of political violence

With the advent of the fifth century of the Islamic Calendar, political violence was outlined to preserve power through Al Mawardi Book “ Sultan Rules” in which the writer made a Fatwa to legitimize dictatorship through the right to eradicate any opponent to the ruler under the pretext of Sharea policy. Muhammed Saeed Ramadan Al Buti depended on this theory in his book “Jihad” when he made a Fatwa that prohibits any opposition to the ruler even if the ruler beats you or takes your money. Naser Al Deen Al Albani also made many Fatwas in which he prohibited any disobedience of the ruler. Al these Fatwas led to the establishment of Jamiah Trend [6]which was later similar to Mudkhalism which utterly prohibits any opposition to the ruler whatever he does. This trend has gained a lot of advocates in Gulf States and is still prospering in North African Arab countries. The dominance of thes trends provokes many inquiries.  

Political Violence of Deviant Islamists.

Undoubtedly, the first Islamists who practiced political violence are those radical Islamists of Muslim Brothers, who were called the “Secret Organization”. This organization was originally established for fighting the British in Egypt. But, after the dispute between Muslim Brothers and Prime Minister of Egypt Al Neqrashi Basha who issued an order to ban Muslim Brothers on the 8th of December 1948. Political violence was used for eradication of opponents inland. Consequently, Muslim Brothers assassinated Al Neqrashi Basha on 28th of December 1948.

However, the advent of Sayed Qutb [7]end of 1950s and the conflict with Jamal Abdul Naser, marks the fabrication the concept of theocracy for political reasons. For this reason, Qutb ideologized political violence and therefore, he became godfather of extremist organizations at a later stage. Jamal Abdul Naser managed to eradicate this radical wing of Muslim Brothers. But, Muslim Brothers survived, though banned. When Anwar Al Sadat took over, he utilized Islamists to abort communists, so the Islamic Group that believed in political violence as a means for change appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, Egypt witnessed bloody Islamic violence which culminated in the assassination of Anwar Al Sadat on 6th of October 1981, and a series of assassinations continued to target government officials like Refa’at Al Mahjoub, Head of the Egyptian Parliament. Later, this Islamic Group was suspected to have attempted to kill Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Adis Ababa in 1995. This continued until they decided a revision of the ideology of the Islamic Group. It stopped violence in 1997.

Before the Islamic Group, the Apostasy and Immigration Group was active as a split faction of Muslim Brothers who denied violence. This defected faction strongly believed in bloody political violence. This group which is the most radical Islamist groups that believed in bloody political violence appeared in prisons following the detentions of 1965. Their most prominent leaders are Maher Zanati and Shukri Mustafa. Assassination of Sheikh Muhammed Husein Al Zahabi was one of their most remarkable operation. They had a stunning ideology. 

End of 1970s and beginning of 1980s, Syria witnessed a fierce bloody political conflict between Hafez Al Assad’s Regime and Muslim Brothers established by Sheikh Marwan Al Hadid (1934-1976). The beginning of Muslim Brothers’ activities started mid 1960s when it appeared in Hama in 1962 where Islamic cells were very active, but the regime succeeded in containing this movement and end up the strike. In 1965, Muslim Brothers reorganized themselves and formed “Mouhammed Battalions”. These groups of 10-12 persons used to work under the title of Muslim Brothers in Syria.

In 1975, Assad’s Regime arrested Marwan Al Hadid. His health started to deteriorate and he was taken to hospital where he died in June 1976.

Afterwards, Muslim Brothers started to activate military groups which they established in April 1979. They also prepared their advocates in the Syrian Army. Furthermore, they inaugurated volunteering for Jihad in Syria to attract fanatic young Muslims from around the World. In October 1980, they declared “The Islamic Front for Salvation of Syria”. They released their first communique intitled: “The Islamic Revolution in Syria and its ideology”. That was the formal declaration of conversion to violence. However, Assad’s Regime won the battle following Hama Massacre on 2nd of February 1982, and Muslim Brothers were sweepingly defeated.   

The emergence of Arab Afghanis phenomenon marked Salafist Jihadism as the clearest manifestation of Islamic Political Violence and the product of Muslim Brothers’ thought. This group of Arabs fighting in Afghanistan was established by Abdullah Azzam who was very closely related to Marwan Hadid, the founder of political violence. Abdullah Azzam was strongly influenced by Marwan Hadid whose theory was based on “Jihadi Vanguard”. Jihadi Vanguard was inspired by the idea of a small fighting groups which provoke generalization of an Islamic revolution. This same theory was behind the establishment of Al Qaeda.

Political violence of Al Qaeda escalated when Usama Ben Laden took over. Following the death of Abdullah Azzam. Usama’s mother talked about the extent to which her son was influenced by Abdullah Azzam’s radical ideas based on the ideology of Muslim Brothers. Usama Ben Laden and Al Zawaheri led Al Qaeda and political violence (Jihadi Salafism) in a very weird way. They fought against their two enemies:

I- Ruling Regimes opposed by Arab Afghans following their return to their homeland

II- Western countries, especially the United States of America. They perpetrated their two famous attacks in Nairobi and Dar Al Salam in 1998 before their most horrible 11 September attacks in 2001, and finally their attacks in London and Madrid in 2004.

Despite the intensive strikes against Al Qaeda by the United States of America and its allies in 2001 in Afghanistan which ended with the assassination of Usama Ben Laden, Jihadi Salafism which adopts political violence as a means for dealing with its opponents. This trend was resurrected again in Iraq following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 through Al Qaeda Organization in Iraq under the leadership of Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi.

Abu Musa’ab Al Zarqawi organized his organization network on ideologies, jurisprudence and thought that are beyond vindicatory wars and cooperative Jihad. These strategies controlled the Afghani Jihad and finally the ideology of Al Qaeda in its new whatness. Zarqawi’s ideology was based on management of brutality and the achievement of domination. So, he was inspired by the thesis of Abu Baker Naji that was clear in Naji’s book “Management of Brutality”. This is the most dangerous stage of the nation’s history i.e. transitional Jihad that separate the pillars of vindication and that of domination. As for jurisprudence, Abu Musa’ab Al Zarkawi was taken away by his religious reference Abi Abdullah Al Muhajer whose military doctrine was based on the priority of fighting the closest enemies i.e. apostates and ruling Arab and Islamic regimes.   

When Arab Spring came, deviant Islamists who believe in political violence found a fertile crucible for them. At first, what helped them was the public temper, which was hostile to the sets of behavior of tyrannical regimes, which brutally cracked down all those who rebelled against them with the no moral or religious limits in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, as examples. Political violence phenomenon has been resurrected again, via militarizing public mobility and pulling it towards directions, which have led to bad consequences on its societies. This has resulted in deviant Islamism and crystalized the phenomenon of political violence in Syria, through the emergence of movements, which believe in violence as one way for political change, such as Ahrrar al Sham, and the like, and then Jabhat al Nusra, which represents al Qaeda wing in Syria. As a result, the phenomenon of violence in its brutal form, through bloody organization of Islamic state in Iraq and Sham. 

Nevertheless, the behavior of dictatorships in the Arab World and their refusal of any democratic change has been the driving power of political violence. Rebuffing and suppression of freedom and the absence of social justice have constituted a pretext for these organization to easily reactivate these Spectro-social violent tendencies at the time of each crisis that our societies run through. Tyranny remains the core reason and main instigator of political violence. As a reaction to this political violence, Mudkhalism appeared.

Using violence as a strategy of these radical organizations was originally based on a strong belief that taking arms is the best solution for the restoration of their social position and consequently conquering power. This theory is based on a false assumption that violence will change the course of political situation and help them gain power. But, this kind of violence has caused them the loss of their social crucible. Their societies have utterly denied these radical violent organizations with all their lust-for-power projects and all that is related to political Islam.

Two heresies have justified political violence

After the nation got disqualified and its jurists laid the foundation for tyranny of undisputable rulers who became the political, religious and historical references for the nation, life-long rulers dominated the scene and jurists fabricated two hypotheses that justified political violence even though religion is innocent of these two hypotheses:

The first hypothesis emphasizes the necessity of obeying the ruler even if he beats your back and takes your money. They based their heresy on a hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) in which he says: “After I depart, there will be Imams who don’t follow my guidance and sunnah. Among them there will be men who are devils in the form of human beings. The man talking to the prophet asked: What do I have to do in this case? You have to obey the ruler even if he beats your back and takes your money. Listen and obey, said prophet Muhammed (PBUH)”

Scholars of hadith denied the reference of this hadith due to its contradiction with social justice and freedom especially this excessive obedience of the ruler. Instead of establishing a political system based on justice, equality and peaceful circulation of power, former jurists legitimized political violence for dictators. They should have aborted any pretext for tyranny against which Islam was intended. Jurists should have clarified that the ruler should be authorized by the society and should be restricted by social interests and that whenever the ruler breaks the authorization terms of reference, he should be toppled.

The second hypothesis assumes that shurah [8]is educational rather than mandatory. This means that the ruler is granted a divine right to decide everything by himself and consequently justify political violence against his opponents. This makes Shura not more than a useless drama. This heresy has helped dictatorships flourish. If Shura is not to control the ruler, it will be useless and those who abide by it will also be valueless.

We have paid a high price for this heresy when military dictators used this fabricated malignant pretext against democratic figures and democracy demanders. The most dangerous thing is that these two hypotheses have become a sacred theory that can never be sidelined or done without among deviant Islamic organizations that have made obedience to the ruler a doctrinal sacred script. Thus, in the name of fighting democratic tyranny, we have bred religious tyrannies that grant the ruler divine rights that have no limits.  

Conclusion

We do need a real revision of Islamic political thought with all its schools. It is time for us to admit that these inherited schools are no longer valid for the concept of new state, the needed contemporary state of citizenship. We need to invent new political concepts that belong to the modern age and adopts the real human and moral intentions of Islam as a reference.

Homelands can be established through partnership, not exemption. Violence can never solve problems; it complicates the situation. Democracy is a remedy for us, not an infection. We don’t want violence that brings democracy because we don’t want violence itself as such. But, can we have democracy without violence?

Many democracies have gone through bloodshed to achieve stability. Are we doomed to go through the same experience?

Democracy can achieve civil peace and eradicate political violence phenomenon. It can guarantee a civilized political practice for the governance of societies, solving their problems, undo their complications and establish a political system based on dialogue and mutual understanding. Democracy can help in peaceful circulation of power and denial of all types of violence. The results of transparent elections are the decisive factor. All these need a democratic culture before democracy itself.  

It is true Arab Spring has succeeded in overthrowing some dictators, but the reputation of Islam itself has been damaged. Political Islam has lost its credibility when it was represented by Islamic State in Iraq and Sham ISIS and Muslim Brothers. This made people abhor and distrust deviant Islamists. Deviant Islamists are now viewed as an alternative to tyrannies with a religious cover. Political violence produces tyranny, aborts development, kills innovation and leads a country to destruction and collapse. Those who doubt this can ask the Syrians.


[1] Dar Al-Nadwa was a house for major public affairs and political and economic aspects, but went beyond it to practice some aspects of social life in al Madinah Al Munawara before and after Islam.

[2] A constitution-like document that all people in Al Madinah Al Munawara, Muslims and no-Muslims agreed on for governance of their affairs.

[3] Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was a founder of one of the four main Sunni schools of Jurisprudence. He developed fiqh but was also an expert in the study of Islamic oral.

[4] The Mu’tazili was a linguistic group that appeared at the beginning of the second century AH] in Basra (in the late Umayyad period ) and flourished in the Abbasid period [1] . It has played a major role both at the religious and political levels . The Mu’tazilism has overcome the mentality of the mind, relying on the mind to establish their doctrines and presenting it to the transport. They said with thought before hearing, and rejected the hadiths which are not recognized by the mind according to their description. They said that God should know reason.  

[5]  Refers to Sunni Muslims

[6] An Islamic trend which appeared after the second Gulf War which prohibits any disobedience of the ruler whatever he does, even if explicitly commits mistakes. This trend flourished after the Arab Spring.

[7] Sayyed Qutb al-Shazly, considered one of the 20th century’s most famous figures. He is an Islamic scholar and one of the most prominent members of the most famous Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood.  

[8] An Islamic principle which says that Muslims should do consultations by the religious elites to decide important issues for the Muslim Nation. A very primitive means of democracy which doesn’t involve all Muslims.


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