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Hegemonic Competition, Hegemonic Disruption and the Current War
Unformatted Document Text:  Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission any Muslim solidarity that exists is also deeply rooted in the political context of anti-colonialism, underdevelopment, and Western power based, in part, on the weakness of the states where most Muslims reside, a weakness that explained by revolutionary Islam as an integral part of Western strategy to maintain its power. Though al-Qaeda’s rhetoric flows with a stream of religious content, both it and the centuries-old ideas it is based on, are as much political as religious. The ideology espoused by al-Qaeda is not something new, nor was it created by al-Qaeda. This essay will not attempt to fully analyze these writings. That would require a multivolume work, similar to an attempt to trace the roots of socialism and communism over the centuries. 49 Key aspects of revolutionary Islam and its origins need only to be highlighted here. In the most basic sense, the revolutionary Islam is the violent wing of the Salafi school of Islamic thought, which seeks to bring Islam back to its original understanding as preached by the prophet Mohammed. 50 Most scholars begin their studies of the ideology with Ahmed ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), who called for moving away from medieval interpretations of the Koran and returning the Koran itself for the shariah laws that would rule the lives of Muslims. Bin-Laden mentions Taymiyya at length in his 1996 fatwa, an effort to ground his movement and the fatwa in what he viewed as the proper Islamic traditions. 51 The ideas of Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) are often seen as the backbone of the ideas that shape the ideology. 52 These ideas also call for a revival of original tenets of Islam. Wahhabism became the interpretation of Islam favored by the al-Saud family when it was one of a number of competing powers on the Arabian Peninsula in the mid-18 th century. It is currently the official interpretation of Saudi Arabia and the core of the religious beliefs taught in Saudi-sponsored madrassas from the US to the Middle East to Pakistan and Indonesia. Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935), born in Ottoman-controlled Syria, revitalized the study 49 On these roots see Johannes J. G. Jansen. The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997); Karen Armstrong. The Battle for God (New York: Ballantine, 2000): 32-60 and 235-246; Giles Kepel. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002; and John Esposito. Unholy War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. How these ideas relate to al-Qaeda is discussed in Benjamin and Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror, pp. 38-94; and Khaled Abou el-fadl. “9-11 and the Muslim Transformation,” in Mary Dudziak, ed., September 11 in History (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003): 70-111. 50 Quintan Wiktorowicz, “A Genealogy of Radical Islam,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 28 (2005), pp. 75-97. 51 The fatwa was originally published in Al Quds Al Arabi, a London-based newspaper, in August, 1996. The fatwa is entitled "Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." Available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/terrorism/international/fatwa_1996.html . Accessed October 2, 2002. 52 On Wahhabism see Bernard Lewis. The Crisis of Islam. (New York: Modern Library, 2003): 120-136; Abou el-Fadl, 86-93. 20

Authors: Newmann, William.
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Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission
any Muslim solidarity that exists is also deeply rooted in the political context of anti-colonialism,
underdevelopment, and Western power based, in part, on the weakness of the states where most Muslims
reside, a weakness that explained by revolutionary Islam as an integral part of Western strategy to maintain
its power. Though al-Qaeda’s rhetoric flows with a stream of religious content, both it and the centuries-old
ideas it is based on, are as much political as religious.
The ideology espoused by al-Qaeda is not something new, nor was it created by al-Qaeda. This
essay will not attempt to fully analyze these writings. That would require a multivolume work, similar to
an attempt to trace the roots of socialism and communism over the centuries.
Key aspects of
revolutionary Islam and its origins need only to be highlighted here. In the most basic sense, the
revolutionary Islam is the violent wing of the Salafi school of Islamic thought, which seeks to bring Islam
back to its original understanding as preached by the prophet Mohammed.
Most scholars begin their
studies of the ideology with Ahmed ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), who called for moving away from
medieval interpretations of the Koran and returning the Koran itself for the shariah laws that would rule
the lives of Muslims. Bin-Laden mentions Taymiyya at length in his 1996 fatwa, an effort to ground his
movement and the fatwa in what he viewed as the proper Islamic traditions.
The ideas of Muhammed
ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) are often seen as the backbone of the ideas that shape the ideology.
These ideas also call for a revival of original tenets of Islam. Wahhabism became the interpretation of
Islam favored by the al-Saud family when it was one of a number of competing powers on the Arabian
Peninsula in the mid-18
th
century. It is currently the official interpretation of Saudi Arabia and the core of
the religious beliefs taught in Saudi-sponsored madrassas from the US to the Middle East to Pakistan and
Indonesia. Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935), born in Ottoman-controlled Syria, revitalized the study
49
On these roots see Johannes J. G. Jansen. The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
1997); Karen Armstrong. The Battle for God (New York: Ballantine, 2000): 32-60 and 235-246; Giles Kepel. Jihad: The Trail of
Political Islam
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002; and John Esposito. Unholy War (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2002. How these ideas relate to al-Qaeda is discussed in Benjamin and Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror, pp. 38-94; and Khaled
Abou el-fadl. “9-11 and the Muslim Transformation,” in Mary Dudziak, ed., September 11 in History (Durham and London:
Duke University Press, 2003): 70-111.
50
Quintan Wiktorowicz, “A Genealogy of Radical Islam,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 28 (2005), pp. 75-97.
51
The fatwa was originally published in Al Quds Al Arabi, a London-based newspaper, in August, 1996. The fatwa is entitled
"Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." Available at
. Accessed October 2, 2002.
52
On Wahhabism see Bernard Lewis. The Crisis of Islam. (New York: Modern Library, 2003): 120-136; Abou el-Fadl, 86-93.
20


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