Thursday, September 23, 2010

Divide & Conquer Muslims from Islamists

Yousef H. Aboul-Enein was born in Mississippi, but grew up in Saudi Arabia. He joined the US Navy Medical Service Corps, rose to Commander (Lt Col), and is now special advisor on Islamic militancy at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. In his new book, "Miltant Islamist Ideology", Aboul-Enein divides Muslim world into three groups: Muslims, Islamists, and Militant Islamists:

"Militant Islamist" Aboul-Enein defines as "a group or individual advocating Islamist ideological goals, principally by violent means." Islamists are a group who advocate "Islam as a political as well as religious system.

Chief Islamist objectives include implementing sharia (Islamic) law "as the basis of all statutory issues." Islam is "the religious faith of Muslims, involving ... belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet."

Militant Islamist ideology he condemns as a vicious fraud, for it "is composed of fragmented pieces of Islam ... they are recombined out of context to make up the bulwark of Militant Islamist ideology, which is not the religion of Islam." Militant Islamist ideology "seeks to establish a totalitarian state steeped in the language, symbols and narrowly selective aspects of Islam."

Aboul-Enein says faithful Muslims play a central role in defeating Militant Islamism, arguably the key role.

"Unlike communism," he writes, "against which free enterprise and democracy were used as ideological counterweights, Militant Islamist ideology can be opposed among the Muslim masses only by Islamic counter-argumentation. We cannot contain Militant Islamist ideology but only work to marginalize, de-popularize, and erode its influence and mass appeal by identifying it as different from Islam or even from Islamist political groups."

It's a clever argument and strategy but I'm not convinced that most ordinary Muslims aren't Islamists at heart.

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