Misinterpretation and Force: winning this world war

September 1, 2006 at 5:17 pm (Blogs, International community, Islam, Islamism, Religion, The West)

A variety of people have commented that getting Muslims to misinterpret Islam is quite difficult, if not impossible. While this is true, this is one of the only ways to peacefully resolve the violent confrontation we are experiencing. Yet there is much we can do, such as promoting discussion on Islam (to loosen the hold of fundamentalists by overcoming the centuries-old ban on critically studying Islam) and supporting and promoting moderate Muslims, such as Eteraz, and Muslim critics of Islam. (Apostates and non-Muslims are automatically shut out by the average Muslims as being completely irrelevant to debates regarding Islam: in their minds, only Muslims have the authority to speak about or even criticize Islam.) Surely, such moderate Muslims would not agree with us and perhaps not even with our agenda but they play a vital role, if they are genuinely devoted to their ideals, in promoting an interpretation of and adherence to Islam that is beneficial for all sides (except, of course, the fundamentalists).

Of course, we should also understand why this is happening. Many are fond of saying that this rise in and spread of fundamentalism is due to poverty, an offensive foreign policy by some actors in the international community, illiteracy, political corruption, bias of the international state system against states in the periphery, and (we cannot forget the usual canard) deliberate attempts of Islam’s enemies (ranging from Zionists, capitalists, Christians, Crusaders, Jews, Freemasons, and atheists to the Queen of England). Some of these points (especially illiteracy) may have some validity, but this ignores the larger picture: this reformation of Islam and the movement’s rapid spread throughout the world is a reaction by some to modernization and globalization. As the world they knew crumbles, they turn to these systems for refuge, explanations, and solutions. So, really, even if we eliminate illiteracy and poverty and push the Jews into the Sea, fundamentalist Islam would still be a problem.

Muslims themselves have no great desire to see fundamentalism triumph. They, in their own way, resist this impulse, if only by sheer apathy.

Perhaps one of the benefits of fundamentalism is how small issues can bog down great players. Imposing sharī’ah will never be easy. It can only be done in an isolated and closed society. And then fundamentalists will war with each other over differences in interpretations. If The United States and their allies had not overthrow the Talibān-cum-al-Qā’idah regime of Aghanistan, internal disputes would have, eventually. In many respects, Islamists are naive fools. But they are dangerous, naive fools.

What we must do is support our allies in the Muslim world and help them prevail in the long run. We must also help them oppose fundamentalists’ attempts to impose fundamentalism Islam however they may be trying to do so. How we can support them, especially in ways that will not jeopardize their authenticity or credibility – this I do not know: I leave this to people far more intelligent and clever than I am.

Fundamentalists often claim that Western conspiracies abound that seek to weaken Islam. Sometimes I think that this should have been so: we should have been conspiring to ensure fundamentalists never win anything. This isn’t a matter so much about a clash of ideologies as it is preserving the values we hold dear – which are universal, according to our belief – and preserving the lives and progress of other peoples, including our own. Their suffering, regression, and oppression will only hurt us in the end, which is only the natural outcome of a complexly interdependent world.

Otherwise, we will have to rely on the method humanity has used since its beginning to secure its interests: resistance with force. Bringing war to them is senseless and immoral. Destroying their terrorist networks, preventing their collaboration, and using force to resist their attempts and frustrate their plans is what we must continue to do. Just as the Cold War did not end soon, and whose end very few people saw, this new world war will go on for some time and we will not be able to tell when it will end. As in the Cold War, we will need perseverence, dedication, loyalty, and courage – especially the courage to do what we must when we must how we must.



  1. Christopher Taylor said,

    Given the lack of critical study of the Koran and the reverential treatment of the book as if it is some talisman rather than a collection of wisdom, I don’t actually think it would be that tough to get people to misinterpret the thing at all. It’s just a question of getting a movement going that does so. Islam, as I understand it, lacks the academic and scholarly tradition of Judaism and Christianity where people take their book and verse by verse try to understand exactly what each part means, writing thousands of books on the subject while constantly examining the text to know better.

  2. Wickedpinto said,

    The adoration given to the book itself, makes every believer of fundamentalist islam an heretic, since they are practicing idolatry. (much like Catholics, sorry, catholics do not pray to the lord of the world and the memory of christ, they pray through Mary, but truth is I don’t care. Atheist, ‘member?)

  3. Suggested Reading « Elizabeth said,

    […] Misinterpretation and Force: winning this world war « Muslihoon […]

  4. Iblis said,

    WP, Catholics don’t pray to Mary, they ask her to pray for them. “Pray for us sinners”.
    Its an acknowledgement of her special role in carrying the Son of God. Jesus, like all good Jewish sons, listens to his mother 🙂

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