The Origin of Jihadism (II)
Eric ZUESSE | 25.12.2015 | WORLD

The Origin of Jihadism (II)

See Part I

So: «the Wahhabis», who were a Muslim version or mirror-image of Christianity’s Medieval Crusades against Muslims and Jews, were defeated by the Ottoman Turks, which were a liberal branch of Islam. Here is the instruction that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I, gave to his son; and it could hardly have been farther away from the harsh teachings of Wahhab:

Last testament

In directing his son to continue the administrative policies set forth by Sheik Edebali, Osman stated:

Son! Be careful about the religious issues before all other duties. The religious precepts build a strong state. Do not give religious duties to careless, faithless and sinful men or to dissipated, indifferent or inexperienced people. And also do not leave the state administrations to such people. Because the one with fear of God the Creator, has no fear of the created. One who commits a great sin and continues to sin can not be loyal. Scholars, virtuous men, artists and literary men are the power of the state structure. Treat them with kindness and honour. Build close relationship when you hear about a virtuous man and give wealth and grant him...Put order the political and religious duties. Take lesson from me so I came to these places as a weak leader and I reached to the help of God although I did not deserve. You follow my way and protect Din-i-Muhammadi and the believers and also your followers. Respect the right of God and His servants. Do not hesitate to advise your successors in this way. Depend on God’s help in the esteem of justice and fairness, to remove the cruelty, attempt this in every duty. Protect your public from enemy's invasion and from the cruelty. Do not behave any person in an unsuitable way with unfairness. Gratify the public and save all of their sake.

That emphasis upon «kindness», and upon «God» providing «help» to individuals who «did not deserve» and «to remove the cruelty», etc., isn’t at all similar to Wahhab’s teachings, but far closer instead to St. Paul’s preachment of the otherwise harsh God’s mercy (e.g., Galatians 2:21: «I refuse to reject God’s mercy. If a person is put right with God by adhering to the [harsh] laws of God, then Christ died for nothing!») as the very foundation of Christianity. That’s what softened the harshness of the Jewish God, the God in the Torah, the first five books of the Christian Bible. Unfortunately, Paul and his followers who wrote and assembled the New Testament also introduced anti-Semitism, a condemnation of the Jews and not of their horrible Scripture: e.g., Paul’s own 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 – «The Jews killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. They displease God and are everyone’s enemies». The Paulinists’ accusation that Jews killed God was basic to pogroms and other discriminations against Jews, which only served to increase Jews’ own tribalism. All religions encourage bigotry; and, in our still highly religious world (believing even the crackpot biblical ‘history’ that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, which is scientifically ridiculous but part of the creation-myth), aristocracy and religion remain, even today, as Mankind’s curses, but especially in fundamentalist Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, which is the ultimate model of a nation that’s both aristocratic and theocratic – the most dangerous of all possible combinations for a nation.

As wikipedia further says:

The alliance between followers of [Muhammad] ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud's successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a rather durable alliance. The house of bin Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years [but actually more like 300 years, inasmuch as it started in 1744, when Saud and Wahhab swore their oaths to each other, right up to the present, and so will be 300 years old in 2044], through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Mohammed bin Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are state-sponsored and are the official form of Sunni Islam in 21st century Saudi Arabia...

With the help of funding from petroleum exports (and other factors), the movement underwent «explosive growth» beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence.

Today’s jihadism is simply oil-and-gas-funded Wahhabism that got out of control in non-Wahhabist-Salafist-led countries. During 1973, US President Richard Nixon de-dollarized gold, and quickly petroleum became dollarized (the global commodity-basis for currencies). Saudi Arabia had more of the new gold than any other country did. And, already, the entire Muslim world was bowing to the Sauds’ Mecca; so, they had both Mecca and oil. And the Sauds, as the most oil-rich people, now became the emperors of Arabia, having under them the kings of the other major Arabic Sunni oil sheikhdoms – or, as I have noted before: The controlling entities behind American foreign policies since at least the late 1970s have been the Saud family and the Sauds’ subordinate Arabic aristocracies, which are the ones in Qatar (the al-Thanis), Kuwait (the al-Sabahs), Turkey (the Turkish Erdoğans, a new royalty), and UAE (its six royal families: the main one, the al-Nahyans in Abu Dhabi; the other five: the al-Maktoums in Dubai, al-Qasimis in Sharjah, al-Nuaimis in Ajman, al-Mualla Ums in Quwain, and al-Sharqis in Fujairah). Other Saudi-dominated nations – though they’re not oil-rich (more like Turkey in this regard) – are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Turkey is a special case: a member not only of America’s 28-nation NATO alliance, but also of Saudi Arabia’s new 34-nation+ Sunni-Islamic global military alliance. In 1922, Turkey’s non-sectarian General Kemal Ataturk had ended the liberal Islamic dominance that had earlier been imposed under Osman I, and he established instead the non-religious nation of Turkey, which has terminated in recent decades with the increasing penetration into Turkey of Salafist or jihadist (i.e., Wahhabist-Salafist) Islam: aiming for the Caliphate or fundamentalist-Islamic empire, not as pre-1922 – not as the liberal-Islamic Ottoman Empire – but instead as a Caliphate (fundamentalist-Islamic empire).

The «Caliphate» is supposed to be imposed by a descendant of Muhammad himself, the founder of Islam. Only such a descendant may found or start the Caliphate – go beyond being only a God-authorized national ruler, to become the God-authorized ruler of the world. For example, the founder of ISIS (also called IS, ISIL, and Daesh), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claims to be a descendant of Muhammad.

This can be accurately understood only within the context of understanding the tribalism of all African, including of all Arabic, cultures (as well as of Jewish, and other tribal religions). Tribalism is the same as aristocracy, except it’s the other side of the phenomenon: the mass-side, instead of the elite (i.e., aristocratic) side. Both sides are the belief that ancestors – or, in Arabic, «salafis» – determine a person’s status or degree of authority. Aristocracy and tribalism go together, just like heads-and-tails on the opposite sides of a coin do.

When Muhammad Ibn Saud and Muhammad Ibn Wahhab created in 1744 what would become Saudi Arabia, it was upon the basis of two things that are at the root of all conservatism: tribalism and religion. The leaders of a tribe are its aristocracy, and the leaders of a religion are its clergy. Consequently, Saudi Arabia might appear to be a perfect conservative nation: the aristocracy (the descendants of Muhammad Ibn Saud), and the clergy (the clerics of Wahhabism), are united to control the nation. However, there is a flaw in the Saudi-Wahhabist nation: the aristocratic element in it, the Saud family, are not descended from Muhammad. The Sunni ideal is very much the unification of church-and-state; but, in Shiite Islam, such unification between the two isn’t necessary.

Consequently, only the psychopathy of Saudi Arabia’s aristocracy and clergy can sustain their rule in a tribal-religious culture that violates the basic conservative principle of descent from the Prophet, who was himself a conqueror. (Muhammad, as both the head-of-state and the head-of-church; is the Sunni ideal. Shiia Islam broke somewhat away from that ideal, so isn’t quite as strongly wedded to it.)

Because Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claims to be both head-of-state and head-of-sect, ISIS presents a threat to the Sauds that even Al-Qaeda (from which ISIS itself descended) did not: Osama bin Laden didn’t claim to be descended from Muhammad. The Saudi religion didn’t demand he be, any more than it demanded Muhammad Ibn Saud to be. But, the 100% fundamentalists do demand it – and ISIS is 100%.

Therefore, the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) endangers the Sauds in a way that Al-Qaeda didn’t. IS is even more fundamentalist than Wahhabism-Salafism. It’s unadulterated Islam, like Muhammad’s legendary (and probably also historical) own original.

However, the major distinction between Wahhabism and ISIS is the threat that IS poses to the Saud family. Other than that, the Sauds’ Kingdom is Islamic.

For example, just like the Bible – both its Old and New Testament – all fundamentalist Islam authorizes slavery (as, indeed, does fundamentalist Judaism, and fundamentalist Christianity); and here is how that plays out in the Quranic nation of Saudi Arabia:

The official Saudi Information Agency issued, on 7 November 2003, a news-report, «Author of Saudi Curriculums Advocates Slavery», which said: «The main author of the Saudi religious curriculum expressed his unequivocal support for the legalization of slavery in one of his lectures recorded on a cassette and obtained exclusively by SIA news. Leading government cleric Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan is the author of the religious books currently used to teach 5 million Saudi students… Al-Fawzan is member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body… According to Saudi liberal writer and scholar Sheikh Hassan Al-Maliki, Al-Fawzan threatened him with beheading if he continued in his criticism of the extremist Wahhabi interpretation of Islam».

That’s remarkably honest reporting, because it’s about their own country. But, in the less-fundamentalist Western world, the presumption that slavery is to be enforced instead of overthrown, isn’t generally accepted. If there is a «cultural war», it’s ancient versus modern: it is religious-aristocratic on the one side, versus secular-democratic on the other.

The Saudi Arab News headlined on 27 March 2006, «Why Is There So Much Hate Inside Us?» and a columnist, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, wondered, «why young Saudis hate foreign workers, particularly Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.» He even wondered: «Do we adult Saudis who sponsor and employ foreigners fulfill the conditions of their contracts – which both we and they have signed? How many housemaids never get a day off? I remember a worker in the school where I work who was on the job every day and who had not been paid for six months. I remember another unpaid worker who asked humbly and politely for his dues and received nothing but curses and insults.» Basically, treating the dependent like filth is considered okay. Obligations are only one-way, and that’s the basic principle in any aristocratic culture.

The Saudi Gazette headlined on 29 November 2013, «What will happen when you allow your employee to keep his identity papers», and reported that, «Sireen Jamal, owner of a beauty salon, said her driver [a slave] had escaped ... with her car», because he had identity papers and could therefore get out of the country. «Dr Suhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a human rights activist and a member of the Shoura Council, opposed the idea of giving expatriate workers their identity papers. ‘Whenever the expat worker has his papers with him, he may not hesitate to escape whenever he has the chance,’ she said». And the speaker, Dr Al-Abideen, was «a human rights activist».

And, of course, the Sauds don’t pay only to ISIS head-choppers, but also to their own. These are America’s allies, but these ones are Wahhabist-Salafists. The US can be allied with them, but not with Russia. The US aristocracy insists upon taking control over Russia’s natural resources.

So: although those oil-kingdoms buy more weapons from the United States than any other country (and Saudi Arabia is America’s biggest-of-all foreign purchaser of weapons), their ethical system is locked back in the years when Muhammad lived. It was basically the same ethical system that existed when Jesus did, and even when Moses did (if Moses even existed at all). But whereas the United States and other Western countries are embarrassed by the barbarism in their ‘holy Scriptures,’ Saudi Arabia and the other fundamentalist-Sunni countries simply take for granted that barbarism, as the way things ought to be, and even (such as in ISIS) as the way things must become.

And the United States aristocracy and government is allied with it, but puts on the best pretense they can that they oppose it. This also means that the United States is backing the jihadists to overthrow the secular Shiite Bashar al-Assad in Syria. America is truly extremism’s friend. It’s not as important to jihadism as the Sauds are, but almost. The US-Saudi alliance is somewhat like the aristocratic-theocratic alliance. They depend on each other.

And both of them want to cripple and take control over the world’s second-largest oil-power, Russia, which means first overthrowing Russia-friendly leaders such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Viktor Yanukovych, and Bashar al-Assad.

So: that’s the origin of jihadism. Al-Qaeda’s version might be called ‘moderate’ extremism; ISIS’s would be ‘extreme’ extremism (sort of like Barry Goldwater’s «Extremism in defense of … is no vice»; and, if that’s «liberty», then breakouts from prison constitute no vice). After all, how else could the aristocracy and the clergy fool the public, in a ‘democracy’? The public need to think that the system works for them, and that their enemies are mainly foreign, not mainly members of the same nation, and maybe even of the same religion, as themselves.

Many people who are born Muslims are aware of the threat that their religion is posing. But escaping from it is exceptionally difficult, especially because the world’s most oil-rich country happens to be also the font of it: the biggest promoter, and source of funding, for jihadism.

 There is nothing unique about Islam in its providing a basis for ‘holy war’: look, for example, at Christianity’s Crusades, and at the Thirty-Years War in Europe. What’s unique is the Saudi-US petrodollar alliance, which is spawning wars for both god and greed, which now have blowback that compels both nations’ aristocracies to pump their respective bigotries even harder, the Saudi aristocrats against «infidels», and the American aristocrats against Russians. On both sides of the Saudi-US alliance alliance, it’s an aristocracy deceiving and fooling its own public: brainwashing them on the basis of their particular culture’s bigotries.

When a nation’s aristocracy and its clergy are supporting one-another, it’s like the flame that ignites the fuel.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity

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