Oct. 11, 2001
Blame it on colonialism, blame it on Israel, blame it on American involvement overseas, blame it on Western culture. It does not matter what you blame it on, the militant brand of Islam is with us once again.
It is a fact that the rise and fall and rise of great religions goes through phases. Currently, the phase through which a very large branch of Islam is passing is wreaking havoc on the United States, Israel, the West, the Balkans, Africa, and even Far East countries with Muslim minorities like the Philippines.
Right now, frankly, I don't care what gripes Muslims and the Islamists have. The fact is that Islamist religionists brought religious warfare to the United States. Because of that fact, every single one of us is going to be less free and less secure from now on.
Having said that, since the militant brand of Islam goes through phases, you don't have to be psychic to recognize that we are in a phase of millennial, militant and end times fanatics. These zealots have a will to kill themselves and everyone around them in order to accomplish religious as well as statist ends. In the case of bin Laden, he sees himself not only as a hater of all things Western, but also as a catalyst for a cultural and religious war of biblical proportions. Part of his efforts and that of the ayatollahs of Iran and the mullahs of the Taliban in Afghanistan is to accomplish Islamic prophecy.
The last time Christendom went through this with Islam, it ended at the gates of Vienna on Sept. 11, 1683. That is when the Ottoman Empire was kicked out of Europe and Islam was stopped in its tracks by Polish King Jan Sobiesko and his armies. It was under the flag of the Turkic 400-year-old Ottoman Empire, under the star and the crescent, that Christendom went head on with a culture and religion that sees its duty from Allah to spread itself to all corners of the world. If history is any guide, Islam ultimately spreads itself by the sword, by intimidation, and by hook or by crook.
The flag militant Islam is flying now is NOT one of peace and prosperity; it is the black flag of revolution and war. Every nation has a flag, and each color represents or is symbolic of something important to that nation. In the Muslim world red is for struggle, white for peace and love, black for revolution and war, green for prosperity and agriculture. The Islamic warriors running around the various training camps in several Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and even in "moderate" states are marching under the black flag these days.
It is rather apparent that the American- and British-led coalition lack an understanding of the religious aspects of the war they are fighting against "terrorism." The hesitation of some of the Western press to acknowledge the religious nature of this most recent of mankind's wars is like failing to acknowledge that your arm is broken during a tennis match.
Because of that lack of understanding and inability to call something by its name, it is very likely the West will have a difficult time winning this war.
If history is any guide, the new Western-backed "coalition" will get bogged down in tribal politics and the warlord mentality prevalent in Afghanistan. Part of the reason will be a certain degree of blindness: The West wants to ignore or downplay the reverence that is felt toward Osama bin Laden by the young men of Islam.
Even though the Afghanis have a problem with foreigners i.e., Arabs like bin Laden nonetheless, they can put aside those differences to fight the Great Satan, the United States.
It is a fact that many young men in the Islamic world are called to a higher duty and find a purpose in their lives just as Christian young men once joined monasteries or took the missionary route to purpose and thus salvation.
The daring of the men of Islamic fundamentalism is not merely to destroy Israel or America. Rather, it is to create the kind of fundamentalist religious state that exists in Iran and Afghanistan and do so across as much of the world as possible.
A difficult enough task, given that the Islamic world is torn between its own twin selves, the Shi'ites and the Sunnis, the Iraqis and the Iranians, sectarian warfare at its worst. At the moment it seems to have put those differences aside in order to defeat the Great Satan, remove the West from Islamic countries, destroy Israel, and replace "moderate" Arab or Muslim states like Jordan and Egypt and more repressive Saudi with the Iranian or Afghani version of the religious utopia of their fanatical dreams.
There is no separation of church and state in Islam. The only Muslim country that comes close is Turkey. Even in Turkey, Christianity is almost nil because the practice of Christianity is frowned upon or intimidated out of existence. In the world of Islam there is no quid pro quo for other religions like Christianity or Judaism.
The rest of the Muslim countries are tied up in knots by the connection between Islam and its implications for the state. Those implications affect everyday life as well as politics and foreign policy, and it is all part and parcel of the religious nature of the Muslim states. To pretend otherwise is to be blind to the truth.
Now the black flag of Islamic Jihad flies over the camps of the warriors of Allah. An Islamic version of God that the West does not understand because the West no longer understands its own religious roots. The West can't conceive of people willing to die for their religious beliefs or that those beliefs include imposing a kind of religious statism on the rest of the world. While the West becomes ever more secular and in the eyes of the Islamic world more decadent, we, the West and America, will not give up the idea that this "war" is only partially about a political agenda.
It is also a fact that Osama bin Laden and the militant groups like al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad are just as upset at the presence of "moderate" or secular Muslim regimes as they are about American or Israeli presence in "their" world or near "their" holy places.
Never mind that many of "their" holy places are also "our" holy places. From Bethlehem to Jerusalem, the Islamists don't want us in what they consider "their" world. Not for a moment do they allow that "their" holy places might also be ours. Part of the reason for the original crusades was the refusal by Muslims to allow Christians into the holy places of Christendom.
Add the fact that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan house so-called moderate regimes. These regimes are considered heretical and apostates to the fundamentalists. A sane person must conclude that for the "terrorists" of Islam this "war" against us includes control of any part of the globe they consider holy.
History has a place in all this, as does Islamic prophecy. Osama bin Laden did not choose to hide out in Afghanistan because he necessarily liked that part of the world. Nor was it because he kind of nominally fought the Russians there. In fact the Arabs, like bin Laden, did little fighting against the Russians. Even now many Afghani fighters look on them as interlopers.
BUT Osama bin Laden understands that, as one historian related, "dying by the thousands to defend the only nation in the world that is actually run by some form of Islamic law (the Shari'ah) they will come and they will die. Not just from Afghanistan and Pakistan but as far afield as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Gulf, Central Asia, Northwest Africa, etc. They did it once before, they will do it again."
Afghanistan has special significance to the world of militant Islam. It was once called Khurasan, along with parts of Iran and Pakistan. Muhammad said: "If you see the black flags coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice, for that is the army of the Imam al-Mahdi and no one can stop that army until it reaches Jerusalem." That is one reason Osama bin Laden chose it as his base, or al-Qaida.
The fundamentalists in the Muslim world are waiting for the prophecy of Muhammad to be fulfilled. Muslims will come and fight because Khurasan (Afghanistan) cannot fall. Whether Shi'a or Sunni, just as certain millennial Christians await the coming of Christ the Muslim world of a certain bent believes it is on the verge of the return of the a precursor of the end times, and that is Imam al-Mahdi.
The Muslims believe the angels of God ("2,000 and 5,000") will come to fight alongside them. The mujahideen read the Qur'an and purify themselves for death before battle. Every time they see the enemy, they see heaven.
Aside from religion, my advice for American policy makers is don't get bogged down in Afghanistan. There are as many factions in that country as there are sands on the beach. Afghanistan is a worse snake pit than the former Yugoslavia and the hatreds and rivalries go back eons. Nation building would take the power of Almighty God in order to overcome the factions and the warlord mentality in that part of the world.
Afghanistan is a creation of the past and was supposed to be a buffer between Russia and India. It is not an area of the world where the U.S. belongs for very long. The best thing is to do what we can and get out and let THEM fight it out. Our support of the Northern Alliance WILL backfire. The hatred for the Northern Alliance among the other ethnic groups like the Pushtans is profound. America is not going to change all those hatreds and centuries-old animosities simply by dropping in food supplies and calling for alliances between the warring groups.
Unless they have guarantees from the various groups in Afghanistan, our involvement there will prevent us from dealing with other sources of terror in the Middle East and Far East. The U.S. cannot afford a Pax Americana in that part of the world. We have neither the will nor the wherewithal to cover tribal warfare with religious hatreds fueling it.
The new "war" has significance for the Christian West or what was once known in pre politically correct times as Christendom.
Father Richard Stahl of Georgetown University relates in his recent article for Traditional Catholic News, "In the Second Special Assembly for Europe, Archbishop Giuseppe Germano Bernardini, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Izmir, in Turkey, spoke on 'the problem of Islam in Europe today' (L'Osservatore Romano, November 17, 1999). "I will make mention three cases that, due to their provenance, I believe to be true," he said.
1) During an official meeting on Islamic-Christian dialogue, an authoritative Muslim person, speaking to the Christians participating, at one point said very calmly and assuredly: "Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you; thanks to your religious laws we will dominate you. ..."
2) During another Islamic-Christian meeting, always organized by Christians, a Christian participant publicly asked the Muslims present why they had not organized at least one meeting of this kind. The Muslim authority present answered in the following words: "Why should we? You have nothing to teach us and we have nothing to learn." A dialogue between deaf persons? It is a fact that terms such as "dialogue," "justice," "reciprocity," or concepts such as "rights of man" and "democracy" have a completely different meaning for Muslims than for us. But I believe that by now this is recognized and admitted by all.
3) In a Catholic monastery in Jerusalem there was ... a Muslim Arab servant. A kind and honest person, he was respected greatly by the religious, who in turn were respected by him. One day, he sadly told them: "Our leaders have met and have decided that all "infidels" must be killed, but do not be afraid because I will kill you without making you suffer."
"History teaches us that determined minorities always manage to impose themselves on reluctant and silent majorities," was Archbishop Bernardini's final observation on the topic of Islam in the West. These words were spoken some two years before Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, again mostly in the West, even in Rome itself, but not, I think, in Mecca, there are suddenly many conferences and inter-religious meetings to discuss just how peaceful Islam is in its own theoretical books and in its own historical record."
On Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 11, 1683, we see the end of an era of Islam and the beginning of another. We are in a historical upswing of a world religion bent on political and religious domination in a large part of the world. It is very likely that the West, and more particularly the world's great religions, are not asking the right questions of themselves or each other.
As Fr. Schall relates, perhaps it is time to "xzinquire more carefully what Islam is and, a priori, what Israel, Christianity, and modern secularism really are. The recent external events of war and destruction do not allow us to ignore these deeper questions. Until such questions are confronted more carefully, no theory or practice of 'tolerance' will save us. It will only provide the cover for further efforts to eliminate us."
Americans have trouble with the deeper questions, questions like how religious are we? Other important questions include are we no longer sure of who and what we are as a culture or as a nation? Multiculturalism and diversity and political correctness prevent us from honest discussion. Our academic and intellectual class are loathe to discuss the Christian nature of American society lest their politically correct bona fides come into question at the faculty coffee klatches. Our government doesn't ask the religious questions, because that aspect of our tradition is now alien to that government. It is obvious in the way it votes and what it votes for and against.
The Christian majority in America must ask itself some hard questions. How secular are we? We seem to be a pariah to the fundamentalist Islamic world because of our perceived decadence and secularism. Or is the "root" cause of our problems with Islam based in our own inability to protect and defend Western tradition and culture? Because we continually fail to look into and hang onto our Judeo-Christian roots and traditions, have we tolerated, multicultured, contracepted, aborted, diversified, self-hated ourselves into a dying culture? In the face of a historically dynamic religion, will that historical dynamic sweep everything else out of its way and perhaps plunge the world into war that the West does not want?
The big questions of culture and religion need to be answered, and many in America will not like the questions or the answers. Those questions are as important as battle plans, rooting out terrorist hideouts, and creating a Palestinian state or figuring out what to do about Israel. Without answers to the bigger questions, the others become moot.
Will the black flag of militant Islam be planted on the grave of the West? Or will the disaster of 9/11 create, support and nourish a brand new Christendom under the red, white and blue? I don't like asking those questions any more than I like answering them honestly.
Finally, and hopefully, can the three great religions live in peace with each other? Or will it take an act of God Almighty to set it right again?
Diane Alden is a research analyst with a background in political science and economics. Her work has appeared in the Washington Times as well as NewsMax.com, Enterstageright, American Partisan and many other online publications. She also does radio commentaries for Steve Myers' show on Liberty Works Monday and Friday mornings, and can be heard regularly on Mike Fleming, WREC in Memphis.
Reproduced with the permission of NewsMax.com. All rights reserved.
17 oct 2001