About Samuel Inbaraja

Samuel Inbaraja is from Pondicherry, India. His is a follower of Lord Jesus Christ. He is a doctor by profession. His ministry includes teaching, preaching, evangelism, mentoring, apologetics, giving, etc. His hobbies include blogging, sports, music, cooking, photography, and travelling.

Islamic Fundamentalism, Islamism and Extremism – Introduction

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“The mere fact of adherence to Islam has profound political consequences.” – Daniel Pipes, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power.

The topic  of Islamic fundamentalism, Islamism, and extremism is being widely studied, discussed, and researched in academia, in almost all the top secular Western universities, parliaments, media, and communities. Its prominence came in the wake of the Oklahoma bombings and the 9/11 incident. The rise of attacks on the West and Western tourists visiting Islamic countries and the rise of Al-Qaeda and ISIL has shown new battlefronts emerging and new generations entering into conflict because of ideologies developed from the Quran. Even within Islam, there is no consensus over these ideologies. There is no clarity and many Muslims are increasingly getting radicalized by preaching they hear from radicals invited to preach in their mosques. What makes Muslims become suicide bombers or join ISIS? What drives them and motivates them to kill people with whom they have no personal issues? What lies behind the hatred of the West in many in Islamic societies? Does an average Muslim support extremists?

 “There seems to be no immediate resolution to the debate among traditionalists, Islamists, and intellectual reformers on Islam and democracy.”   — Ali R. Abootalebi,  Islam, Islamists, and Democracy

The radical preacher calls for Jihad against the infidels, the Westerners, and their permissive societies. He claims that it is the duty of every Muslim to join this struggle against the West that supports Zionism, so that the new world order according to the Quran can be established. This establishment of the “new Islamic Order” is at the core of the radical Islam.

“The following may be regarded as the major components of Islamism: Umma, Khilafa, Sharia and Jihad – all of which have become excessively politicised. Umma (nation) translates for Islamists into an obsession with the “Muslim people” and its imagined suffering worldwide (the blessings are never counted, only the problems) that in turn becomes a firmly entrenched victimhood and perpetual sense of grievance. Conflicts involving Muslims with others are continually cited – Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iraq – while ignoring savage internecine Muslim conflicts, such as the Iran-Iraq war or the current wars in Darfur and Syria, or the appalling persecution of Christians in many Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Khalifa (caliphate) for Islamists is the idea that they are duty bound to establish “Islamic states” – described by vague, theoretical, idealistic platitudes – that would then be united in a global, pan-Islamic state or “new caliphate”. Sharia (law) for Islamists is the idea that they are duty-bound to implement and enforce medieval Islamic jurisprudence in their modern “Islamic state”. Jihad (sacred struggle) for Islamists is an obsession with violence, whether of a military, paramilitary or terrorist nature. Their Jihad aims to protect and expand the Islamic state. Extremists even dream of conquering the whole world for Islamism by militarily defeating the US, Europe, Israel, India, China and Russia.”   —-  Dr. Usama Hasan, Viewpoint: What do radical Islamists actually believe in?

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The liberal or moderate Muslim does not believe in the establishment of a new order. He is liberal because he sees Islam as evolving and adapting according to the time and place of its location. Thus many liberal and moderate Muslims are Sufis. When I was in Ukraine as a PG student in the city of Dnipropetrovsk, I shared a hostel room with many Arab students. They lived like “liberal Westerners” with multiple girlfriends and some even converted their Ukrainian girlfriends to Islam. This having sex before marriage is punishable by stoning according to sharia law. But these are the liberal moderate progressive Muslims. All they need to believe is that “Allah is the only God and Mohammed is his prophet”.  A lot of other teachings are modifiable according to the place and times in which they live.

“If the majority of Muslims were not moderate, Islamists would have destroyed the Western world a long time ago. Despite its technological lead, its nuclear power, and all its armies, the Western world would never be able to face an Islamist world entirely convinced by the terrorist cause. One billion people supporting Al-Qaeda would reduce the rest of the world to ashes. Islam contains violent texts that need not be applicable today. Islam is a religion of moderation. I know because I studied theology for four years.” —- Mohamed Sifaoui: “I Consider Islamism to Be Fascism”, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 13-17

Historically, Islamic fundamentalism arose as a reaction to Sufism. Sufism evolved into praying to saints as intermediaries in shrines built for that particular saint.  Fundamentalists called for a return to the teachings of the Quran and the prophet and tradition of the first three generation of Muslims. The first three generation of Muslims were called ‘Salafs’, and these fundamentalists came to be called ‘Salafi’. ‘Salafism’ is the fundamentalist School of Islam. It calls for a return to the purest form of Islam as practiced by Prophet Mohammed and the first three generations. One of the Salafist school of Islam is called Wahhabism. Wahhabism made a political agreement with the Saud dynasty, the rulers of Saudi Arabia. The partnership still exists and forms the framework on which Islam in Saudi is lived out. The discovery of crude in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent wealth helped the spread of Salafist Islam in the form of Wahhabism to different parts of the world. Today Saudi Arabian sheiks allocate a substantial amount of petrodollars for the printing and distributing of Qurans and building mosques in different parts of the world. They also have various scholarships for foreign students to study their brand of Islam and politics, and thus fundamentalist thought has spread far and wide.  One glaring example of this is Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda. This marriage between fundamentalist Islam and political power gave rise to Islam as a political ideology called Islamism. Islamism in its effort to obtain political power and establish the new order, adopted extremism or terror tactics. This also was a reaction to Western incursion into Middle East politics, especially the establishment of Israel, by Western powers. The recent apparent success of ISIS is a good example of the rise of fundamentalist Islam as a political ideology, i.e Islamism. Not all fundamentalists are Islamists, but all Islamists are fundamentalists.

The idea is simple: Islam must have power in this world. It is the true religion–the religion of God–and its truth is manifest in its power. When Muslims believed, they were powerful. Their power has been lost in modern times because Islam has been abandoned by many Muslims, who have reverted to the condition that preceded God’s revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. But if Muslims now return to the original Islam, they can preserve and even restore their power. That return, to be effective, must be comprehensive; Islam provides the one and only solution to all questions in this world, from public policy to private conduct. It is not merely a religion, in the Western sense of a system of belief in God. It possesses an immutable law, revealed by God, that deals with every aspect of life, and it is an ideology, a complete system of belief about the organization of the state and the world. This law and ideology can only be implemented through the establishment of a truly Islamic state, under the sovereignty of God. The empowerment of Islam, which is God’s plan for mankind, is a sacred end. It may be pursued by any means that can be rationalized in terms of Islam’s own code. At various times, these have included persuasion, guile, and force.”  — Martin Kramer, Fundamentalist Islam at Large: The Drive for Power, Middle East Quarterly

Some scholars have compared Islamism, the political ideological Islam, to fascism.

“Fascism, without evoking all its particularities, bears similarities to trends also present in Islamism. I am, of course, making a reference to their will to exterminate the Jews. On this point, the Islamists may go even further in their doctrine than the Nazis did, considering that the end of the world could only occur when there are no Jews left on earth.”   —  Mohamed Sifaoui: “I Consider Islamism to Be Fascism”, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 13-17

All these developments are nothing new. The Islam of Prophet Mohammed was Fundamentalist Islam. He was an Islamist who acquired political power. He advocated extreme measures against enemies and people of other faiths both idol-worshipers and people of the book. The first three generations who spread the Islamic faith by sword in all of Arabia and North Africa can also be termed fundamentalists. That was the original Islamic expression of political power and order. That is the ‘order’ the Islamists of today are seeking to bring back.

Sufism – Assessment

sufi2 sufiThe main quest of Sufism is a mystical experience of God like that of Prophet Mohammed. Main line Muslims argue that the experience of Prophet Mohammed was a unique one. We as Christians think it’s a demonic experience that Prophet Mohammed had. That is exactly what he thought first, before being convinced by his first wife, Khadija, and her uncle that he actually had encountered the divine. Many Sufis are unable to articulate clearly their experience of God in their ecstatic state. It is a vague and undefined phenomenon, which they claim can only be experienced.  The fast pace of the rhythm of music at which this experience happens is not unique to Sufism. Hare Krishna devotees indulge in rhythmic chanting leading to an experience of Krishna consciousness. Many tribal religions are also involved in a similar type of worship which is regulated by rhythmic drumming and ecstasy as worship.  In Voodoo, there is rhythmic music and ecstasy, opening up to possession by spirits. Therefore this psychological phenomenon cannot be considered an encounter with the divine. None of the prophets of the Old Testament, or even Jesus, indulged in mysticism.  Moreover this practice has actually opened up people to commune with demons rather than with God. [Read more...]

Sufism – Origin and History (Part 2)

2014-08-24-22-53-36-222038528Prophet Mohammed seems to be the first Sufi, communing directly with Allah. The early followers who were with him received revelations from God directly through them and formed the early Sufi school. The Hadith talks about ‘Ihsan’ or worship as one of the aspects of Islam and the Quran also talks about the purpose of God creating humans and Jinns is so that they may worship him.“I created the Jinns and humankind only that they may worship me.” Quran 51:56“He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He again said: Inform me about Ihsan. The Prophet replied; That you worship Allah as if you are seeing him, for though you don’t see him, verily he sees you” – Hadith, Sahi Muslim Book 1:1

Early Sufism started as brotherhoods or tariqas. Over the time as it progressed into the middle ages, it developed a distinct feature of having a ‘Shayk’ or a guru who as a head of a Sufi school taught disciples to live out Islam. Sufism came to be identified with these tariqas and the ‘shayk’ who headed these had distinctive practices which came to define them and give them identity.Sufism is the branch of Islam which could accomodate local Islamic practices and cultural variations and provide people a culturally relevant local variant of Islam. Sufism was also very missional and brought a lot of people in Asia into the fold of Islam. [Read more...]

Sufism – Mystical Islam (Part 1)

INTRODUCTION

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Sufism is the mystical or esoteric school of thought in Islam. The Arabic word for Sufism is ‘tasawuff’. A practitioner of Sufism is called a Sufi or a Dervish. The following quotations reveal the various understandings of Sufism. [Read more...]

Islam – Religious Practices (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final installment on this topic. In this post you will be introduced to Islamic conversion,  halal-cart2circumcision, Jizya and Halal food.

12. Conversion: Islam is a one way street. A person is “free” only to convert to Islam but not out of it. The punishment in many Islamic countries in accordance with the sharia law is death. Yes, Islam in its purest sense prescribes capital punishment for those who leave Islam.

In non Islamic countries, Islamic evangelists use lectures, debates, literature and personal communication to bring people to their faith. The Sufi missionaries were very good at this. With respect to Christians, they use a polemic approach attacking the Bible, the divinity of Jesus , his death and resurrection, marriage and social pressure.

In Islamic countries in addition to these, pressure tactics are used by Muslims personally and as a society to force non-Muslim minorities to become Muslims.

Marriage is one of the important way Muslim men convert non-Muslim girls into Muslims. In some Islamic countries like Egypt and Pakistan, there is news about Christian girls being kidnapped and then forced to marry Muslims and convert to Islam. See Christian girl abducted, converted and forced to marry a Muslim in Lahore for one such sad story.

In Ukraine, I have seen non-Muslim girls who fall in love with Arab boys and then convert to Islam in order to marry them. It is a very prominent way Islam is spreading in Europe.

13. Circumcision: Circumcision is to Islam what baptism is to Christians. Once when I was young I saw a boy seated in a car decorated like a chariot. I was told that the boy was celebrating “sunnath marriage”. That’s how the local Muslim called circumcision in that part of India. They were celebrating the circumcision ceremony of the boy.

Muslims are still the largest single religious group to circumcise boys. In Islam circumcision is also known as “tahara”, which means purification. Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur’an but it is highlighted in the Sunnah (the Prophet Muhammad’s recorded words and actions). In the Sunnah, Muhammad stated that circumcision was a “law for men and a preservation of honor for women.” The main reason given for the ritual is cleanliness. It is essential that every Muslim wash before praying. It is important that no urine is left on the body. Muslims believe the removal of the foreskin makes it easier to keep the genitals clean because urine can’t get trapped there. Supporters of circumcision also argue that excrement may collect under the foreskin which may lead to fatal diseases such as cancer.” [1]

Female circumcision or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a hotly debated topic in Islamic circles and has been openly practiced in North Africa, even by non-Muslims, from the time of Pharaoh. “But what is the reason underlying the circumcision of girls, which is applied in some Islamic countries? The first reason is the statement of Muhammad: “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honor for women.” The second reason lies in the supposition that circumcision makes a woman more enjoyable, provided that it is practiced moderately. “‘Atiyya the Ansarite narrated that a woman used to circumcise in Medina, and the Prophet said to her, ‘Do not overdo it, because this makes woman more favorable and it is more agreeable for the husband.'” As to the third reason why a female should be circumcised, it is to “diminish her lust,” and to “tone down the sexual desire of the woman.'” [2]

14. Jizya: Jizya is the tax we as Christians or non-Muslims will be paying, if we lived under Islamic government. This of course can be avoided if the non-Muslim converts to Islam.

Jizya is the hjizya-quotecaptureead or poll tax that early Islamic rulers demanded from their non-Muslim subjects. Islamic law made a distinction between two categories of non-Muslim subjects—pagans and dhimmis (“protected peoples,” or “peoples of the book;” i.e., those peoples who based their religious beliefs on sacred texts, such as Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians). The Muslim rulers tolerated the dhimmis and allowed them to practice their religion. In return for protection and as a mark of their submission, the dhimmis were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya. The rate of taxation and methods of collection varied greatly from province to province and were greatly influenced by local pre-Islamic customs.

In theory the tax money was to be used for charitable purposes and the payment of salaries and pensions. In practice, however, the revenues derived from the jizya were deposited in the private treasuries of the rulers. The Ottomans usually used the proceeds of the jizya to pay their military expenses. A convert to Islam was, in theory, no longer required to pay the jizya. The Umayyad caliphs (661–750), however, faced with increasing financial difficulties, demanded the jizya from recent converts to Islam as well as from the dhimmis. This discrimination against converts was a cause of the Abū Muslim rebellion (747) in Khorāsān and helped to precipitate the downfall of the Umayyads.” [3]

15. Halal Food: Halal means lawful or permitted. Haram means forbidden. These words, according to Sharia law, apply to all aspects of Islamic life, including foo

???????????????????????????????d. Halal is the Islamic equivalent of Kosher.

Halal slaughter method is considered the most humane way of killing an animal. “To be halal certified the animal must be facing Mecca, have its throat cut while still alive and then ritually sacrificed by a Muslim who recites a prayer dedicating the slaughter to Allah”  [4]. “When an animal is slaughtered, the jugular vein is cut and the blood is allowed to drain from the animal. Remember, Muslims are prohibited from consuming animal blood.” [5]

“According to these guidelines gathered from the Qu’ran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following:
pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah, blood and blood byproducts, alcohol, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and land animals without external ears. These prohibited foods and ingredients are called haram, meaning forbidden in Arabic.” [5]

Conclusion: The call of Christ goes out to the Muslim caught up in deception and working his way to a salvation about which he can be never sure. All these religious practices are a burden and distraction, turning the attention away from seeking the truth and plunging men into despair and destruction.

“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11 : 27 – 30).

Where Mohammed set his followers on the path of war and burdensome rituals, Jesus calls the same and everybody else to find the rest in him, to have the peace which they are so desperately seeking. Yes, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He has taken the hard yoke of our sins upon him and he has given us a lighter yoke of trusting him. The salvation offered by Christ is infinitely superior and wonderful compared to what Islam offers, which is nothing but heavy burden of ritualism, sharia and an uncertainty of ones eternal destiny.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/malecircumcision.shtml

[2]http://www.light-of-life.com/eng/reveal/r5405et7.htm#p123

[3] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/304125/jizya

[4] http://www.halalchoices.com.au/what_is_halal.html

[5] http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/a/halalfoods.htm