Sunday, April 22, 2007

The War Within Islam

Benedict is meeting with Mohammad Khatami, president of Iran from 1997 to 2005. Three Presbyterians are murdered in Turkey for the crime of printing Christian bibles. The slaughter of fellow Muslims in Iraq continues. The American people believes our effort to establish a tolerant and democratic state in Iraq is failing despite the contrary evidence from those on the spot. Recently the Taliban kidnapped Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and his young Afghan interpreter, Adjmal Nashqbandi, and their Afghani driver. The Italian was eventually released. The two Muslims were assinated.

The odd thing is that Jihadists kill primarily Muslims.

Is all this confusing?

Let me recommend an article by Sandro Magister, my favorite vaticanologist, who argues the real war is between those whose Islam is mystical and those whose Islam is political. He reproduces and Matthew Sherry translates an insightful analysis by Khaled Fouad Allam. Allam is an Algerian Muslim academic. He was the first to respond in the spirit of reason from the Muslim world to Benedict's Regensberg challenge.

He argues that the Jihadists (not his word) have adopted a form of totalitarianism. He contrasts that with the opposing form of Islam whose "followers profess a Sufi, and therefore mystical, form of Islam, sometimes referred to as esoteric or parallel, a peaceful and tolerant Islam, in complete antithesis to the Islam professed and imposed by the Taliban. The Taliban has produced a subversive form of Wahhabism, which in my view does not fall within the definition of 'Islamic fascism,' but rather embodies a third generation form of totalitarianism. "

Allam used the abduction of the three to exemplify that "[t]he neural center of the war within Islam is located precisely upon that boundary line between an open and liberal form of Islam and a totalitarian Islam. "

I suspect that ideology is a necessary condition for totalitarianism.

Allam focuses on Afghanistan. He tells us that
"[n]ot far from Herat is the tomb of Abdullah Ansari, one of the greatest Afghan mystics, who wrote in the eleventh century: 'O my God! What have you done here for your friends? Whoever seeks You finds You, but until he sees You, he does not recognize them.' "

At our Readers of First Things discussion yesterday we discussed John Paul the Great's dictum that "Men and women of [learning] will truly aid humanity only if they preserve the sense of the transcendence of the human person over the world and of God over the human person." (Fr. Neuhaus quoted Ex Corde Ecclesiae in his talk to Valparaiso.) We speculated which denominations, which religions, and which non-religions are anchored in that "transcendence of the human person."

As the story of St. Martin so beautifully illustrates, the Hebrew scriptures teach us that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God and the Christian scriptures teach us that what we do to the least of our brethren we do to Him.

Does Islam have that same understanding?

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