Approximately, four years after the publication of an article titled “Triarchy” containing the revised excerpts below, America was hit by the worst terrorist attack in her history, costing the lives of more than 6,000 civilians and total destruction of World Trade Center, partial destruction of Pentagon and four airplanes, billions of dollars, massive unemployment, and an open-ended war against international terrorism.
From the Perspective of a former Radical Muslim Leader:
The Theo-political Roots of “Islamic Terrorism”
Edip Yuksel, J.D.
Narrated ‘Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'” (Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith Number 57)
Narrated ‘Ali: Whenever I tell you a narration from Allah’s Apostle, by Allah, I would rather fall down from the sky than ascribe a false statement to him, but if I tell you something between me and you (not a Hadith) then it was indeed a trick (i.e., I may say things just to cheat my enemy). No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for who-ever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” (Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith Number 64)
Narrated Abu Burda: Abu Musa said, “I came to the Prophet along with two men (from the tribe) of Ash’ariyin, one on my right and the other on my left, while Allah’s Apostle was brushing his teeth (with a Siwak), and both men asked him for some employment. . . Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, “Who is this (man)?” Abu Muisa said, “He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.” Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, “Then we discussed the night prayers and one of us said, ‘I pray and sleep, and I hope that Allah will reward me for my sleep as well as for my prayers.'” (Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith Number 58)
In many so-called Muslim countries, clergymen (Mullahs, Ulamas, Khojas, Mawlanas, etc.) are usually either the sanctifying puppets of oppressive governments or the spiritual leaders of terrorist organizations. They use God’s name to justify discrimination, torture, and oppression. Their influence within the political sphere comes from their shared interests with kings, sultans, emirs and totalitarian leaders of their countries.
Saudi’s top clergymen, Abdul Aziz bin Ba’z, wrote a book claiming that the earth was flat and still. The book is full of references to hadith (narrations falsely attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) accompanied by murderous instructions:
“If the earth is rotating as they claim, the countries, the mountains, the trees, the rivers, and the oceans will have no bottom and the people will see the eastern countries move to the west and the western countries move to the east. . . Those who claim that the earth is round and moving around the sun are apostates and their blood can be shed and their property can be taken in the name of God.” (FN1)
This “authoritative” book was not published by a private publishing house but, by the Islamic University of Medina, a prestigious university in modern Saudi Arabia in 1975, years after men landed on the moon. You may see this as an example of harmless nonsense or amusement. Unfortunately, for those who live in Saudi Arabia or who dare to criticize such corrupt and oppressive religious teachings anywhere around the world, the issue is not amusing. When clerics are united, every corner of the planet might become the target of their fatwas. Let me give just one example:
In February 19, 1989 a group of scholars (38 members according to the newspaper reports) met in Saudi Arabia to discuss the issue of Salman Rushdi. When they issued their fatwa (religious decree) it became a headline news in Muslim countries, including my homeland Turkey (FN2). Their fatwa was: “both Rashad and Rushdi are apostate.” The world knew Rushdi but who was Rashad? Dr. Rashad Khalifa, a biochemist resident of Tucson, Arizona became a popular figure in Muslim countries after he discovered a secret mathematical system in the Quran via computer analysis in the early1970s (FN3). The consequence of the mathematical code was too difficult to be accepted by the Muslim clergymen (FN4). Consequently, they issued fatwas calling for his assassination.
Although it was not as bold as Khomeyni’s fatwa, it sent a clear message to the fanatical followers of those clergymen, that Rashad and Rushdi should be killed (FN5). Rushdi is still alive, but the fatwa about Rashad Khalifa was executed in January 30, 1990. He was stabbed to death in Tucson Masjid before dawn prayer. For this task, a group of Black Muslims named FUQRA (squads)were used by international terrorist forces operating from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. FBI discovered that the group “FUQRA” was a branch of the group that bombed the World Trade Center and it was receiving financial support from Pakistan.
Religious Muslims know very well that the teachings of the Sunni and Shiite sects demand capital punishment for apostates (FN6). Guess who was the chairman of that international committee of clerics? It was Abdul Aziz b. Ba’z, the same Saudi religious leader who wrote a book declaring that the earth was flat and still.
Often, dissident priests use religion to promote international terrorism. Omar Abdurrahman, an Egyptian cleric who recently became popular in western media, is such an example. Egypt has never had a democratic system by western standards and its oppressive regime has produced a myriad of militant religious factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s corrupt and totalitarian system has created many local and international heroes out of clerics such as Omar Abdurrahman. This Egyptian cleric who had immigrated to the U.S.A., did not hesitate to encourage his followers to agitate against the very country (U.S.A.) which provided refuge for him and some of his followers.
“The obligation of Allah is upon us to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah. It is one of the obligations which we must undoubtedly fulfill. . . and we conquer the lands of the infidels and we spread Islam by calling the infidels to Allah and if they stand in our way, then we wage Jihad for the sake of Allah.” (FN7)
Many blamed the U.S. immigration officials or procedures for letting the terrorists in U.S,A. I believe that the real blunder was not in immigration, but in U.S.’s foreign policy. Supporting undemocratic or totalitarian regimes, such as Iran’s Shah or Egypt’s current regime, was and remains, a myopic policy: it puts the security of USA citizens, here and abroad, in great danger. How can US expect security from international terrorism while it does not care about the security of people living under oppressive and corrupt governments?
Militant clerics, whether they are the collaborators with the totalitarian regimes or are the dissidents, should be taken seriously. Using the language of religion, the proverbs of their forefathers, they can mobilize gullible masses to bloody conflicts. The best way to deflate the power of militant clergymen is (1) to support intellectuals who promote democracy and freedom, and (2) denounce and punish the oppressive leaders without favoring one to another, through international legal devices such as, freezing their assets in foreign countries and trying them in international tribunals during their reign or after they are ousted from power.
Donna E. Arzt, Professor of Law at the Syracuse University College of Law, in a law review article provides us with some recent examples of repression of religious dissidents?apostates and blasphemers, heretics and renegades, and infidels?in so-called Muslim countries. He groups the repression into three categories: “(1) officially state-sanctioned enforcement actions; (2) extra-legal enforcement of apostasy decrees issued by vigilante extremist groups; and (3) mixed cases.” (FN8). Professor Arzt, concludes his article with the following caveat:
“Throughout Muslim history, and particularly in contemporary Muslim states, much of the persecution of alleged apostates, heretics, and infidels, and other violations of international standards of religious human rights has been politically motivated, designed to benefit hegemonic, orthodox groups who have resorted to religious justifications to legitimize their abusive power. It is improper to conclude that Islam is inherently militant, violent, coercive, or intolerant.” (FN9)
I agree with the author that “Islam” does not advocate violence, coercion or intolerance (FN10), but he is vague regarding the chronology and the source of the corruption. Religious justifications to legitimize political abusive power became an integrated part of traditional or contemporary Islam long ago. Repressive and oppressive religious instructions did not remain external or optional interpretations, but unfortunately, were labeled as “Hadith” (alleged narrations from the prophet), “Sunnah” (alleged practice of the prophet), “Ijma” (consensus of leading scholars), and “Ijtihad” (opinion of sectarian scholars) and were incorporated as part of the original message, the Quran, as early as with Umayyad dynasty (FN11). Today’s sectarian Islam, with its volumes of hadith books (narrations falsely attributed to Muhammad) and medieval sectarian jurisprudence, is utterly incompatible with the standards of universal human rights as defined in the Quran. Without a reformation of traditional Islam, there will always be a door open for abuse by tyrants and corrupt clergymen.
Noticing this fact, Professor Arzt finishes his article with a genuine invitation:
“Muslim dissidents and religious minorities in Muslim lands, however, do need and deserve more support from international human rights movements. The same is true for those within orthodox Muslim circles who are willing?but for their fear of persecution?to criticize abuses of human rights by their governments. Similarly, the international media must avoid giving undue prominence to violent Muslim militants, which in reality are small in number, and give proportional attention to liberal Muslim groups, albeit fledgling, who oppose violence, favor democratization and seek to promote accommodation and reform.” (FN12).
I applaud this invitation and I believe that extending such international support to Muslim dissidents and reformers will hasten a paradigmatic change in the minds of people subjected to religious ad political tyranny. The importance of religion in the lives of people cannot be ignored. Secular intellectuals might reconsider its positive power:
“Modern human rights laws will provide no panacea to the world crisis in the next century, but they will be a critical part of any solution. Religions will not be easy allies to engage, but the struggle for human rights cannot be won without them.” (FN13).
The history of Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East, are full of religious and tribal wars. Their textbooks usually distort and sanctify these bloody histories with virtually no criticism. As written, this history of the third world is a major source of national pride. This nationalistic pride is used by corrupt and failing governments as “opium for the masses.” What can be expected from the next generation if their role models are those who knew nothing but the sword, and did nothing but kill their opponents and conquer others’ lands?
In this short paper I cannot provide references. If a person reads the high-school history textbooks of oppressive regimes, he will find repeated praises for the kings, caliphs and sultans who had oppressed their own people. Textbooks continue to promote totalitarianism, fanaticism, animosity and racism. How can respect for human rights be expected from those who are “educated” by these textbooks?
A paper written by members of the Consultation Group on Religion and the Roots of Conflict, concluded with some reflections on religion and violence. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion:
“An attempt to develop the resources of religious traditions against religious violence must deal with the phenomenon which some have termed the “reemergence of history” in the late 20th century. . . . Historical goals, now pursued with a militancy and mass-organizational character born of the modern ideology of nationalism, are supported by new communications and weapons technologies, and they are fostered by the complications of trying to build modern economies for modern states. Part of the irony of contemporary religious conflict is that religious factors in group life are at one and the same time among the most constructive and the most destructive forces in human affairs.” (FN14).
We cannot expect elimination of terrorism in Muslim countries without knowing and acknowledging the negative impact of religious teachings and oppressive environment justifying aggression. Human rights institutions must cooperate with dissident intellectuals to push for reformation in Islam.
The real interest of Western world is not in the hands of puppet kings and tyrants in Muslim lands, but in the reign of democracy and freedom. Oppressive regimes create a toxic ecology that incubates and produces hate, hopelessness, and ignorance. Unfortunately, corrupt Muslim scholars, oppressive kings, and the foreign policy of Western world, all have contributed in the production of the so-called “Islamic Terrorism.”
Muslims should abandon the backward teachings of clergymen and start following their only holy book, the Quran. American politicians should eliminate the antidemocratic influence of lobbies of big corporations and special interest in determining American foreign policy and start seeking the interest of American population.
(FN1). Abdulaziz Bin Ba’z, Al-Adillatul Naqliyyati wal Hissiyati ‘Ala Garayanil Shamsi wa Sukunil Ardi wa Imkanil Soudi Ilal Kawakibi (The Religious and Empirical Evidences that Sun is Moving and Earth is Still and the Possibility of Going to Planets), The Islamic University in Medina, Medina, 1975. (I have the original copy of the book in my library).
(FN2). Milli Gazete, the Turkish newspaper of a religious political party, gave an extensive coverage to the story. Nokta, a popular and secular weekly news magazine, made the “fatwa” against Rashad Khalifa its cover story in its April 16, 1989 issue.
(FN3). Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D., The Computer Speaks: God’s Message To The World, Renaissance Productions, Tucson, 1981. Also see: Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D., Quran: Visual Presentation Of The Miracle, Islamic Productions, Tucson, 1982. I have argued the mathematical structure of the Quran in my books such as, The Prime Argument (with Dr. Carl Sagan) and Running Like Zebras (with Abdulrahman Lomax). Both books were published by Monotheist Productions International, Tucson in 1995. They can be found in my web site: www.moslem.org/yuksel.htm. The author’s most recent Turkish book Uzerinde Ondokuz Var (On It Nineteen), an extensive evaluation and demonstration of the mathematical code, is currently in print.
(FN4). The mathematical code of the Quran required the rejection of other religious sources besides the Quran. Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s biggest offense was to expose the corrupt nature of today’s sectarian Islam and suggest reformation in religion (see: Quran: The Final Testament, Islamic Productions, Tucson, 1989, and Quran, Hadith and Islam, Islamic Productions, Tucson, 1982). By referring to the Quranic verses, he demonstrated that today’s Islam has nothing to do with Muhammad’s original message, but a religion concocted by scholars who traded the Quran with fabricated narration and medieval Arab culture (Hadith and Sunnah) falsely attributed to Prophet Muhammad two centuries after his departure. By incorporating their opinion with those mediaeval lies, Muslim scholars created various orthodox sects with thousands of contradictions, vicious and oppressive laws, hundreds of regulations that can turn the daily life of a zealot to hell. For an objective and extensive information on the mission of Khalifa I recommend the following book: Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane Idleman Smith, Mission To America: Five Islamic Sectarian Communities in North America, University Press of Florida, Gainsville, 1993.
(FN5). See: Chris Limberis, Terrorists in Tiny Town, Tucson Weekly, September 20, 2001, pp. 4-8. Mark Hosenball, Another Holy War Waged on American Soil, Newsweek, February 28, 1994, pp. 30-31. Also see: Tim Vanderpool, The No. 19 Murder, Tucson Weekly, January 19, 1994, cover story. Also see: Tucson Mosque slaying may be linked to sect, The Arizona Daily Star, October 12, 1992, first page. Most recently, this assasination was linked to Ben Ladin by CBS National News, Dan Rather, 10/26/2001 at 5:30 PM. Eye On America. Also visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/upclose/elhage.html
(FN6). The author of this paper was also declared to be an apostate in Turkey. See: Hulki Cevizo¤lu, Edip Yuksel “Çöpe At” (Edip Yuksel ‘Trash It’), Ad Yayincilik, Istanbul, 1997. Bahaeddin Sa¤lam, 19 Meselesi ve Edip Yuksel’e Cevaplar (The Issue of 19 and Answers to Edip Yuksel), Tebli¤ Yayinevi, Istanbul, 1996. Sadreddin Yüksel (my father), Günümüz Meselelerine Kuran’dan Cevaplar (Answers From the Quran To Contemporary Issues), Madve, Istanbul, 1988. I was a best seller author and a well-known political activist; but my rejection of my father’s religion put my life at risk, forcing me to immigrate to USA. I still receive death threats from orthodox or sectarian Muslims.
(FN7). Joseph Grinstein, Jihad and the Constitution: The First Amendment Implications of Combating Religiously Motivated Terrorism, 105 Yale L.J. 1347 (1996). (Quoting from a Nov. 21, 1994 television broadcast.)
(FN8). Donna E. Arzt, Religious Human Rights In Muslim States of the Middle East and North Africa, 10 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 139, 144. (Spring 1996).
(FN9). Id. at 160-161.
(FN10). The Quran repeatedly condemns compulsion in religion (see: 2:256; 10:99; 88:21,22), advocates perfect freedom of belief and expression (18:29), permits fighting for only self-defense (60:8,9), advises not to harm apostates except if they mobilize with arms against believers (4:90), and advises passive protest against those who insult and make mockery of God’s revelation (4:140). A short article by Riffat Hassan, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Lousville, provides some idea about the content of the Quran regarding human rights: Riffat Hassan, Religious Human Rights and The Quran, 10 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 85 (Spring 1996).
(FN11). See, supra note 13.
(FN12). Arzt, supra note 32, at 161.
(FN13). John Witte Jr., Law, Religion and Human Rights, 28 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rew. 1, 2 (Fall 1996).
(FN14). Religion and Human Rights, eds: John Kelsay and Sumner B. Twiss, The Project on Religion and Human Rights, New York, 1994, pp. 15-16.