Islam Sight [Malappuram, Kerala, India], July 25, 2011
1. THE TWO FACES OF ISLAM is your masterpiece. I never read any book that deals with the history and present character of Wahhabism so deeply, aside from it. What led you to write such a book?
Thank you for your high compliments, which I treasure.
I became aware of the negative role of Wahhabism in present-day Islam during the Bosnian war, with the interference of Wahhabi “mujahidin” who came to Bosnia and did not contribute properly to the Bosnian struggle but did attempt to impose their deviant interpretation on the Balkan Muslims. I read everything then available in Muslim sources on Wahhabism and when I went to live in Bosnia was prepared to confront it.
When I came back from the Balkans, the events of September 11, 2001, and the involvement of Saudi subjects in the terrorist atrocities of that day, made my knowledge of Wahhabism suddenly relevant.
I had intended to write a book on Islam, and, with no warning, a specific topic – Wahhabi radicalism – was thrust upon me. I took up the challenge, but all such abilities are gifts from Allah subhanawata’la, so finally must say I wrote the book because I was guided to do so. I was presented with a task, and did my best to fulfill it, and, alhamdulillah, have been rewarded for it in this life. It is perhaps a matter worthy of irony that when I was writing The Two Faces of Islam some of my non-Muslim colleagues were surprised when I said I was writing the book more for Muslims than non-Muslims. They presumed that Muslims would not read my book. But my book has had a greater impact in the Muslim countries than in the West, which is very gratifying to me.
Continue reading Wahhabism, Terrorism, Islam
Interview with Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
by Lukhman Karuvarrakund
On June 9, 2011, the London Evening Standard published the following text:
THE defeat of radical Islam won’t come through the efforts of a small industry of report-writers and statistics collectors who try their best either to minimise the problems Islamism poses for the West, or to exaggerate the threat and sow panic.
None of the threats from Islamic extremism to the West can be addressed without recognising their root causes: excessive Saudi wealth without accountability, Pakistani state corruption, and Iranian social pathology.
Irfan Al-Alawi, International Director, Centre for Islamic Pluralism
This comment was solicited in response to an op-ed by the leading British journalist Matthew D’Ancona, who wrote in the Evening Standard of June 8, as follows:
For Cameron, terrorism is the new Cold War, Matthew d’Ancona, Evening Standard [London] June 8, 2011
Those engaged in the fight against terrorism have learned to regard al Qaeda not as a traditional army or hierarchy but as downloadable “software”. This week, Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive officer, returned briefly from medical leave to unveil the computer giant’s latest goodies: he remains the corporation’s indispensable figurehead.
It is tempting to see Osama bin Laden as al Qaeda’s Steve Jobs, and his death as an insuperable loss to the Islamist brand — tempting but wrong. As one of the Government’s advisers on Islamism puts it: “It’s better to see al Qaeda as a lethal app you can download anywhere, or as a computer virus, than as an identifiable leadership structure you have to infiltrate and destroy. This is predominantly a battle of the mind.”
Continue reading Al-Alawi on UK response to radical Islam, Evening Standard [London], June 9, 2011
American Thinker, February 20, 2011
Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations at Hartford Seminary, recently ended a term as the first female and first Muslim convert to serve as president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). But she promises to continue her career as a promoter of radical Islam.
As an example of her ideological commitment, Mattson is advertised as a prominent participant in a conference to be held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul on February 24/26, 2011. The conference program is breathtaking in its triumphalist view of Islam and its relations with the world. Titled “Shared Cultural Spaces” and benefiting from a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) — paid for by federal tax revenue — the Minnesota conference program announces very little that is “shared” by Islam and other cultures, but rather is replete with uncritical glorification of Islamic history.
Thus, Nabil Matar, a professor of English at Minnesota, commented, “At a time when other parts of the world were in their ‘dark ages,’ in Islamic civilizations there were artists, scientists, writers and architects who created a world of imagination, openness (as they included Christians and Jews as well) and brilliance. The conference will show how Islamic cultural imagination continues to enrich contemporary life.” While such a claim is problematical in its exclusion of all non-Muslim intellectual achievements during the “dark ages,” it is absurd in its supposition that the Islamic imagination retains a leading role in global culture.
Mattson is included as a participant in the Minnesota conference based on her work in “Islamic law and ethics, as well as gender and leadership issues in contemporary Muslim communities.” These topics appear as euphemisms for discussion of Sharia law and the status of women in Islam, the two issues in Muslim societies which are especially controversial for non-Muslims. Such matters are outstanding in their relevance for the future of Islam, and a debate about them involving Muslim leaders like Mattson is profoundly necessary.
Continue reading Ingrid Mattson: No Longer Leading ISNA, But Still Advancing Radical Islam by Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard, issue of February 21, 2011
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, is more than a radical network, comparable to al-Qaeda; more than an ideological phenomenon, like the followers of Khomeini in the 1979 Iranian Revolution; and more than a political insurgency, similar to Pakistani jihadism. It is an Egyptian Islamist subculture of great depth and influence.
It is therefore also much more than a product of political decisions made by Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood was powerful before Mubarak, before his predecessor Anwar Sadat, and before their elder comrade, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
But the Brotherhood today is not identical with the paramilitary Arabist-Islamist Ikhwan that functioned in the 1930s through the 1960s. After those decades, the Brotherhood underwent a social and political transformation that was both impressive in its novelty and disturbing in its effect.
Beginning under Nasser, the Brotherhood came out of the shadows and began organizing to take over the Egyptian professional guilds of doctors and engineers. A researcher sympathetic to the Brotherhood, Amani Kandil, publishing in Arabic but cited in Western sources, has said the decision to focus on medicine and engineering was motivated by the recognition that these were the fields of aspiration where social change had become concentrated in Egypt as the 20th century ended. Universities ballooned in size and ambition, establishing new curricula in technological studies, backed by Nasser’s government. Along with them, the professional guilds expanded their membership.
Continue reading Professional Islamists: The Muslim Brotherhood’s long march through the institutions by Stephen Schwartz
NewsGram [India], January 27, 2011
There is a large American audience for sensational movies, including documentaries on terrorism, and it has now been provided with a flossy morsel about the late Benazir Bhutto. This 111-minute video, titled simply Bhutto, has been screened in American cinema houses and is scheduled for television presentation on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on May 11, 2011.
The brutal murder, in 2007, of Benazir Bhutto – whom I had briefly met in Washington, DC – was unquestionably tragic for Pakistan. It was the turning point after which the war on terror in South Asia entered its acute, Iraq-style phase, culminating in the Mumbai atrocities a year afterward. I wrote at the time of her death that the Wahhabi warriors of al-Qaeda, having suffered a defeat in Mesopotamia, were flocking to Pakistan.
The killing of Bhutto was not just a blow to her promises of political reform, but also against her stated commitment to resist the growth of Taliban influence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its awful effect was aggravated by the assumption of power in Pakistan, in the name of her legacy, by her weak-willed husband Asif Ali Zardari. As I and my colleague Dr Irfan Al-Alawi wrote in the London Spectator of 24 September 2008, blame for the rise of terror in South Asia belongs “with the Taliban-ised sectors of the Pakistani armed forces and intelligence service (ISI), and the pusillanimity of the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto.”
Continue reading Flawed tale of Bhutto on sale by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Ryan Mauro on Saudi succession concerns, various blogs, December 21, 2010
[CIP Note: This text appeared in various forms, and was abbreviated on at least one blog. (CIP URL. Our thanks to the honorable Mr. Mauro.]
Saudi Arabia has been a part-time ally of the U.S., crushing Al-Qaeda terrorists trying to overthrow the Royal Family in its own territory but promoting radical Islam outside of it. The U.S. has made the largest arms sale in history to the Saudis but these weapons could end up in dangerous hands, especially if Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud becomes king.
King Abdullah is 86 years old and in poor health.
His designated successor, Crown Prince Sultan, is 82 and widely thought to have cancer.
Aware that he and his successor could die in a short period of time, King Abdullah made Prince Nayef the Second Deputy Prime Minister in March of 2009, a position which is viewed as being the slot just below the successor. A cable from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh released by WikiLeaks is dated May 2009 and reports that “Crown Prince Sultan has been incapacitated by illness for at least (the) past year.”
Continue reading The Saudi Succession Threat by Ryan Mauro
The Weekly Standard Blog, August 9, 2010
The people of Pakistan, and Muslims as well as non-Muslims around the world, were horrified when, at midnight on July 1, three bombers struck the Data Darbar Sufi shrine in Lahore. Sufis often perform their rituals, known as zikr or “remembrance of God,” on Thursday nights, in preparation for the Friday collective prayer, and the sacred complex was packed. In the attack, 45 people died and 175 were injured. Pakistani media reported that two terrorists blew themselves up inside the building while another stayed outside and threw grenades into the building.
“Data Darbar” means “tomb of the generous one,” and is the mausoleum of Data Ganj Baksh, a name meaning “giver of spiritual treasures” conferred on the 10th-century Sufi, Abul Hassan Ali al-Hajvery, who is buried there. Al-Hajvery, born in today’s Afghanistan, is one of the most prominent Sunni Sufis, beloved among Hindus as well as Muslims in South Asia.
The atrocity was not an isolated occurrence. In its aftermath, the government of the Pakistan province of Sindh announced that 80 Sufi shrines are now considered vulnerable to attack, including 36 in the city of Karachi. Many more such structures remain unprotected. The slayings have been blamed on al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. As adherents to Saudi-financed Wahhabism and the similar South Asian Deobandi form of Muslim fundamentalism, the terrorists have long proclaimed their hatred of the Sufis, whom they condemn for praying at the graves of Muslim saints. In the perverse ideology of the radicals, this traditional Islamic devotion represents a deviation from strict monotheism, and, allegedly, too closely resembles Christian worship of Jesus.
Continue reading Jihadists v. Sufis: From Pakistan to Bosnia by Irfan al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog, August 4, 2010
The leader of the “Ground Zero mosque” project in New York, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is commonly portrayed as a moderate and a sincere believer [...]
The Weekly Standard, July 26, 2010
Since a proposal to construct a 15-story mosque and community center two blocks from Ground Zero was announced last year, the project has been a focus of widening protests. To be named Cordoba House, the project would require demolition of two buildings at 45-47 Park Place and Broadway that were damaged on 9/11. They would be replaced by a glass and steel 100,000-square-foot structure with a new address, 45-51 Park Place.
According to its sponsors, the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society of Muslim Advancement (ASMA), the structure would cost $100 million and would include “a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, restaurants,” and an area for Islamic prayer. The Cordoba Initiative and ASMA were created by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Kuwait-born cleric of Egyptian background.
Every inch the professional moderate, Rauf has the imprimatur of the State Department, which sent him on an international bridge-building tour earlier this year. And he has cloaked the Cordoba effort in the rhetoric of reconciliation, describing himself and his colleagues as “the anti-terrorists.” But he deflects inquiries about its financing. On July 7, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio called on state attorney general Andrew Cuomo, who is also Lazio’s Democratic opponent in the coming election, to “conduct a thorough investigation” of three aspects of the project:
- Rauf’s refusal to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization; – Rauf’s leading role in the Perdana Global Peace Organization, “a principal partner,” in its own words, of the Turkish-launched flotilla that tried to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza; – and the project’s questionable sources of funding.
Lazio has been supported in this demand by New York Republican congressman Peter King.
Continue reading A Mosque Grows Near Brooklyn: The dubious financing of ‘Cordoba House’ deserves scrutiny by Stephen Schwartz