The alleged end of the ‘Islamic Awakening,’ and the exceptional case of ISIS

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi
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The so-called ‘end of the Islamic Awakening’ is being frequently promoted, although it is a claim that lacks any rationale, logic, or proof. This allegation is being circulated and accentuated in particular by groups and symbolic figures of political Islam, while gullible sides brainwashed by the Muslim Brotherhood Group are echoing it, including writers, intellectuals, and some media outlets.

As a matter of fact, significant social phenomena cannot disappear over a night, as the network of interests correlated with them would not disengage by a decision or a wish. Hence, it is highly essential for both the statehood and society to stay steadily alert to the presence of these social phenomena, especially as they are extremely dangerous and harmful, and in order to prevent them from resurrecting under any pretext or shape.


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Those who judge the presence or absence of such phenomena by appearance without delving into the depth of things, might opine saying: “We do not see anymore those men dressing the typical Islamist shorty cloaks, or letting their ungroomed long beards grow, or repulsively preaching people in a random manner. Thus, the Islamic Awakening seems to have vanished with all its impacts and roles.” Well, here we might be in need of some elaboration and scrutiny. To start with, it is true that these appearance-related phenomena have shrunk, but, yet again, they are but insignificant appearances.

Besides, the features of political Islamists differ from one country to another, and many of their personalities shave their beards. The best example for this is the late Sayed Qutb, a key Muslim Brotherhood theorist. Furthermore, in other countries, political Islamists do not necessarily wear short mediaeval cloaks or repulsively preach people in a random manner. However, they are still doing their best to brainwash people with their ideology, which indicates that as far as their ideology, principles, and mindset are concerned; nothing has changed!

Gold an silk made Quran in Afghanistan.. (Stock image)
Gold an silk made Quran in Afghanistan.. (Stock image)

It is true that the Islamist attire was of a symbolic value, and thus the founders of political Islam and religious violence groups paid attention to it, including Hassan al-Banna, Osama bin Laden, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, this is just an outfit and not an intellectual essence or thought. The disagreements with such groups run much deeper than their outfit, and rather have to do with their principles, ideas, aspirations, and objectives.

Meanwhile, it seems nobody has told ISIS that the Islamic Awakening has vanished! Otherwise, its affiliates would not have carried out the recent qualitative military operation of attacking the Al Ghuwayran prison in the Syrian city of Al Hasakah, storming the prison through its inside and outside, displacing tens of thousands of people, killing many hundreds of others, and managing to flee away in scores.

Well, a quick glimpse at the region’s map can tell whether the Islamic Awakening has actually vanished along with terrorism, or not. In Afghanistan, Taliban has taken over everything. In both Iraq and Syria, Sunni and Shiite Awakening militias are wandering about with their fundamentalist and terrorist agendas. In Lebanon, the Awakening-oriented Hezbollah is dominating the country, whereas in Yemen the likewise Awakening-related Houthi militia is hijacking the statehood and the people. Furthermore, the groups and key personalities of political Islam are being active in Africa, Asia, and the two Americas without any limitations.

On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it is noteworthy that the phenomena of the Islamic Awakening shrunk, thanks to the establishment of national priorities and accomplishment of impressive developmental milestones that marginalized all the Awakening-related projects and public activities and diminished their impact and lure on society. These are indeed initial steps taken in the right direction, but they are only the beginning of a long process, for it takes long years to erase the erroneous ideology that has been advocated for decades.

In the meantime, there are two major projects in the region that support the Awakening, its ideas, organizations, fundamentalism, and terrorism at all levels. Both regional projects are of an extremely dangerous expansionist nature, and a part of their psychological warfare launched against the Arab countries and their peoples is to persuade the latter that the Awakening has ended, as this would help both projects achieve their expansion and dominance.

Simultaneously, the Western left is, unluckily, another big and influential supporter of this Awakening, its groups, and key figures. Actually, it allied with the Awakening, providing protection and sponsorship of it, its groups, and its personalities, which is also allowing the latter to gain mounting presence and influence in many Western countries. Just a decade ago, the Western left attempted to enable the Awakening groups to seize power in the region through the so-called Arab Spring.

At last, but never least, we have been also witnessing Awakening-affiliated intellectual apologetics who are justifying the camouflaging disguise in the movement’s appearance and shape, indicating that each era imposes its own manifestations.

As a matter of fact, several Awakening-enthusiasts are now showing up with trimmed beards, or no beards at all, addressing issues such as the development and future of the nation, using updated modern terminology. However, deep-inside they only with to revive their very same project.

This article was published in and translated from the Emirati outlet al-Ittihad.

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