The terror attack on the mosque in Al-Arish, North of Sinai, has spurred on the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition’s defense ministers’ meeting in Riyadh which has become the capital of the war on terrorism.
In his address, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized two points: coordinating between the 41 members of the coalition and protecting Islam from the distorted image which radicals represent. The summit’s main topic was discussing military and intelligence work between countries to combat terrorism and “chase terrorism everywhere,” as the Crown Prince put it, until terrorists are wiped off the face of earth.
The summit was actually distinguished for its results. The coalition which was established at the end of 2015 has officially launched its work on organizational and practical basis and we will see the effects in the upcoming days.
Terrorism is one of the worst diseases societies are suffering from. In addition to poverty, famine and illnesses, terrorism is a basic threat that’s as dangerous as any other catastrophe. We’ve been talking about bloody terrorism for over half a century now but intellectual, cultural and educational approaches as to how to protect society from it are still scarce since work was not translated into governmental and institutional work.
For years, governments only fought terrorism via security and intelligence work. They would eliminate a cell and another would be growing in friendly environments and dens.
The military institution which destroys terrorist cells is the same party that protects incubators which produce similar cells in governmental educational and religious institutions. This is a truth that must be bravely confronted to avoid being repeatedly stung from the same hole so that massacres like the one in Al-Arish do not happen again. This most recent massacre is a horrific crime that raises many questions about the old approach in terms of combating terrorism.
Deadly terrorist fatwas continue to be issued, and extremist muftis continue to appear on different platforms and address people. Criminalizing the International Union of Muslim Scholars is thus of extreme significance. Some wise men realized the union’s dangerous role and withdrew early from it, like Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and others.
The union’s role remained suspicious as it produced disastrous fatwas which allows murder of unarmed civilians. When the union’s leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi was asked about suicide bombings during a television interview, he said: “It depends on the group and not on the individual,” and emphasized the rule of the group decision, as based on the group’s interest, over the individual will.
The vision which the Islamic military coalition is proposing for war on terrorism is optimistic, especially that it comes at a time when we’ve failed in defeating terrorism on the intellectual and theoretical levels. We’ve had enough of scenes of blood and death and we are exhausted by analyses and descriptions. It’s time that governments root out terrorism, purge platforms and podiums, attack dens and hiding places and restructure education from elementary to higher studies. It’s a lot of effort but it’s not difficult for the 41 member states. When this happens, we can be optimistic that massacres in which innocent people are killed will not repeat. We need a “complete” war on terrorism.Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Can these fatwas continue to circulate without being deterred or eliminated?
In 1951, thinker Eric Hoffer published his famous book ‘The True Believer’. Before the emergence of armed Islamic groups, he used to discuss the psychological state of extremists who deeply believe in their thoughts to the extent of willing to die for them. He also addressed Qaradawi’s statements about the group and the individual.
Hoffer wrote: “To ripen a person for self-sacrifice, he must be stripped of his individual identity and distinctness. He must cease to be George, Hans, Ivan, or Tadao - a human atom with an existence bounded by birth and death. The most drastic way to achieve this end is by the complete assimilation of the individual into a collective body. The fully assimilated individual does not see himself and others as human beings. When asked who he is, his automatic response is that he is a German, a Russian, a Japanese, a Christian, a Moslem, a member of a certain tribe or family. He has no purpose, worth and destiny apart from his collective body; and as long as that body lives he cannot really die. To a man utterly without a sense of belonging, mere life is all that matters.”
This is how individuals melt in their group and become a shield that’s used by others as planned – even if they have to blow themselves up among people. Extremists have a major problem that is represented by the moderates.
The lecture ‘The Quran and The Sword’ which is about the provision of ‘jihad’ by Yusef al-Ayeri, al-Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula, is an example of the psychological analyses by Hoffer.
In his book, Hoffer adds: “It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacles nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence. Strength of faith, as Bergson pointed out, manifests itself not in moving mountains but in not seeing mountains to move.”
The vision which the Islamic military coalition is proposing for war on terrorism is optimistic, especially that it comes at a time when we’ve failed in defeating terrorism on the intellectual and theoretical levels. We’ve had enough of scenes of blood and death and we are exhausted by analyses and descriptions. It’s time that governments root out terrorism, purge platforms and podiums, attack dens and hiding places and restructure education from elementary to higher studies. It’s a lot of effort but it’s not difficult for the 41 member states. When this happens, we can be optimistic that massacres in which innocent people are killed will not repeat. We need a “complete” war on terrorism.
In his book, ‘The Barren Sacrifice’, Paul Dumouchel writes: “Violence can quickly integrate with disputes and competitions that move individuals. This is why it repels as much as it attracts and worries as much as it charms.”
This article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.