In the wake of the orchestrated terror attacks in Belgium yesterday, I decided to share this particular article that I ran into, which is an excellent article exploring the origins of Wahhabism, and how it came to be front and center for Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the prime motivating factors for terrorism, like the attacks we saw yesterday.
So, I thought I would publish it, and add certain parts of it that I thought shed some light on how it relates to modern terrorism today.
Here is the link, and some excerpts from the article (from two years ago) that I thought were particularly illuminating and/or relevant:
The soaring oil price created by the 1973 embargo – when Arab petroleum producers cut off supplies to the US to protest against the Americans’ military support for Israel – gave the kingdom all the petrodollars it needed to export its idiosyncratic form of Islam. The old military jihad to spread the faith was now replaced by a cultural offensive. The Saudi-based Muslim World League opened offices in every region inhabited by Muslims, and the Saudi ministry of religion printed and distributed Wahhabi translations of the Quran, Wahhabi doctrinal texts and the writings of modern thinkers whom the Saudis found congenial, such as Sayyids Abul-A’la Maududi and Qutb, to Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, the United States and Europe. In all these places, they funded the building of Saudi-style mosques with Wahhabi preachers and established madrasas that provided free education for the poor, with, of course, a Wahhabi curriculum. At the same time, young men from the poorer Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, who had felt compelled to find work in the Gulf to support their families, associated their relative affluence with Wahhabism and brought this faith back home with them, living in new neighbourhoods with Saudi mosques and shopping malls that segregated the sexes. The Saudis demanded religious conformity in return for their munificence, so Wahhabi rejection of all other forms of Islam as well as other faiths would reach as deeply into Bradford, England, and Buffalo, New York, as into Pakistan, Jordan or Syria: everywhere gravely undermining Islam’s traditional pluralism.
So the liberal state is not an inevitable consequence of modernity; the attempt to produce democracy in Iraq using the colonial methods of invasion, subjugation and occupation could only result in an unnatural birth – and so IS emerged from the resulting mayhem.
Wahhabism to ISIS: how Saudi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism by Karen Armstrong, 27 November 2014: