(Author’s note: I spent many years working as a petroleum engineer/geologist in the Arab world.)
Most Westerners believe that all Islamists are either terrorists or backers of terrorist groups. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ninety-nine (99%) percent of Moslems are moderate,peace-loving people. Over half the world’s Moslems are of the Sufis persuasion. What is the Sufism? It is the mystical,metaphysical,and esoteric tradition within Islam. It might be compared to the Jewish mystical kabbalah,or Roman Catholic spirituality. Sufism looks beyond the public manifestations of Islam and seeks the inner truth behind the sacred texts,much like the mystical practices of Eastern religions. The Sufi philosophy overlaps Islam’s sects and includes within its ranks Sunnis as well as Shi’ ites (Shia).
The situation in Iran is very complex and complicated. Even though Sufism represents the main cultural,social,and religious alternatives to the militant Islam,the militants have taken over. Glimpsing a bit of history,the Persian Empire became Shia under Sufi guidance. The Ottoman Empire was heavily involved with Sufism. Both empires were the leading Islamic states in the 19th century. Later, two groups of reformers saw the weakness of Islam when faced by the West. They were especially disturbed by the encroachment of Western imperialism. The result:both groups united under Wahhabism and have continually confronted the West.
The Wahhab movement began in the 18th century. It was a time of great brutality between warring Arab tribes. The founder,Abd al-Wahhab,was a Saudi educated in Medina,who later moved to Iran. There,he preached his new and radical Islamic philosophy. In short,al-Wabbah contended that the original purity of Muhammad’s teaching and the Quran had been watered down and greatly altered from the original form. He preached that the Islamic community should return to the strict interpretation of the principles set out by Muhammad,which he believed was the true grandeur of Islam. The Wahhabis do not believe in reinterpreting any issues of Islamic law.
Eventually,he was expelled from Iran because of his virulent criticism of Sufi Islam. On returning to Saudi Arabia,he obtained the backing of a powerful tribal leader – Ibn Sa’ud,who became a believer in al Wahhab’s doctrine of Islam. The two swore a Moslem pledge in which they vowed to establish a new state that would operate under al Wahhab’s strict interpretation of Islamic Law.
Once the alliance was established,Ibn Sa’ud and al Wahhab began a military campaign that shook the Arabian Peninsula to its core. Ibn Sa’ud’s forces raided and conquered settlements, even though they were Islamic. The fundamental Wahhab doctrine views all non-Wahhabists as infidels and not true Moslems. This gave the Wahhabists their excuse for the indiscriminate killings of infidels –Moslems and non-Moslems alike.
Now,let’s bring the Wahhab doctrine forward into today’s world. Unfortunately,it stifles the creative arts,allows the reprehensible treatment of women,annihilates individuality and personal worth,and drives the believers to a form of extreme conformity. Wahhab Islam leaves absolutely no room for reform. Therefore,the doctrine has continued to perform violent extremist acts for four centuries. One needs only to look at September 11,2001 to realize the influence and effect Wahhabi Islam has had on the rest of the world. Very likely,it has indoctrinated over a million or more Moslems into this system of hate and violence. Within this mass,the terrorist leaders have glorified the violent struggle against the infidels –all non-Moslems as well as Moslems who do not believe the Wahhabi doctrine. Just assume that only a small percentage of Islamists are active militants –even .1% amounts to a million people. Do you see the problem?
Wahhabists still practice customs and beliefs from ancient times with no possibility of any reforms or changes. Among some of them are:
- Women have no rights in Wahhabi culture. They are forced to dress from head to toe in either black or dark blue.
- No one can eat pork,drink wine,or consume any stimulants.
- It is forbidden to wear any jewelry (including gold) or silk clothing.
- It is strictly forbidden to listen to music. No dancing,no pictures,no loud laughter,or demonstrative crying. Men must not wear beards or grow hair beyond a certain length.
This short list of customs and beliefs of Wahhabi Islam shows the tremendous effect it has on those who live under its doctrine. Even more frightening, the Wahhabis consider a majority of people to be infidels that must either be converted or killed. The rulers make religious education a large part of children’s lives;from childhood on,the population is bombarded with the teaching of al-Wahhab. The curriculum teaches religious extremism (example – “The last hour will not come before Moslems would fight the Jews;and the Moslems will kill them so Jews would hide behind rocks and trees. Then the rocks and trees would call:‘Oh Moslem,Oh servant of God! There is a Jew behind me,come and kill him’.”) However,all people who are not Wahhabs are supposed to be hated,persecuted,and even killed.
bin Laden was schooled in Saudi Arabia,and the Wahhab lessons he learned are still being taught there. If this type of educational curriculum continues,we will have other bin Ladens. It should be clear by now why terrorist organizations are able to find so many recruits. How does one negotiate peace with people who think on this level?
 Traditional Islamic law prohibits Islamic states from attacking each other.