ISLAM, A Short History
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Book Name: ISLAM, A Short History Author: Karen Armstrong Publication Year: 2002 ISBN: 0-8129-6618-X Preface
The external history of a religious tradition often seems di-vorced from the raison d’etre of faith. The spiritual quest is an interior journey; it is a psychic rather than a political drama. It is preoccupied with liturgy, doctrine, contemplative disci¬plines and an exploration of the heart, not with the clash of current events. Religions certainly have a life outside the soul. Their leaders have to contend with the state and affairs of the world, and often relish doing so. They fight with members of other faiths, who seem to challenge their claim to a monopoly of absolute truth; they also persecute their co-religionists for interpreting a tradition differently or for holding heterodox beliefs. Very often priests, rabbis, imams and shamans are just as consumed by worldly ambition as regular politicians. But all this is generally seen as an abuse of a sacred ideal. These power struggles are not what religion is really about, but an unworthy distraction from the life of the spirit, which is conducted far from the madding crowd, unseen, silent and unobtrusive. In¬deed, in many faiths, monks and mystics lock themselves away from the world, since the clamour and strife of history is re¬garded as incompatible with a truly religious life.
In the Hindu tradition, history is dismissed as evanescent, unimportant and insubstantial. The philosophers of ancient Greece were concerned with the eternal laws underlying the flux of external events, which could be of no real interest to a serious thinker. In the gospels, Jesus often went out of his way to explain to his followers that his Kingdom was not of this world, but could only be found within the believer. The Kingdom would not arrive with a great political fanfare, but would de-velop as quietly and imperceptibly as a germinating mustard-seed. In the modern West, we have made a point of separating religion from politics; this secularization was originally seen by the philosophes of the Enlightenment as a means of liberating re-ligion from the corruption of state affairs, and allowing it to be-come more truly itself.
In Islam, Muslims have looked for God in history. Their sacred scripture, the Quran, gave them a historical mission. Their chief duty was to create a just community in which all members, even the most weak and vulnerable, were treated with absolute respect. The experience of building such a so¬ciety and living in it would give them intimations of the di¬vine, because they would be living in accordance with God’s will. A Muslim had to redeem history, and that meant that state affairs were not a distraction from spirituality but the stuff of religion itself. The political well-being of the Muslim community was a matter of supreme importance. Like any religious ideal, it was almost impossibly difficult to imple¬ment in the flawed and tragic conditions of history, but after each failure Muslims had to get up and begin again.
A Muslim would meditate upon the current events of his time and upon past history as a Christian would contem¬plate an icon, using the creative imagination to discover the hidden divine kernel. An account of the external history of the Muslim people cannot, therefore, be of mere secondary interest, since one of the chief characteristics of Islam has been its sacralization of history.

The book discusses the following five themes: Beginnings of Islam Its Development Its Culmination Islam Triumphant Islam Agonistics The fifth of them is what we are going to review in more detail.
Islam Agonistics
The colonial experience and the collision with Europe had dis-located Islamic society. The world had irrevocably changed. It was hard for Muslims to know how to respond to the West, be-cause the challenge was unprecedented. If they were to partic-ipate as full partners in the modern world, Muslims had to incorporate these changes.

In particular, the West had found it necessary to separate religion and politics in order to free gov-ernment, science and technology from the constraints of con-servative religion. In Europe, nationalism had replaced the allegiance of faith, which had formerly enabled its societies to cohere. But this nineteenth-century experiment proved prob-lematic.

The nation states of Europe embarked on an arms race in 1870, which led ultimately to two world wars.

Secular ide-ologies proved to be just as murderous as the old religious big-otry, as became clear in the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet Gulag. The Enlightenment philosophes had believed that the more educated people became, the more rational and tolerant they would be. This hope proved to be as Utopian as any of the old messianic fantasies. Finally, modern society was committed to democracy, and this had, in general, made life more just and equitable for more people in Europe and America. But the people of the West had had centuries to prepare for the demo¬cratic experiment. It would be a very different matter when modern parliamentary systems would be imposed upon soci¬eties that were still predominantly agrarian or imperfectly modernized, and where the vast majority of the population found modern political discourse incomprehensible.
Politics had never been central to the Christian religious experience. Jesus had, after all, said that his Kingdom was not of this world. For centuries, the Jews of Europe had refrained from political involvement as a matter of principle. But pol¬itics was no secondary issue for Muslims.

We have seen that it had been the theatre of their religious quest. Salvation did not mean redemption from sin, but the creation of a just so¬ciety in which the individual could more easily make that ex¬istential surrender of his or her whole being that would bring fulfillment. The polity was therefore a matter of supreme im¬portance, and throughout the twentieth century there has been one attempt after another to create a truly Islamic state. This has always been difficult. It was an aspiration that re¬quired a jihad, a struggle that could find no simple outcome.
Muslim rulers attempts to keep Islamists down & secularism up The ideal of tawhid would seem to preclude the ideal of secularism, but in the past both Shiites and Sunnis had ac¬cepted a separation of religion and politics. Pragmatic poli¬tics is messy and often cruel; the ideal Muslim state is not a given that is simply applied, but it takes creative ingenuity and discipline to implement the egalitarian ideal of the Quran in the grim realities of political life.

It is not true that Islam makes it impossible for Muslims to create a modern secular society, as Westerners sometimes imagine. But it is true that secularization has been very different in the Mus¬lim world. In the West, it has usually been experienced as benign. In the early days, it was conceived by such philoso¬phers as John Locke (1632-1704) as a new and better way of being religious, since it freed religion from coercive state control and enabled it to be more true to its spiritual ideals. But in the Muslim world, secularism has often consisted of a brutal attack upon religion and the religious.
Ataturk, for example, closed down all the madrasahs, sup¬pressed the Sufi orders and forced men and women to wear modern Western dress. Such coercion is always counterpro¬ductive. Islam in Turkey did not disappear, it simply went un¬derground. Muhammad Ali had also despoiled the Egyptian ulama, appropriated their endowments and deprived them of influence. Later Jamal Abd al-Nasser (1918-70) became for a time quite militantly anti-Islamic, and suppressed the Mus¬lim Brotherhood. One of the Brothers, who belonged to the secret terrorist wing of the society, had made an attempt on al-Nasser’s life, but the majority of the thousands of Brothers who languished for years in al-Nasser’s concentration camps had done nothing more inflammatory than hand out leaflets or attend a meeting. In Iran, the Pahlavi monarchs were also ruthless in their secularism. Reza Shah Pahlavi (reigned 1921-41) deprived the ulama of their endowments, and re¬placed the Shariah with a civil system; he suppressed the Ashura celebrations in honor of Husain, and forbade Irani¬ans to go on the hajj. Islamic dress was prohibited, and Reza’s soldiers used to tear off women’s veils with their bayonets and rip them to pieces in the street. In 1935, when protestors peacefully demonstrated against the Dress Laws in the shrine of the Eighth Imam at Mashhad, the soldiers fired on the un¬armed crowd and there were hundreds of casualties. The ulama, who had enjoyed unrivalled power in Iran, had to watch their influence crumble. But Ayatollah Muddaris, the cleric who attacked Reza in the parliamentary Assembly, was mur¬dered by the regime in 1937 and the ulama became too fright¬ened to make any further protest. Reza’s son and successor, Muhammad Reza Shah (reigned 1944—79), proved to be just as hostile to and contemptuous of Islam.

Hundreds of madrasah students who dared to protest against the regime were shot in the streets, madrasahs were closed and leading ulama were tor¬tured to death, imprisoned and exiled. There was nothing democratic about this secular regime. SAVAK, the shah’s se¬cret police, imprisoned Iranians without trial, subjected them to torture and intimidation, and there was no possibility of truly representative government.
The issue of nationalism
Nationalism, from which Europeans themselves had begun to retreat in the latter part of the twentieth century, was also problematic. The unity of the ummah had long been a trea¬sured ideal; now the Muslim world was split into kingdoms and republics, whose borders were arbitrarily drawn up by the Western powers. It was not easy to build a national spirit, when Muslims had been accustomed to think of themselves as members of the Dar al-Islam.

Sometimes what passed as nationalism took a purely negative stance and became identified with the desire to get rid of the West. Some of the new nations had been so constructed that there was bound to be tension among their citizens. The southern part of the Sudan, for example, was largely Christian, while the north was Muslim. For a people who were accustomed to defining their identity in religious terms, it would be hard to establish a common Sudanese nationalism.

The problem was even more acute in Lebanon, where the population was equally di¬vided among at least three religious communities—Sunni, Shiites and Maronite Christian—which had always been au¬tonomous before. Power sharing proved to be an impossibility. The demographic time bomb led to the civil war (1975-90), which tragically tore the country apart.

In other countries, such as Syria, Egypt or Iraq, nationalism would be adopted by an elite, but not by the more conservative masses. In Iran, the nationalism of the Pahlavis was directly hostile to Islam, since it tried to sever the country’s connection with Shiism and based itself on the ancient Persian culture of the pre-Islamic period.
The issue of democracy
Democracy also posed problems. The reformers who wanted to graft modernity on to an Islamic substructure pointed out that in itself the ideal of democracy was not in¬imical to Islam. Islamic law promoted the principles of shurah (consultation) and ijmah, where a law had to be endorsed by the consensus of a representative portion of the ummah. The rashidun had been elected by a majority vote.

All this was quite compatible with the democratic ideal. Part of the diffi¬culty lay in the way that the West formulated democracy as government of the people, by the people, and for the peo¬ple. In Islam, it is God and not the people who gives a gov¬ernment legitimacy. This elevation of humanity could seem like idolatry {shirk), since it was a usurpation of God’s sovereignty.

But it was not impossible for the Muslim countries to introduce representative forms of government with¬out complying with the Western slogan. But the democratic ideal had often been tainted in practice. When the Iranians set up their Majlis (Assembly) after the Constitutional Revolu¬tion of 1906, the Russians helped the shah to close it down. Later, when the British were trying to make Iran a protec-torate during the 1920s, the Americans noted that they often rigged the elections to secure a result favourable to them¬selves.

Later American support for the unpopular Muham¬mad Reza Shah, who not only closed down the Majlis to effect his modernization program, but systematically denied Ira¬nians fundamental human rights that democracy was sup¬posed to guarantee, made it seem that there was a double standard. The West proudly proclaimed democracy for its own people, but Muslims were expected to submit to cruel dictatorships. In Egypt there were seventeen general elec¬tions between 1923 and 1952, all of which were won by the popular Wafd party, but the Wafd were permitted to rule only five times. They were usually forced to stand down by either the British or by the king of Egypt.
Worldwide phenomena The Western media often give the impression that the embat¬tled and occasionally violent form of religiosity known as fundamentalism is a purely Islamic phenomenon. This is not the case. Fundamentalism is a global fact and has surfaced in every major faith in response to the problems of our modernity. There is fundamentalist Judaism, fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist Hinduism, fundamentalist Bud¬dhism, fundamentalist Sikhism and even fundamentalist Confucianism. This type of faith surfaced first in the Chris¬tian world in the United States at the beginning of the twen¬tieth century. This was not accidental. Fundamentalism is not a monolithic movement; each form of fundamentalism, even within the same tradition, develops independently and has its own symbols and enthusiasms, but its different manifestations all bear a family resemblance. It has been noted that a fundamentalist movement does not arise immediately, as a knee-jerk response to the advent of Western modernity, but only takes shape when the modernization process is quite far ad¬vanced. At first religious people try to reform their traditions and effect a marriage between them and modern culture, as we have seen the Muslim reformers do. But when these mod¬erate measures are found to be of no avail, some people resort to more extreme methods, and a fundamentalist movement is born. With hindsight, we can see that it was only to be ex¬pected that fundamentalism should first make itself known in the United States, the showcase of modernity, and only ap¬pear in other parts of the world at a later date. Of the three monotheistic religions, Islam was in fact the last to develop a fundamentalist strain, when modern culture began to take root in the Muslim world in the late 1960s and 1970s. By this date, fundamentalism was quite well established among Christians and Jews, who had had a longer exposure to the modern experience.
Fundamentalist movements in all faiths share certain char-acteristics. They reveal a deep disappointment and disen-chantment with the modern experiment, which has not fulfilled all that it promised. They also express real fear. Every single fundamentalist movement that I have studied is convinced that the secular establishment is determined to wipe religion out. This is not always a paranoid reaction. We have seen that secularism has often been imposed very ag¬gressively in the Muslim world. Fundamentalists look back to a golden age before the eruption of modernity for inspira¬tion, but they are not atavistically returning to the Middle Ages. All are intrinsically modern movements and could have appeared at no time other than our own. All are innovative and often radical in their reinterpretation of religion. As such, fundamentalism is an essential part of the modern scene. Wherever modernity takes root, a fundamentalist movement is likely to rise up alongside it in conscious reaction. Funda¬mentalists will often express their discontent with a modern development by overstressing those elements in their tradi¬tion that militate against it. They are all—even in the United States—highly critical of democracy and secularism. Because the emancipation of women has been one of the hallmarks of modern culture, fundamentalists tend to emphasize conven¬tional, agrarian gender roles, putting women back into veils and into the home. The fundamentalist community can thus be seen as the shadow-side of modernity; it can also highlight some of the darker sides of the modern experiment.
Fundamentalism, therefore, exists in a symbiotic rela¬tionship with a coercive secularism. Fundamentalists nearly always feel assaulted by the liberal or modernizing estab¬lishment, and their views and behavior become more ex¬treme as a result. After the famous Scopes Trial (1925) in Tennessee, when Protestant fundamentalists tried to pre¬vent the teaching of evolution in the public schools, they were so ridiculed by the secularist press that their theology became more reactionary and excessively literal, and they turned from the left to the extreme right of the political spectrum. When the secularist attack has been more violent, the fundamentalist reaction is likely to be even greater. Fun-damentalism therefore reveals a fissure in society, which is polarized between those who enjoy secular culture and those who regard it with dread. As time passes, the two camps become increasingly unable to understand one an¬other. Fundamentalism thus begins as an internal dispute, with liberalizers or secularists within one’s own culture o ation. In the first instance, for example, Muslim fundamen¬talists will often oppose their fellow countrymen or fellow Muslims who take a more positive view of modernity, rather than such external foes as the West or Israel. Very often, fun¬damentalists begin by withdrawing from mainstream culture to create an enclave of pure faith (as, for example, within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Jerusalem or New York). Hence they will sometimes conduct an of¬fensive which can take many forms, designed to bring the mainstream back to the right path. All fundamentalists feel that they are fighting for survival, and because their backs are to the wall, they can believe that they have to fight their way out of the impasse. In this frame of mind, on rare occasions, some resort to terrorism. The vast majority, however, do not commit acts of violence, but simply try to revive their faith in a more conventional, law¬ful way.
Fundamentalists have been successful in so far as they have pushed religion from the sidelines and back to centre stage, so that it now plays a major part in international affairs once again, a development that would have seemed incon¬ceivable in the mid-twentieth century when secularism seemed in the ascendant. This has certainly been the case in the Islamic world since the 1970s. But fundamentalism is not simply a way of using religion for a political end. These are essentially rebellions against the secularist exclusion of the divine from public life, and a frequently desperate attempt to make spiritual values prevail in the modern world. But the desperation and fear that fuel fundamentalists also tend to distort the religious tradition, and accentuate its more aggres¬sive aspects at the expense of those that preach toleration and reconciliation. Muslim fundamentalism corresponds very closely to these general characteristics. It is not correct, therefore, to imagine that Islam has within it a militant, fanatic strain that impels Muslims into a crazed and violent rejection of modernity. Muslims are in tune with fundamentalists in other faiths all over the world, who share their profound misgivings about modern secular culture. It should also be said that Muslims object to the use of the term fundamentalism, pointing out quite correctly that it was coined by American Protestants as a badge of pride, and cannot be usefully translated into Ara¬bic. Usul, as we have seen, refers to the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence, and as all Muslims agree on these, all Muslims could be said to subscribe to usuliyyah (funda¬mentalism). Nevertheless, for all its shortcomings, funda¬mentalism is the only term we have to describe this family of embattled religious movements, and it is difficult to come up with a more satisfactory substitute. Muslim fundamentalist cases One of the early fundamentalist idealogues was Mawdudi, the founder of the Jamaat-i Islami in Pakistan. He saw the mighty power of the West as gathering its forces to crush Islam. Muslims, he argued, must band together to fight this encroaching secularism, if they wanted their religion and their culture to survive. Muslims had encountered hostile societies before and had experienced disasters but, starting with Afghani, a new note had crept into Islamic discourse. The Western threat had made Muslims defensive for the first time. Mawdudi defied the whole secularist ethos: he was proposing an Islamic liberation theology. Because God alone was sovereign, nobody was obliged to take orders from any other human being. Revolution against the colonial powers was not just a right but a duty. Mawdudi called for a univer-sd jihad. Just as the Prophet had fought the jahiliyyah (the ig¬norance and barbarism of the pre-Islamic period), Muslims must use all means in their power to resist the modern jahiliyyah of the West. Mawdudi argued that jihad was the central tenet of Islam. This was an innovation. Nobody had ever claimed before that jihad was equivalent to the five Pil¬lars of Islam, but Mawdudi felt that the innovation was justi¬fied by the present emergency. The stress and fear of cultural and religious annihilation had led to the development of a more extreme and potentially violent distortion of the faith. But the real founder of Islamic fundamentalism in the Sunni world was Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), who was greatly in¬fluenced by Mawdudi. Yet he had not originally been an ex¬tremist but had been filled with enthusiasm for Western culture and secular politics. Even after he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1953 he had been a reformer, hoping to give Western democracy an Islamic dimension that would avoid the excesses of a wholly secularist ideology. However, in 1956 he was imprisoned by al-Nasser for membership of the Brotherhood, and in the concentration camp he became con¬vinced that religious people and secularists could not live in peace in the same society. As he witnessed the torture and ex¬ecution of the Brothers, and reflected upon al-Nasser’s avowed determination to cast religion into a marginal role in Egypt, he could see all the characteristics of jahiliyyah, which he defined as the barbarism that was for ever and for all time the enemy of faith, and which Muslims, following the exam¬ple of the Prophet Muhammad, were bound to fight to the death. Qutb went further than Mawdudi, who had seen only non-Muslim societies as jahili. Qutb applied the term jahiliyyah, which in conventional Muslim historiography had been used simply to describe the pre-Islamic period in Ara¬bia, to contemporary Muslim society. Even though a ruler such as al-Nasser outwardly professed Islam, his words and actions proved him to be an apostate and Muslims were duty-bound to overthrow such a government, just as Muhammad had forced the pagan establishment of Mecca (the jahiliyyah of his day) into submission. The violent secularism of al-Nasser had led Qutb to es¬pouse a form of Islam that distorted both the message of the Quran and the Prophet’s life. Qutb told Muslims to model themselves on Muhammad: to separate themselves from mainstream society (as Muhammad had made the hijrah from Mecca to Medina), and then engage in a violent jihad. But Muhammad had in fact finally achieved victory by an inge¬nious policy of non-violence; the Quran adamantly opposed force and coercion in religious matters, and its vision—far from preaching exclusion and separation—was tolerant and inclusive. Qutb insisted that the Quranic injunction to tolera¬tion could occur only after the political victory of Islam and the establishment of a true Muslim state. The new intransi¬gence sprang from the profound fear that is at the core of fun¬damentalist religion. Qutb did not survive. At al-Nasser’s personal insistence, he was executed in 1966. Every Sunni fundamentalist movement has been influ¬enced by Qutb. Most spectacularly it has inspired Muslims to assassinate such leaders as Anwar al-Sadat, denounced as a jahili ruler because of his oppressive policies towards his own people. The Taliban, who came to power in Afghanistan in 1994, are also affected by his ideology. They are determined to return to what they see as the original vision of Islam. The ulama are the leaders of the government; women are veiled and not permitted to take part in professional life. Only reli¬gious broadcasting is permitted and the Islamic punishments of stoning and mutilation have been reintroduced. In some circles of the West, the Taliban are seen as quintessential Muslims, but their regime violates crucial Islamic precepts. Most of the Taliban (students of the madrasahs) belong to the Pashtun tribe, and they tend to target non-Pashtuns, who fight the regime from the north of the country. Such ethnic chauvinism was forbidden by the Prophet and by the Quran. Their harsh treatment of minority groups is also opposed to clear Quranic requirements. The Taliban’s discrimination against women is completely opposed to the practice of the Prophet and the conduct of the first ummah. The Taliban are typically fundamentalist, however, in their highly selective vision of religion (which reflects thei arrow education in some of the madrasahs of Pakistan), which perverts the faith and turns it in the opposite direction of what was intended. Like all the major faiths, Muslim fundamentalists, in their struggle to survive, make religion a tool of oppression and even of violence.
But most Sunni fundamentalists have not resorted to such an extreme. The fundamentalist movements that sprang up during the 1970s and 1980s all tried to change the world about them in less drastic but telling ways. After the humil¬iating defeat of the Arab armies in the Six-Day War against Israel in 1967, there was a swing towards religion through¬out the Middle East. The old secularist policies of such leaders as al-Nasser seemed discredited. People felt that the Muslims had failed because they had not been true to their religion. They could see that while secularism and democ¬racy worked very well in the West, they did not benefit or¬dinary Muslims but only an elite in the Islamic world. Fundamentalism can be seen as a post-modern movement, which rejects some of the tenets and enthusiasms of moder¬nity, such as colonialism. Throughout the Islamic world, students and factory workers started to change their imme¬diate environment. They created mosques in their universi¬ties and factories, where they could make salat, and set up Banna-style welfare societies with an Islamic orientation, demonstrating that Islam worked for the people better than the secularist governments did. When students declared a shady patch of lawn—or even a noticeboard—to be an Is¬lamic zone, they felt that they had made a small but signifi¬cant attempt to push Islam from the marginal realm to which it had been relegated in secularist society, and re¬claimed a part of the world—however tiny—for Islam. They were pushing forward the frontiers of the sacred, in rather the same way as the Jewish fundamentalists in Israel who made settlements in the occupied West Bank, reclaim-ing Arab land and bringing it under the aegis of Judaism.
The same principle underlines the return to Islamic dress. When this is forced upon people against their will (as by the Taliban) it is coercive and as likely to create a back¬lash as the aggressive techniques of Reza Shah Pahlavi. But many Muslim women feel that veiling is a symbolic return to the pre-colonial period, before their society was dis¬rupted and deflected from its true course. Yet they have not simply turned the clock back. Surveys show that a large pro¬portion of veiled women hold progressive views on such matters as gender. For some women, who have come from rural areas to the university and are the first members of their family to advance beyond basic literacy, the assump¬tion of Islamic dress provides continuity and makes their rite of passage to modernity less traumatic than it might otherwise have been. They are coming to join the modern world, but on their own terms and in an Islamic context that gives it sacred meaning. Veiling can also be seen as a tacit critique of some of the less positive aspects of modernity. It defies the strange Western compulsion to reveal all in sex¬ual matters. In the West, people often flaunt their tanned, well-honed bodies as a sign of privilege; they try to counter¬act the signs of ageing and hold on to this life. The shrouded Islamic body declares that it is oriented to transcendence, and the uniformity of dress abolishes class difference and stresses the importance of community over Western indi¬vidualism.
People have often used religion as a way of making mod¬ern ideas and enthusiasms comprehensible. Not all the Amer¬ican Calvinists at the time of the 1776 American Revolution shared or even understood the secularist ethos of the Found¬ing Fathers, for example. They gave the struggle a Christian colouration so that they were able to fight alongside the sec¬ularists in the creation of a new world. Some Sunni and Shii fundamentalists are also using religion to make the alien tenor of modern culture familiar, giving it a context of mean¬ing and spirituality that makes it more accessible. Again, they are tacitly asserting that it is possible to be modern on other cultural terms than those laid down by the West. The Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 can be seen in this light. During the 1960s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-89) brought the people of Iran out onto the streets to protest against the cruel and unconstitutional policies of Muhammad Reza Shah, whom he identified with Yazid, the Umayyad caliph who had been responsible for the death of Husain at Kerbala, the type of the unjust ruler in Shii Islam. Muslims had a duty to fight such tyranny, and the mass of the people, who would have been quite unmoved by a socialist call to revolution, could re¬spond to Khomeini’s summons, which resonated with their deepest traditions. Khomeini provided a Shii alternative to the secula ationalism of the shah. He came to seem more and more like one of the imams: like all the imams, he had been attacked, imprisoned and almost killed by an unjust ruler; like some of the imams, he was forced into exile and deprived of what was his own; like Ali and Husain, he had bravely op¬posed injustice and stood up for true Islamic values; like all the imams, he was known to be a practising mystic; like Hu¬sain, whose son was killed at Kerbala, Khomeini’s son Mustafa was killed by the shah’s agents.
When the revolution broke in 1978, after a slanderous at¬tack on Khomeini in the semi-official newspaper Ettelaat, and the shocking massacre of young madrasah students who came out onto the streets in protest, Khomeini seemed to be direct¬ing operations from afar (from Najaf, his place of exile), rather like the Hidden Imam. Secularists and intellectuals were willing to join forces with the ulama because they knew that only Khomeini could command the grass-roots support of the people. The Iranian Revolution was the only revolu¬tion inspired by a twentieth-century ideology (the Russian and Chinese revolutions both owed their inspiration to the nineteenth-century vision of Karl Marx). Khomeini had evolved a radically new interpretation of Shiism: in the ab¬sence of the Hidden Imam, only the mystically inspired ju¬rist, who knew the sacred law, could validly govern the nation. For centuries, Twelver Shiis had prohibited clerics from par¬ticipating in government, but the revolutionaries (if not many of the ulama) were willing to subscribe to this theory of Ve-layat-i Faqih (the Mandate of the Jurist).1 Throughout the revolution, the symbolism of Kerbala was predominant. Tra¬ditional religious ceremonies to mourn the dead and the Ashura celebrations in honour of Husain became demonstra¬tions against the regime. The Kerbala myth inspired ordinary Shiis to brave the shah’s guns and die in their thousands, some donning the white shroud of martyrdom. Religion was proved to be so powerful a force that it brought down the Pahlavi state, which had seemed the most stable and powerful in the Middle East.
But, like all fundamentalists, Khomeini’s vision was also distorting. The taking of the American hostages in Teheran (and, later, by Shii radicals in Lebanon, who were inspired by the Iranian example) violates clear Quranic commands about the treatment of prisoners, who must be handled with dignity and respect, and freed as soon as possible. The captor is even obliged to contribute to the ransom from his own resources. Indeed, the Quran expressly forbids the taking of prisoners except during a conventional war, which obviously rules out hostage-taking when hostilities are not in progress.2 After the revolution, Khomeini insisted on what he called unity of ex¬pression, suppressing any dissentient voice. Not only had the demand for free speech been one of the chief concerns of the revolution, but Islam had never insisted on ideological con¬formity, only upon a uniformity of practice. Coercion in reli¬gious matters is forbidden in the Quran, and was abhorred by Mulla Sadra, Khomeini’s spiritual mentor. When Khomeini issued his faPwah against novelist Salman Rushdie on Feb¬ruary 14, 1989, for his allegedly blasphemous portrait of Muhammad in The Satanic Verses, he also contravened Sadra’s impassioned defence of freedom of thought. The fatwah was declared un-Islamic by the ulama of al-Azhar and Saudi Ara¬bia, and was condemned by forty-eight out of the forty-nine member states of the Islamic Conference the following month. But it appears that the Islamic revolution may have helped the Iranian people to come to modernity on their own terms. Shortly before his death, Khomeini tried to pass more power to the parliament, and, with his apparent bless¬ing, Hashami Rafsanjani, the Speaker of the Majlis, gave a democratic interpretation of Velayat-i Faqih. The needs of the modern state had convinced Shiis of the necessity of democracy, but this time it came in an Islamic package that made it acceptable to the majority of the people. This seemed confirmed on May 23, 1997, when Hojjat ol-Islam Seyyid Khatami was elected to the presidency in a landslide victory. He immediately made it clear that he wanted to build a more positive relationship with the West, and in September 1998 he dissociated his government from the fat¬wah against Rushdie, a move which was later endorsed by Ay-atollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Faqih of Iran. Khatami’s election signalled the strong desire of a large segment of the population for greater pluralism, a gentler interpretation of Islamic law, more democracy and a more progressive policy for women. The battle is still not won. The conservative cler¬ics who opposed Khomeini and for whom he had little time are still able to block many of Khatami’s reforms, but the struggle to create a viable Islamic state, true to the spirit of the Quran and yet responsive to current conditions, is still a major preoccupation of the Iranian people.
The spectre of Islamic fundamentalism sends a shiver through Western society, which seems not nearly so threat¬ened by the equally prevalent and violent fundamentalism of other faiths. This has certainly affected the attitude of West¬ern people towards the Muslims living in their own countries. Five to six million Muslims reside in Europe, and seven to eight million in the United States. There are now about a thousand mosques each in Germany and France, and five hundred in the United Kingdom. About half the Muslims in the West today have been born there to parents who immi¬grated in the 1950s and 1960s. They rejected their parents’ meeker stance, are better educated and seek greater visibility and acceptance. Sometimes their efforts are ill-advised, as, for example, Dr. Kalim Siddiqui’s call for a Muslim parliament in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, a project which re¬ceived very little support from most British Muslims but which made people fear that Muslims were not willing to in¬tegrate into mainstream society. There was immense hostility towards the Muslim community during the crisis over The Sa¬tanic Verses, when Muslims in Bradford publicly burned the book. Most British Muslims may have disapproved of the novel, but had no desire to see Rushdie killed. Europeans seem to find it difficult to relate to their Muslim fellow countrymen in a natural, balanced manner. Turkish migrant workers have been murdered in race riots in Germany, and girls who choose to wear a hijab to school have received ex¬tremely hostile coverage in the French press. In Britain, there is often outrage when Muslims request separate schools for their children, even though people do not voice the same ob¬jections about special schools for Jews, Roman Catholics or Quakers. It is as though Muslims are viewed as a Fifth Col¬umn, plotting to undermine British society.
Muslims have fared better in the United States. The Mus¬lim immigrants there are better educated and middle class. They work as doctors, academics and engineers, whereas in Europe the Muslim community is still predominantly work¬ing class. American Muslims feel that they are in the United States by choice. They want to become Americans, and in the land of the melting pot integration is more of a possibility than in Europe. Some Muslims, such as Malcolm X (1925-65), the charismatic leader of the black separatist group called the Nation of Islam, gained widespread respect at the time of the Civil Rights movement, and became an emblem of Black and Muslim power. The Nation of Islam, however, was a hetero¬dox party. Founded in 1930 by Wallace Fard, a pedlar of De¬troit, and, after the mysterious disappearance of Fard in 1934, led by Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975), it claimed that God had been incarnated in Fard, that white people are inherently evil and that there was no life after death—all views that are heretical from an Islamic perspective. The Nation of Islam de¬manded a separate state for African Americans to compensate them for the years of slavery, and is adamantly hostile to the West. Malcolm X became disillusioned with the Nation of Islam, however, when he discovered the moral laxity of Elijah Muhammad, and took his followers into Sunni Islam: two years later, he was assassinated for this apostasy. But the Na¬tion of Islam still gains far more media coverage than the much larger American Muslim Mission, founded by Malcolm X, which is now wholly orthodox, sends its members to study at al-Azhar and explores the possibility of working alongside white Americans for a more just society. The bizarre and re-jectionist stance of the Nation may seem closer to the Western stereotype of Islam as an inherently intolerant and fanatical faith.
In India, those Muslims who did not emigrate to Pakistan in 1947 and their descendants now number 115 million. But despite their large numbers, many feel even more beleaguered and endangered than their brothers and sisters in the West. The Hindus and Muslims of India are all still haunted by the tragic violence of the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, and though many Hindus stand up for Muslim rights in India, Muslims tend to get a bad press. They are accused of a ghetto mentality, of being loyal at heart to Pakistan or Kash¬mir; they are blamed for having too many children, and for being backward. Indian Muslims are being squeezed out of the villages, cannot easily get good jobs and are often refused decent accommodation. The only signs of the glorious Moghul past are the great buildings: the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Juneh Mosque, which have also become a rallying point for the Hindu fundamentalist group, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims that they were really built by Hin¬dus, that the Muslims destroyed the temples of India and erected mosques in their place. The BJP’s chief target was the Mosque of Babur, the founder of the Moghul dynasty, at Ay-odhya, which the BJP dismantled in ten hours in December 1992, while the press and army stood by and watched. The impact on the Muslims of India has been devastating. They fear that this symbolic destruction was only the beginning of further troubles, and that soon they and their memory will be erased in India. This dread of annihilation lay behind their frantic opposition to The Satanic Verses, which seemed yet an¬other threat to the faith. Yet the communalism and intoler¬ance is against the most tolerant and civilized traditions of Indian Islam. Yet again, fear and oppression have distorted the faith.

On the eve of the second Christian millennium, the Cru¬saders massacred some thirty thousand Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem, turning the thriving Islamic holy city into a stinking charnel house. For at least five months the valleys and ditches around the city were filled with putrefying corpses, which were too numerous for the small number of Crusaders who remained behind after the expedition to clear away, and a stench hung over Jerusalem, where the three religions of Abraham had been able to coexist in relative harmony under Islamic rule fo early five hundred years. This was the Mus¬lims’ first experience of the Christian West, as it pulled itself out of the dark age that had descended after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, and fought its way back on to the international scene. The Muslims suffered from the Crusaders, but were not long incommoded by their presence. In 1187 Saladin was able to recapture Jerusalem for Islam and though the Crusaders hung on in the Near East for another century, they seemed an unimportant passing episode in the long Islamic history of the region. Most of the inhabi¬tants of Islamdon were entirely unaffected by the Crusades and remained uninterested in western Europe, which, despite its dramatic cultural advance during the crusading period, still lagged behind the Muslim world.
Europeans did not forget the Crusades, however, nor could they ignore the Dar al-Islam, which, as the years went by, seemed to rule the entire globe. Ever since the Crusades, the people of Western Christendom developed a stereotypical and distorted image of Islam, which they regarded as the enemy of decent civilization. The prejudice became en¬twined with European fantasies about Jews, the other victims of the Crusaders, and often reflected buried worry about the conduct of Christians. It was, for example, during the Cru¬sades, when it was Christians who had instigated a series of brutal holy wars against the Muslim world, that Islam was de¬scribed by the learned scholar-monks of Europe as an inher¬ently violent and intolerant faith, which had only been able to establish itself by the sword. The myth of the supposed fanatical intolerance of Islam has become one of the received ideas of the West.
As the millennium drew to a close, however, some Mus¬lims seemed to live up to this Western perception, and, for the first time, have made sacred violence a cardinal Islamic duty. These fundamentalists often call Western colonialism and post-colonial Western imperialism al-Salibiyyah: the Crusade. The colonial crusade has been less violent but its impact has been more devastating than the medieval holy wars. The powerful Muslim world has been reduced to a dependent bloc, and Muslim society has been gravely dislocated in the course of an accelerated modernization programme. All over the world, as we have seen, people in all the major faiths have reeled under the impact of Western modernity, and have pro¬duced the embattled and frequently intolerant religiosity that we call fundamentalism. As they struggle to rectify what they see as the damaging effects of modern secular culture, funda¬mentalists fight back and, in the process, they depart from the core values of compassion, justice and benevolence that char¬acterize all the world faiths, including Islam. Religion, like any other human activity, is often abused, but at its best it helps human beings to cultivate a sense of the sacred inviola¬bility of each individual, and thus to mitigate the murderous violence to which our species is tragically prone. Religion has committed atrocities in the past, but in its brief history secu¬larism has proved that it can be just as violent. As we have seen, secular aggression and persecution have often led to a heightening of religious intolerance and hatred.
This became tragically clear in Algeria in 1992. During the religious revival of the 1970s, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) challenged the hegemony of the secula ationalist party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), which had led the revolution against French colonial rule in 1954, and had established a socialist government in the country in 1962. The Algerian revolution against France had been an inspiration to Arabs and Muslims who were also struggling to gain inde¬pendence from Europe. The FLN was similar to the other secular and socialist governments in the Middle East at this time, which had relegated Islam to the private sphere, on the Western pattern. By the 1970s, however, people all over the Muslim world were becoming dissatisfied with these secular¬ist ideologies which had not delivered what they had promised. Abbas Madani, one of the founding members of FIS, wanted to create an Islamic political ideology for the modern world; Ali ibn Hajj, the imam of a mosque in a poo eighbourhood in Algiers, led a more radical wing of FIS. Slowly, FIS began to build its own mosques, without getting permission from the government; it took root in the Muslim community in France, where workers demanded places of prayer in the factories and offices, incurring the wrath of the right-wing party led by Jean-Marie Le Pen.
By the 1980s, Algeria was in the grip of an economic crisis. FLN had set the country on the path to democracy and state-hood, but over the years it had become corrupt. The old garde were reluctant to attempt more democratic reforms. There had been a population explosion in Algeria; most of its thirty million inhabitants were under thirty, many were unem¬ployed, and there was an acute housing shortage. There were riots. Frustrated with the stagnation and ineptitude of the FLN, the young wanted something new and turned to the Is¬lamic parties. In June 1990 the FIS scored major victories in the local elections, especially in the urban areas. FIS activists were mostly young, idealistic and well educated; they were known to be honest and efficient in government, though they were dogmatic and conservative in some areas, such as their insistence upon traditional Islamic dress for women. But the FIS was not anti-Western. Leaders spoke of encouraging links with the European Union and fresh Western investment. After the electoral victories at the local level, they seemed certain to succeed in the legislative elections that were sched-uled for 1992.
There was to be no Islamic government in Algeria, how¬ever. The military staged a coup, ousted the liberal FLN President Benjedid (who had promised democratic reforms), suppressed FIS, and threw its leaders into prison. Had elec¬tions been prevented in such a violent and unconstitutional manner in Iran and Pakistan, there would have been an out¬cry in the West. Such a coup would have been seen as an ex¬ample of Islam’s supposedly endemic aversion to democracy, and its basic incompatibility with the modern world. But be¬cause it was an Islamic government that had been thwarted by the coup, there was jubilation in the Western press. Algeria had been saved from the Islamic menace; the bars, casinos and discotheques of Algiers had been spared; and in some myste¬rious way, this undemocratic action had made Algeria safe for democracy. The French government threw its support behind the new hardline FLN of President Liamine Zeroual and strengthened his resolve to hold no further dialogue with FIS. Not surprisingly, the Muslim world was shocked by this fresh instance of Western double standards.
The result was tragically predictable. Pushed outside the due processes of law, outraged, and despairing of justice, the more radical members of FIS broke away to form a guerrilla organization, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and began a terror campaign in the mountainous regions south of Al¬giers. There were massacres, in which the population of en¬tire villages was killed. Journalists and intellectuals, secular and religious, were also targeted. It was generally assumed that the Islamists were wholly responsible for these atroci¬ties, but gradually questions were asked which pointed to the fact that some elements in the Algerian military forces not only acquiesced but also participated in the killing to dis credit the GIA. There was now a ghastly stalemate. Both FLN and FIS were torn apart by an internal feud between the pragmatists, who wanted a solution, and the hardliners, who refused to negotiate. The violence of the initial coup to stop the elections had led to an outright war between the re¬ligious and secularists. In January 1995 the Roman Catholic Church helped to organize a meeting in Rome to bring the two sides together, but Zeroual’s government refused to par¬ticipate. A golden opportunity had been lost. There was more Islamic terror, and a constitutional referendum banned all religious political parties.
The tragic case of Algeria must not become a paradigm for the future. Suppression and coercion had helped to push a disgruntled Muslim minority into a violence that offends every central tenet of Islam. An aggressive secularism had re¬sulted in a religiosity that was a travesty of true faith. The in¬cident further tarnished the notion of democracy, which the West is so anxious to promote, but which, it appeared, had limits, if the democratic process might lead to the establish¬ment of an elected Islamic government. The people of Eu¬rope and the United States were shown to be ignorant about the various parties and groups within the Islamic world. The moderate FIS was equated with the most violent fundamen¬talist groups and was associated in the Western mind with the violence, illegality and anti-democratic behaviour that had this time been displayed by the secularists in the FLN.
But whether the West likes it o ot, the initial success of the FIS in the local elections showed that the people wanted some form of Islamic government. It passed a clear message to Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, where secularist governments had long been aware of the growing religiosity of their coun¬tries. In the middle of the twentieth century, secularism had been dominant, and Islam was thought to be irredeemably passe. Now any secularist government in the Middle East was uncomfortably aware that if there were truly democratic elec¬tions, an Islamic government might well come to power. In Egypt, for example, Islam is as popular as Nasserism was in the 1950s. Islamic dress is ubiquitous and, since Mubarak’s gov¬ernment is secularist, is clearly voluntarily assumed. Even in secularist Turkey, recent polls showed that some 70 percent of the population claimed to be devout, and that 20 percent prayed five times a day. People are turning to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and Palestinians are looking to Mu-jamah, while the PLO, which in the 1960s carried all before it, is now looking cumbersome, corrupt and out of date. In the republics of Central Asia, Muslims are rediscovering their re¬ligion after decades of Soviet oppression. People have tried the secularist ideologies, which have worked so successfully in Western countries where they are on home ground. Increas¬ingly, Muslims want their governments to conform more closely to the Islamic norm.
The precise form that this will take is not yet clear. In Egypt it seems that a majority of Muslims would like to see the Shariah as the law of the land, whereas in Turkey only 3 percent want this. Even in Egypt, however, some of the ulama are aware that the problems of transforming the Shariah, an agrarian law code, to the very different conditions of moder¬nity will be extreme. Rashid Rida had been aware of this as early as the 1930s. But that is not to say that it cannot be done.
It is not true that Muslims are now uniformly filled with hatred of the West. In the early stages of modernization, many leading thinkers were infatuated with European cul¬ture, and by the end of the twentieth century some of the most eminent and influential Muslim thinkers were now reaching out to the West again. President Khatami of Iran is only one example of this trend. So is the Iranian intellectual Abdolkarim Sorush, who held important posts in Khomeini’s government, and though he is often harried by the more con¬servative mujtahids, he strongly influences those in power. Sorush admires Khomeini, but has moved beyond him. He maintains that Iranians now have three identities: pre-Islamic, Islamic and Western, which they must try to recon¬cile. Sorush rejects the secularism of the West and believes that human beings will always need spirituality, but advises Iranians to study the modern sciences, while holding on to Shii tradition. Islam must develop its fiqh, so as to accommo¬date the modern industrial world, and evolve a philosophy of civil rights and an economic theory capable of holding its own in the twenty-first century. Sunni thinkers have come to similar conclusions.
Western hostility towards Islam springs from ignorance, Rashid al-Ghannouchi, the leader of the exiled Renaissance Party in Tunisia, believes. It also springs from a bad experience of Christianity, which did stifle thought and creativity. He de-scribes himself as a democratic Islamist and sees no incom-patibility between Islam and democracy, but he rejects the secularism of the West, because the human being cannot be so divided and fragmented. The Muslim ideal of tawhid re¬jects the duality of body and spirit, intellect and spirituality, men and women, morality and the economy, East and West. Muslims want modernity, but not one that has been imposed upon them by America, Britain or France. Muslims admire the efficiency and beautiful technology of the West; they are fascinated by the way a regime can be changed in the West without bloodshed. But when Muslims look at Western soci¬ety, they see no light, no heart and no spirituality. They want to hold on to their own religious and moral traditions and, at the same time, to try to incorporate some of the best aspects of Western civilization. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi, a grad¬uate of al-Azhar, and a Muslim Brother, who is currently the director of the Centre for Sunnah and Sirah at the University of Qatar, takes a similar line. He believes in moderation, and is convinced that the bigotry that has recently appeared in the Muslim world will impoverish people by depriving them of the insights and visions of other human beings.

The Prophet Muhammad said that he had come to bring a Middle Way of religious life that shunned extremes, and Qaradawi thinks that the current extremism in some quarters of the Islamic world is alien to the Muslim spirit and will not last. Islam is a religion of peace, as the Prophet had shown when he made an unpopular treaty with the Quraysh at Hudaybiyyah, a feat which the Quran calls a great victory.3 The West, he insists, must learn to recognize the Muslims’ right to live their reli¬gion and, if they choose, to incorporate the Islamic ideal in their polity. They have to appreciate that there is more than one way of life. Variety benefits the whole world. God gave human beings the right and ability to choose, and some may opt for a religious way of life—including an Islamic state— while others prefer the secular ideal.
It is better for the West that Muslims should be reli¬gious, Qaradawi argues, hold to their religion, and try to be moral.4 He raises an important point. Many Western people are also becoming uncomfortable about the absence of spiri¬tuality in their lives. They do not necessarily want to return to pre-modern religious lifestyles or to conventionally insti¬tutional faith. But there is a growing appreciation that, at its best, religion has helped human beings to cultivate decent values. Islam kept the notions of social justice, equality, tol¬erance and practical compassion in the forefront of the Mus¬lim conscience for centuries. Muslims did not always live up to these ideals and frequently found difficulty in incarnating them in their social and political institutions. But the strug¬gle to achieve this was for centuries the mainspring of Is¬lamic spirituality. Western people must become aware that it is in their interests too that Islam remains healthy and strong.
The West has not been wholly responsible for the extreme forms of Islam, which have cultivated a violence that violates the most sacred canons of religion. But the West has cer¬tainly contributed to this development and, to assuage the fear and despair that lies at the root of all fundamentalist vi¬sion, should cultivate a more accurate appreciation of Islam in the third Christian millennium. EPILOGUE
On September 11, 2001, nineteen Muslim extremists hijacked four passenger jets, flying two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Wash-ington, D.C., killing more than three thousand people. The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The hijackers were dis-ciples of Osama bin Laden, whose militant brand of Islam was deeply influenced by Sayyid Qutb.
The ferocity of this attack against the United States took the fundamentalist war against modernity into a new phase. When this book was first published in 2000, I had predicted that if Muslims continued to feel that their religion was under attack, fundamentalist violence was likely to become more extreme and to take new forms. Some of the hijackers fre¬quented night clubs and drank alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, before boarding the doomed planes. They were quite unlike normal Muslim fundamentalists, who live strictly orthodox lives and regard night clubs as symbols of the jahiliyyah that is forever and for all time the enemy of true faith.
The vast majority of Muslims recoiled in horror from this September apocalypse and pointed out that such an atrocity contravened the most sacred tenets of Islam. The Quran con demns all aggressive warfare and teaches that the only just war is a war of self-defense. But Osama bin Laden and his dis¬ciples claimed that Muslims were under attack. He pointed to the presence of American troops on the sacred soil of Arabia; to the continued bombing of Iraq by American and British fighter planes; to the American-led sanctions against Iraq, as a result of which thousands of civilians and children had died; to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians at the hands of Is¬rael, America’s chief ally in the Middle East; and to the sup¬port that the United States gives to governments that bin Laden regards as corrupt and oppressive, such as the royal family of Saudi Arabia. However we view American foreign policy, none of this can justify such a murderous attack, which has no sanction in either the Quran or the Shariah. Islamic law forbids Muslims to declare war against a country in which Muslims are allowed to practice their religion freely, and it strongly prohibits the killing of innocent civilians. The fear and rage that lie at the heart of all fundamentalist vision nearly always tend to distort the tradition that fundamental¬ists are trying to defend, and this has never been more evident than on September 11. There has seldom been a more fla¬grant and wicked abuse of religion.
Immediately after the attack, there was a backlash against Muslims in Western countries. Muslims were attacked in the streets, and people of oriental appearance were forbidden to board aircraft; women felt afraid to leave their homes wearing the hijab, and graffiti appeared on public buildings urging sand niggers to go home. It was widely assumed that there was something in the religion of Islam that impelled Muslims to cruelty and violence, and the media all too frequently en-couraged this assumption. Recognizing the danger of such an approach, President George W. Bush quickly proclaimed that Islam was a great and peaceful religion, and that bin Laden and the hijackers should not be regarded as typical represen tatives of the faith. He was careful to have a Muslim stand¬ing beside him at the ceremony of mourning in Washington National Cathedral and visited mosques to show his support for American Muslims. This was a wholly new and extremely welcome development. Nothing similar had happened at the time of the Salman Rushdie crisis or during the Desert Storm campaign against Saddam Hussein. It was also heartening to see Americans descending upon the bookstores, reading every¬thing they could find about Islam, and struggling to under¬stand the Muslim faith, even though they were reeling in horror from this terrorist attack.
It has never been more important for Western people to acquire a just appreciation and understanding of Islam. The world changed on September 11. We now realize that we in the privileged Western countries can no longer assume that events in the rest of the world do not concern us. What hap¬pens in Gaza, Iraq, or Afghanistan today is likely to have repercussions in New York, Washington, or London tomor¬row, and small groups will soon have the capacity to commit acts of mass destruction that were previously only possible for powerful nation states. In the campaign against terror on which the United States has now embarked, accurate intelli¬gence and information are vital. To cultivate a distorted image of Islam, to view it as inherently the enemy of democ¬racy and decent values, and to revert to the bigoted views of the medieval Crusaders would be a catastrophe. Not only will such an approach antagonize the 1.2 billion Muslims with whom we share the world, but it will also violate the disinter¬ested love of truth and the respect for the sacred rights of others that characterize both Islam and Western society at their best.

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