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Ed HusainAs I’ve listened to all the noise around intelligence- gathering and airport security in response to the attempted Christmas Day terrorist act, Ed Husain’s voice has been ringing in my ears. Not that we don’t need to think about intelligence and security — we do — but do we spend a corresponding amount of energy and planning on how to prevent a viral terrorist mindset that is a feature of our time?

That’s the world Ed Husain knows, and narrowly escaped from. Al Qaeda, he says, is not the real enemy the West and most Muslims in the world have in common. Here’s what he means by that:

“… It must be said that al-Qaeda is just a name. It’s really a mindset that we must be tackling — a literalist, rejectionist, Islamist worldview. And not necessarily al-Qaeda as an organization because that can become defunct, but those ideas still remain. So it’s not a war on terror as the American government has gone out of its way to suggest, but it’s actually a battle of ideas.”

We’re putting Ed Husain’s introduction to that battle of ideas on the air again this week. His insights have never felt more relevant, illuminating, and prescient.


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4 Comments

The Quran is the infallible absolute word of god. The good i.e. real Muslim is to understand and act on it as such. Hence, al qaida, taliban etc. are true Muslims.
Mr. Husain's "normal", "common", "moderate" Muslims are Muslims in name only since they cherry pick only what they find palatable. Good for them.

The words of the Quran clearly inspire terrorism directly:

Quran 8:12: Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads and cut off fingers and toes.
Q 4:89: Take not infidels as friends until they fly in Allah's way; but if they turn back, seize them, kill them wherever you find them
Q 9:5: Fight and kill the disbelievers.

From all the research I've recently done it seems that Bah Humbug's Quran references are examples of mis-quotes, or quotes taken out of context. While I certainly don't claim to be a subject matter expert on Islam or the Quran, Bah Humbug's text book examples of mis-quotes/out of context references lead me to believe that he/she is not a credible source of information on this topic and/or has an ax to grind. 2 things I'd love to see comments back on especially from Muslims following this thread: a). How would a jihadist vs. a reform/middle-of-the -road Muslim interpret the verbatim Quran passages, cited above by Bah Humbug? b). What would a reform Muslim's position be towards turning a fundamentalist/jihadist Muslim over to the authorities, if he/she had prior knowledge of the jihadist's plans to commit an act of terror? I ask this as my perception is that although the reform Muslim may not condone the future act of terror, they are much more willing to remain silent - more so than any other faith. Am I right or wrong?

Toward the end of the program was a discussion of acknowledgment of faith within the political discourse: "God BLESS America" as a refrain in the US v UK.
1. Instead, the refrain is "God Save the Queen." I suspect this stems from the age old imprimatur of the "anointment by God" as a right to rule/govern. This is further emphasized with the UK's split from the Catholic Church with the monarch as the "pope" or head of the Anglican Church. The Magna Carta accomplished the separation of Church and State. Remember that most colonists fled the religious oppression of the Anglican Church - the all encompassing of a single religion. The First Amendment codifying the Church/State separation resulted from the de facto status of each colony as a haven for a single religion (Massachusetts for the Puritans, William Penn had to set up his own colony due to the discrimination of Quakers, Virginia for the Anglicans, Utah for Joseph Smith's new religion... recall some cry about anything but "papists"...) In a similar vein - recall that the Roman Catholic Emperor (and Pope) at one time resided in France, and Madrid... and well Rome happens to be in Italy. It is that role of religion in the founding of the US that remains... sometimes to excess.

On the hand, I do not know if the royal families of Saud and the emirates, or even Persia's Shah use "God" (aka "Allah") as the foundation of their power and mandate, or if it stems from the age-old tribal hierarchy.

2. The assumption of that all Muslims are Arabs. (Or that all Jews are of ...ethnic extraction.) I've noted a certain number in the US that arrive at Islam after self-examination of the faith of their upbringing - usual a christian one, often Catholicism. Just as the Protestant Reformation worked to remove a layer of hierarchy imposed by this religion between God and the person, many seem to end up with Islam as it encourages direct examination of ... spirituality?.. by the supplicant/worshiper. (Or at least that is my naive understanding. Which is why I do not understand this system of Caliphates, Imans, Ayatollahs.) I've noted some who skip this or go past to Baha'i (I term this "reformed Islam") or Buddhism.

3. Response to self-reflection or isolation. Is this related to one's personality structure as well? Why is it that isolation (or solitary confinement) may result in the likes of Bah'a'ullah, Gautama, even Nelson Mandela on the one hand, and the extremist on the other (non-violence v violence)? [Recall that the penitentiary or correctional system was promulgated by the Quakers that reflection and repentance would result in renunciation of anti-social ways.]

I very much agree with the need to encourage interaction between Muslims and other faiths.

However, I respectfully suggest that, if efforts to diminish violence are to be successful, those efforts must focus on the cause(s) of violent behavior itself and not on the specific justification (e.g., religious extremism) expressed by those who behave violently.

I respectfully suggest that the stimuli, which incline or compel some to violence, are to be found in the childhood experiences of the violent. Until we address and diminish violence towards children, including sexual and physical abuse, there will always be violent adults. Those violent adults may turn to simple but vicious crime, or they may cloak their violent conduct in extremist views of whatever stripe, be it religious, political, ethnic, etc.

Stated slightly differently, the problem isn’t the existence of extremist views, but the use of such views as the justification for violent conduct.