The war on terror will be won only when Islam’s Wahabi heresy is defeated — by orthodox Islam. Europe’s own religious history shows why. From the latest American Spectator.
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The pattern repeated itself on more sophisticated levels. The flagellant movement involved Propheta who led masses of people on processions in which they would purify themselves and the world by whipping their bodies. But of course, once pure, most of these flagellants would start purifying the world by murdering the usual suspects while themselves enjoying the spoils. Their leaders became the terrorist chieftains of their day. “Everything is pure to the pure,” became the motto.
At a higher level yet, the movement was characterized by the Free Spirits — educated people who believed that two principles vied for control of the world, that by their own efforts or intellectual insight, their oneness in substance with God, combined with the fact that most people did not understand that oneness, made them incapable of sin. To prove that they had really purified themselves, they must do what is forbidden to the run of mankind. Hence, for example, their promiscuity was grim business. Such thoughts filtered down to the masses through clergy and nobles who were willing to use them to cement a following in revolutionary situations. Typically the major slaughters associated with events such as the Parisian Jacquerie of 1358, the Flanders revolt of 1323, and the English Peasants’ revolt of 1381 involved one kind or another of Free Spirits. The 1208-1229 war between the southern French nobility and much of the rest of Christendom was about little else.
WHILE THE BLOODTHIRSTY preaching of Thomas Muntzer did not bring about the German Peasants’ war of 1525 all by itself, Muntzer was its only leader. The core of his “party” were intellectuals like himself. “Now at them, at them, and at them!” Muntzer urged the peasants as they happily ravaged the land. Muntzer’s heresy united orthodox Christians of all persuasions against him. He and his army of 3,000 were crushed. But Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Marxist textbooks around the world celebrated him.
The only book Benito Mussolini ever wrote praised the burnt heretic, Jan Hus, as a precursor of secular, nationalistic socialism. Hus was more than that, but Mussolini was only interested in his revolutionary element.
In 1533-35 the Anabaptist sect took over the German city of Munster. Its leaders, including a Dutchman, Jan Bockelson, proclaimed the usual message of purification — knowledge that this was the last of three ages that would end in the destruction of a sinful world, with the exception of the elect. They filled the city with people drawn by the twin promises of loot and salvation, cleansed the churches of books and ornaments, despoiled the rich, enforced polygamy on the women who could not flee, established a reign of terror, and made war on the outside — only to be crushed by it.
When the princes of the affected areas realized that they too would be involved in the heresy’s endless wars they decided to become defenders of orthodoxy and join to destroy the heresy’s host regime. That destruction, however, had to be accomplished in a manner that discredited both regime and ideas. This always involved humiliating as well as killing the leaders.
The princes who captured Munster’s Bockelson exhibited him as a dancing bear, tortured him, and hauled his body in a cage to the top of the cathedral. The cage remained there for centuries. Just as important, orthodox preachers explained the heretics’ errors far and wide. Thus the destruction of the Albigensians was due as much to St. Dominic’s preaching as to the armies of Christendom. Finally, for such preaching to be effective, it had to be accompanied by efforts on the part of church and nobility to address some of the legitimate accusations made against them. Hence the end of the age of religious heresies in Europe came when the Reformed churches — followed by the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent — emphasized austere living.
“THERE IS NO GOD but God.” This is the core of Islam, and its glory. Affirming the oneness of God has been Islam’s gift to regions of the world where it displaced polytheism, while raising its converts to a higher plane of life. The Koran is adamant about monotheism: “Kill those who ascribe partners to God, wheresoever you find them.” But affirming monotheism is also the core of the Wahabi heresy.
Ibn Abdul Wahab, born around 1700 in a remote village in a remote region of Arabia, was early impressed with the central tenet of Islam, as well as with the deviations from it both of the Ottoman Empire’s sophisticates, who, in Abdul Wahab’s view, had adopted Christian ways, and of village simpletons who idolized shrines and trees. He wrote that Islam is “…above all a rejection of all gods except God, a refusal to allow others to share in that worship that is due to God alone (Shirk). Shirk is evil, no matter what the object, whether it be king or prophet or saint or tree or tomb.”
Wahab destroyed the tombs of the Prophet’s earliest disciples because they had become objects of veneration. Wahab declared ancient Islamic scholars “unbelievers” and “polytheists,” those who held not only to Shi’a Islam, but also to the Sufi spiritual tradition and Islamic law, and burned their books. His quest for purity alienated his village’s authorities, including his father.
One of the region’s tribes, however, found him useful against the others, and gave him shelter. That was the house of Saud. Wahab’s version of Islam became the official creed wherever the Saudi family ruled. The bargain was sealed by Wahab’s marriage to Ibn Saud’s daughter.
Dore Gold in Hatred’s Kingdom explains that “[T]ribal raiding could now be carried on as a religious cause. What had once been taken as tribal booty was now demanded as Zakat (the charitable payments required as one of the five pillars of Islam). Significantly, Wahab legitimized Jihad against fellow Muslims for the first time.” Killing those who would not accept his version of the faith (and Saudi sovereignty), as well as taking their possessions, was good.
Wahab’s teaching about Jews and Christians was of the same sort. Rather than respecting them as “people of the book,” as misguided followers of the One God, Wahab called them polytheists, “devil worshipers,” and sorcerers, to whom the biblical punishment of death was applicable. Hence Wahabism assured its combatants of the manifold blessings of Muslim martyrdom and set them to war with the entire world.
By the time Wahab died in 1791, the Saudi/Wahabi influence had reached the Persian Gulf. Oman and Bahrain paid tribute. By 1803 Mecca itself fell to the Wahabis, and parts of present-day Iraq a few years later. The Wahabis’ warfare involved exterminating men, women, and children. The Wahabis inflicted a historic massacre on the Iraqi city of Kerbala.
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