The Spectacle Blog

Islamic Nationalism

By on 8.31.06 | 4:07PM

Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, David Weigel pokes fun at Kathryn Jean Lopez for poking fun at Jack Reed. Reed, in a conference call with Chuck Schumer, had this to say about the term "Islamofascism":

This is not a nationalistic organization that is trying to seize control of a particular government. It is a religious movement. It is motivated by apocalyptic visions. It is something that is distributed. Most of these terrorist cells seem to be evolving through imitation, rather than being organized. And again, I think it goes to the point of that their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face.

I tend to use terms such as "Islamism" "radical Islam" and "Islamic fundamentalism" myself, but Reed is dead wrong to claim that Islamists are not "nationalistic" and are not "trying to seize control of a particular government." Weigel, by claiming that "this is the most perceptive thing I've ever heard Jack Reed say," is dead wrong by association.

Modern Islamic fundamentalism, from its very start in Egypt/>/> in the 1920s, has always had the aim of creating governments based on what its adherents believed to be the pure form of Islam as advocated by Mohammed. Hasan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in

Egypt/>/> in 1928, said the movement's goal was “reclaiming Islam’s manifest destiny; an empire, founded in the seventh century, that stretched from Spain/>/> to Indonesia/>/>.”

This is a tradition that was inherited by bin Laden and Zawahiri, a tradition that led to the Taliban in Afghanistan/>/> and to the creation of an Islamist state in Iran/>/>, which has threatened to destroy one of its neighbors within the context of seeking nuclear weapons, and has asserted itself by proxy in Lebanon/>/> and Iraq/>/>.

Yes, Islamic fundamentalists may have "apocalyptic visions," but apocalypse is only seen as a fallback should the conquest of Islam not prevail. In a recent article, Bernard Lewis cited a very telling quote on this precise subject from the Ayatollah Khomeini that appears in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook. It read:

"I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

Sounds pretty nationalistic and expansionistic to me.

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