Political Islam, World Politics and Europe: From Jihadist to Institutional Islamism

POLITICAL ISLAM WORLD POLITICS AND EUROPE
  • Book Title:
 Political Islam World Politics And Europe
  • Book Author:
Bassam Tibi
  • Total Pages
394
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POLITICAL ISLAM WORLD POLITICS AND EUROPE – Book Sample

Introduction – POLITICAL ISLAM WORLD POLITICS AND EUROPE

In a pre-modern sense, i.e. in an understanding of world politics prior to the creation of the Westphalian system1 of sovereign states, the Mediterranean2 was the center of world history. At present, the combination of an expanding European Union in the North and continuing surge of political Islam in the South has been contributing to making this region pivotal for contemporary international politics. Historians are familiar with the civilizational centrality of the Mediterranean that predates the rise of Islam in the past and of Islamism at present:

The Roman Empire viewed the Medi- terranean as mare nostrum/our sea. This understanding was challenged when the foundation of Islam took place not only as a religion, but also as a competing civilization. The new monotheist message of the Prophet Mohammed3 (610–32) changed the Mediterranean. The ensuing rise of an Islamic empire based on Islamic futuhat-expansion4 aimed at mapping the globe into dar al-Islam and transferred the Mediterranean into an Islamic sphere.

This Islamic model of globalization was the first of this kind in world history.5 Following the conquests in the Mediterranean, Arab- Muslims invaded Europe from the south-west (Spain) in a first wave and, centuries later, in a second wave from the south-east (the Balkans).

The Turk-Muslims were able to accomplish what Arabs failed to do: to conquer Constantinople in 1453 and to bring Byzantium to an end. Is this a model for the present? Some believe they see Islamic civilization threatening to engulf Europe by Islamizing it. The announced end of history has proven to be a fallacy, given the lie by a return of history.

This book asks whether massive Islamic migration to Europe is creating a third wave related to the history just outlined, or whether Europe will be able to absorb Muslim immigrants by integrating them as citizens. Could Islam become Eur- opean, as a Euro-Islam? In the spirit outlined in the preface to the first edition, I have been writing this book as a scholar who combines a Muslim background of immigration with the will to embrace the idea of Europe, and who thus rebukes the rhetoric of a clash of civilizations.

To be sure, European realities of othering Muslims and marginalizing them are not in line with the idea of Europe. Both Europeans and Muslims need to change, to avert an unfolding of the announced clash of civilizations in a self-fulfilled prophecy. The present book is a contribution to this needed change on both sides.

The issue: not the end, but the return of history

Despite all the romance of medieval Islamic Spain, the heritage of that histor- ical experience is not a model for European–Muslim relations, either in Europe itself or in the Mediterranean neighborhood of the European Union. The moderate Egyptian Islamist Hasan Hanafi – as quoted in the preface to the first edition – proposed, in all seriousness, in the Madrid meeting of March 2005 that Europeans consider the model of Andalusia, i.e. of an Islamized Iberia, as a solution for the whole of ‘‘crisis-ridden’’ Europe in the twenty-first century.6

Underlying this proposition is the coincidence of the end of bipolarity, with both an intensifying Islamic migration to Europe and a civili- zational identity crisis in Europe. Does the claim expressed by Hanafi hold? Does it reflect the return of history as a return of Islam to Europe?

Muslims – like myself – no longer come to Europe as part of a classical jihad, but instead peacefully, within the framework of hijra/migration. Stu- dents of Islam will know that the Islamic futuhat-wars of the classical jihad were traditionally accompanied by the hijra of entire tribes from Arabia to the conquered and Islamized areas.7

The history of combining jihad with hijra is related to a practice of the Islamic faith which urges Muslims to migrate in order to spread Islam (da’wa). This very history seems at present to return to Europe, putting the prediction of the end of history into question. As quoted in an editorial in the International Herald Tribune, Francis Fukuyama acknowledged in view of Islamic migration that Europe is under pressure to defend the validity of its values within Europe itself. According to this report, Fukuyama asked Europeans in Berlin not to let themselves be intimidated by Muslim migrants demanding the recognition of Islamic values as a space for Islam at the expense of European ideals. Is this ‘‘the end of history’’ that Fukuyama proclaimed after the end of the Cold War, or rather the return of it?

To reiterate, in Islam migration is a religious duty with much greater meaning than simply technical migration, i.e. moving from one geographical place to another; rather, it is linked to da’wa/proselytization and also to creating amsar as hijra settlements. In relation to this Islamic process, migrants are claiming Islamic values for Europe, and some of their leaders draw instrumentally on the ideology of multi-culturalism to put communitarian views at the service of creating a space for the Islamic da’wa.

The earlier failed Islamization of Europe by jihad from the south-west and from the south-east between the eighth and seventeenth centuries can therefore

now be seen as resurfacing peacefully in the twenty-first century. The con- text is the increasing Islamic migration to Europe and the related creation of Islamic parallel societies as ‘‘enclaves’’ (Kelsay) emerging throughout Europe.

In short, at issue is not ‘‘the end of history,’’8 but rather the return of the history of civilizations,9 both to Europe and to world politics. The core question once again is how Islam is challenging Europe. This is a major theme of the present book, alongside proposing an accommodation for averting any polarization on the grounds of maintaining the identity of Europe.

It is regrettable that this debate – as resumed in this book – is highly burdened by the work of Samuel P. Huntington, which is itself unfortunately biased and in many ways flawed through many misinterpretations of the history both of civilizations and of Islam.

The work of the founder of the science of civilization/ilm al-umram, namely Ibn Khaldun, is completely ignored in Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.10 In contrast, Arnold Toynbee’s inquiry about civilizations acknowledges the centrality of Ibn Khaldun.11

This distinguished Muslim philosopher of the fourteenth century was the first to conceptualize the history of humankind as ilm al-umran/science of civilization. The twentieth-century seminal historian Arnold Toynbee,12 who considered himself a disciple of Ibn Khaldun, perceived his own study of history as a study of civilizations in the path of this Muslim philosopher.

Two other major scholars pertinent to this inquiry are also missing in Huntington’s thinking. The first is the Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, who related the rise of Europe under Charlemagne to the challenge of Islam. The Islamic incursion into the Mediterranean contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire – which was basically Mediterranean rather than European.

In a sense, Western Christendom shaped Carolingian Europe in the process of this formation of Europe, which would have been inconceivable without the impact of Islam.

As Henri Pirenne put it forcefully: ‘‘Sans Mahomet, pas de Charlemagne.’’13 Nevertheless, at issue are not the rival religions of Christianity and Islam, as is often contended, but rather the civilizations related with each. The historical product has been their competition with one another.

The other scholar missing in Huntington’s work is Raymond Aron, who in his Paix et guerre entre les nations14 rightly notes that the real division of humanity lies not in the ‘‘blocs’’ of the Cold War but rather in the heterogeneity of civilizations. In that book, published in 1962 (i.e. at the height of the Cold War) Aron predicted that bipolarity – a veiling of the heterogeneity of civilizations – could not be a lasting divide, and that with its disappearance the true civilizational divide would emerge. This is, in fact, what is happening at present and is determining world politics in the twenty-first century, as described in this book in terms of the return of his- tory as a history of civilizations.

In my view, the surge of political Islam, viewed by its exponents as a civilizational sahwa/awakening,15 is ill perceived if it is viewed merely as, negatively, a case of religious extremism or fanaticism, or, positively, a religious renaissance. Both interpretations are flawed.

At issue is a revival of a civilizational worldview, based on the vision of a new idea of an Islamic world order16 in which a reinventing of the historical tradition of jihad takes place. In Chapter 1 this revival is addressed as a rise of ‘‘a deadly idea’’ that does harm equally to Muslims and to others.

The goal of the Islamists is to replace the existing order based on the secular foundations of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia with Hakimiyyat Allah/God’s rule. Thus the targets are the nation-state and subsequently the existing world order.

At present, world politics is being shaped by US-American hegemony. The concept of ‘‘the West’’ consists, however, of both Europe and North America, and therefore while Islamic anti-Western attitudes may reflect an anti-Americanism on the surface, Europe is much more affected by the civilizational claims of political Islam targeting the ‘‘crusaders,’’ who were in fact Europeans. In contrast to the propaganda of the new conservative right in the US, there is no trace of Islamization in North America.

 In Europe, on the other hand, this issue is a genuine concern, reviving collective memories – on both sides – be they of the efforts for an Islamic mapping of Europe, or the crusaders conquering the world of Islam. A ‘‘war of memories’’ is at issue. As quoted above, Hasan Hanafi’s words in Madrid voiced what many Muslim migrants in Europe have in their minds.

 In this book, however, I pointedly refuse to contribute to such divides and strive to study the conflict on its own terms, avoiding a mindset of conquest. Instead, when exploring the ‘‘Islamization of Europe,’’ I adopt a mindset of accommodation and consider the ‘‘Europeanization of Islam’’17 as the alternative.

In Islam, the mindset of conquest is that of jihad. In every case, jihad is an effort to spread Islam for mapping the world into dar al-Islam. This may be done peacefully through Islamic da’wa/proselytization, or – as at the present time – by resorting to ‘‘terror in the mind of God’’18 – a term coined by Mark Juergensmeyer. As will be shown in Chapter 1, according to the Qur’an jihad becomes an expression of violence when it is combined with qital/physical fighting, but it is definitely not ‘‘terror.’’

However, today’s jihad, called jihadiyya/jihadism or global jihad/al-jihad al-alami, is some- thing new based on a reinvention of tradition19 and it heralds the return of history in the addressed sense. The packaging and language are traditional but the substance is new, and this is precisely what makes this return of tradition not merely a revival, but a reinvention.

In this new language of global jihad is expressed the return of Islam – not as a religious faith – and of the historical claims of its civilization to world politics. The target of this jihadism is not only the US (9/11), but also, and most significantly, Europe (Madrid on 11 March 2004; Amsterdam on 2 November 2004 and London in July 2005). The Club de Madrid has responded to this challenge with a call for ‘‘safe democracy and security’’ (see note 6). Does democracy prevent jihadism?

In Chapter 2’s discussion of democracy and Islam, I ask how Muslims could embrace the idea of democracy and of democratic peace as the alternative to political Islam. Civil Islam is compatible with democracy, but Islamism is not.20 The message of political Islam to Europe is conveyed in an Islamist expression of the new ‘‘revolt against the West’’21 bringing history back to the fore!

The deadly idea of global jihad – used here interchangeably with jihad- ism – can be traced back to Hasan al-Banna;22 a new concept is at issue, no longer the same as classical jihad. The grandson of al-Banna, Tariq Rama- dan, presents his grandfather not only as an ‘‘anti-colonialist’’ but also as one of the major sources of Renouveaux musulman. This is utterly wrong. Sayyid Qutb23 is the other authority for jihadist political Islam. The major point is twofold: First, global jihad is not only and simply jihadist terror, but also implies a concept of new order; second, it is directed not only against Western hegemony, but also primarily against the idea of the West as perceived to be opposed to the idea of Islam.

This polarization is the content of the war of ideas at issue related to a process of remaking the world24 in the context of the return of history. In a nutshell, the contemporary post-bipolar ‘‘revolt against the West’’ supports the already stated assumption that it is directed not only against Western hegemony, but foremost against secular Western values and the rational worldview underlying them.

Conceptualized in traditional International Relations (IR) terms, the Islamist revolt is a global jihad against the present world order and the secular structure of authority on which it is based. It is true that non-Western civilizations were exposed to modernity within the framework of European expansion.

 In a colonial context they also encountered cultural modernity, but the difference was that decolonization movements actually embraced European ideas – such as the right to self-determination and to national sovereignty – to legitimize their fight against colonialism.

This is not the case with the new revolt of religious fundamentalisms, as it is directed against Western values altogether. In contrast to early decolonization, this revolt refuses to honor the distinction between Western hegemony and cultural modernity. One can reject Western rule and at the same time embrace cultural modernity. Religious fundamentalist movements are based on cultural purisms and reject any hybridity.

In bringing ‘‘culture’’ into the debate, I would argue that neither cultural relativism nor so-called post-colonial studies can help in understanding the conflict-triggering dichotomy between purist jihad in pursuit of ‘‘Islamic world peace’’ (Pax Islamica) and an Islamic embracing of the Kantian principle of democratic perpetual peace/ewiger Friede.

Global jihad reflects a variety of neo-absolutism, opposed to ‘‘democratic peace’’ underpinned by cultural pluralism. In addition, cultural modernity can neither be equated with ‘‘colonial Orientalism,’’ as some Westerners and Islamists jointly do, nor should it be undermined by the flawed concept of ‘‘multiple moder- nities.’

’ It is argued in this book that this conflict matters to Europe becoming the battlefield described. The project of integrating Muslim migrants as European citizens has not been successful, as the Muslim uprising in the banlieues de l’Islam of Paris, France (October/November 2005) demonstrates.

The outlined context makes clear that the call for a global jihad, viewed by Sayyid Qutb as an Islamic world revolution for the introduction of a new world order, is a concept that predates the end of the Cold War.

This jihadism is no longer classical jihad and it can be traced back to Hasan al- Banna and his Risalat al-jihad/essay on jihad. This neo-jihad is essential to the foundations of the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood25 as the very first movement of political Islam. This legacy, as well as the ideas of Sayyid Qutb, currently enjoys great appeal under conditions of post- bipolarity and this mobilizatory ideology brings back history. Though only

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