The author believes that poverty, ignorance and political oppression are not the real reasons behind terrorism. Terrorism grows up in societies where a dogmatic culture prevails. There are satellite channels that promote terrorist ideas and host religious analysts to justify what they preach. There are also men of religion who volunteer and issue fatwas that consider not backing them a sin.
The political, religious and intellectual theses raised because of what is going on the political stage remind us of a crucial event in the history of Islam. It reminds us of the formation of the first terrorist group at the hands of the Khawarij who rebelled against Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib and labeled whoever opposed them and betrayed their cause as kufar [unbelievers]. However, the Imam and the Companions of the Prophet opposed them. They refuted their cause and fought them until at the end they were able to defeat them.
It seems that the Khawarij of our age have more luck. There are satellite channels promoting their ideas and hosting religious analysts to give justifications to what they preach. There are also men of religion who volunteer and issue fatwas that make it necessary to support them and consider not backing them a sin. The fatwas issued by those volunteers call for fighting the crusaders who are against Islam and incite Arab peoples to rebel against their regimes, which support America, the enemy of Islam.
The question now is: Against whom and for what jihad should be? Who is the one having the right to declare jihad? Shall we leave this matter to political preachers who want to declare it and wreak havoc by war? Do these preachers have the right to incite and mobilize people to be involved in destructive actions that would harm innocent people and harm public interest? Does Talibanism represent the true image of Islam that people should be urged to defend? Was not Talibanism the same regime that criticized many Islamic scholars before September 11? Do satellite channels have the right to propagate terrorists’ ideas in the name of freedom for all?
There is a vast difference between giving chance to people with different opinions to express their points of view and leaving the microphone to groups carrying weapons and practicing violence to enforce their ideas. The result of having satellite channels propagating the ideas of the Khawarij of our age was that 83% of the people participated in the referendum of the Jezeera network considered Usama Bin Laden a mujahid and not a terrorist. It is in this way that we misrepresent the concept of jihad.
Why all this sympathy with the Khawarij of our age? Are the feelings of hatred towards America enough to turn terrorists into champions? The old Khawarij were unlucky because there were no satellite channels at their time. Still, they were less dangerous. They only allowed the killing of the Muslims who opposed them but not the people of the Book, as they had a covenant with them. However, the Khawarij of our age allow the killing of all.
Most of the Arab analysts committed a double mistake when they associated the attacks of September 11 to the policy of the USA in the Middle East. First, they gave an implied confession that Middle Eastern persons were really responsible for the attacks. Second, when they associated the attacks with Palestine, they gave the impression that that attacks were a kind of revenge. Associating the attacks with Palestine was a present for Usama Bin Laden. He very quickly exploited the idea to justify his crimes.
Palestine was never on the agenda of Al-Qa’eda organization or any other terrorist organization. There is one main target all terrorist groups are working towards, that is, taking over authority by accusing all of society and the established authorities with kufr [the charge of unbelief in Islam].
What are the reasons behind terrorism? Is it poverty or ignorance or political oppression? In his article published in Al-Hayat of October 7, 2001, Dr. Al-Romahi wrote that most of the terrorists belong to rich countries and are highly educated. In addition, there are countries where people enjoy no political freedom, yet they have not resorted to violence. If poverty, ignorance and political oppression are not the real reasons behind terrorism, what then are the reasons? I think that human nature does not have tendency towards terrorism. However, terrorist ideas grow up in societies where a dogmatic culture prevails.