Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why the Muwahiddun Sect of Islam is dangerous.

There is a real reformation going on in Islam- one that is only tangential to "post communist" global politics and we're not even the primary enemy by any stretch of the imagination.

Most of you have probably never heard of the Muwahiddun sub sect of Islam. Their enemies call them Wahhabis, after the primary preacher of their sect, but the name they prefer translates more as "Unitarian", after the primary theology they assert. Oddly enough, I consider them a dangerous sect for the same reason I consider Unitarian Christians a dangerous sect, because of their anarchy. In fact, the only real differences I can see is which books they consider scripture and of course the violence of the pillar of Jihad (Unitarian Christians, in the United States, have a tendency to be deistic agnostics in comparison, because they lack this tradition of jihad).

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was a contemporary of our own Thomas Jefferson, in theology as well as politics. He's the Islamic version of Thomas Jefferson as well. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist who considered the church to have corrupted the Bible (he even wrote The Jefferson Bible, a cut and paste job from several Bibles, that attempted to remove the religion from the philosophy of Christ) who considered God to be directly reachable- and within Islam, so did Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. The problem is, he took this to extremes- and what he did, started what I am calling the Islamic Reformation.

99% of the so-called terrorism, is Islamic-on-Islamic violence as they start (well, only about 200 years in now- but look how long the Reformation in Christianity took to stop being violent) to fight their reformation. It's only very recently that this violence has turned against invaders, only in the last century or so.

The cause of the violence is similar to the heresy of Fr. Feeney in the American Roman Catholic Church, that Outside the Church There Is No Salvation (Extra Ecclesiam, Nullas Salus)- but far narrower in it's fundamentalism. The central theological concept is Tawhid- the uniqueness of God as the ONLY Lord of man. Not even secular civil governments are allowed in between God and Man, not even scholars in the mosque are between Allah and the individual's interpretation of what Allah wants for his life. And of course, the standard Sunni theology of There is no God But Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet.

The result of this, when combined with the Five Pillars of Islam and certain verses of the Koran taken out of context, is an extreme form of anarchy where the duty of Jihad becomes supreme, violent, and individualistic. And the enemy is anybody who doesn't agree with that individual- including OTHER al Qaida members.

Looking back at what the Five Solas did to Christianity, it is easy to extrapolate what is happening today in the Muwahiddun community due to the removal of any sort of ecclesiastical authority.

And that, in short, is why I'm conflicted about the so-called War on Terror. It's clear that the Muwahiddun present a danger to themselves and others. It is equally clear that we can't fight them without losing our own soul. Their pure anarchy without a state and willingness to attack those we'd see as civilians puts them completely outside of both Augustinian and modern just war theory from a Christian standpoint, or even the historical state-based form of Jihad declared by a secular ruler from traditional Islam.

I just know that Afghanistan, as the place empires have gone to die since the Macedonians got really tired of war there, turned around, and went home, is probably the wrong place to do battle against them, if one can do battle against a loose group of people all believing different things at all.

And I wonder, 200 years into this Reformation, if some day al Qaida will be the name on every little house-mosque with less than 6 members worldwide.


Andrew said...

Not to nitpick about something that is only incidental to your post but the phrase, "Outside the Church There Is No Salvation" is actually original St. Cyprian of Carthage from the 3rd century. Unless I've missed something, I don't think anyone has accused St. Cyprian of heresy just yet.

Moreover, it could easily be argued that the earliest Christians held analogous beliefs to Tawhid in that they believed that Christ is the ONLY lord of man. This is the central tenet of Christian Anarchism. In this sense, I guess you'd probably say that many non-fundamentalist radical Christians (such as Catholic Workers, Anabaptists and the Amish) are also dangerous.

Ted Seeber said...

Andrew: EENS is St. Cyprian, true, but it was Fr. Leonard Feeney's interpretation of it that Vatican II found to be heretical (the visible church only).

Catholic Workers is very careful to stay Orthodox- I can't say the same for the Anabaptists and the Amish, I grew up in a (well, if you can call a rural region a neighborhood) a neighborhood full of a sect called the German Apostolic Christian Church which was a combination of the two.

Anarchy is always dangerous to the attempt to build civilization, which is the real role of the Church- bringing civilization and civility to barbaric peoples. Remove the controls, and you can make any scripture- Koran, the Bible, the Vedas, Moby Dick- say anything you want to.

Combine that with a central pillar to fight for justice whenever you see injustice (the real meaning of Jihad)- and injustice can become anything. And that's why the Muwahiddun are so scary to me, at least- because they're willing to kill for what comes down to truly chaotic religious beliefs.

Andrew said...

Both mainstream Anabaptists (Mennonites, Brethren) and the Amish would say that the German Apostolic Christian Church is far outside of orthodoxy.

Moreover, your assessment that the role of the church is to build civilization is (ironically) not that far from what is claimed by many Christian Anarchists. This is, of course, what distinguishes them from classical anarchists. The Christian anarchist argues that Christ is the only Lord of all life and that governments and powers outside the church are not the final authority for the Christian. Thus the church becomes the only place of true "civilization" (not an apt phrase but it conveys what I mean sufficiently). That being said, most Christian anarchists are also pacifists which, at least from my perspective, makes them far less dangerous than the logic of your post would make them out to be.

Ted Seeber said...

"Both mainstream Anabaptists (Mennonites, Brethren) and the Amish would say that the German Apostolic Christian Church is far outside of orthodoxy. "

Yeah, but only because they have tractors.

In the old order, the King was always subject to the King of Kings- up until Henry VIII decided he wanted a divorce anyway.

The French King found the original anabaptists with their gnostic teaching of suicide-by-starvation to be extremely dangerous, even if it was relatively pacifistic. That's why the French Inquisition wiped them out.

The problem with the Christian Anarchists isn't that they claim that human governments are not the final authority. It's that they claim there is NO human final authority at all- not even the government Christ left behind in the Holy See of Peter. Which effectively means that scripture means whatever you want it to mean.

The only reason they're pacificists and the Muwahiddun aren't is because Christianity has no equivalent to the Sola Jihad. It takes a legitimate authority to declare just war- and if you refuse all human authority, then there's nobody to declare an injustice has occurred worthy of war.

Where with the Muwahiddun, just war theory is in their scripture- and absent of just authority, that means attack human authority directly- in whatever way possible.

It will be interesting to see who wins the Islamic Reformation however. The big organized institutions are beginning to fight back against the Muwahiddun.

Andrew said...

Regarding the "original" anabaptists you mention, I think you've got them mixed up with the Huguenots which are more connected to Calvin than to the earliest anabaptist leaders.

As someone whose faith roots are in the Anabaptist / Baptist traditions, I can say that your idea that Anabaptists / Christian anarchists believe in no human final authority is correct. Which means simply means that, in matters of faith and practice, there should be no coercion. If we're talking civilization, I can think of no better tenet than that people of all faiths are in fact free to practice their religion in a reasonable fashion.

The Islamic sect you have written about here by no means reflects the beliefs and practices of mainstream Muslims throughout the world who are, believe it or not, more concerned with living their faith in peace and for the purposes of doing good in the world than with jihad.

Moreover, your instincts regarding Anabaptism (its beliefs and history) are simply false. Anabaptists - from their beginning to the present time - have a far more nuanced view of authority, scripture, society and ecclesiology than you give them credit for.

Ted Seeber said...

I thank you for challenging me to look into this- and you are quite correct.

I was following a false history, written by Leonard Verduin, which labeled the Donatists and Cathari as the forerunners to the anabaptists.

In fact, as this page points out- Anabaptism isn't even really connected to the Reformers and the five solas, but rather to the Gnostic heresies, MUCH earlier.

In this, they're completely different from the Muwahiddun; who are closer to Christian Unitarians and other fundamentalists. And like all fundamentalists, you are also right that the Muwahiddun are a small percentage of all muslims- the highest I've heard hits 10%, but that was only AFTER 9-11 when they gained many converts.

I'd also point out that we Christians in the west are NOT the primary target of the Muwahiddun- the Saudi Royal family, for their collusion with the west, control of Arabia, and most of all control of Mecca and Medina, are their primary target. One might even say that most of the victims of 9-11 were collateral damage in that war- the real target was the investment companies that do business with Saudi Arabia, and our military who protected the Saudi Royal Family from internal attack and the external threat from Iraq for the past 20 years.

But their small size does not lesson the danger. 10% of all Islams is 100 million people. If only 1% of those goes against targets in the west as suicide bomers, that's 1 million attacks. That's a huge danger, which should not be dismissed lightly.

To put it in science fiction terms- we've got a great defense against large armies, just like the Empire did with the Death Star in Star Wars. But small agents acting alone- our own freedom becomes the tool of our enemy. And that is what scares me the most.

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