Islam: Subverted and Hijacked 2

I found this article today that suggest this is not the first time that Islam has been appropriated for a political agenda.
USING Islam as a vehicle for political ambitions is not new. The Umayyads used it after the Prophet's death to set up a dynastic rule. Three of the four caliphs who succeeded Muhammad were assassinated in the context of political power games presented as religious disputes.

Fast forward to the 19th century, and the Persian adventurer Jamaleddin Assadabadi, who disguised himself as an Afghan to hide his Shiite origin and set out to build a career in the mostly Sunni land of Egypt. Although a Freemason, Jamal (who dubbed himself Sayyed Gamal) concluded that the only way to win power among Muslims was by appealing to their religious sentiments. So he transformed himself into an Islamic scholar, grew an impressive beard and donned a huge black turban to underline his claim of being a descendant of the Prophet.

His partner was Mirza Malkam Khan, an Armenian who claimed to have converted to Islam. Together, they launched the idea of an "Islamic Renaissance" (An-Nahda) and promoted the concept of a "perfect Islamic government" under an "enlightened despot."

Malkam had a slogan of unrivaled cynicism: "Tell the Muslims something is in the Koran, and they will die for you."

It does not matter whether the West view this as a clash of civilization. All it takes is one side to make it a clash. In someways I am reminded of the boxer rebellion (faith is not enough) as the Muslim world is in no position to war against the West, not since 1529 (the Battle of Vienna in 1683 only confirmed the peak of Ottoman power was 150 years before) and is unlikely to challenge the West in the forseable future militarily or economically. Sure they have oil but the world knows that it is only a matter of time before an alternative energy source is found.


Bubbalo said...

Do you really think they have to be stronger than the US to win a war (look at Vietnam)? Or that Christianity has never been (and is not now being) used for political purposes? Honestly?

Huan said...

Thank you for commenting.

Firstly, I am Vietnamese, so I am familiar with that war. The US lost the political battle at home, not on the fields of battle. The South Vietnamese too were winning on their own until resources ran dry. The lesson of the Vietnam War is that a third world country backed by superpowers (China and the Soviets) can take on and win against the US and her allies once abandoned. And the reverse held true for the Mujahardeen against the soviets.

Secondly, except for the fringes, I seriously doubt America will allow herself in the similar situation again. This is not the hippie sixties anymore. If anything, it was the lost of the war that can be traced as a key cause all the way to 911. Every two-bit dictator thinks they can repeat Vietnam. That lesson has already been learned.

Thirdly it doesn't matter whether religion is being used for political ends. This is as old as humanity and is not unique to Islam or Christianity. However, it remains the responsibility of the adherent of any religion to safeguard their religion against those who seek to pervert and hijack it.

Finally, I am not Christian. I am neither pro nor anti Christian. Same with Islam. Or Judaism. But I am also not a rabid secular humanist worshiping a religion with Man as the center instead of God. I am supportive of any Religion that seeks to liberate the human spirit through morality rather than subjugate the human head under a sword.

Bubbalo said...

We must be talking about seperate Vietnam wars, because the one I spent 6 months studying was being lost until America stepped in. Secondly, China wasn't a superpower, and never sent aid to Vietnam: they didn't trust each other to start with, and once the North Vietnamese dealt with the Russians, China wouldn't even consider it. As for America not putting itself in a similar position again, it already is: look at Afghanistan. The lesson of Vietnam was not that a third world country backed by another superpower can beat America, but that for all it's technological capability, America can still lose a war to simple attrition. The Vietnamese were more determined, and stuck in for the long haul. America wasn't (and still isn't) willing to accept large numbers of American casualties, least of all in a war of attrition.

As for the religious points: Christianity has been beating up on Islam since the middle ages. This is not a war started by muslims, but rather one started by Christians long ago, brought into the modern age. And they have a lot to be angry about.

Huan said...

Firstly, read the military history of the Vietnam war separate from the political history of the Vietnam war before concluding who won. They didn't refer to "Grabbing defeat from the jaw of victory" for no reason.

Secondly, Vietnam and China did not fall apart until after the Vietnam war was over. The ability to supply the North Vietnamese with military resources, arms and intelligence, as well as being armed with nukes place them as a superpower, 3rd behind the US and USSR. You should review your brief history lesson in Vietnam and do some independent reading beyond required course works.

Thirdly, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is anything like Vietnam in large part due to the absence of military-economic backers for the war. In fact, the US presence in both countries are getting smaller from redeployments.

Finally, it seems childish to play to "who started it first" game regarding the conflict between Christians and Muslims. I care more about who is doing what now. And currently it is the Muslims acting up.

Bubbalo said...

Okay fine:

The Americans failed to hunt down and kill anti-governmental forces *independent* of their political inability to admit it was a war

Vietnam *did* refuse aid from China *independent* of the military use to which it could have been put

China did not have nukes at the time, nor were they a superpower. Economically, they were weak. Militarily they were only strong on home ground. That knocks out 2 of the requirements for super-power status: 1) Economic dominance 2) Global military dominance

As to comparisons to Afghanistan/Iraq: where the money comes from is not an issue. What is, is the fact that in both wars the U.S. is attempt to fight a guerilla war just like any other, and it isn't working. It's like trying to open a door with a sledgehammer instead of a key: eventually it will work, if you don't die of exhaustion first.

As to who started: this is very much important. If we were, initially, the aggressor, and this has created an unstable, violent situation, and we are abusing their resources (we were, and are) and this creates poverty, they have every right to strike back.

Huan said...

China tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964. China was a major supplier of arms and resources for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Vietnam did not have a falling out with China until after 1975, when it no longer needed their support. As to whether China was a superpower or not is semantics. The Chinese military was able to save North Korea from the US. The Chinese military had nukes. China is considered a founding member of the UN and has one of only five permanent seats on the Security Council. China’s economy was nearly on par with that of the Soviet Union at the time. Being a superpower is not about dominance, it has more to do with the willingness to use force and resources to achieve an expansionistic agenda. If you interpret history of the era only through that of the Cold War, and defining the war as between the US and the USSR, then you have both biased and limited yourself from the actual history of the world.

Similarly, taking history of the Vietnam War only through the American perspective would be equally one sided. The North Vietnamese admitted they were losing the war militarily on the ground. Their only hope was to win it politically in the US. This was admitted by their leading war general.

Thus without appreciating the actual history, your perspective of both Afghanistan and Iraq are biased. Both wars are winnable, Afghanistan largely won, Iraq nearly so. Both wars are being won because the military forces are buying sufficient time for a political process to come to fruition.

Your assertion that we are exploiting the Arabs is laughable. Without us buying their oil, they would remain dirt poor. The social services available to citizens of oil nations of the Gulf States far exceed what we offer our own. And the hypothesis that poverty leads to terrorism flies in the face of millions of poor Indians and Chinese who have not resorted to suicide bombing.

Bubbalo said...

I feel that this discussion could be much better continued through email, allowing as to respond directly to sections of each others argument. Please contact me at ankellagung@gmail.com