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Modern Khawarij


OurIndonesia – Terror begins in the head, and then through the hands befalls the earth. Some people imagine that the whole world is in opposition to them, and that therefore they must build a fortress to protect themselves against any attack. Theirs is a siege mentality. In such conditions, only the language of anger emerges. A friendly attitude towards ‘the other’ will be considered as weakness, and therefore must be avoided.

Sa’duddin Ibrahim, Director of Ibnu Khaldun Centre for Development Studies, Cairo, wrote an interesting column in an Arabic newspaper published in London, Al Hayat. Titled “Al Islamiyyun al-‘Arab Dhidd al-‘Alam” (the Arab Islamist versus the World), it describes the disturbing symptom in which Arab Islamists use violence and disseminate terror, everywhere, from Chechen, Kashmir, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, to Afghanistan.

For example, in less than a week (since 30/8 up to 5/9, 2004), the Arab Islamists claimed responsibility for a great deal of violence: slaughtering 12 Nepalese, exploding two commercial airplanes in Russia in which 100 people died, and recently taking hostage students in a school in Beslan-Russia during which over 200 people subsequently died in a rescue attempt by Russian forces. 10 of the hostage-takers were Saudies.

The organization exporting terror, Tandzim al-Qa’idah or al-Qaidah, was established and led by a Saudian millionaire, Osama ben laden. The question is this: why has this happened? Why do Arab countries breed radical-extremists? Is it related to Islam, a religion born in Arabia?

I think Muslim society must dare to make a radical critic, and admit there is an ‘ulcer’ in the social body. Anyone who studies the history of modern Islamic movements will know that the relation between Islam and the ideology of violence and terrorism is not so strange.

The most important turning point in the history of modern Islamic movement was the appearance of a figure named Sayyid Qutb, ideologist of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun of Egypt. He was the first Muslim ideologist to interpret jihad as an offensive teaching, not a defensive one (read: jihad difa’i), but something to be used to justify the use of violence against the enemies of Islam.

In the classical era, there was Khawarij which was radical and which considered their enemy as infidels. The modern Islamic group is the modern khawarij. Don’t be deceived by the people behind the Bali blast, and the Marriot and Australian Embassy bombings.

Though they may be pious people in terms of performing rituals, as has been said by Sa’aduddin Ibrahim, they are more dangerous to Islam than beneficial. They, with their interpretation, have changed the image of Islam from the religion of peace, to the religion of terror, exactly like the Khawarij people did in ancient times.


The Indonesian version of this article was published in IslamLib.