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The only way to take on ISIS is to take on Wahhabi doctrine

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In the last month, ISIS has been responsible for bombings in Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris, taking the lives of hundreds of innocent people while expanding the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts well beyond their borders. For better or worse, the bombings in Paris set off a wave of social media debates about ISIS that became wrapped up in larger conversations about hierarchy, hegemony, and the politics of global grief. Why, for example, did Facebook offer a safety check-in for Parisians and not Lebanese? Why did the Western media only notice ISIS’ expansion when Europeans, and not Lebanese, Turks, or Iraqis, were killed by ISIS suicide bombers? These debates are important and valuable to have in the aftermath of such tragedies because they de-normalize narratives of exceptionalism that permeate global discussions when terrorism strikes in the West. In Europe, Canada, and the United States, we immediately witnessed differing responses from political leaders to the tragedy, from US presidential candidates such as Donald Trump declaring that he would “bomb the shit out of them [ISIS]” and governors “banning” Syrian refugees from entering their states, to European countries closing their borders to refugees. Such calls for more violence or for restrictions on refugees – who are themselves fleeing the kind of terror we saw in Baghdad, Ankara, Beirut, and Paris – are not only misguided, but they reinforce ISIS’ eschatological worldview. They are also unhelpful in answering the question that everyone has on their minds right now – What is to be done about ISIS?

Serious, sober responses to this question first require parsing through the web of anger, xenophobia, and prejudice that the bombings of the last month have engendered. France’s initial response – the bombing of more than 20 targets in Syria that included a medical clinic – may have satisfied the immediate need for retribution but this came at the expense of innocent Syrian lives. Similarly, the moves within Europe and the United States to restrict refugee flows will only hurt those already suffering from violence and repression in places like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Surely, there are better options and pathways moving forward.

Cover of 'Syria' by Samer N. Abboud

Cover of ‘Syria’ by Samer Abboud

Such directions must be informed by a fundamentally different framing of the conflict that does not see ISIS simply as a problem simply to be erased or bombed out of existence. The attacks of the last month demonstrate the failure and vacuity of the American-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria begun in August 2014. Since the air campaign began, the group has not suffered significant contraction of territory under its control and, as the bombings of the last month have demonstrated, has actually increased their capacity to commit mass violence beyond Syria and Iraq. The group’s expansion in a context of sustained aerial attacks highlights one of the main criticisms of the American-led campaign from the beginning, mainly, that it was treating symptoms and not the problem. By concentrating attacks against ISIS targets while refusing to implement a no-fly zone or provide heavy weaponry to rebel groups fighting the Syrian regime, the American strategy was doomed to failure from the very beginning because it never involved serious efforts to bring about a political transition in Syria that could end the conflict. In large part, this stemmed from a false dichotomy adopted in the West, that the ‘choice’ in the conflict was either between ISIS or the Syrian regime. The revival of the Hitler or Stalin dilemma the West faced in the 20th century is highly problematic because it assumes that these are the only choices for Syrians moving forward. This is simply not the case. As such, these realities should force a rethinking of the strategy of confronting ISIS solely through bombing campaigns.

The expansion of ISIS violence beyond Syria and Iraq is shifting the international dimensions of these conflicts in disturbing ways. The increased transnational capacities of ISIS portend unknowable shifts in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts and the potential for continued and sustained spillover into neighboring countries and into Europe. The expansion of the geographic battlefield of these conflicts thus necessitates a comprehensive, generational response to the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, one which eschews simplistic and temporary solutions involving bombing campaigns that simply do not work and hurt civilians, for ones that address the root structural causes of ISIS’ rise and its expansion beyond Syria and Iraq.

Thus, beyond merely rethinking the efficacy and utility of sustained aerial bombardment as the response to ISIS in Syria and Iraq, there needs to be a long-term commitment to unraveling the material and ideological structures that sustain ISIS. In a region where the conflicts are multilayered and complicated, the waters in this regard are much less murky. Wahhabi doctrine, which lies at the core of ISIS’ worldview, is one that fosters sectarian hatred, violence, and extreme social conservatism, and emanates from the West’s second-most strategic ally in the region, Saudi Arabia. This doctrine has provided the ideological background for ISIS’ leadership, its core fighters, and adherents and provides the ideational structure for the new Islamic society ISIS purports to want to create. It is precisely this doctrine that has given rise to the kind of iniquitous practices of ISIS and which has fostered such extreme violence against civilians in Syria, Iraq, and beyond.

Doctrine cannot simply be blown up or willed away. Delegitimizing the ideology that sustains ISIS involves direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia and engagement with its network of clerics that propagate and disseminate Wahhabi doctrine throughout the world. The conditions that permit such doctrines to gain traction must thus be at the core of any framing of the problem. This is an extremely sensitive issue, both in the West and in Saudi Arabia. It is especially sensitive in a context where military contracts – including a 10 billion Euro contract signed by France and Saudi Arabia in October 2015 – bind Western states economically to Saudi Arabia. Whether and how to engage with and delegitimize Wahhabi doctrine is one of the central dilemmas facing the region and the world today.

It is high time that we begin to name and identify some of the central structural and ideological issue plaguing the region that foster instability, chaos, and violence. Such a discussion should begin by rejecting the strategic foundations of aerial bombardment or border closures as strategies to deal with ISIS and instead engage directly with both the ideological underpinnings of ISIS and the ways in which continued stalemate in Syria makes possible ISIS’ expansion in that country and, now, the world.

Samer Abboud

Samer Abboud is an associate professor of international studies at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania and a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for Syrian Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He had published widely on contemporary Syria, including a book about the current conflict entitled Syria (Polity, 2015).

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25 Responses

  1. Blownaway on November 23, 2015, 11:40 am

    Yet the clueless chorus of us politicians want the Sunnis of Saudi and Qatar to form an army to go and fight the Sunnis in Isis they created and support. How can we expect any solution from these people who don’t get it not republican not democrat. If anyone wants to hear a breath of enlightenment look up tulsi gabbard of Hawaii she actually gets it

  2. HarryLaw on November 23, 2015, 12:45 pm

    GW Bush made the decision to back the Sunni despots against the so called ‘Shia arc of extremism’ hoping to isolate Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Iraq Seymour Hersh describes this strategy in ‘The redirection’ …
    “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda”.

    • Bandolero on November 23, 2015, 1:51 pm


      Al Qaeda and other wahhabi terror outfits like ISIS are not the by-product of “the redirection” of war efforts against the axis of resistance. They are the spearhead, the battering ram, deployed in wilfull western decisions to attack any more or less secular society disliked by Israel and Saudi Arabia and their backers in the west. And the same went on with ISIS. The rise of ISIS was not an accident, it was a willful US policy decision:

      • HarryLaw on November 23, 2015, 2:26 pm

        Bandolero. I agree, this was most evident when Islamic state crossed from Syria to Iraq along the main highways in thousands of white Toyota pickups churning up hundreds of tons of dust then attacking and occupying those northern Iraqi cities including Mosul. The most sophisticated satellite systems the US have, which can read a car number plate from space, did not notice this massive convoy. We saw nothing! Honest Gov!

    • lproyect on November 26, 2015, 8:12 am

      George W. Bush invaded Iraq to “back the Sunni despots”? Really? I wasn’t aware that people like Chalabi, Maliki, and al-Sistani were Sunni.

      • gamal on November 26, 2015, 2:30 pm

        So Bush invaded iraq in support of his close allies in Iran (Shia) and Hussein (Sunni) was allied to the Sunni Kings (especially those of Kuwait and Saudi) by the bond of Sunnism?

  3. gracie fr on November 23, 2015, 12:49 pm

    ..And who would have the most credibility in an Intellectul/religious/political critic of the virulent ISIS doctrinal set of beliefs…..??????

  4. Bandolero on November 23, 2015, 1:35 pm


    While I totally disagree with your suggestion that giving “heavier” weapons to “rebels” in Syria – which almost all are linked to Al Qaeda and their wahhabi doctrine – or starting an air war against the Syrian air and air defense forces and the forces of Syria’s partners including Iran and Russia – what you call a “no fly zone” – would have brought anything else than even more death and destruction to please the Sauds and Tel Aviv, I completely agree that the extremist Saudi doctrine of wahhabism is, besides the zionist regime allied with the Sauds, the a real important source of many problems of the arab world and far beyond.

    A couple of months ago I tried to promote this blog article, but few wanted to listen. Quote:

    What the mass media hide about the Charlie Hebdo terror attack: Wahhabism, Takfirism, and Saudi Arabia

    … The core of the central theme of the global terror complex that is regularly hidden by the mass media of the ‘Community of Western values’ as thoroughly as possible, can be described with three expressions: Wahhabism, Takfirism, and Saudi Arabia.

    Almost all terrorists responsible for global terror, who refer to Sunni Islam, from the Taliban in Afghanistan over Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, Hefazat-e-Islam in Bangladesh, East Turkestan Movement in China, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the Caucasus Emirate in Russia, Jundallah in Iran, al-Shabaab in Somalia, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in Egypt, Ansar al-Sharia – and earlier also LIFG – in Libya, Ansar Dine in Mali and other countries in North Africa, Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries, ISIS in Iraq and Syria up to Al Qaeda, including its offshoots such as the Syrian Nusra front, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQAP and al Qaeda in the Maghreb – and many more smaller terrorist groups than mentioned above operating in various countries are of Wahhabi nature, but to list them all would be beyond the scope here – are based generally on the same ideology: Wahhabism. Virtually all deadly terrorist attacks in recent years with – how the Western media call it – “Islamic background” were committed by perpetrators who adhere to the ideology of Wahhabism, including the most spectacular terrorist attacks such as 9/11 in 2001 in the United States, the attack on the Moscow Dubrovka theater in 2002, Madrid in 2004, 7/7 2005 in London, the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya in 2013, the attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium in 2014 and now the Charlie Hebdo-terrorist attack in Paris. All of these terrorist attacks were committed by offenders who follow the same ideology: Wahhabism. …

    Without going further into the detailed mechanisms of selective reporting here, it can be said without doubt that the terror committed by Wahhabi ideologues constitutes the very vast majority of global terrorism, and that the overwhelming number of victims of the Wahhabi terror are not Westerners, but Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries. … All in all there are also no doubts where the center is, from the where the world is flooded with the ideology of Wahhabism. It is Saudi Arabia, the country where Wahhabism is the state religion. Since decades the oil superpower Saudi Arabia supports the global spread of Wahhabism With hundreds of billions of petrodollars. And wherever it succeeds to spread Wahhabism, there one can find earlier or later terrorism driven by the inhuman doctrines of contemporary Wahhabism. …

    The big question now is whether the population of the western countries will continue this concealment of the whole truth by their politicians and media, or whether they will now demand so loudly answers and solutions on the topic of Wahhabism, takfirism and Saudi Arabia from their elites that the media and elites cannot longer afford to ignore tackling this crucial matter.


    There are lot’s of background information and links in that article, and it is also naming and shaming western and Israeli complicity in spreading wahhabism.

    • Samer on November 24, 2015, 10:34 am

      Thanks for sharing, Bandolero.

    • pabelmont on November 24, 2015, 12:37 pm

      Thanks, very valuable. I had no idea that Islamic terrorism was, in effect, single-sourced.

      Unlike American terrorisms, I suppose. We have (inside USA) KKK (anti-black) and pro-life (anti-abortion) and lets-shoot-up-school-kids (source? anger alone?), some white-separatist and white supremacist (a bit like KKK I suppose), various anti-immigrant groups (sometimes armed near border with Mexico). Not a single-source, it seems to me. Of course, these are very small potatoes. The major USA terrorism is that of the government’s armed forces, CIA, Special forces, etc., and is imperialism, though possibly answering to different strands of such imperialism (oil first, but bananas, mining, anti-communism (!)). so even there, different strands.

      Israeli terrorism is also single-source, I suppose, all outgrowths of Zionism (although there might be religious substrands, nationalistic or land-grabbing substrands).

  5. Ael on November 23, 2015, 1:43 pm

    Hey, don’t forget the Russians in your grocery list of bombings, they lost a lot a whole plane load of people. They also have a stake in this game now.

    • RoHa on November 23, 2015, 6:44 pm

      The Russians had a stake in the game before ISIS popped up. Remember Chechnya?

    • Samer on November 24, 2015, 10:35 am

      You are absolutely right, Ael. I am not sure why I left that out in the final draft that went out. I just checked an earlier draft and I had something in there about the Russian bombing.

  6. HarryLaw on November 23, 2015, 3:10 pm

    Bandolero. Joe Biden since apologized, even Hillary Clinton have made the same observations, unfortunately the Gulfies are our allies, the US has concluded 80 billions worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in recent years and of course the petro dollar is tied into the equation. Turkey is of course an important member of NATO. Until the US reads the riot act to these sponsors of terrorism, or the Russians lose patience, they will not change their ways, the US knows what it is doing, to them 250,00 Syrian dead is a price it is easily willing to pay for the geostrategic goals it hopes to achieve. The Russians and Iranians supply Turkey with all their natural gas, so Turkey is not immune from sanctions. Similarly the Russians could send the Houthis sophisticated weapons etc, I am sure Putin has a few good cards he can play, he has outplayed the West so far.

    • Bandolero on November 23, 2015, 7:19 pm


      Putin is well aware that the west was and is employing Saudi Wahhabi tools to destroy Russia and it’s friends. Putin knows that the US and the Saudis did that in Afghanistan, leading to the largest desaster of the 20th century – in Putins words. And later the west tried that in Bosnya, Chechnya, the CIS states of Central Asia and so on. But Russia, under Putin has learned, to deal with that specific enemy. The US-Saudi advance into Chechnya was crushed under Putin.

      Of course, Putin has still some good cards to play in Syria. So far, Putin offers the West to compromise on Syria, keeping the “totally moderate” (Lavrovs words) President Assad in power. However, it doesn’t need to stay so. Maxim Suchkov just explained in Al Monitor, what maybe called Plan B for Syria, a Chechen style solution:

      Finally, the Chechen case offers experience in political transition after a years-long bloody conflict. Engaging those who can be engaged and marginalizing those who cannot — through local means and players rather than outsiders — could be the basis for the ultimate “Chechenization” of the Syrian conflict discussed among Russian experts and decision-makers. The approach surely is not flawless, and those who seek to pull the rug out from under that policy will find enough reason to do so. Neither can it be merely copy and pasted; it must be adjusted for local specificity.


      That would likely be accompied by a Russian push to join the west to oust moderate President Assad. But instead of getting a western-backed zionist-wahhabi puppet, like the west hopes, Russia would then push for someone not so moderate as President Assad to become ruler of Syria.

      Suheil Al Hassan, for example, is a popular hero in Syria, and if Russia and Iran back him instead of Assad, he may well be elected as President of Syria:

      So, that would be a different compromise, which Russia could go for if the West insists on not supporting Plan A, ie Assad to remain President. The West, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would get it’s regime change in Syria they worked so hard for, but the result would likely not please them. I’m sure, Suheil Al Hassan could become a good friend of Ramzan Kadirov.

  7. Rusty Pipes on November 23, 2015, 5:08 pm

    The MSM may peddle this junk, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy it here:

    The group’s expansion in a context of sustained aerial attacks highlights one of the main criticisms of the American-led campaign from the beginning, mainly, that it was treating symptoms and not the problem. By concentrating attacks against ISIS targets while refusing to implement a no-fly zone or provide heavy weaponry to rebel groups fighting the Syrian regime, the American strategy was doomed to failure from the very beginning because it never involved serious efforts to bring about a political transition in Syria that could end the conflict. In large part, this stemmed from a false dichotomy adopted in the West, that the ‘choice’ in the conflict was either between ISIS or the Syrian regime. The revival of the Hitler or Stalin dilemma the West faced in the 20th century is highly problematic because it assumes that these are the only choices for Syrians moving forward.

    The American strategy was doomed to failure from the beginning because a large majority of Syrians did not support America’s attempted soft coup of its government (AKA Regime Change). Even after four and a half years of insurgency, support for the current government of Syria has increased. The majority of Syrian refugees have fled internally to government-controlled areas. In 2014, 3/4 of Syrian eligible voters turned out to vote overwhelmingly for another 7 year term for Bashar Assad.

    If there ever were “moderate rebels,” they haven’t existed for years and they never formed a majority of the insurgents. Within the first year after the Arab Spring, most of the opposition demanding reforms had returned home and worked with opposition parties. At this point, Syria’s only chance for a stable future is clearing its country of foreign-backed insurgents and foreign takfiris and pursuing amnesty and reconciliation agreements with former Syrian rebels.

    Bashar Assad’s second elected term ends in 2021. If the majority of Syrians want to replace him before then, that’s their business.

  8. HarryLaw on November 23, 2015, 5:55 pm

    Rusty Pipes, totally agree, what the author regrets is the US did not do ‘shock and awe’ from the outset, to hell with International law. He say’s the “US failed to bring about a political transition that would end the conflict” he means ‘regime change’. And that. “Assumes that these are the only choices for Syrians moving forward”. Those ARE the only two choices since the “moderate” terrorists have always been as rare as unicorns. The terrorist who bragged about eating the heart/liver of one of Assad’s soldiers was a so called moderate Free Syrian army member. General Idriss formally Commander of the FSA admitted to joint operations with the extreme terrorists and it is common knowledge that arms supplied to FSA are sold to other groups.

  9. JWalters on November 23, 2015, 6:39 pm

    I completely agree the approach to peace needs to include dealing with “the ideological underpinnings of ISIS”, AND the ideological underpinnings of Israel.

    These are two peas in a pod in this respect. And both these ideological extremes are being fanned by ultra-wealthy people with ulterior motives. We need some scientific sanity injected into these discussions. We need a brigade of anthropologists.

  10. Artemis on November 24, 2015, 8:29 am

    This piece starts off: “In the last month, ISIS has been responsible for bombings in Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut and Paris, taking the lives of hundreds of innocent people…”

    What’s the reason for ignoring the deaths of 224 innocent Russians?

    • Samer on November 24, 2015, 10:36 am

      Artemis – you are absolutely right. I am not sure why I left that out in the final draft that went out. I just checked an earlier draft and I had something in there about the Russian bombing. I was struggling with the wording a bit and then accidentally left that out in the final draft, but you are right that it should have been included.

  11. Tom Walker on November 26, 2015, 2:23 pm

    Is Israel supporting Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia as a straw dog, in order to continue with its extreme strategies?

    • YoniFalic on November 27, 2015, 8:34 am

      Israel is just opportunistic in creating mayhem.

      Samer Abboud seems to gloss over some significant differences.

      Al-Qaeda was initially closer to a radicalized segment (e.g. Kamal al-Sananiri and Ayman al-Zawahiri) of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that like the parent MB did not practice Takfirism.

      The Saudi version of lukewarm takfiri Wahhabism focused mostly on pan-Islamic charities.

      The Saudi pan-Islamic charities provided a home for many Islamist Egyptians (and also some Palestinians) of various ideological positions.

      Al-Qaeda seems to be the first radicalized movement that grew out of this stew in reaction to Zionism, Western Support for Zionism, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the first US invasion of Iraq. The Palestinian al-Qaeda leader Abdullah Azzam was hostile both to Hamas and to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood but did not reject the ideas of either Hasan al-Banna or Sayid Qutb.

      ISIS seems to be a reaction both to al-Qaeda and the 2nd US invasion of Iraq and the concomitant Sunni-Shii power struggle. For the Iraqi ISIS leadership an energized takfiri Wahhabism was much more attractive than the ideas of al-Banna or Qutb.

      Initially ISIS had a Palestinian influence from West Banker Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (Aasim Muhammad Tahir al-Barqawi — salafi Palestinians seem to prefer the more traditional moniker Maqdisi to the more secular Falastini), who had distanced himself from MB thought and drawn closer to salafi wahabi thinking, but al-Maqdisi rejected the attacks on Shiites and has accused ISIS of deviance.

      Thus, ISIS and al-Qaeda are hostile to each other, but both groups claim to represent Sunni pan-Islamic resistance to European and American interference in the Islamic world. Because of the takfiri anti-Shiite orientation of ISIS, ISIS is less focused than al-Qaeda on the racist genocidal European colonialism that Zionism represents and more interested in imposing its version of salafi takfiri wahhabi Sunni Islam in the heartland of the Muslim world.

      To tell the truth, as native resistance movements to Euro-American colonialism and interference in the non-European world, neither ISIS not al-Qaeda are particularly exceptional in violence or in ideology.

      Zionism is much more obviously evil and extreme as a recrudescence of a particularly perverted form of white racist 19th century style European genocidal colonialism.

      Americans and Europeans are not thinking particularly clearly about the issues because both al-Qaeda and ISIS have brought their battles either to the USA or to Europe just as the Algerian FLN did in the late 50s, but the real solution is for the USA and Europe to get out of the ME remove the Zionists (as the International Law requires that the USA and Europe claim to hold dear), provide refuge to people displaced as a consequence of moronic Western policy, and let the peoples of the ME sort out their own problems without the interference of truly ignorant or very malicious Westerners (to wit, Zionists).

      There are more than enough groups that could collaborate in Turkey, Iran, Saudia, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt to find stability once the racist European colonialists and their favored non-European ersatz native collaborators are removed from Palestine. The white racist European genocidal colonialists will resist, but the alternative just risks wider and wider war especially now that more European states and the Russian Federation are intervening in Syria.

      The following article is interesting even if I do not agree with everything it says. Anyway, what do I know? I have only been able to read Arabic sufficiently well to have an idea what the real issues are for about two years.

      • gamal on November 27, 2015, 6:42 pm

        Mr Falic, Sir, you are an Scholar and an Gentleman, thanks for the above, I couldn’t be bothered to get in to this one.

        But as someone who lived through the ‘wahabization’ of a Muslim community and its emergence into prominence, I am inspired to make a few trite observations and perhaps as one of the few here who has had loads of confrontations with wahhabi types over the years of communal service, maybe I could say something, but am really speaking to you Mr. Falic, and am appreciative of what you write above, will not be making an argument just some disjointed observations. Because, i think the analysis here about wahabism is misconceived.

        1. wahhabism, what can you say, it is the state ideology of a ferociously repressive regime and thus historically, after the formation of the state, after the Ikhwani period, Wahhabism was noted for its political quietism, being mainly concerned with avoiding hell for raising your hands the wrong number of times during prayer, this is a a huge issue, vast literature of mutual denunciation, is it once at the beginning or every Allahu Akbar moment.

        2. Mr Abboud alludes to it above but let me say explicitly Wahhabism is a contagion whose vector is money. The Saudi’s pay for it. In the UK it was the terrible era of Mosque building that allowed them to subvert and corrupt the community.

        3. Anti-clericalism/scholasticism: The Scholars annoy Muslims, who are mainly concerned with a narrow focus on their own praxis and want definitive answers that the Scholars are often unwilling to propose, thus especially in the Diaspora the appeal of Deobandi type of stuff, similar to wahhabism, we used to use the shorthand term ahl-ul-bayt for this type of sunni which represents not a commitment to some revolutionary Islamic ideology but actually the domestication and institutionalization of Islam in the west, i could say a lot more but let us move on.

        4. the less said about al-islah the better, though i believe it is a project close to Mr.Weiss’ heart.

        5. Murji’a,

        6. so I dont think al-q or isil are wahabi as such, they are something quite different, Khwarij. Wahhabism as it is requires allegiance to the house of Saud, that is its point, why else would Saudis spend so much on it.

        7. Salafi: its great everyone learning all this new terminology, to me Salafist means Afghani, Abduh, Rida, Kawakibi et al, Hasan al banna formed the MB in opposition to wahhabism and other such strains, to use Islamist to mean wahabi confuses me, for most of my life Islamist most often meant socialist 3rd world developmentalist, to concede the entirety of Islamism to wahhabism seems wrong to me.

        8. Sunni, this a new identity, i have only recently become one, I used to just be a Muslim, i have often prayed next to shi’i in what i used to think of Mosques, which I now realize are Sunni Mosques, brave new world.

        9. Bandeleros’ comment above to me is a bit problematic for the following reasons.

        the idea that all conflicts in the Muslim world or involving Muslims are driven by religion is not well founded, Abu Sayyaf are Moro nationalists resisting an exploitative central government and look at the history of Acheh, his list of conflicts are all about local or regional issues, political, social and economic rather than religion, and predate Al-q and sometimes wahhabism itself, i would say. If you have heard of say Qaradawi, how many people would realize that he is anti-wahhabi?

        10. Wahhabism whose character is neurosis, extroversion, ignorance and laziness: why Muslims dont take it very seriously, the errors are elementary and glaring: Sh. M.H. Kabbani elaborates.

        just a note Yoni: “I have only been able to read Arabic sufficiently well to have an idea what the real issues are for about two years.”

        Some years ago we sponsored some Azharites to come and study Hebrew in the UK, they discovered that they could transfer from Hebrew to Arabic, in which they were already quite proficient and could get 1st class degrees for no effort from top UK universities, we were disappointed,
        during a self lacerating meeting one of the Shuyukh asked of the others how many of you speak and read Persian, we all starred at our feet,

        so that made me cry when i read it Yoni, respect.

        I dont think “Islamic” doctrines or conflicts are a relevant area of study for those who want to understand what is happening in the ME, there is a lot more to it. Many people see it differently and i guess many of the Ulema I knew would be quite close to Mr.Abbouds position, but then they had been dealing with the likes Omar Bakri et al and were really pissed off with the Saudi’s.

        from the link

        “One of the Successors of the Prophet (s), the caliph Umar ¦ ibn Abd al-Azīz said, “I don’t like to see the Companions of Prophet (s) agreeing on the same issue, rather I prefer to see them disagree.”

        What he meant was that if the Companions, who are the main reference for the Shariah, disagree, different valid viewpoints would emerge, and in this way more solutions to the same problem would become available. This kind of dispute never divides the community.

        In fact there is a saying, “The differences among my Community are a mercy” which the scholars of Islam agree is correct in meaning. Ibn Taymiyya said, “The consensus of the Imams [of law] on a question is a definitive proof, and their divergence of opinion is a vast mercy.” “

      • YoniFalic on November 28, 2015, 12:13 pm


        Maybe I can write a larger response later, but I really did not address doctrinal issues per se. I can discuss with you 10th century Rabbanite-Karaite polemic for the doctrinal differences seem real and serious, but to be frank I don’t understand modern Sunni-Shii doctrinal polemic. While at one point, there were serious doctrinal differences, but I don’t see those differences today. I attended a lecture once in which a scholar of Shiite Islam argued that Khomeini recreated the sunni Ottoman state in post-revolutionary Shiite Iran.

        ISIS takfirism against Shiites seems purely situational. In Iraq and Syria there is a conflict between two political economic elites, one which is loosely identified as Sunni and another which is loosely identified as Shii.

        Egyptians and Palestinians simply have no interest in this conflict. Some Palestinians even remember the complete destruction of the Shiite community by racist genocidal E. European Zionist invaders.

        Could you send a link to an article about Azharites, who have learned Hebrew?

        I found Modern Israeli Hebrew to be a hindrance in learning Arabic, and interference between the two language may be the reason why knowledge of Arabic is so low among Israelis.

        I agree with Bergsträßer and Wexler. Modern Israeli Hebrew has a borrowed vocabulary, but its grammar, morphology, semantics, and phonology is purely Indo-European. I find Wexler’s arguments persuasive that MIH is a Slavic dialect or relexified Yiddish, which Wexler considers to be a Slavic language.

        I had no problem with learning Yiddish at all.

        Of course, the Azharites might have known at least one modern European language like English. Thus the European nature of MIH might not have been as serious an impediment for them as the true Semitic nature of Arabic was for me.

  12. Theo on November 28, 2015, 12:58 pm

    For years every terrorist attack was attributed to Al Quida, now we do the same with ISIS, although there are thousands of idiots who are capable to bomb and kill without any support from those organisations. Financing comes from someplace else.

    With our war on terror we were trying to eliminate the symptoms, but never considering the causes, because they sit in the countries so dear to our politicians. Consequently we are not even a step ahead, the terror is engulfing half of world, and it is only a question of time before the first attacks take place in the USA.
    We constantly blame Iran for supporting terrorism, (sure, they do it, too), however never mention the real big ones, the Saudies and other dictators in the Gulf area. They are the ones who supply the ideology and billions of dollars necessary for such a successful and long undertakings.
    We could eliminare the ISIS by bombing Qatar and invading Saudi Arabia, drying up all their bank accounts, and driving the royal family into the desert. As long as they sit there and have the unlimited source of finances, they will continue to cause problems for this world.
    Oh, I know, we will never do such foolish thing, after all it would end the ME crises and after that what excuse could we use to get involved in the life of those peoples? However, you could never win a chess game by concentrating only on the pawns, you must go after the queen and king to win.

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