Inside the New Temple of the Mysteries
Former Islamic radical Ed Husein describes how al-Qaeda's recruitment among Britain's Muslim intellectual elite threatens not only Britain, but British Islam itself.
As a teenager, I attended extremist Islamist meetings with tens of medical students at the Royal London Hospital. Islamists in almost every British medical school held similar meetings. At Britain's most prestigious engineering colleges, including Brunel University and Imperial College, fanatical Islamists with a worldview of separatism and violence recruited without impediment—yesterday's Islamists are today's terrorists. Right from the very top of the terrorist hierarchy, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri downward(Bin Laden's Egyptian deputy); the soldiers of extremism have all traveled a similar path: past membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, a secular education, rejection of mainstream Muslims, a hatred for the West and ultimately taking up arms against peoples and governments. ...
Husein goes on to argue that today's particular strain of Islamic radicalism isn't a pure strain but a mutation with specific Western influences. It's an interesting assertion. I've often observed that to a particular kind of Western elitist, Communism and radical Islamism are indistinguishable. Husein's explanation of the Islamic/Western Elitist hybridization is a relatively narrow, but it contains certain interesting features.
They approach the Qu'ran as though it were an engineering manual, with instructions for right and wrong conduct. Literalism and ignorance dominates their readings. This flaw is deepened by the haughty mindset of the engineer or medical doctor that academic achievement, a place at a university, now qualifies him to approach ancient scripture without the guidance of the ulama. To the Islamist engineer, centuries of context, nuance, history, grammar, lexicon, scholarship, and tradition are all lost and redundant. The do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude to religious texts, fostered by doctors and engineers of secular colleges, produces desperate, angry suicide bombers devoid of spiritual guidance.
The Islamic radical is portrayed as the cultural equivalent of the Western nihilist, eager to forget tradition and supplant it with his own vision. It is a movement contemptuous of the common, the workaday and human failing and worshipful of the superman. It desires an arid, perfect, seamless paradise on earth, one with no syntactical deviations from the Program. Ironically one of the problems Husein implictly identifies is that Islamic radicalism is virulent precisely because it treats the Koran as a literal. Unlike the Islamic societies whose mental compilers have been modified by long acommodation with Christian, Jewish or Pagan neighbors -- a mental compiler softened by "centuries of context, nuance, history, grammar, lexicon, scholarship" -- these new radicals interpret the Koran like an "engineering manual". Word for word. And the result is a horror.
In many ways both the struggle against utopian Communism and radical Islamism can be seen in terms of common humanity trying to regain the control of central myths which have been usurped by hierophantic maniacal cultists. Good luck to us all.