The never-ending turmoil in the Mideast has now, in the winter of 2011, become a tinderbox, and Israel, always the targeted kindling in the box, finds itself in peril of being consumed in the coming conflagration.
With crowds cheering and singing in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in February over Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, many Americans joined in the rejoicing, hopeful that democratic government was on the horizon for Egypt.
It was a youth rebellion, fought with cellphones, Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet. But before Americans get carried away in their enthusiasm over events in Egypt, they should know what the youthful throngs were thinking and saying in addition to “Down with Mubarak!”
Amidst all the exaltation, they talked exuberantly of shutting off the natural gas pipeline to Israel and once and for all doing away with the “detested, illegitimate Zionist entity.”
That obsessive, pathological hatred of the Jews so widespead in the Muslim world originates from passages in the Quar’an (Koran), and fundamentalist Muslims regulate their daily lives by their holy book.
Muslims also have a passion for jihad (“struggle”). A number of Koranic passages refer to this intriguing commandment, and every Muslim is called upon to be engaged in it. “Struggle” can represent anything from the struggle that goes on within one’s own soul to the violent jihad we have become familiar with, expressed so vividly in Sura 9:5, the “Verse of the Sword.” Jihad against the Jews is number one on their list of priorities. Then comes the rest of the West.
Rorschach testing isn’t necessary to find out what’s on the minds of Cairenes. Polling discloses that those young “freedom fighters” of Tahrir Square are overwhelmingly in favor of Sharia law, death for apostasy, and the return of the caliphate. Surprised?
In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state, abolished the caliphate (dominion of the caliph, a successor to Muhammad). The caliphate was the original governmental system of Islam.
For Sunni Muslims, the ending of the caliphate was calamitous. In Egypt, the disorganization that followed led to the rise of a number of Sunni fundamentalist movements. The first of these, the Muslim Brotherhood, was established in 1928 by a talented, well-educated school teacher, Hassan al-Banna, who designed the Brotherhood as a political movement to combat Westernization.
Al-Banna was dismayed to see how Egyptians were adopting the hedonistic lifestyle of the West following the end of the First World War. Even the prestigious Al-Azhar University, founded in the 10th century and acknowledged throughout the Ummah, the worldwide Muslim community of believers, as the center of Islamic learning, was succumbing to secularization.
He had a flair for organization. In our country, most of us first heard the term “community organizer” when Barak Hussein Obama appeared on the presidential primary scene. The job title was made to order for al-Banna.
By the 1940s, al-Banna had seen the Muslim Brotherhood grow to where it had penetrated into every corner of the country. He could even send a well-equipped military contingent to fight against the Israelis in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. (He was pro-Nazi during the Second World War and was also, not surprisingly, an action-oriented jihadist.)
When a member of the Brotherhood assassinated the prime minister in December 1948, al-Banna’s days became numbered. He was gunned down in Cairo, Chicago-gangster style, a few weeks later.
Sayyid Qutb was a leading Brotherhood tactitian in the 1960s, who saw Islamic society no longer Muslim but as jahilyya (pagan), the way Arabia had been before the coming of Muhammad. Jahilyya, he taught, had to be overcome through violent revolution.
His brother Muhammad Qutb, of a like mind, would become Osama bin Laden’s university teacher in Saudi Arabia. In fact, high on bin Laden’s recommended reading list to Muslims is Sheikh Muhammad Qutb’s Concepts That Should Be Corrected.
To repeat, Osama bin Laden is essentially a Qutbist. His thinking was shaped by the likes of Muhammad Qutb and the Qutbists. And now we have come full circle.
At another time in human history, a rabbi from Galilee died an agonizing death nailed to a wooden cross for the redemption of mankind. There will be no redemption for the world if Israel were now to perish.