Casablanca - It has become a worldwide tendency today, that in immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, Muslim scholars, public speakers, and even common Muslims begin to apologetically condemn these attacks and attempt to discharge Islam of its accusations.
Casablanca – It has become a worldwide tendency today, that in immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, Muslim scholars, public speakers, and even common Muslims begin to apologetically condemn these attacks and attempt to discharge Islam of its accusations.
On the other hand, the industry of terrorism experts booms and the self-proclaimed terror-experts begin appearing more frequently on political platforms and publishing more articles to make up for the slow months. As many have pointed out, these so-called terrorism experts, like Mark A. Gabriel, whose book is subject to my analysis in this article series, exploit the state of fear and make simplistic conflations between terrorism and the teachings of Islam. The result is an atmosphere of tension, between the frightened West on one side and the alienated Muslim world on the other.
“Islam and Terrorism” and its author, Mark A. Gabriel, are perfect illustrations of this trend. The book, which had its second edition released this November, contains five sections and twenty-four chapters. It promises the reader an investigative immersion into the Islamic faith to unearth the sources of radicalism from within. All it delivers, however, is a simplistic and anecdotal explanation that does not invoke the multidisciplinary approach that these contemporary studies necessitate. It bypasses the psychological and socioeconomic urges of jihadists, as well as the particularities behind their interpretation of Islamic text, that many deem pivotal, to claim that the one and only origin of terrorism is Islam. It is to no avail, claims the author, to attempt making any distinction between moderate and extremist Muslims since violence is inherent in Islam. “Personally” Gabriel states “I preferred to focus on the peaceful side of Islam, but I was unable to ignore the violent side I saw in the Quran and Islamic history.”
The fervent absolutism with which the author speaks demonstrates that he is a prisoner of the same moral objectivism that exhorts the extremists to demonize the different other. As I will show in this article series, the book is both an idiocy and danger bible. In other words, had it not been for the danger it represents, doing nothing would have been a more beneficial thing to do than to lose oneself in the loathsome idiocy contained in this book.
Mark A. Gabriel, formerly Mustapha, is a former Azhar University professor who converted to Christianity in 1992. He was born to a “conservative Muslim household in Egypt [and] started memorizing the Quran at the age of five and finished when [he] was twelve years old.” Gabriel has stirred controversy in the Muslim with his Islamophobic books. He has also been accused of charlatanism since he has not provided his previous Egyptian last name for the public in order to verify his stories. People question whether he really was a former professor of Islamic History at the University of Azhar, for instance.
The narrative obviously targets the Western readership and builds on the current confusion about Islam that is caused by the Islamophobic media discourse in the West, in regards to chaotic situations around the world. The book end-to-end is clearly an attempt to brainwash the unsettled minds of these audiences, especially considering the timing of its first and second publications (2002 and 2015, respectively) as well as its unacademic language. It deliberately reduces the complexity that marks the Islamic interpretational tradition to the literal reading of the Quran and the Hadith (the statement of the Prophet peace be upon him). Nonetheless, for the Muslim audience the discourse of this book, although more defamatory and offensive than average, can be categorized within the classical Islamophobic rhetoric that stirs nothing more than what the boisterous roistering of a drunkard stirs
Any critical reader cannot help noticing a set of stark banalities and irritating contradictions. Nonsense reaches the highest levels imaginable with numerous contentions. The following examples I will not comment on, but leave to you to read, dear reader, for your own amusement: “And indeed, under al-Sisi the country recovered economically, and peace in the country was reestablished.” and “The Libyan Muslims organized many movements to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi and overturn his movement. After a brief civil war Qaddafi was finally deposed and killed on October 20, 2011”
Contradiction seems to have accompanied the writer throughout his writing journey. He builds up arguments throughout the whole book only to contradict them later in the last few pages. For instance, he attacks Islam as a source of all evil and asserts that there is no middle ground where it could be met: “Yes, Jihad means killing all the enemies of Allah and Islam. Yes Muslims believe in taking the law into their own hands and killing Allah’s enemies, as if he can’t handle them himself” and “As you can see, Islam is the faith of struggle, revolution, and war. Islam doesn’t want a little piece of the world—it wants it all.” This conspicuous correlation between Islam and violence is later interrupted “Islamic groups such as ISIS are based on Fatwas and interpretations that have been added by Islamic scholars and cannot be found in the Quran. They are justified by referring to Hadiths, which are not recognized as fully reliable.” Blatant contradictions such as the ones displayed appear to have co-authored the book.
The writer does not engage in the intellectual exercise of investigating the Islamic faith but instead wages an accusatory campaign that stands on ungrounded claims and even deceit. However, to establish a powerful effect, he uses a set of discursive strategies and techniques that when deconstructed, will expose his weak and defenseless logic to the bare eye. Henceforth, I suggest an examination of these strategies in the upcoming parts of this article series.
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