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Old March 19th, 2015, 01:36 PM   #1
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‘Islamic State’ as a Western Phenomenon? Reimagining the IS Debate

?Islamic State? as a Western Phenomenon? Reimagining the IS Debate | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

. . .

Militants’ politicking aside, such massively destructive and highly organized occurrences are not born in a vacuum and don’t operate independently from many existing platforms that help spawn, arm, fund and sustain them. For example, IS’ access to oil refineries says nothing about its access to wealth. To obtain funds from existing economic modes, IS needed to tap into a complex economic apparatus that would involve other countries, regional and international markets. In other words, IS exists because there are those who are invested in their existence, and the highly touted anti-IS coalition has evidently done little to confront this reality.

Particularly interesting is the rapidly changing focal point of the debate, from that pertaining to Syria and Iraq, to a western-centric discussion about western-styled jihadists that seem removed from the Middle East region and its political conflicts and priorities.

In a letter signed by over a hundred Muslim scholars that was published last September, the theologians and clergymen from around the Muslim word rightly disowned IS and its bloodthirsty ambitions as un-Islamic. Indeed, IS’ war tactics, are the reverse of the rules of war in Islam, and have been a God-send to those who made successful careers by simply bashing Islam, and advocating foreign policies that are predicated on an irrational fear of Muslims. But particularly interesting was the Arabic version of the letter’s emphasis on IS’s lack of command over the Arabic language, efficiency which is a requirement for making legal Islamic rulings and fatwas.

The letter confronts the intellectual arrogance of IS, which is based mostly on a misguided knowledge of Islam that is rarely spawned in the region itself. But that intellectual arrogance that has led to the murders of many innocent people, and other hideous crimes such as the legalization of slavery - to the satisfaction of the numerous Islamophobes dotting western intellectual landscapes - is largely situated in a different cultural and political context outside of the Middle East.

In post-September 11 attacks, a debate concerning Islam has been raging, partly because the attacks were blamed on Muslims, thus allowing politicians to create distractions, and reduce the discussion into one concerning religion and a purported “clash of civilizations.” Despite various assurances by western leaders that the US-led wars in Muslim countries is not a war on Islam, Islam remains the crux of the intellectual discourse that has adjoined the military “crusade” declared by George W. Bush, starting with the first bomb dropped on Afghanistan in 2001.

That discourse is too involved for a transitory mention, for it is an essential one to the IS story. It is one that has involved various schools of thought, including a breed of Muslim “liberals,” used conveniently to juxtapose them with an “extremist” bunch. Yet between the apologists and the so-called Jihadists, a genuine, Muslim-led discussion about Islam by non-coopted Muslim scholars remains missing.

The intellectual vacuum is more dangerous than it may seem. There is no question that while the battle is raging on in the Middle East region, the discourse itself is growingly being manipulated and is becoming a western one. This is why IS is speaking English, for its language complete with authentic western accents, methods, messages and even the orange hostage jumpsuits, is centered in some other sociopolitical and cultural context.

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It is highly suspect of those who would make money off this war; of those who seek to rule the region; of Western interests in the natural resources. We need to stop this manipulation of the region.
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