Building Mosques, Importing Jihad

Puritanical Arab Wahhabists are trying to wrest control of Chechens' Sufi Islam. Will they succeed?

idbc

09/30/2004 07:03:06 PM

Religion : 1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. So if Islam is not a religion, does that mean you do not have reverence Allah or do not regard Allah as the creator of the universe ? 2.A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship. There are no Islamic Institutions ? 3.The life or condition of a person in a religious order. 2. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. There are no set of beliefs or values ? No pracices ? 3. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. There is no zeal or conscientous devotion in Islam ?

idbc

09/30/2004 06:56:48 PM

Except there is no "church" of Islam. Islam isn't a religion in the tradition western sense. It's a way of life or a "condition" (which is submission). I have heard that "isn't a religion" line it is a way of life etc etc many times from christians. It sounded just as empty from them as it does from you. Look up the word in a "traditional western" dictionary and then tell me that Islam is not "a religion". This means Islam is totalist, as opposed to totalitarian. Yeah and Nazism isn't Naizism it is National Socialism. It is a very,very short hop from totalist to totalitarism. It has guidence for all aspects of life, including the formation of a just society, if only we would actually live by that guidence and approach the Islamic scripture as a manual for building moral and social capital. One of the things I do not like about Islam, is its tendency to micromanage every single aspect of beheavour from how to pray correctly to how to wipe your ass correctly.

truthshines

09/17/2004 04:43:26 PM

Actuall Mapleleaf I have both spoken to Muslims, are friends for years since childhood with people following Islam and have often spoken with them about world religions. and have taken an indepth course in Islam during my studies. Perhaps if I had less interaction I would have come to a different conclusion.

mohammed.mussulman

09/17/2004 11:21:46 AM

There should be separation of church and state in Islam. Except there is no "church" of Islam. Islam isn't a religion in the tradition western sense. It's a way of life or a "condition" (which is submission). This means Islam is totalist, as opposed to totalitarian. It has guidence for all aspects of life, including the formation of a just society, if only we would actually live by that guidence and approach the Islamic scripture as a manual for building moral and social capital.

idbc

09/16/2004 03:47:50 PM

Are the only "legitimate" targets uniformed members of the armed services? Yes What about support staff? NO Informers? Collaborators? Political officials? Yes kill them all ! But since we are on the slippery slope, why not include women and children who are declared to be informers or collabrators ? What about the civilians who are "occupying" a territory. They are indirectly or even directly supporting the military by occupying land and by paying taxes which support the military.

idbc

09/16/2004 03:47:37 PM

Lucilus And how is this different from the way Christianity was practiced for centuries, and how fundamentalists would still like to have it? There is no difference. Except for one tiny detail. It is NOT how it is practiced NOW ! And while there are Fundies who would LIKE to have it their way. It is NOT the case NOW ! Theocarcy wether chrisitian or Islamic is a repressive system of gov't. Who is a civilian? civilian 1. A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the military or police.

olubo

09/16/2004 01:33:55 PM

rbethell, Ask any Muslim, for them the Quran is law. That is why Islamic countries have no separation church & state. When in non-Islamic countries they are to follow that countries laws, unless they conflict w/Islamic law, than they follow Islamic law.

rbethell

09/16/2004 09:58:57 AM

There should be separation of church and state in Islam. Mohammed, for all his genious with spiritual poetry, had no exceptional insights into statecraft or legal systems. Sharia draws more from the hadith and traditions, than from the Quran directly. The Quran has nothing to compare even with the orderly Jewish lawgiving of Leviticus, Exodus, and Deuteronomy - it is more comparable to psalms and midrash.

lucilius

09/15/2004 10:54:09 AM

Idbc: "We need also to remember that there is NO, ZERO, NADA, seperattion between poltics and religion in Islam." And how is this different from the way Christianity was practiced for centuries, and how fundamentalists would still like to have it? "Amost every minority in the former Soviet Union, from the Ukrainians to the Lavitian "nurse a bitter grudge against" the Russians and that includes Stalins ethnicty." True – but Ukrainians, Latvians and Georgians now have at least nominal independence, and full internal autonomy. The Chechens do not. The examples of other post-Soviet states only makes their rule by Moscow more bitter.

lucilius

09/15/2004 10:50:45 AM

I think the line between terrorism and guerrilla warfare is a fine one, manthing, and where that line is drawn often depends more on the political position of the line-drawer than the actions of the guerrillas/terrorists. In terms of methods of operation, I don't think there is a substantial difference at all. The distinction lies in who is targeted: strictly military, or military and civilian targets. But in complex political situations, the the question must be asked: Who is a civilian? Are the only "legitimate" targets uniformed members of the armed services? What about support staff? Informers? Collaborators? Political officials? Especially as civil or internal conflicts grow increasingly desperate and nasty (which they always do, when a poorly-armed political movement is pitted against a professional military), the definition of "legitimate targets" becomes broader and broader.

idbc

09/15/2004 08:45:43 AM

dplatt We need to remember that this is primarily a political and ethnic situation, not a religious one.. We need also to remember that there is NO, ZERO, NADA, seperattion between poltics and religion in Islam. So the Chechens have nursed a long and bitter grudge against Russians, entirely apart from religion. Their attempt to break away when the Soviet Union fell wasn't Act I in this tragedy. Amost every minority in the former Soviet Union, from the Ukrainians to the Lavitian "nurse a bitter grudge against" the Russians and that includes Stalins ethnicty.

manthing

09/15/2004 02:59:46 AM

But, isn't there a difference between terrorism and geurilla warfare? In terms of unconventional warfare, that is.

YahyaBergum

09/15/2004 12:39:39 AM

Actually, Clausewitz endorsed terrorism as a means of controlling a conquered population. That, in my estimation, would be the reason why Germany lost both world wars.

dplatt

09/14/2004 05:07:46 PM

Notwithstanding the brutality of the Chechen war, I still can't believe sufis could be lead to the Beslan violence. I suppose it goes to show that no religion is truly an innoculation against the virus of deadly hate. We need to remember that this is primarily a political and ethnic situation, not a religious one. I'm dismayed that there has been so little said about the state-sponsored terrorism, that is Russia's abominable treatment of the Chechens.

lucilius

09/14/2004 04:45:17 PM

On terrorism as a form of warfare: I think that it's really an inversion of Clausewitz's famous dictum that "war is a continuation of politics by other means." Terrorism is usually adopted by those who have no other military resources with which to push their political causes. Like guerrilla warfare, it's generally low-tech and dispersed, counting on covert support. But its targeting of civilians makes it more overtly political than other forms of warfare, which abide (or claims to) by norms set by professional armies – working for established states – over the last few centuries. Before those "laws of war" were set, terrorist-like tactics were standard practice even among professional armies. But terrorists usually don't come from established states, and so have nothing to lose by adopting "illegal" tactics. All this is not to endorse terrorism in any way. But I think a look back at how the "laws" of war developed sheds some light on the reasons groups adopt terrorist tactics now.

sagenav

09/14/2004 04:41:29 PM

Lucilius: Thanks for the added historical perspective! Sort of goes with my earlier point about the lack of alternatives or opportunities that often form the basis for violence and terrorism. Terrorism typically doesn't happen out of a vacuum.

lucilius

09/14/2004 04:28:15 PM

(Cont.): Stalin decided that the Chechens couldn't be counted on to oppose the Germans, so he ordered mass deportation. The entire Chechen population was rounded up and shipped to Siberia, where thousands died. They weren't allowed to take much of anything with them, and were kept there for years after the war. When finally allowed to return, naturally, the Chechens found that Russians had appropriated their land, homes and businesses, leaving them poverty-stricken wanderers in their own land. After turning to banditry, they were militarily repressed and again threatened with mass deportation. So the Chechens have nursed a long and bitter grudge against Russians, entirely apart from religion. Their attempt to break away when the Soviet Union fell wasn't Act I in this tragedy.

lucilius

09/14/2004 04:27:42 PM

I thought this was an excellent article. I'll have to look for more by Williams. I'm sure he couldn't cram every instigating factor into this interview, but there is one thing that I think should be mentioned about Chechen history. They were among the last additions to the Russian Empire, conquered, I believe, around the start of the 18th century, and therefore never well-assimilated. Part of Russia's main oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea fields passes through Chechnya; that was one of Hitler's goals in 1942 – seizing Russia's oil for German use and cutting off Red Army supplies.

bardmountain

09/14/2004 01:36:43 PM

Gaa! Sorry about the typos. English is my first language, I swear....

bardmountain

09/14/2004 01:35:11 PM

I thought the article was excellent. It helps put a face on what we consider to be enemies. People are not born terrorists; terrorists are made, and just as we hold them accountable for their actions, we should acknowledge our own responsibilities in their creation. Otherwise, nothing will ever change.

pucelle

09/14/2004 12:10:32 PM

A very informative article on the Chechens' plight as targets of both the Russians and the Wahhabists. I feel great sympathy and compassion for any people who are victimized and tyrannized by more powerful oppressors. The sad fact is, in the wake of the recent terrorist incident in Russia, I can only say whoever is responsible for the purposeful terrorizing and massacre of innocent children needs to be eliminated from the planet. This is not spoken from hatred for them, but from love for the rest of us. Albert Einstein said, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." He might well have added "human cruelty and viciousness" to that one. Hard choices for hard times... we're so very far from "there" yet.

Tearlach

09/14/2004 11:55:45 AM

the interviewee appears to be a knowledgeable historian -- this article appears to have very specific current information -- the article also notes that Putin is trying to publcily pin the Beslan atrocity on the Chechens doesn't the Debka article actually support Williams' sympathetic treatment of the Chechens?

sagenav

09/14/2004 11:43:02 AM

Tearlach: There may have been some Wahhabi, but like the author says, not likely Al Qaeda. Could be wrong though. But your source is an Israeli news outlet, which could have an agenda to put the blame directly on Arabs.

Tearlach

09/14/2004 11:35:14 AM

"The 32 hostage takers were not Chechens but members of al Qaeda cells, Arabs and natives, known locally as “Wahhabis” (after the austere state religion of Saudi Arabia), from a place whose name is even less recognizable than were the battle arenas of Afghanistan and the Balkans: Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, northwest of North Ossetia. To reach Beslan, they first transited Ingushetia, which forms a wedge between North Ossetia and Chechnya. There, the terrorist gang was joined by a handful of Ingushe terrorists, along with their Chechen commander, Magomet Yevloev, nicknamed “Magas”. However, Magas did not mastermind the operation. His controller was a Wahhabi, who has not been identified, but whose voice was heard intoning Koranic verses on the videotape broadcast later. He too came under the orders of the two new chiefs of al Qaeda’s Saudi contingent in Chechnya, who are also known only by their noms de guerre of Abu Hafs and Abu Hajr. . ." http://debka.com/article.php?aid=903

qtp3

09/14/2004 11:12:34 AM

Wow, Grozny 400,000 people wiped off the planet. tens of thousands killed.country blasted into the stone age. It seems like the people have essentially no hope for survival and the world abandoned them. If any of us in the USA went thru an ounce of that, we wouldn't be as apathetic as we are. Sept 11 is only a small part in comparison and it is something we will never forget and it has changed our views, imagine how a chechen women, with her husbands and children slaughtered, turning to violence because there is no hope or life. Where is responsible journalism, and why do we wait to explain their war with russia before the school bombing.

sagenav

09/14/2004 10:51:15 AM

cknuck: I doubt your "fact" is actually factual. However, more Christians have died by Christian hands throughout history by far than Muslims have died by Muslim hands. That is a fact.

andy_f_90

09/14/2004 09:27:32 AM

Not to say that BESLAN was not condemnable, since 2 wrongs can NEVER MAKE A RIGHT, not matter what reasons. But before generalizing it will help to get the facts.

andy_f_90

09/14/2004 09:27:10 AM

Again, thanks to Beliefnet I would recommend this article or interview by Ms. Caldwell of Brian Williams to all those unfortunate ignorant souls who would rather blame al-Qaeda terrorists (as an easy way out) to explain the carnage in Beslan without taking it in proper historical context. Yes we won't hear this context on why the Chechens are fighting the Russians in the media. Far from it, we hear right-wing radio-talk show spewing venom and diatrebes against crazy terrorists without understanding the destructful environment which spawned this terror. I really wish to all those who have condemned Chechen resitance (and the hostage taking was a blemish to their resitance) and have linked it with terrorism; to be transferred to Chechnya and live in their hopeless, destroyed conditions and witnessing their parents being led away to their death. Then and maybe then you might come to one drop of understanding of what the Chechnyans face daily.

lynnz3145

09/14/2004 08:32:01 AM

Thank you for giving us a little more information on a struggle happening far form the US. Little is published in the general media, except for the atrocities and this gives some needed background information.

cknuck

09/14/2004 06:58:37 AM

More Muslims die by Muslim hands than by any other way. Simple fact.

Livindesert

09/14/2004 06:45:55 AM

Yes every country should change their tone and not in any situation use terrorist tactics. But there is a big difference between someone who accidentally hits a kid with a car(U.S.) and some one who would walk up to a kid and stab them(Islamic fundamentalist).

YahyaBergum

09/14/2004 01:28:43 AM

(One last time – and thank you for your patience!) [Late President Akhmad] KADYROV['s] FORCES IMPLICATED IN KIDNAPPINGS MINISTER FOR [Separatist President Aslan] MASKHADOV['s] GOVERNMENT SURRENDERS

manthing

09/13/2004 10:22:17 PM

I agree with you, DeMontfort, that we should ever strive to make our conduct above reproach, and that the word 'terrorism' is a subjective term. However, it is a certainty that a bit of relativism must be applied to matters of international governance. I would rather a country with a Bill of Rights assume that mantle than a country with a religious text as its constitution.

deMontfort

09/13/2004 10:07:52 PM

Terrorism is a state of mind that says the end justifies the means. All nations have to change that mindset. In the 1980s the US hired Honduran mercenaries to commit terrorist acts in Nicaragua. The Socialist government was considered so dangerous by Reagan, that the means of terrorism justified his ends of overthrowing the Sandinistas. This fact does not in ANY way excuse what happened in Russia. However, we got to get real about our own sins before rushing out to be the sword of judgement on others.

cknuck

09/13/2004 08:28:55 PM

"ah, yes, yet another way the Bushies have made our world more dangerous. It would be nice if they pulled their heads out of their rumps for a minute and actually did something to protect us!" That's got to be the silliest statement I ever heard or just an oversight. The world was just as dangerous before Bush as a matter of fact 9/11 happened before Bush. Ill directed hate.

Livindesert

09/13/2004 08:01:55 PM

Im with manthing on this one.Interesting that the U.S. will try not to have civilan deaths and gives medical care and aid to counties it has to invade and is given hell for it.But Chechens who like killing little kids are loved by people on this board...weird...

fromoz

09/13/2004 07:35:12 PM

Thank you for this article. Many people don't choose to to "terrorists", it's often all they can do to fight for their countries and freedom. Chechnia wasn't the only country that was invaded while the rest of the World sat on its hands. There were (for example) China's invasion of Tibet, Indonesia's invasion of West Papua and now the US invasion of Iraq. It disturbs me that the World doesn't have an effective "Police Force" to protect (in particular) small countries. I believe that would do a lot towards stopping "terrorism". With the US murdering thousands of innocents in Iraq, the differentiation between a "freedom fighter" and a "terrorist" depends on who is doing the labelling?

manthing

09/13/2004 07:30:46 PM

Why was the title font of this piece changed on the homepage. I appreciate the article very much, but this is a disgusting misusage of the term 'warrior' to those of us who strive to embody the qualities therein. These child-killing murderers were nothing of the sort.

rawwar73

09/13/2004 05:59:33 PM

"The Chechens were identified as the ultimate al Qaeda terrorists, as if suddenly the IRA or Colombian narco-Mafias were al Qaeda." ah, yes, yet another way the Bushies have made our world more dangerous. It would be nice if they pulled their heads out of their rumps for a minute and actually did something to protect us!

jontemplar

09/13/2004 04:39:07 PM

I am glad to see this article putting the whole thing into perspective. I was quite outraged last week when LC practically asserted that it was Russia's freedom that the Chechnyan's hate. I remember Bush embracing PUtty-Put and saying that he looked into his heart and he is a good man. Putty-Put is a brutal KGB man make no mistake. I would ask the board to do a little research on Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The Bushies have tried to overthrow him twice now even though he was/is the democratically elected president. The Bushies don't like him making demands on oil companies that are drilling with complete disregard for the people and environment in his country. My prediction is that we will either go in directly (like Iraq) or indirectly (freedom-fighters) and make bloody Chechnya style massacre of the place. Just wait and watch...

tyruler

09/13/2004 01:13:40 PM

Very well done Ms. Caldwell. Mr. Williams is very intelligent concerning the peaceful and enlightened religion of Islam and discerning the tenets of the faith with the political causes and humanitarian grievances of the Chechen people. Good piece. I hope to read more interviews with intelligent people providing us with facts than just sentimental viewpoints of various idealogues.

American_anglican

09/11/2004 08:15:16 PM

Mrs Deborah Caldwell and beliefnet. I am glad that you did this pice and I would personaly love to see talk bit more on how chechens and even asian place became muslim. It would be good group of stores to tell us ablot these other muslims that most Americans and british have no clue about it.

was

09/11/2004 05:04:27 PM

Thanks, Bnet, for helping me to better understand Chechnya.

MapleLeaf4ever

09/11/2004 10:03:33 AM

Oh and by the way, Nazism, a form of fascism, was not a German idea...it was an Italian one=)

MapleLeaf4ever

09/11/2004 10:02:45 AM

Now what this article is describing is an attempt by strict orthodox Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia to spread their form of Islam throughout the Muslim world...in that way you could argue Wahhabism is imperialist WITHIN the ummah, or Islamic world. There are few attempts by Wahhabists to spread outside the Islamic world...they seem to want all Muslims to conform to their vision. Is Wahhabism inwardly imperialist to other Muslims, I'll by that, but Islam as a whole is not. If you look a Muslim history, rearely do you see the kind of forced conversions that you saw in Christianity. That is why today there are over a billion hindus that live in what was once a Muslim ruled kingdom (India) and millions of Jews which lived in the Arab world until they were expelled in the 20th century over Israel.

MapleLeaf4ever

09/11/2004 09:57:07 AM

That is simply not true, historically Muslims may have pushed to expand their faith, but the teachings of Islam clealy state that if God wanted the world to be Muslim, he would have created it that way. It goes on to say that God created a pluralistic world so that we could "get to know each other". Other teachings include "there is no compulsion in religion" and goes on to state that those who pressure or force people into converting are not doing Dawa properly. Islam is definatly not imperialistic because imperialism implys they want to maliciously conquer and oppress people for their sake...in this case, their cultural sake. In reality, Islam simply engages in the same activities that Christianity and even Buddhism do to gain converts. If you ever visit Japan, there are sects of Buddhists that will sing outside your door for as long as it takes someone to convert...is Buddhism an imperialist religion? I doubt anyone here would say that...Islam would never allow Muslims to go to that lenght either...

Norm_uk

09/11/2004 07:48:47 AM

Mapleleaf: Saying Islam is an imperialistic religion is a statement of fact...it doesn't make all Muslims 6th Century Arabian cultural imperialists though any more than saying Nazism was a German idea makes all Germans National Socialists. Islam is perhaps the most imperialistic religion in the history of the world, rivalled only by several forms of Christianity which are no longer practised as state religions.

MapleLeaf4ever

09/11/2004 12:42:14 AM

truthshines, have you ever even talked to a Muslim before? I can assure you that the overwhelming majority just want to be left in peace...its fundamentalists from all over the world (from all the Abrahamic faiths) that are pushing for conflict. You say in your profile, "The world is grey, not black and white"...well when u call Islam an imperialistic religion, that's a pretty black and white statement...

truthshines

09/10/2004 09:16:33 PM

Would those Arab charities have cared to the same degree for the Chechens if they were not Muslim? I doubt it. The Chechen people may be fighting for a separate country, but Islam itself is an imperialist religion aiming to bring the whole world into the Islamic world. It is a territorial game.

manthing

09/10/2004 07:53:55 PM

This is one of the most informative articles I've ever seen on B'net. I think the parallel drawn here with the Palestinians is accurate, and illustrates how affiliation with Islam will consistently undermine any sort of international sympathy for an oppressed population.

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