Radicalisation plays an important role especially during the discussion of global jihad, however, its emergence is not discussed quiet frequently thus, making this important issue ignored. The word “Wahhabism” rings in countries sharing the borders of the Ferghana Valley, the Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Chechnya, and the Russian Republic of Dagestan. Fundamentalism or “Wahhabism”, it poses a grave challenge to the recent founded nations, which comes under direct fire when we discuss fundamentalism. Additionally, the word “Wahhabism” is an eminent threat to Islam especially to the practice of the Sunni Islam to which most of the populations in these newly founded nations follow. If these radicalised preaching’s of Islam continue, radical teachers would threaten the local, national, and regional levels and instigate enormous geopolitical issues which would then threaten the neighbouring powers, which would then force the bigger powers, US or the UK to react.
Today, the entire world is threatened by the flag of fundamentalist and radical preachers, which is preaching violence in the name of god. Militants sources today can easily be traced back to the Wahhabi movement.
Origin of Wahhabism
The origins of all of the Islamic radicalisation today, lies in the Islamic which was developed in the 18th and the 19th century in tribal areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula. The epicentre of this thought process was a young Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab, hence the word “Wahhabism.”
This narrow ideology rejected the concept of traditional scholars, apprenticeship and practices under the “reviving the true tenets of Islam” and focussed on protecting the “original concept” of Islam. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab preached “purification” of Islam and focussed his theories on ancient “holy” practices of worship, focussing entirely on Prophet Muhammad, “peace be upon him” and focussed on holy sainthood, burning books on traditional practices, interpretations and commentaries on Qur’an and Hadith. His followers were encouraged to read the holy books and preach their followers on the basis of their understanding, irrespective whether they lacked the conscious meaning towards the term “fundamentalist” or any other term. Anyone who did not follow this method of preaching was considered as the enemy of realm of Islam thus making “the shedding of his blood”, “death in the name of Islam”, and “confiscation of his wealth” permitted. Thus, through this, he secured a significant following which we continue to see even today.
In the course of time, Ibn Wahhab’s ideas spread rigorously, far and wide, debated even in the ranks of holy Sheikhs, many questioned his preaching’s while many believed him to be the true messenger of Allah. A massive struggle began between the massive Ottoman Empire and the “Wahhabi” tribes. After the dissolution of Ottoman empire in the early 1920s, the Wahhabis dissolved into history. Struggling to survive, Wahhabis continued to reinstate their beliefs and began influencing the Muslims in the peninsula.
Slowly and steadily, they were very successful in establishing new beliefs which focussed on extreme “views and interpretations”, in contrast with the traditional Sunni Islam. With a reformed belief, with the support of few wealthy families in the East, the movement escalated. As the movement grew, it engulfed empires, as many groups went into extreme radicalisation.
The Influence of Wahhabism today
The Wahhabi ideology is on the contrary to the traditional Sunni preaching, which heavily focusses on the concept of preaching by pious saints, accepted by the Sunni Islam almost 1400 years ago. By rejecting the hierarchy stated in the traditional Sunni Islam, the Wahhabis rejected rulings on many subjects, condemned the four schools of thought and the rulings issued by the schools, as well the rulings on those who didn’t agree with the beliefs.
The Wahhabi’s rejected traditional form of Islam, their followers did not become violent, until recently. Today, the Wahhabi’s openly condemn other religions and beliefs while imposing just the rule of Allah above all. Their mentality revolves around the use of sword. Thus, movements have brought up armed rebels around the world, especially where there are weak governments unable to resist these factions effectively and aggressively.
However, this ideology has left deep effects in the history of Islam but not because of its radical approach towards who do not follow, rather than the violence it preaches. Originally, Islam was always peaceful and resilient. The Prophet Mohammed used to present its non-Muslims with gifts and flowers, never holding a sword against or any bit of violence against them, rather leaving a message of love and peace towards one another. There are many incidents in the history of Islam, where the Prophet Mohammed made peace with non-Muslim believers. Islam, inspite of heaving spread rapidly over the three decades, did not preach violence towards other religion.
This modern ideology of extremism, the traditional concept of peace and harmony which Islam preached has been abolished. The Holy Quran, frequently talks people free to choose any religion without compulsion has rapidly been ignored. Wahhabi followers select some phrases from the Holy Quran on the basis of their understanding, and impose its beliefs on all, Muslims and non-Muslims.
Waging war against governments
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Wahhabism became a series threat to neighbour Soviet Union. Since, these religions were protected under the Soviet’s rule, the fall of the Soviet empire created an opening for Wahhabi’s and an open ground to spread this new ideology. They inspired the minorities to take up arms against their governments. As these movements were exactly what the Wahhabism preached, the armed struggle gave a massive opening for them to reinforce their tribes. As many governments focussed their attention to reconcile with the rebels, the rebels rejected any kind of compromise. They firmly believed on their ideology and duty
These extremists turn against anyone who spoke contrary to their viewpoints; thus, declaring a war against any government who questioned their ideology. They opposed their government in Egypt and again in Jordan. In Syria, Pakistan, Algeria, and other nations “Wahhabi-minded” groups picked up arms against their governments and so did they in the regions of Caucasus and Central Asia. Their approach is to breach Islamic teaching schools, mosques and preach the teachings of “true” Islam. They impose their views on communities, while condemning other religions, in a hope to conquer more lands and expand their religion to greater heights. They justify militancy and illegal finances as wages for “jihad” for the protection and preservation of Islam in the world.
There are seemingly many such examples in the world today, whether it is people with these ideologies declaring war on America, or smaller groups picking up weapons against the governments in Central Asia. This is exactly opposite to what Prophet Muhammad taught, not to oppose a ruler as long as he works on prayers and humility, even if he commits a suicide is injustice. They use Islam as when they please to, use the words that they like, and further completes the message with their ideology which they continue to expand.
Using Islam for justifying unspeakable actions
The word “Islamic” is heavily abused by extremists who justify all kinds of killings and inhumane acts, which in fact is contrary to the true teachings of Islam. Among such is the Fatwa which justified the use of suicide attacks against civilians in marketplaces, schools, offices, along with the places of their worship. They have frequently used fatwa legalising using drug money to finance their attacks, despite the fact that narcotics are strictly prohibited in the rules of Islam.
These extremists have permitted the rule of drugs and they are sold extensively in the markets to all Muslim and non-Muslim. They then use this illicit money to expand their global networks, buy arms and ammunitions to continue their fight against governments, and further strengthen their organization.
Rapidly growing Extremism
Today, extremism has flourished phenomenally in every party of the world. Small, yet heavily financed militant groups are on the verge of arise, fighting against the government, waging war and leaving weeping and conflict stricken families. The situation further intensifies when an outside government (Non state actor) supports such extremist movements under the impression of free speech and democracy.
One such example is Uzbekistan. It is important for policy makers to understand that these violent vigilant groups have actively embedded themselves in the society thus, it is imperative to create a system which will check whether the government is not financing or in any way behind the rise of such violent groups, whose goal is to eliminate the government under any circumstance and instigate an armed struggle.
These groups where not permitted in the Middle East, but came together during the Arab Spring, where the governments where largely weak to handle any armed uprising, thus, it poses a greater threat not only to the existence of Uzbekistan, but also to its neighbouring countries. These groups use ideology as a weapon and impose them on other groups. The issue of extremism does not only end in Middle East, it exists in the US too. The West has to understand the need to bridge the gap between the West and Muslim communities and reinforce it with trust.
To defy religious beliefs without understanding the stakeholders or the perpetrators following it, is a highly illogical thought. To identify viable solutions for it, it is important for policy makers to understand the ideology of Islam and the beliefs that these perpetrators follow, since, the ideology that we see today is followed by militancy. Wahhabi ideology is reinforced by extreme violence and militancy. Increasing educational opportunities will decrease extremism and militancy that comes with it.
It is highly important for policy makers to work together with a think tank or a highly reputed research institute or prominent researchers, to understand in-depth knowledge of Islam, rather than making rash judgements on the few information they have. To understand Islamist militant movements, it is just not a mistaken identity or misuse of words these militants preach, they preach a full-fledged ideology of war and weapons together.
Fundamentalism and Rise of ISIS
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant caliphate has conquered most of the Iraq and Syria, could not have timed their uprising better. For some, it was their need of the hour, for some it was a calculated approach.
Frankly, no country from the West, be it the US or the UK will defeat the caliphate, without actually putting the boots on the ground. Without troops in this theatre of war, it is impossible for nations to counter the massive movements of the ISIS. Since the retreat of the US, the ISIS played a strategic move, the militants in the history of warfare, now hold vast territories. Since Iraqi army is weak, they will at best be able to hold the boundaries, but not for long. And Iran is interested in taking down ISIS, but due to years of economic sanctions, has neither the system nor the equipment’s to initiate a counter attack. It will enter the fray only if it feels the Shia-led Iraqi regime will collapse. Even if they do take the first move, they will largely be able to halt them at some point. Iran, will not be able to sustain a prolonged warfare.
With unstable markets, no country in the Middle East will invest heavily to fight the ISIS. With US supporting the allies, they will not risk creating another Iraq. In fact, they don’t have a budget to do so. These are difficult times even for the developed economies, the crude oil prices are seemingly unstable, especially for the OPEC countries. Allies need more than money to prevent the ISIS propaganda. A report from the IMF states that Iran, Iraq and Algeria need almost $100 a barrel.
The West does not have the sustainable finances to initiate a war on the ISIS. Keeping, Russia aside for a moment, the unstable market is preventing all of the West to finance war of this massive scale.
Also, the geopolitics of West Asia is changing drastically. The growing discontent within the Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Shia Iran might shift the attention for a while. In Nigeria, Islamic militant groups such as the Boko Haram and Al Shabab of Somalia are continuing their expansion in the East; with failing oil reserves, Boko Haram will again find an opportunity to recruit soon.
With the unstable oil prices at one end, and possible militant expansion on the other, Allies will have a tough time in countering the expansion of the ISIS. Theoretically, the oil prices will not affect the West.
For developing economies like India, nations will have a hard time in combating inflation and the current account deficit, which will continue to open doors for extremism in the neighbourhood, within India alone.
War on Radical Islam
Despite promising the West to stop terror funding’s, the East has unable to adhere its promising, almost fifteen years later, the money pumping from the oil rich countries are flowing into the accounts of terror groups in propagating radical Islam. It is impossible for us to know the exact extent of support they get, but there is no denying that the war will not until the entire Middle East wants it to end – heavy finances flowing through on and off government accounts, charities and lobbied pressure groups, the jihadist movements will reinforce their attacks every time. The most important player, which has much to lose in this, is Saudi Arabia. Before September 11, the Saudi’s were a major financer for al Qaeda and its allies. Besides condemning openly on Wahhabism and its ideologies, the Saudi regime has struck a hidden deal with these militants: “do what you do best and wreck the world and keep us out of your way”. This deal then brought enormous sums of money to terror preaching mosques, schools and madrasa’s where they raised their militants.
Saudi’s support 90% of the money flowing to the Wahhabi’s especially the Sunni Wahhabi’s, overshadowing their needs and pledge extensive support. Wealthy Saudi’s are financing these militant groups through charities and shell corporations. Incidents like the insurgency in Iraq are inflicted wounds given by Saudi financers. While speaking to a media channel, a prominent expert on Saudi said: ―If I could snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia. Another country that has the most to lose, is Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has previously funded and trained Shiite Hezbollah and other Sunni radical groups such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It has previously supplied arms to the Shiite insurgents who fought the U.S. and its allies in Iraq.
East remains a viable threat to the US and its allies. It provides enormous access to the West with oil and the West deploys troops on the ground, but this tendency has come to a halt. The xenophobic and anti- Western sentiments are rapidly growing within the jihadists and increasing their motivation to recruit infidels. The cautiously deposited money has promoted militant groups to radicalize youths, making reconciliation efforts between the West and the Muslim world difficult. This cycle can only be broken if the massive rich oil reserve nations witness a political reform, which these oil reserves seems to resist.
Effects on Instability
Despite being a zone with epic turmoil in the past, wars in Middle East has lost valuable resources and countless lives. Conflicts such as these have destabilized the global energy market. The Iran-Iraq wars and the Gulf War were instigators of severe energy crisis which were followed by recession. With such combustible environment, the growing arm race and a growing radicalisation has created enormous insecurity in the region. This can further be reinforced by the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq. While the majority of the world is dominated by Sunni’s, in the Gulf alone, Shiites lead with 70% majority. This divide will greatly affect the oil sector. Rapidly growing sectarian violence and leaving no room for reconciliation and compromise, the stress will deeply affect the oil industry.
Almost a decade into the conflict now, Post war Iraq has not been able to produce the pre-war limit of 2.5 million barrels per day. Due to heavy clashes in the north, Iraq has been able to produce over 2.1 million barrels per day. Perhaps the biggest casualty of this war has been Saudi Arabia. With enormous exports of oil and oil fields, Saudi Arabia has lost more than it could earn. Home to a Shiite majority. They make over 15 percent of Saudi Arabia’s. If an Iranian Shiite revolution sparks, Saudi will never be able to recover from its ripples. While US busy in streaming relations with Iran, the economy of the later does not seems to happy. Iran’s successful partnership with Russia and the nations in Central Asia its energy relations are protected with China and India. China is the number 1 oil and gas importer from Iran.
The two countries share a deal of over $100 billion, guaranteeing that China will block a veto if America prepares an aggressive assault against Iran. However, this defiance, will have two massive repercussions in the global arena. In the shorter run, a military confrontation might be possible between Iran and the US, which will certainly prevent the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz heavily leave the oil market in shock. If Iran manages to become a nuclear power, the repercussions on the globe will be disastrous. A nuclear Iran will be a grave threat to the Middle East. Many nations such as Yemen, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have already expressed their interests in becoming a nuclear super power. But peaceful nuclear powers will not take time to convert it into nuclear. Looking at the misconceptions and erratic behaviour of the regimes in the Middle East, the situation has become highly unpredictable.