March 23, 2009

And another reading list..

As we are much into reading lists on this site, Londonstani thought he'd contribute a list of what the other side recommends you read.

In his March 14 statement, Osama Bin Laden talked about launching jihad to liberate Palestine and all the usual stuff. But he also set forth the books that scholars and preachers should use to "correct" the "thought and life" of the umma.

So, thanks to the Quilliam Foundation, here's a list of bedside books recommended by the most searched for man on earth. (this has still got to be true, right?)

"‘Concepts Which Must Be Corrected’ and ‘Are We Muslims?’ by Muhammad Qutb. Muhammad Qutb is the editor and publisher of the writings of his brother, Sayyid Qutb, which inspired al-Qaeda and other violent Islamists. In the 1960s Muhammad Qutb fled Egypt and settled in Saudi Arabia where he created a synthesis between the Muslim Brotherhood’s modernist political Islamism and the Saudi government’s rigid, reactionary theology known as Wahhabism. This mixture created modern jihadism. Bin Laden regularly attended Muhammad Qutb’s lectures at university in Jeddah.

"Bin Laden also recommended a commentary on Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s Kitab al-Tawhid, the founding textbook of Wahhabism. He cites the commentary by Abd al-Wahhab’s grandson, ‘Victory of the Glorious’ by Abd al-Rahman bin Hasan Al Shaykh, describing this as a “very important book which talks about Tawhid [monotheism] and warns against Shirk [polytheism], including the Shirk of graves and the Shirk of palaces.”"

Those interested in the development of takfiri ideology will find nothing new here. It's not like Osama just recommended the top choice on Richard and Judy's book club (like Oprah's book club but less self-help), but these are the basic fundamentals of takfiri thought.

Of course, there's a little history here. Quilliam is making the case that any salafis by definition are extremists, and therefore are part of the problem and should not be given money to do de-radicalisation work. This insistance on conformity of thought and not just action, brings up a range of problems which in Londonstani's mind revolve around the following:
1 - If the homophobic but anti-violent salafis are prevented from taking part in deradicalisation work, are the cuddly sufis going to find the credibility to fill the gap?
2 - Could work on anti-semiticsim, homophobia etc be separated and done under a social cohesion banner, with de-radicalisation done in parallel?
3 - Will the identification of "extremist thought" become politicised, with different British Muslim groups trying to tar each other (like in Afghanistan when neighbours tell ISAF their neighbours are Taliban). Or will government (now or in the future) be tempted to tailor the definition of "moderate" to fit foreign policy aims? (ie. 2003 - if you think Iraq doesn't have WMD, you are clearly an extremist).

Government is set to announce a new approach over this whole issue, watch this space.

UPDATE: Londonstani has been told that the book Quilliam recommends in turn is very good (if a heavy academic-y read). The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, by Khaled Abou El-Fadl