Historical Significance of President Barrack Obama’s Declarations at the recent Summit to combat Violent Extremism
By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
22 Feb 2015
(Co-author (Jointly with AshfaqueUllah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009.)
Barrack Obama’s redefinition of what was popularly dubbed ‘Islamic terrorism’ to ‘violent extremism’and his clear distinction between Islam and terror out-fits operating in the name of Islam marks a new Chapter in history. Besides,Mr. Obama made a number of statements that mark a virtual turnaround in the typically left handed or condescending rhetoric against Islam and Muslims. These include:
“We are not at war with Islam; we are at war with people who have perverted Islam;”
“We must never accept the premise that they are holy warriors (in defense of Islam), because it is a lie.”
“They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God.”
“Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders. They are terrorists.
“The image they (mainstream society in the West) get of Muslims or Islam is in the news; and given the existing news cycle, that can give a very distorted impression.”
The question is, are the foregoing declarations merely platitudes or they fill a widening hole in the canvass of civilization that could have torn it apart to the detriment of the entire humanity.
To put it simply, has Mr. Obama wittingly or unwittingly taken upon himself to defend Islam at a moment in Islamic history, when its decline had reached such a low that even the lowest of the low could abuse the Prophet of Islam and say literally whatever he wished against Islam and the Muslims, while the image of Islamic symbols was so repulsive to some as to pull the trigger on petty civil dispute against one displaying it.
Leaving stray incidents aside, over the last two decades, a whole fleet of the learned and scholarly,led by a dominant section of the Western media produced countless reports, periodicals, pamphlets and books including best-sellers demonizing Islam and its Prophet that purported to reaching a conclusion that Islam was not a civilized religion and the Muslims were not fit for the Western landscape.
The media role in fanning anti-Islamic sentiment of the West was best captured by Edward Said in these words: “No one in the American media has held forth for so long (at least two decades) in accents of such racial hatred and contempt against a given culture and people as he (Martin Peretz, the owner of the journal, ‘The New Republic’) has said about Islam and the Arab world. There is a great deal in what he has said over the years that goes well beyond the rational defense (of Israel) and his columns of unadulterated, irrational and vulgar defamation are truly unsurpassed anywhere.”[Covering Islam, 1997]. Edward Said is no longer with us, but his deep concern about the contempt displayed by Martin Peretz became a popular fashion and pleasing assumption with a growing section of Western elite, crystallized as a fact of life with a rising spate of terror attacks – though probably none in the Media bothered to realize that the violent extremists who carried out terror attacks did not representIslam and were motivated by their own political agendas.
The colossal death and sufferings of Muslim civilians in just and anti-terror or defensive invasions, the massive destruction of infrastructure in Muslim cities, the stigmatization Muslims and Islam in the West and the brush-stroking of the global Muslim community as terror suspects, as the world witnessed over the past decade,represents probably the darkest era in Islam. In historical perspective, Islam became a sinking boat,a growing number of its intellectual elite began to jump out of it for safety or to abuse its Captain and Crew to ventilate their frustrations, and the rival onlookers watched with glee and contempt.
The question is why, much against popular expectation, a US President had to come forward to salvage a faith-civilization, that was virtually at the mercy of his foreign policy. Was it a historical necessity or just a politically motivated game plan? It is necessary to analyze this to quash conspiracy theories that are bound to be framed to thwart Mr. Obama’s efforts to diffuse and eradicate the growing menace of radicalization and to explode the prestigious theory of the Clash of Civilization. Here are some insights to defend the President, and to demonstrate that he has done exactly what history demanded of the President of a country, in whose hands lay the future of humanity – so to speak.
1. Mr. Obama’s declaration that “the true enemy is not the faith of Islam but the perverted form of this faith”merely echoes the SOS call made in an article  published more than two years ago, the following title of which speaks for itself:
The twin growing menace: Petrifaction and Radicalization in Islam and Islamophobia – Are they interconnected? How best they can be diffused? An SOS to the Muslim Intelligentsia, Leadership and Ulama!
Mr. Obama’s statement acknowledges the intimate connection between perversion of Islam and radicalization of Muslim youth – the greatest menace of the era that feeds ideological terrorism or violent extremism. The above article may have been read by a score or at best a few hundred readers without making any impact. Mr. Obama’s address takes this warning across the globe and thus unwittingly responds to it, thereby fulfilling a historical necessity.
2. Mr. Obama’s contention that the terrorists who claim religious legitimacy are liars is expounded in the exegetic Refutation of Al-Qaida’s Fatwas (Call to militant jihad), the conclusion of which read as follows:
“The concluding claim of the Fatwa of being authenticated by the Qur’an and the Hadith is a blatant lie, as each of its four broken down propositions are refuted on the strength of the Qur’an. This concluding part of the Fatwa has not quoted even a single authenticated (Sahih) Hadith narration, though such a narration would not have lent it any credence as the Qur’an refutes it.”
Thus, the President speaks the truth out of his wisdom, erudition and insight and hits right at the head of the nail in exposing the terrorists as liars.
3. Mr. Obama’s comparison of the terrorist with a madman echoes the following historical truth :
“Caliph Ali compared them (the terrorists of his era) with mad dogs and declared them as Kharijites (as having forfeited the claim to the pale of Islam)”.
Thus, unless Mr. Obama is well read in the early history of Islam which is unlikely, he has reached the same conclusion as the last (fourth) of Islam’s Rightly Guided Caliphs, who was also the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet of Islam. So Mr. Obama spoke as a wise President and not as a politician hankering after popularity.
4. Mr. Obama warns the Muslims not to grant the terrorists the religious legitimacy they seek.
His call echoes a pressing needed to outlaw ISIS from the pale of Islam as proposed in the following article the caption of which speaks for itself:
Declare The ISIS As The Kharijites (Those Who Seceded From Islam) As This Article Demonstrates And Declares: Global SOS To The Ulama, Muftis, Intellectuals And Scholars Of Islam.
5. The media in the West gives a distorted image of Muslims and Islam.
As ‘bad news’, such as relating to terror attacks by a handful of violent Muslim extremists are given extensive coverage for their ideological character, the common people in the West who hardly know any Muslimsin their day to day life get a very distorted image about Islam and its followers. This apart,with its heritage of bias against the Muslims as noted by Edward Said, mentioned earlier, the Western Media continues to treat them as the ‘others’, the offenders and the Westerners as the victim. Thus, the Western victims of terror attacks are deeply and visibly mourned and their weeping next of kin are shown on the TV, which is fair and honorable, but a hundred or even greater number of equally innocent Muslim civilians – men, women and children killed in anti-terror, or just and defensive invasions are mentioned casually as mere numbers - who had to be killed to defend against the menace of terror. The footage of missile-hit crumbling buildings, trapped humans, flying limbs and burning bodies of Muslim civilians in war zones is never shown and the weeping next of kin hardly ever interviewed, and their spokesmen seldom heard. By a novel interpretation of law, the war against terror is defined as just, so all those killed are justly killed – no matter how horrifying the conditions and those responsible for their killing, no matter how mercilessly they kill, are honored as brave and moral soldiers who do not cut the heads of their victims like the barbaric Muslim terrorists. A legal blue print appears to be on hand to purge the entire West of all the Muslims by a further twist of law that consensus could readily accomplish – it can be anybody’s guess.
While Mr. Obama did not elaborate this issue, his concluding reference to a “a painful truth that’s part of the challenge” says a lot more than what the eye meets – he knows best. Perhaps he is well aware of how the Western media had stalked Islam for a final push out of its landscape – though God knows best.
But what if Mr. Obama did implicate Islam with terror?” Could the Muslims be eliminated by way of any redefinition of humanity? Or could the ISIS and any other barbaric terror outfit emerge as a model to return the West with crude brutalitywhat the West could do by way of a just, lawful, clean and moral war.
The answer is, any President who is worthy of his position could not do otherwise. Implicating Islam with terror would have given legitimacy to the terrorist, reduced Islam into a cult of bestial violence, led by terrorist Caliphs in different countries and corners of the world and the active terrorists would have multiplied many folds creating an enduring heritage of terror. The Muslims as members of a cult of terror would have been far more terrifying than what they are today and ISIS type outfits that need hardly a score of violent extremists and a few pairs of kitchen knives or Kalashnikovs to operate, would have kept the whole world on its edge. Hence, what the President did was the right thing to do – a historical necessity to thwart the unlawful political ambitions of the violent terrorist of Islam and of course, unwittingly, to defend the faith of Islam. This is no post mortem. The Refutation of a key Taliban Fatwa  calling for establishment of Islamic Caliphate has the following concluding remarks:
“All in all the Taliban’s call dtd. March 2013 to wage violent Jihad to establishing a Pan-Islamic politically integrated state or Khilafah transcending national boundaries and governed by their version of Islamic Sharia Law is nothing short of a blue print to conquer hearts, minds and lands by exploiting the sentiments of the oppressed, marginalized and victimized segment of Muslim masses. An ideological war is thus being spearheaded globally to turn Islam from a religion of peace, harmony and universal brotherhood into a cult of bestial violence and naked terrorism – a grand betrayal of faith, a monstrous conspiracy, let alone its bloody fallout.
In a grand irony of history the divine scheme has set the mightiest nation on earth to defend the faith of Islam on pressing political and terrorism grounds, and which country can be more suited for this noble task than the One that has the name of God engraved on each of its trillions of coins and printed on billions of currency notes.”
In sum, one will have to admit that Mr. Obama was neither tiptoeing through the tulips nor trying to appease any quarter, nor downplaying the atrocities committed against the Christians by ISIS or the Paris killings. Viewed in broad historical perspective, he was walking upright with firm feet on hard ground with his head held high and mind’s eyes overseeing the panorama of events that have morphed into the growing menace of radicalization and terror that the Summit aimed to eradicate by a debunking the terrorists’ ideological claims and virtually expunging them from the pale of Islam.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. KhaledAbou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.