Islamic Freedom, Islamic Justice, Islamic Rights….
Was Osama bin Laden really fighting for ‘the dispossessed’ or ‘the oppressed’ (words he often used)? It, as per usual, depends on how he – and on how we – define these terms. What he certainly didn’t extol was some kind of Islamic version of a Marxist revolution, as many Western Leftists believe. Far from it.
So what did Bin Laden fight for? Let him speak for himself, as he did immediately after 9/11:
‘The values of this Western civilization under the leadership of America have been destroyed. Those awesome symbolic towers that speak of liberty, human rights, and humanity have been destroyed. The have gone up in smoke.’
– Osama bin Laden, transcript of interview, CNN, February 5, 2002.
How clear did Bin Laden need to be in order to disabuse Western Leftists and left-liberals of the perverse idea that Islamists, as well as even Islamoterrorists, are fighting for the same (kind of) things they are basically fighting for? Again, Bin Laden was explicit about this. He was fighting against ‘liberty, human rights’. He even fought against what he called ‘humanity’. But why should this be a surprise to Leftists or indeed to anyone in the West?
Take each in turn.
The only liberty worth fighting for is that liberty supplied under sharia law as it is embedded in an Islamic state.
There are no human rights. Only the rights Allah sees fit to give his obedient followers (again, as it would be under sharia law).
Finally, ‘humanity’, or even humanity, is a bad thing. It is to stress man, that is, humanity, at the expense of Allah. To fight for humanity is to fight against Islam and the will of Allah. Humanity is even in direct contradiction of Islam.
Leftists and liberals – indeed everyone – needs to realise, once and for all, that most Muslims mean something different when they use the words ‘freedom’, ‘justice’, ‘rights’ and ‘equality’. It can be said that their meanings share next to nothing with ours in the West. (This is not to say there absolute uniformity on the meanings of these words in the West.) It is this brute fact that sends Leftists and liberals on wild goose chases in their attempt to find ‘shared values’ or ‘shared meanings’ between themselves and the Islamists.
Bin Laden, for one, was explicit about this. If a Westerner or a non-Muslim were to have asked Bin Laden if he believed in equality, freedom and justice, he might well have said ‘yes’. But here’s the catch. He would have either said ‘yes’ to that question or he would have asked a simple question:
What do you mean by ‘equality’, ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’?
The answer he would have received would not have satisfied him because it would be Western interpretation of the meanings of these words.
Alternatively, bin Laden might have replied:
Yes, I am in favour of equality, freedom and justice. But only as these notions are given to us by Allah the Almighty or as part of a system of sharia law.
Let Bin Laden speak for himself again here. He believed in the ‘equality, freedom, and justice as was revealed by the Prophet Muhammad’. The West’s interpretations of these words, on the other hand, are fit only for those who act and behave like ‘cattle’. (The word ‘cattle’ is often used by Muslims to designate non-Muslims.)
All this is far from being a surprise. Within the West itself there have been disputes about the meanings of the words ‘freedom’, ‘justice’, ‘rights’ and ‘equality’. Hegel, for example, believed that freedom could only be realised in one’s obedience to the state (which ‘expressed the nation’s will’). Before that, Rousseau talked about ‘forcing people to be free’. This meant obedience to the ‘General Will’, or, again, to the state. In addition, Jeremy Bentham famously said that the idea of ‘natural rights’ was nothing less than ‘nonsense on stilts’.
Despite these anomalies, as it were, we are still securely within some kind of Western/European ambit. Now think what happens when we go back to the 7th century and the life and words of Muhammad, which many Muslims, in effect, do. Here we will enter a different world entirely.