Terrorism: a political, military danger or a cultural, ideological challenge?

Terrorism: a political, military danger or a cultural, ideological challenge?
(Gamal Arabi, September 14, 2016)

Transcript available below

ISIS is not merely a terrorist organization, it is a malicious idea. ISIS and Al Qaeda have the same ideological underpinning. We need to confront this pernicious thinking with an enlightened, open-minded thought – one that accepts The Other and co-exists with him, enlightened ideas emanating from within Islam.

About the speaker

Gamal Arabi will introduce a non-usual approach to fighting the Jihadi threats originating from the Muslim World. His approach focuses on the importance and potential of defeating the ideology the terrorist groups and individuals spread through the Middle East and the entire world. Such an ideology, he believes, resides in the currently prevailing interpretations of Islam’s holy books and teachings. Thus, an “enlightenment” program is essential to complement the political and military measures aimed at eradicating terrorist threats.

Arabi’s intellectual contributions include the publication of two books written in Arabic: “Opening of the Muslim Mind” and “Muslim Woman Dress: Body Covering or Mind Blinding?”. In addition to that he has published several articles on Islamic enlightenment in Arabic newspapers and websites.

Arabi graduated from the University of Khartoum in 1980 and, since then, worked in the area of information technology in many institutions in his country, Sudan. He ended his professional career as director for the information technology department of the Sudanese central bank.


Robert Reilly:

Well, our speaker tonight is someone I met several years ago when for some reason he happened across a book I wrote about Islam called The Closing of the Muslim Mind. I was very grateful for his encouragement that the book be translated into Arabic, which it has been by a fellow countryman of his, so I owe to him my thanks for his inspiration in guiding me to getting that done.

To repay his kindness, I put Gamal al-Arabi in touch with my friends who are affiliated with Westminster in England who have a Muslim reform website called Al Muslih to which he now has become a contributor, and it is a compilation of contributions to that website made both in Arabic and English that have been published in the Reforming Islam book, which you can see on the table outside, which contains a lot of stunning analysis by Arab Muslims about what needs to be done within the Islamic world to reform it.

And Gamal al-Arabi is one of the people who can tell us that because he’s done a very acute analysis from his perspective, “From Within Sudan What Needs to be Done.” And the subject of his talk tonight, “A Political, Military Danger or a Cultural, Ideological Challenge,” speaks to that point as well as the shortsightedness of the United States and others in the West who have misdiagnosed the problem and therefore applied a wrong solution.

Just a couple of words about Gamal’s intellectual contributions, which include two books written in Arabic, appropriately enough, “Opening of the Muslim Mind” and “Muslim Women Dress: Body Covering or Mind Binding?” He is a graduate of the University of Khartoum and since then has spent many years working for the Central Bank in Sudan and is the director of the information technology department of the Sudanese Central Bank. Please join me in welcoming Gamal Arabi.

Gamal al-Arabi:

Good evening, everyone. I hope that the lecture will be useful and please forgive me if there is any difficulty in transferring my ideas to you because this is my first time to speak in English about this area.

Before I proceed, I need to briefly explain the meaning of the terms that are usually used in this paper and I think in many other lectures: these are Salafi, Salafist and jihadi, jihadist. The word Salafi describes in general the widely dominant state of mind in the Muslim world that is different interpretation of the basic Islamic or Muslim books that took place in the first three centuries that followed Prophet Muhammad.

And these interpretations are still governing the way Muslims are thinking and looking to the world until now throughout these thousand years, the past thousand years. I think Mr. Robert Reilly’s book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, may be the most important source to show exactly how this happened, how Muslims froze their minds and became captive to ideas that were created before a thousand years.

The word jihad stands for the use of violence and war against infidelity or apostasy. In the Salafist thought, whoever is not a Muslim is an infidel who should be a Muslim either by wisdom. I mean in the Salafi interpretation, not every Muslim is thinking this way. But frankly, the majority of the ideas that are moving in our minds are related to this concept.

See the rest of his talk…