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Not What Went Wrong, but Why it Went Wrong

Not What Went Wrong In The Arab World, But Why It Went Wrong: A Theological Answer
(Robert R. Reilly, January 19, 2019)

Transcript available below

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About the speaker

Robert R. Reilly is Director of the Westminster Institute. He has been on the board since its founding. In his 25 years of government service, he has taught at National Defense University (2007), and served in the Office of The Secretary of Defense, where he was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002-2006).

He participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of information. Before that, he was director of the Voice of America, where he had worked the prior decade.

Mr. Reilly served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983-1985), and in the U.S. Information Agency both in D.C. and abroad.

In the private sector, he spent more than seven years with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, as both national director and then president. He was on active duty as an armored cavalry officer for two years, and attended Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University. He has published widely on foreign policy, the “war of ideas”, and classical music.

Among his many publications are:

The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis, ISI Books, 2010.

Assessing War, “Assessing the War of Ideas during War,” Georgetown University Press, 2015.

Information Operations: Successes and Failures, Westminster Institute, 2014.

The Prospects and Perils of Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, Isaac Publishing, 2014.

The Westminster Institute was established in 2009 to promote individual dignity and freedom for people throughout the world by sponsoring high-quality research, with a particular focus on the threats from extremism and radical ideologies. The Westminster Institute is an independent non-profit organization that is funded by contributions from individuals and private foundations. It receives no government funding. The Institute holds briefings and events throughout the year. The events are free and open to the public.

He has also spoken at Westminster on the subjects of:

Closing of the Muslim Mind (October 17, 2016)

Deciphering the Middle East: Why the U.S. Usually Gets it Wrong (February 9, 2016)

Information Operations: Successes and Failures (September 6, 2013)

Dangerous Embrace: The United States and the Islamists (May 22, 2012)

The Challenge of Islam to the Catholic Church (February 4, 2010)

Transcript

Robert R. Reilly:

Well, I was quite taken with Bernard Lewis’ little book What Went Wrong. I was working in the area of the Middle East in the Defense Department in the northern Gulf and what began nagging at me in my mind was the question, “Okay, I got it, what went wrong. You can see what went wrong all around you, but why? Why did it go wrong?” If you know about the flourishing of Islamic civilization, particularly in 9th century Baghdad where it wasn’t another civilization at the time of comparable level of sophistication other than perhaps the Chinese, certainly not Europe.

With all the promise that was inherent in the achievements of that time – it didn’t end in the 9th century – how did that once flourishing civilization end up in the close to totally dysfunctional state in which it is today? And that is not [me] saying that.

You can hear this from many Arabs themselves and particularly if you’re aware of the UN Human Development reports on the Middle East. You know about those? They began to be published annually around 2001 and so forth and went on for several years and the UN, cleverly enough, had only Arab, Muslim scholars write this study.

And so they marched through every level of human endeavor, the number of patents, the medical care, the level of education, etc., etc. and every one of them the Arab world ended up next to the bottom, but for one, and that one was sub-Saharan Africa and even there they made it to the bottom in one of those categories. So, GDP productivity, the number of books published, the number of books translated, all of this showed a kind of intellectual and cultural implosion and you begin to ask, what happened? Why did it happen? We know what happened.

They speak of this themselves. So I began an investigation that was kind of an intellectual detective pursuit and it took me many years of reading, chatting before I had a eureka moment that my wife reminds me of shouting out, “I’ve got it!” I got it when I was reading 9th and 10th century Muslim theological texts that had to do with the nature of god and particularly with the relationship between god and reason.

This being a subject, by the way, of course, which every monotheistic faith has had to encounter. What is the relationship between God, Yahweh, Allah and reason? And various different answers have been given by the different forms of monotheism and some of them have changed over time.

Well, let me recall for you Pope Benedict XVI’s famous Regensburg Address. Are you familiar with it? Have you read it? Well, you’ll recall that the most notorious part of it that sparked riots in certain parts of the Islamic world was when Benedict quoted Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, who of course was a captive of Muslim forces at the time and the dialogue was with his captor.

And Emperor Manuel II was talking about the relationship between faith and reason and the Emperor said that spreading faith by the sword is not according with right reason and that, open quotes, “Not acting reasonably is contrary to god’s nature,” unquote. Benedict said, “This is the decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion. I say it’s decisive because it presumes that god is reason and if he is reason, then it is immoral to impose force against conscience.”

Now, Benedict also talks about in this famous essay the de-Hellenization of Islam. He also talks about the de-Hellenization of the West. They happened at different times for different reasons but I think that remark about the de-Hellenization of Islam sort of blew over peoples’ heads because they didn’t know there was a period of Hellenization in Islam to begin with. But there was and it was quite extraordinary. And it happened I think for the following reasons.

Christianity, as you know, had been Hellenized centuries before and by Hellenized, I mean it had assimilated Greek philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, and you would see features of this Hellenization in Christian apologetics in the way they would argue about who god is, etc., etc.

When the Muslims conquered the Middle East and North Africa, these were all largely Christian areas and when they thundered out of Arabia, they had no philosophy, they had no theology. As you know, the Qur’an was the first written book in Arabic. There were records of famous Arabic poetry and so forth but no book.

So, they’re ruling over these vast Christian populations and inevitably the interactions would involve discussions about ‘this is who we say god is, who do you say god is?’ etc. So the Muslim intellectuals became acquainted with the style of argument in Christian apologetics and the same questions therefore arose in their minds. What is the relationship between Allah and reason?

And the very earliest theological school in Islam, called Mu’tazilites, answered these questions roughly the following way. God has given us our reason to come to know him. We examine his creation and what do we see? We see in ordered creation that things act for ends and that the end of everything is ordered to its creator.

Now, in examining this creation we can come to know, for instance, the difference between right and wrong and how to behave because what is right will accord with our nature as human beings and what is wrong will be against it. So we know that behaving well means behaving reasonably and doing something wrong is behaving unreasonably, going against reason, the very same terms that Palaiologos was to use those centuries later.

So, for instance, what about revelation? And by the way, what they said, well what we can arrive at is true, is true everywhere for everyone not just us Muslims. It’s true for the non-Muslims. If we can know right and wrong, that in according to our nature as beings, that applies to all humans. And therefore, by the way, they also said all knowledge of such things and of nature and science is admissible within Islam because if it’s true, it doesn’t matter from whom the truth comes so long as it is something that is true and with our minds we can ascertain this truth.

So the rational order in creation, the reason possessed by human beings and the fact that it comes from a god who himself is reason, who himself as is said in Christian revelation is logos, which is the Greek word for reason or Word, or in Genesis, God spoke his word and his word constituted reality. So reality is permeated by reason, by this rational order.

Now, how do we know god has spoken? Well, the first thing you have to figure out is whether there is a god and the Mu’tazilite theologians said the first duty of man is not to submit, it’s to reason, to inquire, to ask, and it’s only when you have established sufficient reasons to say yes, there is a god. Then the question arises, has he spoken? Well, there are various claims to revelation. Has god, for instance, spoken, Allah, spoken in the Qur’an?

Audience member:

Okay, so then, I would ask a question. The violence that you see – just the other day in Green Village, there was an explosion. They don’t believe what you’re talking about.

Robert Reilly:

Jack, you’re jumping ahead a couple paragraphs. Wait. I’m still back in the early 9th century. Don’t worry, you’re next. Thank you. Now, what the heck was I saying?

So what about revelation? And they say well, there are things in the Qur’an here if you take them literally can’t be true. It says god sits on a throne, that he has hands and feet, and we know from our reason that god is pure spirit, so he can’t have hands or feet, he can’t be sitting on a throne. Therefore, we are not meant to take this literally but to understand it metaphorically or analogically.

So what the Mu’tazilites would say is take those things which are not in accord with reason and bring them into accord with reason and therefore that is how you are to understand this. The Mu’tazilites were sponsored by Caliph Al Ma’mun in the 9th century, who was without doubt the greatest proponent and supporter of Greek thought perhaps in the history of Islam. And Al Ma’mun said that Aristotle came to him in a dream and he asked Aristotle, “What is the good?” And Aristotle answered him, “It is what is rationally good.” And Al Ma’mun embraced this answer, supported the Mu’tazilites, opened the Bayt al-Hikma, the great translation center in Baghdad, which was translating works of Greek philosophy, etc. into Arabic. And also, he sponsored Al-Kindi, who was the first Arab, Muslim philosopher.

What happened next? Well, the second school of Muslim philosophy arose called the Ash’arites after al-Ash’ari who had himself been a Mu’tazilite but then adjured it and point by point, he denied everything that the Mu’tazilites had asserted. The Mu’tazilites, by the way, were known as the people of god’s justice and reason because they said god is just, he won’t do anything unreasonable, he won’t reward those who disobey them, he he will punish those who disobey him, he won’t reward them, and he will reward those who do obey him. This is god’s justice and since he’s reasonable, he is reason, he will behave justly and reasonably, so we know what justice is.

The Ash’arites said no, no god is pure will and power. He’s not bound by anything. Famously, Ibn Hazm in Spain about the eleventh century, he wasn’t a Mu’tazilite, but he thought the same general things, that god is not bound even by his own word.

So you go from this idea that god is the word, god is logos, god is reason, to god is not bound by anything. He is pure will and power. He can do anything. The idea that you can say ‘god can’t contradict himself’ is because of your own little human mind. God is not bound by such things and therefore, he may very well reward those who disobey him and punish those who obey him, and this can’t be gained said and for you to protest against it is an act of impiety and is an act of blasphemy.

So this huge struggle begins between the Mu’tazilites and the Ash’arites. It was actually a life and death struggle about which school of thought was going to dominate in Islam. I would say also, by the way, the biggest, most deadly argument that was had between these two schools was concerning the nature of the Qur’an itself. The Mu’tazilites said, ‘yes, this is the word of Allah, but it is contingent on history’, meaning it was revealed at a certain time to a certain people who spoke a certain language. You have to understand all these contingencies and cultural influences and linguistic influences to sort of unpack the meaning of the Qur’an.

And the Ash’arites said oh no, the Quran has always existed exactly as it exists today, eternally, with Allah in his transcendent world, yom al kitab. It is not contingent on anything, it is not influenced by anything, it is in no way a historical document, it is an ahistorical document, and to say otherwise is blasphemy.

Now, quite significantly, the Ash’arites also held that man cannot know the difference between good and evil. Why is this? His reason is corrupted through his self-interest, okay, that’s an easy one. The more profound reason is a metaphysical one. He can’t come to know the difference between good and evil because there’s nothing to be known.

In this very sense, the Mu’tazilites would say you can know the difference between good and evil because of the nature of things and human nature, the things for which they’re intended. Through your reason you can say this thievery is wrong, that murder is wrong.

The Ash’arites said no, no, you can’t know any of these things. Only through the word of Allah, only through his revelation can you know what is right and what is wrong because there are no natures in reality. It is Allah, all-powerful, who constitutes things, what they are, instantaneously, and in the moment.

They had this atomistic metaphysics that there are these sort of particles, atoms, of time and space none of which have any relationship with each other, that Allah agglomerates at any given moment to create this glass, but it’s only a glass for the instant in which his will makes it one. And if you say it’s going to be a glass in the next instance because it has the nature of a glass, shirk.

That’s blasphemy because you are saying that god is not, in their minds, omnipotent. It is only he who wills things to be what they are and in the next instance, he may change his mind and say it’s not a glass, it’s a giraffe. Reality is no longer apprehensible in this rationale way of discerning what things are their natures and therefore, coming to know what they are. You can only know these things through revelation.

There’s a very interesting moment in the Qur’an in the creation narrative. For instance, who names the animals in Genesis?

Audience members:

Adam.

Robert R. Reilly:

Who names the animals in the Qur’an? Allah. So it’s Allah who names the animals, man hasn’t the capability of saying what those animals are. It’s Allah who does it. And after this scene, the angels are complaining to Allah, saying, why have you made this man, this clump of dirt, who is going to cause such mischief? And Allah says, “Oh yeah? Well, let’s see how much you know. You tell me the names of the animals.” And the angels answer, “Oh, Allah, you who know all know that we don’t know what the names of the animals are. We only know what you tell us.”

So even these angels, these creatures of pure intelligence, haven’t the capability to apprehend with their intelligence what things are. That’s what naming is. It’s the apprehension of what something is. So even at the spiritual level of angels, they haven’t that capacity, and so you see at least this little hint of something like this in the Ash’arite view of things.

So this atomistic, metaphysical view of things also removes cause and effect from the natural world. What just happened?

Audience member:

Gravity.

Robert R. Reilly:

Shirk! Anyone else? Thank you. Yeah, shirk. Anyone who said this is gravity, shirk, shirk. You’ve all committed blasphemy. It only hit the podium because god moved it there, and for you to say it happened for any other reason, that gravity is a law of the natural world is shirk, it’s blasphemy. The next time he may cause it to go to the ceiling or hit Warren Coats on the head. Whatever happens is what he wishes to happen because he’s constituted by pure will.

You know there are famous debates in Christianity and elsewhere that you would hear, for instance, someone like Thomas Aquinas saying god’s reason precedes his will or his divine wisdom or intelligence. It precedes his will. In other words, he’s making the point that the will to which god acts creates something, first exists as reason, so that the will is the servant of the reason.

Now, you find in this school of theology the relationship is flipped, that it’s the will that precedes, the will that is primary over reason. It’s not as if, by the way, the Ash’arites wouldn’t say god can act reasonably or we would find reasonably whenever he wills to. Sure enough, but that doesn’t mean he won’t act unreasonably or what we think of as unreasonably whenever he so desires. In other words, it’s totally arbitrary.

And so it is throughout the attributes of Allah that are listed and how the Ash’arites understood them. The Mu’tazilites would say absolutely not. God can’t act unreasonably because he is reason. That would be denying his own nature. So do you see the huge conflict in these two opposing views of who Allah is?

I could read to you things from Muslim debates about these issues that would take the hair off your head. There are very startling, in a way hard to believe. If we had time, I’d be happy to read some of them to you.

This school of thought reaches its apogee in Al Ghazali, who is considered to this day in the Arab Muslim world as second only to Muhammad. That is how influential Al Ghazali continues to be. Al Ghazali wrote a very famous book toward the end of the twelfth century called The Incoherence of the Philosophers, in which he systematically takes apart Aristotle and Plato and says they don’t really know anything, and therefore, what philosophy is is not what it says it is, it’s just another faith, and it’s not the faith of Islam. So Aristotle and Plato, they are haram. He reads philosophy out of Islam.

Now, about a century later, one of the great Muslim philosophers, Ibn Rushd, Averroes, writes a counter to Al Ghazali. Remember his book is The Incoherence of the Philosophers. Averroes writes The Incoherence of The Incoherence and it’s a line by line critique of Al Ghazali and it’s a delicious book to read. The problem is it was too late and in fact, in Cordoba, one of the great Muslim centers, the great Library of Cordoba-

Audience member:

In Spain.

Robert R. Reilly:

In Spain, thank you. My wife is Spanish, but I appreciate the prompt. And I went to Cordoba to see some of the Muslim sites there, but it was Averroes’ books that were taken into the town square and burned and he had to flee. I trace in my work the consequences of this, the triumph of Ash’arism in the Arab, Muslim world where it remains today the majority theological school among Sunnis. It’s a Sunni theological school.

Fazlur Rahman was a great writer, professor, teacher from India-Pakistan. He returned to Pakistan to be a minister and tried to guide their education system. His thinking wasn’t welcomed. He was basically driven out. He went to the University of Chicago where he taught for many years. Some of my friends got their PhDs under Fazlur Rahman. I’ve read every book of his. He said something that caught my attention and this will help you to understand why I had the effrontery to title my book The Closing of the Muslim Mind. Fazlur Rahman wrote, “A people that deprives itself of philosophy necessarily exposes itself to starvation in terms of fresh ideas.” In fact, it commits intellectual suicide.” This is what I tried to trace, but I thought the most important thing was to capture the origins of this problem that has produced such widespread disfunction.

I’ll just give you a sample again. One of the last great Mu’tazilite teachers was Abd Al-Jabbar. We know, we have a more or less complete account of Mu’tazilite teachings because – I forget whether this was in Sudan where they found in the corner of some mosque a treasure trove of his teachings, which were then subsequently translated after the 1950s. A lot of their stuff of course was burned at the time they lost the struggle.

By the way, why did they lose the struggle? This is very long for introductory remarks isn’t it? I’ll jump forward for Jack’s sake. But the reason they lost was the three caliphs after al-Ma’mun, Caliph Al-Mutawakkil switched and said, now, no Mu’tazilism, in fact, no philosophy. And the Mu’tazilites had to basically run for their lives. They actually ran to Shia areas, which is another very interesting story for another time, and the influence that Mu’tazilism had on Shiism.

So they were suppressed. They were forced out. This will help again dramatize the difference, so And Al-Jabbar said, “It is obligatory for you to carry out what accords with reason.” That could be right out Aristotle’s Ethics. Al-Ghazali’s teacher Al-Juwayni said, “There’s nothing obligatory by reason for the servant of god,” nothing. And al-Ghazali himself: “No obligations flow from reason, but from the shariah.” So the obligations you have are only from revelation, from sharia not reason.

Now, King Hussein in the last interview he gave, it was to Milton Viorst, an American journalist, was asked this question: “Would you agree that the Muslim decline can be dated from the 9th century when Islam missed the chance to become the religion of reason and moderation by crushing the Mu’tazilite movement?” King Hussein answers, “That is essentially correct, and we must do what we can to change that now.”

I think you’re familiar with Al Sisi’s remark at Al Azhar in 2014. You remember this? Let me read it to you because it just simply reflects the distress that has come from the situation in which much of the Arab World finds itself.

So he’s saying this to the sheikhs of Al Azhar, “It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It has reached the point that this ideology is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion Muslims would kill the world’s population of 7 billion, so that they could live on on their own? This is inconceivable.”

“I say these things here at Al Azhar before religious clerics and scholars. May Allah bare witness on judgement day to the truth of your intentions regarding what I say to you today. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked in this ideology. You must emerge from it and look from outside in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again. You need to revolutionize our religion. Honorable Imam,” the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, “You bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.”

Well, I don’t think there could possibly be a more powerful indictment or cry of alarm than what President Al Sisi said at that time. I just want to say something about why people are behaving the way Jack describes. Some Muslims are behaving that way. If I had a chalkboard behind me, I would draw in rough the general conception of the universe of existence held in common by the main monotheistic religions, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. You’d have the world and above the world, utterly transcendent, would be Yahweh, Allah, god. You would have a message from god saying, “Here are my rules. Here are my commandments. You behave this way, your eternal reward awaits you,” paradise, heaven, whatever. “If you misbehave, hell, Gehenna, forever.” So then according to that behavior, you will meet your just deserts from a just god.” That’s sort of the general picture.

Now, what has taken place and what I think we understand as Islamism is a breach between the transcendent and the terrestrial. And I thought I had it before me, but I can’t find it at the moment is the statement not by Ibn Taymiyyah, but by our signposts guy, Sayyid Qutb, that makes explicit the breach between these two in saying that the objective of man is to not wait for god’s eternal justice before his throne, but to administer that justice now, and therefore approximate these conditions of paradise or hell here on this earth.

The famous philosopher in the twentieth century Eric Voegelin called this ‘immanentizing the eschaton’. There was actually a National Review button for a while: ‘don’t let them immanentize the eschaton’, by which he meant don’t take the end of existence, which is outside of the terrestrial, in the transcendent and try to duplicate or immanentize it here, create it here, because that creates a huge disorder in existence. And that is what every modern ideology has tried to do whether it’s Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, and Islamism. It is dong precisely that. It is trying to immanentize the eschaton, and therefore, they think that the violence in which they engage, as you know Jack and which we all know, is holy.

Now, why aren’t there stronger antibodies within Islam against this? And my contention is within the Sunni world, these antibodies aren’t there because the dominance of this theology, which prevents one from saying that acting unreasonably is against god because god is reason. The possibility of saying that within the dominant theological school within Sunni Islam isn’t there.

So in other words, there’s no breakwater, there’s no place that these people can get within that version of Islam where they’re stopped by Islam itself, they could keep going. In other words, it’s a continuum. It doesn’t mean that that’s where all Muslims are going. Certainly, thank god, the vast majority of them don’t, but it’s why you see the problem even within the Muslim world of denunciations of what they do, and of saying that’s not Islam, those aren’t Muslims. And when Al Sisi challenges the sheikhs at Al Azhar, they don’t do it either nor have they responded favorably to his insistence on the reform of Arab educational institutions, and that’s because this has become so entrenched.

I spent a week with a number of Arab, Muslim intellectuals. One was a Syrian, highly intelligent guy, who said, “I thought I was in a theological prison, and I couldn’t get out,” because he was entrapped in this very frame of mind that I have characterized for you, that is Ash’arite. He said it wasn’t until I learned French that I escaped.

And then we began having a theological discussion. It was very crude because I was trying to speak French, which he was completely fluent in, but he became so animated and excited when I said some of the very same things I did tonight about the Mu’tazilites, which is very familiar to everyone here because we’ve pretty much all been Hellenized.

“Yes! That’s it!” Because of the relative novelty of this line of thought, which makes the problems that are being faced that we discuss so often here at Westminster, so many of our speakers address, why is it so intractable? Why is there such a problem? Why a Millennium Challenge Grant is not going to to turn the Middle East around because it’s not fundamentally an economic problem. It’s a theological problem and it has to be addressed at that level, and there are some courageous Muslims who are attempting to do that. They usually have to do it out of their own countries because it’s a very dangerous enterprise, but they do it.

Q&A

Alright, please, I’m very sorry for having gone on for so long, but everybody jump in and talk about what you want. Yes?

Audience member:

Was Al Sisi’s argument theological? His argument, his extraordinary testimony when he made the points that you read was that considered theological?

Robert R. Reilly:

It’s not a theological statement. It’s what I’d call a cri de cœur. You know, it’s a rhetorical statement, saying for heaven’s sake, do something or stop what you are doing. This is driving Islam and the world into an impossible situation. You have to turn this around. This cannot be our faith, a faith of destruction, so he was trying and I found it extremely curious as I was galvanized by al-Sisi’s remark, waiting for the Western leaders to say something about it.

There were certainly wonderful achievements in what you might call the Middle Ages in Islam, most particularly in mathematics and optics, some marvelous figures, to the point where you’d think perhaps modern science could have taken off. It never did. It was completely stillborn and largely is today in the sense of original scientific research. The number of patents in the entire Arab world is eclipsed by the number in say South Korea.

Now, I would proffer to you the explanation that the denial of cause and effect in the natural world subverts the effort of science because it makes the search for causes a thing of impiety. To ask about those sources is impious. There’s nothing inferior about what I’d call the ‘Muslim mind’ or the ‘Arab mind’. Look at the achievements of Arabs in the United States. They’re above the median. But it’s the ones who are in that theological prison who can’t engage in things like creative science, so science was stillborn in the Muslim world.

Audience member:

We heard about fatalism in a lot of contexts. If they’re so fatalistic, why aren’t they fatalistic about say, the distribution of power in the Middle East, the existence of Israel, the prominence of the United States?

Audience member:

Or the global caliphate. If god wants it, it will come.

Robert R. Reilly:

Well, you’re using a standard of reason, which is inapplicable.

Audience member:

My mistake.

Robert R. Reilly:

But the fact is you know what is on offer from certain imams or sheikhs is a hell of a lot better than a job or an education. It’s a straight line to paradise and you can bring others with you. This is what they believe. This is why what they think they are doing is holy, so if they’re killed, that’s almost better than living and succeeding or failing. It doesn’t matter if you fail if you’re killed in battle as you know that very well.

And it’s the confusion of the terrestrial with the transcendent that leads to the great appeal of this. I found the Sayyid Qutb quote if I could just read this. I told you how important this is because Sayyid Qutb, the people most frequently quoted in Islamist literature and certainly in jihadi literature are Ibn Taymiyyah, from the Middle Ages, and Sayyid Qutb, and Sayyid Qutb relies on Taymiyyah. That’s why both of them are the superstars. So here’s what Qutb said, collapsing this distinction between the transcendent and the terrestrial.

“Islam chose to unite earth and heaven in a single system. The patent purpose of establishing god’s law on earth is not nearly an action for the sake of the next world for this world and the next are but two complementary stages harmonizing with the divine law does not mean that man’s happiness is postponed to the next life. Rather it makes it real and attainable in the first of the two stages.” In other words, these transcendent ends will be achieved and instantiated by earthly means.

So Qutb said, “the goal is to reestablish the kingdom of god upon earth for to create a new world.” So this is a metaphysical objective to change the very nature of reality like every modern ideology, the objective is to change the nature of reality, and the instrument for that change is certainly not reason. We saw reason has been discredited and sidelined. It’s violence. It’s force. This is a war of ideas and it has to be fought and confronted. Even in war, every soldier on either side goes into battle with an idea weapon with him.

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