A Theology Of Terror: The “Religious” Thought Of Osama Bin LADEN, The Taliban And Hizb al Tahrir Al Islami

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2002 »2002 1 »A Theology Of Terror The Religious Thought Of Osama Bin Laden The Taliban And Hizb Al Tahrir Al Islami

Mark R. Woodward

Mark R. Woodward is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University (USA). He has conducted extensive ethnographic research among Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities in Indonesia, Burma and Singapore. His many publications include: Islam in Java: Sufism and Normative Piety in the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, University of Arizona Press, 1989, Defenders of Reason in Islam (co-author), Oxford, One World, 1999 and numerous articles on religion and politics in Southeast Asia.

In the wake of the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in northern Virginia, scholars, journalists, policy makers and people the world over have struggled to understand how, by whom and why these brutal and unspeakable acts of violence were carried out. The how and by whom questions were answered with amazing speed. The why question is perhaps more difficult. It requires careful investigation of the history and religious underpinning of Middle Eastern Muslim radicalism.1

Several answers to the Why question have circulated in the press. One is that the terrorists were motivated by a blind and unbending hatred of the west. Another is that they are strict or "fundamentalist" Muslims. An explanation more common in the Muslim world is that these acts were retribution for western, and particularly American, complicity with Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the “occupation” of Saudi Arabia by American forces. While all of these theories contain a grain of truth, none is sufficient. There are many Muslims who hate the west, just as there are many Europeans and Americans who hate Muslims. Hatred and bigotry are, unfortunately, human universals. Many Muslims who have little love for all manner of things western were repulsed by the events of September 11. Similarly Islamic scholars and movements actively involved in struggles against western influence deplored this wanton destruction of human life. There are millions of strict or fundamentalist Muslims who believe that personal, social and political life should be based on shari’ah (Islamic Law). Most would say that these acts of terror were gross violations of basic principles of Islamic Law.

Here, I will attempt to describe the world view or general system of thought that moved a particular group of Muslims to shed the blood of thousands of people from many countries, ethnic backgrounds and religions —including Islam—at the cost of their own. It is also reasonable to assume that those who planned and conducted these attacks were fully aware of what the nature of the response would be. All of the materials and quotations I will be concerned with have been previously published in either print or electronic format. In my view, this world view or ideology is as perilous as the financial and logistical networks that made these attacks possible. This theology of terror is at least as perilous for Muslim countries as it is for the west. To resolve this problem those who seek peace in the world must undertake theological as well as economic, political and military initiatives.

There is nothing particularly novel about the theology of terror. Individual elements including the concept of the renewal of Islam, command the good and prohibit evil, struggle in the path of God (jihad), fond remembrance of the community of the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors and the conviction that Islamic Law is the basis for social justice are among the building blocks of most Muslim theologies. Three things are unique about this particular variety of Muslim radicalism. The first is that it globalizes notions of the Islamic state and Islamic law. The second is that through circuitous and tortured reasoning it circumvents the Islamic legal prohibition against attacking noncombatants in times of war. The third is the view that only they are genuinely Muslim. All other self-professed Muslims are denounced as unbelievers or apostates against whom Muslims are obligated to conduct jihad.

Historical Background

Radical Muslim groups are very fractious. It is often difficult to determine historical connections precisely. Many of the current generation can be traced in some way to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was a renewal movement. It sought to solve the problems of colonial and post colonial Egypt through a combination of modern education and a return to the "original" principles and practices of Islam. It was brutally suppressed by Nasser in the 1950s. The brothers who survived went underground. They surfaced during the Sadat period (1970‑81). Most advocated a combination of participation in the political process, social service and educational activities. Splinter groups influenced by the writing of Sayyid Qutb (1906‑1966) took a more radical and violent stance.

Sayyid Qutb was the father of the virulent anti-westernism of contemporary Muslim radicals.2 He was educated in Egypt and the United States receiving an MA from the University of Northern Colorado in 1951. He was deeply affected by what he saw as the moral laxity of 1950s American culture and came to have a bitter hatred of everything western. He was also the first to advocate the use of force to establish a universal Islamic state. For Sayyid Qutb "nationalism is belief, homeland is Dar al Islam (the world of Islam), the ruler is God and the constitution is Islam." He termed Arab as well as western nationalisms unbelief and advocated eliminating all western influences in the political and cultural systems of the Arab world. He was executed in 1966 for plotting to assassinate Egyptian president Naser. His works are widely read in radical Muslim circles and have been translated into many languages.

Qutb's influence is apparent in an Arabic text, The Neglected Duty written by the Egyptian Muslim radical Jamal al‑Bana, whose great uncle was Hasan al Bana the founder of the Muslim brotherhood. It is a call for jihad against the “unbelieving" rulers of Arab states and the western supporters. It describes jihad as the duty of all Muslims when nonbelievers "occupy" a Muslim country.3 This work is the political and religious manifesto of the Jamat al‑jihad, the association responsible for the Sadat assassination.

This theological orientation or world view is the ideological foundation of radical Muslim groups throughout the world. While they differ concerning strategy and tactics, they share a common goal. A basic distinction can be drawn between groups that operate within one country, such as the Indonesian Laskar Jihad, and those like bin Laden who chose to conduct the jihad on "enemy" territory.

The Afghan war led to the spread of the internationally oriented jihad ideology and groups throughout the world. Radicals, including bin Laden and the Taliban credit themselves with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Once the evil of communism was defeated they turned their attention to the struggle against the west, which they also see as a great evil. Volunteers from all parts of the Muslim world participated in the Afghan war. They received religious as well as military training. They expected to be welcomed as heroes when they returned home. This did not happen. The combination of military and theological training they received made them a potential threat to nearly every Muslim government.

The Taliban

The Taliban are best known for extreme anti-westernism and equally extreme interpretations of Islamic law, particularly those portions of the law concerning gender relations. Its self-proclaimed goal is to purge Afghanistan of all vestiges of unbelief. Television, the internet, dancing, tape recorders, kite flying and nail polish are but a few of the "evils" of western materialism to have been prohibited. The Taliban have also conducted a campaign against traditional social and religious practices that they regard to be un-Islamic. The result is considerable tension between the ruling Taliban and the Afghan masses. They have also conducted campaigns against the human vestiges of unbelief persecuting small Hindu and Christian communities and slaughtering thousands of Shia Muslims in the northern part of the country. Taliban leaders have stated repeatedly that the Shiah are not Muslims and can be legitimately killed.

The Taliban understand themselves as restoring the purity of the Islamic faith. Their goal is to "return" to what they believe to have been the social and religious norms of the golden age of Islam. The Taliban differ from other revivalist communities in their emphasis and seek a return to ancient social as well as spiritual norms. It should be added that some of the practices they seek to establish including the rigid segregation of women have more to do with Pushtu culture than with Islam.

Were it not for Bin Laden and the now global network of Afghan war veterans, the Taliban would be of little importance beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Given the extreme views and the almost inherent political instability of the state it is unlikely that they could long endure.

Even before September 11 Taliban leaders were aware of their tenuous hold on power. They have something of a bunker mentality, believing that the forces of evil are arraigned against them. These take the form of Shiah/Iranian/Communist conspiracies, internal subversion by Afghans that do not share their extreme views, Saudi subversion (by means of free trips to Mecca and bribes), UN use of food and health programs to compete for the loyalty of the populace and to encourage conversion to Christianity, and the activities of American, Israeli and Arab intelligence operatives (who are blamed for a series of bombings).

The Taliban have also worried about military threats other than the one that lead ultimately to their demise. In early 2002, they spoke of a Shiah/Communist conspiracy that also includes India and Turkey. They expressed confidence that they could defeat such an alliance through a combination of military might and divine intervention. They describe themselves as liberators of the Muslim world from "the atheistic, faithless American tyranny." Mullah Muhammad Omar has taken the title Amir al‑Muminin or Commander of all the faithful in the world. This title was used by the Califs of the classical age of Islam. It suggests that the Taliban see themselves as the center of a new and universal Califate. They stated repeatedly that if they are attacked it is the duty of every Muslim to come to their aid.

Osama Bin Laden

The Taliban refer to bin Laden as the "Commander of the Arab Mujahadeen" and describe him as a Sheikh (religious teacher). In reality bin Laden, despite his pious statements has only a "lay" religious education and cannot be considered to be an alim (religious scholar). His style of argument and use of scriptural sources resemble that of Jamal al Bana, the author of The Neglected Duty. Intellectually and politically bin Laden has strong ties to the radical factions of the Muslim brotherhood. He is known best for his fatwa commanding Muslims to kill Americans wherever they can be found.4

From this text, and from interviews published in western and Muslim media it is possible to elucidate a simplistic, and yet powerful theology. It consists of five principles.5

Commanding the good and forbidding the evil. This is the most basic principle of Islamic law. Like the Taliban and other Islamists, bin Laden does not rely on the centuries of legal scholarship revered by other conservative Muslims. He relies primarily on the relatively few passages in the Qur'an concerning the just war. He interprets forbidding the evil with destroying the lives and property of those who do evil. Unlike the vast majority of Muslim jurists, bin Laden defines this jihad as an individual rather than communal obligation.

The West is entirely evil. Like many Islamists bin Laden's view of history is highly conspiratorial. He maintains that there is an organized international conspiracy including Christians and Jews dedicated to the destruction of Islam as a religion. He often cites the Gulf War as an example of western terror: For seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples. He states that the United States and its allies are waging war on God, his messenger (the Prophet Muhammad) and Muslims. There is nothing original about this claim. It is directly linked to the writings of Sayyid Qtub. Similar conspiracy theories can be found among Muslims throughout the world. Bin Laden's contribution to this discourse is the argument that all Americans are to be killed. This conclusion is based on two lines of reasoning. The first is that the US has attacked civilians and has executed “more than 600,000 Muslim children in Iraq." The second is that because the US government was chosen by popular vote, US citizens, individually and collectively, are guilty of terrorism and murder. He regards Presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush as the embodiment of evil: Mentioning the name of Clinton or that of the American Government provokes disgust and revulsion. This is because the name of the American government and the names of Clinton and Bush directly reflect in our minds the picture of children with their heads cut off before even reaching one year of age.

Arab and other Muslim governments are evil. Bin Laden states that Arab and other Muslim governments are evil, and their leaders kafir (non Muslim) because they are agents of the United States and the Jews whom he maintains control US foreign policy. Much of his hatred is directed at the Saudi royal family. It is singled out for allowing US forces to occupy the Holy Places, for jailing ulama and for refusing to allow Muslims to command the good and prohibit the evil. Bin Laden has stated that he will return to Arabia when "God's Law rules in that land." He has stated that Afghanistan is a place where it is possible for him to command the good and prohibit the evil and that he intends to instigate rebellion in Saudi Arabia. Struggle against unjust rulers is a collective Muslim duty. Bin Laden understands it as the duty of all Muslims as individuals. Few Muslim scholars would accept the view that the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia defiles the holy places in Mecca and Medina. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the "Haram " region that includes these two cities, but are most clearly not prohibited from other parts of the country. Bin Laden's reasoning is plausible only if one accepts the premise that the Saudi Government is an American client state.

The Goal ‑ A global Muslim Community. Bin Laden thinks in global terms, both in the contemporary sense of the term and in that of the classical Islamic doctrine of the Califate. His immediate goal is to drive what he considers to be occupying forces from Muslim territory. He credits his mujahadeen with the destruction of the Soviet Union and has now turned his attention to driving US unbelievers from the Muslim world. His ultimate goal is the establishment of a global Muslim community in which a nation state will dissolve and give way to a universal Muslim Califate.

The Method: Jihad. There are Muslims who share much of bin Laden's view of the world, but who are convinced that the goals are pursued best through peaceful means. Bin Laden is convinced that the only way to achieve the goal is through armed struggle against the Jewish Crusader alliance and the Muslim governments and leaders they dominate. Bin Laden has described the coming war in Arabia as "something that will make the Americans forget the horror of Vietnam." Bin Laden's reading of the Quranic discourse on jihad is very selective. He emphasizes command to fight the enemies of Islam, but chooses to ignore elements of this discourse that stress the defensive nature of jihad such as “fight those in the way of God who fight you, but do not be aggressive: God does not like aggressors" (Qur'an 2:190) and Hadith traditions prohibiting treachery, mutilation and the killing of children and other non combatants.

Bin Laden's Religious Connections

Bin Laden is associated with, and frequently praises, a group of Saudi ulama who stand in opposition to the Saudi royal family. The scholars opposed the Gulf War and the presence of US troops. Several were jailed for publicly criticizing the government. Salman Al'Awdah and Safar al‑Hawaly are two who Bin Laden regards as heroes. Both of these scholars were trained in Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia. Both stated that the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia was forbidden by Islamic law. In other respects they are very different. Al’Awdah is a specialist in law and theology. His writings concern justice, the need for Muslim unity and the desirability of avoiding minor religious disputes. Bin Laden makes very similar arguments. Al’Hawaly is rather eccentric. In The Day of Wrath he criticizes Christian messianic and apocalyptic thought. He argues that there is a coming apocalypse, but that it is one that will begin with jihad and conclude with the utter destruction of Israel and the United States. Hawaly calculates that these events will transpire in 2012.6

Fellow Travelers Hizb al Tahrir al Islami

The alliance between Bin Laden and the Taliban was unique only to the extent of its ability to train, equip and finance a significant military force. There are numerous other groups that share similar world views. Among these Hizb al Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) is among the most articulate and well organized.7 It was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by Taqi al Din al Nabhani (1909‑1977). Al Nabhani studied at al Azhar in Cairo and was subsequently a religious teacher and judge in Palestine. The ILP was founded when he and a group of associates split from the Muslim Brotherhood. Their primary goal was restoring an authentic Islamic way of life to the Muslim community and purging it of the vestiges of colonialism, westernization and secularism. This is to be achieved, and all of the problems of the Muslim world solved, by the re‑establishment of the universal Caliphate. Another of ILP's goals is to expose the western conspiracy to destroy Islam and the complicity of Zionists in this agenda. The Balfour Declaration, the founding of the state of Israel, the 1967 war and the Gulf War are mentioned as elements of this conspiracy. It also includes fanciful elements including the claim that US soldiers murdered, cooked and ate children in Somalia.

The ILP has pursued this goal unfalteringly for almost half a century. In the 1950's and 1960's the party established branches in Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq. Today it is a global organization with branches throughout the Middle East, Europe, Central, South and Southeast Asia and the United States. There is no publicly available evidence to link ILP with Osama bin Laden or the Taliban. What is clear is that they share a common theological understanding of world events.

The ILP has employed tactics ranging from attempts at coups in the late 1960's to the publication of religious tracts and books first in print editions and now on the WWW. The party is highly centralized. It maintains web sites in Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, Indonesian and many other languages. The contents of these web sites are identical.

Officially the ILP denounced the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A sermon delivered in London a few days after the tragedy stated that the proper Islamic way to establish the Caliphate was the “self improvement” of the Muslim community, but that it is not difficult to understand the rage of the Muslim community. Subsequent statements of the ILP in Pakistan take a stronger position. What follows is the text of an email message I received on September 25, 2001: "This is a Message for mankind, in order that they may take heed."

Alliance with America is a Great Crime Forbidden by Islam

In the Gulf war against Iraq in 1991 America set up an alliance to enter that war. After this America established what's known as the 'New World Order' as an attempt to impose her dominance over the world. Now the country is striving to set up a new international alliance claiming that it is for the fight against terrorism. In reality it aims to develop the 'New World Order' so as to strengthen its hold over the world, especially the Islamic world, which includes the states not under her control in Central Asia and the states which form a threat to its influence like China.

We, at this point, are not concerned about looking into who undertook the attack on New York and Washington on 11/9/2001. However we assert that America has directed an allegation against Bin Laden without providing any evidence. Not one American official dared to say that he had a single evidence or proof against Bin Laden. All they have claimed is that he is a prime suspect. He has issued a statement categorically denying that he had anything to do with the attack. Likewise, the Taliban government has unequivocally denied that it has anything to do with it. It has demanded evidence for this accusation in order to try him, should it be proven, but America is unable to present any evidence. Furthermore, those who are well-informed of the matters, know that the American secret service has infiltrated the Taliban through Pakistan and consequently it has infiltrated the al‑Qa’idah organization led by Bin Laden. If Bin Laden was responsible for this attack, America would have known about it, especially as such an attack requires a great number of people to execute it and a long period of time to prepare for it.

We are used to America’s lies and willful deception in such situations. In the attack on the FBI building in Oklahoma in 1995 the blame was immediately pointed at the Arabs and Muslims, then a short while afterwards it appeared that the perpetrator was an American. When the United States destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan it claimed that it was a weapons factory whilst it knew with certainty that it was a medicine factory. This is because it knows about every issue in Sudan whether it is big or small. The United States attacked the factory in order to absorb the anger against it at home. After pacifying its own people the U.S. apologized to Sudan for the air strike. The United States did something similar when its planes bombed Libya. Now, one expects that America had known who was behind this attack, but deliberately ignored them and directed the blame in a different direction to realize a number of targets: to appease the public opinion of its people and absorb the anger after the strong shock it felt; to extend its influence in the world, especially in Central Asia; to plunder funds from the states in the world not least from the oil producing states so as to gain twice as much as it lost during the destruction that took place; and to create Islam as an opponent to the Western civilization so that the followers of this (Islamic) civilization stay in a constant state of fear.

On Friday 14/9/2001 the assistant to the American Secretary of State William Burns summoned the Arab ambassadors and explained the terms of the alliance which his government was forming. They are the following: First, to declare support for the American initiative in a forceful and public manner. Second, to undertake executive steps on the ground such as stopping individuals, closing offices and pursuing the sources of funding. Third, to work with the United States in the field of exchanging intelligence and being prepared to join the operations of the American military response and providing assistance when the American response is decided. The American foreign department distributed a document to a number of Arab and European states, Latin America and states in Asia regarding the general principles Washington will follow in its so‑called war against terrorism. It reported that dealing with the Europeans will be classified under 'co‑operation'. As for what relates to the Arab group and some Asian states, including Pakistan, that will be classified under 'demands' or orders'. America will not negotiate with these states, rather it will say categorically, "Are you with America or with terrorism?"

Here are some of the ILP’s inflammatory statements:

O Muslims! The Shari'ah obliges you to reject this American demand, which looks down upon you with disdain and contempt. America has no high values so as to lecture you on whom you should support and whom you should fight. You are the people who have a divine Message. You are the ones who carry the Guidance and Light to mankind.

Allah has described you with His words:

"You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin the Good (ma'roof) and forbid the Evil, and you believe in Allah..."

The rules of this Message forbid any aggression against civilian non­combatants. They forbid killing of children, the elderly and non‑combatant women even in the battlefield. They forbid the hijacking of civilian airplanes carrying innocent civilians and forbid the destruction of homes and offices which contain innocent civilians. All of these actions are types of aggression which Islam forbids and Muslims should not undertake such actions. ‑ As for jihad to fight the enemy who commits aggression against Muslims, usurps their land, plunders their resources and attempts to control them; not only is this a legitimate matter but it is an obligation (fard). It is the highest peak of Islam. Allah said:

"And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war to put fear into the hearts of the enemy of Allah and your enemy."

The Messenger of Allah said: "The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer and its highest peak is jihad."

Oh Muslims! Shari'ah does not permit you to give America anything that she tries to impose upon you, It is not allowed for you to submit to America’s orders or give any form of assistance to her whether it is security information or facilitates for passage through land, air or regional waters. It is not allowed to give America fixed bases. It is not allowed to co‑ordinate or cooperate with her in any military issue. It is not allowed to enter her alliance or seek her friendship because America is an enemy to Islam and the Muslims.

He said: “Oh you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth.”

Allah has alerted us to what they conceal (in their hearts) for Islam and the Muslims.

He said: “Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse.... Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you not, and you believe in all the scriptures.”

We have noticed the hatred in the actions of the officials, even in the actions of ordinary people after being incited by the malicious Jews who made them think that Muslims are terrorists. Thus, they began to attack mosques and Muslim women in the streets. As for the president of America, Bush, he has described the war he will launch as a revenge for the attack of 11 September on New York and Washington as “a crusade.” He said this on 16/9/2001. How can America demand that the Muslims join their ranks while their president announces without shame that he will wage a crusade on all Muslims who do not bow before America, and not only on Bin Laden and Afghanistan. This is humiliation, servitude and absolute control of the future of the peoples. Indeed, this haughtiness and arrogance is what gave rise to the hatred for America in the hearts of people and made them sacrifice their lives in order to harm America and seek revenge on her. America is reaping what she has sown.

Oh Muslims! You are one Ummah (community). He said: “The believers are nothing else than brothers" The Messenger of Allah said: “The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, he does not do injustice to him nor desert him.” And he said “The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, he does not oppress him, forsake him nor hate him.”

He said: “The believers to one another are like one solid structure where one part strengthens another.”

And he said: “The similitude of the believers in their mutual love, compassion and sympathy is like that of a body: when one part hurts then the rest of the body calls out in sleeplessness and fever.”

And he said: “The blood of the Muslims is one. The nearest as well as the farthest of them give pledge of protection (to anyone) in their name. And they are one hand against the rest.”

The Messenger of Allah wrote the constitution of Madinah shortly after the Hijrah which describes the state of the Muslims: “They are one Ummah to the exclusion of other people—the believers are helpers to each other to the exclusion of other people—the peace of the believers is one, a believer does not make peace excluding another believer in (the process of) fighting in the path of Allah.”

As for the radical work which will solve the problems of the Islamic Ummah, it is the establishment of the righteous Khilafah (calif) which will unite the Islamic lands and peoples in one state and convey the Message of Islam to the rest of the world.

He said: "And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and do not be divided."

So if you, O Muslims, were one Ummah under the banner of one Caliph holding onto the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger would then America or any other kufr states have ambitions over you?8 Would they have the courage to do anything against you or enslave your rulers without taking any account of you? By Allah, no! So rise up towards the radical work which will save your Ummah and the whole world.

He said: "Allah is with you, and will never decrease the reward of your good deeds."

In a subsequent message, distributed throughout the world ILP stated: The Muslims must establish the Caliphate and treat the US the way Allah has instructed in the Qur'an: Satan is your enemy deal with him as an enemy.


Attacks on US installations abroad and the recent devastating strikes on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were motivated by a theology of terror that dates to the early 1950's. This theology defines both western governments and those of most Muslim states as inherently evil. Islamists are a small, but well-financed and organized component of the world Muslim community. They can be found in almost every country on the planet, military, financial and political initiatives will not stop them. The theology of terror must be eliminated if terrorist acts are to be brought to a halt. If this is to be accomplished the legitimate grievances of Muslim communities must be addressed. It is equally important that future generations of ulama (Muslim Scholars) be encouraged to enter into serious dialog with their Euro‑American counterparts. Sayyid Qtub's negative impressions of American culture are, in large part, responsible for the current crisis. To avoid what Samuel Huntington has called a "clash of civilizations" it is essential we begin to engage the Muslim ulama in serious ways. Government to government and scholar to scholar contacts must be made if Crusader/Jihad conflicts are to be avoided in coming years. Educational exchanges can make a major contribution to bringing peace to the world. To avoid further death and destruction, be it from high-jacked airliners or B‑52s we must come to an agreement that we are all children of Abraham and that we will work together to solve our common problems. The voices that would resort to terror, violence and murder, be they Christian, Jewish or Muslim, must be silenced. This may require sustained and prolonged military and diplomatic action. If the Peace of God, which all of these religions promise, is to be found we must move from military force toward economic cooperation and religious dialogue. Western "Islamaphobia" and Muslim "West‑phobia" must give way to a search for common ways to solve the economic, political and moral problems that confront the Muslim and Western worlds. In the contemporary global world system this is the only way that we can effectively "command the good and prohibit the evil."


1. I will refer to these individuals as Muslim rather than Islamic in respect for the consensus of Islamic scholarly opinion that the beliefs and actions associated with these movements do NOT constitute submission to God ‑ the literal meaning of the Arabic word Islam.
2. For an overview of the history of Muslim radicalism see Montgomery Watt, Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity, London: Routledge 1988.
3. Most Muslim scholars argue that jihad can be undertaken only when there is a reasonable possibility of success and that it a communal, not individual obligation.
4 It is not clear that bin Laden actually wrote the fatwa. It was also signed by leaders of jihad groups in Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
5. A 1996 interview with bin Laden is located at http://www. islam.org.au/articles/15/LADEN.HTM
6. English translation of these works are located at http://www.islam.org.au/articles/21/r-introduction.htm
7. The ILP web sites can be located at http://www. hizb‑ut‑tahrir.org/
8. Sunnah is the customary behavior of the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate companions. It is recorded in the Hadith literature and one of the basic sources of Islamic law.