Here's an interesting rejoinder to the statements made above. - Most Muslims identify as much with the killers involved in the WTC crash as most Christians do with Jack the Ripper.

We do not condone the taking of innocent life for any reason, and those who did this must have had a severely warped view of the world to consider so many people going about their daily lives as 'guilty'. I mourn for those lost in this tragedy, and I pray for the deliverance of those remaining in the aftermath.

I speak for all Muslims when we say that no matter how badly anyone may feel against America, that those innocents involved didn't deserve this.

As such there is no internal conflict, implied or otherwise in Islam, we Muslims have a very keen sense of justice and the scale of this horror and the shock it has given us will take a long time to work through. I would call on those other muslims who are part of the E2 community to support me here in this by stating here what they feel about this tragedy and what relation it has, if any with Islam.

It has been pointed out to me recently that the above node, is deeply offensive to Muslims, and as such may need a more rounded exploration than I have so far given it. Sadly, although I see some sincerity in the writeup above, there is also a great deal of misinformation, and perhaps misunderstanding as well. This is as good a place as any to attempt to clear this mess up.

Background to Islam in the Middle East

Mohammed was the last in a series of Prophets that included people like Moses, and Abraham, and Jesus and he established a pure form of worship based on selflessness, sincerity and commitment in the belief of God, or as He is known in Arabic, Allah. Like Christianity, and Judaism, and most other religions on the planet, Islam believes in only one divine Creator, and ruler of Reality, ie God. Islam can be translated as "submission" or "peace" both being derived from extinguishing the ego, and doing good with one's life. As such any violence or evil deed is forbidden. However the right to defend one's self and loved ones from oppression, and slavery is very much respected. Islam doesn't teach a person to turn the other cheek, Islam teaches them not to be slapped in the first place, and if they are slapped to ensure that it never happens to them again. Justice is not about being weak. Muhammad made this very clear, and his words were followed by the followers of Islam ever since he spoke. Islam has no place for hypocrisy or laziness, and your central comitment to God is very much a part of who you are, and cannot be shirked regardless of circumstance. This point is frequently misunderstood in the West, by those who assume that somehow underneath Islamic values there is some sort of western value system waiting to spring forth. Not only is this false vanity on the part of the west, most Muslims, including myself find this assumption to be quite patronising. And rightly so.

At the centre of these problems lies the meaning of jihad. People take jihad to be a holy war, and it is. However it is a war between oneself and one's animal impulses, this is known as The Greater Struggle, The Lesser Struggle is one where a person fights the impulse to be lazy or scared and fights people in the external world who would enslave or oppress them, and keep them from a Muslim life. As such most Jihad is never even connected with the western concept of violence, and never will be. It is a personal tool to purify one's mind and intent in daily life, and as such can never be used as a tool for oppression. This is another western Misunderstanding. This is bourne out by the annals of Islamic history, Muslims were by nature and deed peaceful traders rather than hostile fundamentalists like their Christian cousins. And no, at this point I won't mention the Crusades.


Perhaps the best instance of Islam being used as a means of liberation is in Afghanistan. It was mainly the fault of the Russians, who being a superpower at the time decided to Invade Afghanistan which was a peaceful, and strategically placed neighbour. During the period of the Soviet Union, Soviet troops invaded in an attempt to expand their territory and power, and also gain access roads to Iran, and Pakistan in the future. A fierce fight broke out, as the native Afghans took the full brunt of the Soviet war machine, which at the time was the largest on the planet. Seeing the strategic value of Afghanistan, and the strength of the resistance movement as it grew up there, America decided to intervene and funded and trained the resistance movement to help them remove the Russian occupation. The fighting was intense, bloody, and drawn out over decades. Eventually the Russians had to withdraw, Afghanistan having turned into their own Vietnam, being totally shocked at the strength of the resistance and their determination. In the aftermath, with no form of civilian government or infrastructure left the warring factions created a civil war to vie for power, and this continued until the Taleban - bunch of 22 year old Islamic students - outfought them all and took over, promising an Islamic state.

The Taleban was what emerged from the old guerrilla groups that had fought the Russians. Though the group as a whole did not exist during the war, its members were devote followers of Islam and had much respect from the Afghan community due to their bravery during the war. However their implementation of Islam was extreme, as it had to tie together all the various factions and bring some sort of discipline to highly trained, incredibly well armed groups with very independent mindsets. With the help of their religious background, and their war hero records, and their scrupulous record for complete honesty, and bravery, they managed to defeat or win as allies almost all of Afghanistan, and controlled roughly 90% of the territory there. Their belief was so devout that they perceived any other religion or interpretation to be misguided, or a distraction. This lead to some rather interesting moves, when they destroyed 4000 year old statues of Buddha, because (as they rightly believed) they were idols. The fact that they had no value or place in an Islamic society was lost to a West which condemned the acts, without thinking them through.

The Taleban still have a firm grip on Afghanistan. They have help from Pakistan and still have the support of the local population. Their control is in part due to their strict adherence to what they see as Islamic law, this is an important point as none of the previous factions would accept any other form of law so they had to practise Islamic Law and hold to it completely otherwise their support would dissapear. Again this point is lost to Western observers. The much vaunted oppression of women is a trade off with local custom, which is quite restrictive on women anyway. This situation is likely to improve in the future as the rulers moderate, very much like Iran did after the revolution.

As mentioned before the Taleban do not have complete control. In the north-eastern corner of the nation, General Masood (now dead) opposed the Taleban and controls just under 10% of the land there. He once fought the Soviets and now receives the backing of Russia. For this he is seen as a traitor by most Afghanis. He enforces a relatively liberal regime on his troops, in contrast to some of the Taleban soldiers who are the most disciplined on the planet. Think Dune Fremen porportions. Recently, he launched a counter-attack, pushing the Taleban back somewhat with the help of a local group in the North that betrayed an agreement with the Taliban, and tried to seceed. They failed however, and the local population, half of whom had no idea what was going on, and who to support suffered heavy losses in the crossfire between the two groups. In early 2001 he was poised to recapture the town of Taloqan, but didn't manage to. Recently there was an attack on him, which suceeded, and he no longer leads the Northern Alliance. The point here is that there is no religious difference between the warring factions, both pray side by side, and the only differences are political ones given to them by interference by outside powers. Namely the West, and Russia.


Next door to Afghanistan and also devotely Muslim, lies Iran. Iran is much better off, both economically and stability wise. The country had an Islamic revolution in the 70's to overthrow the corrupt Shah, which sent shockwaves through the imperial forces of the West, and there is a very strong Islamic influence to the government up to the present day.. The Ayotollah Khomenei was the absolute leader of Iran, until he died in the early 90's. The conservative clerics backed him, but now the country mostly supports the moderate President Khatami. The government is (and has been since the revolution) democratically elected. In recent years President Khatami has been repeatedly re-elected on his moderate platform, that seeks to improve the quality of life of his fellow Iranians. He has support from many Iranians who are tired of the restrictions placed on their daily lives by the traditionalists. There is a sizeable group of moderate Islamic clerics, who aim to balance the influence of Islam, and separate it from harsh Iranian tradition. The last major conflict Iran was involved in was with Iraq, which at that time was being funded by the West.

What will happen next?

Don't know, your guess is as good as mine. I would hope that the artificial political divisions of the Islamic world into ethnic or national groups will fade, as will some of the artificial borders in the region, but that will necessarily take time. I also imagine that as Islamic unity progresses, there will be warmer relations to the West, muslims forgive, because it is part of being good. The rest, I suppose will be history.