Friday, 25 January 2013

The Taliban of Timbuktu

This article by Karima Bennoune is interesting.
BEFORE the recent French intervention in Mali began, 412,000 people had already left their homes in the country’s north, fleeing torture, summary executions, recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence against women at the hands of fundamentalist militants. Late last year, in Algeria and southern Mali, I interviewed dozens of Malians from the north, including many who had recently fled. Their testimonies confirmed the horrors that radical Islamists, self-proclaimed warriors of God, have inflicted on their communities.
First, the fundamentalists banned music in a country with one of the richest musical traditions in the world. Last July, they stoned an unmarried couple for adultery. The woman, a mother of two, had been buried up to her waist in a hole before a group of men pelted her to death with rocks. And in October the Islamist occupiers began compiling lists of unmarried mothers.

Even holy places are not safe. These self-styled “defenders of the faith” demolished the tombs of local Sufi saints in the fabled city of Timbuktu. The armed groups also reportedly destroyed many churches in the north, where displaced members of the small Christian minority told me they had previously felt entirely accepted. Such Qaeda-style tactics, and the religious extremism that demands them, are completely alien to the mainstream of Malian Islam, which is known for its tradition of tolerance. [end/clip]

What's interesting here is that the people perpetrating these horrors are described variously as "radical Islamists", "fundamentalists", "self-styled 'defenders of the faith'", using "Qaeda-style tactics and ... religious extremism...", and so on.

In short, they are a bunch of extremist nutters. And nothing to do with peaceable Islam.  Which is tolerant.

But the fact is that it's these very religious nutters that are acting in complete accordance with the clear and unequivocal doctrines of Islam.  Yes, they are fundamentalist; but no, they are not extreme, not in terms of Islam.  They are simply carrying out its tenets.  Those secular and tolerant Malians are only so to the extent they don't follow the tenets of Islam.

Here's the evidence, from the standard manual of Islamic Jurisprudence, the Umdat al-Salik, authorised by the oldest and most authoritative university in Islam, Al-Azhar in Cairo.

Taking just a few items in the first para above, et. seq, and with references to the Umdat al Salik:

r40.1(1): "Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me [Muhammad] as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes..."
..."Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does to herbage." (r40.1(3))
Adultery, punishment for:
o12.2: "If the offender is someone with the capacity to remain chaste, then he or she is stoned to death."
Theft, punishment for:
o14.1: "A person's right hand is amputated, whether he is a Muslim, a non-Muslim subject to the Islamic state, or someone who has left Islam..." [there's a lot more about what happens after the first theft, the amount that needs to be stolen to be subject to amputation, and so on]
So, in short, these so called "radicals" are radical only to the extent that classic, doctrinal, standard, by-the-book Islam is radical. They are following its strictures, is all.  While all those secular and tolerant Malians are not good Muslims to the extent that they don't follow the strictures of clear Islamic doctrine.
Anyone interested in following Islam has to have not only the Trinity -- the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah (the authoritative life of Muhammad) -- but also a copy of the Umdat al-Salik (The "Reliance of the Traveller").  It's the best reference guide to what is and what is not part of Sharia -- the Sharia that the good secular folk of Mali are so keen to avoid. (Just as we in the west should be resisting, rather than allowing Sharia courts, as the UK does, in the naive belief that it's a tolerant thing to do).
But it makes no sense to pretend that Sharia is not part of "moderate Islam", for it simply is an inalienable part of Islam.  And it's draconian. Barbaric, if you will.