For the past twenty years, we have been witness to the ‘War on Terror,’ where Muslims have been targeted as the new national security threat. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States needed a new enemy in order to justify the establishment of a new world order based on the surveillance state.
All of this was of course justified through exaggerating the terrorist threat, thereby granting the government unfettered power to spy on its own citizens and to also conduct illegitimate wars abroad.
1991 to 2001: The Rule of Law, Not the Law of the Jungle
Post-Cold War Russia accepted its new role as a nation-state competing on equal terms with other countries in an international system governed by the UN. The world was no longer locked in the competition of two hegemonic superpowers but was instead governed by one: the United States, the last remaining superpower. As George H. W. Bush phrased it in 1991, this gave the US an opportunity to:
“forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order.”
As the threat of the Soviet Union died down, US foreign interests could be directed elsewhere. A new world order where “the rule of law, not the law of the jungle governs the conduct of nations” could be rolled out. This meant the Gulf War in 1991; the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1992 and the Bosnian civil war that followed it; the Afghanistan civil war in 1992; as well as countless African civil wars including (but not limited to) Somalia (ongoing) in 1991 and Rwanda in 1994.
A factor common among all the conflicts of the ’90s was a dissolution of law and order, resulting in paramilitaries taking over countries and chaos ensuing. This gave the former colonizers—now in the form of the UN and NATO—the ‘right’ to intervene and restore ‘peace’ on humanitarian grounds. Countries needed to clean up their act if they wanted to become a part of the ‘civilized’ world order of the UN. They could no longer rely on an alternative to American and Western power. They either became part of the system or faced consequences for their insubordination.
An example of this is Iraq in the ’90s where 500,000 children died because of the sanctions led by the United States. When asked if it was “worth” it, Madeleine Albright (United States ambassador to the United Nations) replied:
“This is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”
In other words: sacrificing 500,000 children is OK because the goal (a new world order) justifies the means.
2001 to 2021: The War on Terror
Ten years after his father had proclaimed a ‘new world order’, George W. Bush announced the ‘War on Terror’ in his 2001 speech following the events of 9/11. The actual words he used were:
“This crusade—this war on terrorism—is going to take a while.”
Whether this was a Freudian slip or intentional, Bush revealed that the new enemy was Islam, and that the “war” had no end in sight.
The real motive behind this new doctrine was the securing of Israeli interests and to make sure that there were no countries in the Middle East who could pose any kind of real threat to Israel. These countries were Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. Thanks to the War on Terror and the new emergency powers that followed in its wake, the U.S. was also able to enforce ‘regime change’ in those countries. The mission was accomplished, and these countries no longer pose a serious threat to Israeli security.
This was achieved via several strategies, either directly or indirectly by means of military force, agents, proxies and stoking the flames of civil war. The so called ‘Islamic’ state of ISIS has been defeated; Al Qaeda has been defeated; Saddam Hussein has been removed; Muammar Gaddafi has been removed; the Arab ‘Spring’ has been circumvented; and no regime change based on Islamic principles has been allowed. Instead, we have moved towards more secularism and more liberalism.
2021 – 2031: “The Chickens are Coming Home to Roost”
The coming decade will see the shift from ‘foreign’ terrorism to ‘domestic’ terrorism. We will see a new paradigm where the Muslim ‘terrorist’ threat will be downplayed. The war on terror has successfully served its purpose. It has not only secured American foreign interests, but it has also ensured that Muslims in the west have become more secularized and more liberalized, accepting western values and posing no real threat to the political establishment.
The Homeland Security Secretary declared in a recent interview:
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday used September 11th to declare that the “threat landscape has evolved” in the 21 years since 9/11 and the new threat the US faces is not foreign terrorists but Americans “radicalized” by an “ideology of hate,” “anti-government sentiment” and “false narratives propagated on online platforms.”
In other words: the policies and laws that were implemented to justify wars abroad, will now be brought home and used against Americans who oppose their government.
If you are anti-government, if you are a ‘constitutionalist’ believing in your first and second amendment rights, if you are an ‘anti-vaxxer’ and so on, you will potentially be designated as a terrorist, and the laws that you believed were meant only for the Muslims, will be directed against White America. Everyone can be deemed a terrorist because the laws were intentionally devised that way. In the words of Malcolm X:
“The chickens are coming home to roost”.
What Should the Muslim Response Be?
It is paradoxical that at the time of Rasulullah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Islam was unable to coexist with the pagan Arab political system. Both parties knew that either Islam would have to bend to the will of the political elite (Quraysh), or the elites would have to surrender to a new power. Today, we have convinced ourselves that avoiding fitnah and becoming accepted by the establishment is a good thing. In reality, it is a sign that they have won over us. Their ‘da’wah’ is stronger than ours and we are thus being pulled towards them rather than the other way around.
The last twenty years has witnessed an immense amount of pressure on the Muslim communities in America and Europe. Pressure has been exerted upon community leaders to adopt certain views and ameliorate aspects of Islam that are incongruent with Western liberal societies. The ‘bad’ publicity from ISIS and other groups created an atmosphere where many du’at felt that they had to go out of their way to distance themselves from certain views, and in the process, they managed to liberalize Islam. This strategy has caused more damage than good by distorting legitimate aspects of our religion and ultimately confusing the Muslims.
In the future, we face a significant challenge of reviving orthodox Islam and at the same time teaching and educating Muslims in a holistic manner without compromise any aspects of our religion. Common for ‘extremist’ groups are that they focus too much on one aspect of Islam while neglecting other aspects. There are those who overemphasize the importance of the ‘softer’ sides of Islam while others focus too much on the ‘harder’ aspects of Islam. What is needed is a middle way, where Islam is taught in its entirety. You do not leave out anything at the expense of others.
We need to revive the sunnah of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as the best and most just community—neither neglecting the inner dimensions of our religion (the nafs) nor neglecting the outer dimensions (combat, etc.):
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا۟ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ
And so it is that We have [now] appointed you [Muslims] the [Chosen] Community of the Midmost Way, to stand as witnesses [to the revealed truth] before all people, and for [Muhammad,] the Messenger [of Allah] to be a witness before [all of] you. (2:143)
- George H. W. Bush, Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq, delivered 16 January 1991. Accessed September 19, 2022, via: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ghwbushiraqinvasion.htm ↑
- https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/magazine/were-sanctions-right.html ↑
- https://web.archive.org/web/20100505200651/http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/2001/09/17/2001-09-17_a_fight_vs__evil__bush_and_c.html ↑