The Muslim world doesn’t lack individuals who have offered a coherent and complete critique of Western modernity and all of its various dogmas—everything from feminism to scientism. Yet too many of these individuals still remain relatively unknown outside of their national context and sometimes even locally.
Take Morocco’s Abdessalam Yassine (1928-2012) for example. He authored some 40 books in both Arabic and French, most of which are Islamic essays, but he also wrote books on issues such as economics, and he even compiled collections of poetry. At the time of his death, he was hailed as the greatest opponent of the Moroccan monarchy by some Dutch newspapers since Yassine would argue that the king was not implementing Islam as he should be doing.
He also ended his long-standing association with the Qadiriyya-Boutchichiyya Sufi order because it was too apolitical and uncritical of the monarchy.
He had many other particularities such as mastering the Russian and Hebrew languages, or learning how to play the violin; all of which rendered him a rare profile among “religious fundamentalists.”
He should have been a household name in a nation as important as Morocco; based on the number of his written works and also due to his political importance as the main “opposition leader” within the country.
Yet somehow this isn’t the case. Very few Muslims in the Anglosphere have actually ever heard of him, let alone having read any of his writings.
For this reason, the purpose of this article will be to showcase some of his ideas as expressed by him in his book Winning the Modern World for Islam. The book was originally authored in 1998 in the French language and was later translated into English in 2000.
He also has two other books which have been translated into English, but this specific book serves as the most synthetic when it comes to understanding his ideology.
Modernism, Post-Modernism… and Post-Moralism?
On the links between capitalistic modernity and colonization, as well as “contempt” for the natural world, he writes on pp. 3-6:
The overtaking and underestimation of an outer world, indeed the contempt and desolating aggression, are the sentiments that have driven—and will continue to drive—modernity in its encounter with a fallen world unfit for modernity dignity. Scientific and technical attainments have constituted—and increasingly constitute—the crushing argument of the superiority of the modern over the archaic other: the crushing argument and the very cudgel for justifying and proving the cultural insignificance of the other. This is the pretext invented for the military and economic colonization of the world of the South, that world as the market and depot of the products of modernity, where material, cultural, and residual waste—all of it harmful and polluting—has been thrown around willy-nilly.
Manufacturing capitalism, more industrial and mechanized, needed space to live and prosper—hence the necessity again of disencumbering and pruning (…) atrocious as they were, Europe’s wars and colonial onslaught were merely a foretaste of current and future economic wars. Ideological modernism, modern mass-production, and pulverizing mechanism have not yet had their last say when it comes to aggressiveness.
Yassine also shows that the barbarity of modernity did not restrict itself to the colonies but rather, through a process of internal logic, it ended up being weaponized against the Europeans themselves; namely with Hitler. He writes on p. 7:
Hitler’s war, which brought fire and blood to the whole world in order to conquer Lebensraum, is nothing but the decisive manifestation of a modern notion of progress founded on reason and committed entirely to efficiency. His tanks, in their day the epitome of technology, were used in the service of the mad fury of an enraged ideology with modern means at its disposal. Since then, Hitlerism and the apocalypse of World War II head the list of calamities suffered by humankind.
On postmodernism as an evolution of modernism, he writes on pp. 99-100:
Atheistic modernism considers sexual restrictions and the family as a central social value to be an antiquated discipline; in permissive modern societies, any discipline of this kind is considered an insufferable intrusion on personal liberty. Restrictions of this sort are thought to be an out-of-place austerity in an era that has rid itself of rigorist religions.
Just why post-modernism is—can only be—post-moralism is better explained by Westerners themselves (…) these are the hallmarks of a society that no longer has ideals, a society composed of individuals without absolutes to aspire to. Post-moralist societies are societies without moral moorings, societies at the end of evolutionary progress overcoming all sense of morality in order to behave more and more like monkeys.
We haven’t reproduced the lines that he quotes from Western thinkers (such as Alain Touraine, Gilles Lipovetsky and so on), but this book shows that Yassine was definitely aware of the latest developments in Western philosophy and the social sciences.
Secularization: The Colonialist’s Tool
After demonstrating at length how French colonialists used secularization as a weapon during their genocide of Algerian Muslims, he writes on p. 23:
Secularization—and what it meant to the Muslims of the colonial era—is analyzed today in terms of an “overturned juridical regulation,” a “detested cultural alienation,” and the disturbance of civilized order. But it was rejected by first the resisters of colonial occupation—as it is by contemporary Islamists—above all as a threat to their reason for existing, their Islamity, their allegiance to God, their faith.
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Zionism: A Business Deal Between Europe and Secularized Jews
Without denying the religious nature of the occupation (something which he actually discusses later on in his book), Yassine demonstrates how the Zionist project is also a product of the West’s liberal modernity. He writes on p. 47:
The Jewish “historical theme” awakened in Europe in the course of the 19th century. It is represented by the Zionist movement motivated by a secularist ideology that turned its back on the Talmudic tradition and divorced itself from the image of the wandering Jew in long curls in order to present him with the modern features of a rich German banker or an Oxford-educated gentleman.
The Rotschilds and Hertzls were modern secularists in their frock-coats and butterfly cravats; Jews in soul and conscience, however, of a sort that was abominable to their brethren who led miserable lives in the ghettos of Warsaw and Russia. The Hungarian Hertzl founded the Zionist movement, the Jewish facet of secular modernity, and conceived the ambitious scheme of a Jewish state to be built somewhere in the world.
Europe needed a reservoir where it could dispose of its overflow of Jewry: the Jew is too shrewd, too active, too able a businessman—and so, too annoying. Now organized, the Jews pursued their claim, clamoring to the nation-states of Europe—on their way to becoming democratic—for their rights and a place in the sun.
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These are just a few selected passages from Yassine’s book which, as you can see, not only touches on essential points for contemporary Muslims, but the fact that he does so using accessible language. Even the layout and organization of the book (chapters, sub-chapters, etc.) is designed to make it as reader-friendly as possible.
He is most certainly a thinker who deserves to be more well-known.
I would be very careful in promoting an extreme deviant like Yassine, and by extension his Takfiri Sufi group Al-Adl Wa Al-Ihssane – they put a lot of importance on having visions and dreams and are very quick to make takfir on Muslims who aren’t part of their group. This group is also quite feministic and ikhtilaat/gender mixing is common. After the group lost much of their prestige, around the early 2000’s, many of its members in Antwerp, Belgium converted to Shiism.
There used to be a site, many years ago, called khorafa..org that exposed the deviant beliefs and many supertitions of this man and his group. This site is long gone but much of the video footage is still on youtube. Suffice it to say: these people are completely off their rockers.
In as sense Abdus Salam Yassine can to a degree be compared to Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar. Coherent in their critique of western ideologies while being heterodox and esoteric i.e. utterly incoherent with regards to Islam themselves.
Thank you very much brother. It seems like one can’t simply drink water thoughtlessly without worrying that said water could be contaminated nowadays.
On an organisational level they resemble the Turkish Gulen movement. Many of their members are teachers. Or have other relatively well-paying middle class jobs. That being said, with the death of its founder almost a decade ago this cult is basically a nonfactor now.
With that said, I believe this site should set up a disclaimer that highlights potential danger in accepting information at face value. Since most of our readers here probably put a lot of trust in this website
He did destroy himself buy commiting some stupid and Haram mistakes like
1 whanting and saying protesting is very very halal of course we could say for some one in his period of life that was pretty effective and latter people find out that is a weapon used by the west and even him did give examples like in iran at that time people didn’t know that khomiani is a west agent that was studying in France Paris for example .
2 he did right a letter to the king and he used insoleting words .
Dr sultan al umairi, dr sami amri, abdullah ujairi are very underrated