Article Title

The Enemy Within Islam


The recent spread of political, radical Islam around the world has captured the attention of the secular world. This movement has launched a spate of violence and unrest, culminating in the al-Qaeda attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. Public interest in Islam has not been so keen since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979—another event that took the world by surprise. Political observers have pinpointed the Saudis as the source of the problem. Not only were the majority of the terrorist bombers Saudi, but also they were thoroughly indoctrinated into the severe Muslim Wahhabi sect that is unique to Arabia. Or rather, it used to be unique. Today, thanks to massive infusions of money and willing missionaries, this sect has spawned thousands of religious schools throughout the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim world, from Afghanistan and Pakistan through Central Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia and the Philippines. These schools are producing willing sacrificial foot soldiers of the new global Jihad. [V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief, and Jeffrey Goldberg; Robert D. Kaplan] Some political observers have noted that this rise of radical Islam was spurred by the successful Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Farhat-Holzman, "Janus Revisited" Iranians who adhere to the minority Shiite sect of Islam, are not much loved by the majority Sunni Muslims, and in particular, by Arabs. However, ideas are contagious. Political Islam, once specifically Iranian Shiite, has become the inspiration for the radicalization of Islam worldwide. What may not be as obvious to observers is that Shiite values thmesleves have transformed the practices of Islam in regions that consider themselves Sunni. The religion is changing daily, and its consequences are being felt everywhere.