Promotion of Conflicts
Political outcomes follow social and religious visions of different nations. Both religion and politics have played a major role in human history since early times, helping people to establish and explain their relationship with the surrounding world. It predetermined the development of methods and institutions of social control, in which people sought safety and emotional satisfaction. To understand how religion and politics are connected with each other, it is necessary to find their common cultural denominator. This common origin is the system of human values. Until now, the geopolitical concept almost did not take into account the religious consciousness of the masses, as well as the spiritual state of the environment where a certain religious world, domination of denominations, and religious traditions in a particular region and its border countries are formed. It is important to mention the recent confrontation between the US and Islamic lifestyles, which claimed thousands of lives for the search and recovery of the truth. Political positions of Islamic and American authors can be interpreted dissimilarly by different people with different goals, even if their objective perception are attributed to the efforts directed at improving the surrounding world community and appealing to God. The opinions of Sayyid Qutb and Erwin W. Lutzer promote their positions on religion and political international aspects that may influence violent conflicts.
Opinion of Qutb
The process of interaction of religion and politics occurs in every society, but it differs in its degree of influence on each other. The modern system of international relations play a certain (sometimes very significant) role both in the political life of individual countries and the development of bilateral relations. In our era of dynamics, changes affect all former geopolitical constants, such as geographical location, distance and space, as well as territorial alignment of political and military-strategic forces in the world.
At the present stage, Islam serves as a clear confirmation of the thesis about the growing role of religion as a factor in political life. Both West and East underestimated the degree of influence of Islam on the masses in the Muslim countries, specifically the potential of this religion as a mobilizing and integrating social force. The ideology of "Muslim Brotherhood" has emerged as a protest against the modernization of Islam, the omnipotence of foreigners, and the growing influence of the West in all spheres of life in Egypt. The main task was to defend, protect, and purify Islam and "Islamic society" from foreign influence. Subsequently, the ideology progressed towards the creation of "Islamic society" as opposed to "secular" society. The rapid revival of Islamic religion and its transformation into an independent political force were determined by the following factors:
- Signs of crisis in both Western and Soviet models of development the political elite in most Muslim states were focused on;
- The defeat of the Arab countries in the war with Israel in June 1967, which undermined the influence of secular ideologies among the majority of population of Muslim countries;
- The national-scale failure of the interstate unifying projects in the Muslim world against the growing integration in the West;
- The financial power and political influence of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya and some other Muslim countries in the area of Islam’s spread, etc.
In terms of Islamic expansion and its confrontation with the Western religion and lifestyle, significant contribution was made by Islamic ideologist Sayyid Qutb. In the light of traditional views of the Quran, Sayyid Qutb spoke about the paradoxes of powerful countries, their traditions, and their changes of policies that weaken the economy and society. The approach of the Egyptian revolutionary was more than a radical, attracting young people, who did not find themselves in a new environment, and the marginalized individuals. Radicalist ideology of Qutb came from the classical settings on the evolutionary, educational peculiarities of "Muslim Brotherhood", to which he belonged, due to the harsh repression of the regime of that time.
He declared that the world, including those countries inhabited by Muslims, fell into ignorance. Thus, it was necessary to destroy ignorance, Islam, as a revolutionary ideology, should be introduced to people and an Islamic society should be built. His provisions served as the guidelines for many radical followers of Islam and provoked intolerance towards other distinguished modes. For Qutb, the main front of struggle in society was held between Islam and Ignorance. It was not only a theory, but also a way of organizing society characterized by the existence of certain political institutions, economic relations, traditions, and lifestyle. According to Qutb, Islam is not an abstract system, but the program of practical transformation of society where the Quran is the direct guide to action, not a collection of prayers. Therefore, Qutb determined a social justice of Quran and its influential meaning for Muslims. Probably, it influenced the perception of contrast social model of the U.S. and emergence of hostility towards it. His radical understanding of Quran went against current political relations of Islamic and Western countries. His attitude towards today’s policy of the U.S. was rather a slight misunderstanding of the accepted changes that made the strongest country with its own internal resources harass foreign debt because of the hiked import.
Qutb’s Milestones and Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview were considered as the main instruments of Islamic propaganda. He spent some time in the U.S. and was significantly impressed by… He spoke critically of American materialism, individualism, and economic system. His rejection was caused by severe boxing matches, short female haircuts, superficiality in communication and friendship, restrictions on divorce, excessive passion for sports, the absence of a sense of beauty, etc. Finally, unconditional U.S. support of Israel was unacceptable for Qutb. He offered logical arguments, proving that appeal to Islam should be total and complete. It appeared that his political, cultural, and religious positions appealed to the faithfulness to a single religious source, Quran. It may instigate the followers of Islamic revolution to fight with the enemies of Islam in their country and abroad, but there are no direct recommendations to commit acts of terrorism against the Western citizens. The author sharply opposed the Western policy and lifestyle and insisted on transformation of modern society to serve for human equality and the highest values that were also accepted in other religious ideologies. According to Qubt, a truly Islamic society arises only if its construction will start from the Quranic method. In this regard, he considered unacceptable the conversion of Muslims to pro-Islamic humanitarian heritage, describing it as ignorance, which only borrows technical achievements. At the same time, Qubt’s writings seem more radical, going against modern political tension of the Western and Islamic relations.
In his doctrine of Islamic society, Sayyid Qutb attaches particular importance to the problems of nationalism, pan-Arabism and patriotism. He rejects the theory of nationalism, which is alien to Islam, though he recognizes the existence of nations and ethnic groups. Qutb asserted that this ideology was alien to the Islamic world and was brought from the West, where it was penetrated by ideas of national egoism and was directed against Muslims to split them on national and ethnic grounds.
Sayyid Qutb claimed that modern socio-political system of the U.S. is "un-Islamic" society that is not controlled by the divine law. Moreover, their economy and socio-political structure is based on human laws and rules, which contradict Islamic principles and values. Therefore, Sayyid Qutb concludes that "un-Islamic" society is the source of evil, economic and socio-political crises, social inequality, poverty, etc.
Economic system of "un-Islamic" society does not comply with the Islamic principle of social justice because of its sinfulness. Consequently, it became a source of human exploitation, poverty, immorality, etc. The process of becoming an "Islamic state" begins with an act of violence, "jihad". Qutb paid great attention to the interpretation of "jihad" as "holy war". He referred to the history of Islam, focusing on the Prophet Mohammed, who fought using peaceful and violent methods. Therefore, Sayyid Qutb imagined the struggle against ignorance as a combination of propaganda and armed activity. He did not directly tell about the use of force, but his Quran-influenced ideas about armed activity against the enemies of Islam were reasons and triggers for devout Muslims. In addition, the personality of Qutb, who suffered for the idea, was much respected among the followers of Mohammed. "Jihad", according to Qutb, is composed of a set of political and socio-economic reforms, but the most important task is the spiritual renewal of society and Islamization of human consciousness. Therefore, Jihad should be directed not only to the establishment of Islamic law and organization of lifestyle on this basis, but also to the creation of an order of complete freedom. Such freedom becomes possible for every person in the world if he or she stops serving people in order to serve God. Jihad, understood as a revolutionary struggle directed at the destruction of regimes based on ignorance, must be controlled by political vanguard of the nation or Ummah. Therefore, educational work and advocacy should be focused on the creation of a group that takes power through revolutionary violence. These ideas could be adopted and introduced by the armed terrorists, who had performed such actions in 2001. However, the ideas of “Milestones” and “Basic Principles of Islamic Worldview” might serve as concepts of “Islamic state” put forward as the ideal model of a modern political system.
Opinion of Lutzer
Lutzer also turned to religion due to the strengthening Islamic influence in America in recent decades. The author of "Is God on America's Side?" says that the role of religion in American society has changed. It should be noted that the religious mood of Americans has dropped significantly after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, as such events did not reply to the main question of thousands of Americans and citizens of other countries. Sectarianism is also considered as one of the many motives for the active Muslim attacks. Lutzer notes in his work that the position of America in maintaining Israel turned off handsomely for the country. The author quotes a line from Deuteronomy, which says that Israel can be whether a significant reward or a real curse. Ambiguous role of this country towards the United States because of different religious standards was clearly perceived by the warring Muslim side. Qubt distinguished close and distant enemies, and made it clear that the U.S., as non-Muslim society, have a number of allies. It means that the extremists regarded America as an ally of Israel and as an enemy who disseminates evil.
The last case, when the growth of the influence of religion on society was noticeable in the majority of Americans, was evidenced shortly after the series of terrorist attacks on September, 11, 2001. In the recent years, public opinion has changed dramatically. Over 70% of respondents believe that religion is losing its position in society. This view is shared by Lutzer, who said that God leaves the social institutions where the mass crime occurred. If the terror grows in society, does it mean that people have less faith in God? This author constantly reminds the words of a song in which there is a request for God to bless America. He reiterates it in order to show that despite the fact that the hearts of many Americans turned to God, it still allowed such terrible evils to occur.
The work of Lutzer is filled with despair and lack of understanding of how God, which American citizens constantly address to, may leave it without protection and patronage. Afterwards, the author resorts to religious explanations about the possible reasons. He does not apply to Islam and its interpretations of good and evil, but he highlights the possible reasons, which may have led to sad consequences. The author clearly says that God judges by the goodness and light, which the country gives to the surrounding world. Lutzer means that America deserves a blessing the most, as it gives much light, even more than Israel itself with its prophets and kings, despite the fact that the U.S. has never been entirely Christian. The article is full of religious justification against God who judges the entire country for accumulated sin. Lutzer also says that countries have different degrees of punishment, which ultimately balances all the scales. Designated causes of judgement turned into the consequences of the activities of the nation. The article considers the country and God as two parties regarding religion.
Lutzer raises the question that politics and religion are inextricably and mysteriously related to each other. When a nation forgets God, it receives appropriate warning signals. The author cites the example of Nazi Germany, which suffered from the cruelty of its own atheism and intolerance of other nations seeded around during the Second World War. Hard times forced people to resort to religion, which gives strength and hope for salvation. Then, the mechanism of the remission of sins is activated, and the nation is exempted from the accumulated evil that was used to spread to other nations. In this sense, the acts of terrorism that Islamists directed to the Americans may be interpreted as evil, while Muslims themselves, including Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks as the restoration of the new order and the physical imposition of good intensions. Divisiveness of the issue lies on top of the legal or moral layers. It is defined by different religious beliefs only.
If assessing the views of Lutzer, he did not call for violence, but gave guidance, in the framework of the national idea, for the relationship with God and with other nations. An example of Nazi Germany clearly shows that this country and the U.S. have much in common in relation to their historical roots. This fact enabled Lutzer to give a warning to the nation. Hidden political motives and the primacy had significantly overshadowed American society, so that religion has ceased to be the guiding force for the population. This makes it more vulnerable in the hands of the government elite, whose actions in the international arena have shattered a peaceful balance, provoking a thousand deaths over the past decades. This scenario is reminiscent of gently absolute ruling of Hitler in Nazi Germany that accepted him by mistake. This fact invoked the ideas that a person may bear malevolent and fanatic ideas to spread evil and initiate genocide. Thus, Waller put forth an idea that there is no need for super powerful weapon, except religion and obsession, to force people to commit violence against the entire nation.
Intentions of the U.S. to become a super nation, leaving behind other developing and developed countries were akin to pride. It could be compared only with the fanatical Nazi idea of creating a first-class nation of superior parliamentarians that would be represented above all others. However, if Nazi Germany spoke openly about it, the US similar motives are veiled by political and economic rush and intrigue. The author emphasized that the U.S. did not appreciate the lives of hundreds when bombing Japanese towns, funding the Middle East war, and launching army in Iraq. Then, why should God save the Americans from terror of these countries or other domestic or international problems? Lutzer contrasted the U.S. and Nazi Germany, and found that America did not go far from the brutality, violence, and racism of the Nazis. Only if earlier it was considered reprehensible during the wartime and post-war period, modern actions of the United States in response to internal and external violence remind German crimes. Exhaustion of the American society of terrors shows that American aggressive and warring politicians should be tempered to let the nation come back to God and be truly blessed. Such reflections of Lutzer motivate people to rethink over their political and religious visions and follow the most beneficial way.
To sum up, the works of Lutzer and Quṭb highlighted the role and impact of religion on political steps and international relations. Islamic adherence to Quran crucially affected Sayyid Quṭb and showed that he promoted radical ideas of true Islamic society. Such ideology could only turn into reality along with armed violence. The author may be convinced of his ideas, as the person imposing terror, but this violence may be interpreted as domestic direction against non-Islamic governance. At the same time, open confrontation with the U.S. potentially provoked active extremists to commit acts of terrorism internationally in 2001. Regarding these events, Lutzer raised the issues of the fading role of religion for the American nation, making it aggressive state that attracts international conflicts. Drawing parallels with Nazi Germany, he asserted that the U.S. must return to the path of God, which would contradict the one brutally shown through the prism of Islam.