by Prof. Raphael Israeli
The celebrated Muslim Sociologist and historian, Ibn Khaldun, who lived a short span of time after the fundamentalist Muslim Berber dynasties of North Africa, the Almoravids and the Almohads (11-13 Centuries), characterized their short-lived revolutionary, xenophobic, intolerant and cruel rule as if he were describing some of today’s Muslim radical groups which torment our planet. Their systems began with mass movements, led by charismatic leaders who were also religious preachers (da’i), moved by an esprit de corps (‘asabiya), which took three generations to taper off. After that period of erosion, the movement grew clumsy and fat, more urban than rural, more lax than ascetic, and a new challenger emerged which triggered the cycle again from scratch.
In the Muslim world of our time we have been witnessing Muslim radical regimes (like Iran and Taliban Afghanistan), and Muslim fundamentalist movements such as the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, Hamas, HIzbullah and others, all aspiring to apply strictly shari’a law, all embracing an anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideology, all led by charismatic leaders, all combining military training and usage of weapons with religious indoctrination, all lending primacy to the hereafter over life of corruption and debauchery in the present world. Now, as during their medieval antecedents, they used students (under the Almohads they were called tolba, now Taliban), and they educate an entire generation for Jihad and self-sacrifice.
This means that the turbulence that has been sweeping the contemporary Muslim world and threatening to push it beyond the pale of civilization, is nothing new. This cyclical appearance on the world stage of movements of “purification”, which in the process evince extreme outbursts of violence, hatred, anti-Semitism, aggression and radicalism, sometimes coerce states into an untenable system of horrors (like Iran or Taliban Afghanistan), most of the times challenging the non-Islamic regimes in place (Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen) and waiting in the aisles for their demise. Even
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Prof. Raphael Israeli teaches Islam at