Islam isn’t Christianity. The two faiths aren’t analogous, and it is deeply ignorant, not to mention patronising, to pretend otherwise – or to try and impose a neatly linear, Eurocentric view of history on diverse Muslim-majority countries in Asia or Africa. Each religion has its own traditions and texts; each religion’s followers have been affected by geopolitics and socio-economic processes in a myriad of ways. The theologies of Islam and Christianity, in particular, are worlds apart: the former, for instance, has never had a Catholic-style clerical class answering to a divinely appointed pope. So against whom will the “Islamic reformation” be targeted? To whose door will the 95 fatwas be nailed?Ironically he answers his own question in the very next paragraph:
The truth is that Islam has already had its own reformation of sorts, in the sense of a stripping of cultural accretions and a process of supposed “purification”. And it didn’t produce a tolerant, pluralistic, multifaith utopia, a Scandinavia-on-the-Euphrates. Instead, it produced … the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.So while things haven't quite reached the fatwa stage, a large number of Muslims have already decided where to nail them. From Catherine Shakdam's rip-roaring piece for RT in the wake of the crane collapse on the Grand Mosque on September 11 (Wahhabism on trial? How Islam is challenging Al Saud’s custodianship of Mecca):
The heirs and guardians of Wahhabism, a religious fabrication, the House of Saud has gone so far down the religious rabbit hole that most Muslims can no longer recognize their faith in the authority ruling over them.It's a good thing she wrote for publication before 700 Hajj attendees were trampled to death yesterday else she'd be calling for outright insurrection today. Anyhow, her observations leave Mehdi Hasan's in the rear view mirror of history. Nobody cares anymore whether it's called reformation or a shakeout.
The harbinger was a villager in an African Muslim majority country, the name of which I can no longer recall, who pleaded with tears in eyes for the United States to invade his country, then poured out his story to a Western reporter.
The crops had failed so there was hunger in the village; he feared his family would starve. Along came the House of Saud, built a madrassa, distributed copies of the Koran and fed the students -- but just enough to stave off starvation.
This meant the village children could eat. But all the children had to attend the madrassa and learn the Koran that had been given them if they wanted to be fed.
The Koran they were given was in Arabic, protested the villager, and the children were no longer allowed to read the Koran in their own language. Worse, the Saudi-installed instructor was teaching notions about Islam that were foreign and completely objectionable to the people in the village. But as the drought continued the villagers felt they had no choice but to keep sending their children to the Saudi school and allowing them to read the "Saudi Koran."
The villager saw no solution to this awful state of affairs unless the United States invaded and chased the Saudis back to wherever they'd come from.
We can surmise that the villager wasn't a student of geopolitics and was unaware of the long relationship between the House of Saud and the government of the United States of America, which found the two collaborating to set up the same kind of madrassas and distributing the same kind of Koran in Pakistan and Afghanistan that so upset the African.
Moving along, both Catherine and Mehdi don't quite hit the mark because the Wahhabism of the 18th Century that was eventually adopted in Saudi Arabia is not the Wahhabism of today. As to how the present version came about:
During World War II tens of thousands of Muslim Arabs took up Nazism. Many of these belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. After the war British intelligence talked the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, into weaponizing the Brothers in the fight against the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, many of the Arab Nazis, who were literate, became schoolteachers, and several of them went to teach in Saudi Arabia. The personal tutor to Osama bin Laden was a card-carrying Nazi.
The Wahhibism that emerged from the influence of Arab Nazis is an incredibly deadly combination of Nazism and allegedly fundamentalist Islamic teachings of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the mid-18th century itinerant preacher who allied with the House of Saud and sought to purify Islam of all earlier "innovations," as Mehdi explains.
For readers who don't know about the history of the American government's involvement with the Brothers and Arab Nazism, John Loftus a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor and Army intelligence officer, gave a crash course during a 2012 interview for Infowars Channel. The interview as posted to YouTube. It remains the best introduction to the topic:
The first half of the discussion regards the collaboration between the Nazi regime and American financiers and businesspeople in years running up to and throughout War War II; the part about Arab Nazism starts at the 32:16 minute mark.
For Americans who will horrified by the revelations about the collaboration with Hitler, John is covering a great deal of ground during the hour-long interview, so he doesn't go into the history of world trade around the turn of the previous century. But in brief the collaboration started out as a good thing -- except from the viewpoint of the British Empire. It turned bad when the Americans pouring money into German manufacturing realized that Hitler was building a war machine.
From that point on, fear of losing vast sums of invested money and plunging the world into another economic depression, and cowardice and greed, overcame conscience and common sense, just as it did with the Vatican, which was also in deep with the Nazi government before Hitler showed his hand. (John briefly mentions the Vatican angle during the interview.)
But the lesson of the story, then and now, is that it doesn't pay to collaborate with evil -- a lesson that my government, and the British government, and the European powers have yet to learn.
The biggest part of the lesson is that once an evil situation spreads it roots, one can't uproot it by pointing a finger at the door and saying, "Go."
Which is to say that while the Mohammedans are stumbling toward a shakeout that spells doom for their religion as it exists today, the secular governments must look around and see the world has changed since the days when a handful of great powers had a corner on the deadliest weapons. In today's world, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" rationalization for collaborating with evil to achieve geostrategic objectives is also doom.