Jihad has reached Orlando, the city that evokes memories of fun-packed family days in Disney World to people all over the world, and Muslim intellectuals are scrambling to find a way to explain what happened. Obviously, they cannot deny the fact that Muslim-perpetrated massacres are occurring with increasing frequency and are aimed both at Muslims and unbelievers, but it is difficult for them to live with the fact that these bloodbaths are said to be in the name of their religion, since they themselves are non-violent and do not promote violence.
An example of the intellectual efforts to deal with "violence for the sake of Islam," is Bahrain's Dr. Ali Mahmoud Fakhro's article in the pan-Arab London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi titled: "The violent Takfeeri Jihad and psychology." (Note: The term Takfeeri refers to the declaring of someone, whether Muslim or not, a heretic and therefore fair game for violence)
The following is the article, brought almost in its entirety, with several explanatory comments of mine in parentheses:
"Most of the efforts to understand the violent Takfeeri Jihad phenomenon are focused on the social and cultural reasons behind it as well as the political opportunism it embodies. Very little has been written on the psychological background and causes of the phenomenon, but most of the unbalanced behaviors which are opposed to mental and psychological equilibrium as well as human values, defy logical and religious explanations, and are perpetrated daily by individuals and groups of Takfeeri Islamic Jihadists against innocents, can be explained only
Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychology, reached the conclusion that the conscious portion of intelligent behavior is only the tip of the iceberg, the small part above the waters that the eye can see. The large, hidden part is the subconscious, the unknown, and that part is what controls our conscious actions, directs them and decides what they are to be. The unconscious, therefore, is the basis for our personality and determines the way we behave in our surroundings.
"What is pertinent to our subject is the result of research done by Freud and other psychologists who studied the formation of this unknown unconscious and saw that man has wild and animalistic instincts, aggressive inclinations and inner feelings that allow him to turn into a sadistic and violent murderer. If he joins others like him, the group turns into a satanic and destructive entity.
"In this dark corner of man's soul, filled with secrets and contradictions, the will to live and the will to die are side by side. That is why those destructive and easily ignited inclinations and emotions must be given criteria for acceptable behavior and be kept under control – these can be constraints whose sources are cultural values, the rule of law and societal norms, but they must be analyzed and treated in order to bring them out from the darkness of the abnormal unconscious to the light of an intelligent and mentally balanced conscious.
"The basic question is: what role is played by irrational, extremist religious baggage based on an erroneous understanding of the Koran and the oral sayings (Hadiths) of the Prophet in causing the Satanic inflaming of the worst elements of man's unconscious and heart, turning him from a rational, moral and stable person into a wild and evil animal?
"Of course, one can turn this question on its head and ask: do all the dangerous feelings and desires found in the Jihadist unconscious burst forth from behind a religious mask, in the name of religion, so as to keep the perpetrators from being ashamed of their own behavior? In other words, is religion being used to remove all the roadblocks and limitations placed on man by culture, law and morality and intended to prevent acting on impulse without supervision, criticism and punishment? If that is the case, who is using whom? Does the misinterpreted religion use the unconscious to justify its existence and spread its orders and achieve its leaders' despicable goals? Or is it the unconscious that is using the holy religion and the respect people have for its elevated status among men in order to justify its irrational and insane manifestations?
"No matter what the answer is to these two questions, it is indisputable that there is a strong link between the Takfeeri, insane and terrorist Jihad phenomenon as seen in the behavior of its leaders and followers, and a good many of the customary assumptions and interpretations in the science of modern psychology.
"This explains to some extent what we have noticed: the fact that many young people have joined the Takfeeri Jihadists while others refuse to do so even though they live under similar conditions and suffer from the identical economic, political and social problems. We see that some are psychologically ready and others are not…
"Therefore, do not be surprised that a great deal of the insane Takfeeri Jihad game uses religion to awaken suppressed desires and create new ones, even if the religion being employed has no connection with Islam and its great mission and values, its call for freedom from all kinds of slavery, for equality, mercy and peace. Arab psychologists must study this phenomenon in order to fully understand the madness that has brought the Arabs to a frightening and destructive hell on earth."
That is the article by the Bahrain psychologist, brought here almost in its entirety. His attempt to link Jihadist violence with psychological problems leads to a most difficult impasse, as people with psychological problems talk about their deviant actions and even explain them in what they think are rational terms, but these are, for the most part, individuals, each with his own problems and his own justification for them.
As soon as we see a large group of people, many thousands of them, acting in a deviant manner, all of them providing the same, coherent explanation for what they are doing, we are talking about a collective norm - not a few deviants. And when this large group is spread over various countries and continents, and has members that hail from different ethnicities, social, political and economic backgrounds, includes men and women, young and old, the educated and the ignorant, all committing violence in the name of the same religion, we are not talking about deviant behavior stemming from the subconscious – which, by definition is different from one man to another – but of behavior stemming from the area that is conscious, rational, acquired and gets its motivation from texts and ideas absorbed by the two critical senses – vision and hearing – and processed by understanding, agreement, internalization, enlistment and action.
Texts that are clear in the Koran and the Hadith, precedents set by Muhammad that appear in his biographies, ideas about controlling the world to be found in many Islamic letters, the lives of the first Caliphs and Islamic history books describe in great detail the massive conquests of the first centuries of Islam and what the conquerors did to the people they subjugated – these are the components of a single, unifying explanation for all the thousands of Takfeeri Jihadists from different nations, backgrounds and positions.
We are not talking about people donning a religious mask behind which hides subconscious violence but about the Draconic enactment of ideas and orders to be found in man's conscious – and that is why the psychological analysis brought by Dr. Ali Mahmud Fakhro is nothing more than a weak excuse and cheap apologetic - whose intention is to leave the impression that Takfeeri Jihad is only shared by a few madmen, each of whose motivations are unclear.
His article in the London-based Arab press is just one example of the attempt at repression by Arabs and Muslims who are not prepared, or not able, to deal with the unequivocal Koranic verses, the clear Hadith sayings and the precedents that appear in all their horror in Islamic history, and reflect the violence embedded in all these sources as methods for spreading the Islamic faith, in the case that more civilized methods are ineffective.
Even the concealed picture that Dr. Fakhro presents which contains an evil Takfeeri Jihad as opposed to the non-Takfeeri and good one, is an exercise in throwing sand in the eyes of the outsider, because the entire idea of Jihad is based on dividing people into believers and heretics, with the believers acting against the heretics. What bothers him is when one Muslim calls another a heretic, but as long as Jihad is aimed against the real heretics – members of other religions – Jihad is not Takfeerii and therefore may even be acceptable.
The time has come for Dr. Fakhro and his intellectual friends to study the Islamic roots of violence against members of other religions and deal with them, before this violence leads them to a devastating end – one that they will share with the rest of us, the true infidels.