US President Donald J. Trump has succeeded in naming a jihadi problem, political Islam, but it is hard to single out defective products from the factory without closing the factory -- if one does not want them to appear again.
This does not mean that what Trump intends to do is not important; on the contrary, we need him after most Western politicians faced Islamic terrorism awkwardly, if they faced it at all. Sometimes they even cooperated with these terrorist organizations, invited their members to the White House; to Iftar dinners during Ramadan, and hugging what they falsely call "moderate Islam" -- especially the Muslim Brotherhood, the incubator that most terrorist organizations come out of -- instead of the true "moderate Muslims" who have been struggling to be heard above the crush of "influence," infiltration and petro-dollars.
We can say that so far "Trumps's recipe" for facing radical Islam had been tried before and failed. Dictatorships and military regimes in the Middle East, such as the presidents of Egypt Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, and now el-Sisi, faced political and radical Islam. Russia did, and Saddam did in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya, Bourguiba in Tunisia and others.
Perhaps the saddest failure is the Turkish model. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk built a dictatorship-state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. He decisively confronted all forms of political Islam, and destroyed the military wing of the army that dreamed of restoring that Empire. Atatürk founded a dictatorship guarded by the army's broad powers, but within a constitutional and legal framework, to deter Islamists who might want to change his modernist structure. It was also meant to stop any move to Islamic rule that might want to change the relatively open and pro-Western ideas of the Kemalist Republic.
Atatürk dominated the religious institutions, and made them work for him; they gave him a legitimate Islamic platform. He wanted Islamic culture to prevail, but under his control.
Unfortunately, this model also failed. Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prosecuted the leaders of the army with trumped-up testimony; lowered the retirement age of the judiciary to force them out; fired educators, jailed journalists is building his Islamic state step by step.
Many Western politicians have cooperated with Islamists and Islamist organizations. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
In every Muslim-majority country, especially in the Middle East, the Islamic terrorist genie came out from under the ashes, built an Islamic state and threatened the West -- both with terrorist operations and from inside, in a more surreptitious, seemingly peaceful manner, as the Muslim Brotherhood does.
Most of those who fought Islamic terrorism focused their efforts on the hunt for dangerous products from the factory of Islamic ideology, such as Anwar al-Awlaki or Osama bin Laden. This is important, but no one tried to shut down and destroy the factory itself.
Perhaps we remember that the West, in the fight against the ideology of communism, used weapons only rarely. The major part of the fight was against the ideology itself: encouraging and supporting its opponents, and disseminating ideas to counter those the Communists were exporting. There was a focus on the disadvantages of Communist ideology, such as oppression, tyranny and human rights violations. And suddenly the world woke up one day to find the Soviet Empire collapsed from inside.
We need from the West a positive energy to rebuild the civilization after the destructive energy that hollowed it out. And we need to dismantle the prevailing Islamic ideology that produces terrorism.
It is important to understand that Islam is a religion that includes, in its structure, political power that governs and controls and spreads the force of arms. First the Islamic prophet Muhammad published his call peacefully for nearly 13 years in Mecca, when the Quran verses called for tolerance, freedom of belief and other human values. But then Muhammad and some of his companions moved to the city of al-Madina and turned religion into a political authority aiming to expand and defend itself. It entered into a political and military struggle against its opponents within al-Madina and outside, especially with his tribe of Quraish.
At that time, Muhammad established what we might call political Islam. It was based on a new call: that Islam was no longer interested in the relationship between the individual and his God, as well as a good relationship with those around him, whether they agreed with his religious faith or not.
He turned the religion into a ruling political organization, undertaking to control -- religiously, politically, socially and economically -- Muslims and others. It builds on the culture of the tribe, spreads the force of arms and increases its numbers and the territories governed by them.
It became the religion of loyalty -- meaning loyalty to the governor and vice-versa.
This structure continued after the death of Muhammad. Many ruled out of Quraish, the most prominent Turks, Al-Othmanin and the Ottoman Empire that expanded through force of arms to Persia; swept away the Christian Byzantine Empire; conquered by force North Africa, the Middle East, Greece, Spain and Eastern Europe
During this long history was established the Islamic culture that now prevails among the millions of Muslims in all corners of the world. It was founded on the sacred religious texts: the verses of the Quran and hadiths (the Prophet's biography). Add to this a religious jurisprudence established during this imperial tide that swept the world. All of this, ordinary Muslims imprison inside them, unhappy. Some of them become potential soldiers for terrorist organizations and all varieties of political Islam.
This culture, prevalent in the West, is backed by money from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, especially Qatar, and often backed by money from the West itself -- along with many politicians, often opportunistic.
What is the solution? From within. Islamic political power controls the Islamic world, whether military or in an everyday dictatorial form.
Religious reform in Islam did not find support, as it did in the West. What does Trump need to do? There needs to be a stop to any form of cooperation with the varieties of political Islam and certainly the terrorist organizations.
Add to that: Dismantle the ideology that produces Islamic terrorism by supporting the disintegration of the ideology of terrorism through Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic schools, mosques, books, radio stations and television stations. Dry up the external financing and private Saudi and Gulf Islamic institutions in the West. And thus give to the Muslims what is normal in the West. We need to promote other Islamic religious choices, completely out of the ideology of the Islamic terrorist prison, and to encourage being part of the building and development of human civilization rather than the cause of its destruction.
Saied Shoaaib is a Muslim scholar based in Canada. He can be reached at: email@example.com