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Saudi Arabia – The serpents head
Saudi Arabia has a history of funding terrorists. It was the chief bankroller of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in the 1970s and '80s at the height of the PLO's involvement in global terror. But it would be true to say that, worldwide, the Saudis tend to fund the precursors to terror rather than terror itself. Since the 9/11 attacks in the US, in which the majority of hijackers were Saudis, the Saudi Government, under intense US pressure, has tried to exercise greater care and control over where Saudi money goes.
According to official Saudi information, Saudi funds have been used to build and maintain over 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, 210 Islamic Centers (2007 figures) wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia.
The Kingdom has fully or partially financed Wahhabi Islamic Centers in:
- Great Britain
and even in some Muslim countries such as Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia and Djibuti among others.
Its also quite usual that Saudi embassies pay an annual stipend to local Wahabi imams in the range of around 1 000-40 000 USD, depending on which country and region. Saudi aid to Muslims abroad, however, comes with strings attached, and most of the recipient institutions end up promoting the Wahhabi version of Islam.
It is a well known fact that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have continued spread Wahabism and other harsh forms of Salafism around the world the last 35 years. Saudi Arabia alone have spent more than 87 billion USD abroad the past two decades propagating Wahabism - “true Islam” in the Muslim world and in the West. The bulk of this funding goes to the construction and operating expenses of thousands of mosques, madrassas and Muslim cultural centers throughout the world. These Islamic institutions are now found in every single country in the West accompanied by Imams who are “Saudi approved”.
In the Arab world, in South Asia and in Far East Asia, Islamic workers and Islamic institutions have received aid from Saudi sources (usually private individuals and foundations) that have slowly embedded Wahhabism in many Muslim societies.
Before we continue on the Saudi topic, however, let’s try to define certain principles and definitions;
There are four “Schools of Law” in Islam: Hanafi, Shafi’I, Maliki and Hanbali. A majority of the Wahhabists and other Salafists belong to the Hanbali school.
The Western establishment and the so called “Western moderate Muslims” have chosen to label the Saudi version of “traditional Islam” as Wahhabism, Sunni theofascism or Conservative Salafism. The ideology of al-Qaeda can be called Salafi-Jihadi (al-Salafiyya al-jihadiyya) or Jihadi Salafism. However, the so called Wahhabis themselves and other conservative followers of the Salafi school of Islam object to this definition and rather prefer to be called Muwahiddun (Muwahidoon).
Wahhabism or Wahabism is a fundamentalist reinterpretation of Islam by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, an 18th century scholar from what is today known as Saudi Arabia, who advocated what he considered a return to the practices of the first three generations of Islamic history. In short; Wahhabist books and pamphlets teach that Muslims should reject absolutely any non-Muslim ideas and practices, including political ones. In its harshest form it preached that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way," but "hate them for their religion... for Allah's sake," and that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century.
Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, and is also popular in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and several other areas and regions of the world. It is often referred to as a "sect" or "branch" of Islam, though both its supporters and many of its opponents reject such designations. It has developed considerable influence in the Muslim world and the West through the funding of mosques, schools and other means from Persian Gulf oil wealth.
The terms "Wahhabism" and "Salafism" are often used interchangeably. Wahhabism has been called a "belittling" term for Salafi, while another source defines it as "a particular orientation within Salafism," an orientation some consider ultra-conservative.
While the origins of Wahhabism and Salafism were quite distinct - Wahhabism was a pared-down Islam that rejected modern influences, while Salafism was slightly more flexible on the issue - they both shared a rejection of moderate teachings on Islam in favour of direct, ‘traditional’ interpretations. But despite their beginnings "as two distinct movements", the migration of Muslim Brotherhood members from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Saudi King Faisal's "embrace of Salafi pan-Islamism resulted in cross-pollination between ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings on tawhid, shirk and bid‘ah and Salafi interpretations of ahadith (the sayings of Muhammad)."
Salafism differs from the earlier contemporary Islamic revival movements of the 1970s and 1980s commonly referred to as Islamism, in that (at least many) Salafis reject not only Western ideologies such as Socialism and Capitalism, but also common Western concepts like economics, constitutions, political parties, revolution and social justice. Muslims should not engage in Western activities like politics, "even by giving them an Islamic slant." Instead, Muslims should stick to traditional activities, particularly Dawah(missionary activity). Salafis promote Sharia rather than an Islamic political program or state.
From the perspective of the Salafis themselves, their history starts with Prophet Muhammad himself. They consider themselves direct followers of his teachings, and wish to emulate the piety of the first three generations of Islam (the Salaf). All later scholars are merely revivers (not 'founders'). Modern scholars may only come to teach (or remind) us of the instructions of the original followers of Islam. From the perspective of some others, however, the history of Salafism started a few hundred years ago, the exact time and place still being a matter of discussion.
Some Salafis believe that violent jihad is permissible against foreign, non-Muslim, occupation, but not against governments that claim to be Islamic. Those governments are to be reformed, not violently overthrown. Civil war (fitna) is to be avoided. (Salman al-Auda)
Other Salafis believe that it is permissible, even required, for believers to engage in violent jihad to overthrow oppressive regimes, even if they claim to be Islamic. One of the strongest proponents for violence was Sayyed Qutb, an Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood. After the Egyptian Brotherhood assassinated the Egyptian leader, the Brotherhood was suppressed and Qutb went to jail.
Some Salafis urge believers to support or endure the state under which they live. Believers are encouraged to spread Salafism non-violently, by missionary activity, social work, and political organisation. Above all, they should help each other lead lives of true Islamic piety. (Rabe' al-Madkhali)
In recent years attention has been given to the "jihadi" Salafism of Al-Qaeda, and related groups calling for the killing of civilians, and opposed by many Muslim groups and governments, including the Saudi government and Muslim Brotherhood. Debate continues today over the appropriate method of reform, ranging from violent "Salafism jihadism" to less politicised evangelism. Despite some similarities, the different contemporary self-proclaimed Salafist groups often strongly disapprove of each other and deny the others Salafi character. Typically, the so called Wahhabis and Salafis refer to themselves as "Muwahiddun (Muwahidoon)" or followers of "Ahle Hadith," or "Ahl at-Tawheed."
It’s a myriad of definitions which can be quite confusing to the average person. The important thing however is to be aware of how the Islamic apologists try to manipulate western politicians and media in order to “downplay” the extensiveness that Salafism/traditional Islam has in the world.
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