Salafism served its purpose, and now it’s time to use Sufism
By John Andrew Morrow
Crescent International (Ramadan 16, 1439)
We continue our conversation with Dr. John Andrew Morrow, an author and a scholar, about Muslims residing in the West. He is best known for his Covenants’ Initiative that aims to create better understanding between Muslims and Christians in the world today.
CI: In the late 1990s there was a spike in salafi perspective on Islam in the West among many Muslims. Do you think salafi Islam is declining in its popularity? If yes, why? If no, why not?
When I came into Islam in the mid-1980s, I was swimming in an ocean of Salafism. To be frank, the Salafis/Takfiris had taken so much life-giving spiritual oxygen from Islam that it was suffocating. Had I not found pockets of traditional Shi‘i, Sufi, and Sunni Muslims, where I could breathe, I would have died, bloated, and floated to the surface. The tide seems to have changed; however, we should not fool ourselves for it stems from the same sea. The genesis and spread of Salafism was not organic. It served the imperial interests of the British who set out to dismantle the Ottoman Sultanate. They destroyed Islam as a political power. They divided up the Muslim world into subservient nation-states that could be turned against one another.
The Americans, who have acted as heirs of the British imperialists, deployed the Salafis/Wahhabis/Takfiris to counter the expansion of communist imperialists: both of whom were enemies of Islam and Muslims. The French, the Pakistanis, and the Indians all funded mujahidin outfits to protect their interests. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan with their tails between their legs, the various fighting forces were pitted against each other in a fraternal civil war. Weakened and divided, what remained of the mujahidin was quickly swept away by an even more extreme band of extremists: the Deobandi Taliban. When the Taliban refused to obey their American masters, they were bombed back to the Stone Age. Those who had trained, armed, and funded fanatical religious extremists for decades soon insisted on bringing Western democracy to Afghanistan. In North Africa, the situation was similar: the enemies of humanity unleashed takfiri terrorists on the people of Algeria to undermine their legitimate Islamic aspirations in the 1990s. In Europe, they used them to tear Yugoslavia to pieces in the 1990s and to create the pseudo-state of Kosovo a couple of years later. In Southeast Asia, they used them to discredit the bona fide Moro movement in Mindanao during the same decade.
September 11, 2001, marked a strategic change. From useful idiots, who were supported both overtly and covertly, takfiri terrorists were turned into useful excuses, who were to be combated. With the fall of communism which, at least, aspired toward socio-economic justice, the world was left at the mercy of capitalist and globalist vampires who now had even greater freedom to enact their sinister plan to suck the planet dry of its resources and extract every drop of blood from humanity. Since the Cold War had ended, and the conflict had been beneficial to the bottom line, a new enemy ideology had to be identified: Islam. The threat posed by “Radical Islamism” would serve as a pretext to attack, invade, and occupy the sovereign state of Iraq from 2003–2013 at the cost of over one million civilian casualties and billions of dollars of stolen resources. Although the Americans promised democracy, the only thing they delivered was catastrophe: a sectarian and ethnic conflict that culminated in the mother of all monstrosities: an Islamic State that was neither “Islamic” nor a “state.”
While it is true, to a large extent, that Radical Salafism stopped being openly preached in masjids in both East and West after 9/11, and that a seemingly more moderate form of Islam started to fill the vacuum, the process did not take place organically. Although terms like “Traditional Islam” and “Sufism” sound less threatening than salafi Jihadism, Wahhabism, Radical Islamism, and Takfirism, and the spread of what is presented as normative, mainstream, and moderate Islam seems positive, the change is merely one of window-dressing and rebranding. The same people who were responsible for the spread of Salafism in the 1990s, and ISIS in the second decade of the 21st century, are also responsible for spreading what is known as Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Tasawwuf — namely, orthodox Sunnism combined with orthodox Sufism — since 2001. What is more, Takfirism did not disappear: it simply moved from the public sphere to the cyber sphere.
The globalists have long been committed to full-spectrum dominance. That includes controlling all opposition and playing all cards against each other: liberals versus conservatives, Christians versus Muslims, Sunnis versus Shi‘is, Sunnis and Shi‘is versus Sufis, whites versus blacks, and the native-born versus immigrants and refugees. In short, everyone against everyone else. For the political strategists of the globalists, radical Islam and moderate Islam are parallel tracks. They are simply ideologies deployed to advance their agenda. They are means to an end. To believe that they favour one over the other is to assume that they operate within an ethical framework and possess a moral compass. They do not. There is no such thing as morality in the geopolitics of the elite: only selfish interests. “Sometimes statesmen must choose between evils,” rationalized Henry Kissinger. This is what differentiates a servant of God from a servant of Satan. There were moral and ethical lines that the Prophets, the Messengers, and the Imams (a) would never have crossed. “If I had to choose between justice and disorder, on the one hand, and injustice and order, on the other,” said Kissinger, “I would always choose the latter.” While order is preferable to disorder, no believer would prefer injustice over justice. Speaking of Imperial Rome, Publius Tacitus, the orator, lawyer, and senator, said, “They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.” This need for stability was invoked by the supporters of the Umayyads to rationalize the slaughter of Imam Husayn (a). Even today we find scholars whose concept of “peace” is tolerating injustice. As far as Islam is concerned, the position is clear, “O you who have committed to Allah, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives” (4:135).
The very Western powers that have invested their resources in planting, cultivating, and harvesting the seeds of Radical Salafism and Jihadism, are also the ones that have concurrently planted spiritually, socio-politically, and genetically-modified Sufism in carefully guarded greenhouses. In 2004, the Sunday Times leaked confidential British government papers that discussed a project code-named “Contest.” Determined to curb the growth of extremism among British Muslims, the Tony Blair government adopted a two-pronged approach: crack down on extremists while co-opting moderates. Call it the carrot and the stick. Call it hard power and soft power.
For the record, I was once approached by a well-placed and well-connected person from the Arabian Peninsula who made me an offer he thought I could not refuse, “We will make you the next Hamza Yusuf,” he promised. Those are the very words he used. I have never been so insulted in my life. To anyone who thinks I am for sale, I say the same now as I said then, “You can go straight to hell.” In fact, the language I used was much more colourful.
Sufism is in style and that is exactly what it is. It is not a revival. It is not a renaissance of classical Islam. Sufism was co-opted centuries ago. Its secretive networks posed a tangible threat. Under proper guidance, they could be used to counter colonial forces. They also represented an opportunity. If they came under the control of intelligence agencies, they could become a vehicle for spies and subversives of all sorts. Just like the Peace Corps and NGOs, Sufi orders serve as a perfect cover for spooks. It comes as no surprise that many Sufi orders are associated with the secret societies and fraternal organizations of the Western world. One such order, founded by a pedophile, is closely connected to the Deep State, American neo-conservatives, Persian royalists and reactionaries, along with Arabian and Muslim kings, despots, and dictators. If Satan were a Sufi, he would be a member of this †ariqah. He probably already is. Although gnosis, namely tasawwuf and ‘irfan, has always appealed to a spiritual and scholarly elite in the Muslim world, it has always been a minority movement. Since 2001, Sufism has become increasingly mainstream, not because of greater spiritual introspection, but because of the crafting of consciousness that is possible due to mass media and social media. The greater the one-eyed web spreads and extends its influence, the easier it has become for the one-percenters to engage in psychological operations and social engineering on a planetary scale. These are not the delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic. They are research-rooted, evidence-based, conclusions. Call it a statement of fact.
Project Contest was and is a reality. The counter-terror strategy was introduced by the British government in 2003. It was only made public several years later. Its focus is four-fold: Prepare for attacks, Protect the public, Pursue the attackers, and Prevent their radicalization in the first place. According to Dr. Chris Allen, who resigned from Prevent, one of the branches of Contest, in 2014, the project has the “covert objective” of creating an “institutionally approved, ‘mainstream’ and ‘moderate’ expression of Islam that would be dually endorsed by various co-opted ‘liberal’ Muslims as also Government itself.” These government-generated, state-funded Islamic organizations, supported by leading scholars, who were often entirely oblivious to the entire enterprise, were tasked, not only with countering radicalism but with engineering, if not enacting, power in the Muslim community. Since its inception, tens of billions of taxpayer funds have been spent on over 1,000 schemes aimed at preventing the radicalization of Muslims in the UK with no measurable degree of success.
While people of good faith directed, supported, and worked with state-funded Muslim organizations like Radical Middle Way and the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group among others, the British government was not exactly transparent when it came to its aims. As productive, tax-paying citizens, Muslims are entitled to receive government funding to support sound initiatives. The goal of the British government was not simply to counter the spread of so-called “Islamic” extremism, it was to monitor the Muslim community, to control and reshape its values, and to restructure its worldview. In other words, make Muslims comply, conform, and convert to secularism, under the careful watch of the Home Office. Anyone who opposed this social engineering and the government’s state-sanctioned “British” or “Western” Islam would be deemed an extremist and treated as a threat. This may all seem like good government leaders going too far in their well-intentioned propaganda war against extremism and terrorism, were it not for the fact that the very same people were supporting ISIS at the time: allowing over 1,000 British psychopaths to join the ranks of the terrorist outfit in Syria and Iraq, allowing them to return without prosecution, and even rewarding them with taxpayer paid houses and support of all sorts so as to help “reintegrate” them into British society, a code word for “reward them for their service to Queen and Country.”
In the United States, the situation was, shall we say, unique. For the neocons, 9/11 offered a wealth of opportunities to make wealth by pillaging Iraq and its people with the bonus of stripping American citizens of their constitutional and civil rights and creating a surveillance state in the process. Due to the separation of church and state, the US government was reticent to overtly fund Muslim groups that were committed to combating extremism. Rather, the American administration invested its resources in creating and tracking domestic terrorists to justify its War of Terror. Since funding to fight terrorists can only be justified if there is terrorism, mentally-unstable stooges were often set up in false-flag operations to help foster Islamophobia.
In its attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, the CIA enlisted its old allies, the takfiri terrorists, to do their dirty deeds while the Saudis, the Turks, and the Qataris paid the bill at the bidding of the US. Obama’s onerous rules of engagement made it impossible for the Pentagon to fight the terrorists. Citing “freedom of expression,” the Obama administration refused to shut down the social media accounts used by ISIS. When asked to arrest, try, and convict American ISIS terrorists for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, the “liberal” government in Washington claimed that Syria was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty established by the International Criminal Court, and therefore had no jurisdiction. Considering that the United States has illegally attacked, invaded, and occupied sovereign nations, it is always ironic when it suddenly invokes international law.
Besides shedding crocodile tears for the victims of ISIS in a performance worthy of an Academy Award, the false prophets of pluralism supported, rather than opposed, the takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria. It was only at the end of his presidency that Obama issued a call for proposals to support his Countering Violent Extremism initiative. “ISIS will soon run out of territory,” said a leading member of the Obama administration to a group of Muslim leaders who were invited to the White House, “we count on you to help reintegrate them into your communities.” It was tantamount to being teased by one’s tormentor. It is like asking a woman who has been gang-raped to make up with her assailants, to give them housing, hospitality, and support, so that they can become productive members of society when, in truth, the woman really wants them to be productive members of the cemetery as a feast for maggots.
The current situation in the White House is complex. Unlike Obama, who praised Islam and Muslims while supporting radical “Islamic” terrorism, President Trump has trash-talked Muslims while strategically, systematically, and efficiently exterminating takfiri terrorists in Syria. He convinced or coerced the Saudis to stop funding ISIS and other such groups. Qatar was given the role of the fall guy and thrown under the bus by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This forced Qatar to reconsider its regional policies and to enter the orbit of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trump therefore put all the “bad guys” into one camp: Qatar, the former funder of ISIS, and Iran, the current funder of Hizbullah and Hamas. On the domestic front, Trump has determined that Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism initiative should be revamped into a campaign aimed at Countering Radical Islamic Extremism, ignoring the very real threat posed by the extreme right and the extreme left in the United States. One plans to one’s own peril.
So, Salafism, in its radical, violent, form has indeed been curtailed, but not by the bleeding-heart liberals who, in reality, are brain-eating zombies. Takfirism is being taken down by right-wing pseudo-conservatives and neo-fascist capitalist globalists who are aligned with profoundly anti-Islamic political and Islamic interests. While one enemy fades, another one rises. Muslims must always be vigilant lest they be doomed.