“Moderate” Saudi oil money has spread extremism globally and sparked a battle for the soul of Islam at the expense of the world
The atrocities committed by Islamic State as it spreads its tendrils across the world underscore a wider conflict taking place between liberal democracies and those drawn to revolutionary Islamism – often angry and disenfranchised people railing against the predominant ideological system who have found recourse in the new way of life offered by their particular reading of scripture as the angry and the disenfranchised might once turned to socialism or nationalism. But what so violently battered down the doors of the public consciousness on September 11, 2001 and returned with renewed vigour with the rise of Islamic State is not simply a battle between jihadis and the West, but a battle for the heart and soul of Islam itself between those who see it as a religion of peace and tolerance and that minority who want to drag it back to a wholly darker age.
The battle for Islam’s soul dates back to the middle of the 18th Century and the unforgiving Najd desert when an exiled man came upon the sanctuary of an oasis. What he did there would change the world forever.
The man was radical preacher Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab who, in 1744, formed an alliance with the leader of a small clan presiding over the tiny oasis town of Dariyah, Muhammad ibn Saud.
Abd-al-Wahhab saw it as his mission to ‘purify’ Islam, purging it of influences and practices it had acquired throughout the ages and bringing it back to what he saw as the principles of the Salaf, or pious ancestors – those who knew the Prophet Muhammad and the two generations succeeding them. Any act of worship involving anything other than Allah, even
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