Culture & Communications:

Hidden Goals in Modern Globalizing Culture
Part IV: The First bin Ladens

Dr. Andreas Eppink

This article is the fourth of an on-going series of selected chapters excerpted from Dr. Eppink's upcoming book, "Hidden Goals in Modern Globalizing Culture", and is herein offered in conjunction to an earlier paper by Dr. Eppink, Cross-Cultural Communication in the Age of Globalization, which appeared in the January-February 2002 issue of this Journal.  (For Parts I, II and III of Dr. Eppink's Introduction, please refer to Modern Globalizing Culture - July-August 2002 Issue, Modern Globalizing Culture Part II - September-October 2002 Issue, and Modern Globalizing Culture Part III - November-December 2002 Issue). Of note, Dr. Eppink presented his insights on Modern Globalizing Culture during his presentation as Closing Speaker at the 2002 International Congress of the BWW Society in Saint Germain-en-Laye this past August.

In studying Muslim history, at least three striking examples can be found from which Osama bin Laden unmistakably borrowed his thoughts and terrorist approach: the Almoravid and Almohad spiritual leaders provided him with the orthodox philosophy, the Assassins with tactics. All three political movements had their spiritual leaders, or would-be holy men. In the current chapter and the next we will meet them and analyze their Hidden Goals.

Muslim Holy Men

Bin Laden’s messages, and his lifestyle as shown on videotapes -- living in a cave in the mountains, wearing long garments, a long beard and long hair, sipping tea with a pensive look while sitting cross-legged on the ground -- all of this should present him as a “holy man” as the prophet Muhammad once was. Like other “holy men” Laden had become a refugee, abiding in the mountains where he recruited followers, preferably young men -- and thus prone to fanaticism. Behaving alike, he wanted to be one of a long chain of “holy men” in Islam; it would be too long a list to mention them all.

These holy men are comparable to the many Christian ascetics but for one difference: most Muslim holy men had political aspirations. They considered the establishment of an orthodox Muslim state to be their main duty.

The ideology of these holy men is that of the warrior who reestablishes orthodoxy for the ‘true believers’. Talking of orthodoxy is talking of government, both are inseparable, as Islam is in the first place a religion of Order, of Holy Law, the Shari’a.[1] Applying the Shari’a as state law is the ultimate proof of Muslim orthodoxy, which few of its leaders, in the past and present, could or can accomplish.

The Shari’a can be interpreted in various ways, and even in the first centuries of Islam different law schools emerged.[2] Moreover, the Shari’a is not so much a law system in the actual sense, but more a religious and social program to improve both the relation of man to God, and the relations among men. (Thus the Shari’a improved the ancient position of women considerably.) But from the very beginning a literal interpretation of the entire text conflicted with the actual situation of Muslim society. Consequently, reasoning by analogy became an important task for many an ulema (religious scholar) and fqih (lawyer).

The puritan fundamentalists among them, and particularly the orthodox holy men, have a strict and restricted concept of the Shari’a, whose literal interpretation reflects nothing more than the fears of the interpreters. Believing that a text -- or whatever -- has no context or connotations -- and is also Inviolable -- is the very expression of undirected human fear.

Such fear became obvious in a recent example when a Dutch-Caribbean imam (minister) was interviewed on homosexuality. The imam stated that homosexuality was forbidden, and that indeed the death penalty had to be applied in the case of four adults, as credible witnesses had seen the act. He hurried to add that this would almost never happen. However, the clever interviewer remarked that such acts could be witnessed on sex-TV everyday, which left the imam speechless. (He lost his job in public service for discrimination against a minority, which is against public law in Holland.) It is obvious that this imam is not against homosexuality, but he cannot admit it because of his fear to commit a sin if he were not to take the Law literally.

As to Islam, one thing is clear. The Prophet speaks of a God who is merciful and forgiving for repenting sinners. The harsh penalties, like the death penalty for fornicators and the amputation of a hand for thieves, are deterrents, and indicate the importance of good social relations. That is the principal message of Islam.

If my interpretation of Islam will not be accepted by all Muslims, I can only object that bin Laden’s interpretation likewise is not accepted by all Muslims. There have been and there remain as many interpretations of Islam as there are possible combinations of HGs.

Bin Laden was a layman, as I am, who took advice from pious Muslim scholars. Laden’s followers and associates, the Taliban, forgot the principal message too easily, replacing it by rather external matters such as the religious police trying to enforce(!) good social relations. About the religious police we will speak later.

In the beginning, being rather impressed by the knowledge of bin Laden, I later had to correct this image. His words proved to be just repetitions of what others had said before, and appeared clearly inspired by some religious advisers in his entourage. They were like most orthodox Muslim lawyers and religious scholars -- and the often quite illiterate and ignorant imams who don’t know more than the numerous verses they learned by rote memory.

Bin Laden Himself

The next biographical description is entirely copied from the text published on the internet by the pro-bin Laden Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights.[3] The italics indicate little changes by me; the passages between brackets I have added for explication.

"Biography: Name: Usamah Bin Muhammad Bin Laden. Born in the city of Riyadh 1377 AH [the Muslim calendar], 1957. Raised in al Madina, al Munawwara and Hijaz, and received his education in the schools of Jeddah, then studied management and economics in King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. Married with Children. His outlook: The way of the people of Sunna [tradition] and Jama'a [assembly of the elders] in accordance with the understanding of the righteous predecessors, in total and in detail. From this emerges the necessity for armed struggle preceded by Da'wa [call] and military preparation in order to repel the greater Kufr [heathens], and to cooperate with Muslims in order to unite their word under the banner of the one God, and to set aside divisions and differences. He began his interaction with the Islamic groups in 1393 AH (1973) and continued with this until the commencement of Jihad [Holy War] in Afghanistan; he also participated, in the beginning of the eighties, with the Mujahideen [warriors] against the Communist party in South Yemen, participating once again in the 1990s until the downfall of the Communist party.

"He established alongside Sheik Dr. Abdullah Azzam - May Allah bless his soul - the office for Mujahideen services in Peshawar; he also established along with Sheik Azzam the Sidda camp for the training of Arab Mujahideen who came for Jihad in Afghanistan. His first visit to assist the Afghan Mujahideen was after the entry of the Russians by a few days in 1399 AH (1979); he established "Ma`sadat al Ansar" which was a base for Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan. In 1406 AH (1986) he participated in the battles of Jalalabad with the Arab Mujahideen as he also did in 1409 AH (1989) which was one of the biggest battles which the Arabs engaged in, in Afghanistan.

"He migrated from the Arabian peninsula on 16 Shawwal 1411 AH (1991), then he was asked by the Saudi government to return, however he refused, so they withdrew his citizenship, canceled his passport, froze his assets, and then attacked him through the media by defaming his character both inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

"He currently resides in Afghanistan, and has directed a call to the Muslims throughout the world to declare a Jihad against the Judeo - Christian alliance which is occupying Islamic sacred land in Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula.”

Although common knowledge, the biography does not say that centi-millionaire bin Laden came from a rich Saudi family. Among other things, he managed a family firm for the construction of roads. One of the family firms was charged with the enlargement of the holy buildings of Mecca, well known by the famous pilgrimage.

His Messages

In the early 1990's Osama bin Laden sought publicity in the Islamic world by messages on videotape, the internet, and by newspaper.[4] The biography was one of the publications. As do most Islamic messages, the other articles have lengthy titles. The first is entitled “Expel the infidels from the Arab peninsula. Declaration of war against the Americans occupying the Land of the two Holy Places. A message from Usama bin Muhammad bin Laden to his Muslim brethren all over the world generally and in the Arab peninsula specifically.”

Bin Laden starts to stir the emotions of Muslims in pointing out the wrongdoing committed in past decades against “the people of Islam”. In his own words: “It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, inequity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims' blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, the Philippines, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnya and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience . . . the world watched and heard, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and it's allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves… All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.”[5]

Responsible have been, in his eyes, the “Zionist-Crusaders-alliance”[6]: the Israelis and Americans, and their supporters, especially the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian governments, who tolerate not only the state of Israel but a progressing American influence in the Muslim World, which bin Laden considers an act of aggression. A culmination and “the latest and the greatest of these aggressions” was the installation of U.S. military bases on Saudi territory, also in “the land of the two Holy (Muslim) Places (Mecca and Medinah)” calling it an “occupation … by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies”.

The military bases were installed during the Gulf War but are still in operation, which the government has to pay for. Inflation, devaluation of the Saudi riyal, unpaid salaries of government employees, and unpaid governmental debts to merchants and contractors are the consequences, says bin Laden. Saudi Arabia was left with “more than three hundred and forty billions of riyal owed by the government to the people in addition to the daily accumulated interest[7], let alone the foreign debt.”

By this bin Laden means the Saudi government has lost its legitimacy. The Saudi government became his principal target.

Hate Against America.

The Palestinian cause seems only a side-path he has used to attract and to please more followers. But it fits into another point of his rebuke: the division of the Umma, the unity of the Muslim community. “Hence," said bin Laden, "it is essential to hit the main enemy who divided the Umma into small and little countries and pushed it, for the last few decades, into a state of confusion.”[8] Here, bin Laden is referring to the founding of the modern Arab States, and other states with a Muslim population, which are indeed all inventions of the 20th century Western powers. As do many in the Muslim world, bin Laden considered the actual regimes mere puppets of America: “The external policy of the Saudi regime was a policy tied to the British outlook, from the establishment of Saudi Arabia. . . until 1364 AH (1945), then it became attached to the American outlook after America gained prominence as a major power in the world after the Second World War.”

And elsewhere he states: “. . .The (Saudi) regime is fully responsible for what had been incurred by the country and the nation; however the occupying American enemy is the principle and the main cause of the situation . Therefore efforts should be concentrated on destroying, fighting and killing the enemy . . . for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples… The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post . . .”

It should not be underestimated how manifold are the “sympathies of the Muslim world with the struggle against the Americans” and will continue to be even after the death of bin Laden. This has much to do with what is called “America’s arrogance”. Recently, in the former US embassy in Teheran -- the very place of the 444 days of “America held Hostage” during the Carter era -- a new museum has been installed: The Museum of American Arrogance. It displays the “perfidy in turning sides of the US government”, next to the materialism of American culture.

Not only Arabs or Muslims, but many in the West as well, feel a distaste for the US government’s display of power (“the propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order”, said bin Laden), its military interventions, and what is called “the apparent lack of knowledge of what is moving the rest of the world” in European papers. [9]

That “America continues to claim that it is upholding the banner of freedom and humanity…” as Laden objects, is not only doubted by Muslims, as long as the US government seems to support -- or to finance -- the evident terrorist actions of certain regimes. (With the financial support to construct the Tora Bora complex of the Afghan Taliban, America eventually bit it's own tail.).

Many others are offended by the liberal manners of Americans, in films, as tourists, or as soldiers in foreign countries, which they believe is the main feature of American culture. They fear these manners will influence, corrupt and degrade their own traditions, beliefs, and culture. Radicals like Laden want to purge their world of these bad influences. Others in East and West, less radical, consider American society to be the outcome of ceaseless consumption, or Instant-Gratification.

So far I have outlined several distinct motives for the hate against the Americans of which bin Laden is the most extreme exponent. He even went as far as proclaiming a (illegal) fatwa in 1998 ordering the killing of Americans.

Hate Against Muslim Rulers

To understand bin Laden’s diatribe (against “ . . . the oppressive and illegitimate behavior and measures of the ruling (Saudi) regime: Ignoring the divine Shari'ah law; . . . ; allowing the Americans to occupy the land of the two Holy Places;) we have to take into account the difficulties all Muslim governments have been confronted with: finances, and the defense of their state.

The Shari’a prohibits banks charging interest as usury, and allows only a small tax on the believers (the so called zakat), with revenues being insufficient in case of war. The Shari’a, however, presupposes, a world of Umma (Muslim community) without wars, Jihad excepted. In the beginning of Islam, the Holy War largely defrayed the costs. Soon, many governments from the past into the recent, such as the Saudi Arabians during the Gulf war, broke the Muslim Law “while imposing more custom duties and taxes on the nation”, and raising more taxes was then permitted in order to protect their territory.[10]

At this point the bin Ladens come in.

Where bin Laden Found His Example. A Remarkable Resemblance Between bin Laden and ibn Yasim in the 11th Century.

Circa 1050 a young Muslim lawyer (fqih) founded a religious movement with the following main objectives: to propagate the truth - it is the orthodox Islam, to put down injustice, and to abolish illegal taxes.[11] His name was Abdallah ibn Yasim, and he came from Tunisia (Ifriqia). Appointed an imam of a south Moroccan Berber tribe, he ordained strict orthodox rules for his followers, and -- by a fatwa (legal religious dictate) -- proclaimed war against the surrounding heterodox Berber tribes. His call for war was successful and the tribes from north Morocco and those in the south -- including Nigeria and Senegal -- were submitted and unified. The unified tribes are known in history as the reign of the Almoravids, so called after the name murabitum, which means “people of the resistance” (to the pains of war). Bin Laden makes allusions to these murabitum, speaking of the “great perseverance (enthusiasm, courage and pride for the religion of Allah)”, as we will see in the next chapter. Al Yasim himself, intoxicated by Glory[12], soon forgot to give the right example, and was disposed of because of his womanizing and greed. His successors established a rather centralized government, with the newly founded town of Marrakech as its capital and the center for Almoravid expansion. Their sultan ibn Tashafin[13], informed by his warriors on the heterodox state of al Andalous, proclaimed a general Holy War on Muslim al Andalous in southern Spain. This was the stimulus for the invasion of 1090.

Muslim Taxes, and Democracy in Ancient al Andalous (Spain)

Thus, Muslim al Andalous was being menaced by an urge for expansion on both sides of its frontiers: in the north by the Christian Spanish kings, and in the south by the Berber tribes. The different rulers of the many little Muslim taifas (states) had never succeeded in building strong alliances with each other.

The Almoravids, after being invited by the ruler of Seville to collaborate in the defense of the territory against a threatening Catholic king, had disposed of the Muslim ruler of Seville himself, and had progressed to conquer vast Muslim and Christian regions. The population of al Andalous welcomed the Almoravids as saviors. The recent conquest of Muslim Toledo by King Alfonso VI of Castille (1085) had caused general fear and insecurity.[14] Fifteen years before, the same king had been defeated by an army of al Andalous, supported by the first contingent of Almoravid warriors that visited al Andalous.

Having suffered instability and insecurity under the pressure of taxes and changing rulers, al Andalous would have embraced any new ruler who promised tax reforms and stability, as history shows repeatedly.

So it could happen that taxes and “democracy” became strongly inter-related in the Muslim world of orthodoxy. “The abolishment of illegal taxes” could always count on the “democratic” acclamatory support of the people.

Originally, democracy signified decisions to be taken by the jamaa, the assembly of the family or tribe elders; in later days democracy meant the “consent of the people”, which implicated that the ruler consulted the community and asked for its opinion before taking decisions.

Thus, the often-praised Muslim democracy is in reality the Bedouin tribal custom of ruling by consent of the elders representing the people. In this case, "with the people" actually meant "with the clans". Later, "the people" was the masses in the street, and the so-called “people's democracy” became a mockery.

Until today it is quite easy for Muslim rulers -- for example Iraqi President Saddam Hussein[15] -- to engage large masses of supporters howling and chanting in the streets -- often incited by paid activists. In this way the rulers get their consent. But how differently they deal with adversary masses! Quickly the idea of consent is abandoned, and often the rulers will not hesitate to slay entire opposition groups.

The Moralizing Society Controlled by the “Religious Police” Defending its Spiritual Frontiers.

The severe taxes on Muslims, Christians and Jews had enriched the former rulers of al Andalous and contributed to their splendor. In their rivalry they had promoted art and culture to a very high degree. With the orthodox rulers, the severe taxes had gone, and the splendor as well. Both taxes and splendor had been replaced by austerity.

Austere orthodox governors, such as the Almoravids, Khomeini and the Taliban, put a ban on all Instant-Gratification, and even on all joy in life. But although striving for Instant-Gratification is a goal without end and a source of discontinuity, prohibiting joy and satisfaction will do away with neither the longing for Instant-Gratification nor the signs of discontinuity, including distress. On the contrary, the result is a moralizing and gloomy society.

The second half of the 11th century is the era of new political Muslim ideas on government. The lawyer and moralist al Mawardi wrote his treaty on the basics of government (al Ahkam al Sultaniyya). Al Turtusi (from the Muslim-Spanish town Tortosa) edited a moral guide for rulers, the predecessor of Macchiavelli’s Il Principe, but focused more on ethics than on war. A just ruler was he who collected no more taxes than was admitted by the Shari’a.

The well-known religious reformer al Ghazali formulated a political ideology that would, until modern times, mark the Muslim world for the future.

Besides the legitimization of the hereditary rights of the family of the Abbasids as ruling Caliphs, al Ghazali accepted the de facto situation of local rulers, ‘sultans’, provided they were endowed with the authority by the Caliph, which was a formality. So al Ghazali’s attention is directed at the local sultans, and he states their principal duties:

- to defend their Muslim territories against external threats and against internal disorder.

- to undertake Jihad (Holy War) against those who apostatized, and against the unbelievers who refused to pay taxes. Tribute had to be paid by the ‘people of the Book’ (Christians and Jews) as a sign they accepted the supremacy of Islam. (In the heterodox regions, paying this tribute had been a mere formality.)

However, the main objective of al Ghazali, like the Christian Saint Augustine six centuries before, was to create a Civitas Dei, the ideal town-state, where God’s laws reigned and the citizens obeyed them. Besides their duties, based on “the right of God to be obeyed”, the believers too should have their rights: to earn a living, and to “live in peace and honor”.

While peace mostly stands for Stability and Order, and includes among other things punishing thieves, Honor brings in a variety of moralistic restrictions.[16] According to al Ghazali, in addition to violations such as theft, the commission of adultery, defamation, and the consumption of alcohol also had to be punished by the government (be it in accordance with religious law, reasonably, and with moderation). The ideal religious ‘state’ has to defend ‘the frontiers of Islam’, which means both territorial and spiritual frontiers.[17]

It’s important to note that this very concept of justice -- today still commonly shared by the orthodox, such as bin Laden, the Taliban, and the majority of the Arab rulers -- is rather in conflict with modern Western thought!

Parallels Between the Orthodox Almoravids and bin Laden

To legalize their urge to expand, the orthodox Almoravids had applied to al Ghazali for a justification of the invasion of 1090 in al Andalous (Muslim Spain). Al Ghazali justified the invasion. His answer to Sultan ibn Tashafin -- which could have been written by bin Laden: “ . . . in those territories the Muslims suffered humiliations and oppression (due to the Christians), .. imprisonment, death, plundering …” More significant is what still follows. Al Ghazali accuses the (former) Muslim rulers of al Andalous of being ‘rebels’ who tried to usurp power, and who warred between one another.. What was worse: they had made pacts with Catholic kings (there were several Christian kingdoms in Spain at that time) against other Muslim rulers. All this was considered by al Ghazali to be a split-up of Muslim unity; today we see bin Laden use the same words when he states: they “divided the Umma (Muslim community) into small and little countries and pushed it . . . into a state of confusion”.

And indeed, the parallels between the behavior of the rulers of al Andalous and that of the actual Saudis are striking. Both asked for help from rulers who were unbelievers, both asked for help to defend their territory against … other hostile Muslim rulers. To al Ghazali this was the very limit, as he wrote to the Almoravid Sultan ibn Tashafin, ending his letter with the “advice to eradicate the Christians from the Muslim land”. Al Ghazali admired ibn Tashafin for his endeavors to unify Muslim tribes and territories, and only his own death prevented him paying homage in person.

Sultan ibn Tashafin received another letter, this from the moralist-philosopher al Turtusi. The letter starts as follows: “Know, oh Son of Jacob (ibn Tashafin), don’t let one adultery be committed in your regions, nor in your empire, not during your whole life, because you will be responsible (before God), and be suspected of sin . . . ”. The letter goes on to cite other sins, such as the consumption of alcohol. Upon the God-fearing sultan, the letter had not only a profound impact, it also legitimized the imprisonment, murder or exile of the former ‘corrupt’ rulers. Supported by two famous theologian-philosophers of his time, Sultan ibn Tashafin could start his pious works. He brought social and religious as well as fiscal reforms based on the Shari’a. We see, to a large extent, orthodoxy introduced in al Andalous: Koran education, the growing role (and prerogatives!) of religious lawyers (fqihs) and military caids (judges) in society, and particularly the religious police (mohtaseb), who had “to impose the good and to prevent the bad” in all layers of the community, which included the private lives of the believers. As soon as religious police are installed or propagated to guard virtue and honor, one can be sure that the obstructing HG Inviolability is focused upon. We witness this not only in the times of the Almoravids, but in the present era as well with the examples of an Iran ruled by Khomeini and the aims of the Turkish fundamentalist “Party of Virtue”. How easily under the influence of the obstructing Hidden Goal Inviolability “God-fearing” may turn into a paranoiac oppression of non-virtuous, “bad”, and also “dangerous” behavior!

The Bankruptcy of “Democracy” and Legal Taxes

Alas, the tax reform and the wish to consult the people in government matters proved to be not only incompatible but irrational, more based upon good intentions than reality. The Sultan residing in Marrakech only twice visited the large cities of Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Granada, and others[18], during his reign of 15 years in al Andalous. In the times of his successors, it was the fqih who took most of the political decisions (like the mullahs in actual Iran). Soon the ideological zeal vanished. The menacing “reconquista” (reconquest) by the Christian kings of northern Spain brought the ideologists back to earth: they had to . . . raise taxes, for defense.

Now the old citizens of al Andalous became rebellious against the Berber Almoravids. Although culture prospered during the Almoravid period (1090/1110-1142), especially in the fields of literature and theology, and although the old Andalous were integrated into government as administrators, scribes and fqihs, in their hearts they despised the raw Berbers who had deprived their social life of its former gaiety. They rebelled against the military forces, the religious police, the lack of freedom, and in general, against “intellectual and religious oppression’”! Some historians even speak of a reemerging Berber-phobia against the Almoravid “savage asses”[19], and of the blossoming of a seed of rebellion that had existed for centuries.

Altogether, Almoravid orthodox government lasted no more than 50 years. In some regions less. Throughout al Andalous, everywhere the call for autonomy was heard, and the little regional Muslim kingdoms, the taifas, reappeared, as they had existed before the time of the Almoravids (and after the period of the Cordovan Umayyads). Two centuries later, the famous Muslim voyager, and first sociologist and anthropologist avant-la-lettre, ibn Khaldum developed his theory on Berber government: the continuity of such governments lasts at most three generations, and live and die in the following stages: 1. After invasion, a sedentary reign is established, replacing the former government(s). 2. Then a short cultural development follows. 3. Soon succeeded by decline and disintegration, as well as by the threat of a new invasion.

The Second bin Laden Predecessor, and the Definitive Proof of Bankruptcy of the Orthodox Politics of No-Collaboration

The period of the ‘second taifas’[20] in al Andalous was of short duration, but in essence this period was a mere formalization of what was the current situation during the last episode of the Almoravid reign.

Nevertheless, a new orthodox movement soon took over Almoravid power in north Africa (the Maghreb), propagating ‘unity’ in Islam -- from this word is derived the name Almohads: defenders of the unity.Forty years later, in 1171, they invaded al Andalous. The founder of the Almohad movement was the second bin Laden, ibn Tumart, who had ironically just died after a long refuge in the mountains, where he had preached guerrilla warfare. He called himself mahdi, a sort of reincarnation of the Prophet, in spite of the heterodoxy of this concept (the Sunni consider Muhammad the ultimate Prophet).

Ibn Tumart’s spiritual son and successor, proclaimed Sultan of the Maghreb in Marrakech after killing the reigning Almoravid family, began the occupation of al Andalous. Again, the same already-cited orthodox religious motives were placed in position by the Almohads: corruption of the Muslim people by the Muslim rulers of the taifas, and collaboration with the infidels.

With these historical facts in mind, the conclusion is that the orthodox zeal of the ‘true believers’ and their urge for expansion are strongly interrelated; both this zeal and this urge for expansionism prove to be the outcome of the Hidden Goal ambitious Control coupled with the obstructing HG Inviolability. Another conclusion is justified. The orthodox ‘true believers’ have only been able to rule through a reliance on military force, and could do so only temporarily. (The second wave of orthodoxy in Al Andalous lasted at best 40 years). Their principles of Muslim unity by autarchy and isolationist Independence (a very nomad-like legacy) -- not to speak of the rigid and strict moralistic principles -- proved to be an illusive ideology, conflicting with reality.[21] The principle of no collaboration -- with neither unbelievers nor with ‘heterodox’ Muslims -- could never stand up, not by the rulers of the first and second taifas, nor by the orthodox Almoravids or the very orthodox Almohads themselves. In this context, the words of bin Laden himself sound peculiar[22]: “ . . . if the danger to the religion from not fighting is greater than that of fighting, then it is a duty to fight them even if the intention of some of the fighters is not pure i.e. fighting for the sake of leadership (personal gain) or if they do not observe some of the rules and commandments of Islam. . . .It was the tradition of the people of the Sunnah (Ahlul-Sunnah) to join and invade -- fight -- with the righteous and non-righteous men.” [23] And bin Laden continues: “If it is not possible to fight except with the help of non-righteous military personnel and commanders, then there are two possibilities: either fighting will be ignored and the others, who are the great danger to this life and religion, will take control; or to fight with the help of non-righteous rulers and therefore repelling the greatest of the two dangers and implementing most, though not all, of the Islamic laws.”

Bin Laden was obviously trying to justify strange collaborations, such as the Taliban accepting financial aid from the US CIA for the construction of the Tora Bora complex. So far so good, but what of other rulers, why should they not justify their collaboration with “non-righteous men”?

More peculiar is the last sentence of bin Laden’s quotation. “Implementing most, though not all, of the Islamic laws” is the very behavior for which all those rulers were scorned who raised taxes to defend Muslim territory, and which the orthodox (Almoravids, Almohads, bin Laden, and others) condemn as illicit.

Here bin Laden himself demonstrates the incompatibility of rigid orthodox principles with reality.

He proves, moreover, that continuity cannot be obtained without collaboration with others. This means in today’s circumstances that Communication, and the exchange of Knowledge with others, is a necessity.

The Ruin of the Ideology of Unity: Illegal Fatwas, and Christians to Control the Tribes.

Medieval Muslim orthodoxy is a reaction to the continuous discontinuity of the epoch. Insecurity, expansion and war were general phenomena, not only in the Muslim world but in Europe[24], Asia and Africa as well. ‘The’ Almoravids consisted of allied tribes, from widely scattered areas such as, for example, Yemen, Asia, Middle Africa, and North Africa -- dwelling and settling in what is presently Morocco. The expansion of Islam as such is an exponent of tribal movements into the east and the west. The Muslim world was not -- and never became -- a homogeneous cultural or religious ‘unity’, which explains their repeated ideological longing for it.

During the Middle Ages, the reality of Medieval Muslim orthodoxy was as it is today, a rivalry between tribes as well as between those who remained nomads (e.g. the Berber Almoravids and Almohads) and the settlers (mostly called ‘Arabs’ because of their adopted language, rather than due to their ethnicity). The difference between nomads (Bedouins, Berbers) and settlers (‘Arabs’) has always been slight. The al Andalousi were a gathering of tribes from north Africa and the Arabian peninsula, mixed by marriages with (former) Christians, the descendants of Visigoths, Romans, and others, and by large contingents of slaves bought from the present Slavic countries[25]. The tribal identity was conserved for centuries; even new converts were, formally, adopted by a specific tribe.[26] Besides the rivalry between the (former) tribes, another rivalry existed (or was at the least smoldering): that between the ‘Arabs’ or town people on one side, and on the nomads or Berbers and the rural residents on the other. The example of the Prophet, a townsman and trader himself, has always inspired Muslims to migrate to the towns.[27] In the meantime however, Islam extolled its nomadic origins, and with this Independence, and a basis for many ideological conflicts.

Fitna, i.e. rebellion and civil war, have been the rule since the Shiites, the political schismatic who only acknowledged the biological descendants of the Prophet -- the lineage of his only child Fatma and her husband Ali -- as legal religious-political rulers (caliphs). Al Andalous found itself in a state of civil war (fitna) after the decline of the Cordovan caliphate since circa. 1000. [28]

The factual disunity of the Umma (Muslim community) inspired many an ideologist to action, and pious religious warriors like the bin Ladens can easily find justification in the concept of Holy War (Jihad). As is demonstrated in this chapter, ‘the enemy’ can be anyone and everyone, believers as well as infidels. The very orthodox Almoravids, whose ruler was -- as we have seen -- supported by the orthodox theologian and philosopher al Ghazali, became the target of the very orthodox Almohads who even managed to burn all the work of al Ghazali publicly because he had tolerated allegorical interpretations of the Koran, a practice the fundamentalist Almohads rebuked. Their censors received a huge amount of work.

With difficulty, an outsider is able to see the differences among the ‘orthodox’. Orthodox fundamentalists such as the Almohads justify their lust for expansion by irregular fatwas, expressing “the very necessity” of war and conquest. These dictates (fatwas) to undertake a Holy War are illegal -- if not pronounced by the legal religious leaders (but there is no generally accepted authority who can decide who is legal). In the case of the Almoravids, Almohads, and bin Laden, illicit fatwas were proclaimed by ‘holy men’ who considered themselves a mahdi, “guided -- or sent -- by God”. The many mahdis Islam has known have left nothing but discontinuity. In Al Andalous, Islam was pushed back due to the inability of its rulers to unify their forces. Fear of rebellion by the orthodox was endemic. A striking but significant detail is the deportation of the Arabized Christians (Mozarabs) by the Almoravids who feared a possible collaboration with the Christian kings. The Christian (!) Mozarabs were deported to the Maghreb and obliged to build a militant police which had to control . . . the unified Almoravid Muslim tribes. The rulers could not trust their own people for this task because of internal rivalry.[29] Rebellion was a steady threat in spite of the orthodoxy which prescribes the consent of the people. Obviously the orthodox rulers lacked that consent, but did not take the orthodox consequences. Because, if consent of the people is not obtained, from the orthodox point of view a government is illicit . . .

During the Middle Ages there was always been dissent, disagreement, and rivalry, but most discontinuity was caused during the periods of the reigns of the orthodox.[30] This made it easy for the Christians to undertake their Holy Wars, the Crusades and the “reconquista”. The first crusade took place in 1061, a time contemporaneous to the books of al Ghazali against heterodoxy. This theologian, however, would have been more worried by the unorthodox Muslim Turkish tribe of the Seljuk who had occupied large parts of the Abased empire, including Palestine.

Considering the assumed ranking of Hidden Goals of the mentioned Muslim reigns and movements, the following summary can serve as a basic analysis:

berber and

other nomads





the bin ladens



Order (Law)

ß Order (Law)

Control (Ambition

Expansion Holy War)


Social Contact (tribe

loyalty - togetherness)


Service to God


Ý Stability

Service (Duty)


Ý Approbation (Honor


Social Contact

(unity: Umma)



Ý Control


Ý  Approbation

(Glory by Holy War)

Information /



Information /


Ý Inviolability

(Power by formalism  moralization castigation

military police; fear)

Ý Inviolability

  (Power; fear)

Ý Approbation




Ý Approbation

(Honor moralization)

Ý Instant-Gratification

      (greed etc.)[31]








Conclusions Concerning the Hidden Goals and Cultural Continuity:

While the reign of the Umayyads -- including the Caliphate of Cordoba -- had existed for nearly 300 years, their successors could not boast such continuity. While the first taifas lasted fifty years, the second taifas lasted barely one generation. In between came the orthodox reigns of the Almoravids and Almohads, each with approximately forty years of government. In essence, the Almohad government did not surpass twenty years.[32] Muslim orthodoxy could only be maintained by military force. The orthodox rulers lacked the support and consent of the majority of the people.

Within my frame of reference, the theory of the Hidden Goals, the short duration of these orthodox rulers can be explained by the rising in ranking of obstructing HG’s. In the table an upward trend is represented by Ý, a downward trend by ß

Although I will deal at large with the following themes in other chapters of this book, here I’m giving the central ideas.

Islam came up within the tribal culture which the Prophet Muhammad lived in. Nomad culture is principally based on two HG’s: Independence (Freedom of movement and from exterior authority) and Social Contact (expressed in tribe loyalty and togetherness). The Prophet’s aim was to do away with tribal wars by unifying the tribes on the Arabian peninsula under one God and His Law, thus a shift to the HG Order. Religion -- and especially a Law-religion -- is an expression of the Order HG, generally in combination with the HG Goodness, expressed in Service and Duty (with all kind of connotations). Muhammad wanted to continue and reinforce the nomad culture’s HG Social Contact but enlarged its scope into a broader concept, that of the Umma, the Community (of the united tribes under one God and Law). This was totally congruent with another expression of the HG Social Contact: Communication and trade, which were in high esteem of Muhammad, an important merchant himself. Thanks to Mohammed’s teachings, as written down in the Koran, the HG Information/Knowledge got an enormous rise.

Nevertheless, Mohammed’s attempts were thwarted by the discontinuity of that time, caused by the continuing Indigence thriving of the tribes, whose cultures were in addition weakened by concepts of Honor based on the obstructing HG Approbation.

Under external (mainly Persian) influence two other HG rose in ranking, and changed Islam completely: Control and Stability. Control was the main goal of the caliphs, like the Umayyads, or rather their wesirs or other rulers who governed in their name. Most of their subjects wanted Stability, which was found by religious leaders in orthodoxy.

As often happens, both Control and Stability became endangered by a rise of the obstructing HG’s. Especially the orthodox zeal of the ‘true believers’ and the urge of their leaders for expansion became strongly interrelated. The Hidden Goal ambitious Control was coupled with the obstructing HG Approbation, expressed in Honor and -- as to the leaders -- in personal Glory, as well as with the obstructing HG Inviolability as expressed in the idea of Holy War. Next came the emphasis on sin, formalism, moralization, paranoiac God-fear, strong oppression, castigation, and a totalitarian military police system to control even the private behavior of the believers.

The result was that the original religious Order and Goodness did fall in the HG ranking and was eventually lost in fanaticism like that of the Almoravid, Almohad, Taliban and the “spiritual” leaders of alike movements we will meet in the next chapters.

About the Author: BWW Society Member Dr. Andreas Eppink received his Doctorate degree in Social Sciences in 1977 from the University of Amsterdam, went on to study Clinical Psychology, and was officially registered as a Psychotherapist. He has worked as a Management Consultant, especially in the television, advertising, daily press, family business, transport, and public administration sectors, including work with the town of Maastricht. Prior to this, as an Anthropologist specializing in the study of culture, Dr. Eppink was a pioneer in the field of migration study, in particular mental health and occupation. In 1971 he founded the Averroes Foundation for the study of these areas. He headed this institute from 1978 to 1983, as it then became state run. He was an intergovernmental expert of the European Committee for Migration in Geneva, a member of the Board of Advisors to the Dutch Minister of the Interior, and an expert with different European committees in Strasbourg and Brussels. Dr. Eppink speaks five languages and reads several more.

[1] The Shari’a, or Law is based on: the Koran (the Holy Book), the Sunna (Tradition, as composed in different Hadiths = verbal traditions of what the Prophet said and did), and Ichma (universal consensus of the Muslim community, the Umaâ).

[2] The Sunnites know four law schools (madahib) each with their law interpretation. For example some Hanifites in Turkey prohibit wine but allow raki, a strong alcoholic brew, unknown in the time of the Prophet. The Shiites, who in the first Muslim century had their own interpretation concerning governmental succession, have their own branches of interpreting the law.

[3] Permission for republication is given on the site itself.

[4] Mostly in Al Quds Al Arabi (London). The text of the fatwas (“religious dictates or originally: answers”) was translated by the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, a pro-bin Laden organization, and posted on the Internet in 1996 and 1998.

[5] That the Taliban received weapons from the US against the USSR will be commented on later.

[6] The Christian European crusaders seized Jerusalem in 1099. In 1187 the Muslims took over again.

[7] “Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury.” (Baqarah; 2:275). In the Middle ages also the Catholic Church forbid taking interest.

[8] The quotations are from bin Laden: "Ladenese Epistle: Declaration of War. Expel the infidels from the Arab Peninsula” 1996, and: “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” 1998.

[9] From a HG-viewpoint Stability, or Approbation, expressions of the HG Control are mostly considered as “arrogant”.

[10] What worsened things: finances, and even tax collection, were often in the hands of Jewish ‘infidels’.

[11] The following is mainly based on the article of S. Abboud Haggar, entitled “Ideología guerrera y ortodoxa” (1993).

[12] An expression of the obstructing HG Approbation.

[13] Yusuf ibn Tashafin ruled in el-Maghreb 1061-1106.

[14] The Muslim ruler of Seville had sold Toledo to the Christians in exchange for protection. The battle that took place was a mock battle.

[15] In October 2002 he got 100% of the “votes”.

[16] “Peace” may be interpreted in different ways dependent on the various HGs. E.g. ideal peace (Order), no war (Stability), “leave me in peace” (Independence) but also: where we rule their will be peace (Control) like in the czarist and communist Russian concept of peace.
Regarding the connotations of “honor”, they also depend on HG-viewpoints. Pricipally however “honor” is inspired by the obstructing Hidden Goal Approbation, and is used in combination with “shame”  -- especially in the sense of the “honor of women” -- like in many Muslim regions and other (sub-)cultures. Where in this book Honor is written with capital I mean honor and shame as expressions of the HG Approbation.

[17] After: Maria J. Viguera in her article “Política reunificadora”, 1993.

[18] The Almoravids left Zaragoza an independent Muslim buffer taifa. Valencia was taken by the famous El Cid in 1091. This mercenary general took alternately the Christian and the Muslim side. It is unclear if he himself was a Christian or a Muslim!

[19] Quotations of the classic Arab historian Abu Marwan ibn Abi Jasil.

[20] López de Coca expresses the fundamental differences between the first and second taifas.

[21] The HG’s Independence and strong unity or togetherness, i.e. Social Contact, are incompatible.

[22] From bin Laden’s “Expel the infidels from the Arab peninsula.”

[23] The cursive in the entire quotation are mine, A.E.

[24] In Europe the expansion consisted in the Spanish reconquista, the crusades, the enlarged power of the Pope, and the foundation of the Genovese and Pisan republics.

[25] The descendants of the Slavic slaves even became the rulers of the taifa Almeria.

[26] About tribal identity, see Pierre Richard: Al Andalous.

[27] Xavier de Planhol.

[28] The Abassid caliphate of Baghdad had already become under Persian tutelage until it was ruled over by the Seljuk in 1055. The powerful Fatimid sultanate of Cairo lost its influence due to the crusader invasions in 1097 but soon the crusaders themselves have been conquered by the Seljuk sultan Saladdin. As is already mentioned Spanish Toledo was lost by the Muslims in 1085.

[29] Henri Terrasse. Histoire du Maroc.

[30] From the neutral politics of the taifa of Zaragoza all parties took profit: Zaragoza, the Christian kingdom of Aragon, and the Almoravids. (Afif Turk).

[31] Ibn Yasim, the spiritual leader of the early Almoravid movement is an extreme example of greed but no exception.

[32] By the way, the famous El Cid governed Valencia no longer then 8 years, then his widow took over.

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