[first published April 17, 2015]
by Dr. David Pence
Jahiliyya is an Islamic term for the state of spiritual ignorance where man resides when he understands society and history only in terms of man-made laws. When man is enlightened by Islam, he comes to see the world in its fullness as God's creation. The more we submit to God ('Islam'), the more we can see the entirety of science, human history, and man's ultimate purpose and destiny. Jahiliyya was a traditional term that referred to societies before the Prophet came. Now, it is often used to describe the modern West and Arab societies that have organized themselves as secular nationalists elevating the power of states and rulers over the primacy of God. There are parallels in Augustine's contrast of the City of God and the City of Man; in Pope Benedict's description of the West as a state of "practical atheism"; and in Pope Francis' similar depiction of "libertine atheism."
There are few fields of study in which ignorance of God and deliberate blindness to the religious dimension of men and nations is so pronounced as American foreign policy. It is even more irritating that defining the interplay of nations in the narrowest of Social Darwinist terms is trumpeted as Realism.
The most damming evidence that our foreign policy is not rooted in religious reality is that fourteen years after the attacks of 9/11, the American Senate is treating the House of Saud and their Wahhabi religious establishment as our allies as the Salafist Sunnis attempt to exterminate and suppress Shia Muslims in the Mideast. Because there is no religious lens to see this battle, we adopt the Saudi/Israeli depiction of all Shias as surrogates of Iran… and Iran must be destroyed.
Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (2003) by Dore Gold grew out of the author's doctoral thesis at Columbia in the 1980s. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, praises the book: "The Saudi establishment has accepted a Faustian bargain, buying protection for itself by financing Wahhabi hatred around the world. If you read one book to understand the roots of al-Qaeda's fury and the hostility to us within the Muslim world, it should be this -- Dore Gold's superbly told history of the Wahhabis."
We are engaged in a religious war, but none of our senators or presidential candidates propose a policy that would come to grips with the roots of this war which Mr. Gold has described in his book. Reading the non-partisan Congressional Research Service report by Christopher Blanchard on Saudi Arabia ("Background and U.S. Relations") is as depressing as listening to Bill O'Reilly on Fox News pontificate that "Shia-Sunni, Sunni-Shia -- the American people don't care about that." In the CRS report there is a prominent section on gender relations and women driving cars. The suppressed Shia of the Eastern oil provinces are mentioned as a minority who "create continuing strains on public order and overall stability." The Saudi restrictions on Shia public processions and religious practices didn't make the Blanchard report. Mr. Blanchard, the non-partisan Congressional expert, has missed the Faustian bargain at the heart of the House of Saud. Not surprisingly, Blanchard is featured on a prominent Saudi/U.S. website as a Mideast expert. Ambassador Gold's book tells a very different story. He quotes a Bernard Lewis analogy to better grasp the Wahhabi ideology:
"Imagine if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity. This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country."
The importance of the religious ideological side of this war is captured by the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, as he talks of Islam extremism in Asia: "In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in the schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young..."
A previously published video interview with the author, and excerpts of a book review of Hatred's Kingdom that appeared in 'Commentary' magazine in 2003 can be found here.
(Update April 2017: The reviewer in the Commentary article argued that after ridding the Mideast of Saddam Hussein, American strategy should be aimed at dismantling the Wahhabi worldwide network of terror. Well that certainly didn't happen! You will no longer hear any kind of anti Wahhabi strategy from either Commentary magazine or from Ambassador Gold. Israel has made a de facto alliance with the House of Saud and has become their most reliable purveyor of anti Shiite propaganda in the name of stopping Iranian hegemony. Israel has joined the Kingdom of Hate in hating Iran and they are a powerful double lobby in trying to draw America into their coalition. The Shiite Houthis of Yemen will suffer and an America first foreign policy will be rendered meaningless if America adopts the Saudi hatred a sour own. Henry Adams once said that "politics is the systematic organization of hatreds." That sad fact underlies the strategic incoherence of post 911 American foreign policy.)
The CRS report, mentioned above, documents $90 billion in weapons sales from the U.S. to the Sauds from 2010-2014 as another mutual interest. This excellent article sums up the numerous other lobbying and Congressional ties that bind our government officials and the monarchy's clan.
UPDATE: In March 2017, President Trump sat down with the Saudi deputy crown prince (at age 31 he is the youngest defense minister in the world).
Mapping the Schools of Islamic Law and locating the epicenter of terror.