The Revolt of Islam

From a psychoanalytical perspective, what undergirds modernity as an ontological state and worldview is the “Pleasure Principle” that Sigmund Freud had elucidated in the 20th century. But the shaky foundations of modernity – which happens to be the core object of deconstruction and inquiry in postmodern philosophy – have also been elucidated by Freud. In “The Ego and The Id,” Freud wrote:

“The id, to which we finally come back, has no means of showing the ego either love or hate. It cannot say what it wants; it has achieved no unified will. Eros and the death instinct struggle within it; we have seen with what weapons the one group of instincts defends itself against the other. It would be possible to picture the id as under the domination of the mute but powerful death instincts, which desire to be at peace and (prompted by the pleasure principle) to put Eros, the mischief-maker, to rest; but perhaps that might be to undervalue the part played by Eros.”

The primary aim of American foreign policy in the 21st century was the imposition of modernity and the modern attitude on Afghanistan and the broader Middle East. In the end, the entire enterprise was a disaster and a failure because modernity is concerned solely with money, greed, and warmongering, as well as the hypocrisy of denying that this is the case. As the French philosopher and writer René Guénon once wrote:

“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”

It is also important to note that there is a major difference between modernity and development. Modernity is a perverse attitude that belittles religion, culture, and tradition, whereas development translates into sustainable economic and social growth that is undergirded by a strong religious and cultural identity. On paper, Afghanistan had a “modern” system with an army of English speakers, elections, a sensationalist media, and a liberal constitution among other things.

But if you subtract the foreign aid which corrupts the system and makes the people dependent on foreigners, the whole system falls apart. Therefore, development is the priority for Eastern nations, not the modernity that Western nations try to impose on people for ulterior motives such as control and hegemony.

Freedom — particularly religious freedom — is the sine qua non of economic and social development. But liberty is the ultimate social science concept and term, which in turn encompasses freedom. Liberty equates to a mentality and way of life that maintains a fine balance between freedom (the ability to do what you want to do) and religious duties and responsibilities towards God and people.

Liberty also means freedom from the control and hegemony of outsiders. When people resort to control and hegemony vis-à-vis others, it means they are perpetuating a zero-sum paradigm of social interaction and they want to stop others from attaining economic and social development. Control and hegemony begin first and foremost by canceling another person’s religious discourse — with discourse equating to logic and speech stemming from a foundational book or oeuvre — and stripping people of their religious identity, so that in their minds they can stay on top of others through chaos, control, and domination. As Foucault said: “Madness is the absence of an oeuvre.”

But in the bigger scheme of things, the West is dependent on the East for material and spiritual goods. The East is not dependent on the West, because the West has nothing to offer in terms of material or spiritual goods. The East can be self-sufficient in terms of material and spiritual goods as it was in the past, before the rise of Western hegemony approximately 500 years ago.

But the West, in the bigger scheme of things, derives its material and spiritual goods to a very large extent from the East. For instance, sanctions on Iran, Russia, and Venezuela — along with tariffs on China — hurt Americans and Europeans first and foremost. And without the human resources and labor from other countries, Western economies would fail to operate at an optimal level, if not at all. If all the Middle Eastern, Pakistani, and Indian health care workers of the American Midwest packed their bags and went elsewhere, the entire health care system of that region would collapse.

The corrupt leaders of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia may not have the psychological fortitude to understand the leverage they have over Western powers. Ultimately, it’s like a game of “chicken.” Whoever stands their ground the longest mentally and psychologically wins the game. But in this colossal game of “chicken” between the United States and China, it appears as though the latter has the oeuvre and thus the mental and psychological fortitude to win the game. Moreover, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Islam were the impetus and the sources for the rise of the West. Without the impetus and the sources — or the figure or figures who embody the basic essence (“Tao”/“D’hat-e-Haqiqi”) of the impetus and sources — the rise and the energy or power behind the rise cannot be sustained.

Upon reflection, it would be difficult to account for all of the factors which led to the situation in Afghanistan today. But what is astonishing is that the West – with all its capabilities, resources, and power – could not defeat and dismantle the Taliban, which is at most a militia group with a force that consists of somewhere between 100 to 300 thousand fighters depending on your method of counting. The West went into Afghanistan in 2001 thinking it could defeat and dismantle the Taliban once and for all and in turn impose modernity on a religious and traditional society like Afghanistan, but it could not do it. The pretext for the United States to go into Afghanistan in 2001 was 9/11. But 9/11 was a plot hatched by a handful of individuals acting on their own in Germany. Thus, one would have to consider that the entire American and Western venture in Afghanistan and the Middle East was based on a delusion, and it was a delusion based on the notion that the West could conquer and dominate the entire world. First it would be Afghanistan. Then Iraq. Then Iran. Then the broader Middle East. Then topple Russia and China. This was essentially the logic behind everything the West did since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. In sum, the policy of global hegemony on the part of the United States failed as evinced by the resurgence of the Taliban.

Afghanistan and the Afghan people have long been the main obstacles standing in the way of the West’s imposition of the modern attitude and the policy of global hegemony since the heyday of the British Empire. My experiences with Afghans and Afghanistan in general begin with having Afghan parents who came to the United States in the 1980’s after the Soviet invasion. They both were born and raised in Kabul during its famous “Golden Age” of the 1960’s and 1970’s. But my experience with Afghans broadened outside of family and close friends and into the broader Afghan community and diaspora in high school and college. I was deeply interested in my parent’s culture as many young Afghan-Americans were. So, I joined Afghan student groups in college and I participated in social activities with Afghan professionals and students as a grad student in Washington as well. However, after I finished grad school in 2013 and I began my journey as an entrepreneur and writer, I fell out of the Afghan community and their organizations largely due to the social corruption that pervaded them. I was deeply affected by the corruption and the constant quarreling that occurred not only in these groups and organizations, but between individuals as well.

The final straw for me was my experience at the Afghan Embassy in Washington after the Ambassador (Hamdullah Mohib) asked me to volunteer there when he heard about my book publication in early 2018. I gave whatever sincere advice I could as a book author and writer, and after that I handed over the key to the embassy as fast as I could because the lack of organization and purpose in that institution was a source of anxiety for me quite honestly.
After handing over the key in August 2018, I went back to my life as an entrepreneur and writer in Northern Virginia, away and isolated from the Afghan community and diaspora, but I did keep track of events in Afghanistan out of curiosity because my Master’s thesis as a grad student was on Afghanistan. I knew based on my analysis and conclusions as a Master’s student that due to Afghan corruption — both political and social — the Taliban would take over either half or whole of the country. What I did not know was that it would happen so fast. Nevertheless, here we are now, because the leaders of Afghanistan — due to their arrogance, corruption, and delusions — ignored all the warning signs. Afghanistan is now headed largely towards a “techno-agrarian” society dominated by the Taliban, given that more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s population lives off small-scale agriculture.

The secondary source of the corruption and thus the war in Afghanistan were the Afghans themselves because they were the tools used by the international community to advance corruption and war. But the primary source of the corruption and the war amongst the Afghans and the broader Middle East was for one “American Carnage” — to borrow from one of America’s most famous presidents — and “Phantom Money,” whereby certain American generals and other officials would grift the American taxpayer and give the crumbs to the Afghans, in addition to leading what was arguably a murder and torture campaign (i.e. Black Sites, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib) against Afghans and Middle Easterners on the dime of the American taxpayer.

Because of “American Carnage” and “Phantom Money” — which are interchangeable expressions and terms for war and corruption — what occurred was the resurgence of the Taliban and the ousting of the international community from Afghanistan by the Taliban. The international community led by the United States — because of their perpetuation of war and corruption in Afghanistan and the Middle East — could not beat the Taliban. Not only could they not beat the Taliban, but Russia, China, and Iran also rose. It’s quite humiliating and sad for those who were involved. Now, these rising powers care very little about Western “recognition” because of the outcomes in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Power – the ability to control or influence the thoughts and actions of others – is more important than “recognition” from a corrupt and flimsy “international community” that grifts American taxpayers and fails to beat a militia group. There are also a number of factors for the loss of viability in the modern project and the rise of Eastern nations in the postmodern epoch. If there was just one thing or one singular factor that one had to identify which differentiated Western logic and thinking from Eastern logic and thinking, it would be that the latter places an emphasis on religion, tradition, and an afterlife, whereas the former places an emphasis on this life, which is ephemeral and ever-changing in nature. Thus, the disconnect, divide, and the rift that we witness between East and West even in this day and age.

Fear and paranoia undergirds the Western approach towards the East. And nothing fuels fear and paranoia more than the Kabul Airport situation that is ongoing at the moment. But analysts and observers should perhaps zoom out of the narrow Kabul Airport situation that is dominating the news cycle for a moment and consider the big picture. From a big picture standpoint, the American experience in Afghanistan was the third modern or Western venture into that country. The first modern or Western power to venture into Afghanistan were the British. Second were the Russians. Finally, America — with a set of Western allies — were the third and perhaps the last Western power to venture into Afghanistan. All three powers went into Afghanistan at the peak of their megalomania and sense of power. But the outcomes were the same, namely, withdrawal, loss of empire, inflation, high taxes, shortages, political instability at home, social malaise, and the inability to recover psychologically from the experience among other things. Former CIA agent Milton Bearden famously called Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Empires.”

These outcomes — and their effects — are not going to be short-lived or temporary for the United States. The effects of Afghanistan and a policy of global hegemony are going to linger for a very long time. If American leaders and policymakers think they can sweep everything under the rug and quickly move on from Afghanistan, they should ask the British and the Russians about what they went through when they came back home from their Afghanistan ventures. It’s not going to be a pleasant experience. In sum, there are long-term consequences for short-sighted decisions and policies such as going into Afghanistan and staying there for such a long time. The decision to go to Afghanistan and stay there for such a long time was a decision that was part of a broader policy of American global hegemony that was ill-advised and in violation of international law.

As the United States enters into a recovery from the Afghan and global hegemonic experience — and that is if one assumes that there actually will be a recovery — there will be increased power parity between the United States and China over the coming years. At the moment, the value of America’s total national wealth stands at around 120 trillion dollars, according to Credit Suisse. China’s total national wealth is valued somewhere between 80 trillion to 90 trillion dollars at the moment. Take the Taliban’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs, and the gap will definitely close in due time. The West has been profiting off Afghan drugs for centuries now, and perhaps that cash cow is now gone. Moreover, the gap in the value of total national wealth and the value of overall GDP between the United States and China will close in due time due to differences in productivity and growth rates. America’s growth rate stands at around 2.9 percent, according to the World Bank, whereas China’s growth rate stands at an astonishing 16 percent. Both the United States and China are valued at around 20 trillion dollars annually in terms of overall GDP, but the value of China’s overall GDP will surpass that of the United States in the year 2024 based on both The World Bank and International Monetary Fund projections.

Therefore, if there is a recovery to be had for America from the Afghan and global hegemonic experience, America will have to somehow match China’s productivity and growth rates and recover from the Afghan and global hegemonic experience at the same time, thus holding two watermelons in one hand, which is a feat that may be too difficult to accomplish. After all, Afghanistan is “The Graveyard of Empires” as the former CIA agent Milton Bearden famously proclaimed. Moreover, if there are no accountability or transitional justice measures taken by the American government against the handful of individuals who forged the policy of global hegemony in the White House in 2001, then recovery and competitiveness with China may never occur. In the end, one is compelled to use either realpolitik or idealism as a primary explanation for the American and Western experience in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Considering all the corruption and bloodshed that took place, one can legitimately discount idealism and thus we are left with realpolitik as the only credible and legitimate explanation for the American experience in Afghanistan and the Middle East over the course of the last two decades.

Philosophy and religion underpin the natural and social sciences. Without their philosophical and religious underpinnings, the natural and social sciences — along with civilization itself and the state that is responsible for preserving a civilization — disintegrate and fall apart. Also, on an individual level, people are lost and wayward without philosophy and religion. There is room for interpretation in philosophy and religion, but within the confines of the core principles of philosophy and religion. Of the core principles of philosophy, perhaps three of them stand out the most, namely, epistemological status (how one knows what they know), the scope of one’s research and inquiry, and one’s ultimate source. Religion is a two-sided coin, whereby an esoteric dimension and an exoteric dimension need to be taken into account amidst interpretation and application.

For students of ethics, moral philosophy, and religion — as well as for individuals who are familiar with the different ethical, moral, philosophical, and religious systems around the world — the main idea is simple. Everything is perhaps forgivable from an ethical or moral standpoint except for arrogance and hubris, because arrogance and hubris are the primary sources for all other mistakes, sins, and ethical and moral transgressions. The Islamic tradition instructs its followers to draw knowledge and wisdom from all credible and legitimate philosophical and religious sources, including the Holy Bible. And as it is stated in Proverbs 16:18-21: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Islam was — but probably still is — the one issue or topic that is subject to more disinformation, misinformation, and lies than any other issue or topic in the entire world. As someone noted recently, disinformation, misinformation, and lies spread six times faster than facts and truth. To dispel some of the disinformation, misinformation, and lies about Islam, one would first need recourse to Islam’s foundational book, namely, the Holy Quran. The two main supplements to the Holy Quran are for one the biography of the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, as well as the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad which are known as the “Hadith.” Although the meta-narrative of our day and age is tailored largely towards maligning Islam, it is quite remarkable that Islam is still the world’s fastest growing religion despite the hostile meta-narrative, and it will be the world’s largest religion in a matter of years.

Postmodernism — our current age and epoch and the fourth and final epoch of human history which is subsequent to three previous ones (nomadic, agricultural, and modern ages) — is predicated upon the deconstruction of what was the prevailing meta-narrative of the modern age. The prevailing meta-narrative of the modern age was shaped by the idea that modernity would pervade the globe and that modernity would become the dominant ontological state (essence of being) and worldview (weltanschauung) in international society.

Modernity also gave rise to arrogance and hubris, and in turn arrogance and hubris spurred the policy of global hegemony on the part of the Anglo-American establishment, which is a policy that is antagonistic towards the national security of other nations, given that national security rests on three pillars, namely, political independence, economic viability, and territorial sovereignty. Among other things, Anglo-American global hegemony consisted of bullying, criminality, corruption, criminal sanctions and the unwarranted freezing of people’s assets, spying on prosperous, successful, and well-to-do Muslim businessmen and entrepreneurs, drug trafficking, exploitative taxes, graft, grifting of the American taxpayer, murder, fostering social strife around the globe, torture, butting into people’s business, and interference in people’s internal affairs, all while providing a false pretext for the policy of global hegemony and thus duping everyone — including myself — in the process.

But postmodernism employs three different tools to deconstruct the meta-narrative of the modern age, and as suggested before, that meta-narrative is based on the notion that modernity is superior to everything else. The three tools employed by postmodernism to deconstruct modernity are culture (populism), skepticism (Marxism and class warfare), and natural religion (Islam). Moreover, modernity — along with culture, skepticism, and natural religion — are basic ontological states and worldviews that pertain to the essence of being and in turn are the final four ontological states and worldviews in human history. Also, the modernity of the Anglo-American establishment was a brief aberration from the natural course and the totality of human history, spanning only 200 years out of the 300,000 years of human history.

Nevertheless, the deconstruction of modernity and thus the deconstruction of the prevalent meta-narrative of the modern age has just begun, given that the transition out of the modern age and into the postmodern age is in its early stages. But the postmodern project will succeed most in the area where modernity failed the most, which was in answering the perennial question of why human beings exist. Modernity never answered the question of why human beings exist. But natural religion does, thus the rise of natural religion and the decline of modernity in a postmodern age.

There is perhaps no other book — aside from the divinely revealed religious texts — that is as timely and relevant to current affairs than “The Crisis of the Modern World” by René Guénon. Published in 1927, the work was prophetic in the sense that Guénon predicted the political and social turmoil in Europe in the mid-20th century. We are now witnessing the political and social turmoil that Guénon predicted to a large extent not only in the United States, but globally as well. Political and social turmoil was something that Guénon saw as a universal characteristic of the Western world due to modernity and the failure of modernity to maintain social order, peace, and stability in the West and around the globe.

Guénon also argued that there is an ongoing transition out of the modern age and into a state of uncertainty, and this uncertainty can be overcome only by adherence to a religious or faith tradition. Guénon argued that religion, faith, and tradition need to be restored in the Western world, given that the restoration of religion, faith, and tradition is the only mechanism available for the West to overcome the social chaos and turmoil associated with its transition out of the modern age. Perhaps through the restoration of religion, faith, and tradition in the Western world, the rest of the globe can also attain peace and stability and establish social order, according to Guénon. In Guénon’s view, social order in the West is intertwined with social order everywhere else.

Religion, faith, and tradition are thus the focal points of the transition out of a modern age and into a postmodern age. One major aspect of religion and tradition is salvation in a growingly chaotic and corrupt society. Soteriology is defined as the science or study of salvation. One can argue that the soteriological dimension of a faith tradition or religious tradition is the most important and is preponderant amongst all the other dimensions. Amongst the social sciences, the final sciences are eschatology (a branch of theology concerned with the end of human history and the afterlife) and soteriology. No other religious tradition covers these two subjects or sciences in greater detail than the Islamic tradition. Like the Christian and Jewish traditions, Islam also contains a gnostic movement, with Gnosticism defined as the possession of knowledge or insights that most people do not possess.

Religious movements all have one goal in mind, namely, “gnosis” (known as “ma’rifa” in the Islamic tradition). Gnosis, or “Ma’rifa,” stands for knowledge or insights into reality that most people do not possess.

There are four stages in the path towards “ma’rifa” or “gnosis” in the Islamic tradition. First is “Sharia,” which is the application of basic rules and norms that enable a person to embark on the path towards “ma’rifa” both physically and mentally.

Second is “Tariqa,” which stands for “path” or “way” and it is a pedagogical technique that is guided by a spiritual guide or teacher along with educational tools such as books and other resources for a prolonged period of time.

Third is “Haqiqa,” which stands for the attainment of the truth behind the divine essence (“D’hat-e-Haqiqi”).

Finally, there is “ma’rifa,” which is the attainment of “gnosis” or the knowledge and insights about reality that others do not possess. Ma’rifa is attained spiritually through contemplation and divine inspiration after the third stage of “Haqiqa,” not rationally through books or logic.

Once ma’rifa is attained, the individual becomes an “Arif” or “The one who knows.” The condition of an “Arif” leads to contentment and inner peace, and for the most part the “Arif” lives a life of seclusion once their goal is attained in order to preserve their sense of contentment and inner peace.

Hasan al-Basri stands as the third figure in the “chain of transmission” within the Islamic gnostic movement, which begins with the Prophet Muhammad, the original conveyor of gnostic knowledge and insights in the Islamic tradition. Second in the “chain of transmission” is the Prophet’s son-in-law, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Hasan al-Basri received his gnostic knowledge and insights directly from Ali Ibn Abi Talib. From Hasan al-Basri, the gnostic movement branched out into different parts of the globe, each tailored towards their particular national or regional circumstances and environments. Initiation into Islam’s gnostic movement consists of reciting a range of invocations, prayers, and supplications, with some of the most important ones having been transmitted by Hasan al-Basri. There are now 72 or 73 branches within Islam’s gnostic movement, all dispersed around the globe and tailored towards different local, national, and regional circumstances and environments. Each branch has its own unique set of rules for initiation.

Having gone through the initiation myself many years ago, I can say that the intellectual and spiritual rewards of being part of an exclusive group of people are immense. But to join such an exclusive group and to adhere to their rules requires both immense discipline and immense self-sacrifice, qualities which many folks do not have or cannot maintain. Overall, religious traditions have both an esoteric (gnostic) dimension and an exoteric dimension. The former pertains to knowledge, wisdom, insight, and spirituality, whereas the latter is concerned with laws, rules, mores, and norms. The esoteric or gnostic movement within Islam, as mentioned before, has 72 or 73 different branches spread out all around the world, each tailored to their local, national, and regional circumstances and environments. Also, there are perhaps four primary methods in attaining esoteric or gnostic knowledge and insights in the Islamic tradition: art, contemplation, law, and scholarship. When it comes to both its esoteric and exoteric dimensions, Islam is essentially airtight and foolproof.

Continuity is a hallmark feature of the Islamic tradition. There is very little room for innovation (bid’ah) in the Islamic tradition because there is very little ambiguity when it comes to the essence of both its esoteric and exoteric dimensions. One of the beliefs held by the Gnostics in the Islamic tradition is that their initiation into one of the 72 or 73 different branches of the esoteric or gnostic movement is preordained or predestined. An initiate does not choose their branch. The branch chooses them. It’s a lot like buying a car. Some people believe the car chooses the person. The person doesn’t choose the car. But the different branches exchange and share knowledge and insights all the time. A lot of their ideas and practices are interchangeable and they overlap because the origin of their ideas and practices is the same. Same foundational book (The Holy Quran), and same prophet (The Prophet Muhammad).

I myself was initiated into the Qadiriyya branch of the esoteric or gnostic movement a few years ago, and it was founded by the revered Islamic mystic and scholar named Abdul Qadir Jilani. He was born and raised in modern-day Iran in the late 11th century AD, but moved to Baghdad where he studied and eventually taught for the rest of his life. His shrine is in Baghdad. Of the four common methods employed towards the attainment of esoteric and gnostic knowledge and insights (art, contemplation, law, scholarship), the Qadiriyya branch employs scholarship as its primary method. Having been a book author and essayist, it now makes sense that I was initiated into this particular branch rather than the other ones. Abdul Qadir Jilani left behind an oeuvre for those who are initiated into his branch of Islamic Esoterism and Gnosticism, but his oeuvre can be easily accessed by anyone. Two of his most famous books are “The Secret of Secrets” (“Sihr al-Asrar”), and “Revelation of the Unseen” (“Futuh al-Ghaib”). Abdul Qadir Jilani is considered to be the “First of the Spiritual Poles” in the Islamic tradition. A Spiritual Pole, according to Islamic belief, serves as the main intermediary between the spiritual and material planes. Every age – including this one – has its Spiritual Pole, because nothing would exist without their existence. “If we take you away, there would indeed be guaranteed retribution against all of them.” Spiritual Poles are also very cosmopolitan in their behavior and mentality.

Although modern powers went above and beyond to contain and stop the steady rise of Islam, postmodernism and thus the rise of Islam was an inevitability. And the rationale behind the efforts and strategy by modern powers to contain and stop Islam may be overlooked by those who are not keen on catching subtleties. As the Persian Poet Ferdowsi said: “If Islam comes, everything will fall apart. Races will mix together. Every valueless slave could become king.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s