Attack In The U.S.A: Lessons To Learn

By Dr. Masudul Alam Choudhury
Posted: 13 Rajab 1422, 1 October 2001


The causes of a manifest West-Islam global conflict in the rise are pointed out and explained. This unhealthy situation is to be corrected for the sake of global well-being. Islamic revival in the midst of the West-Islam backlash post-U.S.A. attack is pointed out as a study in self-reliant trade and development paradigms emanating from the Islamic core of unity of knowledge applied to the world-system of the ummah, the conscious world-nation of Islam.

The Attack on the U.S.A. by the obliteration of the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon was a monstrous event of unbelievable proportion. Immediately following the incident, lessons to learn from intelligence failure, slacks in national security services, cross-border immigration failures, hunting down terrorists and so on, have been singled out as the ones for immediate attention. Between the United States and her NATO Allies legislative bills have been passed and plans are being formulated to unilaterally attack those countries suspected of having complicity with the attackers of WTC and the Pentagon. This collective finger appears to be pointed at Osama bin Laden individually and at Afghanistan as a nation where Osama bin Laden has taken sanctuary.

The consequences of the Attack on the U.S.A. have vast implications. Their repercussions, beyond war and retaliation, are extended to transnational boundaries and problems. These will unfold as the issues cut across the intertwined domains of belligerence, geopolitics and economics. The study of such intertwined problems of world-system is not a simple one carried out according to unilaterally perceived and planned programs and their implementation. Yet the contrary platitude continues to be the outlook of Eurocentricism and Pax Americana, the kinds of hegemony that rule supreme in the West fired by the complacence that such hegemonic governance will mark its ultimate staying power (Mehmet, 1990).

Essential Perspectives Post U.S.A. Attack

The essential lessons to learn from the many cases of destruction to U.S. interests over the years are several. Yet on this point the media was quick to join political leaders and the public to keep quiet on the real issues that underlie the overwhelming and monstrous act of terrorism. The underlying questions if sincerely addressed, the world might then find a peaceful rescue out of today's rubbles of the complete anomie and distrust that continues on between the West and Islam. I want to address these issues briefly in this paper. I want to then look at the rise of the ummah, the conscious world nation of Islam, out of the rubbles of the anomie.

The U.S. today spends 10 million dollars a day in support of Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people.

Several issues come to my mind when addressing the underlying problem of terrorism against the U.S. and Western interests post-Cold War. The first of these issues to understand is the transition to global geopolitical hegemony headed by the U.S. in the world scene following the end of the Cold War, militarily, politically and economically.

The second issue relating to U.S. hegemony is the strong Jewish lobby in the U.S. that perpetrates its influence on U.S. policy in Middle Eastern Affairs, particularly with respect to Palestine and Iraq.

Thirdly, the Western mind has failed to understand the meaning of Islamic belief and the deep conviction that it creates in the true Muslim. This value system is hardly appreciated by the West (Esposito, 1992). The West has failed to factor it in the West-Islam relationship. Consequently, the West has failed to recognize the fact that today Islamic values and consciousness have received a new awakening and are being increasingly embedded in the common people. This has caused the emergence of the Islamic grassroots. They are dispersed internationally. They remain alienated among Muslim governments and the elites. The grassroots wage vehement opposition against the dictatorial and oppressive governments and rulers in Muslim countries who stereotype the Western culture and keep their citizens in servile fearfulness.

The nature of Islamic grassroots opposition to the existing asymmetric relationship of the West with Islam in the global scale emanates from an utter discontent in the Islamic people with the Western attitude. This presents a complex study. If the underlying problems besetting the West-Islam relationship today are not understood in the light of the global need to coexist, then the essential lessons from the Attack on the U.S.A will be missed out. Deepening global instability, distrust and violence will continue in all fronts for all times.

Some Details

1. Global Western Hegemony

We will first address the problem of terrorism against the U.S.A and her Western Allies in post-Cold War times. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. emerged suddenly as the Superpower. This sole supremacy meant perpetuation of the culture, thinking, conduct of life, economic and technological processes that would be enforced in all international relations and political governance (Fukuyama, 1992). Hegemony and dominance perpetuating and safeguarding the self-interest of the Muslim elites have thus defined the Western mind-set and its stereotype in the Muslim World. In this climate of post-Cold War oppression and complacence, U.S. hegemony and Western Eurocentricity have deepened.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia too succumbed to the stereotype Western world-system. Thereby, a single global bloc emerged under the Western mind-set. This mind-set today governs the cultural values, political ambitions, institutions and global control over economic resources as over the political space. Subsequently, NATO became a powerful military institution to uphold Western interests in Europe and in its geographical proximity. The Western Alliance took its shape in the crucible of hegemony and power. Large regional blocs with Western economic and political interests in them got established. Powerful capitalist organizations spearheaded by the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank charted the fate of developing countries. From such a politico-economic arrangement arose the deepening prescription of capitalist globalization. It carries the seeds of the Western hegemony in the world today.

The instruments of globalization are trade and capital movement liberalization aimed at reaping wealth and rents from the hinterland economies. Western technology is stretched to the fullest for realizing the aggressive capitalist ends. Yet in the end, today 1.3 billion people of the developing world remain in abject poverty, deprived and marginalized, weak and incapacitated. In the year 1998, the asset value of the three richest billionaires in the Western Hemisphere was in excess of the combined gross national product of all the developing countries and their 600 million people (UNDP, 1999).

2. Alienation of the Muslim People by Western Policy Towards Them

The alienation of the poor and the deprived fell most harshly on the Muslim lands. This was reflected in the massive dislocation of Muslim peoples being herded away to seek shelters in foreign abode and live in despicable conditions of poverty, squalor, refuge and indignity. Thus came about the estrangement of Palestine and her 2.3 million people with many more in the camps filled with refugees, whom Israel evicted from Palestine and has since denied their rights of political self-determination. The same specter was repeated in Chechnya and Bosnia and now in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Over a million children died and many have been crippled by the prevailing Western sanction against Iraq spearheaded by the U.SA, Britain and their Western Alliance.

Untold misery continued to be perpetrated on the common people by the West through oppressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. Western design in the resource-rich Muslim world was for exploiting primary commodities, most importantly oil. This hardened the grip of autocratic rulers over their own people in these lands. Freedom and liberty were wrested away from the common people while inhuman acts were perpetrated on them. Such conditions helped the West to perpetuate her inimical design through the autocratic Muslim rulers. The recent inaction of Middle Eastern governments over the continued Western military presence in the Middle East after the Desert Storm and on the plight of the masses of uprooted Muslims in different parts of the world, most importantly the inhuman slaughter of Palestinian people, made Western governments headed by the U.S.A to pursue a blatant policy of aggression and oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel. The U.S. today spends 10 million dollars a day in support of Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people.

From such hostile backgrounds of poverty, deprivation, dominance, oppression and indignity has arisen today the grassroots expression of powerful dissent against the Western presence in Muslim lands and against the political regimes in these nations that protect Western interests while protecting their own power.

This powerful expression has taken various forms. It has now become a grassroots determination of the common peoples' Islamic zeal to renew their rightful place and actualization in the world of their own. It is marked by heightened consciousness to return to the just rule of rights and entitlements that have been snatched away from them by the adverse conditions of conflict, dominance and inhuman perpetration. The world order as envisioned by the West, spearheaded by the U.S.A. and further strengthened by the oppressive ruling regimes in the Muslin World has thus entered a protracted period of confrontation (Huntington, 1993). The Islamic grassroots demands justice and fairness. It has failed to find it in the Western fold. That very grassroots has thus turned consciously to its own meaning of the just order governed by the Islamic Law, Shari'ah.

This grassroots Islamic movement has today grown into a full-bloomed international network. It is becoming economically, militarily and politically self-asserting. This grassroots movement is being instilled by the examples and charisma of its leaders, who are today instilling Islamic values into the grassroots throughout the Muslim World. Thus the international Islamic grassroots movements take their origin and sustain their synergy within such a world-system. The West has now faced the invincible confrontation of this sub-nation of Islam in the global order. This sub-nation is truly of an international dimension, ever-growing and getting stronger in all fronts, intellectually, economically, militarily, politically and technologically. For a delineation of the Islamic sub-nation see Choudhury (1995).

The Islamic grassroots demands justice and fairness. It has failed to find it in the Western fold.

What are the values of Islam that instill the grassroots movement? The Islamic world-system is premised on the invincible belief on the One true God who bestows the highest alter of Justice and Compassion on mankind. This principle is inscribed in and by the Islamic Law (Shari'ah) and is implemented in the Islamic world-system for the good of all. The Islamic grassroots is thus a strictly conscious return to the Qur'an and the revered practices of the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur'an declares in this regard, "O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination". This degree of strict abidance by Shari'ah may be variable between different groups of Muslims, but those at the helm of the grassroots movements take it seriously.

In the eyes of Justice and Compassion the declaration of the Qur'an is, "We sent aforetime Our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice…"

Since the West with its different mind-set has defined its own laws, institutions and international relations that failed to deliver justice, fairness and compassion to the Islamic grassroots, the Islamic grassroots movement has today assumed a powerful expression in the global Islamic sub-nation. This global sub-nation has its own concept of government and authority premised on a worldview that is bi-polar to the Western mind-set. With this premise, the Islamic grassroots organizes itself to wrest true justice from its denier. Failing this, that grassroots wages its opposition against the recalcitrant.

Such a vehement opposition has taken up stages of its expression. Firstly, it took the form of discourse and alerting the West. The grassroots Islamic movement warned the Western Allies to move out of the Middle East Region following the Desert Storm. Secondly, it repeated the same warning to the U.S. Government to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people on matters of homeland and security to protect them from the ruthless Israeli Army. Thirdly, when the West did not respond and the carnage of over 550 Palestinian children, young and old slaughtered by Israeli Army continues on today, the Islamic grassroots has now raised its vehement opposition against the West. This opposition has culminated into an armed conflict between the grassroots Islam and the West. That is what we are witnessing in Afghanistan today.

3. The West has Failed to Understand Islam

The West has failed to understand the inner strength of Islam as the world-system that sustains the intellectual, economic, military and political expressions of its ardent believers. Consequently, the West has also contradicted its self-pronounced value of cultural and political pluralism by refusing to tolerate the values of the Islamic grassroots, the global sub-nation of Islam. This sub-nation exists in the East, West and elsewhere. Thus the conflict that has arisen today is between formal nation states and the grassroots. The latter is organized globally as a sub-nation fired by the Islamic ideal of justice, compassion and a distinct way of life and thought as its worldview.

In this conflict the West cannot win by belligerence and apathy. The British orator, Edmund Burke said, "I do not know the method of drawing up a censure against a whole people." The West cannot uproot the belief system of the Islamic grassroots as a global sub-nation that is firmly entrenched in its Islamic worldview. It is true that the West will come together to take up belligerent actions for defeating the aspirations of the grassroots. This approach has been evinced in the many planning that the U.S. and her allies have enacted immediately following the Attack on the U.S.A so as to prepare for an invasion of Kabul and/or other Muslim countries and peoples that the West may suspect of complicity with terrorism. Yet this would be an act of utter Western belligerence, whereas the West does not know its military target. The U.S. Government has not provided conclusive proof of the attack as being an act of Muslim terrorists. The U.S.A. has not taken recourse to the due process of international law to provide clear evidence against terrorists to courts of justice and law. The consequences thus inevitably carry prospects of violent response. Western belligerence will further deepen the injustices, dominance and violence that will be spearheaded by the U.S. They will try the last frantic hold over the Muslim lands only to end within the not too distant a future.

Lessons to Learn by the West Post-U.S.A. Attack

The voice of sanity demands an immediate change in the Western policy in the Middle East. Today this Middle East policy is spearheaded by the U.S. The U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East must change from its continuing nature of indifference and belligerence to one of understanding, compassion and justice to the Palestinian people. The West must extend the same attitude towards all Muslim peoples wherever they are around the world and within their own boundaries. The continuing futile surrender to Jewish lobby in the West must end. The demand for greater understanding, justice and compassion, necessary for global civilized order to continue must be based on the voices of a just and fulfilling world order and the end of Western hegemony, dominance and oppression. Only with such changes can dawn the beginning of an era of security and harmony for all, free from distrust, deprivation, oppression and terrorism. The human prospect rests in such a much broader domain of the 'civilized' world than simply that of the West!

Lessons to Learn by the Muslims Post-U.S.A. Attack Respecting Ummatic Transformation

What is the Muslim grassroots to do in such moments of alienation and anomie against it so as to realize the true rise of the ummah, the world nation of Islam? We need to understand that the survival and security of all nation states in the new age rest on self-acclaim and genuine expression in their own development paradigms. We also note that this prospect is primarily realized by values, organization and economic containment. According to Shari'ah, these two criteria for the grassroots translate into the defense of the praxis of tawhid (Oneness of God) and the love of the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah), the guarantee of basic needs including security, sustaining the progeny of the Islamic states, the defense of such an evolving Islamic order, and continuous evolution in the direction of its dynamic realization. The political, economic, organizational and social contexts are thus precepts galvanized by the episteme of tawhid in the Islamic worldview.

While detailed discussion of the issues of the ummatic transformation are beyond the scope of this paper, yet a number of critical points of reflection need to be pointed out. For details see Choudhury (1998).

1. Expand Trade and Development Relations Across the Islamic Sub-Nation Through the Process of Privatization

In the present global order there is immediate need to expand trade and development by the collective will of the Muslim people. In this forum where there can no reliance on the ruling governments of the Muslim world, there can alternatively exist multilateral trade and development agreements formed between businesses in the private sectors of the Muslim sub-nation world-wide. This sub-nation will give a definitive expression to the policies, organization and momentum of the trade and developmental relations at the level of goods and exchanges throughout the Muslim sub-nation. To start with, the specificity of goods and the financing instruments and institutions recommended by Shari'ah (as co-operative ventures replacing interest rates and exchanging Shari'ah approved goods and services) will cause segmented markets and trade to appear. From these humble beginnings will arise more extended sectoral and governmental level linkages world-wide.

2. Islamic Institute for Development of Technology and Human Resources

Along with the expansion of inter-Muslim trade and development across the Muslim sub-nation will come about the need for establishing an independently financed Islamic Institute for Development of Technology. Recall that a program in this direction was first formed and then destroyed by the OIC (IFSTAD). Human resource development to manage the intent and purpose of the ummatic trade and development according to the evolutionary process described above will subsequently gain central attention.

3. Transformation into 100 Percent Reserve Requirement with the Gold Standard

At the financing level while the interest-free instruments will be used, a quick transformation to 100 per cent reserve requirement of linking spending with real goods and services as recommended by Shari'ah, must replace the use of paper money. It is not necessary to commence such a monetary transformation at the central banks of member OIC countries, for that would mean a great opposition from the ruling elites in the existing interest-ridden financial system that serve money-masters in the West. The grassroots private sector can informally transact in 100 per cent monetary reserve requirement by fully mobilizing all the investible resources into real spending in Shari'ah approved directions. The valuation of such financial certificates will be based on certain collectively formed bullion backing, which may be Gold (Choudhury, 1997).

The human resource development and currency of ideas in the above directions must inevitably be publicized throughout the Muslim world. Thus an educational campaign carrying the collective effort of all Muslim grassroots traders and movements must lead the way for the world-wide ummatic transformation.

4. In Self-Reliance and Self-Defense

Finally, as according to the tenets of Shari'ah as mentioned earlier, sufficient safe-guard both in finance and defense must be guaranteed for the ummatic transformation. The possibility of financial 'freezing of assets' of truly Shari'ah led operations must be overcome. Resources must be guaranteed to flow freely in charitable and economic outlets to the Muslims World from the sub-nation of the West. These charitable and financial resource flows have now been curtailed in Western countries against the Muslims after the Attack on the U.S.A. Muslims are not even sure now how to send their Islamic Zakah obligations to the needy Muslims across the world following recent blacklisting of many Islamic operations.

The voice of sanity demands an immediate change in the Western policy in the Middle East.

Defense is a necessary act of civil order. The grassroots must protect its assets and Islamic interests against the recalcitrant enemies. This is a duty of all Muslims and a cornerstone of the call to Jihad, the struggle in the path of Allah, that is Islam and the Islamic people, values and claims. Yet defense does not mean indiscriminate use of weaponry. It means a collective will of all Muslims, particularly those at the grassroots, to be able to deal in defense capability within themselves and to support such Islamic governments and movements that genuinely need protection from aggressions and appropriate ways of meting these out in the face of odds for the high alter of justice. The shari'ah collectively mobilized is the yardstick on this matter.

5. Importance of Muslim Organization

In every case, whether it is finance, money, trade, development, markets, science and technology, human resource development, defense and organization, the collective will of the grassroots must be decided through the consultation process, the Shura. The grassroots must organize such a consultative body, first within each of its interrelating cells and these cells well coordinated across the global Muslim sub-nation.

When, from the above humble beginnings the ummah expands to win the hearts of the formal governments as well, a world-nation of Islam can arise. There is every reason to rely on the power of truth to dawn eventually on all Muslims and on other good-thinking people irrespective of their own religious leanings. The ummatic transformation in this new age of Islam calls for such an organized and self-reliant actualization as a dynamic evolutionary process of interactive, integrative and creatively evolutionary process of knowledge formation through the unity of interrelations in all fronts. Islam is always permanent and invincible in all world-system. In this regard the Qur'an says, "Such is God, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from Truth, what (remains) but error? How then are you turned away?"


The much needed unity of the ummah for self-reliance and cherished independence beginning with economic and global matters within the ummah.

Trade and development in all fronts is the starting point of self-reliance for the rise of the ummah. Yet to tread a safe path toward this realization neither would Muslim nations come forth on it nor would they adopt such policies and change institutions for realizing financial, monetary, trade and development restructuring. The Muslim nations have been captured by the machinery of the West, which is manifested in the binding clauses of the IMF and the WTO. The ummatic transformation must arise from market-driven processes, hence from the business, entrepreneurial, trading and organizational dynamics of the global Muslim grassroots. On the market-driven process of ummatic transformation no one can clamp impediments. I have given below a formalization as to how this market-driven process can come about.

We refer here to figure 1. The post-ummatic trading quantity shows that X1 increases to X1’. This is the compound effect of supply shift from S1 to S1’ and demand shift from D1 to D1’ for the ummah. These result from product expansion intercommunally within the ummah. In the other trading world, with given resources, trade is withdrawn from X2 to X2’. Supply shrinks from S2 to S2’; demand remains unchanged at D2. The world term-of-trade stabilizes at the level P1. After post-ummatic adjustment, (X1’ – X1) = (X2 – X2’).

The above trade effects are felt both in the export and import side. Export effect is shown by the shift in the ummatic inter-communal supply curve. Import effect is shown by the ummatic demand shift. On the side of trade with the outside world, an increasing product diversification and output expansion will follow the ummatic transformation. There will be less dependence on import from the outside world. Thus, on the matter of imports from the other world there is a reduction by the degree of product diversification. Hence, higher terms of trade are maintained, while preferential trading arrangements exist within the ummah. The role of monetary and financial policy harmonization and the institutional impact of human resource development and the Institute of Technology Development will contribute to this momentum of change.

The above kinds of changes arise purely under market-driven forces of inter-communal trading and development arrangement. The shifts in the supply curve and the demand curve post-ummatic transformation and the stabilization of term-of-trade globally are due to developmental impetus within the ummah in relation to the global order.

Now the following changes in export revenues and their developmental effects can be noted:

Revenue generated within the Muslim World post-ummatic transformation is Rev1, Rev1 = p1.X1’.

Revenue generated from trade outside the ummah, Rev2 = p1.X2’.

Since post-ummatic transformation would be expected to generate, X1’ > X2’, therefore, change in revenue post-ummatic transformation,

DR = p1.(X1’ - X2’) > 0.

Net change in revenue, NDR = p1.(X1’ – X1) – (p1.X2’ – p2.X2)

                                            = p1.(X1’ – X2’) + (p2.X2 – p1.X1) > 0,

since, (X1’ – X2’) > 0; and in the pre-ummatic situation, p2.X2 > p1.X1.

From the net total revenue for the ummah, R = p1.(X1’ + X2’) is generated the development fund for the ummah to be used in production expansion and diversification, economic and financial stabilization and developmental purposes. Let the fund percentage so applied be ‘a’. Hence the development fund, DF = a.R.

We have now established a knowledge-induced transformation in trade mobilization within the ummah on the basis of the primal goal of bringing about greater interaction, integration and dynamic evolution of the ummah (IIE). This knowledge, q, is derived from the fundamental praxis of unity of knowledge (tawhid) now applied to the issue of trade and development in the ummah along with the concurrent issues that need to be addressed, i.e. monetary and financial stabilization, 100 per cent reserve requirement with the gold standard, human resource development and technology matters (Choudhury 2001).

Figure 1

We also note from figure 1 that pre-ummatic transformation prices for the outside world is at a low level, P2 (commodity and resource composition of present days trade in Muslim countries). Likewise there is a stabilization of prices post-ummatic transformation from the level P1' to P1. There will be further stabilization in prices and benefits for the ummah as part of the revenue from post-ummatic transformation is turned into a development fund for the common good.

We have the following recursive interrelationship of the IIE-methodology in the tawhidi (W) praxis:

W q a(q).R(X1,X2, P1,P)[q] W(R,a)[q] q' etc. of the same type of processes.

P denotes the programs that emanate from monetary, financial, entrepreneurial, human resource and technology development respecting the interlinked menus of production and consumption within the concept of ummatic well being, W(R,a)[q]. Each of the variables is induced by the knowledge-induction of the principle of unity of knowledge in the particular issue of ummatic trade and development. The continuation of new knowledge values, q' and its onwards recursive relationships as shown, marks the creative dynamics of the IIE-process.

The evolutionary nature of the ummah in response to the IIE-methodology is shown in figure 2. The creative ummatic evolution is indicated by arrows in figure 2 as in reference to the IIE-process shown above.

Figure 1

Dr. Masudul Alam Choudhury is Professor of Economics at University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. The author’s most recent publications are The Islamic Worldview, Socio-Scientific Perspectives, London, Eng: Kegan Paul International, 2000; Reforming the Muslim World, London, Eng: Kegan Paul International, 1998; Money in Islam, London, Eng: Routledge, 1997; The Epistemological Foundations of Islamic Economic, Social and Scientific Order (Six Vols.) Ankara, Turkey: Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries, 1995. The author specializes in his pioneering field of Islamic political and world-system in the framework of the knowledge-centered tawhidi epistemology.


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