Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah

Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah
by Olivier Roy
Columbia University Press, 2004


"The spread of Islam around the globe has blurred the connection between a religion, specific society, and a territory. One-third of the world's Muslims now live as members of a minority. At the heart of this development is on the one hand the voluntary settlement of Muslims in Western societies and on the other, the pervasiveness and influence of Western cultural models and social norms. The revival of Islam among Muslim populations in the last 20 years is often wrongly perceived as a backlash against westernization rather than as one of its consequences. ..." (cover jacket)

COMMENT: How about both?
... Second book I've read by Roy. Like the first, it's a combination of Gallic academic blather and pithy insightful commentary.

Examples of globalization: "Except for a few Pakistanis and Yemenis, no Al Qaeda member left Europe or the United States to fight for Islam in his homeland or that of his family. ... None of the Algerians involved in international Al Qaeda terrorism came from a GIA stronghold in Algeria; they all became radicalized in Europe (like Ahmed Ressam). The foreigners sentenced in Yemen in January 1999 for kidnapping included six British citizens of Pakistani descent ... and two French Algerians. No Britons of Yemeni descent were involved ... All these examples bear out how activists of Middle Eastern origin have hardly ever undertaken missions in the region or with a regional objective." (p.307)


2001 Spring - "hundreds of thousands of young" demonstrate "in the streets of Algiers and the Berber-speaking towns of the Kabylie region," demanding `freedom` and `democracy` and saying little or nothing about an "Islamic state." (Roy, Globalized, p.1)

Algeria - Islamist War

"In Algeria many `Afghans` were among the founders of the FIS -- Said Mehloufi, Kamra Eddine Kherbane and Abdullah Anas, for example. The `Afghans` were even more numerous in the radical GIA, of which all the first wave of leaders had returned from Afghanistan: Tayyeb el Afghani (killed in 1992), Jaffar el Afghani (killed in 1994), and Sherif Gusami (killed in 1994). The founders of the FIS had been with Commander Massoud and the GIA's founders with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar." (p.298)

Qur'an's unambiguity

Muslims "disagree" over "what the Koran actually says" ... "while all stressing that the Koran is unambiguous and clear-cut." (p.10, Roy, Globalized)

Westernization of Muslims - Stats

Roy goes on about the culturalist dummies who think Islam is cultural and then says:
"Economic backwardness often linked with Islam vanishes if we compare Muslim countries with a non-Muslim neighbour (for example, Indonesia with Philippines, or Kosovo and Macedonia) and not with the west. Muslim Malaysia has a per capita income slightly higher than that of Buddhist Thailand [though it had British infrastructure and tin mining royalties], while the per capita incomes of Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire are almost the same. In 2000 Muslim Indonesia had a fertility index of 2.6, while that of the Catholic Philippines was still at 3.6. In sociological terms, Muslim societies tend to align, in the middle term, on Western societies. The fecundity index has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years (1980-2000: 6.36 to 2.67 for Algeria; 5.06 to 3.03 for Egypt; 4.90 to 2.10 for Tunisia, which is nearing the French level). Everywhere women are more educated and marry later, while the age difference with their husbands is also decreasing.
[source: see Philippe Fargues, Generations arabes. L'alchimie du nombre,, Paris: Fayard, 2000. In Iran the husband-wife age difference fell between 1980 and 2000 from around 7 to 2.1 years; see Marie Ladier-Fouladi, Population et politique en Iran, Paris: Institut national d'etudes demographiques, 2003.]
"It is interesting to see that this sociological modernization has nothing to do with state legislation. The Islamic Republic of Iran has [had] lowered the legal age of marriage for women to 9, but the real average age of marriage for women rose to 22 in 1996 (while a man's average age a marriage has remained around 24.4 over the past 20 years, which means greater educational equality between spouses.) The Islamisation of family law in Iran did not eve lead to an increase in the number of polygamous families (around 2% of permanent marriages during the past 40 years) or in the divorce rate (which has decreased slightly since the 1970s).
[source: Marie Ladier-Fouladi, cited in Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut, Femmes iranieenes entre islam, Etat, famille, Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000, pp.128, 149.]
Literacy rates among Iranian women rose from 28% to 80% between 1976 and 1996." (p.14)

"What does this mean?" That "re-Islamisation" of beards, hijab, etc. "did not prompt a reversion to traditional patterns of family life (such as polygamy and the extended family with numerous children.)" (p.14)

bin Laden

PLO, IRQ, Tamil Tigers, ETA, are "legitimate political actors to the extent they will potentially cease terrorist actions. But with Bin Laden there is no room for negotiation. His aim is simply to destroy Babylon."

"First there is no basis for negotiation with Osama Bin Laden: his fight, as we have seen, is not directly linked to the various conflicts in the Middle East. These conflicts will certainly provide Al Qaeda with new volunteers, and solving them will not necessarily dry up the pool from which Al Qaeda recruits, because this pool has more to do with the west than with the Middle East. The second consequence is that Al Qaeda is not a strategic threat but a security problem. The War on Terrorism is a metaphor, not a real policy." (p.57)

"As we have seen, Al Qaeda has no strategic vision. It fights against Babylon, against what it sees as evil, the United States and its ally Israel. Most of Al Qaeda's targets have no military or strategic value: a nightclub in Bali, a Spanish restaurant in Casablanca, a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Jerba." (p.294)

Jihadis - Where are they?

"Most jihadi websites are based in the West or in Malaysia. This is not only because of censorship; it is because the people behind them live in the West. ... Islamist violence in the Middle East has steadily decreased since the Luxor killings of 1997." Roy excludes violence in Israel and Iraq because he thinks it is nationalist violence. (p.312)

Leftist Nuts turned Islamists

"Many become born-again or converted Muslims in gaol, sharing a common marginal culture. The converts (whose existence was a well-known phenomenon in Europe ... fit the same patterns. A few are from the middle class, usually the leaders (like Christophe Caze in France, a doctor who was killed `in action` against the police in Roubaix in 1996) and many are dropouts from working class: Jose Padilla, Richard Reid and the Frenchman Lionell Dumont ... who joined Islam because `the Muslims are the only ones to fight the system` (he joined in Bosnia). 20 years ago these men would have joined a radical leftist movement, but such movements have disappeared from the spaces of social exclusion ..." (p.48)

Neofundamentalists vs. Islamists


Just as Islamists like Qutb rejected the idea of socialism and democracy as Western and unfit for Muslims, but embraced "social justice," so neofundamentalists go him one better and reject not only socialism but social justice, elections, and the whole idea of ideology and politics.
"They reject the concept of `Islamic ideology` that has been so prevalent among Islamists. They believe they should not borrow Western conceptual categories (like economy, constitution, political party, revolution or social justice), even by giving them an Islamic slant." (p.245)
"Neofundamentalist refuse to express their views in modern terms borrowed from the West. They consider that indulging in politics, even for a good cause, will by definition lead to bid'a and shirk (the giving of priority to worldly considerations over religious values.) (p.247)

Neofundies claim "it is pointless to opt for jihad before returning to the true tenets of the faith. Sharia is ... more important than state." (p.249-250)

"the answer is usually dawah, sometimes jihad, but never political action." (p.250)

Al Qaeda Jihadis vs. Revolutionary Underground

Al Qaeda "acted against all the rules of clandestine action, ... theirs is a network of friends, of mates, a kindred community based on an easy brotherhood, not only where everybody knows everybody, but where they travel and live together." The Hamburg cell "shared apartments and bank accounts, participated in the wedding parties of their friends ... and signed their friend's will. All this is absolute heresy in terms of classical clandestine operations. Nor did Al Qaeda build a strong political organisation." They had "no political branch, union, women's organization, student branch or press, and there are no fellow-travelers. The `masses` are left on the pavement ... In this sense Al Qaeda is more a mafia or a sect than a professional underground organisation." (p.322)

Why Al Qaeda is a Security Threat not a Strategic Threat

"Most Al Qaeda operatives who have been arrested were caught through classical police and intelligence means, not as a consequence of a military campaign." (p.338)

Gender and Membership

"There are ... many single men in Al Qaeda and no women, which is a significant difference from the Islamist movements (the Muslim Brothers, Hamas, FIS, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah have many female members.)" (p.311)


"They pepper their speeches and conversation with traditional religious terminology, and discuss at length classical topics like slavery, despite such subjects being outdated or irrelevant." (p.246)

COMMENT: You hope!

Example is Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, a U.S. convert has a popular speech found on the internet `Modernism in Islam`


"... Wahhabi condemnation of Sayyid Qutb ...
example: Sheikh Uthaymeen (Othaymen) on (p.250)
"Paradoxically his books are found everywhere and mentioned on most neofundamentalist websites. He fascinates Islamists and certain neofundamentalists for different reasons. His political message of revolt and action appeals to radical Islamist, but his more pessimistic views on the modern world, his radical contempt and hatred for the West, and his mystical approach resonate more with neofundamentalists, who are obsessed by Hell and salvation."
"The `Qutbist` movement, from Farag to Islambuli, is more similar to neofundamentalism, even if it has regularly been categorized as Islamist for its political involvement. However, neither the Qutbists nor Bin Laden ever cared to build a true political movement, and they never cared about the day after (for example, the assassination of Sadat, or 9/11). It is not by chance that the survivors of the Qutbist movement joined Bin Laden and not the Islamist movements." (p.250) "contained 33 articles opposing Qutbis (Qutbists) and Surooris" in 2004. (p.250)


Why is Neofundamentalism Spreading?

"How can such a narrow and unsophisticated vision take root among modern educated Muslims? How can it spread among quite different sociological milieus, from Taliban Pashtun tribesmen to the wealthy Saudi Arabian middle class, moving through impoverished suburbs of Western Europe or Morocco ..." (p.257)

Difference between Mainstream and Radical Neofundamentalists - Jihad

"Jihad may have a pedagogic effect in purifying the soul, but it is not an aim in itself. The priority of dawah over jihad is the watershed between mainstream neofundamentalists and radical groups. Most of the Wahhabi ulama, the Tablighi Jama'at and even the Hizb ut-Tahrir consider that jihad is not on the agenda, except for defense." (p.255)

The failure of Bin Laden to destroy the might of the United States and the retaliation that has ensued have convinced many that jihad is not the answer. The traditional preaching movements (such as the Tablighi) find in Bin Laden's failure a confirmation of their refusal to enter into politics." (p.288)

Conundrum of Radical Neofundamentalist Jihad - Muslims aren't Muslim so Why Am I Fighting to Protect Them?

"If I am fighting in Afghanistan or Bosnia to protect the ummah against the encroachments of unbelievers, it means that there is something worth protecting on one side of the battle line. But glancing over his shoulder the mujtahid sees nothing but kafir in the lands that he is supposed to protect. ... Contemporary mujahedin are pessimistic because they know that there is no longer a fortress to protect, that the enemy is in the fortress. Such pessimism certainly has to do with the proliferation of suicide attacks. Fighting is above all a spiritual journey. It is the ultimate proof of the reform of the self." (p.289)
Example was the bombing of a Spanish restaurant in Casablanca Morocco (Apr. 2003) that had no Spanish or Western people in it. "These targets could have been destroyed simply by throwing bombs or by using car bombs. The suicide dimension there is not tactical or instrumental here; it is the aim in itself." (p.289)

Hizb ut-Tahrir -- How Radical?

"Propaganda should take precedence over political action. The Party defined its method of work [to establish the Caliphate I presume] into three stages:

The First stage: The stage of culturing to produce people who believe in the idea and the method of the Party, so that they form the Party group.
The Second Stage: The stage of interaction with the Ummah, to let the Umma embrace and carry Islam, so that the Ummah takes it up as its issue, and thus works to establish it in the affairs of life.
The Third Stage: The stage of establishing government, implementing Islam generally and comprehensively, and carrying it as a message to the world.
The Party started the first stage in al-Quds in 1372 AH (1953 CE) under the leadership of its founder, the honourable scholar, thinker, able politicians, qadi in the Court of Appeals in Quds, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani (may Allah's mercy be upon him) []

The three stages defined by Hizb ut-Tahrir bypass the issue of putting down geographical, territorial and national roots. There is not a word on concrete strategy or proceedings, or on the location of this Caliphate. ... the Caliphate (Khaliafat) [according to HT] should rule directly over all Muslims and not over a given territory. It is not a re-enactment of a historical institution, but a deterritorialised fancy. (p.275)

"The Hizb ut-Tahrir position against the launching of jihad is purely tactical. The organization believes that the time has not yet come for jihad, but that it is a compulsory duty for any Muslim." (p.256)

Hizb ut-Tahrir believes that Muslim in the United States are not considered and should not consider themselves true US citizens: `Our Brotherhood is Real and their Citizenship is False.'" (p.274)

Neofundamentalism -- What do they forbid?

"They do not value the classical great Muslim civilizations such as the Umayyad or the Ottoman Empire. They also reject the different religious schools as well as Sufism, which have been so instrumental in the `nativisation` of Islam. How can we study Yemen without considering the rift between Zaydism and Shafism, or Central Asia without taking into account the role of Shanfism and Sufism? Neofundamentalist reject local Islams (such as the Egyptian and the Moroccan) and wage a relentless war on folk customs and even learned traditions, religious or secular. For instance they oppose any cult of the `saints` (Zyarat in Central Asia and moussem in North Africa, a religious pilgrimage in which people come to pray to the local patron saint), and even the celebration of the Prophet's birthday (Al-Mawlid). They reject Sufism and mystical practices (zikr) and any form of artistic performance associated with a religious practice (qawwali) music in Pakistan, for example), with some exceptions such as religious songs unaccompanied by musical instruments. (p.259)
On worshipping at graves and playing music see Shaykh Munajjid :

Neofundamentalism Culture -- There isn't one

"Neofundamentalists ... cannot accept ... [a] recasting of Muslim identity into cultural terms. For them the only themes that can define such a community are purely religious... Neofundamentalists therefore are not interested in creating or asserting a `Muslim` culture. ... Conspicuous by their absence are neofundamentalist novelists, poets, musicians, filmmakers or comedians. ... For them religion is reduced to a code of rituals and `dos` and `don'ts`" (p.264-5)

COMMENT: i.e. all this culture shit is a distraction from what a good Muslim does: pray, work, eat, sleep, pray, make babies, visit relatives, pray, listen to khutba.

When neofundies "open a restaurant it never promotes Ottoman or Moroccan cuisine, but halal food, and more often than not will simply offer the usual Western fast-food products. Similarly, halal dress can be based on Western raincoats, gloves, fashionable scarves (cha-Dior, as the Iranians joke)." (p.271)

Neofundamentalism Ritualism

"... For them religion is reduced to a code of rituals and `dos` and `don'ts` ... Among the documents left by the 9/11 hijackers was a small guidebook giving precise instructions about which prayer of sura to utter at every step of the mission (embarking on a plan, going to the sleep). Tablighi Jama'at published an almost obsessive list of gestures, deeds and sentences. It lists, for instance, 26 norms on the etiquette of eating and drinking:

Always use three fingers when eating ... always drink water while sitting with the right hand and in three pauses.
From: Six Points of Tabligh, and the chapter concerned is `Desired Manners of Eating and Drinking`, apparently written by Maulana Mohammad Ilyas, the founder of the movement. It has appeared on different websites, such as (p.266)

What Taliban Bullshit Tells Us about Neofundamentalism

"As is the practice of all neofundamentalists, they first targeted `bad Muslims`, while Western culture came only second. They had quite good relations with the United States till the autumn of 1997 and did not bother to expel Western NGOs, ... Instead they took a hard line on Afghan customs and culture. They banned music, films, dancing and kite-flying (because someone climbing a tree to remove a kite might end up watching, even inadvertently, an unveiled women in an adjacent house or garden.) Pet songbirds were outlawed because they might nullify a believer's prayer by distracting him." (p.260)

COMMENT: This (the Taliban rule) doesn't make sense. Why not say no climbing tree when there are walled compounds or residential gardens nearby. Why not just require song birds be out of earshot of praying. The only sense it makes is as an excuse to stop recreation or other distractions from a life devoted to religion. Same goes for detailed instructions on drinking, eating, pissing, etc. The only sense it makes is as an attempt to turn every activity into a religious act.

Is Neofundamentalism Modern Despite Itself?

"By appealing to youths over the heads of their parents, by ignoring ulama in favour of a direct approach to the texts, and by encouraging a personal return to the true tenets of Islam, neofundamentalists contribute to the promotion of the individual as opposed to any sort of group or hierarchy. The individual who has severed his links with any previous social group is prized. Nevertheless, it does not reject the idea of community or ummah: such a community has to be reconstructed, starting with individuals." (p.268)

Recruits include "second-generation Muslims who have broken with the pristine culture of their parents but do not feel integrated into Western society ... Muslim university students and school dropouts, and sometime former drug addicts, who find in it discipline and a new community. It also attracts young converts. Goal [jail] is a recruiting ground because it entails isolation, loneliness and a severance of social ties that favours self-reflection. The breakthrough of neofundamentalism (the Salafi or Wahhabi version) in tribal societies is also striking (e.g. northern Nigeria and northern Yemen...)

In this sense neofundamentalism is unwittingly working to adapt Islam to modern models of individualisation and the free market" like `Living Word` churches in the U.S., or Christian fundies converting Catholics in South America. (p.270)

"Neofundamentalism is part of religious innovation in the very name of preventing the community from innovating." (p.278)

Why the Muslim Community is Weak - Neofundamentalism Theory

"The domination of the kafir is a consequence of the loss of the true faith." From 'The state of the Umma' by Sheikh al-Hilali on and other sites.

When the Muslim neglected the obedience to Allah, He gave the Jews the power and they took Palestine, and when they were negligent about that which they were reminded of, Allah established the Christians over them and they took Spain; and when they were negligent yet again, Allah put the Christians in control in Bosnia.
Thus "it is pointless to opt for jihad before returning to the true tenets of the faith." (p.249-250)

How immigrant Muslims deal with the new country: integration without assimilation or separation

"Most mainstream conservative Muslims, and specifically those who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, advocate integration without assimilation. They strive to organise Muslims into a visible and active community, with institutions and establishment figures, involving education and social services ..."

Neofundies oppose this approach. They see the presence of a Muslim minority in the West as transitory; it should give way either to hijra or to the spread of Islam." (p.276)

For neofundamentalist the only way to preserve a community based on respect for the pure tenets of Islam is to avoid interaction with the non-Muslim dominant society. They look askance at educating females and strongly oppose coeducation. Many suggest leaving non-Muslim schools to establish purely Muslim ones." (p.278)

Neofundamentalism strictly forbids participation not only in non-Muslim religious ceremonies, but also in any social event that does not have a Muslim content: Christmas trees for schoolchildren, burial of a Christian friend or colleague, social gathering in general." (p.279) Shaykh Ibn `Uthaymeen:

It is prohibited for example to give them best wishes at Christmas or on the occasion of any other of their festivals ... [al-Aqalliyaat al-Muslimah, Fatwa 22, p.81.]

Neofundamentalism - Who Will Go to Heaven?

"The idea that only a minority of Muslims will achieve salvation is common among neofundmentalists; the saved ones (after a quotation from the Koran) belong to the Firqatun-Najiyah (the Sved Sect). (For one of many references see .) This is somehow congruent with the Calvinist view of predestination: faith and deeds are not sufficient to gain salvation." (p.281)

Afghanistan, the Muj, the CIA and bin Laden

"The CIA was not in charge (accusing Bin Laden of having been a CIA agent is nonsense) of the program [to enlist Muslim volunteers to fight Soviets in Afghanistan], but it did not oppose the scheme or worry about it negative consequences."

The US attitude had more to do with benign neglect than Machiavellian strategy. Eagerness to claim absolute victory in Afghanistan, bureaucratic inertia, lack of concern and expertise, overconfidence in the Saudi and Pakistani security services ... all explain why nobody in Washington cared. (p.291-2)

The jihadis who flocked to Afghanistan did not become anti-Western after 1991 -- they had always been so. They did not see themselves as auxiliaries of the West against communism but as opponents of both West and East."
Nor did it matter to the radicals that many US interventions were made on behalf of Muslim populations (in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and in a sense, Somalia)."
All westerners, like me, who encountered the so-called `Arabs` inside Afghanistan during the war of resistance were struck (sometimes physically) by there hostility. The Arabs constantly asked the Afghan mujahedin commanders to get rid of the `infidels` and to choose only good Muslims as supporters, and called for the expulsion of Western many areas the mujahedin had to intervene to prevent physical assaults on westerners."

Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah, by Olivier Roy, Columbia University Press, 2004


neofundamentalists - "stress the absolute unity of God (tawhid); oppose any sort of innovation (bid'a), associationism (shirk) and `blind imitation` (taqlid). Hence they reject all accretions to a strict and literalist reading of Koran and Sunnah. Salafi and Wahhibi support ijtihadas a way of bypassing the tradition of the different religious schools, and not as a way of adapting to new situations. (as opposed to modern Shia or Sunni liberal concept of ijtihad which could allow some innovations rejected by the Wahhabis.)" (p.244, Roy, Globalized)

neofundamentalists - term coined by author Olivier Roy to describe a militant Muslim outgrowth of the Salafi and Wahhabi movements. Neofundamentlaists differ from Islamists in opposing not just many but all Western concepts and activities, i.e. not only socialism and democracy but also social justice, revolution and political action. "stress the absolute unity of God (tawhid); oppose any sort of innovation (bid'a), associationism (shirk) and `blind imitation` (taqlid). Hence they reject all accretions to a strict and literalist reading of Koran and Sunnah. Salafi and Wahhibi support ijtihadas a way of bypassing the tradition of the different religious schools, and not as a way of adapting to new situations. (as opposed to modern Shia or Sunni liberal concept of ijtihad which could allow some innovations rejected by the Wahhabis.)" (p.244, Roy, Globalized)

takfir - "mainstream neofundamentalist oppose takfir and advocate dawah to return deviant Muslim to the true path. Conversely the proponents of takfir usually support jihad as a permanent and individual duty, for the very reason that there is no longer a true Islamic ruler or even a true ummah that could call for jihad. (p.244, Roy, Globalized)

`ilm al-kalam - theology. Rejected by wahhabi, salafi "neofundamentalists" "as "either redundant or constituting some sort of as `rival` intellectual construction that ends by being a substitute for the true corpus." (p.245, Roy, Globalized)

asabiyya - "identification with a sub-community, like a tribe, a nation, a race or an ethnic group" rejected as unislamic by salafi, neofundamentalists. (p.245, Roy, Globalized)

hizbiyya - joining a political party. Practice rejected as unislamic (even if the party is an Islamic one) by salafi neofundamentalists, A belief that separates them from Islamists. (p.245, Roy, Globalized)

GIA - The GIA in Algeria had a clear neofundamentalist program, i.e. "sharia, with no real political program." But like Islamists it "targeted the Algerian state (and people). But there is now clear evidence that many GIA leaders were instrumentalised by military security and intelligence officers (le pouvoir) who were playing a complex game aimed at retaining power." (see Chroniques des annees de sang, Paris: Denoel, 2003, a book in French by Mohammed Samraoui, "a former high-ranking Algerian officer".) (p.290)

LOOK THIS UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Muhammad Atta's will in English can be found at

Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah, by Olivier Roy, Columbia University Press, 2004