In an insightful essay exploring the incipient alliance between Western radicalism and Islamic jihad, the socialist author Paul Berman suggests that in Sayyid Qutb’s writings about social justice he was inspired by the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” He stopped short, however, of incorporating the Marxist idea of class conflict into his doctrines. But a decade after Qutb’s execution, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni did take this step transforming Shi’ia Islam into a revolutionary force.
It was under the influence of the Paris-based, Marxist translator of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, that Khomeni introduced into radical Islamic thought the pivotal Marxist concept of a world divided into oppressors and oppressed. To accomplish this, he employed the moral terms of Islam — mostakbarine (the “arrogant”) and mostadafine (the “weakened”). In 1979 Khomeni overthrew the Shah of Iran and instituted a radical Islamic state, launching the global Islamic movement and its anti-Western jihad in a single stroke. After Iranian students seized the American embassy Khomeni introduced the terms “Great Satan” and “Little Satan” into the vocabulary of radical Islam to describe the United States and its Israeli ally.
The goals of radical jihad are purification and social justice, both of which are to be achieved through the institution of Islamic law in the states conquered by Islamic arms. The tactic of suicidal terror viewed as a redemptive martyrdom fuses the political and religious dimensions of the cause. Since the religious goal can be achieved only through the conquest of worldly power, the holders of that power necessarily personify evil. As the world’s only superpower – secular and liberal at that — the United States stands in the path of the revolution and earthly redemption. It is the Great Satan. This fact – not any particular act or crime the United States may be said to have committed — is the primary source of the anti-American fury of radical Islam.
If you have a favorite Horowitz quote you want to highlight for others then please submit it here. Please include:
- “Horowitz Quote of the Day” in subject line.
- A link to where the quote is from. (No need to include this if it’s from a book.)
- Any remarks you’d like published explaining what value you take from it.
- Your preferred name and a link to your blog or homepage (if you have one.)