The Scourge of Fundamentalism, or When God Whispers Only in My Ear

By Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker

Religious fundamentalism, whether it be Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, results in the same unfortunate phenomenon: a closed mind and a view of life that ascribes the truth only to the self and those that accept that same truth. In effect, the fundamentalist says: "God has whispered in my ear and in my ear alone." Sadly the recipients of such "unique" revelations frequently believe that nothing should be allowed to interfere with what they perceive as their divinely commanded duty to spread the word, and that such a crusade or jihad justifies the use of force against any that would dare oppose it.

When reactionary extremism is foisted onto revealed monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, one often sees the development of ultra messianic expectations. Such expectations may lead to the use of tyrannical mechanisms to impose one's will upon others. The disease affects all: the Maccabaean kings Aristobulus I and his brother, Alexander Jannaeus, imposed their Judaism upon the defeated Idumaeans and Ituraeans at sword point; their Most Catholic majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella imposed the Holy Inquisition upon their Spanish empire to enforce conformity of faith and to root out all heresy, infidels being given the choice of exile, conversion, or death. The Iranian faghih (supreme leader) and the Saudi crown both established morality police (mutawwiin) to impose total conformity to the strictest of shari'a (Islamic law) views of public behavior and dress, and both their nations' law codes regard apostasy from Islam as a capital offense to be punished by death.

Extremism results in a dogmatism that brooks no opposition. When one has the truth, why tolerate those that espouse error? And to rid the world of error, one must spread the word forcefully so that those in error will submit and all error be eliminated, physically if necessary. Spreading the truth worldwide is of paramount importance - justifying the use of extreme force - as its dissemination is a prerequisite to the coming of the messiah, mashiach, or mehdi, who will redeem the world, or at least those that bear the truth.

With the outcome of all future history dependent on the success of the militant fundamentalist to propagate his message, he will use any method to attain his goal. When not able to win military battles through conventional warfare, he resorts to the use of asymmetrical warfare so as to "level the playing field". Asymmetrical warfare and terrorism have become the preferred weapons of choice used be extremists everywhere. The extremist and the militant fundamentalist (often but not always, one and the same) like to use terrorism as terror gives them a psychological edge over their adversaries. Striking fear in the hearts of their enemies is as much an objective as is destroying them.

Terrorists--whether they be individuals like Dr. Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir, or Eden Natan Zada, or groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi, the SICRI Badr Organization, or official state institutions like the KGB, Gestapo, Vevak (MOIS-the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security) or the Pasdaran (IRGC-the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran) and Bassij (Iranian theological militia)--are despicable because they disdain human life. Terrorists murder wantonly to further their goals; religious terrorists-militant fundamentalists-murder in the name of God, and thereby desecrate the Holy One. When innocent blood is shed, God weeps, but the terrorist does not hear or see this because his (or her) rage blinds him to the fact that he destroys one created in the Divine image. Rather than sanctifying God's Name, the religious terrorist (whether he lives or becomes a suicide/homicide bomber), desecrates the Name of God through his disregard for the sanctity of life. He thus violates a basic tenet common to all true religious faiths.

Terrorism, a product of the extremist mind - whether it be in the name of religion or a secular belief like nationalist socialism (Nazism) or communism-is a scourge to humanity because it devalues human life. It must be fought with alacrity because the fundamentalist extremist refuses to recognize his opponents' humanity and will continue to murder until stopped. His defeat by those that value life and democracy is the first step in a therapy of rehabilitation. Left to his own devices, the fundamentalist will either support, or himself evolve into such epitomes of evil as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The world cannot afford another mass murderer.

Extreme militant fundamentalists like Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will bring us another Holocaust if left unchecked. Bankrolling many of the fundamentalist Islamist terror organizations throughout the Middle East, North and Central Africa, and Central and Southeast Asia, Khamenei's agents give him an octopus-like reach around much of the world. His minion, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has promised to bring the Islamic fundamentalist tide to the whole world. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, has served his Iranian mentors well by provoking a new round of Middle-East hostilities that serve to distract world attention from the menace of Iran's nuclear adventurism. With Iran's renewal of nuclear enrichment activity, it is only a matter of time before nuclear blackmail is added to Iran's terrorist arsenal. It's 11:58 PM on Teheran's nuclear proliferation clock; we don't want to arrive at midnight. Will the world please wake up before it's too late?

The time to stop extremist terrorists is now! It is crucial to support those that oppose such fundamentalism and instead present a moderate, enlightened form of Islam, like for example, Ms. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The fate of civilization hangs in the balance; what would we have it be?

Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching the public and its elected officials of the need to promote genuine democratic institutions throughout the Middle-East region as an antidote to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws