The truth behind pan-Islamism

Farish Noor“Today there is much talk, accompanied by some degree of unnecessary speculation and fear-mongering, about the claims and ambitions of Islamists who seek to create a global Caliphate as the panacea for the ills of Muslim society worldwide.

“That such talk of a pan-Islamic global project would spook the spooks of the international anti-terror industry is, of course, not entirely surprising for nothing seems to agitate the public more these days than the idea of a couple of Muslims getting together and plotting the imminent takeover of the universe….

“In many respects it is not surprising nor unexpected that Muslims today would have such global ambitions for we do live, after all, in a global age and where the very idea of global citizenship – underpinned by the values of cosmopolitanism and universalism – are in common currency….

“Looking closer at some of the global Islamist networks that span the globe today, such as the Tablighi Jama’at (the world’s biggest Muslim missionary movement), the network of Islamist parties with transnational or supra-national ambitions, Muslim guilds and trading groups, Sufi mystical networks and the like, we can see that they all share family resemblances with the more mainstream modes of globalisation that is capital-driven.

“This is not to say that Islamist networks can be likened to McDonald’s or cast as a franchise business with branches to be opened around every street corner. But it does mean that much of the talk of pan-Islamism and the creation of global Islamist networks we have seen the world over thus far is not as alien or exotic as we might think.”

Farish A Noor in the Daily Times, 8 August 2008