Dr. Kevin Barrett: “Bennabi is one of the key thinkers of the Islamic Revival”
Mohsen Abdelmoumen: You are a great American thinker converted to Islam, how do you live your faith in the US?
Dr. Kevin Barrett: “Great?” I’m not sure about that, and don’t expect to see my bust on Mount Rushmore any time soon. Anyway…Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the US. But today, American Muslims are on the defensive. Neoconservative Zionists have orchestrated a huge, well-funded propaganda war on Islam, and they have succeeded in spreading Islamophobia. Today it is harder to “live your faith” in public than it was in the 1990s. I reverted to Islam in 1993.
At the personal level, time pressures of the American lifestyle, and Americans’ lack of understanding, make it somewhat more difficult to pray salaat on time and fast during Ramadan than it is in Islamic countries. American Muslims have to put more effort into it, and it becomes a more serious test (imtihan). I have lived in Morocco, where it is relatively easy to pray each time you hear the adhan, and to fast along with everyone else. In the US, you have to pay more attention to the prayer times, find a way to make time for salaat even when those around you are all pressuring you to keep busy. And you have to struggle against public pressure, rather than go along with it, when you fast.
It has become easier for me to practice since I moved out of the city and became self-employed. My wife, two sons, and I all pray the five daily prayers, fast together during Ramadan, pray jumuah in our small log cabin mosque in the woods, and experience relatively little exposure to alcohol and other haram behaviors. But I don’t want to completely cut myself off from socializing with my neighbors, all of whom are non-Muslim. So I watch sporting events with them in the local tavern, ordering non-alcoholic beverages (including the “Virgin Mary,” which they think is a funny name for a Muslim’s favorite drink…until I explain that Muslims revere Mary the mother of Isa just as much as Christians do). I know some Muslims would say I should stay away from taverns, period. That would definitely be true if I still had any desire for alcohol. But I don’t, alhamdullilah; my body now instinctively recognizes that it is poison. So I think it’s better to be a friendly, non-threatening neighbor and participate in local socializing and give a good impression of Islam, than to withdraw completely from everyone around me. In the long run, I think Islam will grow and become a much more prominent part of America – perhaps eventually the number one religion in America – if we engage with our neighbors, find common ground with them, and communicate with them in a positive, friendly, reasonably non-judgmental way.
All the information collected near various sources leads us to the United States concerning the creation of Daesh, as it was the case with Al-Qaeda, according to the confession of Mrs. Clinton herself; if the empire destroys us with a Wahhabit, salafist, doctrine, what do we make, us, the Muslims, to protect us from conspiracies of empire?
I think the Empire has been encouraging the Wahhabi and extreme-Salafist versions of Islam because those approaches actually tend to undermine Islam, in two ways: First, Wahhabism operates as a kind of neo-Khawarij school that spends most of its energy fighting other Muslims and spreading fitna within the Ummah; and second, Wahhabi-takfiri approaches to Islam tend to be rigid, ultra-puritanical, and obscurantist, and therefore alienating to a great many people (both Muslim and non-Muslim) and ill-suited to thriving and spreading in today’s world. As Muslims we need to recognize this, and find a way to neutralize these tendencies. We need to educate young people, and re-educate those who have been misled. And we might also consider trying to turn salafism in a better (or at least less dangerous) direction. The basic concept of salafism, in my opinion, is not inherently toxic. Even though I don’t identify with it personally, the idea of focusing directly on Qur’an and sunna rather than adhering to a single law school is not necessarily unreasonable in itself. It only becomes unreasonable when it is practiced from an extremist, obscurantist or takfiri perspective. So maybe we need to offer encouragement to the “reasonable salafis” and engage with them. I know such people exist, because I have met several of them.
You sent me a video of one of your debates where you mentioned the thought of Mohamed Arkoun, an Algerian thinker and not Moroccan, have you met the thought of Malek Bennabi that shone throughout the Muslim world?
Yes, I have read him, though not extensively, and have great respect for him. In particular, I think he is right about the need for an intellectual renaissance of ideas, not just material progress. This insight illustrates why the obscurantism of the takfiris is so dangerous and destructive. Bennabi is one of the key thinkers of the Islamic Revival and I look forward to reading more of his work insha’allah.
Why, in the Muslim world, did we move away from the thought of Malek Bennabi to freeze in the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabit, salafist, matrix of the Gulf’s Bedouins which plunged us into the darkness of Daesh?
That is a very good question. I think the short answer is that the Gulf Bedouins have so much oil money, and so much backing from the Empire, that they have been able to mentally colonize much of the Islamic world.
Why did we let the imperialism play with our Sunni-Shiite splits, etc. and transform the Muslim ground into play-station where multinationals plunder our wealth? Is the external enemy alone guilty? Why didn’t we built strong States with strong institutions which immunize us of imperialism?
Today’s world, with its frenetic economic activity, spiritual emptiness, and idolatry of nation-states, is not ideally suited for a powerful state-building Islam. Dajjal has been out of the bottle for 500 years, so the tools of power in the modern world – usury, Machievellian big lies and amorality, techno-warfare that is inherently a form of terrorism, worship of the State and its rulers rather than God, and so on – are tools that devout Muslims cannot use. These shaitani tools of power are all social cancers that have created an unhealthy explosion of economic, technological and population growth that becomes less and less sustainable the bigger it gets. So I tend to agree with Shaykh Imran Hosein, who is skeptical about possibilities for strong “Islamic states” today. But despite this bleak situation, we have seen a resurgence of Islam among the people, and some successes with Islamic-state-building in Iran (and perhaps some smaller successes elsewhere). I think we should remember to celebrate the positive side, especially the resilience of Islam in a modern world overrun by dajjal, rather than just feeling bad about not having powerful states like the shaitani ones that dominate today’s ever-more-corrupt dunya.
In the very interesting video which you sent me with the intervention of professor Anthony J. Hall, I found that there is a great similarity in the extermination of the indigenous peoples of America by British colonists and French colonialism who has exterminated by mass the Algerian people with the same processes. Don’t you think that the American Empire is in the historical continuity of its British and French predecessors?
Absolutely. As Shaykh Imran Hosein says, the British Empire gave way to the American Empire in the 20th century; then the Zionist Empire took over from the American Empire in the coup d’état of September 11th, 2001. All three Empires have exterminated indigenous people in similar ways. (As the French did in Algeria and elsewhere.)
You worked on 9/11, the stay behind and Gladio operations, Charlie Hebdo, etc. and the concept of false flag, without alternative media and with only the mass media like CNN in which you are already intervened, would we have known the truth, or at least a part of the truth about what really happened?
The truth about “deep events” has been largely banned from US mainstream media for many decades. For example, the American people were not told about the coup d’état against President Roosevelt in the 1930s that was planned by America’s richest families and exposed by Gen. Smedley Butler. They only learned the truth about the 1963 JFK assassination by reading underground newspapers and magazines (such as the work of investigative journalist Warren Hinckle published in Ramparts magazine). And today, they can only learn the truth about 9/11, Operation Gladio, Charlie Hebdo and so on from the internet-based alternative media. Unfortunately, many Americans have been brainwashed to see the alternative media as less prestigious than the mainstream media. I have tried to help solve this problem by finding strategies for getting truthful information into the mainstream (such as provoking the mainstream coverage I got in 2006). And I also try to get truthful information published in books, such as We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo and ANOTHER French False Flag, in order to put the truth in a more authoritative, respectable, reasonably scholarly package.
The history of humanity is made of plots and conspiracies, how do you explain that the empire and its watchdogs have the vital need to label people who propose another vision of some major events by calling them conspiracy theorists and other derogatory terms?
The CIA launched the term “conspiracy theorist” in the 1960s with its Directive 1035-60, a memo to its mainstream media assets telling them to pejoratively label people who questioned the official version of the JFK assassination with this term. Since then, this “weaponized term” has become one of the Empire’s most powerful weapons against the truth. Whenever the Empire’s rulers are about to be exposed for committing a crime that their people would not tolerate, the rulers demonize the truth-tellers as “conspiracy theorists.” So the correct definition of “conspiracy theory” is “a truth that would, if it were exposed in a timely way, radically change the world.”
How do you explain the need for US imperialism to always designate an enemy and to condition its population to live in fear?
I think this is a universal human trait, not just an American one. René Girard, one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, showed how scapegoating an “enemy” is the most basic way that societies ward off fitna and hold themselves together. And Karl Schmitt, the most influential political philosopher of the 20th century, argued that this kind of scapegoating enemies is the essence of politics. But the US does it more obviously and destructively than any other nation today except Israel. Why? Perhaps it is because the US was built on scapegoating and exterminating Native Americans, and scapegoating and enslaving or impoverishing African-Americans. Professor Anthony Hall has made this argument in his Bowl with One Spoon books. Additionally, the US has been a powerful and (until recently) growing empire, with no actual enemies capable of harming it, so it has had to work unusually hard to invent imaginary enemies.
When we see the ideological matrix of Al-Qaeda or Daesh, which are branches of imperialism, can we assume that the monster will eventually turn against its creator? Does the US imperialism still have control on the hordes of islamist fascists?
I agree with Shaykh Imran Hosein that there may be enough brainwashed young people joining takfiri groups so that the Empire will not, in the future, have to employ professional Special Forces type killers in its false flag events, but will be able to use actual takfiris to do the killing. In this sense the “monster will turn against its creator.” But whether Daesh or al-Qaeda will ever be able to inflict damage on the Empire that the Empire does not welcome is another question. Given the “progress” in WMD technology, such a prospect cannot be ruled out.
With the horrors experienced daily by the Muslim world and the bloodshed that never ends, can we still dream of Al-Andalus (Andalusia)?
After the current age of all-devouring riba, strife, out-of-control technology, and ecological disaster ends (or preferably “settles down”) we may get much closer to a new golden age along the lines of al-Andalus. By working toward that goal today, “persisting in truth, patiently persisting” we can at least know that we are doing our best in the eyes of God, the only gaze of the Other that matters. So whether or not we reach al-Andalus in this lifetime we will have an interesting journey and, insha’allah, a taste of al-nafs al-mutmainnah, the soul at peace.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is the Dr. Kevin Barrett?
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, holds advanced degrees in English Literature, French Literature, and African Literature, and is the author of three books including Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters (2009) which deconstructs the “war on terror” through Socratic questioning. Dr. Barrett was also the lead editor, along with John Cobb and Sandra Lubarsky, of 9/11 and American Empire v.2: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out. He has taught the French and Arabic languages, African literature, English, humanities, religious studies, and folklore at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad.
Dr. Barrett reverted to Islam in 1993. He serves on the board of the nonprofit religious corporation Khidria, Inc. which sponsors a mosque in Madison, Wisconsin and is dedicated to “spreading the truth to build a sustainable future.” He has both a scholarly and personal interest in Islamic spirituality, and wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on medieval North African saints’ legends. He is a co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth and Muslims for 9/11 Truth.
Blacklisted from teaching in the University of Wisconsin system since 2006, Dr. Barrett has recently worked as a talk radio host, author, public speaker, and congressional candidate (Wisconsin’s 3rd District, 2008). One of the best-known critics of the War on Terror, Dr. Barrett has appeared on Fox, CNN, PBS, ABC-TV, Unavision, and Russia Today, PressTV, he his editor in Veterans Today, and he runs his website Truth Jihad. He has been the subject of op-eds and feature stories in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. Dr. Barrett hosts two talk radio shows. He lives in McFarland, Wisconsin.