At least a little biblical history is needed to begin understanding the relationship.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, a key figure is Abram, who later becomes Abraham the father of great nations. For most of Abram's marriage, the couple was infertile. After many years, his wife, Sari (at age 75), suggested that Abram sleep with her personal maid, Hagar (using Hagar as a surrogate mother, a custom of the time - about 2000 B.C. or B.C.E.1 - yes, it was happening 4000 years ago!), to produce an heir. The baby would be Abram and Sarai's child and heir. Whether or not Abram took joy in the arrangement is unknown, but, so the story goes, Hagar did become pregnant. Nevertheless, Sarai was unhappy with Hagar because Hagar was getting 'uppity' with Sarai. As payback, Sarai forced Abram to kick Hagar to the curb - literally dump a pregnant Hagar into the desert. While wandering in the desert, Hagar became extremely thirsty and felt she was about to die. But, lo and behold, an angel the Lord appeared to her and told her that she was going to have a son, "And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren" . And, the angel said that Hagar should return to Abram, and put up with Sarai's BS, which she did. And Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. Abram was a spry 86 years old when Ishmael was born.
When Ishmael was 13, God told Abram that he would look perfect if he'd just get rid of his foreskin. So, Abram decided it was time for all the males to be circumcised, and then Abram could become Abraham, patriarch to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. While visiting, He overhead Sarai snickering about God's power. Then, even though Sarai was an old woman, to show her, God told her that she would become pregnant and have a child. Lo and behold, this, too, came to pass. Ishmael's half-brother, Isaac (the patriarch of all Jewish tribes), was born to Sarai when she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17) so that she could become Sarah, a mother of great nations. And, even at 90 years old, Sarah breast fed Isaac. When it was time to wean Isaac, Abraham threw a big party. It was a celebration that Isaac made it past breast feeding (infant mortality was a big problem, back then). At the party, Sarah's jealousy flared, again, and Sarah wanted to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael, who she considered a brat, even though he was her surrogate son. So, once again, Sarah told Abraham to drive them out (for the father of great nations, Abraham sounds a little whipped), using the excuse that she didn't want her son, Isaac, to have to share his inheritance (from Abraham) with his half brother, Ishmael. Abraham was torn up about having to kick out his son, Ishmael, who he loved, as well as his baby mamma, Hagar, who still made him feel good. As it turned out, God happened to be a Guest at Isaac's weaning party, and told Abraham it was OK to dump his baby mamma, and her boy. He'd (God) take care of the boy and his mom, since Abraham was His good buddy. So, God did the great nation thing for Ishmael, too.
Kicked out, once again, Hagar and Ishmael go wandering in the desert; eventually settle in the Desert of Paran, where Ishmael became an expert in archery. His mother (who was really a daughter of Pharaoh and a princess) found a wife, maybe two, for Ishmael from Egypt. Ishmael had twelve sons who each became tribal chiefs.
Ishmael spent the next century or so, fulfilling the angel's prenatal prophesy (dwelling over against all), playing like Robin Hood of the desert -- only he stole from everybody and kept the wealth for himself -- finally dying at the age of 137.
Abraham lived to the age of 175. Sarah died before Abraham, at the age of 127. Later, he married Keturah (who some say was really Hagar2 - the ultimate revenge against Sarah!) and had at least six more sons. While Abraham was alive, he gave gifts to his sons by Hagar and Keturah. Yet, when Abraham died, he left everything to Isaac , presumably including the Blessing from God.
OK, that's the history from the Bible.
It's been said that perception becomes reality. This article addresses perceptions, rather than accuracy of historical events. For example, historically, Mohammed did not consider Abraham's oldest son, Ishmael, to be one of his direct ancestors. But, some Muslims today consider Mohammed to be a direct descendant of Ishmael. Similarly, the best historical evidence is that Mecca was founded in the fourth century A.D. (or Common Era, C.E.), but, a popular Muslim belief is that Mecca was founded by Abraham and Ishmael. Others state that Mecca was founded by Adam and renovated by Abraham and Ishmael, on the original foundation laid by Adam.
Muslim traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of Arab people. Ishmaelites are the Arab peoples residing in Arab territories, believed to have descended from Ishmael, regardless of the diversity of their origins. Ishmaelite culture has been inculcated for more than 4000 years. And, Arabs have been living in the region since 6000 B.C.E. The term 'A'raab' has been synonymous with 'nomad' since long before the beginning of Islam.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, it's doubtful that Arabs gave any thought to having been descended from Ishmael, as he was not an important part of their literature or legends. Jews were present in Arabia, serving as merchants and entrepreneurs while Arabs remained nomadic. Hostility towards the Jews was little different that against anyone else in the region.
The first converts to Islam came from the Bedouin tribes and Islam became embedded, and deeply rooted in the Bedouin culture.
The English word ‘Bedouin’ is derived from the Arabic word 'Badawiyin' which is a generic name for a desert-dweller, from the Arabic root 'Bedu' which refers to one who lives out in the open, in the desert. Some Arabs see Bedouins as the Arab culture’s purest members and other Arabs praise them as "ideal" Arabs. They are respected because of their rich oral poetic tradition, their herding lifestyle and their traditional code of conduct -- complex customs of revenge, loyalty and hospitality. But, they are a suspicious group, relying upon tribal kinships for protection. Others note that a Bedouin's life is “hard and merciless, always hungry and usually thirsty." Conflict has been a way of life for millennia. Arabs couldn’t have better fulfilled the angel’s foretelling of Ishmaelite behavior, even if they had perpetuated that story of Ishmael throughout their history.
After Islam reminded Arabians of their descent from Ishmael and that the Jews had 'stolen' the Arabs' birth right -- that was the reason that Jews were prosperous and had an easy life -- Islamic anti-Semitic hatred began to brew. Now, the fundamentalist position is that Jews are to be hated, derided as grandsons of pigs and monkeys, even though they all descend from Father Abraham.
A legendary Arab aphorism, explains: “I against my brother; I and my brother against my cousin; I and my brother and my cousin against the world.” Stanley Kurtz uses the saying while calling for a systematic understanding of Muslim tribal violence positing, "... tribalism is at least half the cultural battle in the Middle East ..." http://eppc.org/publications/i-and-my-brother-against-my-cousin/
For centuries, Arab culture (as well as Turkish culture – notwithstanding that Turks descend from Mongol-like horsemen) was based in nomadism. In many ways, aspects of Bedouin culture have not changed significantly since Biblical times, even to the twentieth century.
Prior to the mid 20th century, Bedouins went on raids to settle scores and rustle livestock. An early Arabic poem encapsulates the Bedouins’ mind-set:
"With the sword I will wash my shame away,
Let God's doom bring on me what it may!"
Even today, this is a typical funding model for ISIS (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/inside-the-isis-loot-market-%E2%80%94-heres-how-much-fighters-can-sell-their-war-spoils-for/ar-BBnIY4S?li=BBnb7Kz). Such Bedouin stances frequently led to vicious blood feuds and revenge killings. Blood feuds could last many years. Feuds could be settled with blood or paying 'Ursh Dam' (blood money, similar to the Anglo-Saxon wergild of the middle ages).
Al-Islam.org, describing Arabia before Islam, explains,
"Since Arabia did not have a government, and since the Arabs were anarchists by instinct, they were locked up in ceaseless warfare. War was a permanent institution of the Arabian society.
"To them, war was a pastime or rather a dangerous sport, or a species of tribal drama, waged by professionals, according to old and gallant codes, while the "audience" cheered. Eternal peace held no appeal for them, and war provided an escape from drudgery and from the monotony of life in the desert.
"They, therefore, courted the excitement of the clash of arms. War gave them an opportunity to display their skills at archery, fencing and horsemanship, and also, in war, they could distinguish themselves by their heroism and at the same time win glory and honor for their tribes. In many cases, the Arabs fought for the sake of fighting, whether or not there was a cause belli.
"The nomadic tribes ranged over the peninsula and plundered the caravans and the small settlements. Many caravans and villages bought immunity from these raids by paying a fixed amount of money to the nomadic freebooters.
"Slavery was an economic institution of the Arabs. Male and female slaves were sold and bought like animals, and they formed the most depressed class of the Arabian society."
History is testament to the bellicose nature of the Arab culture. Thomas Newton, almost two centuries ago, long before current politics (1831, Dissertations On The Prophecies), observed, that they
“live in a state of continual war with the rest of the world … they have been such enemies of mankind, it is no wonder that mankind have been enemies to them again”
This belligerence is not limited to the Middle East nor to any proscribed era. This belligerence is what our third president confronted with the Tripoli pirates in the first Barbary Coast War of the early Nineteenth century. It's why Jefferson acquired a Quran, to learn about the enemy.
Pershing confronted this fierceness in the Moro uprisings of the Philippines in the early twentieth century. Unable to stem the Muslim attacks militarily, Pershing threatened the mullahs with ... "splattering of pigs-blood on your houses and families and any who attack us and are killed will be buried in pig-skins." This effectively ended the attacks.
Even to the present, Somali pirates, who are predominately Muslim, continue to raid and demand ransom.
Until the 20th century, Muslim threats were limited to geographic proximity. Even with the Ottoman Empire, the threat was a systematic territorial expansion. The Ottoman Empire generally did not leapfrog regions, even with the systematic expansion from the Arabian Peninsula to northern Africa to Europe and eastward to Hungary.
So why did Muslims attack on America on 9/11 and continue to this day? Attacks that didn't just leapfrog land but leapfrogged the Atlantic Ocean to reach America?
Again, Muslim history is needed to have a grasp of the reasons. First, is the recognition of the two major branches of Muslims. Shi'a (or Shiite) and Sunni. Their division has grown since the year 632, when Mohammed died. The schism was based in who should have control of Islam. In a sense, the Shi'a were royalists, believing that Mohammed's family should be the ruling dynasty of Islam (specifically, only heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed), while the Sunni were more tribalist, wanting to choose Mohammed's successors and accept the heirs of any of the first four rulers (or caliphs) as legitimate leaders. These heirs ruled the Arab world continuously until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War. Today, Muslims are about 90% Sunnis and Shi'a the remainder. The separation in beliefs was pathological, if not fanatic, resulting in multiple wars between the two divisions since the 7th century. For most of the 20th century, the house of Saud, rulers of Saudi Arabia, have been the designated defenders of Islam.
The Wahhabi sect is a branch of Sunni Islam. They are extreme fundamentalists and take the Quran word for word, phrase by phrase, literally. The Quran is compulsory and binding, specifically as it relates to warfare, and emphatically embraces jihad – religious war. For Wahhabis, Allah is an existent physical being sitting on an actual throne of a real, physical paradise, waiting to judge and reward His Jihadists.
Wahhabi leaders traditionally exerted religious authority, including determination of who was an infidel and how infidels were to be treated. This changed after World War I, with the end of the Ottoman Empire. In the 1920's, Saudi rulers usurped the Wahhabis and proclaimed that the government would determine who was an infidel and how they were to be treated. Because of politics, trade, tourism or other reasons, the Saudi government did not want overt belligerence towards Europeans -- who obviously did not conform to Muslim beliefs. Western interlopers brought with them pastimes of alcohol, gambling, lewdness and naked women, anathema to Islam.
The Saudi government could not rid itself of the Wahhabis and the Wahhabis could not rid themselves of the Saudi rulers. A detente evolved. Wahhabis could not openly attack infidels but the Saudi government could not force them to like the Westerners, with their pastimes blasphemous to Islam, regardless of the government's declared openness and tolerance. Even today, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter Mecca or Medina, Muslim holy cities. An ex-Muslim, who could obviously be accused of 'sour grapes', describes the extreme prejudice of Muslims that persists even today (see, http://www.islam-watch.org/KhaledWaleed/InfidelsInSaudi.htm).
Islamic fundamentalists were appalled by "the wave of atheism and lewdness" corrupting the Muslim world, prompting an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hasan al-Banna, to found the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928.
To placate the Wahhabis, Saudi rulers allow the Wahhabis to control the educational system and train Muslim youth. Saudi Arabia also grants huge amounts of unregulated money to the Wahhabis.
In 2005, Aref abu-rabia of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev noted,
"... in the past twenty to thirty years there has been an increase in the return to the faith (resurgent Islam), and it is taking hold of the young, the disaffected and those who have not integrated into Western society, giving them a strong Islamic identity."
While years of compounding Wahhabi education undoubtedly influenced this resurgence, it also parallels a notorious (or glorious, depending upon perspective) figure of our time, Osama bin Laden, another Sunni Muslim.
Bin Laden viewed the end of the Ottoman Empire as catastrophic. He warned: "What America is tasting now is only a copy of what we have tasted. ... Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more eighty years, of humiliation and disgrace, its sons killed and their blood spilled, its sanctities desecrated."
In an interview, bin Laden explained that he had been Mujahideen, a jihad warrior against the Soviets, allying with Americans and being one of America's proxy warriors. Bin Laden claimed that, after the USSR withdrew, he went to his American friends and allies and asked that they support him in overthrowing the Saudi ruling family. Bin Laden did not describe the rejection but let's just say that it was uncategorically and unequivocally rejected. Osama may not have been aware of the 'agreements' between the US and the Saudi royal family that have been alluded to in news reports (more on this later). Osama knew that he was not able to mount a revolution sufficient to oust the royal family against the combined might of royal and US forces. But, he did not abandon his desire.
Bin Laden decided that his best strategy would be to use Islam. He studied and began making friends (networking) with local Imams (Muslim religious leaders). He noticed the American humiliations at Mogadishu and the withdrawal after American Marine barracks were bombed in Beirut. He famously declared that America was a 'paper tiger' with no taste for a fight. Certainly, America was no match for the ravenous appetite of bloodthirsty Bedouins. Bin Laden surmised that it would only take a few slices by his organization's scimitar to force America to abandon the House of Saud and leave the Arabian Peninsula. Then, he would take care of the Saudi Royal Family. So he buttered up and impressed the Imams and Mullahs who were already aching for the day that they could dispose of the royals and resume an unbridled cleansing of infidels from Islam. They issued fatwas (legal opinions or decrees handed down by an Islamic religious leader which carry the force of law for all Muslim true believers) supporting bin Laden and condemning the great Satan, America. No surprise that a Saudi intelligence survey shortly after the 9/11 attacks "concluded that 95 percent" of Saudi Arabians surveyed supported Bin Laden's cause.
Clearly, the bin Laden strategy formed the objective of al Qaida. In 2009, MataHarley wrote on the NIC Global Trends 2025 Report:
The two primary strategic aims of al-Qa’ida — the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate and the removal of US and Western influence so that “apostate” regimes can be toppled — are clearly threats to many existing Muslim governments and are resulting in stronger counterterrorism measures.
But Osama failed to consider, or more likely did not know about, 'the deal'. An American government pact with the Saudi royals -- US will protect Saudis and US gets cheap oil3. Saudis Royals have sweetened the international agreement by donating or otherwise funneling money to politicians, and estimated 18 to 80 Billion dollars to US politicians alone. Unlike Mogadishu and Beirut, Osama didn't count on the controlling power of the almighty dollar. Else, his strategy might have worked.
So why do they hate us?
Because fundamentalist Muslims (NOT radicalized, but true believers in the literal tenets of Islam) detest Western ways of dress, entertainment, sexual openness, drinking and gambling. More than that, they hate that the West is complicit with their governments - friends of their enemies are their enemies, too. They hate the West for supporting regional strongmen (despotic dictators) that control them and prevent restoration of their Caliphate. One Muslim Brotherhood multinational project is named Renaissance - not for the Middle Ages but for the 'rebirth' of their caliphate empire. They envy the life of average Westerners and despise their oppressive governments. Arabians do not fear death; they are ready to, ‘Let God's doom bring what it may.’ An underlying concept in Arabian belief is that oppression is worse than death and that the West enables their rulers to oppress them. That was the underlying meaning of bin Laden's, "humiliation and disgrace". That if it were not for the West enabling their rulers, Arabs, too, would have been as free as the nomads and as prosperous as any other society. It's the West's fault that their governments trap them in their miserable conditions.
So why do they hate us? Because that's who they are!
1 C.E. = Common Era, equivalent to A.D. and B.C.E. = Before Common Era, equivalent to B.C.
2 The explanation for the two names is that Hagar was a derogatory term, meaning slave girl and Keturah was her given name. Keturah was a daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh who had been given to Sarai to make amends for her captivity by the Pharaoh, after he became awe struck with the power of Sarai's God.
3 As stated by Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) in hearings addressing the run-up of oil prices in 2009, ‘if they don't keep the deal we should rethink providing protection’. See, also, Bradley, John R. (2005). Saudi Arabia Exposed. Macmillan.
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