Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


stance is therefore erroneous on two grounds. Not only is his

use of the principle of reciprocity irrelevant to the question at

hand, but even if it were relevant, it cannot be used to justify

acts that in and of themselves are forbidden.

In practice, however, refutations of al-Qaeda’s dubious brand

of jurisprudence do require something more than orthodox

rigour to gain credence. They must come from individuals who

enjoy political legitimacy amongst Muslims and who cannot

therefore be considered Western puppets. Such individuals

must also enjoy a good command of the English language and

of Western culture if their message is to be relevant to younger

Muslims who are the ones most likely to support, and engage

in, acts of terrorism.

A good example in this regard is Imam Zaid Shakir, whose

blog supplied the qualifications to the principle of reciprocity

we encountered a few moments ago. Originally named Ricky

Mitchell, Shakir became a Muslim whilst serving in the US Air

Force in 1977 and has subsequently emerged as a charismatic

and erudite voice for orthodox Islam in the United States. He

navigates between the twin worlds of traditional Islam and

modern America with consummate ease, mixing lines from the

Koran with rap lyrics as he goes. 7 Consequently, his rejection

of terrorism enjoys both juridical rigour and immediate relevance

to his burgeoning audience of young Muslims who currently

flock to see him in the thousands.

Unfortunately, Shakir remains something of a rarity in the

Anglo-Saxon world, where mosques tend to hire their imams

from overseas. A recent poll of five hundred British mosques,

conducted by the Quilliam Foundation, revealed that the overwhelming

majority of their imams had been born and trained

abroad. Whilst their knowledge of jurisprudence may be excellent,

these imams tend to lack familiarity with the English language

and with the cultural references necessary to engage a

younger audience. Indeed, fewer than 10 percent of the mosques

polled gave their Friday lectures wholly in English. 8 This, in

turn, means that mosques are not typically the most influential

source of inspiration for young Muslims seeking to navigate

their own way through the twin worlds of Islamic tradition and

Western modernity. Instead, they frequently turn to such


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