How Islam got tangled in the web of global warfare

How Islam got tangled in the web of global warfare


The geopolitical landscape of the Muslim world underwent significant changes after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, shaping the course of history in the subsequent decades. The rise of Wahhabi Islam, propelled by Saudi Arabia, and the sectarian fault lines have stirred political complexities in West Asia.


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Dimensions of the Article:

  • The Ripple Effect of the Iranian Revolution
  • Fissures and Fault Lines
  • Unintended Consequences and Global Impact
  • The Saudi Promotion of Wahhabi-Salafi Islam
  • The West’s Perceptions and Recommendations

The Ripple Effect of the Iranian Revolution:

  • The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 left an indelible mark on the Muslim world, triggering a series of events that reverberated across decades.
  • The removal of the Iranian monarchy through a people’s movement, driven by Shiite religious fervor, profoundly influenced the region’s history.
  • The aftermath of this revolution played a role in major wars, impacting U.S. presidential elections in 1980 and 1992.

Fissures and Fault Lines:

  • Iqbal Syed Hasnain’s book, “Fault Lines in the Faith,” meticulously explores the fault lines that emerged in the Muslim world in 1979.
  • Saudi Arabia, in response to challenges to its ruling family’s moral legitimacy, reaffirmed its commitment to Wahhabi Salafism.
  • This ideological shift had far-reaching consequences, including unintended outcomes like the rise of radical Islamist groups.
  • The abandonment of Afghanistan by the U.S. post-Soviet retreat inadvertently contributed to the formation of groups led by figures like Osama Bin Laden, setting the stage for subsequent conflicts.

Unintended Consequences and Global Impact:

  • The unintended consequences of these events, as witnessed in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS, demonstrate the lasting impact of decisions made in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution.
  • The recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, leaving the nation under Taliban control, echoes historical patterns of unintended consequences.

The Saudi Promotion of Wahhabi-Salafi Islam:

  • Post-1979, Saudi Arabia strategically promoted Wahhabi-Salafi Islam as a countermeasure to the rise of Shiite Islam. This involved substantial financial investments in constructing mosques and establishing madrasas worldwide, disseminating stringent Wahhabi doctrines.
  • The infusion of funds and indoctrination efforts left little room for dialogue or diverse interpretations of Islam, contributing to a more rigid and less tolerant landscape.

Challenges and Misconceptions:

  • The divergence in Islamic practices between nations like Afghanistan and Morocco underscores the challenges arising from these ideological shifts.
  • Former Vice President Hamid Ansari emphasizes the need to understand the difference between absolute and limited iman and major kufr, offering a nuanced perspective to counter misconceptions.
  • However, these distinctions often go unnoticed in the broader Western perception of the Muslim world.

The West’s Perceptions and Recommendations:

  • Despite the intricate local dynamics in Muslim-majority countries, the West tends to paint the entire Muslim world with a broad brush, lacking the nuance needed to comprehend regional complexities.
  • Historical warnings, like Dilip Hiro’s suggestion in 2005 that melding political Islam with democracy in Iran is in the West’s interest, still hold relevance in understanding the contemporary Muslim world. Hasnain’s book arrives at a crucial time, providing insights into the fault lines that continue to shape the Muslim world.


  • As the Muslim world grapples with the enduring consequences of decisions made post-1979, understanding the nuances of differing Islamic practices becomes paramount. Addressing misconceptions and fostering dialogue between diverse sects is crucial for promoting tolerance and reducing radicalization.
  • The West, in its engagement with the Muslim world, must move beyond generalizations and appreciate the local intricacies that define each nation’s unique dynamics. Hasnain’s timely book invites reflection on the past, urging stakeholders to adopt nuanced approaches to navigate the complexities of the evolving Muslim world.
  • The journey from 1979 to 2023 serves as a reminder of the profound impact ideological shifts can have on geopolitics, emphasizing the need for informed and context-sensitive strategies moving forward.