riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gyms and Terrorists

Well, I'm back in Egypt, and enjoying the World Cup. You know, studies have shown that when the team you're rooting for wins, your testosterone increases, and when they lose it decreases. Well, watching Iran lose 3-1 to Mexico just shut down my test production. But damnit i'm proud of them, they played just as good, and were more dangerous, than the 4th best team in the world (according to FIFA's latest rankings)! But after the second goal by Mexico, caused by a mistake, the Iranians lost it and another goal followed. Oh well.

The teams i'm rooting for are (in that order):

1) Tunisia
2) Iran

Then, after they both lose (gotta be realistic here),

I'm rooting for Sweden. I like their style. Maybe even Japan or Holland but first I gotta see them play cause I only watch soccer during the World Cup and the Euro Cup, and gotta make sure I still like them this time around. My fave team is actually Denmark (for more emotional reasons connected with my childhood and the '92 Euro Cup), but they didnt make it to the World Cup this time. FIFA did recently rank them as number 11 in the world though.

Anyway, was just reading this article... It suggests that Islamic terrorists could be created not in mosques, but in gyms. So seeing as how my devotion to fitness is a big theme in this blog, I thought I should discuss it.

According to the author, the terrorists of 9/11, the Madrid Bombings, and the London Bombings came from different backgrounds and had slightly different ideologies. Yet one thing that they had in common was their "immersion in gym culture."

Three of the London bombers, it seems were fitness fanatics. One of them set up two gyms, and met the second person in command in the gym. A third member was more interested in jujitsu than in going to mosques. In fact, one of the gyms set up by the leader of the London Bombers was known my local Muslims as "The al-Qaeda gym." Even other suspected terrorist cells in London share this enthusiasm for sports, their members being interested in "Camping, canoeing, white-water rafting, paintballing and other outward bound type activities..."

As for one chief suspect of the Madrid bombings, the person who supplied the cellphones that were used to detonate the bombs, he was "a gym loving man" whose friends were shocked to hear he could have any part in the bombings because his main concerns in life were the "gym or the discotèchque." The ringleader of the Madrid bombings seemed to also work out in the gym, where he discussed politics with the other guy.

As for the 9/11 terrorists, the three pilots were very devoted to exercising and keeping fit, and worked out very seriously in the gym. The rest of the 9/11 terrorists apparently went to the gym to become stronger so that they can overpower the airline staff, but barely lifted any weights in the gym and just went there to talk.

Is there something about today's preening and narcissistic gym culture that either nurtures terrorists or massages their self-delusions and desires?

But looking at all this leads me to disagree with the author on his assessment of most the terrorists.

First, the guys who were mentioned last, the 9/11 hijckers, don't count. They truly didnt care about fitness and just went there to talk. They were supposed to work out in order to get stronger so that they could take control of the planes, but they "never push[ed] any weights". We also have the person who supplied cell phone to the Madrid bombers. I'm not sure if that makes him a terrorist really, and he certainly wasnt a Muslim extremist, because he was mainly concerned with going to the disco. Maybe he worked out so that he'd look good in the disco, who knows? The ring leader did work out though, even though it seems that Islam for him was nothing more than a "comfort blanket" (according to the reports and studies done on the terrorists).

So that leaves us with the pilots of 9/11 and the London bombers. Atta seems to have been obsessed with bodily appearance, according to the article. Now the author claims that Atta "embraced a mystical (and pretty much made-up) version of Islam", but that is complete B.S. Atta was NOT a Muslim. He uttered blasphemy which I dare not even hint at. He also loved pork chops, had a stripper for a girlfriend, loved to party, drink and snort coke, and seems to have been some kind of agent, knowing several languages and having ID's for lots of nationalities. I don't know the reason he was involved in 9/11 but it certainly was not related to being a Muslim, which he wasn't. (See for example, "Top Ten Things You Never Knew About Mohamed Atta" and "Mohamed Atta loved pork chops, and 49 other things you may not know") He was just obsessed with looking good, and maybe he was angry because his stripper girlfriend dumped him, for not looking good in swimming shorts and embarassing her (apparently he had a "flanky ass" see "Top Ten Things..").

What does that leave us with? Two of the 9/11 hijackers, about which I can't really tell you, and the London Bombers.

So what does the article say about the London bombers?

They "were into community-based Islam, which emphasized being good and resisting a life of decadence."

Khan (the leader of the group) seemed to view gym and sports activities as more than an opportunity for physical bonding; he also appeared to consider them moral and pure, an alternative to the decadent temptations of contemporary society. Healthy living, as a doctrine, appears to have been close to his radical heart. In Khan's talks to young Muslims and potential recruits, he reportedly made numerous references to keeping fit. His talks "focused on clean living, staying away from crime and drugs, and the value of sport and outdoor activity," says the British government's 7/7 report.

According to the British govt's report on these bombers, three of the four seem to have been radicalized in the gym, not in the mosque!

The author is saying that for these men were dedicated to being fit, to being morally pure and upright. They wanted to stay away from sin and society's decadent temptations... They were focused on clean living, staying healthy, and doing good for the community.

So, according to the author, this led them to see themselves as superior to the decadent society in which they lived. They thought of themselves as real men, pure and upright and healthy, they thought that they were good and that the rest of the people were "rotten".

hmmmm... Does that mean I'm gonna become a terrorist, because I dedicate myself to improving my body and mind and spirit, because I live clean and try to stay away from sin, and to be morally upright.... Does this mean I will start to look down on all those obese, lazy, ignorant, slutty music video -watching people around me and consider them rotten? (Oh wait...Ehm...No no, I really don't.)

Of course, none of this is enough to make a terrorist out of anybody. Sure, these London bombers might have thought that they were superior to the people around them, but that is not enough to make them kill anyone. Had they had a sound and traditional Islamic ideology, they wouldn't go out and kill even a sinful, rotten, corrupt, ignorant kafir. Muslims fight only against soldiers in combat, soldiers do not want a peaceful resolution, for "...if the enemy inclines towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace" (The Quran 8:61). Muslims never kill civilians. Ever. Ultimately, it was their ideology (and whatever psychological issues they had that made them accept these ideologies), that made terrorists out of them.

Of course at the same time, there is some fishy stuff going on, since many of these guys seem to have been more concerned with the gym, jujitsu, the disco, strippers, night clubs, and pork chops than they were in going to the mosque. The Madrid bombers conveniently left their truck in the scene of the crime, complete with a Quran tape in the casette player, and the 9/11 hijackers left us their Quran and flight instruction manual in the car.. and of course, there was the blaspheming secret agent Atta's indestructible passport which survived the plane crash and the massive explosion and was "found" in the debris.

Ah well... I think every Muslim should strive to be healthy and live clean and stay away from sin, and to be active in the Muslim community and to rise above those who only live to satisfy their base desires. Every Muslim should do that, and it will not make a terrorist out of anybody. It is only the wrong ideology that they had that made them terrorists, an ideology that is completely wrong and unacceptable.


Blogger DA said...

A lot of gay guys love gyms too. Its wierd the types it attracts.

hey, inshallah this weekend I'm putting up a piece on Israel. Since you're Palestinean, you should take first whack at it :-P

June 16, 2006 at 5:39 AM

Blogger Elizabeth said...

I immediately thought of you when I read that article, silencer!

People who spend time at the gym aren't generally suicidal enough to become suicide bombers...I mean why bother if you're going to die soon...

June 20, 2006 at 5:41 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

yes that's true. why go through all that trouble if you're going to die anyway, and your body completely destroyed.

but of course you could be terrorists, non-suicidal terrorists. like the guys from england, supposidly, who might have felt they were superior because they were religious and mentally and physically fit and pure.

here's hoping i dont become like them! ;) (j/k there's no chance of that happening)

June 20, 2006 at 3:54 PM


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