Author analyzes fundamentalism
Posted November 4, 2005
Kourtney Brumfield
Author Jean E. Rosenfeld discussed “Holy Terror: Al Qaida and Other Fundamentalisms” Oct. 26 in La Fetra Auditorium. As Fall 2005 Distinguished Honors Lecturer at the University of La Verne, Rosenfeld wrote “The Island Broken in Two Halves: Land and Renewal Movements among the Maori of New Zealand.” Following the lecture Jonathan Reed, professor of religion, Rosenfeld and Iraj Parchamazad, professor of chemistry, discussed some of the topics presented.

Alexandra Lozano
Assistant Editor

Educator Jean Rosenfeld presented “Holy Terror: Al Qaida and Other Fundamentalisms” in La Fetra Auditorium last Wednesday.

“I leave my politics at the door,” Rosenfeld said. “My only purpose is to understand Holy Terror.

Fundamentalism is an exclusive claim to a higher truth. It insists on reformatting the world.”

All fundamentalists follow a pattern.

They respond to a perceived crisis by selecting doctrines from their past to be interpreted as the truth, Rosenfeld said.

Fundamentalists are also concerned with apocalyptic dualism, a struggle between good and evil, and the need for masochism.

Jack Cunningham, a sophomore political science major, was enticed by Rosenfeld’s description of the many Christian fundamentalist groups and how they branch off from one another.

“It interacts with fundamentalists today and with Islamic fundamentalists as well,” Cunningham said. “I’m taking a religion class, this goes right in with that.”

In the mind of the Islamic thinker, there is only the house of God and the house of War.

Rosenfeld also spoke about fundamentalism concerning the 1978 mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

“They were, in the words of Rebecca Moore, ‘As American as apple pie,’” Rosenfeld said. “What is it in the mind of a terrorist? Why do they act so outlandish?”

Rosenfeld told a story about the hijackers of Sept. 11. She explained that they might have purposely sinned the night before the hijacking, causing guilt in order to cleanse themselves and make themselves feel like martyrs in the morning.

“Al Qaida’s merciless interpretation of the ‘jihad’s’ ultimate goal is to restore the legitimate legislation,” she said.

Jihad is a Holy War. It is believed that anyone who waged it against non-believers is guaranteed to go to heaven.

“Al Qaida sees themselves as that group,” Rosenfeld said.

“The whole mindset of someone who’s fighting a war, the preservation of their views and religion, (it) rationalized why they would go to such lengths,” Cunningham said.

The jihads, as well as the hijackers, follow the words of the Qu’ran to justify their violent actions.

Sura 9:5 (Order of Revelation) states, “But when the Sacred months are past, then fight and slay the pagans when ye find them and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war).”

However, there is a second verse that the jihad chooses to ignore, which states that if the “pagans” repent and establish regular prayer that they should receive forgiveness and mercy, Rosenfeld said.

“Literal interpretations of symbolic myth are poor features of Protestants, Judaism and Islam,” Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld considers these interpretations a negative aspect of fundamentalism.

“I thought it was really informative how it brought together the two fundamentalist groups influence each other,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham mentioned that the war in Iraq can be viewed as its own holy war as Americans trying to out do the Islamic fundamentalists.

“Jihadism is a very tiny minority, but it has taken up violence,” Rosenfeld said.

“We’re studying terrorism in my religion class,” sophomore business major Lauren Kimball said. “What she said made sense, it opened up my eyes to a different view.”

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at

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