7.8.07

The danger growing from within

An unbelievable report about Hamas scraping a year off for inmates memorising 5 chapter of the Quran is actually true. Hamas is clearly stumbling between its ideology and being a responsible political party. While for a while it has been promising that it will not enact Shariá laws, or change the nature of Palestinian laws (which are centred around religion, anyway), this constitutes a step in the wrong direction. More to that, AlQuds Newspaper published today an article about an up coming conference for Hizbu-ut-tahrir, the Islamic party which is silently building an underground movement for a new caliphate state. The article presents the most outrageous remarks criticising civil liberties, human rights, women rights, democracy and other concepts as Western inventions intended to undermine Islamic values.
For ages, Islamists have been claiming that the development towards secularism and separation between the state and the church in Europe is an irrelevant change for us living in Islamic countries. Their main argument is based on the fact that the Church's interferences in political life of medieval and classical Europe has brought continuous political crises in Europe, while Islamic rule during the Caliphate period only contributed to the welfare of the citizens of the Islamic empire at those times. The fact of the matter is, this is an utter lie.
Firstly, Islamic theocracy and Christian theocracy are different. In Islam there was a union between political and religious authority, the "church" and the state were one, and therefore the fact that there was no conflict between them is only logical. Whenever politicians wanted to discourage something they used the power of religion, and whenever religion interfered with their interests they disregarded it, and the fact that the Caliph was not accountable to anyone, and that he was instated for life meant that disagreement was not possible. In fact, Islamic law punishes those rising against the Caliphs for "inducing 'Fitna'". Thus ensuring the stability of the regime, even if it was corrupt.
In Islamic literature, we see a rosy picture of Baghdad, Damascus, Andalusia and Cairo. In fact this is true, these and other major cities benefited enormously from being the centres of power (both political and economic). However, how often did we see a true representation of the life in rural and remote areas which constituted the great majority of the subjects of this vast empire. In fact, what we know is that even in the urban centres on the periphery of the empire, the situation was not all that good. Historians and writers lived in the urban centres of these civilisations and were largely oblivious to the lives of those who lived outside those centres. We also know for a fact that many of these authors were complacent with the existing authorities. When we were taught that the Abbasids compensated scholars with the weight of their books in gold, we should have known that for sure this gold did not go to those who criticised the system of governance or presented its shortcomings. Therefore, what has been passed to us from those times can only reflect such a bright view of a wonderful life. Even then ivory towers existed.
However, what is most worrying is what is happening now. Islamic parties and movements are quickly climbing up the ladder of popularity by capitalising on the frustration of those living in Muslim countries and promising them a better life under the green flag. They make it seem that such a flag carries the magical solution to the problems of the world and, more particularly, the Islamic world. They forget that in the 800 years of the last empire, our part of the world lived in dire poverty, and while other civilisations took large strides towards enhancing the quality of life of their citizens, we, more or less, stayed in the same place only benefiting of the products of other civilisations while we tried to occupy more territories. In any case, even the most enlightened vision of an Islamic state (which neither Hamas nor Hizbu-ut-tahrir are pursuing), is only likely to take us back to the dark ages.
Our main challenge in this part of the world is an even and sustainable development whose effects will be felt by all citizens. Surrendering to the vision of these groups will mean taking the risk of leaving half our society in the house. It will also mean that issues such as freedom, human rights and accountability of the state will be left aside, as God has written His laws 15 centuries ago and we are but mere subjects to what has been written then. The government will only be accountable to God, and us, as citizens, can only accept His gift to us (well, we can also pray in thanks and praise).
The scary part of the story is yet to come. These movements are extremely successful in their recruitment. They use mosques and religious events to make people feel guilty about their lack of participation with them. They place in their own hands the power of assigning seats in heaven and hell. They use extremely outspoken leaders to expand their fellowships. They use religious texts and historical references to advance their aims. They have in their hand all the tools than can block the minds of their followers and encourage them to do whatever they want them to do.
And what do we have? We have the power of reason and logic which they deny their followers the right to use. We encourage people to think of the possible results, but it is so much easier to follow a ‘divine’ path than to create your own. Over the past century we have seen ideologies rise and fall in our part of the world, starting with pan-Arabism, nationalism, and socialism. Each of these ideologies left its mark on us, and they use these marks to say that they are right. They are on the rise now, but the moment they are in power, they will face the mission they are unequipped for: leading a nation. This is when their fall will start. This is what (I hope) happened to Hamas, leading its popularity to drop dramatically. In the meanwhile, we are faced with the challenge of building a coherent movement which aims at creating a secular state which is truly democratic and concerned with the wellbeing of every citizen. This challenge requires a culture of citizenship: people who are concerned with their society and interested in benefiting and supporting its wellbeing and development.

5 comments:

Brady01 said...

You know, I actually agree with you. I think that mixing politics and religion corrupts both almost every time its tried. Government can and should be inspired by enlightened religious values, but it shouldn't ever use religion to justify oppression.

Ned said...

"enlightened religious values" are, in fact, human values that are universal. They appear in every religion, and in every other value system. The Ten Commandments for example are but a set of rules that are accepted by everyone, well except those related to the religious part such as "I am your God".

Anonymous said...

fuck ....who believes that palis have any values whether they r christians or muslims....their society is full of shit ....they know nothing else but produce shitloads of kids and qassam rockets...sooner or later west bank will follow gaza ....we should lock them once and forever and let them kill each other like hungry cucarachas do.

Anonymous said...

and the fucker who keeps this blog has his days limited. one morning we gonna put him into detention for a reason of ....it will be found guys...don't worry....palis don't need a reason to be in jail. the fact he's a pali is good enough reason to have him and others rot in jail

Osaid Rasheed said...

It takes courage to write such an articel. :)