Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Integrating the Islamists

I've been reading relatively more Islamic thought books lately that I'm getting tired of the whole thing. Reached a point where I'm just in this "oh, whatever" state. I wish we would work more and talk less, especially all this ideology talk. We need more of the business mentality, the non-greedy one (and yes, it exists), were work has no ideologies. The goal is to achieve, work, and get things done the right way regardless of the ideology behind it. Incorporate that with scientific research, and you get something good going for sure. And then everyone can think of their god or whatever. I reached this state, of who cares who your god is, just get to work damn it, and do something useful for your god's sake. Produce and develop, that's for sure the best way to worship Him. I get tired sometimes from all the macro abstract vision that leads to no where.

Back to those books I'm going through. Last was a book by Tarek AlBishry, one in a series about Islamic thought in modern history, which I stopped reading half way through and jumped to Abul Ela Mady's collection of essay's about the adoption of alWasat Islamic vision by the alWasat party (founded by Mady).

The book is a slightly good change for me, as this is abit more of the practical implementation of the Wasat line of thought led by Selim AlAwwa, Tarek AlBishry, Fahmy Howeidy, and Mohammad Umara et al. The book is a collection of the Wasateyya thought poured in the party's basket for on-the-ground implementation.

In a nutshell, the party is a civil party (non-theological party) with an Islamic reference, adopting the Arab-Islamic civilization project. A party which does not claim that it holds or monopolizes the truth, nor claims that it speaks in the name of Islam (hence, nor God), but presents a human understanding of Islam, whoever accepts it accepts this human understanding, and whoever rejects it, rejects this understanding and not Islam itself.

Quite a bit of progressive thought in an attempt to be implemented by the party (to be), accepting pluralism and adopting the understanding that Quran and Sunnah did not specify a certain form of government, but rather specified a set of Islamic values for the nation to hold to. Among those values are; freedom, equality, selection of leaders is through the people's free will, the nation is the source of authority, citizenship (mowatna), and freedom of criticizm, speech, and opposition, which equates to el'amr belma3roof walnahy 3an elmonkar.

On the high profile topics of non-Muslims and women in the Islamic society. The book emphasizes the long established Wasateyya thought on the issues. Referencing alAwwa's and Howeidy's books on non-Muslims, and alBishry's large study on the topic, where the Dhimmi contract that the prophet has established with the non-Muslims at the time has basically ended long ago, and a new contract is now established based on a national constitution providing all citizens (of different religions) equal rights and responsibilities.

As for women in high profile positions such as the judiciary, alBishry and alAwwa conclude that it is allowed in Islam for women to be judges (as well as non-Muslims). Among the reasons is that the judiciary has become an institution, and is not based on individuals who have absolute powers. AlAwwa also discussed in one of his studies that the Quranic versus were directed to both men and women equally in all the duties, and that women participated since the beginning of Islam in all forms of public service, and there is no evidence to prevent women from public service.

How can a group of people trying to implement that line of thought be dangerous? Wouldn't allowing them enough political space to move in, curb some of the religious extremism that we're seeing these days? I can't help but think that this is probably one of the good ways of integrating Islamists into the society in a constructive manner. Sure, such thought is too progressive for many of the fundamentalists, but it could be a wall for them to lean against, and if its a strong enough wall, it will not lean with them, but will stand firm with its progressive thoughts.

AlWasat are still trying to get that party status. If they do, atleast there will be practical channels for the Wasateyya line of thought to be tried at some level, rather than just be read in books and essays.

Now, if I was Egypt's Pharaoh I would scrap all the exisiting political parties (especially all those useless ones whom are nostalgic to the past, pre-1952, Nasserists, salafists, and so on. You want the past, then stay there and don't annoy us in the present.) except for four. Those four are pretty much representative of a large enough portion of this nation. I would start by alGhad, alTagammu, alWasat, and the NDP. alGhad representing the liberals and pro-Western, alTagammu representing the socialists and pro-Arab, alWasat representing the pragmatist Islamists and all those who like to be part of anything with the word Islam in it, and the NDP representing the opportunists and the thugs.

The Pharaoh shall now go smoke a cigarette in his royal balcony from his first bought pack in almost 5 years. The Pharaoh shall ban smoking in Egypt as soon as this pack evaporates.


zoss said...

famous last words!

ofnowhere said...

Nice analysis, I can't blame you for saying "alWasat representing the pragmatist Islamists and all those who like to be part of anything with the word Islam in it" as that's another issue.
But I think if these guys have their chance and they'll really support what they claim things would be better, at least as a wise choice for people.

Me, Myself And I said...

I think i have come to terms with the inevitability of including islamist in egypt's political life. Among other things, democracy and pluralism is about inclusion-so how on earth could one espouse and call for democracy rule while excluding a force in society with weight and reach. Even if you want to think about it in a more pragmatic and away such values, the strategy of exclusion has yielded disasterous effects, giving more allure to the excluded-kol maamnoo marghoub, besides of course, the services provided by some of the islamist which many cannot survive without. I I actually cringe at those liberals and others who develop a rash once the idea of inclusion is brought up--or those who insist that religion should be shelfed and Egypt should enjoy a secular rule..haaaa...One way or another, islam is interwowen in the live of the Egyptians, I would be surprised if you would any sizable number of Egyptians who would go for this shelfing and exclusion. While personally speaking i view religion as a extremely private and intimate relationship between me and my creator (and within this of course how i carry myself and treat and interact with life and others), i also understand, and i am not a scholar here, that Islam is way beyond this, and the way i look at it is not necesarily how islamists if and when they come ot power will. But if islamist-ala the wasat, come to power through competition, they will have to compromise and live up to what they espouse. If they, or others, are "forced" to come to power through other venues, it will be a calamity....