Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reformist Voices of Islam—Mediating Islam and Modernity

Book Review: Reformist Voices of Islam—Mediating Islam and Modernity (Ed. Shireen Hunter)

Posted Feb 11, 2010

Yoginder Sikand

‘Reformist Islam’, today an oft-heard slogan, is notoriously difficult to define, for it can mean different things to different people. Recent years have witnessed the sudden burgeoning of volumes on the subject, but this book is not just a repetition of what has already been written before. Ambitiously global in its scope, it brings together writings by well-known Islamic scholars and activists, each of who provides a broad survey of ‘reformist’ Muslim voices in the part of the world that they are most familiar with—Shireen Hunter, editor of this book, on Iran, the noted Egyptian scholar Hasan Hanafi on North Africa, Riffat Hasan on South Asia, Martin van Bruinessen on Indonesia, Farish Noor on Malaysia, Recep Senturk on Turkey, Farhad Khosrokhavar on Europe, and Tamara Sonn on the United States.

These writers deal with a number of other contemporary Muslim scholars and scholar-activists, outlining their own and varied approaches to the question of reform in Islamic thought. These are simply too numerous to name, leave alone discuss, here, but they all share certain common methodologies and, to an extent, goals.

Firstly, these scholars all insist that what they are engaged in reforming is not Islam itself, but, rather, certain aspects of commonly-held human understandings of Islam. They see their task as seeking to revive what they regard as more authentic understandings on these issues. Secondly, they are profoundly dissatisfied with the approach of the traditionalist ulema, wedded to the doctrine of taqlid or imitation of jurisprudential precedent, of the ulema allied with state authorities (who generally do their bidding) and of radical Islamists. Thirdly, they all advocate ijtihad or creative reflection on the primary sources of the Islamic faith—the Quran and Hadith or Prophetic traditions, although they differ as to the extent they believe ijtihad is permissible and on the qualifications needed to engage in this exercise. Fourthly, they stress the crucial distinction—often ignored by many traditionalist ulema as well as doctrinaire Islamists—between the shariah, as the divine path, which they regard as God-given and, therefore, perfect, and fiqh, human efforts to understand the shariah and express it in the form of rules, which, being a human effort, is fallible. Unlike the shariah, which is eternal, fiqh can, and indeed, should, change in response to new conditions as well as the expanding body of human knowledge, they unanimously insist. Fifthly, many of them claim (an argument many other Muslims would differ with) that certain aspects of the Quran and the Hadith, mainly dealing with legal matters, are context-specific, and hence may not be applicable, at least in the same way, in today’s vastly different context. These include, for instance, certain injunctions related to women and non-Muslims or to criminals. Sixthly, several of them argue for what could be called a ‘values-based’ reading of the Islamic scriptural tradition, stressing the relative importance of the spirit over the letter of these texts.

Using these methodological tools, these ‘reformist’ Muslim scholars revisit traditional Islamic as well as modern Islamist thought, dealing with a wide range of issues: women’s rights and status, relations between Muslims and people of other faiths, madrasa education, international relations, economic and political institutions, secularism, democracy, citizenship in a modern state, war and peace, and so on. In the process, they articulate alternate Islamic understandings on these subjects that depart considerably from traditionalist as well as Islamist positions, and that appear much more socially-engaged and contextually-relevant.

For those eager to hear ‘progressive’ Muslim voices on a whole host of issues of contemporary import (and strategic interest), this thoroughly engaging and immaculately-researched book simply cannot afford to be missed.

Hardcover: 322 pages
Publisher: M.E. Sharpe (October 30, 2008)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to Convert to Islam and Become a Muslim

Description: The steps a person needs to take to accept Islam as his/her religion,enter its fold, and become a Muslim.

By: - Published on 27 Feb 2006 - Last modified on 11 Jul 2007
Category: Articles > How to Convert to Islam > How to Convert to Islam and Become a Muslim

The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.

If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.

With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.

Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:

“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Saheeh Muslim)

When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not to be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

The Holy Quran and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings) both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:

“...The only religion in the sight of God is Islam...” (Quran 3:19)

In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).” (Quran 3:85)

In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:

“Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word[1] which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet of God, may God praise him, also reported:

“Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: “I testify that none has the right to worship except Allah (God),’ seeking thereby the Face of God.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)

To convert to Islam and become a Muslim a person needs to pronounce the below testimony with conviction and understanding its meaning:

I testify “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.”

The translation of which is:

“I testify that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a Messenger (Prophet) of God.”

To hear it click here or click on “Live Help” above for assistance by chat.

When someone pronounces the testimony with conviction, then he/she have become a Muslim. It can be done alone, but it is much better to be done with an adviser through the “Live Help” at top, so he may help you in pronouncing it right.

The first part of the testimony consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:

“We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.

Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one’s family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.

The second part of the testimony means that Prophet Muhammad is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.

One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:

“And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)

God also said:

“And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much.” (Quran 33:21)

He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:

“His character was that of the Quran.” (As-Suyooti)

To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahada is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love God, then follow me.’” (Quran 3:31)

It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.

“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything.” (Quran 33:40)

All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.

We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.


[1] God created him through His statement, “Be!”


Ikat Nikmat dengan Kesyukuran

Dapatkan Mesej Bergambar di Sini

Laksana hukum sebat cara Islam - Syariat Elakkan Kekeliruan

Hazayani Zakaria

Ketua Dewan Muslimat PAS Pusat - Hjh Ustazah Noridah Salleh

KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Feb: Ketua Dewan Muslimat PAS Pusat, Ustazah Nuridah Salleh berkata, pelaksanaan hukuman sebat belum memenuhi kehendak Islam sepenuhnya kerana dilakukan secara tertutup, buka secara terbuka seperti yang dianjurkan dalam Islam.

"Hukuman sebat mesti dilakukan secara terbuka, bukan tertutup dalam penjara. Kita kena ingat, tujuan dilakukan secara terbuka adalah untuk mendidik dan memberikan kesedaran kepada rakyat agar tidak melakukan kesalahan yang sama," katanya.

Justeru, beliau mengingatkan kerajaan khususnya Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein dan pihak berwajib agar melaksanakan hukuman sebat seperti yang dituntut dalam Islam, bukan sekadar melepaskan batuk di tangga.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas mengenai pendedahan Hishammuddin bahawa tiga wanita yang melakukan kesalahan jenayah syariah menjalani hukuman sebat pada 9 Februari lalu di Penjara Wanita Kajang.

Hishammuddin dilaporkan sebagai berkata, tiga pesalah wanita itu bersama empat lagi pesalah lelaki dihukum sebat mengikut Seksyen 23(2) Akta Kesalahan Jenayah Syariah Wilayah Persekutuan 1997 (Persetubuhan Haram) yang dijatuhkan Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur antara Disember 2009 hingga Januari tahun ini.

Hishammuddin juga berkata, seorang daripada tiga pesalah wanita berkenaan telah dibebaskan pada Ahad lepas, pesalah kedua akan dibebaskan dalam tempoh beberapa hari lagi dan pesalah ketiga dibebaskan pada Jun nanti.

Menurutnya, wakil dari kementeriannya turut hadir semasa pelaksanaan hukuman dibuat bersama 13 orang lagi antaranya Pengarah Jabatan Agama Wilayah, Pegawai Jabatan Agama Wilayah dan wakil dari Bahagian Syariah Jabatan Peguam Negara serta wakil dari Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim).

"Saya nak ingatkan menteri yang berkenaan, jangan ingat bila sudah laksanakan hukuman sebat, sudah cukup segala-galanya. Kerajaan kena kaji semula hukuman sebat yang dianjurkan Rasulullah s.a.w. belajar daripada awal," kata Nuridah yang juga Ketua Muslimat PAS Wilayah Persekutuan.

Beliau juga berkata, tindakan Hishamuddin mendedahkan mengenai hukuman yang dijalankan terhadap tiga wanita itu hanya sekadar untuk menutup mulut rakyat daripada terus mempersoalkan isu Kartika.

"Saya nampak cara menteri memberitahu rakyat mengenai hukuman yang dilaksanakan itu seperti hanya meraikan pandangan orang sahaja dan ingin menutup mulut rakyat daripada terus bercakap isu sebat ini.

"Saya minta menteri laksanakan hukuman sebat ini kerana Allah, bukan sekadar melepaskan batuk di tangga," katanya.

Beliau juga mempersoal sikap kerajaan melengah-lengahkan pelaksanaan hukuman sebat ke atas bekas model sambilan yang didapati bersalah kerana minum arak, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 33.

Nuridah hairan dengan sikap kerajaan yang dilihat seolah-olah sengaja membiarkan Kartika ternanti-nanti untuk menerima hukuman sebat itu walaupun beliau sudah menyatakan kesediaan untuk menerima hukuman itu sejak dari awal lagi.

"Tiga orang yang dihukum itu, biarlah dihukum. Tapi yang saya persoalkan kenapa kes Kartika belum selesai lagi? Apa masalah kerajaan sebenarnya sehinggakan Kartika perlu menunggu begitu lama untuk menerima hukuman itu?" soal Nuridah ketika dihubungi Harakahdaily petang tadi.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas mengenai pendedahan Hishammuddin bahawa tiga wanita yang melakukan kesalahan jenayah syariah menjalani hukuman sebat pada 9 Februari lalu di Penjara Wanita Kajang.

Sementara itu, Kartika sendiri, seperti yang dilaporkan sebuah akhbar semalam,berasa pelik pelik mendapat tahu tiga wanita telah menjalani hukuman sebat pada 9 Februari lalu kerana melakukan kesalahan syariah tersebut.

Menurut ibu tunggal kepada dua anak ini, apa yang berlaku seolah-olah 'mempermain-mainkan' perasaannya selama ini.

Kartika sebelum ini telah membuat permohonan kepada Tengku Mahkota Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah selaku Yang Dipertua Majlis Agama Islam Pahang (Jaip) untuk campur tangan bagi mempercepatkan hukuman terhadapnya memandangkan ianya masih tertangguh sehingga kini.

Kartika ditahan pihak berkuasa ketika minum arak di sebuah resort di Cherating pada 11 Julai 2008 dan selepas mengaku bersalah, Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Kuantan menjatuhkan hukuman denda RM5,000 dan enam sebatan terhadapnya.

Pengarah Jaip, Datuk Abdul Manan Abdul Rahman bagaimanapun dilaporkan sebagai berkata, pihaknya masih menunggu reaksi daripada Tengku Abdullah selaku Yang Dipertua Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang (MUIP) sebelum boleh mengambil sebarang tindakan susulan.


Muhammad Badie's acceptance speech -Newly elected as MB Chairman

Issues > Islamic Movements

Translation: Muhammad Badie's acceptance speech

Muhammad Badie, the newly-elected supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, delivered an acceptance speech today to an audience of Brotherhood members. We'll post some thoughts on the speech (and Badie's election) a little later; for now, though, we're posting a full English translation of the speech, along with a PDF version. It's after the jump.

Sunday, January 17,2010 16:57 - The majlis

Muhammad Badie, the newly-elected supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, delivered an acceptance speech today to an audience of Brotherhood members. We'll post some thoughts on the speech (and Badie's election) a little later; for now, though, we're posting a full English translation of the speech, along with a PDF version. It's after the jump.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Praise be to Allah and Blessing on His messenger, companions and followers

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you with the Islamic greeting; Peace be upon you and God's mercy and blessings;

It is the will of Allah that I undertake this huge responsibility which Allah has chosen for me and a request from the MB Movement which I respond to with the support of Allah. With the support of my Muslim Brothers I look forward to achieving the great goals, we devoted ourselves to, solely for the sake of Allah.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the outset of my speech I would like to address our teacher, older brother, and distinguished leader Mr. Mohamed Mahdy Akef, the seventh leader of the MB group a strong, dedicated and enthusiastic person who led the group's journey amid storms and surpassed all its obstacles, thus providing this unique and outstanding model to all leaders and senior officials in the government, associations and other parties by fulfilling his promise and handing over the leadership after only one term, words are not enough to express our feelings to this great leader and guide and we can only say "May Allah reward you all the best".

We say to our beloved Muslim brothers who are spread around the globe, it is unfortunate for us to have this big event happening while you are not among us for reasons beyond our control, however we feel that your souls are with us sending honest and sincere smiles and vibes.

As for the beloved ones who are behind the bars of tyranny and oppression for no just reason other than reiterating Allah is our God, and for seeking the dignity, pride and development of their country, we sincerely applaud and salute them for their patience, steadfastness and sacrifices which we are sure will not be without gain. We pray that those tyrants and oppressors salvage their conscience and that we see you again in our midst supporting our cause, may Allah bless and protect you all.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As you are aware, the main goal of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MB) is comprehensive modification, which deals with all kinds of corruption through reform and change. "I only desire (your) betterment to the best of my power; and my success (in my task) can only come from Allah." (Hud-88) and through cooperation with all powers of the nation and those with high spirits who are sincere to their religion and nation.

The MB believes that Allah has placed all the foundations necessary for the development and welfare of nations in the great Islam; therefore, Islam is their reference towards reform, which starts from the disciplining and training of the souls of individuals, followed by regulating families and societies by strengthening them, preceded by bringing justice to it and the continuous jihad to liberate the nation from any foreign dominance or intellectual, spiritual, cultural hegemony and economic, political or military colonialism, as well as leading the nation to development, prosperity and assuming its appropriate place in the world.

As a result of this comprehensive understanding of Islam the MB were described as Salafists, Sunni, political organization, sports group, scientific and cultural associations, economic companies and a social idea, as provided in the Quran "But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief." (Al-Qasas, 77)

The Muslim Brothers understand that the Quran and Sunnah include all rules, which may be applied to every aspect of life, and the nation has to choose the best for it. According to these rules, which include many alternatives and jurisdiction, options, may change according to the custom, time and place.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Although our ideas, aims and objectives are clear, many people try to define us differently and attribute different goals and objectives to us; therefore, we keep re-introducing ourselves, our principles and our stances to the current affairs.

Initially, I would like to tell those who back the unity of the group that those who sincerely work for their God, religion, and country must be as one unit, despite having different opinions. Those who think that different opinions in the group cause disunity or affect the brotherhood do not fully understand the MB. The MB has all promised Allah to toil for his sake as one unit.

The MB operates according to rules and regulations, which are under continuous review, and development without contradicting the basic principles and the MB with this regard accept the advice and wisdom of all as they follow the aphorism "God bless those who show me my defects".

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to highlight and stress the following points:

We are a group of Muslims and not the Muslim group, since one group cannot monopolize Islam, and praise be to Allah, the MB is extremely popular in all countries of the Arab and Islamic worlds because of its moderate call which stems from the pure Quran and Sunnah.

Our approach and movement are linked and based on each other, the latter is based on the former and our motto is cited in the Quranic verse: "And those who came after them say: "Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who came before us into the Faith, and leave not, in our hearts, rancor (or sense of injury) against those who have believed. Our Lord! Thou art indeed Full of Kindness, Most Merciful." (Al Hashr, 10).

We believe in gradual reform, which can only be achieved through a peaceful, and constitutional struggle based on persuasion and dialogue and definitely not through coercion, hence we reject violence in all its forms by either governments or individuals.

The MB group believes that the ruling system should maintain personal freedoms, consultation (democracy), and to obtain the legitimacy of the authority from the nation, identification of powers and separating between it, is the closest ruling system to Islam and they accept no alternative. From this perspective they participate in political sessions and demand the reformation of the system via the available and peaceful means such as parliamentary and community work which they consider as a duty. They have to fulfill to their understanding of their religion and sincerity to their nations.

With regards to our stance from the Egyptian regime, we emphasize that the MB were never opponents to the regime, even if the regime constantly imposes restrictions on them, confiscates their money and frequently arrest its leaders. However, the MB has never hindered in facing the corrupted policies in all areas and always provides recommendations to get past the continued crisis, which the regime has subjected our country to. They raise the sons and daughters of this nation on virtues, morals and helping others, which all benefits the nation, citizens and the state's institutions.

The MB emphasize that their stances from systems are primarily based on praising the good and opposing the bad, hence they do not oppose anything for the sake of it.

With regards to our Christian brothers in the Arab and Islamic world, our stance is very clear as they are partners and participants in building the civilization of this nation, our colleagues in defending it, partners in its development and dealing and cooperating with them is an Islamic obligation. "Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just." (Al-Momtahena, 8)

The MB believes that citizenship is based on cooperation and full equality in the rights and obligations, except for personal matters, which are according to everyone's faith.

The MB strongly rejects and condemns all kinds of sectarian violence, which is frequent and announces their rejection to all these painful incidents as Christians along with Muslims make one social and cultural community. They also call for frankly discussing the reasons behind this tension and finding solutions to remove all sensitivities to restore the nation as a healthy unit.

With regards to women, the MB has previously illustrated promoting all the rights of women in the economic, social and political field. "The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger" (Tawbah, 71). We call on all Muslim women to play their role generally and to keep up to date with the current affairs as this benefits our Muslim and Arab nation.

Democracy or (Consulting) is our essential tool, which we strive to adopt and consolidate. All our institutions or associations in the group are based on consulting and democracy beginning from the Boards of People to the office of the Guidance Bureau itself. The MB emphasize that democracy at its core means the non-abolition or cancellation of the other party's opinion and the adopting of the majority's decision.

With regards to Islamic, national powers, political parties, intellectual and cultural elites, the MB believe that everyone should take part in the development and reform and they refuse any exclusion of any individual or association or the marginalizing of any individual's role. They accept the plurality of parties and the freedom for the parties to be established without restrictions as long as it is established within the framework of the Constitution. They believe in the transmission of power between different parties and groups through free and fair elections since the country is for all and its reform is unexceptionally the responsibility of each individual.

The MB prioritizes the Palestinian case and considers it as the most important case for the nation, which measures the standard of loyalty to Islam, and Arabism and they do not spare any efforts to make this cause the first interest of ruling systems and nations until Palestine is free, God willing.

The MB unwaveringly supports the Arab and Islamic nation and supports its fair stances and important issues. They do not hesitate to offer advice to all bodies and Islamic or Arab associations both at the official and public levels and they never stopped sacrificing for the sake of the nation whenever needed.

They transfer the call for unity and cooperation between Arab and Islamic countries to resist the projects of colonialism, western and Zionist hegemony as they call for the unity of the nation and solving the problems within and between Arab and Islamic countries through advocating dialogue and not arms. Here we should remind our brothers in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan that the only way to ensure the safety and security of their people would only come by committing to dialogue and agreeing on the best of these dear nations.

Our stance to the global system led by USA and the west is more than clear. We hold no animosity to the western countries, however we are against this global system, which accepts freedom and democracy for its people and denies our people the same. Its use of its economic power to assert its control over our countries and decisions. The Zionist state seeks the abolition and cancellation of our values, cultures and Islamic identity for its western values, which seeks the destruction of our faith and morals in our countries.

We call on the nation to unite in the face of the Zionist and western project and to overcome above all ideological differences, to end racism and to completely refuse and prohibit any assault on or occupation of an Arab or Islamic country league.

We call on these global systems to be just and fair and to work on bringing peace and cooperation between the peoples of the world and to promote the values of freedom and justice around the globe." All of you are sons of Adam and Adam was created from dust" (Albarraz) and the verse of the Quran "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat, 13)

The Arab is not better than the foreigner, and the foreigner is not better than the Arab, the black man is not better than the white man and the white man is not better than the black man, except in piety.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We look to the future with hope and concern.

Hope is the motto of true believers and it is the reason we keep working with hope. Love and brotherhood is the method in which MB face hardships and; despair is not in the attitude of believers and idleness is not of the mujahid's qualities.

Our concern includes that of all Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims; the whole humanity shares the same concern over the future of the world, which is threatened by conflicts, epidemics, and diseases and scholars pity it because of the global warming, desertification and drought. Concern is also over the unknown future of the globe led by the policies of the superpowers who desired to solely lead the whole humanity for two decades where they thought they could control the other part of the world. However, they were surprised to see rivers of blood and bodies spread in different parts of the Islamic world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan Somalia, Lebanon and Palestine in addition to the economic crises starting one after another with people living in anxiety and concern about their future and the future of their children.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Egyptians, Arabs, Muslims and the whole of humanity are expecting and anticipating much from you, and you - God Willing- are capable of taking this responsibility; repeatedly history has recorded your patience, steadfastness, resoluteness and productivity despite the rumours, which are always spread about you.

Offer to the world the real Islam, the Islam of tolerance and moderation, the Islam that respects the pluralism in the world, the Islam of acquaintance and cooperation for the good of the humanity.

Pass through every path and use all means possible to spread the call for Islam between people and strive truly" Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Qur'an)." (Al-Furqan, 52).

Persist in your struggle through, statements, writings, speeches, songs, decent films and meaningful dramas. Utilize all means to shed light on facts about Islam ending all trepidation. Promote and adhere to your slogan from the Quranic verse " Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance (Al-Nahl, 126)

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." (Al-Ankabut, 46)

Educate yourselves on the fine virtues and ethics, be models for people, guide them to Allah by being a good example with excellent behaviour, and participate with others in the reform of spirits and morals.

Cooperate with everyone working for the good of Islam and oppose all that is dire, continue in supporting the correct, protecting faith and fighting against infidelity.

Correct yourselves and your houses, seek the virtuous, and work to fix your communities, stand by the oppressed everywhere and restore the rights of people.

Turn to the Holy Quran and the honourable Sunnah of the prophet, the life of the honest prophet and lives of other great people, study it and get the best of it and correct your paths always and always be aware that Allah is watching what you do not what is inside you and await the victory from Allah, which is not difficult. "With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will, and He is exalted in might, most merciful." (Ar-Rum, 5)

And say: "Work (righteousness): Soon will Allah observe your work, and His Messenger, and the Believers: Soon will ye be brought back to the knower of what is hidden and what is open: then will He show you the truth of all that ye did." (Al-Tawbah, 105)


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Review: What’s Really Wrong with the Middle East?

Patrick Seale - Posted Feb 9, 2010

British journalist Brian Whitaker has written a provocative and disturbing book about the Middle East. His title is the one I have put at the head of this article. His book is not kind to the Arabs, since it exposes the profound contradictions and weaknesses in their society. But it should, nevertheless, be translated into Arabic as a matter of urgency and be required reading by Arab elites from the Atlantic to the Gulf.

His aim, he says, is to stimulate debate. If the Arab world is to catch up with the rest of the developed world, it would do well to ponder Whitaker’s conclusions and heed his recommendations.

Whitaker has travelled widely in Arab countries and was Middle East editor of the Guardian newspaper for seven years. He evidently knows the region intimately. His strength, in researching this book, is that he has not restricted himself, as most journalists do, to seeking the views of political leaders and government officials, but has instead moved outside the strictly political sphere to interview a great many thinkers, academics, students, opinion-formers, bloggers, and ordinary people in many countries across the region. He has looked beyond Arab regimes to society as a whole. That is the originality of his book.

So, in a word, what does he say is wrong with the Middle East? In chapter after chapter, he dissects the “stultifying atmosphere where change, innovation, creativity, critical thinking, questioning, problem-solving… are all discouraged.” And that is not the end of it. To this list he adds “systematic denial of rights that impinge on the lives of millions: discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality or family background; inequality of opportunity, impenetrable bureaucracies, arbitrary application of the law; and the lack of transparency in government.”

Whitaker’s first powerful chapter deals with the failure of education in the Arab world—which he says is central to the region’s problems. If change is to be meaningful, he declares, it must begin in people’s heads. He quotes the 2004 Arab Human Development Report in saying that teaching methods in the Arab world—especially rote learning—“do not permit free dialogue and active, exploratory learning and consequently do not open the doors to freedom of thought and criticism.” On the contrary, “the curricula taught in Arab countries seem to encourage submission, obedience, subordination and compliance.”

The result is a “knowledge deficit,” hampering the development of a well-educated, technically skilled workforce.

Whitaker’s recommendation is that “Arab countries need to reform their educational systems and prepare themselves for the future.” But, he adds pessimistically, “the high value placed on conformity in Arab societies is suffocating change.” His controversial conclusion is that “the Arab countries cannot develop knowledge-based societies without radical social and political change.”

Another of Whitaker’s targets is asabiyya—solidarity between members of a family, clan or tribe. Such solidarity can provide security and protection for individuals but the reverse of the coin is that (in the words of the Arab Human Development Report) it “implants submission, parasitic dependence and compliance…”

Whitaker argues that the obsession with kinship in the Arab world undermines the principles of meritocracy and equality of opportunity. Nepotism hampers economic development and places Arab countries at a disadvantage in relation to those parts of the world where such practices are less prevalent.

His conclusion is that “Arabs cannot emerge into a new era of freedom, citizenship and good governance while their society continues to be dominated by the obligations of kinship, whether at a family or tribal level…” This, he affirms, is the central challenge the Arabs face today.

Another of Whitaker’s provocative chapters deals with the relationship between citizens and their governments. The typical Arab regime, he declares, is both authoritarian and autocratic—authoritarian because it demands obedience and autocratic because power is highly centralised and concentrated around the head of state.

He acknowledges that there has been much talk of reform and modernisation in Arab countries to keep pace with the rapid world changes, but he remarks gloomily that “actual reform, as opposed to mere talk of it, has been far more limited… Much of what passes for reform is just window-dressing for the sake of international respectability.”

One of Whitaker’s most controversial chapters is entitled “The politics of God,” and deals with the tide of religious fervour that has swept across the Middle East during the last thirty or forty years. Religion, he argues, is one response to what has become known as the “Arab malaise.” For millions of believers, religion provides a comfort zone of certainty and hope in a world of doubt and despair.

He quotes his sources as suggesting that the lurch towards religion began with the Arabs overwhelming defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967. But further impetus to the trend was given by the success of the mujahideen in driving out Soviet forces from Afghanistan, and by the success of Hizbullah in driving Israel out of Lebanon in 2000 after 22 years of occupation. The idea took root that military success was achievable when inspired by religion.

Religion, Whitaker notes, provides a sense of identity, of belonging and of solidarity in the face of threats from outside. But he warns that treating religion as a badge of identity can lead to a heightened emphasis on its outward, physical aspects at the expense of spirituality and ethics.

Moreover, as the religious tide swept across the Middle East, more extreme versions of Islam gained in prominence, more rigid in their interpretations of scripture and less tolerant of alternative views. This has sometimes bred growing intolerance, and even acts of violence like the occasion when, in 1994, the 82-year old Egyptian man of letters, Naguib Mahfouz, was stabbed in the neck outside his house. He survived, but his right arm was partly paralysed.

Equal rights, Whitaker argues, cannot exist without freedom of religion. In the Arab countries, this is probably the biggest single obstacle to positive change. In his view, freedom of religion requires a state which is religiously neutral. Separation of religion and state is therefore essential, he believes, to any serious agenda for reform.

Whitaker’s book contains a lively discussion of corruption and illegal commissions in Arab society, as well as the phenomenon of wasta, that is to say the use of connections, influence or favouritism. There is also a long and well-informed section on the Arabic media, which is too rich to be summarised in a line or two.

Whitaker wants the Arabs to break free from a culture of dependence and helplessness and for westerners, in turn, to break free from their history of colonial rule and military intervention, so that both sides can set their relationship on a productive footing of inter-dependence.

This book will anger some and excite others. It is one of the most ambitious attempts in recent years by a western writer to analyse what is really wrong with the Middle East.

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.

Copyright © 2009 Patrick Seale – distributed by Agence Global - SOURCE: Agence Global


MB Opinion: On the recent arrests of the MB

MB News > Egyptian

MB Opinion: On the recent arrests of the MB

Egyptian Security Forces arrested 16 of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders on Monday February 8, 2010. The arrests included the Brotherhood's Deputy Chairman Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, and three members of the Executive Bureau namely Dr. Essam Elerian, Dr. Mohy Hamed and Dr. Abdel Rahman El-Barr.

Tuesday, February 16,2010 16:45 - IkhwanWeb

Twelve other MB leaders and prominent figures in the Egyptian society were also arrested emphasizing the ruling system's intentions of excluding and rejecting the participation of popular political and public forces in the upcoming Parliamentary and Shura Council elections.

These arrests come as continuous corruption and oppression by the ruling system without consideration of the challenges facing the state internally and externally. Rather than prioritizing these challenges to ease the social tension to overcome the economic crisis and to start reconciliation between the regime and all segments of the society the regime turned to unjust and tyrannical measures. The arrests follow the much respected elections for Chairman which were held within the Brotherhood's Movement which reflected the social and political maturity of the movement and this did not appeal to the authorities which seeks tension and instability and violates freedoms.

This also came in the context of the challenges facing the Palestinian cause which is the central case in the Arab and Islamic world where it seems that there is an underlying effort to abort and undermine all forces supporting the Palestinian people and the resistance against Israelis to liberate Palestine and the Aqsa mosque.

We would like to stress the following:

1. The MB was based on reform on the basis of correct and complete Islam through all and any peaceful means. We try to call people to Islam in which the government is a part of and freedom is one of its obligations. The regime should abandon the destructive means and measures it follows which seeks to undermine the identity, culture and civilization of the Egyptians.

2. These unjust campaigns will neither affect, nor distract us from our call and path. We will not be deterred from our approach and method of reform and gradual and peaceful change. Our main strategy in the next phase will be the continuous work of the MB to ensure the achievement of our goals which we seek through all means of a constitutional and peaceful struggle by extending relations and dialogue with all internal parties for the interest of the nation.

3. The continuous arrests and host of unjust accusations against the MB and the ongoing animosity against them in their work will not benefit the nation; in fact it will lead to instability and this is in the interest of the Israeli entity.

4. These arrests are aimed to silence all opposing voices of the honourable citizens; hence we call upon all the national forces to condemn these campaigns, expose it and unite together in the face of tyranny and corruption.

5. These arrests are a definitive response to those who claim that the MB movement has divisions, streams and wings which some called as "reformers", "conservatives", "pigeons" and "hawks". These arrests are a response to the poisoned claims of deals between the MB and the corrupted regime.

6. These frequent oppressive measures stress the plight of the system and the failure of its policies in addition to the evident problems suffered by the Egyptian citizens.

7. These measures distort the reputation and dignity of Egypt and deprive the citizens from effectively playing their creative roles in the interests of the nation and homeland. It also serves the interest of a numbered few in order for them to remain in position, encouraging them to continue corruption and oppression, and seizing the wealth of the nation for the interest of a few people. Hence this encourages the global hegemony (Americans and Israelis) and we the MB will neither approve of nor condone.

tags: Erian / Badie / State Security / Mubarak / MB Detainees / Parliamentary Elections / Emergency Law / NDP / Police State / Israel / Corruption / Egyptian Security Forces / Mahmoud Ezzat / Human Rights in Egypt / Egyptian Democracy / Brotherhood Elections / Presidential Elections / Peaceful Reform


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let “God” be “God”!

Let “God” be “God”!

at 1/26/2010 09:25:00 PM

Published in The American Muslim

Parvez Ahmed, Ph.D. and Lucinda Mosher, Th.D.

Last November the Malaysian government refused to release 10,000 Bibles it had seized because they contained the word Allah to refer to God. The Herald, a publication of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, challenged the government’s decision to ban for non-Muslims the use of the word Allah to refer to God. In December, a Malaysian court ruled that such a ban was unconstitutional. The court’s decision provoked anger among some Muslims. The Times reported a speaker in a Kuala Lumpur mosque as saying, “We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches. Heresy arises from words wrongly used. Allah is only for us.” A few Muslims unfortunately went further and attacked churches, badly damaging some of them. Such actions are condemnable as they contradict normative Islam.

Attempts by Malaysian officials to explain the logic behind the initial ban and why the government is now opposing the high court’s ruling have been far from convincing. The best analyses point out this unusual move by the ruling UNMO government had less to do with theology and more to do with the ruling political coalition keeping control. The fact that politicians were fanning the flames of passion is hardly news. But it does point to a troubling underlying fact that many Muslims erroneously believe they have monopoly over the use of the word Allah—in essence, asserting that the Christian God is different from the Muslim God. This is oxymoronic because normative Islam insists that there is no God but God, meaning there cannot be a God for Christians and a different God for Muslims.

In A Common Word Between Us and You: An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders, issued in October 2007 to “Leaders of Christian Churches, everywhere,” acknowledges that the theologies of Christianity and Islam differ from each other on key points. Yet, when this Muslim-authored document speaks of “God”, the word denotes the subject and object of Christian worship, too. This pan-Muslim call for dialogue and cooperation is predicated on the notion that the ground shared by Muslims and Christians is located in our respective scriptural mandates to love God and neighbor. Five distinguished Malaysian scholars and government officials were among the original signatories of A Common Word.

While, in the American context, we don’t have legislatures reserving vocabulary for the exclusive use of one religion, we certainly have had occasions of suspicion-casting over matters of God-Talk. It finds its way regularly into political campaigns. Each of us have encountered it in venues where we have been asked to speak about Christian-Muslim relations. Both of us have had to deal with Christians who say of Muslims, “They worship a different god;” or, “there is some question as whether their god is the same as ours.” Much of the internet back-and-forth about this reveals considerable ignorance (about the writer’s own religion, let alone the religion she or he is criticizing).

To our way of thinking, however, discussions as to whether Christians and Muslim “worship the same God” are, even when well-articulated, based on an ill-founded premise. To ask whether another group “worship the same God as we” is to imply that there are indeed at least two gods. The technical term for such a stance is henotheism—i.e., the notion that there may be more than one god, but only one of them works for me (or, for my group). On the other hand, Muslims and Christians (and Jews, Sikhs, Bahá’ís, Zoroastrians) all claim to be monotheists; and, the logical corollary of monotheism, “belief that there is but one God”, is that, no matter who is praying, only one Possibility is listening, whichever way that Ultimate Listener is named or described.

The vast majority of religions do operate from a presumption that there is an Ultimate—a single Source. Most Americans, regardless of their religion, are happy to employ the English word God when referring to this. However, each theistic religion has its own theology—its own way of describing God and God’s relationship to the physical and spiritual realms. God may have many names, and concepts of the spiritual realm may be quite complex. Yet God is God; Allah is God; God is Allah. For the love of neighbor, may we be willing to affirm that—whatever language we use?

[Prof. Parvez Ahmed is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. He is Associate Professor of Finance at the University of North Florida. Dr. Lucinda Mosher, is a consultant and educator on inter-religious matters. She is the author of the book series Faith in the Neighborhood.]


Rethinking on Moderate Islam

Rethinking moderate Islam
Abdelrahman Ayyash
11 October 2009 in Abdelrahman Ayyash, Featured Blogumnist

Three months ago, I was coming back to Egypt from Turkey after a 10-day trip. My friend, Magdy Saad, and I were held in the airport for two days, and then I was transferred to the state security office in Mansoura, where I am from. After a week of detention and daily investigations, I was released, without them even blaming me for anything.

Shortly after, Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Executive Bureau and the Secretary-General of the Arab Doctors Union, was arrested with fake charges that have no judicial foundation. Aboul Fotouh is one of the few men who could clarify the ideology of refusing takfeer (claiming someone an apostate) and violence within the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and 1980s.

Aboul Fotouh was the leader of the “reform trend” within the Muslim Brotherhood. He has reformist ideas related to women’s role in society, he supports women and Copts to be president and he is also one of the most acceptable faces in the MB in terms of youth and all colors of the political spectrum in Egypt.

Three days after Aboul Fotouh’s detention, state security arrested Dr. Ashraf Abdel Ghafar, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Egyptian Medical Association, at Cairo International Airport on his way to Turkey. Since then, he has been arbitrarily detained, tortured and has been unable to receive his necessary medical treatment, according to al-Karama Human Rights Center.

Okay, these incidents are all in a series of violations that were committed against moderate Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt. These arbitrary detentions are all evidence that the Egyptian regime won’t walk a step in the direction of democracy and respecting freedom of speech and human rights in the country.

I think we should talk to the Egyptian government and ask for reforms, because any reforms made by the Muslim Brotherhood will be a waste of time in such an autocratic regime. We all are asking the MB to make reforms and compromises, without considering the circumstances surrounding the Brotherhood itself.

The point here is that the Egyptian government does not allow moderate Islamist groups to work in a free and democratic atmosphere. This has opened the door for Wahhabis and Salafis (ultra-conservative Islamic sects) to fill the gap. We have now more radicals who don’t believe in women’s roles in society. We are meeting everyday more and more people who are refusing democracy and modern law. They are saying this due to their erring views of Islam.

Closing doors in the face of the Brotherhood in Egypt by banning them from using legal means to talk to the Egyptian people will open the same doors that enable people to receive wrong values from the Salafis and Wahhabis.

The Brotherhood got rid of the Qutbic (Sayyid Qutb-led ideology) ideas of takfeer by spreading ideas of the late Supreme Guide Hassan al-Houdaiby, who wrote the famous book “Preachers not Judges.” So, the only way in fighting the misconceptions of Islam is to open the door for moderates.

I believe that one of the most successful ways to get rid of extremism and violence in the modern Islamic culture is to allow the MB, as the largest moderate Islamist group, to spread their ideas freely in a democratic way. If this does not happen, we all will suffer from terrorism and extremism in Egypt and the entire world.

Tags: Abdelrahman Ayyash, Detention, Egypt, Islam, Muslim Brotherhood, Reform, State Security


Salma Ashraf 11 October 2009 6:56 PM

But thats not what the government wants
It wants Egypt to remain in a state of coas, violence and absence of democracy, and thats why it arrests Ikhwan because are the true democrats in Egypt.

Deena Khalil 26 October 2009 2:58 PM

Great article Abdelrahman m/a! Excellent point about how stifling the “moderate Islamist” voice has led to a vocal fringe (namely, the extremists) to have the microphone all to themselves. Then the government can turn to the West and say look at these big bad scary extremists! We can’t give up our tyrannical rule now or the boogeyman (aka the Muslim with the big beard) will take over the world .

I only have two comments though and it’s really just a matter of semantics:
1) You said “This has opened the door for Wahhabis and Salafis (ultra-conservative Islamic sects)”. This indicates to me that you see Wahhabis and Salafis as belonging to the same category, although I always felt that “wahhabism” connotes a much more political ideology than Salafism which I see as more of a religious movement or school of religious interpretation. This, of course, holds true from the theological perspective as Abdul-Wahhab and his followers have serious anthromorphic trends in their theology that Salafis do not have (I believe). But I’m interested to hear your opinion from the political perspective, would you say these two trends fall under the same political categorization?

2) I have an intense dislike for the terms “moderate Muslim” and “moderate Islam”. The term moderate Muslim implies that one is moderately Muslim or that it is a moderate version that emerged after the modifcation of an originally extreme religion. From a sociological perspective I prefer “mainstream Muslim” as I believe the mainstream in the Ummah hold views that would be considered “moderate” by those who like to use that term. But I realize that when we’re speaking of political trends the term mainstream doesn’t work. I wonder if there is a different term that is more accurate than “moderate islamist” when describing this political trend. Maybe “reformist” as long as we’re speaking of reforming the party and not reforming Islam. Have any suggestions?

abu muhammad El-Merbawiy, MY 17 February 2010 4:32 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

akhi, Abdelrahman,

Congratulation, to your works in journalism especially on Moderate Islam – this is the main agenda to be presented to the west and those among Muslims who do not believe in Islam as the way of life – Islam ad-Deen wa al-hayat. Be patient to the rest of family for the detention of our beloved young author. My love to you for the sake of survival Islam in the future. I had restored your article into my blogspot.

Your MY brother.

Book Review: Islam and Democracy: A Foundation for Ending Extremism and Preventing Conflict

Issues > Political Islam Studies

Book Review:
Islam and Democracy: A Foundation for Ending Extremism and Preventing Conflict (J.E. Rash)

The book “Islam and Democracy” is a timely myth-breaker for an era where Islam is often mis-perceived as intolerant, extreme and inherently undemocratic while chauvenistic assertions of the superiority of Western democracy are made too often and too unreflexively by European and North-American ideologues.

Saturday, February 16,2008 09:05
Shayn Mccallum and Michael Ellison - The American Muslim

The book “Islam and Democracy” is a timely myth-breaker for an era where Islam is often mis-perceived as intolerant, extreme and inherently undemocratic while chauvenistic assertions of the superiority of Western democracy are made too often and too unreflexively by European and North-American ideologues. The author of this book J.E. Rash is both an experienced Muslim religious leader and educator as well as a committed democratic thinker, giving this work a depth of understanding and commitment seldom found in other texts dealing with these issues.

This book provides a critical reading of the position of democracy in the Islamic tradition from a sincere, committed, democratic Muslim perspective while also offering a critique of current democratic practice, such as it is, in the U.S., where the author resides, framed against the high principles of the U.S. founding fathers. The text explores the core principles and values common to both liberal democracy and Islam to reveal a convincing democratic discourse embedded within essential Islamic beliefs and practices.

Recognising the value of pluralism and the right for societies to develop according to their own historical experience and cultural traditions, “Islam and Democracy” refreshingly manages to avoid the arrogance and implicit cultural chauvinism that dominates much of the current literature dealing with Islam and democracy that assert the hegemony of the historically-derived Western European/North American model of liberal, parliamentary democracy as the only possible model for democratic development. This book takes the more genuinely and sincerely democratic approach of acknowledging that there are many paths to democracy and that all societies must discover the deep, universal values that sustain popular sovereignty and self-government in their own native traditions.

The fresh approach contained in this book to both the essential values and principles of both Islam and democracy, which are all-too-often either taken for granted or totally overlooked by partisans and detractors alike, on its own makes this a valuable and thought-provoking text. The fact that it is the product of an insightful, critically-minded Western Muslim gives it the added dimension of being a manifesto and call to action for Muslim democrats to find the basis of an Islamic democracy, not in externally imposed models but in the very core of Muslim tradition itself.

A visionary text by a true practitioner of Sufic Islam. Part of this book’s power comes from the simple fact that its author is either already putting into practice or actively working towards realizing the complementary ideals of both democracy and Islam his book describes, and uses Islam and Sufism as a means of benefiting all people, regardless of religion.

For those interested in obtaining tools for dealing with one of the seeming conundrums of today’s world, Rash’s book provides invaluable insights through a constructive approach that builds bridges of understanding. He provides a conceptual framework with which the shared ideals of both democracy and Islam (to which we may add Christianity and Judaism) can be realized within fallible human societies. It is an enlightening process to compare statements made by the founders of American democracy in the Eighteenth century with references to the Qu’ran, sunnah, and the long tradition of Islamic scholarly literature--including today’s--which Rash brings together in one collection of essays.

The very sufic idea of `Pre-emptive peace’ and Rash’s analysis of the `hard’ versus `soft’ aspects of culture are particularly worthwhile. Rash underscores the need for peace to be an active and consolidating approach to mutual understanding, not simply the absence of conflict. Ailments of contemporary Muslim societies (including the difficulty of establishing democracy) are ascribed not to religion, rather to the after-effects of colonialism and Western hegemonies, as well as cultural overlays which, from the outside, may be seen as symbols of Islam but which in fact are only deep-seated (in some cases pre-Islamic) societal norms. Addressed in some detail are so-called `Islamic’ extremists, who are distinguished sharply from the broader, very moderate Islamic mainstream.

One of Rash’s most important points is that if democracy is going to gain a greater hold in predominantly Muslim nations, it cannot be imposed from outside: “Changes will only happen with cultural sensitivity.” Remarks quoted by Thomas Jefferson and others make clear that the best way to preserve spiritual freedom in a society (required by Islam) is to maintain separation between religious and secular powers. In an Islamic historical context, too, the theocracies of Iran and the Taliban are seen as aberrations. But in finding the roots of democracy in Islam, the author suggests a powerful and democratic model from which to refer to from within Muslim societies themselves, a central and culturally endemic, peaceful, moderate guide, whose principles can be progressively applied in moving towards more tolerant, diverse, open-minded and culturally sensitive 21st century societies.

We hope that the book “Islam and Democracy” will be a source of light and inspiration for moderate and progressive muslims who seek to build genuinely Islamic democracies as well as a source of information about the peaceful essence of Islamic teachings for Westerners. This is a truly important book.

Posted in Political Islam Studies , Islamic Issues


MB lashes out against Egypt gov’t over terror charges

Joseph Mayton
16 February 2010 in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, News, Religion

CAIRO: Egypt’s most powerful and popular opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood has lashed out against the Egyptian government for its detaining of three top leaders and 12 others from the Islamic group last week. In a statement from the group’s leadership, the Brotherhood called for a re-examination of how the group functions, non-violence and its democratic principles.

“The MB is based on reform on the basis of correct and complete Islam through all and any peaceful means,” the statement said.

Top leaders, including deputy Mahmoud Ezzat, spokesman Essam el-Erian and Abdel Rahman al-Bar were detained in early dawn raids last Monday. Government prosecutors have charged the three leaders, and 12 others, with attempting to form a sub-group of the Brotherhood that aimed to carry out terrorist attacks against domestic Egyptian targets. All charges have been denied by the Brotherhood.

“The regime should abandon the destructive means and measures it follows which seeks to undermine the identity, culture and civilization of the Egyptians,” the statement continued.

It said that the crackdown against the Brotherhood would not affect, “or distract” the group from their efforts to reform and work toward democracy.

“We will not be deterred from our approach and method of reform and gradual and peaceful change. Our main strategy in the next phase will be the continuous work of the MB to ensure the achievement of our goals, which we seek through all means of a constitutional and peaceful struggle by extending relations and dialogue with all internal parties for the interest of the nation,” the MB said.

Analysts have repeatedly said the government is attempting to weaken the group in the eyes of the public ahead of Parliamentary elections in November. Diaa Rashwan, a top Islamic parties scholar at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, was quoted by local press as saying this recent crackdown and arrest campaign is “similar to what happened in 1995, some 10 months before Parliamentary elections.”

“These arrests are aimed to silence all opposing voices of the honorable citizens; hence we call upon all the national forces to condemn these campaigns, expose it and unite together in the face of tyranny and corruption,” the group said.

One activist, who asked not to be named, said the leaders were arrested after they had called for greater participation in government from other opposition parties and groups.

“The week before they were arrested, Erian had announced the Brotherhood would support candidates from other parties this November in an effort to ensure greater democracy in the country,” said the activist, who has close ties with Egyptian political leaders. “The government does not want them to do this because that would mean opening up more options for president if other parties have greater representation in Parliament.”

The Brotherhood said the measures taken by the government are an attempt to “distort the reputation and dignity of Egypt and deprive the citizens from effectively playing their creative roles in the interests of the nation and homeland.”

All those MB members arrested last week have been remanded for a further 15-days pending investigation. It is unlikely they will be released in the near future, the Brotherhood’s top lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud told Bikya Masr.


Monday, February 15, 2010


January 2010 - Project on Middle East Democracy, January 2010.

Shadi Hamid and Amanda Kadlec

Full Text (pdf)


Political Islam is the single most active political force in the Middle East today. Its future is intimately tied to that of the region. If the United States and the European Union are committed to supporting political reform in the region, they will need to devise concrete, coherent strategies for engaging Islamist groups. Yet, the U.S. has generally been unwilling to open a dialogue with these movements. Similarly, EU engagement with Islamists has been the exception, not the rule. Where low-level contacts exist, they mainly serve information-gathering purposes, not strategic objectives. The U.S. and EU have a number of programs that address economic and political development in the region – among them the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Union for the Mediterranean, and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) – yet they have little to say about how the challenge of Islamist political opposition fits within broader regional objectives. U.S. and EU democracy assistance and programming are directed almost entirely to either authoritarian governments themselves or secular civil society groups with minimal support in their own societies.

The time is ripe for a reassessment of current policies. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, supporting Middle East democracy has assumed a greater importance for Western policymakers, who see a link between lack of democracy and political violence. Greater attention has been devoted to understanding the variations within political Islam. The new American administration is more open to broadening communication with the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the vast majority of mainstream Islamist organizations – including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF), Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), the Islamic Constitutional Movement of Kuwait, and the Yemeni Islah Party – have increasingly made support for political reform and democracy a central component in their political platforms. In addition, many have signaled strong interest in opening dialogue with U.S. and EU governments.

The future of relations between Western nations and the Middle East may be largely determined by the degree to which the former engage nonviolent Islamist parties in a broad dialogue about shared interests and objectives. There has been a recent proliferation of studies on engagement with Islamists, but few clearly address what it might entail in practice. As Zoé Nautré, visiting fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, puts it, “the EU is thinking about engagement but doesn’t really know how.” In the hope of clarifying the discussion, we distinguish between three levels of “engagement,” each with varying means and ends: low-level contacts, strategic dialogue, and partnership.

Political barriers and misunderstandings on both sides present significant challenges for engagement between Western governments and Islamists. How will pro-Western authoritarian regimes react to such overtures? To what extent can the U.S. and the EU formulate a common policy approach to a thorny, long-standing problem? What obstacles prevent Islamists from engaging with Western governments and to what extent can they be overcome?

To offer insights into these questions, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) partnered to bring together scholars and experts from the Middle East, the United States, and Europe. Moderated by Nathan Brown, Director of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, guests discussed the topic “Strategies for Engaging Political Islam: A Middle East, U.S. and EU ‘Trialogue.’” Panelists included Ruheil Gharaibeh, Deputy Secretary-General of Jordan’s IAF; Mona Yacoubian, Special Adviser to the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace; Zoé Nautré, Visiting Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations; and Shadi Hamid, former research director at POMED and currently Deputy Director of the Brookings Doha Center. This paper draws on the observations and recommendations of the participants.

Have a nice reading by clicking above linkage or bellow address.


Violence is not Islamic Phenomena

Issues > Islamophobia - Are Violence and Extremism Islamic Phenomena?

Violence has no religion or nationality.

Dear scholars,

as-salamu `alaykum.

Are violence and extremism Islamic phenomena? How would you explain the phenomenon of violence in general? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Monday, December 7,2009 10:18 Islamonline

Question and Answer Details

Name of Questioner
Elizabith - United States

Title : Are Violence and Extremism Islamic Phenomena?


Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Are violence and extremism Islamic phenomena? How would you explain the phenomenon of violence in general? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Date - 08/Aug/2007

Name of Mufti
Prof Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawiy

Topic : Jihad: Rulings & Regulations


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we are greatly pleased to receive your question which shows the confidence you place in us. May Allah reward you abundantly for your interest in knowing the teachings of Islam!

It is very important to note that violence is not an Islamic phenomenon. There is no meeting point between Islam and violence as practiced by terrorist groups in different parts of the world. The true religion of Allah does not permit aggression, violence, injustice, or oppression. At the same time, it calls to morality, justice, tolerance, and peace.

Responding to the question, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states the following:

It cannot be said that violence is an Islamic phenomenon. Violence has no religion or nationality. If some Islamic groups are involved in violence and are considered extremists, there are also other groups and even nations that are known for committing acts of violence, such as Israel, or Hindu groups in India.

Violence has no nationality; it exists everywhere. The list of individuals, groups, or even nations that use violence to attain political aims is quite long. Israel has the worst record of using violence and committing atrocities against the Palestinian people as well as the Lebanese.

Some people, particularly Marxists and communists in general, want to interpret the phenomenon of violence as the result of economic injustice. We cannot deny the truth in this explanation. The Qur’an did not underestimate the financial factor in explaining certain phenomena such as killing the children out of destitution or out of fear of pauperism.

Others explain violence using the conspiracy scheme, meaning that behind all this violence is a diabolic design. This interpretation is quite popular; it alleviates any sort of responsibility because someone else is accountable, and at the same time it renders us impotent vis-à-vis political oppression. We are facing religious, social, and political oppressions. The human being is free; therefore one should not accept this explication. Even if some people really are conspiring against us, is that an excuse? Why don’t we make our own plan? Should we always be victimized by others?

A single answer to this phenomenon is unacceptable, because it is a multi-faceted, compounded, and complex problem. Some of the reasons behind this phenomenon could be attributed to internal, external, and psychological factors; some can be attributed to intellectual factors; others are social or economic. Some people focus on the external factors. This is neither objective nor scientific thinking; there must be a reconciliation between all the factors.

There are many factors to this phenomenon:

1. The absence of a moderate line of thinking. It is important that prevalent moderate Islamic thought come into the open in order for a multitude of young people to find their way instead of going underground. The absence of such a line of thinking left the ground open for extremist thought and philosophy.

2. The absence of true scholars who are capable to convince with the proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Their absence left the arena open to the unqualified, so-called scholars working for the authorities. Consequently, the youth lost confidence and appointed themselves as sheikhs to issue fatwas on complicated problems.

3. Oppression of the people and lack of democracy led the people to take things into their own hands. Oppression breeds violence, and violence breeds more violence.

4. The non-application of the Shari`ah is also a main factor, as many countries state that Islam is the official religion of the country, and others may add that Islam is the main source of the laws. After this, people see enacted laws that run counter to the Shari`ah, and for sure such laws provoke young men to commit acts of violence.

5. The propagation of corruption and the proliferation of oppression in society are also reasons for frustration.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

FC is backing open tussle for power

Lawyer says Federal Court is backing open tussle for power

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The Federal Court has agreed that Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir is the rightful Perak mentri besar, but a certain clause tacked on at the end of its freshly-released collective written judgment spells a worrying trend for future heads of government, said a lawyer who had acted for ousted mentri besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.

Edmund Bon, who yesterday had read through the 40-page judgment, highlighted a peculiar clause tucked away on page 39.

“However, we would add that this is by no means the end of the matter, as it is always open to the appellant [Nizar] to bring a vote of no confidence against the respondent [Zambry] in the LA [Legislative Assembly] or make a representation to HRH [His Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak] at any time if he thinks that the respondent does not enjoy the support of the majority of the members of the LA.”

The resulting judgment was made by a panel of five Federal Court judges led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff. The others are Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, and Justices Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, Datuk Wira Ghazali Mohd Yusoff and Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong.

Bon, who heads the Bar Council’s constitutional committee, was also part of the ousted mentri besar’s (MB) legal team. He had tweeted his take of the oral ruling from morning and continued far into the night after getting his hands on a copy of the written judgment.

“If a mentri besar thinks he has lost the confidence already, he is never going to ask the Sultan to dissolve the Assembly any more because backdoor dealings will be a better route to maintain or seize power,” the young lawyer told The Malaysian Insider in his analysis of the judgment.

Asked why he thought the judges inserted the clause, Bon said it may have been done to give Nizar an “escape”.

“Basically, that is saying, look Nizar, you still have remedy. Forget the Legislative Assembly, now anyone can just go straight to the Sultan to appoint the head of the government,” he said.

“It’s free for all,” he quipped.

“A bad and dangerous precedent has been set. The Federal Court has suggested that Nizar can now do what Zambry/Najib did, that is by going to see the Sultan if he had jumpers,” he explained.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had suggested a similar effect yesterday when asked to explain the clause.

“What the judges said is that anyone who has the majority can be appointed as mentri besar, but must prove it,” said the government’s chief lawyer.

But Bon warned that the clause now made “Article 16(6)...superfluous” and said it showed the “Legislative Assembly is no longer sacrosanct”.

“This does not promote accountability,” he added.

Bon pointed to several other curious points on the collective judgment.

The lawyer noted that the Federal Court had previously chided the High Court judge for following the decisions of foreign constitution cases in arriving at his own judgment, but seemed to have broke its own word when it referred to the Indian court position in pages 30 to 31 saying that one can remove a leader without a vote.

“In Amir Kahar, even though the learned judge distinguished that case on its facts from Ningkan, he explicitly stated that the question whether the Chief Minister ceases to have the support of the majority of the members of the Assembly could be gathered from sources outside the Assembly. In this regard we would also refer to the Indian case of Mahabir Chandra Prasad Sharma, petitioner v Prafulla Chandra Ghose and others, Respondents AIR 1960 Cal. 198. There the high Court held that the Governor may remove the Chief Minister from his office and dissolve the council of Ministers headed by him after being satisfied that the Chief Minister no longer had the support of the majority of the Legislative Assembly. This was done without there being a vote of no confidence passed by the Legislative Assembly. In his judgment, B.C. Mitra J stated that the provision in Clause (2) of Article 164 of India Constitution that the Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of a State, does not in any manner fetter or restrict the Governor’s power ‘to withdraw the pleasure’ during which the Ministers hold office. It is true that there, the Council of Ministers hold office at the pleasure of the Governor but the point we are making is that the Governor may remove the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers without a vote of no confidence being passed in the Legislative Assembly.”

Bon was incensed. He noted that the Indian example cited by the Federal Court should not have been used because the Perak Constitution clearly states, under Article 18, that the MB does not hold office at the pleasure of the Sultan.

He explained that the Perak sultan could dismiss any member of the Executive Council (exco) as they hold office at his pleasure, but the Ruler cannot do the same with the MB because of that clause.

Bon pointed that the constitutions of both India and Nigeria, which were cited in the Federal Court judgment, are drawn up differently and have express clauses that allow for a Chief Minister to be removed by the Ruler.

The lawyer slammed the apex court for failing to fully answer all the questions raised before it in November.

Question Three, framed in page 5 of the Federal Court judgment, reads: “If the Mentri Besar refuses to tender the resignation of the Executive Council whether under the Laws of the Constitution of Perak, a Mentri Besar may be dismissed from office or the Mentri Besar’s post be deemed vacant or vacated?”

Bon said the question is actually split into two parts, which in plain English, asks: (i) Can the MB be sacked? Or (ii) Can the MB’s post be considered vacant? Which links it to the question of who has the power to sack the MB and how is that sacking done?

“The Federal Court, however, did not directly answer question three, which is whether a Sultan can sack the mentri besar if the mentri besar refuses to resign.

“Instead, they ‘deemed’ the post to have been ‘vacated’ when there are no express ‘deeming’ clause or provision to do so in that part of the state constitution,” he said, and pointed to its reply on page 39.

“As for the third question our answer is that if the MB refuses to tender the resignation of the Executive Council under Article 16(6) the MB and the Executive Council members are deemed to have vacated their respective offices.”

Bon also accused the Federal Court of “stretching the language of the Perak Constitution wrongly” make it cover a loophole in Article 16(6), which is cited on page 18.

“If the Mentri Besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, then, unless at his request His Royal Highness dissolves the Legislative Assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the Executive Council.” Bon noted that the judges had looked at Article 16(6) and said it carried both a literal and liberal meaning at the same time. He wondered at their inconsistency.

“The only reason why the Federal Court found no need for a vote in the House was because it was not expressly stated in Article 16(6). In the same breath, it suddenly adopted a “liberal” approach on the question of the confidence vote,” he pointed out.

“The perception is that the Federal Court wanted to reach a certain result and tailored the judgment accordingly, as opposed to reasoning the judgment in accordance with consistent principles,” Bon said.

He also said the Federal Court’s judgment that Nizar had broken a basic principle of democracy — whoever holds the biggest number of supporters wins — was flawed because the judges did not take into account that in a democracy, votes count because they are passed by elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly and not things done outside it.

Lastly, Bon faulted the Federal Court said for repeating the same mistake as the Court of Appeal in calling the High Court decision ‘perverse’ but did not explain why it was so.

Pointing to pages 19 to 21, he said the Federal Court’s justification was merely a parroting of the appeals court’s written judgment.

“The Court of Appeal reversed the finding of the learned High Court Judge on the premise that his finding was perverse, being contrary to documentary and other evidence before the Court. (See Dato’ Seri Ir. Hj Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin; Attorney General of Malaysia (Intervener) (2009) 5 CLJ 265; (2009) 5 MLJ 469; and (2009) 4 AMR 569. Raus JCA (as he then was) his judgment stated:it is clear from the above uncontroverted documentary evidence that the request for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly must have been made under Article XVI(6) of the Perak State Constitution. Moreover, state of events that led to the decision of His Royal Highness not to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, does not support Nizar’s claim that he had requested the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly under Article XXXVI(2) of the Perak State Constitution.”

“Having considered the evidence before the court, we find that the Court of Appeal was justified in reversing the finding of facts by the learned High Court Judge. We agree that this is a clear case where the trial Judge failed to judicially appreciate the facts before him. Such a failure justifies an appellate intervention as was rightly done by the Court of Appeal in the present case.”