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The future of Egypt is with Islam   

A.J. Deus, February 19, 2011  

Whether the West likes it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for example, will play a major role in shaping the future of the Middle East. The guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt says:

As our nation heads toward liberty, however, we disagree with the claims that the only options in Egypt are a purely secular, liberal democracy or an authoritarian theocracy. Secular liberal democracy of the American and European variety, with its firm rejection of religion in public life, is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy.

In Egypt, religion continues to be an important part of our culture and heritage. Moving forward, we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values. We embrace democracy not as a foreign concept that must be reconciled with tradition, but as a set of principles and objectives that are inherently compatible with and reinforce Islamic tenets.

The tyranny of autocratic rule must give way to immediate reform: the demonstration of a serious commitment to change, the granting of freedoms to all and the transition toward democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood stands firmly behind the demands of the Egyptian people as a whole.[1]

They can knowingly relax: There will be no Egypt without Islam. Those that hope for a secular nation to emerge from the protests and riots need to revisit the religious foundation that the majority of Egyptians adhere to.  The others that hope for the economic problems in Muslim countries to vanish will have a rude awakening fairly quickly.

One of the leaders of the Sunni Brotherhood, the 84 year old Sunni Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi has returned to Egypt. Because of his stance against Israel, he is condemned by England and the United States and had fled Egypt for Qatar fifty years ago. While the West is in awe by his return, there is also hope in him and it seems advisable to listen to what he has to say. He is envisioning a civil government based on the principles of pluralism, democracy, tolerance and freedom and specifically welcomes the Coptic Christian community in Egypt. Hence, he envisions an Islamic state along the ideals of Sufism, which not only advocates freedom of religion but in particular respects all three bodies of Judaic scriptures as integral. In respect to violence, he says:

We must be brave and recognize that our behavior has contributed to pushing those youths to what we dub “extremism." We claim that we follow Islam but fail to put Islam into practice. We read the Koran but do not implement its rulings. We pretend to love the prophet but do not follow his example. We write in our constitutions that the state’s religion is Islam but do not give it the place it merits in government, legislation and orientation.…We should start by  reforming ourselves and our society according to God’s commands before we demand from our young people serenity, good sense, calm, and restraint.[2]

He realizes that violence distracts from the objective of Islam. On the other hand, he encourages Muslims to unite against Israel—he views every Jewish man and woman as a soldier or a reservist—for the liberation of Palestine.

Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jewish] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.[3]

Should Yusuf al-Qaradawi gain the upper hand in Egypt, Israel will have reason to worry. He backs this up with his view about the Torah, which is not unlike the findings in The Great Leap-Fraud:

Never have I seen a single verse, paragraph, or sentence in the Torah which calls for peace. Everything in the Torah constitutes a call for war. They even call God “Lord of Hosts" – they don’t call Him “Lord of the Universe" or “the Compassionate, the Merciful…[The Torah contains] the notion of annihilation. We saw it when the Europeans went to America – they tried to annihilate the Indians. When they went to Australia, they tried to annihilate the aboriginal people. Indeed, they annihilated them. This is a Biblical notion – annihilate them totally, do not leave a living soul among them.[4]

Confirming the conclusions in Volume I, he says in regards to the historicity of the Jewish inheritance of Israel:

The Jews’ claim to Al-Buraq Wall dates back only to recent times. The longest reign of the Jews lasted for 434 years. Their reign in Palestine dates back to the times of Kings Saul, David and Solomon. Solomon’s sons split after his decease: Jude headed for Jerusalem while the state of Israel was established in Shakim, that is Nablus. The Jewish state in Nablus lasted for 298 years and the former for 434. This is the longest period that the Jews reigned. So those who claim that they have a long history in Israel are liars. That history lasted for only 434 years. The Arabs, on the other hand, have been present in Palestine since the days of the Jebusites and the Canaanites, that is 30 centuries before the birth of Christ. Their history under the umbrella of Islam lasted for more than 14 centuries or even longer. Before the advent of Islam, there had been no Jews in Palestine because since 70 C.E. there had been no trace of Jews or Israelis in Palestine.[5]

The hope with Yusuf al-Qaradawi lies with his opinion in regards to the various legal schools of Islam.

The priority of the contemporary mufti should be to take the people out of the narrow prison of the legal schools into the wide open space of the Shari’a, which includes both extant and extinct schools, the sayings of the many imams who did not follow a specific legal school—of whom there are many—and, first and foremost, the sayings of the ulama amongst the Prophet’s Companions.[6]

The difference in the concept of a Muslim Reformation in The Great Leap-Fraud is that all Muslim legal schools are viewed as straightjackets for social development. For al-Qaradawi, it is all others but his preferred Ashari school. However, Yusuf al-Qaradawi seems to see himself as the chosen one, sent by God to renew the religion of Islam. In line with the basic ideals of Sufism, his views seem to focus on balance; the balance between light and dark, individualism and collectivism, materialism and spiritualism, idealism and realism, rationalism and sentimentalism, etc. Even though he selectively views Shi’ites as heretics, it is in this balance where Islam might offer a new social model of cooperation that might be superior to the Western or Eastern models—less the prison of legal schools. Yusuf al-Qaradawi is

against the enemies of faith, the preachers of atheism and licentiousness, the supporters of materialism, the advocates of nudism, sexual promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.[7]

The West has to take note that his criticism is not unfounded. Again, the issue of materialism does not derive from the Koran but rather from the Sunnah and the other Muslim laws that were collected as traditions. These are viewed here as transgressions of the Koran.

The imposition of the political, economic, cultural, and social hegemony of the United States over the world…. It does not mean a relationship of fraternity, such as that favored by Islam, nor a relationship of equality, such as that favored by the free and the noble all over the world. It means the relationship between the master and the slave, the giant and the dwarf, the arrogant and the meek.[8]

Al-Qaradawi might have a strong point that civilization has to come to a strategy for the benefit of all rather than of the few. A mega-disaster is otherwise unavoidable. In fact, we live in it.

However, the future can not be foretold in the rearview mirror, and everybody is guessing. Nobody can predict the future of politics as the Internet is rapidly changing the landscape on how opposition can organize itself. Governments that commit abuses find themselves instantly exposed in videos that are uploaded by eye-wittnesses onto video-streaming sites, such as YouTube. Cellphones act as communication hubs to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. One short message can spread through the combined power of these networks like bush-fires. Television networks around the world pick up on the chatter and transmit the stories to a world of couch potatoes hungry for excitement as it happens.

“You finally have a video technology that can fit into the palm of one person’s hand, and what the person can capture can end up around the world," said James E. Katz, director of the Rutgers Center for Mobile Communication Studies. “This is the dagger at the throat of the creaky old regimes that, through the manipulation of these old centralized technologies, have been able to smother the public’s voice."[9]

The achievements in Turkey offer optimism for a better future of Muslim countries. Only the future will tell whether the Egyptians can show the same restraint and discipline in a slow and painful process as the Turks did. The latter might extend their economic and political influence throughout the Muslim world and emerge as their quasi leader.



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[1]     Essam El-Errian, member of the guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, „What the Muslim Brothers Want,“ New York Times, February 9, 2011.

[2]     Al-Qaradawi, al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya Bayna al-Juhud wal-Tatarruf (1982) p. 20.  

[3]     Middle East Media Research Institute. 3 February 2009.

[4]     Sunni Scholar Sheik Yousuf Qaradhawi Protests: Obama Drew a Parallel between the Koran and the Bible, MEMRI, Clip #2138, June 5, 2009.

[5]     Islamonline.net, Jews Have No Legitimate Claim to Al-Buraq Wall, May 8, 2004, retreived February 19, 2011.

[6]     Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Fi Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslima: Hayat al-Muslimin Wasat al-Mujtama‘at al-Ukhra (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 2001), p. 57.  

[7]     Al-Qaradawi, Fi Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslima, p. 69.  

[8]     Al-Qaradawi, Ummatuna Bayna Qarnayn, p. 232.  

[9]     Jennifer Preston and Brian Stelter, „Cellphones Become the World’s Eyes and Ears on Protests,“ New York Times, February 18, 2011.

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