Wednesday, December 28, 2022
A Question Islamists Must Ask Themselves: Why All Islamic Political Experiments Fail, Shia As Much As Sunni?
By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam 28 December 2022 Modern Man Can’t Compromise With His Individual Freedoms, And Stagnant Islamic Thought Isn’t Ready To Give Him Or Her This Right Main Points: ----- 1. Islam as a political ideology is less effective than Islam as amoral, spiritual force. 2. Without bold and effective Ijtihad and rethinking, tall claims such as “Islam is the solution,” don’t work in modern times. 3. Iran’s semi-republican theocracy has produced the least religious society in the Muslim world. ----- Iran is making global headlines for the wrong reasons once more. Since the beginning of her so-called Islamic revolution in April 1979, when anti-Shah protesters overcame the country's tyrannical police and army and deposed the shah, she has consistently been in the media spotlight. The revolution brought back Ayatollah Khomeini and his doctrine of Vilayat e Faqih to power in the country. What happened after that is history now. However, after more than 30 years, half of the population (women) are out on the streets, taking off their hijabs, tearing up or burning them in the fire, and chanting slogans: "We want freedom, "We want basic human rights." One has to now look back and ask what went wrong? Why ordinary people, boys, girls, students, and especially girls and women, are so angry? After the unfortunate murder of Mahsa Amini, a bold and active 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, in moral police custody, there was a sudden upsurge of female protests in Tehran and other cities around the nation, where they clashed with revolutionary guards and moral police, yelling "Death to the dictator" and "For women, life, freedom." These widespread protests over the past three months and the techniques used to suppress them reminds me of several similar occurrences that Azar Nafisi wrote about in his well-known work "Reading Lolita in Tehran," which I read some time ago. It should be noted that while reading Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's book, "Until We Are Free” one gets the same feeling that there is a fire brewing among the country's people against this biased and despotic religious regime which can explode at any time. Ebadi, who has gone through this ordeal herself at the hands of the regime's secret agencies, has documented the people's suffering in a beautiful way. Furthermore, apart from this rampant anguish, grudge, and anger from the Islamic republic regime, in particular in the younger generation, recently there, came out an astonishing and revealing survey telling us that only 32% of the Iranian population is satisfied with Islam as a religion and a revolutionary force relevant to this day. “Half of all Iranians say that they have left Islam as a religion, while two-thirds believe Islamic law should be excluded from their legal system.” It is very surprising and surely would be shocking to some that Iran's semi-republican theocracy has produced the least religious society in the Muslim world, as evidenced by a survey carried out by Gamaan.org in June 2020. (see: https://en.qantara.de/content/protests-in-iran-rethinking-sharia-and-democracy. It clearly means that before the Islamic revolution of Iran, Iranians were more religious than they are now. It is more surprising that before the revolution three decades earlier, most young Iranians were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, the main instrument behind the revolution, and were male and female soldiers of the Islamic revolution, in contrast to the post-revolution situations now. They were the foot soldiers who voluntarily resisted Iraq's onslaught and fought the eight years long Iran-Iraq war for the idea of the Islamic revolution to be successful. So now, what has gone wrong with their children under this continuous revolutionary regime of their own making? Why are they now the most unsatisfied element of Iran's society with their regime and clergy? And not only with the Islamic Republic But With Islam Itself In Many Cases? Iran is the Shia Islamist laboratory to experiment with their religious and political views. At the same time, in Sunni Islamist's case, they too sometimes succeeded in reaching the higher echelons of power. In Egypt and Tunisia, the Brotherhood got political momentum in the wake of the Arab spring. Islamist ideologue in Tunisia, Shaikh Rashid Ghannochi, was wise enough to prefer adopting a national secular constitution with national consensus keeping in view the contemporary constraints and realities of modern life. Furthermore, in doing so, he has prevented his nation from devolving into chaos and terrible conditions that confrontations between Islamists and leftist groups there could have brought in. However, Brotherhood in Egypt came to power, and their man, President Mohammad Mursi, was not so wise enough and lucky to escape the ordinary people's rage and anger when he tried to amend the constitution and insisted on having all political power concentrated in the president. Egyptian people who braved the Hosni Mubarak regime in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolution and finally dethroned him once again took to the streets of Cairo in millions against the Brotherhood government. The result was tragic, the army intervened, and Mursi's regime was toppled. Brotherhood was banned, Mursi, along with other leaders, was imprisoned, wherein he died, and thousands of innocents were killed in cold blood by the army. The Taliban took control of Kabul a year ago. They initially purportedly appeared to be different, but as they deny women and girls their fundamental rights to education and employment, they are starting to reveal their true face to the outside world. Because the world hasn't yet acknowledged them, there is an alarming shortage of food and medical facilities as well as widespread want and deprivation. The UN has repeatedly warned the international community that millions could perish from starvation in Afghanistan if nothing is done soon. مطلب کیا؟ لاالہ الااللہ In Pakistan, which came into existence with the slogan of پاکستان کا (What is the meaning of Pakistan? There is no God but Allah). Yet during more than seventy years of its existence, Islamists could not secure more than 4-5 seats in the national assembly! Clearly most people do not subscribe to Islamist's political agenda. Political Islam emerged at the start of the 20th century with the claim that capitalism, socialism, communism, and other isms could not contribute anything to the world. The sole solution to all of humankind's economic, social, and political issues and problems is only Islam. As a result, efforts should be made to put it into effect everywhere. The problem, however, is much more complicated than what the theorists and ideologues of political Islam presented to the world, especially to Muslims, as seen by the Islamists' recent political failures. With citing the examples of Iran, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., I wish to convey to the Islamic movements that the issues of today are different. The beneficial use of knowledge must not be for the global domination of Muslims but for the welfare of common humanity. The issue is whether Muslims have a duty to usher in a new era under their leadership. Isn't simply introducing Islam to the world sufficient? Why is the Ummah being misled into believing that Muslims would rule the world one day if the concept of coming Muslim domination is not sufficiently supported by the facts? If there is any change, will it be a return to ancient times? I ask why we are more focused on methods than results. Isn't it a pity that there is a trend in the whole Ummah. Muslims are told not to think for themselves, for their predecessors have thought everything? So now we have to see from their eyes and think from their mind? This past-oriented approach is very harmful. We observe that there is a greater emphasis on knowledge of the past and very little emphasis on producing new knowledge in all of our Islamic colleges, institutions, and centres. Why I wonder? Is it not preferable that we focus on all people rather than just the Muslim Ummah? We won't have any significance in this world till then. There are passages whose interpretations and deduced directives date back to the seventh century. It is believed that they are still relevant now, even after fourteen centuries. For instance, it is a widespread belief in Muslim societies that men dominate, and women serve as their subjects. The argument for this is texts like الرجال قوامون على النساء ((husbands) are the protectors and maintainers of their wives. An-Nisaa: 43). Although they have a specific background. In today's world, rapid scientific technology and civilizational developments have made it impossible for a woman to be completely under the control of a man. Today, a woman wants to advance in every field, and her spirit cannot be suppressed. There is a dire need for a political, social, and economic rethink at all levels to understand the psychology and conditions of the people of the present day. Toddy’s man is a human who will not compromise his freedoms, and the inflexible and stagnant Muslim thought is not ready to give him those freedoms. So, a new humanist approach is needed. Until this is done and we are prepared to review our past ideological, legal, and jurisprudential legacy, we will be destined for a failed political experience repeating itself again and again, as the history of the last two thousand years shows. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU Aligarh. 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