Takfir

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–There was an impressive panel held here on Islamicist politics with Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and Mohammed Hafez of the (U.S.) Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey.  This was a rich late afternoon; thus, I am going to break the encounter into two separate articles.  I would like to investigate Hafez’ presentation on Islamic excommunication takfir, and the internal debates within Islamic culture itself on Muslim upon Muslim violence.

First, though a few comments from the moderator, Scott Field, who is an Australian.  Unknowing to the mainstream American public, Islamicism has a considerable history.  With the Global spread of the dominance of “democracies,” the “knee jerk” reaction by most Islamicists has been to reject it as a workable form of governance within the various chronological traditions within Islam.  Thus, here has been a tendency for these Muslims to engage much of the modern world with distrust.  Yet, Islamicist groups are not monolithic. A case in point is one which I have writing a lot on lately, Hamas, who chose to contest an election, and won, but they were totally rejected by those governments encouraging electoral politics in the Middle East because the people’s choice was not to their predilection.  What Mohammed Hafez spoke about were those groups who took up arms against other Muslim whom they deemed hostile to their values. 

Most of the victims of Jihadi and other violence have been fellow Muslims.  This has caused a backlash even amongst the radicals themselves.  Certain Muslims call other Muslims “kafirs”, and considered them as excommunicated from the body of believers.  Islamicists are grounded in Islamicist principles.  (Pretty self-evident.)  Many suicide bombers break the laws of their “classical” religion, but Jihadist work rather on the exceptions to traditional injunctions.

Customarily, the regulations that permit Muslims to struggle against other Muslims are 1.Tyrannical regimes; 2, Apostates 3. Heretics (unfortunately for the Sunni it too often means the Shia); 4. If any of situations rises to “legalize” resistance, True Believers should be spared, but, if it happens accidently it is unfortunate but forgivable.

We have to work on a case-by-case basis, but most of the War-like struggles in the contemporary Islamic World are being waged by Jihadist Movements.  “What convince them [to action] are the exceptions within [normative] Islam rather than the rule.”  That is exceptions to the Law argued over generations by Islamic jurisprudence scholars.

Currently, the violent Jihadis consider themselves to be in a defensive Jihad rather than in an offensive (i.e., conquest, etc.) mode.  This turns the tenets around for them.  There is the moral problem of (Muslim) human shields that the so-called Salafi (imitators of the pious patristic period of)Islam has employed.  Their reasoning is that it is alright to endanger innocent believers for the greater good; that is, to prevent the fall of dar al-Islam. 

Mohammed Hafez believes that Islam is neither a religion of hostilities or concord, but “…is a religion of [both] war and peace” (like every other creed on this globe)! 

Yet, in the Muslim world the United States and her allies are seen as a “Neo-Colonial force.”  

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Nathan Brown: Arab Democratic Movements

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Today is a hot (unusually muggy day from a hurricane a [thousand miles south] off the Pacific Coast of Mexico).  I am looking back to  a discussion documented in my notebooks in Berkeley with Nathan Brown and Mohammed Hafez–Brown is not Muslim, but he is a great scholar of Islam.  Professor Brown spoke to those present on understanding Islamicist politics and their electoral opposition to the often corrupt parties in power in their nation states.

Islamist Arab Parties – especially in Egypt – have had great successes in elections, but they almost never win. 

Mainstream “democracy” is manipulated by Arab leaders.  This is why Islamist Parties mostly refuse to take part in elections and often react violently by resisting against their rulers and their pseudo-“Parliaments.”  On the other hand, examples can be had in the victory of the Islamic Parties in Algeria which the Party in power refused to  recognize the results leading to a protracted civil war.  Another instance can be found in the Gaza 2006 election that Jimmy Carter and his observation team described as the fairest that they had ever witnessed, but both Israel and the United States and Egypt refused to recognize! 

Outside the Islamic world political Islamicism is equated with Nazism, but “It is more like [European] ‘Christian’ Democracy in that it, too, makes a religious reference to its politics.”  The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Be prepared!” which resonates from the Koran itself, and is on the visual crest of the Party.  The Brotherhood began as a secular movement to help individuals to become better Muslims, but later its philosophy flowed into politics.

Dr. Brown maintained that “Elections in the Middle East have predicable results, but uncertain rules.”  For the most part they are designed for the government to win.  Those Islamists who contend find it  advantageous for them (see my article on Da’wa and Democratic Politics in a back issue of this  publication) although they are “not recognized as a full political party” by the establishment.  Yet they are able to weather a harsh political climate. 

They are “highly ideological, and enforce their principles;” so, that they “will not rupture into discordant fissures although debate and schism has arisen over minute issues.”

Hard decisions have to be made over elections.  Elections can raise the primacy of politics over religion which is always a concern amongst devout people.

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