“Arab Democracy is Fantasy,” by Elie Elhadj

Elie Elhadj posted the following article to the comment section of SC. I have created a post for it as it raises an important and certainly controversial question that has been getting increasing attention since President Bush decided that the US should bring democracy to Iraq. At the heart of Bush’s argument was the contention that Arab countries and society are ready for Democracy but are being kept from it by bad regimes and autocrats. President Bush proposed forceful regime removal as the best way to remedy this. Most Americans supported their president or were silent in the run up to war. Democrats hardly opposed Bush, largely because they could not or would not argue against democracy promotion, which is an American religion.

Those critics who did argue against Bush’s policy claimed not that Iraq was unprepared for democratic government, but that the US was not the right vehicle to bring democracy. Few argued that Iraq was not prepared for democracy itself. Elie did. [JL]

Arab Democracy is Fantasy

Democratic ideology cannot defeat Islamic theology
By Elie Elhadj

Notwithstanding that Arab rule is tribal, corrupt, and mired in favoritism and nepotism it is significant that Arab rulers typically stay in office until death, be it natural or resulting from a military coup.  No Arab king or president, however, spares an opportunity, to display the loyalty of his subjects. While the presidents conduct stage-managed referendums in which they consistently manage to achieve near 100% approvals, the monarchs draw mile-long queues of happy-looking men on every national and religious occasion to demonstrate their people’s allegiance.

Regardless of the contrived appearance of these demonstrations, a degree of real support for Arab rulers does exist. It is impossible to falsify every ballot and force every subject to hail the king. When the presidents of Egypt and Yemen allowed contested presidential elections on September 7, 2005 and September 20, 2006; respectively, the former gained a fifth term with 88.6% of the votes cast, hardly different from his four previous uncontested referendums, and the latter won 77.2% majority, after 28 years of rule.

Representative democracy is not a natural choice for most Arabs. Obedience to hierarchical Islamic authority is. Obedience is at the heart of ulama’s teaching. In the Arab home, school, mosque, work place, and the nation at large a culture of blind obedience to autocracy prevails. Poverty, illiteracy, and ill health, together with a fatalistic belief in predestination make the masses politically quietist, save for small minorities of Jihadists on the one hand and Western influenced professional activists on the other. It should be noted that the Shiite partisans of Ali have been rebellious against the religious and temporal order of Sunni rulers since the early Islamic state. Obedience here, therefore, refers to the obedience of the adherents of a specific sect to the rulers of their own sect.

Curiously, Muslim, but non-Arab countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey, together representing almost two thirds of world Muslims, conduct democratic elections and allow female prime ministers and presidents. Obviously, these non-Arab Muslims have a more relaxed attitude towards Islamic dogma than Arabs do. Why is the political persona of the Arab masses quietist?

First, the masses fear the security forces.

Secondly, the masses worry that change could result in a worse ruler.

Thirdly, the influence of Islam is strong on the Arab peoples. The Quran describes them as the “best nation evolved to mankind” (3:110). The Prophet, His Companions, the Quran, and the Sanctuaries in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem are all Arabic. Arabs feel they are the guardians of an Arabic religion. Additionally, political frustrations during the past half-century over U.S. policies in the Middle East and Israeli humiliation have been drawing Arabs closer to Islam.

Obedience to authority is the hallmark of Islam’s political theory. In the harsh environment of the Arabian Desert, disobedience and strife could waste scarce water and staples. Islam is a way of life guided by the Quran and the Prophet’s actions and words in the Hadith. To be a good Muslim one must abide strictly by the rules of the Quran and the Hadith. The Prophet Muhammad, a product of desert living, enshrined obedience to authority into the Islamic Creed. In 4:59, the Quran orders: “Obey God and obey God’s messenger and obey those of authority among you.” The Prophet has also reportedly said: “Hear and obey the emir, even if your back is whipped and your property is taken; hear and obey.”

Belief in predestination makes tyrannical rulers seem as if they were ordained by God’s will.

Many eminent Islamic jurists opine that in the name of societal peace, years of unjust ruler are better that a day of societal strife.

Today, Arab rulers exploit Islam to prolong their dictatorships. Egypt’s president and the Saudi king declared on February 24, 2004: “The Western model of democracy does not necessarily fit a region largely driven by Islamic teaching.” Pandering ulama to Arab kings and presidents preach that obedience to Muslim authority is a form of piety. Unless the historicity of the Quran and the Hadith are allowed to be  examined, freely, rationally, and philosophically and without the fear of persecution under blasphemy laws and ulama intimidation genuine Arab democratic reforms will not evolve for generations, if ever.

Fourthly, in the Arab home, poverty drives the father to transform his children into a ‘security blanket’ for old age. Fear of destitution makes the father into what Nobel Laureate Najib Mahfouz calls the “central agent of repression,” constantly threatening his children with the wrath of God if they disobey him. At school, corporal punishment terrorizes students into blind obedience in classrooms. The manager at work, a product of the Arab milieu, demands obsequiousness from subordinates. In the thin Arab labor markets, the employee finds that blind obedience averts financial catastrophe.

Islamist democracy is no Western democracy

Lately, leaders of the Arab World’s best known Islamist movement, the Muslim Brothers, have been supporting free parliamentary elections.

Is Islamist parliamentary democracy consistent with Western democracy? The answer is no. The parliament in an Islamist democracy is not the final authority in lawmaking. Sovereignty in Islamist democracy is to God whereas sovereignty under Western democracy is to the people. Islamist parliamentary democracy superimposes an Islamist constitutional court; composed of unelected clerics, on top of an elected parliament to ensure that man’s laws comply with God’s laws, a structure similar to Iran’s Council of Guardians.

Is the Islamist constitutional court similar to Western constitutional courts? Again, the answer is no. While the former adjudicates according to the ulama’s interpretation of Islamic law, the latter adjudicates according to parliamentary laws.

The failure of Washington’s Arab democratization project

Washington has been supporting Arab dictators in order to keep the Islamists at bay. The advances that the Islamists made in every one of the Arab countries that held elections in 2005 and early 2006 at the instigation of the Bush administration indicate that the foray into Arab elections is over.

In the occupied Palestinian territories, the Islamist Hamas won 74 of the 132 seats. Iraq’s January 30, 2005 elections were expedited, if not forced, by the leader of the country’s Shiite majority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. His candidates won 140 of the 275 parliamentary seats: In the December 15, 2005 elections, they won 128 seats. In Saudi Arabia, the 2005 municipal council elections were theatrics. Women were excluded altogether. One-half of the councilors were government appointed and the councils have no power, merely a local advisory role. In Egypt, democratic reforms meant many restrictions on the opposition and a fifth term for the incumbent. Finally, the cause of democracy was certainly not enhanced when Colonel Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator, capitulated to U.S. pressure without an ounce of change in his tyrannical rule.

The U.S. “War on Terrorism” has also delayed Arab democratic reforms. Since Arab rulers’ cooperation is needed to eliminate the local Jihadists, Washington cannot seriously pressure its dictator friends to become democrats, because of the fear that democracy could usher more Islamists into city halls. Furthermore, the enormity of the damage inflicted upon Iraq since 2003 by the American occupation in the name of democracy has repelled the Arab masses from democratic reforms.

Arab kings and presidents are delighted!

What is the solution?
Since democratic governance is unlikely to grow in Arab soil, an alternative would be benevolent dictatorship. Except for its non-representative nature, benevolent dictatorship could deliver participatory rule, ensure justice for all, fight corruption, nepotism, sectarianism and tribalism. Such traits would also defuse the anger that breeds and inflames the Jihadists.

How likely is it that benevolent dictatorships might replace Arab rulers’ tyranny? The answer is that since benevolent dictatorship does not evolve institutionally there is no predictable pattern to discern here. There might be a coup d’état by a benevolent dictator tomorrow; or, there might not be one, ever.

Arab democracy is sheer fantasy.
____

Elie Elhadj was Chief Executive Officer of a major Saudi bank during most of the 1990s. Born in Syria, he retired from banking early to earn a Ph.D. from the London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. He has published two books:

  1. The Islamic Shield: Arab Resistance to Democratic and Religious Reforms
  2. Experiments in Achieving Water and Food Self-Sufficiency in the Middle East: The Consequences of Contrasting Endowments, Ideologies, and Investment Policies in Saudi Arabia and Syria

Comments (116)


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101. Elie Elhadj said:

GHAT ALBIRD,
Thanks.
My favorite book is “History of the Arabs” by Philip K. Hitti, a book I keep referring to and deliberating.

JAD,
Thanks for the kind offer.

To publish a translation of this controversial book in Arabic, we need a publishing house willing to undertake the challenge. In the Middle East, this would be difficult, if not impossible. An exception might just possibly be in Lebanon. Do you or any one in this forum know of a publishing house that could be interested?

Elie

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February 28th, 2010, 8:35 am

 

102. Friend in America said:

The following came from a news agency in India that is well regarded for carefulness in its reporting. This news offers a plausible explanation for Secretary Clinton’s backing away in recent weeks from her effort to renew warm relations with Syria. If the yellow cake was shipped to Iran last summer, Syria’s involvment with Iran is thicker than publically known and presents a continuing danger to the middle east:

” Tokyo, Feb 28 (Kyodo) North Korea provided about 45 tons of “yellowcake” uranium to Syria in September 2007 for production of fuel for an undeclared nuclear reactor, diplomatic and military sources said.

But the shipment was followed shortly by an Israeli air strike targeting the reactor and the uranium involved is believed to have been transferred to Iran around last summer, according to a Western diplomatic source.

The move highlights North Korea’s nuclear proliferation activities, leaving open the possibility that Iran would use the yellowcake for covert uranium enrichment.

But a Middle East military source has said that Syria may have returned the yellowcake to North Korea in the wake of the air strike.

UN Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from exporting nuclear-related materials and prohibit all member countries from procuring such items from the reclusive communist country.”

When compared to this the Golan issue is trivia

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February 28th, 2010, 8:34 pm

 

103. qunfuz said:

Unfortunately, I’ve missed this discussion. I’d like to briefly say that although I do think that Islamic civilisation’s greatest weakness has always been political organisation (I”ve written about this, and will provide a link in the next few weeks), and although I find Dr elhadj’s argument fascinating and provocative, I do think it is far too simplistic, and even a little Islamophobic.

For a start, the failures of the classical ulema to develop a political science obviously originate from concrete political events and not from Islam itself. Islam contains many concepts (shura, ra’i, ijma, istislah) which could be a firm foundation for democracy. Islamic authority, at least in Sunnism, is not inevitably ‘hierarchical’. It is the failures of Muslims to establish Islamic or participatory political structures which has opened the door to the authority of the clan in its widest sense – the family, the tribe, the sect, etc. Islamic political authority should not be hierarchical.

It is certainly not obvious that non-Arabs have a more relaxed attitude to Islamic dogma. Have you been to Pakistan? It is a complete non-sequitor to say that if Pakistan is a democracy (and ultimately, the army and the landlords rule there) therefore it is more Islamically relaxed.

Better reasons for the lack of Arab democracy are not hard to find:

the general issue that there is not a wide consensus on who we are and how we should associate with others. Are we Muslims, one sect, Syrians, Levantines, the international working class, etc. The ‘natural’ evolution of these ideas in Europe has not been replicated in the middle east because our states were created by Europe.

next, and obviously related, the borders of these states were often drawn clumsily by outside powers, and exacerbated sectarian and ethnic divisions. if states do not have legitimacy in the eyes of their subjects, the subjects will hang on to ‘clan’ authorities.

In the Gulf, a foreign working class (and professional class) has been imported. This has stunted the social-political development of these countries. Britain, for instance, couldn’t just expell its workers when they organised and asked for more rights, or its professionals when they asked for greater decision-making powers, so British society had to become more participatory.

the small and weak upper middle class in countries like syria was – rightly or wrongly – discredited by its failure to stop the ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestine in 48. Hence the rise of military based politics.

Countries like Syria, Egypt and Iraq for various reasons had peasantries which were historically oppressed and kept miles from power, and the social mobility set in place by post-colonialism, centralisation of the new states, the rise of the military, etc, brought these classes suddenly to power.

It is too simplistic to talk about ‘islamist parliamentary democracy’ as if it is one fixed model. Mnay Muslims, including non-practising ones, are trying to work out what ilsmaic or islamist democracy might mean. The debate is fertile and by no means over.

Finally, I’ve been to Egypt a few times, and it is blatantly obvious to me that 77.2% of Egyptians do NOT support their president. Egypt, with its large Sunni majority, active if repressed worker’s movement, and ancient borders, more or less, and ancient centralisation, is a country in the region which could quite easily become democratic if only the US would stop funding the laughing cow.

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March 1st, 2010, 11:22 am

 

104. Elie Elhadj said:

QUNFUZ,
Thanks for the comment. I would like to respond as follows:

- “A little Islamophobic”. You are delicate. SHAMI already said in comment 96 that my “opinion is not very different from that of the Zionist rulers.”

I am not the least surprised at such reaction. The subject matter is sensitive, a taboo, Kufr. Until recently, I could not put myself together to question such issues either. Little by little, however, I managed to push the borders of my own mental prison.

- “The failures of the classical ulema to develop a political science obviously originate from concrete political events and not from Islam itself”.

I would say that the concrete political events you correctly refer to have shaped Islam itself. During the first two-and-a-half centuries following the death of the Prophet, Muslims witnessed momentous doctrinal, legal, and political conflicts. There were four civil wars, seven state capital cities, and numerous violent political and religious rebellions. These events spilled rivers of blood and divided the nascent Islamic nation into many factions and sects. The Islamic creed is, in part at least, a product of these events.

- Islam contains many concepts (shura, ra’i, ijma, istislah) which could be a firm foundation for democracy.

As long as these concepts evolve around the concept of God’s sovereignty, not sovereignty of the people, representative democracy will not be attained. I asked in the post: Is Islamist parliamentary democracy consistent with Western democracy? The answer was no. The parliament in an Islamist democracy is not the final authority in lawmaking. Sovereignty in Islamist democracy is to God whereas sovereignty under Western democracy is to the people. Islamist parliamentary democracy superimposes an Islamist constitutional court; composed of unelected clerics, on top of an elected parliament to ensure that man’s laws comply with God’s laws, a structure similar to Iran’s Council of Guardians. Is the Islamist constitutional court similar to Western constitutional courts? Again, the answer is no. While the former adjudicates according to the ulama’s interpretation of Islamic law, the latter adjudicates according to parliamentary laws.

- “Have you been to Pakistan”?

The fact that Pakistan had a woman for prime minister, twice, is a credit no Arab country can boast. Shari’a laws in every Arab country, other than Tunisia, treat women as chattel. A week ago, on February 26, 2010, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Barrak opined that those who promote heresies like the mixing of men and women in the workplace or in educational institutions should be put to death.

Pakistan has retrograded during the recent past. Wahhabi indoctrination to the estimated 15 million or so Pakistani expatriate workers who had worked in Saudi Arabia during the past 35 years or continue to work there must have had its toll. If only a small proportion embraced Wahhabism, hundreds of thousands could be spreading the Wahhabi creed of extremism, intolerance, and violence around. Wahhabi clerics spent an estimated $75 million over the past 25 years proselytizing and radicalizing clerics, preachers, and foot soldiers from Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, and Somalia to Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan. The Wahhabi message is also heard worldwide through Saudi owned or controlled satellite television stations, Internet sites, newspapers, and magazines.

- “Mnay Muslims, including non-practising ones, are trying to work out what islmaic or islamist democracy might mean”.

In responding to OFFENDED in comment 59 I said: It is curious to note that while blind obedience to Muslim hierarchical authority is made by Arab rulers and their palace ulama to be an intrinsic part of Islam and a form of piety, one can also find in certain Prophetic Hadiths a golden nugget; namely, support for the creation of representative democracy. However, regrettably, no Arab ruler or a member of their palace ulama would allow such a “dangerous” subject into the open because it might expedite the end their non-representative dictatorships. Through the invocation of certain Hadith traditions, as reported by at least three canonical Hadith collectors, one can argue that the Prophet had advocated the creation of elected legislative chambers akin to Western parliaments and that such elected legislative chambers can enact modern laws, even change Shari’a laws. It may further be argued that Muslim countries that hinder the emergence of such elected legislative chambers would be in violation of Islam.

In responding to NORMAN in comment 86 I elaborated on comment 59. For the full thesis on this important issue please refer to comments 86. Your input would be helpful.

- “Egypt.”

On September 7, 2005 President Husni Mubarak won a fifth six-year term with 88.6% of the vote cast. While it is risky to rely on such stage-managed performances to measure genuine support, Arab farcical referendums and elections do reflect a degree of voter approval. This conclusion is based on the belief that it is difficult, if not physically impossible, to falsify every ballot. If the voter wishes to cast a “no” vote, the referendum provides a secret ballot opportunity to say so.

Elie

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March 1st, 2010, 3:10 pm

 

105. qunfuz said:

Thanks for your response, Elie. I am actually in agreement with many of your points. I do agree that the formative phase of Islam (the fitna, leading to the contradictory and power-submissive theories of the ulema) has become indistinguishable from Islam itself. And I’m not an Islamist. But I do think that any tradition, Islam included, continues to adapt and develop to circumstances, and I don’t think the story has finished yet. Western democracy developed out of Christian, particularly Protestant, ideas. The democrats that emerged after the English revolution (or civil war) would have told us in no uncertain terms that sovereignty ultimately belonged to God. Many American democrats today would say the same (one nation under God). In the absence of God’s concrete intervention, however, ‘God’ became ‘our shared highest values’. The same could happen in this region.

Wahhabism horrifies me. See this http://qunfuz.com/2009/08/27/the-crisis-of-islamic-civilisation/ and this http://qunfuz.com/2006/12/09/the-horns-of-satan/ But again, its heavy influence on the Muslim world in recent years is the result of political and economic conditions (oil money, Muslim workers travelling to Saudi, Saudi control of media, rapid urbanisation, the Saudi-US alliance) rather than ant inherent quality in the Muslims or Islam. In Pakistan, the Sharia laws are much more retrograde than in most Arab countries. This is certainly linked to Pak workers returned from KSA, but also to the Afghan ‘jihad’ against the Soviet Union and the Zia ul Haq dictatorship.

Calling open debate of the kind of government we should have ‘kufr’ is the Wahhabi line, which I’m sure you don’t share. I agree that Islamic civilisation would have been immeasurably stronger (might even still exist) if such taboos had not been established. I certainly am not a believer in such taboos, and I certainly don’t wish to suggest that you shouldn’t write about them. So don’t be offended. I called your argument slightly Islamophobic because I think it is too essentialist. I don’t mean that you personally are Islamophobic. As I said, I’ve just written a piece on this subject myself, based on Abdelwahhab el-Affendi’s excellent book Who Needs an Islamic State. Affendi’s idea of a functioning ‘Islamic state’ is a non-coercive democracy, or perhaps a collection of democracies linked by treaty, not unlike the European Union. He undercuts simplistic Islamist visions by sympathetically but critically examining the parts of Islamic history which you talk about. I salute you for talking about it. I’m itching to post what I’ve written, but will refrain for a while as this week I may try to have it published somewhere.

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March 1st, 2010, 6:04 pm

 

106. Elie Elhadj said:

QUNFUZ,

Enjoyed reading the piece on The Horns of Satan:
http://qunfuz.com/2006/12/09/the-horns-of-satan/
All that you stated is accurate and true. Thanks.

The slogans “one nation under God” and “in God we trust” etc… have no law making significance. The state is secular and its parliamentary laws are final once signed by the president. The church has no role in checking the godliness of any law.

It should be emphasized that in separating religion from the state the individual should be able to follow whatever religion they feel inclined to follow. The laws of the land, however, would those agreed by the people, not those imposed by the ulama in the name of God.

At the risk of becoming pedantic, may I repeat a paragraph in comment 104.

In responding to OFFENDED in comment 59 I said: one can find in certain Prophetic Hadiths a golden nugget; namely, support for the creation of representative democracy. However, no Arab ruler or a member of their palace ulama would allow such a “dangerous” subject into the open because it might expedite the end their non-representative dictatorships. Through the invocation of certain Hadith traditions, as reported by at least three canonical Hadith collectors, one can argue that the Prophet had advocated the creation of elected legislative chambers akin to Western parliaments and that such elected legislative chambers can enact modern laws, even change Shari’a laws. It may further be argued that Muslim countries that hinder the emergence of such elected legislative chambers would be in violation of Islam.

In responding to NORMAN in comment 86 I elaborated on comment 59. For the full thesis on this issue please refer to comments 86. Your input would be helpful.

Elie

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March 1st, 2010, 8:34 pm

 

107. qunfuz said:

I’ve looked at comment 86, Dr. Elie, and I agree with it. These are precisely some of the reasons why Islam and democracy, or Arab societies and democracy, need not be incompatible. Undoubtedly we need rereadings of Islam and an extension of the notion of ijma beyond the ulema. here http://qunfuz.com/2007/09/26/a-ramadan-reflection/ I include an article by the British Muslim thinker Zia uddin Sardar which covers much of the same ground.

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March 2nd, 2010, 6:53 pm

 

108. Elie Elhadj said:

QUNFUZ,

Thanks for your input on comment 86. I value your judgment. Also thanks for the excellent expose on your Website: “A Ramadan Reflection” and the articles by Abdal-Hakim Murad and Professor Ziauddin Sardar.

I might sound contradictory. On one hand, I contend that Arab democracy is fantasy. On the other, I contend that Islam calls for the creation of elected legislative chambers akin to Western parliaments and that those Muslim countries that hinder the emergence of such legislative chambers are in violation of Islam. Are the two contentions reconcilable? The answer is in the affirmative. Arab rulers focus on those parts of the Islamic creed that help perpetuate their dictatorships to such an extent that it has become impossible to see how genuine religious and political reforms can ever evolve in Arab societies. Meanwhile, those parts of the Islamic creed, like the Prophetic Hadith in comment 86, which might evolve genuine religious and political reforms are suppressed and their advocates, if they ever draw a following, persecuted and prosecuted because such parts might bring an end to Arab rulers’ tyranny.

I enjoyed Professor Sardars article. With your permission, I would like to share the following paragraphs:

“The Qur’an has to be reinterpreted from epoch to epoch – which means the Shari`ah, and by extension Islam itself, has to be reformulated with changing contexts.

“Over time the clerics and religious scholars have removed the people from the equation – and reduced ijma to ‘the consensus of the religious scholars’. Not surprisingly, authoritarianism, theocracy and despotism reigns supreme in the Muslim world.

“Obscurantist Mullahs, in the guise of the `ulama, dominate Muslim societies and circumscribe them with fanaticism and absurdly reductive logic.

“Islam has been permitted to languish as the professional domain of people more familiar with the world of the eleventh century than the twenty-first century we now inhabit. And we cannot allow this class to bury the noble idea of Ijtihad into frozen and distant history.

“The idea of ijma, the central notion of communal life in Islam, has been reduced to the consensus of a select few.

“Ijma must mean consensus of all citizens leading to participatory and accountable governance.”

Comment 86 provides a possible road map towards democratic governance in Islam. I hope that we can engage in this important matter further.

Elie

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March 2nd, 2010, 9:45 pm

 

109. EHSANI2 said:

This debate has been outstanding. The discussion is very civil given the sensitivity of the subject matter. Thanks to both Elie and Josh for bringing such a smart debate to this forum. I , for one, did learn a lot from it.

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March 2nd, 2010, 10:26 pm

 

110. Ghat Albird said:

A Counterpunch commentary on Islamic disunity.

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts03022010.html

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March 2nd, 2010, 11:09 pm

 

111. Mr. President said:

Elie,
the list of what you called BD leaders includes: the last few ottoman sultans…Hafiz Assad,… Ataturk,…Islam had great leaders that really wanted to change things for the better. they tried but had limited success. they were confronted by the masses and other factors. I wish you presented a new solution besides what you called BD,

this is a very complex subject. you are dismissing many factors: Colonialism, Environment, Technology, Competition between empires….

Wahabism is an invention of colonialism. The Sunnis rejected it for the last 200 years and fought great wars against it. Colonialism used it to destroy the last Islamic empire (Ottoman). Churchill lost 100,000 men as an Admiral fighting the Turks and failed. However, he was able to destroy the Ottomans by using this new invention called Wahhabi thinking and its military gangs. The ottoman empire had many problems but it could have been repaired, modernized,…. The west used Wahabism to bring the Soviet Union to its knees, it used it to prevent science, free thinking, technology, economic power… in the Muslim masses. Tribes of Njid ( area of the city of Riad) used it as a tool to grab wealth and land. Most Sunnis practice Wahabism without knowing. why? This is because most mosques built and controlled by it. Most of the Islamic books that we read, including the current interpretation of the Quran, are published by its press for free . Islam brought us great Ulema/scholars and teachers from Rumi to Ibn Arabi, to Averroes,…the reason we have this backward type of Ulema/scholars because colonialism and its adopted version of Islam (Wahabism) would not allow us to have the other free thinking type. there are great Islamic books and hundreds of interpretations of the Holy Quran. However, such interpretations are and were prevented from going to the press or had their publication rights purchased by the Saudi or even had their manuscripts burned by the Wahhabis. Almost every Muslim family has a book called Ibn Katheer Interpretation of the Quran. Ibn Katheer was a student of the scholar Ibn Taymieh about 700 years ago (Wahabism is based on the very rigid and racist thinking of this man). Ibn Taymieh enjoyed the practice of killing babies, women and children in the villages surrounding Damascus and north of Syria. He did that if their parents did not agree to his version of Islam. This practice was also adopted by the Wahabis. One could ask himself why the West supports and supported this version of Islam?

It seems that most of your analysis, thinking, and historical facts came from reading the current Wahabi version of Islam. Islam is a system that lasted, filtered, improved, modified, reinterpreted for more than 1500 years. A lot of ideas of the Founding Fathers came from Islamic teaching. take for example the concept of the jury system. a person should be judged by his peers (from his local environment ) and not by a judge. the bill of rights is also Islamic in its nature. the idea of having selected judges (highest court) interpreting the constitution is also islamic 100%. However, in Islamic version, the constitution (Quran) is interpreted, by many groups of judges (sects, schools, communities,…). Sadly, with the help of colonialism, Whabism was successful in controlling all.

sorry for the grammar/misspelling. it was a quick note.

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March 3rd, 2010, 9:08 am

 

112. Elie Elhadj said:

EHSANI2,

Thanks for your support.

The link that QUNFUZ provided is valuable:
http://qunfuz.com/2007/09/26/a-ramadan-reflection/

I recommend that every one should read Prof. Sardar’s enlightened rational, and powerful article. I only wish that such great contributions are translated to Arabic, notwithstanding the fact that if such sensitive issues are debated widely in Arabic circles, the forces of darkness, the Arab palace ulama and their despotic benefactors, shall tear the “kuffars” who advocate such “heresies” to shreds, possibly death. Nonetheless, these issues must be discussed among Arabs widely. Eventually, the agents of change shall prevail.

We must work together to find ways and means to: first, widen this discussion in general; and, second, take the discussion to the Arab world.

Elie

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March 3rd, 2010, 9:15 am

 

113. Husam from Canada said:

I read Mr. Elhadj and the various comments with astonishment.

With respect to all of you, many of whom seem well versed (I guess Generation X :), please consider the following:

1)What is the definition of democracy here? Are you referring to the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group? If so, read (and re-read) post #32 by NAFDIK which clearly and logically dismantles the discourse. Or, are you referring to “Arab Democracy” in relation to Democracy in the west which the youngest of Generation Y-Z knows is based on a hoax dual party dictatorship (conservative-democrats) run and controlled by special interest and lobbyist (no further clarification on who runs Washington, London, Paris or Rome necessary here). Even my wise un-educated mother laughs at the U.S elections bonanza show. Canada, Europe, etc… is no different. People need to wake up!!!

2)”Every innovation is a misguidance” translated from: Kullu bida’tin daiala. You can not read the holly Quran translated to an English audience without loosing the root meaning of each word. We know the fallacy of this with any religious book. Such an objection stems from the misinterpretation of the term Kull (“every”) in the Hadith to be all encompassing without any exception, whereas in Arabic it may mean “Nearly all” or “the vast majority.” Further, was this in reference to innovation as in science for example or innovation as in prayer and worship? What was the context?

3)I am sick and tired of people, even PHD’s confusing muslims with Islam and using their eloquent English as target practice to vilify religion. The failure in the Middle East has nothing to do with Arabs, Democracy, or Islam and everything to do with the establishment of “New World Order” in 1773 by Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the beginning of the Federal Reserve monetary system in 1913 that was emulated the world over and the installation, monetization and continuation of dictators in the divided Arab world either directly or indirectly. These statements are not an apologist – blame the west for the ills of the east, rather they are truths which are suppressed for various reasons. FOLLOW THE MONEY, you will understand the W5’s of any issue and why things are the way they are.

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March 5th, 2010, 3:25 am

 

114. Bling said:

Islam has always been ‘tailored’ to fit the needs of the local potentate.

There is no absolute Islam, because Islam has a number of ‘functional measures’ that make it easy to change doctrines on the basis of ‘public interest’.

Who better to do this than a benevolent dictator?

Because there are so many tribes with long memories in Islamic regions, the only way to shield vulnerable tribes from old hatreds is to have a strong army led by a strong king with a vested interest in maintaining the peace.

The treatment of ‘others’ (religious minorities) would be better under a benevolent king than under a wild situation such as what exists in Iraq.

Having said that, I do hope Iraq succeeds in becoming fully democratic. One can dream.

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May 28th, 2010, 2:55 pm

 

115. almasri said:

“Islam has always been ‘tailored’ to fit the needs of the local potentate.

There is no absolute Islam, because Islam has a number of ‘functional measures’ that make it easy to change doctrines on the basis of ‘public interest’.”

Anyone who makes such statements knows nothing about Islam. Bling, please educate yourself first and then come back and utter such nonesense. No one, with a slightest understanding of Islam, will take you seriously based on what you say.

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May 28th, 2010, 5:11 pm

 

116. Kyla Villa said:

great post..thanks for sharing,very informative

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January 15th, 2012, 2:07 am

 

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