Egyptian Chronicles: Regarding that Ambitious Religious Revolution Starting in Cairo

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Regarding that Ambitious Religious Revolution Starting in Cairo

Following the Paris attack tragedy and what happened on Friday , suddenly the West began to pay attention to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s call inside Al-Azhar for a religious revolution when it comes to Islamic thought and discourse. Some even began in Egypt and outside it to consider El-Sisi , a former military man as the Ultimate religious reformer and Islam’s Martin Luther too.

I do not know if those hopes and bets on El-Sisi to reform Islam and Islamic thoughts are just hopes or jokes to be honest with my due respect.

Religious thought revolution needs a true freedom of thought and expression to take place not under censorship and repression. Do I need to speak about the situation of freedom of expression in Egypt right now !? Do I need to speak about the situation of freedom of though in Egypt now when we are not allowed to comment whether on unjust legal verdicts or dare to discuss the military or security situation in Sinai !? Bassem Youssef’s show was shot down and no critical voices are allowed on TV.

Personally I believe El-Sisi’s words in Al-Azhar were more of a PR stunt to show the West how he stood against radicalism and extremism to Islam unlike Morsi. For his luck comes Charlie Hebdo’s tragedy and now he has become Islam’s Martin Luther in some sick joke. Ironically both Mohamed Ibn Abdel Wahab , the founder of Wahabism and Hassan El-Banna , founder of Muslim Brotherhood were considered as reformists ironically.

Needless to say even when you think about what El-Sisi said , you will know that that man was speaking unrealistically gathering the One billion and half Muslims all over the globe under one Islamic discourse and thought. Muslims are not the same , there are Sunni and Shiite as well Sufism orders in both sects. There are different schools in Islamic interpretation for the Religious and Holy text. Just to believe that the one billion and half will follow one discourse and one school of thought is something silly.

That true religious though and discourse revolution means liberating the religious though and discourse from both State control as extremism control.

I do not know how we are going to liberate the religious discourse from state control when one of the most effective weapons used by the State is the religious discourse when it needs.  El-Sisi told Sheikh Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb that he would stand in front of God during the judgment day  and would ask him and other Al-Azhar Sheikhs  why they did not stand against extremism. Of course like famous Egyptian writer Belal Fadl said in his column in Al-Araby Al-Gadid Almighty Lord.

Anyhow I do not understand how Al-Azhar institution, Egypt and the world’s oldest Sunni Islamic institution is going to lead this religious revolution or reform itself without a complete cultural revolution in the Egyptian society. When you think about it Al-Azhar is just another state institution that needs a revolution of its own to save from it decay that hit all the state institutions in the past 30 years.

Some analysts believe that the fact that Al-Azhar was nationalized in 1961 by Nasser affected its discourse and thought.

Ironically Al-Azhar Institution was founded to be the regime’s religious arm spreading its beliefs. The Fatimid caliphate of North Africa established Al-Azhar in their capital “Cairo” to become the beacon of Shia Islam in the world or this is what they hoped for. Then came Saladin, the founder of Ayyubid dynasty and the hero who stood against the crusades. Saladin turned Al-Azhar from the Shia Islam beacon in the world to become the beacon of Sunni Islam in the world in some historical irony and currently it is against Shia.

Back to our topic despite politicians and rulers played a critical role across time in spreading religions and religious reforms most of the times for their own political gains , true religious revolution won’t happen by giving an order to a bunch of appointed sheikhs who care for their seats more than anything to fight extremism.

There many reasons for extremisms , one of them is outdated radical religious discourse and another reason is oppression. You cannot solve the problem without tackling all reasons.

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17 comments :

  1. So you believe that the President has courageously accepted the huge risk of becoming a marked man from his Revolution appeal for PR reasons ?

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  2. The next religious revolution will not be the work of a single person. Nor will it be caused by religious authorities/clerics, politicians, or warlike military commanders. It will be caused by individuals realizing that spirituality does not need collective organization as a communal structure or orthodoxies. It is a continuous journey, not a set in stone thing.

    The next religious revolution will be global and affect every single faith.

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  3. There is no reform of Islam possible until Muslims come to understand that the Quran is not the word of God but merely a book written by shysters, and it is unsatisfactory, to say the least, as a work of spiritual guidance. That's what educated westerners have come to understand about the Bible and the Old Testament. Unfortunately the Quran contains passages like

    Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun [the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.]"

    Quran (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

    Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

    and many, many, many more that are explicit calls to terrorism against the west, and cannot be avoided by mere 'reinterpretation': outright rejection of parts of the Quran is necessary if Muslims are to advance with the rest of humanity through the 21st century, rather than being left behind, or blasted to gristle by the west's superior militaries.

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    1. well if you are keen to mention the verses translated from Arabic , you should be aware that many verses where revealed for specific circumstances, time and place. Already Jason if Muslims understood those verses in the same way you are , there would be no minorities and there would wars all over the globe. By the way there is difference between you and between those radicals who misunderstand those verses.

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    2. I know that, as you say, "...many verses where [were] revealed for specific circumstances, time and place." But when you make that statement, it comes dangerously close to acknowledging that the Quran was written by people who wrote under the circumstances and constraints of their time, and was not actually the word of Allah, who would have had no constraints. I think you actually realize that, but that you cannot say so, because it puts you in an untenable position as a Muslim.

      I give you credit for one thing, Z. Even though you don't like me, and many have tried to persuade you, you seldom censor me. To all appearances, you take freedom of speech seriously. That's not very Islamic of you.

      Unfortunately the 'extremists' are right that certain of the most hostile passages are meant to apply to all Muslims at all times. For example Quran (9:29)

      "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, [even if they are of] the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the Jizya [No thank you, LOL] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

      And Quran (9:29)

      "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."

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    3. Regarding your "Already Jason if Muslims understood those verses in the same way you are, there would be no minorities and there would wars all over the globe." Surely you cannot be serious. With the exception of the United States, where a critical mass of Muslims has not yet been achieved, Muslims have proved themselves in country after country to be hostile, insular, unassimilable minorities. They are irksome, unstable, bellicose neighbors. And practically every time a terrorist act is committed, it turns out to be Muslims who did it.

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  4. Dear zeinoubia and proud to call you my muslim sister. Egypt suffers from many problems but islam is not one of them. Ignorance is and on the subject of ignorance dont even bother to respond to Jason he is only seeking to stir things for his own agenda.

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    1. I call it saying what I believe, you call it having an agenda. Whatever. The Quran says what it says, and that's a problem. Because if you want to have an argument with the 'extremists' (an inside argument, between 'extremist' Muslims like Hamdy Youssef, and 'moderate' Muslims like you and Zeinobia) concerning the meaning of many inflammatory passages in the Quran, the extremists will be right, and you will be wrong.

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    2. Latifa would you agree that this is the so called the revolution? To deny, disagree, or believe in the Quran and hear all points of views, and then make up your mind. Is it okay to say that God made a mistake if you believe so? Is it okay for you and God to give us mortals that right?
      I just hope that the answer is not, "sure as long as you don't insult my beliefs or cross the red line". Because I think this is exactly the point, crossing the red line.

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  5. Scroll halfway down to List of Islamic Terror Attacks For the Past 30 Days. Then scroll to the bottom for similar compendia for 2014, 2013, 2012,...

    Do Christians act this way? Buddhists? Hindus?

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  6. I (for one ) can see and appreciate Jason's concerns here for I too am a westerner who is astonished when American kids find some type of refuge in the today's muslim extremism. I do not agree with Jason that the OT was written by "shysters" and that the majority of westerners think so too, because they do NOT think that way at all. They by and large believe that Moses was the mouthpiece for God whether true or not. They believe that his cohort and right hand man Joshua was right for taking militarily (killing) and taking land which was not his to take. So all religions have some type of fault and we should not all be fault-finders, but tolerance is the key to harmony. In this way I'd disagree with Jason unless he is suggesting tolerance for ALL. Whether we agree or disagree with the religion's founders. The same kind of hatred and killing and vengeance can be seen uttered by laws founded in the Mosaic texts. Thats sad but true, and likewise could be said, "right for it's time and contextual environment" A sign of the times. But personally, I prefer "turn the other cheek" IF I had to choose a religious icon.

    Remember Jason, the world you claim rejects the Old Testament would then reject all of orthodox Judaism and many political parties which are not liberal in Israel today who believe in it hook line and sinker (emphasis on sinker)!

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  7. Religion/spirituality does not require an orthodox set of doctrines or a kind of cultural milieu/community. The world's religious establishments at the present time are generally holding back more advanced forms of spiritual expression. The historical context of the origins of religious are poorly understand by most people. Religious communalism has lessened interest in exploring more accurate historical accounts of their origins.

    It goes without saying that political and military authorities are wrecking countries across the globe and are a source of huge problems. Talk of religious revolution/change/reformation should in no way be used as an excuse to exonerate political barbarians and hucksters. Minds clouded with fear and hatred cannot solve problems.

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  8. only if you are an idiot! With no mental faculties for understanding....opps sorry perhaps you are. BTW would you apply that to the talmudic statments on the inforiority of gentiles and permissibility of shedding their blood and the superiority of jews or perhaps some of the old testament verses seemingly violent and especially if taken out of context. Mischievous devils can always as the saying goes "quote scripture" to defend the nefarious desires.

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    1. All major religions are based on irrational texts.

      The main difference I see between Islam and Chritianity/Judaism today is that both Christianity and Judaism know they're defeated. They pray to god to change the situation, but no more than that. Prayers is all that's left for those 2 religions.

      However, for Islam, there are followers who think they can change the situation by sword, they think they can make the world believe in Islam by their military actions, like in the 7th century. We dont have this in Christanity or Judaism today.

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  9. The problem with the Martin Luther parrallel is that Luther was very lucky not to be burned at the stake. Also the reformed branch turned out to be almost as bigoted as the mother church. Do you know that Calvin a Protestant leader condemned a number of his fellow Protestants to death for heresy?
    Only actions can be judged good or bad not beliefs. Many Muslims are exemplary (like Muhammed Younis or the Franco-algerian cop in Paris) but they are good because their actions are good. Now if you say that good beliefs lead to good actions, I think that is more complicated. We act on what we believe. I am not so sure. People have a complex psychological makeup that constitutes the individual. Why one person becomes a serial killer when another becomes a selfless hero is a mystery not fully expained by religious beliefs or indoctrination. According to most religions, all humans have both the capacity for good and the capacity for evil. Most respond to the light more than the darkness and lead worthwhile but not perfect lives.

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  10. On a birdseye view scale, another round of the eternal face-off between the intellectual West and spiritual Orient. At the forefront are chickenshit Jews vs fearless Moslems. People beginning to realize there is a superior post-intellect phase of the human experience, and thus reconsidering. Place your bets if you dare.

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