Saturday, October 6, 2012

Egypt - MB's Islamic Utopia

I am told by my Muslim convert friend that Islam provides everything a state needs to establish  fair governance and an equitable distribution of resources. The laws and advice contained in the Qur'an and ahadith, if strictly adhered to, will inevitably and inexorably lead to the best society of which humans are capable.

However, ask any Muslim why the world's current Islamic states appear to be much less desirable places to live than their liberal, secular, democratic counterparts and you will usually get one of two answers which can be summarised as follows:
i. The West's interference in Muslim lands has made it impossible for nascent Islamic nations to find a secure place in the world. Imperialist realpolitik has meant support for regimes that terrorise their own populations whilst supporting Western interests; and Western interests are almost always diametrically opposed to Islamist interests. Thus supposedly Islamic nations have been such in name only: Libya and Egypt being two obvious examples
ii. Even in those countries where one cannot claim Western interference, there isn't a truly Islamic theocracy; ask a Western Muslim what he or she thinks of Saudi, for example, and you'll get the picture...

Any liberal with a conscience will have sympathy with the first argument, and this goes some way to explain the left's knee-jerk support of Islamist demands, even when they seem to fly in the face of the liberal shibboleths of free speech and gay rights (to name but two...). And one would be hard pressed to argue with the second argument.

But what we are seeing in Egypt and elsewhere now, promises to give Muslims a chance to see their Islamic utopia  become a reality. 

For an experiment is taking place which might just give Islam its first chance since the so-called "Golden Age" to show what it's capable of.  "The whole point of Egypt's revolution for the Muslim Brotherhood is to usher in the utopia that the full application of sharia would ostensibly bring" as The Economist magazine has it this week, and if the Muslim Brotherhood can succeed in creating a constitution wholly reliant upon sharia then we shall be able to judge Islam

This is, however, a two edged sword. There can be no more excuses. And so we watch the debates rage:

Al-Azhar University, a revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Muslim teaching in Cairo, has come out strongly against any change [to the wording of the current constitution]. “The ‘principles’ of Islamic sharia is an inclusive term that reflects the consensus of Muslim clerics,” says one of the university’s scholars on the constitution-drafting body. “Scholars differ over the text for ‘rules of Islamic sharia’because these change all the time, while the constitution should express fixed principles.”Al-Azhar (pictured above) has even blocked a push by Salafists, a puritan strand of Islam that won a quarter of votes in last year’s parliamentary elections, to enshrine al-Azhar itself as the sole authority for interpreting sharia.[...] Historians, meanwhile, note that in past ages, as well as in countries such as Saudi Arabia today, the relatively thin body of accepted sharia laws has in practice needed bolstering by secular rules.

Hang on - what's this? Sharia needs bolstering by secular rules? But I thought Islam was a complete and perfect set of instructions for a society? Isn't the whole point of Islam that there is no division between religion and state?

So once again, are we to be denied the chance to see a truly Islamic society flowering? Will what many regard as Egypt's inevitable failure be blamed,not upon the barbaric and outmoded laws and rules that the Qur'an dictates, but upon the exigencies of secular administration?

Whatever happens, it's going to be an interesting experiment. Watch this space...


  1. Why "inevitable" failure?

  2. It would be interesting to know how many of Egypt's women share the expectation of a Utopian future.

  3. Turkeys islamist have improved the countrys economy since being elected into power

  4. Well your friend made a crap argument there, because if that was the case there would be no need for Sharia and Hadith.

    Any "Utopia" is a state of everyone practicing a philosophy the way it is supposed to be; thus rendering the need for crime and punishment to desist - and that's never going to happen for any philosophy and it wont happen for Islam - not least because there is no agreement on "what Muslims are supposed to be" in the first place. There is 1(?)Quran, at least 500 hadith: some agreed, some not agreed, 4 major schools of thought and a minimum of 150 different sects in Islamic thought, faith and practice. Even following the example of Mohammed is "wrong" because he had double standards (i.e: "you may have 4 wives, but I can have more"...."you may beat your wife, but I do not beat mine..." "you cannot marry your stepdaughter, but I can marry mine..." and so on and so forth. So too many mixed messages and signals right from the get-go.

    All of that aside, "Utopia" is a state of perfection - and we all know there is no such thing on Earth as perfection - so again, this is another set up for a mighty big fall.

    Islam is an internal process and should remain an internal process: all attempts at creating an external structure, based on internal beliefs will fail: because everyone's internal application of the same message (no matter what that message) will be different.


    If I say: "you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink" - some will understand that literally and think I am talking about horses, others will understand it differently and think it's about water. Others will think its a statement about mankind, others will think it's a statement about willpower or persuasion.

    Never - will everyone, understand the same.

    Now - if I translate the same statement into many different languages, and let a couple thousand years pass as well: then we really have an entertaining show going on.


    @Macheath;'s comment re: women: we hate it. My grandma who lived her youth more than 70 years ago has more freedoms than I (as a young woman in a Muslim nation) have today. She never had to fear being executed if she covered or didn't cover her hair or her face: I do.

    @Anon re: Turkey - turkey has an islamist-friendly government, but the country is a free democracy and always will be, because Turks (no matter who is the president here and now) will always be loyal to Ataturk - the general who turned Turkey away from Sharia and towards Western democracy. And actually, only a few months back - the general of the Turkish army was arrested, along with a number of politicians, for plotting a coup to overturn the presidency and steer the country away from Islamic sympathizing. As for Turkish-Arab relations - they are incredibly poor, with Arabs viewing the Turks as apostates and Turks viewing the Arabs as backwards. Ataturk completely dismantled Islamic strongholds in Turkey, executed Imams and Sheiks en masse, banned the hijab and the Fez and ALMOST changed the way that religion is taught completely. The main brand of Islam in Turkey is Sufi Islam (the whirling dervishes) which is widely considered by the Sunni Islamic Global majority to be an innovation against God and therefore a sin. To understand Turks and Turkish politics you must first acquaint yourself with Kemal Ataturk: and once you have read his biography and life, you will understand the Turks.

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