Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ikhwan calling for Islam – or not

When Ikhwan’s president Morsi was elected, many Muslims who sincerely desire for Islamic Shariah to be fully implemented saw this as a positive step in the right direction. The fundamental problem with anyone viewing it as such is the lack of clarity of what Islamic Shariah rules actually are when it comes to government and ruling. There is still utter vagueness in the minds of many activists and scholars as to what Islamic government should look like, upon what principles it is founded and how to achieve it. This is a detailed symptom of the lack of thinking and imitating mentality that many Muslims still have, so Islam and Shirk are known to be opposites, yet shirk can creep into many Muslims’ mentalities, including the scholars’, as only the older examples of shirk taken from books are known, not how to relate the concept of shirk to today’s life. Therefore, democracy is not viewed as shirk, but as a means to an end. Compromising Islamic values and shariah rules for the sake of a perceived benefit for the dawah is not viewed as shirk, but is instead viewed as a necessity to bring back Islamic values and shariah. This huge contradiction is due to the inability to relate Islamic concepts to the current reality; hence compromises appear to be the only way forward. “Something is better than nothing” is an excuse that is quoted as a principle to justify such compromises.

To criticise Morsi’s many compromises while president is met with an exasperated “he’s not as bad as Mubarak”, to justify supporting him. “If we don’t support him, secularism will win”, even though the fact that he has adopted secularism is not seen as Islam losing – simply because secularism is not well understood, nor is Islam, nor is submission, nor is tawakkul, nor is shirk, nor is asabbiyya, nationalism and brotherhood, nor victory being from Allah, nor is the aqeedah and its concepts.

The benefits of Morsi being president are being listed among the Islamic people to show how much better he is for the country than Mubarak was, or than a secular leader would be. One key benefit for Islamic dawah activists was the fact that they can discuss Islam openly on the streets instead of being locked up in jail, as they were previously. This is all true, that there are some benefits, but they cannot justify the serious compromises that have taken place to achieve such a situation. The political problem for the ummah is not that we do not have a pious Muslim ruler, but that we do not have a ruler that rules with Islam, and the root of this problem is that we do not use Islamic concepts to determine right and wrong in our economic, political and social lives. To compromise the Islamic concepts in the hope that it will give time and space for the Islamic concepts to come back is simply wrong, and betrays a misunderstanding of Islam, as well as the nature of societies and how they change.

Those who wish for Islam to never return and harbour hatred for it gamble that the Muslims, and particularly the thinkers, scholars and leaders among them, will never wake up to realise what the Islamic concepts really are; hence they plot and plan to engineer situations to delay the return of such an understanding. Many sincere people out of naivety end up supporting these plans, even though they hoped for the good to come out of them, but in reality evil was strengthened by their supporting activity.

Nothing said here should be viewed as gloating or arrogantly picking faults in rivals, as this has nothing to do with Islam, and is itself contradictory to Islamic shariah and is a type of shirk. The only purpose of this article is to remind ourselves of the danger of incomplete awareness mixed with zeal to act.
Ikhwan’s history is long and complicated, which does not concern this article. However in the 2000s the group experienced a number of splits and break away factions, unhappy with the group’s leadership and its direction in politics. It had been an opposition party during Mubarak’s rule, so experienced constant oppression from his state security police. Routinely Ikhwan followers were interned for between four and six months. Occasionally a court case would sentence their leaders, or elders, to between one and five year sentences. Ikhwan’s supporters saw it as an opportunity to earn reward for their sabr as they struggled against the tyrant Mubarak.

The way of Ikhwan was known to centre around encouraging more adherence to Islam from its followers in the personal lives, with their families and with the wider society. Over time it was expected that the society’s members would one day become so pious, such that the atmosphere would be Islamic and then the desire the application of Shariah would become widespread. Even if there are still some evil people around, their influence is diminished, so they cannot oppose Islamic rule any longer.

How to achieve this had no detailed plan in the minds of most followers, other than that it was expected to happen through utilising every opportunity to encourage Islamic adherence. Contesting parliament seats in Mubarak’s time was adopted as a strategy, although the purpose was often stated to be about preventing evils. Shaykh Qardawi (previously) wrote about this stating that democratic parliaments were haram to enter, unless the intention was to prevent a worse evil and you were in actuality preventing those worse evils with your presence. Among the group’s culture was the concept of ends justifying means, as an Islamic principle, as well as being permitted to legislate with benefits. These were vaguely held ideas amongst the young followers, as well as the older parliamentary candidates and others. The usual example offered, if it was said that Islam does not permit legislating based upon benefits, would be to mention that traffic lights are not mentioned in Islamic texts, but they are permitted due to the benefit they bring. What is clear is that the mentality of adopting rules according to interests and not according to careful examination of the text is the overwhelming culture of Ikhwan and its followers, along with adopting the well known, well established Islamic rules related to personal matters.

When Erdogan won the election in Turkey, the followers of Ikhwan in Egypt were jubilant, as it was seen a success for Islam, as an Islamist person was now again the president of secular Turkey. This was despite Erdocan’s public insistence that his party was not Islamic, nor were his policies.

In 2005 the Egyptian Ikhwan member Esam al-Erian wrote an article in an Egyptian newspaper stating that it was time for Ikhwan to stop using democracy as a means to the goal of Islamic rule, rather they should openly and secretly adopt democracy as the goal itself. This did not settle well with all of the Ikhwan leadership and followers immediately, leading to further splits, as this idea was wrestled with. It was in fact a dramatic change for the group. They had become famous for being all things to all people, often accused of double speak and being two faced. Openly they would say that they are working within the democratic system, yet privately it was said that this was as a means to the goal of Islamic rule, as had always been the goal of Ikhwan. It is hard to tell exactly where each person stands now on this issue, as all public statements reassure the world that Ikhwan in Egypt and its Freedom and Justice party adopts democracy as a matter of principle, just as Erdogan does in Turkey.

The problem of such a stance, if true, is that it has dire consequences for the person who believes in democracy as being preferable to Islamic Khilafah rule, as it nullifies his Iman completely. However, the excuse of ignorance is offered, as it is also well observed that the depth and level of Islamic culture and reading among the average Ikhwan follower and even its leadership is relatively low, hence awareness of the Islamic ruling system is probably also quite weak. It is quite likely that the benefit justifying mentality has become so ingrained that such compromises are not even seen any more to contradict Islamic Shariah, let alone the Islamic Aqeedah.

Aside from the individual politician who makes such a statement, whether heartfelt or not, the danger to the Islamic ummah is immense. It is an open encouragement to adopt the Western concepts of freedom and secularism and to openly adopt them as an aqeedah, not merely a necessary evil to achieve a benefit. When such un-Islamic thoughts are not viewed as evil, then Islamic revival is put back another big step. “If the trusted leaders who have struggled and shown patience through a lifetime of suffering are adopting Western ideas, then who are we the ordinary Muslim youth to reject such ideas?”

This is the real goal of the Western colonialist nations, who wish to delay the inevitable return of Islamic Khilafah rule indefinitely, hoping that the Muslims will adopt their own secular and benefit seeking mentality, leaving religion well out of public life. Unless we become aware of their plans and of Islam, we will fall into this trap, being used by them as an agent for their colonialism rather than being the agents of change towards that which pleases Allah.

Ustadh Abu Yusuf

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