The Arab Manifesto
Sociology of Muslim Brothers Ethics and the Spirit of Secularism
H.A. Yahya, former professor of comparative
Secularism religiously defined by Muslim Sheiks (al Qaradhawi for instance) who attacked the concept and described as : Deviation for faith. (See my 7 parts response to al Qaradawi’s Book titled: ‘Al-Hulul al Mustawradah wa Kayfa Jaat `alaa Ummatina’, the reported solutions and how it came to our nation(Islamic Ummah).
In my article : Titled: H.E Yusuf Al-Qaradawi On Secularism vs. Islam – Part I, I wrote:
“H.E. Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s thesis about his latest book secularism vs Islam. Shiekh Qaradawi is an authority on Islam widely known and respected among Muslims. He’s an Egyptian by nationality lives in the Gulf state of Qatar, where famous Al-Jazeerah Arabic Channel has weekly program for the Shiekh, under the title: Islam and Life. Recently, he was denied entry visa to Britain because of his sharp criticism to the west, which he strongly denies. Recently in his book: Secularism vs. Islam, under the Arabic title: ‘Al-Hulul al Mustawradah wa Kayfa Jaat `alaa Ummatina’? “How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah” pp 113-4, He justifies rejection of secularism by saying: “Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. Christianity is devoid of a shari`ah or a comprehensive system of life to which its adherents should be committed. The New Testament itself divides life into two parts: one for God, or religion, the other for Caesar, or the state: “Render unto Caesar things which belong to Caesar, and render unto God things which belong to God” (Matthew 22:21). As such, a Christian could accept secularism without any qualms of conscience. Furthermore, Westerners, especially Christians, have good reasons to prefer a secular regime to a religious one. Their experience with “religious regimes” – as they knew them – meant the rule of the clergy, the despotic authority of the Church, and the resulting decrees of excommunication and the deeds of forgiveness, i.e. letters of indulgence.” (Yahya 2010, 2012)
Therefore, according to honorable sheikh for Muslim societies, “the acceptance of secularism means something totally different; i.e. as Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (`ibadah) and legislation (Shari`ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari`ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.”
As we see this is a wild judgment against secularism taken for granted by Muslim Brothers and Salfis alike. Al Qaradawi further gives instructions to falsify the claim that Shariah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. And gives examples from Qur’an comparing knowledge of human beings to the knowledge of God. “The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (2:140).
The Muslim Brothers’ ethics is vague and rejected on the ground of disputation with other Muslim groups (Salfis, radical groups and secularists, on the grounds of Islamic ethics which promote definition of society according to Muslim beliefs.). The daily political and social activities and solutions provided to stop the turmoil in Egypt and elsewhere, are far from secular laws, which may create the failure of Muslim Ethics in the face of secular (modern institutions). In Europe, however, the situation was different, the protestant ethics was dominated other groups in the way they solve social and economic problems by creating the state of law. With firm constitutions include all sects of Christianity and all other religious sects (Catholics, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc.’).
The Muslim Brothers ethics as dominant in the Arab states are following H. E. Sheikh al Qaradawi’s interpretation of modern Islam as rejecting secularization. Therefore, Muslim Brothers are not able to get rid of the church teachings, like the case in Europe. In no way, the circumstances of The Prophet’s Age are very much different from modern times. And in no way, ethics can win as the Muslim Brothers claim. For one reason, may be logical, in faith, selfishness and identity deny the contributions of non-Muslims in making the modern state. Insistance of the Muslim Brothers on one faith state will be rejected on line with modern ethics. No matter religious or secular.
As far as the circumstances are sharply different, excluding some people in the state (other religions or women, or other sects, Shi’ah or Baha’i) is a mark of decay toward the church. In this case, logic has a defeated position in any argument to solve everyday political, economic oe social problems on both individual an communal levels.
My attempt here in this study is similar to Weber, the German philosopher, in his study who shows in : “The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism” (Weber 1958), that affinity of faith and modern socioeconomic organizations was successful in Europe and the new land.
Salafi groups are in a sharp difference to Muslim Brothers position in politics. He elective affinity between both groups ideas and particular types of economic activities. For example, Salfis claim that the old system in times of Muhammad has to be applied, while the Muslim Brothers approach has modern political reflexivity beside Islamic ethics.
In our study we may hypothesize a nexus between Muslim Brothers religious beliefs and the development of modern economic system (such as mixture of capitalist-socialist form, for example) would be much appropriate than the Salafi approaches. Without such relations between ethics and modern spirit for freedom and democracy, the project for modern Egyptian (or Arab or Muslim) democratcy. Our hypothesis depends on modern Islam, as Weber saw it as a prophetic, this-worldly, salvationist religion with strong connections with other Abrahamic religions and regarded it as a useful test case of his thesis.
Unfortunately, we may argue that rational formal law, autonomous cities, an independent bourgeois class, and political stability are still totally absent in Islamic society because of the domination of tribal, familial and patrimonial bureaucracy.
We also may argue according to historical facts, that a hedonistic spirit and an accommodating Qoranic ethic could not produce salvation anxiety and that asceticism was blocked by two important social groups: the warrior group (army leaders and caliphs) that was the social carrier of Islam and the Sufi brotherhoods that developed mystical religiosity.
In modern times, the situation still exist. Salafis and others, Muslim Brothers and others. The new factor which may change the stagnation of mystical religiosity is the secularists who are mixture of both (Muslim intellectuals) and modern ideas of progress.
While Weber’s hypothesis was inaccurate and criticized, because “the differential of Islam seem institutional” unlike ideological,which stamps Christianity, but “they operate in a contrasted institutional melieu’’ (Gellner 1983, p. 6).
Those who study Muslim societies like Gillner (1969, 1983, 1992, 1994), identify unvarying features of Muslim societies that make them susceptible to sociological analysis. Building on the work of Ibn Khaldun, he postulates a dialectic between city and tribe, each with its own form of religion. The central and perhaps most important feature of Islam, according to Gellner, is that it was internally divided into the high Islam of scholars and the folk (low) Islam of the people, (and I might add secular mentalities). High Islam is primarily urban, and folk Islam is primarily tribal and rural even if they reside in cities and villages. I agree with Gillner’s notion that although the boundaries between the two were not sharp but gradual and ambiguous, they nevertheless projected a distinctive tradition.This I believe is the corner stone for modern solution. One has to dominate, but not without modern laws and sound constitutions. Otherwise, the revival of Arab Manifest will be delayed until one side, armed with both ethics and logic of modern management, and modern institutions equalize treatment of all citizens on the same grounds of justice and recognition. The process of enlightening of common people will hinder the process of Arab Manifesto, but in the end, the new spirit of mental abilities and logical arrangements of law and constitution will come to prevail. Not necessarily, verbatim as the case in Europe.
In the Egyptian case, The Muslim Brothers as the leaders of the country, and of course by the president, should have a plan to fully dominate the country. The practices and activities so far by the Muslim Brothers are far from the right track toward the 25 January revolution goals. In order to satisfy the people trust, he should come to real negations with all the sides, in spite of differences, at least to gain trust of the people. Later on, he might with the Muslim Brothers strengthen their position to lead according their ethics, which will not strictly following the steps of Muhammad, because that’s impossible in modern technological world, but they can according to logical plan to introduce with the other sides a roadmap for Free Egypt, at least as a slogan.
In conclusion, I might say, The old Arab and Muslim adverb “ you may fool the people once, but never forever. Or no one may put his hand in the hall of snake twice. The progress toward modern daily life is not contrary to the life of next world. And finally, enlightening time in the marsh of civilization, democracy and freedom, never go back to ignorance and failure of tribal, patriarchical, and theological rules. Evil and good were fighting each other across history, but people today in Egypt are in a stage of enlightenment, the Egyptian people will find the way to communal stability and state law according to sound constitution. I have no doubt, but this will take short or very long time. But the marsh has begun starting since January, 25, 2011. www.hasanyahya.com
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والمحببة إلى نفوس القراء والقارئات العرب في المهاجر، وشكرا جزيلا للمساهمين في هذا المشروع النبيل