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Political Islam – Problem or Solution?

Written By: salmanalazami
22/08/2013 2:32
Contemporary Debate

Recent events in Egypt have outraged many people who believe in justice, fairness and democracy. The brutality of the current regime in Egypt that killed hundreds of people; the double standards of the western countries, particularly the United States for whom democracy and human rights only apply if other countries follow their ‘agenda’; and the extent to which leading Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia have openly supported the killing of innocent people have made millions of people around the world angry and frustrated. There is an alarming pattern of anti-Islamism spreading in different parts of the world by those who are ‘aggressive atheists’ and ‘secular fundamentalists’. Supported by the secular media, these so-called modernists or liberals are attacking their political enemies by employing tactics that are not only patronising but also aggressive and unethical.

Political Islam, which its followers call ‘Islamic movement’, began in the first half of the last century with two major strands – one in the Middle East and the other in South Asia. Hasan Al Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood movement in 1928, which is now the largest Islamic organisation in the Middle East, while the Jamaat-e-Islami movement, founded by Abul Ala Mawdudi in 1941, is spread all over South Asia. Both these movements have similar ideological stance – establishing an Islamic state through democratic means. Both movements have been subject to oppression and disbanding by dictators only to come out stronger each time. Some elements of the Brotherhood movement have broken away to take the more extremist position, but the mainstream factions of both the movements have remained peaceful and democratic through all the trials and tribulations despite provocations from the establishment, political enemies and large sections of the media.

A small number of extremists are creating unnecessary terror and receiving widespread media coverage of their bigoted views while the moderate views of 99% Muslims remain unheard. The USA and its European allies are spending billions of dollars to counter these extremists and are struggling to cope with the wildfire that has spread in different parts of the world. Their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed miserably and have created a permanent scar in their relationship with the Muslim world. Contrary to succeeding in containing the extremists, they are fueling the fire and creating more and more extremists by not addressing the real reasons of radicalisation, particularly in the western world. At this critical time it is political Islam that could be the solution. Islamic movements like Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami call for Islamisation through democratic process. What is the problem with that? If people like their political ideologies they can vote them to power. If they fail in their governance they can be voted out of power. Isn’t this that the west practice themselves? Then what is the problem if these people come to power through election? Why are the secular fundamentalists and their media outlets waging a war against these so-called Islamists? What damage have they caused that they would be demonised in such a vicious manner?

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but why the western governments, the western media, and secular fundamentalists in Muslim countries are so much against these movements need some logical thinking. Logic tells me that this is nothing but implementation of Samuel Huntington’s theory. It is a deliberate attempt to make Islamic civilisation a threat to western civilisation and that threat, according to them, comes from political Islam. The secularists in the Muslim world knowingly or unknowingly are part of this wider agenda. The fear against Islamists stem from the fear of Islam, because the peaceful democracy that political Islam stands for will prove that their portrayal of Islam as ‘a religion of terror’ is wrong. It will prove that their is no real clash of civilisations that they are trying to create. Therefore, by propagating that Islamists are extremists and fundamentalists they are not trying to deal with actual extremism, but facilitating disenfranchised Muslim youths around the world in becoming extremists. If political Islam is victorious then there will be no bloodshed leading to less radicalisation. This means billions of dollars of weapons industry will collapse.

I am a well-wisher of both the Islamic movements and feel that these two movements have a lot to do in order to actually achieve what their founders had envisioned all those years ago. While the concept actually represents the way of the Prophet (PBUH), the methodology needs some fine-tuning as well as modernising. There have been mistakes along the way for which the movements have not yet gained the public support they deserve. On the other hand, the panic against Islamists by the west, the media, the undemocratic rulers of the Middle East, and local secularists is largely disproportionate and superficial. If the west was really sincere in solving the problem of extremism, then political Islam would be the best option; yet they are doing whatever they can to resist them. Why they are doing this is anybody’s guess.

What happened in Egypt in recent times shows exactly what I am trying to prove. The Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi won the election over a year ago by a narrow margin to become the first ever democratically elected president of the country. Though a very good human being, he and his party made some crucial mistakes while in power giving their enemies a lot of ammunition to implement their evil plans. Many people in Egypt failed to understand that this was a deliberate plan to get rid of ‘Islamists’ and jumped on the bandwagon to oust Morsi from power, even if it meant a military intervention. They were not wise enough to realise the consequence of such action. The process of ousting an elected government should be the ballot box; but here the bullet had the last words. These Egyptians failed to foresee that they put the last nail in the coffin of their democracy by taking this extreme measure. Now they see the consequence. Their country is in a terrible state with hundreds of civilians killed and an an uncertain future looming. Now they are facing the brutality that even Mubarak didn’t dare to commit. Israel is now happy to see an unstable Egypt. The western world is happy to see the demise of an ‘Islamist’ government (which may lead to extremism and more war on terror), and the undemocratic rulers like the Saudi King is happy to see the death of the Arab Spring, which means their power is now more secured. Poor Egyptians will witness how everybody has gained through the terrible mess they are now in.

There are some striking similarities between Egypt and Bangladesh, particularly in the way Islamists are being demonised and persecuted by secular fundamentalists. The two Islamic movements – Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami are now on the verge of being banned in these two countries with their leaders behind the bars. I sincerely hope that adherents of these movements will keep patience as they have shown before and will not turn violent. I expect them not to fall into the trap created by all these provocations. If they follow the path of the Prophet (PBUH) and remain steadfast in their cause through peaceful means, make some necessary reforms within their organisations while regrouping, and remain closer to the people and serve them as they should, inshallah their future will be much brighter than the present.

The sooner the western world realises that political Islam is actually the solution to the problem of extremism the better it is for the whole world. Let all transfer of powers be through democratic elections. If Islamists win the heart of their fellow citizens, let them run their countries until their term comes to an end. This is what happens in the western countries, but unfortunately they don’t want it to happen in Muslim countries.

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About salmanalazami

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  • Name: Salman Al-Azami
  • From: Manchester, UK
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Son of an oppressed islamic leader; an outright academic; an ardent lover of sports; politically conscious, but not active; a loving husband and father; a patriot British Bangladeshi; a simple man

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