Islam and Politics
The so-called Arab Spring, although now far removed from its initial meanings and aspirations, has become just that: a breeding ground for choosy narratives solely aimed at advancing political agendas which are deeply entrenched with regional and international involvement. Note how in the new reading of the ‘Arab Spring’, people are mere pawns that are defined by their sectarian leanings ....
For centuries, al-Azhar, has followed the ruling power. The rector of the University is appointed by the President of the Republic. The expenses of the organization and the formation of its imams are largely paid for by the government. As a result its support for the Constitution that binds civil law with Islamic law and its future support to the Muslim Brotherhood is not surprising.
Recent events demonstrate that Egypt since January 25, 2011 is still a land of unexpected developments and large mobilizations. The setback suffered by the Muslim Brotherhood and their retreat prove that the game is far from being settled in favour of the Islamist currents. However, they remain influential.
Though Maulana Umar ji was the first to apologise on behalf of his community for the Godhra incident, he died tarnished, accused of being the mastermind even after his acquittal. “His mind could never free itself of the stain on his reputation. Even after he was acquitted, the media kept asking: how did the ‘mastermind’ go free?” “If this is the reward you get for doing social work, God save this country.”...
Qadri insists that a caretaker government, which is a constitutional requirement before the general elections, should include the military and judiciary as well. This demand would have a lot of traction among generals and judges, both of whom consider themselves as guardians of the State and its ideology. While the military used to think of itself as a supra-institution, the judiciary has been elevated to a similar self-perception after the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2008 as a result of the popular lawyers’ movement.
Syria, alongside Iran, is presented as an enemy of Western interests; as a country that cannot be trusted, and from which the worst is to be expected. But when Syrians began to take to the streets, and when civilians were dying in their hundreds at the hands of the regular army, it took the American administration and European governments more than eight months to change their tune and their Syria policies.
When Narendra Modi and Kalyan Singh can become chief ministers of states? When Modi can think of becoming prime minister of India and being projected cleverly by media then who can stop Owaisis from not doing the same for Muslims? When Raj Thackray goes unpunished and continue with his hate propaganda challenging the very Indian state then what is that stop Owaisis family as they too want to be the Muslim ‘edition’ of Bal Thackray.
General Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, recently made an extraordinary statement that puts this existential transition in perspective. HE SAID that the real threat to the country came from internal sources and not external enemies. He was referring to the threat to the state from a failing economy that is a breeding ground for a raging insurgency in Balochistan, organised crime in the cities and bloody sectarianism and terrorism across the country.
The doyen of Hyderabad’s Owaisi dynasty has repeatedly maligned Hindu gods and goddesses, referred to Hindus as “impotent” and suggested that Muslims could destroy all Hindus in India inside 15 minutes. These statements are not simply ludicrous, they are an open call to civil war. Rarely has a Muslim politician sunk to such depths. Muslims have to remember that for all its recurring troubles, their life in India is far better than in most parts of the world―whether as the minority or the majority. Despite all their little differences, Muslims’ relations with Hindus are far more cordial than with any other religious community. People like Owaisi, or anyone who tries to sow seeds of discord, must be denounced clearly and categorically.
Qadri demands a caretaker government in three weeks when it is already poised to take charge in a matter of three months; his idea of delaying elections is swiftly followed by a denial. And last but not least, he raves on about the merits of democracy while soliciting the army’s resistance towards the directives of an elected administration.
None of the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions, before or after the Egyptian uprising, demonstrate that that the organization has truly embraced democracy. Having failed to gain power through their almost 80 years of existence, initially through violent means and later through limited opposition, the Brotherhood came to accept that the only way to acquire it is through the democratic process. Their ultimate objective however is to revive the Islamic Caliphate, a system they consider to be an alternative political structure to the democracy that brought them to power.
The parivar bigots have been condemned, especially by secular Hindus. But the worst of these bigots have not done what Owaisi has done: he has denigrated the divinities that Hindus hold with utmost respect. Not once has any Hindu bigot attacked Allah or his Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him.) But this riff-raff of a politician has spoken in the most venomous terms about the divinities that are dear to the Hindu community. This affront will not be forgotten.
Regardless of what the courts have in store for him, public opinion should bring pressure to bear on political parties to ostracize this man who spouts venom not just against Hindus but against citizens of all faiths who owe their primary allegiance to the Constitution. Doom stares the Congress, and other political parties that wear the secular badge on their sleeve, if they refuse to read the writing on the wall. And the writing on the wall is: Owaisi is a threat not only to inter-community harmony but to the security of India. He is, for all practical purposes, a fifth columnist.
Benazir and I met in Washington during the early 1990’s at a mutual friend’s home. She was exiled from Pakistan and quite alone in Washington, low on both money and hope. I offered to help her. Perhaps it was her beauty and charm, or my weakness for underdogs. Some Pakistani readers wrote in claiming I had been “bewitched” by Benazir. I confess she was indeed quite bewitching.
First, it is now clearer than ever that there is no such thing as a cohesive, single “Arab World,” as every Arab country follows a different path in pursuing its own political reconfiguration. For the first time ever in their history, ordinary Arab men and women are driving the political changes under way, revealing the variety of identities, sentiments, legitimacies and conditions in different Arab countries, with their own character, nuance and agency.
It is intriguing and at the same time
disappointing that the Egyptians who had put up a formidable fight against the
modern day pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak, fighting and laying down lives for the cause
of democracy and freedom, demonstrated unexplainable indifference when the time
to choose or reject the draft constitution to give final shape to their destiny
arrived. Only 33 per cent of the population exercised their votes that too on
such an important referendum that could determine their future, raising
questions on the legitimacy of the outcome. Out of the people voted, about 66
per cent said they wanted the country to have Sharia law as its guiding force.
It means a considerable section (at least 35 per cent) wanted a secular constitution.
It is important to note that majority in Cairo, the capital of Egypt opposed
the Sharia based constitution.