Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Islamic Failure

Arabic original here.

The Islamic Failure

Islam has been seized by the takfiris who now have the final say in determining the future of nations and peoples. They now have a "state" headed by a "caliph". They deem it lawful to murder, loot and drive people from their homes. They are finally knocking at Lebanon's door. Now they are in our homes. But who is responsible for this hellish situation that we have arrived at?

A year or so ago, we said in an article entitled "The End of Moderation in Islam?" (an-Nahar, June 5, 2013) that the Syrian crisis would put an end to what religious etiquette is in the habit of calling Islamic moderation. The sectarian sorting experienced by religiously-diverse Arab countries including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain is pushing  many religious authorities to slip into extremism and finally into takfirism.

Today we are paying an exorbitant price for the failure of moderate Islam to provide new Islamic legal reasoning that responds to the challenges that have arisen in the past century, including the end of the  caliphate and the rise of the civil state.

It is true that from the end of the 19th century until today many Muslim thinkers have attempted to practice Islamic legal  reasoning about various issues. However, the actual situation of Muslim societies has declined relative to the new challenges imposed on them by modernity, globalization and the fact that Islamic thought has not kept pace with events and developments happening around it.

Religious institutions have been content to praise traditional moderate thought. They have created a barrier that cannot be breached instead of laying the basis upon which there could be built a contemporary Islamic thought that provides answers relevent to modern life and rescues these societies from what is preventing them from catching up with global civilization.

The religious institutions, which in general are moderate, have not been active in providing answers that meet the requirements of living in the modern age. They needed to do their full part to help the state to free itself from the extremism of the hardliners in order to enact laws that do not distinguish between citizens or religions. However, instead of this there has been collusion between governments  and religious institutions. The governments  subjugated the religious institutions and in exchange have appeased them by not reforming their constitutions. At the same time, the religious institutions have recused themselves from conducting Islamic legal reasoning, their chief-- not to say sole-- task.

Where is the moderate Islam, which has not been able to put an end to the sectarian prejudice that divides Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites? What we are seeing today is the result of elevating the sectarian bond over every other religious, national or patriotic bond. After almost a century from the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of civil states, sectarian group consciousness and sectarian prejudice remains stronger than national group consciousness, despite honeyed words about the national bond and the lasting, definitive nation.

In this context, Jamad al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897) believed that there is no bond, not even patriotism, that can take the place of the bond established by Islam in the hearts of Muslims. Today, however, we can say that there is no bond, not even the bond of Islam, that can take the place of the Sunni or Shiite sectarian bond.

The security solution is necessary today, on account of the current situation, but the real solution after the hotbeds of terrorism are eliminated lies in freeing moderate religious institutions from the bonds of governments and putting forward new Islamic legal reasoning that takes into account that Islam is fourteen centuries and not three centuries old.


The Anti-Gnostic said...

Islam has not failed; Islam is resurgent.

Samn! said...

I actually disagree. I think Sunnism is trying to commit murder-suicide amidst an unparalleled radical, cataclysmic transformation. But Fr Georges is talking about "failure" in a moral sense here.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, brothers... Please, can you tell me who are these? Orthodox or not? Non-chalcedonian?
Thank you very much.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Yes. Islam used to be so nice. What happened?

Seriously, a religious creed that homogenized cultures across a huge area didn't do it by being tolerant.