RSSArchive for September, 2010

Islam and Islamism in Afghanistan

Christine Mendoza

The last half-century in particular has seen the recurrent use of religious Islam as

Ideologie, often referred to as political Islam or Islamism, in groups espousing the

establishment of an Islamic state. Attention was drawn to Afghanistan when it became

the rallying point for Islamists in the 1980s. Aber, the earlier appearance of an

Islamist movement in Afghanistan in the 1960s and its subsequent development offer an

instructive, unique lesson in understanding Islam and Islamism in Afghan society.

This overview of the Islamist movement in Afghanistan is divided into three

parts: It begins by defining the differing manifestations of Islam in Afghanistan,

indicating how Islamism differs from or draws upon each manifestation in constructing

its own vision. Then, the broader context of Islamism elsewhere in the Muslim world is

discussed and analyzed. Although the theoretical basis for Islamism was constructed in

the 1960s by Abu ‘Ala Mawdudi in Pakistan and Sayyid Qutb in Egypt, this paper will

show that the Islamist movement in Afghanistan did not mirror those in either of these

countries. To this end, this paper reviews the thought of the above-mentioned

theoreticians of Islamism, and outlines historical and social conditions that colored the

implementation of their models in their respective countries. This leads back to a

discussion of the Afghan context, which makes up the final part of the paper. It is

necessary to review salient aspects of the traditional structure of Afghan society, and the

role Islam has historically played in Afghanistan to understand how the Islamist

experience was shaped and constrained by this structure, as well as how the Islamist

experience has altered it.
As Afghanistan is now faced with the monumental task of rebuilding a state and

legal system, Islamists are attempting to influence the reconstruction. This overview will

underscore for those observing and participating in this process the importance of

understanding the Afghan Islamist perspective, its historical underpinnings, and current

demands.


GLOBALIZATION AND POLITICAL ISLAM: THE SOCIAL BASES OF TURKEY’S WELFARE PARTY

Haldun Gulalp

Political Islam has gained heightened visibility in recent decades in Turkey. Large numbers of female students have begun to demonstrate their commitment by wearing the banned Islamic headdress on university campuses, and influential pro-Islamist TV
channels have proliferated. This paper focuses on the Welfare (Refah) Party as the foremost institutional representative of political Islam in Turkey.
The Welfare Party’s brief tenure in power as the leading coalition partner from mid-1996 to mid-1997 was the culmination of a decade of steady growth that was aided by other Islamist organizations and institutions. These organizations and institutions
included newspapers and publishing houses that attracted Islamist writers, numerous Islamic foundations, an Islamist labor-union confederation, and an Islamist businessmen’s association. These institutions worked in tandem with, and in support of, Welfare as the undisputed leader and representative of political Islam in Turkey, even though they had their own particularistic goals and ideals, which often diverged from Welfare’s political projects. Focusing on the Welfare Party, then, allows for an analysis of the wider social base upon which the Islamist political movement rose in Turkey. Since Welfare’s ouster from power and its eventual closure, the Islamist movement has been in disarray. This paper will, therefore, be confined to the Welfare Party period.
Welfare’s predecessor, the National Salvation Party, was active in the 1970s but was closed down by the military regime in 1980. Welfare was founded in 1983 and gained great popularity in the 1990s. Starting with a 4.4 percent vote in the municipal elections of 1984, the Welfare Party steadily increased its showing and multiplied its vote nearly five times in twelve years. It alarmed Turkey’s secular establishment first in the municipal elections of 1994, with 19 percent of all votes nationwide and the mayor’s seats in both Istanbul and Ankara, then in the general elections of 1995 when it won a plurality with 21.4 percent of the national vote. Nevertheless, the Welfare Party was only briefly able to lead a coalition government in partnership with the right-wing True Path Party of Tansu C¸ iller.

Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

JONATHAN Githens-Mazer

Robert Lambert MBE

The perils of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime threaten to undermine basic human rights, fundamental aspects of citizenship and co-existing partnerships for Muslims and non- Muslims alike in contemporary Europe. Routine portrayals of Islam as a religion of hatred, violence and inherent intolerance have become key planks for the emergence of extremist nationalist, anti-immigration politics in Europe – planks which seek to exploit populist fears and which have the potential to lead to Muslim disempowerment in Europe. Sections of the media have created a situation where the one serves to heighten the unfounded claims and anxieties of the other – such that politicians from Austria to the Britain, and the Netherlands to Spain, feel comfortable in using terms like “Tsunamis of Muslim immigration”, and accuse Islam of being a fundamental threat to a “European way of life”. While in many cases, the traction of this populist approach reflects an ignorance of Islamic faith, practice and belief, there are many think-tanks which are currently engaged in promoting erroneous depictions of Islam and Muslim political beliefs through unsubstantiated and academically baseless studies, and a reliance on techniques such as ‘junk-polling’. Prior to researching Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime in London, we worked with Muslim Londoners to research the contested notion of what is widely termed by academics and policy makers as “violent radicalisation” (Githens-Mazer, 2010, Lambert 2010). To a large extent it was that prior research experience that persuaded us to embark on this new project. That is to say, there is an important link between the two areas
of work which we should explain at the outset. Since 9/11 Muslim Londoners, no less than Muslims in towns and cities across Europe, have often been unfairly stigmatised as subversive threats to state security and social cohesion, sometimes characterised as a fifth column (Cox and Marks 2006, Gove 2006, Mayer and Frampton 2009). We do not suggest that this stigmatisation did not exist before 9/11, still less do we argue that it revolves solely around the issues of security and social cohesion, but we do claim that the response to 9/11 – ‘the war on terror’ – and much of the rhetoric that has surrounded it has played a significant part in increasing the public perception of European Muslims as potential enemies rather than potential partners and neighbours.

Conflicts over Mosques in Europe

Stefano Studierende

As the reader will immediately see, the present study is the only one in the series not to have a general point of reference. Instead of addressing a broad issue such as places of worship, it focuses right from the outset on a single issue: the question of mosques, which is identified as a separate issue with its own specific characteristics.
This approach faithfully reflects the current state of affairs, as we will demonstrate in the pages below. Although forms of discrimination on the basis of religion are not completely absent – in particular, cases of discrimination towards certain minority religions or religious beliefs, some of which have even come before the European courts – in no country and in no other case has the opening of places of worship taken on such a high profile in the public imagination as the question of mosques and Islamic places of worship. With the passage of time, the question of mosques has led to more and more frequent disputes, debates, conflicts and posturing, even in countries where such conflicts were previously unknown and mosques were already present. This simple fact already puts us on a road that we might define as ‘exceptionalism’ with reference to Islam: a tendency to see Islam and Muslims as an exceptional case rather than a standard one; a case that does not sit comfortably with others relating to religious pluralism, und
which therefore requires special bodies, actions and specifically targeted reactions, unlike those used for other groups and religious minorities, und (as in the present study) specific research. 8 Conflicts over mosques in Europe An example of this exceptionalism is seen in the forms of representation of Islam in various European countries, which vary from case to case but differ, in particular, with respect to the recognized practices of relations between states and religious denominations in general. The most symbolic case is the creation in various countries, such as France, Spanien, Belgium and Italy, of collective bodies of Islamic representation, with forms that often contradict the principles of non‑interference in the internal affairs of religious communities proclaimed and enshrined for other denominations and religious minorities. Forms of exceptionalism from a legal, political and social perspective are, jedoch, present in many other fields, following a pervasive trend which affects countries with the widest range of state structures and which appears to be in a phase of further growth.
This situation, together with the increasingly evident emergence into the public arena of the dynamics of a conflict involving Islam (a kind of conflict in which the construction of mosques is the most frequent and widespread cause of disagreement), led to a desire to analyse recent cases of conflict, including clashes in countries that are regarded as peripheral within the European Union (EU) or
that lie beyond its borders. For this reason, we have chosen, contrary to the usual practice, to pay closest attention to the least studied and analysed countries, for which scientific literature is least abundant. Setting off on this supposition, we believe that meaningful data for the interpretation of broader dynamics may emerge from an extensive analysis of the frequency and pervasiveness of these conflicts, which are also affecting countries with a long history of immigration and are more generally affecting the relationship between Islam and Europe.For this reason we conducted a set of empirical investigations across seven European countries that are among the least studied and least known in this respect. We selected three Mediterranean countries which in certain respects vary greatly from one another: two countries in similar situations, where there is new immigration from Muslim countries and the memory of ancient historical domination (Spain and Italy); and one in which there is new immigration
from Muslim countries along with a significant historical Islamic presence (the memory of Turkish Ottoman domination) that poses a number of problems (Greece). Also chosen were two countries which have a very significant historical Islamic presence but which also face a number of new problems (Austria and Bosnia‑Herzegovina); the Nordic country with the largest Islamic presence (Sweden); and a central European country which has a long history of immigration and a particular institutional nature (Belgien). The last of these is also notable for its markedly local management of conflicts, which from a methodological perspective makes it an interesting control group.

herausfordernde Autoritarismus, Kolonialismus, und Uneinheit: Die islamische politische Reformbewegungen von al-Afghani Rida

Ahmed Ali Salem

The decline of the Muslim world preceded European colonization of most

Muslim lands in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first
quarter of the twentieth century. Im Speziellen, the Ottoman Empire’s
power and world status had been deteriorating since the seventeenth century.
But, more important for Muslim scholars, it had ceased to meet

some basic requirements of its position as the caliphate, the supreme and
sovereign political entity to which all Muslims should be loyal.
Deshalb, some of the empire’s Muslim scholars and intellectuals called
for political reform even before the European encroachment upon
Muslim lands. The reforms that they envisaged were not only Islamic, but
also Ottomanic – from within the Ottoman framework.

These reformers perceived the decline of the Muslim world in general,

and of the Ottoman Empire in particular, to be the result of an increasing

disregard for implementing the Shari`ah (Islamic law). Aber, since the

late eighteenth century, an increasing number of reformers, sometimes supported

by the Ottoman sultans, began to call for reforming the empire along

modern European lines. The empire’s failure to defend its lands and to

respond successfully to the West’s challenges only further fueled this call

for “modernizing” reform, which reached its peak in the Tanzimat movement

in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Other Muslim reformers called for a middle course. On the one hand,

they admitted that the caliphate should be modeled according to the Islamic

sources of guidance, especially the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s

teachings (Sunnah), and that the ummah’s (the world Muslim community)

unity is one of Islam’s political pillars. On the other hand, they realized the

need to rejuvenate the empire or replace it with a more viable one. Tatsächlich,

their creative ideas on future models included, but were not limited to, das

following: replacing the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire with an Arab-led

caliphate, building a federal or confederate Muslim caliphate, establishing

a commonwealth of Muslim or oriental nations, and strengthening solidarity

and cooperation among independent Muslim countries without creating

a fixed structure. These and similar ideas were later referred to as the

Muslim league model, which was an umbrella thesis for the various proposals

related to the future caliphate.

Two advocates of such reform were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and

Muhammad `Abduh, both of whom played key roles in the modern

Islamic political reform movement.1 Their response to the dual challenge

facing the Muslim world in the late nineteenth century – European colonization

and Muslim decline – was balanced. Their ultimate goal was to

revive the ummah by observing the Islamic revelation and benefiting

from Europe’s achievements. Aber, they disagreed on certain aspects

and methods, as well as the immediate goals and strategies, of reform.

While al-Afghani called and struggled mainly for political reform,

`Abduh, once one of his close disciples, developed his own ideas, which

emphasized education and undermined politics.




Ägypten am Tipping Point ?

David B. Ottaway
In the early 1980s, I lived in Cairo as bureau chief of The Washington Post covering such historic events as the withdrawal of the last
Israeli forces from Egyptian territory occupied during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the assassination of President
Anwar Sadat by Islamic fanatics in October 1981.
The latter national drama, which I witnessed personally, had proven to be a wrenching milestone. It forced Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, to turn inwards to deal with an Islamist challenge of unknown proportions and effectively ended Egypt’s leadership role in the Arab world.
Mubarak immediately showed himself to be a highly cautious, unimaginative leader, maddeningly reactive rather than pro-active in dealing with the social and economic problems overwhelming his nation like its explosive population growth (1.2 million more Egyptians a year) and economic decline.
In a four-part Washington Post series written as I was departing in early 1985, I noted the new Egyptian leader was still pretty much
a total enigma to his own people, offering no vision and commanding what seemed a rudderless ship of state. The socialist economy
inherited from the era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1952 zu 1970) was a mess. The country’s currency, the pound, was operating
on eight different exchange rates; its state-run factories were unproductive, uncompetitive and deep in debt; and the government was heading for bankruptcy partly because subsidies for food, electricity and gasoline were consuming one-third ($7 billion) of its budget. Cairo had sunk into a hopeless morass of gridlocked traffic and teeming humanity—12 million people squeezed into a narrow band of land bordering the Nile River, most living cheek by jowl in ramshackle tenements in the city’s ever-expanding slums.

Organizational Continuity in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Tess Lee Eisenhart

As Egypt’s oldest and most prominent opposition movement, the Society of

Muslim Brothers, al-ikhwan al-muslimeen, has long posed a challenge to successive secular
regimes by offering a comprehensive vision of an Islamic state and extensive social
welfare services. Seit seiner Gründung im 1928, the Brotherhood (Ikhwan) has thrived in a
parallel religious and social services sector, generally avoiding direct confrontation with
ruling regimes.1 More recently over the past two decades, jedoch, the Brotherhood has
dabbled with partisanship in the formal political realm. This experiment culminated in
the election of the eighty-eight Brothers to the People’s Assembly in 2005—the largest
oppositional bloc in modern Egyptian history—and the subsequent arrests of nearly
1,000 Brothers.2 The electoral advance into mainstream politics provides ample fodder
for scholars to test theories and make predictions about the future of the Egyptian
Regime: will it fall to the Islamist opposition or remain a beacon of secularism in the
Arab world?
This thesis shies away from making such broad speculations. Instead, it explores

the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood has adapted as an organization in the past
decade.