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The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam

dr. Muhammad Iqbal

As a cultural movement Islam rejects the old static view of the universe, and reaches a dynamic view. As an emotional system of unification it recognizes the worth of the individual as such, and rejects bloodrelationship as a basis of human unity. Blood-relationship is earthrootedness. The search for a purely psychological foundation of human unity becomes possible only with the perception that all human life is spiritual in its origin.1 Such a perception is creative of fresh loyalties without any ceremonial to keep them alive, and makes it possible for man to emancipate himself from the earth. Christianity which had originally appeared as a monastic order was tried by Constantine as a system of unification.2 Its failure to work as such a system drove the Emperor Julian3 to return to the old gods of Rome on which he attempted to put philosophical interpretations. A modern historian of civilization has thus depicted the state of the civilized world about the time when Islam appeared on the stage of History: It seemed then that the great civilization that it had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration, and that mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism where every tribe and sect was against the next, and law and order were unknown . . . la
old tribal sanctions had lost their power. Hence the old imperial methods would no longer operate. The new sanctions created by
Christianity were working division and destruction instead of unity and order. It was a time fraught with tragedy. Civilization, like a gigantic tree whose foliage had overarched the world and whose branches had borne the golden fruits of art and science and literature, stood tottering, its trunk no longer alive with the flowing sap of devotion and reverence, but rotted to the core, riven by the storms of war, and held together only by the cords of ancient customs and laws, that might snap at any moment. Was there any emotional culture that could be brought in, to gather mankind once more into unity and to save civilization? This culture must be something of a new type, for the old sanctions and ceremonials were dead, and to build up others of the same kind would be the work
of centuries.’The writer then proceeds to tell us that the world stood in need of a new culture to take the place of the culture of the throne, and the systems of unification which were based on bloodrelationship.
It is amazing, he adds, that such a culture should have arisen from Arabia just at the time when it was most needed. There is, malgrat això, nothing amazing in the phenomenon. The world-life intuitively sees its own needs, and at critical moments defines its own direction. This is what, in the language of religion, we call prophetic revelation. It is only natural that Islam should have flashed across the consciousness of a simple people untouched by any of the ancient cultures, and occupying a geographical position where three continents meet together. The new culture finds the foundation of world-unity in the principle of Tauhâd.’5 Islam, as a polity, is only a practical means of making this principle a living factor in the intellectual and emotional life of mankind. It demands loyalty to God, not to thrones. And since God is the ultimate spiritual basis of all life, loyalty to God virtually amounts to man’s loyalty to his own ideal nature. The ultimate spiritual basis of all life, as conceived by Islam, is eternal and reveals itself in variety and change. A society based on such a conception of Reality must reconcile, in its life, the categories of permanence and change. It must possess eternal principles to regulate its collective life, for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change.

Islamist Opposition Parties and the Potential for EU Engagement

Toby Archer

Heidi Huuhtanen

In light of the increasing importance of Islamist movements in the Muslim world and

the way that radicalisation has influenced global events since the turn of the century, it

is important for the EU to evaluate its policies towards actors within what can be loosely

termed the ‘Islamic world’. It is particularly important to ask whether and how to engage

with the various Islamist groups.

This remains controversial even within the EU. Some feel that the Islamic values that

lie behind Islamist parties are simply incompatible with western ideals of democracy and

drets humans, while others see engagement as a realistic necessity due to the growing

domestic importance of Islamist parties and their increasing involvement in international

affairs. Another perspective is that democratisation in the Muslim world would increase

European security. The validity of these and other arguments over whether and how the

EU should engage can only be tested by studying the different Islamist movements and

their political circumstances, country by country.

Democratisation is a central theme of the EU’s common foreign policy actions, as laid

out in Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union. Many of the states considered in this

report are not democratic, or not fully democratic. In most of these countries, Islamist

parties and movements constitute a significant opposition to the prevailing regimes, i

in some they form the largest opposition bloc. European democracies have long had to

deal with governing regimes that are authoritarian, but it is a new phenomenon to press

for democratic reform in states where the most likely beneficiaries might have, from the

EU’s point of view, different and sometimes problematic approaches to democracy and its

related values, such as minority and women’s rights and the rule of law. These charges are

often laid against Islamist movements, so it is important for European policy-makers to

have an accurate picture of the policies and philosophies of potential partners.

Experiences from different countries tends to suggest that the more freedom Islamist

parties are allowed, the more moderate they are in their actions and ideas. In many

cases Islamist parties and groups have long since shifted away from their original aim

of establishing an Islamic state governed by Islamic law, and have come to accept basic

democratic principles of electoral competition for power, the existence of other political

competitors, and political pluralism.

Islamist Parties : going back to the origins

Husain Haqqani

Hillel Fradkin

How should we understand the emergence and the nature of Islamist parties? Can they reasonably be expected not just to participate in democratic politics but even to respect the norms of liberal democracy? These questions lie at the heart of the issues that we have been asked to address.
In our view, any response that is historically and thus practically relevant must begin with the following observation: Until very recently, even the idea of an Islamist party (let alone a democratic Islamist party) would have seemed, from the perspective of Islamism itself, a paradox if not a contradiction in terms. Islamism’s original conception of a healthy Islamic political life made no room for—indeed rejected—any role for parties of any sort. Islamist groups described themselves as the vanguard of Islamic revival, claiming that they represented the essence of Islam and reflected the aspiration of the global umma (community of believers) for an Islamic polity. Pluralism, which is a precondition for the operation of political parties, was rejected by most Islamist political
thinkers as a foreign idea.
As should be more or less obvious, the novelty not only of actually existing Islamist parties but of the very idea of such parties makes it exceptionally difficult to assess their democratic bona fides. But this difficulty merely adds another level of complication to a problem that stems from the very origins of Islamism and its conception of the true meaning of Islam and of Islam’s relationship to political life

The Syrian Opposition

Joshua Landis

Joe Pace


For decades, nosaltres. policy toward Syria has been single-mindedly focused on Syria’s president, Hafiz al-Asad, de 1970 per 2000, followed by his son Bashar. Because they perceived the Syrian opposition to be too weak and anti-American, nosaltres. officials preferred to work with the Asad regime. Washington thus had no relations with the Syrian opposition until its invasion of Iraq in 2003. Even then, the Bush administration reached out only to Washington-based opponents of the Syrian regime. They were looking for a Syrian counterpart to Ahmad Chalabi, the pro-U.S. Iraqi opposition leader who helped build the case for invading Iraq.
Washington was not interested in engaging Islamists, whom it considered the only opposition with a demonstrated popular base in Syria. As for the secular opposition in Syria, nosaltres. embassy officials in Damascus considered them to “have a weak back bench,” without a popular constituency or connection to Syrian youth.2 Moreover, contact between opposition members and embassy officials could be dangerous for opponents of the regime and leave them open to accusations of treason. For these reasons, the difficult terrain of opposition figures within Syria remained terra incognita.

Civil society and Democratization in the Arab World

Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Even if Islam is the Answer, Arab Muslims are the Problem

In May 2008, the Arab nation experienced a number of fires, or rather, armed conflictsin

Líban, Iraq, Palestina, Iemen, and Somalia. In these conflicts,

the warring parties used Islam as the instrument for mobilization

and amassing support. Collectively, Muslims are

waging war against Muslims.

After some Muslims raised the slogan of “Islam is the solution,

it

became apparent “their Islam is the problem.” No sooner have some of them acquired weapons,

than they raised it against the state and its ruling regime regardless of

whether that regime was ruling in the name of Islam or not.

We have

seen this in recent years between the followers of Osama bin Laden

and the Al-Qaeda organization on the one hand, and the authorities in

the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the other. We have also seen an

explosive example of this phenomenon in Morocco, whose king rules in the name of Islam and

whose title is the ‘Prince of the Faithful.Thus each Muslim faction kills other Muslims in the

name of Islam.
A quick glance at the contents of the media confirms how the

term Islam and its associated symbols have become mere tools in the hands of these Muslims.

Prominent examples of these Islam-exploiting factions are:
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Jamiat al-Islamiyya, in Egypt

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement, in Palestine Hezbollah, Fatah al-Islam,

and Jamiat al-Islammiyya, in Lebanon The Houthi Zayadi rebels and the Islamic Reform Grouping

(Islah), inYemen The Islamic courts, in Somalia The Islamic Front ,

The Egyptian blogosphere: home of a new feminism

Laura Pitel

Has there been a time in your life when you experienced, felt or even heard about a story at the heart of which lay the oppression of a woman because she, a female, lives in a male society?1These were the first words of an email sent in 2006 to Egypt‟s female bloggers, calling upon them to speak out about the problems faced by women in their society. The authors of the invitation were a group of five female Egyptian bloggers who, weeks earlier, had begun We are all Laila – a blogging initiative set-up in order to shed light on the frustrations of being a woman in a patriarchal society. On 9th September, over 70 bloggers contributed to We are all Laila day, successfully creating a storm both in the world of blogging and beyond.The group formed at a time of enormous growth in Egypt‟s online sphere. The popularity of blogs – websites usually run by an individual, made public for anyone to read – took off in the three years up to 2007: pre-2005 there were around 40 Egyptian blogs,2 by 2005 there were about 400,3 and by September 2006 that number is estimated to have been 1800.4 This parallels the growth in the global blogosphere5 which was home to 70 million blogs by April 2007.

Political Islam Gaining Ground

Michael A. llarg

characteristics of the democratic order. Their newly-discovered acceptance of elections andparliamentary processes results not least from a gradual democratisation of the formerlyauthoritarian regimes these groups had fought by terrorist means even in their home countries.The prime example of this development is Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which started out as acharitable social movement and has now become the most powerful political opposition force inEgypt.Founded in the 1920s, the Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest Islamic organisation of the Arabworld today. Following the ideas of its founder Al-Banna, it intended to return to a state of ‘trueIslam’, i.e. to return to the way of life of the early Islamic congregation at the time of theProphet, and to establish a community of social justice. This vision was increasingly viewed as acounterweight to the Western social model that was marked by secularisation, moral decay, andgreed. During World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood even founded a secret military arm, whoseactivities, malgrat això, were uncovered, leading to the execution of Mr Al-Banna by Egypt’s secretpolice

In the Shadow of the Brothers

Omayma Abdel-Latif

In September 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt released its fi rst politicalparty platform draft. Among the heavily criticized clauses was one that deniedwomen (and Copts) the right to be head of state. “Duties and responsibilities assumed by the head of state, such as army commanding, are in contradictionwith the socially acceptable roles for women,” the draft stated. In previousBrotherhood documents there was no specifi c mention of the position of headof state; rather, they declared that women were allowed to occupy all postsexcept for al-imama al-kubra, the position of caliph, which is the equivalentof a head of state in modern times. Many were surprised that despite severalprogressive moves the Brotherhood had made in previous years to empowerwomen, it ruled out women’s right to the country’s top position.Although the platform was only a fi rst draft, the Muslim Brotherhood’s banon women in Egypt’s top offi ce revived old, but serious, questions regardingthe Islamist movement’s stand on the place and role of the “Sisters” inside themovement. The Brotherhood earlier had taken an advanced position concerningwomen, as refl ected in its naming of women candidates for parliamentaryand municipal elections in 2000, 2005, i 2007, as well as the growingnumbers of women involved in Brotherhood political activities, such as streetprotests and elections. Although the platform recognizes women as key politicalactors, it was considered a retreat from the movement’s advanced positionin some earlier electoral platforms.

The Draft Party Platform of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Nathan J. marró
Amr Hamzawy

In the late summer 2007, amid great anticipation from Egypt’s ruling elite and opposition movements, the Muslim Brotherhood distributed the first draft of a party platform to a group of intellectuals and analysts. The platform was not to serve as a document for an existing political party or even one about to be founded: the Brotherhood remains without legal recognition in Egypt and Egypt’s rulers and the laws they have enacted make the prospect of legal recognition for a Brotherhood-founded party seem distant. But the Brotherhood’s leadership clearly wished to signal what sort of party they would found if allowed to do so.

With the circulation of the draft document, the movement opened its doors to discussion and even contentious debate about the main ideas of the platform, the likely course of the Brotherhood’s political role, and the future of its relationship with other political forces in the country.1 In this paper, we seek to answer four questions concerning the Brotherhood’s

party platform:

1. What are the specific controversies and divisions generated by the platform?


2. Why and how has the platform proved so divisive?


3. Given the divisions it caused as well as the inauspicious political environment,

why was a platform drafted at this time?


4. How will these controversies likely be resolved?


We also offer some observations about the Brotherhood’s experience with

drafting a party platform and demonstrate how its goals have only been partly

met. Ultimately, the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood as a normal political

actor will depend not only on the movement’s words but also on the deeds

of a regime that seems increasingly hostile to the Brotherhood’s political role.

A Call for Justice

Ibrahim El Houdaiby

It was over 12 years ago that I watched CNN to follow the trial of O J Simpson. Although being thousands of miles away, I was still able to see what was going on inside the court room, listen to
persecutor and defence arguments, and read transcripts of that in newspapers. I even remember arguing with family members and friends in Egypt on whether or not he was guilty.

Regardless of the verdict, I sincerely believe that this trial had all foundations and necessary guarantees and requirements of a fair trial. Most importantly: it was held publicly so that people all over the world could follow its procedures.

avui, 12 years later, opposition leaders belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood are standing before asecretmilitary tribunal in Egypt. Sixteen sessions have been held so far, while all journalists, reporters, domestic or international human rights observers have
been denied access. Defendants belonging to the country’s largest opposition group, and the region’s largest Islamist movement with moderate orientation and peaceful approach, are standing before this tribunal despite civilian courts acquitting them four times of all charges brought by the notorious State Security Prosecutor, describing them asfabricated, groundless, and politically motivated.They are standing before the tribunal despite a court’s ruling that found the President’s decision to transfer them to a military tribunalunconstitutional,” as they are civilian opposition leaders who should be tried by civilian courts. The decision to transfer them to military tribunals disrespecting civilian courts’ verdicts was condemned by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Moreover, the case was brought to military tribunal even before charges were prepared. After the third acquittal of the detainees by civilian courts, the regime had no legal excuse to extend their detention, and therefore had to commence trial sessions within a couple of days so that it could keep them behind bars. The regime never attempted to justify that, and the judge (a military officer who has no option but to follow the orders of his seniors; the President and the Minister of Defence) only adjourned the session till charges were prepared in a clear violation of due legal processes.

Forty defendants, including the group’s Deputy Chairman Khayrat El Shater, are facing false accusations of money laundering and financing a ‘banned organisation’. The only witness in the case is the State Security officer who presided over investigations. In his testimony, he
failed to present any substantial evidence to support his claims.

He made some fatal mistakes that should undermine his testimony altogether. This included not knowing the names and professions of some of the defendants, refusing to respond to most of the defence questions and providing contradictory answers for the other questions. He failed to provide a single piece of evidence that would support the charges.
But all this took place behind closed doors. The only people granted access to the court room were the detaineesfamilies. The justification was rather silly; the sessions were being held in a military base which required a special permit to enter. This does not explain why families are allowed to enter without a permit, nor does it explain why civilian opposition leaders are being tried in a military base!! Strict procedures were imposed in order to guarantee that no account of what happens inside the court room would not reach the outside world except through families and lawyers who could be easily discredited.
The motives for all this are patently clear. Mubarak’s regime is suffering eroding popularity due to its political, social and economic failures both domestically and internationally at a time when there is a pressing need to speed up the devilish inheritance plan by which
Jamal Mubarak is expected to take over the presidency from his 80-years-old father despite the strong popular opposition. With mounting public discontent and unprecedented wave of strikes, most recent are raging protests by around 30,000 cotton factory workers protesting unimaginable living conditions resulting from a $27 per month salary, it was necessary that the regime attempts to silence its strong opposition groups by resorting to extralegal measures,and the list is endless.
Ayman Nour, a young articulate politician and a potential opponent for Jamal Mubarak in any upcoming elections was sentenced to 5 years in prison, MP Talaat El Sadat, nephew of late President Sadat and an outspoken parliamentarian was sentenced to one year in prison by a military tribunal, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood activists have been detained and kept behind bars with no accusations, and now 40 influential leaders and members of the group are facing an unknown fate in military tribunal which lacks all basic guarantees of a fair trial. In the past few weeks, four independent newspaper editors were sentenced to prison term after being found guilty of ‘defaming ruling figures’.
Twelve years ago, American courts set O J Simson free, and yet later on had to pay restitution as he was foundliablefor the deaths by a civil suit. The underpinning idea was clear: you need to be certain to take away a person’s freedom, but maybe less certain to
take away some of his money. Today in Egypt, there is an oppressive regime imposing draconian measures against its people and depriving many of their freedom despite the ruling of court of justice, while the vast majority of Western governments, writers and civil society organisations remain silent. Only very few have spoken out and acted against this assault on human rights and democracy. It is high time for those interested in bringing justice and freedom to Egypt to manifest this interest through actions as well as words.

Dissent and Reform in Egypt: Challenges to Democratization

Ayat M. Abul-Futuh

Over the last two years, Egypt has witnessed large demonstrations led by newdemocratic civil society movements, including Kefaya (Arabic for “enough”), the JudgesClub of Egypt, journalist advocacy groups, civil society coalitions, and other human rightsactivists.These groups have championed a number of causes including an independentjudiciary, contested presidential elections, presidential term limits, and the annulment ofemergency law. While most of these demands have yet to be met, some gains, asexemplified by the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections, have been made.However, it remains to be seen whether or not this surge of democratic fervor willsucceed in pressuring President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to take meaningful steps towardopening the system and allowing for broader democratic participation. Egypt’s rulers havenot been seriously challenged by a domestic opposition for over five decades. Behind afortress of restrictive laws, the regime has managed to undermine nascent political partiesand keep them weak, fragmented, and unable to develop any constituency among thepeople. Civil society is likewise shackled by laws that have constrained their formation andactivities.Since the late 1970s, following Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptiangovernment has received unwavering financial and moral support from Westerndemocracies—particularly the United States. Egypt is seen as a staunch ally in the region, apartner in managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Arab-Israeli relations, i, after the9/11 attacks, a valuable source of intelligence in the war on terror. The regime has usedthis support to maintain its suffocating grip on political activity.Then, starting in 2004, it seemed a new day had dawned for Egyptian reformers.Calls by the United States for Arab governments to democratize resonated strongly withincivil society, rapidly escalating domestic demands for radical political reforms. PresidentBush has often cited Egypt as an example of a developing democracy in the region. But theEgyptian regime is a hybrid of deeply rooted authoritarian elements and pluralistic andliberal aspects. There are strong state security forces, but also an outspoken oppositionpress and an active, albeit constrained, civil society. In short, Egypt is the perfect model of a“semi-authoritarian” state, rather than a “transitional democracy.”President Mubarak’s government continues to proclaim its commitment to liberaldemocracy, pointing to a vast array of formal democratic institutions. The reality, malgrat això,is that these institutions are highly deficient. The ruling elite maintains an absolutemonopoly over political power. President Hosni Mubarak was elected last September for afifth six-year term in office. In order for democratic reforms to advance in Egypt,substantial institutional and legal changes must be made.