Why some circles of western academia sympathize with Islamism? (4/4)

Does Islamism acknowledge citizenship and coexistence?

D.Wael Saleh

and Some sympathizers with Islamism describe it as a movement that usually corresponds to the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence, even if with terms that may seem different while some of them point out that there are two currents in conflict within political Islam groups, one of which corresponds to the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence and the other is opposed for these values.

Reasons behind sympathy of some western academia circles with islamism (1)

It is too early to know who will prevail in the end, and some of them believe that the Islamists are on their way to converting to compatibility with the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence, despite the many challenges that await them on this path. Those sympathetic to Islamism assume, albeit implicitly, that the incompatibility of Islamism with the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence such as democracy, human rights, acceptance of others, and acceptance of diversity is not a structural problem that lies within the thought of political Islam movements in general.

Why some circles of western academia sympathize with Islamism? (2)

In fact, there are some facts and observations ignored by such Western current sympathetic to Islamism:

The state is the basis of religion                                            

Firstly, they ignore the fact that the founding texts of Islamism reject diversity and tend to believe that they possess the absolute truth, therefore, the tendency of Islamism followers to reject the basic values of citizenship and coexistence is indisputable, rather, we can say that the resort to violence by them against the other is certain and must appear sooner or later. They have a comprehensive, dynamic, political view of religion, which include a pre-prepared model that Muslims must follow, and it is not permitted to search for an “Islamic” model other than theirs.

Secondly, they ignore that the model of Islamism or its special political understanding of Islam which was created by human beings is taken as a holiness robe and actually identify the religion with the politics in different degrees. These degrees begin with the rooting of the relationship between the religion and the politics, passing through the sanctification of this relationship and ending with the total politicization of the religion. Therefore, this model completely contradicts the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence, and this can be proved by the following quotes of the most important theorists of Islamism: Hassan Al-Banna, the founder and first guide of the group, links the religious and political aspects with the universality of the pattern of his religiosity “We believe that the rulings of Islam are comprehensive and regulate the affairs of life in this world and in the hereafter, and that those who think that these teachings only deal with the ritual or spiritual aspect regardless other aspects are mistaken in this assumption.” Abdul Qadir Odeh, one of the most important theorists in the Muslim Brotherhood had the same belief, merging politics in religion and religion into the state, so that they become one and indivisible, saying: “The state in Islam has become the religion and religion in Islam has become the state.”

Going beyond the stage of linking religion with politics, Al-Qaradawi went up to the stage of reverence for this relationship by making the political religion (Islamism) a new religion that contains the typical religion, deeming “Islam” as something wider than the concept of religion. Scholars of Islamic theology said that “religion” is one of the six imperatives that the Sharia law came to preserve ».

This global view of the world that Islamism adopts makes the state a religious space par excellence. The state here becomes a religious necessity, and even the public space must be completely saturated with religion and completely confiscated by the religion.

According to this vision, the main sources of legitimacy for the regime must be in full conformity with the pattern of Islamists’ religiosity to be the sole source of legitimacy.

Islamism doesn’t eventually view legislation as a human jurisprudence but as the law of God. It is a process of identity and a foundational principle of human society in their “theocratic” state, where their own law and vision of religion become the basis on which the political system and the state are based. Therefore, this vision of the world cannot be compatible with the basic values of citizenship and coexistence.

Oh God, I wish to have absolute faith in Muslim Brotherhood approach until the moment of death

Secondly: This vision ignores the actual reflection of the behavior of the political Islam movements that present themselves as a religious sect with special goals. For that reason, we saw some of them saying “Oh God, I wish to have absolute faith in Muslim Brotherhood approach until the moment of death” and others say “Muslim Brotherhood member shouldn’t marry a person out of their group as they are a lower degree”.

As for their view to their opponents, they say “These are our opponents, and we know that they are our opponents, but we did not initiate with hostility because our goal is their children, their women and their grandchildren. We do not want them, we desire their children, and their children are with us today, and our goal is to separate their children from their opinion. Consequently, the ability of this organization to integrate into the national public space is doubtful same as the point of view of these sympathetic with Islamism who believe they have the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence and promote it as the democratic alternative to some Arab regimes.

Brotherhood syndrome

Thirdly: Ignoring the “Muslim Brotherhood Syndrome”, that is, a set of signs, symptoms and phenomena that are related to each other that accompany and resulted from their presence in the public space and contradicts the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence: They are as below:

  • Their monopoly on truth and religion.


  • Emotional isolation of their members from society.


  • Supremacy of their religiosity over society.


  • Supremacy of the slogan “Wherever the interest of the group is, then God’s face” in your political practice.


  • Transformation of society into a state of permanent conflict, to become a society divided against itself, until reaching to civil wars.


  • Absence of the concept of citizenship and the supremacy of the idea of ​​individual loyalty to the group and its extension across the borders of the national state.

In conclusion, in order to provide a political environment dominated by the basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence, the state space must be emptied of religious and ideological aspects. The state does not have to be religious or hostile to religion, just as it must not be ideological or hostile to intellect.

In the public sphere, competition between political actors must be limited to who best runs the state within the framework of a development state, and to remove religion from the spheres of competition and political conflicts.

In this public space, movements and political forces have the right to choose and adopt the reference and moral framework whether religious or ideological and at any case it should not be sanctified or prevented from being criticized.

As for the political public space, the political mechanism of democracy (the ballot box) shall not be isolated from its political and philosophical standards and conditions, without which democracy cannot exist.

Legitimacy of the ruling system must be based only on the legitimacy of the achievement and what people have agreed upon to organize their lives is the only source of legislation.

These standards are the bases that guarantee basic values ​​of citizenship and coexistence, and they are totally inconsistent with the texts establishing the ideology of the “Islamist” movements.

Are we living in the “post-Islamism” or “the end of Islamism?

Some sympathizers with Islamism in Western academia, such as Asef  Bayat in his book “Post-Islamism,  the Changing Aspects of Political Islam,” are betting that Islamists will change under the pressure and constraints of reality towards democracy, human rights, principles of coexistence and acceptance of the other.

These sympathizers call this transformation “post-Islamism” as an attempt to frame concepts and devise a strategy to build logic and models that transcend Islamism in the social, political and intellectual fields by integrating religiosity with rights and belief in freedom and integrating Islam in democracy and modernity, to achieve what some have called “alternative modernity” or “internal modernity.”

In short, they see that “post-Islamism” represents a kind of rupture from the legacy of “Islamism” as a kind of connection with the religious reform in the Western way.

I was responding to these sympathizers before the Arab Spring that we can say with the same logic that when pressure on Islamism is eased after they reach power, for example, they will undoubtedly change as well, but in that case they will return to their initial version of their understanding of religion in order to bully it and monopolize religion and public space and the country. Their initial version constitutes their true point of view about life, guarantees their mobilization and enables them to lift legitimacy from all other political and social actors in the political and religious scenes in Islamic societies.

Actually, The Arab Spring proved that the fate of Islamism is the death (nécro-Islamisme) not the (post-Islamism phase) as aforementioned. This what i demonstrated with my colleague Professor Patrice Bardor in our book Political Islam in the Post-Arab Spring era: has the time of death of Islamism come?

In this book, we explained how Islamism lost its incubators after the Arab Spring (within the national state, the Arab region and the world), which had supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists significantly before 2011, as the response of the Brotherhood, is summarized in two forms: The first one is a complete return to their founding discourse, including the expiation of others, theorizing and preaching the caliphate, Sharia and religious legitimacy for political rule, and the monopoly of speaking in the name of religion … etc. This is what I call (rétro-Islamisme), which embodies the stage of the Brotherhood’s unprecedented involvement, in extremism and violence (the case of Egypt).

As for the second stage, it was represented in the complete abandonment of all the founding principles of Islamism, which is an emptying of Islamism from everything that distinguished it from other currents, secularism or humanism … etc. This is what I called (néo-Islamisme). Both methods will lead to the death of nécro-Islamisme because in its initial form (that is, a pattern that the founder condemns) it is no longer acceptable and has lost its charm, and in the event of abandoning all its founding principles it will have been ceased. The inevitable fate is the “death of Islamism” because in the post-Arab Spring period, Islamism lost the societal incubator it enjoyed, as the mentality of the Arab Islamic societies changed to be “non-Islamist.”

A number of indications can be observed here on the hypothesis of the demise of Islamism at the present time:

  • The first indication is that a large segment of Arab societies has finally realized that “Islamism is the problem” and that it has never been a solution to any problem.

After the Arab Spring, political Islam has become socially unpopular, and the Arab nation states considers it its first enemy after it became the source of the conflicts that tear apart the social and national fabric of Arab countries, the source of fueling sectarian differences, and the fuel for the continuation of conflicts in the region, wasting their energies and threatening the capabilities of their people.

  • The second indicator is the perception of a large segment of people that “Islamism” is not Islam. Islamism is a comprehensive, dynamic political vision of religion that believes that there is a pre-set model that a Muslim must follow and no other model is permitted.

It is a model they set in reality, but they wear it as a holiness robe. In this regard, the Arab Barometer Research Network in the largest poll in the Middle East and North Africa for BBC Arabic Science 2018 and 2019 found that Arab youth turn their backs on Islamist groups.

  • The third indicator is the realization that all Islamist groups of various sects and at the heart of which are the Muslim Brotherhood group share the same founding principles: it does not recognize homelands and their borders, confuses religion and politics, defiles the religion by relegating it to the level of the politics and raises the political status by sanctifying it, producing an ideological mix in which opinion and interpretation are mixed with the sacred text then they overlap to form a new religion that explodes sooner or later in the face of everyone who will not join him. It was also found that all these groups use religion to achieve their political, social and economic interests.

We realized that these currents believe in democracy as a mean by which they can only gain power, but they do not believe much in the essence of the democratic process, which is the respect of pluralism and the pursuit of joint action with all political and societal parties.

  • The fourth indicator: We can say that the group is divided and exploded internally as the resignation of Al-Jallassi (the leader in the Ennahda movement), which I clearly attribute to the social and administrative diseases that will blow up the group from within, the most important of which are the concentration of resources, interests and decision in one hand, the marginalization of the movement’s institutions, foolishness in managing material resources, the spread of paralysis and familial interference, the obsession with covert regulation, conspiracy phobia and reverence for leadership.
  • The fifth indicator: the group has become restricted and questioned at the regional and international levels, which led the Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe officially announcing the disengagement from the Brotherhood, Hamas’s declaration of separation from the Muslim Brotherhood, and cancelling the affiliation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council in Jordan to the parent group in Egypt.

We do not forget in this context the report of “Genghis-Farr” prepared by the Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United Kingdom, led by Sir John Genghis, the former British ambassador to Riyadh, and Charles Farr, head of the Counter-Terrorism Service, which recognized that some sectors of the Brotherhood have an ambiguous link with violence and that many people relied on the Brotherhood’s ideology and its organization as a gateway for extremism and that the group’s media platforms until mid-2014 were broadcasting statements that intentionally incite violence in Egypt.

Who would have imagined that this report would come out of London, which some describe as the capital of the international Brotherhood organization?!

At the regional level, for the first time, we find a strategic alliance between countries of the same weight as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, which prioritizes the elimination of Islamism.

  • The sixth and final indication of the demise of Islamism is the failure of the “Turkish model”, which was presented as the model that considers the possibility of effectively merging Islamism with democracy.

The demise of Islamist movements does not mean the immediate or complete disappearance of them and their ideology, but rather that the influence they had before the Arab Spring will never return to what it was.

It is a kind of clinical death that makes Islamism movements never leave the periphery, and the more the nation-state regains its strength, position and role, the more Islamism disappears.

In summary, it becomes clear that the statements on which those sympathetic with Islamism of Western academic researchers are incorrect and not based on a correct reading of the Islamist movements and their politicized ideology.

Why some circles of western academia sympathize with Islamism? (3/4)

There is no doubt that these western pro- Islamism statements that have turned over time into axioms that are not subject to discussion and reconsideration are false and they are axioms in the interest of political Islam movements because they automatically push not only towards accepting these movements without realizing the dangers of their violent ideology and behavior, but also because these statements  provides  justification for the initiation of some political institutions and even Western countries to cooperate with these movements.




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