By Ali Al-Amin
20 February 2018
In order to dismantle the tyranny and violence issuing from the Islamist system of the Arab world today, there should be focus on researching the essence of Islamic culture, not religion.
One day as a child, the great poet Muhammad Iqbal was reciting verses from the Holy Quran, when his father entered the room. His father told him, “My son! Read the book of God, as if it was written today.” This is a profound call for restoring the Qur’anic text as a direct means of guidance between the creator and the creature.
Violence Is Not Religious Value
From a sociological, anthropological and historical point of view, as many avant-garde scholars aver the call to violence cannot be turned into an absolute principle, because it is not the foundation of religion. Islam preaches values of goodness, peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, justice and equality. Hence, it is unconceivable to recognize violence as an absolute principle, or a reference to morality that is valid for all time and place.
As long as Muslims do not dare criticize their history and ask difficult questions about how to enhance their culture and liberate their identity from violent elements, they will not be able to justify the causes behind the rise of ISIS.
Religious violence in the modern era stems from a distorted version of religion which promotes the concept that the absence of Islam from all spheres of life is a kind of infidelity towards it. This is an understanding of faith that runs contrary to the judgment of both mind and faith. It is a false claim and a radicalization of the Islamic religion.
It involves aggressive intent such as control, domination and appropriation of power in the name of religion and exploitation of simple-minded believers.
State Is Not Religion
This view is a vital constituent in the discourse of Islamist groups, who wrongly surmise that Islam is both a religion and a political system, and that the Holy Qur’an serves as the political constitution of Muslims in that it has references to crises facing countries and societies and covers relations between states.
However, The Holy Qur’an makes no reference to the meaning of the Constitution and the organization of state institutions, nor to the concept of sovereignty and citizens’ rights, but concerns itself with behavioural and ethical principles and imposes some limits and penalties. Therefore, to say that Islam is a religion and a political system, as most Islamist organizations do, is an outrageous claim.
If we return to history, we find that the sense of ‘divine judgement’ was a burden on religion and politics together. It is therefore possible to say that the shock caused by the collapse of the Ottoman Sultanate and the colonization of Arabs and Muslims at the turn of the twentieth century led to the emergence of a stream of Islamic revival movements.
This movement to revive the Islamic cause was almost a romantic call driven by question of identity and the dream of restoring the religious state, despite the fact that the Caliphate provided no solution to the issue of backwardness and tyranny which had caused the collapse from within.
The issue of politicization of religion and turning of politics into a sacred domain is the dilemma facing the Islamic political discourse today. In this context, Lebanese researcher
Dr. Hala Amoun affirms that “The most prominent thing which distinguishes the religious mind, which infuses sanctity and Holiness in the practice of politics is its rejection of diversity and multiplicity of legitimacy and its claim that it is the only one with the truth, the absolute truth; and that whoever rejects this truth rejects religion itself. This leads to extremism, tyranny and the use of religion to condemn the so-called violators.”
Researchers believe that the state is a civil institution that has nothing to do with religion. If the religious state is founded on authority in the name of religion, then it is absolutely illegitimate. Religion cannot be the cover for any state policy. It has become necessary to resolve this argument in favour of the State because the only legitimate contract for the state is between the government and the people.
Ali Al-Amin is a journalist based in Lebanon and is the Editor of news site Janoubia.com.