For one of my classes, the Sociology of Religion, we had to choose an article about religious movements for the class to read, and I chose the preface of Gilles Kepel’s book “Muslim Extremism in Egypt”. It gives an overview of when, how and why the trend of Islamic extremism began. During the class discussion, I began thinking about whether having an Islamic state is viable.
Personally, I’m definitely against it. Who gets to interpret Islam in an Islamic state? What if they are very orthodox or fundamentalist (like the Muslim Brotherhood)? What does that mean for moderate and liberal Muslims, for non-Muslims, and for foreign policy?
Also, what do you think of Iran? Is it a success or a failure, or in between? Or is it too soon to tell? Iran after all is an Islamic state.
Then again, so is Saudi, and I would definitely call that a failure.
In terms of Egypt, I just don’t see it as viable at all. The Muslim Brotherhood have so far been pretty vague about their specific plans for what to do if they get power. The only things they have explictly said is that the president will have to be a Muslim man. I wonder what will happen to the large Christian population. Will they become a protected minority, like at the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and does this conform with modern ideas of complete equality between citizens, since they will have to pay jizya (a tax for protection)? Will this status even be respected, since we all know that laws are one thing and their application another? Will they in reality be pressured to convert or leave, or suffer even more abuse and discrimination than they already do?
All of this is making me nostalgic for the Egypt of 50 years ago, when (so I’ve heard and read) diversity was celebrated, when Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived side by side, when Egyptians were more concerned with a balance between inner and outward forms of piety, as opposed to the modern obsession of outward signs of religiosity.
Cairo sounded like the most beautiful city back then. It still is beautiful, but it is also stressful, unbearable, and full of tension and anxiety.
I know this post is a bit all over the place, but I just wanted to get some thoughts out there…
I still don’t have an internet connection at my new place, so sorry that I haven’t been commenting on all your blogs/my blog as much…soon i’A!