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Scholars urge Islamic movements a rethink
Scholars urge Islamic movements a rethink
He also warned against the aggravation of conflict among the Lebanese parties saying that “any conflict with Hezbollah would mean an all-out war between the Sunnis and Shias. I hope that we can denounce the inevitability of the conflict between the Sunnis and Shias as this will only benefit the enemies of Islam including the US and Israel,” he added
Tuesday, September 30,2008 16:11
Gulf-Times
TWO leading Islamic thinkers have urged Islamic movements in the Arab world to conduct a “radical intellectual revision” to their convictions, saying that these movements should abandon the idea of establishing a religious state.

Dr Radwan al-Sayed, a professor of Islamic Studies at the Lebanon University, said that Islamists should stop thinking of setting up an Islamic state, which he said, is “not possible because it is dogmatic”.
“While the religious state is not possible, it is the civil state, where the law rather than the Sharia rules, which we all should stick to. It is the insistence of Islamic movements to establish an Islamic state which triggered a horrendous clash with the Arab counties’ regimes. Any Islamic state would have a problem with democracy because Islamists seek to create a religious state in which the infallible Islamic Sharia would replace the law though Sharia is merely a way of life. Even the Islamic caliphate state was not a religious state at all,” al-Sayed said at “the Islamic Movements and Democracy: Lebanon as an Example” seminar yesterday. The seminar was organised by the Doha-based Arab Democracy Foundation (ADF).

Al-Sayed, who is also a visiting professor at Harvard and Chicago universities, slammed both Hamas movement and Hezbollah party for what he called “resorting to violence to attain their goals”.
“Islamic movements should denounce violence and ban it by all means because when they exercise it, they do that in the name of God. Though Hamas has developed its approaches as an Islamic movement, it has relapsed into violence against the Palestinians who voted for it. The same practice committed by Hezbollah when it swept Beirut and controlled it by the force of weapons this year just to obtain more advantages over the other rival factions,” he said.

He also blamed the rise of Islamic movements around the Arab world on what he called “the weakening of the religious institutions by the Arab regimes”, saying that this has created a vacuum, which Islamists sought to fill.

“A main obstacle to democratisation in the Arab countries is the ruling regimes themselves. They suppress all the civil society movements including the Islamists. In Egypt, as an example, Islamic movements flourished only after the Al Azhar authority has been sidelined and weakened by the State. One can easily notice that the violent fundamentalists appeared in every Arab country where the traditional religious institution was weakened,” he explained.
“Any democratisation in the Arab world would be impossible without involving Islamists who constitute 40mn around the Arab world and difficult to be ignored. But at the same time all the current Islamic movements need to conduct some sort of intellectual reform for their approaches.”

About the prospects of democratisation in Lebanon, al-Sayed ruled out the possibility of establishing any democratic system in Lebanon, saying that the different sects making up the country make it impossible to have any type of democracy.

“It is sects which exchange power in Lebanon rather than parties. I believe that there would be no future for democracy in Lebanon because of this. We have two armies, one for the government, and the other for Hezbollah. The aircraft of a Lebanese pilot was shot down only because he entered the zone controlled by Hezbollah. I can’t perceive any democracy in a country where sectarianism prevail the concept of the state,” he added.

He slammed the military regimes that assumed power in the region during the last decades, saying they undermined all the values of the Arab communities.

Dr Salah al-Din al-Jurashi, a Tunisian Islamic researcher and analyst, called on Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to abandon theme of “Islam is the solution”, saying this slogan creates confusion and make them “seem to be in monopoly of Islam”.

“I hope that Islamists can give up the idea that application of the Sharia will solve all the problems of our societies and do some sort of calm revision of their approaches. Without a radical revision made by Islamists, a relapse would remain possible,” he said.

He also warned against the aggravation of conflict among the Lebanese parties saying that “any conflict with Hezbollah would mean an all-out war between the Sunnis and Shias. I hope that we can denounce the inevitability of the conflict between the Sunnis and Shias as this will only benefit the enemies of Islam including the US and Israel,” he added.

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