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Understanding the riddle of the modern civil state.
Understanding the riddle of the modern civil state.
The concept of the modern civil state has become part of the political perception imposed on the Islamic movement by political and cultural elites which do not even belong to the Islamic project.
Friday, September 11,2009 23:50
by Dr Rafik Habib IkhwanWeb

The concept of the modern civil state has become part of the political perception imposed on the Islamic movement by political and cultural elites which do not even belong to the Islamic project.

It was used for defining the Islamic movement’s affiliation for the contemporary reality and the extent of the conventional thinking depicted as an intolerant thought. The concept of the Islamic movement is constrained now where its only option is to accept the modern civil state despite trying hard to relive the past; however, this is no longer appropriate for the modern times.

According to these concepts, the Islamic movements should definitely be re-classified where any movement refusing to accept the concept of the modern civil state immediately become labeled as an extremist movement and listed as a negative Islamic experiment. Consequently, any movement acknowledging the same concept will be listed under the Islamic movements where its political action will be approved... Therefore, these standards will inevitably be circulated among the elite and the ruling regimes as well as Western countries, where it will be the decisive factor making it an international requirement which determines whether there will be acceptance or not to the Islamic movement’s political activities.

In fact, what is questioned now and circulated among the political circles, is whether the Muslim Brotherhood have already accepted the principle of the modern civil state or not? The opposition perceives that the principle has not yet been demonstrated by the movement while its rivals inside the Islamic trend believe that the Brotherhood’s vision of the modern civil state remains vague and unclear. The Muslim Brotherhood movement, in fact, has faith in the establishing of a modern civil state. Nevertheless, verbal battles continue along with heated arguments in attempts designed as usual to distort the true motives of the Islamic Movement.

Authoritarian state

In defining the modern civil state we perceive that the civil state is actually not a familiar term used in politics but is an inseparable part of hostile and rhetoric speech leveled against the Islamic movements. As a matter of fact, the definition of a civil state is the exact opposite of the military state, it may be ascertained that this is the most accurate definition. The state founded on the rule of the army is not a civil state and the contemporary Islamic reform movements including the Muslim Brotherhood strongly oppose the establishment of a military state. They resist the whole idea of a military State since it is primarily based upon the mandate of the state and not the Guardian's domain of army power.

The civil modern state could be extended to becoming the opposite of the authoritarian state on the basis that the authoritarian state in any case is a state ruled by military and security forces.

It is possible to conclude that the civil state is the antithesis of the Authoritarian state where it is primarily under military authority regardless of its reference and essentials.  The secular authoritarian state is similar to the religious, communist or capitalist authoritarian state since they are all forms of the military idea which is the opposite of the Civil. Hence, we notice that the Islamic reform movement constantly calls for the establishing of a civil state in this sense and contradicts all forms of the authoritarian state. The movement agrees that the general Islamic authority can't be primarily maintained unless we accomplish the mandate of the nation and its full right to choose its own rulers and representatives. Only when the nation is represented by the honorable will it be possible to hold the rulers accountable and ousted for their errors. Therefore, the civil state in this sense is the essence of the Islamic reform project.

Democratic State 

It may be argued that the civil state is based on the foundations of the modern democracy and relies on pluralism and the peaceful rotation of power. Accordingly, the civil state is the status in which democracy versus authoritarian as it is acceptable and embodies the essence of the nation and the political source of the authority and proves the principle of its mandate. Thus, the civil state in this sense is not a criterion in which we evaluate the Islamic movement but it is the essence of the Islamic cultural project.

Secular Authoritarian State

However, some intellectuals discuss the issue of the Civil State from their perspective illustrating different meanings where the civil state is portrayed as adopting an attitude closer to being neutral in regards to religion.  It is, in fact, a secular state adopting a neutral position. In other words, the religion is not a reference and hence its authority is based upon man-made laws and not divine laws similar to all Western political doctrines.

Therefore, the concept of the civil state conceals the broader conception of the secular state and is persistently trying to impose perception of the secularism upon the Islamic movement. The secular state is actually the complete contrast to the Islamic State since the latter is based upon a Divine source and governed by Islamic law while the former is based on man-made laws.

Accordingly, the Islamic movement that falls in line with the principals of the secular/ civil entirely is putting an end to its Islamic tenet.  The state of its origin is based on the religious values and rests on the nation’s mandating a civil state.  The secular state is based on the free will of its own people similar to a civil state where both resort to the community for inspiration and reference. The difference between the two can be realized in the community that is reflected in the state. The secular state is meant to govern a secular society while the Islamic State is governed by a divine law and is dedicated to regulate all affairs.

When the Muslim community is governed by a secular state, it may be named non-civilian because the society is automatically absorbed by the western values. Here, the authority of the state is not derived from the community but it imposes itself, thus calling itself a military or authoritarian state. The search means that the idea of a secular state is ordained upon Arab and Islamic societies  whish is to establish a non-civilian state while the idea of establishing an Islamic State is the mouthpiece of the community compatible with the nation’s will finally  designed to establish a civil state.

It may be ascertained, that in establishing a civil state it must derive its authority from the prevailing sources available in the society and agreed upon by the majority. The state which is not based on the authority chosen by the free will of the whole community is a non-civilian state. In this sense we ask did the Muslim Brotherhood accept to resort to the community as the main source and the nation as a dominant power or not?  They accept the civil state that is chosen by the free will of the community and the whole nation. Here, we will notice that the Islamic reform movement is a social movement basically having a reformist role within reaching a consensus or agreement to restore the Islamic cultural reference as a means for revival, promoting the national identity and resisting foreign invasion. The essence of the curriculum reform depends on the nation’s approval recognizing the fact that it is the main source.

 The elite who imitate the western experience while trying to impose its values on the Arab and Muslim societies surely must be asked about the extent of conviction of the civil state. As a matter of fact, the West’s promises are closer to the concept of the military state; furthermore, it is as close as possible to the colonial state occupying land of others and dominating the mind and thinking of others. Moreover, they impose the foreign Western model upon all.

A Civil and Modern State


What has been mentioned about the civil state should also be mentioned about the modern state. If the Islamic movement imagines that they are able to recreate a State of the distant past with the same images, structure and regulations, this could also mean that it wants to build a non-modern state. While some fanatic sectors had photographed its ideology to make it a kind of replica of the past, the majority of the cultural reform movements are essentially based on practical and realistic changes of the modern times. The idea of compatibility with modern age means to adhere to the concept of the modern state prevailing in the West.

The Islamic model could be developed and is subject to change through the ages but its values are the values of the Islamic culture.  Accordingly, modernization and modernity are having the ability to respond to the new conditions of time and reality and the ability also to apply the highest values in different circumstances. 

Some view that there is an inconsistency between the religious values and the modernization where religious values are still stable. The fact is that the religious values are constant with absolute principals and can be realistically achieved in different ways.


The Islamic culture, in fact, is characterized as a conservative religious culture based on the absolute and constant religious values  resting on constant principles and tenets while civilization of mankind such as Western civilization is distinguished with its capacity to getting ride of  ethics and high values of man-made laws that can be amended and modified. Secular values can be the essence regulating liberal ideological culture of Western countries but allows going beyond what the West claim the highest values where religion has a red line which can not be overlooked whatever the case may be.

This difference in the role of values between the secular and Islamic culture does not affect the ability of each in their way towards the modernization and development insofar as they affect the ultimate goal of each model. The ultimate goal of secularism of course is different from the ultimate goal of Islam.

To sum up, the comprehensive cultural reform is a scheme prepared to build a civil state based on the mandate of the nation and primarily leans on an Islamic cultural authority which aims to achieve the modernization and development leading to the Renaissance and progress. It derives its final goals and mission from the religious authority that is, of course, civil drafts not a secular scheme. 

 

 

tags: modern / Islamic movement / modern / civil state
Posted in Political Islam Studies  
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