World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Origins of the Islamist Thought (360) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Carimo Mohomed (PhD. Student, New University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Paper Presenter: Aleksandra Amal El-Maaytah (Warsaw University), “From Islamic Revival to global jihad ? old roots of the current conflict”
The beginning of the twenty-first century is marked by a phenomenon unlike any other- Islamic fundamentalism. This recent, radical and armed movement has completely changed the global geo-political balance. Policy makers, heads of states and military commanders are trying to find a way to combat Islamic militant groups, overseeing the deeper matter hidden within political history of Islamic fundamentalism. Many trivialize the potential of the historical origins to bring a solution to the contemporary crises of what only seems to be a new and recent phenomenon. In my research I am presenting Islam as a political and social force, leaving the religious and spiritual dimension of it slightly aside. Naturally, the religious factor shall be treated in my research as a source of legitimization for the Islamic uprising, however I shall be presenting a ‘secular face of Islam’, an Islam with a political and global agenda. This is necessary to distinguish what is today called the phenomenon of Islamism - a variety of trends, forces, groups and ideologies active across the world that together build the image of the so called global jihad. My research will focus on the roots of Islamic fundamentalism - the rise of the Islamic masses in the second half of the 20th century. I will not analyze the issue in terms of geographic location, but in terms of ideology and trend set against historical events, wars and revolutions. I will base my analysis on thinkers such as Sayying Qutb, Hassan al-Banna and others. Finally, I will try to draw a comparison between the original Islamic groups and societies, their messages, as well as political agenda and those of the contemporary fundamentalists. To do this, I will also try to look deeper into the ideology of jihad itself to crystallize a common feature of the various Islamic groups and sift the core of their activity. In my essay, I will try to draw specific conclusions about the roots of the current conflict with the Islamic world, summarize what are they main targets to achieve and propose a solution both to the Islamic, as well as the Western world for a language of understanding.

Paper Presenter: Carimo Mohomed (New University of Lisbon), “Republicanism in the Contemporary Islamic Political Thought in India - the cases of Chiragh Ali and Muhammad Iqbal”
The Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, marked the end of the political supremacy of Islam in India. The aftermath brought down the Mughal Dynasty and introduced the definitive rule of the British, first with the East India Company and then of the Crown herself, culminating in 1877 with the Accession of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. With all these events, many were the Muslim political intellectuals who sought to reform and revitalize Islam in India and as a whole. The responses were various and three trends could be identified ? the traditionalists like the Ahl-i Sunnat wa al-Jama’at, Ahl-i Hadith, Jama’at-i Islami and the educational centres of Deoband and Farangi Mahal; the traditionalists with an eye to the modern world, like the Nadwat al-''Ulama''; and, finally, the modernists from Aligarh. One of the modernists, Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), defended that the Muslims of India should accommodate politically with the British and use modern education for their betterment. He created the Aligarh College with the aim of establishing a modern institution of higher education for Muslims and many were those who studied or collaborated there and who would have a lasting influence on the political future of India until 1947 and beyond. During this period an intense debate went on and it was a rich epoch of reformist theorization, which would surpass geographical boundaries and anticipate questions which are relevant and present nowadays, like gender relations or the role of religion in politics or the abolition of the Caliphate. Two of them, Chiragh Ali (1844-1895) and Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), wrote extensively on the various possible ways of political reform in the world of Islam, using History as a source and inspiration and finding in it, from their viewpoint, the republican character of Islam. The aim of this paper is to analyze the republican ideal in their thought and how they viewed the relation between Islam and that ideal.

Paper Presenter: Luay Radhan (University of Marburg), “Muslims Against the Islamic State: ´Ali ´Abdarraziq and his followers Nasr Abu-Zayd, Gamal al-Banna, and Farag Foda”
In his controversial Arabic book titled al-islam wa usul al-hukm (“Islam and the Foundations of Governance,” 1925), the Egyptian sharia judge ´Ali ´Abdarraziq (1888-1966) states that there is no Islamic commandment for Muslims, neither in the Quran nor in the Sunna (Messenger Muhammad’s tradition), to have a caliphate or any other version of an “Islamic state” – whatever this vague concept means. There has never been a legal consensus (ijma´) by the scholars of Islam (´ulama) to have a caliphate either. Furthermore, experience with the caliphate shows that this system of government was a disaster for both the Muslims and Islam, thus there is not even a practical reason to implement a “religious state.” According to ´Abdarraziq, the Muslims are Islamically entitled to choose any governmental system that serves the community’s well-being, be it a caliphate or monarchy, a republic or a socialist state. ´Ali ´Abdarraziq is, at the same time, a pious Muslim and a laicist (or secularist), i.e. an advocate of the view that religion and the state are two separate fields and that it is a political question, not a religious one, if a society prefers a religious or a laicist (or secular) state. This presentation shall show that Islamic laicism (or secularism) does exist, yet unfortunately, this fact is too often denied or ignored: It is often suggested that Muslims have two choices only: Either you are a non-religious laicist (or secular) Muslim, or you are a pious Muslim championing some kind of Islamic state. Yet if one keeps their eyes open, they will see that there are a lot of religious Muslims who support the separation of religion and the state or even argue that these two elements were never (or at least hardly ever) combined. Three prominent examples of such Muslims are the Egyptian thinkers Nasr Abu-Zayd (*1943), Gamal al-Banna (*1920), and Farag Foda (1945-1992). Nasr Abu-Zayd (“Critique of the Religious Discourse” - 1994) is a scholar of Islamic studies and promotes a humanistic interpretation of Islam. The publicist Gamal al-Banna (“Islam Is Religion and Community, Not Religion and State” - 2003) has written around 150 books on Islam and politics and advocates an egalitarian version of Islam. The rationalist democrat Farag Foda (“The Absent Truth” - 1987) supports a libertarian form of Islam directed against both political tyranny and religious fanaticism.

Paper presenter: Saleem Abu Jaber (Head of Arab Education Track-Achva College), "The Islamic Movement in Sudan: Hassan Al-Turabi’s Influence on its Activity"
Hassan Al-Turabi was first the leader of a political movement, and only later an ideologue and philosopher of Islam. This paper is devoted primarily to Turabi the thinker, and less to his personality as a political leader. The paper will consider the main stages of the formation and development of the Moslem Brotherhood movement in the Sudan, and will examine Turabi?s role in shaping the character of this movement. On the basis of this survey, we will attempt to sketch out Turabi as a politician, and to consider the peculiarities of the Islamist movement in the Sudan, which differentiate it from other Islamist movements.