Fishing for an Ideology

We have to be extremely careful in dealing with a legacy as old and as comprehensive as that of Islamic knowledge, a legacy that dealt with many aspects of life, one that was employed by many communities to deal with all sorts of circumstances. I see different people, groups, and ideologies that are somewhat opposite yet they are all relying on the very same legacy to support their views. For example, one can scan this large body of knowledge, note all the aspects that talks about spirituality, and come up with an ideology that Islam is but a spiritual recipe. Another can follow the political involvement of such knowledge and focus more on its involvement of wars for example, and arrive at an ideology of violence. A third can follow the many mentions of encouraging peace, forgiveness, and patience, and form a pacifist ideology from the same body of knowledge.

Isn’t that weird? What wrong do we do for that to happen. Well, let me share a couple of important points that we should keep in mind to be able to understand this legacy the way it should be understood:

  1. Know that what is considered the guidance of Islam is 1) what is in the Book of Allah, the Qur’an, and 2) the AUTHENTIC tradition of His Messenger. Anything else–even though it is important to study especially that which is closer to the prophet’s time, is still people’s views and interpretations and should only be attributed to them not to Islam.
  2. Having a pre-conceived ideology, THEN scanning the legacy of knowledge to support it is definitely the wrong way to go. Rather, one should form his/her ideology based on Islam and not the other way around. (very tough I know)
  3. It is very harmful to focus on partial knowledge and, intentionally or unintentionally, ignore other parts that address the same subject at hand.
  4. Be very mindful that context plays a major role: what applies to certain times, societies, or cultures can be quite different from what applies to others. Simply taking a society’s understanding of Islam and borrowing it to another society is very problematic to say the least.
  5. Scholarly opinions under certain political and social circumstances may not be accepted when these circumstances change.

I wish I have time to swamp you with examples of each points. I also wish I have time to show how these examples can be very harmful to us as Muslims and to the image of Islam itself. But I don’t 🙂

However, I will conclude with my view of a very famous hadith in which the prophet (pbuh) said that Allah sends to this Ummah every century that who will renew its religion. This religion and its pure source of guidance (mentioned in 1 above) interact with societies, cultures, and peoples, and get understood within those societies, interacting with those cultures, and applied by those peoples. This cause the pure message of Islam to be covered by people’s interpretations and understanding, which is acceptable. Someone (or some people) will come every now and then (every century as the Hadith said) and remove those layers and dig deep to the pure source (that is preserved and protected from alteration) and bring it to life in the current context and circumstances.

The New Saudi King – #aWordAboutPoliticsInIslam

I slept while my king was Abdullah and I woke up and my king was Salman. No troubles, no intermediate government, no protests in the streets; Thank you Allah for the Islamic Sharia

Someone posted the words above on twitter and it went viral: some are spreading it happily agreeably while other had so much fun mocking it. I will admit that I was one of those who had a little bit of fun commenting on one of the posts.
What made me write this post is not that I want to continue having fun commenting on this post; Not even to talk about Saudi Arabia or its king. I am not writing this post to avenge the few offensive comments I received when I made fun of the quote above. Rather, to make a comment about this statement “The Islamic way of selecting a leaders.” Someone made this comment during the discussion that made me want to write a few posts hash-tagged #aWordAboutPolitcsInIslam. “A few companions got together and chose Abo Bakr; Abo Bakr chose Omar; Omar chose 6 and asked them to choose the leader from amongst themselves; There are 3 legitimate ways of selecting a leader in Islam.” Same person claimed.

In these few posts, I will share my view regarding this and I ask Allah to make these posts beneficials, educational, and somewhat fun to read.

In my favorite format (bullets):

  • In these posts, Politics = “governing and taking care of public affairs, whether a small group, a large community, or a whole nation.”
  • Politics is one of the things that are very progressive; that is, it is required to develop and progress to cope with new situations, life advancements, population increase, different backgrounds and social and traditional practices, etc. Unlike beliefs, rituals, or character–which are constant despite the circumstances, politics of one period may cause a huge burden when applied to another.
  • Islamic Sharia when addressing issues that are subject to change would not give specific and detailed guidance. Instead, a general framework of principles and overall guidance is prescribed, leaving the details to be figured out within this framework. Politics, I believe, is at the extreme end of this category.
  • Several (and few) principles define the framework of politics in Islam. Among them are these two main pillars:
    • 1- The moral (value) system by which politics is practiced is Islam itself. What is right and what is wrong, what is just and what is unjust, what is acceptable and what is not; what is a crime and what is not, and what is moral and what is immoral are ALL defined by this value system which stems from Islam. The verses in the Quran stating that are numerous. In simple words, as the Muslim individuals are obligated to rule their personal life according to the guidance of Islam, the Muslim community/society/nation is obligated to rule their public life according to the guidance of Islam (aka Sharia)
    • 2- The public affairs, and decisions thereof, lies in the hands of the PUBLIC. Allah said describing the believers, ” … whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves …” That is the authority of making decisions in public affairs is in the hands of the public; of course according to the moral system in principle 1 above.
  • To me, any violation to one of these two main principles is a violation of the guidance of Islam in doing politics even if practiced by statesmen at a time Muslim nations ran very successful advanced, and powerful states.
  • But what is the “Islamic” way of selecting the leaders? What is the Islamic way of legislating detailed laws? What is exactly the Islamic way of consulting the public in their affairs? The answer is exactly what I mean above by “stating a framework of principles, leaving details to be figured out.”
  • Therefore, I would say that selecting the leader directly by everyone, selecting a number of representatives and delegating the choice to them, or proposing names and conducting a massive approval, can all be considered Islamic IF and only IF they achieve “their affairs are determined by them.”

Next: The Appointment of Abo Bakr, Isn’t that the same way the Saudi King was appointed?

An American is About to Die; And You Are Not Doing Anything About It!

I 140401-soltan-615a_6bb0673d5316ace22e658d782e83ea12woke up this morning on a message from one of my old friends who lives in Saudi Arabia, “Wael, Mohamed Soltan is going to die. I am in my office now. I am helpless. I can’t do anything to him. I am just here crying.”

I paused for a moment, gathered my thoughts, then I responded, “Hey! It has been a long time since I heard from you. Sigh! Yeah, I know! He is among thousands of people: everyone of them has a tragic story!”

“No Wael!” He responded. “He is an American! Where is the American Government? What are the American people doing about it?”

I was a little surprised that my friend–who is not an American–speaks this language. I decided to call him.

“Want me to call?” I replied.

“Sure!” He answered.

Mohamed Soltan is a 27-years old, Egyptian American, who was arrested by the Egyptian Police in a street protest and was detained for over a year awaiting for trial. He has entered a hunger strike for close to year now. His health has deteriorated recently and people are worried about losing him.

“I thought calling you may be better.” I said to my friend.

“Yes it is! Thanks for calling and I am sorry to trouble you but I am here very helpless and I see my friend dying while I am unable to do anything about it!” He replied. “But I do not understand why you guys aren’t doing anything for him. Where is his government? Where are his friends? Where are the human right organizations? Where are people of conscience? Isn’t he an American citizen that you guys have to worry about? How do you just leave him die like this in prison?”

“Sigh! You know my friend. His case is not big enough to make the government push for it. There is no political motivation behind it for any politician to consider it seriously. It just did not get enough interest to be pushed forward” I, disappointedly, said.

“That is so passive Wael! YOU push for it! You make it motivating! You attract people’s attention. I know you are busy. I know you have tons of other things that you do. But this is a life of a human being that is under threat!” He angrily responded. “Don’t tell me he is not alone. I know he is not alone! But his case is unique and it should not be difficult to free him.”

“OK my friend! OK! I will try. I just do not know what to do. But I will try … Anyway, it has been a long time. How are you and how is your family …” I said

We hung up the phone. It was one of the toughest calls I had in a long time. I really do not know how to move and where to start. Well, First step, publishing this post


4 Main Reasons for ISIS to Exist

[WARNING: a little long and not proof-read. So apologies for typos and sloppiness]

First of all, I have to start by saying that the whole idea of ISIS is blown out of proportion by the US and its allies to facilitate yet another ugly and evil intervention in the area. As a matter of fact, the crimes done by other groups and regimes are way more sever in nature and in the number of victims than those committed by a group like ISIS. A quick look at Hoothies in Yemen, and Bashar in Syria, and Shii’s in Iraq would give you a clear idea that ISIS case is just being used to legitimize US military intervention.

However, I follow the writings of many people and I see that ISIS and similar groups have only gained more popularity, support, and power; not just the fake popularity our media shows but real popularity among people whom I never though they may support such a group. In this relatively long post, I will share some of my thoughts on why a group like ISIS would gain such popularity. It is important to say that despite this popularity they are gaining, they are still representing a very tiny minority in the Muslim world. But mark my word, if the world continues to move in the same direction it has been moving in, this minority is only going to get more popular and more powerful. Take a quick look at the world in 1990 when Bush the Father launched his first war against Iraq and the world right now!

Listing those few reasons (or causes) does not mean I find it legitimate or reasonable to do what ISIS do. These are not excuses. This is just a humble attempt to put our hands on the cause of the problem AND try to solve it in case there exist amongst us some wise people, who think outside the box of ‘launch military attacks against them. We are the most powerful country in the world’ 😦

REASON 1: Oppression

I grew up in Egypt. I did not personally face oppression. My parents worked very hard to provide me and my brothers with care and education. But having a look at people around me in my own country, I see a huge amount of injustice: the majority of the population is suffering from the lack of food, lack of health care, lack of education, and even lack of living as dignified human beings. I saw people eating from the garbage, people dying because they are not accepted in hospitals, a whole generation that lacks quality education, and many die while migrating in their pursuit of escaping poverty. Morality is only going down and corruption has become the norm in the society. Continue reading

Summary of my Friday speech RE: current events about the film that insults the prophet

[Apologies for numerous typos and grammatical mistakes]

Quick Background

I am making this brief for those who are not following the news of what is going on now. An unknown person did a film in which he presents the Prophet (PBUH) in a very insulting way. The film is very offensive to say the least. The film was recently dubbed to the coloquial  Egyptian Arabic and was announced (mainly in Egypt) that it will be shown in the anniversary of 9/11. As usual, anger and outrage spread throughout the Middle East especially in Egypt, Libya, and Yaman, and later Tunisia and Sudan. Calls for demonstrations in front of the US embassy in many of these countries were made and many people responded. Many people joined to have a peaceful expression of their objection but the rallies turned violent where the embassy buildings were invaded, flags are burned, cars are burned, and finally 4 diplomates including the US ambassador to Libya were killed. As we speak, riots are still happening and police forces are defending the embassies with questionable success.

Please note the underlined phrases as they are important to the rest of the talk.

I would like to share with my brothers and sisters 6 points regarding these events

Continue reading

The Milk Factory

A very interesting description when Allah mentioned the cattle in a verse in the chapter of “The Bees,” Allah says what can be translated as:

Surely there is a lesson for you in the cattle: We provide you to drink out of that which is in their bellies between the feces  and the blood pure milk which is palatable drink for those who take it [16:66]

Although the verse is talking about the real milk and the real cattle, I would like to drive a lesson in real life. Just think that every time people drink milk, you remind them of this verse and show them pictures of blood and feces. What do you think they will do? Although it is reality and you are not showing them anything that is wrong, this is not how people like enjoy drinking milk. The process, although well known and has to be known, is not necessarily useful to be exposed to everyone who drinks. This may harm people and may make them stop drinking milk.

In real life, especially in organizational life, the interaction between people who work together in an organization to produce something, being it a product, a service, or a program, is like the process that takes place in the bellies on the cattle. It is not an easy process. There will be opinions and opposing opinions. There will be conflict and friction. Sometimes, there will be problems and difficulties. Sometimes is tough (blood) and sometimes is really bad (?) 🙂

Transparency, on one hand, is important so organizations can be held accountable by its stake holders–such as members, share holders, or customers. However, on the other hand, excessive and unwise transparency can  be similar to showing a milk drinker a movie of the cow’s belly while drinking milk.

Beautiful and useful products can be made disgusting by unwise transparency.