Islam and Peace – A Fundamentalist Perspective
Channel: Sherman Jackson
File Size: 67.86MB
Well welcome everybody to our last session of today. And just to reminder that we we are having an event tomorrow at 11 at the Arab American museum in Dearborn, where the authors will give some further reflections on their subjects, and in some cases, given an entirely different presentation.
If you have friends in Dearborn, please tell them how great it would be if they came at 11 to the urban American museum. And this afternoon, we're going to be addressed by Sherman Jackson, the King Faisal, chair and Islamic thought and culture, and Professor of Religion and American Studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California,
who received his PhD in Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
And who is, of course, a longtime colleague here at the University of Michigan,
before he went to USC, an old friend, and we're so grateful to him for making time in his very busy schedule, directing a center there and so forth to come out and address us on this on this subject. And he is going to talk about the Gamal islamiya, which the Islamic grouping, which emerged as a fundamentalist organization and the Sadat period, and which went on to be implicated in terrorism in the 1990s, the leaders of which,
while they were cooling their heels in Torah prison,
gave some deep thought to how they had gotten where they were, and what had gone wrong. And I'll let him tell us the rest of the story.
Think Yeah, good.
Well, first of all, you know, I can't see you guys because I need those glasses to see but I can't read without these. So
it's, it's really, it's really good to be back. 60 degrees is nothing between friends.
But really, it's really good to be back and to see so many familiar faces to sort of take in the familiar atmosphere. I appreciate this opportunity, one to be
called back to enjoy and partake of the intellectual capital in the room. I am a an avowed technophobe. So I don't have any of that Bidda to go up on the screen,
at cetera, and I'm a bit worried about other times. So I'm just going to go into my paper and read it like a traditional old fashioned, straight laced academic. Okay.
I would like to begin my remarks this afternoon with a cautionary note of sorts. Today, whenever the concept of peace is invoked, it is usually against the perceived threat of physical martial violence. Peace, in other words, is routinely thought of as the absence or cessation of violence. This is especially the case when religion is brought into the discussion, and all the more so if the religion happens to be Islam. For those of us who are members of the academy, meanwhile, there is an additional challenge. Violence is the instrument of conversion par excellence. Conversion is the absolute enemy of philosophical liberalism, and philosophical liberalism, liberalism dominates the
Western Academy, as it does the political and intellectual culture of America at large, cumulatively, all of this result in an unspoken criterion that holds religion to be acceptable only to the extent that it can be domesticated and rendered incapable of challenging the state or the dominant culture, especially through the threat of violence. Those who are contemptuous or dismissive of religion are prone to invoking this criterion as an argument against religion, especially religions that appear to give any quarter to violence. Those who are sympathetic meanwhile, often so eager to avoid any indictment or criticism of religion, that they are incapable
of critically engaging it in all its messiness as a lived reality.
Both groups however, run the risk of self deception, as both are subject to seeing their respective kind
tutions to the cause of peace as being much greater than they actually are.
The celebrated Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us of just how treacherous the terrain of committing oneself to peace can actually be. And his book, moral man and immoral society, neighbor rights, and I quote, so persistent is the cry of peace among the ruling classes and so strong the seeming abhorrence of every form of violence and anarchy, that one might imagine them actuated by the purest pacifist principles, what not for the fact that they betray no passive scruples when they consider international relations. Of course, and these are times of Eric Garner, Ferguson, Missouri on the like, we need not restrict our gaze to the international arena. But Neva
go on to observe an even more subtle liability lurking beneath the surface of many calls to peace. The tendency to equate peace with the simple absence of violence he notes often masks a false consciousness that fails to recognize just how devastating nonviolent injury can be to human life. The non violent abuse of economic, political, intellectual, or cultural power, or even the power of differentiation, or even the power differential between a parent and a child can be just as humanly damaging as bullets and bombs of physically destructive, and such a light to target only those forms of injury to which with the West feels vulnerable, namely, violence in the form of terrorism, while
ignoring those forms of injury, including violence, to which others feel vulnerable can hardly amount to a genuine or meaningful commitment to peace. Of course, wanton violence is a major impediment to peace, and given its banded to it, and persistence in certain parts of the world, especially the Muslim world, it may be fitting for us scholars, and students of Islam to prioritize violence as a problem. Still, I think we should be careful about surrendering to the false or self serving criteria, that renders party to an effective conspiracy to promote a kind of peace that serves the interests of some while blindly ignoring the legitimate right of others to a dignified
The fundamentalist perspective on Islam and peace in which I shall focus this afternoon, is part of a contemporary Islamist groups self critique of violence as a primary medium of exchange, and negotiating political conflict over the public status and role of Islam. The singular focus on violence, however, should not be taken to imply that this group equates peace with the simple absence of violence, as if to say that once violence ceases to exist, everything will be fine. As we shall see, they are neither pacifists nor dead to the fact that society can be quite unhealthy, even without violence. For them, however, the problem goes beyond the simple fact or occurrence of
violence to the actual status of violence as an Islamic ideal. Their argument, in other words, is essentially against the tendency of Islamist movements to see violence as a duty that Islam imposes upon Muslims as a religious ideal. On such an understanding, of course, Islam could hardly be reconciled with the value of peaceful coexistence. This is part of the fallacy that these fundamentalist critics would like to challenge. Of course, fundamentalist is an ambiguous and much abused term. Let me say clearly that my use of the term does not imply any commitment to a literal approach to Muslim scripture, or the intellectual tradition of Islam. fundamentalism, and in Muslim
context refers rather to a particular mood. I'm insisting on the public recognition of the authority of Islam, especially Sharia or Islamic law as the organizing principle of Muslim society. While many Muslims who are not fundamentalist also share this commitment, what sets fundamentalists apart, is the recognition of violence as a primary medium of exchange between them, and those perceived to stand in the way of this goal. This valuation of violence, however, is grounded, not so much in any literal reading of Muslim scripture, as it is, in a very particular valuation and deployment of Muslim history. As this history was one in which violence was recognized as both a given and an
effective negotiating tool, the net result of taking it as the lens through which to read Muslim scripture and tradition is to convert violence into a transcendent value that appears to draw its legitimacy, not from history, or historical experience, but from Scripture itself. In other words, on this reading, violence becomes the
The Islamic language of social political negotiation scripturally, mandated permanently permanently normative and universal and universally applicable in all places at all times. In this context, the persuasiveness and allure of Muslim fundamentalism resides not so much and I mean literal authority of the courts Muslim scripture, but then the uncritically inflated authority, it accords a certain reading of pre modern Muslim history, a reading that is effectively rendered invisible as a reading by the fact that it resonates so powerfully with a modern Muslim predicament, where like their pre modern forebears, Muslims see Islam as being an immoral attack. In other words, this reading
produces an interpretive prism that is essentially composed of history, idealized, internalized, and then essentially forgotten as history.
As peaceful coexistence was a part of the unimaginable in the pre modern Muslim past. This perspective, renders peaceful coexistence largely unimaginable for Muslim fundamentalists in the present. This filiation, however, is precisely what our group shall call into question.
On October 6 1981, the entire world was shocked by the brash spectacle of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassination. This was part of a plan to take over the country and established an Islamic state, the legal social, economic and political order of which will be explicitly defined and regulated by Sharia. This attempted coup had been orchestrated by an amalgamation of militant Islamist groups that came together the previous year, under the banner of Egyptian Jihad incorporated from the mullah Jihad and mystery or more simply Jihad Inc. From theme of jihad. Jihad Inc, was headed by Muhammad Abdul Salam Farage, and then included two other former groups, one led
by Kamal Hassan Al Habib, the other a contingent largely from Upper Egypt, headed by Karim Zandi under the name alga Ma, Al Islamia. It is among the latter and some of its members that I should focus primarily for the remainder of this presentation.
So that's assassination was paralleled by an attempt by the MA to take over the city of Sut. And from there march on to Cairo. The Cairo faction of jihad Inc, succeeded in assassinating Sadat, as a result of which Farraj color and Islam bully, and three others were executed. But the mass mission failed, as a result of which all of its leaders and scores of its members landed in prison, in prison, and tonal differences led to the dissolution of jihad Inc, and the Gamal Islamia resumed its status as an independent organization. This was also the beginning, however, of a new, more violent relationship with Egyptian state and society. Between 1991 and 1995. Alone, they killed an estimated
1883 people, including Egyptian officials, Coptic Christians, Western tourists, secular intellectuals, security forces, and innocent bystanders. This was meant of course by brutal government retaliations, including summary executions, mass incarceration, and torture. At one point, the number of incarcerated Gemeinde members alone was placed between 15 and 30,000. Make it the mat easily the largest radical jihadist movement in Egypt and the Arab world at the time, as both the Egyptian Government and the gamma saw themselves engaged in an epic battle for the very existence. By the mid 90s. There was no end in sight to the vicious violence that raged between
On July 5 1997, however, the gammas stand the nation at his trial on charges of trying to blow up a bank, one of its members stood up in open court and read a statement signed by six first tier Gemeinde members were leaders. Quote, the historical leadership of El Gamal Islamia calls upon their brethren from among the leadership and the rank and file to terminate without stipulation and with no prerequisites all on campaigns and communicators that call for such both inside and outside of Egypt, in the interest of Islam and the Muslims. And of course,
this was the beginning of the demise so called initiative to stop the violence. A few years later, in 2002, they issued four manifestos under the series title, correcting misunderstandings, since select does Hey, Elma. Faheem. The explicit aim of these tracks was to repudiate the gemas old commitment to violence as their primary means
In exchange, and to set the group upon a new ideological foundation. Importantly, the Gemeinde insisted that their new perspective was explicitly and was explicitly grounded in their new understanding of Sharia, which their years of incarceration had allowed them to study and actually learn, as opposed to simply imagining Chileans provisions, as they had done in the past. According to them, their study of Sharia brought them to appreciate the importance of properly assessing the situation on the ground as a prerequisite to a proper application of the religious law, what they came to refer to as Aloka the jurisprudence of factual reality. On this basis, they insisted that
their approach to applying Sharia must recline upon two fundamental constituents one actual reality on the ground and its implications and to share your proofs from the Quran. sunnah are other recognized sources of the religious law only through a proper assessment of reality on the ground. In other words, could they determine whether a particular application of the law would actually serve its underlying goals and objectives, the so called mocassin, a Shediac. In the past, they admit, they paid absolutely no attention to any of this, but simply wage Jihad based on what they took to be the plain dictates of Scripture. Now, by contrast, they understand that a factual
assessment of reality might be even more probative than the plain dictates of Scripture and determining whether or not a rule should be applied. This new insight was at the heart of the misunderstanding that they now wanted to correct.
What are these broader aims and objectives to which the man repeatedly refers chief among them, they insist is, quote, to guide humanity to God to endear the people to their Lord and Creator, and to direct them to God through the least burdensome means, and the easiest route. Violence was part may be prescribed as a means of serving or protecting this mission, but only if the resulting benefits outweigh the harms. And here they insist that just because an injunction was carried out in a particular fashion in the past, even by pious ancestor or by pious ancestors, or other heroes of the tradition, this does not mean that this rule must be applied in exactly the same fashion today,
given the known differences between past and present reality. This and that simply status as a scripturally mandated institution of organized violence is the litmus test to be applied whenever contemplating a decision to wage jihad. Otherwise, Jihad can end up undermining the very aim it was instituted to serve, namely, guiding people to God and endearing them to their Lord and Creator. Of course, any connection between violence and guiding people to God will seem to be totally out of place in today's world, as we shall see, while they never abandoned the duty of jihad in principle, but God does appear to be willing to look this mana reality straight in the face. This is actually
actually the basis upon which they take their critique beyond Egypt, to contemporary Jihad ism in general, and to al Qaeda in particular. In 2004, its leadership published a jointly authored book authored book entitled al Qaeda strategy and bombings, a chi the strategy and bombings, mistakes and dangerous is strategy via WhatsApp geodata al Qaeda, al Qaeda, while Okta
they are careful to insist that they mean no disrespect to share Osama bin Laden, not to impugn al Qaeda his intentions or downplay America's negative role in the region, they merely want to point out alkaitis fundamental misunderstanding of Sharia, including their failure to affect a proper assessment of reality on the ground. Specifically, according to them, al Qaeda tends to proceed on a pre modern division of the world, and to believers and unbelievers, and that allows this division to do all of their thinking for them. Were such a division may have applied lethal hostility between Muslims and non Muslims in the past. In the modern world, such a relationship must be assessed or
determined and not merely assumed with a kinda assumes that you as a Muslim interest are completely and permanently contradictory. Based on the legacy of Muslim non Muslim relations and the pre mind and past. The mind holds up concrete contemporary examples that challenge this assumption, such as America support for the Afghan mujahideen. Similarly, while Kaida holds any kind of truth, negotiation or alliance with America to be tantamount to Islamic treason, the Gamarra points out that such a position
contradicts well known practices of the Prophet Muhammad himself, who made treaties and alliances with the same pagan Arabians who oppose, vilified and attacked him and his religion.
Of course, none of this should be misunderstood. The Gama explicitly points to America's abject bias regarding the Arab Israeli conflict, it's hypocritical, self serving promotion of democracy, human rights and the protection of women and religious minorities, not to mention US economic exploits in the region. All of this the Gumma roundly condemns even as they recognize the Muslims, the Muslim ummah has obligation to confront these challenges, including perhaps by way of jihad. The question, however, both from the standpoint of a proper understanding of geopolitical reality, and from the perspective of Sharia, is whether the kind of wanton violence and bellicosity advocated by al Qaeda
is the appropriate or most effective response. For if the overall aim of al Qaeda as jihadism indeed, of Energy has energy had ism is, as it must be, from the perspective of the religious law to promote the broader aims and objectives of Islam, such as guiding the people to God, not only has this violence not served this interest, it has gone so far as to and I quote, turn the entire world not only against al Qaeda, but against Islam as a whole. By contrast, while ago not ruling out you had all together, the command seems to anticipate the View More recently expressed by Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi. In the age of Twitter, satellite TV and the Internet, Al Qaradawi, noted that violence,
including Western Imperial violence, may no longer be the greatest threat to Islam. And to the extent that violence is not the primary threat, it is not likely to be an effective response. Thus, rather than more violent jihad is what Islam means today is and I quote, a massive army of preachers, teachers, journalists, and those who are competent and training people on how to address today's public, and the language of the age and the style of the times through voice, image, spoken word, physical gesture, books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, dialogue, documentaries, drama, and motion pictures. And of course,
at the time that the man issued these manifestos, the overwhelming majority of its leadership was still in prison. And we didn't talk about
that person who has appeared once out of prison support between 2003 and 2005, however, most of them had been released. Once out of prison support for the initiative to stop the violence proceeded a pace, and certain members continued to churn out tracks that expanded on its basic thing. This was especially the case with Nadia Ibrahim or nag Ibrahim, a stalwart first tier leader who went back to the very beginning, and whose signature appeared on all of the corrective manifestos. Following his release, Ibrahim began to develop began to develop a progressively more independent voice that may have been more representative of his own ideas than it was of the mass platform overall. Indeed,
explicit signs of tension between him and at least a faction within the group appear and 2015 Or maybe it was 2014. I don't exactly recall when the the mass official website announced a temporary pause and its operations, and that those who wish to continue following Abraham's views could do so on a separate website. Up to that point, not only had Abraham administer the Gomez website, his views have virtually taken it over. Now, however, the cumulative effects of the Arab Spring, the ascension of mercy, the Cougar illusion and subsequent crackdown by cc, along with the ominous rise of ISIS was sowing disagreement within the movement. Ibrahim along with Khuddam Zandi, who had now
been replaced as leader of the gamma by another stalwart from back in the day, who recently died and CC's prison were pitted against the more restless faction, who are sticking to the initiative to stop the violence, at least for the moment, thought that the group should be doing more to address the political situation in Egypt, and to raising Islam to its rightful place as the ultimate social political arbiter.
This is the backdrop against which in 2014 Ibrahim teamed up with a former rank and file member of the gamma he Sherman ajar who had resigned in protest over certain differences with the restless faction. Together, they wrote a book against ISIS and titled ISIS. The knife that slot is a slam dash. That's the word for ISIS and Arabic as a key know that he talks about Islam.
While the critique is pointed, as pointed most directly at ISIS. It also includes a parallel criticism of Islamist movements in general
Based on what I detected Abraham's writing style during his tenure as administrator of the Gomez website. About two thirds of this book appeared to be written by him, with the last third being the contribution of a nutjob.
At the most basic level, ISIS is most fatal flaw according to Abraham and the jar is its ability, its inability to distinguish between its interests as the movement and the interests of the Muslim ummah as a whole. On this confusion, it sees itself as the exclusive representative of Islam, who will bring victory, majesty and dignity back to the religion and restore Muslims to their proper place in the world. Of course, only those who do not welcome such an agenda. Because then I this is why I such anyone who opposes or even fails to support ISIS is an enemy of Islam. In the West, or perhaps I should say, perhaps, among Muslims in the West, this tendency, or the tendency is to see
all of this in terms of how it contributes to ISIS is rush to excommunication or tech fear, and the wanton intolerance and violence that goes along with this. But for Abraham and ajar, the problem is much broader. While ISIS is violence and viciousness, our problems, to be sure, it's navel gazing short sighted perspective overall, is even Of greater concern. For this condemns the group to a small mindedness that preempts its ability to understand the true nature of the challenges facing it, or the Ummah, not to mention how to avail itself of opportunities in the modern world that can actually serve the Obamas long term interests. In short, according to Ibrahim and ajar, while ISIS
of an Islamic state, where caliphate is actually unable to think, let alone act like a state or a caliphate. Instead, ISIS behaves like a gang and militia, or fraternity, whose addiction to violence and bellicosity denies it the ability to understand, let alone achieve what it takes to thrive geopolitically in the modern world.
This is clearly manifested, according to Ibrahim and ajar and ISIS has contemptuous behavior toward world powers and their leaders. They cite for example, a letter ISIS reportedly sent to Turkey's Erdogan following his ascent to power and would stay stay quote. Oh, Mr. secularist. We will soon occupy your country and turn you out of it. And of course, they make similar threats against Russia's Putin and to them British Prime Minister David Cameron. To this they add such heinous acts as beheading American journalists and executing diplomats set a sent from this sent from the Syrian Islamist group, Jonathan Massara. They go they go on to excommunicate Muslim groups as diverse as
the Nazi Party in Tunis, and a long list of groups in Egypt, including the Freedom and Justice Party founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the light party and Nora, founded by Salafists, and the building of development party and be not with 10 Men founded by members of the mind itself. Of course, all she infidels on a fortiori grounds. Again, while these actions are all problematic in and of themselves, Ibrahim in and the jaws says that what is even more disturbing is the growth and maturity and Eva tell you they reflect about what it means to operate as a nation, especially in the interests of a global community, such as the Muslim ummah, for no state, not even a superpower, let
alone a caliphate could exist or function effectively, without allies. Yet ISIS recognizes none of that concept, no possibility of friend or ally, except with regard to those who unconditionally accept their party line. Indeed, according to Ibrahim and ajar ISIS ways the enterprise of creating enemies to the level of a science earning them what they refer to as a PhD and creating enemies.
Yet ask Ibrahim in a jar, what kind and by the way, these are, these are the mind members saying this yet as Abraham and an ajar what kind of reasonable state or even reasonable movement? What act like this quote? What kind of Caniff is this? Who state couldn't even fix the tracks on a tank? Service the wheels on a fighter jet or fix a broken radar? Yet we'll make all kinds of threats and promises to the whole world. In language that is nothing but arrogance. bluster. pettiness and vulgarity such as their letter that their address to Obama, the dog represent Him.
The reference of President Obama as the dog of Byzantium points precisely to ISIS has myopic relationship with Muslim history. The phrase calibre room comes from my letter
reportedly sent by the Bassett Caleb Harun Rashid, over 1000 years ago to the Byzantine rule on the Zephyrus and knack for, in response to the latter's refusal to pay up a tribute that had been agreed upon by his predecessor, the Empress Irene, the Caleb invades Byzantium defeats the Byzantines and extracts an even higher attribute. Now Ebrahimian in the jaw ask, what has Obama and America to do with the Byzantines? The answer, of course, is nothing. Obama is black, and the Americans are a mixture of races and religions. But such phrases as caliber room are part of an escapist narrative used by preachers and religious teachers to tickle the emotions of the Muslim masses, by reminding
them of their powerful and glorious past without mentioning that this power and glory did not come out of nowhere, but was the result of assiduous dedication in all aspects of human civilization. Again, this misguided approach is not unique to ISIS. It is typical of modern is this Islamist movements as a whole, who and I repeat, and I quote here, repeat the same old rhetoric and the same old stories, time and again, despite the radically different historical circumstances out of which these stories emerge. Rather than devote themselves in other words, to acquiring and or deploying the kinds of skills and resources that will actually enable them to compete on the world stage.
These movements jeopardize the lives and interests of Muslims, by rendering them prisoners and ultimately victims of this misleading narrative. Again, this is a prime example of how history as opposed to Islamic scripture becomes a source of the tendency to raise violence to a transcendent first order value. This is an extremely serious problem, according to Abraham and ajar as it threatens not only to start, not only to distort Islam as a blueprint for a healthy individual and collective life, but to undermine the very authority of Scripture itself, as they put it, and I quote,
turning certain chapters of Muslim history into proofs that can be invoked in a manner that rivals the authority of religion. And the religious law itself is among the major contemporary crises, especially when the protagonist of the stories from the past are kings and secular rulers, trying to follow in the tracks of an ancient history and times and places that bear no relation, resemblance, or lightness to that history will continue to bring catastrophe upon catastrophe upon the Islamist movement. And of course, of course, Ibrahim and ajar are clear that this is a very selective reading of Muslim history, one that is crafted with the aim of legitimizing a certain approach to social
political conflict in the name of Islam. Otherwise, they point out what will not be so easily able to cast aside well known and even more authoritative alternative alternatives to such a reading. For example, in the case of addressing President Obama or other political leaders, they point to the precedent set by the Prophet Muhammad himself, who in addressing the non Muslim rulers of Egypt and Byzantium, deliberately use the arabic honorific phrase or the the great, which was clearly intended to convey respect to her Achlys, the great Byzantium, Tamil caucus, the great of Egypt. Again, this crassly pragmatic invocation of Muslim history contributes much and directly to ISIS and ISIS has
inflated estimation of violence, as they imagined it to have catapulted their Muslim ancestors to victory in the glorious past. It does not take much, however, to see that this perspective is reinforced, if not part inspired by what seemed to be the obvious role that violence played in the West's colonial and postcolonial success. In other words, this is simply part of the common tendency of the vanquished to imitate the victor, and any rate, according to Abraham and ajar, the single minded focus on violence comes at the expense of the civilizational dimensions of Islam. And then it's only according to them as a civilization, a Habana Islamia, whose groundedness in religion
gives it the bearing and confidence to contribute to and benefit from cultural, intellectual and commercial exchange with other cultures and civilizations, that Islam can compete on the global stage and provide for its own long term sustainability. This is the way it was, it actually was in the Muslim past, going all the way back to the time of the Prophet himself. But again, the narrative generated by ISIS does not recognize the value of culture or civilization. And this is why according to Ibrahim Annan
John, the skills and talents displayed by some of its most gifted recruits are almost never deployed beyond the gold of exercising control over its populace or waging war against the West. In this way, ISIS shoots both itself and the OMA in the foot for that, quote, even if they are able to seize control over this or that patch of land, nations and civilizations are not just patches of geography, or caches of weapons, there are something much broader, much more inclusive and deeper nations are extensions of culture, civilization, history, and inherited values, as well as social and religious hetero dining, and a quote. This combination according to Ibrahim and jar is what
enables nations to sustain themselves influence others and thrive in the face of the kinds of challenges that typically face nations. But ISIS is obliviousness to the value of culture and civilization. And its assumption that power and violence can substitute for these impedes its ability to properly conceptualize, let alone build what Abraham and ajar refer to as a modern state, a de la Surya. Not to mention a super state and the form of a caliphate. Here the author's assessment is constantly rather sanitized depiction of Europe and America, who are imagined to have completely overcome such challenges as dictatorship and justice, inequality, lack of freedom and the
treatment of minorities. At the same time, it proceeds on the assumption that the solutions arrived at by the West are exactly those anticipated by the broader aims and objectives of Chautauqua. By contrast, according to them, ISIS obliviousness to a proper understanding of Sharia condemns them to ignoring the structural imperatives of Islam, such as serving the common weal equality before the law, freedom, administrative accountability and respect for minorities, sacrificing all of this in favor of an almost exclusive focus on the so called prescribed punishments, or should do as some sort of symbolic representation of a normative of a normative Islamic order. This is based according
to Ibrahim and ajar on both an abuse and a misunderstanding of political power in Islam, for political power, or SOTA is not the private property of the Muslim ruler or Caleb to be used solely to solidify and enhance his position. On the contrary, it is a public trust and a manner that is to be used to promote the public interest. But ISIS has no time for structural imperatives as constitutional values have come at the studio. As a result, their program remains very simple autocracy and the name of religion and listed that Bismuth Dean.
Of course, there was much imprimatur on Muslim history like the history of the of the rest of the pre modern world that can be called upon to lend support to non representative government. And this is why the unhealthy relationship that Muslim fundamentalists have with their history is so problematic, for not only does this reading apotheosized This history, thus retarding Muslim efforts to oppose autocracy in the name of Islam, it weakens Muslims ability to resist the power and confidence wielded by those who enjoy the fruits of representative government. And in fact, it renders the social political grass, outside of Islam seductively greener than anything that Muslims
can boast. Thus right Abraham in the jar, this is a quote from them.
sitting in his office in the White House in Washington, with his shiny black shoes and long legs, stretched out over his desk, will be able to dismantle the so called caliphate, with the greatest of ease, not with Scud missiles and drones, with the power that the high constitutional principles and values of Sharia confer upon any people, even if they're not Muslims, and the quote, again, while ISIS is the direct object of this critique, it is aimed at Islamist movements in general, for almost all of them and the view of Ibrahim and ajar are blinded by their inflated estimation of violence and coercive power to the necessity of ingratiating their constituencies with the values, virtues
and possibilities of their religion and route to establishing a mutually supportive relationship between Islam and the people, Muslim and non Muslim alike. This they warn will ultimately ultimately result in a population of hypocrites, who thrive on dishonesty, duplicity, and facile opportunism as survival mechanisms whose intentions are never pure, but always provisional. And come to love, hate, fear and cower to power and anyone associated with it. Here incidentally and their own move to draw on the authority of pre modern Muslim history. Ibrahim in a nutshell
are invoked the celebrated father of sociology even called doom. The quote, when political power is used in a manner that is overly domineering, abusive, and quick to punish, constantly seeking to expose people's breaches, and enumerate their sense, fear and humiliation and variably gripped the people, and they in turn seek refuge and lying and deception and their inner concentus authority compromised in some kind of religious autocracy embrace them promulgated by ISIS and other Islamist groups will unavoidably result not only in dysfunctional states, and a stillborn caliphate, but also in a society of scarred and broken people. feeble replicas of Adonis authoritarian personality, this
will be a mass of bullies, who are also easily bullied, men and women who are subservient, not only to rightful guides and superiors, rightful guides and superiors, but to anyone who is more powerful than they are. And all of this allies perpetuated and legitimized in the name of Islam. There's one final aspect of Ebrahimian and the jobs critique that I would like to mention briefly, as is known, ISIS espouse a certain apocalyptic vision connected with the Syrian town of debbik, after which it named its magazine, even even on the jaw do not refer to Dabiq directly, but take up the general issue of apocalyptic statements attributed to the prophet as I see these as another way in which
ISIS seeks not only to confer religious legitimacy upon the primacy of violence, but to imbue ordinary Muslims and potential recruits with a sense of being religious, religiously bound support such commitments to bloodletting, Abraham's, and then the John's response is that, leaving aside the question of whether these reports from the Prophet are are reliable, there is a difference between what they refer to as a Kitab Cherie or a divine injunction and as he thought, copper recovery or a divine report,
while a divining junction requires Muslims to act in a manner that fulfills that injunction. A demand report requires only that Muslims believed in such reports. Thus, for example, if the prophet reports that the KFA will be dismantled into petty kingdoms, this does not require Muslims to contribute to this dismantling. It merely requires of them that they believe that this will ultimately happen in terms of their actual actions. Divine injunctions may actually inquire require Muslims to act in a manner that first stalls or reverses inevitable occurrence, the same logic applies to end up ended up. The same logic applies to End of Time reports regarding apocalyptic
confrontations between Muslims and non Muslims. It does not dictate that the relationship between the two can only be one of violence. All of this takes us back to a concern expressed by the government as a whole.
Back in 2002, and the beginning of its initiative to stop the violence. There, they expressed deep anxieties about how the acceptance of violence as the most Islamically authentic means for Muslims to deal with social political conflict can become entrenched to the point that it is raised beyond critique. Then they wrote the following. We fear that if matters persist as they are, and the flames of vengeance continue to smolder in people's hearts, that the battle will get out of hand, the terror and the fabric will expand beyond any menders ability, and it will no longer fall within the capacity of anyone to return matters to their proper course. Similarly, we fear that the
continuation of these confrontations will generate numerous understandings that become normalized with the passing of time, due to the to the point that those who hold such understandings due to their long familiarity with them come to believe that they are factually consistent with Sharia, and that there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, subsequent generations will come to receive these notions as if they were the very core and the spirit of religion.
There are other my views, the salient features of Abraham's and an Ajaz critique, that time will not permit me to cover here, for example, what could be said about the role of sectarianism and ISIS approach and the charge that ISIS is a godsend to Western powers who want to keep the Muslim world weak and divided. This actually goes back this particular critique to an aspect of the gemas own self critique back in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. At that time, they chatted themselves over the fact that their fundamental activities kept the Egyptian state, the largest Muslim regional power turned in on its own internal problems, leaving Israel and the United States free to rap about
as they pleased beyond this, there are a number of points on which one might want to challenge Ibrahim and then the job, such as the sense they give that everything that led to the west ascendancy was already there in Islam centuries earlier, just waiting to be activated, or the impression that they that they occasionally give that Muslim scripture totally devalues violence, then there is the question of how exactly and concrete terms to impose principle restrictions on the enterprise of calibrating scriptural interpretations to changes in history. And conclusion. However, again, given the limits of time, there are two final observations that I would like to register, I
only have two pages, because otherwise I'm going to speed up slowly. Okay, thank you,
because I get nervous and I start talking about
the first is simply a reminder that for all the pragmatism displayed in the analysis of Abraham and then the jar Indeed, by the gamma as a whole, their critique is fundamental is important point, based in an in a reading of Sharia. In this regard, it does not differ in kind if it if it may end degree and detail from critiques put forth by members of the official religious establishment. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the command members tend to take a more macro approach as opposed to the more detail oriented because Western or micro approach reflected, for example, and the fatwah of Sheikh Mohammed Jacobi, or the joint letter sent to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, by a group
of Muslim scholars and clerics from around the world. Nevertheless, the commands critique should give pause to those who tend to look upon Sharia, or what has become known in the West as Sharia law, as invariably contributing to the mentality of ISIS or other extremists, and never fundamentally challenging any of this. Our authors demonstrate in other words, that not only compensable critiques of ISIS come from liberals, secularists or so called progressives, they can also come from the pens of bearded men with fundamentalist ties and strong attachment to Sharia. The second observation relates to the moral status of violence and the critique of Ibrahim and a job.
While our office are explicit and condemning violence on practical grounds, there seems to be little in the way of moral condemnation, that is violence as a moral evil that stands in the way of peace as a moral good. This is more a matter of however, of my own particular reading of them, at several points and under several headings. They strongly and explicitly condemn ISIS as violence or moral grounds. In fact, they insist that ISIS violence not only not only violates Islam, but the very norms of manhood, arugula, and a normative sense, and a normative absence of self, and arroba. And D they insist such violence bespeaks, and I quote, here, a rupture of the basic constitution of human
mercy, that should reside in the heart of any human being, let alone any Muslim be he or she Sunni, or Shiite, and of quote, but I have chosen not to place his moral critique front and center, in an effort to avoid the risk of distorting the overall thrust of their message. By allowing it to be overly informed by our western obsession, especially, and the post 911 Western obsession.
With Muslim violence and barbarity. In the West, we tend to focus on little more than ISIS is violence and intolerance, and in the Muslim community. This is routinely more for the purpose of distancing American Muslims from such behavior than it is of any recognition of any broader aims and objectives of the slam that might be obliterated thereby. From this vantage point, it becomes easy for us to recognize critiques of ISIS as violence, but more difficult to see anything beyond this. By contrast, Ibrahim in the jaw seem to be saying that while violence is a problem, to be sure, there is much more to be considered beyond the question of violence. In fact, their message seems to
be that we're ISIS to adopt or acquire a more comprehensive understanding of Sharia, according to which ample attention and priority went to such enterprises as culture, civilization, economics, and the development of political thought, the very value of their brand of violence will be drastically reduced, even in their own eyes, as it would be seen as being totally irrelevant to Islam's long term interest and the restoration of its place in the world. It may be then, that by our focusing so supremely and exclusively on ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups violence, we may be actually closer to them and our thinking than we care to recognize for and maintaining such a focus. We seem
to be essentially saying that we see little wrong with ISIS, other than their addiction to wanton physical cruelty. Clearly, however, going back to the opening cautionary note
With which I began, this can easily set us up to become in our own context, purveyors of a kind of peace, that while devoid of violence, reflect just how thoroughly the powers that be, have beguiled and indeed conquered us. Right in the very depths of our souls. Thank you very much.
Yes, you're welcome to get the other glasses.
should I sit down? I think what why don't you just do what you feel comfortable doing? I think we're gonna I, you know, we are scheduled says that I would make some remarks now. But this is such a rich paper and so timely. I think I'd rather cede my time to the audience discussion. I'm sure you're very eager to interact with Professor Jackson. So do you mind just taking your own questions? Yeah.
Like coming back home?
Yes. I'm sorry to point I
wait for the wait for the mic. Okay. Yeah, thank you very much for that, as one just said, a very rich paper. I think it's such a nice reminder, too, that, you know, in the Christian world, as in the Muslim world, fundamentalism began with this kind of energetic, engaged, loving kind of engagement with texts, which were perceived to have to be created the edit at temporal distance from the present, but still to speak to the present, right, in a very meaningful way. And so I love the way your your paper began with a kind of engagement. And I loved the transformation of the gamma, indeed, by studying these texts while in isolation, excuse me. But my question for you is this. When
you were describing Ibrahim and nightjars critique of ISIS, it sounded very much like you were talking about liberal critiques of Trump and Trump's regime. Was that at all intention? I mean, I was seeing kind of a mirror of the world that we're living in today. Was that at all intentional and a deliberate part of your argument? Or would you care to comment on it? Well, well, what deliberate only in the sense that I'm trying to be sort of true to my understanding of what Ebrahimian and ajar are themselves trying to convey,
I would not have too much of a problem with describing this as a sort of liberty critique with one with one with one exception. And I don't want to get into this
name, we can have this we can fight about this. But but but but I think that, and this is one of my critiques, quite frankly, of the Western Academy. I think that that liberal values, I mean, such as freedom, all right, freedom of speech, and these kinds of things are one thing, liberal procedures for producing and sustaining them, or something else. And we tend to equate one with the other. So the liberal value of you know, freedom of minorities, for example. All right. I mean, you can do that through a Rawlsian liberalism. Or you can do it by simply saying, Look, Sharia says, Christians can drink wine and have discussion, that so they have that freedom without the Rawls in public
reason, kind of criteria. And I think the tendency is often to conflate these two. So if we mean by liberal values, I mean, you know, freedom and, you know, countability, and things like that, then yes. All right. But their point of departure would be Sharia. And that whole Sharia tradition, not Rawlsian liberalism,
if that makes sense.
To me, this is a this is to me, we constantly, you know, superimpose this on our analysis of Islam. And this to me is very problematic.
I hope I answered your question.
remember, I can retro actively. I know, I know.
There's mold advisor. No, no, I can retroactively? Yeah.
Thank you for that presentation was very interesting. And so one question I have is, so and I think you might have touched by you did touch on this. But would you think it's fair to say that with El Gamal Islamia there in critiquing their ISIS, their focus is more on muscle, ah, ha are the common good. You mentioned the moral dimension. And it seems that the more of their focus is on muscle, the higher the common good, whereas the open letter to Al Baghdadi and Muhammad Ali are Cobis work seems to be focused more on, like where they violated Sharia principles. There is almost law there, but it seems like their focus is what, you know, the the laws of Sharia that were violated. Would you think
that's a fair assessment? And then why do you think there's that difference?
Well, I would, I would, I'm gonna be careful because all this is being recorded again.
I would say that, that that that that the letter to Baghdad, it goes beyond simply the micro detailed, sort of violations of specific provisions of Sharia. It was also a call to reinstate
Hey there. Hola, Matt. All right, to sort of a proper place of authority within Muslim community, whereby they become the go to, for all issues Islamic. The Gomaa doesn't quite agree with that. All right.
And they have, in a sense, their own relationship with surely a tradition that is separate and distinct from that of the religious establishment. All right, and there must Lehi approach is is much, in a sense, more explicit,
and elastic. And this is one of the problems with it, then the more sort of disciplined approach to that, that we find among the religious establishment. So, I see some distinctions between between the between the two approaches. But now, of course, as you know, you know, the Gemeinde may differ with the establishment on this or that detail, but agree with them on the general issue of condemning ISIS, and they might come together and, you know, issue something jointly or whatever. I don't know. But between that letter and the Gomez approach, I see that I see that distinction. All right now, in their, in their manifesto, they settling for kaha. But they don't have the constraints
of the fuqaha.
What do I mean by that? I think we don't, we don't often recognize that, that just like lawyers here, there's a legal culture. All right.
And, and, and, and before kaha, are sort of bound by that legal culture. I remember here in Michigan, back in 1999 2000, I think it was. We had a conference here.
An organization that I was heading at the time, Sharia scholars Association of North America, we had a big conference here in Detroit. And a number of bigwigs came from the Muslim world, including shadows of a Colorado, he was allowed in the country at that time. And there was a controversial issue that came up about home mortgages and things like that. I remember she was saying quite, I mean, it really impressed me. He said, Okay, listen, you know, I have I have, I have a controversial opinion here. All right, I have an opinion that a lot of people are not gonna like, okay, but I'm gonna express it anyway. Because I've seen too many of my colleagues die, with opinions still stuck
in their breasts. Okay, in other words, the legal culture. All right, what would not allow for the expression of certain views? All right, the gamma is freer from that. So they can express those views more freely.
It's not that the views themselves are a novel or alien. They just can express them with more explicitness and more freedom, because they're not bound by the same legal culture that many of them are. Quick follow up. Do you would you say that what separates them then from ISIS is how they read not so much Scripture but geopolitical reality?
Um, yeah, but I think that they have a different understanding this, I think this whole business of history is critical.
And I devise a methodology methodologies that are that are capacious enough, you know, to deal with this evolutionary energy, all right, without sort of degenerating into, you know, class relativism. That's one of the challenges of Muslim shattering thinking, in a modern world. Right. To me. I think that the mind goes part of the way but there's still some issues that would need to be rectified with their particular approach. But to me, what's what's what's what's what's really interesting, and in a sense, important about the demand, and this is the, this is the aspect that I think that has gone, you know, completely unrecognized. When they first came out with the initiative to stop
the violence, aiming of the white head, he was in Afghanistan at the time, and he sent a
booklet what he call it The Telegraph, he sent a message to the Gamal leaders and the message was it double Allah?
In other words, like fear God, shame on you. All right, you guys are capitulating the grandmas answer,
No, no, I mean, say Brother
ain't Amen. You are going to be sued us, you who are tortured, and turn state's evidence going to preach to us who spent 25, six years in prison. Mom's the word we don't think so.
So the street credibility that they have. All right, is extremely important.
Recently, I talked to the son of a of a very prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader, who's now in prison.
Under CC's regime, his son was actually shot at rubber. All right, and was also in prison. So I asked him, so how's the demand Samia doing? And he said to me, they are the most sophisticated on the scene right now.
Right? And then they're in they're in the early period of the Morrissey tobacco. They said, Okay, okay, Muslim Brotherhood, you guys now have lost the presidency. Be careful that you don't lose the people.
This is the kind of sort of pragmatic manner of proceeding that they have still very intimately tied to a shirt a tradition, but their street credibility, I think, is really important.
Thank you for an amazing talk. I have a million questions. And I'm only going to ask two because I want to try to make it to the campus Joomla in a few minutes. The first is a rephrase of Carla's question that takes the liberalism out of it, and asks about a kind of Trump reading with the the idea that we are being recorded.
Just to rephrase it, using your own words, a society of bullies that are easily bullied. I guess I just like you to comment on the parallels in that. Carla, is that a useful rephrase of part of your question. Okay. And, and it's related to the question that I wanted to ask independently, which was about hypocrisy.
shaked Schechter. Janee. CCA, the great Senegalese scholar says that when in commenting on like, I have a dean. When you force conversion upon someone, you don't gain a believer, you gain a hypocrite.
And I've been how dunes on words, were a kind of historical critique of the problem that poses within Muslim civilization. So I guess I just like you to expand on those two points, the Society of bullies that are also easily bullied and the problem of hypocrisy, as you see it as much perhaps as Abraham and Najaf see it in
India contemporary Islamic discourse.
You know, it's
it's not a trap. No, no, no, no, but it's amazing. I mean, just existentially sort of reflecting here, how, on the one hand, how we are so very proud of lauding the degree of freedom that we control, and yet in certain circumstances, we feel just as constrained, you know, as anybody in any third world country almost.
And I think that that's something for us to really seriously, seriously contemplate. Your question is a huge one. But I think that I wouldn't have sent my interest in what my interests would be in, you know, how this would apply, not to sort of Islamist movements worldwide to be quite frank. I'm not as interested in them as that No, no, I'm not as interested in them as I am in and how this plays out in an American context. I mean, that's sort of my, my real my real forum, although I don't see. Yeah, I mean, I mean, when we look at, I see a lot of crass pragmatism in the manner that in which Muslims are, you know, are going about trying to deal with their deal with their issues. I
I mean, I've made certain statements for some, for example, about how I don't think that the American Constitution is in violation of, in the broad sense, don't get me wrong, in the broad sense, violation of Sharia. They're two different things. All right. And, you know, you get criticism, okay.
President Trump comes out and issues a Muslim ban. What's the first thing somebody say Muslims say? It's unconstitutional.
I mean, and not being in a position to understand I do think that there's something related to the manner in which, you know, the sort of culture that autocracy, a sort of sort of produces. All right, that there's a there's a hypocrisy that function as a survival mechanism. And it's so intense that we can't see it. All right.
And I don't want to go any further than that. But I do see manifestations, manifestations of that. And I think that it's, it's one of our responsibilities, I mean, in as humane and brotherly and sisterly manner as we can to point this out. This is a very, very unhealthy, unhealthy, a phenomenon. And I think that what Muslims have to understand non Muslims can see it. It's not like Nietzsche said, you know, my Jesus in my nostrils, I can smell it a mile away. And they can and I think this is this is this is extremely problematic.
Muslims have to state who they are, what they are, what they stand for, and be willing to, to to pay the price for what that means. Hypocrisy will not do them any good.
And I do see manifestations of a sort of crash pragmatism.
Professor son is
he's dying, he says.
Yeah, I just wonder if I may follow up.
One of the things I learned from your wonderful presentation
in the critique of ISIL. And extremism, from the point of view of the Muslim world, is that ISIL and other radical groups seem to be a tragic diversion from the potential of Islam and the Muslim world, to
offer something to the world that the world really needs.
I reflect on that a little bit, perhaps more than I do on the application of this to America? Because I am in touch with various parts of the Muslim world.
And I know the enormous
goodwill and potential there is, and the preoccupation, violence with security issues about Islam. I see as a tragic sucking the oxygen out of the instruction from from what is really the case? I don't know, I caught some of these. Yeah, presentation. Yeah, I mean, the gamma themselves in their earliest self critique, they're very, very explicit about that we were part of the problem. They're saying, all right, we kept our state and our society preoccupied with all these issues of violence and security, etc, to the point that it had no or diminished energies, I mean, to devote to other things. And we ourselves, all right, we're not aware of the civilizational dimensions of Islam, and
what it can contribute to the world that we were so preoccupied, sort of with violence. So that is a part of their, their, their outlook. Let me just say one thing about this whole business of
when a professor wearos asked me the question, I said, you know, my primary focus is on America. I don't, I don't, I'm not talking about any kind of American exceptionalism. I don't I don't, I don't mean, I have no connections with the Muslim world. But I think one of the things that I see
let me just speak frankly, here. All right, as a black American convert to Islam,
I see what is going on now in the context of a history in which Islam enjoyed a certain prestige, legitimacy indigeneity in the black community in America, that it has progressively lost over the past two decades. And I see that as a tragedy, both for Islam and America.
And so for me, restoring that, as part of what you were talking about yesterday, in a way that positions Muslims to be looked at as valued interlocutors in the American project, if that is
and then what is it?
Yeah, the indigeneity my own word, if that indigeneity is loss, all right, which is constantly being lost, to the point that lets them now double so emigrant.
mean that that makes others work. That doesn't work for them. How do you do anything else?
So USA, USA. Sounds like what? No Muslim, no, Muslims are Muslims. This is tragic.
So addressing that issue, is one of my major concerns. I'm not saying I have no interest in what goes on in the Muslim world,
or in the relationship between the Muslim world and the West. But this has a priority. You know, we talked about the OMA a lot. And somehow America or America, Muslims, as part of the OMA does not quite make it into that, that construct. That's one of my concerns.
So perhaps we could just take one more and then we'll have to close yes and easy one.
All right. So at the risk of being a walking stereotype, and more white kids studying security issues.
And I don't think we hear critiques like these enough.
This is something very new to me and very unique. Actually, I'm not familiar with anything else like this. And in my studies, I have not heard of anything like this
is are there stuff like this out there?
There's a there's a book that was published a couple of years ago. It's called a Sadat's assassin. So that's assassins and the renunciation of political violence was written by this guy. I think his name is Jackson. I think it's his name.
So there's a book out there on this it's on the gamma Islamia. And this very this
Enterprise, I'm considering they produce for manifestos, I'm considering applying for grants to do the others and do a whole bunch of them. I don't know about now CCCC does a little.
But I, you know, this is why I did it to be quite frank. Okay. And I started this while I was here at Michigan. And we were reading some of the stuff and some of my graduate seminars. And my students were like,
I mean, they couldn't believe it. And they said, Why, why? Why is this not more accessible to the general American American leadership? So I felt that and this would also contribute to that whole American discourse as well.
But I don't know. I mean, what why is it that more more work on this kind of thing, and by the way, they have influenced de radicalization movements in Saudi Arabia, in Libya.
In Egypt itself.
And this has been going on since 1997.
I don't know where this is going. However, the situation in Egypt is very, very touchy. As I said, one of their members leaders was re imprisoned and he died in prison. So far, as I understand, the good man is holding on to this initiative to stop the violence. But I think that and this may be one of the I mean, I don't do the political science. But
in terms of what I do know, I worry about what
what the President ministration may contribute to
autocratic leaders in the Muslim Muslim world sense that they can jail, torture, etc, with impunity. Because Because these jails are factories for jihadis.
They are variable factories for Jihad ease,
they emerge out of that very experience. All right, but that is another one. And if this, this is not a solution, right?
This is like taking aspirin for AIDS.
It's not going to work. And it's going to produce the opposite effect. And I really do worry about that. I really worry about that. Right? Because when these young guys get going, it's gonna be a long night. No, no, no, it's going to be a long night. Especially the Egyptians. I'll say this as just a personal anecdote. I mean, I lived in Egypt for a number of years. I got to know the Egyptians. I you know, I love Egypt. I love Cairo. I was in Tahrir Square, the night of the runoff between Morsi and Shafi. You remember that? And I was right down there in Tahrir Square. And they were handing out little leaflets saying, I electricity
over my dead body.
And I'm telling you, I mean, Egyptians I had known for years.
All of a sudden, I didn't know them. There was a different energy, and they meant it. It scared me to death.
This stuff is real, it has real explosive capabilities. Right? And I just hope that, you know, we learned some lessons, and that this kind of discourse, gets an opportunity to speak and be heard by people who can really make a difference.