Swing Those Doors of Ijtihad OPEN


General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - Egypt 2

General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

 

John R. Houk

© January 31, 2014

 

General El-Sisi the head of the Egyptian military and current of head state gave a speech recently that is sure to be controversial in the Muslim world. The speech took place at Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs. Here is a translated paragraph from The Clarion Project that should pique your interest:

 

“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.” (Egypt’s El-Sisi Boldly Calls For Islamic Reformation; By RYAN MAURO; Clarion Project; 1/22/14)

 

The rest of Mauro’s article looks at the Muslim theological concept of Ijtihad. The theological concept is important because Ijtihad was the method of interpreting Islam’s holy writings and how to implement those interpretations. Apparently it is a process by which Muslim scholars provide a consensus legal interpretation. The problem that Ijtihad presents for Islam is that new Ijtihad interpretations was closed around the 10th century AD. The closed door means Islam stopped updating at about that time in history dooming the religion to a Mohammed-like medievalism, well forever. This is what General El-Sisi proposed to change.

 

I am not a Muslim scholar, rather I am a devout Christian that looks at Islam (really any religion or ideology) through the glasses of Biblical Christian Faith. I and many Counterjihad writers have come to the view that Islam based directly on the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah is a violent intolerant religion and since those writings are considered sacred – especially the Quran as the direct revelation of Allah – Islam will always inspire Muslims that subscribe to what the West calls radical Islam. It is my belief that Bill Warner of Political Islam provides the simplest explanation as to how Islam regards these considered holy writings:

 

 

The Islamic Bible—the Trilogy

 

Islam is defined by the words of Allah in the Koran, and the words and actions of Mohammed, called the Sunna.

 

The Sunna is found in two collections of texts—the Sira (Mohammed’s life) and the Hadith. The Koran says 91 times that his words and actions are considered to be the divine pattern for humanity.

 

A hadith, or tradition, is a brief story about what Mohammed did or said. A collection of hadiths is called a Hadith. There are many collections of hadiths, but the most authoritative are those by Bukhari and Abu Muslim, the ones used in this book.

 

So the Trilogy is the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith. Most people think that the Koran is the bible of Islam, but it is only about 14% of the total textual doctrine. The Trilogy is the foundation and totality of Islam.

 

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No one text of the Trilogy can stand by itself; it is impossible to understand any one of the texts without the other supporting texts. The Koran, Sira, and Hadith are a seamless whole and speak with one voice. If it is in the Trilogy it is Islam. (A Taste of Islam: The Life of Mohammed, The Sira; By Bill Warner; Center for the Study of Political Islam; © 2010; Page 1)

 

I suspect General El-Sisi will be labeled a heretic or an apostate by the most Conservative Islamic sects that we Westerner label as radical Islam. It remains to be seen if General El-Sisi suggestions will move forward without some kind Islamic civil war especially among the majority Sunnis (Sunnis roughly make up 90% of Islam and the Shia sects represent about 10%).

 

Here is something that should place into context the difficulty of reopening this door to Ijtihad. The most influential elements of Islam in America come from what we call the Radical Islam. Primarily these influences are the Wahhabis represented by Saudi money and the Muslim Brotherhood which is now waging a terror campaign in Egypt due to their favored President Morsi being deposed by the Egyptian military after the Egyptian populace began to riot in protest over Morsi’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood initiative to Islamize Egyptian society and government to the strict adherence of the Quran, Hadith and Sira.

 

Muslim Apologists go out of their way to tell non-Muslim Americans that the core values of Islam is peace and that Radical Islam is an aberration from the “real” Islam. AND yet most of these apologists are often connected to Radical Islamic movements such as Saudi Wahhabis and the Salafist oriented Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Wahhabi control over 80% of the Mosques in America and the Muslim Brotherhood picks up where the Saudis leave off with a direct lineage to the most influential Muslim organization in America (See Also The Muslim Brotherhood in America). As far as I am concerned Islam in America is radicalized regardless of the deception spouted by Muslim Apologists.

 

For your perusal below is a cross post of Mauro’s report on Egypt’s General El-Sisi and Ijtihad.

 

JRH 1/31/14

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Egypt’s El-Sisi Boldly Calls For Islamic Reformation

Islam, said El-Sisi needs a modern understanding and should not rely on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.

 

By Ryan Mauro

January 22, 2014

Clarion Project

 

General El-Sisi, the commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current head of state, is essentially calling for a reformation in Islam. His bold declaration comes as the Egyptian people approved a constitution in a vote that the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted.

 

The speech, which went unnoticed in the Western media, took place at the Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs. In the speech, El-Sisi said:

 

“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

 

Notice what El-Sisi did not say. He did not say Zionism or Western oppression is the greatest threat to Egypt, nor did he point to a specific group like Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood. He accurately framed the struggle as an ideological one within Islam.

 

When he refers to the “discourse that has not changed for 800 years,” he’s referring to when the most qualified Islamic scholars of that time ruled that all questions about interpretation had been settled. The “gates” of ijtihad, the independent interpretation of Islam, ended by the year 1258. He wants the “gates” reopened, allowing for the critical examination that an Islamic reformation needs.

 

Elsewhere in the speech, Sisi “called on all who follow the true Islam to improve the image of this religion in front of the world, after Islam has been for decades convicted of violence and destruction around the world, due to the crimes falsely committed in the name of Islam.”

 

This is another important declaration. He attributes Islamic extremism to this lack of discourse. He doesn’t blame it on a Jewish conspiracy to defame Islam or describe it as an overreaction to non-Muslim aggression.

 

He is also pre-empting the Islamists’ inevitable attack that he is an apostate by stating that Muslims are advancing Islam by having this discourse and turning away from violence. He takes away the argument from extremists that they are the model of a devout Muslim.

 

The next question is whether El-Sisi has the standing in Muslim opinion to be listened to. For now, the answer is yes. The Egyptian military that he leads has a 70% favorability rating, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s rating is at 34%. He is almost certain to run for president and, at this stage, is likely to win.

 

When the military toppled President Morsi and El-Sisi announced the suspension of the Islamist-written constitution, he was joined by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, an institution that is basically the equivalent of the Vatican for Sunni Islam. To date, Al-Azhar has not broken with El-Sisi or condemned his remarks.

 

Other influential Egyptians may endorse El-Sisi’s view. In January 2011, former Egyptian Islamist Tawfik Hamid reported that 25 Islamic scholars, including teachers from Al-Azhar, said that Ijtihad needed to be resumed. The 10 points they listed for renewed examination included the separation of mosque and state, women’s rights, relations with non-Muslims and jihad.

 

Calls for reform and ijtihad can be heard beneath the visible surface of the Muslim world. In my own experience, I’ve heard many average Muslims endorse reformation but their views are not reflected in the national leadership.

 

Some of these reformist Muslims want to reopen the “gates” of ijtihad, while others say they never considered them closed to begin with. For example, Tunisian professor Dr. Muhamd El-Haddad, argues, “Daily life has evolved radically since the last millennium, but there has been no accompanying development in mainstream Muslim legal theory.”

 

Professor Ziauddin Sadar of London wrote in 2002 that that Islamic doctrine is “frozen in time” and there are three doctrinal pillars that need reform: “The elevation of the Shari’ah to the level of the Divine, with the consequent removal of agency from the believers, and the equation of Islam with the State.”

 

Those that argue that the “gates” were never closed include Malcolm Jardine, who wrote a thoroughly-researched essay on the topic. In 2006, the U.S.-based Nawawi Foundation published a study by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah with the premise that Islam “never had a doorkeeper to close it in the first place.”

 

General El-Sisi and the overall backlash against the Islamists may spark what the world needs most: An Islamic reformation. It is not enough to topple Islamists. Their ideological underpinning must be debated and defeated. The determinations of scholars from 800 years can no longer be treated as eternal truth, but for what they really are—opinions influenced by the times in which they were made.

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Swing Those Doors of Ijtihad OPEN

John R. Houk

© January 31, 2014

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Egypt’s El-Sisi Boldly Calls For Islamic Reformation

 

Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.

 

Copyright © 2013 Clarion Project, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

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