General El Sisi is the commander of Egypt’s armed forces and since President Morsi was thrown out of office he’s been running Egypt. A few days ago he gave a speech that was ignored by the Western Media. That speech was delivered to the Military Department of Moral Affairs in Egypt. During that speech General El Sisi called for a modernization of Islam. Specifically, he said:
“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a NEW VISIION and a MODERN, comprehensive understanding of the religion of ISLAM rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”
It is interesting to note that El Sisi said nothing about Zionism or Western oppression being the greatest threat Egypt faces today. He also did not speak of al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood as being the major threat. Rather, he framed Egypt’s greatest struggle today as an ideological one with Islam. This is significant and this speech should have gotten a lot of attention in the Western media but, instead, it was ignored.
Eight hundred years ago some of the greatest Islamic scholars were alive. That would have been around 1213 A.D. That was about the time of the Mongols and the Mamluks. The Mamluks ruled Egypt from this time until the Ottoman conquest in 1517. They were the first power to defeat the Mongols in open combat in 1260 AD as the Mongols moved into Palestine and Egypt. They crushed the Mongols, in fact, at Ayn-Jalut which is near the town of Nazareth in Palestine. It was during this time that Islamic scholars ruled that all questions concerning Islam and interpretation of the Qur’an had been answered and there was no further need for discussion. Thus, the gates of interpretation were closed around 1258 AD. General El Sisi wants those gates reopened allowing for more critical examination and basically a reformation of Islam.
General El Sisi called on Muslims to improve the image of Islam to the world, saying, “…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.” What El Sisi is calling for, basically, is an Islamic Reformation much like that of the Christian Reformation of the Middle Ages.
El Sisi attributed Islamic extremism to the lack of discourse and he doesn’t blame it on the Jews nor does he describe it as an overreaction to non-Muslim aggression. To thwart those who would call him an apostate, El Sisi stated that Muslims would be advancing Islam by such a discourse and by turning away from violence. Further, he removes the erroneous image of a true Muslim that extremists have stolen implying to the world that a devout Muslim is an extremist which is not true.
Of course the question now becomes will Muslims listen to El Sisi? He suspended Morsi’s Islamic Constitution and this move was supported by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University which is, basically, the Muslim equivalent of the Catholic Vatican for Sunni Muslims. Many Islamic scholars in Egypt are calling for a separation of Mosque and State and they are also advocating women’s rights and improved relations with non-Muslims. In fact, many in the Islamic world are now calling for reform including a growing number of average Muslims around the world. More and more Muslims are endorsing Islamic reformation as they realize Islam has been highjacked by the extremists and as they come to realize that their views are NOT being represented in the leadership of their Muslim nations. Additionally, Muslims living in non-Muslim countries are calling for reform increasingly as they come to realize that the words and actions of the extremists do not reflect the Islam they were taught. Growing numbers of Muslims want those gates of discourse reopened while others think they have never been shut and, thus, discourse should be taking place without question. As Dr Muhamad El Haddad, a Tunisian professor, has stated, “Daily life has evolved radically since the last millennium, but there has been no accompanying development in mainstream Muslim legal theory.”
Another professor and Islamic scholar in London named Ziauddin Sadar has pointed out that Islam is “frozen in time.” Basically he is calling for a modernization of Islamic practices and beliefs as well as is General El Sisi.
One thing is becoming clear now and that is that there is a growing backlash against the extremists within the Muslim Arab world. This alone may spark an Islamic Reformation and begin to topple the extremists from power. There must be open and intelligent along with scholarly debate over this extremism which has cast Islam in a bad mold in the eyes of the world. Large numbers of non-Muslims hold the perception that all Muslims are extremists and terrorists who wish only death. This, of course, is NOT so but that is what the world has come to believe thanks to the extremists.
Of course the most extreme of the extremists will fight El Sisi and any reformation or modernization of Islam and that should be expected. The extremists are not going to give up their power willingly I’m sure. Hopefully the part of the Muslim world that desires a new discourse will stand united and strong to fight back against the extremists radicals.
MY OPINION ON THIS MATTER—–
I happen to agree with General Al-Sisi. Discourse (scholarly discussion and debate) should be an ongoing process in any subject. To close the doors on discourse and to say that this is it, end of story, is ignorance and foolishness. Scholars should be allowed to debate and discuss any matter because without discussion things become distorted. In Islam the distortion, sadly, has taken the form of terrorism and violence while the Qur’an commands not to murder and not to commit suicide have been grossly ignored by the extemists. As I’ve stated many times here on this site both murder and suicide are great SINS according to the Holy Qur’an. Further, Muslims are not to go all about killing Christians and Jews nor destroying their churches and synagogues as this too is a great sin according to the Qur’an. Firstly, Christians and Jews are among the People of the Book and their places of worship are sacred as they are places in which God’s name is spoken and in which God is worshipped. The SAME God that Muslims worship!
Islam has been hijacked and the extremists have taken it and now use it to promote their POLITICAL agendas. All Muslims who have read the Qur’an and know what it says and does not say know this. The image that non-Muslims now have of Muslims is that they are all extremists and terrorists which is absolutely not true. In fact, the majority are not period! Sadly, Islam and Muslims are being demonized by the actions of the extremists and such demonization of any people or any religion is NEVER a good thing. The world has taken the images they see on their nighly news of Muslims carrying guns and doing car bombings and generalized to assume all Muslims do or support such things. Nothing could be further from the truth! The FACT is just the opposite and MOST Muslims are OFFENDED by what they see the extremists doing! Greatly offended!!
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did NOT go all about killing people. In fact, he only reluctantly went to war and he recognized that even war has LIMITS. He was careful about his actions and he never ordered anyone to carry out any kind of suicide mission. These facts are also ignored by the extremists of today. The Prophet only went to war as a LAST RESORT and war was never first choice on his list. He did not want others to view Islam as some sort of murderous religion but, rather, wanted them to see Islam as a peace loving and life honoring religion. The extremists claim they are following true Islam so why don’t they know these things and practice them? Why, instead, have they chosen to ignore the FACTS?
ANY religion can be used to “justify” anything. Sadly there’s been a lot of that over the centuries involving every faith. Religion has more human blood on its hands than all human wars combined and that in itself is a very sad statement of fact. All religions claim to be peace loving and life esteeming but you’d never know it from human religious history! Actions speak far louder than words and judging from religious history human actions say religions do NOT love peace nor do they honor life! NONE of them! This must change. Our actions must match our words otherwise we are mere hypocrites and every true Muslim knows what God thinks of and what awaits the hypocrite.
Many times this all become very frustrating to me as there is so much misinformation, demonization, and hatred out there in the world for Islam and Muslims today. It angers me to see Muslims acting with dishonor and out of foolishness and stupidity. Islam teaches that Muslims are suppose to act with dignity and compassion AT ALL TIMES and in EVERY MATTER. We are suppose to act with intelligence and wisdom. We are suppose to be living examples for everyone we encounter of what a Muslim is and is not. We are suppose to be following the pattern and example set before us in the words, conduct, and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We are suppose to be avoiding things of Satan and evil. We are not suppose to go all about doing things tha the Qur’an clearly forbids and calls SIN.
In terms of an Islamic Reformation I’m not so sure we need that or if we just simply need to return to what Islam is SUPPOSE to be and abandon what it is not suppose to be. The Islam practiced by the Prophet and his followers is in many ways NOT the Islam of today and it certainly is NOT that practiced by the extremists of today. Instead of relying on someone to tell them what the Qur’an says and means EVERY Muslim needs to read it for themselves. It’s not difficult. In fact the Qur’an says plainly that Allah has made the Qur’an simple to understand. Thus, NO Muslim has any excuse for not reading it themselves!
I’ve often thought that Allah is putting Muslims through the fires of purification today. I’ve often thought that He is separating the gold from the ore. I have often thought too that today Islam is going through a very dark age and I have prayed repeatedly for that dark age to end and for the dawning of a new and modern Golden Age not simply for Muslims but for the entire world and people of every faith. I’m still praying for that and I will keep praying for it whether such an era comes in my lifetime or not.
Finally, I’ve watched the images of Muslims and Islam portrayed on the nightly news as well and every time I see some self proclaimed Muslim carrying out an act of terrorism it rips my heart out. Something deep within me shouts NO! Something deeps inside me knows that what I see that person doing on the nightly news is WRONG and SINFUL and it is. I’ve read and studied the Qur’an for decades now and I do believe it to be God’s Word to Muslims. What I read and study in the Qur’an does NOT match the actions of these extremists clearly. I’ve spent years now trying to educate non-Muslims about Islam and about what the Qur’an says and does not say and, frankly, for the most part to no avail. But I keep trying to educate them and I will continue to do so. I do not want them thinking that I as a Muslim Man am like the terrorists they see on their news programs because I am not and will never be. I do NOT follow political ideologies. I do NOT follow the words and teachings of some Mullah or Imam. I follow the Holy Qur’an and the word of Allah contained therein! I try my best to follow the pattern established by Prophet Muhammad and no other man! I do not find the Qur’an to be advocating death and violence. In fact I find it teaching just the opposite! I will continue to follow God’s Word in the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet. I will continue to practice my faith as one that is peaceful, compassionate, intelligent, and life honoring. I will continue to act with dignity and wisdom as a Muslim Man! I REFUSE to give into the psychosis of the extremists as I do not wish to be in their shoes come Judgment Day. I will continue to thwart the stereotype of modern Muslims as killers and psychos as that is NOT what we are. I will continue to attempt to educate non-Muslims whether they listen to me or not. Somehow, somewhere extremism MUST be overcome and there must be a restoration to sanity in Islam. I hope that General al-Sisi is successful in calling for a reformation. I hope he succeeds in overcoming Islamic extremism in Egypt and everywhere else. Fact is that radical Islam can NOT carry on for much longer. Sin eventually caves in within itself in case you haven’t noticed. Eventually sin come to catch up with the sinner and sin ALWAYS exacts the highest price! Sooner or later this is what is going to happen to extremism in Islam. In the end Allah will win as He always wins. That means that in the end the truly faithful will win as well because when Allah wins we win.
The actions and the hatred spewed by the extremists DISGUST me to no end!! That is why I speak out here hoping that you might find even a grain of enlightenment on this site. It’s my way of fighting back against the extremism in a world that, right now, is very, very LOST and that includes the Muslim world as well. Humanity in general is going to have to return to some common sense and to REAL TRUTH. If we do not then we are all doomed no matter what our faith. Sanity MUST be restored in ALL matters and I can think of no better time than NOW!