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Islamists and the threat of Egypt's partition

Political Islamist groups not only polarise and divide Egyptian society, but are at odds amongst themselves, a reality that could have grave consequences on the country's territorial integrity

Nader Fergany , Wednesday 26 Dec 2012
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If you think about the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood, you realise the fallacy of it being a peaceful organisation. Out of the Quran, the group chose “And prepare” as their slogan, which is the first two words in the following verse: “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemies, and others besides them whom you do not know” (Al-Anfal, 60).  This means to prepare for a war on infidels who are Allah’s enemies.

It did not instead choose, for example: “Invite to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and good instruction” (Al-Nahl 125). To further confirm the combative character of the Brotherhood, the group added two crossed swords as its motif, a symbol of being at war, and the emblem of the Saud family since it began supporting the Wahhabi movement that was created in Najd in the mid-18th century by the sword.

Besides, the group is built on blind loyalty to its leader who is deceptively called the supreme guide. Members must pledge absolute allegiance to the supreme guide while placing one hand on the Quran. The group does not hesitate to expel a member — even leading figures — if they disobey. This means losing the privileges of affiliation, which are immense at the leadership level.

This type of military hierarchy of the group entirely contradicts democratic concepts and practices. Thus, this is a combative not democratic group that is closed and opaque, which views anyone outside it as an apostate, waging war on them and relying on "terrorism" as a way to achieve its objectives.

The history of the group is proof of its slogan. The inevitable result of this mentality is partitioning society into two camps: Muslims and infidels who must be fought until they convert to Islam or submit to God’s laws as defined by the group.

Meanwhile, the framework of reference for the political Islamic current is the nation of Islam, not the smaller or regional state, or even the Arab nation. And thus, the smaller homelands are expendable and therefore it would be no surprise once this current reaches power it would rupture society, at least along the lines of Muslims (in power) and infidels, and whoever is in between.

This rupture could culminate in geographic divisions and secession, as we saw in Sudan under a regime that claims to be applying God’s laws. None of this is important from the viewpoint of political Islam as long since the ultimate goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate of Mohamed’s nation.

All this contradicts the fundamentals of the message of true Islam and the principles of the tolerant Sharia call, since God teaches us that gentle proselytisation is part of Allah’s mercy to the world, for both preachers and flock. It unequivocally prohibits coarseness and harsh-heartedness because they abort the purpose of the call: “So by mercy from Allah, you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them” (Al-Omran, 159).

God urges wisdom and good counsel when preaching: “Invite to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and good instruction; and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided” (Al-Nahl, 125).

If this is the state of the Muslim Brotherhood, which can be described as moderate Salafist; fanatic and jihadist Salafism is a poisoned offshoot of the Brotherhood that was born in protest at the Brotherhood’s occasional truces with foes. It is more radical and closer to extremist Wahhabi ideology.

Anyone who tracks their history will find that the strategy of this Salafist faction in the course of political Islam dates back to its founder Mohamed Bin Abdel-Wahhab, excessive militancy and making a tolerant religion more difficult and restricting freedoms.

Also, the subjugation of women, whose repression blends with the desire to enjoy them — even if they are children — to the point of manic obsession.

Heavy-handedness and crudity becomes the way of preaching this tough and extremist version of Islam, and if this is not enough they resort to physical violence and history is riddled with examples.

The Wahhabi movement was founded by Mohamed Bin Abdel-Wahhab in Dariya in the wilderness of Najd in the centre of the desolate Arab Peninsula in the middle of the 18th century. Its leader was a follower of the more radical Hanbali School of jurisprudence and does not incorporate the licenses that God permitted.

The Wahhabi movement grew with the support of Al-Saud family princes and by harassing tribes that were not loyal to them. Its violent proselytisation even included robbing the Prophet’s grave and then invading Karbala in 1801 in a heinous massacre, tearing down and robbing Imam Hussein Mosque there.

The movement was quelled only when Egypt’s then ruler Mohamed Ali Pasha — with encouragement from Turkey — launched a massive military campaign against them for eight years, known as the Wahhabi War. It was subsequently led by his sons, Tousson Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha, until it surrendered its last stronghold in 1818 and its leaders were killed. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

This is the ruling coalition in Egypt today. What a tragedy! Nearly three centuries after rapid human progress, Egypt must now deal with the followers of a backward fanatic religious movement that adopts the same brazen Wahhabi attitudes in this era of email and travel into space. It is no surprise that some senior extremist Salafists appear like cavemen, in both form and speech.

Unfortunately, the political Islam current was strongly supported by the ruling military after the revolution, and then when the Brotherhood came to power. Later, it was discovered this was a premeditated plan by domestic, and even foreign, parties which included the immediate release of prisoners, including those serving life sentences and waiting on death row. Also, allowing several notorious extremists to return from exile in Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving them air time and promoting them as the face of society, even as representatives of power on some domestic matters.

It is true that some of this was due justice that was denied for many years, and the natural result of liberating citizens from the injustice the people’s revolution sought to correct. There is suspicion now, however, about the surge and carelessness about the effects of these decisions on the security of the country and its political future. And so, this is how Egypt has been split into rival factions under the rule of political Islam.

Every step taken by political Islam edges towards dividing Egyptian society into those who support these groups — and therefore are worthy in God’s eyes — and those who oppose them and will be thrown in Hell. This was the case regarding the referendum on the constitutional amendments under the supervision of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in March 2011, then parliamentary elections, then presidential elections, right until the Constituent Assembly that wrote the constitution, and the presidential diktats on 22 November.

Even more disconcerting is that competition between the factions of political Islam over control of the country has an ominous dimension, namely contesting Muslim Brotherhood control over Sinai by carrying out armed terrorist attacks there. This raises fears about the possibility of establishing a fanatic Islamic emirate in the peninsula that could be the prelude for its secession and the possibility of it becoming part of suspicious regional arrangements to resolve Israel’s Gaza Strip problem at the expense of Egypt.

In short, we could be threatened with geographic partition.

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