A Reform Agenda For Egypt
Earlier this year, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi drew international attention with a speech calling for a “religious revolution” in Egypt. He set aside prepared remarks for the celebration of Prophet Mohamed’s birthday, and in front of religious scholars from the leading center of Sunni Islam, Al Azhar, offered his heartfelt remarks in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, in part admonishing them for the state of Islam in the world.
Going beyond anything previous leaders have stated, he decried the dominant religious thought and discourse, which he said had become too closed and antagonistic to the world. “It’s inconceivable that the thought that we hold most sacred should cause the entire nation to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.” Sisi said the problem was not in Islam as a religion, but rather that it was rooted in the dominant religious thought and discourse—“that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sanctified over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible.”
While receiving condemnation from Islamists who called him an apostate and argued that his words showed a clear departure from Islam, the speech was widely hailed in Western circles as the long-awaited opening for reform in Islam. Sisi’s description of the role Islamic religious thought played in radicalization certainly stood in contrast to President Obama’s standing refusal to utter the word ‘Islamist’. Absent, however, from both condemnation and praise is the fact that Sisi’s speech, while surely courageous, lacked any formal plan or implementation mechanism. Neither Sisi nor the Egyptian state has a strategy to combat extremism. Indeed the official religious establishment, represented in both Al Azhar and the official Dar al-Iftaa, the state body responsible for issuing religious opinions, quickly downplayed the call for religious reform, launching instead “a national campaign aiming at correcting the image of Islam through social media, foreign visits, and publications.” Such efforts are unlikely to result in anything meaningful—much less a religious revolution.
How then could such a religious revolution be launched? A good place to start is Egypt’s schools.
Sie lesen gern Achgut.com?
Zeigen Sie Ihre Wertschätzung!