Friday, February 10, 2012

The Essence of Contemporary Leftism And Islamism Revealed: Freedom or Slavery to Those Who Claim to Know Best?

“Different men often see the same subject in different lights” –Patrick Henry, 1775

By Barry Rubin

Here’s a fascinating exchange telling us not only about the contemporary state of Islam, Islamism, and the political issues involving them but also the debates and conflicts shaping Western civilization today. It also taught me about the common theme between revolutionary Islamism and the revolutionary leftism that today masquerades as liberalism.

The interviewee is Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a leading Islamist presidential candidate in Egypt and the Salafists’ favorite. I’ll annotate his dialogue with my analysis. Thanks to Raymond Ibrahim for the translation.

Host: You have already begun to try to impose a particular dress code for us.

Abu Ismail: I’ve begun to? It’s the Lord of the Worlds [Allah] who said so. I have nothing to do with it!

Salafists have been setting up vigilante groups to impose a dress code, especially on women. Though not much has happened so far this is obviously a very dangerous implication for Egypt’s future.

What Abu Ismail is saying is that all sorts of extremist things (by Western standards and even, as we will shall see in a moment, those of many Muslims) are innate in Islam. In other words, by contemporary standards Abu Ismail is an Islamophobe.

But listen to what the host, who is also a Muslim, puts it. No, he says this is not imposed by Allah but by “you.” After all, the host could say, since Egypt has been a pious Muslim country for a long time without such measures.

The host thus gives his interpretation of Islam:

Host: Allah left it for me to decide as a personal freedom.Abu Ismail: Who said that? Where’d you get that from? See, that’s the whole point: If you claim that Allah considers it your personal freedom, show me your reference? Nobody has ever said that -- except for people have no understanding of Sharia.Host: There is “no coercion in religion” [Koran 2:256].

Note that the host can come up with a key phrase and indeed one that is often used on Western audiences to prove the liberality of Islam. Some day—though it may be a century or two from now—an entire moderate Islamic theology could be built on that phrase. But that’s not going to happen in 2012.

When Abu Ismail says that only “people [who] have no understanding of Sharia” could disagree with him, he is simply asserting that his interpretation is the only valid one. This is the way of all totalitarian ideologies, true also for Communism, Nazism, fascism, and Arab nationalism.

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