04.10.2004Emran Qureshi - Heba Raouf EzzatAre Sharia Laws and Human Rights Compatible?
A democracy offers intrinsic political, economic and social benefits and does not deserve the condescension that you offer by "elite representation".
I have problems with the "civic virtue" that you describe. On the one hand, Islamists, especially Salafis, tend to generalize their interpretations and project it backward into history in order to enforce validity. On the other hand "civic virtue" has historical as well as geographical specificities. In "Islamic" Indonesia civic virtue is shaped by different influences than in cosmopolitan centres of Islam or in agrarian and nomadic regions.
Centuries ago, civic virtues denied women denied the right to education. However, enforcing "virtue" and Sharia are staples of Islamist discourse: Thus Pakistani mullahs obsess about their citizenry watching Indian "Hindu" Bollywood movies and music and this pattern repeats itself elsewhere. Notice how here aesthetic and artistic endeavours are restricted in the guise of "virtue".
I also sense Islamists continue to profoundly define their worldview reactively vis-à-vis the West. Thus Islamism today is both a by-product of globalization. Islamists, as the Taliban in Afghanistan, who are ideologically driven will fail. Against that Islamists parties as you find them in Turkey that attempt to meet the needs and aspirations of its citizenry will be successful.
In effect, these Islamists will help to secularize their societies. Thus, Islamists are the harbingers of globalization: democracy, secularization, and individual rights. So I must congratulate them for this. Iran is a perfect example. There the young people of that country put bluntly want freedom from the Mullahs. Who would but think that possibility would arise from within political Islam?
You also disparage capitalism in the name of Islam, but I suspect would not deny the appeal of the latest capitalist gadgetry (e.g. the laptop computer, cell phone, television, and Hermes scarves). Please remember that Prophet Mohammad and his wife were humane business people that engaged in commerce. Recall the Hadith: "He who accumulates earnings by honest trade is the beloved of God."
Interestingly, it was thanks to mainly Muslim traders that Islam spread into India and South East Asia. That is a kind of Islamic globalization if you will that is not criticized by present-day Islamists.
Finally, the intellectuals are responsible for criticizing their received traditions and practices. But I do not know one - not one single Islamist intellectual that criticizes in a sustained manner Salafism or Wahhabism (a cancer corroding Islamic traditions from within), and is further willing also to acknowledge the corrosive effects of Jihadi "suicide" violence.
To mention this is to not demonize Muslims, as it should be apparent that no people have a monopoly on virtue or vice. I also note that when Islamist regimes engage in genocide or mass murder we see little internal condemnation - witness the reaction to the genocide campaign in Darfur against African Muslims by the fascist Sudanese regime.
What we see today is nothing less than a profound anti-intellectualism and immorality that is corroding the soul of Islam by those that purport to unfurl and defend the banner of Islam.