Regrettably, Anwar Ibrahim, the bold and courageous political leader of Malaysia was imprisoned for a five year term. While the charges were those of sodomy, his imprisonment is seen as a political witch hunt of trying to eliminate him from the political scene given his party’s success in recent years.
After many years I had the privilege to meet with DS Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the Malaysian parliamentary opposition. It was an extraordinary gathering of many people and exceptional hospitality by DS Anwar and his wife Aziza. I was asked to share some words with the audience along with Sheikh Nuruddin Lemu. A beautiful evening indeed in Kuala Lumpur.
Thinking about solutions to the growing specter of violence in different parts of the Islamic world was the theme of many of my talks and interactions during my visit to the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The Penang Institute was a cosponsor of my visit. Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa and Dr Syed Farid Alatas were wonderful interlocutors from whom I learned a great deal. Lack of good governance, utopian delusions that invoking Sharia and religion are the silver bullets to remedy the ills of society were the aspects that I identified as the engine room for growing militancy among Muslims. Furthermore, growing grievances of military interventions and the killing of thousands of innocents by US and European interventions in the Muslim world are equally serious causes for militancy.
I am in Doha at a consultation hosted by the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) in order to devise a vision and intellectual agenda for bioethics. CILE is a member of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. I have had the opportunity to meet distinguished scholars like our host Dr Muhammad al-Ghaly, a specialist in Islamic law and bioethics. Also in attendance among others are Dr Muhammad al-Bar from Said Arabia, Prof Muhsin Abul Fadl Ebrahim from South Africa, both distinguished scholars and pioneers of Muslim biomedical ethics. Among the scholars is the astrophysicist from the American University in Sharjah, Prof Nidhal Guessoum, author of Islam’s Quantum Question, a great book that I had the opportunity to review. My review of his book done more than a year ago is attached here for those of you who might not have seen it.
Walking Egypt back from the brink of anarchy by Ebrahim Rasool and Ebrahim Moosa, Friday, August 16,
Washington Post op-ed “Walking Egypt back from the brink of anarchy” by South African Ambassador to the United States Mr Ebrahim Rasool and Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University.
Today Egypt returned to the previous 50 years of dictatorship with the declaration of the state of emergency by the military and the killing of dozens of protesters. The Egyptian army liberated Egypt from imperfect democratic rule and replaced it with dictatorship, reversing the gains of the 2011 revolution with the consent of the cheering Tahrir masses who welcomed the army takeover in July. So much for those who complained of the Islamofascism of the Muslim Brotherhood! What is the name of this fascism? What about unalloyed fascism?
The tragedies of July and August and the loss of life were all avoidable.
Still wishful thinking in Western political circles claim it is not a coup. Heard of an ostrich? Western governments expressed “regret” at the killing of non-violent protesters and called for “restraint.” Really? What restraint if there are no consequences for the military junta in Cairo with dollars and euros flowing into their already lush coffers.
Don’t expect any condemnation from the White House for the catastrophe in Egypt. A President and a White House that prefer extra judicial killings of people around the world via drone attacks can hardly be torchbearers for the rule of law and human rights!
Yes, the situation in Egypt is complex. The Muslim Brotherhood are no angels. They have to take their share of blame for the tragic state of affairs. But undermining the democratic process created an alternative that is infinitely worse.
It might be apt to take a leaf from the pages of history.
Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”
It does not require rocket science to configure what will happen in Egypt in months and years to come, following Niemöller’s reasoning. Based on Egypt’s record of dictatorship and authoritarianism one can anticipate a scenario, heaven forbid, that goes like this.
“Today they came for the Muslim Brotherhood, and the right thinking people of Egypt said nothing, for they were not from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Then they came for the liberals, and the right thinking people of Egypt said nothing, because they were not liberals.
Then they came for the democrats, and the right thinking people of Egypt said nothing, because they were not democrats.
Then they came for the workers, and the right thinking people of Egypt said nothing, because they were not the workers.
Then they came for the people, and the right thinking people of Egypt said nothing, because they were not the people.
Then they came for the right thinking people of Egypt, and there was no one left to speak for what is “right,” for “thinking,” and for the “people.”
Darkness descends on Egypt!
Seeing their folly of at first blessing the military junta, Egypt’s religious leaders, Shaykh al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb and Coptic Pope Tawadros II are only now condemning the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Seeing the writing on the wall honorable sirs? One way of showing remorse is for these religious leaders to ask General Abdelfattah el-Sisi to step down and be held accountable for his deeds. Then they should each resign for their massive errors of judgment that have irreparably harmed Egypt.
Morsi blundered horribly, if not criminally. But the coup by the military junta has created a worse situation. More distressing is, of course, the failure of Egyptian intellectuals, the majority of whom have swung in favor of the military junta, following the logic of being “Sultan’s Jurists” -Fuqaha al-Sultan. Long live the courageous intellectuals who have offered balanced criticism and not succumbing to beguiling rhetoric and flawed logic.
Saudi Arabia، Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia have announced the end of Ramadan and the celebration of `Id al-Fitr or Eid al-Fitr tomorrow, Thursday 8 August, 2013 as a the first of the Arabic month of Shawwal 1434 AH. Oman, however, will continue to fast on Thursday and will hold the feast on Friday. In South Africa too the crescent was not sighted so the Muslims there will have to fast out the month of Ramadan to the maximum of 30 days and the 1st of Shawwal will be on Friday.
Now we will have a scenario where Oman and South Africa will have a lunar calendar at variance from those of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. I do not have an update on Egypt. All this will impact 70 days later with the calendar for hajj. Again those countries that ended Ramadan later will most likely be out of sync with the hajj calendar. India and Pakistan have yet to announce their sightings on Thursday. It is not clear what US Muslims who follow sighting will do. They might follow the Middle East’s sighting or they might insist on local crescent sighting and that decision will be made in several hours time. The Islamic Society of North America had announced in advance the beginning and end dates for Ramadan based on calculation and accordingly `Id al-Fitr is tomorrow Thursday 8 August 2013.
It is not even clear to me whether the crescent was sighted in the Gulf. The Minister of Justice of the UAE said “that after a number of legitimate measures, as well as several contacts with neighboring countries, it was established that Wednesday was the last day of Ramadan.” No mention was made of sighting. However a Qatari source reports that sighting took place
Islamic lunar calendar confusion continues until proper scientific conventions are adopted and the lunar calendar is predictable and certain and not subject to the vagaries of sighting.
— Manya Brachear (@TribSeeker) August 7, 2013