Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Emma's War

"Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood called on Egyptians to eject Britain from their country and replace Egypt's Napoleonic legal code code with sharia. From there it spread to Sudan, Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria and elsewhere. As one country after another freed itself from colonialism, the Brotherhood continued to agitate for a return to sharia. 'Islam is a state and a religion' was one of its slogans. 'No constitution but the Quran' was another. I asked the journalist why the Muslim Brothers were so determined to make sharia the only source of law in Sudan.

He was happy to tell me. Islam, he said in between bites, was a complete system, covering every aspect of life. This is what Sudanese Muslims forgot when they let the British talk them into making religion a private matter, outside the purview of the state. Islam is sharia, or the 'straight path', he went on, and the Sudanese would not be fully Muslim until they lived in a state committed to enforcing it. There was a oneness, a unity to Islam that made it impossible for Muslims to pick and choose among its rules and regulations, the faith had to be swallowed whole or it was no good. That's why no Muslim could oppose sharia. If he did, he was an apostate."

An Excerpt from Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan by Deborah Scroggins.


"An Islamic state is a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, the Shari'a. Government in accordance with the Shari'a implies the pre-eminence within the state of the judiciary or, rather, of the judicial aspect of the state over both the executive and the legislature, since the Shari'a originate from divine revelation and may not be developed or modified, merely applied, their application involving interpretation in particular cases and enforcement, not legislation in the sense of innovative law-giving. In the Islamic state the functions and authority of the executive and legislature are subordinate and ancillary to those of the judiciary. And since the Shari'a have their origin in divine revelation, the pre-eminence of the judicial aspect of the state over its other aspects implies the domination of the religious sphere over the political sphere. The ruler (Khalifa) of the Islamic state is legitimate in so far as he ensures the application of the Shari'a and the thereby preserves the moral order upon which the integrity of the community of believers depends. That is, the (Khalifa) performs his functions within legal parameters laid down in advance and immutable, and his performance is under constant surveillance, not only by the doctors of religious law, the 'ulama', but by each and every individual adult member of the community, given the egalitarian conceptions of Islam, the assumption of equal and unmediated access to scripture, the injunction upon every Muslim 'to command that which is proper and forbid that which is reprehensible', and the axiom that the community cannot agree on error.

It is common view of all the radical Islamist movements in the contemporary Arab world that these principles of Islamic government were realised under the rule of the first four 'rightly guided' caliphs, the Rashidun, Abu Bakr(632-4 CE), Umar(634-44 CE), Uthman(644-56 CE) and Ali(656-61 CE), and that no contemporary Arab state is governed in accordance with these principles. In so far as the explanation of un-Islamic government is to be found in the condition of contemporary Arab society, radical Islamism stigmatises this society as characterised by jahiliya, that is ignorance of (of the Qur'anic message), pre-Islamic barbarousness. The radical Islamists accordingly deduce from this the necessity of their mission, to reform society and the state on Islamic principles and, where the state impedes or resists this mission, they deduce the legitimacy and indeed the imperative of revolt. "

An Excerpt from The Battlefield: Algeria 1988-2002, Studies in a Broken Polity by Hugh Roberts.

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