November 2006

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

Pure Blog

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from t h a b e t. Make your own badge here.

« Save the Hijaz | Main | The Sunday Telegraph clarifies position on Sookhdeo interview »

March 05, 2006



I presume you are referring to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's slogan in the last "election," correct?!

Excellent points. People do not believe in Islam because it is called Islam, or because it has pretty mosques. Presumably, they believe in Islam because it is the truth. To begin to defend Islam rather than the truth behind Islam, may have unintended consequences to the umma.

red peters


The Talking Lama

"Concerning the claims that this is a meaningless and vague slogan, i would like to emphasize; the slogan, just like any others, does not intend to present a comprehensive political program; it only intends to present the ideology from which the program originates. Those who have made these claims have neglected in a clear –but failed- attempt to manipulate reality, the 27-page comprehensive political program that was presented by Brotherhood candidates. Yet, the most relevant question is: if the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan is meaningless, are other slogans any more meaningful? Let’s look at Mubarak’s campaign slogan: “Leadership…and passing to the future,” Certainly, it’s shameful that 24 years of experience have not resulted in something a bit less meaningless than this."
-Ibrahim El Houdaiby - Cairo, Egypt

The Talking Lama

The definition of a 'slogan' from the AmericanHeritage Dictionary, is:"A phrase expressing the aims or nature of an enterprise, organization, or candidate; a motto." Emphasis on the word 'phrase'. The intellectual heritage of the Ummah, obviously, is so broad that one couldnt possibly try and limit it to a mere 'phrase'. So what does that mean? That no Islamic Organisations in the world can have slogans because the full essence of Islam cannot be expressed in half a dozen word?

And to be honest with you, I have yet still to come across a person who indeed thinks Islam is just 'all about clever slogans'. Not all the people who chant 'Islam is the Solution' are intellectually devoid. They only chant 'Islam is the Solution' because having a slogan like:
"The intellectual heritage of the Ummah is too broad to be put into this banner, but we'll give it a try anyway..."
is allocatively and technically inefficient. And by the time you finish reading the banner, the protest will be all over and fellow-protesters sitting at home smoking shisha.


The Talking Lama - Many analyst's suggest that the phrase "Islam is the solution" is an empty phrase, which is rather meaningless.

What EXACTLY does that entail? If you read Al-Banna's work in the early 20th century, he asserts that dancing is haram. Is this what the brotherhood means by Islam is the solution? Do they intend to create a state like Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps their slogan would be more meaningful if they articulated a platform, but until now it appears they offer only empty promises to capitalize on anti-Mubarak sentiment. People love Islam, and people hate Mubarak, but does that mean they'll accept any government which accomplishes only those two objectives?

Give the people a reason to think its more than a slogan, and it will become more than that. Until then, its an empty promise.

Talking Lama

"If you read Al-Banna's work in the early 20th century, he asserts that dancing is haram. Is this what the brotherhood means by Islam is the solution?"

In the Qur'an, men have been given the 'permission' to marry upto four wives. Is this what Muslims mean when they say the Qur'an is a 'light and a guidance' for mankind?

You can hardly use that line of logic to justify your point.

"Do they intend to create a state like Saudi Arabia?" Hardly. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. I doubt that's what the Brotherhood want to establish in Egypt.

"People love Islam, and people hate Mubarak, but does that mean they'll accept any government which accomplishes only those two objectives?"
Hardly. But that's not the only objectives they have. The Ikhwan was both a religious and a political and social movement.According to Al-Banna, The Qu'ran and the Sunnah were seen as laws passed down by God, that should be applied to all parts of life, including the organization of the government and the handling of everyday problems. The Brotherhood founded social institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, schools, etc.

"Until then, its an empty promise."
They havent exactly BEEN in power for anyone to say they are full of empty promises. In fact, the Egyptian government quite made sure of that all thanks to all the electoral violations.

With some exceptions, the Brotherhood's leaders and members have also demonstrated a commitment to a non-violent approach to Islam.


Talking Lama - You'll have to go over one more time why such logic cannot be used to justify my point. The Brotherhood is a group which has not explained exactly what it intends to do when it gets into power. I suspect much of the Brotherhood's support is anti-Mubarak rather than in "support" of whatever agenda the Brotherhood has.

A good comparison is Khomeini, who told everyone that he wanted to create an Islamic republic in Iran, and all sorts of groups supported him - they all hated the Shah. And who could challenge Khomeini, he wasn't in power, he wasn't abusing his people. And then, once in power, he quickly turned on most of the groups which supported him, including the Mujahadeen, the Communists, and other important anti-Shah groups.

So you want a motive as for why the Brotherhood won't explain what it intends to do when it gets in power? Same as Khomeini! They wish to capitalize on the support of liberal anti-Mubarak groups, and when they get into power, it will be no different.

You could conceivably see Egypt's first and last free and fair election.

Abu Ibo

Now I regret not keeping up with what was going in Egypt recently. I understand both sides, but I think we all need to go back and look at the companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and how they set up their government. I've recorded a lecture a brother gave on the early islamic Caliphate. If you'd like to hear a sample, contact me at [email protected]
The brother's full lecture on the history of the Islamic caliphate will be available at in about a month, Inshallah.


Abu Ibo - not everyone living in Egypt is Muslim. 10% of the population is coptic christian, a people which predated the Umayyads, Fatimids, and Abbasyds. They even predate Catholics. Why should they look to the early Caliphate for answers of their government?

Should a society disregard the needs of 10% of its population?

In my view, a tolerant secular authority is whats needed so that Muslims of all denominations (Shia, Sunni, Sufi, etc) and all religions (Coptic etc) can live peacefully together without fear of doctrinal interference from the government. Not Mubarak, and not the Brotherhood (and no, I don't consider Mubarak/Egypt secular, and I don't consider secularism to be the problem in Egypt!). Secularism didn't assasinate Anwar Sadat, indeed it was the secular Nasser that is considered Egypt's greatest modern leader in his fight against Israel and American Imperialism.

Talking Lama

...and it was Nasser, Egypt's-greatest-modern-slash-secular-leader, who, with the entire Arab Military and Defences at the tip of his finger, lost against the-then-tiny Israeli force. Now this is not to say Israel should not exist as a state in the Middle-East. That's an entirely different (and irrelevant) subject altogether; I'm merely pointing out that Nasser, aside from being one of our greatest secular leaders (as Steve so eloquently puts it :P ), was also a failed military tactician.

Talking Lama

With regards to Khomeini's government, supposing Iran to be under the Shah, comparatively, it is today much better off as a nation--both economically and politically. Today, Iran is probably one of the (two?) Muslim countries that is not on the brinks of third-world poverty. (The other one that I had in mind was Malaysia...) Anyhow, if Iran today was under Shah's control, I doubt they'd attract so much international attention for posing a possible 'threat' to its neighbours. Under the Shah, Iran wouldn't have taken the technological and scientific advances, as it has under Khomeini. Instead, most of the citizen's tax money would have gone feeding
a) his wives and
b)his pot-size belly.
Now this is not saying Mubarak has several wives (I'm not sure if he has the latter), but his government definitely hasn't brought Egypt any 'good'. And under the present circumstances, given he's such a failure in politics, and given the people 'actually' voted for the Ikhwans in 2005 (though the election was boycotted), perhaps its time they (the Ikhwans) were given a chance.

Anyhow, my earlier posts were not about whether the Ikhwans are a polticially viable party or not (and justifying them if they were). I'm much too ignorant about Egyptial politics for that. I was merely trying to point out that slogans were just slogans: not a 4562-page thesis. Thus, to expect a slogan to capture the real 'essence' of Islam within half a sentence, was impractical.


Lama - Nasser didn't start the war with Israel, that's why many of his forces were in Yemen at the time. Nevertheless, as Im sure you know, the best tactitian, without air support and modern armor, can do little.

You give Israel too much credit for being better tactically than her adversaries, she was funded quite heavily compared to Egypt(although not as heavy as today).

With respect to the Shah, I think a person can be against both the Shah (who was anti religion and therefore not secular - which can neither advance nor inhibit religion), and Khomeini (who oppressed his fellow Muslims).

Talking Lama

"I'm with stupid."

Steve- You mentioned that a person could be against both the Shah and Khomeini (each for different reasons). Well, you're right. If we wanted to, we could be against anything and everything; not agreeing with the world at all.

At the end of the day, not everything in this world perfectly aligns with your and my ideas of 'good' and 'bad'. In such situations, perhaps its better to pick the 'better of the two'. In which case, I go with Khomeini and the Ikhwans (who have more to offer than the Shah and Mubarak). Now that's just my opinion. That is, I'm not trying to 'impose it on others' (*excuse the pun*) =P


I see your point Talking Lama, thank you for the lively exchange. We probably agree on more than we disagree on :)

The Talking Lama

Probably =)... Although I get the impression that you were 'arguing just for the sake of arguing', and, had I taken your side of the argument initially, you probably would have taken mine :P. Sad, really, because I was determined to make a convert out of you! =)


nope I really believe what Im saying.

The Talking Lama

And I'm a kangaroo!

On a different note, who's side does that put you in? The Shah's (complimented with Mubarak's political party) or Khomeini (...and the Ikhwans)? Or is there a third (preferably one that promotes the burning of all political parties’ manifestos, and moving to a deserted hilltop in Guatamala)?


I am not on a particular side, I simply try to call it like I see it. I support secularism, oppose US "imperialism" in the Middle East, and view Khomeini as a byproduct of US interference in Iranian politics. In that sense, by the Shah and Khomeini are the fault of colonial powers meddling in the internal affairs of other nations.

The Talking Lama

Steve- When you say you support 'secularism', do you mean the 'theoretical Secularist Utopia' or the 'practical' one? In a theoretical society, secularism works perfectly fine with me: you do your thing, I do mine, and we all live happily ever after. Amen.

But now if we look at the practical side of things, we see countries like France and Denmark (and others across Europe) who, in the name of 'equality' and ' secular humanism', find it their duty to impose their value system on those who differ from themselves. In a secularist society, 'God', 'Religion', or anything supernatural plays no role in the government. In the unlikely situation of you believing in a God, you're seen to be primitive and backward; if you follow a set religion, you're just lame; if you wear a headscarf, turban, crucifix or Jewish skull-cap, you seriously need to get a fashion update; and if you refuse to submit to the status quo, you're seen as a fundamentalist who poses a possible threat to national security (i.e. you carry a bomb under your Dumbledore-length beard--which, mind you, is an ingenious place to put an explosive in, had you been considering blowing yourself up recently). Now I know this topic is becoming a little stale, but the recent cartoon controversy in Denmark is also a typical example of a secularist-media; they find enormous satisfaction in mocking religion in general, and labelling those who do not submit to the secularist-ideal, as primitive and stupid. This, in turn, creates the problem of 'labelling' and 'excluding' particular groups or ethnic communities. In a secularist society, because there are no specific guidelines, you will always find individuals and groups who are marginalised simply because they refuse to swallow everything 'secular'--hook, line and sink.

Essentially, a secularist society is not the solution (and therefore we musnt look to it as if it is one). Sure, it's better than the Catholic Inquisition and all. But its not the solution. Why not? Because in such a society, there really is no 'definition' or 'guideline'--you just do whatever you want. And civilisation isnt about that. Civilisation is about bringing people to adopt morals and values, and promoting respect, goodwill and tolerance in society without discrimination or exclusion. A secular society, in practice, does not do that: one way or another, a minority group always gets marginalised. That is because we humans are dominating creatures,who like to impose on others, what we believe; most times, when given the choice, we choose to do the 'wrong' things over what is right. I live in a secular country (sort of), and I'm not complaining. But I'm saying that in the long run, its not the ultimate-government we should be driving at. Because, just like communism, the theoretical 'secularist society' is impossible: its human nature to choose 'wrong' over 'right'; to oppress if given the power; to impose if given the authority. It's more profitable, even. So a purely secular society that does not hold religous morals as a guideline, will surely crumple. That is why 'humanism' is a little like communism--it expects human beings to 'be good and tolerant' without expecting a favour in return. And, though there may be such noble people still strutting the earth today, or reading this comment, it is only some; a minority.

So what IS the ideal society? Well, considering the most brilliant master-minds in human history couldnt come up with a simple formula for a Utopian society, I'm doubtful if it'd be something I could come up with in a comments archive. But one thing is for sure: secular-society is not the answer. ...wait no, let me re-phrase that: "It's not the solution". I have half a mind of turning that into a slogan. Just like the Ikhwans. Clever one, isnt it? Very catchy. :P


The Talking Lama -

"[Practical Secular countries] find it their duty to impose their value system on those who differ from themselves"

And what do you think a religious government does? Stands out of the whole "value system" debate so people can think for themselves? How can a government encourage a live and let live policy on religion when it believes there is only one true, correct faith? That's why its hard to be Shia in Saudi Arabia, and hard to be Bahai in Iran.

You accuse secular societies of having no morals? How about having no morals to impose on its people other than those laws which they consent to be governed by?

I find it funny that you've accused secularism of the very fundamental flaws of religious government. But I'll tell you one thing: Power Corrupts.

And the most powerful thing in the Universe is God. And when a human being stands up upon a pedastal and claims the mantle of God, you watch him become corrupted by the power.

At least in secular societies, there is a slim hope that diversity can flourish. In a society that believes in absolute truth, there is only one absolute way to view God and the world in accordance with the state.

So I'll put my objection to your statements this way:

In theory secularism works, but in practice you claim it fails. I say, in theory religious government oppresses minorities (who are by definition heresies), and in practice it oppresses minorities. Would you rather live in a society of hope, or absolute certainty?


There are satiate a web hosting alarm
waterfront pension is capable of doing that for you.
If you are late on pledges, you village riping slapped with penalties.



The comments to this entry are closed.




Powered by Rollyo
Blogs that link here

Add me to your network

  • Carnival of Brass

    • Get The Carnival of Brass RSS


    • Get the Brassfeed RSS

    Islamic Resources


    Powered by TypePad
    Member since 08/2003