Do We Worry or Rest Assured?

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Mon 2 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

An opinion survey by the “Arab American Institute” in Washington, USA, was published in AlGhad’s Monday edition, measuring the scale of extremism and violence in Arab and Muslim communities. And the results of the survey were announced by Institute Director, Dr James Zoughbi, in the UAE just a few days back.

The survey included many indices, concluding results of 7 Arab countries; Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunis.

Our colleague, Eman Faris, highlighted the featured results regarding Jordan’s public opinion in her report.

First, it seems that 75 per cent of the sample in Jordan think that extremist groups are deviant from the discourses of Islam, whereas only 1 per cent see that these groups did not derail from the “understanding” of Islam.

There are extremely important questions, in the survey, and a multitude of indices. But the main issue, I would say, in this kind of scanning, is the simplified quantification of inconclusive issues that are typically unquantifiable. Hence, this would place us facing a bundle of unreliable assumptions which we would later use in our analyses and deductions. All that based on a largely variable and unsettled grounds!

Let us for example examine the question on implementation of Sharia law. 60 per cent of the sample side with the enforcement of the “Sharia Spirit”; what does that even mean? Such a diction can many interpolated differently, each to their own; it is a flaccid concept that was coined first by enlightenment and modernity Islamic scholar and sheikh, Mohammad Abdo, and then expanded to the point of being a deliberated concept among the most extremist Islamist currents.

Another 15 per cent believe that Sharia should be implemented in behaviour, practice, and faith, which is no less vague.

As for the remaining 25 per cent, those think it is necessary for the state to establish civil law, Sharia law aside, with only the religious institution atop the totality of the issues of religion.

What do these results mean?! How can they be interpreted?! Do we rest assured that Jordanians are open to talking about the “Spirit” of Sharia, which would insinuate enlightenment of some sort, or do we fear the possibility that they are extremists who see that the Sharia law must be rigidly exacted to the letter?! Meanwhile, only 25 per cent favour civil law.

More so, what does that have to do with extremism and terrorism?! Because in the totality of Islamic culture, throughout the whole of Islamic literature, Friday speeches, or the generality of Islamic rhetoric, all through the spectrums of Islamism, as well as in the most popular of cultures, no respectable Islamic scholar, clergy, sheikh, or scientist, ever called to dismissing the “Spirit of Sharia” in the public sphere, or the private one for that matter! That is not the matter; the issue is not the “Spirit” of Sharia, but rather in how to implement it, and before that; in our comprehension of it!

The grandest frontier before the Arab and Islamic world today is that of interpretation; we can view Sharia through the lenses of modernity, advancement, civility, and openness to the other as our human partners, sharing the same fate, the same common grounds, and the same crises, instead of the extremist, Daeshi view on the “other”, reducing even the other Sunnis into near infidels, let alone Shiites, the West, and other religions, already viewed as enemies!

The same goes for the citizenry-state political dynamic; the religion’s stand on governance. Some see that the Caliphate should be established, in theory, but does not practically seek its establishment. Others see that the Islamic State (not the alleged ISIS) is a Civil State, while others see that the Sharia implementation is carried out through the enforcement of certain disciplinary terms.

Abdul Elah Balqziz set apart 5 different views and constructs of the Islamic State, some even contradictive to the very concept proposed by the term; so, which Sharia are we talking about?! And what does it have to do with the civil institution?!

In summary, it is wrong to leap into conclusions based on rigid numbers lacking qualitative processes; added, we are already embarking on a phase of an ever so complicating vortex, rendering such concepts all too flaccid, vague, and mistakable!