On the Islamic State…

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Thu 13 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Thu 13 April / Apr 2017. 08:56 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

In his book, “The State in Contemporary Islamic Thought”, published by the Arab Unity Studies Centre in 2002, prominent Moroccan researcher, Abdelilah Belkeziz, explores the worlds of modern and contemporary Islamic though, starting with the first moving reformists of the 19th century, all the way to the ends of the 20th century.

In his extensive journey through the 200-300 years or so of Islamic thought, Belkeziz charts the development of the concept of 'the state' (al-dawlah) in Islamic discourse over the last two centuries, and its characteristics.

Accordingly, Belkeziz’s tour de force survey of the most influential Muslim thinkers encompasses three successive waves.

First, the modernist trends of the early and later reformers like Sayyed Jamal Eddin Afghani, Kheir Eddin Tounsi, and Rifaa Tahtawi, who sought to save the deteriorating Ottoman Caliphate from decay, and the Shiite concept of constitutional conditionality, by instituting thorough constitutional reforms and scaling down the oppression and tyranny.

By the early twenties of the last century, this current take a sudden turn towards resurrecting the Caliphate, led by Rashid Ridah, to oppose Ataturk.

Later on, a transmutation struck the core of the modern Islamist movement, driven by dogmatists, turning the state into a theocracy; the dogmatism of the Islamist ideologue and the rise of the theocratic Islamist state.

Meanwhile, a latter reformist rhetoric of revivalists engaged in the critique of the Caliphate, the ideas and concepts of the state.

Those gave rise to the Shiite’s concept of Wilayat al Faqih, and ignited an even vaster debate on democracy and its instruments among Islamists.

When addressing the concept of the ‘Islamic State’, Belkeziz argues that modern Islamic political thought succeeded in producing ideologies, but ultimately did not produce a unified theory of state.

Among these theories which varied wildly, there the polar theocratic state. This does not in any way resemble Mohammad Abdo’s view on the Islamic State, for instance.

Likewise, this varies much from Thawahri’s state, Taliban’s, Bin Laden’s, or any other theorisation on the Islamic State. It also differs from the Shiite’s Wilayat al Faqif.

While many of these views on governance and statehood may meet on some points, they dramatically disagree on others.

The importance of Belkeziz’s publications lies in that they shed light on the importance of constructing a critical and thorough view into the concepts of the proposed state.

His approach deconstructs the concepts of the Islamic statehood, raises inquiries into its very core, both epistemologically and politically from an Arab perspective.

By doing so, Belkeziz redresses the subject of the matter in an accurate light, for the careful and precise examination of the relationship between Islam, politics, and statehood.

Why is all that important?

Once again, if we take for example ISIS, they have successfully tapped into the minds of thousands of young Arab and Muslim men and women, by tempting them with the idea of the Caliphate; the establishment of the promised Islamic State.

Naturally, this appeals to our frustrated youth, given their psychological status and their religious culture.

Had there been a strong, loud, intact rhetoric on the other side of the matter, raising among our youth the variety of questions on the concept of the state and the Islamic State throughout history, as well as the deep disagreement on legislation and laws, sharia too, our youth would be more aware of it, and would surely be less susceptible to its premise.

In the midst of this turmoil, the struggle for power between Islamists and Arab regimes, revivalism lost to the feud, and dogma prevailed.

The Islamic State became an ideal, holding much larger premise than realisable and attainable.

On that, one would find these rhetoric have persistently attempted to patch the gaps by going back to the sources centuries old. It is the same among Islamist movements as it is within under and post grad Sharia schools.

Generally speaking, the many holes which weaken the obsolete theorisation and dogma of Islamic Statehood were never revisited in a progressive modernist light.

As a result, one has no other option, when inspecting these theories, but to evoke Mawardi and Abu Yaala al Farra when approaching gaps in this dogma. Particulatly when it comes to governance and the functions of the state, notwithstanding foreign relations; the Muslim Homeland’s relationship with “Infidels”.

Needless to say, this is nonsense to our world today.

These concepts had their time; it was true at a certain interval and moment in history, but they do not constitute an undisputed grounds for government and politics.

Still, these views are indoctrinated via our schools and collages as ‘THE’ Islamist system and government. Which, might one say, is not acceptable.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.