The Future of Political Islam

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Tue 23 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Experts and researchers at the political Islamic movements ceremony yesterday discussed the future of political Islam in the turbulent region.

The ceremony was part of the conference organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Amman, on political Islam in general and Arab models in particular.

The conference addressed the Moroccan, Tunisian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian models in depth, as well as the Jordanian case.

Notably, the conference was attended by current and former leaders of the Jordanian Islamist movement, including Dr Nabil Kufahi, Zaki Banirsheid, Ghaith Qudah, and Dr Nivin Bundakji, the specialist in Islamist movements in Jordan.

Among the numerous significant outcomes of the conference, the most important of them all are the ones underlined by French researcher, François Bourga, and Egyptian scholar Khalil Anani, that there is variation within the spectrum of Islamism which arises to the level of confliction in general.

Another important point is that there is a range of factors and specificities which are relatively unique to every single political Islamist Arab model.

The first of these factors is the structural aspect of these movements. The second is their relationship with the standing regime.

Third is the regional dynamic, which includes the rise of regional sponsors of movements and their anti.

Last but not least, there is also the Western and international position on political Islamist movements around the world, which has been fluctuating since the “Arab Spring”!

Also chief among the issues outlined at the conference is the widening gap between the performance of Islamist movements in the Arab East and those in the Western Arab states, like Tunisia and Morocco.

In the Arab West, political Islamism has shown, to a much greater extent, to be far more pragmatic tendencies and abilities than Islamist movement in the Arab East have.

Despite the pressing need to break out of the box, Islamist movements in the Middle East have not been able to overcome the struggle between pragmatism and conservative rhetoric.

Unlike Rashid Ghannouchi, Saad Eddin Ottoman, and others, political Islamic movements in the Arab East are still hinged on the basics!

Evident by comparison of Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco on one hand, and their experiment in Egypt for instance, the very contexts of those varies.

The very nature of the deep state in each of Tunisia and Morocco varies from that of other Arab states in the Eastern Arab region.

While the state and Islamists in Egypt collided, a political bargain was struck in Tunisia and Morocco entailing mutual concessions by both, the state and the Islamists themselves.

Moreover, there seems to be a rise in Islamism all throughout the Arab East and West, since many Muslim Brotherhood groups have broken loose from the Mother organisation.

Notably, many of those new-born parties have turned towards civil-political activity, as opposed to the Brotherhood’s typical mix of politics and religion.

In Egypt, this trend is rising evidently in the ‘Kamali’ Youth Current.

All over the region it seems, political Islamist movements are either reforming or crystallising their transmutation, be it the Nahda party in Tunis or Hamas, given their recently released documents.

Notwithstanding, there are fundamental reforms underway in Jordan’s own Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Action Front (IAF).

The same goes for Islamist movements in Lebanon.

That said, the progress of ‘Democratic’ Islamism, mainly Islamist political forces which concede to the rules of the democratic dynamic, in the Arab Region have gone can be outline in three main Historical-Ideological phases; establishment, partial democratisation, and full-scale politicisation.

At first, when Islamist movements were in the phase of establishment, their priority was the formulation of a solid, religious revivalist and ideological identity.

This phase was mostly about polarisable slogans and recruitment.

Later into the early 1990s, a transformative shift towards partial democratisation began to emerge throughout the Arab World.

These movements turned towards political participation in parliamentary, representative, trade union, and municipal elections.

However, their positions on democracy, pluralism, and power deliberation were inconclusive.

Now, political Islamist movements have decided to fully integrate in the political dynamic, by fully politicising their movements and completely severing ties with the spiritual-religious components of the general current.

In these recent few years, Islamist parties and movements have crossed many an Islamist red line, inaugurating an era of monumental transformation in the Islamist political discourse.

Clearly, Islamism is turning away from rigid, religious ideology, to flexible, political pragmatism.

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