Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A talk with the General Guide | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egypt’s political state is worrying and depressing. The new regime came on the wings of the hope, joy and prayers of millions who wanted to turn a new page and build bridges in their country to reach a better future.

Optimism was at its peak after an almost ideal revolution, yet this was followed by successive strange events culminating in the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power. Mohammed Mursi (who was not even his group’s first candidate, and did not play a fundamental role in the revolution) came to be Egypt’s president and embarked upon a series of policies, decrees and trends that tore the country and its people into rival sects and teams. Everyone has become convinced that the reins of power are in fact in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide [Mohammed Badie] and his supporting team rather than in the hands of the President himself, and therefore it would seem more appropriate to take this opportunity to address the man directly:

You [Mohammed Badie] came to power in the largest Arab country through a system and political mechanism known as democracy, which you (and your allies) had denounced as blasphemous up until recently. This reminds me of the clear case of schizophrenia that political Islam is suffering from, represented by the conflicting and contradictory behavior often witnessed between the interior and the exterior, which borders on the hypocritical. When those representing “religion” come across in this manner, this is a source of worry and concern. A hypocrite in Islam is one who acts on the outside differently to what he believes on the inside. In the Koran, the hypocrite is believed to suffer from an affliction of the heart “In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease” [Surat al-Baqarah, Verse 10], and likewise they are characterized by their negative thoughts towards God; “[It was] so that Allah may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the men and women who associate others with Him and that Allah may accept repentance from the believing men and believing women” [Surat al-Ahzab, Verse 73]. We must heed this divine description of the hypocrites, their shortcomings and their precise characteristics, for it serves to warn us of the dangers of exploiting religion for our own interests.

The Koran provides further characteristics of the hypocrite, one of which is using legitimate and lawful acts or settings to cover up for harmful ones; “And [there are] those [hypocrites] who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers and as a station for whoever had warred against Allah and His Messenger before. And they will surely swear, “We intended only the best.” And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars” [Surat al-Tawbah, Verse 107].

Of course, the hypocrite may also adopt the well-known tactics of differentiating between groups, igniting sedition, subversion and discord, or enlarging rifts and dividing ranks (whether directly or indirectly). And of course, this is all usually conducted under the banner of calling for reform; “And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.” Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not”. [Surat al-Baqarah, Verses 11 and 12]. “And when he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption therein and destroy crops and animals. And Allah does not like corruption” [Surant al-Baqarah, Verse 205].

One can only resort to religion as a source of universal good. Therefore, when one rules in the name of religion this soon causes strife, anxiety and problems, because this act stems from bad intentions and a clear misapplication of religion. Thus there is a need for those in charge of the Brotherhood’s discourse in Egypt and the region to pause and reflect. The region is simmering amidst a tense religious atmosphere that is dividing countries between believers and infidels, especially as the Brotherhood have allied themselves with radical religious groups who know nothing about moderation, thus contributing, given the widespread Brotherhood presence, to the dissemination of radical ideology.

This atmosphere, with great regret, has created a state of anxiety and suspicion towards some religious figures working in the political arena, and some people have had their confidence shaken. Here I will recall the words of God Almighty who said: “And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life, and he calls Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the fiercest of opponents” [Surat al-Baqarah, Verse 204]. Thus, even if these religious figures demonstrate their full attention and commitment, there is always an underlying air of mistrust. “And among them, [O Muhammad], are those who listen to you, until when they depart from you, they say to those who were given knowledge, “What has he said just now?” Those are the ones of whom Allah has sealed over their hearts and who have followed their [own] desires” [Surat Mohammed, Verse 16].

The words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) also elaborate on the qualities of the hypocrite: The Prophet said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: 1. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.2. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it. 3. If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 33]. This is what we are witnessing today.

A true believer does not engage in this duplicitous behavior; what is expressed on the outside is what is found on the inside and there is never a contradiction between them. The Prophet also alluded to this when he said: “You who believe, fear Allah and say what is true. He will make your deeds sound, and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Apostle has achieved a mighty success” [Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Number 2113].

The alliances established by the Muslim Brotherhood have allowed amateurs in the field of Islam to insult al-Azhar – the most important reference in the Islamic world, to produce fatwas that divide the ranks of Muslims, provoking discord and grudges, and to shake the social ladder and open the door to civil strife.

The Brotherhood’s General Guide, from his position as a Muslim, must fully and consciously review the way in which things are going in Egypt and in the Arab region. Is he satisfied with continuing to pump gas to Israel whilst cutting off the supply to Jordan, purely to embarrass the Jordanian government and support the Muslim Brotherhood opposition there in its attempt to incite unrest and further problems? The Guide needs the wisdom to reconsider his position, and wisdom always stems from a fear of God.