Reformist Egyptian Writer Critique's Islamist Education and
In the wake of the recent wave of terrorist bombings in Egypt, the reformist
Egyptian writer Sayyid Al-Qimni published an essay in the weekly Roz Al-Yousuf
in which he argues that the responsibility for terrorism in Egypt lies not
just with the terrorists themselves but also with those who create a
cultural atmosphere conducive to terrorism.
Thus, in Al-Qimnis opinion, the fight against terrorism requires combating
extremist trends among Muslim clerics and in the Arab media.
At the end of his essay, Al-Qimni presents a famous episode in early Muslim
history to support his argument. When 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib became caliph in
656 A.D., he was opposed by a number of the Prophet Muhammadís closest
companions, including Muhammadís wife Aisha. In the first intra-Muslim
fighting (fitna) in history, these opponents met Ali at what is known as the
Battle of the Camel, in December 656 A.D. Although killing animals in war is
generally forbidden in Muslim law, and despite the aura of sanctity attached
to 'Aisha, Muslim tradition relates that Ali ordered his followers to bring
down the camel on which Aisha rode, as he considered this necessary in order
to win the battle for the caliphate.
Al-Qimni uses this episode to urge Egyptians to oppose those who threaten
society, even if they speak in the name of religion: (1)
A Barrier Separates the Muslim's Mind from the Real World, Making Him
Lose the Capacity to Distinguish Good from Evil
"This suicide bomber was not a lone drop-out from society. He was certainly
part of a cell... Nonetheless, it is now possible that an isolated
individual can carry out a bombing, as indeed occurred when an
[Egyptian] citizen stabbed a tourist who was kissing his [own] wife one week
prior to the recent explosion. It is taught in the schools, on television,
in the mosques, and within the family that this scene [of a husband kissing
his wife], which touches the hearts of people all over the world, and makes
them overflow with feelings and humanity - is ugly, promiscuous, and
immodest. Thus, the terrorist act of that citizen was merely a result of
what we planted in him. He was unable to resist the generator of hate and
repugnance within him, so he stabbed the couple with a switchblade...
"The generator of hatred, revulsion, and cruelty is like a generator of
energy; it explodes if internal pressure rises. That is what happens to the
poor Muslim when he is exposed to the enormous pressure of the religious
people in our country, which is far greater than that to which people of
other religions in the world are exposed. While for the
Christian it is enough to make the sign of the cross, which only takes one
second, the Muslim is required to be a mechanical instrument, performing the
same action every day. He is required to go to the mosque five times a day,
and is required to constantly read the Koran, and to force himself to weep
if he cannot weep, and to spend an entire work day in the mosque. No one can
make him work so long as he is reading the Koran and reciting endless
supplications and devotions. [Such recitations] accompany his every motion
and position, from the moment he gets up at dawn to the moment he retires to
the conjugal bed...
"There is a barrier separating the [Muslim's] mind from the real world
around him, so that he falls into a state of constant hallucination and, as
a result, loses the capacity to distinguish between good and evil.
He only recognizes the value of halal and haram [i.e., permissible vs.
prohibited] according to the Islamic point of view. Muslims are burdened
with many repressive restrictions... Freedom of thought and expression are
fenced in by Islamic restrictions ..."
"The Muslim is fenced in to the Point Where His Mind is paralyzed"
"There are stipulations and rules concerning clothing, such as the veil (hijab)...
"Muslims are forbidden to participate in carnivals which bring together all
fellow citizens of the homeland to meet each other in the streets in an
atmosphere of mutual love and love for the homeland...
"Muslims are forbidden to enjoy refined dance ... forbidden to enjoy cinema,
novels, theatre, and music...
"The Muslim is fenced in to the point where his mind is paralyzed, and thus
he surrenders his mind to the deputies of Islam upon Earth, because there is
someone [else] to think for him...
"As for the Muslim woman, she is consigned to wretched slavery.
According to the foremost of [Koranic] exegetes Al-Razi (2)... she is like a
prisoner in a man's possession.
"[Sheikh Yousef] Al-Qaradhawi explained on Al-Jazeera... 'The woman is
subject to more restrictions [than the man] ...because the man is not a
[source of] temptation as is the woman, who is required to cover her hair,
bosom, and neck and to wear [clothing] that is neither transparent nor
"[Muslim] women have surrendered their minds and spirits and believe that
these are religious duties that are obligatory for them, to such an extent
that women academics from Al-Azhar [University] accused the author of these
lines of apostasy when I spoke about the rights to which they are entitled
by virtue of their being full-fledged citizens just like men.
"Through the media, education, mosques, and [voluntary] religious
associations, they have been able to take control of peoples' minds, and
thus to direct them however they wished. We become their instruments, which
they use however they want. If they want, they make us fight for their
glory, and if they want, they turn some of us into walking explosive
"[Among them] there is a group engaged in preaching and guidance, and it is
the most dangerous of all, because it prepares the intellectual ground for
terrorism. [Another] group [is responsible for] justifying terrorist acts
through the media. [This group] mouths condemnation of [terrorist acts]
while finding the worst sort of excuses for them ... but when they are
hard-pressed, they claim that they [i.e. the terrorists] are a minority who
have nothing to do with Muslims and that Islam is not to blame for them, and
they blow themselves up around us and amongst us, because they have been
deprived of freedom.
"Now do you see the achievements of the Blessed Islamic Awakening? Do you
see that we have now reached a record level of backwardness among the
nations, and we have earned the height of the world's contempt?
"They have deluded our youth into believing that despotism is of recent
advent, invented by the current [Arab] governments with the support of the
infidel countries, headed by the American Satan. They have deluded [the
youth] into believing that the values of freedom, justice, and equality once
prevailed in Muslim societies before the advent of colonialism..."
Qaradhawi and His Followers Have Appointed Themselves the Deputies of
"When we ask ourselves who is the [real] criminal murderer in the
[terrorist], Incident at Al-Azhar and in those that occurred before it and
after it, we are at a loss. (3)
"Is it Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, the [religious] authority for the Muslim
Brotherhood and for their brethren of various sorts? It is he who took a
stand against tourism, which is the most secure source of financial income
"[Qaradhawi] said in a television broadcast on Al-Jazeera: 'They [the
reformists] claim that it is in the people's interest to permit prostitution
and to permit [the selling of] alcohol so as to encourage tourism.' First of
all, this - prostitution and alcohol - is his pretext for declaring tourism
to be contrary to Islam.
[Al-Qaradhawi continued,] 'Mecca was also like this [i.e., with prostitution
and alcohol], but the Prophet forbade this kind of income and replaced it
with another kind of income - jihad for the sake of Allah, in order to gain
an income which is greater and better by conquering other countries. And
Allah said: 'If you fear poverty, then know that Allah will enrich you from
his bounty, [Koran 9:28] ' meaning that if you are afraid of suffering dire
[financial] straits, the Lord will deliver you from these straits,- and in
fact Allah enriched them through conquest and spoils.'
"Consider [how Qaradhawi] brazenly attempts to deceive the Muslims and
Allah. The substitute [for income from tourism according to Qaradhawi],
then, is jihad in order to conquer the entire world, after tourism is banned
from our country...
"Qaradhawis position against Egypt is certainly not [merely] his own
personal position ... because he is part of a whole band, mostly in Egypt,
that constantly repeats the same message. Qaradhawi opines: 'There are
[people] who strive to break Islam into pieces. They want it to be an Islam
without jihad ... principles of faith without shari'a... and the Koran
without the sword. [Islam, however,] is a calling that encompasses all
aspects of life, from toilet etiquette to the structure of the state. It
provides laws [to govern] man's [life] from birth to death.'
"Naturally, Qaradhawi does not tell us that there is no legal Islamic
statement on political matters or on the nature of the regime... However,
Qaradhawi and his followers say that political affairs should be under
Allah's rule and not under human rule, and since Allah does not rule in
person, they have appointed themselves to rule as His deputies.
"Qaradhawi has misled our youth with this idea of Islam's shumuliyya [i.e.,
the notion that Islamic law covers every aspect of life] and that this is
the essential principle of Islam, [so that] if you do not accept it, you
commit outright apostasy. But then reformist thinkers forced him to admit
that it had never been an essential principle of Islam... and that the idea
of Islam's shumuliyya was in fact introduced in 1928 by Hasan Al-Bana [the
founder of the Muslim Brotherhood] and that the concept of hakimiyya [i.e.,
the idea that Allah is the sole sovereign] appeared relatively late, in the
writings of Sayyid Qutb [a Muslim Brotherhood leader, executed by the Nasser
regime in 1966]... These concepts [of shumuliyya - the totality of Islamic
law - and hakimiyya - Allah's rule] are nothing more than ideas and beliefs
of an outlawed group that is soiled with blood... (4)
"[According to these concepts] we should refer to the seventh century in all
We Let Terrorism Grow When We Allowed Islamist Thought to Infiltrate Our
Media and Schools
"Who is responsible [for the terrorist acts]?
"We let terrorism grow and flourish when we allowed Islamist thought to
Infiltrate our media and schools... Terrorism grew when we allowed the
Islamists to plant in the minds of Egyptian Muslims [the concept] that
citizenship and patriotism are reprehensible innovations, and this is
because the Islamists do not recognize [individual] countries, for they are
the Islamic nation of la ilaha illa 'llah ['There is no God but Allah'],
wherever they may be. The issue of the ideology of hatred got out of hand
when we allowed the [Egyptian] Fatwa Authority to decide in matters outside
"This cancer spread when we allowed them to steal the souls of our
children... The virus thrived when we allowed the current of hatred to be
directed against the very interests of the people, when we charged the souls
with the current of hatred for the advanced Western countries to the point
where our peoples now hate everything associated with the West - even
freedom, dignity and democracy - instead of hating those Islamic sheikhs and
armed militias who have dragged our honour in the mud for the whole world to
The Arab Media Has Given the Islamists Legitimacy to Kill Innocent
"We have once again given them [i.e. the Islamists] legitimacy ... to kill
innocent people, because all [the Arab media] ... have been using the term
resistance to refer to what the Arab infiltrators and the remnants of the
bloody Ba'th in Iraq are doing against our own people, while 'resistance' is
a laudatory term suggesting legitimate national resistance. Thus the
Islamists compare [the 'resistance' in Iraq] with the French resistance
against the Nazi occupation...
"[The Arab media] supported the Sunnis in Iraq when they refused to
participate in the elections - if some [media outlets] did not say so
explicitly, but this was implied...
"We know that the Sunnis do not want partners in ruling Iraq - not Kurds nor
Shi'ites nor Assyrians nor Chaldeans nor Mandeans... They are striking at
the majority of the [Iraqi] people, who courageously went to the polls while
saying to [the Sunnis], 'No! Your time and the time of your monopoly on rule
is over.' However, the Sunnis aren't giving up, because they are convinced
that rule over Iraq is theirs and theirs alone by right...
One of the programs on Al-Jazeera, Al-Qaradhawi declared: 'One should
sacrifice one's life and one's country for Islam, because Islam takes
precedence over human life'... [In one of his books] Al-Qaradhawi states [in
one of his books]: '[Our goal is] to establish a Muslim state that will be
governed by Allah's Shari'a. The Islamist activists need to exert their best
efforts to prepare public opinion to accept their ideas and to [pave the way
for] their state.' In another book he says: 'Fighting apostasy, heresy,
secularism, and immorality, and fighting their foreign and domestic
supporters, is the religious duty of these times and the order of the day.'
"Proper education and teaching create an individual who loves life, - not
one who hates life and thus destroys himself and others. However, our
universities have turned into religious associations that discuss what is
halal [permissible] and what is haram [prohibited], and they research
religious commentaries instead of researching the laws of physics and
mathematics. Our universities now research the issue of the head covering,
the veil, modesty, virtue, and the pillars of Islam...
The universities have forgotten their role as the primary place for
scientific research, that is, to examine the country's ills, whether in
medicine or in the field of culture, in order to fight against them...
The universities have abandoned their field of expertise and have assumed
the role of the mosque...
To be specific, when you visit the University of Zaqaziq, to be specific,
which is where the suicide bomber from the Al-Azhar incident studied and was
an outstanding student, you will find slogans everywhere, none of which have
anything to do with science. They are all about hatred, the veil, and jihad.
"We nurtured the seed of terrorism when we allowed our laws, our media, and
our schools (5) to divide our people into two camps, with the country
belonging to only one of them. This one group is in possession of the
absolute truth, and is obligated to correct the others, or, if it can't
correct them, to destroy them...
"This is [the same] trial which Muslims faced at the beginning of their
history, at the Battle of the Camel... 'Aisha's camel was the symbol of a
culture of rebellion against the caliphate, its legitimacy, and its law.
This is the culture of armed Muslim opposition in the name of religion.
Therefore, 'Ali called out: 'Bring down the camel! As long as the camel
lives, people will die.'
"My dear countrymen: bring down your camel! Bring down the camel, even if it
be sacred, to keep Egyptians from dying."
(1)Roz Al-Yousuf (Egypt), May 5, 2005.
(2) Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi, d. 1209.
(3) The bombing at the Khan Al-Halili, on April 7, 2005.
(4) These two concepts - shumuliyya and hakimiyya - are closely related.
Shumuliyya states that all aspects of life fall under the jurisdiction
of Islamic law. Hakimiyya states that the only legitimate government is
Allahs government, which in practical terms means government according
to Islamic law.
(5) The specific mention of the schools is probably a reference to
Egypts two-track educational system, one track is more religious (or in
the author's opinion, radical Islam,) than the other.