Pakistan and Egypt suffer from the failure of their Islamic movements

Developing Just Leadership

Abu Dharr

Dhu al-Qa'dah 20, 1428 2007-12-01

Guest Editorial

by Abu Dharr (Guest Editorial, Crescent International Vol. 36, No. 10, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1428)

The main factor exacerbating the situation of Pakistan and Pakistanis is the state of the local Islamic movement there. The Jama‘at-e Islami is in no position to show anyone the way out of the morass that Pakistan has become. Likewise the Ikhwan – the Jama‘at's analogue in the Arab world – are running around in circles in Egypt. Both of them apparently still have to be “burned” further by the system which they so desire to be part of in order to learn the implications of one short ayah in a short surah of the Qur'an:

lakum deenukum wa liya deen (“you [the kuffar and mushrikeen] have your deen, and I [Mohammad] have mine”:Q. 109:6.)

In a quickly sinking Pakistani nation-state the Jama‘at in the course of the past six years has failed to expose the media-intensive but futile campaign of “spreading democracy” that was launched in Washington DC and parroted in the ruling chambers of Islamabad and Karachi. Anti-imperialist luminaries could see that the “war on terror” policies springing from the Pentagon were disguised by means of worldwide blanket propaganda in favour of ‘democracy'. But our brothers in the Jama‘at were unable to do so; or if they were aware of it they kept this insight within their own circles, far away from the Muslim public. The people of Pakistan, with the connivance of their president and political parties (including the Jama‘at) are now reeling under the threats of imperialist-zionist menace of terrorism, an American controlled nuclear arsenal, and what is beginning to look like a failed state. Because Pakistan is the only Muslim country that has nuclear weapons and a slight potential that it might become an Islamic State like the one in Iran, it has become the main target of the American-zionist aggression, like Afghanistan and Iraq before it. The low-intensity conflict that has been gradually growing since September 2001 between the Islamic tendency on one side and secular tendencies on the other has moved the country to the brink of disaster. The warlike conditions in neighboring Afghanistan have gradually spread into Pakistan. Separatist tendencies are lurking just below the Pakistani surface;Baluchistan, for instance, may become a hotbed of breakaway tendencies. Meanwhile the bulk of the Pakistani military is tied up in an “alert” status, toe-to-toe with India's army along the border of Kashmir.

In the midst of this official nonperformance General Musharraf (whose nickname inPakistan is General Whiskey) is looking good to India. On Musharraf's watch opposition toIndia over Kashmir has effectively vanished. While looming over his own citizenry as general and president he has become a pussy-cat to India's officials, though the ex-special forces soldier is going to have to do even more to appease the imperialist-zionist-hindu triangle. His juggling act of playing anti-Islamic secular parties with pro-Islamic shari‘ahorientations is in its final act. Not all the guilt for everything can be laid at the imperialists' and zionists' feet: Pakistan's own hang-on-to-power-at-any-cost wishful thinkers and the long-shot dreamers also impede the Islamic transformation of Pakistan by their own incompetence and lack of nous.

The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) agency may have a cadre of sincere mu'mineen who are watching out for Islamic activists in Pakistan, but the US$ 10 billion that have been channelled into Pakistan by Washington is proof positive that – whatever political game Musharraf is playing internally – his credentials with Uncle Sam are sound. This does not mean that Washington will not dump its “pukka sahib” once he has outlived his usefulness. This may partially explain why Benazir Bhutto, through American channels, was routed back to Pakistan. The cold blood and cool nerves of Pakistan's enemies are hedging their bets by backing both Musharraf and Bhutto. Both of them are anti-Islamic, both of them are tried and true friends of the US, and both of them have the necessary experience to delay Pakistan's Islamic progress. We may add that in the case of Bhutto, there is a personal grudge against the Islamic trend in Pakistan because she blames the “crowd of Islamists” for her father's execution. The swords are locked now; the fight is on. Parvez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto are going to have to prove themselves to their American superiors. It baffles the mind that the Jama‘at Islami can lower itself to compete for any position in any of their current or future governments.

The wild card in all this is the army. In the past, the army has stepped into political turmoil and taken control of the country as usual, to placate the US. To date no one has heard of any prominent Islamic leader who has been detained. Could their relative silence be what they are giving for their relative security? We simply do not know. What we do know – and this is true in all other Muslim countries too– is that the silent majority of people are looking for and longing for an Islamic leadership that can deliver, an Islamic leadership that answers to its own people and not to the holders of bank-accounts in Arabia, Switzerland or the Gulf. Even Pakistani officers and soldiers do not have their hearts in their assignments in the Northwestern Frontier, Waziristan or Swat. Their defection to the mujahideen in significant numbers is evidence enough of where their sympathies truly are.

This is no time for dilly-dallying. If Pakistan is going to survive it needs an Islamic leadership akin to the leadership of the Mustafa (saw) in Madinah, who did not look for favours from financial centres, did not abandon the underclass, nor wait for signals from Byzantium or Persia (the superpowers of his time). During these defining times we can notice the difference between the Islamic leadership in Iran 30 years ago (and of its successors today) and the Islamic leadership in Pakistan today. Imam Khomeini (ra) held himself accountable to Allah (swt) and was a servant of his people; Pakistan today has no such leader. Those who are going through the motions of Islamic leadership in Pakistanhave their hands in a “Saudi” connection that never seems to go away.

Similarly it is reported that the Ikhwan in Egypt has resumed contacts with the US. “Our rare contacts with the nominally independent [Ikhwan] members of [the Egyptian] parliament occurred only on the full light of day, with many other Egyptians present, including members from the ruling National Democratic Party,” Francis J. Ricciardone, theUS ambassador to Egypt, has said. The Ikhwan, unlike Hamas and Hizbullah, is not on theUS list of foreign terrorist organizations. But the Egyptian government has long been imprisoning members of the Ikhwan for various periods of time: in the past two decades the practice has become routine.

It cannot be said what the Ikhwan can realistically hope to accomplish from these contacts. It is also difficult to understand why the many failures of such contacts in the past have not taught decision-makers in either the Ikhwan or the Jama‘at-e Islami to adopt a serious programme of Muslim unity and consolidation instead: using, for instance, the Hajj and ‘umrah, because millions of Muslims go there every year, to cement a worldwide Islamic awareness and aspiration for Muslim self-rule and Islamic autonomy. Makkah can become the crucible for such leaderships and movements if we cultivate it. If our leaders cannot discuss our affairs and other burning issues in Makkah of all places, then they will continue to go around in circles until Muslims are dizzy with their vicious circles and flat minds.

Is there an Imam Khomeini waiting to emerge in either Pakistan or Egypt? Has the Islamic movement in these two countries reached the age of maturity? It seems unlikely that the answer to either of these questions is “yes”. It is much more likely that there is a lot of preliminary homework for each organisation to do before either is in a position to offer its people hopes that are not delusory.

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