Saturday, July 11, 2009

Political Islam and Muslim Ethos

Gary H. Johnson, Jr. critiques Bill Warner’s article, “Official Islam.” You can read the post of Bill Warner’s article HERE.

Gary’s critique is entitled, “Islam’s Golden Rule.”

You should read the Warner piece before you read Gary’s piece.

I have a few words about Warner and Johnson. Both individuals obviously are obviously well versed in the ways of Islam. I find most of Warner’s articles at his website Political Islam. Johnson’s articles and informative essays are at his website United Against Islamic Supremacism.

To be honest Warner’s website is very good because the information he provides is some what written on a level that the grazing Internet surfer can grasp. Johnson’s website is extremely informative however Johnson writes on a level best suited for Internet seekers searching for the details of Islam from a Western perception yet with the Islamic perception in mind. Therein might lie a difficulty for the curious web surfer looking for understandable information for the reasons that Islam seems to so volatile toward Westerners, Jews and non-Muslims in general. Johnson often uses a Muslim conceptual word that nails the essence of his essays yet you might need to Google what that nail (word) means in understandable English.

My simplistic understanding of Johnson’s “Islam’s Golden Rule” is that he believes that Warner utilizes statistical information about the negative acts executed in the name of Islam. Johnson believes Warner’s emphasis political Islamic ideology is deficient in the larger picture of the “Muslim Ethos.”

When you tackle Johnson’s essay (and you really should!) it seems to me there are two words you should become familiar with: 1. Hisba 2. Jahaliya. I think more the former than the latter.

1. Hisba:
    a. (simple): hisba. Office of accounting or public inspection. See muhtasib.

    Muhtasib: The officer in charge of the hisba, whose duty, among other things, is to ensure the proper conduct of people in their public activities.

    b. (summation of the book “Public Duties in Islam: The Institution of the Hisba” by Ibn Taymiyah): An exposition of the theory of Hisba in the wider context of a just society and an efficient market economy. Al-Haisba is a moral as well as a socio-economic institution in Islam through which public life is regulated in such a way that a high degree of public morality is attained and the society is protected from bad workmanship , fraud , extortion and exploitation.

    In Part II - Toward a Just Society, Ibn Taymiya spells out the different stipulations of the Quranic command of amr bi’lma’Rif wa-n-nahi 'anil-munkar.

    • Commanding Good and Forbidding Evil

    • Strategy for Reform

    • Men and Movements

    • Society and Leadership

    • Summing up on Knowledge, Justice and the Duties of the Rulers and the Ruled.

    c. (Hisba Institution): The Hisbah is a religious institution under the authority of the state that appoints people to carry out the responsibility of enjoining what is right, whenever people start to neglect it, and forbidding what is wrong, whenever people start to engage in it. The purpose of this is to safeguard society from deviance, protect the faith, and ensure the welfare of the people in both religious and worldly manners according to the Law of Allah. Allah has made it obligatory upon all Muslims to enjoin good and forbid wrongdoing to the extent of their knowledge and abilities. (Click on “Hisba Institution” to read more)

    See Also: Hisba: A Historical Overview and Notes on the Muhtasib.

2. Jahaliya (or Jahiliyya or various spelling):

    a. Jahaliya or ignorance, is how Muslims term the customs and culture in Arabia before the advent of Islam. (Yahiya Emerick; The complete idiot's guide to understanding Islam. p 193. Google Books)

    b. Sayyid Qutb on Jahiliyya: Qutb argued that the entire world, including the Muslim, was in a state of jahiliyah, or ignorance where man’s way had replaced God’s way.

    According to Qutb, since jahiliyah and Islam cannot co-exist, offensive jihad was necessary to destroy jahiliyah society and bring the entire world to Islam. Until jahiliyah is defeated, all true Muslims have a personal obligation to wage offensive jihad. When Qutb added offensive jihad to the widely accepted concept of defensive jihad, Qutb broke with mainstream Islam and ridiculed Muslim scholars:

    Those who say that Islamic Jihad was merely for the defense of the home land of Islam diminish the greatness of the Islamic way of life and consider it less important [than] their homeland. . . . However, [Islamic community] defense is not the ultimate objective of the Islamic movement of jihad but it is a mean of establishing the Divine authority within it so that it becomes the headquarters for the movement of Islam, which is then to be carried throughout the earth to the whole of mankind . . . (

    c. RELIGIOSCOPE - Another key concept in Qutb’s work is the concept of jahiliyya. Could you please explain its traditional meaning and the meaning Qutb gives to it?

    IA-R - Jahiliyya is a term used by the Quran for describing the pre-Islamic conditions in Arabia. Roughly, it means ignorance or the phase of ignorance. Islam was supposed to supplant all the different traditions, practices, and ideas of jahiliyya with a new Islamic system that is far different from jahiliyya. Qutb, especially when he was in prison, used the term jahiliyya to refer to the Muslim world in the 20th century, that refused to implement the sharia or establish an Islamic state. That was full of jahiliyya according to him. But it seems to me that he did that under extreme circumstances, and this is the part the Jihad people in prison picked that up in the 1960s and the 1970s, and that became a dominant part of the Islamist discourse especially, in Egypt in the 1970s, 1980s. Many of these people who had that kind of discourse went to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets, and now they are a part of the Qaeda. Somebody like Qutb must have had a major impact on somebody like Bin Laden, for example, or Ayman al-Zawahri, or others. (Interview with Professor Ibrahim Abu-Rabi)

Now if my selections to give the reader an idea of “Hisba” and “Jahaliya” don’t match Johnson’s view, I am certain he will let me know.
So take a look at “Islam’s Golden Rule”.

JRH 7/11/09

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