vendredi 23 septembre 2016

Some of the dissidents of Political-Islam are among our best intellectuals worldwide

In discussing Islam I made it a personal policy to regularly if not systematically, cite intellectuals, both men and women who are Muslim themselves or people of Muslim origin who do not want to be qualified as Muslim themselves.

It has been a pleasure to discover the thinking of such powerful personalities such as Fareed Zakaria, Mezri Haddad, Mohamed Talbi, Al Rizvi (secular Muslim), Kamel Daoud, Ayad Jamal Al-Din, Hussein Aboubakr, the great Syrian poet Adonis and also powerful women like Asra Nomani, Wafa Sultan

There are three reasons for reading and listening to them. First of all, these are people with "skin in the game" to reuse an expression from Nassim Nicholas Taleb. They take risks, sometimes life risks, to express their opinion. Some have suffered political and religious oppression and this gives a lot of legitimacy and weight to their opinion.

They remind me of the dissident intellectuals in the soviet union. While we were having our liberal intellectuals being pro-soviet and pro-Maoist, dissidents were facing the stark reality of political oppression and starting to make sense of it. No doubt they came up with some of the most interesting articles of political philosophy of the second half of the XXth century. They were accurate observers of the present. Similarly, these Muslim, or originally Muslim, intellectuals are accurate observers of the present and they deserve our full attention.

The second reason is that when you cite them you could not be so easily accused of racism and islamophobia. The intellectual situation in the western world is such that people would go to any extent to label you as a racist in order to forbid an opinion they find illegitimate or contrary to their interest. So sorry but am not racist and when you hear extremely smart people coming from regions as diverse as Pakistan to Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Algeria all pointing to the need for a self-reform of Islam, to cease the influence of radical Islam, Salafism and Wahhabism, you have to be concerned.

The third reason is that theses people do have adopted, deeply, the value of enlightenment and are making a lot of effort to correct that description of the western world as only oppressive. It's heart warming to see Muslim feminist, it's beautiful to see ex-Pakistani jihadist turn tolerant explain the conflict between Palestine and Israel in a nonbiased way that does leave room for dialog and peace, it's great to see Algerian intellectuals calling Europe and french Intellectuals to not forget the value of Enlightenment. these people show that there is indeed a possibility of a worldwide multi-cultural pacific civil society but that it is indeed based on tolerance and enlightenment.

For all these reasons, reading these people is important. In fact, if you don't read theses guys and don't listen to what they say, I would argue that you are resisting going out of your comfort zone and possibly maintaining yourself the victim of your preference and ultimately your prejudice.
The resulting impression by reading and listening to all of these intellectuals is that thanks to them, one day the Arab world will find its due place in the world, but that the total separation of religious and political power remains a major impediment to that occurring. among the "non-easy" things that absolutely need to occur are
- The right to be non-Muslim in Arab countries with the same civil rights in a separate part of the religion
- The right to convert out of and leave Islam freely (apostasy)

It is not for me to decide if this is possible with Islam, but it surely does not look easy.

I do not know if the concept of "moderate Muslims" in any sense, but what I know is that Muslims or people of Muslim origins that wish and fight for a separation between the religious and political power are people that I can understand. An open and rich dialogue with them is possible.

PS: Here are a few writings from these intellectuals I strongly recommend you read if you want to understand the current affairs relative to the rise and threat of political Islam :

- An explanation of the causes of jihadism given by an Atheist Muslim (yes it exists Ali Rizvi is a Canadian  intellectual of Pakistani origin who has just written a book called "The atheist Muslim", which is a contribution to a possible reform of Islam): MUST READ
- A very interesting article, written by  Hussein Aboubakr an Egyptian intellectual who now lives in the states, that explains how difficult it is to be a moderate in the current Islamic world and also to the need for a self-reform of Islam.
- An article by Fareed Zakaria on the perverse role of blasphemy