the Blog Papers of Dr. Michael Sakbani; Economics, Finance and Politics

Dr. Michael Sakbani is a professor of economics and Finance at the Geneva campus of Webster-Europe. He is a senior international consultant to the UN system, European Union and Swiss banks. His career began at the State university of NY at Stoney Brook,then the Federal Reserve Bank of New York followed by UNCTAD where he was Director of the divisions of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation, and UNCTAD`s Special Programs. Published over 100 professional papers.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Islamic Militancy and the Failure of Reform and Development

Monotheistic religions have been around for more than 3000 years. This time span is punctuated by a thousand years between Christianity and Judaism, another 600 between Christianity and Islam and a thousand four hundred between our era and Islam. Each of these three religions took its own road of reform and development into our era. The revelation of Judaism was gradually evolved by the rabbinical authorities in the ancient Near East and by the great Rabbis of the middle ages, in particular the great Arab-Jewish theologian, Ibin al Ma`moun (Mimonadis) of Cordoba. In the nineteenth century, Judaism underwent significant evolutions through the rise of the conservative and reform faiths. In effect, non Orthodox Judaism reflects man’s effort to adapt his religion to his circumstances.
For Christianity, the Church and its doctors had carried out important evolution of the revelation by the end of the fifth century. In particular, the third council of the Church redefined the basis of the faith, thereby splitting the Western Church from the eastern Ethiopian and Nestorian churches. Then, the Church split again between Orthodoxy and Catholicism redefining in the process some of the basic tenants. Thereafter, for close to some 600 years covering the middle ages, nothing of importance took place. However, since the renaissance, Christian dogma has undergone significant reorientation towards man and his world and absorbed in its theology so much of western thought. The Reformation opened the door for European enlightenment to practically reformulate religious terms. Similarly, despite the insistent reaffirmation of the Church authority in matters of doctrine, the Catholic Church underwent cumulative changes in the terms of its doctrine starting with St. Thomas Aquinas and carrying on to our era. The result is that modern Christianity is a faith that can be said to reflect as much the Western culture as anything in the original revelation.
Five Centuries in the Formation of Islam
The road of Islam started out by the recording of the revelation of the Prophet at the time of the third Caliph, Uthman, a process of tracing and checking oral sources which lasted for about 40 years. With the Koranic text on hand, it became the main source of religious, moral and temporal rules. The development of the society however, required an ever -expanding code of behavior. This was supplied in a juridical manner by the development of what came to be called the Fuqh (the science of religion). The Fuqh took a jurisprudence approach to religious law, Sharia. According to the Fuqh, the Koran is the first source of the Sharià. Next, the sayings and practices of the Prophet, i.e., the Sunna, were added as a second source of the Sharià, the religious corpus. To develop further the Sharià so as to cope with the increased complexity of the society, the Fuqh added a third source, Ijma`, i.e. Consensus. The Sharia `scholars elaborated a system of hierarchy for sources together with rules of derivation wherefrom. This system of rules of derivation starts with the Koran, the book of the revelation, and then the sayings and practices of the profit, i.e. the Sunna, and thereafter, the consensus of the community (Ijma`), which became practically unattainable after the great expansion of the boarders of Islam. Hence, the Fuqh considered the consensus of the learned, the Ulama, to be its equivalence.These three sources came to characterize the early Sunni version of Islam. But this proved rather inadequate as the Muslim society developed further. Hence, another avenue of sourcing developed. It involved comparing any case on hand with
· Former Director of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation and Special Programs, UNCTAD; Adjunct Professor of Finance and Economics at Thunderbird-Europe and Webster-Geneva; Senior Consultant to the UN System and the European Union.

similar precedents thereby opening the door to what came to be called Qiyas, i.e. patterning on the precedent, whether in fact or in reasoning, the legal disposition of the case on hand. The extent of acceptance and deployment of Qiyas came to distinguish and demarcate the four Sunni schools of Fuqh, with the Hanbali` school on the strict extreme and the Hanafi School on the flexible end. Several hundred years later, the great Sunni doctor of Islam, al Ghazali, added a fifth source, which he called the “Interests of the Prophecy (al Masalih al Mursala)”. The Masalih generates Sharià rules on the basis of what he considered the general ultimate purposes of the Islamic prophecy: the preservation of faith in God, reason, life, nature, ethics and peace among peoples.
[1] Al Ghazali`s contribution opened the Fuqh to non textual development of Sharià. While that was a great intellectual enrichment, it did not receive acceptance by a majority of Islamic scholars.
It is interesting to note in this respect that Islam, like Judaism, placed emphasis on the code of behavior, the religious law, rather than the love of Deity, Christ, and the devotion to his teachings, as is the case in Christianity.
Some eighty years after the Prophet, Islamic scholars started another religious endeavor: the development of Kalam (speech or discourse). Kalam, despite the limitations of its dictionary meaning came to connote theology. The science of Kalam, as it was called, debated such questions as belief, the nature of God, sin and repentance, God`s predestination and individual responsibility for acts, God`s justice, his attributes, whether the Koran is created and other such religion terms. The development of Kalam, Islamic theology, gave rise to several schools of theology: the Kadariah, the Mutazila, the Ashària, the Maturidiah and so on, which developed systematized thought and debated theological questions among themselves as well as with other faiths. Such was the interest in theological matters that historians reported recurrent debates in the court of the Khalif al Màmoun among the theologians of the day.
Islamic theology generally accorded great prominence to reason and logical deduction. It was, in large measure, a derivative of Arabo-Islamic philosophy which built upon the Greek classical heritage. In the case of the Mutazilah, reason was given primacy over scriptural revelation in matters of believing in God and his unity. The scripture was assigned the role of filling in the details about rites, duties, and ethics and so on. When the scripture is found to contradict reason, the Mutazila called for invoking the contextual meaning of the scripture, its metaphoric nature and seeking its logic and inner meaning. This they called "Tàaweel"i.e. imputing and explaining the meaning and purpose of the text.
In Shià Islam, some two centuries after the Prophet, his distant grandson, Jaafar al Sadique, the sixth Imam, fashioned the institution of the Imamate and endowed it with the capacity to interpret the doctrine so as to be compatible with changes in time and place. The authority of the Imam is said to emanate from his inspired perception of the inner meaning or intents of the religion and from his mission of safeguarding the true faith. He is accordingly infallible and obedience to him is an essential part of the faith. As Shià Islam developed subsequently, it created a cast of trained scholars and a hierarchy of authority in the matter of the Sharià. A decisive moment in the development of Shiism arrived when the scholar al Kulayni compiled in the first half of the Tenth Century, a collection of traditions in his book, Kitab al Kafi, which came to constitute the basic reference for Shià Islam[2]
Sharià implied a code of varied strictures on individual behavior and the functioning of the society. The cross- over of religion into every- day life would inevitably raise the questions of relevance and temporal suitability. Such questions can only be considered by an institutional setup yet, outside Shià Islam, the Sunni main stream did not create any institutions to evolve these rules or to revise them; there was never an institutionalized religious authority in Sunni Islam. The only semblance of authority came from the theologians and the people of learning, known as the Ulama. The latter were not given status until the Ottoman period. This fundamental question was to occupy the attention of later scholars, especially Ibin Rushd.
The effervescence of religious learning and creativity in the first five centuries of Islam resulted in a pluralistic culture of interpretation and a wide variety of theological schools, more than twenty of them. However, all these schools can be grouped under two main approaches to defining and revising religious terms.: a scriptural interpretative tradition following strictly the Sharià`s rules of sourcing, and a philosophical approach emphasizing contextual and symbolic aspects as well as logical concepts inspired by Aristotelian and neo- Plutonian rationalism. This tradition started with al Farabi and al Kindi followed by a long line of Muslim philosophers, like Ibin Sina (Avicenna), all the way to Ibin Rushd (Averroes). In time, these two approaches came to an inevitable collision. To the philosophers, epitomized by the great Ibin Rushd, Sharià and religion in general, cannot be at tension with rational thinking, since thought, like religion, is bestowed upon man by his creator. Hence, the maxim: whatever is from the mind is from God. Therefore, to the philosophers, the theology of religion is rationalist and by implication relativist. The celebrated debate between al Ghazali and Ibin Rushd in the eleventh century marked a schism between these two traditions in interpreting and developing the Sharià[3]. But the historical import of the debate seems to have attracted the attention of the power structure in the community. The dispute was immediately seized upon by the temporal authorities and by the Ulama (the religiously learned) who were appointed by them. It is evident that both had a clear interest in shutting off free -thinking and non- authorized theorizing. Some Caliphs (kings) were alarmed by the proliferation of Islamic interpretations and the great multiplicity of schools, some of which were quite anti authoritarian, like the Khawarej, the Karamitah and the early Ismailis. Moreover, such anti authoritarian schools used violence in challenging the power of the state and in implementing their egalitarian programs, like land and wealth distribution. The Ulamà, on the other hand, wanted to institutionalize their authority and secure their economic benefits. Thus, the state banned in the sixth century of Islam new religious invention, that is, the Ijtihad was officially banned, and felons doing it were pursued and persecuted by the full power of the state.

The closure of the Door of Ijtihad
Under the Seljuk rulers, at the time of the grand vizier Nizam al Mulk, the famous al Ghazali was invited to write the authoritative version of Islam according to the state, with the head of the state as the head of Islam
After al Ghazali wrote the official canon, some five centuries of rich philosophic traditions in the Arab- Islamic culture receded rapidly from the intellectual scene. It is one of the ironies of Islamic culture that its philosophers, in particular, Ibin Rushed influenced more the development of Christian than Islamic theology. As Bertrand Russell remarked “he was a dead end in the latter (Islamic theology) but a beginning in the former (Christian theology)”
[5]. Russell continues to note that Ibin Rushd influence in the West “was very great, not only on the scholastics, a body of unprofessional free thinkers … who were called “Averroists” …but…among professional philosophers…especially the Franciscans and at the University of Paris”.

Closing the Door on Theological Innovation: the Petrifaction of Islam

The act of the Saljuk grand Wazir signaled the beginning of the era of an official homogenized Islam. The rulers had an obvious interest in assuming the mantle of official Islam, so as to fuse temporal and spiritual power in their hands and force obedience to themselves as a matter of religious duty. On the other hand, the Ulama had vital interest in securing their status and assuring the continuation of their economic earnings. This model ushered in at the time of the late Abbasid Empire prevailed and continued during the subsequent long reign of the Ottoman Sultans. It should be recalled that the Sultans were temporal kings and additionally Islamic Caliphs. Consequently, the scriptural interpretive traditions gained the party and obedience to the rulers, the guardians of religion, became the hall- mark of the writings of Muslim scholars.
The effervescence of Islamic intellect, so striking in the first five centuries, sadly came to a murmuring halt enthusiastically enforced by the temporal rulers. An exception to this was the development of Sufism in the middle period. The development of Sufism brought into Islam a spiritual dimension of utmost interest. It bore the influence of some aspects of Shià Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, and in some of its finest advocates, Mohieddin Ibin Arabi, it had a universal ecumenical spirit. However, despite its spiritual interest and universal leanings, Sufism great contribution was in the recasting of the relationship between man and God as well as inventing the concept of approaching the Divine by love, rather than in evolving the theology of Islam.
In the middle period of Islam, its main stream, Sunni Islam, became rigid, final and homogenized with great suspicion of anything new- cast as budà, i.e., doubtful invention. Uncertainty and doubt, which are a part and parcel of spiritual belief, gave ground to the certainty and immutability of the established faith. The belief was wide spread that the Koran has everything and that the last word on anything can be found in the authorized body of the religion. It was forgotten that the great religious traditions are worlds of texts and deeds i.e. worlds of forms, that take us closer to God, but can in no way define and explain God or his will and pin down the spirituality of belief for all times and all individuals. Spirituality derives its power from a Source that is a reality within and outside religious forms, and this Source cannot be proven or explained strictly in the terms of religious forms
[6]. This homogenization led to concrete forms and beliefs, with literal meaning and precise preordained rites. Consequently, the risk became great that individuals regardless of their learning can believe in communicating God’s will according to their own reading of it. This was to portend the great dangers of fundamentalist interpretations.
There were, however, some remarkable scholars in this period; but many of such scholars spent their energies purging the faith from inventions not based on what they considered the official corpus of the canon. A new tradition of scholarship came to the fore in which the ancestral scholars and the practices of the four righteous Khalifs assumed superior authority. Latter scholars spent their energy quoting and interpreting what their “righteous predecessors” opined. While religion, unlike science, is not evolutionary, no proposition addressed to man can be acceptable for all time and without critical examination. Traditions, no matter how exalted, are the manifestation of collective wisdom and not collective obedience. This tradition of more or less back- ward referring scholarship continued in traditional Islam to this day.

In Shià Islam, the conversion of Iran to Twelve Imam Shiism
[7] after the coming to power there of the Safavid dynasty in the sixteenth century, propelled the establishment of religious institutional hierarchy and an alliance with the temporal power of the Safavids. Shià theology in opposition to Sunni theology, gave the sayings and deeds of the prophet a reference power only if transmitted by Shià scholars and/or decedents of the Prophet. The interesting twist in Shià jurisprudence is its development of the Mutazila rational doctrine, which they imputed to the Imamet (the institution of the Imam), thereby conferring validity of reason on all its pronouncements[8]. At any rate, in matters of theology, Shià Fuqh is more restrictive than its Sunni counterpart in as much as it does not accept Qias as a source. This is perhaps understandable in view of the Imamet`s authority in developing Sharià. Aside from this aspect, the Shià establishment did not evolve the doctrine; their main effort was to evolve the tenets of Shià Islam as opposed to Sunni Islam, especially with respect to the authority of the four deputies of the last Imam and their successors. This concept of Imamet obedience stands on a theory of divine right vested in the prophet`s descendents, which is not clear in received Islam As far as other schools of Shià Islam went, the Ismaili Seven- Imam sect, the second most numerous, developed in various localities, and evolved from a violent start to a peaceful cult of basically local importance. The other important Shià sect, the Zaydis, did not much spread outside Yeman and did not share the imamet concept with the 12th Shiism. Thus, Islam arrived into the modern era without major adaptation or radical changes in the last seven hundred years.

The fossilization of Islam would have been explained in historical terms as a phenomenon of historical rise and decline in a cyclical pattern of history. However, what distinguishes it from self- reversing phenomena is that it is coupled with cultural, economic and scientific declines. In other words, it was a new state of mind engulfing peoples of a formerly great civilization. The state of backwardness of Islamic societies has in addition bred cultural habits and modes of thought often alien to Islam itself. An outstanding manifestation of that is the refusal to participate in Western progress in all aspects of education, culture and economics and the insistence on the ingeniousness of any development. A case in point is the refusal of Arab parents in the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s to send their children to western schools on the basis of their missionary financial backing as well as the resistance to modernity

Revivalist Currents: the Birth of Political and Fundamentalist Islam

The stark decline of the Islamic world from its previous exalted heights called forth a mixture of revivalists. There were among them schools that followed the teaching of some middle age scholars, notably, Ibin al Kayyem and Ibin Taymiah, a Hanbali scholar, who sought salvation by returning to early Islamic purity and advocated the reopening of Ijtihad to develop Islam according to the established jurisprudence. Ibin Taymieh was a theological activist, but it is his thought on the politics of Islam that has endeared him to political Islamists. It is somewhat ironic that Ibin Taymiah, who was an activist rationalist, was later invoked as a purist traditionalist and a political activist in terms that might have surprised him. He wrote a book on Islamic politics which reflected the anxieties and troubles of his day when the central Islamic lands were invaded from the East by the Moguls and from the west by the Crusaders. Ibin Taymiah sought to resolve the problem of his day: that Islam needed the authority of powerful rulers. These rulers were Muslims of no, or of little, religious learning or piety, and after 945, mostly militarist Turks, of little religious observance. He therefore, developed the political model of an Islamic state in which the populous are bound to obedience to the ruler, who in return would apply and abide by the Sharià, a bargain similar to one made 400 years later by one of his followers: Mohamad ibin Abdulwahab with the Saudi dynasty.
Ibin Abdulwahab, however, was much more of a strict textual interpreter than Ibin Taymiah who was a rationalist reformer. Ibin Abdulwahab purged the received practices from elements not in existence at the time of the four Khalifs and placed emphasis on the traditions of the righteous ancestors. He also drew sharp demarcation lines between Islam and other religions and established a hierarchy of verities among religions with Islam placed at the top. His followers seek a return - to- the- roots, a religious piety in which they emulate the “righteous ancestors” and duplicate their ways
[10], thus, the name of the“ Salafiyya”. In effect the Salafis truncate Islamic history and its jurisprudence sources to about 40 years during the reigns of the four Khalifs.
Another off-shoot of Ibin Taymiah thought has sought the politicization of Islam and the reestablishment of a Muslim state of authentic and pure character, the Khilafat. This type of political Islam is present in the post- Khilafah thought, the abolition of which was brought about by Mustafa Kemal in 1923. A leading example is the thought of Hasan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brothers in the 1927 in Egypt[11]. The Muslim Brothers started a trend in Islamic societies of seeking political power in the name of Islam by presenting the Sharià as a political program without advocating any reforms in it. Implicit in this is the thought that the problems of Islamic societies lie in their abandonment of the true path of the Sharià and not in the genuine petrifaction of Islamic theology. It is therefore an advocacy of taking the historical example rather than offering a specific new program. On this view, the prevailing state is essentially the result of the disintegration of the political order. Thus, a proposition common to the political Islamists in this mold is the advocacy of re-establishing a Muslim state, i.e. al Khilafah, to defend Muslims and secure their rights.
Political Islamists in the contemporary scene include the Islamic Front of Salvation of Algeria and the followers of Al Maodudi in Pakistan. A different variety of political Islam is found in the thoughts and actions of Hasan al Turabi in Sudan. Some extremists of al Banna followers combined politicization with the purist and exclusivist parts of the theology of Ibin Taymiah, resulting into a brew of incendiary thinking, such as found in the writings of the Egyptian Sayyed Qutb and his society of “Forgiveness and Disfranchising”. Sayyed Qutb elaborated, after Ibin Taymyiah, the doctrine of disfranchising from Islam, i.e., Takfeer, of anybody who does not subscribe to his thought and act according to Islam as he sees it. In particular, he considered democracy as a major corroding Western influence, which impedes Islamization of societies. He, therefore, opined killing its advocates and practitioners and those who shield them. Bin Laden, of recent fame, and his principal associate, al Zwahiri along with the Talabans, are the latest link in Qutb`s hue of political Islamists.
Another offshoot of political Islamists is the Party of Islamic Liberation. This was founded in Lebanon in the early fifties by the Palestinian Takuyuddin al Nabahani. This party has significant following in the Central Asian countries. This is altogether different from other Islamists in that it primes the political advocacy of establishing an Islamic state in which a new theological interpretation of Islam would modify the existing Fuqh. It remains still in the nature of a sect with a political agenda and a distant promise of a new future theology. It can be said that its views on contemporary Islamic societies are essentially transitional.
In Shià Islam, the equivalence is found in Imam al Khumeini` concept of the “reign of the religious authority”, Wilayat al Faquih, installed in the Islamic Republic of Iran through the Council of Guides. The Council is charged with the task of an overseer of all the laws and actions of the elected officials, which have to be consistent with precepts of Shià Fuqh, i.e. the teachings of the deputies of the disappeared Imam. islamism is problematic in many ways.

The Islamists, those who believe in using religion as an ideology of the state, are in our days strictly non secular non democreatic and firm believers in the concept of "Khilafat". The origins of their thinking harck back to the Salafist traditions in a basic way.
    The Wahabbi-Salafist thinking suffers many epistemological flaws. In the first place, it mixes up between the biographical virtues of the “righteous predecessors” and their epoch. That the purity and sincerity of those early followers of Islam is admirable does not in any way furnish grounds to bestow the same admiration upon their period. That period in human history is, of necessity, less developed and less enlightened than our era. In the second place, what we know about their period are tales whose veracity is somewhat suspect. The historians of that epoch did not have under belt, the rigorous standards of historical investigation that we have now. Thus, our knowledge of the historical example set by the epoch is rather mythical and infused with imaginative details. Even if we accept the proposed narrative, that era was troubled and flawed. Three of the four righteous Khalifs were assassinated and the community of believers at the time was not one with exulted history. In the third place, overlooking 1350 years of subsequent evolution in various countries and continents of Muslims is ignoring sociological realities by which we must judge pragmatic phenomena. There is no system of jurisprudence known to man, including that of the Islamic Sharia that does not take sociological realities as one of the sources of law. The drastic purification of Islam from its attendant transformations, is therefore, irrational and deficient in theological logic. In the fourth place, invoking this restricted period as a historical example of success to emulate in our current period is an exercise in pragmatic irrelevance; it is a fantasy to think that we can recreate that epoch and re-establish its circumstances at present. To give one example, re-establishing the Khilafat for 1.7 billion Muslims living on five continents with different backgrounds, languages and cultures is a fantasy fiction at best. Fifthly and finally, all Islamists, including Salafists, morph religion, which is a settled belief system, into the pragmatic conditions of life which are changing all the time. The economic, scientific, juridical and societal realities are never a part of a belief system. 

Besides the political Islamists and the literalist militants, there were at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century other revivalists within the Islamic main traditions. These include modernizers and reformers such as Jamaluddin al Afaghani, Abdurahman al Kawakiby, Muhammad Abduh, Rasheed Ridha, Taher al Jazairy in North Africa and the MiddleEast and Muhammad Iqbal, Sayed Ahmed Khan and several others in India and Indonesia. These reformists, unlike the political Islamists and the literalist Salafiyyas, had thoughts that included both the Sharià itself and the state of their societies. They offered at the time a critique of what was wrong with the Ottoman State, the Islamic Khilafah, the intellectual state of Islam itself as well as the way it was practiced in their time in their societies. They all advocated reopening the door of Ijtihad, i.e. new thinking, in reinterpreting and renewing the Islamic Sharià. They were also sharply aware of the importance of the scientific and technological advances of the West and advocated on the whole its compatibility with Islam. As a representative of this modernist group, Abduh saw no tension between Islam and science and held that Islam in general and the Kouran are rational constructs. Abduh, who knew and lived in the West, observed at first hand the double value system of the West and the materialist nature of its secular culture and sought to develop a spiritual Islamic alternative[12]. The unfortunate thing about these reformers is that their period was brief and they did not go the necessary step of moving from reform to societal enlightenment. Such was the fortune of the West where enlightenment opened the door to a new way of thinking, i.e. an ideology of critical thinking about everything.
It can be said that that these modernists tried to innovate within the context of Islam’s character and within the requirements of their time. However, the advent of Western colonization at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman State, the Islamic Khilafah, turned the attention of the intellectuals as well as the enlightened general public from Islamic reform to national awakening in order to fight colonialism. Indeed, at the beginning of the last Century, nationalist movements spread all over the Islamic world.  The nationalists programs involved modernization, various degrees of secularism and a western style nationalist creed.
The Nationalists caught the imagination of the educated elite and soon became also mass movements with clear -cut political agendas. It was evident that the Nationalist appeal for joining the struggle against the yoke of the Imperialist West drowned the appeal of religious reformers. Thus, the Nationalists can be said to have pre-emptied the main stream Islamic reformers [13].

The failure of the Nationalists and the Rise of Islamists
The nationalist thinking differed from one Islamic country to another. In Turkey, Mustafa Kemal established a nationalist state on the European model with strict secularism and introduced a variety of radical reforms. Unlike the Arab Nationalists, he sought to cut off Turkey from its past and lay the framework of a modern secular state. In the Arab world, by contrast, the Nationalists were only mildly secular, quite nationalists and not much of modernizers. They were though disinterested in the concept of Islamic state.

 In Asia and South East Asia, the Nationalists formed anti colonial fronts, which included the religious revivalists and put forth a project of a pluralistic state model of an inclusive and secular character. So, a common feature of the nationalist thinking was the abandonment of the Islamic state. Moreover, the reform of Islam and the building of modern, rationalist and equally spiritual new traditions, were not, and perhaps could not be, a part of the projects of modernization of the nationalist movements. On the other hand, a distinct Islamic theological revival did not seem to attract the attention or interest of the advocates of political Islam; they continued to believe that the full truth is implicit in the received traditions and that the problems of their societies are of political nature rather than, additionally, questions of doctrinal relevance and socio-political mal -adaptation.
In the Arab world, the two movements: the political Islamists and the Arab Nationalists, cohabited at some tension in the first six decades of the Twentieth Century, specifically, from 1908, when the Young Turks took over power in the Ottoman state, bringing with them to the Islamic state (Khilafah) a National Touranic creed, to 1967 and the decade of the seventies, when the Arab National Movement was defeated by Israel and its dysfunctional and failed national political regimes were exposed over the decade as mere dictatorships, often corrupt and always repressive.
The lack of political and cultural content to the various active movements of Arab Nationalism exposed its vulnerability to political exploitation and cultural retrogression. And the socialism content of its economic programs added to that comprehensive economic failure. This largely explains its impoverished record. The cohabitation however produced a dualistic culture in Arab societies: the culture of the ruled masses with no political power or political participation in which the Islamists laid low, and that of the ruling one- party National state. The culture of the masses was traditional, full of givens from the past, closed upon itself and based on loyalties to family, clans and regional appurtenance. Since they were politically neutered, economically poor and rather culturally backward, the modern state was irrelevant to their conditions in general . On the other hand, the Nationalist rulers, who mostly came from rural backgrounds, exploited the sociology of rural immigration to urban centers to establish a clientele of beneficiaries of the client states they built.
The culture of the Nationalist was modern only in slogans, their states based on power relationship to the ruled, and in respect of the prevailing traditions, largely empty of reformist contents. Almost all the Nationalists leaders came through the army from rural backgrounds with little personal intellectual attainments and thus limited intellectual horizon: Nasser, Assad, Kadafi, Boumedienne and Saddam (who did not come from the army), all come to mind in this respect [14]. They put in place "etatic", Soviet- style, totalitarian regimes protected from the people by police and security apparatuses, all above and outside the law. The one party system puts its beneficiaries, mostly unqualified, in charge of the public sector, which managed and controlled the economy with no standards of performance or a bottom lime[15].
The Nationalists` forays into social and cultural transformation were negligible and often politically skewed. For example, forming and educating a new generation capable of functioning in the modern universal civilization became exercises in political indoctrination, in dilution of academic standards to render the system more egalitarian and in the neglect of quality in high education. Not a single institution of higher learning in these countries came within the first 500 universities in the world. Despite an undeniable transformation of the country side and the rural population, the developmental results were meager and spotty with failures on many fronts: poverty, illiteracy, unsatisfactory health standards, poor scholastic performance, clients` political organization, disrespect of human rights, unacceptable conditions of women and the state of infrastructure [16]. In addition, the nationalist regimes, all of which came by military coups, failed even in the military task of protecting their people against Israel. And this failure became obvious to the populace after the defeat of 1967. This populace who supported the Nationalists and dreamt for decades of revival under their leadership received the cruelest of history’s shocks: the loss of self- esteem and the desperation of repeated failure on multiple fronts. This was to be reflected later on in the Jihadists finding in self-sacrifice a personal redemption from the collective failure.
The result of the Nationalist failure was the loss of followers in the popular scene and the emergence of partial loyalties, such as clan loyalty, religious affiliation, sect dependence and other such substitutes to modern state loyalty. Ironically, the Western powers, long in dominance in the Arab World, were delighted with the Nationalist failure; they celebrated this failure without contemplating the failure of modernization implicit in it. This opened the door to the Islamists (advocates of political Islam)  to move in to fill the political vacuum and claim the allegiance of the deceived populace. They had a ready audience in the sub culture of the masses among which they have lain low. They were also aided by the large immigration to urban centers of rural population with meager culture and ready religious identification. The rest of the populous who were politically neutered and intellectually desperate for something new were tempted to allow the new comers a chance to perform.
The Islamists of all hues came gradually to share with the Arab Nationalists most of the nationalistic goals, and more importantly, the same sense of grievance towards Western colonialism. With the creation of Israel and the unlimited support of the West, especially the US, to its Zionist designs, the Islamists exploited the flagrant incapacity of the nationalist Arab rulers to put a limit to the humiliations and encroachment inflicted by Israel and fashioned an anti Western attitude wrapped by the feeling of deep injustice. As economic and social underdevelopment along with political repression turned out to be the legacy of the Arab Nationalist regimes, the 1970`s witnessed a turn among large segments of the disaffected Arab populations, outside the old Islamists constituencies, towards the Islamists who posed as the natural power inheritors. The Islamists claimed authenticity to their analysis of the problems and their solutions were premised on Islamic deliverance without ever specifying its details [17]. On this view, since the entire verity reposed in the dogma, the return to the sources was claimed to be the historically proven way out. In other words, the program was based on faith and historical example rather than specific programs [18). For example, the Islamists claim that there is an economic system in Islam. To this end, they marshal some general principles of ethics in exchange and in trade. They point to the interdiction of usury and established Islamic banking, a form of investment companies with elements of merchant banking [19). However, none of these general propositions can be said to constitute building blocks of a system that explains consumer behavior, the decision making of the firms, the organization of the economy, the path of its capital accumulation the role of economic policies and the modes of their exercise.
After the 1967 defeat, the nationalist regimes, each in its own time and way, started to abandon many elements of the old nationalist program of modernization and development. They became more and more internally oriented with the aim of consolidating their power and control. In the process, they transformed themselves into authoritarian and autocratic regimes ruled for decades by the same cliques and based on power relationship to the governed. The defection of Egypt under President Sadat from the confrontation with Israel and his subsequent signing of a separate peace treaty with Israel ushered in the abandonment of the concept of Arab National Security. This abandonment was completed by the invasion of Sadam Hussain of Kuwait in 1991. Thus, the area witnessed the decent of the Republican national regimes into a form of pre modern state political organizations based on partial loyalties, like sectarian affiliation, regional identity, and above all, beneficiary clientelism all dedicated to preserve the status quo under the protection of the security apparatuses.
The supporters of Arab Nationalism, took a kind of political sabbatical in the 1980`s to examine and try to understand their multiple failures. During the decade of this sabbatical, their disappearance from the scene left the lslamists as the only advocates of change in the Arab street and the main victims of political repression of the autocratic rulers. It was not until the 1990`s that the Nationalist reappeared back on the scene. A case in point is a Nationalist conference held in Cairo, under the auspices of the Centre for Studies of Arab Unity, to examine in a manner of self-critiques the gaps and errors of the nationalist program and its experience. This conference formulated a new platform of six goals for the nationalist project, among which democracy and Arab federalism, modernization and economic development had central places. Another conference was organized by the same sponsors in 1994, which included this time the leftists, Marxists and the non violent Islamists, who for the first time endorsed, inter alias, democracy and the peaceful alternation of power by the ballot box as parts of a common program [20].
To be sure, the political Islamists of all shades were still a minority in the population, but this minority was the only force present in opposition to the nationalist autocracies. The political Islamists are of two streams: a stream that wants an Islamic revival, and as of late, accepts democracy and the multiplicity of equally valid references of other currents of opinion, and renounces violence as a valid recourse, and another, who rejects democracy altogether on the theory that God is the only source of authority and the Sharià is the lone genuine program reference [21].During the second half of the 1990`s, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, in Syria, and in Iraq moved gradually from their old position of considering the Sharià as the sole valid reference for the society to accepting references of non Islamic parties provided that all compete democratically. In 1994, the Egyptian Muslim Brothers published two important documents: one in women and the other on the concept of organizing the Islamic state in which they endorssed, for the first time, democracy and the alternation of power by the ballot box. Thus, while the Muslim Brothers were the pioneers of militant political Islam, they have grown in effect, from a political movement into an Islamic political party. In the five years between 2001 and 2006, the Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan Muslim Brothers have joined the opposition to their countries respective regimes with a claimed full acceptance of the democratic game and a forthright denunciation of violence for political purposes. In sum, the Muslim Brothers have separated themselves from the militant Islamists and accepted at last to join others in the movement for political democracy, human rights and reform in the Arab World. However, this remains a promise to be tested under democratic conditions; we have yet no example of open and Democratic Islamist regimes.

The Rise of the Global Jihadi Militants The rise of political Islamists in the Arab and other countries in the 1970`s and 1980`s as a consequence of the failure of the Nationalists received an unexpected twist with the efforts of the US and Saudi Arabia through the agency of Pakistan to combat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. These states recruited, armed, trained, and organized global Jihadists form every corner. For the first time in centuries, the Jihadis recruited for the Afghan war experienced Jihad against an aggressor and fought with brother Muslims against a common enemy. In Afghanistan they were able to gather and indoctrinate volunteers, train and equip them with the direct aid of the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That experience was a trial by fire for them, and among other things, it convinced them that armed violence is the only way to remove injustice even if perpetrated by a big, seemingly invincible power. The Afghan war also gave its fighters the sense of living a common experience with coreligionists who shared the same views on Western materialism whether capitalists or communist and in the process identified their common enemy. Finally, the experience of a community of believers drew on the universal spirit of Islam in globalizing the scope of the militants` agenda and establishing, almost for the first time, a global network, free of national boundaries, fit to fight in a globalized world for a universal Islamic state. However, experience is not sufficient to bind global militants; there had to be an ideology behind all that. This they found in the thought of Sayyed Qutb (who was hung in Egypt) and other Islamists, and they weaved into that different strands from Wahhabi theology. Among the major tenets of this thought is the notion of Takfeer, i.e. disfranchising from Islam anybody who does not share their views. Thus, they become, like the born again, a community apart from the main Islamic one.
The Afghan experience of militant global Islamists would not have been sufficient to explain the spread of militant political Islam except as regarding those who participated in it. To recruit future Jihadis, explicit Koranic references together with concrete factual application had to be found. Like any other text, even if holy, the Koran has both general and relative addresses. Relative address concerns the particular situations that faced the Islamic community at the time of the prophet; they do not seek to establish general principles of eternal validity. The global Islamists simply selected the verses ordaining Jihad when Muslims are aggressed, as they were during the time of the Prophet, and did not fail to find concrete examples in which Muslims were under attack in our time. From Afghanistan, to Kashmir, to Palestine, to Chechnya, to Bosnia and lastly Iraq, they conjured a specter of Islam under attack. This selectivity in referencing their actions and political agenda has not been convincingly challenged by the main line Islamic establishment. How could it have escaped attention that a religion that equates taking one life to killing all humanity, renounced aggressive wars against others and elevated the preservation of human life and peace among peoples to two of the six cardinal purposes or interests of its prophecy, has come to be associated with violence and terror.
There has been reluctance by religious authorities and Muslim public opinion makers to face up to such a distortion of Islam, in part, because of the common and shared sense of grievance, and in another, because these acts were initially targeted against outside aggressors. The religious authorities did not see their holy duty in the pursuit of the tolerant and peaceful message of Islam clear of partial interpretations. They seem to have silently condoned what seemed to them a justified struggle against aggressors like Israel. This is a major error of principle; in a matter of distortion of the faith, only a wide and unqualified condemnation of all terrorist acts and rejection of their perpetrators is appropriate. In addition, it convinces no one to hold that because these terrorists are subject to pursuit by the illegitimate Arab governments, one should not take a stand against those who stand against illegitimate regimes. Like at the time of al Khawarej, the distortion of religion should be condemned as such and dealt with inside the Muslim community as an internal aberration.
It took quite a while for this realization to sink inn and it is unfortunate that the Muslim community has not fully grasped the damage that the extremists have inflicted upon the good name of Islam. Fortunately, there are some positive changes of late [22]. Part of the problem is that Islamist violence is perpetrated quite often outside the Muslim countries by groups and individuals residing in the West. These acts usually involve expatriates, but lately, disaffected citizens of Islamic heritage. The authoritarian and autocratic Arab regimes have often exported their opponents to the rest of the world. By exporting those who took aim at their failure to protect their people and improve and modernize their conditions, they sought to neutralize a significant activist part of their domestic opposition. The political illegitimacy of the rulers played into the hands of both the extremists and their tolerant foreign hosts. The immigration of a large swath of political Islamists to the West has resulted in implanting among the majority of peaceful Muslim immigrant communities a minute band of activists busy trying to influence and charge with militant fervor the disaffected youths of such communities, often victims of discrimination and poverty. It is only recently that this state of affairs has become of public concern in both the West and among the rulers of the Arab world who have finally joined the international struggle against the resultant violence.

It would be a violation of reality to leave the impression that the political Islamist trend is well and thriving. As a matter of fact, since the early 1990`s, political Islam has failed in all countries to become dominant among the masses. Indeed, al Zwahiri, Bin Laden`s principal ideologue, admits in his book (Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet) that the Islamists have failed to turn the Muslim masses into armed militants i.e., tajyeesh
[23]. Its record in places where it took power (Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan) has been far from satisfactory. No less bleak has been its record in countries where it attempted to take power (Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Yemen). Its methods drenched in violence and festooned in terror have aroused popular dismay, vocal objections, disapproval and, in cases, downright resistance. A fundamental problem of political Islamists is their refusal to look critically at the Islamic heritage and their insistence on according their advocacies the character of divine reference. When programs were formulated, a rare thing, they have appeared rather simplistic to wide segments of the public opinion, and where implemented, has had very poor results. Neither in questions of doctrine nor in those of political, social and economic matters have its advocates produced a coherent and empirically valid answers to the problems of the society and the economy [24].
There has been, as discussed above, some transformations of position among some political Islamists regarding democracy and the necessity of adapting their programs to the exigencies of modern societies. This was accompanied by a forthright admittance of the errors of their past ways
[25].It is beyond the scope of this paper to document and explore the failure of political Islam and speculate about its future. Nonetheless, one can clearly glean from a great number of recent works that it is now on a descending trend [26]. Nonetheless, history synthesizes the messages of movements and ideas that erupt throughout its course. Without being a strict Hegelian, one can assert that the thesis which the political Islamists as well as the traditional reformers tried jointly to preach, namely, the sense of seeking a communal revival endowed with Islam’s spiritual values met its antithesis in Western secular and modern materialism and that the synthesis of the political Islamists of the future will be in grafting to the Western individualist and humanist traditions a spiritualist dimension in the life of man absent from rigid secularism. This is an outcome that fascinated Michael Foucault when he observed firsthand the Iranian revolution at its inception and thought that it would usher an alternative to the bureaucratic and materialist civilization of the West[27]. In a recent book along somewhat different lines, Reza Aslan holds that the future of democracy and political Islam in the Islamic societies will reflect the egalitarian and communal dimension of Islam and will infuse them with its particular spirituality [28]. In other words, Islamic societies will establish their own pattern of democracy and modernization, which is different than the Western model. The same thinking more or less, can be found in the writings of Muhammed Arkoun, Fatima Mernissi, Hassan Hanafi , the Mohamadiah school adherents and Haroun Nausation.
It is hazardous at best to predict the course of history, but history informs us that economic and technological transformations leave features with more similarities than differences across various societies unless there are differences in the dynamic forces at play.

Islam and Terror
The question arises, whether it is fair to link Islam with the terrorist acts of the extremists in view of their selective Islam. It is asked, why is terror by non- Muslims religiously unlinked? ; Why is Islam paired routinely with terrorism in the Western Press? Is there something in Islam that encourages violence? Without dwelling upon the condemnations of the likes of Senior Berlusconi, who deal with stereotypes, or upon the hysterical and ignorant journalism of Oriana Falaci, the average individual in the US and Europe sees that the perpetrators of terror claim religious justification for their acts, which goes on without repudiation by the Muslim religious authorities
[29]. Furthermore, the perpetrators have not suffered effective ostracism by their co-religionists. As long as there are some Muslims who insist on explaining, even if they do not justify, such acts in political terms, the outside world and its prejudiced and castigating media cannot be blamed for calling this terror in the terms chosen by its perpetrators.
The lack of a sanctified institutional set up in Sunni Islam leaves the door open for selective interpretation of texts, some of which are plain obsolete and irrelevant to our days. All religions have faced up to this problem by discarding obsolete precepts and relativizing others. In Islam, the literal sanctity of the text is still widely acceptable, as there has been no theological redefinition of terms for centuries. The Muslim and Arab worlds, are thus poised at a historical juncture: they have to start thinking about modernization not just in economic and technological terms, but, as well, in cultural, sociological and political terms. And all the efforts expended on this course will come to serious obstacles if Islam is not reformed and looked at with modern eyes as a religion relevant to the universal civilization of our times. In other words, theological Islamic reform and a relativization of Islam`s worldly, i.e. non- spiritual precepts, must be a part of the project of modernization.

Concluding Synthesis

This essay has weaved several underlying themes in attempting to explain the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. It is argued that Islamist revival, as an auto critique and a program of reform was side tracked and preempted at the beginning of the twentieth Century by the advent of Western Colonialism and the countervailing rise of Nationalist resistance. Each Muslim country had its own path to tackling this problem. However, the historical narration in the Arab world shows clearly a Pan Arab approach and a Nationalist project of modernization formulated in the first half of the twentieth Century. The intertwining of the Islamists and the Arab Nationalists seems to have ushered a dialectic narration in that the failure of the Arab Nationalist reform thesis provided an anti-thesis in the rise of political Islamists after the Arab defeat of 1967. By the time Saddam Husain invaded Kuwait in 1991, the Arab Nationalist project was no longer functional and largely emptied of its Pan- Arab character. The spread of autocracy and authoritarian rule in the Arab World has reduced the distinction between the traditional regimes and the Republican ones and brought the two into a common landscape of non democracy and pre modern state political organization. The synthesis of this state of being is to formulate a new project of modernization and development in the Arab states, which we hold is the only antidote for Islamists fundamentalism, most of which involves Islamists concerned withArab problems.
This paper proposes that a commonwealth of Arab states does not only stand on history and many commonalities among the Arab peoples but equally on the economic and political imperatives of the global world we live in. Similarly, no new project of modernization can ignore the historical and sociological import of Islam in these societies. To be sure, Islam fuses elements of spirituality and others of worldly concerns. However, outside belief and spirituality, no religion or ideology, including Islam, can offer a detailed problem- solving program for the affairs of man with eternal validity. Consequently, relativity in non spiritual matters is a question of objective logic and historical validity; there has been no example of successful theocracy anywhere in human history. Thus, the new project of development and modernization for the Arab World must be secular, albeit not devoid of Islamic spirituality. This leads to short and long run conclusions.
In the short run, the Muslim community and the Islamic establishment have both to repudiate without qualifications the violent acts of the Jihadis as an aberration of Islam. There has also to be an internal mobilization of public opinion, especially among the youth, against this distorted selective Islam coupled with critical thinking of the heritage and not its passive acceptance. That of course is not possible without a wide ranging reform of the educational systems, especially in the Arab World and in particular the system of higher education.
In the long run, the root causes of the feelings of collective failure, political oppression, and injustice-to- Muslims and slight to their dignities must be dealt with. This implies a two sided effort internally and externally: the West must abandon its domination schemes and hostility to Islam and its double standards thereto, while the Arab societies must modernize, change the way they are governed and the way they interact with new ideas. The autocratic and authoritarian regimes prevalent in the Arab World must be brought by active civic organization to accept democratization and the peaceful alternation of power. Of a piece with that, is the establishment of the rule of law and the principle of equal citizenship in the framework of a modern state, which can capture the undivided loyalty of the citizenry. History in our era has not shown any examples of success except modern secular states; the difficulties of Sudan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, are slient cases in point. The new project of modernization must be socioeconomic and cultural and it deserves to be backed fully by West, financially, technologically and culturally. Only success in modernization and development can alleviate the dysfunctional state of the Arab World.
A revision of scholastic curricula to introduce critical thinking and humanist cultural values together with modernization of the learning technology is an essential requisite [30]. Finally, the policies of the West towards festering problems like Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, etc.., must be revised and purged of cultural arrogance, imperial thinking and double standard. The European domestic policies towards Muslim minorities, especially the disaffected youth, must move towards empowerment, furthering economic and employment opportunities and acceptance of the other, something that the West has not contemplated since its industrial rise.

*********** [1] According to al Ghazali the purposes of the prophecy are: the preservation of faith, of reason, of life, of nature, of moral ethics and of peace among peoples.
[2] For the development of Shià Islam seethe discussion in J. Berky, The Formation of Islam, Cambridge university press, 2003, Ch.14, 18& 19, p. 179 and after.
[3] This debate started after al Ghazali publisher his treaty entitled, “The Collapse of Philosophy”, attacking in it the philosophical interpretation of Islam. Ibin Rushd, one of the greatest late philosophers, answered by writing his book, “The Collapse of the Collapse”, in which he attacked the traditionalist interpretation and penned a classic exposé of the philosophic foundations of theology.
[7]Twelve Imam Shià is so called because after the death of the eleventh Imam, Hasan al Askari, at the age of 29 in 873, a raging debate took place among Shià scholars about his succession. The opinion that triumphed was that he had a son called Mohammed al Muntazar who disappeared and will come back at the end of time to fulfill god’s plans for the faithful. See Said Amir Arjumand, ed. Authority and Political Culture, SUNY Press, Albany, 1988, pp. 25-53.
[8] See J. Berkey, Op, Cit., Ch.13.
[12] Muhammad Abdoh who was the grand Mufti of Egypt, wrote at the end of the Nineteenth Century addressing the English public, “We Egyptians believed once in English liberalism and sympathy; but we believe no longer, for facts are stronger than words. Your liberalism and enlightenment is only for yourself”.
[13] In recent years, some traditionalist reformers such as Yousuf al Qardawi, have been trying to revive the Ijtihad and add to the body of traditional Islamic Jurisprudence. The challenges faced by Muslims living in the West, i.e., outside Islamic societies, have created needs for revisiting many of the old agreed precepts. Consequently a Council of Islamic Fatwa, whose membership includes some prominent scholars, has been found to legislate new rules when needed. One cannot however, group this work with the renovations wanted by the revivalists early in the twentieth century, because this reformist movement strictly adheres to the rules of the existing Jurisprudence and is again backward- referencing to the four Sunni Islamic schools plus some of the Shià Jurisprudence in their sourcing.
[14] Although the Baath party, one of the main elements in the Nationalist movement, had a fair number of intellectuals, it got bogged down and mixed up with the military elements, officers with sectarian and regional allegiances and backgrounds who soon took over the party and turned its apparatus into a cast of acquiescent beneficiaries or, as did Saddam Hussain, expelled or liquidated the old cadres.
[15] In a surprising position, Hasanain Haykal the urbane and sophisticated editor of al Ahram, wrote in 1960 a series of articles in his paper supporting the appointment of the unqualified but trusted in leading positions See al Ahram, “ People of trust versus people of expertise” in which he defended this recourse to the trusted and unqualified as necessary but temporary. History, Haykal`s favorite subject, proved him wrong; states cannot secure legitimacy without performance and cannot cast off easily the beneficiaries entrenched inside the regime.
[16] The Nationalists achieved significant gains for the rural population, especially in education and employment. But these gains occurred in the context of the re-distributional efforts of the state under stagnant economic developments and non modernized structural forms. There were under Nasser and later on under Saddam, attempts at industrialization. However, political failures and wars aborted the potential of these efforts as attested by the statistical development data.
[17]One of the outstanding examples of lack of specifics and objective imprecision’s of the Islamists is their claim that there is in the Sharià an economic system. To be sure, there are some general statements about fair exchange and commerce and interdiction of usury. However, such generalities are far from constituting major building blocks of an economic system. In Islamic banking, a going concern in our days, there is a mix up between interest rate and usury and a complete lack of understanding of the market interest rate and its function in relation to the time value and in capital theory. There is also a mix up between banking intermediation where the depositor bears only the residual default risk of the bank and the commercial deployment of capital via venture capital or investment banking where the depositor bears the commercial and business risks as well. Moreover, the type of banking advocated by Islamists is a hundred percent reserve system, which nullifies multiple credit expansion.
(18) Islamic banking is actually investment enterprising. There are seven major problems to this institutional set up. First, it exposes the depositors to commercial risk. this means that the value of the deposits fluctuates up and down with the profit of the invested funds. Second, there is utter mix-up among rent, interest rate, surplus and a similar mix-up regarding whether interest rate markets are competitive or not. Third, the time value of money is zero, which implies absence of risk. Hence, it is not possible to estimate the most likely values and outcomes in the future. This delinks the present from the future. Fourth, derivatives cannot be used for they carry discounted interest rates and their value is derived from another contract (materiality principle). Fifth, since there is no interest rate and no time value of money, the duration of fixed income securities is equal to their time to maturity. that plus the interdiction of derivatives means that so called Islamic banks cannot hedge. Sixth, the absence of interest rates means that monetary control of central banks is only possible by 100% reserve requirement. this is equivalent to Friedman`s idea of abolishing flexible creation of money by institutions based on fractional reserve requirement. Seventh, on he liability side of the balance sheet, these enterprises cannot issu CD`s. Thus, they have to revert to issuing capital- indebted instruments (Soukukes) whose value fluctuates with the bottom line and the prospects of the enterprise. 
[20] This view echoes some Wahhabi opinions that God through his Sharià and not the populace is the source of authority. The Saudi Royal Family, at least as can be ascertained from some of its spokesmen, supports this view. For example, prince Turki Ibin Faisal, the former head of intelligence, former Ambassador in London and current Ambassador in Washington, has repeatedly stated this position in public. In a televised world forum anchored by Christian Amanpour on CNN in May 2004, he repeated this position. Recently, Mr. Adel Jubare, a spokesman for King Abdullah, said on CNN that the Saudi government is interested in political reform and not in the label of democracy.
[21] The Grand Sheikh of al Azhar University, and such Islamic scholars like Yousuf al Kardhawi and several others have opined against violence and terrorist acts in the last three years.
[22] Ayman al Zwahiri, Knights under the Banner of the Prophet, Document: FBIS-NES-“002-0108 of 2/12/2001 Number: 20020108000197.
[23] After his release from jail, Dr. Hasan al Turabi admitted in his one- hour TV interview with al Jazeera on 18/10/2005 that the Islamists, himself included, have major gaps in their thinking in matters of economic, political governance and social modernization. He also admitted errors of judgment in their political struggle for governing. The Muslim brothers in Syria, Egypt and Yemen admitted publicly the errors of their past practices and approach.
[24] After the terrorist attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia in 2003, 2004 and similar such attacks in Morocco in 2003 and Egypt in 2005, all Arab governments seem to have joined in the struggle against Islamist extremists.
[25] See Olivier Roy, L`Echec de L`Islam Politique, Seuli, Paris, 1992 for an early socio-cultural study of the elements making for success or failure. More recently, two more sources can be recommended: Gilles Kepel, Jihad, Expansion ET Déclin de L`Islamism, Galimard, Paris, 2000. Also, Antoine Basbous, L`Islamism : Une Révolution Avortée ? , Hachette, Paris, 2000.
[27] Reza Aslan, No God but God: the Origins Evolution and Future of Islam, Random House, 2005
[29] Among the necessary scholastic aims is the introduction of empiricism and logical objectivity in thinking and in the study of history. In the same vein, the learned Islamic institutions, such as al Azhar, would benefit of modernizing their curricula to assure in addition to the mastery of the Fuqh and Islamic theology, the knowledge of philosophy, comparative religion and theology, jurisprudence, critical thinking, and the methodology of science and modern methods of research. The study of Islam should become a true university -level endeavor.

posted by Michael Sakbani | 1:56 AM