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, June 11, 2011

Fundamental Islamic Militancy: a Phenomenon of Religiious Schism and Regimes Failures.

Fundamental Islamic Militancy: A Phenomenon of
Religious Schism and Regimes Failures.
Dr Michael Sakbani*
Islam, indeed all religions where there is a religious law based on text, experiences tension between religious Jurisprudence and Theology; the latter to be defined as the redefinition of religious terms through the prism of contemporary cultural traditions. This tension has had a major role in shaping the ideological underpinnings of contemporary Islamic fundamentalism. However, this paper argues that Islamic militancy perhaps would have been a minor phenomenon if the Muslim societies went through a successful socioeconomic and cultural modernization. The main theme is the argument that the rise of Islamic militancy in the Arab world is, in large part, the consequence of the multifaceted failure of the Arab regimes in the political, social, economic and educational domains.

The arching theme of this paper is that the schism between Islamic jurisprudence, “Fuqh”, and Islamic theology,” Kalam”, has played an important historical role in the petrification of Islam after the first five centuries of its rich ferment. The Islamic revival movements in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century spanned over a gamut from political Islamists, some of whom were fundamentalists, to moderate reformers. The moderate trend was pre-emptied by the rise of the Nationalist resistance to the advent of Western colonialism. However, the Nationalist projects failed in a variety of domains, leading in the process to the rise of the political Islamists. This rise received a special slant by the Afghan war which demarcated the Jihadi Islamists as a violent subgroup of the political Islamists. This paper holds that the on-going Arab revolutions, if successful, will go a long way towards draining up recruits for the Jihadi Islamists and dealing with the multifaceted state failures.

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 that lasted for about 30 years. With the Koranic text on hand, it became the main source of religious, moral and temporal rules. The development of 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 (Jurisprudence). The Fuqh took a jurisprudence approach to religious law, Sharia. According to the Fuqh, a hierarchy of sources determines the religious corpus. The first source is the Kouran followed by the Sunna, i.e. the sayings and practices of the Prophet. 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. Sharia `scholars elaborated the rules of derivation from this hierarchy. With the expansion of the Islamic state, consensus, Ijma, became practically unattainable. 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 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 formulation of these fuqh sources was due to Anas Bin Malek, the great Sunni Jurist. 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, of reason, of life, of nature, of ethics and peace among peoples (al Ghazali, Ihià)1 .
Al Ghazali`s contribution opened the Fuqh to the nontextual development of Sharià, presaging the development of Islamic theology. While that was a great intellectual enrichment, it did not receive acceptance by a clear majority of Islamic scholars, who essentially remained tied to strict the jurisprudence formulated by Anas Ibin Malek.
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 the concept of belief, the nature of God, sin and repentance, God`s predestination and individual responsibility for one’s acts, God`s justice, his attributes, whether the Koran is created or eternal and other such religion terms. The development of Kalam as the 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 (Ninth to tenth Century) among the theologians of the day.
Islamic theology generally accorded great prominence to reason working through logical deduction. It was, in a large measure, a parallel tributary to the development of Arabo-Islamic philosophy that continued the Greek classical heritage. Among theological schools, there is a wide spectrum regarding the interpretation of the text and its possible conflict with reason. In the case of the Mutazilah, the 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 and allegoric nature and seeking its logic and inner meaning as deduced from its general spirit. This they called "Tàweel"i.e. imputing and explaining the meaning and purpose of the text (Nasution, in Martin et al, 1997 )2.
In Shià Islam, some one and a half-century after the Prophet, his third great-grandson, Jaafar  Ibin Muhammad, known as al Sadique,(the Credible) the sixth Shiit Imam, fashioned the institution of the Imamate and endowed it with the capacity to interpret the doctrine so as to be compatible with changes of time and place. The authority of the Imam, who is a descendant of the Prophet, 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. Shiism, started as a political debate on whether Ali Ibin Abi Taleb, the cousin of the prophet, is along with his family which descended from the prophet`s daughter Fatima, are the only legitimate successor of the Prophet or that it is a matter for the community to decide on merit. The Sunnis believed there is no bloodline in Islam and the matter should be handled by the "shoura" elective choice. However, this political dispute evolved at the hands of Jaafar al Sadiq into a religious school of Fuqh. Imam Jaafar was not only the most important of all Shiaa Imams, but as well a great scholar of the age who was the teacher of two great Doctors of Sunni Islam, Abu Hanifa and Anas Ibin Malek.He was also, the third generation grandson of khalif Abu-Bakir, the first Islamic khalif.
 With the authority of the Imamat as devloped by Imam Jaafar, Shiism saw no need for both Qiyas or Ghazali`s al Masaleh and limited the authority of al Hadith to these collected by the Shiite "ruwats" ,i.e. compilers. 
After the death of Imam Jaafar, there was a dispute regarding who should be his successor.  His older son Ismail, who died before his father, was proclaimed by one faction: the Ismailis and his living younger son Musa al Kazem, was proclaimed by the Jaafari faction. The Ismailis are often referred to as the 7th Imamet adherents and the Jaafaris as the Tewlver-Imamet adherents. 
Ismailism later succeeded in attaining power in North Africa under the title of the Fatimids and the Fatimids expanded into Egypt and parts of Syria. The rulers of this state called themselves Fatimides Khalifs, i.e. prophet successors, and their authority was both secular and religious. The Fatimid's state lasted for close to 280 years ending at the time of the second crusade. Subsequently, Ismailism split into Nizaris and Mustaalis.  
The interesting theology of the Ismailis was very influenced by Greek neo-Platonism. Ismailis held that there are surface meaning to Quranic text and hidden, "Baten", meaning and that the Immam is the authority in seeking and pronouncing these meanings. In our days, the Nizaris are the larger sect in this school and they follow the Agha Khan who is now the 49th Imam. 
The twelfth-Imam Shiism developed along different lines. A decisive moment in the development of 12th 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 this branch of Shià Islam (Berkey,2003)3

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 require for consideration, an institutional setup, like the Church. Yet, outside Shià Islam, the Sunni mainstream did not create formal institutions to evolve these rules or to revise them; there was no institutionalized religious authority in Sunni Islam until the Ottoman era. The only semblance of authority came from the theologians and the people of learning, known as the Ulama. The latters were not given status until the Ottoman period. This fundamental question was to occupy the attention of scholars, especially the famous philosopher Ibin Rushd (Averroes)4.

The Two Approaches to Religious Terms
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 hierarchical Jurisprudence, and a theological- Philosophic approach emphasizing contextual and symbolic aspects as well as logical concepts inspired by Aristotelian and neo-Platonic rationalism. This tradition started with al Kindi and after him al Farabi and followed by a long line of Muslim philosophers, like Ibin Sina (Avicenna), all the way to Ibin Rushd (Averroes) and Ibin Tufail. 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 a rationalist and by implication relativist. Akin to the traditions of Western thought, going back to the heritage implies subjecting it to critical thinking to revise it in accordance with contemporary values in order to advance forward. For the Jurists of the Fuqh, heritage is accepted, researched, affirmed to serve as protective authentication. This authenticity is sought in itself, and not for attempting to go forward. The celebrated debate between al Ghazali and Ibin Rushd in the eleventh century marked a critical schism between these two traditions in interpreting and developing the Sharià (see references)5 . The theologians affirmed the centrality of reason in interpreting religious terms, whereas the jurists affirmed the text as the central source of religious epistemology.
The historical import of the debate seems to have attracted the attention of the power structure in the community: the temporal authorities and their Ulamas (the religiously learned) who were appointed by them. It is evident that both had a clear interest in shutting off free-thinking and placing religion under their authority. 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 programs, some of which had egalitarian aspects, like land and wealth distribution. The Ulamà, on the other hand, wanted to institutionalize their authority and secure the acquirable economic benefits. Thus, the state banned in the sixth century of Islam religious innovation (Ijtihad), and felons doing it were pursued and persecuted by its full power.

The Closure of the Door on Theological Innovation (Ijtihad)
Under the Seljuk Vazirsrs who nominally acknowledged the Abbaside Khalif of Baghdad, 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 (al Ghazali, Ihià)6
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)”( Russel, 1972 )7 . Russell continues to note that Ibin Rushd influence in the West “was very great, not only on the scholastic, a body of unprofessional free thinkers … who were called “Averroists” …but…among professional philosophers…especially the Franciscans and at the University of Paris”.

The Petrification 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 hallmark of the writings of subsequent 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. Suffism was developed as early as the second century of Islam, but it was further developed in the next three centuries.  The development of Sufism brought into Islam an aesthetic- 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's great contribution was in the recasting of the relationship between man and God through love and self-annihilation. This utter denial of any truth but God rendered the diving as the only reality in being. Ibin Arabi`s the "unity of being" placed God at the center of all existence. Sufism did not delve into either Fuqh or philosophy as lines of interest. Further, there were Sufi Sunnis as well as Sufi Shiites. 
In the middle period of Islam, its mainstream, Sunni Islam (85 % of Muslims), 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 widespread 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 (Laude, 2005)8 . The homogenization led to concrete forms and beliefs, with the 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.

The Middle Period Scholarship
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 without critical examination in the light of subsequent values. Traditions, no matter how exalted, are the manifestation of collective wisdom at their time and collective obedience in the past does not have normative value for the future. This tradition of more or less backward referring scholarship authenticates the past experience as a valid immutable guide for the future. In essence, it refuses to be contemporary. Referencing to the past has continued in traditional Islamic learning to this day.

In Shià Islam, the forced conversion of Iran to Twelve Imam Shiism (Berky,2003 )9 after the coming to power therein 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 Imamate (the institution of the Imam), thereby conferring validity of reason on all its pronouncements (Arjamandi ed., 1988)10 . At any rate, in matters of jurisprudence, "per- se", Shià Fuqh is more restrictive than its Sunni counterpart in as much as it does not accept Qias or al Masalih as sources. 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 imamate obedience stands on a theory of divine right vested in the prophet`s descendants, 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 after the fall of the Fatimides. 
The Zaydis, split from political Schiism early in the 8th century. They did not much spread outside Yeman and did not share the Imamet concept with the 12th Shiism. Thus, Islam arrived in 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 Muslim parents in the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s to send their children to western missionary schools on the basis of their foreign financial backing. This is an example of resistance to modernity despite the Sunna injunctions (comments and examples)11.

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 the schools that followed the teaching of some middle-age scholars, notably, Ibin al Kayyem and Ibin Taymiah, the Hanbali scholars, who sought salvation by returning to early Islamic purity and advocated the reopening of Ijtihad to develop Islam according to the established jurisprudence. Ibin Taymiah was a scholar-activist, but it is his thought on the politics of Islam that has endeared him to political Islamists of our day. 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 that 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 Turk militarists, of little religious observance. He, therefore, developed the political model of an Islamic state in which the populous would be bound to obey the ruler, who in return would defend, apply and abide by the Sharià.
 The same bargain was made 400 years later by one of his followers: Mohamad ibin Abdulwahab with the Saudi dynasty. This bargain of obedience in return for application of the Sharià became a landmark in the Salafi traditions till our day.
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 continuing the traditions of the righteous ancestors as they were. 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. The return - to- the- roots and to the religious piety of the “righteous ancestors”, is what earned his followers the name “ Salafiyya” ( note by the author)12 .
Perhaps, Ibin Taymiah`s discourse on establishing an Islamic state is the germ from which originated the modern political Islamists. The political Islamists of our era seek a double aim: re-establishing a political unified structure for all Islamic people, the “Khilafah” and organizing such state on the basis of Sharià, the received jurisprudence. 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 1920`s in Egypt (Brykczynski, 2005)13 .
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 reform 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 traditions. It is therefore an advocacy of taking the historical example rather than offering a specific new program. On this view, the prevailing degradations of the Muslim societies and states are essentially the result of the disintegration of the Islamic political order. Thus, a proposition common to the political Islamists in this mold is the advocacy of defending Muslims through reestablishing a Pan -Islamic order.
Political Islamists in the contemporary scene include also the Islamic Front of Salvation of Algeria and the followers of Al Maududi 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 thought of Ibin Taymiah, resulting in a brew of incendiary thinking, such as found in the writings of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb and his followers of radicalized Muslim Brothers, such as the members of the society of “Forgiveness and Disfranchising”. Sayyid Qutb elaborated the doctrine that Muslims (as well as Jews and Christians) live in a state of Jahilya, ignorance and paganism, and they are aggressed by others. Thus, he advocated changing their state. He elaborated after Ibin Taymiah and the early Khawarej, the Jihad doctrine of disfranchising from Islam, i.e., Takfeer, anybody who does not subscribe to his thought and act according to Islam as he sees it. Interestingly, he held that true Islamic society only took place during the forty years of the four Khalifs. (Qutb, 1991)14.
 Qutb’s thought amounts to a total rejection of any system other than the ordained system of God, i.e., the Sharià. And this notion of disfranchising from Islam anybody who does not share Qutb’s and other Islamists views became central to the Islamic Jihadis. This is a kind of Khawariji- Machiavellian approach, where the collectivistic interest of Islam, as he sees it, justifies terror and violence against whoever is thought to stand in the way. Bin Laden, of post 9/11 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 a 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.
Up till 1990, all political Islamists rejected the concept of the civil state and with it democracy and the concepts of separation of power and popular legitimacy. Their political organization was a collection of historical references to practices by the Muslim states during the four Khalifs, a period of fewer than 40 years of Muslim history. No doubt this textual literal and selective view of Islam was the result of the spread of the Salafist-Wahabbi influence after 1970.

The Problematic of the Islamists
The 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 are 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 suspect. The historians of that epoch did not have under the 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 irrational and deficient in juristic 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 fantasy fiction at best. 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
In Shià Islam, the equivalence is found in Imam al Khumeini` concept of the “reign of the religious authority”, Wilayat al Faquih, installed after the Iranian revolution of 1979 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 the precepts of Shià Fuqh, i.e. the teachings of the deputies of the disappeared Imam.
Besides the political Islamists and the Salafi 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 such as Jamaluddin al-Afghani, 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 Salafis, 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, Abdoh saw no tension between Islam and science and held that Islam in general and the Kouran are rational constructs. Abdoh, 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 in a modern setting (Hanafi,2011 )15 .One of the last stars of reformers was Ali Abdulrazek, who wrote in 1926 about separating the state from religion which, in reinspect is the first Islamic reformers to advocate secular state.

History is sometimes cruel. These reformers were in the lead for only few decades before the advent of Western colonialism and the rise of the Nationalist. The reformers did not have the time to go the further step beyond reform to spreading societal enlightenment, i.e., an ideology of critical rationalist thinking in all the received culture. This was what the West did in the enlightenment but the Islamic world has not yet done.

The Preemptive Advent of Western Colonialism
It can be said that that the Islamic 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, as well as in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman State, 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 mass movements with clear -cut political agendas. It was evident that the Nationalist appeal for joining the struggle against the Imperialist West drowned the appeal of religious reformers. Thus, the Nationalists can be said to have pre emptied the mainstream Islamic reformers ( Comments: Sakbani )16 .

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 an 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 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 maladaptation.
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, till 1970, the demise of Nasser. In 1967, 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 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 local religious leaders. Since they were politically neutered, economically poor and rather backward, the state was in general irrelevant to their conditions. The culture of the rulers was based on authority, on the domination of a pre-modern state setup, where loyalties were based on family, clans, sectarian appurtenance or regional identification. In this sociological milieu, both the Islamists and the Nationalist exploited the sociology of rural immigration to urban centers to recruit followers: the Islamists captured the uninformed religious adherents and the nationalists a clientele of beneficiaries of the non-modern states they built.

The Multiple Failures of the Nationalist Regimes

The lack of political, educational, social and developmental contents to the various active movements of Arab Nationalism exposed their dysfunctional to the Arab public opinion and created an accumulation of frustration throughout the Arab World. With the spread of satellite media, portable devices and computers, the regimes lost their monopoly of public media. Moreover, the new inventions of social media enabled the educated segments of the population, essentially the young, to circumvent governments’ controls on association, assembly and expression. Consequently, the public opinion was made aware of the multifaceted failures of the regimes (Sakbani,2011)18 .

A. Failures of Politics
 the political front, politics ceased to exist in the Arab world. The one-party state anchored on the security apparatus and possibly the Army, which has been the norm in the Arab republics, bulldozed the political and civil scenes and left no civil institutions. The old political parties were banned and, in time, disappeared. The permitted opposition parties live by the grace of the regime and in obedience to it and generally lack popular bases. Civil society institutions like trade unions, professional associations and advocacy institutions are under regime control. Without freedoms of expression, of assembly and of association, society has no opinions, no views and above all no public debate. In short order, the insular leaders trusting only their cliques and beneficiaries and having no independent expertise in the public function to advise them, trapped themselves into a bubble. Their cut off from their people was semi-complete and their dispossessed citizens came to feel the alienation of the outsiders. In this world of a dysfunctional state living in an eternal status quo, the decision-making circles are the protectors and beneficiaries of the regime and they function in perfect insularity and often lack of expertise and empirical knowledge. Such states descended in short order into a pre-modern state based on family, sect, region, tribe or party. The common bond between the regimes and the beneficiaries was pervasive corruption. Moreover, the republican regimes started a new tradition of hereditary succession, thereby assuring the perpetuation of their families in power.
In the Arab monarchies, the political system monopolized power in the royal families and refused any meaningful participation of the populous in governance. Like the republics, the monarchies also placed limits on the rights to association, expression and assembly.
The biggest political defect of the nationalists thought was the absence of democracy and respect of human rights in its central tenets. The relationship between the state and the individual throughout the Arabo- Islamic history was based on obedience in return for justice in governance. This was evident during the reign of the four Khalifs, a period of noble ethic leadership, but often absent during the subsequent rulers. The thought of Ibin Taymiyya and the Salafis follow in these traditions. That, however, is an inadequate basis for a modern state in as much as it does not provide for popular legitimacy and participation and for the separation of powers under the rule of law. In practice, all the Arab regimes have been autocratic, repressive and abusive of human rights.

B. Failures of Development and Economic Transformation. 19
On the economic and developmental fronts, all the nationalist republican regimes adopted more or less state-controlled economic systems installing the public sector in a dominant and commanding role. However, the public sector was largely unprepared to lead and it chained economic activities with bureaucratic controls and red-tape without any accountability. Moreover, its lack of accountability produced economic inefficiency. In countries like Iraq, Libya and Algeria, in addition, wars, misrule and other political problems dissipated economic development. The result was that the long-run rate of real economic growth in most non-oil countries only modestly exceeded population growth over the past four decades. This economic non-performance has led to staggering rates of unemployment, especially among the youth. All the Arab states suffer massive unemployment, especially among the youth. In the countries which have recently experienced popular uprisings: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen, the youth unemployment is roughly double the general unemployment rate, and the latter is 12%, 13%, 30%, 20% and 30% respectively (Sakbani,2011; Ilo;2011)20. The poor economic performance produced poverty and degradation of the middle class. Furthermore, the dominance of the public sector brought about a class of corrupt beneficiaries protected from the reach of the law.
This of course was not the case in the rent- based economies of the oil exporters. The economic well-being of most people dramatically improved but the economies have suffered of structural imbalances, and weak structural capacity to produce treatable goods and services in a sustainable manner. Moreover, the oil exporters have invested heavily in the international financial markets, thereby deepening their dependence on international financial conditions and sustaining more than $ 2.5 trillion of losses during the initial phase of the recent economic crisis (Finance Minister, 2010)21 .

C. Failures in Social Development
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 l economy became exercises in political indoctrination ((UNESCO, 2010)22 . All the Arab states still live in the shadow of extensive old traditions regarding religious precepts, conditions of women, attitudes towards authority, paternalistic autocracy in the family, non-liberal attitudes towards non-conformity, abhorrence of multicultural differences in values and thought, all of which are received without critical examination. This is not unique to the Arab World, but a common cultural problem for all societies. However, in Arab societies, both the nationalists and the traditional Monarchists have had non-critical attitudes regarding received traditions. They both upheld traditional values in the name of authenticity or unquestioned faith. This resulted in having non-liberal societies that do not sit comfortably with differences in values and views. And that is a hindrance to democracy, to modernity and to progress.

D. Failures in Education, Knowledge and R&D
In the non-oil economies, the above failures are associated with the deterioration of the quality of education and learning. Given the dearth of resources, pressure on the system of education due to the double coups of more egalitarian educational opportunities and galloping population growth, has resulted in deterioration of quality and neglect of specialized technical learning. According to UN reports, only two Arab countries, Libya and Bahrain, can provide all their youth with the opportunity to acquire appropriate education at high levels (Arab Education, 2010)23. The UN Report on Arab Education documents in table 3.3, the inferior results of test scores of degree holders; only 12% scored good results (Arab Education,2010)24 . In higher education, there is not a single Arab university among the top four hundred universities in the world Academic ranking, (WAR, 2010)25 . The picture is more somber if the oil-exporting countries are excluded, as they have spent in recent years significantly on education.

Of particular alarm is the widespread illiteracy of Arab women. The Human Development Report estimated that in 2005, 60 percent of females were illiterate (UNICEF, 2005)26 . Despite the increased enrollment of women in all levels of schooling, especially at the university level, their stock is still limited. The energy-exporting Arab countries plus Jordan and Tunisia, have boosted significantly the number of women in tertiary education, but the problem is that high education in the Arab countries remains separate from employment needs and in the case of women, not fully deployed. It should be recalled that many of the manifestations of social development are associated with the spread of literacy and the availability of jobs for females. Outside the agricultural rural sector, female labor participation rates are less than a fourth of the males’ rates. The received traditions of Arab societies with all their restrictions on women and their external role, are not helpful in this regard; women labor participation rates in the Arab countries are much below those of other developing countries, and ironically, Tunisia has one of the best. No society can become modern and fully productive if women are relegated to home and household work. On the basis of a capital-output ratio of 3 to 1, and using Oakum’s law, it can be shown that raising the participation rate of women to 40 % of the national labor force, would add 1.2 percent to the trend of GDP growth. The revolutionary republics proved to be just as backward in their orientations as the traditionalist kingdoms and principalities. Finally, the refuge over the past three decades into authentic traditions, known as “Islamic Awakening”, has reinforced the back -referencing to ancestral traditions in Arab societies, thereby increasing their cut off from contemporary modernity. This adds to the failure of modernization and feeds into social obsolescence.

The total expenditure on research and development in the Arab world does not exceed 1 percent of the GDP in the highest-ranking country, Tunisia. The UNESCO’s Science Report of 2010 estimates R &D expenditure in Egypt at 0 .23 of 1 percent of the GDP and in Libya at 1.2 % (Science Report, 2010)27 . This compares with an average of 2.2 percent in the OECD countries and higher than that in the US; Japan, Israel, Malaysia, China and South Korea. Qatar has set an ambitious 2.8 percent to be reached in five years. Saudi Arabia and Libya have also ambitious plans. But the rest of the Arab countries' spending on R & D rank among the lowest in the world. Absent governments’ commitment to R & D, the private sector expenditure operates in a vacuum. Development of knowledge and knowledge applications are the bedrock of advance and the source of growth of productivity which has historically accounted for two-thirds of GDP growth in almost every country. After the passing of the fossil energy era, the Arab countries’ future problems will be in water resources, in desertification, in food production and coping with climate change, all of which needs knowledge and research.
The failure of educational transformation condemns social and economic transformation. In the global economy, only the educated and well trained will have a chance and only economies with a capacity to export and trade have been successful. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, like all other Arab countries, are insignificant participants in world exports outside the oil sector.

The Exploitation of the Nationalists Failures
After the defeat of 1967, these multifaceted failures became obvious to the populace. 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 psychological 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 the loyalty to the modern citizen-state. 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. In the event, the Islamists moved in to fill the political vacuum and claim the allegiance of the deceived populace. They had a ready audience in the subculture 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 was tempted to allow the newcomers 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 ( Roy,1992; Kapel, 2000)28. 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 on specific programs to deal with the life problems facing the people. A case in point is the confused economic programs espoused. 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. Riding on the interdiction of usury, they propose Islamic banking as an alternative to modern commercial banking. But, Islamic banks are in essence, a form of investment companies with elements of merchant banking that do not do financial intermediation. They expose the depositors to commercial risk. No distinction is made between the return on capital in a competitive market and usury producing surplus returns outside market equilibrium. Furthermore, to eradicate interest rates, they advocate one hundred percent reserve requirements, thereby doing away with multiple credit expansion and monetary policy management altogether. No such 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 (author’s note on interest)29 . The thrust of Islamic economics, according to its advocates, is to inject an egalitarian and socially responsible overall objective based on social solidarity and ethical dealing. This means building up a social preference function. But who decides the social preference function? Is it individuals or the Islamic establishment?  if it were the first, we know after Ken Arrow^s impossibility theorem, that individual preferences cannot be added up to build a social preference function. If it were the latter, then by what political democratic means has the society expressed its preference. And what are the qualifications, political and technical, of the Ulama of the establishment?
During the 1990`s, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, in Syria, and in Iraq moved gradually from their old position holding the Sharià as the sole valid reference for the society to accepting as equally legitimate, the references of non-Islamic parties provided that all compete democratically. The Muslim Brothers came out with detailed revised positions on women, democracy and political participation. Thus, they accepted democracy, the alternation of power by the ballot box and the renunciation of violence. In effect, they accepted the concept of a civilian state. The culmination of this development was the formation of a political party in April 2011. This leaves the Salafis and the Jihadists as the two Islamists strands which reject democracy altogether on the theory that God is the only source of authority and the Sharià is the lone genuine program reference (CNN: Amanpour, 2004)30 .

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, in part, 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 from 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 Sayyid Qutb (who was hung in Egypt) and other such Islamists. As was said above, Sayyid Qutb denounced the conditions of Muslims as Jahiliyah, i.e. paganism and ignorance. Because of that and since Muslims are aggressed in so many places, he advocated Jihad against the Muslim society and its aggressors. Interestingly, he held that true Islamic society only happened during the thirty-odd years of the four Khalifs. This is a total rejection of any system other than the ordained system of God, i.e., the Sharià. Anybody who does not advocate Qutb’s views is considered an apostate, a kafir, and is a legitimate target, and this notion became central to the Islamic Jihadis( Qutb,1991)31 . To recruit future Jihadis, explicit Koranic references together with concrete factual examples of aggression against Muslims were found all over the world. 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. Thus, they become, like the born again, a community apart from the main Islamic one.

The militants' radical agenda has not been convincingly challenged by the mainline Islamic establishment. It is rather ironic that a religion that equates taking one life to killing all humanity, and renounced aggressive wars against others, a religion that 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. Fortunately, there are some positive changes of late. 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 in order 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 small 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 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, the late Bin Laden`s principal ideologue, admits in his book (Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet) that the Islamists have failed to turn s the Muslim masses into armed militants i.e., tajyeesh (Zawahiri, 2003 )32 . 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. Many prominent Islamist leaders admitted the errors of their past ways. The revolutions of the Arab Spring, have demonstrated the marginality of the Islamists both as an ideological force and as a street phenomenon. Bin Ladden`s assassination by the US stirred no emotions and had only a passing interest in the Arab Public opinion. Thus, we are witnessing that fundamentalists are increasingly becoming a spent force without much relevance to the Arab youth. The failures of the regimes seem to weigh much more heavily in the Arab street than the ideological pull of fundamental Islamists. Nonetheless, if the revolutions fail and autocracy and dysfunctional government continue, the Islamist will once again flourish on discontent.

The lack of a sanctified institutional set up in Sunni Islam leaves the door open for selective interpretation of texts and a personalized approach to the religious tenets. The Muslim and Arab world’s 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.

Concluding Synthesis

This paper has weaved several underlying themes in attempting to explain the rise of Islamist fundamentalism and its derivative: militant Jihadism. It is argued that Islamic revival, as an auto-critique and a program of reform, was sidetracked and preempted at the beginning of the twentieth century by the advent of Western Colonialism and the countervailing rise of Nationalist resistance. Thus, Islam arrived into our era about the same it was 700 years before. Each Muslim country had its own path to tackling the colonial problem. 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 very much along the lines of European Nationalism.
In the Arab World, there was a dialectical intertwining of the Islamists and the Arab Nationalists. The Arab nationalists provided the thesis of the Arab narrative, while the Islamists provided the antithesis shaped by the failures of the Nationalists, obvious 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 modernizing character. The spread of autocracy and authoritarian rule in the Arab World reduced the distinction between the traditional regimes and the Republican ones and brought the two into a common landscape of non-democracy and Prue- modern state political organization. The synthesis of this state of affairs is to formulate a new project of modernization and development in the Arab states. The current Arab revolutions offer a historical opening to embark upon democracy, modernization and economic and social development therein. This paper holds that this is the only effective antidote to Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadism.
No new project of modernization can ignore the historical and sociological import of Islam in the Arab societies. However, outside belief and spirituality, no religion or ideology, including Islam, can offer a detailed problem- solving program for the affairs of man for all time. Consequently, part of the modernization project must introduce relativity in non-spiritual matters as 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 hoped by the current revolutions must build secular states in harmony with Islamic spirituality. This leads to a short and long-run program of action.
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. The educational curricula in the Arab country must promote critical thinking of everything, including the religious corpus and the promotion of the values of a liberal society comfortable with differences in values and views.
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 in such issues as Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, etc. and pursue instead policies of openness, equal partnership and justice. Arab societies must modernize; change the way they are governed and the way they interact with new ideas. Fortunately, the autocratic and authoritarian regimes prevalent in the Arab World for five decades are now seeing their last days. The new project of modernization opening up by the ongoing Arab revolutions deserves to be backed by the West, financially, technologically and culturally; it is a world common- good if it succeeds.
Finally, 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.
* Former Director of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation and Special Programs, UNCTAD; Adjunct Professor of Finance and Economics at Webster-Geneva; Senior Consultant to the UN System, the European Union and Private Banks.


1.Abuhamed Mohammad al Ghazali, Ihià Ulumu Aldeen, in Arabic. For English translation, see al ghazali, web site, The Revival of Religion’s learning, Part III.
Harun Nasution, Al Mutazilah ; the Rationalists in Islam as translated in , in Martin,Woodward and Atmaja, Defenders of Reason in Islam; Mutazilizm, Oxford University Press, 1997. PP. 161-192..
2. For the development of Shià Islam see the 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 and the Neoplatonian approach of the early Muslim philosophers. 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.
4. Al Ghazali wrote his famous book, The Revival of Religion `s Learning, as an annotated guide to Islam. Despite its theological brilliance, it has stood as a prime exposé of Sunni orthodoxy. On the development of Sunni Islam in this period see, J. Berkey, Op. Cit., especially, Ch.12 &13, pp.113-129.
5. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, Simon and Schuster, N.Y. 1972.PP.425-428.
6. See for a discussion of religious forms Paul Laude, “An Eternal Perfume”, Parabola, Winter 2005, pp.6-9.
7. Berkey, Op.cit., ch 14.
8. 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.
9. In the Sunna, the prophet says that a Muslim should seek knowledge even if it were as far as China.
10. The Muslim Brothers formed in April 2011, a political party separate from the movement. The new party, called the Justice and liberation Party, is to engage in Egyptian Politics as a civilian institution operating under democratic rules.

11. Paul Brykczynski, “Radical Islam and the Nation: the Relationship between Religion and Nationalism in the Political Thought of Hasan al Banna” in History of Intellectual Culture, Vol.5, No.1, 2005, ISSN 1492-7810.
12. The primary reference is Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Maalemul Tariq), American Trust Publishing, Indianapolis 1991; also, N. Ayyubi, Political Islam, 1991, pp. 134-142.
13. 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”. For a good summary of Abdoh’ s thought as well as that of other moderate Islamists, see, Hassan Hanafi, New Directions in Islamic Thought, , Center for International and Regional Studies, Brief 4, Qatar, 2010, Georgetown University of Foreign Service in Qatar.
14. The moderate Islamists revivalist started their movement at the end of the 19Th Century. One of the first was Abdul Rahman al Qawakibi, who exposed in his book, The Nature of Despotism, the failures of the Ottoman state and the state of decline of Islamic societies. The torch was passed on to Jamaluddin al-Afghani and his students at al Azhar University: Mohammad Abdoh, Taher al Jazayeri and Rasheed Ridha, all of whom provided a start of a modern revision of Islamic thought.
15. 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 nonmodernized 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.
16. This part on the failures of the Arab Regimes is based on a paper published by the author in 2011. See Michael Sakbani, ”The revolutions of the Arab spring: are democracy, development and modernization at the gates?”, Journal of Contemporary Arab Affairs, vol.4, no 2, April-July, 2011, pp.127-148, Routledge, London..

17. Sakbani, Op.Cit,, 2011, and ILO unemployment statistics cited in the paper.

18. See the declaration of the Minister of Finance of Kwait reported in, www.

19. United Nations, UN Report on Arab Education, 2010

20. United Nations, Op. Cit., Ch.3., table 3.

21. Ibid.

22. WRU, Academic Ranking of World Universities since 2003.

23. UNICEF., Human Development Report,2005 and various issues.

24. UNESCO, Science Report 2010.
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.
26. Interest rates are the connection between future and present values. They determine the time value of money. Without interest rates, Central Banking becomes an exercise in fixed Monetary quantum. With changes in economic conditions, this leads to time inconsistency problem of monetary policy; what was appropriate before and unknown becomes inappropriate.

27. This view echoes some Wahhabi opinions that God through the 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 until recently 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 articulated this position. Recently, Mr. Adel Jabbar, a spokesman for King Abdullah, said on CNN that the Saudi government is interested in political reform and not in the label of democracy.

28. Sayyid Qutb, Op. Cit., also, Y.Y. Haddad, “the Quoranic Justification for an Islamic revolution; the views of Sayyid Qutb”, M.E. Journal, Vol. 37, No. 1, winter 1983.
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.
29. Ayman al Zwahiri, Knights under the Banner of the Prophet, Document: FBIS-NES-“002-0108 of 2/12/2001 Number: 20020108000197.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
In a recent book along somewhat different lines, Reza Aslan (see following footnote) 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. 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.
33. Reza Aslan, No God but God: the Origins Evolution and Future of Islam, Random House, 2005.

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