Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke at Al Azhar, the greatest university in the Arab world, a place of Islamic scholarship dating back more than a millennium.
Al-Sisi didn’t just speak to scholars though. He also addressed the Awqaf Ministry, the government’s religious department that funds mosques and Muslim imams across Egypt.
Al-Sisi is Egypt’s president and he’s also its top general. And his speech was an order. A plea, but a command as well: Islam needed to reform itself.
The problem was Islam’s violence. Islam, said al-Sisi, has become the world’s enemy. “It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!”
How was it that the religion they all loved is so hated by the rest of the world? Why is the world so Islamophobic – not in the politically correct meaning of that phrase, but in the literal meaning of that phrase. Why is the world so scared of Islam?
It wasn’t Islam, the religion, he said. It was Islam, the radical political force." Toronto Sun
Babak. We await your voice. I anticipate your unhappiness with the notion that Islam can be "reformed." Of course you are Shia and the notion of gradual adaptation to a changing world through accumulated fatwas from the senior scholars of the hawza is embedded in your version of the faith.
From the point of view of al-Sisi the largest problem is with the much larger Sunni Islamic presence because of the rigidity of the process of non-adaptation to a changing world that has been deeply characteristic of Sunni Islam for a millennium and more. The presence within the Sunni "community" of factions that hold extreme salafist opinions and who are willing to put them into action by force of arms has become a problem for the whole world..
IMO, a Sunni reformation from within religious and governmental institutions like Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Awqaf in Egypt is badly overdue.
Many people here at SST are still horrified at the level of destruction wrought upon Iraq, Pakistan, etc. by the United States. As I have written before "you ain't seen nuttin yet." The US was distracted by the false dogma of COIN in these wars, a doctrine easily accepted as a panacea by the ignorant. This doctrine sought an accomodation with local populations through "good works" but carried out in the context of a largely unadaptive world view on the part of the populations involved.
Most Americans, while willing to give such efforts a "try," really prefer overwhelming brute force and the complete destrction of enemies. The air campaigns of annhilation that we waged against Germany and Japan were not a fluke. We never really applied that level of force in the recent wars. The possibilities available are virtually unlimited.
Al-Sisi sees the danger. His call for attitudinal reform is an attempt to save his people, the Muslim people across the world.
He should be listened to. Events in France point to future degeneration of the situation of the Muslims that should give them all pause.
Al-Sisi went to Mass on Christmas as a symbol of his acceptance of the Copts as fellow Egyptians.
I am gratified to hear of his open minded approach to this deep problem. pl