Andrew McKillop // Islamic power returns to Tunisia

VHeadline.com oil industry commentarist Andrew McKillop writes: Tunisia's underground Islamic movement has emerged at the forefront of nationwide protests against its leadership and appears set to emerge as the strongest political force in elections. -- UK Telegraph January 25, 2011 As we know, the basic reason why Western governments turned a blind eye to Zineddin Ben Ali's dictatorship and its brutal repression of political parties was the bugaboo of "political Islam". OLD DIVISIONS NEW CONFLICTS -- ROOTS OF POLITICAL ISLAM

What is called political islam can be traced back to the period when the sunna-shia schism began, and before. The whole corpus or body of ancient Greek philosophy is implied -- sometimes openly incorporated -- in both sunnite and chi'ite theology and religious philosophy, even more so than in Judaism and Christianism. In the case if Islam, this denial was early and ferocious, and another founding basis of fundamentalism. Only by live debate and spontaneous thought do ideas progress, was the central argument of Socrates.caliphate definition


This rule was a long-time tradition of western philosophy, if we take Socrates as the real founder of what we call western philosophy. The easy application of this to the political domain, where debate is a key feature, is easy to see.

One notable example of an early political islamic speaker is Hibat Allah ibn Malk abul- Barakat al-Baghdadi (died about 1193), a convertee from Judaism at the late age of about 60 years. This philosopher, based in Baghdad as his name indicates, is sometimes called an islamic Thomas Aquinas. He is however mainly known as the Fatther of Political Islam. Hibat Allah's criticism of their demagogy and trickery earned him many admirers -- and bitter political foes.

To the islamic fundamentalists already working their obscurantist poison in the 12thC, and powerful in Baghdad's political circles, this was a very dangerous message. We can note here that Confucius, a contemporary of Socrates (5thC BC) and another fervent defender of tradition, was considered an essentially political philosopher.

Political islam today is very surely an essential component in the triple-layer Iraq war, and in Israel's endless conflict with Islamic movements, poses ever stronger challenges to the sunni elites of the Gulf petromonarchies, and is basic to the new wave of challenges of Western-backed dictators in the Arab world, supported because they are "holding back political Islam" THE WIDE SWEEP OF POLITICAL ISLAM In Iraq, political islam pits sunnites and chi'ites against each other, separates the Kurds into a 'remake' of their short-lived nation of 1917-1923 with all that implies with regard to Turkey and its threat to crush the Kurd nation, and finally generates ongoing civil, sectarian, and above all political struggle against US and British presence. Political islam enters into the multiple conflicts under way in Afghanistan, in Lebanon and Syria, between Israel and the Palestinians and in the emerging regime change under way across the Arab world, triggered by the Tunisian revolution. In every case however political Islam is a go-anywhere, mean-anything term -- or rallying call -- magnified and distorted by Western powers anxious for their oil supply and commercial hold on the Arab world.caliphate definition

Most import, political Islam always has traditional legitimacy.

For external players, the political economic element occupies the high ground, with political Islam conceived as totally hostile to Western economic interests. Unfortunately, these vital interests for the outside world are almost irrelevant to political Islam.

Both in Confucian philosophy, and the philosophy attributed to Hibat Allah (meaning 'gift of Allah,' god-given), the basic teaching is that what we call 'political' today is only a method. As in Aristotle's times 1400 years before, or Confucian times 1600 years before, 'political' had meanings totally unlike today's meaning of the word.

Hibat Allah continued with this Asian-influenced and ancient Greek-influenced doctrine, by claiming that only by destroying the egoo can the individual accede to any higher sphere, of the type that so-called Holy Books speak, through becoming 'the whole man'.

Without this essentially pan-Asian wisdom, incorporated in Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and other Asian religions and philosophy, and very certainly a part of much ancient Greek philosophy, no society can remain stable, nor adjust to changing circumstances, claimed Hibat Allah. Losing contact with our inner wisdom through obeying false traditions -- like islamic fundamentalism -- Hibat Allah went on to claim with many chi'ite mystic philosophers, that the devil of the human ego would take control of the empty wastelands of our minds.

As we know, Sunna means Tradition. It was therefore massively offensive, or enraging for sunnite ideologists and sunnite powerbrokers to hear Hibat Allah's message.
Orthodox also means traditional, and all fundamentalisms claim they are making a "return to tradition". Real tradition concerns inner wisdom -- what we know is right. Almost a state religious philosophy in Saudi Arabia, the wahabite doctrine is yet more obscure than its ancient forbears, hanbalism and salafism. Wahabism emerged long after the Mongol invaders had been converted to islam, becoming today's downsized Turkish nation, after centuries of ruling the Ottoman caliphate, which bestrode vast tracts of today's Arab world. Wahabism is a doctrine frozen in time, which never advanced to the stage of 'politics' because of its born-in-war origins of Arab nationalists defending the Arab nation from external aggression. Islam was also obliged, more than Judaism or Christianity, to find ways to negate and oppose the ideas of other religions and other philosophies. Islam was under intellectual attack from the time of its birth, explaining two tendencies in Islam. Political Islam can therefore extend to all domains, including the economic, right across the MENACA region. It has a basic place in any social, political or international conflict. The force of political islam is underestimated, due to its intrinsic ambivalence to outside observers, but as we move towards the unraveling of the cozy system -- for Western political and corporate leaders -- of single party, or no party dictatorships in the Arab world, it is certain that political Islam will be a major force shaping the outcome or outcomes.caliphate definition

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