Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought

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What shall we do without our West friendly dictators? Part three. By the light of human torches

February 4, 2011

Suicide bombers blowing up themselves and others as well as suicide protesters burning themselves demonstrate extreme despair. In the case of the latter any religious motivation should be excluded and religion merely serves to sanctify the existing rage.

These extreme actions are symptoms of a global crisis that is intellectual, spiritual and ideological, but also social, economic, demographic and ecologic. This complex question will be resumed in a later note, but some aspects have to be mentioned here.

In North Africa the hunger protests have been going on since October. At that time the Western media did not pay much attention to the problems of rural North Africans. Hunger is caused by high food prices, and over the last decade, commodity prices and the U.S. stock market have usually moved together.  The population of the Arab countries has been multiplying in the last decades and became proportionally younger and younger. The economy and even the ecology of these countries cannot support this demographic growth and the social and political structure is under extreme tension.  In the entire World the spread between generations become deeper and deeper due to the fact that with the constantly accelerating technical evolution the knowledge and experience of the elders is considered outdated and useless by the young. This problem is exacerbated by the fact the young are often hopeless, unable to find a way to success. In addition, it might be said, that since the young are using more the limbic part of their brain they are more passionate and less wise than the elderly using more their cerebral cortex. It is not by chance that the Masais excluded the unmarried young warriors from the villages, ancient Greeks sent them to found colonies and the Romans put them in the front line of their legions. Suicide bombers in their 60s-70s are rare. Selfish senile despots leading families and countries are many, and their answer to the current problems is repression.

Emigration is of course is a solution for many. But it has always been a difficult one. In addition, as the Arab countries are (currently) technologically and militarily underdogs, this emigration cannot be a glorious conquest, but an individual immigration, in mass. Mass immigration, however hinders integration and since social structures are primarily mental, they are carried by those who flee to their new countries; the original problems are reproduced. Delusion, hopelessness and identity crisis in their old or new homelands turn many Muslims toward radical streams.

Of course Islamism is also fuelled by the Wahhabist ideology of oil-rich Gulf countries and to the fact that during the cold war the card of religion was played against the communist threat. Religion – especially in these antagonistic environments can also provide an important manifestation for the opposition. It is not unknown in Eastern Europe as well, where the Polish Solidarity movement was highly religious in both its character and ideology. Communism in its Eastern European sense is over but Islamism remained there.

The Eastern European experience shows that “joining the West” is a very difficult process and Western help is rarely genuinely generous. The backbone of democracy is the middle class. This middle class is fading even in the West and its values are eaten of by the society of consummation. The Tunisian middle class is relatively strong, but who can lead them? As the Eastern European experience shows, a real renewal should bring a decisive end to the former regime, so its collaborators should be excluded from the new leadership. Another experience is that returning emigrants are rarely welcomed as leaders; they are rather seen as irritant outsiders (Maghrebis living abroad and returning back “home” for holidays are called with envy and despise “facance” by the others). How to build up a society of conscientious citizens from masses socialised to live in oppressive structures, helped by a West offering unequal business and MTV? I want the Tunisians and Egyptians to find their way. But it’s ganna be hard.

 

What shall we do without our West friendly dictators? Part two. Violent Muslims and Western idiots

February 2, 2011

The Eastern European experience also illustrates how the question of “where to go?” is transformed into the question of “how to join them?”. A process in which many essential problems are swept away unresolved in the urgency of action. Namely, societies once belonged to the “Eastern Bloc” very soon had to face the problems of Western democracy.

Western democracy is one of the best social systems ever to exist regarding the welfare of its own community. But it is remarkably dif...


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What shall we do without our West friendly dictators? Part one. Après eux, le déluge.

January 31, 2011

One of the main goals of the LIVIT project is to examine the much "mediatised" topic of violence in Islamic thought on a scholarly level and to share the outcome of our research. This does not apply to the following note that presents some personal opinions rather than the results of a scholarly study. The provocative style of some of the statements is deliberate. A neutral note is sometimes difficult to recall. Due to the ongoing events, I gave up looking for Internet links in order to put t...


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A Muslim Che Guevara, Eduardo Rózsa-Flores (Chico)

November 23, 2010

Eduardo Rózsa-Flores (Chico) was killed on the 12th April 2009. He was born in Bolivia of a Catalan mother and a half-Hungarian half-Jewish father. He was raised in the communist revolutionary tradition of his family and was a natural born activist. After fleeing from Bolivia and Chile, he arrived, with his father, in Hungary. Chico studied in Budapest and Moscow, but his idealism made him unable to work in the intelligence service. As a soldier, he was assigned to be the personal translat...


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Some reflections on the first LIVIT conference and projects for the future

October 22, 2010

It is not very elegant to state that a conference we organised was successful. But it was. It is not because of us, but rather down to the excellent papers given and the animated discussions that followed them. Once again, we wholeheartedly thank all the participants, coming from leading institutions in Denmark, Hungary, Iran, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, for their contribution.

While organising this conference, we decided t...


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Arkoun and the “Sword Verse”

October 1, 2010

The sad news of Mohammed Arkoun’s death will, no doubt, give rise to assessments of his past, present and future impact on the “reformation” of modern Islamic thought.  Of particular interest to the LIVIT project is Arkoun’s reading of the āyat al-sayf – the “Sword Verse” in Q9.5 (“…kill ‘those who associate’ - mushrikīn - wherever you find them…”).  The verse is both a proof text, and a legitimating divine imperative in nearly all legal discussions of jihād.  Ark...


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Quran-burning on September 11

August 6, 2010

A spectacular idea by some narrow minds.

The international media spread the news that a never-heard-of church in Florida plans to host an "International Burn a Quran Day" on September 11. I will not discuss Pastor Terry Jones message and arguments, but the way he symbolised and mediatised them.

Burning books has a long history.

Well before the use of paper, the pharaohs of ancient Egypt used to scratch out the names of their disliked predecessors from monuments and replace them...


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Violence and the Ancestors’ Message: Part 1, Our biological heritage

July 22, 2010

The Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought project calls for an interdisciplinary, comparative and historical approach. Before exploring our social, religious, intellectual or moral history, understanding our biological history is essential. Aristotle and his follower Porphyry constructed the foundation for all medieval philosophy, both Muslim and Christian. For them, man is a rational animal. We might prefer to think that we are purely spiritual, rational and moral beings...


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Nuclear Fatwas

June 24, 2010

There have been a few recent reaffirmations from Iranian jurists, including the Supreme Leader Āyatallāh ʿAlī Khāmeneʾī, that the possession and use of nuclear weapons is forbidden.  They contrast with the 2009 fatwa of Egyptian Grand Mufti ʿAlī Jumaʿā, in which he argues that possession of nuclear weapons with the intent to deter is permitted, whilst actual use is highly conditioned (if permitted at all).  Jumaʿā does not lay out the circumstances under which WMDs could be legit...


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