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Turmoil in Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood's Islamization- in- a-hurry backfires
Friday July 5, 2013 11:33 PM, Kaleem Kawaja, ummid.com

In some Muslim coumtries in the middleeast, the spread of education and enlightenment and the tradition of learning is widrspread, whereas in other Muslim coumntries it is not so. Thus in the former type countries the general public understands Islam better, knows how to interpret it in today's modern environment, and knows that today we live in a complex and composite world, where there is much diversity of thought and where government has to be democratic.

But in the later type of Muslim contries where education is not widespread, that are not diverse, and that have not yet fully emancipated, people make a literal interpretation of Islam and try to make their society like it was in the past.

That has led to very few Muslim countries being able to practice democracy and yet be Islamic. In the middleeast Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Iran are the Muslim countries that have long tradition of learning and where education is widespread. In these countries it is not possible to suffuse Islamic ideology in all walks of life in a hurry and it is not possible to muscle out the liberal Muslims and non-Muslims and put them in a corner.

In Egypt just about one year ago the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammad Morsi became President in a democratic election through the support of a majority of the population. He promised to take all segments of society with him. But in prctice he instead tried to put in a corner the liberal Muslims, the minorities and the modernists. And he put in the front and mainstream segments of government mostly the orthodox Muslims who follow the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In developing a new constitution for Egypt, President Morsi manipulated the political process. He packed the body that developed the constitution with ideologues from the Muslim Brotherhood with no place or voice for the liberal Muslims, the minority Christians and the modernists. And he made the body that developed the constitution, a rather lopsided constitution that favoured the Brotherhood's ideology in a hurry.

When he ran into well established laws and procedural requirements, he bypassed them in his hurry to put the Brotherhood's version of an Islamic democracy into the new constituion and in making rules that governed the election to the Egyptian parliament. That resulted in a parliament whose members were elected in violation of the laws and norms of Egypt and thus the abrogation of the elected parliament by Egypt's top judiciary

Indeed, President Morsi was so fully occupied with this Islamization-in- a- hurry process that his governance of the country suffered badly. He paid very little attention to the very bad law -and order situation and the very depressed economic situation in the country. Crime, poverty and despair soared across the country and the ordinary people's sufferings multiplied hugely. The result of that was a very widespread despair among the ordinary Egyptians. When his opponents asked him to include them more in the political process he stonewalled them. That finally resulted in the military and his political opponents joining hands to remove him from office.

What has happened in Egypt is a setback for Muslims who maintain that Islam is a modern and democratic creed that can adjust itself with changing circumstsnces. If instead Morsi had first paid more attention to governing the country, to reducing the pressing hardships of ordinary Egyptians, to improving law and order, and had made sure that he did not violate or over-rule the laws of the land, and was more in the middle, he would have had a better chance to Islamize Egypt's governmental apparatus. The pace of Islamization would have been slower but it would have been more stable.

The successful last decade under Premier Recip Erdogan in Turkey on the other hand is a contrast to Morsi's failed Presidency in Egypt. In his first five years Erdogan paid maximum attention to improving economy and law and order situation. It is only when he was able to bring significant improvement in the lives of the ordinary people including the minorities, that in his second term he started bringing gradual Islamization in Turkey. The result is a stable Turkey that is also gradually moving towards Islamization.

If Egypt was a Muslim country with lower levels of education, a less modern society, and better economic situation there was a possibility that Morsi's methods may have succeded. But his and the Muslim Brotherhood's methods in a diverse country like Egypt had little chance of success.

We Muslims have much lesson to learn from the contrast in Erdogan's successful governance in Turkey and Morsi's failed governance in Egypt. It is a tragedy that in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood aspired and prepared to rule the country for more than fifty years, but when they got the opportunity, they chose a deficient governance strategy that was not fully thought of. The bottom line is that to make Islamic idelogy and methods successful in Muslim countries, Muslims have to do much homework, be open to some adjustment with others and have a pragmatic strategy.

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