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July 6, 2018 No.
7556

Egyptian-German Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad On Intellectuals' 'Enlightenment Phobia': There Can Be No Enlightenment Without A 'Mighty Clash With Heritage'

Speaking at a Moroccan Organization for Human Rights conference, Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad called for a halt to trying to please the Islamists and said that "whoever wants to embrace the heritage, along with its representatives and theoreticians, and to incorporate them in the enlightenment game is perpetrating a crime." Abdel-Samad enumerated the principles of enlightenment and said that solutions should not be sought within jurisprudence as these are "nothing but plastic surgery for a lifeless corpse." It is like a rubber band, he said: "We pull away with our thinking, but then we are pulled back by our fear, of taboos, our fear of prohibitions, and our fear of being punished by the law or by society. There can be no enlightenment where there is fear."

To view the clip of Hamed Abdel-Samad on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"When Intellectuals Say To Me: 'Society Has Not Yet Matured Enough To Interact With Your Bold Ideas,' I Always Respond: 'Well, Give Me A Date – Tell Me When'"

Hamed Abdel-Samad: "When we revisit the notion of Jihad, which has gotten us to where we are today, we must call our forefathers to account, for coming to North Africa and enslaving human beings. We must also call the texts that led to that to account. Who has the courage to do that? I face criticism from brothers... It is natural for me to face criticism and threats of Islamists, but when intellectuals say to me: 'Society has not yet matured enough to interact with your bold ideas,' I always respond: 'Well, give me a date. Tell me when. If it's Thursday, May 13, 2035, I'll be there. Just give me a date.' It shouldn't be left open-ended. Why has society 'not yet matured'? Could it be because no one has dared to confront society with these ideas? Could the reason be because people who dared to take a step forward took two steps back, because they wanted an easy and comfortable enlightenment, without confrontations? This is a great deception.

"There can be no enlightenment without a mighty clash with the heritage. Whoever wants to embrace the heritage, along with its representatives and theoreticians, and to incorporate them in the enlightenment game is perpetrating a crime. Whoever thinks that some Islamists support enlightenment is wrong. There are no hedgehogs without quills."

[...]

"The Truth Is That All The Principles That I Have Mentioned Are Either Non-Existent, Or Else They Are Castrated Or Conditional, In Islam"

"Enlightenment has five principles, the first of which is freedom. The second principle is human rights, and I mean it in the sense that appeared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and not the hierarchical rights that we know from Islamic heritage, in which Muslims have certain rights and non-Muslims have different rights, men have certain rights and women have different rights. No, all citizens have equal rights and equal duties. The third is the principle of tolerance – again, not in the Islamic sense, where we allow certain things to the People of the Book, but not to the Bahais, the atheists, or the Buddhists. No. Tolerance should be non-hierarchical and should apply to all. Should the fact that I am a Muslim and belong to a Muslim majority mean that all the minorities should be under my thumb? No. We are equal before the law. Another principle is the principle of pluralism. This principle of pluralism does not exist in Islam. I say this loud and clear. The truth is that all the principles that I have mentioned are either non-existent, or else they are castrated or conditional, in Islam."

[...]

"There Are Also Jurisprudent Solutions, Which You Should Forget About Altogether – They Are Nothing But Plastic Surgery For A Lifeless Corpse – They Are Like Painting The Walls Of A Building On The Verge Of Collapse"

"Everybody is trying to get out of this mess in their own way. There are enlightened solutions, like the ones offered by Said Nacheed, Rachid Aylal, Ahmen Assid, or Mohammed Lamsiah. There are also jurisprudent solutions, which you should forget about altogether. They are nothing but plastic surgery for a lifeless corpse. They are like painting the walls of a building on the verge of collapse. Don't waste your time on people who are trying to do this, because they are striving to save face, not to reach enlightenment.

[...]

"You can be sure that no matter how hard you try, you will never please the Islamists. And the Islamists will never be pleased with you until you follow their creed... Anyone trying to play tricks and to dodge clarity in order to please others – it will not happen. They will use you for their cause and then throw you a bone.

[...]

"It is imperative to confront our forefathers and their [religious] texts. We must open all the complex problems, once and for all."

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"The Job Of The Intellectual Is Not To Save Islam, Or To Find A Comfortable Way Out For The Fanatic Believer"

"Our goal is not to save Islam. The believers can save their personal faith, by refraining from mixing it in politics and legislation. The job of the intellectual is not to save Islam, or to find a comfortable way out for the fanatic believer. The fanatic believer should find his own solution, when the rug is being pulled out from under his feet, in legislation, in law, and in politics. But as long as we pamper them, and give them the impression that they are strong and we are weak, they will continue with this.

[...]

"Each and every one of us was born into a certain religion, or into no religion at all, by a mere coincidence of genetics and geography, yet we continue to circle that coincidence, as if we are tied to it by an elastic band – whenever we try to pull away from it, we are pulled back and get slapped by the elastic band. It's like an elastic band. We pull away with our thinking, but then we are pulled back by our fear, of taboos, our fear of prohibitions, and our fear of being punished by the law or by society. There can be no enlightenment where there is fear."