October 5, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6635

Egyptian Writer: The World Is One Large Camp And Muslims Must Find Their Place In It

October 5, 2016
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 6635

On September 12, 2016, liberal Egyptian doctor Khaled Montaser published an article in the Egyptian daily Al-Watan marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In the article, Montaser criticized prominent Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb and former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for arguing that the world is divided into two camps - the camp of Islam and the camp of and infidels who do not implement shari'a law. He called on Muslims to abandon their obsession with this notion and integrate in the modern world while preserving their culture and identity. He warned that those who do not join the global camp will be left behind in the "desert of isolation."

The following are excerpts from the article:[1]

Khaled Montaser (image: Al-Watan, Egypt)

"'The world is divided into two camps... the camp of belief and the camp of unbelief.' This is what Osama bin Laden said after the September 11 [attacks], which the world commemorated two days ago... The important question is this: Does the perception of the two camps still dominate the minds of political Islam movements, or did it die along with bin Laden? [To find] the answer, let us first look back and  read the writings of Sayyid Qutb, who originated the notion of takfir [accusing fellow Muslims of apostasy] that is [endorsed] by all political Islam organizations born from the womb of the mother movement - the Muslim Brotherhood. In his book In the Shade of the Koran, considered to be the manifesto from which bin Laden drew [inspiration] for his claim, [Qutb] says...: 'In the eyes of Islam and the Muslim, the world is divided into two... The first [part] is Dar Al-Islam [the abode of Islam], which includes any country that implements the laws of Islam and is ruled by Islamic law, whether all its residents are Muslims, some are Muslims and others are their wards (dhimmi), or all are wards and only the rulers are Muslims... The second [part] is Dar Al-Harb [the abode of war], and includes any country that does not implement the laws of Islam and is not ruled by Islamic law, no matter who its residents are - Muslims, people of the book [Jews and Christians], or infidels...'

"Bin Laden is dead, but the notion of the two camps is not; on the contrary - it has expanded and snowballed. Bin Laden did not invent this concept, since it unfortunately exists in the texts of our heritage and is taken verbatim from certain religious law books and Koranic interpretations. Bin Laden's role was merely to realize it- declare this idea publicly, implement it in practice, and transform it into an ideology.

"The perception of the two camps is a Nazi, racist, and marginalizing mentality that is outdated and unsuitable for the current age... The continued existence of this perception, which draws strict boundaries in the era of modernity and globalization, is [akin] to stopping time, challenging history, and committing political and cultural suicide that will end with Muslims being expelled from the world cultural map and becoming isolated...

"There is no escape from joining the world while preserving [our] cultural uniqueness. There is no escape from merging and interacting [with the world] without losing [our] identity... We must discard the obsession, the delusion, and the lie of the two camps [perception] and not live as prisoners [of the view] that we are the best, greatest, and most moral... [This view] blinds our eyes from seeing ourselves in the mirror, keeps us from coping [with reality] in times of true danger, and paralyzes us when we are called to participate in the circle of culture and play a constructive role in it [instead of] withdrawing and isolating ourselves, wallowing in our problems and sorrow and reminiscing [about the past], and manufacturing explosive belts in the caves of Tora Bora and the forests of Somalia.

"The world is one big camp that includes us all, not two camps fighting an existential war. Each of us drives a stake while erecting this one tent, and those who refuse to participate, or think they are the only ones with the right to hold a stake, belong outside the camp where there is thunder, lightning, scorpions, snakes, thirst, and hunger - in the desert of isolation without mercy, salvation, or protection."




[1] Al-Watan (Egypt), September 12, 2016.

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