Kuwaiti activist Nasser Dashti, speaking on the Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV channel, recently said: "On the cultural level, we are sectarian, dictatorial, and tyrannical. Sadly, that is the Arab mentality." On the practical level, he said, "our ruling system is democratic, we are liberal and secular in our daily lives, using everything that was ever produced by the secular European mind." Dashti, a member of the Tanweer Cultural Center, further said that in political science, "those Islamic conquests constitute colonialism." The show aired on March 26.
Following are excerpts
Nasser Dashti: When the religious text reached the Muslims, it addressed them in accordance with their own culture and environment. The religious text is absolute. It differs from the ideas that we humans devise in order to organize our lives. These ideas are mutable. They are dynamic by nature. That is why the secular and democratic constitutional states in the world are the more advanced in all aspects of life. There are six main readings and hundreds of exegises of the Islamic shari'a. Each theological school claim to have a monopoly over the shari'a.The Muslims today worship the sect more than they worship God. They worship their religion more than they worship the Lord. This is a problem. An absolute text makes everybody claim to have a monopoly on the absolute truth. We are experiencing a purely sectarian crisis everywhere.
People feel that everything that has to do with religion is a provocation. If you avoid presenting religion as an ideological enterprise, all will be fine, but if you present it as such and impose it upon the people, it becomes even more dangerous.
Interviewer: Do you believe that a secular state is better for all nations?
Nasser Dashti: On the cultural level, we are sectarian, dictatorial, and tyrannical. Sadly, this is the Arab mentality. But on the practical level, our ruling system is democratic, we are liberal and secular in our daily lives, we are liberal and secular in our daily lives, using everything that was ever produced by the secular European mind. So long as one's liberties do not reach the point of bodily or psychological harm, he should be allowed to talk. On the contrary, when he talks, it makes life easier for me, because I can expose his ideas to society.
Interviewer: Would you allow ISIS in our midst?
Nasser Dashti: No, because they cause bodily harm... I think that anyone who claims that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam is a liar. They cannot prove...
Other guest on the panel: They cannot prove...
Nasser Dashti: The Prophet Muhammad said... Let me just complete my point. They are incapable of proving that ISIS is not connected to Islam. Whenever there is an immoral and inhuman crime, they say: "These people do not represent Islam. They are kharijites. They misinterpret Islam." Show us your own model! No Islamic religious model has ever contributed anything to humanity. Even the Islamic culture of... Let me rephrase this: Even the culture of the land ruled by Islam in Al-Andalus developed and prospered thanks to the cultural openness to the Greek books, the translation of which began in the days of Khaled ibn Yazid. This prosperity did not derive from the Quranic text or the Sunna. Look what happened in the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, as evidence that the constitutional state has no basis in the shari'a. The transition of power between the four Rightly Guided Caliphs was unclear. Abu Bakr came to power following the Saqifah gathering. He was followed by Omar, who was elected by six men, chosen by Abu Bakr. Then came Othman…
Other guest on the panel: What does this prove?
Nasser Dashti: It proves that there was no system for the transition of power.
Other guest on the panel: The only thing it proves is that the Islamic system is flexible.
Nasser Dashti: This is a catastrophe. It is not flexibility. Can the transition of power be subject to flexibility?! Imagine it in our times - one day you are a democracy and the next a dictatorship.
What you call "conquests" we in political science call "colonialism."
Other guest on the panel: You consider the Islamic conquests to be "colonialism"?
Nasser Dashti: In political science, those Islamic conquests constitute colonialism. Only in Islamic history are they called "conquests."
Who burned the books of Averroës? Who banished Alhazen? Who accused Avicenna and Ibn Al-Khwarizmi of heresy? Was it Israel or America?! They didn't even exist back then. We did. Let's be honest about it. All the nations progress if they criticize their history. We do nothing but glorify our history. This is inconceivable. Our present is so wretched because we live in this lethal duplicity.