In a TV interview, Saudi author Turki Al-Hamad said that there was a need for "a real revolution in our education" and for the "humanization of religion," because "our religion has been hijacked by many and has been made savage." He further said that "ISIS is an organization that only reaps what has previously been sown." Al-Hamad was speaking on Sky News Arabia on November 13, 2015.
Following are excerpts:
Host: "How can we fight ISIS ideologically?"
Turki Al-Hamad: "There is no magical solution. There is no magic wand that could change things. The deformation that our societies have undergone for the past three decades will need a long time [to repair]. It should be based on the reprograming of our cultural mentality. We should reprogram our culture in one way or another, and that can only be achieved through a real revolution in our education. The revolution in our education should be based on the humanization of religion."
Host: "What do you mean by 'the humanization of religion'?"
Turki Al-Hamad: "Religion is the cornerstone of our culture. But our religion has been hijacked by many and has been made savage, so to speak. Humanizing religion means to look for its humane aspects."
Turki Al-Hamad: "The truth is that we need a kind of religious revolution – a religious revolution that would restore religion to our Lord."
Host: "Some accuse you, along with others associated with the liberal current, of 'provoking the sentiments of society,' thus pushing the youth toward extremism. How do you respond to such accusations?"
Turki Al-Hamad: "If you asked these youths, they probably wouldn’t know who I am. This is not a matter of provocation. When you present a new idea, or warn of certain disease and offer treatment – of course it is painful. This is not a provocation. This is picking [at] the wound. It is time to stop ignoring our wounds and pains just so we won't provoke anyone. You cannot go to a doctor, for example, and tell him not touch your wound because it hurts. Of course it hurts. It is a wound, and it was caused by many things. If you want to treat this wound, you must touch it and deal with it directly. Unfortunately, we have not yet acknowledged the fact that ISIS is an organization that only reaps what has previously been sown."
Turki Al-Hamad: "When I have no solution...We see the entire world contributing to modern civilization, but we have nothing to show for it. So what do we do? We do not admit that we are incapable or that we have no solution. We resort to the past as an excuse for a strategy. But returning to the past is not a strategy. It is connected, one way or another, to conspiracy narratives, and to the claim that the others are plotting against us, and that we are being targeted, and so on. All these are self-defense mechanisms."
Turki Al-Hamad: "Where does the Muslim refugee go? To Europe and America. Where does the Muslim enjoy liberties? In Britain. A Muslim there can demonstrate in the streets of London, declare that he is against the British state, and criticize the regime. A week ago, there was a demonstration of Islamists in Denmark. They all called for an Islamic Caliphate, from the heart of Denmark, and under the protection of the local police. If Western secularism was really against religion, would people there be allowed to build mosques – or churches, for that matter?"
Host: "Are you saying that secularism is the solution?"
Turki Al-Hamad: "In many cases, separating the religious institution [from the state]... I'm not calling to shut it down, but it cannot trump all other considerations. The religious institution is a mad-made institution. We must differentiate between the religious institution and religion itself. Only religion is sacred. The religious institution is a social institution, just like many others."
Turki Al-Hamad: "What did the Sykes-Picot accord do? Some would say that it brought about the division in the Arab world, but that is not true. Before Sykes-Picot, the Ottoman Caliphate was supposedly in charge, but what really happened on the ground? Egypt had an independent ruler, and so did Tunisia, and in the Arabian Peninsula there were emirates, each with its own ruler. The Arab world was already divided. People tend to idealize the past, and to claim that before Sykes-Picot there was one united Ottoman state. But in fact, that was not the case. It was divided into several states. When Kemal Ataturk declared the end of the Ottoman Caliphate, people claimed that he had ended the Caliphate, but he did not do so. It had already come to an end long before he declared it. Therefore, this bickering against Sykes-Picot, as if it is to blame for all our problems, is not right."