Syrian intellectual Hashem Saleh said in an April 19, 2019 interview on Sky News Arabia TV (Abu Dhabi) that the Enlightenment was a reaction to the evil of sectarian wars – without which he said people would not have dared to question religion – and that he hopes ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other radical Islamic groups will end up sparking a similar enlightenment for the Arab and Muslim world in the coming years. He said that the biggest problem facing Arabs and Muslims is a "theological problem" and that he considers the Muslim Brotherhood, which he described as the "mother" of other radical groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, to be the most dangerous group in the history of Islam. He added that Arab civilization must abandon the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology so that it can "rise anew."
Following are excerpts:
Hashem Saleh: The Enlightenment movement appeared as a reaction to the widespread evil of sectarian wars. If not for this fanaticism, thinkers would not have dared to ask questions about the sacred heritage and about religion. This is why I say that ISIS will give rise to something that is its opposite. ISIS, movements affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda, and all these fanatical movements will expedite the movement of Arab history, and a strong Islamic Arab Enlightenment movement will emerge. This is my personal opinion. Of course, this is what I hope, but I also think that this is going to happen in the coming years.
Interviewer: But Dr. Hashem, on the other hand, some people may ask: "Why don't we learn from the experience of others? Must we go through the same tragedies and experience the same sectarian wars as others in order to learn?"
Hashem Saleh: I wish that as you said, we would learn from the experience of the more advanced nations that experienced these catastrophes, and that we would avoid falling into the same trap. But unfortunately, it seems that people learn only if they pay with their own blood.
Currently, the biggest and deepest problem facing the Arabs and Muslims as a whole – I'm not talking only about the Arabs, but they are the source of Islam – is a theological problem. People say that the problem is political, economic, social, or the outcome of abject poverty. It is possible that all those things are relevant, but first and foremost, the basic problem – or the basic question facing the Arab and Islamic world as a whole – is a theological question.
Interviewer: You consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be the most dangerous group in the history of Islam.
Hashem Saleh: Yes. I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood will not be the future of the Arabs. Of that I'm sure. The defects and the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood have now come to light. They presented themselves as moderates. They convinced the West of this, [saying:] "We are moderates, and we are going to protect you from those who are more dangerous than us, those who are more fanatic than us, like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Taliban." But the truth is that Al-Qaeda and ISIS all emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradhawi himself admitted that the so-called "Caliph" Al-Baghdadi was from the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the mother of these groups.
Interviewer: Some people say that these extremist groups are the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hashem Saleh: They all share the same ideology. They all share the same mistaken interpretation of Islam, the same dark and narrow-minded interpretation of the great heritage of Islam. Therefore, abandoning [the Muslim Brotherhood] has become a must, so the Arabs can move forward and rise anew, and so the sun of Arab civilization can rise again.