Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
“…And surely there is an example for you in Ibrahim and those with him…”
A word often flashing on our televisions, recurring in daily newspapers, and on the tongue of almost every Arab … revolution. Few however have stopped to objectively ask what exactly qualifies as a revolution. And if revolutions are means through which we attain freedom, what exactly does freedom mean? In trying to save our revolutions from being hijacked by the Western media and the West which has hailed the movements across the Arab world as inevitable steps towards democracy, and modernity - we must stop to critically examine our own conception of freedom and revolution.
Freedom in Liberal-Democracy
But first, a brief yet concise critical exposition of these two notions in Liberal-Democracy must be put forth. The globalization of Liberalism, a 21st century face of Jahiliyyah, has sought to monopolize values such as liberty, freedom, and equality. Often using them as euphemisms for extending their ideological and military hegemony. Under the masquerade of “freedom” and “democracy” nations are made subservient to economic liberalization, and ideological colonization through external and internal power-mechanisms.
On the theoretical plane, the notion of freedom is problematic. Neo-Liberals, disavowing themselves from Kant and previous philosophers reject the notion of freedom as they have no metaphysical grounding to make any claim to it, and Locke and Rousseau, having rejected any authority higher then man, could not do so - nor could they point towards any distinctive feature which distinguished men from animals instead speak of “Political Freedom” based on an artificial social contract.
Kant insidiously tried to ground man’s freedom on the metaphysical principle of individual autonomy however fell short by being forced to acknowledge the incommensurateness of his Humean skepticism, and his commitment to individualism. The latter then, only based on negative proofs because for Kant man is indeed free if he is endowed with free-will.
On the structural level one cannot help but stand in awe at the extent to which men and women in the West are indeed in a state of complete servitude. Representative “democracy” has succeeded in preventing tyranny of the Majority as James Madison had wished but only to consolidate the passive tyranny of an elite power-structure which controls not only “means of production” but an range of power-mechanisms and power-structures. Inherent in the Western notion and concept of power, is its temporality. In other words, it is essentially a human product.
Islam, Revolution, and Freedom
What exactly are the underlying and foundational differences between Islam and Liberal-Democracy? First, the similarities;
1) Freedom is foundational, and essential for the well-being of a polity, and dignity of man.
2) Absolute freedom is logically absurd. Only Allah (or any “Supreme Being” for that matter) can be absolutely free. We are limited by “laws of nature”.
3) Our freedom must be limited by law (or a “social contract”) to protect the freedom of others”.
The first two points are self-explanatory. Constitutive of both Islam and Liberalism’s conception of freedom is in fact the answer to the third point. Who exactly limits and draws the contours of ones freedom? According to Liberal thought it is man, and society. However this is problematic. What is the worth of mans freedom, if his freedom is mediated and defined by a man-made power-structure (state-apparatus, govern mentality [Foucault], etc)? From the Islamic perspective, freedom is inherent to mans dignity and an essential part of his primordial disposition (fitrah). Only the One who has put in place the very laws which limit our freedom, and put in place immutable laws to which the universe submits to Allah, can define the limits of mans freedom. It becomes clear then, that Islam bases its notion of freedom and clear conceptual, and metaphysical principles which lay at the very heart of Islam.
The freedom of man is central to Tawhid (Divine Unity of Allah). A practical manifestation of La ilaha ila Allah. La Ilaha being a complete rejection of all means of subservience, false-gods, and instruments of servitude other then Allah. An outright, action and praxis-oriented rejection of the tawagheet. And surely Ila Allah being the totalizing and complete submission to Allah alone. These two pillars (rejection & affirmations) are inextricable, as ones worship and freedom cannot be pure unless one has broken all other chains of servitude to other then Allah.
Tawhid implies a clearly defined and essential separation of the “Creator Absolute” and the “Created Relative”. A clear separation implies the clear demarcation of power and authority. Power is ontologically transcendent and not temporal, power is then not vested with the “Created Relative” but with the Allah ‘azza wa jal. This reality is essential to understanding the nature and totality of freedom and revolution in Islam. (Davutoglu)
Ontologically transcendency and its praxis-oriented implications make Islam is a Liberating movement, an activist-oriented faith whose Prophets primary message was the liberation of mankind. Revolution then becomes central to a pure and correct manifestation of La ilaha ila Allah …
The Cosmic Revolution
But what was the nature of the Prophetic revolution? And how is it any different then those of today? The revolutions that emerged throughout the world, by definition, caused a paradigm shift. Be it from Arab Liberalism to Arab Nationalism, Monarchy to Liberal-Democracy, or Monarchic Feudal System to Communism. From a secular perspective, as one whose mind is shaped, limited, and defined by the temporal - these seem grant. To the Muslim however they are a shift from one form of Jahiliyyah to another form of Jahiliyyah. Liberalism for example seeks to turn an omnipotent God into a “personal god” while making the claim that it is deontological it makes an ontological move by shifting authority into the “public flux” or Kant’s shifting of morality and authority from a command model whose center is a transient being (God) to the individual being. Marxism, completely rejects all that which is metaphysical (a self-referentially incoherent statement itself) and claiming that matter is itself the totality of being. All of these secular worldviews are in fact part of a larger meta-paradigm or quite simply different forms of Jahiliyyah. The Islamic revolution is one that is primarily based on a trans-political and trans-historical reality free from any contingencies or historical narratives. It bases itself on the absolute reality of Tawhid - from which all reality stems. Its foundations are metaphysical yet through its totality, comprehensiveness and divine nature is integrated into the world creating a fine equilibrium through which man is made part of a more grand holistic harmony - which this revolution creates. How shallow, may I ask dear Muslims, are the revolutions which nationalist and liberal secularist calling you too when between your hands lays the ability to revolt and reestablish the divine and universal equilibrium that the tawhidic revolution would bring about? An Islamic revolution amounts to a Cosmic Revolution. Cosmic in its totality. One which recognizes that the liberty is attained by revolting against both internal and external power-structures which the Qur’an recognize as false-gods. “Have you not seen those who have taken this desires/ego as [false] gods?”. The secularization and conceptual categorization of ‘God’ and ‘Worship’ through a parochial Eurocentric reconfiguration of Islam’s holistic and unitive view of reality and being.
Had the Islamic concept of revolution and freedom been any different it would not have incurred the prophetic tradition of clashing with those in authority. How beautifully exemplified was this reality when the wise Bedouin asked the Prophet Salallahu ’Alaayhee wa-Salaam “What is it that you are calling the people towards O’ Muhammad” his response “I am calling them towards La ilaha ila Allaah” - the questioner exclaimed “Surely, this is something which the kings will not like!. Had La ilaha ila Allah not entailed such divine requirements, Allah would not have mentioned the exemplary story of Musa ‘Alaayhe as-Salaam in 28 out of 30 chapters in the Qur’an nor would the Qur’an have set Ibrahim ‘Alaayhe as-Salaam as a timeless example for the believers. And surely, had Tawhid not implied the liberation of mankind, we would not have the massive campaign against the Islamic Awakening…
We advise our brave brethren, who have broken the shackles of fear and complacency in the face of tyranny to liberate themselves from the ideological colonization and hegemony of Western thought. To transcend these reductive, superficial, and dubious claims to freedom parroted by our defeated and colonized intelligentsia. Freedom lays in La ilaha ila Allah, for only Tawhid can provide the theoretical, structural, and practical grounding for Liberty.
To the remaining false-gods in the Muslim world we remind them that Allah is indeed the King of Kings and that for every Fir’awn there is a Musa. For every Nimrod there is an Ibrahim, and for every Yazid there is a Husayn…
“…And such are the days…”
Posted by A.H