Islamist thinking in the age of Twitter

Islamist thinking in the age of Twitter

In the Egyptian city of Minya, a court of the coup regime sentenced 529 pro-Ikhwan defendants to death in two hearings consisting of a few hours! This is scary.

Trials are ongoing. The elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by a coup, and his friends are being tried in Cairo. Brutal rulings are expected to come out from all of the proceedings. In light of this scandal of justice in Egypt, I will focus on the issue of law in Islamist thinking. 

In a statement to Reuters, outstanding Ikhwan member Sayyaf Cemal said, “No logic can accept that the sentencing of 529 people to death in two hearings complies with international standards.” Note that he is mentioning international standards, in other words, modern, universal law. At this point, isn’t it a necessity for Islamists to ponder on, debate, develop new views on fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and on international law standards that everybody needs in our times?

Also, one of Morsi’s ministers, Mohammaed Mahsub, sent a message to the world from his Facebook account, saying, “This ruling is the execution of justice;” he is absolutely right.

Please note that he is sending his message from Facebook. It could have been Twitter as well! We are living in such times that if social media is to exist, then it is inevitable that the concept of “freedom” should also be in “international standards.” Thus, in Islamist thinking, should the state base its definition of “freedom” on fiqh or on universal standards?

One of the leading names that come to mind first in these issues is Professor Hayrettin Karaman. I have read all of his books. He has added those concepts that were lacking in fiqh, taking them from Roman law and modern law and adding them to the fiqh doctrine, such as the distinction between public and private law, such as legal entity… This jurisprudential and innovative feature of Karaman is extremely valuable. However, in recent years, he has been acting with a “defensive” sentiment. For our times, he is defending such concepts as “the Islamic state, Islamic democracy, One Islam,” concepts the legal and sociological contents of which have not been filled. Individuals can indeed choose a life style according to fiqh principles; however, would the state be based on “fiqh” or “universal standards,” this is the main issue!

The Egyptian and the Tunisian constitutions are two valuable experiences: In Tunisia, the Islamic Ennahda movement reconciled with the secularists and wrote a Constitution containing the concepts of modern law and freedom. In Egypt, on the other hand, Ikhwan acted “irreconcilably” and the outcome has been disastrous.

I would have wished to read from Karaman’s pen the lessons drawn from this major experience, but he was not interested. I wish he had focused more on these essential legal issues instead of political ones. I think he would accept this: These issues are very large issues challenging Islamic thinking in these times; they will not be solved by closing the door to modernization and by using old patterns. 

Nevertheless, the rule of change still functions. Esteemed Professor Ali Bardakoğlu’s ideas on law and democracy are exceptionally enlightening. In the media, Ali Bulaç has always thought about, written on and discussed these issues. Lawyer Sibel Eraslan analyzes these issues facing Islamic thinking in an academic and literary approach. I can also cite Akif Emre’s pieces. There are also other examples.

However, in general, Islamist writers seem to focus on political fighting; they view everything from a political angle. However, for instance, can the universal legal principle of “separation of powers” be good in the 2010 referendum and be bad now?

It is a reality that too much politicizing restrains thought. It is unfortunate for Islamic thinking to be struck at a clashing politicizing position when the times call for major ideas in this era when Islam, for the first time in its 15-century-old history, is facing the urban middle class, the women’s movement, secular education and an intense market economy