Is Islamic revival a thing of the past? :: Part One ::

Now that the Taliban have been effectively removed from the scene; the US installed Karzai has been helped to legitimise his regime as a representative government; General Musharraf has effectively outmanoeuvred opportunist Mullahs and other contended-with-power political leaders to become Hosnie Mubarak of South Asia; Turkey is relatively calm and willing to surrender anything for being allowed to enter EU; Allawi is on the way to become Karzai in Iraq and above all a direct communicator with God is back in the White House, can we say Islamic revivalism is a thing of the past?

Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria were the main concerns of Islamophobes in the 1990s. It was tirelessly reported that the US was concerned about the stability of these countries which were considered to be cultural and political centres of the Muslim world. It was believed that the establishment of a true model of Islamic government in these countries will have a great influence throughout the Muslim world — and basically cause a domino effect in the rest of the countries.

It was slated that the threat of Islamic revivalism, unlike communism, could not be dealt with "arms build-up or strategic defence initiative." Looking around the globe today shows that it is now perfectly legitimate to crackdown, jail, torture and even kill all those who intend to call others to live by Islam.

It seems the strategy of sidelining the much vaunted principles of democracy and human rights have worked in the case of Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan. The continued crackdowns have ensured quelling the call for Islamic rule. The seeming success can be gauged from the so-called self-proclaimed puppet regimes open calls for secularism, liberal reforms and curricula revision.

In the light of ongoing developments, it seems Islamic revival is a thing of the past and the groups working for Islamic revival have resorted to either preserving their status their compromise and apologetic attitudes. This however is not a correct conclusion.

We reach at the incorrect conclusion when we look at Islamic revivalism in broad brush strokes which characterize it as a distinct interpretive reading of Islam. [1] According to this view, Islamic revivalism emphasizes the exoteric dimension of the faith; disparages traditional religious practices, which form the basis of popular faith and the rule of religious law in particular; formalizes and rationalizes religion, predicating eschatology and salvation on social action and gaining control of political power. In general, Islamic revivalism painted by the American war lords in particular as a revolutionary force whose aim is to topple the established order in the Muslim world, be they authoritarian or democratic. [2]

This kind of thinking leads to approval of brutal regimes which are thought to have successfully dealt with “revolutionary challenges to their authority by revivalism.” The examples of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Syria under Hafez al-Asad are most instructive in this regard. In 1980, Saddam ordered the execution of the Shiite leader, Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr, and proceeded to ruthlessly suppress all religious opposition to his rule during the course of the following decade. [3] Similarly, Asad deployed 12,000 troops in the city of Hama in 1982 to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood. [4] Thousands of people were killed in the process. Egypt, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and a host of other Muslim countries have also resorted to brute force to eliminate the possibility of an alternative model to the so-called democracy.

In the meantime, state-sponsored façade of Islamization in Bangladesh and Pakistan have come to an end with much celebration from the war lord in the West who consider even Iran’s experiment with an alternative model of governance as a total flop. [5]

The US war on the Islamic way of life in the guide of a “war on terrorism”, however, has drastically altered the political balance in the Muslim world and renewed concern over the prospects for a form of governance that could ensure Islam’s way of life as well as ensure an end to the seemingly never ending reign of American agents on top.

As Muslim countries appear poised for greater pupetisation, threatening the very Islamic identity, way of life and sources of law and governance, the future of the secular state has come into question. The US aggression and continuation of occupations through continued terrorism have opened a multi-dimensional process to Islamic revivalism, won many hearts and minds and provided it with new options through which it can pursue its goals.

On the one hand implications of the love affair with secularism are exposed beyond control. On the other hand, it is now well established that despite the earlier proclamations, no one is ready to accept secularism is not a pre-requisite to democracy. As a result, Western pundits have come to the conclusion that democracy as have been told is not fit for the Muslim world because if your practice democracy as you preach, there is then the possibility that sooner or later people’s voice would prevail and that would undermine the process of secularizing Muslim societies. [6] It is argued that in Muslim countries real democratization will sow the seeds of its own demise by giving Islamic revivalism a handle to monopolize the political discourse and possibly take over power. Which means power in the hands of Allawi, Karzai, Musharraf, Karimov and Mubarak is acceptable, no matter how much they abuse it. But it is not acceptable in the hands of those who would like the people to live by Islam. So, the issue is not democracy. The issue is to keep Muslims away from Islam. If it can happen through secular democracy, well and good. Otherwise, imposing a dictator and sustaining his power is a hand option.

As a result, fear of Islamic revivalism has led to hypocritical responses to Muslim societies’ experiments with greater pluralism. Policy makers and academicians have used democratization as a double purpose tool in Muslim societies. When all the lies failed, the last remaining argument in the case of Iraq has been the establishment of a decent democratic government. Whereas in cases such as that of Algeria or Tunisia, they have actually ignored popular aspirations and tacitly approved of government crack-downs or even military coupe.

In similar vein, in no uncertain terms, most academic and media warlords have endorsed the creation of authoritarian republics by old commissars and former Communist party bosses modeled after Turkey in the newly-created Central Asian states. Succinctly put, given fears of the Islamic model of governance, democratization is dangerous and Muslims are better off under secular puppet dictators -” little demi-gods of the godless empire.

Such beliefs reflect a fear of Islamic revivalism, which is not a legacy of the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979. Its seeds lie deep in the hate, which the crusaders sowed centuries ago on the one hand, and an absence of confidence in the ability of so-called democracy in the well-established homes of tyranny to contend with the challenge of a real alternative governing model, on the other. That’s why the “intellectual” terrorists never stop terrorizing the Western public. They come up with new theories of modernization [7] to somehow prove the deep seated relationship between secularism and democracy, so as to conclude after showing that it is a complex issue that unless Islam is rooted out, there is no scope for democracy in the Muslim world. [8]

Interesting to note is the fact that despite confusing the general public with complex arguments, no one clearly lists the demerits of Muslims living by Islam in an Islamic state. An instant reference would be made towards the Taliban government. Far from being a complete Islamic model and despite facing multitudes of problems and scarcity of resources and skills, it can be conclusively proved that the Taliban rule was far better than what we observe in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria or even Turkey today. It is not only a matter of functioning government -” it is also a matter of peace of mind, safety and security and law and order.

The truth is that the so-called democracy may prove to be far more feeble before the challenge of Islam’s model for human governance than most “intellectual” and political warlords concede. It is the contention of this article that the feebleness of the pseudo-democracy before the challenge of Islamic is the real force behind crack down on Islamic revivalism in the name of war on terrorism. It remains an open challenge to the champions of democracy that they let a single Muslim country leave alone, so that it can demonstrate an alternative model.

To the contrary, the convoluted, multi-standard-democracy is used as a means for contending with Islamic revivalism. People are not the focus at all. If benefit of the people were the prime objective, the situation would have been totally different. Not only should the Western public not abandon its support for real democratization and home and in the Muslim world for fear of a revivalist victory, but it should redouble those efforts with the aim of containing the few totalitarian ideologues whose only objective is to rule the world and eliminate anything that may challenge the status quo. The oft-asked question: "What is the danger of revivalism to democracy?" should be turned on its head; we should ask, "Are we living under true democracies? What is the danger of pseudo-democracy to the future of humanity in the East and the West?"

Furthermore, Islamic revival is not going to come about from the religious parties which are called fundamentalists. They are as much part of the secular order as the rest of the parties. Islamic revival in the East and revolution to the established tyrannical order in the US in particular is to come from the mainstream masses when exploitation of the established order touch its peak.

This point is best elucidated by the case of Pakistan and its so-considered Islamic revivalist party, the Jama’at-i-Islami. The Jama’at is no more what it used to be -” the oldest and most influential contemporary Islamic revivalist movement. It sacrificed its soul the day it stepped into politics and the day it started making alliances with one or the other secular parties. Of course, its ideology and plan of action, harkening Muslims to an Islamic revolution, have made the party a primary example of what the West has feared most in revivalism. In reality, only recently it has become an instrument for constitutionalising dictatorship in Pakistan.

At closer examination, the Jama’at and all other religious parties in the fold of MMA (alliance of religious parties) are far less threatening to the established order than their rhetoric, which calls for an Islamic revolution and the creation of an Islamic state in Pakistan may suggest. Rather than a force for tyrants to be reckoned with, the advocates of pseudo-democracy present Jama’at history as an example of how a revivalist movement has its limits and how it conforms with tyrannical forces in the name of pluralism [9]

It is easy to see that throughout Pakistan’s history, the Jama’at has been ideologically significant and politically consequential, but despite five decades of indefatigable activism it has not been able to translate its power into control of the state and the political process. However, it is difficult to see that Jama’at has long lost the soul and zeal for revival. It is part of the existing tyrannical order. You cannot be part of a system and at the same time challenging its authority and legitimacy. Jama’at and Co. will have to go with other exploiters ruling repressed humanity. They are effectively one. Neither can Jama’at and Co. survive without the military junta and other ruling elites, nor can junta legitimize its rule without Jama’at and Co.

This paradox is important insofar as it casts doubt on popular notions about the scope and existence of now defunct revivalist movements of the past and the real, educated movement in the Muslim world. The later might not even have a title or much organized platform so far. But that’s how revolutions take root.

It also provides clues about how some Islamic movements failed to fulfill their mandate and lost their potential in light of the constraints imposed on their philosophy as well as operation by the sociopolitical context to which they surrendered themselves. It shows how their goal and focus changes from developing an Islamic model to exactly the opposite: sustaining the corrupt, dictatorial rules.

To answer the question, “Is Islamic revival a thing of the past,” we have two answer. Yes it is a thing of the past for those Islamic movements which became political parties and whose objectives are hardly different than the objectives of their rival political parties. Like a Persian saying that on loose translation means that anything that goes into a salt mine becomes salt, these movements of the past have become part of the oppressive systems.

Jama’at-i-Islami Pakistan is the leading example. It was formed in 1941 in what was still united India. [10] It was the brainchild of Mawlana Sayyid Abu’l-A’la Mawdudi (d. 1979), who also served as the party’s chief ideologue and titular head until 1972. The Jama’at, therefore, is considered one of the oldest of contemporary Islamic revivalist movements, which in fact has been transformed into a political party, just like any other, since its decision to join the “mainstream” politics. The stated objective still remains to Islamise the country, but that remains of value only in its brochures and booklets. Its big-wigs have so far realized that achieving its stated objectives through the way they have adopted is next to impossible. However, they are now clinging to be where they are because they have to maintain the status quo just like other feudal and ruling elites.

Since its formation, it has articulated a clear interpretation of Islam and has demanded the restructuring of society and politics and the establishment of a state that would embody the spirit of Islamic law-replacing the secular state with an Islamic one. [11] However, its modus operands, together with all other religious parties which are part of the secular order, has made these movement redundant and totally ineffective for achieving their objectives.

Although many commentators still present Jama’at as a “movement” which has developed systematically an Islamic ideology, a modern revolutionary reading of Islam, and an agenda for social action to materialize its vision. [12] In fact, all these are things of the past. The party’s history is illustrative of the dynamic evolution of the revivalist discourse and social action and the death of this movement as a result of a decision by Mawdudi to become just another party and start competing with others for votes and seats.

Time has changed. Mawdudi’s work is still available in twenty-six languages ranging from Arabic, Malay, and Persian to Spanish, Swahili, Japanese, and Malayalam. In the past his ideas have impressed Egyptian revivalist thinkers, especially Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt; Hasan Turabi and the Muslim Brotherhood of the Sudan; the Iranian revolutionary leaders; revivalist activists in Afghanistan, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey, to name only a number of cases. [13]

Jama’at itself is dead due to a strategic and deadly mistake by Mawdudi. Nevertheless, the ripples of his valid messages still influence and continue to wash onto new shores, influencing revivalist thought and action. In that sense, the age of Islamic revivalism is just beginning.

The core objective is to do away with the corrupt, repressive dictatorial regimes of the military juntas or the feudal lords who are product of the former collaborators with colonial powers. Whether it is military rule, partial democracy or total democracy, it is the same faces that appear on the top and continue to exploit the masses under different banners. In the Middle East, the story is totally different where Kings and Sheikhs have vowed not to relinquish power till death parts them from their thrones.

Assessing Jama’at and Co. from their role in galvanizing a grand Islamic alliance, which has become an established facet of Pakistani politics, discerning an Islamic vote bank, articulating a distinct pattern of religio-political activism, and Islamizing the national political discourse [14] is as irrelevant as it is meaningless vis-à-vis the core objective of establishing an Islamic model as an alternative to the tyrannical system of the capitalists dictators.

There is a marked distinction between historical events and stages of evolution of a movement. Although Jama’at and other have been very effective in the events such as the constitutional debates of 1948-1956 and 1972-1973; [15] the anti-Ahmediya agitations in Punjab in 1953-1954; the non-recognition of Bangladesh movement of 1972-1974; [16] mobilize popular opposition to authoritarian rule in the 1962-1965 period, and in 1969 against Ayub Khan’s government, and in 1977 against Z. A. Bhutto’s increasingly autocratic rule. [17] But these remain at best historical events which didn’t play any role in developing an alternative model for governance based in Islamic principles.

Although the rallying cry in the US sponsored 1977 agitation against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s rule was the establishment of Islamic rule, but that remained limited to a cry alone. Instead, the opposite became true, which is watering down of the movement due to misdirect application of force and resources. Samuel Huntington identified is as internal changes in religion’s outlook on society and politics leading to a reformation of its doctrinal outlook. This is in fact the loss of soul of the Islamic movement that Jama’at Islami launched before Pakistan’s creation.

Huntington considers Jama’at’s compromises similar to changes in the Roman Catholic church’s teachings on society and politics since the 1960s as critical in the success of pseudo-democratization in Catholic countries. More to the point, the fact that reforms introduced by the Vatican II Council and the Medellin Conference made notable concessions to liberalism go a long way in explaining the role of Catholic movements in the emergence of democracies in Spain, Portugal, the Philippines, and especially Latin America. [18] From this assessment Jama’at could take a lesson for necessary course correction, but it failed and today, it played a vital role in making dictatorship constitutional in Pakistan.

The roots of Islamic Revival

The roots of Islamic revival lies deeper than what we observe in the religious parties. Elimination of these parties from the secular system or their amalgamation into the system is irrelevant. Islamic revival is independent of what the religious parties may support or reject.

In countries like Pakistan, it is Islam which keeps disparate ethnic communities like a glue together. [19] The continuity of feudal, junta and feudal-cum-junta rule’s viability hinges heavily on parties such as the Jama’at to bolster the status quo. Pakistan was established in the name of Islam, and as has been evident at times of crises, it has had little else to rely on to organize the nation other than Islam. Irrespective of the status of Muslims, what Rupert Emerson observed of Pakistan in 1947, by and large holds true today: "By accepted criteria of nationhood it was obvious that there was in fact no such thing as a Pakistani nation." [20]

Despite the secularism of its leaders from Field Marshal Ayub Khan to Z. A. Bhutto and the supreme sell-out, General Musharraf, Pakistan has been compelled to look to Islam to legitimate the state. The result has been a dilemma for the secularists a clearly hypocritical attitude toward the role of Islam in statecraft. The constitution says sovereignty belongs to Allah, which means life and governance would be according to the principles set forth by the Qur’an and Sunnah. But British colonial law reigns supreme in the land and Riba is permissible. Just to give two examples.

Mulla is required in the political field to justify the godlessness of systems and the prevailing tyranny of the junta rule with intermittent show of pseudo-democracy. In the words of Freeland Abbott, "In the view of government leaders a viable Pakistan could not develop under the political leadership of the mullah [religious divine]; on the other hand, a strong Pakistan was not likely to develop without their help.

The central government both wooed the mullahs and ridiculed them." [21] While this hypocrisy continues to characterize the rapport between Islam and the state, since 1947 the people move more towards Islam. The latest support to religious parties alliance is an indicator for that. At the same time people are realizing what Muslims are faced with on global level in the name of war on terrorism and what role has been the government of Pakistan and leaders of the religious parties are doing. A growing number of people see relief in Islamic solidarity which is the basis of real Islamic revival.

So far the Jama’at and other religious parties have played a pivotal role in extending the much needed Islamic legitimacy to the corrupt state and un-Islamic system. But the climax has reached with the religious parties alliance unprecedented political success turning into nothing more than constitutionalising dictatorship.

In the same fashion, Muslims in almost every Muslim country see the tyranny of the governing system they face and everywhere they see a solution in the Islamic way of governance. Everywhere, this trend is being repressed as “political Islam.” Crushing these aspirations is the key to its revival. Every crack down leads to more people believing the inevitability of living by Islam. This gives birth to the real movement of Islamic revival which many of us think is a thing of the past.

21st century Islamic revival

Unlike the previous century, the emerging Islamic revival is laser focused on the objective to establish an Islamic alternative to the current dictatorship and authoritarian states which have been imposed and sustained to the advantage of outsiders for beyond the endurance point of the local population.

This laser focus on the objective will keep getting sharper as the US war on an the way of Muslim’s life intensifies in the name of war on terrorism and war on “Islamic ideology” (as the 9/11 Commission report calls it. Besides this, the following lessons from the four types of experiences from the past century are getting clear to Muslim masses. The more they understand it, the more the movement this time around would be widespread and successful. These lessons from examining the roots of failure after almost a century long indefatigable religio-political activity are as follows:

a) The Impact of joining a Political Process that consolidates tyranny

The long struggle for Islamic revival first caught the attention of Western scholarship in 1979, when a seemingly atavist revolution toppled a US-supported repressive regime in Iran. Iran was as good a US-client state then as is Pakistan or Egypt now. The ascendance of revivalism defied time-honored social science theories and as such necessitated new approaches to containing Islam from being able to present a viable and better option for human governance as opposed to the capitalist, so-called democratic system.[22]

This process occurred in the context of the challenge of the Iranian revolution to the position of the United States in the Muslim world. As a result, approaches to the study of Islamic revivalism became totally biased by the adversarial relations between the United States and Iran.[23] A paradigmatic view of Islamic revivalism thus further consolidated the deep-seated feelings and fears of Islam, explaining the resurgence of Islam to scholars, policy makers and general public in particular as yet another “evil” to face after the Soviet Union. Far from a satisfactory explanation, the assumptions, shibboleths and relentless lying which have punctuated the thinking on the role of Islam in politics increasingly conceal more than they reveal about the dynamics of Muslim societies that they study.

The American writers, suffering from Islamophobia, suggested that any kind of repressive and authoritarian regime is better than Islamic government. They argued that revivalism has a lock on Muslim political choices and if given a free reign will succeed in taking control of the state.[24]

Furthermore, it is an undeniable reality that the political success of Islamic revival in the 20th century, wherever it has been observed, has been the product of specific circumstances.[25] Whereas revivalism of the 21st century is in response to the exposed will of the US and its allies to deny Muslims the right to live their lives the way they like the most. They don’t want Muslims to live by Islam.

Islamic movements, which turn themselves into religious parties and decide to become part of the corrupt and exploitative order, lose their distinctiveness and direction. It has been the result of the confluence of a set of factors particular to the sociopolitical context, which is likely to explain more about the so-considered success of revivalism than general readings of its ideological directives.[26] This is exactly why, despite its ostensibly imminent threat to the established order in the Muslim world, there are no case in which revivalism has actually realized its aims.[27]

The most important factor in the so-called success of revivalism has been surprise: It has capitalized on popular political discontent to take the political process unawares. Protracted involvement with the political process, as has been the case with the Jama’at in Pakistan, will elicit a few intangible concessions. However, the little distribution of power can never be considered as even a step towards establishing an alternative Islamic model of governance.

Whatever the religious parties extract out of the feudal lords and military junta dominated governing order only creates barriers to further progress of revivalism and immunize the established tyrannical order to the ultimate challenge of Islam.[28] It has compelled Islamic movement to turn to the same dirty gimmicks of the established political order in lieu of ideological posturing. It has encouraged the secular forces to respond to the “revivalist threat,” and has provided them with sufficient time to undermine the core principles and values of Islamic movement.

Similarly, Islamic movements jumping into local politics has enabled the concerned states to formulate policies that would accommodate constrained dissent at the expense of an alternative Islamic model. The Jama’at’s meager parliamentary representation in Pakistan, for example, bears ample testimony to this fact. Similarly, the Jama’at experience echoes that of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood. In the November 1993 elections in that country, the second one in which the Brotherhood has participated openly, the party lost seats to other political forces. Most importantly, these movements lose the logic of opposing an order in which they actively participate. It is just like considering gambling an outlaw activity but actively participating in it with the objective to not only convince others players to stop gambling but also to ultimately close down the casino. Any fool would consider objective of such reformers as SMART (Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timed)

This is an important point to bear in mind. Islamic movements have by and large responded positively to the burgeoning democratization process in many parts of the Muslim world, from Algeria to Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and they have abandoned their revolutionary, pressure groups platforms of earlier times and become involved with the political process.[29] They are flatteringly called “an important element in the civil society that will serve as the pillar of democracy.” However, the question is: Did they achieve their objective of establishing an Islamic model of governance? Is their any hope of their achieving their stated objectives?

The answer is a clear “No.” Instead, what happened is that the reaction of ruling regimes as well as western policy makers and writers to their joining the mainstream tyranny has not been positive. Islamophobic remarks and analysis have led many to fervently oppose any political role for revivalism, for the fear that once they gain a foothold in the political process they will inevitably overwhelm it. Such instinctive responses have led to confounding policy choices and scholarly conclusions. The examples of Algeria, Turkey and Central Asia come to mind most readily. Rather than extend the demand for democratization to the Muslim world, many argue that it is better for Muslim states to languish under military rule rather than adopt an open political system susceptible to revivalist activity, implying that democracy is not an appropriate form of government if the people do not vote for secular parties.

Not only are these arguments untenable and a mockery of the campaign to promote democracy in Muslim countries, they are in fact rooted in fears and perceptions not borne out by the evidence at hand. Similarly, this exposes the antagonism towards Islam as a way of life. It shows the real face of what is presented as freedom and liberation associated with democracy.

It does not suggest the religious parties should be welcomed in the political process because they are not a challenge to the established order. It shows that Islamic movements’ involvement in the political process does not ipso facto translate into establishing an Islamic form of governance. It rather leads to legitimizing tyranny as we have been witnessing in Pakistan. Religious parties could not establish Islam, but they have effectively pushed armed forces into the political system and heled in consolidating tyranny for a long time to come. Merging themselves into the corrupt order, Islamic movements have so far misdirected Islamic activism than challenging authoritarian regimes.

Jama’at in Pakistan is an excellent example to study. By abandoning its pressure group-cum-movement posture and endorsing the authoritarian state and the exploitative political process, the Jama’at has become subject to the influence of those corrupt forces that govern the ebb and flow of the political process. Its revolutionary image has faded, and it became bogged down in debates, policy decisions, compromises, and political maneuvering that have stymied its progress and constricted its maneuverability. This has been particularly true during the country’s democratic periods, when open political debate has forced the Jama’at to “moderate” its ideology and conversely has provided the ruling system with the opportunity to immunize itself to its challenge of Islam. Particularly during the democratic periods, the Jama’at has been forced to divert its attention from opposition to the government to competition with an array of other political forces, with the effect of diffusing its political energies.

In a nutshell, this has been the single most important cause of the Islamic movements’ failure so far and a good lesson for the revival movements in 21st century.

b) State’s Reaction

While in the long run, involvement with the political process impedes the process of establishing an Islamic alternative to the convoluted concept of democracy, in the short run the prospects for the success of Islamic movements hinge on the nature and scope of the state’s reaction to it. The fake champions of the prevailing mock democracy consider Islamic movement an imminent threat to a state lacking the will or power to crush a challenge to its position.

Far from the ground realities, the Iranian revolution is considered to owe its success to the shah’s inaction in the face of a challenge to his authority.[30] Conversely, repression of other authoritative states is considered as decisive in forestalling progress of Islamic movement in places such as Iraq in 1980, Syria in 1982, and Algeria and Tajikistan since 1992.

While the proposed state brutality explains the demonization of Islamic movement, it is a far less effective means of contending with Islamic activism than assimilating the movement in the reigning corrupt order. Decisive repression, as witnessed in Iraq, Syria, Algeria, or Tajikistan are costly affairs that can scar the political process and ultimately derail the puppetisation effort in the name of democracy. Hatred against puppet regimes is growing because the brutality involved in such state actions in many cases out-weigh the dangers that are perceived to entail success of the Islamic movement.

The case of Iraq in the 1980s, Algeria in the 90s and Uzbekistan in the 21st century are the most obvious examples. They crossed all limits of brutality that is associated with the fear of an Islamic state. In the decisive state action against Islamic movement in Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere too, the sociopolitical costs have quickly added up. The Algerian coup, which was launched by the military to deny the Islamic Salvation Front its victory at the polls, has led to the internment of thousands of civilians and the dangerous polarization of society.

In some cases, such as Iran in the 1960s and 1970s, and again in Algeria since the coup, suppression of revivalism has clearly led to its strengthening. Such tactics in 21st century will convert many more to join Islamic movement and produce a far more formidable challenge to the tyrants and their tyrannical system. State action, only closes the political process to the Islamic movement which they do not need anyway. It does not hinder their social and political position. At best, state actions are serving only as a stop-gap measures. The more the sitting regimes resort to brutality with a hope to strengthen the secular order, the more their fake claims of equality, freedom and democracy for all get exposed. Such repressive measures succeed only in the short run. In the long run, these measures contribute to both the strengthening and consolidation of Islamic revivalism. It goes without saying that the manner in which state action can impact the progress of Islamic revivalism is itself consequential.

Those who are still in doubt must have realized by now that there is nothing more futile than joining the secular order for establishing Islamic model of governance. It is not that Islamic movements which have joined political process in their respective countries never get the opportunity to come to power. It is that the state actions has always been behind keeping religious parties away from power. For example in Pakistan, Jama’at’s involvement with the political process shows that at various junctures in the country’s history, it has been in a position to exert greater power than is often acknowledged. If it failed to realize its aim of ruling Pakistan and eventually succumbed to the writ of its long-run involvement in the political process, it is due to direct state action.

Since it joined the political process in Pakistan, the Jama’at has launched two serious drives for gaining control of power, in 1958 and again in 1977. Each time, the government acted directly to check the Jama’at’s bid. Although the response of the Pakistan state in these occasions was somewhat similar to state action in Algeria, there were important differences. Most notably, the state did not exclude the Jama’at from the political process and hence did not reverse the long-run impact of the party’s involvement in the process. As a result, the party didn’t get a lesson. It still dreams and keeps its followers dreaming that one day they will be able to establish Islamic system in the country.

This dream will never be realized the way religious parties want to make it happen because now the US has openly declared a war on “Islamic ideology” with the release of 9/11 Commission report. Even long before September 11, 2001, the US was instrumental in holding Jama’at from coming to power. When Jama’at turned itself from a movement to political party in the early days after Pakistan’s independence, it succeeded in mass membership between 1947 and 1958 when the first national elections were scheduled.


Please, click here to read :: Part Two ::