An Islamic State cannot be established through the ballot box. Islamic revolution is the only solution.
Author: Zafar Bangash (He is identified in the article as Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought)
Source: Crescent International, September 2013
ORIGINAL TITLE: Islamic revolution is the only solution
The overthrow of an elected government in Egypt within a year has made it painfully clear to struggling Muslims that an Islamic State cannot be established through the ballot box. Islamic revolution is the only solution.
There is virtually no disagreement among Muslims that they must live in an Islamic state or struggle to establish one. True, such awareness varies widely depending on the level of knowledge or depth of understanding of Muslims. Some, like the Westernized secular types, vehemently oppose an Islamic state preferring to live as apparitions in the bosom of the system bequeathed by the colonial masters because they believe themselves to be the beneficiaries of such a system. They use all means — fair and foul — to retain their privileges while depriving the overwhelming majority of people of their fundamental rights.
We have witnessed this phenomenon at work in the unfolding events in Egypt over the last two months. Remnants of the old regime conspired with the military to overthrow a legitimately elected government in Egypt. On August 14, they unleashed the military and police to slaughter supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi. Our position on Western-style democracy and elections held within it has been articulated many times in these columns but what is evident is that for remnants of Egypt’s old regime, even this was not acceptable. They assume that privileges are their birthright and if the Egyptian masses vote for someone else, then they are ill informed or incapable of making the right choice. This is not new; such thinking has been articulated by American writers like Harold Lasswell who candidly admitted that the masses are too stupid to know what is good for them. This is the responsibility of the “enlightened elite” to decide.
If the masses make a choice not to the liking of the elites, then that must be reversed. Events in Egypt have once again demonstrated this with stunning clarity. They also show why elections are not the route to establish an Islamic state. For all his faults, President Mohamed Mursi had convincingly won the presidential election. There were two rounds, organized and controlled by the old guard — remnants of the Mubarak dictatorship. There were four rounds of other elections prior to Mursi’s presidential victory. In each, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood) and their allies won handily. In elections to the People’s Assembly (Lower House), Islamic groups garnered 73% of the vote. For the Upper Chamber (Majlis al-Shura), their margin of victory was even higher (80%). The Constitution was approved by a vote of 64%. None of this mattered when it came to the military’s action to dismiss an elected president or massacre his supporters, applauded by political rejects and remnants of the old regime. The military had also dismissed the People’s Assembly last year.
Where does this leave the Islamic movement? It is imperative that leaders of Islamic movements develop a better understanding of the prevailing order in Muslim societies and identify the vested interests that benefit from it. Living on romantic hopes will not do. Muslims went through the process of elections — winning handily — yet they were prevented from assuming power in Algeria when the military was unleashed against them in 1992. A similar scenario played out when Hamas won the only free elections ever held in the occupied territories of the Holy Land. The same situation has emerged in Egypt. It is naïve to assume that those who have become accustomed to their ill-gotten privileges would give them up voluntarily. The behavior of Western governments is also revealing, although not surprising, to those that know their true nature. They are for democracy only if they like the winner. The West will never accept an Islamic government in any Muslim society.
This brings us to the question of what the Islamic movement should do. It is clear that elections are not the route to establish an Islamic state in any society no matter how large the margin of victory of Islamic parties. The only option is an Islamic revolution. It is impossible to work within the existing system, not that Muslims do not want to live and let live but that vested interests will not allow the Islamic movement to establish an order based on fairness and justice. This is what we learn from the Sunnah and the Sirah of the noble Messenger (pbuh) when he was opposed by the vested interests in Makkah. In our own times, the Islamic movement led by Imam Khomeini achieved victory over the forces of darkness in Iran. The existing system had to be uprooted and demolished and in its place a system based on Islamic principles was established.
This will not come easy but the struggle for justice and fairness has never been easy. The masses are prepared to pay the price; only the leadership must give a clear directional course for people to follow. Often the problem lies not with the masses but with the faulty thinking and assumptions of the leadership of the Islamic movement.