The Constants and
Conditions of “Gulf” Islam
Over the last
few years, a Kuwaiti web site www.kwtanweer.com
has offered us a “window” through which we may read articles and
essays of Arab intellectuals who are interested in “tahdith”
(modernization) and “tajdid” (renewal).
The following article appeared in mid-May 2006, written by an Egyptian
scholar who is very critical of the impact of Saudi money and Wahhabism on
the life of his countrymen. Since the Arabic text is filled with idiomatic
expressions and allusions that are familiar to Middle Eastern people, I
have tried my best to “Anglicize” his contribution.
Recently I read in the Egyptian magazine “Rose
al-Yousef” about the “good” news that beginning next Ramadan,
a new satellite television channel, would begin broadcasting throughout
. As it is funded by Saudi businessmen, all ladies appearing on this
channel would be required to wear the hijab.
I must confess that I was not surprised by this news.
This has been coming for a long time as we have been noticing the rise and
imposition of a religious vocabulary in all areas of life. It is a
language of “Islam”
imported from the Gulf countries. Now we are about to face a specific
interpretation of Islamic mores coming to us over a new satellite TV
station, in addition to the already existing Gulf stations. This new
venture comes to us with conditions. But why should we be surprised by
such conditions, when they have been waiting to descend upon us for the
last twenty five years? It was to be expected that they would arise out of
the constant, unchanging
traditions of “Gulf” Islam,
especially as they relate to women’s dress and to the very nature and
role of women.
Businessmen who live and work in socially advanced
countries, and who appreciate their cultural heritage, realize the danger
of playing with religion, and the ugliness of any attempt to spread an
atmosphere of religious divisions. They invest their capital in ventures
that protect peoples’ minds and advance the welfare of their countries.
They are fully aware of the dangers of mixing religion with politics, so
they do not invest their capital in building churches or houses of
worship, nor do they embark on programs that favor a specific brand of
religion that would lead to a climate of intolerance. On the contrary,
such men employ their extra capital to guarantee a real separation of
religion from politics, in favor of tolerance and openness in culture.
They would rather subsidize the building of opera houses, theatres,
musical institutions, and centers for the advance of scientific research.
Unfortunately, businessmen in our lands invest their
monies in the creation of Islamized satellite television stations that
require women to cover their heads. Businessmen in other lands invest in
medical research that would help in overcoming various diseases that
plague mankind. In contrast, our businessmen pool their resources in
sponsoring the creation of several albums of “Islamic” songs created by “Islamized”
singers who traffic with religion and with “Gulf” Islam; and those advocating radical interpretations
of Islam. Some of these businessmen actually live outside their homelands
having settled in
! We have already heard of “Sami Yousef” and of
groups of “Black
Muslim” song-writers. Lately, we learned about the venture of “Massoud
Keirts” and his first Islamic album called “Safwan” which has
been produced by a company of Muslims who have acquired American or
British citizenship. This company announced the production of a new video
clip known as “Al-Barda”
to appear for sale during next Ramadan. In this album one would
find an Islamic song “La Tansa Abadan” [Don’t
Ever Forget]; it is actually a blatant jihadi
fatwa rather than a real song. Its
goal is to plant the directives and constants of “Gulf” Islam in the
lands of the “Kuffar” [Infidels!] Those
businessmen who financed the album forgot, or purposely ignored the fact
that those “Kuffar”
happen to be the nationals of the host countries [who have welcomed
Muslims into their homelands!]
The proposed “Al-Nass”
TV channel is a home-grown plant that has sprung out of a religious
octopus and has propagated a spurious form of Islam. “Al-Nass” is the antithesis to the basics of all religions
and human commitments, as it exploits men’s religious nature in order to
sew discord. The ultimate goal of this TV station is to change
into an [Islamist] religious country to be manipulated by push-button
technology, where everybody would speak from the standpoint of the Gulf
religious authorities who possess and utilize the power of the purse.
After all, a religious authority without a capital accomplishes nothing!
Now some Egyptians have been surprised that this satellite channel which
is owned by the Saudi Company “Al-Baraheen Al-Saoudiyya”
declared that it is not basically a religious station, as it plans to
telecast a variety of programs, alongside those specifically “modern”
In fact, this Islamic religious octopus will Islamize
everything it touches. This is its real goal. They will telecast
“Islamic” entertainment, and the video clips will also be
“Islamic” as well as the children stories. All these programs will be
presented before and after meals; before we go to sleep and as soon as we
wake up. They will advertise the venues and times of new fatwas. The
company that funds “Al-Nass”
satellite station, as well as several other similar stations, will end up
proving one thing: it’s going to take a long time for us to be able to
restore our basic [Egyptian] national principle: “Al-Deen l’illah, wal-Watan lil-jamee’” [Religion is for God, but the country is for all**.] And it is going
to take a much longer time to eradicate this poisonous octopus from the
minds and the hearts of human beings.
*Al-Nass is a generic term used to refer to people in general.
** A proverb that became current after WWI in the
. It projected a national hope that Muslims and Christians,
notwithstanding their differences in matters of faith, can live and work
harmoniously within one nation-state.
elicited four comments. All were ultra critical of the writer, and invoked
Allah’s wrath upon him, and disputed his main thesis that there is such
a thing as a
“Gulf” Islam! JT