Being afraid from the unknown
Why Islamic liberal’s model can not be successful?
Kurdishaspect.com - Dana Newzer Ali
The two major signs which human being can be recognized through are knowledge and volition. When any of them lacks, there will be a problem and awkwardness in the life, and there will remain no meaning of being a human being. But nor knowledge neither volition can make sense when the tools of gaining them are missing. When there are not enough information about something, or the details about an event are not clarifies, the knowledge which is gained will be a false fruit grew from a corrupted root, so the problems are in the root, but we are looking for it in the fruit. One of the most dangerous and terrible obstacles in front of a true knowledge is prejudice, to decide about different issues without having a clue. Prejudice is to know before knowing and predict results before even taking a snob. Human is different because of his everlasting search and scepticism. Great men, philosophers, scientists, writers and generally wise people don’t speak before experiencing and trying new things. When the thoughts are not based on empirical thoughts and just come from arbitrary and baseless thinking, we can’t develop and take further steps. So if we ever wanted to think correctly and reach logical and convincing results which can satisfy us mentally and rationally, we have to rescue ourselves from the dark caves of ignorance and dangerous zones of prejudice.
Some weeks ago and in the 15th anniversary of the Kurdistan Islamic Union’s declaration, I wrote an article about the success of the KIU model of the Islamic-liberalism so as to mention a fact which was been ignored by the media and the concerned people. In the article, I tried to present some actual facts from Kurdistan region’s political scenes now and in the past. I wanted to say that the non-military nature of KIU is a good chance for this party to make it more suitable to play a more civic role in the Kurdish society. This not a story that can be seen, not only in Kurdistan but also in the middle-east , to have a moderate Islamic party believing in the democratic principles and not participating in the military conflicts with a word even. This is very rare to have a political party in this region that doesn’t believe in violence as a way to reach the authority. Isn’t it strange to have 3 women political leaders in the leadership of an Islamic party when the other parties who claim to be liberalist and secularist don’t have one even? I ask these questions because I tried to give an answer to them in my previous article, but what I can’t understand is why there must be someone who looks at these traits with suspect and doesn’t want to admit the truth?
I am in favour of difference, and I think that person is no longer a human being, if he/she doesn’t think and act differently. I do believe that when we think like each other, we don’t think, but at the mean time, I think that it is very important to think consciously and make reasonable and logical arguments. I mentioned some controversial issues in my article such as the liberalist nature of KIU and its relations to other parties of the same model outside and the possibility of this model’s success in this region, and I tried to provide these abstract thoughts with examples from the life. I am ready to make long debated about these issues, because I think they deserve it, but what I was not ready for was Mr. Mufid Abdullah’s answer. I am not sure whether I can call it “an answer” or “no answer”, because I really didn’t find a connection between what I said and what he wrote.
It is clear that Mr. Mufid has written his answer in hurry, because there was an obvious confusion in the order and organization of the writing. Mufid have concrete and prepared attitudes towards KIU and the entire Islamic liberals, which is not reasonable. He knows better than others than the debate about KIU’s outdoor relations, its financial support from outside, its relation to Muslim Brotherhood and KIU’s perspective on Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish problem are not new, and they have been discussed in Kurdish language more than necessary, and I don’t see the point of repeating them in English. There are clear and obvious answers from KIU and only a quick look at the independent newspapers and magazines like Hawlati, Awene, Lveen and the others could explain these facts. The questions which are raised by Mufid about those issues are answered in Kurdish, which means that he doesn’t have to search for them in English. The people who were asking those questions in order to say that KIU is not that so clean have given up that job now and don’t have the face to repeat them anymore. Although I think that Mr. Mufid failed to address the main problems of the KIU experiment and tackled within the expired debates about this party, I think that his article was a good opportunity for me to write more about the concept of the Islamic Liberalism and the opportunities of this model to become the alternative in the future.
The first step to avoid any obscurity and confusion is to make it clear what do we mean by liberalism and then Islamic liberalism? Are there any contrasts between these two terms? And later we will write in detail about the present chances for this model to win with the political future of this region. The first true step which can be taken in defining Liberalism is not to define it, because it doesn’t have really a certain identity or an unchangeable manner, but it is an elastic word which can be used differently for different purposes and by different people. So there is not only liberalism but much liberalism. British, French, Scandinavian, American, Australasian liberalisms are all types of liberalism. This difference and variety is very natural, because it is a prerequisite of liberalism. There will be no liberty and democracy without difference and variety. The societies which their members all look like each other, think in the same way, speak in the same voice and show up in the same colour can not produce a true liberalism. But there are some general signs and characteristics for the liberalisms, which can be listed as constitutional democracy, the rule of law, political and intellectual freedom, opposition to racial and sexual discrimination, toleration in religion, morals and lifestyle, and respect for the rights of the individual. These values are nor specific to a society, a group of people, a religion without another, and they can be on the agenda on any political organization which believes in them. Despite the fact that the only watchful sample of liberalism exists in the western country, there are no restrictions on the other nations and religions to have liberal viewpoints and progressive perspectives on life.
On the other hand, there are some people who don’t think in the same way, and believe that being liberal doesn’t match any other identities, religious identities especially. They believe that religions don’t accept the other realities, and claim to owe all of the reality. Religious ideas are based on the terms of good and bad, which means that religions’ world is very narrow and can’t be freeman’s choice. Religions are not opened and they don’t accept to be questioned or to be rejected, and they can’t get along with this era, which is the time of technology and free thinking. These are all opinions given by the people who believe that religions or other small identities can not be liberal or create a liberal society; even they are obstacles in front of it. I believe that it will be a very terrible mistake to decide like this on religions, which are very important elements in our societies’ political, social and spiritual composition, because this is relative and depends on the religion, place, time and the people, so I don’t think that this kind of thinking is true, but there are some other people who don’t speak generally but appoint specifically the Islam religion and say that Islam is very far from liberal thinking and it is more likely to be a violent religion more than a peaceful and liberal religion. Unfortunately has perceived as an undisputable fact for a lot of people in the world, but really let's ask ourselves whether Islam is the generator of terror and violence and doesn’t have to do with liberalism, or the opposite is true? Mr. Abdolkarim Soroush, the Iranian reformist intellectual and his intellectual companions succeed to determine the methodical error in this type of thinking; they said that we have to distinguish between two things, Islam and people’s understanding of Islam. Islam is a religion like any other religion in the world, and it has its own legacy, holiness and perspective, but out understanding of Islam and our approach towards the religious texts is different. Religion, as Ali Bin Talib said, is a dead thing and that is us who relieves it by thinking of and understanding it. So religion is one thing, and our people’s understanding of Islam is another thing, The Qoranic verses are open to interpretations and can have many meanings, so when someone becomes a good citizen because of religion, another one can be a terrorist due to it, and this is the same with all of the other religions, ideologies and theories. So the image of the religion is in the eyes of the beholder. We can understand Islam in a liberal way, while it can be understood differently. The alive texts are like open texts, as Adonis said, they will never die. They can be interpreted in many different ways. The possibly of having an Islamic liberal model is not related with Islam itself, because there is no contrast between Islam and the general characteristics of a liberal society, but it is related with our abilities to use the religion as a matter for spreading love, brotherhood, freedom and justice,
In the last decade, a new wave of Islamic parties appeared in the region. This new model of the Islamic parties can be called Islamic-Liberals, and this is due to their reformative thoughts towards many modern issues, and their Islamic background which gave them the ability to engage with their societies and demonstrate another chance for the people in this region. The new model was a combination of the western ideas of democracy, pluralism and human rights, with the Islamic basis such as social justice and Islamic ethics. I think that the modernity of this new model of the Islamic perspective was not in their announced aims and agenda, but also in their ability to perform a very essential role in the region's politics and present a new chance for the depressed people here. Kurdistan Islamic Union, Turkey's justice and development part, Morocco's Justice and development party are three major examples of this kind of Islamic thinking. All the three have different experiences in different times and in different places, but their common point is their new perspective in religion and modern interpretation and progressive understanding of Islam. They offered a new type of political party in the Islamic world. Their first step was to announce their opposition to the manipulation of the people's volition. Second was to fight the lethal disease which is spread thought Muslim societies body. The anti-corruption agenda was first set up by the Islamic-liberals, because they had the necessary tools of the reformation, process. They chose democratic and free elections as the only way to reach authorities and decided not to avoid violence in the political process. The people who are leading these parties are well-known, decent, honest people with a clean history coming from religious, intellectual and academic backgrounds.
Kurdistan Islamic union is one of the watchful examples of the Islamic liberals. In its by-law, KIU defined itself to be a political reformative party with and Islamic background. As we mentioned in our previous article, KIU's history of the continuous challenge for the sake of the public good is clear, and any monitor can see that fact by looking at KIU's past. I never try to say that KIU is an angel and it doesn’t have mistakes, because this false understanding has been an obstacle on the way of our thinking. When we speak about the light parts of a political party or any other of groups, it doesn't mean that we are glorifying it, and it doesn't have mistakes or downsides. I personally have many objections for some political actions taken by KIU, and I don't agree with some of its announced principles, but it doesn’t mean that I can't present KIU as the best choice for the people in my region. The problem is that there are some people who are afraid from Islam, Islamic-liberals and KIU without any reasons. They are afraid from the unknown and can't decide why they are doing that. Here, I rewrite some of what is said about the moderate and liberalistic nature of KIU by some of the Kurd intellectuals and foreign observers.
Vance Serchuk, a researcher at AEI, in his report for the Forward Magazine, which is published by some Jewish groups in America, said, “Indeed, the tyrannical state power that insinuates itself into every corner of a society--whether justified in the name of defending a secular nationalism or building an Islamic heaven on earth--represents the core problem in the Middle East today. And it is the conviction of Hadi Ali and other moderate Islamists in northern Iraq that they can provide part of the solution.
It has been suggested that attempts to foster the democratization of the Muslim world are dangerous because they will only serve to empower extremists. If anything, the Turkish and Kurdish experience suggests that the very opposite is true: Democratic institutions are themselves the best way--and perhaps the only way--to foster moderate political Islam.” His report was on the growth of KIU and AKP as two moderate Islamic parties.
Brian Padden, the correspondent of VOA says, “The most popular alternative to the ruling parties is the Islamic Union of Kurdistan. It has no militia, only a local television station to present its vision of a moderate, Islamic democracy.”
Michael Totten, a writer and a journalist, visited Kurdistan and met with some officials from KIU, after his return he wrote an article and described how progressive KIU is and how successful this example will be for the region.
As we all remember, Faruk Rafik, a famous Kurd intellectual, wrote in his book Pax-Americana that KIU could be the best choice for opposition because of its non-military nature, and there was a lot of discussions about this phrase in the Kurdish journalism at its time, because Faruk was not an ordinary write but a well-known and effective intellectual in the region.
These are only few examples of the people who believe that KIU could be a successful example of this new model of Islamic parties, because of its qualifications which we mentioned before. I think that this issue needs more discussions and debate, because Kurdish society is going through a transitional period now, and looks for an alternative for the political, social and economical chaos in the region. KIU is one of the nominees which are expected to play a significant role so as to put a safe end for the terrible political disorder at the present. Whether KIU can be that alternative or not is a matter of future, and we have to wait some time in order to know the results.