Egypt: The Next Pakistan?

Let it be understood that, by and large, Islam is the only unifying factor in countries of the Muslim World. The Muslim heart, no matter how much of a hypocrite, is filled with genuine love for their Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Unfortunately, many Muslims are unaware how love is expressed in Islam. Many Muslims may not pray five times a day, etc. but they are willing to kill and be killed. Extremist scholars of Islam exploit this hypocrisy. They command the uneducated and poor of society by inciting rage in their hearts for the cause of “Islam” which is mixed with a set of vested interests. Shamelessly, extremists sway opinions of populace and create an army of rebels who may be small in number but are loud in voices and actions.

From left, disqualified Egyptian presidential candidates Hazem Salah abu Ismail, Omar Suleiman and Khairat Shater. (Khaled Desouki, AFP/Getty Images / April 14, 2012)

After the ousting of Hosni Mubarak many feared take over of such an Islamic regime in Egypt. By disqualifying two Islamist candidates Egypt has delayed this outcome. But it would seem the outcome has only been delayed. One of the disqualified, Salafi Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, saw growing popularity for his views. In fact, he was a second-runner according to a poll conducted by Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and his popularity was (is?) on the rise. In general elections where voters do not have a personal relationship with nominees and where people vote for policies as opposed to character it is obvious that Abu Ismail’s Islamist views were popular with the people of Egypt.

Therefore, it is not surprising if those views are adopted by someone seeking to keep his power. This is the way it works in democracies of the West. Coming to power is a matter of policies and charisma … not a matter of character since most voters don’t have a personal relationship with the candidates. Staying in power could result in drastically different policies.

This is not all theory. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came as a secular alternative to Jama’at-e-Islami back in early 1970s. But he laid the foundation stone for Anti-Ahmadiyya laws in Pakistan. The decisions made by the government during his rule garnered the support of the Ulemas which he thought he needed to stay in power. Despite being a secular he adopted policies of Jama’at-e-Islami … the very party he defeated. He saw the soft-spot Muslims of Pakistan had for Islam. And he decided to exploit the name of Islam to establish rule. Jama’at-e-Islami didn’t get elected … in fact religio-political parties have never truly won the hearts of the Pakistani majority. However, the secular rulers who got elected saw the potential to exploit “Islamization” policies and used them. Pakistan has seen subsequent rulers use the same. Most Middle-Eastern countries use Islam to keep themselves in power.

Point being that Egypt is slowly heading that route. The disqualification of one person does not undo what Egyptian politicians must have noticed. Secular or otherwise Islam is there to exploit because it is the one unifying force of a Muslim-majority country. Unfortunately, that opens the door for extremist to take power. We can only pray that Muslims learn to adopt true Islam. The real way of loving our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is by worshiping God and serving His creation. Not by serving one’s own interests. The real Islam preaches love, not hate.

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