How to Defeat ISIS: The Separation of Mosque and State

Muslims must liberate the mosque from the shackles of state power and the state needs to be subordinated to the mosque and not vice versa.

The threat which ISIS and other Islamist terrorist organizations pose can only be understood in terms of their nihilist ideology which is bent on destroying civilization in all its manifestations.

This nihilism stems from the age-old ideology of the so-called implementation of “Al-Sharia” (Islamic law) which is a way of life that rejects all but itself. It would be futile to deal with this terrorist phenomenon without addressing the ideological problem of Al-Sharia itself.

At the outset, it needs to be stated that Al-Sharia is a gross distortion of Islam, rather than being Islam itself as commonly held.  Sadly, most Muslims are not aware of this fact. Actually, it is correct to go as far as saying that Al-Sharia, as it stands, is an alternative to Islam.

This abuse of Islam by the Sharia cult is almost as old as Islam itself. It started with the establishment of hereditary monarchism by the Umayyad dynasty approximately 1,400 years ago. The Ummayads managed through their tyrannical laws, which they called Al-Sharia, to totally stifle the democratic spirit of Islam and to turn it into a totalitarian religion in order to keep their hold on power indefinitely.

They brought to a prompt end the short-lived democracy of the Muslims which The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had established. They totally excluded the people from politics, thus depriving them of their liberties and political rights in the name of the implementation of Al-Sharia, falsely presented as the divine law of God. The Quran grants people all their freedoms, while Al-Sharia totally denies them such freedoms.

Diabolically, the religious establishment of the Umayyads and of the consequent ruling dynasties asserted that Al-Sharia was religion itself, practically making the Quran redundant. This goes a long way in explaining why the teachings of the Quran are so totally absent from our political life. Unsurprisingly, the proponents of the implementation of Al-Sharia simply cannot tell the difference between freedom and tyranny, and between justice and oppression, for they have their concept of good and evil completely muddled, hence their nihilism. It is time that we Muslims become aware of this sad fact in order to do something about it.

The need for mosque and state separation

Clearly, what the Umayyads did to Islam is yet to be undone. We Muslims urgently need to go back to the Quran to sort out this ideological mess of Al-Sharia which is turning our lives and the lives of those whom we come into contact with into hell. Our salvation lies in the Quran and nowhere else.

We need to formulate an ideology of liberation to be strictly based on monotheism. It will make a total separation between what is of God and what is of Man, so that human fallibilities are no longer imbued with divine status. Only God is divine and infallible. This clear separation between the divine and the human is fundamentally Quranic. It is the basis of monotheism.

Politically speaking, this clear separation between the divine and the human is nothing but secularism. Religion is divine because it is of God, whereas politics is human and thus of no religious status whatsoever. The adoption of secularism will enable us to do away with the theocracy of Al-Sharia, so that we become politically equal, which is the very message of Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon him. It is impossible to establish democracy while we remain prisoners to the theocracy of Al-Sharia.

This proposed new secular understanding of Islam will need to define its terms clearly so that religion and Al-Sharia are no longer mixed up.

Religion is the Divine Law which governs all aspects of life without any exceptions at all times. It is The Quran, the word of God as revealed to His messenger Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon Him. The Quran is divine, not human, and thus not subject to error.

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Al-Sharia, on the other hand, is the man-made laws which govern a specific society at a specific time. It is necessarily fallible and subject to improvement and change through consensus. It must not carry any religious status.

Judges are denoted in the Quran as “Ulu Al-Amr,” the scholars of Islam, whose judgments are to be respected and adhered to as the highest law of the land. It needs to be added, however, that historically speaking the status Ulu Al-Amr has been hijacked by despots who had no Quranic education at all while demanded the obedience of the populace under the threat of the sword. Their edicts and decrees were considered to be the highest laws of the land. Typically, the religious establishment commanded the people to obey these despotic laws as their “Islamic duty.” This travesty of religion continues to this day in theocratic states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Morocco.

So, in order to reject this historical legacy of Al-Sharia and revert to the teachings of the Quran, It is essential that we liberate the mosque from the shackles of state power. It must become a democratic institution which respects the freedoms of thought and expression without which there can never be any true understanding of The Quran. The state needs to be subordinated to the mosque and not vice versa. This will ensure that judges will not remain mere tools of the royal families and of the police state. Only then can we do away with this age old autocracy of ours in favor of the rule of law. There can never be justice otherwise.

In a Muslim secularist state, the people, as represented by their democratically elected parliament, will be the source legislation, Al-Sharia. However, any legislation which contravenes The Quran will be made null and void by the judiciary. This arrangement needs to be constitutionally enshrined.

Why Arabs and Muslims need secularism

All the Islamist organizations which call for the implementation of Al-Sharia such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Ansar Al-Sharia adhere to the extremist Saudi ideology of Wahhabism. The Saudi regime spends billions of dollars on a yearly basis to spread this evil ideology. It would be meaningless for the West to fight these terrorist organizations while unreservedly supporting the royal house of Saud. Theocracy must come to an end in Saudi Arabia and Iran in order to defeat Islamist terrorism at source. There can never be democracy, normalization and peace in the Middle East while these two vile regimes continue to spread their theocratic poison among the young.

It is our contention that secularism will bring about the demise of the entire “Old Arab Order,” thus it is essential to employ soft power to spread this new ideology. The power of the word must not be underestimated.

In summation, the Arab world is currently experiencing an ideological vacuum due to decades of vicious Saudi campaign portraying democracy as apostasy. Typically, this idea was staunchly supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and similar fundamentalist organizations. This multi-billion dollar campaign of disinformation goes a long way towards explaining the acute lack of political vision which is threatening to derail the Arab Spring revolutions.

It is now a matter of urgency that the Arabs adopt secularism as the key to the freedom they seek and are prepared to die in their hundreds of thousands to achieve it. It is self-evident that it is impossible to have democracy without secularism. It is, in fact, also impossible to have Islam without secularism. For unlike Christianity, which makes no separation between God and Man in the person of the Christ, Islam makes such separation central to its message of monotheism. For politics to be informed by religion does not make it religion.

Ahmed Shebani is Founder of The Democratic Party in Libya. Read other articles by Ahmed.

  • Ali H. Alyami

    Ali H. Alyami,
    Religion should be left for the individual to decide. States and the Muftis have no authority or rights to indulge in God’s business. Islam has become a tool of repression, exploitation, discrimination and deadly incitements. Enlightened Muslims should rise and follow the footsteps of the enlightened Christians many centuries ago. Stay tuned.