Which one has failed?
The fact that Islam is a feared ideology is not a hidden matter, and even the most tolerant individuals on the face of this planet are tolerant toward ordinary Muslims, but they do have serious questions about Islam and its teachings. Therefore, dissecting the roots of this fear and phobia in contemporary politics would be beneficial for Muslims and non-Muslims equally, to determine if possible solutions are available. Therefore, political observers and researchers have identified the political groups, which extract their policies and programs from the religion of Islam, as a mean of legislation and enactment as political Islamists.
This version of activists and reformers as they like to call themselves, depend on a set of opinions and discretions extracted by jurists and Islamic scholars to establish a political agenda. In addition, Theses political groups originally launched their activities and efforts as socio-religious groups, inside societies that were suffering under the rule of authoritarian regimes. Therefore, they used the grievances and afflictions of the masses to bash the policies of the governing bodies and attract sympathizers for the mean of recruitment. The ruling regimes on the other hand, indirectly helped these groups to receive legitimacy, by labeling them opposition and imprisoning many of their members. Therefore, in addition to having the ISLAMIC label as an ideology, their struggle with the regimes to exist and operate, gave them a legitimacy, which many of the regional governments were lacking.
Nevertheless, the ambiguity of these Islamist parties was always an issue for debate, since it was not clear, whether these parties and groups had the intention of creating Islamic states or not. Even if some of them were very clear about their intentions, their methodology was questionable at best. This notion, is partially due to the nature of Middle Eastern governments, which seemed like nothing would ever remove them or shake their existence. Therefore, even the jurist and scholars, who were aiding those groups with ideology and opinion, were depending on their own experiences and point of views to extract their discretions. To sum up this point, the result of such equation was, those Islamist parties were not necessary Islamic and were not necessary an alternative to the regimes in the Middle East.
Islamic Politics VS Political Islam
The challenge, which all of those Islamist political groups had to face, was the issue of application and implementation of their policies and ideologies on the ground. In all cases, whether they were in power or not, their actions were subjected to comparison by precise and detailed traditions and examples from the legacy of Prophet Mohammad and the true version of Islamic government model, which the Prophet established. Without doubt the only cases of true and complete Islamic governments were established by the Prophet himself, and his rightful successor Imam Ali. The examples and models provided by these two states were and still are the only models for comparisons, to use for any Islamic political group or state.
The Islamic model of governance and politics provided by the Prophet and Imam Ali, was very precise and adequate in its conduct, which left no room for misjudgements and mistakes. Therefore, this notion made many Shi’a scholars specially believe in the idea that establishing Islamic state is only the duty of the Prophet or an infallible Imam, due to the impossibility of such establishment by ordinary Muslims.
Islamic Politics, which was the truthful version of the policies and conducts of the Islamic state, mandated the following:
- Abiding by the laws and rules of Islam in all aspect and matters.
- No coercion and compulsion any circumstances.
- No needy and poor people are acceptable under Islamic rule.
- The right to question and criticize is guaranteed by Islam.
- State has no affair in personal and private life of citizens.
- Islamic state is responsible for paying the debt of all citizens in debt, if they cannot repay debt.
- Islamic state must provide housing and shelter for any citizen in need of such help.
- Islamic state must not have political prisoners.
- Under Islamic state, all followers of other religions are free to practice their faith, and have the right to establish their own arbitration and socio-judicial system.
- Under Islamic state, education, health care and social welfare must be provided to all citizens.
- Islamic state shall never initiate military action against any other state, unless it is for defensive purposes.
The list would continue on, in defining the essence of an Islamic government and the way it should run its affairs, and these teaching and conditions are known as Politics of Islam, which are directly implemented by the Prophet or his rightful successor. Therefore, the any Islamic political party would have to deliver these concepts on the ground and be the exact same model to qualify for the true ISLAMIC STATE label. Even though this name is currently held by a vicious and barbaric group called ISIS, but the reality of its existence and history totally different.
Unfortunately, the Islamic political parties in the Middle East have failed miserably in delivering any of the necessities of a true Islamic State, which has resulted in Islam being viewed in the most negative way. These groups have depended on notions, which were used by previous regimes to contain their masses and acquire legitimacy, and have turned into autocracies and authoritarian systems. The flourish of radicalism under their rules have fueled the causes of instability and disorder throughout the Middle East. Their inability to deliver means of survival and economic reforms brought double digit inflation and unemployment records, which is making the recruitment of youths in radical groups a very easy task. These allegations are not entirely blamed upon the Islamist parties, as the previous regimes hold a big portion of the blame, as they have institutionalized the notions of favoritism and corruption in all levels of the state.
Therefore, the Islamist parties were either unable to present an alternative and put an end all calamities and pains, or they were only eager to gain power and use it to seek vengeance and influence. In both cases, the failure of Islamic parties is evident and it shall be viewed as unforgivable. Failure of Islamist parties would inflict distortion and bad imagery on Islam as a religion, and it will not be viewed as a political failure only.
Whether, Islamist parties have had a chance to be in power or not, they are not ready to govern and they must realize their ability to establish strong political foundation has been crippled due to their distance from real teachings of Islam. Therefore, it would be in their best interest to remain civil entities, with strong social roots in the society, and use this foundation as a mean of influence for the benefit of people.