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False Islamist-Secular Divide in Egypt is a Wedge in Hopes for Preserving Democracy

The dichotomous myth of "secular" versus "Islamist" must be dismantled in order for Egypt to move on.

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The power grab and the draft constitution are being heatedly contested and debated not just in the streets and squares of Egypt but also by Egyptian journalists, essayists, legal scholars, constitutional experts, university professors, public intellectual, in and out of their homeland. Some Egyptians think the draft constitution fair and balanced and perfectly compatible with a democratic nation-state, though admit the flawed political process through which it was drafted, while other Egyptians are taking all sorts of substantive issues with this draft. One prominent Egyptian, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, has already delegated this draft constitution to " garbage can of history". The fact that ElBaradei is a liberal, or that the US and EU seem to prefer him to others, do not disqualify him and his supporters from their fair share of this revolution. 

Morsi and his supporters say that his grabbing more power than he was granted by the people was a temporary measure - and only for a few months. But you cannot abrogate democracy to protect democracy for even a few seconds - no matter how corrupt the judiciary might be or peopled by the elements from the old regime. It is the body of the democracy, its formal structure, and its skeletal vertebrae that must by all means, on this ground zero of Egyptian democratic history, be protected. But why is this simple fact not seen, and what is the underlying cause of the mistrust of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood brothers that underlies all this bloody twist in the Egyptian revolution? 

Who is a Muslim?

The battle between some Egyptians and other Egyptians is predicated on a phantom fear - of one group from the other - "lslamists" from "secularists", and "secularists" from "lslamists". This false and falsifying binary must be dismantled, immediately. 

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a political faction, predicated on a political ideology, formed in the course of Arab and Muslim encounter with European colonialism and its domestic extensions, and just happens to have a name that claims Islam for itself. By calling themselves "secular", the opposition is in fact granting the MB an exclusive claim on Islam, which they categorically lack. Islam, Quran, Sharia, al-Azhar, etc are all false flags raised by the MB to protect their class and ideological interests, thereby manipulating the inner sanctum of millions of Muslim Egyptians for their political purposes, the same (almost identically the same) way that Muslim clergy, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, appropriated the Iranian revolution of 1977-1979 entirely for itself, far beyond their own fair share.    

Here at this historic juncture we must rethink Islamic doctrinal history and reconceive the notion of what it means to be a Muslim, to which Islamic law and Muslim jurists have laid a false total claim. Neither Muslim jurists nor Islamic law (with its own varied schools and normative tropes), and certainly no nativist Islamist ideology formed in the course of Muslim encounter with European colonialism, has any prerogative of defining or deciding what it means to be a Muslim. A Muslim philosopher is also a Muslim, a Muslim mystic is also a Muslim, though Muslim jurists have had a historic animosity towards those equally legitimate manners of being a Muslim, or to come to terms with that fact, particularly over the last two hundred years and under colonial duress when they have falsely assumed a disproportionate power and authority to define who is a Muslim and what is Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood today in Egypt is the final product of that colonial development, as the Shia clericalism was the beneficiary of the selfsame development in Iran, and now Egyptians have been given the historic opportunity once and for all to overcome it. By calling themselves "secular" - and even ever so imperceptivity partaking in Islamophobia - the opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood are paradoxically partners in preempting that overcoming.

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