Last night President Morsi was deposed by the Egyptian military, top judge Adly Mansour has been sworn in as interim president and a political road map has been imposed. The argument was that Morsi’s government failed to be inclusive, was incompetent and pursued some sort of Islamic agenda.
Despite this, even today, some leaders of some of the Islamic parties in Egypt are talking of restoring democracy while the secular ‘pro-democrats’ are celebrating the fact that they have unilaterally removed a democratically elected ruler. Unsurprisingly, Western governments who claim to champion democracy have lined up to support Morsi’s overthrow. This should not be a surprise since they supported the authoritarian Mubarak regime for decades because all that matters to them is securing influence and interests in the Muslim world – not some deep conviction to some principles.
Is this a failure of ‘political Islam’? What are the lessons? How can there be real and fundamental change in Egypt and the wider Muslim world?
What could Morsi have done?
After the fall of Mubarak, Egyptian society was divided regarding what system should govern the country. Rather than settling this question, the focus shifted to electing new politicians. So in reality, an American controlled secular system remained largely intact. Muslims came to power but Islam did not come to power. Subsequently, we saw ongoing political crisis as a divided society become even more polarised. This was a natural consequence of not settling that fundamental question. This has shown the fallacy of the idea that one could gradually ‘Islamise’ the system by taking power at the helm of a non-Islamic system and implementing Islam gradually. Through the military, the US has ensured that the system in Egypt effectively remains the same in order to serve its interests.
What could Morsi have done to the economy? How can Islam provide solutions to socio-economic problems?
In coming to power, Morsi’s government was faced with a number of challenges – one of which was the strain of having to uphold its Islamic credentials at the same time as delivering some practical results to the people, like improving the economy. One clear failure was that the government allowed Islamic principles to appear at odds with practically improving people’s lives. This dichotomy should not have been the case. Specific Islamic principles should have been explained and then used to deal with actual problems. Failure to provide economic solutions allowed the opposition to win over people who saw sky rocketing food prices, power and fuel shortages and a worsening economic situation.
Unfortunately, on the economic front, the solutions proposed were the same liberal economic policies: securing loans from the IMF; talk of more privatisations and of improving the tourist industry – which leaves the country vulnerable when foreigners decide to stay away as is the case now.
A modern Islamic Khilafah state applying Islamic principles could implement a range of measures. For example, Egypt spent a good part of last year attempting to borrow money from the IMF in order to gain necessary funds. However, given that a substantial part of government expenditure is actually spent on servicing and repaying existing interest based debt, then it would be quite proper to apply Islamic economic principles and simply stop these payments and immediately make around $3 billion available to the government to spend on essential services. For those arguing about Egypt’s likely subsequent credit rating drop, one would argue that a Khilafah state would use the Islamic policies of not borrowing on the international markets with interest; having a fully gold and silver backed currency; and using the Shariah’s anti- hoarding measures to force tied up Egyptian capital to circulate in the economy.
Other policies could include:
* Immediate cancellation of all interest, and the abolition of the Egyptian pound and it being tied to the dollar. The introduction of a new currency based upon the gold standard – and with no interest and no link to dollar – will help to shield the economy from the fluctuations in prices/inflation that is currently affecting it.
* The tax burden being immediately moved to capital (as Islam dictates) rather than income
* A programme to build economical and sustainable homes for those that are currently homeless and living in the City of the Dead (graveyards)
* All international treaties signed by the previous illegitimate regimes would be considered null and void, and a foreign policy based on unifying the Muslim world will be pursued, thus utilizing the vast resources of the Islamic Ummah.
Can looking to the West solve our problems?
Whoever the new government is comprised of, it is possible to predict many of the policies it will pursue. This is because, what exists across the Muslim world is the failed capitalist system copied and pasted from the West and led by corrupt elites. Democracy is sold as the best form of governance and the best way to look after minorities – while many in the West are disengaging from the democratic process saying it serves the interests of the elite and their business backers.
Despite this, many – including some Islamic activists – continue to trumpet secular and capitalist economic solutions rather than looking to Islam for new ideas and tried and tested solutions that can be applied in today’s world. Capitalist solutions are bound to fail as can be seen from Western societies experiencing economic and social meltdown, and loss of confidence in democracy and liberal economic solutions.
What should Islamic groups do going forward?
Some Muslims and Islamic activists are complaining that there were many Muslims cheering the removal of president Morsi, calling such people ‘jahil’ (ignorant). We have to admit that there is a paradox in Egypt and parts of the Muslim world; many people love Islam, but are unaware of how Islamic derived solutions can solve their day to day problems. Hence they love Islam but look to secular solutions to solve some of life’s problems. Why should this be a surprise? What has been preached in our Mosques for decades? Was the Khilafah system explained as more than a footnote in our history? Were the Prophet’s (saw) ahadith about ruling, economy and foreign relations discussed and applied to today’s realities? No. Throughout society, and even in esteemed Islamic institutions, we have had the promotion of a ‘secular’ Islam which is primarily concerned with individual matters. So last night, the sheikh of Al-Azhar stood and endorsed the political roadmap set out by Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi but did not offer the Islamic Khilafah system as an alternative.
Indeed, while secular activists openly argue for secular solutions, we find some Islamic activists saying it is not the right time to talk about the Shariah of Allah (swt) or the Khilafah system and what solutions these offer all of society – not just Muslims. So how are people going to perceive that they do? If we don’t expose the shortcomings of liberal capitalist or democratic solutions, how would people see their fallacy?
This latest setback must be a wakeup call and a reminder for us to join hands and work even harder to convince people of the duty and viability of applying the Islamic solutions by re-establishing the Islamic Khilafah state.
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” [TMQ An-Nahl 16:89]
The Islamic Khilafah, A Manifesto for Change
This manifesto demonstrates how Islamic economic, political and social models can be applied to the full range of problems faced by a modern State. We offer this document to facilitate what we hope will be a robust and fruitful discussion on the practical solutions Islam has to offer.
Our Manifesto is available to view or download [pdf]