Piñar, Section AB
May 30, 2015
Fatwas aren’t political!
From a young age us “westerners” have been ingrained with perceptions about the Muslim world, due to the politics of the Muslim majority countries and the media representation of said countries. All to often the US media focuses on Huntington’s clash of civilizations, an argument that the world is involved in a war between religions, and all Islamic followers are opponents to the secular west. This is evident in their sole publication of stories relating to political Islam and the terrorist activities that often arise from this political Islam. In Karima Bennoune’s book, “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” we see a different perspective on both political Islam and the actual Islamic religion. This book has a number of anecdotes describing the Islamic struggle between religious followers of Islam, and the Islamic fundamentalists, who use Islam as a political tool rather than a religious ideology. By seeing this struggle between the true tenants of Islam and the Islamism political followers we can divert from Huntington’s clash of civilizations theory and begin to understand possible solutions to the political Islam problem. In her book, Bennoune describes how these Islamist fundamentalists use the fatwas of Islam “in the context of globalization in order to manipulate religion and achieve their political aims (14)”. This book focuses on how to combat fundamentalism in a number of ways by rejecting the clash of civilizations theory that misinterprets Islam and focusing on fundamental Islam as the main issue. In a modern context we need to focus on secularity, feminism, education reform and media reform in order to curb post-colonial fueled fundamental Islam.
In Bennounes book, she describes possible solutions to Islamic fundamentalists through a series of anecdotes. In one of these anecdotes, Bennoune explains the cause of fundamentalist support from the west, “In someplace, the failure to solve basic problems of “economic justice, democracy, human dignity, and legitimate grievances like past colonialism and current military occupation, contributed to creating fertile ground for its project to gain adherents.( Bennoune 25)” . This shows a justification for fundamentalism, which she uses to dissect and evaluate the problem .By analyzing the root cause for the fundamentalists occupation she can find the solution to the fundamentalist problems within the Middle East. Due to the political context of fundamentalist Islam, Bennoune describes one of the political problems that is a result of fundamentalism “secularism has been rubbed out by terrorizing dissenters”(Bennoune 91). She uses this diction “terrorizing dissenters” to describe fundamentalist who according to Bennoune are going against the true tenants of Islam. Additionally the political context of the word secularity and its description in her book highlights the necessity of re-secularization to destroy fundamentalism. The main stereotypes of Islam are due to political Islam frequently a result of the subjugation of women in Islamist societies in accordance with some Sharia law. Bennoune stresses the importance of women within the movement to curb fundamental Islam and it’s marginalization of women. “Women of Muslim heritage are under pressure to cover more and more of their skin, their hair, their very beings. To disappear.(Benoune 8)”. This description could be described as orientalist due to the fact many women wear the hijab with pride, but in the context of political Islam it is very true. Bennoune looks at the oppression of women as one of the roots to the fundamentalist problem and again a hint to a solution. In addition she stresses the need for increased education in both the school systems and media outlets of these fundamentalist regimes. “Misinformed children grow up to be misinformed adults (Bennoune 84)” , this statement highlights the need for revised curriculum and accurate