In an apparent attempt to downplay the incompatibility of a Western and Islamic approach to state affairs, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, stated in June 2015, “I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics — not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not …The fear of the other can only lead us to new conflicts.”
A lot has happened since then.
The rise and defeat of ISIS; the mass immigration of Muslim populations to Europe.
At the time, Mogherini’s words were meant as an instrument to construct harmony between Muslim countries and those of the European Union.
Yet even then, Mogherini’s proposal was far-fetched, if not hypocritical. At the time, she asserted that “Religion plays a role in [European] politics,” which was blatantly wrong. There is nothing within the EU Constitution, despite over 70 percent of Europeans being Christians, that even hints that its member-states should refer to its Christian roots.
The term “Political Islam” (or today’s more simple “Islamism”) was coined after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to describe an apparent new phenomenon of political moments. It was anchored by educated Muslims who advocated a “re-Islamization” of Muslim-majority countries that had, in their view, ceased to uphold Islamic values.
Yet, the problem of blending Islam with the state — as it has been historically shown — is that sharia (Islamic) law refuses to allow any sort of equity or social development within the political field.
This type of political and social stagnation is what Kemal Mustafa Ataturk fought against and changed after the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923). He maintained (publicly) that Islam was “a theology of an immoral Arab, [and while] it might have suited tribes of nomads in the desert,” it was counterproductive for a modern and developing state. This is the primary reason why he got rid of the caliphate — something that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is subtly rehashing.
Ataturk’s foresight cannot be altogether dismissed, given that at present, so many Muslims living in Islamic countries live in poverty, despite nations such as Saudi Arabia possessing enormous natural resources. Barring few exceptions, most Islamic states remain underdeveloped; their education system is also equally dismal.
Many in the Islamic world tend to blame the globalized West for their misfortunes. While there may be some truth to this, according to Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, a RAI Fellow at Mansfield College of Oxford University, “the true reasons for the state [of poverty] in which the Muslim world finds itself today are rather closer to home: the venal, corrupt leaders, but also, our indolent, passive societies.”
The root of this passiveness is the sharia mentality, which prevents any type of autonomous or independent studies necessary for innovation.
This is why Shah Pahlavi sought to secularize Iran, allowing his fellow Persians, with Western aid, to make advances in the fields of education, medicine and the like.
Let us keep in mind that although many Islamic states, such as Egypt and Iran have officially adopted a democratic form of government, Islamists — despite abhorring democracy — use it to propel political Islam.
Sharia’s appeal is that it does not have to modernize or assimilate. Rather, as Mogherini and many in the West have been doing, we must assimilate to it.
Willful ignorance of this reality can be fatal to humankind, as is made evident by the millions of Muslims who continually try to legally or illegally escape to the West.