The antipathy of regimes in the Muslim world to Islam is no secret. Similarly, the masses’ attachment to Islam is a fact of life that these regimes cannot alter, however much they try.
While the rulers and their minions try to control every aspect of life in society, they have had little success in detaching the masses from Islam. One of the impediments in their drive for total control is the mosque. In some countries - Algeria, Tunisia etc - mosques have been attacked and even blown up. In others, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt etc, the regimes exercise immense control. But even this is not deemed adequate.
Take the example of Saudi Arabia. While its court-appointed ulama toe the official line, there are others who have challenged the regime’s subservience to US-zionist interests. There has also been strong criticism voiced at the presence of US troops in the Arabian Peninsula. Accoding to an authentic hadith of the noble Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, the entire Arabian Peninsula is sacred territory and out of bounds for non-Muslims.
Such challenge to their authority has not deterred the regimes from trying to control the mosques. Egypt has just launched a campaign to bring all 65,000 mosques under government control by the year 2000.
‘There are 35,000 mosques under government control but by the year 2000 all of Egypt’s 65,000 mosques will be under the control of the Ministry of Auqaf (religious endowments),’ undersecretary Abdel Rashid Salem was quoted by the AFP last month. The official then made a Freudian slip by admitting that ‘Fundamentalism does not exist in our mosques. They are led by imams from Al-Azhar who have no knowledge of fundamentalism and who preach tolerance.’
‘Fundamentalism’ and ‘tolerance’ are buzz-words. The first refers to Islamic activism which the regime and its American masters denounce. ‘Moderation’ of the regime’s and the west’s conception stands for subservience and accepting whatever nonsense is dished out by the enemies of Islam. No doubt Azhar-trained ulama are ‘moderate.’
The Muslim world’s premier institution was nationalised by Gamal Abdel Nasser and brought under government control in the early sixties. Since then it has churned out docile ulama. In 1978, the Shaikh of Al-Azhar issued a fatwa endorsing Anwar Sadat’s surrender to the zionists following his November 1977 trip to Jerusalem.
In Egypt, successive regimes have attempted to control the mosques which are the only refuge for those who oppose their oppressive policies. There are thousands of mosques that serve both as centres of learning as well as provide social services independent of the government.
Their existence not only challenges the regime’s political authority but equally importantly, exposes its incompetence. In 1992, when a massive earthquake struck the poor locality of Imamba in Cairo, the regime’s rescue teams did not show up for hours. Members of Mosque committees who are part of the Islamic movement, as well as doctors and engineers rushed to the scene to rescue the injured and dig out the dead. The regime’s lithargy was there for all to see.
The Egyptian bureaucrat is notorious for his laziness and incompetence. He is the butt of numerous jokes, all fully deserved. It is said that the Egyptian bureaucrat works a grand total of four minutes per day. There is no time left for any other work, especially an emergency like an earthquake.
Muslimedia: July 16-31, 1998