October 08, 2012

The researchers Muhammad Abu Rumman and Hassan Abu Haniyeh launched their new book, “The Islamic Solution in Jordan: Islamists, the State, and the Dangers of Democracy and Security,” (which was issued in partnership between the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan and the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Amman), and it includes eight main chapters dealing with active Islamic movements, The Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists and Hizb ut-Tahrir, their ideological discourses and the path that shapes their relationship to society and the state.

The book includes eight main chapters, in addition to an introductory chapter dealing with the map of Islamic movements and groups in Jordan, and their ideological and kinetic positioning. The second chapter deals with official religious policies and their impact on the state’s relationship with Islamic movements. Subsequent chapters address the Muslim Brotherhood, presenting its relationship with the state and the development of its ideological discourse. Then the fourth chapter deals with the question of the relationship between the state, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the following chapters, the book deals with the Salafi currents; It begins with conservative Salafism and then Salafist jihadism, and the seventh chapter is devoted to dealing with the impact of the Arab democratic revolutions on the jihadist Salafis, while the eighth chapter deals with Hizb ut-Tahrir and its stages of political development and its relationship to the state and society.

In the conclusion of their new book, the two researchers conclude that the specificity of the ‘Jordanian model’ in the relationship between the state and Islamists is evident in two main aspects:

The first aspect is through the state’s religious policies that hold the stick from the middle, neither with anti-religious secularism nor with revolutionary Islamism, but rather closer to ‘conservative secularism’.

The second aspect is the convictions adopted by most of these movements that Jordan is not qualified to be an “Islamic state”, in the ideological sense, given the limited resources and geostrategic location, which makes the option of coexistence with the state and accepting compromise solutions more likely for most of these movements, even radical ones, such as Jihadi Salafism has today ended up declaring its readiness for an initiative to stop armed action, and some of its sons have gone to call for the formation of associations or political parties, that is, civil and political institutions as long as this current refuses to recognize its legitimacy.

The researchers conclude that the typical ‘bet’ is the belief in the principle of ‘coexistence’ between the state and Islamists, with their various ideological and political colors, which may lead to the consolidation of the new culture that believes in pluralism and the right to difference and contrast between the different social and political components in society.

In the conclusion of the book, they argue that ‘taming’ the Jordanian Islamic genie with democratic and political bets will be more successful and accomplished if the state follows the security bet and the option of confrontation, which other Arab countries have reached to their maximum extent. The shrinkage of society itself to be more conservative, reclusive, and confused towards modernity and its values.

According to the conclusions of the researchers, the Brotherhood seems – today – the closest, within the map of the Islamists, to be a major political player in the upcoming political scene, and in practice it represents the main opposition party in the country, but questions about the extent of development that the group’s proposals can reach are still a matter of discussion. And an argument, between those who see that there is a possibility to be close to the model of the Turkish Justice and Development Party, and those who see that Arab political Islam is incapable of making such an ‘ideological leap’.

It is true that it is not possible to “clone” other societal models, such as the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, for each society has its own cultural, societal, economic and political conditions, and it is also true that there are fundamental differences in this regard between the Turkish and Arab experience in general, but this does not mean that it is not possible to benefit from the experience Turkish political Islam in various fields, specifically in the path of ‘political pragmatism’, which produced a different realistic political discourse, which can be achieved in the Arab world.

On the other hand, despite the revisions carried out by Salafi-jihadi; The perception that it will move to squares close to what the Muslim Brotherhood has reached seems unlikely. But the most we can ask of Al-Maqdisi and his movement is to abide by the law, respect the state and peaceful work, after which he is free to adopt whatever political opinions and ideas he wants, even if they contradict the ruling system, as long as he adheres to peaceful work and stands “under the roof of the law.”

The two researchers point out that some secularists and leftists fear a “deal” between Islamists and the state at the expense of the project of modernity, enlightenment and secularization, but they see that these concerns are unjustified if the terms of that “deal” are the commitment of everyone to the democratic game, the ballot box, democratic stakes, acceptance of pluralism, the rule of law and recognition. Citizenship as a basic principle in the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

What the Arab countries need in the new era is to give ‘political Islam’ a better opportunity to participate and live in normal conditions, as this may lead to more openness and development of these movements’ discourse, political and intellectual positions and social vision, which may lead to a ‘new equation’. On a higher level, it relates to the ‘magic recipe’ for the relationship between religion, society and the state in the Arab and Islamic world. This relationship has turned into a dilemma in front of a secular discourse surrounded by panic over the idea of ​​a religious state, and a dynamic anti-Islamic discourse that is haunted by doubts about modernist and renewal ideas.

There is an opportunity, through the democratic process, to reach a new ‘equation’ such as the one that Professor Fahmy Jadaan talked about in his book ‘In Final Salvation’, consisting of ‘Islam, secular, liberal’, or the one that Wali Nasr talked about in his book ‘Powers’. Rising Wealth talks about the capitalist religious middle class, which believes in liberalism, democracy and openness, and is an agent of change and development for society and the state alike.

In this argument, the researchers go to the fact that the security and exclusionary bet has exhausted its scope, and resulted in negative results in most Arab countries, which makes the democratic bet test and the options for coexistence between Islamists and the state and working to reach a “recipe” different from the recipes that were tried, something worthy of attention during this stage. In the coming days, especially that what is happening in other Arab countries has proven that Islamists are today the difficult figure in the Arab street