Tarek Heggy

The vast majority of the doctors of law in the various currents and sects of Islam still give their blessing to suicide operations where the Muslim blows himself up in order to kill a few or many civilians. Moreover they have termed these depraved acts ‘martyrdom operations’, so that they have become the object of admiration and a subject for incitement and encouragement.

Without exception the Islamists avoid what Ibn Taymiyya, the imam most influential to their thinking, wrote about Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) –  his condemnation of him and his open declaring of him to be an ‘infidel’. Among all Islamists this position reflects their standpoint on the intellect championed by Ibn Sīnā. One cannot understand the reason for the Islamists ignorance of Ibn Taymiyya’s views on Ibn Sīnā without steeping oneself in the writings of both parties. Ibn Taymiyya demanded that every Muslim should despise non-Muslims, even those who behave honourably to a Muslim!

Muhammad Mursi: An incapacity to approach the concept of a modern state

During the period of Muslim Brotherhood rule over Egypt (369 days from mid-2012 to mid-2013) Islamists, in all their formations, insisted in their proposals for the constitution of Egypt that the religions that the Egyptian state should recognise were Judaism, Christianity and Islam alone. Non-Abrahamic religions practised by a full half of humanity were not to be recognised and indeed were not to be allowed to be stated as a person's preferred religious affiliation on official documents. The reader cannot be blind to the manifold consequences of such an attitude for many issues relating to marriage, affiliation, paternity, inheritance and so on.

Islamists seek to reintroduce the past in forms which our modern age cannot possibly accept

I have long realised that the question that most irritates the Islamists (and one that I have asked of hundreds of them) is: “Can a state ruled by Islamists grant legal status to Baha’is, that they may live in the society as Baha’is?” The answer is always the same – an angry refusal! I have always felt that they were making a confusion between two things: between belief in the correctness of the Baha’i faith and the right of some to be a Baha’i. This is another standpoint that reveals the major contradiction between their mentality and exalted values such as pluralism, acceptance of the other, relativism and freedom of conscience.

Without exception, Islamists are not content merely to deny the theory of evolution, they even refuse its being taught or merely studied. It is well known that education programs in most of the states raising the banner of Islam (even including it on their flag) are empty of any sign of the theory of the development of species, as if this theory simply did not exist.

A history painted in hues of reverence, glorification and sanctity

Many Islamists live in what in our contemporary world constitutes a rarefied state, in that they seek to reintroduce the past in forms, thoughts, patterns and behaviours which our modern age and mindset cannot possibly accept. More than once I have said to numerous Islamists: “The early Muslims used to seize their enemies’ property and women when they were victorious in battle. Do you see conditions today as being such that you can combat your enemies and be victorious over them (a purely theoretical supposition!) and do you think it reasonable and acceptable to seize the wealth, property and womenfolk of the defeated party?” The answer, hilariously, is: “Yes!” This reveals the fact that the Islamists are living in an unfulfillable state of seeking to bring back the past. One of the products of this state is their inability to study the history of Muslim peoples in a scientific and objective manner. For they paint this history in hues of reverence, glorification and sanctity which cannot be considered applicable to any human history.

Is it reasonable to believe that the description of Jews as descendants of apes and pigs is a true one? This is a question I have posed frequently to celebrated Islamists, and the reply has always been that the Jews were indeed sons of apes and pigs. I used to make fun of my interlocutor and say that the text they depended on for this does not actually state that the Jews are ‘sons’ of apes and pigs but ‘fathers’ of apes and pigs! That is, even reading their own texts properly is beyond them!

Arabs and Muslims are the product of a history that has not known any development in political theory

The concept of the modern state developed as a result of a long journey that began with the Greeks almost two and a half thousand years ago, one which passed through ancient Rome and modern Europe, particularly the age of the great French Enlightenment philosophers Voltaire, John Jacques Rousseau, Diderot and Montesquieu. Sadly Arabs and Muslims have not been part of this journey but instead are the product of a history that has not known any development in the field of the state and political theory. The Arabs of the Peninsula never knew the concept of the state and their system of government was simply an extension of the concept of the tribe. The ruler was an extension of the position of the ‘elder of the tribe’ and today the Islamists remain far removed from the concept of a modern state and the concept of the ‘elder of the tribe’ still predominates over the concept of the president of a state.

‘Azza al-Garf: Seeking to reduce the marriage age limits for girls

Over the course of hundreds of conversations with Islamists it became clear to me that they were cleaving to a primitive system which had no room for the principle of the separation of powers (which constitutes the essence of the modern system of government). Over the course of the 369 days of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt their incapacity to approach the concept of a modern state became patent. It was clear that the subordination of three powers (legislative, executive, and juridical) to the main power (the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and not the head of state) was the cornerstone of the Islamists’ political system. The period of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt was a great opportunity for Egyptians to see that a modern system of government cannot exist in any society where the political system is not founded upon the complete separation between religion and the state. Without this full and strict separation democracy simply cannot exist.

Islamists believe that womankind was created for the pleasure of men and for procreation

Islamists believe that womankind was created for the pleasure of men and for procreation, and they believe that women are also the source of most evils. You will not find an Islamist who does not believe that female circumcision is a vital Islamic requirement, since an uncircumcised woman (a ‘foreskinned’ woman in Ibn Taymiyya’s phrase) is like an animal whose instincts are let loose and constantly demanding unbridled sexual pleasure! Ibn Taymiyya’s views on women are known to everyone who reads his fatwas. One of these states that if a woman is killed her bloodwit should be half that of a man killed. Most Islamists accord the man the right to beat his wife, and they have specified rules on how one beats a wife in a legitimate or illegitimate way. But the greatest disaster lies in the Islamists’ insistence on the need to reduce the legal age of marriage for a girl. Most Islamists believe that the law should adjust the age of marriage and reduce it to the age of nine! No sooner had the Islamists come to power in Egypt when a Muslim Brotherhood woman (‘Azza al-Garf) stood before the Brotherhood-dominated parliament in 2012 and insisted on the need to adjust the laws concerning the person to allow for the marriage of girls who had reached the age of menstruation.

A demolisher of alternative value systems

Islamists bestow the name ‘scholar’ (and not just ‘religious scholar’) to men of the cloth. This is a phenomenon which is not found in any other environment. Yet it is a phenomenon with many implications: it is a phenomenon that means not recognising true scholars (in the fields of engineering, medicine, pharmacy, astronomy, technology, sciences and so on); it means that the values of human life are not considered to be exalted ones, since it is the scholars who will lead (!) humanity towards a better life after death; it is a phenomenon that means that the class of clerics will be the one to compose the notes to human life in all its various directions and arenas. Most of those who are called ‘scholars’ have only received a highly superficial, unidirectional education in science or literature. Even the works of Al-Farābī, Ibn Sīnā, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and the legacy of the Muʽtazila are known to them but partially. Hardly any one of these scholars knows anything about the 25-century human scientific legacy from Socrates to the present-day, while in our contemporary world it is well known that a partial acquaintance with some (as opposed to all or most) areas of knowledge leads to distorted results. One of the oddest manifestations of these ‘scholars’ is that despite their narrow, limited scientific education they take it upon themselves to speak on these other aspects of life about which they possess little or no knowledge at all!


Most of those who are called ‘scholars’ have only a superficial  education in science or literature

My discussions with dozens (or even hundreds) of Islamists over four decades has ranged over many other areas. I have frequently spoken with them on the destructive role which Muslim immigrants play in Western societies, in particular in France, Britain, Germany and Italy. My point of view always has been, and still is, that a large number of these were, and still are, working to shatter the value system of the societies to which they have emigrated, despite having themselves left backwardness, poverty and primitiveness behind and entered into an environment of progress, comfort and civilisation. Even so there are some who do not stop at attempting to shatter the foundational values of these societies; Islamists have always stated that any integration of Muslims into the societies they have emigrated to is something that is forbidden! Many of them affirm that emigrants should work towards turning these societies Islamic!

What occasionally perplexes me is the Islamists’ claim that Islam does not recognise a ‘clerical class’, despite the fact that reality on the ground confirms that a class of Islamist clerics does not only exist but wields the greatest authority and hegemony over the sons and daughters of their societies. For a Muslim is barely left to deal with anything without a ‘cleric’ telling him how to behave. A Muslim wakes up every morning only to repeat what the cleric has told him to do that morning. He cannot go to the toilet without first receiving instructions from the cleric. He cannot step out of his home without reading orders from the cleric, nor can he initiate sexual relations with his wife without first reciting a prayer formulated and taught him by the cleric! Before any dealings with banks he must listen to the opinion of a cleric! If a work of art takes his fancy, before obtaining it he must first ascertain the degree of prohibition or permission associated with owning the object! And before a male doctor is allowed to draw up a prescription for his wife he must first be acquainted with the opinion of a cleric!

In short, as my four decade-long study of the entire literature of the Islamists has shown me, they find most of the premises, manufactures, features and products of modern society unacceptable. My discussions with dozens (indeed hundreds) of Islamists has shown me that modern societies stand in flat contradiction to their concepts, viewpoints and requirements down to the tiniest detail, and that their intention is to bring about an entirely different type of society. If we want to know what such a society would look like we have only to go to Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan. There we will see whither the Islamist mindset will lead us!

Read Part 1 of this article