His ideological fatwas and directions are stemming from a down to earth understanding of every day incidents; he is one of a few figures whose statements and fatwas reflect a clear understanding of texts and linking them to reality; he is an icon of the Islamic movement facing political corruption and oppression; the London-based sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannoushi- the chief of the Tunisian Al-Nahda (Renaissance) movement- is the symbol of mature Islamic thought who understands how to link texts with reality.
We had this long interview with sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannoushi in which we tackled the status of the Tunisian Al-Nahda (Renaissance) movement and the political status quo there in addition to how Muslims live in the West and the most important problems that they face.
1-All of us know the black historical days which Tunisia lived during Bourguiba's era who repeatedly tried to give a death blow to the Islamic movements and their members and to link Tunisia to the West; I ask you Sir: do you see a difference between Bourguiba 's Tunisia and nowadays' Tunisia, particularly after the latest referendum on president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, giving him (like all Islamic and Arab countries) a life long rule?.
Rashed Al-Ghannoushi: There is no big difference in terms of attitude and method between the master (Bourguiba ) and his apprentice (Ben Ali); however, the master was more of and ideologist: he adored the West and its civilization, and hated Islam, its civilization, followers and institutions; the phrase that outlines Bourguiba 's philosophy and method is "keeping in touch with civilized nations"; thus, his enmity to the Islamic movement is just a part of his enmity to Islam; he was so angry with people's close relation to Allah, His messenger and his holly Book, because he felt this a downgrade to his personal position and pompousness like Fir'awn who said " I am your god in the sky" "you believe in what I see as right"; he exclaims how people give a high esteem to an illiterate man (Mohamed PBUH) while he (a Sorbonne graduate) sees himself as deserving this most; thus, he mocked at the Quran and miracles of prophets to the extent of defying the holy pillar of Fasting when he called on his people- in the first day of the holy month of Ramadan while drinking a glass of wine- to not to follow this heavenly order under the pretext of fighting backwardness.
Thus, scholars like sheikh Bin Baz, Egypt's former Mufti sheikh Ali Al-Khafif and India's reputed scholar Aby Al-Hassan Al-Nadwi called him on to repent this, but he went on in his violations recklessly; when the Tunisians expressed their belief in their religion in the 1970s through the emergence of the Islamic movement which restored life to mosques nd returned Islam back to modernist institutions (schools, universities….) he couldn't bear this for a long time and he reconciliated with Leftist movements to pour his rage over the Islamic movement since early 1980s, threatening with emptying Tunisia of every Muslim Brotherhood member as long as he is alive. Since then, Tunisia's prisons has been always hosting Islamists; in 1981, the sentencing trials included some 500 persons who spent 4 years behind bars; because they didn't repent this- according to him- he launched a crackdown on them- two years later- with more rage and force so that his detentions were up to some 10000 Islamists whose sentences were up to execution; the crackdown was spearheaded by his Interior Minister who rebelled against him later and succeeded him in power to release prisoners and he declared preparing Tunisia for a democratic life and restoring esteem and respect to Islam and Arabism; people were happy about this and they – including the Islamic movement- supported this. However, in the first elections held during the "new era", in which the Islamic movement participated with independent slates, given that it wasn't recognized, although it was demanding legalization since early 1980s, the Islamic movement garnered most votes, but the regime didn't stop short of rigging the results only, but it decided to punish the winners through eradicating them. Moreover, it brought closer the enemies of Islam and gave them power over education and media institutions, under a plan entitled (drying sources) based on the fact that eradicating the Islamic movement as a political rival doesn't take a final shape except through eradicating every thing related to Islamic culture in the society's values and traditions; it closed thousands of mosques in administrative, economic and educational institutions, and banned religious lessons in mosques to extent that performing the prayers at the mosque became a way of recognizing fundamentalists; also, police stations were ordered to table monthly statistical rolls of those committing the prayers especially young men. Prisons were filled with some 30000 Islamic preachers and movement leaders and torture became a systematic method; also, slow death plans were imposed on prisoners: giving little water, air and blocking medicine…etc till more than 40 companions died- we ask Allah to consider them martyrs; also, the prisoners' families faced plans of crunching starvation and siege; the Tunisian woman was forced to take off the veil in schools, universities, administrations and factories, even government hospitals were banned from dealing with pregnant veiled women who are about to give birth; veils are torn apart even in streets; all these and more were committed by Bourguiba and his successor under glittering slogans: defending modernism, democracy, the civil society, and fighting extremism and terrorism, finding a great funding for this from protectors of Western democracy.
With all this hidden scheming against Islam and its followers and against freedom and real urbanization ( for more information see book: Tunisia: Injured Islam. written by Sheikh Mohamed Al Hadi Al Zamzami); they have failed in dragging the movement into the quagmire of violence as it is an epidemic, not a medicine, and they failed in eradicating religiousness, as there emerged in the last years a sweeping wave of religiousness whose size haven't been seen before in the country in terms of its likes, size and extending to all directions, classes and ages; the veil returned along with the aspects of Islam and chastity to fill Tunisian streets; also, the authorities failed completely in alienating or eradicating the movement; contacts between it and the political opposition fabric with its different spectrum have recently returned on the basis of defending public freedoms and equal rights for all Tunisians whatever their trends are; in return, the authorities took the path of westernization, broadening circles of angry and resentful people due to looting people's livings, welding mouths shut and emptying the political and media discourse of every content except hypocrisy specially after the president finished his three terms three years ago and he should have left; nevertheless, he insisted on copycatting his ancestor of a lifelong presidency and he deviated with the constitution in a referendum that reminds us of Ceausescu and Brezhnev's referendums opening the way for a lifelong presidency like his Egyptian mate in " a single path", defending family interests that inflate day after day working day and night on looting the public wealth, something that widened the circle of unemployment even among high graduates and escalated the state of congestion within the arenas of mainstream political, religious and media repression to put the country in a state of potential various explosions specially that authorities have kept on shutting their ears so as not to hear or respond to all demands of reform and openness, even those simple demands adopted by the broadest circle of opposition parties ( 18 October movement) which includes liberals, communists, Islamists, Nationalists and Leftists; these simple demands are outlined in the following: freedom of expression, freedom of forming societies and parties, and releasing prisoners.
2-The Islamic movement in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria went through different experiences with the ruling regimes in their governments, could you give us a brief note about points of agreement and disagreement between the Islamic movement groups in those countries, and possibilities of cooperation and coordination between them, specially under the geographical and cultural closeness between the Arab Maghreb countries?
Rashed Al-Ghannoushi: The Arab Maghreb countries were called the Islamic Maghreb; Arabism and Islam in the region's heritage are about to mix up as we converted to Islam and we got Arabized afterwards; the more deep Islam is rooted, the more deep is Arabism. Everything targeting Arabic language and its culture is necessarily targeting Islam and its civilization.
These five countries are adopting Sunni Islam according to Ibn Malik's school- except for a small group of compatriots who converted to Al-Abadyah and they are integrated into the region's fabric. The region is considered fronts defending Islam against the Western Major nations: Spain, France and Italy, which stormed into them aiming to include them and even Christianize them, but the great religion of Islam defeated them; nevertheless, the French cultural factor kept- if not increased- its effect after independence through the elite group that was formed under occupation – except - and it assumed power and the conflict continued between peoples who continued yearning to the east and a ruling elite that yearned to the West specially France; although the conflict battlefields are various but this field remains the hottest and deepest one; this is clear in issues like Iraq and Lebanon; this means that the conflict over the region's identity is remained tense till since the occupation came to the region till now; the Islamic movement has been leading those confronting powers of westernization that assume power, using it for imposing a westernized identity on the region and trying to separate it from its Islamic Arab body. This conflict is severely intensified in Tunisia and Algeria, where it isn't confined to the cultural linguistic dimensions, but it exceeds it to the religious dimension: a continuous war against Islam under allegations of modernism; this attributes the size of violence exercised over Islamists in both countries specially in 1990s, after the Islamic movement in both countries garnered most votes ( April 1989 in Tunisia ) and in 1992 in Algeria. The Moroccan movement has understood the lesson and decided to retreat to avoid a similar fate, although the cultural conflict (the identity conflict) in the Far Maghreb is not raised because of the country's religious nature, giving space for a possible coexistence with a moderate Islamic movement like the Al-Tawheed Wal-Islah and its political extension: the Justice and Development, and imposed the secular movements to recognize- after bitter conflicts- this identity and to adapt itself with it, in a way or another; therefore, the size of oppression on the Islamic movement was and is still limited despite the kinds of oppression and bullying imposed on our brothers in the widest spread movement of justice and charity, although it adopts a peaceful and educational method; perhaps because of its intense criticism to policies of the authorities and the echoing effect on the people; however, the oppression hasn't crossed the line of adopting policies of eradication, like what happened in both countries: Algeria and Tunisia, but the latter country adopted another plan called" drying springs", based on the fact that the Islamists must be eventually eradicated given that they are a political rival in order to end the Islamic cultural heritage in the society, as was mentioned above. Although the suppression machine in Algeria that claimed lives of no less than 200000 Algerians, focused its repression on the Islamic Front and districts that supported it in the elections, it did not follow the Tunisian method in considering all Islamists terrorists; it left a space for individual religious exercises, including prayers, veil and education (Islamic books), to the extent that it kept alive peaceful Islamic movements and even included some of them in the rule, like the Movement for the Society of Peace; however, "the drying springs" plan is taking place there also, but with the lesser fuss; in Tunisia since the beginning of the independence, the religious education was eradicated represented in Al Zaytouna mosque which is considered the first institution for a religious education in Africa after Kairouan; on the day of independence (1956) no less than 27000 persons were receiving being taught inside it; it was abolished at once in the name of unifying education, that is Frenchifying it; something like this happened in Algeria; the religious education system (the original education) that was founded after the independence and was similar to Al Zaytouna mosque system and which was a system parallel to the public school, was abolished in the last years; also, the Arabization program was stopped despite the bitter conflicts that took place around it, and presidents were toppled because of it. What you need is only a look at the Algerian television to know the size of metamorphosis facing the Islamic Arab identity in
However, what is apparent is that Islam along the region is on the rise: mosque goers are doubling even in countries that applied the fiercest plans of political and cultural eradication like Tunisia; the interest in Islamic materials, specially in satellite channels is wonderfully increasing; and the westernized extension is decreasing despite the official support. Politically speaking, there are some indications that there is a trend towards reconciliation between the state and the Islamic movement, but it is in a mixed mood; what is certain is that it is not on the rise or in a steady growth. This includes a rising tension in the last months with the justice and charity and arresting hundreds of its supporters and bullying its Da'wa and media actions; also, hundreds of the supporters of the Salafi call faced a severe oppression and some of them are accused of violence. Also, hundreds of young men in
In return for this, in Mauritania, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, prisoners ( thousands in the Algerian reconciliation project led by president Bouteflika) were released in Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya during the past year where the latter country released all Muslim Brothers and kept those accused in violence cases, while Tunisia kept about 500 prisoners in prison, nearly half of them are Nahda cadres who are mostly leaders and the others are accused in violence cases.
There are reports of dialogues and reconciliation projects in
This is the status quo of the Islamic case in the Arab Maghreb: mixed and cloudy and searches for a settlement. As long as there is a political denial of exercising political rights which is focused on a certain movement, specially when it is peaceful, we are in front of a danger of unpleasant surprises and an accumulation of spites and possible various reactions unless the political the political, cultural and media mainstream is opened to contain all citizens on an equal footing to contribute to serving their country. That is because the eases that took place- although they are important- haven't crossed the human dimension to reach the political one: an exchange of recognition between the country and all society components, specially the Islamic given that they are the most deeply rooted and well established side in the society, making recognizing them and reaching settlements with them a key measure in the progress of retard of the process of democratic change in a certain country.
Facing the regimes' hesitation- if not their refusal- in seriously adopting the path of a democratic change and their insistence on adopting " a conditioned democracy", the general trend of the Islamic movements confirm their rejecting the method of violence and insisting on a peaceful way within framework of the existing laws, but the governments do not meet this warmly, but it appears as if that they want an amount of violence to continue ( under control) so as to justify the authorities' continuing policies of closed doors and iron fist and to excuse their belonging to the international anti-terrorism camp, and reaping financing and benefits from this.
In general, it is clear that violence decreased to a great extent in
As for the cooperation between the Islamic movements in this are, it is limited and did not exceed the level of personal and brotherly relations to the level of systematic organized relations, because every side is preoccupied with its state level concerns and because situations are different and the dominating state of oppression that doesn't provide fields of organized meetings and exchange of experience.
3-What is the human rights and humane status quo in
Rashed Al-Ghannoushi: it was bad during his ancestor's era, and its is much worse during his era; the country's history hasn't witnessed an era like this when the human dignity has been violated, honors were abused, public manners were ruined and the structure of the family was ruined to the extent that Tunisia is the only country in the Third World which is facing the danger of senility and primary schools no longer find its intakes of children because of abstaining from marriage, birth control and increasing divorces. Prisons haven't housed such a huge number before ( 30 thousand prisoners) while the official discourse is talking day and night with a language of modernism and human rights, emptying the language of its content; for example, while torturing has been stably systematized and followed in all security stations, a decree was issued of teaching the general declaration of human rights in all schools and even hanging it on walls of security stations. As for religious rights of Muslims, they have reached the limit of hunting those committing the prayers and banning the Islamic book even the classic ones; the Quran was banned and desecrated in prisons, and the prisoners were denied committing the prayers except during their specific times. Don't mention thereafter about the freedom of expression, as all media praise the creator of change and the protector of the dignity of the country and religion. Don't mention political rights as the president's approval rating hasn't decreased since he assumed power less than 95% if it decreased once from about 99 % an so has been his party which is has been assuming power for 50 years ( the only party in the world assuming power for such a period) and it left as a kind of favor a 20% steady rate of parliament seats for the tamed opposition parties to distribute among themselves although all of them can't manage to garner 5 % of the votes. What shall I tell you? it is a very low farce with a scenario and actors, it is even a tragic farce. The Tunisian people certainly deserve better than this; the proof is that prisons are full of freemen from all trends, and a plethora of repression groups up to 130 thousand persons who repress a population of no more than 10 million citizens. Their number equals one million if compared to the Egyptian population, in addition to a presence of a political opposition union and student movement but the law of fear controls with a European, American and Zionist support.
4-How many detainees are there in Tunisian prisons; what is the status quo of Tunisian prisons?
Rashid Al-Ghannoushi: the abovementioned is enough for grieving the one. It is true that the number in the early 1990s was about 30000 of the Nahda cadres and leaders in addition to 200 displaced, and that there remain in prisons nowadays only about 300 of Nahda and they serve long sentences as if they are sentenced to a slow, gradual death and dozens of them died due to this; nevertheless, the problem today isn't in those who are behind bars because their issue is crystal clear and demanding releasing them is under a national consensus and is called for by the International Rights Organizations; but the problem lies more in the thousands who were released from a small prison to an expanded one and are deprived even of the right of free movement from one place to another, except with a permit and are denied rights to work in government services and companies; they are even ordered to appear in a security center periodically. They and their families are denied even the card of free treatment. But they are despite the bullying inside small and expanded prisons enjoy high morales and have memorized the Book of Allah, and they are optimistic that the victory of Allah will certainly come, and they are admired and appreciated in their villages, cities and among the next new generations that flock into mosques in groups. It is a great ordeal that Islam and freedom haven't witnessed before, but is coming to an end, God willing (and the great tidings are for the pious) we ask Allah that they be from among them.
- There are some who criticize your remaining an opposition in exile, considering that opposition inside is better and more effective; how far is the opposition in exile beneficial?
Rashid Al-Ghannoushi: the ordeals afflicting followers of the Da'wa in themselves, their money, through throwing them in prisons, displacing them and killing them are a steady tradition. Allah Exhalted He Be said " And the rejecters plot against you to arrest you, or to kill you, or to expel you. And they plot, and God plots, and God is the best of plotters " Al-Anfal. The truth is that I did not choose to go to exile; I left the country intending to give a lecture in Germany and invitations followed each others till the situation in the country became tense after the authorities rigged the elections; I consulted my brothers who demanded that I stay abroad until everything becomes clear; after that, detentions intensified, until an emergence of a leadership inside was considered impossible; a number of brothers managed to escape through deserts and they met in a European country while I was staying in Britain without a passport; they consulted each other on the issue and they decided to have a decision in exile and they elected an interim leadership and a shura council and a position of a leader which I assumed. The authorities did not stop short of including us in the list of international criminals to deport us and weld our mouths shut, as prisons that managed to contain 30 thousand persons still have a space for us. We are distributed on about fifty countries; we kept, thanks to God, the unity of our group and its ideological and educational aspects and we kept- thanks to God- the movement's cause and injustices on it alive and we tabled it before all Muslims and human rights organizations and we aborted the authorities plot of incriminating us and putting us in terrorism lists; also, these in exile managed to establish a media work and establish relief institutions to support prisoners' families while the authorities' plan is to starve them and exercise a pressure on the sisters to get divorced from their husbands or to get basically corrupted, as quoted from the Interior Minister. Also, we contacted the Tunisian political opposition spectrum in exile and inside and we held joint seminars that established a joint work " 18 October institution" that was founded last year to gather the most important opposition movements. These tasks may be simple and they did not help in changing the status quo; we don't claim that we left the country to change it through correspondence, because clean change- not through occupation tanks- won't take place except from inside; We did not leave the country mainly to change it, but to remain alive, which is one of our Sharia purposes, and to do any thing useful to Muslims after that including publishing books, participating in seminars and holding dialogues like this, which are of God's bounty; they can't be afforded in prisons which are places that every Muslim should avoid; I replied to an enthusiastic young man who asked me to return back to homeland that: I spent five years in prison, I was received two life sentences on absentia while one is enough, what is the place awaiting me if return today? Is it wise to add a prisoner to thousands whom we demand their release? It is right that my chances to have effects from exile are limited but what are the available chances inside? The trends whatever their directions are- religious or irreligious- face before assuming power kinds of testing and living in exile is one of them. The one can only ask stability from Allah in any trench of testing which he is facing.
- What is your evaluation of the performance of Al-Qaeda network; don't you see that it draws the rag from under moderate Islamic movements under the extending US and Zionist domination and the massacres happening to Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon and others; do you see this a recession of moderate Islamic thought and a spread of the violence ideology?
Rashid Al-Ghannoushi: A-we are basically ordained to have a good opinion about believers. Those familiar with jihad groups in general and the first generations in particular say that they are religious and they seek Allah approval with their actions, considering afflictions as actions for the sake of Allah, fasting at day and praying at night and that they devoted and sacrificed themselves to Allah Glorified and Exalted be He, belittling all worldly pleasures, and chose the way leading to the afterworld, seeking God's bounty and satisfaction; they are our brothers in religion and we appreciate their concerns about Islam and their defending it and their nation; we ought to keep their Muslim-on Muslim's rights, including the right to support, the legitimate support, not the one related to pre-Islamic beliefs. We talk about them within this part, because it is not related to souls and intentions, and it does not violate their sanctity, but it is concentrated on products of their minds, including concepts of Islam and the status quo of Muslims and the international relations, and methods of change, here is the serious disorder, or fatal mistakes.
B- What I know about Al-Qaeda group is the ideologies reported from hardliners including Takfir and one-sidedness in viewing Islam and restricting methods of change to the fighting jihad; this is included in the method of simplification and strictness specially in complicated issues like the issue of change. Whatever the epidemics hitting societies, the group has no cure but takfir and jihad. Because the status quo is severely intermingled, the simplified solutions aren't beneficial, quickly realizing that the strict moulds can't cure the complications of the status quo. They declared forming an international front for fighting the Jews and Christians, regarding as lawful fighting even those who don't fight them including morning train passengers, civil planes and markets goers as a revenge on their governments. Then, they retreated, saying that they do not fight all Christians. The evidence is that they did not target Swedish and Swiss peoples.
They declared in Iraq through their representative- Allah's mercy be on him, excommunicating a group of Muslims: the Shiites: and they launched an over all war against it; the Shiites- who rule the country and are backed by many- retaliated with a more severe war against the Sunnis, although the Sunni scholars inside and outside Iraq renounced the aggression that they commit in the name of Islam; consequently, the shameful works and reckless reactions on them ended and they endangered one of the greatest Islamic countries to a state of disaster and mass destruction in addition to what the occupation commits and adds to its purposes; this was of the biggest disasters that befell the contemporary Islam and the fabric of its nation: identity killing in a blatant challenge to one of greatest rules in fight: protecting the Muslim blood, and the rule of individual responsibility " no burdened soul can bear another's burden", igniting fire of seditions in the nation's body and presaging the worst repercussions, in a precedent that hasn't taken place in Islamic history except during the time of the Khariji.
C: When Lebanon was invaded by the Zionists and the braves of Hezbollah got out and defeated them and they showed a great bravery, reviving in the nation the spirit of honour and restored the hurt dignity and the feelings of chivalry; the Islamic publics took to the streets in happiness, solidarity and protest, raising the pictures of Al-Sayyed Nasrallah as a symbol of the brave resistance and the resumed honour; Al-Qaeda group appeared in the wrong timing as usual with a sense of insistence on popping out amid the scene, to exclude an isolation in the nation, and what has it said? It declared supporting
D- But for the injustices targeting Muslims from the Western powers and but for the procrastination of Muslim rulers and the spread of ignorance among Muslims, such a confusion and laxness and strictness wouldn't have happened and wouldn't have found followers; but in all cases they couldn't harm the moderate broad movement, because strictness has never been adopted by the Nation as it is too sterile to create a consensus among its people; the Nation does not have a consensus except on moderation "and we have made you (true Muslims) a moderate nation"; therefore, they failed in speaking in the name of Islam and being its mouthpiece and exercising a guardianship that may narrow what is widened by Allah and gave His slaves the right to differ and have diligence over it, so that Islam remains capable of guiding reality whatever its developments and complications and to contain Muslims, nay all mankind, with its mercy; this because accountability over creeds is attributed to Allah ( you will return to me to tell about what you have been differing).
E- Hamas movement has used its reason and diligence and chose the fighting method in its dealing with the Zionist enemy and was excellent, while it chose the democratic peaceful action to deal with its people through accepting the mechanisms of democracy as a method for rule and reform; the hard-line group popped up to consider democracy as Kufr and rebukes Hamas, assuming that democracy is unlawful, and that the only thing possible for reform is fighting all people. It is a simplistic method while issues on the ground are very complicated; therefore, the Sharia gave multiple solutions; it ordered changing evil while it opened more than one way to achieve this according to what is available. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said " Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot do even that, then in his heart" the regulations of this rule show that every way to change evil leads to its aggravation is not a virtue but evil. The size of disasters caused by the Takfir method adopted by the hard-line groups is obvious; they didn't press for lifting injustices over the Islamic nation, but they led to more instigation on Islam and its people and to distort its picture and isolate its followers and minorities. And So does the fool against himself severer than what the one does against his enemy.
F- The consequences of those adopting- as a method of reform- Takfir and fighting atheists and those disagreeing with their sect, and the moderate method as a method of upbringing and distinguishing between the fighting infidels- a small group- and the peaceful infidels- they are many. Allah Exalted He Be said " Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly;" Al-Mumtahanah; and distinguishing between monotheists and atheists. The result of the call of reform in Egypt for example is clear- with commitment to a peaceful method, gradation and upbringing, as an only way for dealing with the nation's problems whatever their complications are, against fighting those attacking Muslim nations, compared with the fruits of the method of declaring jihad against the state and its aides and then fighting all. The first method led Egypt- despite the huge plotting and obstacles- to a broad development for the Islamic movement through all sections, classes and authorities to the extent that a Western scholar said about Egypt " Egypt has adopted Islamism to the neck", and it is near certain that the Muslim Brotherhood has become the most important popular power and the widest in representation among Egyptian elites, and that the issue of its reaching the stage of assuming power is- God willing- is a matter of time. Add to this its fighting the occupying invaders in the canal and fighting in Palestine, and supporting the militants defending their homelands everywhere: in Lebanon and others; on the other hand, the hard-line movement ended after a long journey of disasters they afflicted them and the Egyptian society through them, to enable the repression services to dominate people and to impose an emergency law under the pretext of fighting terrorism, indulging the country in corruption. The only benefit for the leaders of these groups is that they learned in prisons and became certain that religion is wider than what they imagined, and the reality on the ground is more complicated than what they thought, and they did not hesitate in declaring there adopting the right path and repenting the darkness they experienced in understanding religion and understanding the reality; they returned to the method of Islamic moderation, apologizing to the Egyptian society for what they committed against it in their enthusiasm and youth accompanied by little understanding, saying this in published books. What the hard-line movement and the nation reaped was just igniting seditions and Takfirs inside and instigating foreign powers from the outside. How can it pull the rag from under the moderate movement; as a matter of fact, the nation is infallible as a whole from deviation.
7- The important issue that all people agreed on is that the fatal epidemic on the Islamic action is the absence of freedom in its full meaning. The successful model for an Islamic action depends on a space of freedom and political and economic security. The question is why do some Islamic movements fear from approving the political freedom which is available for all as long as the Islamic action depends on it? Specially the secular section that does not want to consider freedom to be serving Islam; on the contrary, they delude others that it is contrary to Islam?
Rashed el-Ghannoushi: It is a confusing question .This sect of Muslim preachers who lived in prisons till they got bored of them, and executioners have been continuously whipping; why are they- the victims of repression- still fearing freedom and apprehending democracy and their effect on Islam: this reminds me of a Bedouin who was angry with the companions of the messenger of Allah- Allah's peace be uon them- and he prayed " O Allah have mercy me and have mercy on Mohamed and don't have mercy on any one else" and the messenger peace be upon him laughed and said " you have narrowed something wide, brother". Why don't they want the mercy of freedom which Allah made his slaves love and which was one of the purposes of sending the last messenger " He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear (Al-A`râf:157). Why do they disdain that it includes all?. if there are two options: that it includes all, or that no one enjoys it: then let it be the second one: Shamshoun's option is!; is the motive of some of those apprehensive of freedom is that enemies of religion may use it as a method for attacking and distrusting religion and its teachings; if it is so, alas; do they consider that religion is so weak and that Islam is such a cheap commodity! Don't they remember that Islam spread in all civilizations and argued with their scholars and philosophers; history hasn't recorded that any Muslim was defeated in a free debate; Muslims were witnesses for the right on creature; they studied all creeds and they took and gave them and they seized the widest place and contained entire civilizations and contained military invasions which they later changed them into fighters in a war against enemies and conquerors. While the nations of Islam had been at the bottom. Can any wise man imagines that such a resonant challenge " Say (O Muhammad Peace be upon him), "Produce your proof if you are truthful" was revealed in empty castles, or in a lifeless valley? Can a reliable wrestler declare a challenge and request a duel while lacking a qualified rival? Is being the last prophet meaningful except that the all-Knower put in the structure of this religion an innate strength that not only guarantees keeping it but it guarantees its leading all religions?. Do not fear for Islam from freedom; it is the healthy climate in which it recovers and flourishes, while it is chocked to death in rotten climates, like what happened in countries that adopted communism. You may be right in fearing for yourselves like the one who used to live for long in darkness, fearing his sight on sun light in the first glimpse. Those who pity for Islam from what the secular groups may do if they enjoyed freedom, should before this fear themselves and Islam itself from the continuing eras of tyranny that led Islam, its civilization and its nation to deterioration. It is stunning that nowadays trend of migration is to outside Muslim nations not to them, and that Islam enjoys prosperity and an increasing extension in non Muslim countries due to enjoying the blessings of freedom and democracy which are in harmony with the spirit and purposes of Islam, while its climate waned and its people fled because of the dominant repression in most " Muslim countries" to the extent that one of the most prominent reformers of the age declared that bitter fact after returning from a visit to Western countries that " I left behind me Islam and I found here Muslims". Fear freedom for Islam is an illusion that must come to end, and a deviation that the Muslim mind must be freed of, specially that the situation on the ground shows that our peoples remained- since they converted to Islam- adhering to it so much. After more than 150 years of westernization in
8-Isn't it time to declare frankly that Nahda Movement is ready to forget the past and return back to homeland to participate in developing it and reforming some of its affairs after it became clear that the movement leaders staying in exile does not benefit, but harms the cause and causes enmities and reduces the chances a national reconciliation?
Rashed Al-Ghannoushi: Since 1981, when the Islamic movement " previously called the Islamic Trend " and currently called Nahda, emerged, it has been seeking legalization and calling for a reconciliation with the state and its people and its religion and to recognize all its components, without discrimination, exclusion or falsification; but the state remained shutting its ears from hearing all calls for reform, and responded with continuing repression, displacement and going to extremes in mounting every international wave for launching the war on Islam. Egyptian people- specially the new Islamic generations- knew little about repression and didn't knew repression when it was in its prime time; so it is difficult for them to imagine the kind of repression that befell Muslim people and freedom supporters, specially since early 1990s. you should- to be aware of the current Tunisian condition- imagine yourselves living in Egypt's 1950s and 1960s and more than this specially on the religious level even with the intensity of the security political repression; Islam: as a culture, heritage, rituals and beliefs wasn't eradicated as Al-Azhar remained working and it even expanded; the Islamic researches centre remained with Ghazali, Sayed Sabiq and Islamic writers; even Egypt that was copycatting the West led the East and although communism spread, but Arabism of Egypt wasn't harmed and Islam kept its usual positions centers and the conflict leaned basically towards its political field. On the other hand, repression in
9-Don't you see that under the
Rashed el-Ghannoushi: in front of the all out wide attack that faces the region to the extent of the return of a direct occupation which was thought to be something of the past for the nation. Yesterday, I was stunned when I saw Western fleets reaching