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Daggers unsheathed as Salafis, fundamentalists brace for new battle against liberals

Daggers are unsheathed, eloquent speakers mobilised, aggressive lobbyists summoned and MPs alerted as the Salafis backed by the fundamentalists are bracing for a new confrontation, tougher than ever before, with a group of liberals.

By Mohsen Arisie

Together with their Grand Imam, Al-Azhar’s sheikhs and scholars are squaring their shoulders ready to intervene powerfully to support the Salafis in their defence of the centuries-old legacy of Islam, the Muslim Sharia (alleged quotes from Prophet Mohammed), which is the mainstay in Al-Azhar’s teaching.
The ground under the close-knit community of Salafis and fundamentalists was shaken by the news that the liberals and leftists, held a meeting in a five-star hotel on the Nile and pledged to revive enlightened views and liberal understanding of the Muslim Sharia.
During the oath-taking ceremony, which marked the birth of Taqueen (Genesis) of the Arabic Thoughts, the liberals claimed that they would continue the torch-lit enlightenment movement in the 1930s of the last century, which was pioneered by Taha Hussein, the blind thinker and university professor, dubbed in his time as the Doyen of Arabic Literature.
Taqueen’s board of trustees includes thinkers and novelists from Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Lebanon. The founders also include the Salafis’ most hated enemies: novelist Youssef Zidan, journalist and TV presenter Ibrahim Eissa and TV host Islam Al-Beheiri. Together with their Arab counterparts, the Egyptians are accused of adopting a defamation campaign against the Salafi doctrine and the reputation of the four prolific authors of the Muslim Sharia: Al-Bukhari, Moslim, Shafie and Ibn Kathir. Islam El-Beheri had served a year in jail after Al-Azhar sued him for slandering the four imams, who are held in high esteem by Egyptian Muslims. Ibrahim Eissa provoked outrage of Salafis and moderate Muslims alike when he challenged mockingly the authenticity of Prophet Mohammed’s nocturnal journey, Isra’ wa Meiraj, to Heavens. Youssef Zeidan condemned the allegedly historical Muslim heroes, such as Sultan Salahuddin Al-Ayoubi, as ruthless tyrants.
Humiliation their idole Taha Hussein had suffered before did not frighten his alleged descendants into retreat. Taha Hussein’s enlightened and controversial views of the holy text brought him face-to-face with angry university students loyal to the Salafi beliefs. Violent protests in the campus of Cairo University disbanded only after Taha Hussein, then Dean of the Faculty of Arts, resigned. Worse, Taha Hussein had to defend himself in the court against accusations that he was disputing in his writings the authorship of the Qur’an. However, the court found him not guilty.
In their defence of their views, the founders of Taqueen explained that they did not by any means seeking to cast doubts on the credibility and integrity of the Muslim Sharia, which is regarded as the basics of the Muslim faith.
Taqueen’s founders are also alleged to be conspiring to betray the Muslims into disloyalty to Islam and the Qur’an. The movement’s name Genesis appears to have provided the Salafis with more ammunition in this interesting battle. It is said that the founders had deliberately dug the name of their movement out of the Hebrew Bible.
Retorting, the suspects firmly pledged to intensify efforts sought to purge the Muslim Sharia of “spurious lines, deliberate misquotes and distorted narrative of the life story and deeds of Prophet Mohammed”. They promised to introduce audio, visual and written conclusions of their alleged enlightened researches so that they could create an intellectual environment suitable for constructive dialogue and promote the culture of tolerance in society.
The new interesting battle has taken bigger dimensions after roaring in the parliament. Alarmed, outspoken deputy Mustafa Bakri requested Speaker of the House of Representatives Hanafi Gebali to raise the issue of Taqueen in question time. Warning that Taqueen had a purposeful air, Bakri said that it became evident that the movement had malicious aims in Egypt and was planning to broadcast disputable understanding of the holy text only to sow confusion and undermine the basics of Islam.
None of the two warring parties appear to be willing to accept a compromise. They are exchanging heavy fire in mosques and across the social media. The battleground is expanding as moderate Muslims and ordinary have rolled their sleeves to defend, paradoxically, the Salafis and fundamentalists.

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