A shroud woven by the Muslim Brotherhood is descending upon the Middle East. President Obama is tentatively gambling that the Brotherhood will produce stability in the region and make him the first U.S. president to establish a long lasting solution to the Palestinian problem. For that grand vision to become a reality, the United States, the Brotherhood and Israel are participating in a game of dangerous liaisons, where pragmatism rather than principles is the way to win. Like any other grand plan, the outcome is far from certain and there will be winners and losers
Will democracy take hold in Egypt and will the new government be secular or theocratic and will a revival of nationalism play a role? PI Online attempts to shed light on these questions by examining the ideology of the major players shaping the future of Egypt. Some actions by these groups were predictable, like the Muslim Brotherhood. What lies behind actions of others, like the Coptic Christian Church, the Egyptian Military Command, Saudi Arabia and even the United States, is more complex and worrisome.
Egypt's caretaker military government has appointed an avid Islamist who believes the shari'a should be the law of the land to lead efforts to amend the country's constitution. What signals are they sending to the world and radical factions within Egypt?
Seizing the opportunity created by the uprising in Egypt, the head of Egyptian Intelligence masterminded the swifter political coup in the Arab World. Within seventy-two hours, he got rid of the president, his family, all of his foes in the cabinet and most importantly the powerful interior minister. PI Online examines how this surreal plan was executed and why we should not let it succeed.
Many, including the Washington Post, cried foul when the latest Egyptian parliamentary elections seemed rigged. The Post also decried what they viewed as a the timid U.S. Government response and a lack of American concern for "who or what will succeed Hosni Mubarak". PI Online examines democracy in Egypt through the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood to see if the Post missed the point.
In Graham Fuller's new book "A World without Islam" the author presents a provocative theory that a "clash of civilizations" would be present today even if Islam did not exist; the Eastern Orthodox church would simply replace Islam as West's adversary. PI Online tests the author's theory through an analysis of the role of the Eastern Churches in the Middle East and their interaction with Islam and the West.
In the 5th century B.C., Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt the "gift of the Nile" a country which remains until today almost totally dependent on the Nile waters for survival. Internal and external developments now threaten Egypt's critical relationship to the Nile. PI Online examines the international and domestic politics that are shaping a natural resource crisis.
The most important result of the Iraqi elections is rarely mentioned in the Western press. Through the limited victory of the Iraqiyya party, the Sunnis have regained their "lost dignity". PI Online examines how these results have positively influenced the Arab psyche throughout the region. Without our support however, this restored dignity may be short lived and the moderates marginalized. Instead of a secular national unity governing Iraq, violent sectarianism will remain the law of the land and the radicals will rejoice.
This month in two consecutive events, the Saudi King and a Saudi woman took on the Wahabi religious establishment. PI Online examines how a simple gesture by the king and a poem by a woman set off another clash between the palace and an intransigent powerful sheikh.
An overwhelming majority of judges in the Egyptian State Council vote to ban women from the bench. This is a disheartening sign of deeply rooted problems and dimming hopes for improving the status of women in the country. PI Online examines the social and religious problems, too often ignored, which led to this travesty.
Western commentators on Islam and the Arab World too often quote liberal Arab writers and ignore Islamist writers who have far greater influence on a large and growing segment of the Arab/Muslim population. PI Online analyzes the ideology of this conservative group, through the eyes of two of the most popular Islamic writers, the Tunisian Rashid Al-Ghannouchi and the Egyptian Fahmi Huwaidi
Recent events reveal unexpected diverging trends among regions in the Middle East concerning the status of women. PI Online examines these events and analyzes the reasons behind these contrasting developments.
The concept of "Normalization" between Israel and Egypt remains a thorny issue. A case in point is the storm that erupted this month over an invitation extended to the Israeli ambassador by a chief editor of a relatively unknown magazine published under the auspices of Al-Ahram...
All eyes have been on "radical Islam" while the real "moderate" elements, which constitute the majority of the Muslim World, are ignored, except for the occasional platitude to assure them that "we are not at war with Islam".
PI Online explains why no Western policy towards Islam can be successful without engaging the real moderates and why understanding Qaradawi's views is an essential element in formulating that policy.
Coexistence among religious groups was only possible, many contend, after the birth of secular governments. Addressing the 26th reunion of the Muslim organizations of France, Professor Olivier Abel reflects upon the 1905 birth of laicism in France, the doctrine which enables today's Muslims to freely express themselves in Europe.
Accommodating some elements of the Taliban as president Obama seems to be suggesting is difficult to rationalize logically or justify morally. Writer Mushari Al-Zayidi explains why Fareed Zakaria's advocated view of coexistence with the radicals, which seems supported by the president is an ill conceived policy.
The Saudi King realized that for the educational and cultural reform he envisioned to take hold in the Kingdom nothing short of a revolution against the old guard of the religious establishment was necessary, and only the King himself could lead it.
In a very short period, the Arab/Muslim world went from euphoria to guarded skepticism about Obama's presidency. PI Online examines the views of Arab analysts that reflect various reasons for this shift.
Several Arab governments and the media are fretting over the violent confrontations between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza and the West Bank. PI Online examines the views of several writers and reaction in the street to these events.
Numbers impose a logic of their own that is difficult to refute. PI Online examines the role of women in suicidal attacks in Iraq and the larger implication of their actions.
See also: How Baida Wanted to Die [NY Times Magazine August 16. 2009]
French President Nicolas Sarkozy took a gamble in launching his vision for a Mediterranean Union. The inaugural conference saw the emergence of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as an effective participant and the relevance of the Arab League called into question.
While analysts in the West fret over whether the power of Al-Qaeda is rising or diminishing, a more worrisome spread of Salafism is taking shape in the Arab World. PI Online examines the rebirth of that rigid ideological branch of Islam, under a new cloak.
PI Online supports Pakynam Al-Sharqawi's assertion that cultural dialogues between the West and the Muslim world are more effective than inter-faith dialogues. Religious dialogues like those initiated by the Vatican and Saudi Arabia generate little interest in the population and have no lasting effect.
By betting on one man, Nawaz Sharif, the Saudis could be making the same mistake Washington made in pinning all their hopes on one woman, Bhenazir Bhutto. PI Online examines the power struggle in this nuclear country and the prospects that could propel Islamists to power under Sharif.
Veteran Egyptian writer/journalist Muhammad Hassanein Haykal stated this week that action [which he referred to as "surgical operation" ] is necessary and eminent against the Sudanese government. PI Online examines the Egyptian-Sudanese relationship under this new light.
PI Online examines Hossam Tammam's article outlining the changing faces of Jihad and the diminishing influence of the Egyptian faction in Al-Qaeda movement. He seems to confirm Marc Sageman's earlier observation that the cultural relationship between members of the Jihadi movement rather than ideology remains the most influential factor in recruitment.
When religious coexistence and religious dogma collide in the Middle East, it is difficult for good intentions to prevail. PI Online examines the arguments used by conservative Muslims who reject the idea of building Churches on Saudi soil and the unenviable position in which they placed the Saudi King.
* Al-Azhar Conservative Pronouncements: No to the Inheritance of Christian/Jewish Wife from her Muslim Husband - No to the Equality of Testimony Between a Man and a Woman - No to the Restricting the Number of Wives
* Consternation Over Gaddafi's Remarks at Arab Summit
* Intellectuals and Organizations Defend Two Writers against a Fatwa Calling for Their Head
The battle of ideas between moderates and Salafi ideologues continue. A new fatwa condemning two journalists to death re-ignites the controversy over the conservatives' insistence on legitimizing recourse to violence against all those who disagree with them.
A new book by Maher Al-Sharif takes a rare look at the evolutionary concept of Jihad in Islamic thoughts. In doing so, the author examines three important issues: should Islam only be spread peacefully or violently if necessary; should people be allowed to choose their own religion without recrimination; and should God be the sole judge of religious conduct.
* Spiritual Father of Al-Zarqawi Released from Prison
* First Association in Germany for Jewish - Muslim Dialogue is Launched
* Combating the Negative Western Perception of the Prophet through Cultural Education
PI Online examines the life of this Harvard educated liberal who was credited for naming Al-Arabiya news channel. The writings of this columnist, parliamentarian and former Education minister always had a clear vision of right versus wrong, regardless of what was viewed as politically correct in the Arab World.
* Al-Jazeera Apologizes for Broadcast of Arab-American Psychiatrist Criticizing Islam
* Al-Sadr Explains his Seclusion and Acknowledges Dissension in the Ranks
* First Woman Allowed to Perform Marriages in Egypt
A report from Gaza brought into focus the often neglected reality of the fanatically religious transformation of the Palestinian fighters. PI Online examines the larger implications through the eyes of a fighter's account.
Egyptian thinker has proclaimed that no single religion has the right to monopolize God's favoritism. He proposes a five points approach to serve as a foundation for a new perspective by participants in the cultural and religious dialogue.
Sheikh Al-Qarni lashes out against the systemic extortion and subjugation of women by tyrannical male family members in Saudi Arabia and sheikh Al-'Awdah advocates openness towards western culture, warning against what he calls a "closed door" policy. He also advised Muslim women to adopt the clothing habits of the societies in which they reside, including the West, while maintaining a conservative appearance.
Writer Adel Latifi suggests that, in the absence of national identity, the basis for laws and governance becomes tribal, sectarian and religious. He claims that modernity is slowly imposing an acceptance of religious diversity and calls for Arab leadership to govern its citizens without regard to their religious affiliation.
* Israel Honored at "Le Salon du Livre" - Arabs Object [France]
* Book: "Love and Sex of the Prophet" - banned by Al-Azhar [Egypt]
* Qaddafi's Son Takes Leading Role in Reconciling with Militants [Libya]
PI Online presents one of the most respected centrist Islamists in Egypt, known for his quest to institute a dialogue within the Muslim world and avoid a clash of civilizations. His usual optimism and belief in establishing a vibrant and peaceful Political Islam has lately been dampened by what he sees as a total failure on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood to participate constructively in the political process.
What are the challenges facing those advocating the emerging ideology known as "Islamic Secularism" and should Muslims be free to chose the political regime that is most adaptable to the times while remaining faithful to Islam?
Iman Al-Qahtani addresses the issue of fanaticism in Islam and blames the clerical establishment for misinterpreting the Qur'an and the education system for inflaming the youth. She poses the provocative question whether humans have corrupted the true meaning of the Qur'an throughout the centuries.
The situation in Egypt is dangerous enough to warrant serious coordinated efforts by many parties to avert a disaster. PI Online examines two opposing views on the unfolding developments of the Gaza crisis.
Columnist Sayyed Wild-Abah brings to the public a recent important debate undertaken by Muslim Philosophers who are challenging traditional Quranic interpretations. These new Islamic thoughts could have serious theological and political implications.
Writer Ma'mun Fendi considers the veil a public, political manifestation of fanaticism which contributed to Egypt's cultural decline. He blames the late president Sadat for having given birth to that religious phenomenon.
Reviewing twenty-years of Jihadi movements since the inception of Al Qaeda in 1988, political analyst Khalil Al-'Anani predicts a new and disturbing transformation of these movements during the coming year.
Most western politicians and analysts make the assumption that violence and fundamentalist governments would only be supported by a very limited portion of the Muslim population. Ma'mun Fendi writing in the daily newspaper asharq al-awsat challenges that conventional wisdom and presents facts in support of his thesis.
It is impossible for the political constitution of Islamic society to remain static for hundreds of years. To resolve that dilemma, a serious review and reinterpretation of some aspects of Islamic history becomes imperative.
Dr. Fadl points out that ''Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who have not fought you in your faith nor driven you out of your home, from dealing kindly and justly with them, for Allah loves those who are just'' Al-Mumtahinah 8. The debate over his recent manuscript begins.
Zawahiri criticizes his former companion and secret Emir of the Jihadi movement, Dr. Fadl. - PI Online begins a series analyzing his writings presently being published with an examination of the enigmatic Dr. Fadl .
The honeymoon between Islamists and the Turkish government was short lived. Perhaps the Islamists sense that the actions of the Turkish leadership, like the recent visit of the Saudi king to the Vatican, may signal broad rejection of Islamist policies in favor of moderate Islam.
For most Middle East observers the fact that the Saudi Arabian King met with the Pope in the Vatican was itself significant, and PI Online's statistics show that Arab reaction on the street was generally positive. Yet, uncharacteristically, Thomas Freedman of the New York Times sees the glass half-empty and says the visit has ''left no trace.''
Yesterday, a shi'a Lebanese religious scholar, Muhammad 'Ali al-Husayni, accused the Iranian leadership of having a plan to eliminate all Arab Shi'a religious leaders. PI Online analyzes the doctrine of Wilayat Al-Faqih and what may have led him to that conclusion.
Moroccan author Ahmad Al-Raysuni chooses the twelfth century philosopher Ibn Rushd, known in the West as ''Averroes'', to prove that religion and politics can blend. Al-Raysuni either ignored or was unaware of Averroes' philosophy.
The leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood declares: ''The Brotherhood's dictionary does not include the word Israel.'' - PI Online examines the clash within the Brotherhood's hierarchy between the dogmatic hardliners and the political pragmatists
Radical Islamists belonging to the group of "al-Takfir wal-Hijra" were arrested by the Egyptian authorities. PI Online examines the history behind this radical Salafi group and what these arrests may signify.
President Qadaffi of Libya reopened the semantic debate over the historical interpretation of the word Shi'a. His views will be vigorously challenged by radical Islamists, as well as some moderate Sunni Muslims. PI Online examines the logic and the controversy behind it.
"YES" to Women and Non-Muslims to hold the office of the Presidency and "NO" to an oversight supreme religious body. Rather than resolving the controversial issues, two leading personalities within the Muslim Brotherhood raise further questions.
[ON LANGUAGE] - Author Wahid 'Abdel-Meguid, in his article entitled "The Religious Marja'iyyah ...the Islamic Movements' Impasse," discusses how the Brotherhood misuses a label suggesting harmony between religion and state for its platform that disregards the sovereignty of the state and its democratic foundation.
An analysis of 1052 messages in response to sheikh Al-'Awdah's letter condemning Bin Ladin which were collected and filtered from numerous websites by PI Online show that it may be possible to generate a credible debate by appealing to logical arguments advanced by influential religious writers.
The role of women within the Hizballah Shi'a movement stands in stark contrast to their almost non-existent public function within the Sunni militant groups. Writer Fatima Al-'Isawi examines the evolving political, social and military role of women in Hizballah.
Is there a coordinated effort among respected and relatively moderate Muslim scholars to condemn and undermine the violence and fanaticism exemplified by Al-Qaida? Two open letters by Al-Qaradawi and Al-'Awdah seem to suggest so, however it remains to be seen whether this is a sustained effort or short-lived rhetoric.
Author Mshari Al-Zaydi rejects the Islamists' characterization of the victory achieved by the conservative AK Party in Turkey as a political win for Islamic fundamentalism, a claim he considers unfounded.
The islamist writer Al-'Abdah accuses most Islamist Groups of pursuing an elitist, factional self-centered policy leading to their isolation from the masses. His proposed solution, however, seems to reveal a deeper agenda for transforming the entire Middle East to Islamic rule.