The chaos in Egypt today is an indication of an old culture that has lost its way and its connection to a great civilization over 3000 years old. Pure Islamists who hate their ancient history and are threatening to blow up the pyramids and sphinx as idols of the pharaohs are now back in full swing to stop any further weakening of Islam by a secular government. But is it the Islamists' fault or the fault of the Egyptian public who continually vote in favor of Sharia [Islamic law - "The Path"]?
Once Islam takes hold of a nation, the turmoil never ends -- between human nature, which aspires for freedom and dignity, and forces of domination and oppression, which see and understand nothing in the political life of a country other than enforcing Sharia law on others.
During the last 1400 years of Islamic domination, Egyptians discarded their past and adopted the culture of Arabia through the process of Arabization and Islamization. Islamists in Egypt and in any other country, for that matter, understand that for their country to remain Islamic, it must be ruled from the top down by Sharia. Muslim leadership has no confidence that Islam would survive without government enforcement through fear, intimidation and harsh punishments. Without government control and enforcement by means of a tyrannical legal system, Islamist leaders believe that the religion cannot survive through choice. That is why, wherever Islam travels, the goal is always to control government.
Nothing symbolizes the turmoil in Egypt today more than the stalemate over writing yet another constitution. Only a handful of people have so far had the courage to publicly call for abolishing Article 2 of the former constitution, which reads: "Islam is the Religion of the State…and the principle source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia law]." It seems that Sharia will remain as the source of legislation and the legal foundation in Egypt.
This should not be surprising: a 2007 survey with 1,000 Egyptian Muslims by the University of Maryland/WorldPublicOpinion.org, stated that 67% said they wanted a caliphate, 74% wanted strict application of Sharia, 77% wanted mutilating punishment for theft; 82% wanted stoning for adultery and 84% wanted execution of apostates. By Western standards, that is a mandate for Sharia and Islam.
So why are Egyptians now unhappy with Morsi? They wanted Sharia, and Morsi is giving them Sharia. By Western standards, Morsi has a mandate to rule by Sharia, so why are Cairo's streets full of rebels chanting for freedom and democracy? Is this Morsi's fault or the fault of a confused Egyptian public who do not seem to know what they really want? Why can't they recognize Sharia law as the "elephant in the room," name it, reject it and vote accordingly? Why are they not aware that Sharia forbids any man-made government, such as democracy, which is considered an abomination and must be eliminated? And how can they be so ignorant about a legal system under which they demanded to live?
The problem with Egypt and many other Islamic nations is they are ignorant of what they are demanding, and are left ignorant by their own media and educational system.
The problem in Egypt is not Mubarak or Morsi, King Farouk or Nasser. It is the ignorance of Egyptians about basics of their beloved religious law that they say they want enshrined in their constitution. I recently asked several Egyptians if they are aware of the following laws in Sharia pertaining to the Muslim head of state:
- It is obligatory to obey the commands of the Caliph (Muslim head of state), even if he is unjust.
- A Caliph can hold office through seizure of power, meaning through force.
- A Caliph is exempt from charges of murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.
From the laws above, Morsi has not done anything against Sharia, but not one of the Egyptians I spoke to was aware of any such laws, and that Morsi's recent power grab was in perfect harmony with the Sharia. By now it seems apparent that Egyptians are intentionally ignorant about Sharia and do not even want to take the effort to learn the truth abut Sharia, in case they they might reject it – an act which would turn them into apostates, eligible for death. Remaining ignorant and in denial about the Sharia elephant in the room therefore seems the only option.
By demanding a legal system they do not really want, however, Egyptians are preventing themselves from having a harmonious moral foundation upon which the country can survive. The more Egyptians reject an honest discussion and deeper clarity about what they want, the worse this problem will get in the future.
Egyptians need to learn how to take responsibility for themselves and the future of their country, and stop placing blame on their leaders. They should either accept or reject Islamic tyranny. Whether it is Egypt, Iran or even Saudi Arabia, what they need is an honest public discussion to educate the public about what Sharia really is without any sugar coating, after which they can vote on their constitution. But will they have the courage to do so? Some Egyptians do have the courage, but they are still the minority, and they understand that speaking out would be a death sentence. Without courage, however, change cannot happen, and without saying what they mean, Egyptians will continue rewriting their constitution every 50 or 60 years, and stumbling and falling over and over again into an unending cycle of dictatorships and revolutions.
Nonie Darwish is the author "The Devil We Don't Know" and "Cruel and Usual Punishment", and president/founder Former Muslims United.