2011: Islam redeemed, and by God, we came a long way

“You can crush the flowers, but that will not delay the Spring.” – Protest graffiti in a Cairo mosque

The year that is about to pass is historical for Islam for the reason that a much-derided faith has proved to be capable of being all that it was thought incapable of.

An awakening that swept the Arab world ended up re-inventing Islam in the eyes of the world. I consider myself lucky for being able to travel to some of the lands and meeting some of the people who were part of this.

The changes have been variously called “Arab Spring”, “Arab awakening” or “Arab Empowerment”. I prefer to call it Islam’s second renaissance.

For this to be the second renaissance, you may wonder, there ought to be a first one in the first place. Digression be excused, Ibn Rushd’s (Averroes for Europe) rescue of the Aristotelian texts (when Europe almost buried them) should be counted as one of the key features of the first Islamic renaissance.

The Arab spring was sparked in Tunisia in late 2010 by protests that followed the self-immolation of a young vendor harassed by police. His death in a hospital in January prompted thousands to take to the streets that forced the longtime president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Bolstered by the success in Tunisia, protests soon bobbed up in other Arab lands. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied to the centre of Cairo, camping in Tahrir Square, to call for Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Despite three decades of unbridled power, Mubarak could hold out for no more than three weeks of a popular uprising.

In June, Yemen’s president fled his country and eventually cobbled up a transition deal to end his 33-year rule. In Libya, an opposition movement that sprung up at Benghazi spread like wild fire, ultimately resulting in the killing of Muammar Gaddafi’s, captured by rebels in his hometown and promptly killed. He had ruled Libya since 1969.

In Syria, Bashar Assad’s regime is still brutally cracking down on rebels, resulting in, according to the UN, 5,000 deaths so far. In Bahrain, Saudi troops helped quell protests.

Morocco held a referendum and swiftly approved a constitutional reform, allowing more democracy.

In the birthplace of Arab Spring, Tunisia, An Hada, an Islamist party, came to power in post-uprising elections. In Morocco, the PJD, another Islamist party, emerged victorious. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is way ahead in the three-stage elections.

These victories have showed that the choice of newly democratised Arab masses is an Islamist one. Why? That’s because the Arabs have tried out the men in uniform. They have also tried out the men in dapper business suits.

Now they want to try out the men in the robes.

All the Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have demonstrated a strong will to reconcile Islam and modernity – a much delayed project. And most of them are in coalitions with secular allies.

The Brotherhood has promised a respect for gender and minority rights. In Morocco, which I visited twice this year, the ruling Islamist PJD’s chief told me that they would do nothing to alter Morocco’s remarkably open society, which still seems caught in the old French colonial frame.

The Arab Spring has in fact redefined Arabism itself, which was once marked by demagogic big rulers with thick black moustaches. The Arab Spring was inspired by genuine aspirations for equality, participation and individual dignity. The Islamists scored because they have always been articulating these concerns.

The churning in the Arab world has brought political Islam to the centrestage but it is a peaceful, democratic Islam that has chased away al Qaeda to the remotest corners of the desert. The Arab Spring is still work in progress, but there are no signs yet that it could go awry.

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  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

    zia my mate CALM DOWN , not so fast yeh, Holy Maccaroni , only a semblance of election in arab world and zia is already blowing the trumpet of Second Islamic Renaissance.The word renaissance means NEW LEARNING. That new learning in case of Islam ought to be, that ALL THAT IS WRITTEN IN QUORAN IS MOSTLY HOCUS POCUS , HADITH IS A MISOGYNIST VILE DOCUMENT BASED ON HEARSAY.


    Anonymous Reply:

    Bang on target..I in fact see Arab world going back in 7th century where non-muslims will be hounded out by Islamists. There have been numerous attacks on christians in Egypt post so called Islamic renaissance.


    Sibghat Khan2 Reply:

    This is not the renaissance of Christian who started crusade against Islam and Muslims all over the world and grabbed their nations ,continuously fought for two hundred years ,brutally killed looted their propirty. Islam taught to their Militia not to cut trees which bears fruits , not to kill old, disable ,infants and to those who does not wish to fight with you .Not to destroy worship places,that is why you will find Christian and Jews living peacefully in almost all the Midle East countries .All these three religion are monotheist and are branches of Ibrahimi religion who forbade to worship none except one God .A muslim is allowed to marry with Christian and Jewish girl . If you turn the pages of ancient history of India then you learn how Budhas Monestary were destroyed and entire population was chased away to other neighboring countries .Auregzeb has been called anti Hindu but he could not convert any but Sufi Hazrat chisti of Ajmer is revered by Hindus also . The Salook , common table and brotherhood brought lower strata Hindus in thousand in the fold of Islam .


    Anonymous Reply:

    Dear Sibghat Khan,
    can you enlighten us Why there is no Christian and Jew in Arabian Peninsula, It was full of them at the time of Mohammed.All other Arab areas outside Arabian Penisula were populated entirely by Christians and Jews . There are some very small no. of them who have somehow survived.Mohammed had exhorted to his followers to clear whole Arab Peninsula of Jews and Christians, and they did it very faithfully.

    Destroying of places of worship started with Mohammed himself. Was Mecca muslim worship place?.Mohammed could have built another place of worship for himself.

    Please also enlighten us with reference where it is mentioned that Hindus destroyed Buddhist monasteries and chased away Buddhist people.No Buddhist has ever complained on this.
    Can you find any Hindu,Jain and Buddhist places of worship which is more than 400 years old (period upto which Muslims were in full power in above areas)from Afghanistan to Bengal, from Kashmir to Vindhyas.Any temple which would have survived would be either because of remote location or because of being very small/insignificant .
    You are totally brainwashed with this deranged cult philosphy which is called Islam.

    engrich Reply:

    can you enlighten us Why there is no Christian and Jew in Arabian Peninsula


    engrich Reply:

    Destroying of places of worship started with Mohammed himself

    PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE DESTROYED BY BRHMNS.NOT BY MUSLIMS.mecca is same so jerusalam.jews are destroying this.

    engrich Reply:

    Please also enlighten us with reference where it is mentioned that Hindus destroyed Buddhist monasteries and chased away Buddhist people.No Buddhist has ever complained on this

    aloke prayag kashi mathura and ayodhya were buhdhdist places of worship.brhmns never builted nything
    they decimated and exterminated budhhdists and jainese nd occupied their places of worship.

    Anonymous Reply:

    iGNORANCE IS THE HALLMARK OF MUSLIMS, and this geezer Khan is a living proof. Renaissance is only 500 yrs old , Crusade took place 1000 yrs ago BECAUSE MUSLIMS HAD OCCUPIED THE HOLY LAND THAT IS JERUSALEM.


    engrich Reply:


    rubbish and shows ur ignorance about the subject.taimur killed most of the inhabitants of delhi which consisted mainly of muslims.

    engrich Reply:

    taimur was godless athiest though born in muslim family and hafiz quran.he conquered 68 countries in his life.he was great man.

    engrich Reply:


    rubbish billions were murdered after rennainance.not before.islam is based on highly moral principle.forgiveness is the supreme virtue of islam..during christaian rule in europe and america ,no other religion could survive ,while best church in europe and best temples in india were built under rule.

    most cruel and brutal wars in india took place durig vedic rule described i ramanaya geeta other holy scripture.entire orrisa was butchered by ashok before arrival of muslims.budhdhists and jainese were decmated and assimilated 2000 years before arrival of muslims.


  • Abu Ahmed

    Yeah, that’s a historical victory, if for nothing else, at least for the process it took the ultras to understand that there is no way to turn the wheel backwards and go back in time. The tragedy is that it took so long for them to understand the meaning of tolerance that Islam itself preaches.


  • Kumars1

    Zia mian, steady on. It is early days yet. The jury’s still out. Time will only tell. At best one can say a small step has been made. Saudi is the biggest roadblock.


  • RajX

    Have people noticed how effortlessly Zia has turned the Arab spring which is a fight for political and ecconomic freedom into some redemption of Islam. I wonder what the christian Copts who formed a significant part of the Egyptian leaders of the protest would think of that?
    It appears that the seculars who actually lead the revolution and took the hit for it have been shoved aside by the people themselves who have preferred the Islamists to the seculars in the elections held so far n Tunisia and Egypt. That tells a lot about the mindset of these people who have lived in these types of societies where a lot religious brainwashing starts on every single one of them from a young age when they are not in a position to contradict anything which is being put in their mind.


  • RajX

    “All the Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have demonstrated a strong will to reconcile Islam and modernity – a much delayed project.”

    The hypocrisy of Zia and his ilk are predictable. Promoting Islamist groups in Islamic countries where minority nonmuslims are persecuted while singing secularism and doing their atmost to destroy and arabize local culture when islamists are in the minority. It’s a sign of the times that HT has such a person writing for them. Will Zia will have such opinions as in the statement above if RSS decides to contest elections directly? Hahahaha..I don’t think so.


  • engrich

    A US arms control expert has made the astonishing claim that Pakistan’s notorious nuclear engineer AQ Khan may have proliferated nuclear technology to India.

    The source of the article is as surprising as the assertion is fantastic. In a commentary in the adults magazine Playboy, Joshua Pollack, a US policy wonk who has done work on nuclear proliferation, says India may have been the secret, unnamed “fourth country” — after Iran, Libya and North Korea — to which AQ Khan “provided the shortcut to a nuclear weapon.”

    Pollack offers little credible evidence to back the contention, other than to point similarities between the centrifuges India uses in its uranium-enrichment program and Pakistan’s own centrifuges engineered by Khan. He also cites South African court documents claiming that a member of the so-called “Khan network” supplied India’s centrifuge program with specialized equipment (mainly flow meters), starting in the late 1980s.

    According to Pollack, although India went nuclear several years before Pakistan, it was done through the plutonium route (in 1972). But New Delhi’s ability to enrich uranium remained limited, and it was not until 1986 — by which time Pakistan had been churning out weapons-grade uranium for three years — that India was ready to break ground on its uranium-enrichment facility.


  • engrich

    how to desroy and enslave a country,

    Bring false Accusations against Government
    Phase 2) Bomb country to rubble
    Phase 3) Install your own Government
    Phase 4) Loan the money for the “rebuilding” contract
    Phase 5) Win all the contracts
    Phase 6) Heavily in debt the country
    Phase 7) Impose SAP’s through the IMF
    Phase 8) Buy all national assets for pennies
    Phase 9) Send foreign “AID”
    Phase 10) Demand foreign “AID” procure only western products
    Phase 11) Convince the world the country failed because the people are uncivilized.

    anna is on stage.which takes some time other steps.other steps are bit faster.rss is sleeping cell of international zoinism.were caught at 53 places taking training with live ammunitions..after parliament session anytime game will start.


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  • abhishek sharma

    If Iran is behind the Delhi attacks on Israeli diplomat, I think Iranians have taken this war a bit too far. I mean attacking your enemy in a third country can’t be justified. Or else it could be someone else who wants to see the only Shia theocracy in the world cut to its size.

    This is really going to be interesting. For Indians, this terror attack is another reminder of her view around the globe as a reluctant nuclear power.


  • http://www.facebook.com/rahulk211267 Rahul Karmakar



  • http://twitter.com/jafsi Jafsi™♛

    Good one.. specially this line : ‘Was Mr Hefner looking for some extra shine
    in chosing a figure below the poverty line?’


  • ajay