Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

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Showing posts for "Islamism"

By Voting, Muslims Disregard Hard-Line Clerics

by Ed Husain
An Egyptian man shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Cairo (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters). An Egyptian man shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Cairo (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

Two prominent Muslim clerics recently issued fatwas, or religious edicts, forbidding Arab Muslims from voting in secular electoral processes. One is an Iraqi Shiite, Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Hairi, and another is a jihadist theoretician, Sheikh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, who is struggling to provide guidance to Sunni Arabs embracing elections and democracy from Tunisia to Egypt. Read more »

What Qatar Can Learn From Pakistan

by Ed Husain
Pakistan's President Zardari waves after offering prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in India (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistan's President Zardari waves after offering prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in India (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters).

The emir of Qatar and the president of Pakistan were both in India this week. Both leaders hail from Muslim-majority countries in which literalist interpretations of Islam have enjoyed outsize influence on government. In different ways, both Pakistan and Qatar have allowed literalist Islamism of different hues to attempt to obliterate more mainstream expressions of, say, Sufi-influenced, popular Islam. Read more »

Where Next for Egypt’s Salafis?

by Ed Husain
Supporters of Egyptian Salafi Hazem Abu Ismail, whose eligibility to run for president is being debated in Egyptian courts, display a banner of him during a gathering in Tahrir Square in Cairo (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Egyptian Salafi Hazem Abu Ismail, whose eligibility to run for president is being debated in Egyptian courts, display a banner of him during a gathering in Tahrir Square in Cairo (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt’s Salafi Islamists are a parting gift from the U.S.-backed Mubarak regime. He had bred Salafis as a counterweight to the more politically minded Muslim Brotherhood, but also as a means of fostering better relations with Saudi Arabia. Little wonder, then, that in the initial days of the Egyptian uprising against Mubarak the Salafi leaders followed the quintessential Saudi Wahhabi line that popular protests were “un-Islamic” and helped spread fitnah or dissension. Read more »

Washington’s Love Affair With Islamists

by Ed Husain
Mohamed Mursi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, talks during a news conference in Cairo in April 2011 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Mohamed Mursi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, talks during a news conference in Cairo in April 2011 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists from Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Libya are in Washington, DC, this week. Having advocated for over a year for issues-based engagement with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, I was delighted to host a delegation from their Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) for meetings at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and Washington. Read more »

Conversations Inside Political Islam

by Ed Husain
Author Tariq Ramadan talks to the media after a conference at a mosque in France in April 2010 (Stephane Mahe/Courtesy Reuters). Author Tariq Ramadan talks to the media after a conference at a mosque in France in April 2010 (Stephane Mahe/Courtesy Reuters).

The debate inside global Islam about the relevance of religion in politics remains forever vibrant. In a new book written by Oxford University professor Tariq Ramadan, he responds to important questions being asked in Arab capitals by Islamists of different hues and their critics. Ramadan’s book is a timely but problematic contribution to this international conversation. I reviewed his book for the Financial Times here: Read more »

France: Jews and Muslims Must Show Unity Against Jihadis

by Ed Husain
A mourner stands over the fresh graves of victims of Monday's shooting in Toulouse, France, after their joint funeral in Jerusalem (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters). A mourner stands over the fresh graves of victims of Monday's shooting in Toulouse, France, after their joint funeral in Jerusalem (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters).

“God forbid that the recent killer of Jewish children and a rabbi in France be a Muslim or of Arab descent,” I tweeted a day before the French authorities named Mohamed Merah as the prime suspect in last week’s terrorist atrocity. People on Twitter responded to me saying: “He also killed Muslims.” And yes, he did—but it does not take away from the severity of the killer’s anti-Semitism that led to him target Ozar Hatorah school and kill Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the blessed children he was trying to protect. Read more »

Jews and Muslims: Lessons from the Bronx

by Ed Husain
A man reads the Quran in a prayer hall at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters). A man reads the Quran in a prayer hall at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

I am a Muslim, yet I sometimes visit Shabbat services in London and New York. Why? Because there is something deeply instructive about being among descendants of Abraham while they worship and recall lives of their ancestors, the ancient prophets of the Old Testament. Muslims also venerate Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Solomon, Moses, Aaron, and others. Yet the abiding Arab-Israeli conflict continues to consume the children of Abraham: Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Read more »

Islam and Government: How It Can Be

by Ed Husain
Prominent Muslim preacher al-Habib Ali al-Jifry speaks during a joint news conference at King Abdullah mosque in Amman in 2006 (Ali Jarekji/Courtesy Reuters). Prominent Muslim preacher al-Habib Ali al-Jifry speaks during a joint news conference at King Abdullah mosque in Amman in 2006 (Ali Jarekji/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, King Abdullah of Jordan met a prominent Muslim scholar from Yemen, al-Habib Umar bin Hafez, alongside another renowned Muslim leader, al-Habib Ali al-Jifry. All three men are descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. Their meeting had a special significance for ordinary Muslims, and reminded Jordan and young Arabs that Islam and secular government need not be at odds. Read more »

The Rise and Rise of E-Jihad

by Ed Husain

Cyber jihad is not just the way of the future—it is being undertaken as you read these lines. The appeal of e-jihad is so strong among large numbers of e-radicals that Muslim clerics in several countries are passing judgment on the utility of “destroying the enemy’s electronic devices or surreptitiously taking valuable information from these devices.” Read more »