Political religion is not a problem of sole Islam, - scholar

21 February 2018, 09:38 | Islam | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

The problem of the so-called "political religion" or its politicization is a phenomenon that affects not only Islamism, but also religions and the twenty-first century in general. Religion becomes an instrument for solving political problems in order to achieve the interests of individual elites, experts said during a press conference “Islam in politics: from the annexation of Crimea to the" Olive branch in Syria”, which took place in Kyiv on Tuesday, February 20. 

“Political religion is the instrumentalization of religion by elite groups for the sake of their own interests,” said Denis Bryliov, director of the Center for Academic Islamic Studies, Ph.D. “But this applies not only to the phenomenon of Islamism or political activism in Islam, but to the whole of religions, it is a phenomenon of the twenty-first century ... Representatives of political groups are stepping on the same rake: attempts to use religion for greater access to power leads to the fact that that religious organizations become uncontrollable. Right now, clear hierarchical structures are not operating as before, as opposed to the networking nature of organizations ... It is important to understand that the use of such a tool for solving political problems does not relate to Islam itself but to a definite appeal to it.”

During the Crimean events in Ukraine in 2014, the main force that acted against the Russian authorities was local Muslims and two main organizations - the Mejlis and the Religious Administration of the Muslims of Crimea (RAMC), added Alexander Aulin, president of the NGO “Ukrainian Center of Islamic Studies”, candidate of philosophical sciences. At the same time, an attempt was made to create alternative structures for them, for example, of another Mejlis (a likely project of Putin's adviser on Islam Islam Roman Silantyev) and the Tauride Muftiyat, in order to put pressure on the leadership of the SMMC. However, these attempts failed. The reprisals also affected the Hizb ut-Tahrir, which left the peninsula, but not all escaped the prosecution. Recall that in January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued a protest against the movement of detained Muslims from Crimea to Russia, who were arrested on charges of terrorist activity.

According to the islamic expert, it is important not to get confused by the terminology when the news about “Islamists” and “political Islam” are voiced. Different trends in Islam, such as Salafis, are primarily apolitical, desiring to return to the “pure religion of the Prophet.” Instead, only a few of them go to the ranks of jihadists (bright examples are al-Qa'ida and the so-called Islamic state - ISIS) who are trying to establish a caliphate by military and violent means. The phenomenon of “takfir” is a widespread occurrence - violent actions for the removal of a person from Islam, which concern only Muslims, accusations of unbelief. ISIS itself initially resembled an organization that united some non-interconnected - opposing groups, which, although for a short period of time, were united. Instead, the crisis of the national state and an attempt to build an alternative state led to changes in ISIS itself, where the “most vehement” representatives of such views, which began to come mainly from Tunisia, European countries, North Africa, Russia, remained. At the same time, today's center of the Islamic world is not at all in the Middle East, as it may seem from the European perspective, but in South-East and East Asia - Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia - where Islam has other manifestations.

Residents of Ukraine and specialists will have to study new terms in Islam, because the country is turning into a peculiar corridor, and sometimes into the place of the representatives of “political Islam”, noted Denys Bryliov. According to him, if earlier representatives of such movements from the Middle East were mostly traveling to Turkey or Georgia, after changing the policy of deportation and adoption of the law on anti-terrorist activities, Ukraine became the new place of transit or temporary stay, which will have to be taken into account.

“The phenomenon of radicalism arose due to the total globalization processes, through the restoration of the ideology of pure religion and identity issues,” said Rustem Zhangozha, Chief Researcher at the Institute of World History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. - The demonstration of Islam after the attacks has given rise to an asymmetric attitude towards the victims of the terror. Therefore, I ask journalists not to evaluate events and build ideologues, but to try to understand the situation comprehensively, not through the reverse perspective.”

Speakers of the press conference also presented their new collective monograph “Muslim Community of Ukraine: Institutionalization and Development,” the materials of which provide comprehensive information about the religious, public and political associations of Ukrainian Muslims, as well as the processes taking place therein. They also announced the work on the next monograph, which will reveal the issues of “political Islam” and “Islamism”.

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