By Hafid Akrout
By Hafid Akrout
Morocco World News
Brussels, March 14, 2013
“The West is in decline, and Islam is on the line.” This is the appropriate formula, if not the best one that proves that Muslims today lack what existentialists, especially Friedrich Nietzsche called “Existential Anxiety.’
Specialists consider the “Existential anxiety” as being a healthy and constructive form of anxiety that certainly help the growth of not only individuals, but also societies. It is healthy in the sense that, it stimulates two levels of questions: the first level has to do excessively with oneself. For instance, one is concerned with his/her right to live in dignity. The second level of questing has to do with one’s concern about one’s society: concepts of social justice, dictatorship, absence of freedom and religious and political oppression become spheres of negotiation.
Now, when I say that some Muslims lack this “existential anxiety,” I particularly refer to those among us who are unable to face the brutal reality (philosophic, economic, social, or whatever), and rather prefer to withdraw from these realities and resort to isolation. This individual escape soon becomes a “general condition,” as you discover you are not the only one who escapes from the bloody split of the nation ‘Oumah,’ economic and social failure, and most recently civil wars and political assassinations (chokri Belaid in Tunisia as an example) and Media and Arts oppressions in Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Additionally, this escape is politically and religiously managed and controlled. For instance, the self-isolation, or the self-allusions are most of the time encouraged by our governments (TV shows, Music and film festivals, drugs, football). Some religious leaders also encourage consciously or not this sort of escape, since the culmination is very beneficial for the government, a government from which they take not only the written speeches, but also money.
To justify this Absence of ‘Existential Anxiety’ I have two examples. The first one is the concept of ‘Thanks God,’ although this concept is positive, even recommended, Moroccan use of this concept is very negative. You have certainly heard people thanking God for a forced poverty, luck of medical coverage, bad social and administrative services, women/men inequality, social injustice and political oppression. The second example has to do with a self-deceiving discourse, the kind of discourse we hear in Friday speeches. Our Imams prefer to quote this Qur’anic verse:
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. Al-imran 101
To avoid confusion and thus save my energy to reply to some pseudo–intellectuals, I have to clarify the following: My objection is not on the verse itself, as I believe that Qu’ran has been saved from falsification with a divine intervention, unlike ‘Hadiths.’ It’s rather on the misuse and abuse of this verse that my rejection goes. It is intolerable to stress the powerfulness of a nation which does not exist, or never existed. Reality and religious discourse are in constant conflict and disagreement. While the discourse is very idealistic, reality shows the opposite. Our societies are in a very degrading situation, and I think this situation justifies itself without more examples.
Over time, this repetitive and contradictory, but also fake religious and political discourses cultivated on us certain form of conformism. We never question our backwardness, and if one of us accidentally becomes conscious about his condition or that of his fellows, the answer is very quickly offered. I mean those sorts of answers that block you from any serious thinking. Here, I recall, the resistance to the philosophical project of Mohammed Abed al-Jabri “The critique of the Arab Mind”, most of intellectuals who resisted this project, did not share his “existential anxiety,’ and were satisfied with the Islamic conformism.
Back to the ready-made answers, religious leaders and their pupils, for instance, will tell you that ‘Islam is on the line,’ or “You are the best nation produced,” while politicians will tell you that Morocco has not been touched by the world economic crises. The Moroccan Minister of Education, Mr. Mohamed El Wafa, said that he has classrooms that don’t even exist in the United States.
It seems to me that, it is no longer fashionable to engage in ideological confrontations. Sort of confrontation where in self-deceiving way you consider yourself better or worse that the West. What is urgent and should become fashionable among our teachers and students is to think about oneself and one’s society, in a critical way. It is also very important to have the courage to talk about ones limits and errors. Most importantly, we should try to change our way of looking at things.
In doing so, one has all the legitimacy to read Ibn Taymiha, EL Ghazali, Foucault or Derrida. Names and forms of thinking are all acceptable, as far as they don’t sell you illusions. For I believe, and I assume my ideas, a secular state where everybody is free to practice his /her spirituality; where segregation against women is not religiously justified; where access to hospitals and jobs is not linked to corruption and bribery; where all the civic rights are guaranteed (good hospitals, jobs, good education, justice) is better than the so-called Islamic government where the only language spoken is hypocrisy, oppression and assassination (I am thinking of Iran as an Islamic republic, of Mali and Taliban). If these civic rights and developments are guaranteed within an Islamic form of governing, and I wish so, it would be perfect, even idealist. But, unfortunately enough, I am not platonic.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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