The conversion of Magdi Allam: Implications and Opportunities

Hamza Mohammed Ýí 2008-03-24

ot;dangerous" than Rushdie. While Mr Allam, may become a target of Al-Qaeda, he is likely to also be the subject of fatwa from terrorists connected with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and the conservative factions of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, given his Sunni and Egyptian connections. Clearly, Mr Allam will require, and is most deserved, of state protection. Unfortunately, Mr Allam's conversion is also likely to result in a backlash from Western media outlets, analysts, policy-makers who continue to deny the existence of the problems stemming from Islam and who advocate for "constructive engagement" with Islamists.

This event will also have an impact on the wider context of deteriorating Muslim-non-Muslim relations and serve as a potential flash point in the coming days and weeks. Pope Benedict The Pope and the Catholic Church, in traditional and Islamist circles, will be viewed as an enabler of Mr Allam's conversion, and will contribute to the Muslim world's warped views about the Pope and the role of the Church. Given the overarching Muslim hysteria around the Danish cartoons and the upcoming film on the Qur'an by Geert Wilders, the conversion of Mr Allam before the Church will viewed as further "provocation".

Nonetheless it provides for both challenges and opportunities. Firstly, it provides yet a further test of the Muslim commitment to universal human rights and, to a degree. For Western Muslims in particular, it affords an opportunity to demonstrate a respect for the universal human freedoms of conciseness and religion, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This necessarily requires the express rejection of the traditionalist Islamic approach to the issue. Unfortunately, given the precedence of Muslim reactions to recent "blasphemy" and "insults" to Islam, we are likely to see the opposite reaction from the Muslim collective. Importantly, the event places the conflict between universal human rights and collective rights to the fore once again. From a policy perspective, it provides a driver for Western nations to promote the universality of human rights domestically and internationally. It may also lead to Muslims confronting the issue of "apostasy" head on (internally and externally), and to interact with non-Muslims on the issue. The immediate Muslim reaction appears to be disingenuous. The Vice President of Coreis, which purports to represent the Muslim community in Italy, failed to address the issue head on, but instead stated that he "respected" Mr Allam's decision, but questioned "high profile way he chose to do it".

Tthis event could serve as an empowering precedent for other Western Muslims, who may be inwardly secular, to follow Mr Allam's path. Mr Allam, arguably is the most prominent Muslim to publicly convert to another faith. For many Muslims, traditional Islam is an intellectual and spiritual prison; the example of Mr Allam could help provide the impetus for Muslims to leave Islam. Undoubtedly, Mr Allam will bring needed vigour to the ex-Muslim and secular Muslim movement. Given his connections with moderate Muslims in Italy, including liberal Muslim thinker Sheikh Abdul Palazzi of the Italian Muslim Assembly, Mr Allam could also help foster connections between moderate Muslims and the ex-Muslim movement, to which common understandings exist. Mr Allam has been a staunch supporter of legitimate moderate Muslims. Moderate Muslims have an obligation to reciprocate that support and to give real effect and meaning to the oft repeated Qur'anic injunction (that is so often used to attest to Islamic tolerance by Muslim apologists):

There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient. [Qur'an 2:256]

I stand in solidarity with Mr Allam and hope that all genuine moderate Muslims will follow suit, and be an ally to him, as he has been to moderate Muslims. Mr Allam has demonstrated immeasurable courage and fortitude in rejecting Islamic tyranny, and should not stand alone. Moderate Muslims and "reformers" must work harder to develop Islamic solutions to Islamic problems, in order to enable an environment for change. Collectively, we continue to fail to do so. A primary objective of moderate Muslims and reformers should be to create an environment where is it is possible for Muslims to talk about Islam's problems and its sources, and moreover to provide for safe mechanisms which enable Muslims to leave Islam, without the fear of repercussion. Currently, there is no such mechanism. The Muslim Heretic Conference being held in Atlanta later this month provides a further opportunity to advance this thinking.

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بطاقة Hamza Mohammed
تاريخ الانضمام : 2006-11-11
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بلد الميلاد : United States
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