We are at a stage and a state that the need to resist the current hegemonic powers is not debateable. With economic and social injustice rife in a globalised world, where oppression travels faster than the ability to mobilise against it, the only question that remains is how should we – whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, of different faiths or none – affect the change we so long for?
This issue of The Long View contains some responses to this question, from the particulars of the leadership qualities of Muslim scholars to the possibilities of nation to nation and tradition to tradition solidarity. Our first writer, Saeed Khan raises the thorny issue of whether it is possible for Muslims specifically but by extension oppressed peoples in general, to work with the very establishments that oppress them. His article, and indeed the annual IHRC ‘Islamophobia conference’ that will follow later this year, begins with a discussion of the different theological approaches to this question. Can Muslims in any event – as Muslim majorities or minorities – work with governments that are not based in some way on Islamic teachings? Whatever the response to that question – the follow-up is of course what then? What precedents are there from other movements regarding this question? As the title recalls Hamlet’s crucial dilemma, the stakes could not be higher for those us pondering this issue right now.
Salina Khan writes to shed light on the qualities of certain contemporary Muslim scholars, including Imam Muhammad al-Asi, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and the martyred Sheikh Nimr, alongside her focus on Ustad Syed Jawad Naqvi now based in Pakistan. She looks at the ability of these ulema to connect with the political and social problems of the age. It is perhaps therefore no surprise that they have been attacked, slandered, in two cases imprisoned and in the case of Sheikh Nimr, executed. However, Khan asks, why is it that Muslims themselves seem to prefer ‘celebrity’ ulema, who speak abstractly about religion and either do nothing to counter or at worst actively promote sectarian narratives.
Many observers within and without the Muslim world have stated that Islam is in crisis – the political and developmental disarray of majority and minority Muslim groupings in world demarcated by nation states, is coupled with the active loss of believers turning to other faiths or simply leaving faith altogether. João Silva Jordão, looks at this critique and argues that rather than being a sign of decline, these factors point to the possibilities of the rise of Islam as one of the new global futures. With the current world order collapsing under the weight of climate degradation and spiralling wealth inequality, the aspects of Islam that challenge the causes of these meta-crises, are becoming more apparent and attractive to potential new adherents, who will in turn alongside existing movements, drive the rise of Islam and a force for global change.
Finally, Ramón Grosfoguel looks at the commonalities of the attacks on Iran and Venezuela by the US Empire. Describing how hybrid war has been launched against both states in attempts to overthrow their governments and impose US friendly regimes on the peoples, Grosfoguel argues that many lessons can be learned from these ongoing brutalities for other movements. Despite the immense economic and social pressures caused by the sanctions regimes on both countries, he argues that the solidarity between the two countries, notably the supply of technological expertise and aid by Iran to Venezuela, is an example of a new world dawning.
Making sure that this new world is one that is more just and equitable, is a responsibility on all our shoulders. Understanding what the challenges are, and where progress has already been made is critical. Discussing and setting our own red lines on what we can do to make this future a reality, is essential.