Sunday, June 24, 2007

Qur'anists Arrested

Issandr El Amrani reports on an Egyptian crackdown on members of a group called the Ahl al-Qur'an. On the English version of their web site, one of their leaders describes them thus:
"The Quraanic movement has been founded in the 1980s, is a non- political organization, calling for using logic and persuasion to convince people with their ideas rather than resorting to the violence.

"This group depends entirely on Quraanic teachings in interpretation of Islam rather than the Hadith or Al-Sunneh (the profit’s says). They believe that the Hadiths were subjected to falsification by some crook theologians for many reasons, particularly the hadiths were not recorded until more than 200 years after the death of the profit. That is why the Quraanists do not trust some hadiths which many of them are irrational and contradict the normal reasoning.

"Unfortunately, this group has been subjected to repression by both the Islamist extremists and the government in Egypt. The first attack against them was in 1987, when many members of the Quraanists were detained and tortured. The second time was in 2000, when the founding member, Dr. Ahmed Subhi Mansour, received death threat from the extremists, and was obliged to flee the country with his family to the USA where they live now.

"The most recent attack on the group started few weeks ago when the Egyptian police launched another campaign against the Quraanists and detained several members of them, accusing them of being posing threat to the national security, a ridiculous accusation which no one can believe it. I wonder, what sort of a state it is that can not tolerate a few intellectuals aiming to educate people with the Islamic spirit of tolerance by using peaceful means like internet?"

By rejecting the authority of the Hadith, or the reports of Muhammad's words and deeds that underpin much of the detail in shari'a, this group has fallen foul of Egypt's existing religious authorities, and one of Issandr's commenters says they are being officially charged with offending Islam.

This group is doing exactly what I've faulted Egypt's liberal opposition for not doing, and developing a religious framework for both opposing the Islamists and advocating democracy. Their fate should be crucial to anyone who cares about democracy or the public face of Islam in the Arab world.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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