Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Need to Make Distinction in the Islamic Movements....

The Need to Make the Distinction in the Islamic Revival Movements…

By Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI


1.     Islamic Revival.  For many Muslims, Islamic Revivalism is a social (rather than political) movement whose goal is a more “Islamically” molded and oriented society but NOT necessarily the creation of an Islamic State.  Many legitimate Islamic movements, (for pragmatic reasons and in recognition of the power of the authoritarian rulers or out of disillusionment with the excesses of Islamic Republics like Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan) focus on the Islamization of society rather than politics.

2.     For others, the establishment of an Islamic order requires the creation of an Islamic state.  Although some advocate violent revolution, others do not.  Islam and most Islamic movements are not necessarily anti-western, anti American, or anti democratic.  Although they challenge the outdated assumptions of the established order and autocratic regime, they do not necessarily threaten US interests.

3.     The challenge is to better understand the history and realities of the Muslim “world” and to recognize the diversities and the many faces of Islam.

4.     This approach lessens the risk of the West against Islam or a clash of civilizations.  Guided by its stated ideals and goals of freedom and self-determination, the west has an ideal vantage point of appreciating the aspiration of many in the Muslim world as they seek to define and forge new paths in their future.

5.     Cases in point are Southeast Asian countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia…
·       There is a little prospect of Indonesia adopting increasingly Islamic State policies.  Only in Malaysia… competition between the UMNO and the PAS might lead to more seriously Islamic State policies and these are certain to be tempered by the large non-Muslim population and the ambivalence of many Malay Muslims about the role of Islam in politics and society.
·       In Indonesia, the potential for Islam… to make a positive contribution to Indonesian society, specifically to the growth of civil society and democracy, greatly outweigh its potential to make a negative contribution.
·       Despite the fact that Malaysian Islam is often perceived as “anti-liberal”, “anti-western” and even intolerant… the prospects for social and political change in Malaysia depends very much on Islam, in particular upon Liberal Islamic Leaders and a fresh alternative vision of the way in which Islam contributes to Malaysian society.
·       In the Southern Philippines, the short and the long-term future of Islamic separatist groups appear questionable.  The threats posed by Islamic Moro groups such as the MILF, ICC, the MNLF and even the Abu Sayyaf increase or decrease proportionately to economic and political conditions.  There is now hope of successfully resolving the present separatist groups in the Southern Philippines in the short and medium term given the seeming ‘pragmatism’ shown by both the MILF present leadership and the GPH Aquino administration in the country and coupled by the national and local election agenda for 2016.
·       No doubt, strong and commercial links within Asia, but more specifically within ASEAN would have the effect of neutralizing and controlling radicalism in SEA.


(Research done by Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI - Fulbright Senior Fellow)