Power struggles in Muslim States: Prayer – need of the hour.
Posted on February 14th, 2014

by A. Abdul Aziz.

A number of Muslim states are facing varying degrees of insurgencies and violent attacks against state institutions, officials and ordinary people. The leading examples are Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Somalia.

The Iraq government faces a militant challenge in Ambar Province where extremist and al Qaeda-type groups have recently established their domain in parts of that province. The sectarian issue has gained prominence in Iraq. Therefore, despite the fact that the US troops left Iraq some years ago, it has not seen stability in parts of its territory.

 Libya has not seen stable peace after the overthrow of the government of Colonel Gaddafi and his assassination.  Different tribal and fundamentalist groups are fighting each other and the weak Libyan government. Syria has been experiencing two-fold internal violence for the last three years, with a struggle for power between the Damascus government and its opponent armed groups supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The groups fighting against Bashar al Assad’s government are also fighting with each other. Some hardline groups with linkages with al-Qaeda are also trying to eliminate their rival insurgent groups.

 The internal conflict in Bahrain is a power struggle among two major groups: the government and anti-government groups. This has strong religio-sectarian colours because the majority of population is Shia which finds itself excluded from the power structure.

 Yemen is experiencing tribal and separatist challenges coupled with the increased activity of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups.

 Egypt could not achieve stable peace after the removal of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In 2013, the powerful Egyptian Army took control of the state by dislodging elected President Morsi who was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Morsi assumed presidency in 2012 and used his powers to strengthen his party’s political and ideological control over the state and society in total disregard for other groups. This sharpened divisions in politics, enabling the military to knock out the Morsi government. The Muslim Brotherhood’s resistance to military rule did not succeed because the resistance was initiated only by Muslim Brotherhood’s hardcore. However, internal violence erupts from time to time.

 Each country has its peculiar features of politics and society. Therefore, the details of the internal conflict vary from country to country but there are some common factors that are found in these Muslim countries, which show that several struggles are going on simultaneously. The first common factor in these Muslim states is the growing pressure of socio-economic injustice. Each state has an affluent class of people, mostly the rulers or their close associates. However, a large number of people suffer from poverty and underdevelopment with little hope of improvement of their conditions. These people have little attachment with the state and its political order. These alienated people are attracted to various appeals based on ethnicity, tribe, language and religion and religious sects. There is a crisis of leadership in these countries. Either the military provides leadership or a combination of military, bureaucracy and the affluent elite does. Their political appeal does not cut across various divisions in society. Consequently, the national framework is relegated to the background and people think in terms of identities smaller than the state.

 The second common factor can be described as a pure and simple power struggle among competing interests where the tradition of constitutionalism and rule of law is poor or non-existent. Therefore, invocation of the law and constitution depends on the needs of a competing interest. Law and constitution are supported if these help a competing group to achieve its political objectives.

 Third, the role of abstract ideologies has declined at the global level in the post-Cold War era. The West’s efforts to project the New World Order and globalisation that emphasised connectivity based on free trade and privatisation against the backdrop of liberal democracy could not attract much support in the Muslim world. The so-called Arab Spring brought down some dictatorships but no credible political and social alternative was evolved. In this situation of intellectual void, many political groups in Muslim countries sought salvation by adopting religion as their political ideology.

 Different militant and non-militant groups are engaged in three-types of struggles. First, they are fighting against the West in order to push back its cultural and political impact on society. This struggle becomes more serious if the West, especially the US, is viewed by them as a supporter of their adversary group or the state where these groups are engaged in religious and political struggle. Second, they often challenge the writ of the state in order to paralyse it and take its control to impose their preferred religious order. If that is not possible, they want to create a territorial enclave for themselves. Third, these groups also compete with each other. Each militant group claims itself to represent the ‘genuine’ interpretation of religion and wants to destroy any group that does not subscribe to its view. These militant groups also fight with each other for controlling territory and material resources.

 These struggles have increased divisions in the society. The state is either under siege by these groups or fighting these groups. This has reduced the capacity of the state to fulfill its obligations towards its citizens because continuous strife has adversely affected the economy, and law and order. These internally divided states also become vulnerable to external intervention by Western states and other Muslim states that have some political interests in and around these states.

 These states are finding it difficult to maintain internal cohesion, sustain a stable governance system and ensure equitable economic growth. The ruling circles lack new ideas to sustain the voluntary loyalty of the people and the groups challenging them have no clear vision of the future of the state and society in the 21st century. These problems are not expected to be resolved in the near future.      

  The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Fifth Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, lamented the “pitiful and sorry-state” of much of the Muslim world during one of his recent weekly Friday Sermon delivered at Baithul Futhuh, London.

 Speaking at the sermon, the Khalifa highlighted the examples of war-torn Syria and of Pakistan, where he said countless innocent people were being targeted and persecuted. He called on Ahmadi Muslims around the world to pray for the peace and stability of the Muslim world. 

  Speaking about the devastating consequences of the war in Syria, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

 “The situation in Syria is going from bad to worse. Both the Government and the Opposition rebels have committed extreme cruelties. The nation’s children, its elderly and its women are all being targeted.  Innocent people are being arrested, starved and tortured. Muslims are perpetrating these cruelties on other Muslims and so are giving non-Muslims the opportunity to raise false accusations against Islam…  For the sake of either retaining power or gaining power, the government and opposition are both actively destroying the children of their nation.”

 His Holiness prayed for the cruelty in Syria to end and for justice to prevail before commenting on Pakistan.  

 Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

  “In Pakistan we also find that extreme cruelty is being inflicted upon members of the public and particularly against Ahmadi Muslims. People are being physically and mentally tortured. Other Pakistanis are also being trapped in this system of cruelty and it seems the intensity of these grave circumstances will continue to increase… There is a great need for prayers that all forms of extremism and terrorism end.”

  The Khalifa concluded by remarking upon the dire circumstances witnessed in many other Muslim countries including Egypt and Libya. He prayed that Islam’s name would not be tarnished or defamed by the atrocities and injustices being falsely perpetrated in the name of the religion.

2 Responses to “Power struggles in Muslim States: Prayer – need of the hour.”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    But Muslims must stand TOGETHER if they want to SURVIVE. Otherwise Muslims will go EXTINCT. I repeat EXTINCT.

    Sunnis are the WORST Muslims. They KILL Shias every day. They kill other Sufis. They kill Ahamadis. They kill Kurds. They kill Alawites. And they kill THEMSELVES.

    It will do well for Islam to AMPUTATE the Sunni sect altogether.

    Thanks for REALIZING there is a power struggle within the Muslim community. Some IGNORE it deliberately. Ignorance is bliss!! With Allah’s (PBUH) mercy peace will dawn upon earth.

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Some of the problems from the Middle East stem from the British Empire. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after world war one the British Empire inherited all the lands that now make up Jordon, Israel to Palestine. The British empire already had colonized Egypt, all of Sudan and heavily influenced Iraq. Iran fell into what is termed the “great game” where both Russia and Great Britain annexed parts of that nation in the early 20th century.

    Broken promises include seceding Palestine and Jordon as part of Israel since these lands once made up the Roman Jewish province of Judea. Another broken promise is the establishment of a Kurdish homeland. I am sure there are others that have destabilized that region and like in so many parts of the British Empire the deliberate destruction of the peace hand the balance of power that existed before these lands were taken over by the British was meant to leave these former holdings in a perpetual state of warfare while Great Britain continues her rule by proxy using the UN or the commonwealth of nations.

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