Mohammad Salim al-Awa

By Abdul-Raheem Ali, IOL Correspondent

CAIRO, November 28 (IslamOnline) – Veteran Islamic thinker Mohammad Salim el-Awa announced Thursday, November 28, the advent birth of a union of Islamic scholars and thinkers to crown 20-year efforts.

The new body groups so far 300 members who advocates moderation and modernity, he said.

In exclusive statements to IslamOnline, Al-Awa asserted that the by-laws of the new body have been drafted and approved, adding that procedures are being taken to announce its establishment in Ireland.

On the possibility of setting up the new union in Egypt of any Arab country, Al-Awa recalled that huge efforts were exerted in this respect.

The project was proposed to two Arab rulers who refused it, said Al-Awa, adding that this position prompted the founders to choose Ireland to host the union’s headquarters, especially that Irish laws allow the establishment of such bodies.

The project began with an idea floated in 1980 by then Bahraini education minister Ali Fakhro, Al-Awa said.

“Fakhro spoke about the project with me and Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi on the sidelines of a seminar on Islamic regimes that was hosted by Bahrain,” he recalled.

“We renewed talks about the project two or three times with Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, late Sheikh Mohammad Ghazali and Tawfiq el-Shawi. Al-Qaradawi began corresponding with Islamic scholars and thinkers known for advocating moderation and modernity and invited them to join the union. He has so far collected 300 signatures,” Al-Awa added.

Al-Awa was hopeful this union would replace a genuine vacuum, and asserted that Muslims do not only need scholars and thinkers but also Islamic political leaderships to steer them and pinpoint the right path to them.

He underlined that the union seeks to transform Islamic thinking into a new institutionalized stream away from individuality which currently characterizes it, especially that official Islamic organizations in the Arab world were unable to do the job for being too much associated and linked with the ruling regimes in their countries.

The union will discuss all controversial issues that caused huge set-backs and unjustifiable confrontations between Muslims, movements and peoples, and the west, especially, the United States with the promotion of ideas that have no solid ground in genuine Islamic thinking, Al-Awa said.

He asserted that at the forefront of these issues is Jihad, especially Jihad Al-Talab (initiating military invasion of another country with the aim of introducing Islam in this country) for which Sheikh Qaradawi is currently working to map out a new vision.

This vision emanates from the belief that Jihad Al-Talab was allowed at first to give Muslims a chance to reach other people to invite them to Islam, said Al-Awa.

Now that Da’wa (call to Islam) is available in the entire world, especially in the West, there is no need for such type of Jihad, he asserted.

Al-Awa said the only type of Jihad left is Jihad Al-Dafa’a (defending oneself and one’s country against invasion by a non-Muslim army).

He stressed that other issues to be addressed by the union include the concept of helping Muslims in need and dealing with the Other.

On the surge of violence in the four corners of the world under the name of Islam, Al-Awa attributed this to feelings of persecution and humiliation.

Persecuted people are known to carry out delinquent behaviors and are characterized by irrational thinking and from there violence emanates, he said, asserting that unless the real causes of violence are addressed, it will become more vicious and organized than ever before.

Al-Awa urged swift action to avert a catastrophe, citing previous hesitation during the 80s which cost many lives.

He stressed, however, that any new action through moderate and modern-leaning thinking would have no chances of success if Iraq was attacked.

The veteran Islamic thinker warned that any such U.S.-led aggression would torpedo any moderate and tolerant Islamic thinking for decades.

Such a criminal act would push the region into a reeling circle of violence and counter-violence and would also bring more anti-America attacks inside its territories.

Al-Awa was hopeful the reported U.S. plans against Iraq are only threats.