Barry Rubin



A Parable of Middle East History: The Well-Intentioned Arab and the Malicious Genie

By Barry Rubin

One day in 1952, a young Arab intellectual was walking along the shore of the Nile when he spotted something glinting in the sun. He picked it up and saw that it was a small brass lamp. Thinking that he might have found an attractive antique he took it home and brushed off the sand with the sleeve of his jacket.

Suddenly, there was a bright flash that knocked him over. When he stood up and regained his senses he saw a large genie glaring at him. “I am the genie of the lamp,” it said, “and you are granted three wishes. Choose them wisely. But remember that you only get one wish every 59 years.”

The intellectual was a good man albeit—in the way of most intellectuals—a naïve and bumbling one. He wanted the best for his people and was fed up with the corrupt and stagnant monarchy.

Quickly he said, “I would like my country and the Arab people o have a different kind of government, a government that brings them together and makes them proud of their nation.”

“Done!” said the genie. And there was another bright flash.

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3 Responses

  1. Barry Rubin’s article points to something very ominous, a subject that has been rendering a lot of questions in my mind for quite a while now, particularly with regards to the diverse levels of extremism different Islamic groups cling to.
    It’s for instance hard to understand why on earth the distinction should be made between Salafis on the one hand and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other in the ME, particularly when we consider the Arab Spring Revolutions. In the long run, the outcome would be exactly the same in any case: Salafisation of society, point final.

    Academically speaking, Salafis are considered extremist to the point where they renounce any Western (infidel) influence on the organisation of Islamic society (and even any semblance of it, like organising elections in an undemocratic regime). Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood advocates the establishment of an Islamic state as the first step for implementing al-shari‘a by selectively filtering into Islamic thought a few major Western political doctrines like constitutional rule and democracy, which serves as nothing more than a taqiyya ruse to pull the wool over Westerners’ eyes.
    Although both groups’ positions give impetus to quarreling over the subject of ‘moral puritanism in Islam’, it has to be quite clear that such a discussion centers around semantics only. Everything hinges on how “constitutional rule” and “democracy” can be understood from a particular viewpoint. The differences between both groups are de facto minimal.

    A Salafi would say something like “Democracy is an infidel concept and such concepts can’t serve as a basis applicable to Islamic society. Only the Quran in its purest form can apply.” When you hear Salafis talk, they are quite candid about what they want and they never disguise it. (think of Anjem Choudary, for instance)
    A Muslim Brotherhood member would argue “Democracy is indeed an infidel concept and such concepts can’t serve as a basis applicable to Islamic society in the long run. However, the Prophet himself made provisions for Muslims to temporarily stray from the righteous path (as Salafis understand it) if necessary by deliberately deceiving infidels and seemingly forging friendships with them, thus making infidels believe they have some common ground with us. Democracy means nothing to us either, but can serve as a stepping stone if it enables us to gain support from infidels who want to project their own values on what we try to do.”

    When MB members talk about democracy, it can only be understood as a vile infidel concept which has no real content. A null and void concept that however serves them well to keep PC Westerners pacified with the assumption that MB members think (more or less) exactly the same as Westerners do. Organizing elections is part and parcel of the taqiyya stratagem of the MB, and admissible in Islam, whereas Salafis, being much more rigid in their approach of Islamic purity, would argue it is totally inadmissible.

    The oddball thing however, is that Salafism in general is distrusted by many mainstream Muslims in countries like Egypt (because many still deem it “ghuluw” or exaggerated), and conversely, Salafis denote many mainstream Muslims as Hypocrites, because they incorporated Western ways of living into their day to day lives. However, this reluctance towards Salafis doesn’t translate into the same reluctance towards the MB, simply because they stick to the taqiyya claim of representing “moderate Islam”, while their final goal is exactly the same as that of Salafis. Taqiyya is a concept to deceive both PC Westerners AND the Hypocrite (inauthentic) Muslims with at the same time, which makes the MB (and associate organisations) more dangerous than Salafis in practice, because the MB caters to what the masses in Egypt desperately WANT to believe, namely that the semblance of democracy to which the MB subscribes , will turn into a factual model for society that can truly be reconciled with and incorporated into Islam. The MB deceives both Muslims AND PC Westerners simultaneously.

    Which is exactly why Barry Rubin says Arabs should be careful what they wish for !

  2. Last but not least, the situation in Europe can serve as a warning to Muslims in the ME. One of the most striking examples of gradual Salafisation of Muslim communities in the West can already be felt. When for instance Muslims feel the need to go demarcating “Sharia controlled Zones” which openly specify bans on gambling, music, concerts, porn, prostitution, drugs, smoking and alcohol (as in Tower Hamlets), this runs parallel to the Talibanisation (funded by Arab Salafism) of Afghanistan. Salafism today is rampant in Western society and in the long run, it will instigate a total ban on every type of leisure activity that makes believers stray from the right path, in accordance with Salafi Islam. (banning satellite dishes, keeping birds in cages, playing chess, kite-flying,…etc., again analogous to the Afghan example)

    Salafism in Europe is already spreading like an oil spill and this is just the tip of the iceberg, the first phase. PC MC idiots at some point will have to start deciding whether this is all down to a “cultural background” issue or simply pertains to the totalitarian megalomania of moral puritans that want to enslave whole societies. Until they get the answer to this question right, Salafism will go unnoticed. In all probability, the realisation will be made much too late.

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