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Thursday, October 04, 2007

The age of fatwas -Azmi Ashour

In Islamic history, the power of the ulema invariably grew in periods of political decay. Interestingly enough, the political clout of the ulema ebbed in times of renaissance, just as the influence of other sections of the elite increased. Today, we see a repeat of the same old phenomenon, albeit on a more dangerous level. The power of the ulema is once again being established, but those ulema are not from the educated elites of the past. They come from the ranks of radicals bent on negating the current practices of government and society.

My point is that the past remains relevant. Centuries ago, Islamic societies gave too much power to the ulema. Centuries ago, the ulema, a mere section of the intelligentsia, were the ones entitled to monitor the political performance of rulers. No wonder then that the first thing fundamentalists did was to reclaim this power and use it to their favour. What is the answer to this dilemma? Going back to reason would be a start.

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