[حسين أحمد حسين] 11-03-2015 05:08 AM
مقال بيتر هِل:
عن أنَّ مصطلح الدولة المدنية مصطلحاً شرقياً
Peter Hill February 26th, 2013
The term “madani”, generally translated as “civil,” has played an important role in Arabic political discourse since the revolutions of the Arab Spring began over two years ago.
The term “civil state” (“al-dawla al-madaniyya”) is a unique product of this discourse. Though possibly coined by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s, it is only since the revolutions that it has become a central and controversial term in politics. Syrian blogger Amer Katbeh pointed this out in a 2011 blog post. This article is in a sense an elaboration on his remarks.
The term is complex, used in varying and indeed contradictory ways. In Egypt, different uses of the term “civil” reveal fault lines that exist in the post-revolutionary period between various political parties, and their conceptions of politics and society.
To track the different meanings of the “civil”, and by extension the “civil state,” is to sketch the landscape of competing visions about Egypt’s future. Different uses of the term reveal widely shared aspirations for a non-military state, but also important differences of opinion over the role of religion in public life.
One factor that emerges is the political power of these terms for both secularists and many Islamists, as both attempt to lay claim to the “civil” and “civil state.” Equally significant are the areas in which this crucial debate is silent, most importantly with regard to economic affairs and social justice.
1. Civil versus Military
As the most widely used sense of the term “madani,” “civil” contrasts with “military” (‘askari). As such, a “civil state” is one primarily ruled by civilians rather than the military, and suggests the kind of state that might succeed the old, military-dominated pre-revolutionary regimes.
Calls for a “civil state” in today’s Egypt also indicate opposition to the still prominent role of the military and security forces in the country’s political spheres.
It was in this sense that Muslim Brotherhood leader Hasan al-Burnus used the term in July 2012, when he said the Egyptian people had to choose between a civil state under the leadership of Mohamed Morsi (Egypt’s current president and member of the Muslim Brotherhood), and a military state led by Mohamed Hussein al-Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). This use of “civil” in opposition to “military” indicates a united front (including both “religious” and “secular” forces) against military dominance of the state.
A second, but related, connotation of the “civil state” is that of a “democratic” or “constitutional” state. President Morsi articulated this vision when he said in September 2012, “the Egyptian national, democratic, constitutional, legal, modern state – this is the definition of the civil state.” He went on to specify that such a state is “ruled by the people through an elected parliament that represents the popular will.”
This definition – a democratic and constitutional state that excludes the military – is the least controversial aspect of the “civil state,” and is the one most frequently used by Egypt’s Islamist politicians and religious figures.
2. Civil = Secular
But “madani” can also mean “civil” as opposed to “religious” or “Islamic.” In this sense madani is often employed as a kind of euphemism for “secular,” used in lieu of ‘almani, a word that most literally translates as “secular” but which often carries a more negative connotation.
This distinction is best illustrated in an example given by Anwar Mughith, a secularist, columnist, and philosophy professor at Helwan University: “On a television program, a guest was talking about the characteristics we want for the Egyptian state in the coming period: he mentioned the equality of all before the law and the absence of discrimination between men and women or Muslims and Copts. Then he ended by saying, ‘We want a secular (‘almani) state.’ At this point those around him… shouted, ‘No, not ‘secular’ (‘almani), let’s call it a civil (madani) state.’”
Madani indicates a more neutral and acceptable area of the non-religious, whereas ‘almani tends to take on a more militantly anti-religious meaning. The audience in the Egyptian television program instantly understood that “secular” was a far more contentious term than “civil,” and that the latter embodied a vision of an inclusive form of government where all are equal before the law.
This dynamic reflects the continuing authority of the religious in Egyptian public life – in Egypt, it is far more acceptable to talk of a “civil” sphere, which exists alongside religion, than of a “secular” one that excludes or opposes it.
Those political parties and movements, which Western commentators call “secular,” often describe themselves as “civil” (madani) in Arabic: “civil” in opposition to “military” but also implicitly in contrast to “religious,” “Islamic,” or “Islamist.”
For many of Egypt’s “secular” politicians, like Freedom Egypt Party member and former parliamentarian Amr Hamzawi, there is no real distinction in meaning between ‘almani (“secular”) and madani (“civil”). Hamzawi articulated this position well when he said in October 2011, “the civil state [is] defined as neither military nor religious.”
As articulated in this way, the term “civil” fractures the political unity against military rule that Morsi and Burnus advocate. On January 25, 2013, the second anniversary of the start of the Egyptian revolution, the opposition group, the National Salvation Front, called for, “a civil state and the abrogation of the constitution, or the resignation of the President.” The group’s statement implies that, under President Morsi, the “civil state” has not yet been secured; the military’s removal from power was not enough – more changes are required.
Many “secularist” members of the opposition certainly believe that religion should not have power over the state. A “civil state” would, thus, leave no place for either military or religious authority over politics. “Civil” in this sense insists on the separation of religion from political life, and, in this way, clearly conflicts with how Islamist parties use the term.
3. Civil versus Secular
Many “Islamists” – and not just the Muslim Brotherhood – lay claim to the term “civil” as well. At the launch of a new political party (al-Shaab Party) by the Egyptian Salafi Front, party spokesman Ahmed Mawlana announced, “The party is a civil one with an Islamic background. Islamic and civil aren’t opposites; the opposite of civil is military.”
Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim philosopher and professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University, also argues that Islamists have adopted the terms “civil” and “civil state” in part to distance themselves from “secularism” on the one hand and from Iranian-style “theocracy” and their old call for an “Islamic state” on the other.
For example, upon his election in June 2012, President Morsi dissociated the “civil state” equally sharply from “secular” and “theocratic-religious” government.
However, this acceptance of the term “civil state” among Islamists is not universal. In February 2011 when the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood called for “a civil state with an Islamic source,” Salafist preacher Yasser Borhami, who is associated with the Al-Nour Party, condemned the idea. He maintained, like Mughith, that the “civil state” was identical to “the secular state,” – but argued that both referred to Western concepts, opposed to Islam and illegal under shari’a.
Yet, many within the “Islamist” spectrum argue that the “civil state” is fully compatible with Islam and shari’a. In October 2012, Essam al-Erian, vice-chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, called for a “modern civil constitutional state that will apply the shari’a.” From the official Azhari point of view, Ali Gomaa, the previous Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, stated that a “civil state” was compatible with Islamic legal provisions, but that “Western secularism” was not suitable for Egypt.
Importantly, this all reveals the political importance of the term “civil:” many “Islamists” as well as most “secularists” want to define themselves as “civil,” or at least make a space within the “civil” for themselves and as much of their political vision as the term can accommodate.
4. Civil = Democratic
In June 2011, Alaa al-Aswany, the Egyptian novelist, offered another reinterpretation of the “civil state” in his column in the independent Egyptian daily newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm.
In essence, al-Aswany argues that “civil” should be equated with “democratic” – an obvious and fairly non-controversial association. He notes that the “secular/Islamist” distinction was irrelevant, and that “those who call for a civil state are not necessarily secularists (‘almaniyyun) or irreligious (la-diniyyun).” His purpose is, then, to unite those who favor a civil state against those who favor “oppression” (of a religious or a military kind).
On the question of implementing shari’a in a civil state, al-Aswany argues that it could occur, “on the condition that it is done by the people’s choice and free will.” His message to the Islamists: to implement something called “shari’a” in a civil democratic state, you must play the democratic game. From al-Aswany’s perspective, the essential principles established by the revolution are popular sovereignty and freedom from “tyranny.” Religion does not come into it.
He writes, “If the Islamists want to implement their political program, they will have to propose it to the Egyptian people, the possessor of absolute authority in a democratic regime.” Al-Aswany concludes by saying that Egyptians will not submit to a religious tyranny any more than a military one – a civil democratic state is equally opposed to both.
Al-Aswany realigns the debate away from a polarization around religious versus secular or religious versus non-religious, and toward the new binaries of democratic versus anti-democratic and freedom versus tyranny. The term’s specifically anti-military aspect also recedes into the background: the “civil” embraces all those opposed, not just to the military or SCAF, but to any form of tyranny, including religious or other non-military ones.
This would involve cutting out any bias, religious or anti-religious, from the “civil state.” In al-Aswany’s view, the “civil state” indicates a kind of compromise: a willingness to play the democratic game, without using extraordinary (non-democratic) powers to enforce either secularism or religious legislation.
5. Blank Banner or Field of Tension?
In summary, the term “civil state” or “civil” can accommodate (at least) four rather distinct meanings.
What are we to make of all this? Certainly some commentators have expressed dissatisfaction. Mughith thinks we should drop the term “civil” in favor of the more precise, though controversial, “secular” (‘almani). Al-Aswany carries on using the word but is forced to define it and related terms at length before proceeding with his argument. Katbeh expresses dissatisfaction with the situation, complaining that “the meaning of the term is too broad and controversial. It is a term open to interpretation.”
To an extent it seems “civil” and “civil state” have become what the anthropologist Edwin Ardener called “blank banners.” They are “emblems of an identity not linked to a specific program which hold together groups of persons without directing them towards any set ends” (the gloss is from Glenn Bowman).
In this sense, the “civil state” is an empty banner waiting to be filled. While it remains “blank” it can accommodate a great range of aspirations about the shape of post-revolutionary Egypt (and other Arab countries).
But what, exactly, can the term accommodate? When it comes down to it, the banner is not, in fact, as blank as some may believe. It carries quite specific associations with democracy, constitutionalism, and the equality of citizens before the law. Again, there is room for different emphases here: al-Erian, for example, leaves out “democratic” but talks of a “modern constitutional” state while al-Aswany stresses “democratic” in the strong sense of popular sovereignty.
A “theocratic-religious” state seems to be ruled out by the term, but its boundaries can be stretched to accommodate shari’a in some form. As for a militantly anti-religious “secular” state (‘almani), this seems to be ruled out by the very acceptance of the label “civil” (madani) rather than “secular” – however dissatisfied some secularists (like Mughith) may be with this.
The term probably leaves room for a great deal of disagreement on the privileges of the executive, such as the right to issue Emergency Laws. But there seems to be agreement in principle on the initial point of excluding the military from power.
For these reasons, “civil” and “civil state” are not simply “blank” terms, but rather are fields of tension and struggle that nonetheless have limits and exclude certain options. In particular, they represent an area of both compromise and tension between “Islamists” and “secularists.” The terms are the property of neither side. Rather, they represent, if not a search for common ground, then at least a competition for similar terrain.
There is one area in which discussions about “civil” and the “civil state” are silent: that of economic issues, social justice, and class divisions. As the evidence suggests, the terms are quite compatible with “free markets” and, indeed, with neoliberal economic policies. In this respect, both the “Turkish model” and the economic policies recently adopted by Morsi’s government after agreeing to the , are likely to be significant. While “civil” and the “civil state” contain space for alternatives to these policies, they do not in and of themselves appear to offer much resistance to them.
Contemporary debate over the meaning of “civil” and “civil state” is about more than linguistics. The fault lines between different meanings indicate ruptures between competing visions of the state. These arguments and uncertainties are unlikely to cease in the short term. Yet, the convergence of “Islamists” and “secularists” around the term “civil” may indicate the beginnings of a working consensus on certain basic principles about Egypt’s future.
This consensus would have to be tacit rather than formally acknowledged. It would depend upon popular agreement that certain aspects of the “civil state” are to be left open and undefined for now. This consensus would involve constitutional state forms, parliamentary democracy, and the military’s exclusion from overt interference in politics. It would prohibit religious authorities from explicitly controlling political life, but would also impose a tacit ban on overtly anti-religious actions by the state, particularly when inspired by the West.
This potential consensus would, as such, exclude those willing to accept military influence over politics, hard-line Salafis such as Yasser Borhami who do not accept the “civil state,” and potentially the more stubborn secularists (such as Mughith) who insist on the strictly anti-religious nature of the civil state. It would include, however, Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Morsi and al-Erian, Salafis willing to accept the “civil” as their sphere of action, democrats such as al-Aswany, and secularists who are not too insistent on secularism’s explicitly anti-religious elements of secularism.
In this form, the “civil state” could include neoliberal economic policies, which might prove to be its most problematic aspect. It would represent a solution to many political issues, but would be incapable of resolving underlying economic and social problems. In this sense, the biggest danger to the “civil state” might, in fact, be its inability to resolve persistent issues of social justice and economic inequality that continue to plague the Egyptian state.
نرجو من كل الحادبين على هذه "السودانوية"، خاصةً بين الأخوة الشيوعيين، أن يتصدوا لهذا الإبتخاس لمساهمة الأستاذ محمد إبراهيم نقد حول الدولة المدنية، بالمحاولة لإيجاد دلالة للمصطلح من واقع قراءتهم لكتابات السيد المرحوم محمد إبراهين نقد. وأنا أفعل هذا الشئ من واقع سودانوى بحت الآن، فلا تدعوا العالم يسرقكم.
[حسين أحمد حسين] 11-03-2015 04:51 AM
الجن الكلكى تحياتى،
هذا المقال الجميل هو فى الأصل للدكتور أحمد زايد وليس للسيد نبيل شريف.
وعلى العموم كل ما كتب عن الدولة المدنية فى الآونة الأخيرة هى كتابات لاحقة لكتابات المفكر محمد إبراهيم نقد. والكل ذهب ليأصِّل للدولة المدنية فى بيئته بإيجاد مصوغ من الفلسفة اليونانية القديمة وعهد التنوير.
وإذا كان عهد اليونان وعهد التنوير قد عرفا الدولة المدنية كما يدعى الشرقيون، فلماذا يعتبرون الدولة المدنية مصطلحاً شرقياً لا علاقة لهم به؟ (راجع بيتر هِل: http://muftah.org/the-civil-and-the-secular-in-contemporary-arab-politics/#.VjgRydLhC8o).
هذا إبتخاس للقدرات السودانية ولن نسكت عليه بعد اليوم.
[حسين أحمد حسين] 11-03-2015 04:00 AM
عفواً الجن الكلكى،
أنت المخاطب فى الرسالة الفائتة.
[حسين أحمد حسين] 11-03-2015 01:48 AM
التحايا للأستاذ نبيل شريف،
شكراً كثيراً الأستاذ نبيل شريف، على هذه الإضافة النوعية وأرجو المتابعة معى فى الجزء الرابع والأخير بمداخلات نقدية لو سمحت، حتى نستطيع أن نرسخ هذا المصطلح المُبهم بعض الشئ فى أذهان الناس بصورة سلسة ومبسطة. خاصةً أنَّ الأخوانويين يعتبرونه إسم دلع للعلمانية.
وما أحوجنا لدولة نُقُد المدنية فى هذا الواقع البوهيمى الذى يُخوزِقُ السارقَ الضعيف بالشطة، ويترك السارق الشريف أبْ لَحَماً مُر يتبختر فى رُدُهات المدينة.
خالص الود والتقدير.