Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Young Jordanians rebel, embracing conservative Islam - Be careful what you wish for

From the International Hearald Tribune:

AMMAN, Jordan: Muhammad Fawaz is a very serious college junior with a stern gaze and a reluctant smile that barely cloaks suppressed anger. He never wanted to attend Jordan University. He hates spending hours each day commuting.

As a high school student, Fawaz, 20, had dreamed of earning a scholarship to study abroad. But that was impossible, he said, because he did not have a "wasta," or connection. In Jordan, connections are seen as essential for advancement and the wasta system is routinely cited by young people as their primary grievance with their country.

So Fawaz decided to rebel. He adopted the serene, disciplined demeanor of an Islamic activist. In his sophomore year he was accepted into the student group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's largest, most influential religious, social and political movement, one that would ultimately like to see the state governed by Islamic law, or Shariah. Now he works to recruit other students to the cause.

(Full Article)

To our young friends in the region: be careful what you wish for, and be sure to study what has happened to those who've gone before you in places like Iran. By all means stand up, rebel, shake up the status quo, change the government, but make positive changes. When religion becomes the government and the government becomes religion, corruption doesn't abate. If anything, it tends to become even more entrenched.

Secular government may seem anathema to Islam, but when a religious establishment must coexist with a secular government, each helps to keep the other from being hijacked by a corrupt few. When the two become one, there is no such balance. Each benefits from the existence of the other.

Under the George W. Bush presidency, the US (and the world) got a taste of what can happen when religion and government start to become entangled in a context where this is explicitly prohibited. The global reverberations will likely continue for a generation.

Also worth considering is the utter vacuum of evidentiary support for the foundational beliefs underlying religion. As university students, you are young and intelligent, and curious. Never let anything suppress your mind or misdirect your thinking.