Their more radical brethren will always say, “True Muslims support Sharia: if you reject this, you are no Muslim. You are an apostate, an infidel, an enemy.”
In the ongoing conflict between those Egyptians who strongly oppose a Sharia-based constitution — moderates, secularists, non-Muslim minorities — and those who are strongly pushing for it — the “Islamists” — are currently evoking the one argument that has always, from the very beginnings of Islam, empowered Islamists over moderates in the Muslim world: that anyone who disagrees with them disagrees with Islam.
Examples are many. According to a December 1 report from El Fagr, for example, Gamal Sabr, the former campaign coordinator for the anti-freedom Salafi presidential candidate Abu Ismail, made the division clear during an Al Jazeera interview, where he said: “Whoever disagrees with him, disagrees with Islam itself;” and that many Egyptians “are fighting Islam in the picture of President Muhammad Morsi and in the picture of the Islamists.” He was clearly implying that they are one with Islam, and to fight them is to fight Islam.
The logic is simple: Sabr, as well as those millions of Egyptians who want Sharia, presumably only want what Allah wants: that Egypt should be governed under Sharia law. According to this position, any and all Muslims who disagree, who do not want to be governed by Sharia law, whatever their arguments, are showing that they are at odds with Islam itself.
Sabr is hardly the only Egyptian Muslim making use of this age-old argument. A Dostor report, which also appeared on December 1, quotes Tarek Zomar making the same point. Zomar, a former leader of the infamous Gam’a Islamiyya, was once imprisoned for his role in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. Released with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, he is a now a member of the Shura Council of Egypt’s Parliament. According to Zomor, whoever votes against the Sharia-based constitution that Morsi is trying to enforce, “is an infidel”— an apostate enemy of Allah to be killed for the cause of Islam.
Even Ahmed Morsi, President Muhammad Morsi’s son, accused the many demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who object to his father’s attempts to impose Sharia on them, of belonging to the “former regime”—code for secularist-minded people, who are opposed to the totality of Sharia law. Writing on his Facebook account, he asserted that “all the people in Tahrir Square are remnants of the old regime.” He added: “My father will eliminate them soon.”
Such is the difficulty encountered by moderate Muslims, past and present: How can they justify their rejection of Islamic teachings, as captured in the Quran, hadith [the supposed teachings and actions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as reported 200 years after his death -- as if we were now just starting to write about George Washington], as well as the words of the Islamic scholars throughout the ages, all of which constitute the “Sharia” of Islam, a word that simply means the “Way” of Islam?
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