web analytics
January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Turmoil In The Land Of The Pharaohs: An Interview With Former Egyptian Radical Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

I was born in Cairo in 1961 to a secular family. When I was around 16, I started to think about God and religion and later joined a radical group, Jamaa Islamiya, in medical school. There I met Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is now the first in command in al-Qaeda. I became radical for one and a half years.

But then they asked me to help kidnap a police officer, dig a grave for him beside a mosque, and bury him alive. Although I was convinced theoretically about jihad, this was beyond my human conscience to really accept or tolerate. I felt there was something wrong, so I started to think, and the critical thinking that was suppressed in me after joining Jamaa Islamiya started working again. I began examining different methods of looking at Islam.

Currently you are working to reform Islam, but some people argue that your task is impossible – that Islam is an inherently violent religion and nothing can be done about it.

There is a lot that can be done. I’ll give you a simple example. When I was young, one of the verses that really made me turn more radical was, “Kill the infidels wherever you find them.” I took this verse to a radical friend of mine, who said to me, “Yes, we have to fight the infidels. That is Islam.”

Then I approached a Sufi scholar – Sufism is a mystical form of Islam. The scholar patted me on my shoulder and said, “My son, just love every human being and be good to every human being.” I said to him, “But it’s written in the Koran…” He said, “You will understand the meaning of this verse only on the day of judgment, not now.” But my friend’s interpretation was more convincing to me because he had the text.

Later on, however, I realized that all the violent verses in the Koran use the expression “al” which means “the.” It’s like if I tell you, “I’m going to a white house in Washington” versus, “I’m going to the White House.” These two letters, “al,” can limit all the violent verses in the Koran to specific times in history against specific groups. For example, when you read in the Bible about a war against the Canaanites, you don’t generalize it.

The cover of Dr. Hamid's book

If the history of Islam and the Sunna books – which record the words and deeds of Muhammad – remain [authoritative texts], I agree that reform can be very difficult. But my reform is based on predominantly using the Koran, not other religious texts.

Some people might argue that you are virtually alone in interpreting these texts in this manner and that reform is therefore hopeless.

It’s not just me. When you follow what’s happening in the Muslim media and social network now, you will see new reformers who are advocating using the Koran instead of the Sunna books and who are trying to offer relatively peaceful interpretations to counterbalance the violent ones.

When I write something now about Islam on the social media, the majority of people are supportive of the reformist version, while in the past they were against me.

Believe me, ideologically the Islamists are losing. The Muslim world is more ready now. The Egyptians dreamed about Sharia, but when they confronted it, they realized that Egypt will become like the Taliban and they started to say, “No.” You can see that in the decline of the Islamists in Egypt from their nearly 80 percent representation in the parliament in 2011 to the 37 percent they received in the first round of voting for the president in May 2012.

There is a wave of reform that has just begun in the Muslim world. But this is a very early wave, and if Islamists control power, it will certainly be suppressed. If the Islamists do not control the power, however, there is still hope. Either way, you have to try. You cannot guarantee results, but you have to try your best to make things better.

Why do you live in America? Why don’t you return to Egypt?

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Turmoil In The Land Of The Pharaohs: An Interview With Former Egyptian Radical Dr. Tawfik Hamid”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Amazon drone delivers to the door..
Drone Found on White House Lawn
Latest Indepth Stories
British Flag

The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.

Golan map

Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.

Social Media pic

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

Middle-East-map

Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians

Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.

How many sites that tell you to check your politics at the door have 10,000 likes?

In this particular case, the issue was whether the Arkansas prison system could prohibit, for security reasons, a devout Muslim’s maintaining a beard of a certain length as a matter of religious practice.

While we recognize the Republican Jewish Coalition is hardly a non-partisan outfit, a snippet from a statement the group released is worthy of note:

“These are good matzah balls,” my aunt Robertine would say, but her sister Irma would counter “No, not compared to Mama’s. They were always so light yet they never fell apart.”

Despite the 2005 Koby Mandell Act no Palestinian implicated in harming an American has been charged

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Richard Dukas

I was very pro-Israel, I was very proud of being Jewish, and I was living in New York at the time as a single man in my 20s and I was just looking for a little bit more.

Josh Pruzansky

A school voucher means the state is giving you a voucher to send your kid to whatever school you want. That might be problematic as far church-state issues are concerned.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

To many Orthodox Jews the issue is “Permitted & Prohibited;” “Right & Wrong” barely considered,

You can’t say “Jewish French,” “Jewish British,” “Jewish Italian.” They are “French Jews,” “British Jews,” and “Italian Jews” – because they’re seen as Jews first and residents or citizens of their countries second.

Another thing they have been covering up is the nature of the building that was attacked. To this day people refer to it as a consulate or an embassy, but it wasn’t.

The reality is that civility is less important than clarity, and right now only very few people on the Left are interested in having a civil conversation about the merits of particular policy solutions.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/turmoil-in-the-land-of-the-pharaohs-an-interview-with-former-egyptian-radical-dr-tawfik-hamid/2012/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: