web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 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.

Current Top Story
israel-day-parade-bds
Jewish Communal Fund Provides Millions To New Israel Fund
Latest Indepth Stories
israel-day-parade-bds

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Korenblit-022715

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

Councilman David Greenfield

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question

Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well

More Articles from Elliot Resnick

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

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.

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,

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: