The Islamic Reality: The Challenges and the Issues">
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Interview with "Middle East Affairs."
The Islamic Reality: The Challenges and the Issues

It is both difficult and easy to conduct a dialogue with Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah. On the one hand, dialogue is a difficult task because His Eminence - despite age - continues to communicate with the people through the media and through his weekly Friday speeches. His Eminence is concerned about all the details of the nation; starting from Lebanon - his residence - to Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and the entire Arab and Islamic arena and the Western world as well. He continues to tirelessly voice his opinions, express his positions, and issue fatwas, so we can hardly find unanswered questions. On the other hand, dialogue with His Eminence is easy for the Sayyed is characterized by endless faith, honesty, openness, and willpower. With the Sayyed, no one can ever feel homesick, even the strangers. So how about us, those who are filled with love, admiration, and appreciation for him and who have a previous knowledge about him.

The Sayyed addresses the details and outlines of every issue, so we can hopefully clutch further knowledge and wisdom, or learn from him, at a time when we have lost the sense of direction and when the neighbor and the brother have both become enemies. His Eminence, the Sayyed, is a cornerstone of the Islamic unity and the Lebanese national unity. He is a key pillar to build a culture of Islamic unity, resistance and free life, in addition to human culture itself. He is a symbol and among the great leaders of our country, Lebanon, the Arabs, and the Muslim world.

The "Middle East Affairs" Magazine met with His Eminence and interviewed him on the region's affairs and challenges. The following is the text of the interview:

Sunni- Shiite Tensions

Q: "First, Your Eminence, how do you draw the map of relationships between the Sunnis and Shiites ever since an intra-Islamic strife has erupted? That is; after the occupation of Iraq and hitherto? Is this tension likely to wind down, or has its impact left no room for understanding?

A: "If we examine the Iraqi situation prior to the occupation, we find that the Iraqi ruler at that time, Saddam Hussein, used to epitomize an American situation, the purpose of which was to disrupt the internal reality in Iraq and the Arab and Islamic region, because the United States, among other countries, including the European Union countries, were preparing the appropriate climates for the US strategy to thrive. We know that Saddam Hussein, even though depicted as an Arab hero by Michel Aflaq at the time, used to be an American agent since the sixties. The United States crept into the Iraqi reality through the American corporations, particularly oil companies, and their agents who have become members of the current US administration.

The United States crept into the Iraqi reality through US companies and their agents

Soon after, the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran brought about new circumstances. The man [Saddam Hussein] was duty-bound to weaken and topple the Islamic Revolution in Iran under a comprehensive international umbrella to achieve a number of purposes, namely, to shield the Arab region and the eastern front. He was able to wreak havoc on the Iraqi and Iranian economies and provoke the fears of the parties and the people in the Arab world of the Iranian-Persian threat, by propagating that Iran is a threat to the Arab world which is stuck between Israel and Iran.

Afterwards, Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait, supported by the US which plotted to create adequate circumstances and arenas to establish military bases in the Gulf. The US circulated that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the Gulf and thus military bases are necessary to defend the Gulf people. The Gulf people, particularly the Kuwaitis, were forced to take on the American stance. At that time, the US ambassador told the Iraqis that their conflict with Kuwait is a domestic matter. He did not draw any redline on Kuwait, only on Saudi Arabia.

The Americans drew some Arabs to their camp, in order to convince the Gulf people that the United States is the guard of the Gulf, particularly the oil stronghold region. For this reason, the US claimed that Saddam's occupation of Kuwait transfers Kuwait's oil to Iraq, paving the way for Saddam to plunder the Gulf's oil, specifically in Qatar and Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. At that time, the Americans did not only reiterate that they will not topple Saddam and his regime, but they had also equipped Saddam with all necessary means through which he can annihilate the Iraqi opposition movement. Saddam Hussein was a US-created figure to promote the US strategy.

A number of American officials said they provided Saddam with fuel for his aircrafts and tanks telling him: "Defend your country". So Saddam was a US-created figure to promote the US strategy. But after Saddam fulfilled his mission, the US planned to topple him. This American scheme came in line with the ambitions of the internal political Iraqi opposition movement, particularly the Shiites who were extremely oppressed by the tyrant of Iraq.

I oppose those who say that the Shiites lured the United States into occupying Iraq. I am well-informed about the historical roots of this issue, and I know that it was an intersection, and the Shiites did not attract the Americans to occupy Iraq.

Though the occupation started and the Iraqi reality changed, a bloody strife did not take place between the Sunnis and Shiites, for Iraq has never witnessed a sectarian and confessional struggle. It is true that pluralism created certain sensitivities, but there were no remarkable conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shiites in this region. The crisis erupted with the involvement of the takfiri groups, namely Al-Qa'idah, which was concerned with fighting America through the US army on the one hand and the Shiites on the other hand. To Al-Qa'idah, fighting the Shiites in Iraq might have been more essential than fighting the US occupation. The crisis in Iraq started with the emergence of takfiri groups, namely Al-Qa'idah.

Therefore, confessional feelings of the Shiites in Iraq were stirred up, particularly after Al-Qa'idah perpetrated brutal massacres against the Shiites' holy shrines and mosques and following the atrocious assassinations and so on. However, there have been no seditious reactions by the Shiites to these events, because Shiite authorities prohibit their people to react impetuously, such as killing a Sunni in return for [killing] a Shiite and or so. But when the Two Shrines of Imam Al-Hadi (AS) and Imam Al-Askari (AS) were bombed, the Shiites were extremely disrupted, because the attack targeted the most sacred Shiite shrines, those of two Imams whose Imamate is recognized by the Shiites. Hence, this attack provoked strong reactions that led to strife, not a civil war, not to mention the fact that the Sunnis accuse the Shiites of taking over Iraq which has always been their stronghold throughout history.

The sectarian mentality of the Arabs, as it appears in Lebanon or elsewhere, had also contributed to the growth of this strife. But I believe that the Shiite-Sunni strife in its broad sense has receded. Meetings between the Sunnis and Shiites are taking place in Iraq, and the Iraqi government embraces Shiite and Sunni ministers. Same thing applies to the Parliament.

Various events can be recorded, but we did not cite any Shiite reaction against the Sunnis. Besides, the ordinary Sunnis are not making any reactions against the Shiites, only the remnants of Saddam Hussein's group who joined Al-Qa'idah are. The US occupation of Iraq has perhaps exploited certain situations to keep Iraq in a state of security disorder, instability, and constructive chaos according to the US President George Bush himself. Today, I do not see any Shiite-Sunni strife, except for the actions of the takfiris against the Shiites and the Sunnis. Who have established the Awakening Councils and they began to kill both the Sunnis and Shiites. For this reason, I imagine that Iraq has overcome the threat of a sectarian strife.

Q: So are you holding the anti-Shiite groups responsible for the growth of Sunni-Shiite strife - since these groups accuse the Shiites of colluding with the occupation?

 A: "If we read their statements, we find it is not about the Shiites' collaboration with the occupation, albeit other groups accuse the Shiites of this collaboration. Instead, their activities arise from a religious reason, through a discourse that provoke this strife and through the chaos created by certain conditions.

The Sunni-Shiite strife in its broad sense has receded

Q: "How do you read this takfiri discourse?

A: "The takfiri ideology is based on holding the Muslims who disagree with [the takfiris] over a number of issues as infidels. This ideology is not restricted to holding the Shiites as infidels, but it also targets the Sunnis who visit graves and ask for the intercession of Imams.

Q: "Later on, non Salafist and non Takfiri groups cautioned against the so-called Shiite crescent and the Shiite or Iranian campaign to spread Shi'ism in the region?

A: "Two things are to be said here. First, certain Arab states prevent the Shiites from assuming a leadership position, which plainly appears in some countries, whether those in which the Shiites represent a majority or a minority. We see that the Shiites' rights are extremely violated in this regard. To the surprise of some Arab sates, the Shiites assumed power in Iraq though the Iraqi regime has not turned to a Shiite regime because it is a system of coalition.  

Second, we know that the American officials, starting from President George Bush, to the vice president and the secretary of state, carry out frequent visits to the region in order to establish an Arab front in the face of the Islamic Republic of Iran, through alleging that Iran represents a threat to the region, while Israel is a friend, particularly after Iran announced the development of a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. The United States and Europe, in addition to the Arab Gulf and non-Gulf states, portrayed Iran's project as being the largest threat to the Arab existence.

The Shiites are not Iranian protégés, but the American strategic plan aimed at besieging the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Accordingly, the Shiites were targeted in the Arab world allegedly because they are protégés of Iran. The American strategy attempted to lay siege to Iran, through portraying that the conflict with Iran is due to sectarian reasons. The statement of the Jordanian King Abdullah about the Shiite crescent came in this context. Any politically-knowledgeable person realizes that this story is groundless and the project of the Shiite crescent is unlikely to occur under the current political circumstances in the region. For instance, Iran and Syria - which is not a Shiite country though the Allawis are regarded as Shiites - maintain a sort of integration, akin to Iran and Lebanon and Iraq among others. So the issue pertains to the Iranian-American conflict.

Q: "You Eminence, do you think the Shiites intend to implement a certain project in the region?

A: "No, they don't. If we want to talk in view of the situation on the ground, we see that the Shiites in Iraq for example, play a political role with the Kurds and Sunnis. Even though Iraq enjoys a Shiite majority to a certain extent, the Shiites are not the rulers. Besides, though Bahrain is a country of a Shiite majority, the Shiites in Bahrain call for equal rights with the Sunnis and they do not ask for integration with Iran or with Iraq because they are faithful to their homeland.  

The statement on the Shiite crescent is groundless and is part of the Iranian-American conflict.

Same thing applies to the Shiites in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Even though Hizbollah in Lebanon recognizes the Vilayat-e Faqih, the party's rhetoric does not point to any subordination to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Instead, we notice a sort of rapprochement with Iran and this is the case of the Amal Movement and other Shiite groups. Therefore, those who initiated the Shiite crescent story failed to consecrate it as a political rule in the contemporary reality of the region.

The situation in Lebanon

Q: "As a result of all the developments that took place over the past years, the Sunni-Shiite sensitivities have expanded and increased. Even in Lebanon - a multi sectarian country characterized by openness, education, rationality and culture…etc - a tense sectarian discourse is growing relentlessly. In the framework of this social fragmentation and partition which is also reflected in the street, what measures do you think both the Shiites and Sunnis must take in order to heal these wounds? Do these measures pertain to ideological, faith, or political aspects among others?

A: "Let us start from Lebanon. We notice that the Shiite society in general, whether the supporters of the Amal Movement or Hezbollah or even to leftist movements, have never carried out any provocative activities against the Sunnis. Instead, we see an unprecedented level of intermarriage between the Shiites and the Sunnis in Lebanon. In addition, the Shiites and Sunnis in Lebanon had taken to the streets in solidarity with Jamal Abed al-Nasser in the past, or in support of the Palestinian cause. The Shiites and the Sunnis also united during the civil war between the Christians and the Muslims. However, certain complications emerged thanks to the regional and international reality, such as the conflicts that started between the Amal Movement and the Palestinians, or with a number of leftist parties. The political discourse of the Shiite figures did not point to any crisis or problem between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

We notice that the political discourse of the Shiite figures, such as Sayyid Moussa al-Sadr or Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shamesddine, did not point to any crisis or problem between the Sunnis and the Shiites. So when did such a discourse start? It began with a number of political leaders who were tempted to control a certain sectarian reality, considering that sectarianism is a combustible factor, especially when it comes to instigating the unapprised people and reminding them with some historical events, in addition to the accusations hurled against the Shiites of offending the Prophet's companions and the Mothers of the Believers.

Therefore, it was an internal political issue, through which some Islamic leaders attempted to assume senior roles in Lebanon, particularly in Beirut. Moreover, certain regional axes pushed forward this strife to implement their strategies and preserve their positions, namely in the face of Iran. They think that the takfiri leaders play a major role in protecting this or that position.

Later on, the events carried out by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement and the Syrian National Party in Beirut were manipulated by those wishing to fish in troubled water, regarding these events as the straw that broke the camel's back. They accused Hezbollah and the Amal Movement and the Syrian National Party of invading Beirut and bringing down the Sunnis' self-esteem. The non-Islamic figures who plotted to inflame Sunni-Shiite strife had also augmented this feud.

Therefore, I believe that the turmoil in Lebanon was a result of a political sectarian situation, coupled with a number of complications and troubles between certain sides. I told some figures: you refuse any settlement or reconciliation in Beirut, but at the same time, you are allies of those who bombarded and destroyed Beirut and Dahyeh in the civil war. It is not about being tolerant and open-minded or not, it is rather about a regional and international situation that created this turmoil. For instance, the interests of the United States and the European Union require an unstable situation in Lebanon.

Q: "The religious and political Shiite discourse in general and specifically in Lebanon is a tolerant discourse. Many questions have been recently raised on the Shiites' integration into their societies, knowing that the Shiite discourse does not call for separating the Shiites from their societies, even though they are aligned with certain countries or entities. Lately, many sides crept into the internal Shiites society to attract some Shiites figures and depict that some Shiites are affiliated to foreign agendas?

 A: "I would like to comment on the issue you have just mentioned: any person is entitled to think and speak according to his/her concerns and feelings and sentiments. But if we ponder over the issue in a realistic political manner, what would we find? Can those claiming the Shiites' affiliation to a certain foreign state, namely Iran and Syria, offer evidences of such affiliation? We raise the following question: What Iranian project has Hezbollah carried out in Lebanon? Where is the political project that Iran fulfilled in Lebanon? As for the Syrians, the entrance of their deterrent forces to Lebanon was at the behest of the United States, but the Shiites were the least beneficiaries from the Syrian presence in Lebanon, while other prime ministers, ministers, and economic figures among others, were the most beneficiaries from the Syrian presence.

The turmoil in Lebanon originated from a political sectarian situation, coupled with a number of complications and troubles between certain sides

Even the Christians, who speak negatively of the Syrians presence and criticize the Syrian armament of the resistance, had benefited from the Syrian presence at some point. If we read the history of the resistance, we see that the Islamic resistance was the only movement that played a decisive role in liberating Lebanon in 2000 and achieving victory in 2006. Therefore, the Shiites do not act in favor of the Iranian or Syrian policies, as the only role of the resistance is to liberate the homeland. The two ill-fated decisions made by the government, which it then soon retracted, jeopardized the very existence of the resistance, thus leading to the unrest on May 7. I deem that all what have been said about the dangerousness of the resistance's weapons, and the resistance's plan to return Syria to Lebanon and implement the vilayat-e Faqih system in Lebanon, are nonsense and unrealistic.

Q: "In Lebanon, various rivals say the Shiites are communities and foreign projects placed in Lebanon, with the assumption that they do not belong to the Lebanese state and do not enjoy any sense of patriotism. They also say that the Shiites are not protégés of the Lebanese state, and that the presence of the resistance contradicts with the concept of the state. How do you interpret this rhetoric?

A: "Let us examine this issue in a calm manner. We cannot separate the Shiite reality in Lebanon from the overall sectarian reality that exists, thanks to Lebanon's sectarian regime which created a chasm between the sects, through which international powers attempted to infiltrate. As a result, each sect sought the support of a certain foreign state to prevail over other sects. During the Lebanese civil war, France - which is a secular country - was acting like a Catholic state. I told some French ambassadors: You are actually a Catholic state, because your management of the political situation in Lebanon was in favor of the Catholics, with our utmost respect to the Catholic sect. The Druzes were protégés of Britain. The United States crept into the Lebanese reality through the meeting that grouped Fouad Chehab with Jamal Abed al-Nasser. The Shiites were the only sect that did not allow any foreign state to penetrate to the Lebanese domestic arena. They were open to all sects. Lebanon's sectarian regime created a chasm between its sects, through which international forces infiltrated.

The experiences of Sayyid Moussa al-Sadr is the best evidence of this openness. He was open to all sects and founded the "Movement of the Deprived" which embraced people from all sects. For this reason, the Shiite sect, contrary to all sects, did not maintain any foreign affiliation with any state to achieve its own interests.  We ask those accusing the Shiites of being unpatriotic: How could one be patriotic? Are those who liberated the homeland and sacrificed their best men unpatriotic? Who are the patriots then? Are they those who were - during and before the civil war - coordinating with Israel, at a time when Israeli leaders including Sharon, were paying visits to Lebanon to see how could they assault Lebanon and beat up the Palestinians?

Some Lebanese claim that Syria and Iran had armed the Shiites, namely the resistance, but who is behind the armament of some sectarian groups? Didn't Israel provide them with weapons to fight their Lebanese brothers? According to the patriotic scale, the Shiites are not any less patriotic than others. They baptized their homeland with blood, and they are still encountering the enemy. If we listen to the statements of Zionist Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, we realize that Israel's main problem with Lebanon lies with the Islamic resistance. Otherwise, they do not have any single problem in this regard.

Therefore, the allegations that the Shiites are unpatriotic are groundless. Have the Shiites requested a union with Syria so as to be classified as unpatriotic? Have they demanded a union with Iran? The Shiites in Lebanon say: We are Lebanese nationals and we work for Lebanon's interests. They even offered their victory over Israel to Lebanon as a whole and to the Arab and Muslim world.

Who are the patriots in Lebanon? Are they those who coordinated with Israel during and before the civil war?

The Resistance and the state

Q: "You Eminence, what about those who say that the presence of the resistance contradicts with the concept of the state?

A: "We wonder: What is the key element of the state's power against any foreign aggression? The state is considered as powerful only if it possesses weapons and expertise to maintain a military balance with the enemy in structured or a guerrilla war, or any other aggression. We ask those talking about a powerful state: What kind of weapons does the state possess? It is known by one and all that during the Nahr al-Barid battle, Syria was asked to provide the Lebanese army with some weapons to continue the battle. The United States did not provide the Lebanese Army with any weapons, and the aircrafts delivered by some Arab states were missile-free because the United States and Israel did not allow otherwise.

We also realize that the weapons provided by the United States to the Arab states who pay billions of dollars for these weapons, cannot be compared to those offered for Israel in terms of potency, because the United States wants Israel to stay unparalleled in this field. A few weeks ago, Israel asked the United States not to provide the Lebanese Army with weapons, not even the basic arms. In our opinion, the Shiites lived under the state, engaged in the government, and assumed their role akin to other ministers. The resignation of the Shiite ministers was not a spur-of-the-moment, but due to the political disagreements over a number of key issues.

Hence, we deem the resistance as a powerful element of the state. This reality was acknowledged by the ex-army commander President [Michel Suleiman], who respectfully talked about the resistance because he realizes that it integrates with the army.

We raise the following question, which I have already mentioned when Israel raided Lebanese Army's positions: Why didn’t the state allow the Lebanese Army to encounter Israel alongside the resistance, especially since Israel killed many officers and soldiers of the army? For those speaking about a state we say: we do all want a strong and capable and wise state that protects its people, but the friends of the state and the friends of those in charge of the state, abstained from providing it with necessary weapons to face any future aggression by Israel, which continues to threaten to annihilate Lebanon from top to bottom. I am herein talking about the Lebanese reality which the Shiites represent one of its components.

Democracy is the rule of the majority, whether it agrees or disagrees with religious facts.

Democracy and Islam

Q: "I would like to ask you about the relationship between certain concepts and their application, namely democracy. It is said that Islam contradicts with the form of democracy implemented in the West - both as a concept and application. Does Islam tone with the Western concept of democracy?

A: "If we consider the matter from a scientific perspective, democracy is seemingly based on a cultural philosophical rule. On the one hand, democracy is the rule of the majority, whether [this majority] agreed or disagreed with religious facts. Islam might become illegitimate if this majority votes against it, as legitimacy is only determined by the vote of this majority. Islam differs from other religions in terms of its affiliation to a doctrine and Shariah. It embraces concepts and terms that map out human relations, morals, and ethics. So, it is extremely difficult to abide by democracy according to this definition, because it differs from the religious conceptual cultural Islamic rule and for we as Muslims believe that the guidance of Allah is the right guidance.

With respect to politics, we notice that Imam Khomeini allowed the democratic experience to prevail, for he believed in the role pf people in general. He asked the Iranian people to vote over Islam as a state-adopted religion. Same applies to the appointment of the supreme guardian. The Experts' Council elects the supreme guardian. Sayyed Ali Khamena'i was elected by a majority vote, not consensus or appointment. Iran's parliamentary election was based on popular democracy. Imam Khomeini underscored the need to resort to a referendum in every controversial issue, which does not exist in Arab or Muslims countries. When we call for resorting to a referendum in Lebanon, instinct-controlled voices respond: Do you want the Muslims to dominate the Christians? Imam Khomeini allowed a democratic experience to prevail for he believed in the role of the people in general

With respect to Islamic organizations in Lebanon, the board of directors is elected by a universal suffrage as stipulated by the Lebanese laws. But there are certain Islamic constants that are based on a religious ideology which itself links all issues to God Almighty, though many matters are determined by the jurisprudent. For instance, the interpretation of Quran differs from one jurisprudent and another, and some of the stories [Riwayat] attributed to Prophet (P.) are adopted by some jurisprudents, while rejected by others.

Accordingly, we support democracy when it pertains to political and social aspects. But when it comes to [Islamic] constants, they are indisputable. In the United States, which pursues a capitalist system, they do not debate over capitalism, since for them, it is one of the constants. Besides, was Marxism subjected to democracy when the Soviet Union was adotping it? In brief, constants might be secular and might be religious.

Secular States

Q: "In a multi-religious society, do you believe that a secular state might be a way out?

A: "There is a difference between sanctioning secularism and coexisting with it. For more than 3o years, I have been saying that we are not calling for the establishment of an Islamic republic in Lebanon. Our talk of the Islamic republic is aimed at letting people understand that Islam is not a tribal sectarian state, but an ideological, cultural, and legal one. But since the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon is unlikely, we regard Lebanon as being a secular state, for those who ratify Lebanese laws are representatives of the people in the of parliament. However, the problem of personal status law remains in the air, and it is not a problem of the Muslims alone, but every being belonging to a certain religion.

There is a difference between sanctioning secularism and coexisting with it

The issue of mixed marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims might also be raised. But are the Christians ready to accept polygamy or divorce and relinquish their principles and religious rulings? In a multi-religious society, we might manage to coexist on secular bases, but we do not sanction secularism. Would the Marxists accept the capitalist secularism? Same thing applies to the nationalists; would they accept the anti-national concepts? Each group has its constants, and as there are constants in religion, there are constants in secularism. For those who believe that Islam considered the Christian and the Jews as Zimmis, with the assumption that this concept is against human rights - as the issue of Ahl al-Zimma seemingly offends the humanitarian character of mankind - we say that we propose the concept of a pact contracted between the authority and the non-Muslim groups, as the case is in Iran which although adopts an Islamic regime, the Christians and the Jews are not dealt with upon the concept of "the people of the book", but according to the pact concept. For this reason, the Armenians in Iran fought along with the Iranian army.

Q: "With the exception of the personal status law, can any state adopt agreed-upon positive laws and regulations, even if they clash with the basic religious constants?

A: "A difference exists between saying that as a Muslim, I accept the rules of the personal status law though they are inconsistent with the religion I embrace, and between saying that I will cope with the personal status laws ratified by the state, even though they disagree with my beliefs. For this reasons, civil marriage is a controversial issue in Lebanon. But no one actually disowns any civil marriage signed in Cyprus or Morocco.

In the Islamic state of Iran, the Christians and the Jews are not dealt with upon the "people of the book" concept but according to the pact principle.

I have said in my fatwas that marriage does not require a specific formula, but that certain conditions should be met instead. Our religion stipulates that the Muslim woman should not marry a non-Muslim man, because he does not embrace Islam as a religion. In return, it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jewish woman. Thus, if a couple - who meet all religious conditions - apply for marriage in France, the marriage officer would ask: Do you accept X as a husband? If both of them answer "yes", their marriage becomes valid even if it was not religiously documented. In Islam, marriage is a civil contract and it is not conditioned upon the presence of clergyman. Islam facilitated marriage.

The Turkish Experience

Q: "In Turkey, hijab is forbidden in public universities, institutions, and schools… Muslims complain about this regulation seeing that it quells personal and religious freedoms. In this context, isn't Turkey the other face of Iran, which prohibits the woman to remove the hijab?

A: "Iran is an Islamic state and the religious law bears legitimate and illegitimate acts. So Iran's imposition of hijab stems from religious legislations, akin to prohibiting alcohol because it is against religious rulings. However Turkey is a secular state founded by Ataturk, which is very much like western states. But the West does not impose unveiling [the act of not wearing a headscarf] on the woman. The secularists do not see unveiling as part of secularism.  

In Islam, marriage is a civil contract that can be signed in the absence of a clergyman if all religious conditions are met

Q: Doesn’t the act of forcing a woman to wear hijab without her consent undermine her religious and personal freedom, especially since Islam says: "There is no compulsion in religion"? [The Cow; Verse 256].

A: "In some Islamic states that adopt an Islamic regime, wearing the hijab is stipulated by the law. While some people view this as a violation of freedoms, the Islamists for their part see that unveiling entails similar results, with some differences in terms of uncovering other body organs.

"There is no compulsion in religion" does not mean there is no compulsion in law. So the issue herein pertains to a legal obligation through a state that adopts an Islamic law.

Q: "The Turkish experience under the Justice and Development Party developed into a governmental experience embraced by the West and a model for Islamic movements in the Arab and Muslim world, in terms of bringing Islam and democracy together. There are two theories: one says it brings together Islam and democracy, while the other says it brings together Muslims and democracy?

A: "It dawns to me that the leaders of the Justice and Development Party have an Islamic background as they were taught by Necmettin Erbakan. But they do not cling to an Islamic cultural and ideological line. This party is not an Islamic movement in the conceptual meaning of the Islamic movement that implements the Islamic laws and ruling in reality. However, they talk about secularism and democracy vaguely. But yes, this experience is alive with an Islamic flavor and I believe that the Justice and Development Party does not have an Islamic foundation, but an Islamic flavor instead. The secularists and the army were afraid of this flavor through which they sense the scent of Islam. Certainly, not all the "Justice and Development" supporters are Islamists.

Though it is presumably essential for the Muslim world to study and implement Islam in a civilized manner, I believe that the value of the Justice and Development Party lies in the moderate line which promotes Islam, even though it neither calls for, nor adopts it.

The value of the Justice and Development Party lies in the moderate line which promotes Islam, even though it neither calls for, nor adopts it.