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Understanding the Discourse of ʿAlī Jumʿah on the Military Coup During the Arab Spring in Egypt

Muhamad Rofiq Muzakkir

Abstract


https://doi.org/10.12730/13091719.2019.102.196

This article aims to propose an alternative explanation to the existing scholarship about the factors behind the failure of Egypt to transform into a democratic country after having experienced the major moment of the Arab Spring. I argue that the theological discourse of the ʿulamāʾ and their commitment to one of the currents of Islamic political thought in the premodern period contributed to the miscarriage of the Arab Spring. In doing so, I focus on unpacking the discourse of the previous grand muftī of Egypt, ʿAlī Jumʿah (Ali Gom’ah), on the military coup against the democratically elected president from the Muslim Brotherhood, Muḥammad Mursī (Mohammed Morsi). On several occasions, Jumʿah conveyed discourses that supported and justified the actions of the military leaders who took power. I trace ʿAlī Jumʿah’s discourse on the coup through three medieval scholars’ views on the usurpation of power (al-istīlāʾ ʿalá l-imārah). I compare ʿAlī Jumʿah’s discourse to that of al-Māwardī, al-Ghazālī, and Ibn Jamāʿah, three prominent political theorists and jurists in the medieval period. I argue that the tendency to conform with tradition led ʿAlī Jumʿah to formulate his undemocratic discourse. In this article, I examine several notions from the Islamic legal field that ʿAlī Jumʿah employed to justify the coup. I also argue that in addition to following the standard norms from the medieval period, ʿAlī Jumʿah also departed from such norms in several aspects. I contend that his discourse during the Arab Spring has had severe implications for both the Islamic legal field and the political trajectory of Egypt.

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