By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
On 17/6/2019, the Islamic Movement in Jordan released one of its most important and prominent literature in political thought and practice throughout the past few decades. This “political document,” which was released after one year of discussions and internal dialogues, presents a mature and comprehensive view of most issues related to the Islamic Movement and Jordanian affairs. It provides answers to many questions about the movement and its positions. However, it didn’t escape criticism.
The 23-page document includes an introduction and six sections. The cover portrayed the emblems of the Muslim Brothers (MB) movement and the Islamic Action Front (IAF), but its text does not indicate in anyway that the movement is part of the MB movement, despite the introduction that mentioned the benefit from the thought of Hassan al-Banna. Perhaps this may be consistent with the lines of the MB “groups” in various countries, especially in the “counter-wave” environments that followed the “Arab Spring.” These focus on the local national dimension, and disregard the campaigns of incitement and various accusations of affiliations, having “external” references, and the lack of independence in decision-making.
In its introduction, the document emphasizes that the Islamic Movement is an integral part of the homeland and the ummah (Islamic nation), sharing their concerns, and facing all challenges and their ensuing requirements. It admits that the movement has sometimes erred; however, it has always sought to correct its mistakes and learn its lessons. Hence, this shows that the movement portrays itself objectively and realistically, and that it does not resort to “justifications” when presenting itself.
When explaining the motives of issuing the document, it said that the Islamic thought is characterized by evolution and positive adaptation, and that the movement needs to express its moderate thought and stances in light of the great events that took place in Jordan, and in light of the emergence of some radical ideas and violent practices in the region. Internally, there is also a desire to crystallize a unified vision and common understanding within the Islamic Movement itself towards the core issues.
In the second section, the Islamic Movement presents the most important starting points of the political document. It affirms that the Islamic Movement in Jordan has a “national belonging, an Arab depth, an Islamic identity and reference, and a moderate approach. It seeks to contribute to the revival of the homeland, achieve comprehensive reform, and implement the civilizational revival project of the ummah.” The very dense text tries to introduce the Movement as having balanced Islamic, Arab and national dimensions, pathway and grand objectives. It confirms that the religion of Jordan is Islam, and that Jordan is an independent state that belongs to its Arab and Islamic depth, and interacts positively with human issues.
In section three, the document considered the highest national interests of Jordan lies in a uniting national identity, a strong Jordanian affiliation to the Arab and Islamic depth, a modern developed state, strong economy, security and political stability, protecting Jordan from the Zionist project, and supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to liberate their land.
Section four proposed 16 political objectives to be reached, in collaboration with other national entities, including: Spreading Islamic thought, promoting openness, cooperation and moderation, developing the human being based on the principles of the ummah, its creed, culture and values, maintaining the independence of homeland, serving its high interests, strengthening national and societal unity, achieving good governance, increasing citizen participation in political life, economic advancement, social reform, strengthening the role youth and women, supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, supporting the just Arab, Islamic and human issues, and promoting the Jordanian presence in Arab, Islamic and international realms.
The fifth section talked about general political principles, such as justice, freedom and pluralism; political and popular participation; comprehensive reform and political opposition; citizenship, constitution and national security; women, youth, education; resisting the occupation, and the position concerning violence, extremism and terrorism. This section is one of the largest ones, for it combined conceptual framework with proposed policies, attitudes and tracks. Noting that some ideas and principles are included in other sections of the document. May be adding thoughts concerning economy, social aspects and public, union and charity activities would be better and more comprehensive.
In section six, the last one, the document discussed political relations on a national level, concerning the Palestine issue, and on Arab, Islamic and international levels. Repeating some ideas previously discussed or explaining them in more details. Nationally, it confirmed the openness of the movement to state officials at all levels, first and foremost the king of Jordan, and to presenting visions, initiatives while delivering constructive criticism. This section confirmed that the movement is part of the society, its servant and not its guardian. It stressed the movement’s openness to national forces, respect of the right of having differences, and cooperation to serve the country in the many common issues.
As for our comments on the document, we may put them in the following main points:
1. The language of document is a calm, balanced and mature political one; prioritizing national interests and overcoming disagreements.
2. The document stressed upon openness at all official, partisan, popular and societal levels.
3. It confirmed the notion of partnership, overcoming partisan interests, and sought to enshrine the concept of the “national group” in a “state of citizenship.”
4. It presented the Islamic identity of the movement that has a peaceful, moderate, reformist and balanced nature. This identity is consistent with its national environment, and with its Arab and Islamic affiliation, while being open to human issues.
5. It positively criticized the Jordanian political situation. It did not mention any particular flaws and shortcomings, rather is discussed solutions and suggestions to overcome the crises and challenges. Therefore, it did not discuss some state sensitive issues, and that was criticized by some pundits. For example, it did not mention the flaws in the structure and management of the political system. It did not discuss some issues such as constitutional monarchy, election law change, the formation of the parliamentary government, and the overuse of some state institutions of their powers.
6. The Palestine issue was discussed considerably in the document, in the sections of the highest national interests, the general political objectives, the general political principles and in the political relations section. This is considered consistent with the understandings of the Islamic Movement, its heritage, role and experience. However, it was mentioned within the context of the national action and the Islamic and Arab duty, among priorities, while asserting its special status. Despite the objection of the Islamic Movement of any relation with Israel, and rejection to any normalization, the document did not mention by name the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty “Wadi ‘Araba.”
The wording of the document stressed on “protecting” Jordan from the Zionist movement rather than “facing” it. It stressed, also, on “supporting” the Palestinian people in their struggle to liberate Palestine, rather than “joining” the “struggle.” Perhaps this is a kind of realistic realization of the nature of the phase, including Arab weakness and fragmentation, being obsessed with local issues, and because the Jordanian political system has formal relations with Israel. Perhaps the movement wanted to overcome the huge criticisms that it is preoccupied with the Palestinian dossier, at the expense of domestic ones.
7. The document answered most of the pretexts presented by the dissidents of the Islamic Movement or those who left it, who have established new parties or associations. It provided them with a political rhetoric/discourse and a reformist vision covering most of the claims and criticisms they had. Perhaps, for some, it is a bit too late, but at least it opened the door for many to return, making forming new parties and movements much harder. Furthermore, it made the Islamic movement internally more cohesive.
8. In this document, the Islamic movement has taken away the pretexts that its adversaries and enemies take as an excuse in an attempt to strike, isolate or marginalize it. For it presented a reference text explaining its understanding and vision, away from erroneous impressions or fawning mischief and slips across its history, which could be used or misused by its critics. Despite that some adversaries will continue their feud, and they will keep having excuses, but the document has put the Islamic Movement in a better and stronger position.
Finally, the document is considered a qualitative initiative of the Islamic Movement, presenting its own vision of itself rather than being presented by the others. It resolved the controversy of many issues that have been ambiguous or were attacked and questioned. It is supposed to be welcomed by those who care for the country, and who had ambiguous points about the movement. However, this document won’t please some, because they may lose some of their “weapons” and arguments when attacking the movement.
There may be some remarks here or there concerning the document. However, it is a step in the right direction that deserves to be welcomed and commended, receive attention, discussed, utilized and guided by, not only by the political forces of Jordan, but by the those of the region, especially other Islamic movements.
This article was originally published in Arabic on TRT Arabic “trt.net.tr/arabic” on 16/7/2019.