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The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
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À propos de notre émission YouTube «Quranic Moments»: Un appel addressé à nos chers coranistes
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The International Quranic Center (IQC) Denounces Terrorist Attacks in Paris
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Those Who Were With Prophet Muhammad
Women's Right to Aspire to the Presidency of Any Islamic State:
GOD AND THE PURPOSE OF CREATION
Factions in Islam
The Phrase "Peace Be Upon The Prophet"
Harmful Mosques, Again
Human Beings and Jinn within a Quranic Vision
"Freedom for the Ulema:" Interview With Husein efendija Kavazović
"But Speak to him Mildly. Perhaps he Will Remember, or Have Some Fear." (Quran 20:44)
Torture within Quranist Viewpoint (16): Torment and the Divine Justice of the Almighty Lord God
Fatwas: Part Twenty-Two
Our Interview With the Website of the Egyptian Newspaper Al-Dostor

 

Our Interview With the Website of the Egyptian Newspaper Al-Dostor

 

Published in August 25, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

  These are the links of the two parts of this interview in Arabic:

https://www.dostor.org/2288352

https://www.dostor.org/2295972

 

Dr. A. S. Mansour is interviewed by: Hanan Aqeel

 

PART I:

August, 15th, 2018

HEADLINES:

 - The leader of Quranists Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour: the actress and singer Shadia is our first love during our adolescence; our paternal uncle's wife was the source of troubles in our life.

 - We escaped poverty and being an orphan through reveries and daydreaming; we now live the most beautiful love-story for 41 years.

 - At school, we were among the top ten students in Egypt; in summer holidays, we cleaned cotton fields with other children.

 - We helped our younger brother, who was a farmer, to study for the preparatory stage certificate for 3 years, and he assumed a very prestigious post later on.

 

Introductory paragraph:

 The career of Dr. Mansour, the leader of the trend of Quranists, is filled with situations of confronting and standing against the religious institutions and their rigid ideas since 1970s, and this brought about his being persecuted, chased, and incarcerated after being labeled as an 'infidel' and an 'apostate'. This is why his career has been a bumpy road; he is a graduate of Al-Azhar and holds the PhD degree from Al-Azhar University; he was born in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate, in Lower Egypt; many known episodes of his life in Egypt drew the attention of the public in 1980s and 1990s when he proclaimed his call for religious reform and he faced society and Azharite clergymen. Today's interview focuses on unknown episodes of the life of Dr. Mansour which have influenced his career and his choices in life; we interview him about his childhood, adolescence, and early youth; we get to know how he was brought up as an impoverished orphan within a family controlled by a paternal uncle and his wife, and he tells us for the first time about his family and his first marriage and how his first wife insulted him and they were separated by divorce. More light is shed on the less-known aspects of the life of this great thinker.

 

QUESTION: You were born in 1949 in a village in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate; what are the memories you still have of your childhood?

ANSWER: Our childhood was influenced by what had occurred to our grandfather, sheikh Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, who died 25 years before we were born; he was a generous, rich man who was the head-sheikh of Al-Rifaaiyya Sufi order in our village, Abo Herez, which is situated near the town of Kafr Saqr, in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate. Our grandfather married 4 women and had 14 children. Our father, sheikh Mansour, was the youngest son of the first wife; the other offspring of this first wife was our paternal uncle, whose name was Ahmed, and then our several aunts. The stretches of land owned by our grandfather were adjacent to those of a feudal lord in the nearby village of Bani Hassan; this feudal lord was a moneylender; he practiced usury and he bribed the courts at the time to confiscate more stretches of land illegally; he owned more than 1000 feddans; our grandfather was one of his victims; this usurer lent the mayor of the village a large sum of money and our grandfather agreed to be the guarantor of such a debt; the mayor went bankrupt and our grandfather was forced to pay the debt; they went to court, and he lost the lawsuit as the lawyer and judge were bribed by this feudal lord. Our grandfather lost the lawsuit ten years later and he found out that this manipulative usurer or feudal lord must confiscate most of his stretches of land by force. Our grandfather died of sorrow and shock. Our father, sheikh Mansour, had to drop out of the Azharite school and he had to work as a farmer; the few left stretches of land and inheritance money were under the control of the paternal uncle (our father's elder brother) and he had men to perform the agricultural tasks and he controlled expenditures within the family so that he would save up and retrieve more stretches of land; he eventually managed to buy 8 feddans which were formerly owned by our grandfather; yet, he registered such stretches of land in his name and the name of his wife. Soon afterwards, our own father fell ill; he had to leave farming and he got married to our mother; he worked as a marriage registrar and he opened a private classroom to teach young children, in return for little wages, who were within the pre-school stage to prepare them to join Azharite education. This is why Azharite education spread in the village due to his endeavors. The houses/chambers owned previously by our grandfather were divided among the inheritors; our father lived within a large chamber which was formerly the chamber for visitors who stayed overnight; he built a house in its location and this is where we lived along with our younger brothers, the other sons of sheikh Mansour M. Ali.         

 

QUESTION: What is the influence of the suffering of your father on your life later on?

ANSWER: Our father was ill and he died in 1963 while we were studying the last year of the preparatory stage of Azharite education in the Abo Kabeer Institute in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate. This was the major turning point in our life; our suffering began as an orphan; we had no financial sources; our paternal uncle had to spend money on our person to continue our education; our mother and 4 younger brothers, and one sister, had to depend financially on our paternal uncle. His wife controlled him and she hated our mother because she was the favorite relative among our paternal uncles who took care of her and her children. My paternal uncle's wife felt jealous; our person and our brothers and sister had to pay the price once our father died. We had to work in summer holidays in cleaning cotton fields along with other children to bring more money which was received by our paternal uncle from the Agricultural Cooperative Society; we used to feel happy to bring some money to help him spend on our family and our mother. Despite the poverty, anxiety, and lack of security, we became the second among the top ten students all over Egypt within the Azharite preparatory stage; we had to leave the Abo Kabeer Institute to move into the Zagazig Institute (in the city of Zagazig, the capital of Al-Sharqiyah Governorate) to live in the apartment of our paternal uncle's son, Abdel-Hamid, who was 6 years older than we are; when Abdel-Hamid received friends at his house any time, he used to present our person to them as the poor, orphaned relative whose education went on thanks to the money of his father, our paternal uncle. We felt insulted and this insult hurt a lot.        

 

QUESTION: Did not you think of any way out of this situation in life?

ANSWER: Of course; we could not stand being insulted; we traveled to Cairo and sought a job by trying to visit Mr. M. Zaki Abdel-Qader in Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper; we planned to beseech him to find a job for us or to find someone to buy our short stories which we have authored. Yet, we did not meet this man; the receptionist heard our story and told us not to seek anything in Akhbar Al-Yom Press and he advised our person to return to the house of our paternal uncle's son and to bear patiently with him so as to continue our education first before we try to seek any job. Our paternal uncle died in 1969 of a heart-attack; he died while we were the only one sitting by his deathbed. Before he died, he was bedridden for few days and he sent for his son, Abdel-Hamid, to tell him his will and testimony which included that our person, and our brothers and one sister, had financial rights to be paid and we were to continue our education and Abdel-Hamid was to continue spending on us. The wife of our late paternal uncle controlled our life directly after his death, which occurred 5 weeks before tests of the Azharite secondary education, and we lived in constant anxiety as we know she hated us and hated our siblings and our mother; yet, we became the fourth among the top ten students in Egypt, within the (literature section) in 1969. This marked our stage of partial financial independence as we became the first among the top ten students annually within the 4 years of Azharite University education; the annual sum of the reward was L.E.120, which was a large sum at the time. We became a teacher at Al-Azhar University, History Department, in 1973.        

 

QUESTION: What was the role of your paternal uncle's wife later on in your life within this partial financial independence?

ANSWER: She forced our person, after we finished the first year at Al-Azhar University, to marry a young woman who was a distant relative of hers and my uncle's; she was the former fiancée of young man who left her despite his being her relative; this was deemed a scandal in rural areas at the time and she was to be married off to someone else soon; we had to agree to marry her so as to thank our paternal uncle's wife for her financial care of our family; this marriage was a failure and the bride left our house after two months; despite our spending money on our mother and siblings, the young pride looked down upon our person as she was wealthier and she told us that her family spent money on our person and our family for years. She talked to us in an insulting manner and we insulted her more severely in return. She left our house in fury; the larger family and relatives quarreled and some of them sided with our person and some others sided with our paternal uncle's wife. All endeavors of reconciliation failed as we felt insulted by the bride and her parents and the bride felt humiliated as her family decided that the marriage must go on; we divorced her after reaching the second year of Al-Azhar University education; this marriage took place within the summer holiday between the first and second year of our education at the History Department, Al-Azhar University, Cairo. These troubles that ended in divorce wreaked much havoc in our extended family.       

 

QUESTION: When did you get rid of all such troubles eventually?

ANSWER: We worked as a teacher of the Arabic language in a private preparatory school in the city of Hihya, in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate, and our monthly salary was L.E. 8, apart from the annual reward of L.E.120  from Al-Azhar University and we spent money on our siblings and our mother; we never attended the lectures at the University; we only visited the History Department once a month to get to know any news and to buy the books of professors to study them on our own. When we were in Cairo at one point in time, we sent the divorce papers to our bride to end this failed marriage forever, and this was painful to the larger family; many of them felt insulted by our doing so without consulting them or accepting endeavors of reconciliation.     

 

QUESTION: After turning a new leaf, what was your next step?

ANSWER: We returned to live in our village, Abo Herez, because one of our paternal relatives, Mr. Abdel-Aziz Ashraf, built an Azharite primary education school there with the money of a charitable woman who commissioned him to do so; he was her business manager; we kept working as a teacher there without receiving any salary for several months, waiting for Al-Azhar institution to annex this school to its many schools and institutes; this occurred later on and we became the paid headmaster of this school when we were in the third year at Al-Azhar University; we graduated in the fourth year in 1973 with highest grades (Excellent) and with honors; we were the first among the top ten students as was the case in the previous three years. We were appointed as a teacher in the History Department, Al-Azhar University, in Dec. 1973, and then as an assistant professor later on.    

 

QUESTION: What about your stage of adolescence within such circumstances?

ANSWER: We escaped poverty and being an orphan through reveries and daydreaming; we weaved our own fantasies in a dream-world where all wishes come true; before marrying our wife, the mother of our 6 sons, we never fell in love; yet, we fell in platonic love with the very famous and popular Egyptian actress/singer Shadia. Shadia is our first love during our adolescence; we watched all her movies in movie-theaters and followed her news; her image accompanied us in our bed and our dreams and we talked a lot; we never dreamt of her having sex with our person; despite our natural thinking all the time about sex, but we observed chastity as per Islamic teachings in the Quran, of course, we never had a sexual dream about Shadia, unlike the case of other actresses; this was platonic, innocent type of love that diverted us from the sorrow and troubles that filled our life at the time; we never felt ashamed of this platonic love; we told our wife about it later on; when we and our wife and sons watch movies of Shadia on TV now, they would jokingly remind us of this platonic love, and we smile knowingly, especially when we hear her song whose lyrics begin with this line (No, my dear Ahmed! No my dear Hamada! I adore and worship you!). We say for the first time here that in our daydreaming as an adolescent, we severely rebuked Shadia for using the religious term (worship), as this is the type of blasphemous exaggerations we hate; in our daydreaming, she apologized and said that the lyricist is to blame, not her! 

 

QUESTION: Tell us about your marriage now?

ANSWER: We got married to our wife, Mrs. Mounira M. A. Hussein Al-Baz, in 1977 and this means that we now live the most beautiful love-story for 41 years. She is 11 years younger than we are; she was young and innocent at the time when we got engaged; she still keeps her purity of soul and kindness until now; when we got engaged, she used to be afraid of our person as she has not get used to us yet; we bore her shyness patiently until we got married; we know now that the best and greatest blessing in this world is to love your wife and be loved by her in return; we have 6 sons. She has been an excellent, loving, supporting wife in our different stages of life in times of both adversity and prosperity.  

 

 

QUESTION: How did you spend your time at the village besides working at this Azharite school?

ANSWER: Our paternal uncle's wife was the source of troubles in our life and in the life of our family members. Our stay there at the time made a difference; we helped our younger brother, Al-Sayed Rifaat Mansour, who was a farmer, to study for the preparatory stage certificate for 3 years, and he assumed a very prestigious post later on. Our paternal uncle's wife deprived him at first from continuing his education because she gave our family little money; we made our brother, Abdel-Razak Mansour, continue his Azharite education in the same way; and he assumed a very prestigious post later on in his turn. Our third brother, Mohamed Alaa-Eddine Mansour, who continued his education in public schools (i.e. non-Azharite ones) despite the refusal of the wife of our paternal uncle, was among the top ten students in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate and the governor accorded him an award for his excellent grades and he joined the Department of Oriental Languages, Faculty of arts, Cairo University, Egypt, and he continued his excellence and was the first among the top ten students upon graduation; he taught in this Department as a great professor there till his death; he was a great expert in the Persian language. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II:

August, 22nd, 2018

HEADLINES:

 - Egypt will never achieve any progress or experience a renaissance while carrying the burden of Al-Azhar institution.

 - We still carry Egypt as a bleeding wound inside our heart; we ardently wish to visit it without any stirring any religious or political troubles.

 - Our love for fiction, literature, and screenplays made us look at figures of history as human beings and not as 'holy' creatures.

 - Pre-University Azharite education must be abolished and Azharite schools must be turned into ordinary, public schools; all other Azharite institutions must be closed down.

 - We do not want to settle in Egypt for the rest of our life so as to avoid being persecuted at the age of 70.

 

Introductory paragraph:

 The leader of the trend of Quranists, Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, lives in the US since 2001 and he is an American citizen now; in Egypt, he suffered persecution and being declared an infidel/apostate because of his denying and refuting hadiths and fiqh and the common methods and ways of Al-Azhar. Despite being prevented from visiting Egypt since 2001, the memories of his life in Egypt, since childhood, are still vivid inside his brain. Dr. Mansour wishes to be allowed to visit Egypt for one week to meet his loved ones there before his death, without being persecuted or having to face any accusations leveled against him. In this PART II of the interview with Al-Dostor newspaper, Dr. Mansour reveals more details about the influence of his early years on his career as a thinker and his relation with Dr. Saad-Eddine Ibrahim, the founder of Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo; he worked in this center for years before immigrating to the USA. Dr. Mansour talks also about the main struggles and troubles he experienced in Egypt. Dr. Mansour asserts that Egypt will never get rid of its chronic problems unless it gets rid of Al-Azhar and its influence and control.

 

 

QUESTION: How did your protest against deep-seated methods, views, and ways of Al-Azhar begin since you have been a graduate of Al-Azhar University and an assistant professor there?

ANSWER: We have delivered a speech in a conference titled (Al-Azhar and Enlightenment) in the Egyptian Society for Enlightenment in 1994, and we covered this topic in detail; this was our first encounter with Dr. Saad-Eddine Ibrahim who admired our speech immensely. We said in our speech that Al-Azhar University is a swamp of stagnation; yet, exceptional figures of enlightenment came from it such as Al-Tahtawi, Taha Hussein, as well as Ali and Mustapha Abdel-Razik. They stood against the stagnation and rigidity of Al-Azhar using the Quran. Azharite curricula and the Quran never converge and are contradicting one another; the enlightened persons who side with the Quran must stand against stagnant Azharite traditions and they must suffer persecution and severe criticism. Our siding with the Quranic Light and the enlightenment began since our youth in 1970s, and we stood against Azharite stagnation and backwardness at the time when Azharite powerful figures dominated the arena; Al-Azhar was not a powerful institution within the liberal epoch of (1860 - 1950). Our upbringing played a major role; our grandfather headed the Al-Rifaaiyya Sufi order in Abo Herez, our village, and we have studied and refuted Sufism; the power, money, and authority were for another family of Sufis, in a nearby village, who controlled and headed the Al-Khalwati Al-Shabrawy Sufi order and controlled its mausoleums and money, despite being unregistered officially within Egyptian Sufi orders. The head of this family of Sufis had authority and power and was highly connected within Al-Sharqiyah Governorate; he and his family controlled immense wealth and dominated over many people. The so-called 'saints' of this family were deified and sanctified in their tombs and most villagers revered and feared these family members; as a child, we witnessed all this; we noticed that people love and respect our noble, pious, generous father but never revered or deified him; we wondered why they sanctified and deified the entombed members of the powerful Sufi family. We said that this is against justice ordained by God in the Quran; pious ones will not be made equal with the criminals and disobedient sinners who consume ill-gotten money and make people worship the dead people; as per the Quran, God is Just; He is never unjust and He does not like injustice. We have realized that the Sufi religions/orders are nothing but myths that pertains to polytheism.          

 

QUESTION: This has led you to study and refute Sufism later on within your PhD thesis, right?

ANSWER: Of course; such a background made us insist on debunking Sufism in our PhD thesis which is about the influence of Sufism within the Mameluke Era in Egypt on all cultural, political, religious, an social aspects of life. At first, we thought that there are good and bad types of Sufism; the good type is to be pious and generous like our grandfather and the bad one is to dominate over people and to trade in religion to steal the gullible people's money; this corruption was spread and most people were tombs-worshiping polytheists. Two years after the death of our father, we proclaimed in public in our village that worshiping 'holy' tombs has nothing to do with Islam and that Sufism is nothing but sheer polytheism; the villagers were furious because of our being outspoken and frank; those older people who were taught the Quran by our father (we later on knew they served Sufi sheikhs who controlled mausoleums) advised us never to speak against Sufism so as not to get harmed by Sufi disciples of any Sufi orders! They told our person of many tales about those who got harmed, beaten, and insulted because they dared to undermine and question Sufism and worshiping of tombs and to deem such practices as polytheistic. Later on, as an assistant professor, we were engaged into many struggles against Sufi Azharite sheikhs, especially the head-sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Sufi figure Dr. Abdel-Haleem Mahmoud, but we never stopped our undermining Sufism; our PhD thesis debunks all notions and stances of Sufism and proves that the Quran contradicts Sufism. After we have undermined Sufism and many people sided with our ideas in this respect, we began to undermine and refute the Sunnite religion and to prove that the Quran contradicts it notions; this brought about our being persecuted and interrogated by men of Al-Azhar until we tendered our resignation; the Mubarak regime incarcerated our person in Nov. 1987 (to please the KSA) because we preached Quranism in Egypt and had many followers in Cairo and elsewhere. We continued our peaceful, intellectual struggle for introducing political and religious reform in Egypt; we sought political asylum in the USA in 2001 to avoid certain, imminent incarceration by the Mubarak regime and possible assassination by Sunnite Wahabi extremists.  

 

QUESTION: Had the books you have read during your childhood and adolescence influenced your choices in life?

ANSWER: Of course; we have inherited from our father a huge library of books of history and Sunnite traditions; he himself inherited it from one of his late half-brothers. Within this home library, we have enjoyed reading books of history and literature of the Abbasid Era; since our early childhood, we began to love literature and history and to hate Sufi and Sunnite myths/hadiths within books of hadiths, interpretation/exegeses, and fiqh we had to study within the Azharite curricula, despite our being an excellent student who passed the exams with highest grades. Our dear wish (which has been fulfilled later on) was to turn tales and stories of history into short stories and screenplays; many reasons stand behind not making much money out of these short stories and screenplays we have written; yet, we have joined the History Department at Al-Azhar University because of our love for history and stories; our love for fiction, literature, and screenplays made us look at figures of history as human beings and not as 'holy' creatures. We have never deified or sanctified any prophets/messengers, caliphs/rulers, scholars/sheikhs, imams, or the so-called 'companions' of Muhammad. Our stance has been proven as the right one when we pondered the Quran in a deeper manner upon graduation and we used it as the criterion to judge anything within researching history while writing our books, articles, and researches about prophets/messengers, caliphs/rulers, scholars/sheikhs, imams, and 'companions' of Muhammad. Men of Al-Azhar interrogated our person in an inquisition-like manner in 19855 because of our 5 books which we taught to our students; this is because we refuted the infallibility of prophets/messengers and asserted their being mortals and not 'holy' immortal beings.

 

QUESTION: Did not you feel weak or cast doubts over your ideas even for once? Did not you think about moving along with the dominant current indifferently and rejecting reformist ideas?

ANSWER: No; our being different from the others at Al-Azhar University as an outstanding figure who never remains silent was clear; we are an outspoken and vociferous seeker of the Truth. Within our two years of interrogation at Al-Azhar University (1985 - 1987), the contrast was clear between our personality and mentality  and those of Abdel-Hamid, the son of our paternal uncle, who was also a professor in the History Department. Abdel-Hamid was a traditional Azharite Sufi man; he believed in all Sufi mythology and he submitted to the powerful family of Sufis who dominated over people in our village. Abdel-Hamid never sided with our person within our struggles against the Azharite sheikhs and high-rank men. When we submitted the manuscript of our PhD thesis in 1977, all Azharite sheikhs were furious and got mad at me; they hated our debunking Sufism; at this point in time, we posed this question to ourselves: are we in the right and all these men (who were much older than we are) are in the wrong?! To answer this question, we had to make sure that our stance is supported by the Quranic verses. We believe in God, in His Word, the Quran, and in the Hereafter and the Last Day, and we had to make sure and to prove that the Quran is the Divine Word of God and not authored by Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah; we had to re-study the Quran thoroughly using tools of research neutrally and objectively; if the Quran were authored by mortals, it must contain discrepancies and contradictions. This is what we have said to ourselves before beginning this research to prove that the Quran is God's Word. In our PhD thesis, we criticize 'holy' books of 'holy' deified imams and show their discrepancies and contradictions. We said to our person that we are more knowledgeable than Muhammad who lived in the Arabian desert in the 7th century A.D.; if he were the author of the Quranic text, we will discover this within our knowledge and research tools; we studied and researched the Quran for a whole year; we have found proofs that there are no discrepancies and contradictions in it; it is God's Word for sure; this research helped us to reach the Truth that Quranism is the Only True Islam; the true meanings of faith/Islam are found only in the Quranic text; real monotheists must be tested with ordeals; we were alone without supporters and we faced powerful Azharite men who hated our person because they hated the Quran; we rely on the Dominant Lord God and seek refuge in Him all the time. We believe in the Day of Resurrection when justice will be absolute and the wronged parties will be supported by God; this entails patience and performing many acts of worship so that real monotheistic believers will pass through all ordeals and hardships in this life; God says the following in the Quran: "O you who believe! Seek help through patience and prayers..." (2:153).    

 

QUESTION: What has been the influence of the character assassination and the smear campaigns launched against you? What are the troubles you have faced because of the Wahabi call for your assassination and those extremists who declared you as an infidel/apostate? 

ANSWER: After being released from prison in Dec. 1987, smear campaigns were launched against our person in several Egyptian newspapers and fatwas were issued by Wahabi Sunnite fanatics to urge the masses to assassinate us as an 'infidel' who deserves to be put to death as per Sunnite Wahabi laws of Satan. This made us flee from Egypt and to travel to the USA in Jan. 1988. We had to return to Egypt in Oct. 1988 as we could not gain political asylum at the time and we had to protect our wife and sons; they had no money; we had to see them as we missed them very much; upon reaching the Cairo Airport, the Egyptian State security Apparatus men incarcerated our person for two days of humiliating interrogation; they released us eventually. We worked along with the secular trend in Egypt, because Islam (i.e., Quranism) is a secular faith; i.e., it has no room for clergymen, religious institution, or theocracy; people must never use religion within politics or within seeking any worldly ambitions. We sided and worked with our dear secular friend, Dr. Farag Fouda, and we decided to establish a political party named as (The Future Party); Azharite fatwas were issued to declare our person and Dr. Fouda as infidels who deserve to be put to death; such fatwas were published in Al-Noor Salafist/Wahabi newspaper; Dr. Fouda was assassinated in Cairo in June 1992, a week after publishing these fatwas. We have criticized sheikh Al-Ghazaly severely because he supported the murderer of Dr. Fouda and thought his deed was commendable! We have authored the book titled "The Penalty for Apostasy" to refute the myth of putting rejecters of Islam to death, as this is a Sunnite Wahabi notion that has nothing to do with Islam. When Wahabi terrorists of the Salafists and the MB members committed many terrorist attacks in Egypt in the 1990s, we participated alongside with many thinkers in establishing the Egyptian Front for Facing Terrorism; we were the main consultant of this Front; we proved to audiences that Wahabism is behind terrorism; the Mubarak regime at first supported this Front before banning it. We worked later on in the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and became among its secretaries. Meanwhile, we wrote articles to several public, state-owned newspapers as well as independent ones and those owned by some political parties. We wrote these articles for little money and sometimes for free, despite the abject poverty suffered by ourselves and our wife and sons.        

 

QUESTION: You have worked Dr. Saad-Eddine Ibrahim in the Ibn Khaldoun Center; what are your memories of this stage in your life? What about your relation with Dr. Ibrahim? What do you think of his supporting Israel?

ANSWER: After we suffered abject poverty for years, Dr. Ibrahim offered us a job in Ibn Khaldoun Center; for the first time, we received the salary that was few hundreds of L.E. per month; it reached L.E. 1000 before the Center was closed down. We supervised there the periodical titled "Civil Society" and wrote, co-authored, reviewed, and edited the annual reports and we ran the weekly forum. This went on within the period (1996 – 2000); we were the pioneer there with our two projects that caused the Center to close down: (1) Reforming education in Egypt, and (2) Raising the awareness of citizens about democracy and election rights. Most people made use of Dr. Ibrahim and took advantage of him; we never did so and never demanded any salary raise; we were content with our salary; yet, we were one of victims of Dr. Ibrahim at two incidents. (1) Dr. Ibrahim commissioned us to write a lengthy research (published on our website now) about the seminal book titled "The Introduction" by Ibn Khaldoun to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Center and to celebrate the occasion of the 8 centuries that passed after the death of the erudite scholar Ibn Khaldoun. Dr. Ibrahim promised us with the total sum of L.E. 5000; yet, upon submitting the research, he removed 20% of the sum for the sake of paying taxes; we reminded him that he promised the total sum of L.E. 5000 and the Center must pay the taxes; he replied curtly that we have to face the fait accompli and that no one will ever commission our person to write anything for any larger sum! Dr. Ibrahim at the time typically gave thousands of US$ and L.E. to his secular friends who wrote trivial articles and booklets. (2) We needed a loan (L.E. 30.000) from the Center (at the interest rate of 15%) to buy a new apartment near our old one; we requested the loan from Dr. Ibrahim but he insisted to make the apartment contract in the name of the Center so that the debt would be guaranteed to be settled; we felt insulted and refused what he proposed. Of course, God granted us the money we needed and we bought the apartment; the Egyptian filmmaker Kareem Gamal-Eddine bought one screenplay of ours as he admired it very much; but he never produced the movie as commercial movies (of the farce genre and not real comedy) were en vogue at the time and his first movie as a director was not a success and he had to stop producing movies. We feel bound to say that we still have a close, warm relation with Dr. Ibrahim; he visits us in VA, the USA, when he is not in Egypt and we receive him at our home; we never forget our cooperation in anti-Mubarak political activities; history will remember the name of Dr. Ibrahim as the one who introduced several political initiatives and made many Egyptians learn about human rights, citizens' rights, democracy, and civil society. It is OK that Dr. Ibrahim is pro-Israel; why would some people blame him while the Egyptian State itself has very good relations with Israel now?!    

 

QUESTION: Are you still optimistic about the call for changing the religious discourse in Egypt which began several years ago? Is it going to be a success one day? Is Egypt taking serious steps within this call?

ANSWER: No; within a Quranist vision, we assert that laws must be introduced in Egypt to make sure that religious freedom is absolute for all citizens; guidance is an individual, personal responsibility; the mission of any State is not to 'guide' citizens to Paradise; its mission is to serve citizens on all levels. Religious reform entails to close down Al-Azhar or to consider it merely as a consultative body without any power or authority. Pre-University Azharite education must be abolished and Azharite schools must be turned into ordinary, public schools; all other Azharite institutions must be closed down; Azharite faculties must join Cairo University and Ain Shams University after removing all religious curricula; all religious faculties and institutes must close down. Egypt will never achieve any progress or experience a renaissance while carrying the burden of Al-Azhar institution. Clergymen of Sunnite Wahabism are corrupt and will cause the destruction of Egypt. We used to live in the low-class Al-Matariyya district in Cairo, Egypt, and it was filled with Wahabi extremists who threatened to murder us; many mosques had preachers whose sermons urged people to murder our person as an infidel who denies Sunna hadiths. Many unknown people screamed at our window (we lived in the ground floor) and brandished knives and swords; we never cared about them and we never feared them. Most fatwas that urged the masses to attempt murdering our person were issued by several mosques and by the terrorist MB members and Salafists as well as Azharite sheikhs. The Lord God has delivered our person from two assassination attempts in a mosque in Tanta, a city in Lower Egypt, and in a mosque in the high-class Al-Agouza District in Cairo. When several Quranists were incarcerated in 2001, in a second wave of incarceration, we fled to the USA and became a political asylee and then an American citizen. We feared that if the Mubarak regime managed to incarcerate us in 2001, this meant that Wahabi extremists in the prison would murder our person while assuming that this crime will make them enter into 'Paradise', as per their wicked religion of Satan.

 

QUESTION: Who are those thinkers and famous figures in Egypt that stood by you and who are those who let you down and stood against you?

ANSWER: We prefer not to mention the names of those who let us down and stood against us; some of them are dead and some are still alive; we forgive them, even those who took advantage of our hardships. Many noble Egyptians stood by our person during our struggle and plight; e.g., the late Mr. M. Kheir Al-Khateeb, the late Mr. Waguih Kheir, and the late Dr. Yunan Labeeb Rizq; may God bless their souls.

 

QUESTION: What about your life inside the USA? Do not you think of, or wish to, returning to Egypt after years of settling in VA?

ANSWER: Inside the USA, we have discovered our rights which were lost in Egypt; we have learned the meaning of living within security and freedom whatever we say and write; we have learned more about human rights and more facts in politics which were not known to our person when we lived in Egypt. We still carry Egypt as a bleeding wound inside our heart; we ardently wish to visit it without any stirring any religious or political troubles. We write about political and religious reform in Egypt because we fear for our beloved, original homeland. We do not want to settle in Egypt for the rest of our life so as to avoid being persecuted at the age of 70. We desire to be allowed to visit Egypt for one week to meet our loved ones there before our death, without being persecuted or having to face any accusations leveled against ourselves. This is not too much to ask; we are a thinker who has spent his life writing for the sake of introducing reform to Egypt.


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