Upon a world marred by Islamic turmoil, terror, and violence, a gift of inestimable value has been bestowed. On Dec. 28, 2014, in a speech directed at Islamic religious scholars and clerics, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi calls for the reform of Islam, saying:
“I would like to reiterate that we are not doing enough with regard to true religious discourse. The problem has never been with our faith. Perhaps the problem lies in ideology, and this ideology is sanctified among us. I am talking about religious discourse that is in keeping with its times. We must take a long, hard look at the current situation. I have talked about this several times in the past. We must take a long, hard look at the situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. I am referring not to ‘religion,’ but to ‘ideology’ – the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult. It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]? This is inconceivable. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion. Honorable Imam [the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar], you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.”
The extraordinary, unprecedented courage of President El-Sisi in taking this position, endangering his life, stands in stark contrast to the misguided message of world lay, political, and religious leaders, who deceive the public by denying that the atrocities, which President El-Sisi seeks to correct, are of Islamic origin.
The significance to world peace of these momentous words, spoken not by our heads-of-state or religions, but, amazingly, by a leader of the Muslim world, and the head of the most populous Arab nation, preposterously, falls on deaf ears.
It is incumbent on our President, Congress, their equivalents in the free world, and lay and ecclesiastic leaders, to express appreciation and support to President El-Sisi for his stance. Criticism of harsh measures against Muslim Brotherhood, opponents of his regime, should be set aside. In any society, order must come before justice and freedom.
In like vein, the Muslim community in the United States must be exhorted to openly and positively endorse and support President El-Sisi’s courageous action.
To repeat President El-Sisi’s words, in his selfless move to bring peace to the world: “We need to revolutionize our religion.”
Robert I. Lappin is the founder of The Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, a Jewish non-profit organization that operates programs for Jewish youth.