When discussing religion and politics many would say oil and water do not mix. However, religion does not exist in isolation of other paralleled ordinances, and it shapes our fundamental view of the nature of human life and how it is and should be lived. Religious ordinances were basically the first forms of governance within countries, states, tribes etc. that enforced civil order and peace. For example, Thou shall not kill or steal, are commandments that enforce law and order to individuals from a religious ordinance, and are incorporated into current laws, that are enforceable today worldwide. Also, religious goals like loving one’s neighbor may translate into political activism such as fighting for the poor.
On the other side of politics, defined as exercising positions of governance, organized control over human communities’, and the distribution of power, resources, and interrelationship between states (Wikipedia, 2015), also shapes our lives. In Transnational religious actors and international politics (Hanes, 2001), Hanes states the treaties of Westphalia in 1648 was essential to the concept and induction of sovereignty (a self-governing state), and was believed to birth modern politics.
Although, many contend that there should be separation of church and state, we offten see religious principles and political issues intersect in such a way that religion cannot possibly be separated? For example, religious and political issues as: school prayer, sex education, abortion, same-sex marriage, war, torture of prisoners, religious symbol, statues on public property, and opening public meetings and ceremonies with prayer, as well as, influences in political party elections, and laws etc. (Bradshaw, 2014). In the Egyptians Constitution of 2014, it states “In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful” (https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Egypt_2014.pdf ). It is difficult to suggest that religious principles don’t influence political decisions.
Traditionalist assert that a strong religious society is more susceptible to remain loyal to the ideals of liberty, given that it provides a substantial foundation for moral charater and responsibility, thus creating more honest, conscientious and self-sufficient citizens. Islam has traditionally held that all people owe obedience to Allah’s will. Thus, with probability, religious responsibilities will sometimes come into conflict with the demands of politics. It is also interesting that in Islamic law “blasphemy” (act of offensive speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things) is still a prosecuted law from ancient times.
In Egypt a call to prayer rings out over an intercom five times a day to remind Muslim to come to a Mosque for prayer. Through, the story of this one individual Sherif El-Shabbahy’s, this ring carries a different tone for him these days. He sees the parade of men with mats slung over their shoulders heading for the mosque, but has no desire to follow the deeply ingrained ritual, and obligatory sermon in service of God. Why is that you ask? According to El-Shabbahy “his faith, like many young Egyptians of his generation, had become more complicated since the country’s 2011 revolution” (Stuart, 2014).
Per El-Shabbahy mosques now have been central to political communication in Egypt, where 95% of the religion is Muslim approximately, only 75% of Muslim’s now feel religion is important and the rising number of atheists have emerged. He states over the past three years, government is dictating the topics to be discussed during religion worship, and that it usually just advocates’ for politics in authority. With the back and forth politics between Islamists and military’s repressiveness, he feels it has turned mosques into a political battleground, making the “restrictions “intimidating” to worshippers” (Stuart, 2014).
Hanes (2014) states, “There is no doubt that religion and religious movements can directly affect the internal politics of state,” so too does politics affect the state of religious affairs. He also feels there is a movement towards a transnational religion and that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) “seeks to extend the growth and influence of a certain religion on a global level” (Hanes, 2014). I too believe you cannot separate the two, as they are entwined, however, there are still boundaries and structures within each sector that seem to be getting crossed and blurring the lines.
Bradshaw, W. (n.d.). Religion and politics do mix. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-b-bradshaw/religion-and-politics-do_b_4581352.html
Haynes, J. (2001). Transnational religious actors and international politics. Third World Quarterly, 22(2), 143-158.
Stuart, E. (n.d.). How politics and unrest are changing religious life in Egypt. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://national.deseretnews.com/article/2452/how-politics-and-unrest-are-changing-religious-life-in-egypt.html
Wikipedia Politics the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics