[FOUNTAIN]The dream of a theocratic state in Iraq

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[FOUNTAIN]The dream of a theocratic state in Iraq

The first year in Islam’s calendar is 622 A.D. It was the year in which the Prophet Muhammad left his hometown of Mecca and led his followers to Medina, an oasis in the northern Arabian desert. The migration is called the “hegira,” meaning departure. The declaration of the new beginning was the constitution of Medina. Under the constitution, the members of the community would entrust God and Muhammad to make the decisions on disagreeable policies. The prophet became the leader with political, military and religious powers in the theocratic state of Medina.
Medina was the answer Muhammad found in desperation. In the year he turned 40, Muhammad was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and received the message of Allah. The Jews and Christians living in Mecca at the time influenced the monotheistic religion of the prophet. So, Muhammad proclaimed that he was the descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of Abraham, and prophesied the end and salvation. But his teachings were accused of being heretical in Mecca, where polytheistic religion was dominant, and his life was threatened.
Medina was a settlement of Jews and Arab tribes in the seventh century. When the discord and friction showed no sign of ceasing, the locals began to see a need for a leader to guide the community. Rival groups agreed to invite Muhammad as a third party mediator. He adopted the constitution of Medina as a tool to command the groups. Arabs in Medina became Muslims, and those Jews who refused to convert left the state. Medina became a perfect Islamic community and the prophet became both the religious and secular leader.
The spirit of the constitution remains today in the first duty of a Muslim: a confession of faith. Muslims have dreamed of a theocratic state based on the Islamic law of Sharia. This is where Islam is fundamentally different from the teachings of Jesus, who drew a line between the secular power of Rome and religion.
Recently, radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has called for building a theocratic state in Iraq and opened a new front in the military conflict there. It is an inconceivable nightmare for the United States, a predominantly Christian country. As the war is combined with a collision of civilizations, the Middle East is sinking deeper into a quagmire.


by Oh Byung-sang

The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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