Not many people thought that events at the Islamonline foundation would evolve in such a dramatic way. While many viewers of this colossal site are saddened as a result of the current crisis on the website, others are trying to hide their apparent gloating. Islamonline was not just a cultural website; IOL was according to Antonio Gramsci’s definition of Organic Intellectual a ‘completely organic website’.
IOL interacted with issues of peoples in the Muslim world; contrary to some passive websites which are primarily preoccupied with ineffective or unrealistic issues. In other words, IOL was not characterized with adhering to ’safe’ issues so as not to anger the Middle Eastern governments, Movements and regimes. This leading site shifted some tabooed issues from the basement of oblivion into the public arena.
Issues such as the handling of the authority, western modernity were openly discussed putting forward very serious questions about the nature of the Islamic state.
‘Islamyoon’ domain was arguably the most exciting. It brought to mind great intellectual battles that were in topics including the Islamic Left (contemporary Muslim, Almoslem Almoa’aser 1977), Originality and Contemporary (the Nation magazine, Mejalat Alo’mma in 1982) and the East-West Dialogue between the two thinkers Hassan Hanafi, and Abed al-Jabri (Journal of the Seventh Day, Mejalat Alyoum Alsabea’ 1986). IOL restored this intellectual atmosphere after it had long disappeared.
Islamonline’s task was not only to re-establish these ideas and arguments, it also geniusly employed neo-media enabling the Muslim readers to interact with very serious and pivotal issues such as Globalization, Americanization, Islamophobia and Arguing the New Orientalists.
In fact, the many intense and serious issues that were produced by the outstanding team which stands behind Islamonline cannot be tallied.
Islamonline’s trend in radical constructive criticism of the Islamism phenomenon was mainly the reason for me to evaluate the site. And this is because the website could not differentiate between its main role as an Organic Intellectual website, its association in the political world and its direct connection of the internal problems of the Islamic organizations. However this does not justify the terminating of this rich experience in such a way.
I believe that the crisis of IOL has uncovered many things:
- IOL was not a regular website, it was an exceptional experience which lasted for more than 10 years, and destructing it in this way, will lead to a significant gap on the contemporary Islamic intellectual scene.
- Aljazeera channel did not succeed in the test making a resounding professional mistake, in its coverage; it was similar to the Egyptian state channels, if not worse. Aljazeera disregarded the significant news of the overthrowing of Dr. Yusuf Al -Qaradawi, by his rivals who oppose moderate Islam hence Aljazeera lost much of its credibility, which will take a long time to be redeemed.
- Although I disagree with some of the concepts posted on Islam Online, I must express that I oppose the displacement and destruction of one of the world’s leading media establishments and intellectuals on the contemporary Islamic scene
Qatar is attempting to assume a much greater role than it can handle, by employing multi-media to serve Qatari politics, after Aljazeera. Qatari officials believed that they could have a role in international politics by employing another media institution such as Islamonline; however I believe that these actions will only cause major internal problems on the national level.
The crisis has also revealed that there is no connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the IOL institution. The Brotherhood through its media spokesman Dr Mohamed Morsy asserted that the crisis does not involve the Brotherhood in any way however the MB emphasize they support the rights of the employees of this outstanding institution
At the end of my article, I am sure that IOL’s experience was effective enough in the contemporary Islamists’ minds and will not be easily forgotten. I also believe that the serious issues discussed and raised by the IOL team, will remain in the Islamic intellectual scene in the upcoming decades
*Khaled Hamza is the chief editor of Ikhwanweb