How credible is the claim of the failure of political Islam?: Rashid Ghannouchi

How credible is the claim of the failure of political Islam?

Rashid Ghannouchi

Available at:
What is known as political Islam is not in a state of decline, but is in the process of correcting its mistakes and is preparing for a new phase, in the near future, of better governance

Whenever the Islamists suffer a setback, or even a small decline in votes, some Western experts monitoring the Islamic Movement’s path rush to proclaim to the world that political Islam has failed and collapsed, and that it has come to an end. This is reiterated in their forums and statements to the media outlets who host them as experts providing certain and absolute judgements.

Their counterparts in the Islamic world and voices in our media then echo those statements accepting them as undoubted and unmistakable facts.

Events in Egypt over the last few months have provided abundant material for those theses, seminars and claims, and their popularity has risen once again.

But how credible are these claims? Is what is known as political Islam undergoing a serious and growing decline and heading for ultimate failure and imminent demise? Or is it just a matter of a few steps back here and there in preparation for a new launch and in order to move forward, such that those setbacks are simply dips in an overall upward curve?

The Islamic Movement is the term preferred by Islamists themselves, rather than political Islam. This term refers to all the actions calling for Islam as God’s final word, a comprehensive approach to life, and a message to all humanity. That message, according to statistics, is the fastest growing religion and way of life nowadays, and that its followers are the most willing to sacrifice all that is precious to them in order to protect and adhere to this religion.
Thus the setting for the so-called political Islam (Islamic Movement) is the largest religious base in the world, and modern communication techniques have allowed it to spread at unprecedented rates, especially since it faces very little resistance given the current state of ideological vacuum, existential anxiety, and the weakening of the warm incubators in modern civilization, such as families and clans.

This is occurring at a time when governments have increasingly headed towards the abandonment of their duties of care, which has caused increased anxiety and isolation. This is one of the effects of the growing secularisation and it is driving people to seek centres of warmth and organisations where the demands of our bodies and souls, the individual and the group, the religious and the worldly, patriotism and internationalism are reconciled. This is what people seek and find in Islam in its comprehensive outlook and characteristic moderation.

This explains the attraction of people from every walk of life and culture to Islam, despite the war of hatred and demonization waged against Islam, its movements, and its minorities.

The mainstream Islamic Movement, putting aside the extremist margins which exist in every ideology and nation, has presented Islam as the completion of all the achievements and contributions of the different civilisations, and not in opposition and contradiction to all the achievements of modernisation, such as education for all men and women and the values of justice, equality, rights, and freedoms without discrimination based on beliefs, gender, or colour in order to guarantee everyone’s right of citizenship, humanity, as well as political and religious freedom, as practiced in modern democracies. These rights and freedoms are divine requirements given to human beings, as mentioned in the Quran “And We have certainly honoured the children of Adam” (Qur’an, Al-Isra’:70)
The Islamic Movement, which operates on the basis that Islam is the instinctual religion, seeks to solve the problems of its societies and contribute to solving the problems of mankind, benefiting from the expertise other civilisations that are compatible with the values of Islam and its aims in achieving people’s interests. This movement is the closest to the consciences of our nations and it speaks to their values, concepts, and language, and its popular appeal is unbeatable if Islamic movement activists understood the problems of the people and approached them in accordance with the people’s doctrinal and intellectual background.
For over half a century, the Islamic movements have been subjected to continuous repression that barely stops long enough to recuperate and return even more furious than ever.
This continuous repression had a number of consequences, such as instilling a legacy of activism and struggle amongst the Islamists which has bound them together, as well as a shared history that three generations, if not more, have experienced.
The brutal repression has also gained them the people’s sympathy giving them an additional advantage over any other political competitor, as the people value and remember the sacrifice of those who struggled against injustice.
Today more than ever, the Islamists are in the noblest and firmest position, for, in addition to their characteristic of closeness to the people’s doctrinal and cultural understanding, they – like in Egypt – are standing up for the noblest of values, such as the defence of the people’s will and resorting to the ballot boxes. Moreover, they are leading a glorious peaceful revolution in defence of the values of the revolution, such as media freedom – which their rule preserved and the coup violated – as well as political pluralism and the nation’s major causes, such as the issue of Palestine.
In contrast, the deep-rooted Egyptian liberalism, including the Wafd Party, is standing on the side of the counter-revolution, seeking support from a military coup and supporting it, allowing the military and their tanks to run over the ballot boxes, trample the people’s will, as well as their bodies, silence the media, open prisons wide open for political detainees and opening fire on unarmed civilians.

As for one of the nation’s major causes, that of Palestine, it has become a criminal charge, as the elected president finds himself charged with collaboration with Hamas, as a pretext for deposing him and to please Israel.

Does the attitude of the “modernist” Egyptian elite and their Arab counterparts that applauded the coup not constitute a form of collective suicide? This is in contrast to the honourable stand of the Islamic Movement in the face of tyranny, armed with nothing other than their faith.

From a historical, strategic, and national point of view, can we consider the support of the brutal military coup a liberal, progressive, nationalist, or secular victory, and can we consider what has happened a defeat and end of political Islam?

We have no doubt that what occurred in Egypt was not a relapse of political Islam, as much as it is a relapse that will unfortunately end what is left of the heritage of Arab secular liberalism and nationalism, unless they reconsider their position and come to their senses.
Meanwhile, the coup will provide an opportunity for the Islamic Movement to make revisions and correct their mistakes in governance, making it more open to the opposition in Egypt and elsewhere, especially during transitional phases which cannot be managed by just one party or one trend, nor should its constitution be written by one trend.

The Islamic movement in Egypt and elsewhere will realise this, making it more open to all the national forces and giving these forces the chance to not only participate and ally with them, but also to occupy positions of leadership in the Islamic parties, as Islam is a legacy shared by the entire nation.

Although the Brotherhood in Egypt faced successive plights at the hands of the successive Egyptian rulers from the monarchy and especially during the reign of Abdel Nasser, it still does not compare, neither quantitatively nor qualitatively, to what they are facing now at the hands of General Al-Sisi. The total number of victims over the past 60 years was not much over 60 martyrs, but this number represents merely he first “Sisian” encounter in front of the presidential palace. Then, we quickly began hearing about thousands of deaths, injuries, and imprisonments, which clearly indicates the weakness of the coup’s legitimacy and its reckless attempts to make up for it by intensifying the repression of peaceful and heroic resistance.
The difference between the oppression suffered by the Brotherhood under Abdel Nasser and the current oppression is that Abdel Nasser did not only hit the Brotherhood with the state’s violence, but also by carrying our large projects for the people, regardless of how serious some of them were.
The security and political oppression was heavily covered by a vast number of promising attractive cultural and political projects, such as the agricultural reform project, the spread of education, the expansion of Al-Azhar, the liberation of Palestine, the unification of the Arab nation, anti-imperialism and the non-allied movement. In contrast, what project does Al-Sisi carry for his people and nation, other than the pseudo-intellectual cover for brutal repression that has reached such low levels as to accuse the legitimate president of collaborating with Hamas.

Nowadays, the crimes of tyrants are being committed under the most powerful microscopes and the brightest of lights, a matter that was not even afforded to the ancient pharaohs, who committed their crimes secretly and discreetly. Thus the Pharaoh at the time of Moses was able to proclaim, “I do not show you except what I see” (Quran, Ghafir: 29), thus imposing his rule on his people by controlling information.
That time in history is long gone, and the crimes of tyrants are being committed before our very eyes, and therefore Al-Sisi and the likes have no future in the age of instant flow of information.

The result: In view of the above, I can assure you, with full confidence, that political Islam was not defeated ,in Egypt or anywhere else, as the world of ideas is imbued with the values of Islam like never before, ever since modernity invaded our world on the backs of tanks and dominated the elites, pushing Islam to the margins and promising great projects, most of which were a disappointment, either on the level of freedom, development, justice, unity, or the liberation of Palestine. Those unfulfilled aspirations led to a re-thinking of Islam and a search within it for a renaissance project that interacts with and embraces, rather than rejects, the achievements of modernity after re-planting them in the field of Islam.

What is known as political Islam is not in a state of decline, but is in the process of correcting its mistakes and is preparing for a new phase, in the near future, of better governance. It does not need to wait decades for another greater chance, at a time of free flow of information, and in the face of coups and attempted coups devoid of any moral, cultural, and political cover.

The movements of political Islam are deeply-rooted in their societies and bear the values of peaceful democratic revolution and the values of participatory democracy rather than autocracy or domination, in a successful marriage of the values of Islam and modernity.

“And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most humans know not.” (Qur’an, Yusuf: 21)

Zulkifli Hasan
Cairo, Egypt


An interview with Tunisia’s Rachid Ghannouchi, three years after the revolution

An interview with Tunisia’s Rachid Ghannouchi, three years after the revolution

By Lally Weymouth, Available at:

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010, when a fruit vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire , sparking a revolt that spread across the Arab world. Beginning with Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, dictators fell from power, and it seemed that a democratic revolution might transform the region. Yet now, on the third anniversary of that catalyzing moment, the outcome seems far less promising. The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth spoke with Tunisian leader Rachid Ghannouchi on Tuesday, as his Islamic Ennahda party and the opposition struggled to agree on a new interim prime minister . Excerpts:

Can the parties in the long-running national dialogue — including yourself and the other political parties — decide on a new prime minister this week?

I believe that we will be reaching an agreement before the end of this week.

Can you and opposition leader Beji Caid Essebsi Essebssi agree on a prime minister?

Ennahda and Nida Tounes are the largest parties in the country, so definitely an agreement between these two parties would facilitate an agreement with the other parties.

Reportedly, Ennahda is seeking certain guarantees in order to leave power — it wants guarantees that its members won’t be prosecuted for anything they might have done.

No, we haven’t asked for what you call guarantees. These are our conditions: We will resign from government [and turn over power to a technocratic government], but the price we ask for is that the country gets a democratic constitution that enshrines and protects freedoms and rights, and secondly that they give the people an election date and an election commission. But we are not asking for any protection for ourselves because we haven’t done anything wrong.

Things haven’t gone well in the past two years while you’ve ruled this country. The economy is in terrible shape. There is a security problem — two secular politicians have been killed. Your army is now fighting the jihadis at the Algerian border. You’ve had serious problems ruling the country, isn’t that correct?

I’m not going to say that we have achieved great successes over the last two years, but we have to remember the country is going through a transitional period after the revolution. Compare our situation to other countries in a similar situation — Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and other Arab Spring countries. Tunisia is obviously faring much better. It is the last candle still shining in the Arab Spring despite all the winds that are blowing at it.

Let us look at the economy. There are some exaggerations in what the opposition is saying. We have dedicated over a fifth of the budget to developing the areas inside the country that have suffered most in the past. One of the reasons the revolution happened is because of inequality. For the last 60 years, the areas inside the country didn’t receive much development. If you look at the constitution — which is nearly ready now after two years — it enshrines all the values of the revolution, like freedom of association, freedom of expression and equality for women.

Does it really? Because you wanted to make women “complementary” to men, rather than equal — second-class citizens.

We took everything that is contentious out of the constitution.

But you took it out under pressure.

This [term] “complementary” goes both ways: Man complements woman. A woman complements man.

Who has the power if the woman wants to own land or divorce her husband?

Under Tunisian law, a woman can divorce her husband. Total equality. The constitution is nearly finished, and we worked very hard on producing a constitution that represents all Tunisians, not just a part which is the Islamists. Eighty percent of our trade is with Europe, but many countries like Italy, France and Spain are going through economic problems, and this is affecting our exports and our economy. Taking this into consideration, I don’t think we have done a bad job.

Some say you have made compromises, and there are Ennahda hard-liners who are unhappy.

At least they haven’t thrown me out yet. There are disagreements in the party on what decisions to make and compromises to give. In the party congress, I wasn’t elected by 99 percent, like Ben Ali. Seventy percent voted for me. Maybe this 70 percent has gone down a bit because of the compromises we had to give, but I think the majority of the party still supports the choices we have made.

Why did your party do so little during the attack on the U.S. Embassy in 2012? Why did it allow the Salafist protesters to storm the embassy? It’s said that the attack was permitted because your party sympathizes with the Salafists and did not want to attack them as Ben Ali used to attack protesters.

We condemned the attack on the American Embassy and consider it a big security failure on the part of the government. This incident has resulted in a complete change in our policy towards the Salafists and [the radical group] Ansar al-Sharia. Before that, we used to try to convince them to work within the law. But from this moment on, we realized these people do not accept to work within the boundaries of the law, and that is why we started cracking down on them. The government later designated them as a terrorist organization, and the security forces have been working hard against them.

When did the government classify them as terrorists? After the assassination of the opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi in July?

After the assassination of Brahmi last July. But the war against them started months before — tackling their networks.

Are there jihadi training camps in Tunisia?

No. There have been rumors about them training in Iraq, and some have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people say that because of the lawlessness in Libya, some are training there. And maybe in Mali as well.

Is Tunisia the only place where the Arab Spring might succeed? It has failed in Egypt. In order to succeed, will whichever party is in power have to make compromises?

I believe democracy will succeed in Tunisia, but I also believe that it will succeed in the other Arab Spring countries. In our modern age — in the age of free information — I don’t think there is any place for dictatorships. You can see this very clearly in Egypt after the coup.

When you saw the coup in Egypt, were you concerned that this could happen to you here in Tunisia?

Some people in the opposition hoped that what happened in Egypt would happen in Tunisia. But then when they saw the massacres on TV, the opposition started distancing themselves from the Egypt scenario. We have exported revolution — the Arab Spring — to Egypt, and we don’t want to import from Egypt a coup. I hope that with the success of the transition to democracy in Tunisia that we will export to Egypt a working democratic model.

Some argue that former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi made mistakes: giving himself immunity from prosecution, refusing to compromise with secular groups.

Morsi committed mistakes, but they don’t justify a military coup. And whatever mistakes were committed do not justify Western countries staying silent about the dictatorship that is being built in Egypt.

You mean the United States?

The West shouldn’t say silent about the massacres, the repression and the beginnings of a dictatorship that are being built.

Morsi put himself above the law; he refused to talk to any of the secular groups.

Despite everything we say about Morsi — and he has committed mistakes — not a single massacre was committed, not a single journalist was imprisoned. The media now is being controlled by the military junta to be a mouthpiece for them.

Did you have a good relationship with President Morsi?

I know him. Yes, I respect him.

You are a senior member of the international Muslim Brotherhood?

We [Ennahda] are a Tunisian party.

Aren’t you the head of the political bureau of the international Muslim Brotherhood?

No, you are talking about the International Union of Muslim Scholars. It’s not political.

It is run by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi [one of the top Muslim Brotherhood ideologues].

It is not a coincidence that Tunisia was the first country of the Arab Spring. I believe that Tunisia will be successful in presenting a successful democratic model because we have a homogenous society, with a small Jewish minority. Education is widespread; we have a large middle class which supports democracy. We have a moderate Islamic party, which has been one of the champions of the idea of the compatibility between Islam and democracy.

We could have written the constitution on our own, but we didn’t do this because we wanted the constitution to be written not just by Islamists but by everyone. After the elections, we chose to form a coalition government not with other Islamists but with other secular parties because we wanted to send a message that the country is for everyone.

Many believe Ennahda is not moderate — that it is a party with a serious Islamist agenda.

Many tried to scare people off Ennahda by claiming Ennahda would impose strict dress rules. But if you walk around the streets, you find women choosing whether they want to wear a scarf or not. The opposition also tried to scare the West by saying that if an Islamic party comes to power, it would cut off relations with the West. After two years, we have a much more developed relationship with Europe and the U.S.

In 2011, you predicted the end of Israel. Do you expect this to come true?

This is the first time I’ve heard about this.

What do you think of Israel?

There is a problem there that hasn’t been solved yet. There is a problem with occupation. So far, Israel has failed to reach an agreement — with [Yasser] Arafat in the past and Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] now. We hear that even Hamas is supporting the idea of a two-state solution, but we don’t see Israel going towards this solution.

So you’re not trying to create an Islamic state with Islamic laws here?

Tunisia, under the existing constitution ratified in 1959, is an independent state — Islam is its religion, and Arabic is its language. This is enough for us. In a democracy, it is parliament that makes the laws. We don’t want a theocracy on top of parliament. Some people tried to add sharia to the new constitution, and we have rejected these calls. People don’t agree on sharia, so we should leave it out.

Why was nothing done to arrest the people who assassinated secular opposition politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi this year?

A number of the people who took part in the assassinations have been arrested by security forces. These assassinations were done by professionals, so it is difficult to arrest them. In the U.S., it’s still not clear who actually killed Kennedy.

When and why did you create the party?

In 1981. Here in Tunisia. It became the main opposition party.

What happened when you founded the party?

They threw me in prison in 1981 and sentenced me to 11 years. President Habib Bourguiba thought I insulted him and his government, and [that I] encouraged people to revolt.

I spent four years in prison and was released and continued my activities, and in March 1987, I was arrested again and sentenced to life in prison. I was nearly sentenced to death. Bourguiba wanted me to get the death sentence, but then he was overthrown. I left prison in 1988.

And then?

In 1989, general elections happened, and we participated and gained the majority. Prime Minister Ben Ali decided to falsify the results and to arrest me again. So I fled the country. I continued my campaign against the Ben Ali regime from outside until the revolution started. I was received again in Tunisia by thousands in January 2011.

Why did you decide not to become prime minister?

I prefer to leave the opportunity to the young people and my colleagues who suffered more than me. Ali Laarayedh, the prime minister, was sentenced to death two times.

Zulkifli Hasan

Tokyo, Japan



Zulkifli Hasan


Profesor Kawashima dilahirkan di Miyagi dan keluarga beliau adalah antara mangsa Tsunami. Penduduk Miyagi terkenal sebagai nelayan hebat dan antara pengeluar produk ikan bonito terbesar di dunia. Profesor Kawashima sangat terkenal di Jepun dengan penyelidikannya selama lebih 20 tahun mengkaji hidupan dan kehidupan sepanjang pantai Jepun. Telah menerbitkan lebih 5 buku penting tentang sejarah Jepun khususnya kehidupan nelayan di pesisir pantai Jepun. Kini Profesor Kawashima meneruskan penyelidikan kehidupan nelayan di Jepun termasuk kaitannya dengan bencana alam.

Bersama Profesor Kawashima

Tsunami terbesar pernah berlaku di Jepun pada 1771. Selepas zaman Meiji 1868 empat tsunami besar melanda Jepun. Sebelum great tsunami telah ada gempa bumi kecil dan Tsunami adalah bergantung kepada gempa bumi kecil ini. Tetapi Tsunami 2011, penduduk tidak menyangka Tsunami akan datang sebesar itu. Antara kepercayaan penduduk pantai Jepun adalah mengenai Batu Tsunami. Tsunami rock ini dpercayai dianugerahkan oleh Dragon King yang berada dalam laut dan akan muncul setelah berlakunya tsunami. Batu ini akan hanyut ke daratan dan dipercayai mayat mangsa Tsunami tidak akan berada melangkaui daripada Tsunami Rock ini. Antara beberapa kepercayaan tentang Tsunami rock ini ialah jika pindahkan dari tempatnya kemungkinan akan ditimpa bala dan jika dimusnahkan juga boleh menerima pelbagai kesusahan. Misalnya penduduk pernah mengalihkan Tsunami Rock dan kemudian menghadapi pelbagai kesusahan. Warga Jepun percaya Tsunami Rock adalah hadiah daripada Tuhan.

Antara Beberapa Rock of Tsunami

Kepercayaan Jepun dahulu kala juga ada menceritakan, Tsunami berlaku kerana melanggar pantang larang. Mengikut mitosnya Tsunami berlaku dahulu kerana penduduk menangkap ‘taranama fish’ atau ‘mermaid’ dan memakan ikan ini. Ikan ini adalah milik ‘dragon king’ dan meminta bantuan ‘dragon king’ untuk menghantar Tsunami bagi menghukum mereka. Keseluruhan penduduk dan kawasan musnah dilanda Tsunami.

Juga terdapat kepercayaan nelayan tidak boleh jatuhkan pisau atau alatan besi ke laut kerana ‘dragon king’ tidak suka besi ada di dilaut. Oleh itu nelayan akan melukis apa yang jatuh ke laut dan melukis barang tersebut dan akan pergi ke kuil untuk maklumkan pada Tuhan barang yang hilang ini. Ini merupakan antara kepercayaan warga nelayan di Jepun yang sehingga kini masih ada yang mengamalkannya.

Contoh lukisan barang yang jatuh ke laut dan dibawa ke kuil untuk memaklumkan pada tuhan agar selamat dan tidak menerima kesusahan ketika berada di laut


Meneruskan perjalanan lebih ke Utara Jepun iaitu Miyako yang terletak di tepi pantai. Miyako terkenal dengan kawasan nelayan dan kecantikan pantainya. Kami bertolak menggunakan bas dari Iwate melalui kawasan pergunungan utara Jepun. Perjalanan mengambil masa dua jam setengah dan kami singgah sebentar di Yaho, iaitu tempat rehat bagi lebuh raya ke Utara Jepun. Pemandangan sepanjang perjalanan adalah begitu mengasyikkan.

Subhanallah, maha Suci Allah. Pemandangan gunung-ganang diliputi Salji mewarnai kecantikan bumi Allah ini. Bumi utara Jepun ini putih melepak dilitupi salji yang mengindahi seluruh kawasan pergunungan ini. Dengan dilingkari sungai, pokok-pokok yang membarisi, serta rumah-rumah tradisional Jepun begitu mengasyikkan sekali panorama ini. Penulis akui pemandangan alam semulajadi ini antara yang tercantik pernah dinikmati sepanjang pengembaraan di seluruh dunia selain Switzerland, Scotland, Norway dan Lake District di England. Keajaiban pemandangan ini membuatkan penulis merasa begitu kerdil dengan kekuasaan Allah. Walaupun masih sedikit warga Jepun yang mentauhidkan Allah, Allah Maha Pemurah itu masih menganugerahkan bumi indah dan menakjubkan kepada warga Jepun. Moga lebih ramai warga Jepun mendapat hidayah Allah dan mentauhidkanNya.

Salji di Pergunungan Iwate


Setibanya di Miyako kami juga singgah sebentar di kawasan peranginan Jodogohama berdekatan pantai. Jodogohama Park merupakan antara warisan Negara Jepun dan dikategorikan sebagai hutan simpan. Jogohama juga teruk musnah dilanda Tsunami. Kawasan peranginan ini dipelihara dengan baik. Penulis menginap di Hotel Jodogohama dengan pemandangan yang begitu cantik. Kami dimaklumkan bahawa kawasan Jodogohama adalah yang paling terkeutara Jepun dan kawasan yang mula-mula matahari terbit di Jepun. Oleh itu, ramai tetamu hotel menunggu seawal pagi untuk menyaksikan matahari terbit. Semua bertepuk tangan apabila menyaksikan matahari terbit dari sebalik gunung berdekatan dengan Jodogohama Hotel.

Pantai Jodogohama yang musnah teruk di landa Tsunami

Kelihatan garisan biru menunjukkan paras Tsunami melanda Jodogohama Park

Pemandangan dari bilik hotel seusai solat subuh dan bacaan al Mathurat


Sampai di Miyako lebih kurang pukul 1 tengahari dan kami terus makan tengahari di Restoran Jepun berdekatan dengan pelabuhan. Pelabuhan ini teruk musnah semasa dilanda Tsunami pada 2011. Miyako terkenal dengan Oyster dan Salmon. Setelah makan tengahari, kami dibawa ke satu bandar kecil di Miyako iaitu Taro. Taro dianggap antara bandar paling bersedia dengan Tsunami di Jepun kerana pernah dilanda Tsunami besar pada 1896 dan 1933 dgn ombak setinggi 15M dan menelan ribuan mangsa. Penduduk di sini telah dipersiapkan mental dan fizikal serta teknologi untuk menghadapi Tsunami.

Model kawasan pelabuhan Miyako yang dibina semula untuk mengingati tempat tinggal yang dimusnahkan semasa Tsunami. Projek ini dijalankan oleh sebuah universiti di Kyoto

Antara gambar bengkel projek membina model kawasa pelabuhan Miyako di atas

Bagi mengelakkan Tsunami, bandar Taro telah membina tembok laut konkrit setinggi 10 M melindungi seluruh kawasan yang seakan tembok besar Cina. Tembok ini telah dibina sejak selepas perang dunia Pertama lagi. Kami diberi taklimat dan dibawa melawat sekitar kawasan dilanda Tsunami dan berkesempatan memanjat tembok anti Tsunami setinggi 10M ini. Apabila gempa bumi melanda penduduk Taro tahu akan kedatangan Tsunami tetapi tidak menyangka akan sebegini dahsyat. Ramai penduduk yakin akan kekuatan tembok ini dan ada yang masih tidak ke tempat selamat ketika Tsunami berlaku. Tsunami yang melanda adalah di luar jangkaan kerana ia mencecah setinggi 20 M dan ada yang sehingga 44 M. Sebahagian besar Taro musnah sekelip mata.

Tembok Anti Tsunami Setinggi 10 Meter gagal untuk menghalang Tsunami

Gambar Tsunami melanda Taro

Kami ditayangkan dengan video ekslusif milik pemilik hotel yang teruk musnah dilanda Tsunami. Video rakaman ini tidak dibenarkan ditayangkan di mana-mana melainkan dari hotel beliau dan kami juga tidak dibenarkan mengambil gambar. Rakaman video ini begitu dahsyat, melihat kekuatan alam semulajadi Tsunami yang memusnahkan bandar kecil ini. Kawasan dilanda umpama disapu sehingga kosong. Kawasan bawah hotel ini musnah dan hanya tinggal tiang asas sahaja. Pemilik hotel bercadang untuk membina monument di kawasan hotel ini bagi mengingati mangsa Tsunami.

Hotel yang teruk musnah dilanda Tsunami

Bersama pemilik Hotel yang merakamkan tragedi Tsunami dari hotel beliau

Mengagumkan juga penduduk di sini apabila melihat hanya dalam masa dua tahun lapan bulan dari tarikh Tsunami ini, kini bandar Taro kembali seperti biasa dan projek bandar baru sedang disiapkan. Bandar Taro dalam perancangan membina tembok anti Tsunami setinggi 50 M. Kini, penempatan rumah tidak dibenarkan dibuat berdekatan pantai dan kebanyakannya dipindahkan ke kawasan bukit. Penempatan perumahan digantikan dengan penempatan industri terutamanya industry perikanan.


Program seterusnya adalah menonton persembahan kebudayaan Unotori-Kagura. Unotori-Kagura merupakan tarian yang berasal dari tradisi Shinto yang menggambarkan elemen baik dan jahat serta kebahagiaan dalam kehidupan warga Jepun. Ia juga dipersembahkan pada waktu tertentu untuk memberkati nelayan yang akan ke laut bagi memastikan hasil tangkapan yang lumayan.

Persembahan ini diadakan di sebuah perkampungan kecil bernama Hudai diliring gunung Yamabushi di utara Jepun. Kami dipersembahkan dengan 4 jenis persembahan tradisi diiringi muzik tradisional. Kelihatan sake atau arak dan garam antara elemen penting dalam agama Shinto. Arak dan seks merupakan perkara mustahak dalam tradisi Shinto. Tarian tradisi ini diwarisi turun temurun sudah berusia ratusan tahun. Sensei atau grand master tarian ini telah mempelajarinya puluhan tahun dan hanya dapat menjadi sensei setelah 50 tahun buat persembahan.

Persembahan Unotori Kagura

Berdekatan dengan tempat persembahan iaitu bersebelahan dengannya, penulis sempat melawat Unotori Shrine atau kuil Shinto yang dibina pada 852M. Kuil yang berusia lebih 1000 tahun ini masih kukuh. Cuma ia tidak lagi dikunjungi ramai kerana agama Shinto tidak lagi sepopular seperti dahulu. Kuil Shinto adalah berlainan dengan kuil Budha walaupu kadang kala sukar untuk membuat perbezaan. Jika ingin membezakannya, kuil Shinto akan terdapat pintu gerbang yang disangkut padanya seutas tali manakala kuil Budha tidak mempunyai amalan sedemikian. Minum arak atau Sake adalah wajib dalam setiap ritual agama Shinto manakala tiada amalan sebegitu dalam agama Budha.

Bersama Mr Kohmin Iwabuchi, Penterjemah di hadapan Unotori Shrine yang berusia lebih 1000 tahun

Pengalaman menyaksikan persembahan tarian tradisi Shinto ini menggambarkan bahawa masyarakat Jepun juga percaya dengan perkara ghaib atau ‘superstitious’. Tarian untuk memastikan hasil tangkapan ikan yang lebih baik menunjukkan ada elemen spiritual yang mereka percayai atau diwarisi turun temurun. Warga Jepun sudah tidak lagi menmpercayai perkara ini tetapi memelihara budaya ini sebagai warisan. Mereka akan memastikan budaya yang diwarisi ratusan tahun ini tidak hilang begitu sahaja.


Dalam perjalanan ke Morioka semula, kami singgah di gua Ryusendo. Gua Ryusendo pernah diisytiharkan antara gua tercantik di Jepun. Gua ini terletak di kawasan utara Iwate. Terdapat dua gua sepanjang 1500M. Apa yang menarik gua ini ialah terdapat tasik dibawahnya yang sangat jernih. Kedalaman tasik ini mencecah 98M. Dengan air yang sangat jernih dan lampu yang terdapat di dalam tasik, pelancong dapat menyaksikan dasar tasik dan kecantikannnya. Maha Suci Allah, menjadikan gua ini yang begitu indah, cantik dan unik.

Di pintu Gua Ryusendo

Tasik di bawah gua sedalam 98 Meter


Semasa lawatan di Iwate, kami sempat dibawa ke Hoojen Temple iaitu kuil Budha yang menempatkan lebih 500 patung Budha mewakili karakter Budha. Kuil ini telah berusia lebih 400 tahun dan antara kuil utama di Iwate. 500 patung ini diletakkan disekeliling tempat upacara ritual Budha dan kesemua wajah 500 patung ini adalah berlainan.

500 Patung Budha

Setelah itu juga kami dibawa melawat Demon’s Handprint di kuil Shinto berdekatan. Menurut mitosnya, di Iwate terdapat syaitan yang selalu menganggu penduduk Iwate. Akhirnya dewa telah mengalahkan syaitan ini dan sebagai perjanjian untuk tidak mengganggu penduduk Iwate ini, dewa memaksa syaitan ini menurunkan tanda tapak tangan di atas tiga batu besar. Inilah dinamakan Demon’s Handprint. Mitos ini antara kepercayaan penduduk dahulu di Iwate. Ia menjadi cerita rakyat dan kini tidak lagi dipercayai oleh generasi muda.

Demon’s Handprint


Program terakhir di Iwate, ialah sesi dialog dengan pelajar di Iwate Prefectural University. Iwate Prefectural University adalah universiti awam dibawah negeri Iwate. Dialog kali ini adalah sesi perbincangan dengan pelajar pra siswazah kuliah Profesor Miichi mengenai agama Islam.

Peserta dibahagikan kepada tiga kumpulan. Penulis diberikan beberapa pelajar dan perbincangan dalam kumpulan. Penulis mengendalikan perbincangan ini dengan bapak As’ad dari Indonesia. Antara perbincangan yang dibicarakan ialah pandangan penulis terhadap budaya, agama, pendidikan, ekonomi dan aspek lain mengenai Jepun. Oleh kerana penguasaan bahasa Inggeris yang lemah, perbincangan kami kerap kali diterjemahkan oleh penterjemah yang disediakan oleh Japan Foundation. Di Jepun, kemampuan bahasa Inggeris bukan penentu mendapat pekerjaan atau mahir dalam teknologi mahupun hebat dalam sains dan matematik.

Penulis mengajukan soalan pada semua pelajar apakah pandangan mereka terhadap Islam. Antara jawapan mereka ialah poligami, haram makan babi, haram minum arak dan puasa. Persepsi mereka terhadap Islam adalah berlegar di sekitar perkara ini. Penulis mengambil kesempatan untuk menerangkan kepada mereka keempat-empat perkara tersebut dan cuba untuk memperjelaskan kedudukan sebenarnya perkara tersebut sesuai dengan maqasid shariah. Diharapkan mereka dapat memahami kedudukan sebenar ajaran Islam yang sebelum ini tidak difahami secara tepat.

Dialog dengan pelajar Iwate Prefectural University

Apabila mengajukan soalan apakah persepsi mereka terhadap agama. Separuh pelajar mengatakan agama tidak penting. Pada mereka semua manusia adalah sama dan tidak perlu agama dan ironinya semuanya adalah pelajar perempuan. Separuh pelajar lagi menyatakan agama adalah penting. Ia adalah mustahak untuk mempercayai sesuatu. Agama dapat membantu seseorang dalam keadaan tertentu. Jawapan ini diberikan oleh semua pelajar lelaki. Tetapi apabila ditanya apakah agama kepada pelajar lelaki ini. Mereka menjawab tiada agama spesifik, apa-apa agama yang bersesuaian dengan mereka dan keadaan. Ini menggambarkan serba sedikit persepsi generasi muda Jepun terhadap agama. Agama memang sudah tidak lagi perkara yang penting bagi mereka. Jika ada merasakan ia penting, mereka tidak punya spesifik agama atau kefahaman agama yang mendalam.

Selesai perbincangan dengan pelajar