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October 11, 1959 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-10-11

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Arab Peoples Plan Use of Short Wave Broadcast:

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Typical of the
new ferment at work throughout
the old world of Islam today is the
bustling activity at Cairo's. al-Azhar
University. Founded in the tenth ,
century, long before Bologna, Paris
and Oxford Universities, al-Azhar
was concerned exclusively with
Moslem theology and Arabic studies
until modern times. But in recent
years, courses in mathematics, the
natural sciences and other secular
subjects have been added to the
curriculum. The author, a recog-
nized specialist on'African matters,
points out the role of al-Azhar in
furthering Islam's long-range goals.)
"How can you hope," a news-
man asked Doctor Mohammed Al
Bahy of al-Azhar University, "to
create your proposed e n t e n t e
among Moslem groups in such
widely separated places as the
southern Soviet 'republics, Brazil
and Indonesia?"
"By short-wave radio," replied
Al Bahy. "Our work will be no less
important than the Voice-of-the-
Arabs broadcasts, which already
cover a great portion of Africa."
"Does your present budget pro-
vide for such an activity?"
"Yes. This year the Commission
for the Propagation of Islamic
Culture of al-Azhar University has
a credit of 400,000 Egyptian pounds
(more than a million dollars)."
"What are your principal ob-
"There are 400 million Moslems
in the world. Our main objective
is to re-enforce the bonds of
friendship which bind them to-
gether; we aim to create an at-
mosphere of understanding in the
Islamic world by unifying the
point of view of these great human
"May we qualify the missions of
al-Azhar University as preaching
"In preaching Islam they will
not proceed in the same fashion
as do missionaries of other re-
ligions. If preaching means con-
vincing people with an eye to
prompting them to deny their re-
ligion in order to embrace another,
this is not our goal. Al-Azhar does
not wish to convert Christians and
Jews to Islam
Gives Field
"However, as a field for the'Az-
harist missionaries, there are mil-
lions of atheists who do not be-
lieve in the true God and of pa-
gans who worship idols. It is to
these millions that Islam will ad-
dress itself. We do not want the
impious to persevere in their athe-
Thus Doctor Al Bahy, Director
of Research and Culture at al-
Azhar in Cairo, the Moslem world's
leading university, outlines the
current missionary effort which
this famned seat of learning is pro-
moting with government funds
and the blessing of President Nas-
ser. The full significance of this
effort can be appreciated only if
we recognize that al-Azhar in this
specific project speaks not alone
for Nasser and Egypt but for a
deeply sympathetic Moslem world.
Islam Awakens
"Islam may have been long
asleep," says Father Janot, the
Jesuit authority on Moslemism,
"but during the past few years its
awakening has been tumultuous."
There is 'an almost fanatical
hunger on the part of great ele-
nents of the Arab world to march
with the times, to cast off the
bitter fruits of long political cul-
tural weakness, to smother the
memory of subjection to Christian
Europe, to recapture some of the

, ,

old glories of thirteen hundred
years of Moslem history.
From Tangiers to Jakarta every
Moslem people has been divided
between the conservatives, who
have argued a revival in terms of
Islamic religious life of primitive
purity, and the modernists who
would taste the secular freedom
of today's liberal world society.
Thus far the totalitarian mys-
tique of the conservatives has won
the day. It is regrettable that in
this struggle, social change is con-
fused with religious change; while
it is commendable to witness ear-
nest defense of religion, it is too
bad to find religious men fighting
for - the maintenance of social
practices that impose palpable in-
Justices on segments of Moslem
society, particularly its women.
This can end only in the eventual
weakening of religion.
Experiences Revolt
Before the birth of the current
Moslem resurgence, Turkey under
the powerful Kemal Pasha, the
dread Ataturk, experienced a po-
litical revolt and an anticlerical
movement which was as bitter as

that' in France of earlier years.
Ataturk's symbol was a fan of six
arrows dramatizing his famous
"We are republicans, national-
ists, populists, statists, laics, revo-
lutionaries." But since Ataturk
died in 1938, religion has recon-
quered its place in Turkish life;
today it would be political suicide
for a Turkish candidate to preach
laicism. 8
Bourguiba in Tunis delighted
the young bloods in 1957 by sup-
pressing polygamy, but the oppo-
sition was so bitter that it has
discouraged modernist reforms
elsewhere. Morocco, though it in-
troduced mild marriage reforms
in 1958, has been much more re-
spectful of tradition.
Holds Little Respect
In capitals of Europe and in the
United States a modernized Mos-
lemism from n o r t h e r n India
known as the Ahmadiya move-
ment created the impression some
years back that traditional Islam
was caling for change. This tiny
thread of a movement holds'little
respect among Moslem masses.

On the contrary, the new face
of Islam offers small comfort to
any who look for evidence that the
followers of the Prophet are mov-
ing toward sweet reasonableness.
No Moslem people favors a social
or religious pluralism in the field
of government.
At the UN most Moslem nations
voted against Article 18 of the
U n i v e r s al Declaration of the-
Rights of Man, which recognized
the right not only ,to practice the
religion of one's choice but to
change one's religion. Saudi Ara-
bia voted against every proposal of
principle of religious freedom.
To Move Against Catholicism
Moslem nations make it clear
that they desire to rid themselves
of Catholic schools and Catholic
medical activities as soon as they
can. In Pakistan, Catholic schools
and colleges with an enrollment
of some fifty thousand enjoy great
prestige and possess the support
of the country's elite, many of
whom were products of these
schools during days of British rule.
The government is firm, how-

ever, in its specification that "the
purpose of education is to provide
an appreciation of Islam and Is-
lamic history and culture." Cath-
olic teachers have a hard task
teaching mixed classes with the
prescribed Islamic text books of
religious history.
In the new nation of Sudan, the
end of all pretense at tolerance
has already arrived. Some three
hundred Catholic schools in the
southern 'Sudan were confiscated
in 1957 and all Catholic dispen-
saries taken over. "Without the
action of the national govern-
ment," frankly stated a Khartoum
newspaper in 1958, "these churches
would have expanded and acquired
much greater influence."
Egypt has a special problem
since there are over a million and
a half Egyptian citizens who are
Christians, principally members
of Oriental Orthodox churches.
Article 31 of the new constitution
of 1956 insures equality of rights
without distinction "of race, ori-
gin, language, religion or creed."
At the same time Islam demands

full-fledged religious totalitarian-
ism, as the official state religion.
Currently, President Nasser is try-
ing hard to respect all Egyptians.
Recently when the Pope named a
new Patriarch for the little Coptic
Catholic Church in Egypt, Nasser
sent the Governor of Cairo to rep-
resent him at the installation.
In the field of aggressive ad-
vance, Pan-Islamism plays a ma-
jor role despite the squabbles be-
tween Moslem peoples. Pan-Islam-
ism provides the intellectual,
moral and spiritual unity that has
created the belief that Islam is
finally nearing its destiny of con-
quering the world.
The Mecca pilgrimage holds
added importance in the new plans
for Islam. In 1955 a congress in-
spired by Pan-Islamists was held
in Egypt and has assembled an-
nually since. Its purpose. is to
bring together all the live forces
of the Moslem world toward the
end that the Mecca pilgrimage
may become the focal center "of a
solidarity uniting all Moslems, a
gigantic enkindler of our power."

- - - - - - -

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Schedule Latin American,
Ballroom Dance Lessons

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DANCE LESSONS - Dance lessons at the League have been
scheduled again this year. Conventional dancing will begin at
7:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Latin American dancing
will follow at 8:15 p.m.

League dancing classes will meet
for .the first time at 7:15 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday for con-
ventional d4neing and- at 8:30
p.m. for Latin American dancing,
Anne Hammond, '60, announced.
The instructor will be Joseph
Eder, and this will be his fourth
year with the League dance
classes. Previously Eder had dance
studios in Europe in which he
trained both amateurs and pro-
This year Mr. Eder plans to
teach the lastest styles in the fox-
trot, waltz, and tango. These styles,
he said, are just now being intro-
duced into the major dance
Mr. Eder stressed that it is

as important for the girl to get
instruction in following in the
new steps as it is for the boy to
learn to lead.
Besides the new versions in con-
ventional dances, Eder will also
teach the charleston,, jitterbug,
mambo, rumba, and the cha-cha.
He emphasized that actually most
of the movements are new in
nearly all the dances.
The League dance classes will
be an eight week course, and they
may be signed up for at the door
Tuesday or Wednesday night for
the appropriate time.
Since the classes are a service of
the League, they are offered free
to girls and for a $4 fee for boys.


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