Today’s installment of Faith Complex features an interview with Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian-born Muslim who in his youth joined the ranks of the radical Islamist group Jamaa Islamiya (JI). While floating in those circles in the late 1970s he made the acquaintance of one Ayman al-Zawahiri, currently the leader of Al Qaeda.
Since then Hamid has become a vocal and insightful, albeit sometimes controversial, critic of Islamism. In his discussion above with host Ghazi bin Hamed, our guest argues that the popularity of Islamic groups in the Arab world is not predicated on widespread acceptance of these groups’ radical theology. Rather, their support is based on the perception that they provide a “social justice” model concerned with alleviating the economic hardships of Arab citizens (the parallel here between JI and the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon is clear).