“Democracy, where it prevails, means that decisions can only be made after vote count... a principle that automatically serves the capital... However, any talk about democracy in a community lacking both workers and capital is nothing but an unnecessary babble among unnecessary people that nobody cares to gain round; voiceless people with worthless voices.” This is how the author eliminates the term of capitalist democracy from the Arabic lexicon and weds the concept to the West exclusively. Al-jame’e, in his perception, is the opposite of al-masjid- the mosque- depicted by Muslims. The al-jame’e he called for is a place where all the people divided and scattered in mosques, churches and temples may gather and practice their freedom of expression and religion. Instead of exporting Western culture, Al-Nayhoum urged the revival of the true and broader image of al-jame’e from a scientific, political and administrative perspective without disregard to the freedom of religion. His urge was not driven by the critical comments on Western culture but by the factual notion that Arabs can never be like Westerners.
Assadeq Al-Nayhoum aimed to release the Friday’s gathering from the yoke of religious authority and jurisprudence, so that democratic Islam can arise. He revolted against archaic Arab and Muslim doctrines and elucidated their origins, thus allowing citizens to regain the voices they had been lost amidst the roar of sermons and preaching. He wanted the Arabs to reassess their path after 14 centuries, keeping the debate open with his critics, yet allowing himself to exercise the right to reply.
The book argues that the five most common pillars of Islam were not originally present in Quran; rather, Umayyad scholars inferred them from the Prophet’s hadith and tailored them to the size of weak-kneed people who were deprived of their political rights and forced to gain power by serving the interests of the feudal system. Al-Nayhoom maintained that the pillars of Islam are far more than five and called for the addition of other actions such as the promotion of virtue, prohibition of vice and protection of the vulnerable to the inferred pillars, noting that Muslims can never preserve neither the established nor the added pillars of Islam unless they are legitimate partners in governance.
The author directed rebuke at the Arab World, holding that the Arab countries are yet to tap into the age of science. Although there are Arab engineers, physicians and soldiers who can fire missiles, the Arab environment itself is still outside the realm of science: deserts are still those same dry and arid terrains the Arabs knew thousands of years ago and farmers still fail to identify the gender of date palm trees until after the trees have grown. Al-Nayhoom said the Arab countries may have to stand at the doorstep of science for another 1000 years, or as long as their research centers are foreign firms run by foreign management and drawing on foreign expertise.
All claims suggesting that the Quran mandates hijab are quashed in the book. The author says there is no mention of hijab in the Quran and explains that the veil was used as a preventive measure to fight infection in the ancient world. When hijab became common among people of the desert, an Islamist preacher, speaking in the name of Allah, decided to transform this habit into a religious obligation, banning women from uncovering their faces except in front of their kinship.
Although bashed as revolutionary and eccentric, Al-Nayhoum did not intend to abet insurgency among Arabs as much as he wanted to draw their attention to the captivity into which Islam has fallen in the hands of scholars and clerical groups that have derailed it from its moral and humanitarian path.