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ABBASI MADANI(MADANI, `ABBASI) (b. 1931), Algerian Islamic activist and political leader. `Abbasi Madani was born in Sidi `Ugbah, in southeastern Algeria. The son of a religious teacher and imam, Madani committed the Qur’an to memory at an early age. He then received his Arabic and Islamic education in Biskra at one of the schools of the Association of Algerian Scholars.

ABBASI MADANI

ABBASI MADANI

In 1954 Madani joined the National Liberation Front (FLN) and participated in an armed operation against the French occupation. This led to his arrest and imprisonment for eight years. Following his release, Madani resumed his religious and political activism through the Qiyam (Values) Society, which was established in 1963 and advocated a reformist orientation that sought to reassert Arab and Islamic values in postindependence Algeria. The activities of the society were restricted in 1966, following a demonstration by its members protesting the execution of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood; eventually, in 1970, Qiyam was outlawed.

Madani grew increasingly critical of the FLN for its adoption of a socialist orientation. Deciding to continue his education, he obtained degrees in philosophy and psychology. In 1978 he received a British doctoral degree in comparative education and was appointed professor at the University of Algiers.

Madani became a public figure in 1982 during the violent clashes between the state and Islamist students at the main campus of the University of Algiers. Along with Shaykhs `Abd al-Latif Sultana and Ahmad Sahnun both eminent religious scholars, he signed a fourteenpoint statement criticizing the secular policies of the state and demanding the promotion of Islam in government and society. Madani was then arrested and imprisoned for two years.

Subsequently the new Algerian regime permitted a margin of freedom for the Islamists, who managed to increase their activities in the mosques, schools, and universities and to broaden their following. When a new constitution allowing the formation of political parties was adopted in February 1989, Madani announced the establishment of the Islamic Salvation Front (known by its French initials, FIS). Headed by Madani, the FIS was legalized in September of that year. Madani led the party through the June 1990 municipal and provincial elections, in which it won a large majority of the seats. He pushed for early parliamentary and presidential elections and organized a general strike in May 1991 protesting the new electoral law, which favored the FLN. In June 1991 Madani was arrested along with his deputy `All Bel Hajj. Both were tried before a military court and in July 1992 received a sentence of twelve years for leading an armed conspiracy against state security.

As an education specialist, `Madani has written studies on pedagogy and philosophy and contributed numerous articles to the FIS’s periodicals Al-munqidh and Al furqan. Reflecting the concerns of an Islamic modernist, he attempts to delineate the nature of the Islamic solution to the crises of modern societies. Madani holds that contemporary Western thought suffers from ideological and moral predicaments that have emanated from a misperception of the incompatibility of science and religion. Like many other Islamic revivalist intellectuals, he regards Islam as a humanistic and universal message that presents a worldview counter to Western ideologies.

Madani is known for his moderation and political skills. He managed to integrate into his party several Islamic groups with various orientations; in a relatively short time he transformed the FIS into a potent political force in Algeria, challenging the historic political monopoly of the FLN and presenting itself as a viable alternative. Throughout his leadership of the FIS, Madani was able to steer his party toward effecting change from within the system through legal and constitutional processes.

[See also Islamic Salvation Front.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burgat, Francois, and William Dowell. The Islamic Movement in North Africa. Austin, 1993. Excellent and thorough analysis of the phenomenon of Islamic revival in North Africa.

Madani, `Abbasi. Azmat; al fikr al-hadith wa-mubarrirat al-hall alIslami (The Crisis of Modern Thought and the Reasons for The Islamic Solution). Mecca, 1989. Critical analysis of Western thought containing Madani’s views of the nature of the Islamic alternative.

Madam, `Abbasi. “Nuridu taghyir al-Barlaman wa-al-ibga’ `ala alra’is” (We Want to Change the Parliament but Keep the President). AI-Muslimun 279 (8-14 June 1990 Interview with Jamal Ahmad Khashushji.

Shahin, Emad Eldin. “Algeria: The Limits to Democracy.” Middle East Insight 6 (July-October 1992): 10-19.

EMAD ELDIN SHAHIN

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/madaniabbasi/
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  • writerPosted On: July 28, 2014
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