The age-old dream of the human caravan is not to send astronauts in their orbit in outer space.. it is to send its individuals - every single individual in his orbit of self-realization. It is high time that this dream be thus reinterpreted. It is also the sacred duty of every man and woman to help intelligently reorientate human endeavour towards the culmination of this pilgrimage.

Mahmoud Muhammad Taha - Answers to the questions of Mr. John Voll - 17.7.1963


Richard P. Stevens

Journal of Arab Affairs ; Boulder  Vol. 1, Iss. 1,  (Oct 31, 1981): [135]


In 1968, as a result of [Mahmoud Mohamed Taha]'s outspoken opposition to the religious and political
establishment, he was charged with "apostasy" before the High Sharia Court of Khartoum. Taha refused to appear
before the court on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction and that there was no such charge as apostasy[*] under
Sudanese law. The plaintiffs, however, requested that Taha be declared a non-Muslim, that his wife be divorced
from him, that his activities be prohibited, and that his followers be dismissed from their jobs. After the court
listened to witnesses, most of whom misquoted his writings and misrepresented his views, it declared Taha guilty
of abandoning Islam. Nevertheless, it refused to rule on the remedies demanded by the applicants and nothing
further resulted from the trial. The trial itself has been used extensively by the Republican Brothers to demonstrate
the unsuitability of Sharia law and its alleged violation of human and fundamental constitutional rights.
The Koran itself, according to Republican Brothers teaching, falls into two distinct though not mutually exclusive
categories, the Meccan texts and the Medina texts. The difference has not so much to do with the place of
revelation but arises from the different levels to which they were addressed. Whereas the earlier Meccan texts
were concerned with announcing the fundamentals of faith, with questions of human freedom and the equality of
the sexes, the Medina texts are seen as reflective of the necessity of preserving the new community's very
existence. Consequently, the latter texts enjoined the expansion of Islam by the sword and, for existentially valid
political and economic reasons, placed women under the control of men. The Medina texts were thus concerned
with existing but transitory social realities. On this division, according to the Republican Brothers, 'their position is
based on the most radical statement in the history of Islamic thought, namely, that Islam as revealed in the Koran,
is not one but two messages, the First and Second....'
Specifically, the Republican Brothers disassociate Islam from all contemporary regimes and movements claiming
to be Islamic, whether Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya or the Muslim Brothers. All of them are alleged to contravene the
basic principles of the very Sharia which they purport to apply. Islamic fundamentalists are castigated for sharing
in the same confused and distorted understanding of Islamic principles. For example, their notion of Jihad, it is
argued, is utilized to justify terrorist, inhumane activities against other Muslims despite the fact, according to
Sharia, that it can only be invoked against non-Muslims in open and fair battle with prior warning. Jihad itself,
however, as set forth in the Medina texts, in the sense of legitimating compulsory conversion to Islam, is
considered repealed and inoperative. The only legitimate means of conversion now open, argue the Republican
Brothers, is peaceful conversion based on conviction.