Between ‘Glorious Revolution’ and our Promised Revolution
Were the articles of the Great Charter (Magna Carta), which was issued many centuries before the major events in Britain, the real motivational cause for these events? Or were the freedom ideas that crystallized over two centuries or more in Italian cities the real triggering force of revolution, especially after they were refined by John Locke, the veteran English philosopher? It is most likely that both factors played a significant role in shaping the revolutionary mentality of the English nation whose ‘Glorious Revolution’ preceded all famous revolutions in Europe.
Undoubtedly, the accumulation of consciousness, and the interaction and development of ideas are a steady and self-evident human phenomenon. However, what is striking and reflective is that all well-known revolutions of Europe, that changed the face of the earth and transformed the course of history, were based on clear ideologies, specific ideas, and strict doctrines. They were not merely waves of popular anger driven by economic factors, although the economic factor was prominent, influential and motivating.
If these nations were obliged to create new ideologies so that they could be the intellectual fuel of their revolutions; we, Muslims, have an ideology that is capable of reviving generations that could change the whole world. And if the Europeans had to return to their ancient heritage and revive it, our Islamic heritage is still thriving and full of life. It is not wise to import ideas which we have already had and probably much more. Also, it is not wise to count on economic factors alone and ignore the deeper and more powerful effects of mobilizing people.
The intellectual and religious factor was the main triggering force in the English revolution, especially in its second wave, the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’, that erupted in 1688 when King James II was not able to hide his Roman Catholicism.
However, the English People waited, hoping that one of James II’s two Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne – and married to two Protestant husbands – would succeed her father. However, James’s second wife gave birth to a son in June 1688, who was also baptized in the Catholic way. Fearing that a Catholic succession was now assured, a group of Protestant nobles appealed to William of Orange, husband of James’s older daughter, Mary, inviting him to come over with an army to redress the nation’s grievances. When William landed with an army in Devon, James completely lost his nerve and fled abroad. In February 1689, the Parliament declared that James’s flight constituted an abdication and William and Mary were crowned joint monarchs. The events of 1688–89 that resulted in the deposition of James II and the accession of his daughter Mary II and her husband, William III, were called ‘Glorious Revolution’, or ‘Bloodless Revolution’, in English history.
During the first revolutionary wave that took place four decades before the Glorious Revolution: Although the tyranny of Charles I and the Stuart family’s insistence on absolute rule and ignoring Parliament was a major factor in triggering the English revolution, yet the religious factor was strongly present. Most of the king’s supporters at the time were Catholics, while most of the parliament’s supporters Protestants. Also, the option of constitutional rule was based on a political doctrine derived from the culture of the nation, which is in fact a revolutionary ideology.
The element of power and its importance in conducting change is the most prominent element in all the revolutions that changed the face of Europe and the world, particularly the pioneering English revolution. At the time, the English Parliament was able to prepare a strong army that confronted and defeated the king’s army. In fact, the great power of the Parliament’s army kept its decision valid, and forced the king to flee as the only solution for saving his life. Also, the Parliament found this situation an opportunity to announce that the King’s departure meant that he gave up his throne.
In fact, this is a lesson that we must not ignore so that we would not deceive our nation. This is the logic of the whole universe although what happened on January 25, 2013 was an exceptional historic moment. Yet, without the power that was behind setting some police stations on fire on 28 January, 2013, the Egyptian revolution would not have succeeded at first. Also, if the army had not managed the situation to achieve its own profits, probably the 2013-coup would have taken place two and a half years earlier. This is the truth, and this is the way; so you (Egyptians) should go ahead with your revolution, but do not risk your life to no avail. Undoubtedly, there are many evils that could result from the use of power, however, the misuse of power and lack of a proper strategy were behind most of such evils.
It is necessary to notice that there were cosmic and environmental changes, mostly in life system, which helped the success of revolutions. As the changes brought about by the commercial movement in the Italian cities have transformed the society from feudalism to a new system that made it difficult for the absolute rule to operate freely; the industrial revolution in Britain caused similar changes and more. If we have a close look at these revolutions, we will find a strong relation between the voluntary human causes and the cosmic reasons.
This could be useful to us in the course of preparation, especially if we could make proper outlook studies and benefit from the arising opportunities. Certainly, regional and international pressures as well as the rapid and violent changes in the map of alliances would inevitably lead to changes that are difficult to be controlled by regimes. In this context: What do we expect for the future, and what should we prepare for facing it? This is one of our duties that cannot be done unless we give up our illusions and temporary reactions.
Finally, the future that we dream of is totally different from the past that we have already passed through. So, whoever dreams of a return to the past has to wake up immediately. We are hopeful that the future will be better in spite of the excessive bloodshed of Muslims world-wide.