Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
The burning of Qurans at Bagram airfield has sparked outrage and some extremist reaction, but Muslims should study, think about, and critically examine the sacred text—not "honour" it with blind reverence, says Asra Nomani. …
In a widely disseminated article published in practically every Urdu newspaper in India, Deoband’s Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi launched a diatribe of those Muslims who in his view place excessive reliance on the Holy Quran, which, he thinks, is only a “text”, whatever that means, and actual exhortations and explanations of our religion can be found only in Ahadees (plural of Hadees), tens of volumes of which were recorded hundreds of years after the demise of the Prophet p.b.u.h.).
More than two-thirds of these so-called ahadees were rejected by authoritative ulema like Bukhari and Muslim as unreliable concoctions or fabrications in which rulers of the day who had established their dictatorial, monarchical, expansionist, hereditary khilafat after killing all members of the Holy Prophet’s family put words in the prophet’s mouth to justify their own un-Islamic conduct and continue to do so. The followers of this trend continue to send and pray for blessings of God to be showered on Yazeed, the dastardly killer of the Prophet’s family.
Ahle Hadeesi Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi clearly belongs to a sect that can also be characterized as Munkirul Quran or Munkereen-e-Quran. Ahle Hadeesis do not repudiate the Holy Quran altogether, indeed even in the article in question Maulana Wajidi pays lips service to the value of the holy Quran but also tries to establish a barrier between the Muslims and the Quran à la Yazeedis by claiming that Quran is practically incomprehensible except to the so-called ulema and jurists who have devoted a lifetime studying what they call its intricacies and secrets.
New Age Islam is presenting Maulana Wajidi’s views in full in its original Urdu and in translation in English and Hindi (on separate pages on the site) as well as a rejoinder from Islamic scholar Mohammad Yunus who has spent a lifetime studying the holy Book and has co-authored a widely regarded book authenticated for its scholarship by Jamia Azhar, Cairo. Mr. Mohammad Yunus has great respect for the ulema who have devoted their lifetime studying the ahadees while largely ignoring the holy Quran on which Allah (ST) completed our religion during the Prophet’s lifetime itself and made the Salafi Muslims a witness to the fact. So if any disrespect towards ulema creeps into any of the writings of New Age Islam including this, the fault is entirely mine; it is I who has difficulty suffering the Juhala. – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Islam and its holy book Qur’an are a basis for a multicultural society. This was the refrain at JNU's international conference on "Living in Peace and Harmony in a Multicultural World" on Feb 1-2, 2012. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s collection of books called Risala’i Nur was the inspiration behind the refrain and the conference itself. The conference was organized by Centre of Arabic and African Studies, JNU in collaboration with Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture, Turkey. Nursi was a Turkish theologian and philosopher who lived through a very tumultuous period in the history of that region. … Former Union Minister Arif Mohammad Khan inaugurated the conference and said that declaring people kafir (or unbelievers) amounted to shirk (ascribing partners to God). Since it is clear in the Qur’an that God is the judge of belief, in his view, whoever wants to share this power with God, is a mushirk. -- Juhi Shahin, NewAgeIslam.com (Photo: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi)
…. Our religion is not set into watertight compartment, insulated from its surroundings. It is a vibrant and dynamic religion, not a static one, as some theologians have us believe. Their favourite dictum: world shall change but our religion shall never. This we hear from every mosque pulpit every Friday. This is like setting a static religion into a dynamic world. Is that possible? This mindset has already set us into inertial state. We are already hamstrung. Just think, do we have any idea of striding out of present logjam situation. Do we have any direction to move toward?... -- Fazl Illahi
…..it is often stressed that the Koran’s injunction to “slay the unbeliever wherever you find him” relates to a specific historical context, in which the first Muslims were betrayed by a pagan group who had signed a truce. A well-known narrative tells how the fourth ruler of the Muslims, Caliph Uthman, realised that several variants of God’s revelation were circulating, and established a single version, ordering the destruction of all the others. Non-Muslim scholars, too, see signs of a conscious, but not wholly successful, effort to settle on a definitive form. The continuing variations are not all trivial. Dots over a single letter can change the tense or person of a verb, notes Keith Small, an American participant in the SOAS event. -- The Economist
To what extent can the intelligence-gathering ameliorate subsequent bombings in Nigeria? Is it really true that one man’s freedom fighter (boko haramism) is another man’s terrorist? Of course, there are more questions than answer. Of all the reasons adduced for the act of terrorism in the country, I tend to be inclined towards the religious and political undertone. Tolerating others view should then be a way forward. Let there be metting of sincere believers who want to listen to each other, to try to understand the religion of the other, to identify the areas of convergence and divergence and study together what they can do together. -- Osomo Michael A
A cursory scan of this day’s news bulletin on this website will show three focused English articles advocating the extension of RTE (Right to Compulsory Education) into the madrasas and one listing a set of preposterous fatwa. In terms of significance those on extension of RTE are paramount in that they advocate a way forward out of the Jahiliya that now stalks the Muslims while the one on fatwa is the reflection of this Jahiliya. Now look how these articles have stimulated the intellect of the educated Indian Muslims. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com
The caption is as harsh as the truth bitter. Here is a brief glance on historical facts that reveal the bitter truth and support the harsh caption.
As any educated Muslim should know, the first four centuries of Islam saw an effervescence of intellectual activity. This was marked by rationalism, universalism, and a spirit of enterprise that knew no geographical or religious boundary. The orthodox theologians had remained suspect of the rationalist school who advocated use of reason, universalism and material progress of civilization based on the liberating and dynamic paradigms of the Qur’an.
Following a protracted doctrinal battle with the rationalist school, the orthodoxy emerged the sole custodians of faith. This was around the fifth century of Islam (11th/12th century CE). They abolished rationalism and critical thinking (Ijtihad) and use of reason (‘aql), canonized the Hadith as a form of divine revelation (wahi), reduced the juristic notion of taqlid (Precedence) to blind conformity with whatever had already been learnt during the Prophet’s time and in the first three generations of Muslims (salaf), and declared the consensus of the ‘Ulama (ijma) infallible. This brought intellectual activity in Islam to a virtual halt, and, with time, resulted in stagnancy of knowledge, abhorrence against any scientific advancement, and division of universal knowledge into Islamic and European categories. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com
“Thus We have made you a justly balanced community, that you may be witnesses to humanity…” (2:143). - The petal of a flower can pierce the heart of a diamond – But the Noble Words make no impact on the Ignorant." In today’s performance and income oriented and entertainment and shopping driven world, human behavior is set aside as values of the past. But the truth is, behavioral attitudes can make or break a courtship, a marriage or a long friendship in a person’s inner circle. Besides, in one’s outer circle, every human being interacts with other human beings: bosses, colleagues, subordinates and all categories of people every day and it is always good to behave in a pleasant manner than otherwise. The Qur’an sets out behavioral paradigms, which can help people to win friends, earn the love and affection of spouses, respect of colleagues, and avoid pinpricks and petty worries in day to day professional and conjugal lives. Not a part of populist Islamic discourses, they are tabled below with self explanatory captions for a quick reader-friendly reminder.
1. Not be vindictive and forgive past animosities “Take to forgiveness, enjoin what is good and avoid the ignorant” (7:199). “The retribution for an injury is a similar injury - yet whoever forgives and reconciles has his reward with God for He does not like the wrongdoers” (42:40). “Tell those who believe to forgive those who do not look forward to the eventual return to God when He will repay people for what they earned” (45:14). “...And let not the hatred of a people who (also) obstructed you from (entering the) Sacred House, lead you to be hostile. Therefore, help each other to virtue (birr) and piety (Taqwah), and do not collaborate with each other in sin and enmity. Heed God, and (remember,) God is severe in punishment” (5:2)*. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com
In the run-up to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly elections and the aftermath that saw a plurality of seats won by the al-Nahda (Renaissance) party, you may have noticed frequent references in the media to this political organization as a "moderate Islamist" party. This is of course not the first time such terms have been used to denote Islamist political factions: recall for example how the ruling AKP party in Turkey is often called "mildly Islamist" (to borrow the Economist's phrasing). Unfortunately, however, such terminology can only be characterized as part of what Hussein Ibish - director of the American Task Force on Palestine - calls an "intellectually and politically indefensible rush" to portray Islamist parties as "more moderate or pluralistic than they actually are." -- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Today and tomorrow all around the world Muslims will be sacrificing animals to please God.
Sacrifice something in the name of God should be something that really means something to you; and you have an attachment to that thing. Abraham fulfilled his devotion to God by exhibiting his full intention to sacrifice his son. That is not, what is happening today on the streets of Karachi or elsewhere. What is happening today is a disgrace to the word Qurbani that God had intended it to be? It’s nothing but the mockery of the Abraham’s devotion to God. -- Syed Rizvi
Watching Libyans celebrate the toppling of their dictator two things come to mind. First, Gaddafi’s apparent extra-judicial murder after being captured must be condemned. Secondly, a cautionary reminder: don’t expect the death or removal of a dictator to mark the end of the struggle. It is just the beginning of another struggle, an even messier one -- the political process known as democracy. We in Pakistan know this all too well. Dictators die or get toppled but their legacies live on. The ‘Ahmadi issue’ cannot be separated from the ‘blasphemy issue’ because in the eyes of the ‘religious right’, an Ahmadi representing himself or herself as a Muslim is blasphemous and liable to be punished. Many Ahmadis have been target-killed on this pretext. Much water (and blood) has flowed under the bridge since then, most notably with Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer’s murder in Jan 2011. The ‘religious right’ – which now includes right-wing lawyers - has been able to generate visible support for his murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, garlanding him, showering him with rose petals and making him into a national hero. -- Beena Sarwar
Muslim world is passing through most difficult times in its history of fifteen hundred years. There was a time during long years of Middle Ages when Muslims ruled two-thirds of the old civilized world but afterwards their ignorance of what was going on around them caused their civilization to decline. They developed, unnecessarily, a superiority complex based on their past victories and achievements and abandoned the path of progress in the field of science and technology. What Islamic world needs today is the scientific and technological advancement so that its presence on the international stage is distinct and effective. Without such an accomplishment, Muslim countries cannot serve the Ummah’s interests, fulfill its aspirations and safeguard its rights. Absence of ideas, both scientific and philosophical, freedom of thought, creativity, and intellectual self-determination, are the main causes that the Muslim World is not in a position to fulfill God given mandate of universal leadership. Intellectuals rightly assert that Muslim world will never be able to improve the lot of its people unless the rulers realize the importance of upgrading the status of science and technology. -- Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi, NewAgeIslam.com
The Quran, first of all, gives people the freedom to worship, the freedom to choose their own religion, right or wrong. Allah says ‘there is no compulsion in religion’. So, even when it comes to religion itself, Allah is saying you should not force people to adopt it. Then what about culture, dress or certain ways of life or even songs? This is a problem we did not see in the lives of the early Muslims that spread out of Arabia in the 7th century AD. They didn’t ask Syrians to change their culture or Egyptians to change theirs as long as it did not contradict the teachings of Quran and the core principles of Islam. The Quran created a standard for basic human rights and understanding such that no matter what your culture is, people cannot be harmed or killed as sacrifices to obtain good luck. We cannot deny the basic human right to life in the name of culture. Likewise cultures that associate days of the year in celebration of drinking or eating pork, which is in contradiction with Islamic teachings, should not be continued. The Quran came to curb these cultural practices and improve them. But other than that, when it comes to certain behaviors, folklores and even group dances such as the ones that do not have mixing between men and women, which are in the DNA of societies like Egypt, they are acceptable practices. -- Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat in an interview with Minivan News
Unsurprisingly, the horrific attacks of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right Christian extremist in Norway, have stirred powerful debate among the estimated 44.1 million Muslims in Europe. Then there are quite different voices in the Muslim community — in Britain, and elsewhere. One example is Inspire, a women’s organization that before the Norwegian horror declared what it called a “jihad against violence.” She remembers a family in London whose teenage son suddenly refused to look women in the eyes, or shake their hands. “He gave up his career, didn’t want to take a job,” she said. ... Mrs. Bashir said theirs was also a jihad against the repression of women because rightists, and Islamist extremists, use Muslim women to serve their very different arguments. “Some right-wing groups like the English Defence League use the picture they are having of Muslim women to argue that Islam is an oppressing religion,” she said. As abhorrent as Mr. Breivik’s attacks were, they have, if anything, pulled communities together, Mrs. Khan said. “I think they strengthened our resolve to humanize humanity, to understand each other and to counter those that dehumanize the other.” “We are against all forms of hate,” she said, sipping Earl Grey tea with milk. “This is my and my children’s home, and I will not allow any extremist to take it from us.” -- Souad Mekhennet