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Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

Every liberal/secular voice is tacitly reduced as the voice of Jinnah and Muslim League. The sole emphasis is on redefining national consensus in Hindu cultural idioms and all parties except the diehard left seculars are playing along. We are witnessing a time when no political party is attempting to question the imagined consensus just to avoid the risk of being turned anti-Hindu. The resounding silence of so called secular parties on vigilante killings is a case point....

Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam
Joe Cochrane

The fighter’s bloodied shirt draws immediate attention — but so does a necklace dangling from the body: a Christian cross, worn by the independence martyr for the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. The 2006 painting has become the symbol of a global initiative by the Indonesian youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulema.....

Islam between Extremes:  Ijtihad Was a Vibrant Legal Process until the End of the Tenth Century
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Ijtihad was a vibrant legal process until the end of the tenth century, by which point many doctrines were settled by jurists representing the various schools of law. Around this time, influential orthodox Sunni Ulema (Muslim clergy with several years of training) began to argue against the process of independent reasoning, claiming that it could distort Islam. .....

A Case for Moderating Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

A Case for Moderating Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

If Prophet Muhammad's life was revolutionary, its aftermath has seen a monological recital of Hadiths and inflexible analyses of Qur'anic verses, where historical context is taken up or ignored to suit the interpreter. Memories of early Islam have hardened into dogma, and many scholars have taken the Hadiths as tablets of stone. One of the greatest jolts to progressive thinking in Islam came from the colonial powers .The onslaught of this wave of Western wave of enlightenment and renaissance shattered the Islamic psyche.....

Muslim Women Can Marry Outside the Faith
Junaid Jahangir

What is very important, and is stuck out in your conversation, is that you are challenged that your understanding of Islam, and what you’ve come to understand as being standards that you admire as a human being, are not being met by Muslim standards either demonstrated in your family, extended family or community. But what I can encourage you to do is to become more familiar with the Islamic faith and its diverse of opinions – for it is never been a monolithic faith – and come to understand that one has an array of opinions from different schools of Islamic theological thought from which to choose to follow, or utilize Ijtihad (individual thinking) in assessing your particular situation…..

Moderation: The Capstone of Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Moderation: The Capstone of Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

The theme of moderation in religious practice has been the leitmotif in Islamic literature from the very beginning, during the Prophet Muhammad's life in the early 7th century. In the Quran and the Prophetic traditions that amplify it, Muslim women and men are called upon to exercise moderation in all aspects of their religious life. "God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship," the Quran exhorts us, and Muhammad confirms: "Make things easy, do not make them difficult."….

True Social Cohesion Lies In a Reformed Islam
Michael Nazir-Ali

One urgent necessity is for Muslim politicians, community and religious leaders to articulate a clear counter narrative, not only to Jihadism but also to the more widespread and strident calls for greater “Islamisation” of communities and societies. It is not for a non-Muslim to say how they should do this but it seems quite possible for them to read their wider tradition, and the work of eminent Muslim reformers, in a way very different from the dominant narrative....

Muslim Scholars Must Go Back To the Teachings of the Prophet and Rethink Issues Related To Religious Pluralism Afresh
Waris Mazhari

Islam aims at enabling people to rise above narrow boundaries of colour and race and work together for welfare and justice and help each other. The Treaty of Medina is a brilliant illustration of this objective. After the Prophet’s demise, Muslim history went through many ups and downs. Yet, even then people of other faiths often enjoyed considerable religious freedom, although not everywhere and at all times. ...

An Islamic System: Islam Expects People to Use Their Intellect
Dr. Niaz Murtaza

I am a firm believer in secular democracy not because I don’t believe in Islam’s progressive elements, but because I see the faith hijacked by retrogressive forces and little inclination within the majority to challenge their hold and develop a progressive Islamic vision. In such a situation, secular democracy seems the best available option....

Muslims Need To Reform Their Minds: Tariq Ramadan
Tariq Ramadan

Ramadan explains that Sharia is a guide to ethics, not simply a legal code. Corporal and capital punishments are the result of a “brutal and literalist” application of it and should be suspended. His approach to gay people seems to be love the sinner, hate the sin – a conservative one in the context of very recent progress in the west, but hardly incompatible with life here, as millions of traditional Christians demonstrate. Islam considers modest dress for men and women an obligation, although not an essential one.....

Faith and Rationality: Islam Encourages People to Ask Questions
Nikhat Sattar

But should religious edicts be mixed with science, and time and effort expended on trying to extract scientific facts from sacred texts? Religion — especially as emphasised by Islam and the Quran — has come for spiritual purification and is not meant for other ends except where there may be a direct link with morality. Religion must not be used to alter scientific facts and vice versa. There is no scientific evidence against any divine truth revealed by God....

The Problem with ‘Liberalizing’ Islam
Z. Fareen Parvez

“It wasn’t so fundamentalist fifty years ago in Hyderabad. Now, when I see young men wearing their Islamic caps, I just have an allergy to it…I don’t want to make religion an institution. It should stay in the heart.” In Lyon too, middle-class Muslim activists held practices associated with the Salafist movement in the working-class, urban periphery with disdain. Although most opposed state legislation such as the ban on the Niqab, they believed that the Niqab was at best a grave misinterpretation of Islam….

Is Questioning Faith A Mortal Sin Or Divine Grace?
Yusra Shao

Do not suppress your confusion for temporary peace but let it ignite in you a desire for truth. Embark the journey with an open mind, an open heart, surrounding yourself with books and scholars, letting your mind be your compass, and truth be your end goal. The journey will be difficult because no goodness comes without effort. So, call this journey a test if you may, but never consider it a mortal sin...

Sadly, idealism in this area has convinced many Muslims that Divine revelation offers answers to life’s changing circumstances without having to make sense of, and strive with, the external environment and our own inner space. Ironically, it’s become automatic for many to approach sacred texts as remote and ‘untouchable’ due to their very sacredness. And on a macro level, too, today’s sectarian identity politics is partly a reflection of this kind of inflexibility and ‘crisis of intellect.’...

 

Muslim Discourse: There Is a Need to Reverse the Narrative Used By Extremists
Nikhat Sattar

Scholars need to come together and discuss exactly what they are bickering about and whether their stances are aligned with Islamic teachings. Muslims should be free to discuss what the Sharia means to their individual and collective lives and which form of it may or may not be relevant. The thousands of ‘Alims’ churned out by madrasas must be monitored for what they learn and subsequently do. Khutbas in mosques need to be carefully assessed and any vitriolic content removed...

Islam emerged as a vitally open society, while remaining aware of its own authentic tradition on which the Islamic identity was passed. It never simply ‘borrowed’ but accepted ideas from other cultures in building upon and shaping already existing elements.

However, it is to be appreciated that the spiritual content of modernism lies in moderation. If this definition of modernism is accepted, then we find that there is no conflict between Islam and modernism. In fact, moderation forms a major theme in the Quran. “Allah has raised the Muslim as the middle-most or a justly-balanced nation and has made it to stand as witness over other nations”....

The Muslim Reform Movement: Even More Necessary A Year In
M. Zuhdi Jasser

Islamism both violent and non-violent – has continued to advance across the globe. Islamist terror in Florida and Ohio, attacks in France, Iraq, Pakistan, India and beyond continue to take innocent lives and create an understandable culture of fear. Meanwhile, many Muslims still find themselves marginalized within their own community spaces: women, Black Muslims, sexual minorities and scores of other vulnerable communities continue to feel ostracized and even persecuted for who they are and what they believe....

The Mantle of Religious Interpretation Needs To Be Taken Away From the Clergy
Raza Habib Raja

A common tactic used by religious rights is to discourage any critical debate, and to give a belittling reference to inadequate qualifications of those who are trying to adopt a reformist approach. What really amazes me that this reference is never made when you are supporting ultraconservative view of Islam?...

Emphasis  On  Arab  Or  Persian  Culture  Prevents  Islam’s  Acceptance As  A  World  Religion
Asif Merchant, New Age Islam

To qualify as a world religion, Islam has to be acceptable in any part of the world, with anyone being accepted as a Muslim, purely on belief, and no other criterion. This can never happen as long as we have people in authority who are not willing to consider that the Holy Prophet had something more in mind for Islam than merely the Namaaz and the Hijab which the clerics are so fond of emphasizing. Consider the so-called Islamic calendar. It only records the lunar cycle, but is useless for agriculture or travel. ...

Islam Is In Need Of a Renaissance: It Is Not Enough for Muslims to Say That Terrorists Misinterpret Islam
Saif Mahmood

Islam is in need of a Renaissance. Like every other religion that has grown by proselytisation, Islam too has had a violent history which, in those times, was defensible. However, much as the advent of Islam was all about progressivism, unlike their proselytising predecessors, Muslim theologists have failed to inform their beliefs and attitudes with contemporary standards and demands of inclusivity. There is a pressing need to present Islamic texts unambiguously and in consonance with present-day realities, leaving no room for misconstruction by anyone. ...

It Is True That ‘Terrorism Has No Religion’ but Islam Has To Embrace the Modern, Examine Its Theology Afresh
Rakesh Sinha

Two Islamic concepts, Jehad and kafir, are interpreted from an extre­mely moderate to a highly extremist manner. This is an issue Indian Muslim seminaries need to ponder on. Secular education is another solution. Common schooling creates mutual sympathy and goodwill. Many madrasa teachings lead to radicalisation....

Ijtihad, the Cornerstone of Islamic Tradition, Has Been Put in the Cold Storage, What Went Wrong
M Zeb Khan

Ijtihad, which was the cornerstone in Islamic tradition, aimed at connecting the immutable principles of Islam with changing conditions of the world, has been put in the cold storage for the last five hundred years. Instead of defending their sectarian turfs, the Ulema should have worked for unity of the Ummah and its repositioning as a global power....

Muslims Can Reinterpret Their Faith: It’s the Best Answer to ISIS
Hassan Radwan

Realising the Qur’an is fallible will not destroy Islam. It will destroy the literalists. For the rest of us it will free us and free our reason so we can take what is useful and helpful from religion and ignore what is not. Islam did not come to replace the mind God gave us and turn us into heartless robots. ..

Contradictions of Religion

However, the most conservative and radical elements of Islam are being used to rationalise, legitimise and excuse the most violent acts against states, people and societal institutions. And, regarding the role of women, so-called honour killings and the embrace of Salafist and Wahhabi ideologies, Islam is in conflict with modernity....

Muhammad Ali Delivered A Powerful Punch for A Non-Doctrinaire and Egalitarian Islam
Saba Naqvi

Contrast this with how the guardians of Islam in our country often present the religion as a series of fixed dos and don’ts. The Indian clerical class has largely been bereft of any ideas that could have a universal appeal, in the manner in which the Sufi path did at one time in our history. Their mission statement seems limited to teaching children by rote and hanging on to their turfs by energetically defending personal laws that are anything but egalitarian....

 
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