By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age
many as 120 ulema from around the world belonging to most schools of thought
have sent an Open Letter to Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr
Al-Baghdadi’, And To the Fighters and Followers of the Self-Declared ‘Islamic
in over 14, 000 words, this is a valuable document. It shows what is wrong with
self-styled Khalifa Baghdadi's rulings. But, more importantly, it
also shows what is wrong with moderate Islam at the present juncture; why this
refutation will not work, and other such refutations do not work; and why our
children will keep running away to ISIS and other terror centres. In fact, read
between the lines, this moderate fatwa does not leave any leg for moderate
Islam to stand on.
16-year-old is going to read the whole 14,000-word document. But she/he will be
mightily influenced by bits like this that will be seized upon by the apologists
of violent Islamist ideologies:
everything in the Qur’an is the Truth, and everything in authentic Hadith is
is confirmation from moderate ulema that what terrorist ideologues have been
telling their pupils is correct. This is precisely their argument. No
difference between Quran and Hadees; they are both divinely inspired. One verse
of the Quran is as good as the other. One Hadees narration supposedly from the
Prophet (saw) is as good as the other. All immutable, universal, eternal
guidance for all time to come. The fatwa does say in one place that "it is
not permissible to invoke a specific verse from the Qur’an as applying to an
event that has occurred 1400 years after the verse was revealed." But it
is not this that will be emphasized by the terror ideologues. What will be stressed
is the consensus among the ulema of all schools of thought, including those who
consider themselves moderate, that both Quran and Hadees (even though collected
scores and hundreds of years after the demise of the Prophet) are divinely
inspired and all of it represents "truth." This will only reassure
our 16/20-year-old kids that what they are learning in the terror manuals is
correct and has universal acceptance of all ulema including the moderates.
in the chapter 13 - Coercion and Compulsion - of the Open Letter, the moderate
fatwa says: "It is known that the
verse: ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ was revealed after the Conquest of
Mecca, hence, no one can claim that it was abrogated." Then the fatwa
goes on to criticise Baghdadi for using coercion. But the important thing is
that even the moderate fatwa has accepted the basic premise of Baghdadi and the
like that peaceful Meccan verses revealed before the conquest of Mecca have
been abrogated or, at least, may have been abrogated, and it is the militant
verses relating to war that should now prevail.
any case it is wrong that "the verse : ‘There is no compulsion in
religion’ was revealed after the Conquest of Mecca." It was actually
revealed before the conquest and in Madina when some Muslims wanted to take back their children
from the custody of Jews on their expulsion from Madina and convert them to
Islam. So according to these moderate ulema, and for those who know the actual shaane nuzool (context), this verse too
is abrogated. Does moderate Islam have any leg to stand on any more?
of this verse from Quran Tafsir ibn-Kathir: "It was reported that the
Ansar were the reason behind revealing this Ayah, although its indication is
general in meaning. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas said ﴿ that before Islam ﴾"When
(an Ansar) woman would not bear children who would live, she would vow that if
she gives birth to a child who remains alive, she would raise him as a Jew. When
Banu An-Nadir (the Jewish tribe) were evacuated ﴿ from Al-Madinah ﴾some
of the children of the Ansar were being raised among them, and the Ansar said,
`We will not abandon our children.' Allah revealed, ﴿لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِى الدِّينِ قَد
تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ
is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from
the wrong path.)'']
In point 16. Hudud (Punishment), the moderate fatwa in the form of Open
Letter establishes a general rule: "Hudud
punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably
obligatory in Islamic Law." Having accepted the basic premise of the Baghdadi
tribe it goes on to criticise its implementation in the so-called Islamic
State. It says: "however, they are not to be applied without
clarification, warning, exhortation, and meeting the burden of proof; and they
are not to be applied in a cruel manner." And so on. But once you have
accepted the basic premise of Hudud
(Punishment) based on 7th century Bedouin tribal Arab mores being "unquestionably
obligatory in Islamic Law" what difference does actually remain between
moderation and extremism.
In point 20, moderate ulema seem to be justifying the
destruction of idols. Read the following from the Open Letter:
former leader, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi said: ‘In our opinion, it is obligatory to
destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry) and to prohibit all
means that lead to it because of Muslim’s narration in his Sahih: on the authority of Abu Al-Hiyaj Al-Asadi,
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said: “Should I not tell you what he [i.e. the Prophet saw] sent me to do: not to leave a statue without
obliterating it nor a raised grave without levelling it.”’ However, even if
what he said were true, it does not apply to the graves of Prophets or
Companions, as the Companions were in consensus regarding burying the Prophet (saw)
and his two Companions, Abu Bakr and Omar, in a building that was contiguous to
the Prophet’s Mosque."
The impression is
unmistakable that the moderate ulema are only opposed to the destruction of "the
graves of Prophets or Companions," and not quite to the supposed obligation
to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk
(idolatry). This is not a very good sign of maintaining inter-faith relations
in contemporary world where all civilised countries respect each other's right
to practise their religion.
point 22 of the Open Letter, titled, The
Caliphate, the moderate ulema again concur with the basic proposition of the Baghdadi
clique: "There is agreement (Ittifaq)
among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah. The Ummah has
lacked a caliphate since 1924 CE." Then it goes on to criticise Bghdadi
for lack of consensus from Muslims, etc.
and accusing him of sedition, fitna, etc in fairly strong language. But the
problem is the same. Moderate ulema agree with Baghdadi on the basic premise of
the so-called obligation of the umma
to have a Caliphate. This is absurd in this day and age. Clearly both Baghdadi
group and moderate ulema are equally outdated, seemingly continuing to live in
the 7th century CE.
But on one issue, Baghdadi emerges as more humane and civilised than
these moderate ulema, if that is possible. In point 23 - National affiliations,
the Open Letter to Baghdadi says: "In one of your speeches you said:
‘Syria is not for Syrians and Iraq is not for Iraqis54.’ In the same speech,
you called on Muslims from across the globe to immigrate to lands under the
control of the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and the Levant. By doing so, you take
the rights and resources of these countries and distribute them among people who
are strangers to those lands, even though they are of the same religion. This
is exactly what Israel did when it invited Jewish settlers abroad to immigrate
to Palestine, evict the Palestinians and usurp their ancestral rights and
lands. Where is the justice in this?"
Something doesn't become wrong just because Israel is doing it. In fact
Israel is doing many things right and Muslims would do well to follow it. In
this case, it is not only Israel but the entire civilised world, that shares "the
rights and resources" of their countries and distributes them "among
people who are strangers to those lands" but have immigrated either as
economic migrants or political asylum seekers. Indeed, even students acquire
permanent residence permits in some countries in less than two years, without
having contributed anything to the economy. On the other hand, in the barbaric
Arab countries, including the land of "puritan Islam," now called
Saudi Arabia, even if you serve the country for half a century you cannot
expect to get so much as a green card or permanent resident status, and then,
of course, you will be thrown out once you have outlived their need. If
Baghdadi is giving resident status, for whatever it is worth, to those he is calling to work or fight for
him, he is being civilised, considering he is an Arab ruler, and no Arab ruler
of any persuasion, whether Islamist, secular, leftist, or nationalist, is known
for this kind of civilised behaviour. And here are moderate ulema criticising
him for that. They apparently support Arab barbarism in this matter.
This is not to say the Open Letter is entirely useless or totally
counter-productive. It is good as far as it goes. It does criticise Baghdadi
and his clique, and quite vehemently, at least, for faulty implementation of Islamic
principles, even if it agrees with him on the basics in several areas. But to
expect the Open Letter to stem the tide of gathering support for the so-called
Islamic State will be futile.
Extremism has been endemic in Islam, present almost from the beginning of Islamic history. Muslims
fought among themselves and quite vehemently even before the creation of Hadees
and Sharia, which they now consider divine. Muslims have still not found an
antidote to militant verses in the Quran that are now available to anyone with
access to internet. Calling all verses of the Quran as of eternal value is not
going to solve the problem. Calling Hadees and Sharia divinely inspired is no
answer to the questions of the day.
Muslims will just have to abandon
the theology that leads to violence and supremacism and look for a new theology,
a coherent theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the
teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies.
Open Letter to Dr. Ibrahim Awwad
Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’, And To the Fighters and Followers of
the Self-Declared ‘Islamic State’
URL of Part One: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/open-letter-to-dr-ibrahim-awwad-al-badri,-alias-‘abu-bakr-al-baghdadi’,-and-to-the-fighters-and-followers-of-the-self-declared-‘islamic-state’-–-part-one/d/104327
URL of Part Two: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/open-letter-to-dr-ibrahim-awwad-al-badri,-alias-‘abu-bakr-al-baghdadi’,-and-to-the-fighters-and-followers-of-the-self-declared-‘islamic-state’-–-part-2/d/104339
URL of Part Three: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/120-leading-religious-scholars-and-academics/open-letter-to-dr-ibrahim-awwad-al-badri,-alias-‘abu-bakr-al-baghdadi’,-and-to-the-fighters-and-followers-of-the-self-declared-‘islamic-state’-–-concluding-part/d/104348
In a series of eight
comments Quran exegete Muhammad Yunus supports the points made above
1: The Notion That Hadith Is
Divinely Inspired Is A Myth
The notion that Hadith is divinely inspired is a myth as
exploded in my following referenced article that concludes as below:
“The above illustrations are more than enough to establish
that the Hadith could not be divinely revealed – parallel or complementary or
even remotely synergetic to the Qur’an as the article claims. Any further
elaboration, which can no doubt be added, will, however, be like killing the
scarecrow and tax the readers. Indeed we need the Hadith to know the ways the
Prophet performed the Islamic rituals like prayer, fasting and hajj but we
cannot consider it divine or even indirect revelation (Wahi) because then we
will make a gross error by elevating what is fallible and historically derived,
era specific to the level of divinity – an open shirk.
Is Not a Divine Scripture of Islam – a la Qur’an
Hence Those Who Claim Divinity of the Hadith in Parallel To
Qur’an Stand As Mushrikin in Divine Court – Though God Knows
2: Hudud Punishments Being Obligatory Is
The statement “"Hudud punishments are fixed in the
Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory” is fallacious on two
1. The hudud punishment is prescribed in
the Qur’an only as an exemplary punishment with forgiveness clause that allows
for flexibility in the punishment. Accordingly Caliph Umar prescribed jailing
for minor offences and reserved the Hudud punishment for only major crimes.
2. The ‘exemplary’ character of Hudud
punishment underscores a climate of lawlessness that marked the Prophet’s era
as noted in the following authenticated exegetic work as follows:
“The social setting of the revelation was
far from secure. There was no civil administration, no police force, no court
of law, no trial for crime, no jail, and no institution for punishing the
criminal. So the criminals had almost unlimited power. They could bully, beat
up and rob any unprotected soul, commit major crimes, spread terror in the
community and roam about in broad daylight, or disappear in the desert
wilderness - depending upon their clan clout. The Qur'an had to stop this
outrage. There were past examples of rulers inflicting severe punishment on
those who defied them and of communities suffering awesome punishments because
of their errant ways. The Qur’an reminds its audience of these punishments (5:33),
and commands amputating of hand for stealing (5:39) as an exemplary punishment.
It, however, leaves a forgiveness clause (5:39), thereby allowing flexibility
in the mode of punishment. [Chapter 41.1, Essential Message of Islam]
3: Is it obligatory to destroy and remove all
manifestations of shirk or idolatry?
Those who quote Imam Muslim to issue the opinion that “it is
obligatory to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry) and to
prohibit all means that lead to it” can also issue opinions accommodating the
following heinous traditions that contradict the Qur’anic message but are
reported as Sahih hadith by Imam Bukhari:
Allowing a man to marry a woman temporarily by giving her
even a garment [Hadith No.139/Vol.6], Allowing coitus interrupts as well as sex
with female captives of war [Hadith No.137/Vol.7], Fondling a female pregnant
slave [chapter 113/Vol.3], (The Prophet) Solomon, went round (had sexual
relations with) one hundred women (his wives) in one night [Hadith
No.169/Vol.7]. The angels curse a woman till morning who declines her husband’s
invitation to sleep with him. [Hadith No.121, 122/Vol.7]. The majority of the
dwellers of hell-fire will be women as they frequently curse their husbands,
are ungrateful to them due to deficiency in intelligence and religion, and have
power to lead a cautious sensible man astray [Hadith No.28, 301/Vol.1, Hadith
No. 541/Vol.2]. A woman (`that is sterile or discontented or impudent') can be
a bad omen [Vo.7/ Hadith No.649, 666.]
Projects the Prophet as a
sexually obsessed person:
The Prophet embedded all of his nine to eleven wives in round
during the day and night (Hadith No.268, 270, 282/Vol.1, Hadith No. 34/Vol.3,
Hadith No.6, 142/Vol.7). He shared bath from a single pot with his youngest
wife Aisha (Hadith No. 272, 298/Vol.1), and fondled his wives when they were in
menses by getting them to wear the Izar (dress worn below the waist) (Hadith
No. 298, 299, 300/Vol.1).
The Prophet ordered most barbaric punishment to some men of Ukul
and Uraina tribes for theft, murder and apostasy and authorised killing of any
person who left Islam and burnt and cut-down the palm trees of Bani al-Nadir as
already quoted earlier He killed the men and distributed the women, children
and property of Banu Quraizah among the Muslims (Hadith No. 280/ Vol.1), and
exiled all the Jews from Medina (Hadith No. 280/ Vol.1, 362/ Vol. 5).
Fomenting Inter-faith Hatred.
The Prophet cursed the Jews and the Christians during the
last hours of his life for they built the places of worship at the graves of
their Prophets [Vol.1/ Hadith No. 427], he cursed the Jews for they melted it
and sold the fat of animals [Vol.6/ Hadith No.156], though trading and eating
of fat was forbidden to them [Vol.3/ Hadith No. 426,427,438].
The sun goes down every day under the Throne (of God) and
takes permission to rise again [Vol.4/ Hadith No.421]. A human is put together
in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick
blood for a similar period, then a piece of flesh for a similar period...
[Vol.4/ Hadith No.430], Fever is from the heat of hell [Vol.7/ Hadith No. 619,
620, 621, 622/Volume 7], Cupping operations or branding (cauterization) offer
best for healing of wounds [Vol.7/ Hadith No. 584, 585 and 587, 605], One
should run away from the leper as one runs away from the lion. [Vol.7/ Hadith
No.608/], No contagious disease is conveyed to others without God's permission,
and there is no evil omen in the month of Safar, nor Hama. [Vol.7/ Hadith
No.665(A)] , Vol.4/ Hadith No. 518, 527, 528.
Era / Location
Forbidding Muslims from carrying the Qur’an to a hostile land
[Vol.4, Hadith No. 233], keeping agricultural implements at homes [Vol.3,
Hadith No. 514], taking the price of a dog [Vol.3, Hadith No. 439, 440], or
selling fruits until they are ripe and red [Vol.1, Hadith No. 565].
is these people who find a way out of the noble paradigms of the Qur’an and
bring evil in religion by way of hadith. There matter rests with God for not
verbal invective can fit their moral vulgarity and religious counterfeiting.
4: Is a caliphate an
obligation upon the Ummah?
The agreement (ittifaq)
among the scholars “that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah.” Is not
consistent with the Qur’anic message on the method of governance, which is
captured as below in my exegetic work under posting at NAI:
in true sense, there is no political model of an Islamic state. The Islamic
caliphate under the Prophet’s companions cannot be regarded as a model as it
was governed in purely religious lines. It is impossible to recreate this
model, as much as it is impossible to have the Prophet’s companions and
witnesses of the revelation come alive to lead a religio-political state. Even
otherwise, in today’s multi-religious world a religio-political state is
antithetic to historical need rather than a historical necessity. Thus the
present religious title of many of the countries with predominantly Muslim
population, and the religio-political division between the Muslim and the
non-Muslim world is purely a construct of history, nostalgic, anachronistic,
and not rooted in the Qur’anic message. [Ch. 42.5, Essential Message of Islam]
5: "Muslims will just
have to abandon the theology that leads to violence and supremacism"
I am in complete agreement
with Sultan Shahin Sahab’s concluding remark:
will just have to abandon the theology that leads to violence and
supremacism and look for a new theology, a coherent theology of peace and
pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable
for contemporary and future societies."
The following remarks in the concluding part of my referenced
book echo his views in loud and clear manner:
It has been long overdue for Muslims to make an objective and
honest assessment of their secondary theological literature, notably the Hadith
sciences. There can be no doubt that they are essential to understanding how
the Prophet and early Muslims complied with various Islamic rites and rituals,
including Salat, Zakat and hajj. But the truth remains, their evolution is
purely a construct of history, and accordingly they are conditioned and
corrupted by a wide array of factors impacting across some two to three hundred
years as analyzed earlier (Enc.4). Considering the canonized Hadith as we have
in our hands today, on their face value as truths supplementing and
complementing the Qur’an as many orthodox scholars advocate, or indirect
inspiration as the classical theory of Islamic law suggests,5 may lead to
the following, to the great detriment of the Muslim community:
· The vast
majority of Muslims, lay or educated, will have neither time, nor the necessary
books, nor the scholarship to explore their expansive domains.
individuals, agencies, groups and states, will be able to pick conveniently
from their theological sources to legitimize their views and deeds in the whole
range of matters concerning their societies. Such matters could be of social,
political or theological nature, or pertain to statecraft, educational
curriculum and women’s status, for example. Likewise, they will be able to
enter into polemics, and have their clerics pass fatwas against conflicting
views on all such matters.
· They will
be questioning the completeness of the Qur’an as a font of guidance and divine
criteria of right and wrong, despite its claim to be a book of wisdom that
makes things clear with all kinds of illustrations and elaboration (Notes
theologians will continue to nurture and perpetuate the thought process,
scholastic disposition, and paradigms that were normative in the early centuries
of Islam and characterize the Hadith literature, that is revered and taught by
them, and thus keep those Muslims under their direct influence, intellectually
rooted in that era, with grave consequences.
· The modern
Kharijites6 and Qaramites7 of Islam – the violent extremists, active in many
countries of the world, will reduce Islam, in the eyes of the non-Muslims
exposed to a patently biased media,8 to a cult of terrorism and suicide
bombing, creating enormous difficulties for the common peace loving and law
abiding Muslims settled in predominantly secular and non-Muslim
Therefore, as suggested by some of the eminent Muslim
scholars, Muslims must endeavour to take guidance directly from the Qur’an.9
The best way to accomplish this, as the Qur’an advocates, is to probe into it,10
and seek the best meaning,11 as attempted in this work.
Furthermore, Muslims must endeavour to cultivate an exemplary
moral conduct and behaviour (uswatun
hasana) to do full justice to the heritage of their Prophet (33:21/Ch. 15),
and to excel in all good things (that includes lawful pursuits) as enjoined by
the Qur’an (2:148/Ch. 16; 5:48/Ch. 9.4).
There is also a pressing need to substitute the predominantly
theological content of the curriculum of traditional religious schools (madrasas)
with a focused study of the Qur’an and a comprehensive study of the ever
expanding fields of universal sciences and diverse faculties of knowledge that
are nothing but the manifestations of the Words (kalimat) of God (18:109, 31:27/Ch. 2.1), that cannot be divided
between Islamic and non-Islamic domains (Concluding paragraph, Ch. 10.2).
for the theological discourses, notably the Hadith literature, Muslims must not
accept them blindly, and cite them freely, without knowing their background and
the classification.12 The Hadith remains a critical part of Islamic religion,
in so much as it preserves the legacy of the Prophet, no less his companions.
However, since this is a very technical field, it should be reserved for
enlightened specialists who have attained sufficient maturity, knowledge, and
training to distinguish between weak and reliable Hadith, and not to confuse
them with the Word of God. [Afterwords, 1.3]
6: Baghdadi, ‘You have lost
your claim to the religion of Islam’!
The Muslim Ulama must bite the bullet and not beat about the
bush as already commented in these words under a different thread:
"The religious scholars and academics from across
the Muslim world have done a commendable job by challenging different facets of
ISIS's atrocities as un-Islamic or diametrically opposed to the Qur'anic
message. But the Ulama and ideologues of ISIS can table their own views, logic
and interpretations to justify their heinous crimes. Besides, the detailed and
highly technical letter is wanting in bewilderment and thunder-bolt effect of a
child's outburst in the classical fable that "the King has no clothes."
In one word, if a person throws an infant from the roof of a
high rise building, or rapes a woman who is the first in the line of
prohibition or suicide bombs a mosque or a church when people are worshiping or
acts God by meting out a punishment to a human being (burning alive) that God
alone can inflict if He wishes, he must be told upfront: Look Mr... ‘You have
lost your claim to the religion of Islam’! ‘You are a Kahrijite! and those who
follow you stand to earn God's wrath and not pleasure and like the early
Kharijites of Islam, bound to perish."
7: Search Your Souls; Does Islam
allow compulsion in religion?
All the readers of New Age Islam who may read these comments
are called upon to search their souls and ask this fundamental question: have
they descended from a generation of Muslims whose mothers were converted into
Islam under the threat of sword or whose mothers, as in the Prophet’s
era, were free to accept or reject Islam as testified by the Qur’an in these
“And if any of your wives should go over to the pagans, and
then you have your turn (as many converted wives of the Meccan pagans left
their pagan husbands and came over to Medina), then pay to those whose wives
had left the equivalent of what they had spent (on their dower). And heed God
in Whom you believe” (60:11).
Note: In essence, the verse calls for compensating those men
who converted to Islam and allowed their pagan wives to go over to their pagan
tribes. Had there been any coercion in religion, the pagan wives could never
enjoy this option. Their husbands would have coerced them to convert, rather
than leave them, in many cases to mutual grief.”
ISIS policy to covert non-Muslim women under threat of life to Islam amounts to
forcing Islam upon such women and thus giving rise to a generation of Muslims
born after the forced marriages/ conception of their mother who entered Islam
to save their lives and were thus forced to take a spouse to produce children
or to satisfy the sexual need of its soldiers under the cloak of Islam.
8: The violent extremists are
no more than poisonous sediments of history
The truth as articulated in the concluding paragraph of my
referenced jt. publications is:
"... the violent extremists – the modern Kharijites6 and
Qaramites,7 of Islam are no more than poisonous sediments of history, and like
their counterparts of almost a millennium ago, they are bound to
be increasingly marginalized, and eventually jettisoned from the world of
Hence the earlier the Muslim scholars and Intelligentsia take
the following on board the better:
“Call for international Fatwas to declare the terrorists who
advocate wanton killing of innocent people in the name of Islam as ‘Terrorist
Apostates’, like the Kharijites of early Islam.” – Oct. 2013.
“Open warning of dire perdition to the Neo Khwarijite (hatred
inspiring and terror mongering) Ulama of Pakistan – the ideologues of TTP,
Jaishe Muhammad and their likes.” – June 2014.
This article was published pseudonymously as it had the
following highly sensitive and threatening concluding remarks.
Declare The ISIS As The Kharijites (Those Who Seceded
From Islam) As This Article Demonstrates And Declares: Global SOS To The Ulama,
Muftis, Intellectuals And Scholars Of Islam – Feb. 2015.
Dear GRD, classical scholar like you will need to go beyond the accepted scholarly norms taught in your madrasas, if we are going to create a coherent theology of peace and acceptance of diversity, taught to us by the holy Quran.
Let me reiterate what I said in the article above. Please reflect on it and add your own voice and thoughts.
"Extremism has been endemic in Islam, present almost from the beginning of Islamic history. Muslims fought among themselves and quite vehemently even before the creation of Hadees and Sharia, which they now consider divine. Muslims have still not found an antidote to militant verses in the Quran that are now available to anyone with access to internet. Calling all verses of the Quran as of eternal value is not going to solve the problem. Calling Hadees and Sharia divinely inspired is no answer to the questions of the day.
Muslims will just have to abandon the theology that leads to violence and supremacism and look for a new theology, a coherent theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies."
It is time to clearly
understand the pristine message of the Quran rather than reading it with the
eye of its medieval era jurists, scholars and ideologues. There is an urgent
need to understand the core message of Islam that remains buried under layers
of medieval interpretation.
There is a dichotomy of Islamic faith between
its primary scripture, the Quran and its theological corpus (traditions and
Sharia laws): one appearing at a point in time in history as an epicenter of
faith, and the other evolving in its second century onwards -- as the ripples
of the initial surge of faith. The former is constant, eternal and independent
of history. The latter inevitably shaped by historical factors: pre-Islamic
faith of the incoming converts, state of civilization, theological orientation
and scholastic methods of the era , it is universal, tolerant, balanced,
gender-neutral, inclusive, non-political, pluralistic, flexible and open ended
-- albeit within broad boundaries, and emblematic of justice, liberty,
equality, and other universal secular values.
interprets the Quran itself. Many verses explain many others .The Qur'an must
not be viewed as a compilation of individual injunctions and exhortations but
as one integral whole: that is, as an exposition of an ethical doctrine in
which every verse and sentence has an intimate bearing on other verses and
sentences, all of them clarifying and amplifying one another. . One should
understand the Quran as one interlocked entity and search the relation of a
verse with the rest of the Quran. Allah answers those who deny that the Quran
is from Him by challenging them to find inconsistencies or errors in it.
Therefore, verses cannot falsify each other and no verse can be interpreted
singly and independently of the rest of the Quran. Consequently, its real
meaning can be grasped only if we correlate every one of its statements with
what has been stated elsewhere in its pages, and try to explain its ideas by
means of frequent cross-references, always subordinating the particular to the
general and the incidental to the intrinsic. Whenever this rule is faithfully
followed, we realize that the Qur'an is - in the words of Muhammad 'Abduh -
"its own best commentary"
The Quran is a text, read by
the people. The text is not absolutely neutral. Thus, by reading it, one begins
a dialogue with the Quran. The voice of the text is the fruit of the dialogue.
The readers and interpreters of the text have a decisive role in shaping the
No one reads a text with
colorless eyes. People's thinking creates a lens, a window, for them. If the
lens is blue, the person sees the world blue. And, if it is red, he sees the
world red. There is no one without any lens.
All observations are
theory-laden, a principle accepted by philosophers of science. There is no
naked fact, because human beings view everything through theories. No one's
conscience is devoid of pre-suppositions and pre-judgments. The libertarians
and leftists look at the same facts, but see two different things, because they
view everything through different theories.
The Quran is read,
and its voice is heard, by people with such conscience. The pacifists and the
terrorists read the same text, but present fundamentally different interpretations. It is
important to consider the reader and interpreter of the Quran. The voice of
Quran heard by Islamic fundamentalists is not the same as the voice heard by
progressive Muslims. I