Thinking New And Dangerous Thoughts Has Become A Must For
By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam7 April, 2015
A regular contributor to New Age Islam and an original thinker who has raised many an
eyebrow with his seminal thinking, Mr. Hamza has now come up, gingerly, with a
new thought. He asks to "feel free to ignore this message because" he
is himself "uneasy about it..."
What he is suggesting,
however, shows the level of unease in the community over the mayhem going on
around the world in the name of Islam and the desire to do something about it,
at least think new thoughts, bold thoughts, seemingly crazy thoughts.
Extraordinary situations do call for extraordinary responses.
first bring in what Mr. Hamza is suggesting, though rather gingerly, very
cautiously, knowing the disturbed state of the Muslim society we live in today.
Thousands of machetes are ready to sever our heads from our necks everywhere in
the world if we are seen swerving even slightly from the path beaten by Mullahs
for a thousand years. Ideas have been frozen for over 1,000 years. With their
madrasa degrees, many Juhala (ignoramuses)
have become ulama (self-styled learned).
Ulama are told not to claim any ilm (education)
in the absence of a madrasa degree distributed in many cases by confirmed and
However, even in this atmosphere some individuals with courage continue
to think new thoughts. Hamza Saheb has come up with this:
"But do you think it's
time Muslims standardize a contextual Qur'an? Like, I don't mean tafsir, but a
Qur'an with copious narrative around the original language (perhaps bolded in
red) and woven around in logical order. The way you present the story of the prophet
(he is addressing Muhammad Yunus Saheb, in appreciation of the
third chapter of his book “Essential Message of Islam” narrating the story of the
Prophet entirely from Quran) is just so logical and removes all
misinterpretation. I know the Christians and Jews did it and ended up corrupting
their books (our current bible is probably the interpretation of a copy of a tafsir of a copy); but is that fear
still justified in the 21st century? I don't know, just a thought.
Maybe I'm going too crazy. May Allah forgive me."
By Hamza - 4/6/2015 1:13:46 PM
Maybe Hamza Saheb, time has come when
we throw caution to the wind and act more fearlessly.
What do you mean by logical
order, Hamza Saheb? Do you mean chronological
order, which would also restore primacy to Meccan verses of universal
significance? After all, it's in a chronological order that early Muslims
including the Prophet (saw) must have understood and memorised the Quran. They
could not have memorised contextual verses that had not been revealed yet,
as those situations had not arisen by that time.
In any case read
chronologically, Quran reads like a beautiful book of spiritual and moral
guidance, relevant in the 21st century, not requiring much contextual knowledge
to begin with.
I am saying this, as,
for the last several years I am in the process of collecting essential verses
of the Quran in a chronological order. Have not gone very far yet. Mainly
shortage of time. Far too many duties requiring immediate attention. I wish
Hazrat Usman had not destroyed those versions of Quran that early Muslims in
Mecca used to recite. I imagine it as a beautiful Quran which would invite
everyone, except the exploiters and the tyrants. It had no calls to war and
defence and offence and punishment.
You are not going crazy,
Hamza Saheb, you are thinking new thoughts. We Muslims are in a desperate
situation and one has to think of all sorts of thoughts, some even
crazy-sounding to come out of the quagmire we are in. Actually,
large sections of Muslims seem to be going crazy in different parts of the
world. Last night I read of what used to be moderate Sufi-minded community of
Malaysians demanding criminal punishments based on pre-Islamic Arab cultural
practices. We already know of British Muslims demanding
"Sharia-Controlled zones in England!" And, of course, many crazy
things happening around the world, mostly atrocities perpetrated by Muslims on
There is a good reason why
you, Hamza Saheb, are being so cautious. I wonder about my own chances of
survival too. God, of course, is the final arbiter. But, as I shared this with
readers before, my two maulana interlocutors have told me that they consider me
kafir but not qabil-e-gardanzadni
(worthy of the honour of beheading) yet, Why? Because I am in their eyes a
kafir only by virtue of not calling Ahmadiyas kafir. That's all, there is no
specific charge against my own faith and conduct. But there is a warning,
coming from someone who was supposedly a friend 30 years ago, though he will
not reveal his identity. I don't know who he is but for old time's sake,
he will not get me killed, until -- yes, there is a condition -- until, I
confine my work to websites, books, magazines, newspapers and television, etc.
If I start going out in the field, talking to Muslims, showing them what I consider
the right path, I would have crossed a red line and then I am on my own or on
the mercy of those who think they decide our fates on earth, without permission
This warning came just as I
talked to some maulana friends about the possibility of holding a meeting and
discussing the meaning of kufr, kafir and other derivatives of the term in
the light of what Naseer Saheb had written. I thought, I would
invite Naseer Saheb and ask him to bring out before this mixed audience of
Muslims and non-Muslims and some journalists and academics every verse of Quran,
without any exception and show what these words meant in those verses, leaving
at the end the audience to gather the real meaning of this word.
The misuse of the word
Kafir is a major issue of discord between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Apparently, the Mullah community got word; they knew what would happen, if this
conference were to go through, even though I was inviting Mullahs from all
denominations to discuss the subject. If it could be proven that kafir in Quran
does not mean non-Muslim or polytheist, or idol-worshipper or infidel, but it
is a religion-neutral term simply meaning the oppressor, religious persecutor,
particularly the one who is engaged in stopping people from practicing their
religious freedom, much like the Arab kings today or other Muslim countries,
much of the strife could be wiped out.
In India in
particular Muslims' contempt for the kafir, by which they mean all non-Muslims,
is a big divisive issue. But, of course, the maulanas cannot even sit with
Muslims from other sects; they consider all others kafir. If Quran could be
allowed to guide the world, their house of cards would collapse. Our
anti-Takfir conference, if it could go ahead and succeed in its mission, would
be big blow to their takfiri ideology and politics. As maulanas presumably know
they have no intellectual arguments, the only answer could be physical
Much of this problem arises
from the fact that many of our salaf,
the first Muslims, the companions of the Prophet, were not well-educated or very
familiar with books; they had great earthly wisdom and deep faith but could not
quite comprehend even the difference between kafir and mushrik, as Naseer Saheb
has revealed. They and their successors fought wars not quite understanding
what and who and why they were fighting. They did not perceive Islam essentially
as a religion of peace and pluralism, a religion that gives unlimited religious
freedom to all religious peoples, including Muslims. They did not perceive the
Prophet, as essentially a Sufi saint, a rishi, and a muni, who used to spend
weeks at a stretch meditating in a cave, while running what would today be
called a Human Rights NGO for the welfare of the oppressed, when back from his
cave. He was a social activist and a Sufi before he was elevated to the
position of a prophet.
Not many know of this
aspect of his life, about his social activism and his fond memories and moving
descriptions of these activities during his days as prophet. The Prophet and
his allies in the organisation were active in search of justice for all,
particularly the wayfarers, traders from foreign soil who had been wronged by
Meccans and other oppressed and exploited. "
This group of Meccan activists called The
Alliance of the Virtuous, had been formed by the prophet's uncles Zubair and
Abu Talib, in his presence, in a meeting at the house of Abd Allah ibn Judan.
The circumstances in which this Alliance was formed and the purpose behind it
are quite instructive. South African author Farid Esack quotes a narration
by Ibn S'ad (1967,1, p., 144) to tell this fascinating story of pre-Islamic
Mecca. .... “A visiting Yemenite merchant had sold some expensive goods
to a leading figure of the clan of Sahm in Mecca. The Sahmite refused to pay
the agreed price. The trader was merely a visitor to Mecca and had no allies to
turn to for help".
As narrated by Ibn S’ad, the foreign merchant
stood on the slope of Mount Qubays near Mecca, told his story and appealed to
the Quraish to see that justice was done to him. In response, several clans
like Hashim, Zuhrah and Taym decided to come together and swore to fight for
Justice for the oppressed like this merchant and other exploited and helpless.
They decided to remain in solidarity with the weak and oppressed against the
exploiters and oppressors, even if the latter belonged to the Quraish.
So with the
formation of this Alliance of the Virtuous, not only this visiting Yemenite
merchant got justice but a human rights activist group started working to
safeguard the rights of the weaker sections of society. And, most important of
all, for us, from its very inception, as founder-member, Prophet Mohammad (saw)
played an active part in this struggle for justice for all and was always very
grateful for having been able to do so. So it is for us Muslims to understand
the foundations of Islam and strengthen them.
despite Prophet Mohammad's pronounced mystical inclination and human rights
activism, Islam is being turned today into an exclusivist, totalitarian,
fascist political ideology. Islamist thugs are taking control of the religion
of Islam in many countries. Islam is going through a difficult phase at
the moment. The danger of extremism catching the imagination of many of our
youth is growing.
An extremist, exclusivist,
political, fascist interpretation of Islam is being propagated in our country
as much as in other parts of the world though a variety of media. A number of
very well-funded TV channels and hundreds of websites and scores of newspapers
and magazines have come up to propagate a Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam with
its extremist ideas that say that one cannot be a true Muslim living in the
midst of non-Muslims and integrating in a multi-religious, multicultural
society. Even so-called Sufi-Bareilwi madrasas in the south Asian subcontinent
adopted the same dars-e-nizami, shorn of Sufi texts, long ago under Emperor
Aurangzeb and are providing Taimi and Wahhabi, even Qutbi and Maududite ideas
to our children in the madrasas for hundreds of years. The madrasas that
did teach Sufi texts until a few decades ago have also abandoned them.
But most of these problems clearly arise from our Salaf or early
Muslims' inability to comprehend the message of Quran quite correctly.
Apparently, they did not quite understand that Islam was a religion of peace
and the wars were meant to fight for religious liberty of all religious groups,
not just Muslims. This was clear from the verse explaining why Muslims were
being asked to fight, but clearly the following verse too did not make much of
an impression on these people of deep faith: “Our Sustainer is God! For, if God
had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries
and churches and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which God’s name is
abundantly extolled - would surely have been destroyed [ere now]."(Quran,
It is difficult to imagine that with Arabic as their mother
tongue, these early Arab Muslims, so devoted to the Prophet and the Holy Quran,
could not have understood this verse and its implications. One can only surmise
that they simply ignored Allah's words as their descendants in Saudi Arabia today
continue to do, otherwise there would have been churches, synagogues, temples
and monasteries in the Arab world, catering to the needs of the people of
different religions living and serving that region. Alas, there is no Mohammad
in Arabia now to form an Alliance of the Virtuous and fight for the right of
the oppressed minority religions.
However, I would request Hamza Saheb to keep thinking new thoughts and
sharing with us, even with pseudonyms, as many Muslims are forced to do now.
Respected Readers, As-Salaam Alay-Kum - New Age Islam forum has maintained an open and liberal policy of allowing any Tom, Dick and Harry to post their respective comments. No matter who insults Islam and mocks Holy Qur’an.
That’s seems to be the norm these days, as Muslim
journalists and pundits believe that the more the Muslims confront these sorts of insults, the more, we will be able to introspect and figure out what went wrong in the Islamic world. What was shocking to know that one single learned Muslim with three different names and/or screen names: “Naseer Ahmed Ahmed Saheb” has long been posting his own understanding of the Qur’anic verses on the forum. In fact, after reading his comments for more than two years, I realized that he skillfully avoid answering tough questions by ways of deliberately resorting to insults and abuses.
Even such harsh rebuttals was perfectly in line with the New Age Islam forum’s policy. Recently, Iftekhar Hai’s write-up about “Righteousness from a Global Perspective,” was posted in both English and Urdu language. That was thoughtful of Sultan Shahin, Editor of New Age Islam to do so. Interestingly, Naseer Sb. indirectly expresses his usual “Anti-American” bias, whereas, Iftekhar has an optimistic outlook of better days ahead of us as “One Humanity.”
Long before these two gentlemen came on the scene, I, Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia wrote a letter with a subject title, “HELP YE ONE ANOTHER IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.” dated November 25, 2003. Granted that hardly a few readers will bother to glance at my letter, nevertheless, it will be worthwhile to read about “Preachers of Hate,” “Merchants of Death,” along with a reference to an article, “The Falseness of Anti-Americanism,” by late Fouad Ajami (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace). Knowing well that many readers always find it hard to comprehend the spirit of my letter, therefore, I have decided that the best way to bring the message across is to post my letters only on my personal blogs. Henceforth, take a little pride in a fact that there are still a handful of “Moderate Muslims,” who do possess a human spirit as well as a small dose living wisdom. Thanks again for reading, I remain Very truly yours - Link: https://myfellowmuslims.wordpress.com/november-25-2003/
I am neither a Wahabi nor a Deobandi. By birth I am a Quadri and therefore Sufi.
As should be clear to any sane person (which you do not appear to be), I am the only truly non sectarian who has zero tolerance for any sectarianism even though it comes from the Sufi/Barelvis which is my own family and lineage. Since all the sectarianism on your site is from the Sufi/Barelvis, and I speak out against it and in the process expose their weak underside, I appear to be anti Sufi which I just cannot be.
However, you are a total stranger to this level of integrity and will therefore interpret everything in terms of your own level of integrity. I have to live with it.
Naseer SahebI have not given up my project, never do. But I am travelling now and will be back in India late June. Will surely start the process then. Meanwhile you can look at your paper again in the light of discussions in which you appeared to change your position somewhat. Maybe, this is not so but perhaps some refinement is in order.
My biggest problem is even ulema associated with New Age Islam do not accept your definition of kufr and are not willing to even debate. Maybe they think you are correct but they want to maintain their xenophobic position nevertheless. After all, your position is based on a study of Quran and ulema do not care much for Quran; indeed madrasas do not even teach Quran. Not even Salafi, Wahhabi, ahl-Hadees madrasas while claiming to be ghair-muqallid. Our ulema's knowledge of Quran is limited to the quotations they came across in their text books written by previous ulema whom they really follow and believe in.
As for your non-sectarianism, i hope some reader collects your vitriolic rhetoric against Sufi-Bareilwis and shows you a mirror. I do not have the time for that now. But you are as non-sectarian as any other Wahhabi who does not accept any other sects right to exist. Of course once they have killed all non-wahhabis, there will be complete non- sectarianism in Islam
You did not respond to my comment:
Let us go ahead with your program. This should be our Jihad fi sabilillah.
By Naseer Ahmed - 4/7/2015 12:08:17 AM
Now the only person who has come up with a comprehensive and well-researched programme for defeating the extremist ideology from the very grass root level is me. Notice that even today I refuse to use sectarian terminology like you do very glibly. It is extremism and extremists that I have always opposed irrespective of their sectarian hues.
You have not come up with the Urdu booklet. The booklet should contain all my articles on the definition of Kafir and on the meaning of Qital fi sabi lillah. I do not see why you cannot start with the known progressives such as Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and Maulana Mazhar Warisi? I have named two well known Deobandi Maulanas that I know through this website.
Surely you would know more from among both Barelvi and Deobandi.
On the contrary, I am surprised that you have launched a vilification campaign against me! Is it because you have developed cold feet? The possibility of physical harm that you talk of can unnerve anyone. Maybe you just want to live a life of pretensions and reform is just a good word with which to fool people. Your only aim appears to be to indulge in word warfare with a heavy sectarian tinge. So the vilification of the only person with a demonstrable sincerity for fighting extremism is what you have stooped to? Is that your strategy for running away from real reform and a real fight against extremism? How low can you go Mr Shahin? I think that I am wasting my time with you and nothing good will ever come out of you. I will focus on other alternatives.
it is the food for thought who says companions were ideal and practiced Islam fully.
CHALLENGE OF MODERNITY
Islam faces the huge challenge of modernity
whose source lie in the West. Muslims cannot
escape the changes being forced upon them by factors like mass economic production and movement, monetization of
money, mass education and penetration
of rationality to the grassroots of the
population, automation, mass media etc. This calls for continuous and systematic thinking.
To borrow Prof. Fazlur Rahman’s words, “Societies often react to changes in two
ways i.e., panicking and recoiling upon itself and seeking delusive shelters in
the past on one hand and sacrificing or compromising its very ideals on the
other and can react to new forces with self-confidence by necessary
assimilation, absorption, rejection and other forms of positive creativity, it
will develop a new dimension for its inner aspiration, a new meaning and scope
for its ideals.” Any laissez faire attitude towards the new forces will
make us simply drift, and the attitude of escaping to the past will seem
emotionally more satisfying in the immediate future, but will be more fatal of
the two attitudes. Reading of the early history of Islam would reveal
that early Muslims were much more creative, thoughtful and courageous in
interpreting the Quran and the Sunnah according to their circumstances and
would not flinch from taking stands that would appear drastically different
from approach of the Prophet but would be based on the keen understanding of
the Islam’s cardinal principles. If we have to move forward in current times,
we need to do away with much of those old fixations that freeze us in seventh
Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
Framing a Rational and Humane
Agenda – Link to the Article
Intellectual Crisis of the Muslim
Aligarh Muslim University -
April 6-7, 2015
To: All “Intellectual Bigots,”
Islam Haters & Muslim
Bashers – Listen Up
Zakaria tees off on Bill Maher: “You’re not persuading people. You’re getting applause lines in the
West” – Link to salon.com
replies Maher in heated "Real Time" debate about Muslims, Islam and
reform VIDEO - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y4tXROzQe4
Fareed Zakaria and Bill Maher hotly
debated Islam and the Muslim world on Friday’s “Real Time.”
Perhaps the most interesting moment
was when Zakaria went straight at Maher’s critique of Islam as an intolerant
religion, which the host has developed more aggressively in recent months.
“My problem with the way you
approach it,” Zakaria said, “is I don’t think you’re going to
reform a religion by telling 1.6 billion people — most of whom are just devout
people who get some inspiration from that religion and go about their daily
lives — I don’t think you’re going to change religion by saying your religion
is the motherlode of bad ideas, it’s a terrible thing.”
He continued: “Frankly, you’re
going to make a lot of news for yourself and you’re going to get a lot of
applause lines and joke lines.” But, he added, “push for reform with some sense of respect for the spiritual values.”
persuading people with what you’re doing. You’re getting applause lines in the
West,” Zakaria said.
“That’s insulting, that I’m doing
this for applause lines,” Maher said.
For more of his response and the
rest of the discussion, which included New York Times columnist Ross Douthat,
watch the entire clip below.’
Dear Mr. Nilamani Tripathy,
I can certainly appreciate you
being “Overly Concerned” about Islam and the Muslims. I would say,
rightly so, based on the irrational behavior of my people.
The authorship of the Holy Quran is
Divine, to talk of contextualising it is heresy.
“To you your religion and to
me mine." That’s what we the Muslims must adhere to. Now my question to you is, “Did
you notice any Muslim commentator being engaged in constantly questioning or
insulting Hindu holy book?” The answer is flat no.
To reconcile Islam with the modern world
based on the Universal Laws of Man.
What is the meaning of Universal
Laws of Man? Is it only confined to one Abrahamic religion, or it should apply
to mankind as a whole?
The concept of TAQQIYA can cause
endless conflict in society.
For sure. Those who are “Intellectually Dishonest,” and deliberately avoids confronting their own social ills of their respective
societies, are also applying the concept of “Taqqiya.” I say, why not look into
your own backyard?
If Sharia was to be imposed the world
What makes you and so many continue
to hype up the “Sharia” scare. Are you a scaremonger? If
not, then for crying out loud, at least be supportive of “Moderate Muslims” viewpoints. That is something
neither you nor “Secular Logic,” would do.
May I ask, why so?
The Golden Dawn towards which we all
Why not teach Muslims about the Golden
Rules of your religion? Are they appropriately applied in the daily lives
of Hindus. If you wish to aspire your fellow humans, then aside from being all
too busy criticizing Islam, try to teach us more about the Golden Dawn
of what other religions aspires mankind towards. Am I right or wrong?
The word to the wise is
Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia