By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
20 July 2017
This is a response to the very touching, passionate
and honest article by Hassan Radwan titled “Is Islamic Reform Possible?’Should
We Just Accept That Quran Is Not Perfect, Infallible Word of God, If Nearly All
Muslims Misunderstand It?” Hats Off to Hassan for his bold and honest article sharing his
innermost thoughts (soul). This is not a rejoinder but only an attempt to help
Hassan Radwan on his journey of discovery by sharing my perspective. Except the
Quran, I reject all else that comes with the label of Islam. I reject the
Ahadith, the imams and the theology of every sect of Islam as not only
fallible, but perhaps worse. My response is in green to what Hassan has written
which is in black.
“Is Islamic reform possible?” pre-supposes that reform is necessary. Many
Muslims would say it is not.
theology is mostly un-Islamic and needs extensive reform of a fundamental nature.
It is full of utter nonsense. It is not very much different from what the
extremists believe which is why it can never effectively counter them. To give
you an example, in Islamic theology, Kafir has come to mean a non-Muslim which
is not the meaning of the word in the Quran at all. Now if you read the Quran
giving the word such a meaning, and when this word in its various grammatical
forms appears in the Quran more than 300 times, you can imagine the havoc it
plays with the meaning of the Quran! What is the solution? The solution is to
show exactly what meaning the Quran gives to this word with the help of the
Quranic verses. Is that possible? It is possible to very precisely define what
it means and what it does not mean after which the Quran reads very differently
and makes very good sense. With the wrong meaning it sounds absolutely
grotesque. By changing the meaning of one word, the word of God can be
transformed into the word of Satan. Is the Quran to blame for this? Certainly
not since anyone with the necessary motivation can find the exact meaning of
every word and verse. How did this transformation happen? My guess is that the
word infidel was mapped by the new converts to “kafir” and since everyone was a
convert from another religion in which the concept of infidel for the “other”
was deeply ingrained, the meaning of infidel stuck. Please read:
The Misrepresentation of the Quran through
The word martyr
was mapped to Shuhuda to mean both witness and slain in the cause of God. The
Quran does not use Shuhuda for those slain in the cause of Allah at all. It is
always the descriptive “Qutelu Fi Sabilillah”. The Quran does extol the Siddiq,
the Shuhuda and the Saliheen but the Shuhuda are not martyrs but paragons of
Islamic virtue who through their word and conduct are living proof of the
religion of Islam and provide evidence (witness) to God that His religion has
been communicated to the world through them. By changing the meaning to mean a
martyr, Islamic theology has transformed the word of God to extol the martyrs
or those slain and to treat them as paragons of Islamic virtue to be held as an
example to the non-Muslims. What a travesty! Should we blame the Quran for
this? I have a series of articles aimed at bringing out the meaning of the
Quran which is covered layer upon layer with falsehood by our scholars and
theologians. By the way Kufr means “to cover the truth by falsehood”.
The Politics of Religion and the Changing Concept of
Shuhuda over the Years
Quran is such a perfect book and demonstrably so, that it allows you to clean
up all the dirt thrown on it over the past 14 centuries and get to the meaning
of every word and every verse without ambiguity and without doubt.
talks about cognitive dissonance. He is therefore also aware of cognitive bias.
Such bias can be based on very strong beliefs and concepts that people from
other religions brought into Islam and from meanings to words that they
themselves gave which is not the meaning that the Quran gives to the same word.
In academics, there is something called theory induced blindness. An existing
theory which is defective, can blind you to the truth. Bad theories therefore
survive longer than they should. One example that I can think of is belief in an
immortal soul. The Quran categorically rejects such belief and yet everyone
believes in it. This is covered in my article:
Islam and Mysticism: Is ‘Nafs’ Soul? (Part - 1)
Islam and Mysticism: Is ‘Ruh’ Soul? (Part 2)
Islam and Mysticism: What Else Is Confused With Soul?
reform requires being anchored in the scriptures. It is essential therefore, to
get the meaning of the scriptures right.
Yet it has to
be asked if Islam is perfect and has absolutely nothing to do with the actions
of extremists like ISIS or regimes like Saudi Arabia - then why is it that
these Muslims have so grossly misunderstood their religion? When one points out
actions such as execution of apostates and gays they tell us this is completely
against Islam and Islam is very clear about it.
The Quran is
extremely clear that it is not apostasy that is to be punished but treason. The
Quran itself talks of many Jews who became Muslim in the morning and reverted
to Judaism by evening. Also, they did this with deliberate intent to spread
mischief and to create the impression that they did not find the new religion
worth abandoning their own. No one was punished for it. No hypocrite was
punished for deliberate acts of mischief designed to harm the new faith. If
some people or sects today treat all forms of apostasy as treason and give the
punishment for treason, it is not the Quran to blame.
there is a clear verse:
(4:16) If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If
they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most
There is no
capital punishment for homosexuality.
If it is true that they have completely misunderstood
Islam - what does that say about Islam & the Qur’an - the clear book Kitabun
Mubeen - the final and complete revelation to man? If the message has
been so badly misunderstood by so many Muslims what does that say about the message?
The Quran answers every question with clarity and
without ambiguity. It is indeed Kitabum Mubeen. There is no need to interpret
the Quran but to find its clear meaning without a shadow of doubt. Every other
interpretation, except the clear meaning that can be very logically
established, can be shown to be invalid and defective.
Progressive Muslims of today are forced into absurd linguistic gymnastics in
order to claim that God’s perfect word never actually said what it appears to
have said - and what 1400 years of scholarship believed it said.
partially right. Yes, the progressives do play to the gallery and use
euphemisms and are clearly embarrassed to own up certain parts of the Quran.
For example, they have difficulty owning up that the Quran did allow sex with
your own female slaves. However, the fact that the Quran did allow sex with
your own female slaves does not make it imperfect. Nor does banning of slavery
make such banning against the Quran.Please read my article:
The Morality or the
Immorality of the Institution of Slavery and the Quranic Permission That
Allowed Sex with Female Slaves
But by playing
this game within the rules of a perfect divine Qur’an they only hand victory to
the traditionalists and fundamentalists because it is the traditionalists who
have by far the greater evidence to support their views.
There is no
need for any workarounds. The traditionalists and the fundamentalists can be
proven to be wrong with the help of the Quran itself and with perfectly logical
arguments based entirely on the Quran. Take for example the verses relating to
fighting. For what were the Muslims given permission to fight according to the
Quran? The Quran provides a clear unambiguous answer and yet I am appalled by
the arguments of even the moderates who show little understanding of the Quran.
They give answers like “To defend their faith which was in danger of
extinction”. That sounds laudable and understandable but the Quran does not
give you permission for it. The answer is incorrect. The Quran permits fighting
against any kind of oppression and to help any other people who are oppressed.
There is no other cause that can be called fighting in the cause of Allah. Now
is this a matter of mere interpretation? No, this can be clearly established
beyond doubt with the help of all the verses where the subject is fighting in
the cause of Allah. It is as simple as that. So, if fighting is permitted only
against the oppressors and the persecutors, do we need to know the context of
the verse on fighting to know that it does not apply to any peaceful person? Do
we need to duck under the peaceful verses?
informs us who is a Kafir and this definition is faith neutral since not all
polytheists were ever considered Kafir in the Quran in any verse and some among
all including the Muslims are considered Kafir for their specific acts of Kufr
mentioned in the verse. Now if people give a meaning of non-Muslim to Kafir and
read the Quran accordingly, they will get it all wrong. The Quran clearly
defines the meaning of all the key words it uses in a logically perfect manner.
The meaning that we derive of the word (what it means and what it does not
mean) following the rules of logic is then beyond doubt. Establish using rules
of logic, the clear meaning of often used words by the Quran with the help of
the Quranic verses. Establish what it means and also what it does not mean.
Then use the correct meaning to understand the Quran. You cannot go wrong then
in correctly establishing the meaning of any verse or getting an answer to any
So, who were
the Muslims fighting? It was the Kafirin who practiced religious persecution in
all its forms. The Quran never says that the Mushrikin must be fought against.
It is always the Kafirin with the sole exception of verse 9:5 which will be
discussed later. And what were these Kafirin against whom fighting was permitted?
They were religious persecutors. The Quran clearly forbids fighting against the
peaceful Mushrikin. In battle, there was no problem in identifying a Kafir. All
those who stood in battle against the Muslims were Kafir. Or any attacker in
the sacred mosque was Kafir by his very deed. However, if you translate Kafir
as disbeliever in these verses, it would be incorrect, because it wasn’t their
disbelief that was being fought against nor were they permitted to fight the
peaceful disbelievers. So, one must translate or understand as “fight the
religious persecutors until there is no more oppression and the law of Allah
prevails”. The law of Allah includes “Let there be no compulsion in religion”.
Ironically, Kafir which is translated as disbeliever does not mean a passive
disbeliever at all in the Quran. It means one who actively rejects and opposes
faith and the faithful believers.
defend the Quran’s integrity and consistency against all reason.
I have shown in several of my articles that it is possible to arrive at
the meaning of any word and any verse in the Quran, following strict rules of
evidence, logic and reasoning. While we may interpret the Quran any way it
takes our fancy, the Quran lends itself to only one meaning which is why it is
Kitabum Mubeen. You don’t have to take my word for it. Read my articles and
follow my methodology or any other methodology that you can show to be better
and tell me if what I say is untrue. My articles do not express my opinions.
They present the meaning of the Quran as made clear by the Quran itself and not
any interpretation. What I say is easily verifiable with reference to the Quran
itself and proved to be incorrect if it is incorrect.
The Quran is fundamentally and literally a religion of peace. So, you
can take the most extreme position as a fundamentalist and literalist and prove
the bigots and the extremists to be frauds. It is they who interpret and are
neither fundamentalists nor literalists. They are simply bigots, extremist,
liars and frauds who twist the meaning of the Quran.
In the context of the Quran, a fundamentalist is one who will polish his
Quranic fundamentals by getting at the precise meaning of every verse and a
literalist is one who sticks to the literal meaning given by the Quran to every
word and not take any other meaning of the word outside of the Quran such as
current usage, dictionary, Islamic theology etc.
I defend with
perfect reason. If so many people misunderstand, the problem could still be the
people and not the Book Take the simple question “Do we have a soul that is
immortal”? The Quran gives an unambiguous answer that what we consider as
“soul” dies with us and has no existence independent of our body and that too
in a state of wakefulness. Haven’t all Muslims including all the scholars and
imams believe/believed in an immortal soul? Should we blame the Book or the
people for taking their own meaning disregarding the clear answer the Book
provides? Read: the article “Islam and Mysticism” in three parts cited above.
far-right anti-Muslim bigots also insist there is only one “True Islam” and
they say it is the Islam of ISIS and the extremists.
The bigots can
be easily defeated on their own ground. The pity is that there are so few to
throw them a real challenge and those few have no supporters. It is far easy
for the Muslims to give up.
anti-Muslim bigots and the Muslim extremists such as the ISIS, are the two
sides of the same coin. They are both bigots and extreme in their bigotry.
and progressive Muslims accuse the Salafis of being selective in how they
interpret Islam, choosing to overlook the more peaceful and tolerant verses,
they are right. But what they forget to mention is that they are just as
selective when they choose to overlook the more harsh and rigid verses.
The author is
mistaken. When we can prove with the help of the verses on fighting alone, that
fighting is permitted only against oppression, against any oppressor, even if
the oppressor belongs to your faith and the oppressed is a polytheist, where is
then the question of overlooking anything or cherry picking? You can look at what you call “the harsh and
rigid verses” without reference to any context outside of the Quran, and
without hiding behind the peaceful verses
did and said varied at different points over the 23 years of his Prophethood.
His message changed shape and direction as events did. The Qur’an contains
contradictions, ambiguity and vagueness leaving the door open to a multitude of
unbroken continuity and consistency in the message. There isn’t even a single
contradiction in the Quran and it is a book without ambiguity and lends itself
to finding the true meaning after which any other interpretation will clearly appear
to contradict the Quran. I am not making an empty claim. It is backed by more
than 50 articles covering every difficult topic/question. As for the continuity
and consistency, read:
The Story of the
Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) from the Qu’ran (part 1): The early
The Story of the
Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 2): The Clear
Warning to the Meccan Pagans
The Story of the
Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 3): Important Pointers
from the Stories of the Prophets
The Story of the
Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian
The Story of the
Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qu’ran (Concluding Part) Summary
The Story of the
Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 6): The People of
the Book and Jiziya
Some argue that
the principle of abrogation means that the more peaceful and conciliatory
verses are no-longer valid. For example verse 106 of al-Baqara says:
“Any revelation We cause to be abrogated or forgotten, We replace with
something better or similar.”
not apply to the Quran at all. It applies to previous scriptures. To give you
an example of abrogation to explain the verse “Any revelation We cause to be
abrogated or forgotten, We replace with something better or similar”, take the
maxim of reciprocity “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This
is the very first moral principle given by God to mankind to every people and
region where a civilization developed without which we would not have made the
transition from savage to civilization. It is found in all regions and
religions and is as old as civilization since civilization was not possible
without it. This is replaced by the maxim of “Ahsan” “repel evil with what is
better and forgiveness in place of retaliation”. Since the Quran is the last in
a series of progressive revelations, you may not find anything new but in a
form that is better. The punishment for adultery for example, is not stoning to
death but a 100 stripes and 80 stripes to those who accuse without establishing
the charge. There is no capital punishment for homosexuality.
Read: Deen-e-Islam or the
Moral Way of Living in Islam
cannot decisively defeat the fundamentalists using scriptural arguments because
the harsh literalist interpretations of the fundamentalists will always have
the greater weight of classical scholarship on their side.
Can the weight of defective classical scholarship which has heaped
falsehood on the Quran withstand the power of the Quran? The Quran makes its
point categorically and leaves no scope for any contrary view to prevail except
the single meaning it is trying to communicate. All that you need is to empower
yourself by uncovering the meaning.
(21:18) Nay, We hurl the Truth against
falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah!
woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).
Do you need anything more than the power of the Quran to destroy
Even the so
called harshest verses are not harsh unless we give our own meanings to the
words disregarding the meaning that the Quran itself gives. I explain the so
called sword verses on their own merit without relying on “peaceful verses” and
fully consistent with their literal meaning as defined by the Quran. I
reproduce the same below:
The Final Judgment on the polytheists of Mecca
These verses were revealed 18 months after the
conquest of Mecca allowing people to settle down and assimilate. Mecca was
taken without a fight and there was no bloodshed for 18 months. These verses
pronounce Allah’s judgment that was repeatedly warned in the Meccan Surahs.
Allah had spared the Meccans destruction by an act of God when Muhammad (pbuh)
was driven out of Mecca.
the second last Surah in chronological order was revealed after the conquest of
Mecca. The war was mostly with the Meccans and their allies and the Meccans
were all Mushrikin. Notice when Mushrik is used and when Kafir is used in these
Verses 9:1 and
9:2 declare amnesty of four months to all Mushrikin but with a warning that the
Kafirun among them will be covered with shame at the end of the period.
9:3 and 9:4
announces dissolution of all treaties with the Mushrikin except with those who
never broke their treaty and warns the Kafirun (not Mushrikin) of a grievous
Verse 9:5 is a
command to kill all Mushrikin at the end of the four month period with the
1. Those who never broke
their treaty or never fought the Muslims
2. Those who accept
Islam offer prayers and pay Zakat
3. Those who seek asylum
If the command
was to kill only the Kafir, then the problem would have been how to identify them
since there was no longer an enemy standing in battle. The verse identifies the
non Kafir among the Mushrikin through the exceptions listed above. The rest of
the verses are by way of justification and evidence of the Kufr practiced by
those who are to be killed which covers all the Mushrikin except those who
never broke their treaty with the Muslims or never fought against them or those
who seek asylum. Asylum seekers are not defiant and therefore not Kafir.
verses are proof that the cause for fighting is not for the Kufr of faith or
belief which is known only to Allah, but for the Kufr of violating oaths and
covenants, for having plotted to expel the Messenger, and for being the first
to assault the Muslims :
(9:12) But if
they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,-
fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith ( a-Immat-al-Kufri) : for their oaths are
nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained.(13) Will ye not fight people
who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the
aggressive by being the first (to assault) you?
who had actively opposed Islam, fought wars, broke their treaties and remained
defiant even after the four month amnesty period were to be put to the sword if
they remained in Mecca and did not use the time to either migrate or accept
Islam. Not a single person was to be killed for simple unbelief and the
principle of “Let there be no compulsion in religion” and “To (peaceful
rejecter of faith ) be his way and to me mine” was never violated. How many
people remained both defiant and in Mecca at the end of the 4 month period? Not
even one it would appear as there was no need for anyone not to use the 4 month
period of amnesty to migrate to a safe place outside Hejaz. What is harsh in
these so called sword verses? Oh yes, the verse on slaughtering is very harsh.
Let us assume that this verse is made less harsh while saying that the
Mushrikin who fought in violation of treaties will be killed if found in Mecca
at the end of the amnesty period. This is however said as lightly as possible
using euphemisms. Will that not result in some people taking the warning
lightly and remaining in Mecca and getting slaughtered? Is it not better to
scare the devil in them and avoid any bloodshed at the end of the amnesty
period rather than make them stay and get killed? Let us measure harshness by
outcome. The so called sword verses avoided bloodshed altogether. This lesson
of achieving your objectives by minimizing bloodshed was learned very well by
the Muslims. You will not find in history another empire
of the same size built with such little bloodshed.
contrary to popular belief all the Arabs at the time of Muhammad did not swoon
at the words of the Qur’an believing it to be of divine origin. Even after
Islam there were Muslims who rejected the Qur’an’s claim to be inimitable.
During the Islamic Golden Age many prominent scholars and poets openly
questioned the view that the Qur’an was of divine origin.
To claim the inimitability of the Quran on its linguistic excellence is
truly ludicrous. The criterion is subjective and everyone can have his own
opinion. The challenge of the Quran has however been misunderstood. Its
inimitability is on the substance of the Quran which is covered in my article: Science and
The Golden Age was what I call the period of Islam’s
innocence. It lost its innocence when it discovered that rationalism was turning
out heretics. They clamped down on rationalism and therefore the Golden Age
came to an end.
If the challenge of the Quran is correctly
understood, it insulates the rationalists from turning heretics. Revelations
have given us something so valuable, that without them, we would have remained
savages. It gave us moral principles and
a moral way of living. The maxim of reciprocity that I spoke of was first
practiced as a religious duty and became a shared value among people who
followed their religion leading to trust and cooperation within large groups of
people. This was the beginning of a civilization. Religion gave us
deontological ethics or ethics based on reverence for God and the moral code.
The benefit to the individual and to the society from practicing the religious
moral codes soon became apparent and measurable. These principles became
understandable in hindsight from the empirical evidence. The philosophers
turned deontological ethics into pragmatic ethics based on reason since with
experience; these moral principles from religion could be presented logically
without talking about God and Divinity. Now since every moral principle from
religion is logical in hindsight (if it were not so, the principles would have
perished), the later day philosophers behave as if these are available in
foresight also without proof or evidence. The earliest philosophers had no
problem acknowledging that the moral principles that were discussed based on
reason, came from religion because they also held religious beliefs. This connection with religion however
loosened over the centuries and the later day philosophers carry on the charade
that religion itself is a construct of the human mind since all the things of
practical value that religions have given us, are amenable to our
understanding. So, what is understandable by the human intellect must be
amenable to human beings in foresight also is what they assume. The fact of the
matter is that in the entire recorded history of philosophy, starting from 600
BC, it has not contributed a single original moral principle while giving us
any number of theories of ethics and moral arguments.
The Quran says that it is the inspired word of God.
It therefore contains what is not possible without God’s inspiration and
therefore inimitable. The Challenge stands undefeated and is discussed in the
article cited above.
was particularly scathing about the Qur’an saying:
“You claim that
the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say:
'Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.' Indeed, we shall produce a
thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant
poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more
succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better
meter. … By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which
recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions
and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say:
'Produce something like it'‽”
Oh these miserable puny braggarts who mock God! Let us see what the best
among them is worth - these shameless plagiarists of God. Immanuel Kant gave us
what he calls the “supreme principle of morality”. The formula of the Universal
law is :"Act only
on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become
a universal law [of nature]."
Isn’t that the maxim of reciprocity “do unto others as
you would have them do unto you” rephrased? Kant has argued that it is superior
to the maxim of reciprocity. He has argued that the maxim of reciprocity does
not help if one is a masochist. Does his formulation work with the masochist or
the psychopath any better? What Kant has said perhaps sounds better and more
scholarly but who except another academic can understand it? Of what practical
value is it to the ordinary man who the scriptures are trying to address? Must
an ordinary man think in terms of universalizing his simple decision into a law
binding on all at every step? He will simply be unable to act!
Kant is perhaps the most famous of the moral
philosophers. Even a modern philosopher of the 19th century could go
no further than the maxim of reciprocity from religion. He did so without
acknowledging that he was merely rephrasing the maxim. Kantian morality is
deontological and he ended up admitting that without belief in justice finding
perfection in the Hereafter, his moral philosophy does not make rational sense.
Absolute moral values cannot exist outside religion. Practical ethics is doing
what is practical under a given set of circumstances based on utilitarian
considerations of cost/benefit or of consequences (chances of getting caught
and suffering the penal consequences) and is not morality. There is no morality
in practicing honesty in business in which repeat business constitutes 95% of
sales. Honesty here is a utilitarian principle since the customers won’t return
if the business is dishonest. We find very little honesty in businesses where the
customer is not likely to return such as tourist places unless there is
effective control by the government to prevent unethical practices. That is the
difference between honesty as a moral principle and as a principle of pragmatic
ethics. A business which practices honesty as a moral principle will act
honestly even if it is in business where 100% of its sales is to new customers
who will not return.
the rise of Europe during the Renaissance came the decline & stagnation in
the Islamic world and what little free-thought had existed during the Islamic
Golden Age came to an end. The doors of Ijtihad were closed and scholars no
longer braved new frontiers. Instead they concentrated on preserving and
imitating the past.
That is true
and is a pity. The rot started much earlier. The Muslims had a head start over
Europe by about 1000 years and lost out. To my mind, this was because they had
not discovered the antidote to the Muslims turning heretic while studying
logic, philosophy and the Sciences. They therefore developed an antagonism to
these subjects which persists to this day. The Muslims opted for preserving
their religion and all credit to them for it. It is the rationalists who failed
us by getting carried away by the claims of pragmatic ethics and not realizing
that this was plain and simple plagiarism from religion in rationalist garb.
The human intellect is capable of advancing the moral principles in a rational
manner by framing appropriate laws and other improvements of an incremental nature,
but is incapable of producing a single moral principle on its own. All of them
are inspired by God and that is why the challenge of God to produce anything
like the Quran. The substance of the Quran is the Deen. Its excellence is
captured in my article:
Deen-e-Islam or the
Moral Way of Living in Islam
.Perhaps the irony is that most Muslims already pick and choose - the
only difference is that I’m simply proposing they do this openly and
unashamedly without the ridiculously tenuous and disingenuous apologetics that
are ultimately self-defeating.
I will give you
an example from verse 34 of Sura al Nisa which in microcosm reflects the
dilemma Muslims face and how belief in a perfect Qur’an prevents us from
reform. The verse says:
“As for those women from whom you fear rebellion (first) admonish them
(next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) hit them.” (4:34)
This has been
the cause of endless problems & cognitive dissonance for rational and
liberal Muslims in this day and age where humanity has evolved beyond such a
barbaric mentality and where the relationships and roles of men and women have
changed drastically from 7th century Arabia.
The Quran is not wrong on 4:34 either. Read my article:
Marriage and Treatment of Women
There are many
beautiful and mystical verses such as Ayat u Nur, Ayat ul Kursi, verses
about giving charity, helping others, seeking comfort and strength from prayer,
helping the poor, good behaviour and character, honesty, personal
responsibility, kindness, humbleness and so on…
Ayat al-Nur is
a beautiful verse but very much misunderstood I am afraid. I have covered this
in my article.
An Exposition of
the Verse of Light (Ayat al-Nur)
But there are
also verses about eternal torture in Hell, chopping hands off thieves, flogging
fornicators, and keeping slaves.
There are no
verses about enslaving people while there are numerous verses about freeing
slaves, marrying them and treating them kindly.
Arabia, I doubt if the Hadd punishments are implemented anywhere else. I am not
sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. The good thing about flogging
is that there is no prison sentence to serve and loss of one’s freedom. The
family does not suffer because the bread winner is serving a sentence. What
happens inside the prison is often much worse than flogging with sexual assault
being so common. It is better to take a few lashes than get buggered every day
of your sentence by fellow cell mates. Do prisons reform the prisoner? What
comes out is a more hardened criminal. What about the cost to the society? What
happens behind prison walls however does not bother us.
We get fined
for traffic violations? Does that deter us? What if we were given just one
stripe for every traffic violation beyond three in a year? I am sure traffic
violations will become a thing of the past without many people undergoing the
penalty. The thought of it is enough to deter.
punishments in hell, it is for the Kafirin and not all people belonging to any
faith are considered as Kafirin by the Quran. The people who will be in hell
will come from all faiths and so also people in heaven. The Kafirin are the
ingrate rebels. They are not good ordinary folks from a different religion from
And if there is
so much evil in the world despite the dire warnings, imagine how much more evil
there may have been without it? Get it out of your mind that the Kafir is some
dear Hindu friend of yours. That isn’t the meaning of Kafir. Each one of us
will be judged by how we dealt with our cognitive dissonance. When we deal with
it with honestly, we are guided along the “straight path” and when we deal with
it dishonestly “we are allowed to stray”.
You can understand that as your cognitive bias progressively hardening
your acceptance of “what is bad” as good.
prescriptions are based on human psychology or the laws governing our
behaviour. Take our prayer and the 50 Rakats daily and in each Rakat we pray
“Guide me on the straight path”. Why do you have to say this 50 times a day?
The prayer works as auto-suggestion provided you are not heedless in your
prayers and pray in a devout frame of mind.
Take the verses
on help during battle provided by Allah with a thousand Angels or 3000 or 5000.
Allah Himself says that it was to strengthen your heart and it worked as a
charm as if there were indeed angels helping you.
Allah has laid
down the laws and the laws work perfectly and the Universe is mostly self-governing.
So if something is not working, figure out why and change what needs to be
13:11 Allah does not change a people´s lot unless they change what is in
It’s time we
Muslims realise that recognising the human origins of the Qur’an do not mean we
have to lose comfort and solace Islam gives us. It means we will have the dual
benefit of eradicating extremism while preserving that which is worthwhile.
You make two
assumptions here – that because you reject the divine origin of the Quran, the
extremists will follow suit. It is a naïve assumption. The second one is that
his belief in the Quran as of divine origin is what makes him an extremist! I
believe in the divine origin of the Quran without a shadow of doubt and am both
a literalist and a fundamentalist and at the same time moderate, modern and
progressive and also a rationalist to the core. Why do you think the word of
God would require you to compromise on anything least of all your rationality
and your humanity?
To those who say that is impossible to combine faith
with doubt &skepticism I would say firstly I myself have reached that
point. Secondly why should such a pragmatic realism be harder than the massive
efforts most believers put into struggling with cognitive dissonance?
certainly better than blind belief. It is blind belief that makes a bigot or an
extremist and I would any day prefer a sceptic to a bigot. However, belief that
does not take leave of the senses or rationality is certainly superior to
disbelief. Skepticism is not bad but unresolved and unexamined scepticism is
take the bold & essential step of challenging the belief that Qur’an is
The only weapon
that can defeat the extremists is showing that what you say is fully backed by
the Quran and it is they who are twisting the clear meaning. For this you have
to be convinced first.
As far as
trying to convince that the Quran is not divine, not flawless and not without
contradictions, go-ahead and give it your best shot. Don’t however base your
arguments on what others say unless you are yourself convinced. If you go about
it honestly, you will discover how mistaken you were.
Islam is far
more than the Qur’an and Sunna. It is the fundamentalists who are destroying
Islam by stripping it of the very things that has made religion relevant to
are people with poor education. It is the educated who have failed Islam. A
little education turns their head. No wonder, the Golden period did not last.
Take Al-Razi, he mocks God! Is it any wonder that the traditionalist Muslims
turned against such education which makes them turn out like Al-Razi?
expects you to examine it critically and with all sincerity and by dealing with
cognitive dissonance most honestly by changing your view rather than by
rationalizing or discounting.
period would never have ended if the Muslims who excelled in the sciences had
kept their heads and balance and not mocked God and religion. It is those who
pursued the Sciences who have let down the Muslims and Islam. The
traditionalists for all their faults have at least been loyal. They turned
blind believers after seeing that the eyes have done no good to those who used
the telescopes and the microscopes. I don’t blame the rationalists either.
Arrogance comes easily to man and there was no antidote to their arrogance.
Such arrogance was based on very little appreciation of the contribution that
religion made to civilizing us without which the same scientists and
philosophers would have been no more than savages. I have tried to capture the
reasons for the golden age and its decline in the following article:
Causes For The Rise
And Fall Of The Muslims
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is
an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private
sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent
contributor to www.NewAgeIslam.com
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