FOLLOW US:

Books and Documents
Islam and Science (08 Aug 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Pervez Hoodbhoy, Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and Battle for Rationality

By Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

 

In this book, Dr. Hoodbhoy, a nuclear physicist, eloquently and usefully draws attention to the plight of science and technology in the Muslim world and to the need to do something about it. The book also makes some other helpful insights here and there about why, after centuries of brilliant achievements, science suffered such a fate in the Muslim world. But the book also suffers from some very serious flaws in its view of Islam and analysis of Islamic history.

 

VILIFICATION OF “RELIGIOUS ORTHODOXY”

To begin with the book shows insufficient appreciation of the fact that rationality and irrationality are almost always found together in every culture or group or individual, from Nobel laureate scientists to man on the street and therefore rationality has to battle within each of them. Failing to do justice to this self-evident fact, the author makes a sharp, almost black-and-white distinction between two tendencies in Islamic history, one irrational and represented by the “religious orthodoxy” and the other rational and represented by philosophers and scientists.

 

The tone for this outlook is set first in the subtitle of the book and then in the foreword, written by Prof. Abdus Salam, the renowned physicist. The subtitle, “Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality”, assumes that religious orthodoxy is a blind force committed against rationality and is something to be battled. We are not told what defines “religious orthodoxy”, but it seems that for the author it means religious beliefs and practices taught by the ‘ulama` (religious scholars), including those that are also found in the teachings of the Prophet and his companions.

When we move from the title to the foreword, we find Salam condemning the ‘ulama` without mercy and without any qualifications. Although this review is about Hoodbhoy’a book, yet because of the stature of Salam as a physicist and the weight that some people might give to his views, it seems worthwhile to examine the foreword in some detail.

 

Salam divides the ‘ulama` into two categories. “First, there are the lay preachers whose major task is to lead prayers in the rural mosques and who earn their living by performing such functions as officiating marriage, death, and circumcision ceremonies and looking after the upkeep of the mosques.” With undisguised disdain the Nobel laureate suggests the following way to deal with them: “This is a professional class who should have scant interest in fundamentalist persecution once their livelihood is secured. If this can be guaranteed them … they would not retard the progress of science and technology.” What a brilliant solution! Classes that retard progress should be guaranteed livelihood so that other classes may be encouraged to retard progress!

“The second class of ‘ulama` is the damaging one... These are men (without spiritual pretensions) who claim to interpret the Holy Qur`an, issue excommunication fatwas … and give their view on all subjects – politics, economics, and law – in their Friday sermons. … The arrogance, the rapacity, and the low level of common sense displayed by this class, as well as its tolerance, have been derided by all poets and writers of any consequence in Persia, India, Central Asia, and Turkey.” For this second category of ‘ulama, Salam suggests no brilliant solutions. Apparently, their case is hopeless...

 

Salam makes takfir (which he translates as excommunication and means declaring someone a non-believer or outside the fold of Islam) as the starting point of his analysis of what is wrong with the Muslim world and what to do about the promotion of science and technology there. Like the ‘ulama`, he condemns takfir without any qualifications. “What is the remedy that takfir does not recur”? Takfir is viewed here as bad without any exceptions. Yet is this position rational? Does not a group, whether religious or secular have the right to define itself? Can we not form a group by setting a basis in belief and practice for membership. And can we then not expel those members who have radically departed from that basis? A negative answer to these questions is the presupposition of Salam’s comments, which is clearly irrational... Indeed, takfir is not too different from Salam’s decision not to write a foreword for Hoodboy’s book (p. ix) if it did not agree with his views. Nobody can object to the condition that Salam imposed for writing the foreword.. Similarly, no body can object to the right of a group to impose certain conditions for membership in it.

 

The disgust with which Salam treats a whole class of people and his categorical and unqualified rejection of the very idea of takfir is not understandable on any rational grounds. But it begins to make sense once we keep in mind that Salam belongs to the Qadiyani sect which is one of the very few sects, if not the only one, that Muslims have, with a level of unanimity rarely achieved in Islamic history, declared outside the fold of Islam. This makes him lose sight of two very obvious facts: 1) groups do have the right to decide what they stand for and insist that people either subscribe to their foundational principles or leave; and 2) a whole class of people cannot be so uniformly disgusting as Salam makes the ‘ulama` to be.

The vilification of the ‘ulama` started in the foreword by Salam is continued in the book by Hoodbhoy, although while Salam demonizes the ‘ulama because they declared the Qadiyani sect to be outside the fold of Islam, Hoodbhoy’s motivation comes from a negative attitude towards religion itself.

 

Hoodboy presents as “heroes” (p. 107) some Muslim scientists and philosophers who supposedly held very unconventional views about Islam such as al-Kindi, al-Razi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, and Ibn Khaldun while he turns other brilliant leaders and thinkers such as ‘Umar bin al-Khattab and al-Ghazali into villains. This strict division between villains and heroes, as is often the case, proves to be mistaken under scrutiny. Thus one “orthodox villain” Ibn Taymiyyah considered another “orthodox villain” al-Ghazali as misguided. Similarly, Ibn Khaldun, one of Hoodbhoy’s heroes, condemns another of his heroes Ibn Sina as anti-religious. Furthermore, if “villains” like al-Ghazali seem to discourage the study of some sciences, then so do “heroes” like Ibn Khaldun who opposed the science of chemistry and Ibn Rushd who said: “books written by scholars should be forbidden to the ordinary person by the rulers.”

 

Likewise, there is no clear demarcation between the persecutors and the persecuted on the basis of ideology. Both the “orthodox” and the “rationalists” could be persecuted or be the persecutors if circumstances so conspired. Thus Hoodbhoy’s villains suffered some hardships as did his heroes. The rationalists Mu‘tazilites were in power when the “orthodox” Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others were tortured for their views on the nature of the Quran and eventually killed. Later, the “orthodox” were in power and they seized one Abd al-Sallam in whose house were found books on philosophy, witchcraft, astrology, cults of the stars, and prayers addressed to the planets. At least the orthodox did not physically torture him, much less kill him. They simply burnt the books in his possession and cursed in public those who wrote them or believed in them. What is most interesting is that Imam Ibn Hanbal was also cursed because Abd al-Sallam was his grandson and was regarded as one of his disciples. That Ahmad ibn Hanbal could be considered a teacher of a philosopher with books on witchcraft and worship of the stars and then could be cursed by the “orthodox” shows how blurred were the distinctions between the “orthodox” and the “rationalist heretics”. Also, without doubt many of Hoodbhoy’s heroic philosophers and scientists would have agreed with their “villainous orthodox” counterparts in rejecting astrology, witchcraft, worship of stars and planets.

 

But Hoodbhoy’s book has to sharpen the distinction between the “orthodox” and the “rationalists” to the point of making it black and white. Having no original approach in his analysis of Islamic history, he simply sees it in terms of the conflict in Western history between the Chruch and science and between the Chruch and the state. Since in Islam there is no central organized authority comparable to the Church establishment, something like the “religious orthodoxy” had to be given the place of the church in order to force the model of Christian history on to the Islamic history. Likewise, since over against this “religious orthodoxy” there were no scientists in clear opposition, he has to pick some Muslim philosophers and scientists as heroes comparable to Galileo and other European scientists. And since the diagnosis of the problem is imported from the West, then the solution also comes from there. As we shall see, the solution according to the author is secularism, separation of religion and state.

 

In order to paint a negative image of the “religious orthodoxy” Hoodbhoy lists a number of incidents that supposedly establish such an image (p. 95-107). We have already referred to one such incident, that involving Abd al-Sallam. As we have seen this incident only points to the difficulty of sharply distinguishing the orthodox from other Muslims... Another incident mentioned is about “the orthodox sultan, Khawarism Shah.” When a word was brought to him of a land of the midnight sun, the sultan regarded the report as pure heresy, for if such information were accurate it would put into question the prayer times. Later, the sultan accepted the report when the well-known Muslim scientist, Al-Biruni, who then lived at the court of the sultan, assured him of its accuracy. Now, we may ask: where, in this story, is that blind force of irrationality that the orthodox are supposed as a rule to manifest and which rationality has to battle? We can accuse the sultan of limited intelligence or of rushing to judgment -- by no means rare human qualities in any time, place, and group -- but there is no blind opposition to rationality here. The sultan keeps company with the likes of al-Biruni and when the great man of learning explains the matter to him, he listens to reason.

 

AN UNFOUNDED ACCUSATION AGAINST ‘UMAR’ THE GREAT

Another example of the blindness of the religious orthodoxy is a tradition about ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, one of the towering figures of human history. Hoodbhoy taints the name of ‘Umar by quoting the tradition that when Muslims conquered Persia their commander Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas came across a very large number of books. He asked ‘Umar what to do about these books and received the reply: “Throw them in the water. If what they contain is right guidance, God has given us better guidance. If it is error, God has protected us against it.” The tradition is quoted as part of the examples on p. 95-107 of the blindness of the “religious orthodoxy”.

 

Hoodbhoy clearly does not know that this tradition is a total fabrication and that it is known as such to scholars, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The story is first mentioned by Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), that is, seven centuries after the time of ‘Umar. We have an earlier story, but this one is not about throwing in the water a large number of books in Iran but burning by fire a similarly large number in Alexandria, Egypt... The earliest mention of this Alexandrian version of the story is also late, about six centuries after the time of ‘Umar. During these six centuries voluminous books of history were written not only by Muslims but also by Christians and Jews. Yet not a hint of burning of any library in any land conquered under ‘Umar is found in any of these books, not even those written by Ibn Khaldun, who mentions it in his sociological work, al-Muqaddimah. Moreover, there is evidence that the Alexandrian library was destroyed earlier by Christians before Islam and in the time of ‘Umar there was no library in the Egyptian city to burn! The legendary character of the story is so obvious that any writer who has some academic standing and has examined the story from a historical point of view has rejected it, including Gibbon, Butler, Victor Chauvin, Paul Casanova, Eugenio Griffini, Carlyle, Hector, Renan, Sedillot, Devanport, Gustav Lebon, Will Durant, Bernard Lewis, Shibli Nu‘mani, and the Iranian scholar Murtada Mutahhari. Had Hoodbhoy examined the reliability of this report in anything like a scientific spirit, he would have quickly discovered the above mentioned facts and reached the obvious conclusion that the story has no basis in historical fact...

 

 SUPERFICIAL CRITIQUE OF IMAM AL-GHAZALI

If Hoodbhoy never suspected anything wrong in a report casting aspersion on a person like ‘Umar, although even a Christian writer in the 17th century wrote that the report does not ring true (Eusèbe Renaudot, History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria), then it is only to be expected that Hoodbhoy would jump on any words of lesser representatives of the “religious orthodoxy” if they would paint them as blind. For this crime of religious orthodoxy, Hoodbhoy singles out al-Ghazali as the worst culprit. In doing so he uses English translation of the German translation by Goldziher of the Arabic works, and possibly also that Orientalist’s analysis. It is well known that Goldziher at times misunderstood Arabic texts he used. A well known example is a text by al-Zuhri which Goldziher misinterpreted to mean that al-Zuhri admitted fabricating hadith in order to please the rulers.

 

More importantly, Hoodbhoy quotes only the passages where al-Ghazali seems to discourage the study of science and philosophy. Violating basic principle of rational scientific inquiry, he completely ignores a large number of other statements by al-Ghazali that point in the other direction, e.g.

1)      Al-Ghazali rejected conformism or uncritical acceptance of any set of ideas including that of the Shari’ah. He went through an agonizing ordeal in search of truth. He critically examined the positions of both the religious and philosophical groups existing in his time. As he himself says: “In the bloom of my life, from the time I reached puberty before I was twenty until now, when I am over fifty, I have constantly been diving daringly into the depth of this profound sea and wading into its deep water like a bold man, not like a cautious coward.  I would penetrate far into every mazy difficulty.”

2)      Al-Ghazali in his Munqidh condemns those who rejected scientific propositions of the philosophers even when those propositions were true, simply because some of their other philosophical conclusions conflicted with religion.

3)      In his famous book, Ihya` ‘Ulum al-Din, he divides knowledge into `ulum shar‘iyyah (sciences of the Shari‘ah) and ‘ulum ghayr shar‘iyyah (non-Shari‘ah sciences). To the latter belongs mathematics and medicine, which he describes as praiseworthy sciences.  They are considered fard kifayah, that is, it is a collective obligation of the Muslims to train enough members of the community with expertise in these fields so that the needs of the Islamic society are fulfilled. This implies that every Muslim would be committing a sin if there was a shortage of experts in these sciences. To be sure, in the same book, al-Ghazali also criticized unnecessary studies in mathematics that do not have practical applications. But clearly we have to understand the two positions in the light of each other. It should also be noted that al-Ghazali had a similar criticism for sciences of Shariah. Thus he blamed the students of jurisprudence for their indulgence in minute details of the Shari`ah. The context indicates that according to al-Ghazali it would be better to study medicine instead of specializing in issues in jurisprudence that might never prove to be of any benefit. In a later book, al-Mustasfa min `Ilm al-Usul, al-Ghazali seems to be much more negative towards mathematical fields (arithmetic and geometry). But this is probably a case of an author going too far in expressing one concern – in this case a concern to warn against certain false teachings of the philosophers – at the expense of other concerns.

4)      Al-Ghazali’s criticism of the philosophers is not a criticism of rationality, for he himself uses the rational method in the criticism. He wrote two books to refute the philosophers: Maqasid al-Falasifah (The Aims of the Philosophers) and Tahafut al-Falasifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers).  In the first book he objectively set down what Muslim philosophers were saying in his time. As he himself says: “I thought that I should introduce, prior to the Tahafut, a concise account that will include the story of their aims (maqasid) which will be derived from their logical, natural and metaphysical sciences, without distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong, without additions and along with what they believed as their proofs.” (Maqasid, p. 31) This conscious attempt to present an objective account of the thought of adversaries is more rational than Hoodbhoy’s biased and selective representation of al-Ghazali’s thought. It was followed by the Tahafut, which subject the views of the philosophers to logical criticism within a set of shared assumptions.

5)      Al-Ghazali is aware that there are more sciences within reach of human beings than existed in his time. “It appeared to me through clear insight and beyond doubt, that man is capable of acquiring several sciences that are still latent and not existent” (Jawahir al-Qur’an).

Al-Ghazali gives reasons why certain type of pursuit of some sciences may not be desirable. These reasons are: a) what is true in some sciences may lead one to accept what is false in those or other related sciences; b) some sciences have no use; and c) pursuit of science is wrong if it is motivated by wrong intentions such as “attaining worldly ends, securing its vanities, acquiring its dignities, surpassing your contemporaries”.

 

Al-Ghazali’s views here, although not entirely unjustifiable are clearly in error. But we must keep in mind that science is not defined by its conclusions but by its methodology. There has never been a scientist who did not hold fundamentally erroneous ideas. Consequently, if we required that a thinker should hold only valid ideas before we can put him on the side of rationality and science, then no human will fit the bill. One can even be critical of science and rationality and yet be completely scientific and rational. It is also true that a person can make excellent contributions to a very specific area of science and yet may be very irrational and unscientific in his views generally. The way al-Ghazali debates the issues qualifies him as a rational and scientific man. He was certainly wrong in considering certain sciences useless, but it is possible to argue with him with evidence to the contrary and to change his opinion. He was also wrong in his estimation of the spiritual dangers of pursuing studies of some fields, but again it is possible to argue with him otherwise and change his positions. The tragedy for Muslims has not been that there arose men like al-Ghazali in the Muslim world but that ‘ulama in general did not continue to argue like them, so that when abundant evidence piled up in favor of the tremendous usefulness and even indispensability of many areas of science they did not encourage Muslims to pursue them as fard kifayah.

It is also interesting that one of the recent Islamic philosopher and thinker, Allamah Muhammad Iqbal has also frequently made negative statements about intellectual knowledge (‘ilm) which he contrasts with seeing (nazr) and about reason (‘aql) which he contrasts with heart (Urdu: dil). He has said that modern education brings with it disbelief (ilhad). Yet no reader of Iqbal thinks that he was against a vigorous pursuit of intellectual knowledge and the sciences. Al-Ghazali’s negative statements about philosophy, mathematics etc can probably be evaluated similarly.

Hoodbhoy does not at all mention Iqbal in his book. This omission at first sight seems surprising, considering that Iqbal is such an influential thinker, especially in Pakistan, a country to which Hoodbhoy pays special attention. But the omission is quite understandable: Because of Iqbal’s status, not only among the general public but also among the very educated people, Hoodbhoy could not present him as a villain, and yet Iqbal says all the things that the author’s villains say. Any treatment of Iqbal would have exposed the artificiality of our author’s sharp distinction, in terms of darkness and light, between orthodoxy and philosophy/science.

 

Al-Ghazali’s Views on Cause-Effect Relation and Free Will

One reason al-Ghazali is put squarely against rationality is Hoodbhoy’s understanding of the term. Following Nietzshe, Hoodbhoy defines “rationality” as “a matrix of connections which assigns cause to effect”. In this form, the definition can hardly exclude anyone from rationality, since almost every human being, from the primitive man living in jungles to the most sophisticated researcher, in some way accepts the validity of cause and effect relationship. Even animals must at some level have a notion of this relationship, for otherwise they could not function as living organisms. The difference lies in the degree to which the relationship is viewed as deterministic or necessary. Hoodbhoy often seems to assume -- and make part of rationality -- a strictly deterministic connection, that is, every event (with the possible exception of the big bang?) can be assigned a set of causes that uniquely determine that event. The problem with this view of rationality is that it has identified rationality with a particular position on the cause-effect relationship. A satisfactory definition of rationality, however, should leave room for questioning all positions including a position on the cause-effect relationship. The irreducible minimum of such a definition should consist only of: a) a belief in the general intelligibility of the universal order, b) some rules of logic, and c) use of observations and experiments in validating all models of the universe.

 

If one must connect rationality and the acceptance of a cause and effect relation, the connection should be expressed in probabilistic terms. One could, for example, say: Rationality assigns probabilities to possible effects resulting from a given set of causes, consistent with whatever observations we do possess and whatever analysis of those observations we are able to conduct. We become irrational when we assign probabilities (including 0 and 1) to effects without regard to available observations.

To get back to our author, Hoodbhoy condemns al-Ghazali for denying that the cause-effect relationship is sufficient for explaining events in the universe and for accepting the belief in predestination. What Hoodbhoy fails to realize is that even if these positions are wrong, they are not irrational or against science, since logic and science cannot prove them false. Al-Ghazali said that “the conjunction (al-‘iqtiran) between what is conceived by way of habit (fi al-‘adah) as cause and effect is not necessary (laysa daruriyyan).”  Many centuries later the philosopher David Hume will argue a similar position. This position can also be justifiably derived from modern quantum physics, which admits the possibility that a given state of the universe may lead in any future moment of time one of several possible states. If so, then just as al-Ghazali said, cause-effect relationship is not necessary.

As for al-Ghazali’s belief in predestination, it can be justified by the assumption, perfectly reasonable, that human thoughts and actions are events in the universe and are subject to laws according to which the universe functions. This leads to two possibilities.

 

First, we may assume a deterministic universe in the sense that there are laws, discoverable through science, according to which one state of the universe completely determines all future states. In particular, all human activities are completely predetermined by the past states of the universe. There is nothing inherently irrational about such a deterministic view of the universe. Indeed, it is a reasonable deduction from the cause-effect relationship, so important for Hoodbhoy, and has often been assumed by philosophers and scientists, especially in the 18th and 19th century. Buoyed by the initial successes of science to explain the data available at the time, some scientists believed that everything that happens in the universe, including human feelings, thoughts, choices, and actions can be explained, at least in theory, in terms of the motions of various particles in the human body and elsewhere in the universe and therefore can be predicted, at least in theory, using some boundary conditions and the mathematical equations of physics. There is no real difference between this view and the belief in predestination, except that the term “predestination” suggests that human actions are predetermined not by some boundary conditions and mathematical laws but by some intelligent agent or God.

Second, we may assume a non-deterministic universe of the type described by quantum physics. In this case, we can reasonably argue that while a given state is not completely determined by the past states according to the laws discoverable by science, it is nevertheless uniquely determined in the sense that “it will be what it will be, and could not be anything else”. This is again equivalent to predestination.

 

Hoodbhoy again and again stresses the importance of belief in the freedom of will and in a strict cause-effect relationship. But there is a contradiction between the two beliefs. For, if a free exercise of human will is an event within the observable universe, it cannot be assigned a sufficient cause, for otherwise it cannot be “free” in any reasonable sense. On the other hand, if free will operates somewhere outside the observable universe, then the actions resulting from this operation of will, which clearly take place within the observable universe, cannot be assigned a sufficient cause within that universe. In either case the belief in freedom of will implies that there are events in the observable universe that cannot be assigned sufficient causes within that universe, that is, we cannot at the same time affirm belief in the freedom of will and belief in a strict cause-effect relationship governing the observable universe.

In the light of above comments, one can conclude that Hoodbhoy’s pronouncements against al-Ghazali are somewhat superficial, since they do not proceed from a proper study of al-Ghazali and of the philosophical and scientific issues connected with predestination, free will, and cause-effect relationship.

 

RELIGION’S SIDE NOT TREATED ADEQUATELY

One would expect that a book on “Islam and Science” will treat the subject from both sides -- from the side of science and from the side of Islam. This means that the book should explain, on the one hand, what science is and what it aims to achieve and, on the other hand, explain what Islam is and what it aims to achieve. It should then discuss how far and in what ways the aims of the two can be achieved simultaneously. But while Hoodbhoy does explain the nature and aims of science, he provides no such treatment of Islam. He is content to make a few general statements, e.g., religion and science have different domains and therefore neither invalidates the other; neglect of science and technology by Muslims and their other failings do not prove or disprove Islam’s truth (p. 139); and a rather profound observation that religion “is a reasoned and reasonable abdication of reason with regard to those questions which lie outside the reach of science” (p. 137). Had he explored these ideas in some detail he could have done some justice to the topic from the side of religion.

 

FUNDUMENTALIST SECULARIST-HUMANIST

Any writer’s interpretations of past or present events are closely connected with his world-view and other assumptions that he has accepted in his mind. In trying to evaluate this particular book, I therefore enquired about the world-view that lies behind Hoodbhoy’s analysis.

While reading the book, I got the impression that the author is reluctant to deal with “Islam and Science” from the point of view of Islam not only because he might not have sufficient knowledge and understanding of Islam but also because for that very reason he does not have a really positive view of religion. A few positive statements about Islam that he does make seem to be a concession to the reality that Islam is a fact of life in the Muslim world. This impression was confirmed when I came across the author’s article on “Muslims and the West after September 11” (downloaded from the Internet on July 1, 2002). In that article he states:

“Our collective survival lies in recognizing that religion is not the solution; neither is nationalism. Both are divisive, embedding within us false notions of superiority and arrogant pride that are difficult to erase. We have but one choice: the path of secular humanism, based upon the principles of logic and reason. This alone offers the hope of providing everybody on this globe with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The author formulates here in clear terms a position that was probably present in his mind in some form when he wrote the book under review, about a decade earlier (in 1991).

 

In the article he also repeats his attack against “religious orthodoxy” becoming somewhat harsher:

“Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rationalist tradition, carried on by a group of Muslim thinkers known as the Mutazilites. This tradition stressed human free will, strongly opposing the predestinarians who taught that everything was foreordained and that humans have no option but to surrender everything to Allah. While the Mutazilites held political power, knowledge grew. But in the twelfth century Muslim orthodoxy reawakened, spearheaded by the cleric Imam Al-Ghazali. Al-Ghazali championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. He refuted the possibility of relating cause to effect, teaching that man cannot know or predict what will happen; God alone can. He damned mathematics as against Islam, an intoxicant of the mind that weakened faith.” (Hoodbhoy, “Muslims and the West after September 11”).

 

Clearly, Hoodbhoy has not learnt very much over the past ten years, since his criticism of al-Ghazali and religious orthodoxy reflects the same lack of understanding of the writings of al-Ghazali and the complexity of the issues connected with predestination, free will, and cause-effect relationship that he manifested in his book.

As for the secularist position, Hoodbhoy seems to assert it on the strength of its present popularity and dominance rather than on the basis of any rational analysis. We find only the following sweeping generalizations:

“Islam—like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or any other religion—is not about peace. Nor is it about war. Every religion is about absolute belief in its own superiority and its divine right to impose itself upon others. In medieval times, both the Crusades and the Jihads were soaked in blood. Today, Christian fundamentalists attack abortion clinics in the US and kill doctors; Muslim fundamentalists wage their sectarian wars against each other; Jewish settlers holding the Old Testament in one hand and Uzis in the other burn olive orchards and drive Palestinians off their ancestral land; Hindus in India demolish ancient mosques and burn down churches; Sri Lankan Buddhists slaughter Tamil separatists”

 

Here the author fails to notice that his criticism of religions applies to his own secularist position. Notice the absolutist statements: “we have but one choice: the path of secular humanism …”; “this alone offers the hope …”. There is here the same “absolute belief” in the “superiority” of secular humanism that religions are criticized for. The author seems unable to admit the possibility that religion might be able to provide a better alternative to secular humanism.  As for the list of the bloody battles in which followers of various religions have been involved, certainly secularism has not prevented people from similarly bloody wars. Hoodbhoy would have to claim that this is because the existing secularist countries like the USA and UK ceaselessly wage war because they are nationalistic and not sufficiently secularist-humanist and that if we can have a perfect humanist secular society, it will not engage in bloody wars. Well, many religious groups also claim that if a true form of their religion was in practice somewhere they will not do some of the wrong things that they now do.

There is no substantial difference between the mentality Hoodbhoy manifests and those of the religious people whom he criticizes. He has simply replaced religion with his favoured ideology. It seems fair to say that Hoodbhoy has become or is in the process of becoming a fundamentalist secularist-humanist.

 

IN CONCLUSION, Hoodbhoy’s perspective on “Islam and Science” comes from a lost faith and from a somewhat immature rationality. For this reason he cannot see what some other thinkers such as Allamah Iqbal could see: Secular humanism or any other similar set of ideas is not the “only way”. Islamic civilization, after its present ruin, will once again vibrate with life as an authentically Islamic civilization, not only overcoming some of its deep problems but also guiding humanity to a vastly better alternative to the existing world order.

Source: http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/hoodbhoy/book_review_islam_science.htm

URL: http://newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamAndScience_1.aspx?ArticleID=1615



TOTAL COMMENTS:-   5
  • from Gajendra Singh
    to Sultan.Shahin Editor@NewAgeIslam.com
    date 10 August 2009 09:38
    subject Re: Sectarian differences among Indian Muslims, NewAgeIslam.Org - 08 Aug, 2009

    On Views of Hoodbhoy

    Shia view

    But Islam did not liberate the sophisticated and evolved Persians, deeply influenced by spiritual and speculative Avestan, its excessive rituals and love for the intoxicant soma having been curbed earlier by Zoroaster's reforms (Buddhism was a similar attempt against Brahmanical rituals and excesses in India around the same time). Then the Persians lost their language, Pehlavi, which emerged a few centuries later as Persian in modified Arabic script. Having been ruled by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Tartars for eight-and-half centuries, there emerged the Sufi-origin Persian Safavids, who became finally masters of their own land, which more or less comprises present-day Iran. At the same time, to preserve their sect and survive, Iranians after centuries of foreign rule developed an uncanny ability not to bring to their lips what is on their minds, and have institutionalized it as takiyya, ie dissimulation.

    They had modified simple Arab Islam into a more sophisticated and innovative Shi'ite branch, with the direct descent of Imam Ali's progeny from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, echoing their deeply ingrained sense of the divinity of rulers. They strengthened (against the Arab caliphs and Turkish sultans) the status of the imams, who among more egalitarian Sunnis are no more than prayer leaders, in line with the Indian-Iranian tradition of placing priests higher than rulers (as are Brahmins in the Indian caste system). By tradition, Azeri (Turkish) speaking Iranians become chiefs of the armed forces. Ayatollah Ali Khameini is an Azeri speaking Iranian.

    The status of the imam evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, ie, of the faqih/mutjahid. (Somewhat like Hindu shankracharyas and the fraternity of learned pandits). The speculative Aryan mind fused the mystic traditions into Sufi Islam, bringing out the best in Islamic mysticism and softening the rigors of austere and crusading Islam which had emerged from the barren sands of Arabia. There were unparalleled contributions by Rumi, Hafij, Attar, El-Ghazali, Firdaus, Nizami, El-Beruni, Omar Khayyam and others to Islamic philosophy and civilization. Their answer to interminable Islamic theological arguments on free will v predetermination was that the opposites were the obverse and reverse sides of the divine mind, similar to the concepts in Hindu philosophy. Hindustani poetry, music, painting and architecture owe much to their Iranian cousins. Sufis played more than an equal role in the conversion to Islam of India as did the sword or material inducements. Sufi pirs are still as revered as Hindu or Sikh holy men in India.

    From Shi'ite variants like the Ismailis emerged the "assassins" from the mountain vastness of Iran and later Syria, representing an individuals' ultimate and sublime sacrifice for a cause (or his master) against the tyranny of the absolute or collective power of the caliphs and sultans, inspired by Imam Hussein's martyrdom. The assassin's modern-day versions, the suicide bombers of the Hizbollah, Hamas, Sikh or Tamil Tiger, have become the terrors of mankind.


    By Gajendra Singh -
  • If I am not wrong then this is probably the most scholarly and pointed debate in last few months. Since I have not read the book I can not possibly comment on Dr. Pervez's Book ( I intend to read this on the first possible opportunity). But the criticism raised by Dr. Shafaat is indeed very very articulate. What I could gather is that Dr. shafaat himself does not seem a typical orthodox muslim although to a casual eye he may appear one particularly when he defends Al-Ghazali but his approach truely remains rational and since facts do represent vector less entities therefore open ended on both sides and thus he raises questions in true spirit of the need for an unbiassed enquiry

    To top up the list the comments made by ADMIN. are really a treat to readers mind, He is prepared unusually well with a series of relevant examples from human history of last thousand years or so.

    As regarding Ghazali I try to remember that he is one person who has fought very hard to overcome his ignorance ( common to our species) and has tried to move upwards like a true YOGI. At the peak of his personal crisis he had landed into the full blown Clinical depression and for months togather his body remained paralysed and his tongue shrivilled and mute. At that point he took refuge in Sufism which he was earlier opposing. It is generally believed that it was through the Mysticism that he felt normal and back to life but then he suddenly seems to have grown dogmatic and that was the bigining of his personal aversion towards so called useless Sciences. It is also the hard fact that the contemporary Muslim world was keenly engaged in debating abstracts of mathematics, philosophy and similar things, As it is true in our times that for a thousand universities and their researches hardly one or two go on to make it purposeful same was probably true in Ghazalian times and He probably thought it not worthy of putting so much energy which could have otherwise been used in becoming devout, practicing Muslims, Falsafah generally has attaracted ire of orthodox believers ( He was acting under the belief of Islam's supremacy and it's eternal value in every sphere including Science , Therfore since Muslims were already given a hotline for every kind of knowledge why should they indulge in dissecting minute details of seemingly understood phenomenon ( This was a weak and essentially flawed stand)

    Mutazallites had done tremendously during their times but like any research group they too had their hits and misses but the important thing is that they pursued research, Allama Iqbal himself seems quite impressed by the Mutazallite's contribution which he mentions several times in his famous discourse " Reconstruction"

    With Ghazalian approach the gates of Ijtihad and research were closed more so in predominently sunni world and the crown of knowledge changed heads in accordance with the Iqbal *

    KABHI HUM SE KABHI GHAIRON SE SHANASAAI HAI

    BAAT KEHNE KI NAHIN, TU BHI TO HARJAAI HAI...


    By Dr. Sarkar Haider -
  • I think the criticsm of Pervez Hoodbhoy and Abdus Salam by  Ahmad Shafaat is erroneous. A lot of blame for the situation Islam finds itself in today has to be laid at the doors of closed-minded and literalist ulama over the past 1,000 years.

     

    I also think takfir or excommunication on grounds of disagreement is wrong and contrary to the Quranic injunction which says "There is no compulsion in religion". Threat of takfir in fact has been an effective instrument to block ijtihad.

     

    We may disagree with Qadiyani beliefs, but we have no God-given right to condemn them, excommunicate them, oppress them or discriminate against them. Such intolerance has no place in Islam.

     

    I strongly support the concept of secularism, or separation of religion from state.

     

    The battle between orthodoxy and rationalism is the crucial battle in Islam today, and rationalists such as Pervez Hoodbhoy and Ziauddin Sardar deserve our attention and support.

     


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin -
  • Comments on: - A review of: Pervez Hoodbhoy's 'Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality' - By: Dr. Ahmad Shafaat, Advocate, High Court of Pakistan.

    Fatemolla published on 01 April 2006

    Although I am yet to read Dr. Hoodbhoy’s book and cannot relate it to Dr. Ahmad Shafaat’s review of it, I am taking the opportunity to comment on some general aspects of the review. Forceful, and probably correct in certain sections, the review also seems quite misleading in some aspects.

    For starters: blindness of “religious orthodoxy” is not an assumption, but hit and heat of the day. A copy is blind by its attribute. Any religious orthodoxy’s claim of “purity” of their interpretation of Islam is but a copycat of a distant past. Inordinate amount of time, energy, attention, devotion and other resources are spent combing through volumes of information, only to confirm who did what 1400 years ago. Those findings are imposed on us as Islam, as if past people’s thought and behaviour, except Prophet’s (SA), builds Islam. In that process personal choices and even camel riding of the Prophet (SA) take the essence of Islamic faith as Sunnah for some Muslims, so much so that even the water of Jamjam and Arabian date offer some Sawab.


    About the Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam, suffice to say that a fish can never understand a bird’s life. To experience an inferno is quite different if being there and if watching it in TV. When 15000 of one’s own people are butchered and raped in three days (1953 Lahore, Pakistan), religious places are destroyed and right of religion is abolished, the “grey area” disappears and everything becomes black and white. Salam’s “cure” of “the second class of ‘ulama`” is not easy. Maybe Dr. Shafaat is able to prescribe one to develop a “not so hopeless” tool to deal with the Saudi Chief-Educationist who claims “Slavery is Islam’s part;” the Spanish Maolana’s book teaching how to beat wives without leaving scars on their bodies; the NWFP’s parliament-decision to ban women on TV/radio from advertisement/singing/dancing; Dubai’s law of beating wives; Malay-court’s acceptance of instant divorce by leaving message in answering machine; French Maolana’s support of wife-beating and Raj’m; Bangladesh-Maolanas’ roar of killing university-professors; Sudan-parliament’s law of excluding women from jobs that need gender-mixing, without keeping some jobs only for women; UK-Maolanas’ declaration of Jihad and celebration of 9/11 etcetera. Lest we forget human rights are not negotiable, even in the name of Islam. Lest we forget human rights don’t have to pass the test of scriptures. Rather, scriptures have to pass the test of human rights.

    We may not sweat our heads for qualification of condemnation of takfir (a tool for declaring others as Apostates?) because it is already qualified by the holy Qura’an: see Suras Munafiqun 3, 4 – Tawbah 66, 78 - Nahl 106 – Nisa 137, - and especially Yunus 99, plus by the Prophet, see Sirat of Ibn Hisham/Ishaq page 667 and Sahi Bukhari (of Muhsin khan, Medina Univ.) Vol 1 Hadiths 122, 130. Note that the word “Ridda” (root-word of Murtaad) signifies a self-inflicting act like “Suicide”; none from outside can do it. Dr Shafaat concludes, “Hoodbhoy's perspective on "Islam and Science" comes from a lost faith”. I don’t know if Dr. Hoodbhoy declared his “lost faith” openly and clearly. If not, then Dr. Shafaat missed the elemental conception of the Qura’anic message, and Prophet’s examples shown above, by taking the unIslamic authority to declare “lost faith” for others. This practice of “Owning Islam” has caused immense bloodshed in Muslim history and continuing, as the Jamat Chief of Bangladesh declared on April 1 that criticizing Jamat tantamounts to criticizing Islam. Both the Chief and Dr. Shafaat seem to have missed the Islamic ethics that people’s lives and beliefs are not anybody’s toys to play with, even in the name of Islam.

    Dr. Shafaat asked - “Does not a group, whether religious or secular have the right to define itself”? No, if the group in question is named after Islam, certain Qur’anic codes must be observed without tampering. Those codes don’t have flexibility. Besides, the world has the right and obligation to oppose it when an insane group imposes its brutality on others. That is why we and good people of other faiths screamed at burning widows in India; that is why we and good people of other faiths scream about genocide in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Gujarat and Bosnia.

    Not only Imam Hanbal (assassinated) but also most of our Imams were tortured and killed by political power. Imam Hanifa was imprisoned and poisoned to death, Shafi’i was imprisoned, Malik’s hand was severed in public, Taymiyah was imprisoned and killed, Bukhari was sent to exile to die, et. al. Muslim history is filled with heroes, villains and their hybrids; it is often difficult to make clear demarcation between the persecutors and the persecuted on the basis of ideology. Jamal and Siffin wars are good examples.
    Whether the great library of Alexandria was burnt by Omar (RA) or by Christians may be debatable. But we cannot ignore our own records. By referring to Muslim history I by no means demean our second Khalifa, but stress on reconciling our contradictory Islamic documents. An honest question has good merit. According to Muslim history Omar was well-known for his hot temper. Prophet’s acknowledgement about it is recorded in Sahi Bukhari; for the same reason people objected to Abu Bakar when he selected Omar as the next Khalifa. One may not like the information, but documents say Omar effected the first selection of Khalifa in a highly questionable manner (Sahi Bukhari, Tarikh Al Tabari Vol X last pages and Vol XI pages 1–3). Islam was not to be spread by sword; yet, without any provocation he invaded Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Iran engendering genocides of significance. He never punished Khalid Bin Walid for committing genocide of 30, 000 people in Madhar, Iran, that earned the name “Blood Canal” for big flow of human blood (Tabari Vol. 11, page 24) and 100,000 in Al Firad (Ibid, page 115). These I quoted from THE earliest history of Muslims, as Dr. Shafaat stressed on timeline being the yardstick of confidence on historical documents. Tabari (839–923) recorded the history centuries earlier than did Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406).


    And what about the famous “Omar’s Pact” of 6 conditions that he imposed on conquered Syrian non-Muslims? Non-Muslims were (1) not to build monasteries, churches, convents, or monk’s shells, and not to repair the existing ones; (2) not to teach the Qura’an to their children; (3) not to manifest their religion publicly or convert anyone but not stop anyone from embracing Islam; (4) to rise from sits when a Muslim entered; (5) not to resemble Muslims in names, garments or way of behaviour; and (6) not to display their scriptures publicly – (“Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism”-Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina). Imam Shafi’i used this document to prepare his own version that includes wearing visible strap (and we blamed poor Talibans for imposing the same on Afghan non-Muslims!). Also, Omar is recorded as not giving a government job to the best candidate only because he was non-Muslim, on the ground that “It would be a betrayal to the Qura’an”.


    We can argue over these documents ad infinitum; yet the fact remains it was Islamic Orthodoxy that not only generated contradictory documents but also made some blunderous decisions. A bright example thereof: “According to the Jurists the tolerant verses are abrogated by the Sword Verse, Tawbah 29” – (Ibid, page 48). The following quote is from page 1081 of “SUMMERIZED SAHIH AL BUKHARI” By Al Imam Zain-Ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul Lateef Az-Zubaidi, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University Al-Madina Al-Munawara. QUOTE:

    "Then after that He made (Jihad) "Fighting" obligatory against all those who fight you (Muslims). So Allah ordered: - And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you..... (V 2:190). Then Allah revealed in Sura Tawbah the order to discard (all) the obligations (covenants etc.) and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against people of scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in Verse 9:29). So they (Muslims) were not permitted to abandon "the fighting" against them (pagans, Jews and Christians) and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an unlimited periods while they are strong and are able to fight against them (non-Muslims). ....As it is now obvious, at first "the fighting" was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory - (1) against them who start "the fighting against you (Muslims)" (2) and against all those who worship others along with Allah - as mentioned in Sura Bakarah, Al-Imran and Tauba and other Sura. -UNQUOTE.

    Thus orthodox Islam declared a permanent informal war against world’s non-Muslims. In reality of this, how we can claim Islam as a religion of peace. In the current version the paragraph is reported to have been taken out for obvious reason. Sanitation continues with Imam Ghazali as well in recent editions, especially in parts dealing with women’s rights. What does it tell us? Dr. Shafaat often refers to Western scholars (that we habitually condemn) but conveniently bypasses our own documents, such as Bukhari-Muslim-Masnad-Muatta-Tirmidhi-Abu Dawood-Nisa’i, Tarikh Al Tabari, Sirat (Ibn Hisham/Ishaq), Maghadi of Wakidi, Tabaquat of Ibn Sa’ad, etc that are among the earliest of Islamic records.


    Next let’s review Dr. Shafaat’s opinion about Imam Ghazali, whose specialty was multi-nested classifications of conceptual phenomena such as Ilm, Akidah, education, soul, worship, devotion, and Sawab, etc., which cannot be either proven or unproven. This is by no means to denounce the respected Imam but to consider him a fallible human scholar, not a divine entity. Dr. Shafaat’s comment: “a large number of other statements by al-Ghazali that point in the other direction” clearly show serious self-contradiction of the Imam. He also comments: “al-Ghazali had a similar criticism for sciences of Shariah” and “He went through an agonizing ordeal in search of truth”. Next it seems that, in the end, Ghazali’s “Truth” leads Muslims to serious violation of human rights in unacceptability of non-Muslim doctors’ witness, in cases of medical legalities (Ulum Al Deen, Vol. 1) and, in Vol. 1: “A wife goes into slavery of her husband after marriage,” “A wife’s gratitude to her husband cannot be fulfilled even if the husband’s body is covered with pus and the wife licks it”, - “A husband is owner, so he has to be concerned about the subjects, women”, - “One has to divorce his wife if his father dislikes her” …indeed a long list.


    We don’t accept this violence towards our women. Yet for far too long we have been inspired by our Ghazalis, playing gods in our women’s lives in the name of Islam. It must end now. Here are some more:

     

    FROM VINNOMOT.COM: - The Ashariyya led by Ghazali and Rumi rejected the rationalists Mutazilis whom, in their view, had forsaken religion and had detracted from God and his revelation. Thus rational objectivism was quashed, the books of rationalists such as Zakaria Razi were destroyed and they themselves had to hide for their safety. Thus most likely the Islamic Renascence that was about to be born 1000 years ago did not. We shall never know the extent of the harm that these celebrated religious zealots caused to mankind’s civilization.

    Dr. Shaffiee Kadkani wrote: “If it wasn’t because of Ashariyya our history might have evolved differently”. [Creation and History, (Afarinesh VA Tarikh, p.50) - Massoume Price). When Ibn Khadon in his ‘Introduction (Mogadameh) mentioned that Africans are black because of geographical and environmental conditions, it was the Ashariyya who ended such scientific observations by declaring people are black because God created them as such. When Physicians tried to find the connection between the brain and hand’s movements, it was Ghazali who mocked scientific inquiry and stated “hands move because God wants them to move” (Alchemy of Happiness, Kimiyaya Saadat).

    Dr. Shafaat did not disclose that, although the Imam described mathematics and medicine as Fard-E Kefaya, (Ibid, Vol, 1) he decisively placed those as secondary to religious-Ilm. Thus Ghazali needlessly made one branch of knowledge compete with another. He subtly glorifies poverty in the name of worship; see bellow. Following are quotes from pages 36 - 37 of “Criminals of Islam” - By Shabbir Ahmed M.D. referring to Ghazali’s famous book Ehyaul Ulum - “THE RENAISSANCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE” (Ahmed says the name should have been “THE DEMISE OF COMMON SENSE”).

    “The messenger of Allah said “No work is dearer to Allah than remaining hungry and thirsty”. Salat, Saum and service to humanity do not come close to Ascetism – Kimiya-E Sa’adat, Madina Publishing Company, Karachi Pakistan. Page 483.

    Men of knowledge sleep on their right side, kings sleep on their left and Satan sleeps with his face down - Ibid page 39.

    Going for bath without breakfast and then delaying breakfast kills a person – Ibid page 39.

    The best among my friends is the one who overeats and places big morsels in his mouth (Referring to Imam Ja’afar Sadiq) – Ibid 2:12.

    Don’t marry a woman who is infertile – page 75. (How he knew it before marriage of virgins and why so cruel to infertile widows?).

    When a man’s organ is in erection, two-thirds of his mind and two-thirds of his religion have departed from him- Vol2 page 52. This is the wisdom of our “Hujjatul Islam”. (How he weighs those?).

    After finishing your meal lick the cup or plate and drink its washings. That becomes a marital gift to the hoors -page 13. (A trivial bargain!).

    During Ramadan Hazrat Omar Farooq used to have intercourse with three concubines before Isha-prayer -.2:52.

    Sahabi Maaz bin Jabl was dying of Plague. He said – “Have me married, because I hate to meet Allah while I am single” –Ibid page 42. (Ah! The poor woman, marrying for instant widowhood! ).

    Imam Hassan used to divorce four women and marry four women at the same hour. That is why the Prophet has said – “Hassan is from me” - page 55. (According to the holy Prophet the most undesirable among permissible acts is divorce).

    We can indeed continue about the Imam. A champion of revelation over reason and a mesmerizing orator, he killed the Mutazilite’s approach of rationality and virtually blocked Ijtihad. But we should be more concerned with not what the Imam said, but with his impact on Muslim-society. About the mystic Dr. Iqbal mentioned in Dr. Shafaat’s article I want to add one unrelated fact. As the President of All India Muslim League Conference in Allahabad in 1939, he for the first time formally adopted the conception of a sovereign Muslim country in free India, (for prosperity of Indian Muslims) but in his plan for areas of that dream-country he did not include Bengal, where 39% of Indian Muslims lived. Probably a human error impacting millions; no pun intended to the close-to-heart mystic poet.


    About secular humanism for social governance, Dr. Shafaat makes several comments:
    “The author seems unable to admit the possibility that religion might be able to provide a better alternative to secular humanism”…. “As for the list of the bloody battles in which followers of various religions have been involved, certainly secularism has not prevented people from similarly bloody wars”. … “Well, many religious groups also claim that if a true form of their religion was in practice somewhere they will not do some of the wrong things that they now do”… “There is here the same "absolute belief" in the "superiority" of secular humanism that religions are criticized for.”

    My comment: Religions have had a very long time to prove their worth in social governance. Human experience of god’s law is extremely scary, to say the least. Memories of European Church-states, Indian Temple states and violation of human rights by Sharia the so-called Allah’s Law that violates the Qura’an and justice still chill our spines. We don’t want to play that losing game anymore. With so many religions around, secularism is not a choice but mandatory in today’s world. True that through secular democracy we saw rising demons in the shape of the foreign policies of the USA and UK. But it is likely it can be worked out. The concept of secularism is relatively new. For centuries we experimented with tribalism, feudalism, communism etc. to get here. Secularism must be allowed time to come of age.

    Secular humanism may not be the only way but religious theocracy is certainly not any way at all. One may wonder how Dr. Shafaat missed the big difference between "absolute belief" in the "superiority" of secular humanism and "absolute belief" in the "superiority" of religions. The former is by the people, of the people and for the people--to create and update social rules according to changed circumstances. On the other hand “absolute belief" in the "superiority" of religions is the property of few clergies, who claim to represent the will of Allah. Normally those clergies are void of poetic approach to life, valuing scriptural letters over human life. Muslim countries are in general illiterate; people are mortgaged to clergies so despicably that, even after realizing the atrocities in Islam’s name, they are not allowed to question it.

    Rationally we can’t afford to allow it because no human institution can claim to represent Allah’s wish on earth. A secular state permits people of all religions to practice their religion in safety and harmony, with special privileges for, and discrimination against, none. From this comparative it is fundamentally different from all major religions, in not wishing to impose its worldview on every individual.

    Dr. Shafaat concluded with -“Islamic civilization, after its present ruin, will once again vibrate with life as an authentically Islamic civilization, not only overcoming some of its deep problems but also guiding humanity to a vastly better alternative to the existing world order”. What he missed is that a civilization that can flourish and decline cannot be “Islamic” because by calling it Islamic we run the risk of defaming Islam when the civilization collapses. Human civilizations are not consequences of faith-systems; those have existed with or without faith. Even Islam’s enemy Firaun created one of the greatest civilizations that built the wonderful Pyramids. But does it make his ideology better than Islam’s? A civilization can be human or even Muslim, but surely it can’t be an Islamic civilization. Islam is about moral guidance; it’s not about birthing civilizations. Islam is complete with or without, before or after any civilization. By claims of “Islamic Civilization” we inadvertently encourage Christians and Jews to claim the present civilization to be “Christian” or “Judeo-Christian”.
    Dreams are life’s driving forces. It is good to have a dream. But the super-dream “Islam wants to eliminate all other governments from the face of the planet and establish the power of Islam in their stead” (Jihad in Islam – Mawdudi, page 6) is not “guiding humanity.” Rather, it is suicidal for Muslims and a threat to humankind.

    Salaam to all.


    By Admin -
  • "THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST DETAILED CRITIQUES OF MY BOOK. PERHAPS THE MOST ARTICULATE ONE YET BY AN ORTHODOX BELIEVER."

    Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy

    19/04/2005


    By Admin -

Compose Your Comments here:

Name
Email (Not to be published)
Comments
Fill the below text
 
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.