Mehmood ur Rashid
living in times when WhatsApp consistently reminds us of what is up. A week or
two back I received a WhatsApp message: “What is Islamic objections to Qawwali
singing.” Before resounding to the message I chuckled to myself. How much in
our routine interactions do we ask the same question – what Islam says! From
silly to serious, the range is really amazing. As a member of a Muslim society
I must confess that most of this overindulgent invocation of religion doesn’t
reflect our seriousness about Islam. If it betrays anything, it is the
sub-standard reasoning, crisis of common sense, and affected piety. Jesus
Christ’s Sermon on the Mount mirrors our image.
We are not serious about what Islam says, but
are fussy about what-Islam-says. So there is lots of clutter in the Muslim
society that stays in the name of Islam. It needs a huge reformative process to
declutter Muslim societies. And for this we need to focus on our children. We
need to simplify Islam to them by telling them that Islam is not a layered and
labyrinthine rule book that leaves nothing to our choice, likings, and common
sense. We need to tell them that the rules, regulations, conventions,
etiquette, and manners are a function of human interaction, produced over time.
Islam is not an A to Z compendium of rules.
later, someone WhatsApped a news story. This was about how Saudi Prince is
dropping control of the state on matters that were earlier thought of as the
prerogative of an Islamic State: Saudi Arabia End Forced Prayer-Time Shop
Closure. Since Saudi Arabia is a theocratic state, even before Pakistan and
Iran, it defines religion and religious practices for the people living in its
territory. The dos and don’ts that are long gone from other societies,
including Muslim societies in other countries, are strictly implemented by the
Kingdom. But for some time now, inch by inch, the veil is lifting.
time prayer a day is not like what Islam says about Qawwali. Nemaz, mandatory
daily prayers, is the core of Islamic religious practices. As a parenthetic
remark this news story about prayers is full of detail, and it is not merely
what the title of the story suggests. But the question we now seriously need to
ask ourselves is that can a Muslim state extract a visible, disciplinary,
compulsive adherence to daily prayers. We all know that use of force is in the
nature of a state, but can force be used to impose a religious practice. Does
it amount to compulsion, about which the text of Quran clearly says that there
is nothing of the sort in religion.
understanding prevalent in today’s Muslim societies is that it is the duty of a
Muslim state to establish prayers – Iqamat-e-Salah. But the view that it
means to create an enabling atmosphere is more convincing. Besides, the Muslim
government is asked to connect with the people through the institution of one
weekly prayer on Friday. But we have stretched all this to the limits where
Taliban coerced people to pray. And where does the spirit of prayers go if it
is to be imposed. Another point in the specific question of prayers is that in
the early years of Muslim state the order of things was basically tribal. Tribe
works like a family, and the means of imparting behaviour in a tribe is
decidedly different than in a modern diffused, democratic, and ultra
technological society. In our religious zeal we miss to read these differences.
We invoke history where we need to bring in argument.
that Saudi Arabia is now making in its state outlook appear outrageous to a
religious mind. The reasons for this are psychological as well as intellectual.
Psychologically Muslims are living, now for more than a century, with a deep
sense of insecurity. We perennially think that Islam is in danger, and all
other nations in the world are hatching conspiracies against us. This has much
to do with the loss of our political power.
Intellectually Muslim mind is comatose. It needs repeated reminders that Quran is no
longer at the centre of Muslim thinking. The legal, social, and philosophic
attitudes developed throughout our history have displaced the Quran. Muslims
would require a huge intellectual departure to change this psychology of
insecurity and face the world confidence. On the reverse side, Muslims require
extra ordinary courage to ride over this psychological state of insecurity to
unfreeze the mind.
Most of the
changes, like allowing women to drive or no imposition of a dress code, or
allowing businesses to remain open 24 hours; nothing goes contrary to our
religion. In fact these bans and impositions should not have been there in the
first place. But the unfortunate part of it all is that it is not happening as
an internally driven process of reform. This all appears a response to the
outward pressure from the West, from the business world, and also an attempt to
hide embarrassment on what the regime does in the name of religion. It is much
like Pakistan tightening the noose around militant groups, and also making some
changes in its religious outlook. Closer
home, Kashmir’s Muslim society is also behaving the same way.
be the times for the Muslims around the world when our governments and
societies restore the intellectual dynamism, and break this psychological
barrier of fear.
Islam is an
orientation of life towards good, away from evil. It’s minimal in its law, and
religious practices. Its outward appearance in the form of customs and
conventions is guided by the application of universal ethics, and it takes care
of the differences in human tastes, and cultural backgrounds. Islam is not a
system of life, it’s life. The beauty of
life is restored only when clutter and compulsion stay away.
Source: The Greater Kashmir