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Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam (31 May 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

A Complete Agenda for Reform in Islamic Theology

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

31 May 2016

Why reform and what is meant by reformation? The Quran is the word of God. For a Muslim, that is a given and not a word from the Quran can be changed or its meaning altered. The question is whether the word of God in the Quran is understood correctly or has the meaning been distorted through “interpretations”. If it is distorted, and if the correct meaning can be established through a rigorous process using the Quran itself, and if the correct meaning so established addresses the issues that we face today, then reform is simply a matter of discarding the distortions and adopting the correct meaning. Reform is then going back to the pristine Islam of the Quran. Fortunately this is the case which makes reform easy provided the Muslims agree to the “correct meaning” established through a rigorous process.

Why is reform necessary? Islamic societies are in a state of disequilibrium. Islam put the Muslims ahead of Europe by a thousand years in every way. Europe has however caught up learning from the Muslims initially,and then applying reason to all that made the Muslims excel, and then outpaced the Muslims in almost every field and are ahead by at least fifty years. The advanced world is ahead in individual freedoms, gender equality, human rights, science and technology and the behavioral sciences. This state of disequilibrium has forced the Muslims to look into the causes for their great decline in relative terms. Added to that is their political subservience to the US either “voluntarily” or their subjugation through war. The deep chasm between a glorious past and the current reality of his abject existence, has made him cling on more tightly to patterns of behavior that are the cause of his failures rather than adopt the right behavior even though the Quran says:

13:11 Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change themselves.


8:53 Allah will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in themselves.

From verse 8:53, it should be clear to the Muslims, that the grace that Allah once bestowed on them in the past, has changed because they changed what is in themselves. This change came about gradually over the centuries through a very systematic corruption of Islamic theology. It is true that the Muslims are in their current state because they have gone far away from the pristine Islam of the Quran. It is Islam that made the early Muslims practice religious tolerance and liberated the people who came under their political control from the religious persecution that they suffered under the previous regimes. Today it is the Muslims who have become oppressors of the minorities and religious persecutors. The Prophet (pbuh) fought battles only to end religious persecution and the Quran refers only to the oppressors and religious persecutors as “Kafir” and this word is not used in general for people of any faith. Today it is the Muslims who need to be fought against to end their persecution and they have become the “Kafirs” of this age. The example of those who are successful is before us. Can we learn from their example? Yes, we can, if we do not shut our minds to it.

The Quran, although the most widely read, is the least understood. There are very few Muslims who read the Quran to understand what it says. Most read it only for liturgical purpose to earn “rewards”. Those who do read, restrict their thinking only to what they have been taught to understand, rather than comprehending the real meaning of the words in front of them. This is evident when one considers their understanding of key Quranic words and passages. They understand only what they have been taught to understand in madrasas, through sermons, or commentaries. In other words, their understanding of the Quran is not so much based upon what the Quran actually says, but upon what they have been taught that the Quran says.

Attributes of the Quran that help in establishing its meaning

(27:1) These are verses of the Qur´an,-a book that makes (things) clear;

(18:28) (It is) a Qur´an in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.

(4:82) Do they not consider the Qur´an (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.

(18:69) We have not instructed the (Prophet) in Poetry, nor is it meet for him: this is no less than a Message and a Qur´an making things clear:

(39:23) Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in manifold forms): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah´s praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide.

(10:82) "And Allah by His words doth prove and establish His truth, however much the sinners may hate it!"

(9:125) But those in whose hearts is a disease,- it will add doubt to their doubt, and they will die in a state of Unbelief.

The important points to note are:

 That the Quran is not a book of poetry. Poets use key words in such a fashion that the word can take all or several of its many meanings and yet the verse remains intelligible or the same word is used in a single verse with different meanings. This is a characteristic of poetry. The Quran makes it clear that it is not a book of poetry and therefore it uses words to make the meaning clear and not to confuse or allow different interpretations. The key takeaway here is that one should not interpret the Quran as one would interpret poetry and debate about the different meanings that its verse can take but should take the simple and straightforward meaning communicated by it and as consistent with the rest of the Book. This is especially so when it concerns the ‘Muhkamat’ verses that instruct a Muslim in the right practice or conduct. As it concerns the allegorical verses, these are capable of being taken either literally or allegorically without affecting the manner in which a Muslim is required to conduct his affairs.

The message is repeated taking manifold forms that assist in understanding the intended message or the meaning of the verses. Any mistake in understanding a verse therefore gets easily corrected.

Any doubt regarding the correct understanding of the meaning of any verse of the Quran can be settled with reference to other verses of the Quran itself. The Quran is its best and most comprehensive commentary.

The consistency, clarity and lack of discrepancy that the Quran shows is phenomenal. It is a book of over 6000 verses and yet one would be hard pressed to find any word that takes two or more meanings across these 6000+ verses. The consistency is therefore not within a verse or surah alone, but across the Book. With such consistency, only someone who is careless can go wrong or someone “in whose heart is a disease” can go astray, or someone lacking faith in the wisdom of the Quran and wanting to replace the correct meaning with one that he thinks makes better sense!  

However, the scholars “interpret” the Quran in a manner that has made the Book a book with much discrepancy. To deal with the contradictions, they incorrectly invoke the doctrine of abrogation which does not apply to the Quran at all but to the previous books of revelation because “for each period was a book revealed (13:38)”.

(2:106) None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?

If the Quran contains abrogated verses, then the claim that it is a Book without discrepancy, without crookedness, consistent with itself, and a Book that makes everything clear, becomes a false claim.  The doctrine of abrogation therefore cannot apply to the Quran.

The Quran is a Book that enables us to understand the real meaning of every verse without ambiguity eliminating the need for interpretation. Those who merely interpret, fall short of the required discipline because they are unaware perhaps that it is possible to arrive at the true meaning. The true meaning of any verse is the meaning or interpretation that does not contradict the clear meaning any other verse. If the interpretation of any verse contradicts the clear meaning of another verse, then it is an incorrect interpretation and not the true meaning of the verse.

Take the verse 2:256 “Let there be no compulsion in religion” which by the way is a Medinian verse. No other verse can be interpreted in a manner that contradicts this verse and there cannot be another verse that negates this verse. Once such a discipline is followed, the whole of the Quran can be correctly understood by itself without relying on commentaries or the context or supported by the alleged sayings of the Prophet.  To say that the Quran cannot be understood by itself, is to deny it’s oft repeated claim that it is a Book that makes things clear.

To say that the message of the Meccan Quran is inclusive and tolerant but the message of the Medinian Quran is warlike, intolerant and exclusive tantamount to saying that the Medinian Quran contradicts the Meccan Quran. There is no contradiction in the Quran whatsoever. The Meccan Quran contains very clear warning of what is likely to unfold for the religious persecutors in very clear terms. In my articles, I have covered the entire Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) covering both the Meccan and Medinian periods.  There is no discontinuity in the message let alone the verse of an early period contradicting a verse of the later period. Please read the complete series:

1.The Story of the Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) from the Qu’ran (part 1): The early opposition

2. The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 2): The Clear Warning to the Meccan Pagans

3. The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 3): Important Pointers from the Stories of the Prophets

4. The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian Period

5. The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qu’ran (Concluding Part) Summary

6. The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 6): The People of the Book and Jiziya

Systematic Corruption of Islamic Theology

As to how our scholars have systematically corrupted Islamic theology, please read:

1. What Is Kufr And Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Full and Revised Text of the New Age Islam Series on the Subject)

2. The Much discussed and debated Medinian Verses Relating to Fighting

3. The Politics of Religion and the Changing Concept of Shuhuda over the Years

What Path Must Our Young take?

What can prevent our youth from being misguided by the charlatans? Or how can we channelize the idealism of the youth in the right direction? It is by informing them of what makes a good Muslim as per the authentic message of the Quran. This is covered in the article:

The Role Models in the Quran

There are two very clear paths - One is of Allah’s guidance, His pleasure and success in both this world and the Hereafter and the other the path of perdition.  In Surah Fateha we pray to Allah that He may show us the path of those on whom is Allah’s grace and not the path of those on whom is Allah’s wrath and those who go astray (Siraat al-Lazeenaan'amta 'Alaihimghayril-Maghdoobi 'Alaihimwa Lad-Daaalleen). Allah makes clear in verse 4:69 who these people are on whom is Allah’s grace. The article cited above covers the characteristics of people on whom is Allah’s grace.

(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).

My articles seek to establish the truth and knock out the falsehood on which the terror mongers thrive. The problem however is that their ideology is not very different from the corrupted Islamic theology supported by the Ulema of all sects. In the past, Allah has punished entire nations for corrupting His message and scriptures and spreading mischief. If we fail to see the truth and take corrective steps, the history of other nations on which the wrath of Allah descended, will repeat for the Muslim Ummah.

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 NewAgeIslam.com.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/ijtihad,-rethinking-islam/naseer-ahmed,-new-age-islam/a-complete-agenda-for-reform-in-islamic-theology/d/107484

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  • Have gone through the above article though will take some time to go through listed  sub-articles. Well, I fully agree with the contents of the article.

    I would like to remind GM sb, that the secular debate on secular issues of gender-relations, and inter-personal relations remain pending, the prevailing notions on which are rationally debatable.

    By Manzurul Haque - 10/12/2016 12:41:22 AM

  • GM Sb,

     You may read my article: 

     Qur’anic Wisdom: Marriage and Treatment of Women


    which provides the answers.

      Your question as to whether slavery can be declared a sin is not covered in the cited article but I have answered this question several times before. Enslavement of a free person was banned even in the Prophet's time and slaves could therefore be taken only in war where the other party was the aggressor. All war related verses come with a rider that these are subject to the treaties in force between the warring parties. All countries are signatory to the International Law banning slavery and Geneva Conventions covering the treatment of POW and therefore it applies to every country which is a member of the UN or a signatory to these treaties. The Quran does not prevent any country from entering into such treaties and abiding by them. As a matter of fact, the Quran encourages moving in the direction of a society free of slaves.

     If a country chooses not to sign such agreements and abide by them, then the World knows what to do with such a rogue state. Such a state gets derecognized as a legitimate state, is boycotted and subject to economic sanctions and ultimately wiped out through war. However, if a rogue state which defies all International Laws and Agreements is allowed to exist then there is something fishy going on. Why is Daesh with its rag-a-tag militia allowed to exist when the US could bring down Saddam Hussein with his professional army? The continued existence of Daesh therefore serves some purpose and according to reports, will keep the industrial military complex in good shape for the next 30 years. 

     In the meantime, we have these meaningless debates. For example, you reject the Quran itself except its general principles which is fine and you certainly have company but your kind can have no influence on the vast majority of Muslims who would like to live by the Quran. My articles are meant for those who believe in the Quran and would like to live by it.

     Mr Shahin writes an article: “With Our 7th Century Mind-Set, Can We Muslims Co-Exist With Other Religious Communities In Any Part Of The World?”

    What is implicit in the title is that the extremists follow 7th Century Islam! He and the extremists are therefore in agreement with what is 7th Century Islam, the only difference being that Mr Shahin would like to abandon 7th Century Islam and the extremists would like to be as close to 7th Century Islam as possible. Ulema of all sects are in agreement that the Islam of the 7th century was the best Islam. Mr Shahin is therefore battling what the majority of Muslims consider to be the best Islam and can therefore never have any influence over the Ulema!

     My efforts on the other hand are to establish the pristine Islam of the Quran which is what the Islam of the Prophet and his companions was and to show how different this is from what our Ulema and the extremists believe it to be based on systematic corruption of the message of the Quran over the centuries. This line alone can succeed with the believers since they long to follow the Islam of the Prophet and his companions. However, this requires concerted efforts and support from others especially the editor but while our goals converge, the two approaches are quite the opposite of the other.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/1/2016 2:57:08 AM

  • " None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar.". . .

    Substituting something better is a good thing. Can that rule extend to the vicegerent of God? Can we, the vicegerents of God, say "Slavery is a sin", or "Bigamy is not permitted" or "Even light beating of wife is prohibited", even though the Quran falls short of saying so?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 5/31/2016 1:15:47 PM

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