Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam
In our search
for peace and battle against Islamist terrorists, His Holiness Pope Francis has
made a signal contribution. I would like to reach out to the worldwide Muslim
community represented here with the submission that the Pope’s exhortation be
taken seriously and acted upon as it is not only a wise counsel but also in
conformity with repeated exhortations of Holy Quran itself.
has described the holy Quran as a “prophetic book of peace,” and asked Muslims
to seek “an adequate interpretation.”
The Quran also
asks Muslims repeatedly to reflect upon the verses and find its best meaning,
as in Chapter 39: verse 55, 39: 18; 39: 55; 38: 29; 2: 121; 47: 24, etc.
So the Quran
and Pope Francis are both saying that Muslims should not follow the verses
literally but seek to interpret it in the best or most adequate way possible.
It is a literal
reading of the contextual verses of the Quran that had come to guide the
Prophet during the wars imposed upon him, and common belief in the divine
inspiration of Ahadees or sayings of the Prophet collected decades and
centuries after the demise of the Prophet, that has led us to the present crisis
of terrorism, xenophobia, intolerance, fascistic supremacism and misogyny.
It is not that
Muslims have not reflected upon these verses of Quran and ahadees. But even the
readings of major theologians like Imam Ghazali, Ibn-e-Taimiya, Abdul Wahhab,
Shah Waliullah and Sheikh Sirhindi, etc have led us into the blind alleys of
supremacism and Jihad. Clearly the
interpretation is not adequate for the needs of the present times.
It is only with
finding the best meaning and adequate interpretation that we Muslims will be
able to evolve a new and coherent theology of peace and pluralism, acceptance
of diversity, gender equality, religious freedom and human rights for all,
consistent with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and
Unless Muslims acknowledge the violent elements in their Islamic literature and reform it according to norms of the 21st century, groups like ISIS with their idea of revival of Caliphate will continue to rise. They will continue attacking and realizing the mission outlined by the former head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Zarqawi in his 7 point agenda which was heavily inspired by the caliphate concept of Islam......
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
The writer has
done a fairly good number of articles, posted at New Age Islam over the last
four years that can be used as basis to have fresh insights on a whole range of
Islamic issues - all within the ambit of Islam as preserved in the Qur'an. Each
article is designed to be a work of Ijtihad (fresh insight) and draws on his
duly authenticated joint publication, Essential Message of Islam and there does
not suffer any doctrinal vacuum. As Ghulam Mohiyuddin Sahab has correctly said,
and the Qur'an encourages, he has engaged Aql (intellect), Fiqh (logical
reasoning) and Tadabbur (cognitive faculty) to frame the articles, and has also
delved into the secondary and external sources of knowledge – as knowledge has
no religious boundary and God alone is the fountainhead of all knowledge….
Raza Habib Raja
A classic case is the issue of Ahmadis. Since mainstream clergy has declared them as Non Muslims and their status does not directly affect us, therefore all of us have simply accepted that they are. None of us is ready to challenge clergy and to conduct efforts to repeal second amendment. No political party can muster the courage to confront a handful of zealots.
The truth is that Islam has already had its own reformation of sorts, in the sense of a stripping of cultural accretions and a process of supposed “purification”. And it didn’t produce a tolerant, pluralistic, multifaith utopia, a Scandinavia-on-the-Euphrates. Instead, it produced … the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Benazir’s actual killers, connected to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud — himself killed by an American drone — had stayed the night before the murder at a seminary called Darul Uloom Haqqania, near Peshawar, belonging Maulana Samiul Haq, the famous teacher of the Afghan Taliban. That lead went cold long ago.
Aziz Ali Dad
The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Isis and Boko Haram are not embodiments of the old, traditional order of Islam for they do not derive their legitimacy from tradition. Rather they are forces that have succeeded to break the traditional world view of Islam by defying tenets and procedures that have succeeded to keep the religious worldview intact despite the onslaught of modernity.
It is, however,
time for progressive leaders of Muslim and other religious communities to
ensure their archaic personal laws changed with the times. Already, advocacy
groups of various religious communities are rooting for a Uniform Civil Code. A
recent survey of over 5,000 Muslim women across 10 states reveals that a
majority is against the practice of triple Talaq. Over 92 per cent of those
surveyed wanted polygamy banned......
This denial of the right to freedom vis-à-vis religion is one of the roots of the evil from which you suffer, oh my dear Muslim world; it is one of those dark wombs in which, in recent years, monsters grow, and from whence they leap out at the frightened faces of the whole world. For this iron religion imposes excruciating violence on all your societies; she too closely confines your daughters, and your sons, in the cage of good and evil, the lawful (halal) and the illicit (haram), chosen by none but imposed on all.
This debate reduces to a linguistic one, at some point. Though “reform” is rejected, the Islamic tradition itself has its own words, such as ihya (revival) and tajdid (renewal). So reformists can shelter under these words to avoid censure from the radicals. The term tajdid has a particularly strong religious legitimacy.
Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
characteristic of modern civilisation is the growing presence of women in
public domain. Every day, more and more women enter our streets, offices and shops.
It is becoming easier for a girl to enter a restaurant alone, have a cup of tea
and exercise her liberty to walk. But, Islamists like AIMPLB are working to
undermine this civilisational trend. By advocating Burqa and triple Talaq,
anti-equality Islamist groups threaten the story of our civilisation. If
Prophet Muhammad advocated a new civilisation for the Meccans in the 7th
century CE, the AIMPLB and its brother organisations are the heretics of modern
civilisation, the Kuffar of modern times.....
Zeeba T Hashmi
The most abhorrent line of thought in any religion is delinking belief in God from rationality. Intellectual curiosity and free thought present a social dimension that is a natural reaction to society’s ever growing dogma, rigidity and shrinking of space for alternate voices in the garb of social and legal dictums (like the blasphemy laws). With a rise in violence and faith based attacks, the expression of internal convictions easily victimises the person declaring his or her non-belief.
Thanks to the Wahhabis' centuries-old alliance with the Saudi royal family (and all that Saudi oil money, barrels of it), they can -- and they have been -- spreading puritanical Islam in the US and around the world. (Some observers trace ISIS's roots back to Wahhabism; others assert that ISIS is a political movement with but a tenuous connection to Islam.)......
I was watching a televised discussion the other day about displaying movies and conducting plays in mosques, in a room extension adjacent to the mosque that is, and the subsequent conflagration that followed between the two clerical discussants. The objective behind this suggestion, typically enough, was modernising and moderating the Kitab Al-Dini (religious discourse or message). The key objection, though, was how such ‘naughty’ things as cinema and theatre would detract from the holiness of the mosque as a site of prayer….
however, does not lie in Islam, which, if properly interpreted, can be a
tremendous force for good, compassion, tolerance and progress. It lies rather
in those few people who have held this great monotheistic faith captive to
their pathological minds. It is, therefore, incumbent upon Muslims, in the
first place, to salvage their beautiful religion from the claws of extremists.
A new renaissance, such as the one that we witnessed in the 19th century at the
hands of the brave pioneers mentioned above, is needed…..
inauthenticity of the Hadith, there is another problem with the way Salafi
movements have understood it. The Hadith claims that the first three
generations of Muslims were the best ever Muslims, which might mean that there
were the most pious, but it does not state that they have discussed and covered
all aspects of Islam or that their understanding of certain Islamic practices
were supposed to be eternal. None of this is even hinted at in the Hadith, yet
this is how Salafi groups use the concept of Salaf. They take what the first
generations have said and done as the first and last word on everything. While
they accept that Islam is a religion for all times, they fail to realize that
this must mean that while its principles do not change, the way those
principles are applied are bound to change with time, place, and
Muslim world is
yet to liberate itself from the stranglehold of outdated dogmas, which have
nothing to do with the real teachings and the true spirit of Islam. Muslim scholars
and intellectuals must develop the spirit of free enquiry in finding the
answers to challenges of modernity while remaining faithful to Islam’s eternal
principles enunciated in the Holy Quran. Religious extremism and sectarianism
which are tearing apart the Muslim world must be abandoned. This is unlikely to
happen unless the Muslim governments give the pride of place to education and
encourage freedom of expression and moderation in their programmes, which is
not the case at present.....
One of the most pressing issues in the eyes of the early Muslims was the protection of Qur’an’s sanctity. Numerous times throughout the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Muslims are reminded that the Jews and Christians corrupted their texts over time, which now cannot be taken as authentic. As a result, early Muslims developed an isnad system for ensuring that the Qur’an and Hadith would not be subject to change by human error, either intentional or unintentional....
Islamic law is supposed to be dynamic, so as to retain its relevance to the needs of changing circumstances. In this regard, Ijtihad (independent reasoning) assumes primary significance, absent when traditional views hold sway. For the exercise of Ijtihad, it is imperative to face issues head-on by initiating the process of wider debate by scholars. To sweep them under the carpet with an ostrich-like attitude will get us nowhere....
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Hirsi Ali’s proposed reformation of Islam, on the other hand, is completely the opposite: it demands a gleaning of the Islamic scripture, itself. Not only that, it asks Muslims to abandon the very core of their faith: the Prophet Hood of Muhammad (PBUH) and the divinity of the Quran. That is like asking Christians to denounce their claim that Jesus Christ was the son of God....
M N Buch
Unfortunately the extreme Sunni sect of the Wahabis has steadfastly opposed Ijtehad, which is why under Wahabi’s influence the fundamentals of Islam have been converted into Islamic fundamentalism. Today it is this form of bigotry which has given Islam an extremely cruel face and set it in opposition to the rest of the world. One can only appeal to Muslim savants, religious leaders and those who are true believers to come out in the open and restore the fundamentals of Islam so that fundamentalism disappears....
Islam stands for love and affection, peace and amity, moderation and enlightenment. However, the shenanigans of the fraternity’s extremist strands have given handle to the compulsive detractors of our religion to depict it as a creed of violence and bloodletting....
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
A thousand years have passed following this unanimous decision of the Ulema but yet the practice of Takfeer or declaring others Kafirs has still not stopped. This un-Islamic practice of Takfeer still continues among Muslims....
The Madressa Mix: Beneath the Surface
Syed Ali Shah, Manzoor Chandio and Ali Arqam
Mosques have always been described as community organisations, designed and built to involve the neighbourhood in the management of its affairs. Many Madressahs in Karachi arrived as mosques too, run and administered by mosque committees. Mosques located in commercial and business localities have a great advantage: traders and businessmen readily contribute to the income of the mosques and its Peshimam. Rent received from shops constructed along their boundary walls and other space leased out makes the mosque financially stable, and thereby, makes it easier to turn the mosque into a Madressah....
Other Related Stories
Lords of the land
Shikarpur’s Sardar-Madressa Nexus
Balochistan: Seminaries Instead Of Schools
Preciosa S. Soliven
Ijtihad is the application of reason and reinterpretation to the message of the Quran. It allows every Muslim to reconsider the message of the Quran for the changed circumstances of the 21st century.“What was true for the 9th century Mecca and Medina may not be the best interpretation of Allah’s message today....