Books and Documents
Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

Mr Ismail argues that many of the doctrines in Islam are based on the out-dated Arab socio-economic situation of the sixth century, and that much of the Islamic Jurisprudence now used by Islamists is no more than tribal reading of key religious sources. He advocates the separation of Mosque and State, so to speak, which is contrary to the rallying call by Islamist jihadists and their ideologues for Sharia as the supreme law in Muslim countries. This call is equivalent to the Bible being declared the law in Christian countries, an unthinkable preposition in this day and age…….

Why Qital (Warfare) In The Name Of Jihad Will Never Stop? Even Sufi Scholars Call Quran Uncreated, Eternal Like God, Hence Even Its Contextual Verses Are Of Universal Significance and Applicable To Muslims For Ever
Misbahul Huda

Editorial Note:  The following is an article by a Sufi scholar, a product of Indian Sufi madrasas who seeks to prove using age-old arguments that Quran is uncreated, divine like God, eternal, and so all its verses, including the contextual and militant, are of universal significance.

Why do we need to discuss and even take a stand on this hoary controversy today while many wise men of the past have tried to brush these under the carpet? Let me explain this as I have done before in different threads.

Why is Quran being created or uncreated relevant for us today? If Quran is created, that is, if it  is a compilation of verses that came from time to time to guide the prophet as the need arose, the context of the verses become important. In this situation only verses that do not require a context assume universal significance. This is as it should be. This is the commonsensical position.  If it is uncreated, however, as all the madrasas apparently teach, just a copy of the eternal book lying safe in "lauh-e-mahfooz" in the divine vaults, from eternity, then each and every verse assumes eternal significance and has to be followed without reference to the context.

That is why all our madrasas that teach this are creating radical literalists who see no reason why they should apply their mind. If Quran says somewhere, “kill the kafir," they can go out and kill the kafir. No reference to context is needed. Every word is of eternal significance. It is just a copy of the  book safe in lauh-e-mahfooz in heaven. ---- Sultan Shahin

"Hold tight to the covenant of God and do not disperse," but some problems come from the acceptance of the Hadeeth without any standard reference. There are two issues to consider:  First, to what extent is the holy Quran present in our intellectual and doctrinal thought? And what will be the result of harmony between the Quran and Sunnah? The institution of the Ayat refers to the Quran as the reference on which all our concepts and doctrines should be based, meaning that there is a wide margin the Muslims could be unified in their movement within, as long as their thought is within the boundaries of this infallible reference that nobody denies it superiority......


Islam and the Secular State: Rethinking Apostasy and Sharia
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

There are two Islamic reforms that are urgently needed: to transform the attitudes of Muslims regarding apostasy, and to promote the legitimacy of a secular state that does not claim to enforce Shari’a as state law or policy. Both reforms, crucially, must be supported by an Islamic argument to make them acceptable to Muslims……

Islam's Message of Peace: Ijtihad and Qiyas
Mümtazer Türköne

Radical Islamic movements tend to stress the literal meanings of verses in the Quran and the Prophet's Hadith. They argue that the injunctions in these verses and the Hadith should be implemented directly and without any interpretation. Salafism is a sort of Islamic Puritanism which does not allow gray areas between black and white. Al-Qaeda and similar organizations have built themselves a world of violence based on these Salafi interpretations…..

It's Time To Reclaim Islam From The Fanatics: Can My Religion Be Reconciled With Free Expression? The Answer Is Yes
Irshad Manji
While it is true that every religion has its extremists, in no other religion do mainstream believers routinely shrug off the murder of dissenters. This is a life-and-death difference. All the more reason for Ijtihad to be revived in the 21st century.....


The Business of Religion: the Muslim Clergy of Today Have Diminished Man’s Reason and Intellect
Reem Wasay

Such are these second-rate artists of the faith, these forgers who have posed as the deciphers of God’s abstract brushstrokes that they have belittled, reducing us to objectifying ourselves for the sake of global humour. We are laughed at when a bearded mentor of our mythology lambasts women drivers of cars or two-wheeled automotives for the effects this posturing of their pelvis can have on their ovaries, turning them into sex-crazed nymphomaniacs — read independent women. We are guffawed at when earthquakes strike and floods smite, and our puritans of the pulpit blame immodesty and female emancipation as the reasons behind the fatalities. God’s curse on earth, they say....

Islam Does Not Have a Monopoly on ‘Allah’
Salaam Bhatti

Back in kindergarten, two of my classmates fought over who could call their mother “Mom.” To them, only one had rights to that word. The teacher separated them, told them that everyone called their own mother “Mom” and instructed them to shake hands and behave. The children learned common sense, stopped fighting and went on to recess. This type of behaviour in children is ordinary. Among adults, however, it’s a surprise…..


Myths about “The Verse of the Sword”
Louay Fatoohi

Even the title “the verse of the sword” is a late invention. While “the verse of alms” has been given this name by scholars because it talks about almsgiving and other verses have been given names after words that occur in them, the expression “the verse of the sword” is very much a misnomer because the term “sword” is not found in the verse. Even more telling is the fact that this word does not exist anywhere in the Qur’an!....

Islam Needs its John Locke
Mustafa Akyol

That is why other observers argued that it is simply a loss of time to deal with “reform” within Islam. The only way to liberal democracy, they said, is to push Islam out of the public with an authoritarian, top-down secularism. Inspired by the radical secularists of the French Revolution, and exemplified by Kemalism in Turkey….

Beware of the Qur’an’s Parentheses; putting extra meanings into verses is not tolerable
Mustafa Akyol

I am not arguing that the Qur’an should not be interpreted, footnoted or even parenthesized. The uninitiated reader indeed needs such help to understand the context of the divine text. However, putting extra meanings into verses is not tolerable. It is even more intolerable when done at the expense of the liberty and the pluralism that the Qur’an upholds, and for the sake of the authoritarianism and the bigotry that certain Muslims possess….


Islamic Preachers Need to Strengthen the Foundational Islamic Principle of Moderation (Wasatiyyah)
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

The Pakistan Ulema Council’s initiative of educating imams and Muslim clerics comes at a time when majority, if not all, Muslim preachers and televangelists are intense in intellectual decay and ideological extremism. Islam is not preached as it is, as a moderate narrative of spiritual enlightenment and eternal salvation. Instead, it is globally defamed, by many Muslim preachers themselves, as an extremist, fascist, exclusivist and political ideology out to conquer the earth rather than the human hearts. .....

I have stated views of scholars on Sufism as faithfully as I could. These opinions of scholars are a real testimony to the Islamic character of the Sufism. I hope that this presentation will remove many wrong notions that people have about Sufism. It will not be difficult now for anyone to see that Sufism, properly conceived, has a rightful place in Islam….

Open the Gates of Ijtihad, Closed Since 1258: Egyptian Leader Calls For Reformation in Islam
Claude Salhani

In an extremely rare display of courage and bravery by a leader in the Arab world General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current head of state, spoke out for the need of reformation in Islam. During a speech, which went unreported by the Western media, the general stated: "Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam-rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years." ... What is important in this speech is the general reference to the lack of change in Islam in 800 years; the Egyptian leader is making reference to what is known as Ijtihad, an independent interpretation of Islam, ended by the year 1258. This is usually referred to as closing the gates of Ijtihad; it was then that all changes in the religion had been stopped in the Sunni branch of Islam. The Egyptian leader now is asking for the gates to be reopened, the only way that reform can come to Islam. While having the president (or ruler) of Egypt call for reformation within Islam is no minor feat, Sisi on his own stands little or no chance of making it happen. Where he does have a chance is if he succeeds in winning the support and public backing of other Muslim leaders, and particularly if he manages to win the support of the head of al-Azhar, the highest centre of (Sunni) Muslim learning in the world....

Cursing Non-Muslims is not Islamic
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Cursing Non-Muslims is not Islamic
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

I said that we should pray for all on an equal basis. The Quran (1:2) refers to God as the “Lord of the Worlds” and not as “God of Muslims”. This fact has been declared in the very first chapter of the Quran. Also, the Quran (21:107) calls the Prophet Rahmatul-lil Alamin, that is, a mercy for all mankind. The Quran does not say that the Prophet is Rahmat or a mercy for Muslims alone. The Prophet prayed for the guidance of others. He never prayed for their destruction....

Islamic Jihadist Attitude Must Not Be Imposed: Everyone Is Turning To Interfaith Dialogue and Agreeing To Accept Other Faiths
Shamim Masih

Under these special circumstances, a non-Muslim could easily get the opportunity to be the President of Pakistan. No restriction about religion or gender applies to the posts of provincial Governor or Chief Minister. During the tenure of the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, the leading members in the government, of which there were quite a few non-Muslims, especially from East Bengal, many received prominent posts.....

Islam versus Inherited Culture-Based Religiosity
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Like other people, the present-day Muslims’ religiosity is, by and large, an inherited one. But this kind of religiosity is not enough. Muslims must rediscover their religion by re-studying the Quran and Sunna. Their faith commitment must be a conscious decision based on discovery of the truth of Islam, and not simply because they have inherited their religion from their forefathers. This principle is given in the Quran (49:14) in these words: “The Arabs of the desert say, ‘We have believed.’ Say to them, ‘You have not believed yet; say rather, “We have submitted,” for faith has not yet entered into your hearts’”....


Why Do Azadari In Muharram?
Farheen Rizvi

Contrary to the popular belief by some who assert that holding Majlis is a rather contemporary tradition, the first Majlis-e-Hussain (AS) was organized by his sister Syeda Zainab (AS) whose veil was torn off by the assassins of Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson….


Am I A Skeptical Muslim?
Saeed Qureshi

The Islamic Sharia needs to be radically modified and modernized so as to conform to the needs of the changing times and to fit into the paradigm of a modern nation state. There is a dire need to modify the Islamic religious legal system by bringing about radical changes in to such laws as rape, property, polygamy, accumulation of wealth and family laws.)….

Are We Losing The War For The Soul Of Islam?
Douglas Murray

If the discussion about the future of Islam once used to be confined to an exotic theology, it no longer is. The future of Islam and the future of the West are now inextricably linked. If disentangling them was ever possible it is almost certainly not now. What happens to Islam will affect what happens to Europe......


Muslim societies should rethink how much they really honour God’s 'signs' by respecting every diverse ethnicity, culture and language he has created
Mustafa Akyol

In the light of such wisdom, Muslim societies, including Turks, should rethink how much they really honour God’s “signs” by respecting every diverse ethnicity, culture and language he has created. And if they still have fears about the practical impacts of diversity, they should take a look at the U.S. and see how the plentitude of human groups only makes human society much wealthier in all senses of the word……

Criticising Islam is Islamic
Zan Azlee

To stop a person from questioning is to stop and deny that person from acquiring knowledge and understanding. I think it’s actually good to be critical of Islam. As stated by one of my favourite Muslim writers, Ziauddin Sardar: “All varieties of Islam need a healthy dose of scepticism to avoid degenerating into authoritarian outlooks.”…


The Case for Religious Liberty: Re-Reading the Qur'an
Abdullah Saeed

The words of the Qur'an and Hadith contain rich resources for supporting the democratic order. If Muslims are to embrace modernity, including life in a pluralistic, democratic society, without abandoning their faith, they must take up the argument for religious liberty that is embedded in their history and that stands at the centre of their most sacred texts……

Is My View That Non-Muslims Too Can Enter Paradise Against The Qur’an?
Khalid Zaheer

The Qur'an is the ultimate criterion between right and wrong. It is the other sources that must submit to the understanding of the Qur'an. To show that my interpretation is wrong, the one disagreeing with me should point out how it is not properly clarifying the Qur'anic text. To prove another interpretation to be correct, the presenter of it has the obligation to show how it is making more sense in the context of the Qur'anic text....

Islam is a universal religion and its followers exist in every part of the world. People in different parts practice different practices with regard to Namaz, which is one of the pillars of Islam. In many parts of the world, say, in Indonesia, in Egypt and in the European countries many Muslims do not cover their head while offering Namaz. In fact, it depends on individual choice and no one objects to that if someone chooses not to cover his head. In Syria, the rebels who are mostly Wahhabi, Salafi fighters from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iraq are seen offering namaz during fights without covering their heads. They are also seen standing with their legs parted.  The Jordanian Muslims also keep their legs parted while standing in Namaz. But the Hanafis in South Asia prefer standing with joined legs....

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