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Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

Addressing the UNHRC at Geneva Sultan Shahin Question’s Contemporary Applicability of Contextual Verses of Quran Meant For 7th Century Wars and the Divinity of Hadith and Sharia
Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

Fifteen years after 9/11, the scourge of violent Islamist extremism has become even more complex and deadly. The alacrity with which 30,000 Muslims from around the world joined the so-called Islamic State’s war against humanity has puzzled many. How could a peaceful, pluralistic religion be subverted so easily to create inhuman monsters? Among many factors, social, economic, political, psychological, the one common factor is a brainwashing of vulnerable people on the basis of a supremacist, xenophobic, intolerant, exclusivist, totalitarian, Jihadi theology. 

This is a blatant misuse of Islam, a spiritual path to salvation that teaches peace, pluralism, co-existence and good neighbourliness. But there has to be a reason why Jihadi ideology has gained acceptance; why fatwas issued by reputed moderate scholars are proving so ineffective? How are Jihadis able to create a 100 percent certainty in the minds of some Muslims that violence against innocent people, whom they consider infidel, will please God and lead them to Heaven?

Clearly we Muslims need to rethink some basic features of our theology. Success of Jihadism lies in the fact that, at its core, the Jihadi theology is not very different from the consensus theology of all other schools of Islamic thought. Jihadists misuse the war-time verses of the holy Quran, as Muslims believe that all verses, regardless of the context, are of universal applicability. But most damaging for Islam and useful for Jihadism is the Doctrine of Abrogation whereby all peaceful Meccan verses are considered abrogated by the confrontational, war-time Medinan verses. Similarly the divinity attached to Hadith and Sharia and their universal applicability will have to be reconsidered by mainstream Islam, and not just to defeat Jihadism, but also to deal with many other issues including Human Rights of women, children and homosexuals....

Related Articles:

1.  Open Letter to Maulana Firangimahali: Why Do Moderate Ulema Stay Silent  When Terrorists Claim - 'Islam Has Never Been A Religion Of Peace, Not Even For A Day'?

2.  Do Not Entertain Any Defamation of Islam Resolution Until Islam Is Protected From Defamation by Jihadi Literature in the Islamic World First, Sultan Shahin Asks UN Human Rights Council

3.  Islam Is Based On the Prophet's Mysticism, Honesty and Social Activism, Says Sultan Shahin in Pune: Muslims Should Strengthen These Spiritual Foundations of Islam and Not Fall Prey to Fascism

4.  Do Muslims need to disassociate themselves from Salafi, Wahhabi ideologies of permanent war with non-Muslims and moderate Muslims? A New Age Islam debate

5.  Terrorists Have Failed So Far and Should Not Be Allowed To Affect Global Multiculturalism, Sultan Shahin Tells Parallel Meeting at UNHRC in Geneva

Islam Is In Need Of a Renaissance: It Is Not Enough for Muslims to Say That Terrorists Misinterpret Islam
Saif Mahmood

Islam is in need of a Renaissance. Like every other religion that has grown by proselytisation, Islam too has had a violent history which, in those times, was defensible. However, much as the advent of Islam was all about progressivism, unlike their proselytising predecessors, Muslim theologists have failed to inform their beliefs and attitudes with contemporary standards and demands of inclusivity. There is a pressing need to present Islamic texts unambiguously and in consonance with present-day realities, leaving no room for misconstruction by anyone. ...

It Is True That ‘Terrorism Has No Religion’ but Islam Has To Embrace the Modern, Examine Its Theology Afresh
Rakesh Sinha

Two Islamic concepts, Jehad and kafir, are interpreted from an extre­mely moderate to a highly extremist manner. This is an issue Indian Muslim seminaries need to ponder on. Secular education is another solution. Common schooling creates mutual sympathy and goodwill. Many madrasa teachings lead to radicalisation....

Ijtihad, the Cornerstone of Islamic Tradition, Has Been Put in the Cold Storage, What Went Wrong
M Zeb Khan

Ijtihad, which was the cornerstone in Islamic tradition, aimed at connecting the immutable principles of Islam with changing conditions of the world, has been put in the cold storage for the last five hundred years. Instead of defending their sectarian turfs, the Ulema should have worked for unity of the Ummah and its repositioning as a global power....

Muslims Can Reinterpret Their Faith: It’s the Best Answer to ISIS
Hassan Radwan

Realising the Qur’an is fallible will not destroy Islam. It will destroy the literalists. For the rest of us it will free us and free our reason so we can take what is useful and helpful from religion and ignore what is not. Islam did not come to replace the mind God gave us and turn us into heartless robots. ..

Contradictions of Religion

However, the most conservative and radical elements of Islam are being used to rationalise, legitimise and excuse the most violent acts against states, people and societal institutions. And, regarding the role of women, so-called honour killings and the embrace of Salafist and Wahhabi ideologies, Islam is in conflict with modernity....

Muhammad Ali Delivered A Powerful Punch for A Non-Doctrinaire and Egalitarian Islam
Saba Naqvi

Contrast this with how the guardians of Islam in our country often present the religion as a series of fixed dos and don’ts. The Indian clerical class has largely been bereft of any ideas that could have a universal appeal, in the manner in which the Sufi path did at one time in our history. Their mission statement seems limited to teaching children by rote and hanging on to their turfs by energetically defending personal laws that are anything but egalitarian....

 

The Right Way to Observe Ramadan: Fast According To the Dictates of Your Conscience
Mustafa Akyol

Fasting during Ramadan is an act of worship intended for God. It is meaningful only when it is driven by a genuine will to obey God’s commandments — not the laws of the state or the vigilantism of society. The latter does not nurture true piety; it only nurtures fakeness and hypocrisy. That is why the Quran says there should be “no compulsion in religion” — and no compulsion in fasting, either....

 

Fasting Ramadan When the Day Is Extremely Long or Short and the Moderation of Islam
Louay Fatoohi

Islam is a religion of reason and calls for reasonable rulings. This has underlined the work of jurists and scholars over the centuries. Reading the Qur’an and Sunna in a completely rigid and literal way, as in the case of the view of Ibn Baz and Ibn al-Uthaymeen, fails to understand the spirit of the text and objectives of Islamic law (Maqāṣid al-Shari’a). ....

And

Calculating the Ramadan Timetable in High Latitude Cities Using Mecca’s Length of the Fast

 

The New Religious Revolution
Yassin El-Ayouty

Sharia law, when coupled with Ijtihad (reason applied to religious texts), has a lethal power. Against jihadism, that is, whether of the Islamic State (IS) group, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra Front, the friends of Beit Al-Maqdis or Boko Haram....

A Complete Agenda for Reform in Islamic Theology
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

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….

Ijtihad And Pakistan: Iqbal’s Greatest Contribution To Muslim Thought Is The Idea That Ijtihad Could Only Be Done Through A National Parliament, Not By Clerics
Yasser Latif Hamdani

None of the Imams of any of the established schools of jurisprudence ever claimed to be recipients of divine wisdom. They did their job admirably as expounders of Islamic law for their time. They never claimed their works to be the final word. If that were the case, there would be only one single Fiqh but that is not the case. If, as we believe, Islam is not time bound, it should not be hidebound either....

Islam in the West, Muslims in the East
Prashanth MP

In the Sunni narrative, the Mujahid movement that swept through Kerala in the first decades of the 20th century was inspired by the ‘Westernised Islam’ of Muhammad Abduh, the Islamic scholar in Egypt, who said “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”...

 

The problem does not originate from IS any more than it does from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Wahhabism, the MB or the Salafists or any other group. Neither, does the problem originate in the so-called USA-created groups and, the USA cannot be held accountable for such a belief system. Neither is the problem lying in a handful of radicals tainting the image of Islam. The problem lies in the fact that these foundational concepts of Fatah, Jihad and Shahada have not been addressed and properly explained to Muslims by Muslim clergy.....

World affairs and global problems of scarcity are secular issues. In crescent of Islam and Afghanistan particularly, a great proportion of populace are more worried about the afterlife than this life. When heavens are to be cared more than this earthly abode you end up making this 'dwelling' of ours hell. That is what Afghanistan has regrettably become with Taliban in ascendancy. Every voice of reason and rationale is nipped in the bud.

 

Muslims Need A New Definition Of Islam In Order To Survive
Haroon Moghul

The majority of Muslims are Sunni, usually following one of four “schools.” Nowadays Wahhabis are counted as Sunnis, although (a) Wahhabism emerged in rebellion against Sunni Islam, and (b) for a long time a lot of Sunnis did not see Wahhabis as part of their tradition. A significant minority of Muslims are Shia, further distinguished by various branches within.....

Why Should A Fatwa Affect Non-Muslims?
Robin Augustin

With the  Malacca government declaring that they are following a national fatwa in imposing a blanket ban on vaping and the sale of vape products, non-Muslims in the two states must be wondering why an Islamic edict should apply to them.

 

Islam need not be attuned to the normative demands of modernity for there will always interpretations from the epistemological pluralism of Islam which will contest this view. Rather the normative present should become the standard against which Islam should be judged. ...

It Is Time For Muslims To Begin A Deep Self-Examination
Yasmine Bahrani

In the wake of the Paris bloodbath, the attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Bamako, Mali, and murders elsewhere before and since, people desperately want to understand the root cause of all this violence. That’s true not only in the West, where many blame Islam itself. It’s true in the Middle East, too, where we are struggling to come to grips with the carnage and the region’s role in it.

For A New Understanding of Islam

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens is to be part of the solution despite our grievances. If we want to defend the life and civil liberties of Muslims around the world and the peace and tranquility of every human regardless of their faith, we must act now to tackle the violent ex- tremism problem in all its dimensions: political, economic, social and religious.

Islamic Thought Must Be Constantly Regenerated
Anas Alam Faizli

Islam is a religion that inculcates thinking. If we encourage thinking, and if we allow continuous discussions and debates, we will nurture intellectualism and progress. We need to question in order to understand the purpose of certain systems, rulings or judicial decisions.

Who Needs Reformation - Islam or The Muslims?
Bashy Quraishy, New Age Islam

Simply put, any faith that does not accept its follower’s quest for exploratory questioning or fulfilling the ordinary human desire for spiritual and moral advancement, would in the longer run have difficulty in appealing or contain ability to fill the inner void resulting in the lack of peace. That is why, it is alarming that some groups within Islam wish to enforce a puritanical form of faith that was prevalent 1500 years back. The practices of 7th century are gaining ground in 21st century, among Muslims communities at large and even some of the educated and aware Muslim youth are attracted to it, both in the Islamic world as well as in the western part of the planet.

Muslims, We Have To Critically Review Our Understanding Of Islam
Fethullah Gulen

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens is to be part of the solution despite our grievances. If we want to defend the life and civil liberties of Muslims around the world, and the peace and tranquility of every human regardless of their faith, we must act now to tackle the violent extremism problem in all its dimensions: political, economic, social and religious. ...

 

Indonesia’s Islam Nusantara: A challenge to Islamic State?
Azis Anwar Fachrudin

The 90-minute film Rahmat Islam Nusantara (promoted in English as The Divine Grace of East Indies Islam) has attracted international attention, along with the idea of Islam Nusantara, after a piece about it appeared in The New York Times. Sharing the theme of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) national congress several months ago, the film always intended to share the idea of Islam Nusantara, Indonesia’s unique style of Islam, with a global audience.

 

How Well Do You Know Religion?
Nicholas Kristof

It’s true that terrorism in the 21st century is disproportionately rooted in the Islamic world. And it’s legitimate to criticize the violence, mistreatment of women or oppression of religious minorities that some Muslims justify by citing passages in the Quran. But let’s not stereotype 1.6 billion Muslims because of their faith. What counts most is not the content of holy books, but the content of our hearts.

 
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NEW COMMENTS

  • The main theme of this conference seems to be the immediate challenge from the extreme ideologies which have the socio-political legitimacy....
    ( By Ashok Sharma )
  • Hats Off, So a tribal society became the largest empire known to mankind until then in just 80 years and ruled the same for a thousand ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Hats Off, My comment on the interpreation by Ghazali is very specific and has nothing to do with technology.....
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • When Islamic Sharia (The Quran & Sunnah )is medieval for you then just leave Islam. Islam doesn't need deviants....
    ( By Shahid Sayyidain )
  • Very relevant question...'
    ( By Vani Vinayak )
  • Indian Islamists are they prepared to accept Ulema demand Med.punishment ???? In the caseof Kerala many muslims willbe introuble ...
    ( By Sivasankaran P Nair )
  • Undoubtedly Shariah is Divine Jusy and Universal. The Ulemas should strongly demand IT's application on India's Muslims all aspects Cvil ...
    ( By Mohammed Shafi )
  • Answer is simple this civil law is envitable for all muslim like marriage. .inheritance. .etc.but regarding the criminal thngs ...
    ( By Haris Koodakkal )
  • No need to implement common civil code; just implement sharia criminal law for Muslims.'
    ( By Sanjay Ghosh )
  • It is compulsory for all Goans to register marriage before civil registrar before their religious marriage,only in case of catholic Church marriage is performed first ...
    ( By Mp Naik )
  • if ghazzali had been a graduate of technology, he might have better understood the koran. as of now, ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • ridda wars had very much to do with apostasy of entire tribes. they seemed to be just waiting to opt out. being against paying allegiance to ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • Brother! May God bless you abundantly for this lovely article! You might like to consider putting together some of your articles into a book.' ...
    ( By Roshan )
  • The right word for a Muslim is 'enlightened one' like Buddha. Wonder if in Brahminic traditions there is place for enlightenment!?'
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Ridda wars were not for or against the freedom of conscience. The rebellion was against pledging their allegiance to the political successor Abu Bakr. It ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, Elders, philosophers discuss known moral principles and litterateurs use them in their works . They have never produced one...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • are so many people who pore over the Quran day in and day out for years on end highly immoral people who believe in sex ...
    ( By secularlogic )
  • GM Sb’s comments are in red. Naseersaab said, "No Verse of the Quran is abrogated and no verse of the Quran contradicts another verse from ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • A very sensible article. If all Muslims can think and behave like this the world will be better place to live in.'
    ( By Royalj )
  • Mohanty I will be happy to answer you . Ring me ...
    ( By Durgesh Nandan )
  • What about thousands of SIKHS, men, women and children tortured and Killed by the Rulers who were followed of Islam.....
    ( By Nirmal Singh Singh )
  • So many converts and offsprings of converts teaching Islam see see😂😂😂 in comments.
    ( By Krishnanand Tiwari )
  • Anyone knows about science and still believe quran and Islam is directly transported to mankind from god, they must stop using internet and facebook.'
    ( By Krishnanand Tiwari )
  • @Mohammad Nazir Fida You wear a tie it's haram in Islam sir.'
    ( By Krishnanand Tiwari )
  • Iqbal Husain dont try to pls your sinful orgies by saying plants too have life , a zakir naik the sinners and evil must be ...
    ( By Chandan Pandit )
  • @Mohammad Nazir Fida Everyone does everything for belly ...don't you'
    ( By Hanumanth Vaddalli )
  • one who criticizes shariah has no right to speak on behalf of shariah or suggest to follow it or not....
    ( By Mohammad Nazir Fida )
  • Islam is a religion which believes in one Allmighty.its not a democracy,that rules will keep changing,neither it is a man made religion with 33million gods. ...
    ( By Kabir Zeeshan )
  • I agree with what he is saying, if Muslims wants Sharia law in the matter of divorce (talaq ) then they should ask the supreme ...
    ( By Faraz Kazmi )
  • Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheb: Logically argued and so I agree. Thanks Since I am neither Sunni
    ( By Rashid Samnakay )
  • I do concede that there is a real theophilosophic problem of accommodating good non-religious people within the theological ....
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Mr Naseer Ahmed has done us a great favour by systematically presenting to us some of the core teachings of Islam. To any fair-minded person, ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Naseersaab said, "No Verse of the Quran is abrogated and no verse of the Quran contradicts another verse....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Naseersaab, As I asked before, do you think man could not have figured out for himself that it is wrong to kill another human being or ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Samnakay sahib, While I agree with you that the Apostle could not have nominated anybody....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Muslims want to define Islam through eyes and mouth of fundamentalists. Even so called moderate one has one view in private and other in public....
    ( By Krishna Kumar Saboo )
  • guys this post for serious talk not for jokes and ravi islam teach peace i agree but you know what i am not in mood....
    ( By Manjurul Bush )
  • I agree with 'hats off'. Ridda wars were really bad. This Pakistan is still fighting a Ridda war to suppress the Baluchis. As Indians....
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Sorry for the People, Whatever they read, they keep following . But you are a student and you must have to get good marks in ...
    ( By Hanif Uz Jaman )
  • Ask these bloody tarek tufails and Shahins ... Can they use their modern English....
    ( By Ravi Kumar )