Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam


  • This article has generated an interesting conversation. Dr Naseem Ahmed says Kafir “is a name and description and not an abuse.” Even Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, quite a bit, actually. Although we indeed require names to differentiate between groups, names often carry connotations and easily become abuses. That is why so many Muslims name their children Mohammad (or Naseem or Ahmed), but probably nobody names them Abu Lahb or Abu Jahl. There are so many Rams and Lakshmans, but probably no Ravana.

    Kafir denotes not just non-Muslims, as Dr Ahmed claims, but is commonly used to refer to Muslims who supposedly aren’t really Muslim enough for others. It has become a means for sects to excommunicate each other. Sunnis call Shias kafir and vice versa, Deobandis call Barelvis kafir, Wahabis call everyone else kafir, and so on. Obviously, this has little to do with Islam and more to do with its politicization. That is what Arif Mohammad Khan seems to be speaking against – and who can blame him!

    As for who is Bediuzzaman, Dr Ahmed has obviously not heard of him because as Muslims we have become so cut off from each other, not to mention everyone else – primarily because our community has turned so inward looking in recent decades. We have built so many walls around ourselves that we have no clue of who others are. If they are not exactly like us – in the way they look, dress, eat, think or believe – we just call them kafir and move on (since they’re not going to be our neighbours in heaven, why bother!).

    Said Nursi was among the people who helped Islam survive Turkey’s “secularization” under Kemal Ataturk. He did so by trying to bring it in line with rational thinking, and advocating the teaching of modern science along with religion. He did so despite being repeatedly arrested and jailed all through his life. It is because of people like him that Turkey today is often cited as an example of how Islam and democracy can coexist. Whether you agree or disagree with his ideas, you cannot dismiss him as “any Tom, Dick and Harry”, as Dr Ahmed does.

    If Dr Ahmed has still not heard of Said Nursi, he should try to open his eyes and look out of his window. As should we all.

    By Azhar Azimabadi - 2/10/2012 8:42:02 AM

  • Probably this could be an interesting article.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/08/14/we-are-all-hindus-now.html By satwa gunam - 2/9/2012 8:49:41 PM

  • Dr. Naseem Ahmed, of all the wisdom spoken by Bediuzzaman, you found it worth commenting only on a non-issue whether one should call another a 'kafir' or not?  Is calling another a great act of merit?  How about espousing the other ideas mentioned above?  Everyone commits sin and when one commits a sin, one is essentially in the camp of kufr.  It is the lot of everyone to fight against kufr in oneself till his/her dying breath.  Only then the balance can be tallied to see if he or she was a kafir or not - and that can be done only by Allah.  So don't get too big for your boots to think you can judge as finely as the Allah.  May Allah Almight grant you enlightment.

    By Salim - 2/9/2012 6:31:14 PM

  • One fails to understand as to why people should believe in something just because they have been told to believe without questioning the authenticity of the claim. The entire debate of believer v/s non-believer is a hoax as no proof is provided by any side. How a few megalomaniacs give themselves the authority of declaring others as inferior as they do not believe in a particular concept for which there is no rationale.

    By Ashok Sharma - 2/9/2012 5:27:27 PM

  • An unbeliever is an unbeliever and there cannot be any justification or defence for it. Kafir is one who hides the truth, it is a name and description and not an abuse, just as Muslims in India are called Malaich or Turkudu, or Mohammedans, Shias, Ahmadis Khojas, Bohras, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Budhists Mahdvis, Agha Khan is. As for Bediuzzman, nobody knows him, or have heard of him, and he is of no acclaim or importance and as such his opinion is personal and of no import. Anyone, any 'Tom Dick and Harry ', any ' Pot or Pan ' can have an opinion; even one with lowest intellect can have his opinion and say. Not a big deal. To are trying very hard to justify your Ideology, and I wish you all the best in your endeavour and pray to Allah Almighty to grant you enlightment. Dr.Naseem Ahmed
    By Dr.Naseem Ahmed - 2/9/2012 3:43:34 PM

  • Unity and cooperation in the Muslim world is a tall order, but Bediuzzaman does offer several nuggets of wisdom.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 2/9/2012 3:08:30 AM