Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
Islam aims at
enabling people to rise above narrow boundaries of colour and race and work
together for welfare and justice and help each other. The Treaty of Medina is a
brilliant illustration of this objective. After the Prophet’s demise, Muslim
history went through many ups and downs. Yet, even then people of other faiths
often enjoyed considerable religious freedom, although not everywhere and at
all times. ...
Dr. Niaz Murtaza
I am a firm
believer in secular democracy not because I don’t believe in Islam’s
progressive elements, but because I see the faith hijacked by retrogressive
forces and little inclination within the majority to challenge their hold and
develop a progressive Islamic vision. In such a situation, secular democracy
seems the best available option....
explains that Sharia is a guide to ethics, not simply a legal code. Corporal
and capital punishments are the result of a “brutal and literalist” application
of it and should be suspended. His approach to gay people seems to be love the
sinner, hate the sin – a conservative one in the context of very recent
progress in the west, but hardly incompatible with life here, as millions of
traditional Christians demonstrate. Islam considers modest dress for men and
women an obligation, although not an essential one.....
religious edicts be mixed with science, and time and effort expended on trying
to extract scientific facts from sacred texts? Religion — especially as
emphasised by Islam and the Quran — has come for spiritual purification and is
not meant for other ends except where there may be a direct link with morality.
Religion must not be used to alter scientific facts and vice versa. There is no
scientific evidence against any divine truth revealed by God....
Z. Fareen Parvez
“It wasn’t so
fundamentalist fifty years ago in Hyderabad. Now, when I see young men wearing
their Islamic caps, I just have an allergy to it…I don’t want to make religion
an institution. It should stay in the heart.” In Lyon too, middle-class Muslim
activists held practices associated with the Salafist movement in the
working-class, urban periphery with disdain. Although most opposed state
legislation such as the ban on the Niqab, they believed that the Niqab was at
best a grave misinterpretation of Islam….
Do not suppress your confusion for temporary peace but let it ignite in
you a desire for truth. Embark the journey with an open mind, an open heart,
surrounding yourself with books and scholars, letting your mind be your
compass, and truth be your end goal. The journey will be difficult because no
goodness comes without effort. So, call this journey a test if you may, but
never consider it a mortal sin...
Sadly, idealism in this area has convinced many Muslims that Divine
revelation offers answers to life’s changing circumstances without having to
make sense of, and strive with, the external environment and our own inner
space. Ironically, it’s become automatic for many to approach sacred texts as
remote and ‘untouchable’ due to their very sacredness. And on a macro level,
too, today’s sectarian identity politics is partly a reflection of this kind of
inflexibility and ‘crisis of intellect.’...
Scholars need to come together and discuss exactly what they are
bickering about and whether their stances are aligned with Islamic teachings.
Muslims should be free to discuss what the Sharia means to their individual and
collective lives and which form of it may or may not be relevant. The thousands
of ‘Alims’ churned out by madrasas must be monitored for what they learn and
subsequently do. Khutbas in mosques need to be carefully assessed and any
vitriolic content removed...
as a vitally open society, while remaining aware of its own authentic tradition
on which the Islamic identity was passed. It never simply ‘borrowed’ but
accepted ideas from other cultures in building upon and shaping already
However, it is
to be appreciated that the spiritual content of modernism lies in moderation.
If this definition of modernism is accepted, then we find that there is no
conflict between Islam and modernism. In fact, moderation forms a major theme
in the Quran. “Allah has raised the Muslim as the middle-most or a
justly-balanced nation and has made it to stand as witness over other
M. Zuhdi Jasser
violent and non-violent – has continued to advance across the globe. Islamist
terror in Florida and Ohio, attacks in France, Iraq, Pakistan, India and beyond
continue to take innocent lives and create an understandable culture of fear.
Meanwhile, many Muslims still find themselves marginalized within their own
community spaces: women, Black Muslims, sexual minorities and scores of other
vulnerable communities continue to feel ostracized and even persecuted for who
they are and what they believe....
Raza Habib Raja
A common tactic
used by religious rights is to discourage any critical debate, and to give a
belittling reference to inadequate qualifications of those who are trying to
adopt a reformist approach. What really amazes me that this reference is never
made when you are supporting ultraconservative view of Islam?...
Asif Merchant, New Age Islam
To qualify as a
world religion, Islam has to be acceptable in any part of the world, with
anyone being accepted as a Muslim, purely on belief, and no other criterion.
This can never happen as long as we have people in authority who are not
willing to consider that the Holy Prophet had something more in mind for Islam
than merely the Namaaz and the Hijab which the clerics are so fond of
emphasizing. Consider the so-called Islamic calendar. It only records the lunar
cycle, but is useless for agriculture or travel. ...
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. ...
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
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....
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.
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....
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
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
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
Calculating the Ramadan Timetable in High Latitude Cities Using Mecca’s
Length of the Fast
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....
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
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….
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....
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
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.....