By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009
This in response to a recent article on the theme posted on this website, re:
Demographic studies reveal a massive conversion of Muslims to Christianity in Africa over the past century – a phenomenon that has gained momentum in recent times. While this may be attributed to economic, military and ignorance factors as brilliantly advocated by Islamic scholar and thinker Manzoourul Huq in his erudite comment to the referred article, what is most alarming is the presence of non-Muslims among the Muslims – the insiders who ridicule their own faith and given an excuse can change faith, as well as those who constantly engage on most trivial issues and keep Islam standing at the seventh century Arabia. In historical perspective farewell to Islam is a new phenomenon and a reflection of an abysmal state of its degeneration that renders it incapable to support the 21st century educated and even uneducated people. Those who suggest lack of love for the Prophet or commitment to religion as its reason fail to understand that what they are saying is the very result of the degeneration of Islam. Unless Islam is regenerated, people will have no love for its Prophet or respect for faith and leave this faith. This essay attempts to bring across the different facets of this pernicious phenomenon, point by point, lest it may be wrongly diagnosed to grave detriment of the global Muslim community.
1. Islam as putatively conflated with its Classical Sharia Law is a religion that entertains, among other things, stoning to death for adultery, capital punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, punishment for homosexuality, slavery, discrimination and hatred against non-Muslims, demographic division of the world between the Muslims and non- Muslims, division of knowledge between Islamic and non-Islamic, temporary marriage, on the spot divorce, rape law, honour killing, full veiling of women, gross gender disparity, parental immunity against child abuse, and so on, that are antithetic to modern civilization as much as they stand in contradiction to the Qur’anic message .
2. The contemporary Islamic theology continues to venerate and keep fully alive the Hadith corpus that contain “some accounts that sound most bizarre and purport to provoke sexuality, induce terrorism, foment inter-faith hatred, and stand deeply misogynist, scientifically untenable, self contradictory and Qur’an-incompatible” .
3. Drawing on Islamic sources (Hadith and biography of the Prophet) Western scholarship has established Islam’s accommodation of such barbaric punishments to the vanquished people as lopping off limbs, gouging off eyes, cutting off tongues, noses, ears, fingers, hands, feet, testicles, and disembowelling not only with knives but with instruments first made red hot over fire” .
4. The literary style, setting, paradigms, and dialectical constructions of the Hadith literature date back to the early medieval era and so their continued teaching and propagation in traditional religious schools (madrasas) as of this day is inevitably impacting the mental development of the students, shackling their power of reasoning and virtually freezing their intellect into the early medieval era .
5. The Prophet of Islam is openly and sarcastically demonized. Islam. crtical scholarship has culled out and pieced together elements from the Hadith and early biographic accounts to portray our noble Prophet as a man that slaughtered captives, robbed caravans, sold women and children into slavery, had sexual relations with captive women, tortured prisoners, married a nine-year-old, forced his adopted son to divorce his wife so Muhammad could have her as a wife (she was purportedly quite beautiful), mandated war against non-Muslims, and who had some of his critics and rivals assassinated .
6. As Allama Iqbal puts it, “mashriq may ususle din ban jaate hain – maghrib may magar mashin ban jaate hain” . What he obviously meant, which is true to this day is that in the Muslim land the focus is on the ‘masaIa’ or principle of religion and a great part of its scholarship is constantly interpreting and reinterpreting the principles of religion – an exercise that cannot conduce to a millimetre of advancement of human civilization that is otherwise advancing at kilometre pace so to say.
7. Their obsessive and exclusivist dedication to the introductory pillars of faith obscures their comprehension of the social, moral and ethical paradigms of the Qur’an, overshadows its spirit of exploration, enterprise, curbs its urge for excellence and blocks their intellect against engaging reason (aql), fiqh (discernment or cogitation), and independent intellectual inquiry (Ijtihad). Thus, over time they have lost the Islamic intellectual heritage and enlightenment spirit, which have found their way through the crossroads of history to the Christian West. To quote Allama Iqbal again :
“uthaa’aye kuch waraq laa’lay nay kuch nargis nay kuch gul nay – chaman may har taraf bikhri hui hay dastaan meri == urali qumriyon nay tootiyon nay ‘andalibon nay – chaman walon nay milkar loot li tarze foghan meri’
[Approximate trans: “Its leaves (elements of moral law) are picked up by different flowers (different communities) – my story (moral law matrix) is scattered all over the garden (permeated globally) == The singing birds have snatched away – the beautiful tone of my melody.”]
8. As a fallout of the foregoing (7 above), the participation of the Muslim community in academic and professional fields, cultural arenas, and prestigious and lawful avenues of livelihood in practically all Muslim minority countries as well as international level is abysmally low.
9. The Muslims are obstinately and unlawfully projecting themselves as an exclusive community, distinctly different from the rest of humanity, and, contrary to the Qur’anic universal message, creating a global Islamic cultural ghetto. This, together with their exclusivist devotion to the pillars of faith, virtually reduces Islam to a cult of five pillars. 
10. To legitimize their exclusiveness, Muslims have, in recent decades, globally standardized the Arabic verbal symbol (Allah) for the Supreme deity, in stark defiance of the Qur’anic statement that God's name is regularly proclaimed (in diverse languages, 30:22) in monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques (22:40), and that all the beautiful names belong to God (59:24). They are also creating a medieval-nun style head-ear-chin covering for Muslims women – a style that would have left Muslim women incompletely dressed in the single untailored cloak overwrapping outfit of nascent Islam, and therefore stands un-Islamic. Besides, the enunciations of each of the verses 24:32 (“to reveal what is normally apparent” except the private parts) and 33:59, “to wrap the cloak around the body (in a way) that they may be recognized” admit of a woman’s exposing her full face (including head, ear and chin) for identity.
11. A section of Ulama issue most preposterous fatwas drawing on the most bizarre ahadith despite clear warning of their compilers against the authenticity of many of the ahadith included in their compilation, only because they met their criteria of scrutiny (provided a chain of transmitters and narrators stretching back to the Prophet’s era) . This demonizes Islam in the eyes of the world and shakes the confidence of many critical and discerning Muslims.
12. The Muslims educated or otherwise, understand their faith by proxy through the mouths of their favorite preachers. These preachers pick conveniently from their theological sources to interpret the Qur’anic message in accordance with their own ideology, background, sectarian, divisive or supremacist views and focus on the greatness of their faith rather than the core teachings of their faith.
13. A literalist translation of the Qur’an as read and quoted by both Muslims and non-Muslims grievously distorts its message as i) its generic Arabic term ‘Muslim’ (any believer in God) is restrictively conflated with the followers of the Prophet (Muslim as understood today), ii) vicariously swaps the Qur’an’s immediate audience (the pagan Arabs and other inveterate deniers of the revelation) with the present day non-Muslims, and iii) utterly disregards, the Qur’an’s directive to probe its verses (38:29, 47:24) focusing only on definitive verses (ayatum muhkamat) that constitute the essence of its message (3:7), approaching it with a pure heart (56:79) and seeking the best meaning in it (39:18,39:55).
14. Despite the Qur’an’s repeated rejoinders to make no distinction between the Prophets (3:84, 2:285, 4:152), the Muslims project their Prophet singularly as the greatest among all the Prophets, and grossly underplay the unique blessings God bestowed on some other Prophets, thereby diverting the attention of the Muslim community from the message of the Qur’an to the person of the Prophet.
15. The classical jurists of Islam together with the orthodoxy have virtually subverted the divine speech – the Qur’an by venerating the historically evolved Hadith  as indirect revelation  and privileging the opinions of scholars and jurists above the Qur’an – as and when they conflict with its dictate .
Conclusion: The listed realities of the present day Islam and Muslims can be extremely frustrating to many discerning Muslims who may find greater degree of rationality, generosity, fellow feeling and noble virtues in Christianity as preached by its learned, committed and enlightened clergy. The list can of course be extended, but by itself is sufficient to explain the reverse spiritual traffic of humanity from Islam to Christianity. In the divine scheme, both are scriptural religions. Notwithstanding the doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity, Christianity as preached today is far more emblematic of the Qur’anic message than the present day Islam. Notions like justice, liberty, equity, good deeds, good neighbourly and inter-faith relations, returning evil with good, generosity, forgiveness, wealth sharing with community, fair payment for goods and services, financial support to the needy, empowerment of women, good business ethics, use of intellect, striving for excellence etc. as espoused by the Qur’an are on the lips of every enlightened evangelist.
These have far greater appeal to a discerning audience than constant claim of religious supremacy, greatness of the Prophet, scientific miracle of the Qur’an and the merits of the pillars of faith as the Muslim preachers normally do. We live in a globalized world and share place of work, offices, and neighbourhood with non-Muslims. The Qur’anic message in its conclusive non-contextual phase called for getting to know each (49:13) other and to vie with people of diverse religions in good deeds and lawful pursuits (5:48, 49:13). Today’s Mulla’s, popular TV preachers and orthodoxy are bent on defying or rather killing the pluralistic vision, the noble social, moral and ethical imperatives and the liberating spirit of Islam and reducing it to a cult of five pillars with an Arab God (Allah, 10 above) and world’s greatest man Muhammad (pbuh) as its Prophet – a cult that is rooted in the medieval theological discourses and bears all its cruel, vicious and atavistic hallmarks (2, 3 above).
The Christianity on the other hand has cut its moorings from the medieval underpinnings and restrictive customs and practices – thanks to the Reformation, and revival of a process of theological enlightenment. Islam on the other hand is only experiencing deformation as the foregoing list can amply demonstrate. Why then the Muslims should be surprised at the reversal of conversion process? Thus unless Islam delivers itself from its medieval theological prison, from the clutches its hijackers [the hadith venerating orthodoxy and the Classical Sharia law proponents - 8, 9 above] the pace of conversion to Christianity is bound to increase, even if the devout Muslims prayed fifty times a day or loved the Prophet (a hypothetical premise as the Prophet is no more with us) more than their own selves.
1. The Classical Islamic Law (Islamic Sharia Law) is NOT a Word of God!
2. Defending the Hadith and its Compilers – the Great Imams who are sometimes misunderstood and even reviled
3. Benjamin Walker, Foundation of Islam, The Making of a World Faith, Peter Owen Publishers, U.K. p. 316.
4. Muhammad Yunus and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA 2009. P. 342
5. American Lawyer, Andrew J. Stunich’s posting on April 01, 2010, in Amazon.com under, John Esposito’s book, Future of Islam.
6. Bange dara, ‘zarifana’, opening verse
7. Ibid.,taswire dard, opening lines
8. Literalist comprehension of, and exclusivist dedication to the Pillars of Faith purports to reduce Islam to a Cult of Five Pillars.
9. Asaf A.A.Fyzee, Outlines of Muhammadan Law, 5th edition, Oxford University Press, Delhi 2005. p. 33
10. “Any Qur’anic verse which contradicts the opinions of ‘our masters’ will be construed as having been abrogated, or the rule of preference will be applied thereto. It is better that the verse is interpreted in such a way that it conforms to their opinion.” – extracted from Doctrine of ijma in Islam, by Ahmad Hussain, New Delhi, 1992, p.16.
August, 01, 2012.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.