By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
15 April, 2015
The simple conceptual framework that I discussed in the previous part of this article codifies accumulated learning from a systematic study of the Quran to find answers to probing questions asked on this forum. New Age Islam provides the perfect platform for developing new ideas. It is unbelievably open and democratic and encourages healthy debate which sometimes gets both rough and unhealthy but these are some of the hazards of an open platform.Shahin Sb has admirably resisted all pressures to restrict freedom of expression and provide a sumptuous fare of wide ranging opinions and thoughts. This framework is dedicated to New Age Islam and the much abused Rational Muhammad Yunus, Hamza and Secular Logic who contribute on this website without whom I would not have stretched my thinking as much.
Use of a good framework should deliver the following benefits:
1. It should help abstract principles that are eternal.
2. It should facilitate quick exploration of the subject to provide sound and insightful answers to complex questions.
3. It should give an alert on doubtful data
The three points listed are a tall order considering that the subject matter for exploration using the framework is a Book that is the most read, analyzed, and researched for 1400 years.
Does the framework deliver results? Let us consider what I have achieved with it so far:
General Principles were extracted and confidently stated in my article The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian Period
To my knowledge, no scholar has stated these as eternal principles or even as principles that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) adhered to all through his prophetic mission.
Answers to Complex questions
(The title of the article referenced is within inverted commas)
I have used the framework to answer questions such as:
1. “Is Islam Secular?”
The surprising answer in the article is that justice is secular in Islam and a ruler can be just to all the citizens only in a secular democracy. The truth of this finding can be easily seen in how oppressive an “Islamic” country such as Pakistan is to its citizens where the State practices takfir against the Ahmediyas and its draconian blasphemy laws have become an instrument to persecute the religious minorities. In the temporal dimension oppression is the highest form of “Kufr” and Pakistan will rank among the topmost “Kafir” countries in the world. India will rank high among the “Momin” countries.
The question no longer is whether a secular democracy is compatible with Islam but a country that is not a secular democracy will find it hard to uphold the Islamic principles of justice to all and will always fall short of the secular democracies on an Islamic principle!
2. “Who is a Muslim in the Quran?”
This exploration is deliberately mistitled in the article. It provides an answer to the question “who is not a kafir in the temporal dimension?” The answer holds good for people of all faiths but specifically examined for a Muslim to show that it applies to him as well. For a Muslim, the spiritual and the temporal dimension merge. He cannot be a kafir in the temporal dimension and yet be a Muslim merely because he professes the faith with his mouth. Muslims are however totally oblivious to the fact that many of them are “Kafir” in the temporal dimension and the article brings their attention to it.
3. Are The Objectives Of Qital Or Fighting In The Cause Of Allah Secular?
The surprising answer is that they are and explored fully in the artcle:“The Much discussed and debated Medinian Verses Relating to Fighting”
4. What Is Islam Literally And Fundamentally?
The main charge of the “moderates” against the extremists is that they are literalists and fundamentalists. But aren’t literalists and fundamentalists more Muslim than those who use fanciful interpretations and treat verses that are to be taken literally as metaphorical? This question was examined in my article “What Does It Mean To Be A Literalist And AFundamentalist?”and the surprising answer is that Islam is fundamentally and literally a religion of peace, justice and moderation. It is the moderates and the extremists who are neither literalists nor fundamentalists and indulge in fanciful interpretations.
5. What does it take to defeat the extremist ideology? The question was examined in “Action Points for Defeating the Extremist Ideology”
6. What will be the fate of Arab Mushriks who lived and died before the times of Prophet Muhammad and other mushriks who live and die without the truth of Islam having reached them in a manner that is sufficient to make them accept belief? The simple answer is that they will be judged by the norms of their society and whether they were “momin” or “kafir” in the temporal dimension. This is answered in “Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 3): Why Kufr Is A Relative Concept While Shirk, Idol Worship Etc. Have Fixed Meanings”
Alert on Doubtful Data
Mistranslations and misinterpretations are easily caught because the mistakes stand out as a non- conformity with the principles extracted using the framework. Some examples are discussed in the previous part. Using the framework leads to a much more refined understanding of the message of the Quran.
If the framework fully captures the divine plan, it will prove to be robust and will always provide the right answers to questions and prevent misinterpretations. If it imperfectly matches the divine plan, it will throw up anomaliesor contradictions which can be used to refine the framework or discard it as unreliable. The framework provides a hitherto unmatched power to further explore the Quran and mine for answers to complex questions faced and can be used by anyone. The framework replaces the defective frameworks and axioms of the past which considered every non-Mulsim as “Kafir” to be a self- evident truth. This was first proved to be a gross error which leads to many contradictions that people found hard to explain. That such an assumption survived so long shows how comfortable the Muslims made themselves with unreconciled contradictions for so many centuries.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to New Age Islam