New Age Islam
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Islamic Ideology ( 17 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Understanding the Deen of Islam – Part 1

Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam

18 Feb 2015

More often we confuse the word Deen with historical Islam and want people to believe that Deen is synonymous with Islam whereas it is not so. Many interpretations of Deen have been presented by prominent scholars and ulema of Islam. The truth is that no new interpretation of Islam is needed. What is needed is only a proper understanding of Deen. Religion changes with time but Deen remains constant and is not changeable. Hence no need for a new interpretation. Interpretations and misinterpretations change and distort the nature of Deen.

A new interpretation of Deen is a meaningless proposition. Deen should only be practiced according to the changing needs of ever growing society.

In fact, we have repeated the words Islam and Islamic so often that the real meaning of the word has become lost and we have gone astray. In reality, the Quran, the previous prophets and the last prophet pbuh invited people towards Deen. Quran says that Deen is bowing before God’s injunctions.

Innad Deena ind Allahil Islam

In the above quoted verse, the word Islam means obedience to God and not historical religion Islam. The word Islam and its derivatives have often been used in the Quran meaning obedience or surrender to God. On various occasions Quran asks people to establish Deen (Aqeemud Deen)

Therefore, it is clear that Deen is the basic message which was revealed to all the prophets and the  Quran clearly states to the people of Makkah that Deen of Mohammad pbuh, Deen of Jesus Christ, Deen of Moses and Deen of David are all branches of the same religious tree. Deen was in Psalsm (Zabur) as well as in Torah; Deen was in the Bible as well as in the holy Quran. The difference was only in the ages they were revealed in.

Various scholars and exegetes of the Quran have tried to understand Deen as per their own abilities and intellectual faculties. Maulana Maududi launched the movement to establish Deen and believed that establishing the government of God on God’s earth was Deen. He said that a continuous effort should be made to achieve this objective. The objective of a true Muslim, he believed, was to implement the divine revelation in the society.

 By establishing Deen, Maulana Ilyas meant reviving the observance of namaz and other related rites and dogma of Islam through his Tablighi movement though some of the technical aspects of the movement cannot be appreciated. Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi stressed the universality and cosmopolitan spirit and nature of Islam while Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani advocated in favour of nationalism in the background of the downfall of Popedom and Ottoman Caliphate. He presented Abdul Wahhab Najdi as a torch bearer and true guide of Islam among the Asian Muslims.

 On the other hand, the philosopher poet Iqbal wrote obituary to the Ottoman Empire and appreciated the changes in Turkey. Iqbal said that nationalism was the coffin of the Muslim community. He went to the extent of saying that nationalism was the biggest idol being worshipped by Muslims. He denounced Husain Ahmad Madani in a couplet.

Ajam hanoz na daanad ramooz-e-Deen warna

Za Deoband Hussain Ahmad een cheh bul ajabi ast

(The non-Arab Muslim world does not know the secrets of Deen otherwise there would not have been the foolish beliefs of Hussain Ahmad)

Iqbal tried to revive the cosmopolitanism of Islam and demolish Islamic nationalism. On the other hand, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan popularized modern system of education of Europe in India. He demonstrated a soft corner for European culture, softening the orthodoxy of Akbar Allahabadi who criticized modern education in his poetry. In this way, the efforts to understand Deen continued in Indian subcontinent.

There is a need to understand and practice Deen but this is a practical age and not of philosophizing. The world and the society have undergone a sea-change and so Muslims have the task of understanding the Deen and practicing it according to the needs and requirements of the changing world and society, instead of stressing on the limited scope of historical Islamism.