By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
14 September 2018
The Muslims are somewhere at the bottom of the heap in secular fields as well as in moral standards. A Muslim is most unsafe in a Muslim country but safer in secular countries. The fate of minorities in Islamic countries is pathetic and in countries like Pakistan, the minorities are targeted with impunity, with state complicity and with laws that discriminate. Non-Muslim countries have a better record in every humanitarian activity such as accepting refugees while rich Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE have very little to show. Civilisational development refers to the state of development of human society, its culture, science, industry, and government and on every parameter of civilisational development; the Muslims are at the bottom of the heap, and in comparison, with the rest of the world, they are barbarians.
Other societies and cultures were at some point in their past, worse off than the Muslims today, and their worst was worse than the worst of the Muslims if that is any consolation. They progressed rapidly on every parameter, only when they moved away from the strangle-hold of their religion and became secular in their outlook. The Muslims on the other hand are more “religious” than every other community. Is that the reason then of their backwardness? The logical answer to that question is a yes. Should the Muslims therefore take a lesson from this and move away from their religion? These are questions to which the Ulema must find answers or else the Muslims will move away from religion.
It is undeniable that it is religion that has given to mankind moral values and precepts that have in the first place helped us build cultures and civilization. It was Islam that transformed Muslim society in the seventh century and took Islamic culture and civilization ahead of the rest on every parameter of civilization where it remained upto the tenth century, but has stagnated ever since, and declined rapidly from the time of its colonization by European powers or even earlier. Is Islam unequal to the challenge or does Islam limit the potential for development to where we stand today? Has it outlived its utility? What is Islam? Is it what the scholars in the past has defined to be Islam? I will endeavour to answer this question.
Islamic theology is extremely bigoted and parochial. The Muslims worship not the Rabbul Alamin (God of all creation) but a lesser tribal god who is rabbul Muslimin or god of only the Muslims. In Islamic theology therefore, only the followers of Muhammad (pbuh) are Muslims and the rest of mankind are Kafir or infidels. The Quran however, has a vey secular definition of Islam and the Muslim. Islam is simply the religion of submission to God and to His commands to follow the moral code of living, and all those who do so, are Muslims. The Quran includes in the definition of Muslim, the Jews, Christians, Sabians, the Buddhists and everyone who:
(2:112) Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to Allah and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
There cannot be a more secular definition of Islam and a Muslim than what the Quran defines.
What about the polytheists? There is no verse in the Quran that refers to all the polytheists of the Prophet’s times and his immediate audience as Kafir, but only those who were active enemies of the new religion and among the persecutors. Anyone who persecutes another for his religion, even if it be a “Muslim” who persecutes a polytheist, is a Kafir. I have put Muslim within quotes, because a Muslim is one who submits to the commands of Allah and Allah commands that “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). This is an absolute, unconditional and eternal law which the persecutors violate and therefore by definition such persecutors are Kafir and cannot be called Muslim.
The standard of justice in Islam is perfectly secular.
(4:135) O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah (Shuhadalillah), even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
What is stressed in the verse above is perfect secular justice disregarding every other consideration as witnesses to Allah from whom nothing is hidden.
(5:8) O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing (Shuhadabilqist), and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
It is made amply clear that justice cannot be comprised for any extraneous consideration and must be rendered in a manner that can be justified to Allah from whom nothing is hidden regarding your motives or the facts of the case and in turn providing evidence (witness) of your submission to Allah and His divine attributes of Oneness, Exalted Power and Wisdom.
The attribute of Oneness make all equal in the sight of Allah which must be reflected while rendering justice. The reminder of Allah’s attribute of Absolute Power helps to resist the pull of every other extraneous consideration. ‘Justice’ rendered by allowing extraneous consideration to influence is oppression. The opposite of justice is oppression and an oppressor witnesses or provides evidence of evil or Iblis/Satan. Rendering perfect justice provides evidence of Allah and His attributes as well as of the judge’s submission to such a deity.
The attribute of Wisdom requires rendering justice tempered with compassion since Allah has inscribed for Himself the rule of mercy. The rule of mercy makes the objective of justice promoting the greater good of the society while protecting the rights of the individual.
Although Islam is a religion, it is as secular a religion as it is possible for a religion to be. While we follow its commands for a moral living as the commands of God, each such command can be subject to secular or scientific scrutiny to establish whether these commands achieve the objective of maximizing human potential, welfare and happiness. Subjecting the religious commands to such a scrutiny is what Allah commands us to do to better appreciate His wisdom. This is what I have done in scrutinizing the controversial topics in Islam in the following articles:
Following are links to some of my articles that bring out the vast chasm between the Islam of the Quran and the Islam of the theologians:
Religious creeds brought people together making large scale human cooperation possible. However, if the religious creeds are of the type that encourage “Us vs They” kind of thinking, they limit this cooperation to the in-group and promote hostility towards the “other”. Cultures and civilizations based on such creeds stagnate and are hopelessly out of sync with the modern globalized world. It is precisely for this reason that Judaism stagnated and the Jews did not distinguish themselves in any field until the 19th century. All their great achievements have been only in the last two centuries. From the 19th century onwards, it is the secularised Jews in Germany under a hostile environment who distinguished themselves in the sciences. No orthodox Jew ever won a Nobel prize in any field.
Secularism today is the most successful creed because it is secularism that has made the goal of globalization possible bringing people of every religion or no religion together. The Islam of the Quran first gave us the very same ideas of secularism recognizing other faith systems as Islam and their followers as Muslims and making religious persecution and any kind of oppression the most serious crime against which war is ordained. The Muslims have been unfaithful to their creed. The Islam of the Quran seeks to unite all the good people of the world in a common cause to fight against all kinds of oppression and injustice. This goal of the Quran is the goal of every secularist making them the best among the Muslims and unsurprisingly the most successful. Secularism is however the most foul word for the Muslims because they think incorrectly, that all secularists are atheists. Secularists could be atheists, agnostics or religious but they certainly believe in morality and ethics and today, it is the secularists alone who have achieved the Islamic goal of secular justice and uniting all good people together in common causes. 13:11 “Allah does not change a people´s lot unless they change what is in themselves”. The Muslims wrong themselves.
The Islam according to the Islamic theology of every sect is an anti-thesis of the Islam of the Quran. The Islam of the theologians is in a dead-end street, responsible for the stagnation of Muslim society for centuries and without a clue as to how to extricate itself from the rut in which it finds itself. Muslims who care about their religion, must propagate the Islam of the Quran and dump the Islam of the theologians or else the writing is on the wall - the Muslims unable to discover the true Islam of the Quran themselves, will leave Islam in hordes as it is already happening.
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 NewAgeIslam.com
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