By Zan Azlee
January 02, 2014
I’m a Muslim, or so I claim. I believe in the religion, its God and its prophet. I also sin like the rest of us. I’m like any normal Muslim, I guess.
I’m not a religious scholar, Imam, Qadi, Bilal, Ustaz, Mudim, or whatever. But I do a little bit of reading, studying, travelling, interviewing and asking around.
And on that basis, I feel that it is my responsibility and obligation to sometimes stand up for my religion, from those who aren’t of the faith and, most of all, those of the faith.
It seems that the number one gripe of Muslims in Malaysia is the fact that there can be no debate when it comes to religious issues.
We put so much emphasis on the form of how we practice Islam that we forget the substance, which is way more important.
I doubt God would be raging mad at you if you forgot to raise one finger during prayers, or maybe you missed a spot on the inside of your ear during your Wuduk or ablution.
And I don’t think he would curse a land with floods and disease just because everyone wants to use the word ‘Allah’, or some Muslim said the word ‘Christmas’.
What happened to studying Islam and it’s different schools of thought, interpretations, ideas, intellectual discourse and so on and so forth?
Anyway, it’s as if Islam came down all those centuries ago and is expected to be the guide for humankind for eternity, without any amendments.
Boy, did they get it so wrong! Have they even actually tried to sit down and understand the Quran and the prophet’s Hadith properly?
Haven’t they noticed that it is so poetic, full of symbolic interpretations, general, and some might even say quite vague? Have they tried to understand why this is so?
The reason for this is because God intended us humans to make use of that great gift he gave us – our minds. We were intended to think for ourselves and make our own interpretations.
The Quran was made to be debated, discussed and argued over. Only then can we humans gain the full advantage of its teachings. It’s alright, blasphemy is not an Islamic concept.
It is true that the Quran is the guide for Muslims till the end of time, but that goes hand in hand with our intellectual interpretation as well.
It is a guide that needs to be adjusted with the times, and since Muhammad was the last prophet, we now need to take on that responsibility to adjust it.
As the decades and centuries go by, the way people live and society operates change. That’s why we have to constantly update our interpretation of the Quran.
Remember, the first word of the Quran that was sent down was ‘Iqra’, which meant ‘read’. Read not to follow blindly, but to expand your knowledge.
There’s no point for me to go citing different verses of the Quran and Hadiths that show the importance of attaining knowledge and intellect. Everyone knows them already.
The point here is for Malaysian Muslims to pay attention to what being a Muslim really means. It isn’t about blind repetition of habitual rituals.
There was this cool Muslim dude from a long time ago called Ibn Abbas (I think he was Muhammad’s cousin or something) who once said:
“A single scholar of religion is more formidable against Shaitan than a thousand devout persons.”
Happy new year everyone!