Since September 11, much has been written about a supposed struggle within Islam: between the forces of religious fundamentalism and "progressiveness". It's no secret that many in the West have backed the latter in this two-horse race for the hearts and souls of the Muslim world.
With its promise of secularization, a feminist-led reworking of traditional gender roles, and a willingness to reinterpret most every aspect of Islam -- from its punishments to its proscriptions -- self-styled progressives have offered the West a palatable alternative to traditional interpretations of Islam.
The frequent references to Islamic "reformations" and "Muslim Martin Luthers" offers an insight into the West's thinking about contemporary Muslim society. It demonstrates a condescending approach to other cultures, that assumes the universality of its own historical model of separation of church and state to attain modernity; suggesting that the route the West has taken is the only way forward, and that all other cultures, including Islam, will eventually imitate it.
Recognizing an inconsistency between Islamic teachings and the contemporary secular values of the West, Muslim liberals offer a radical re-interpretation of Islam as the solution. However, whilst other religions have, to their detriment, embraced relativism and adapted accordingly, such a phenomena is unknown to Islam. Muslims have retained a firm belief both in the infallibility and literal truth of their text. Islam does not share the temporality of other faiths: the exhortation of the Prophet 1,400 years ago remain equally valid today; and while Islam allows some limited adaptation to culture and technology, what was deemed immoral 1,400 years ago remains immoral today.
Despite this, there remains the optimistic belief that, given the opportunity, Muslims would choose to free themselves from the shackles of theology and embrace some vacuous notion of "modernity". However, the much-heralded Saudi elections demonstrate the fallacy of such thinking.
This week, elections were held for municipal councils in Saudi Arabia. The elections, broadly welcomed as baby-steps taken on the road to democracy, attracted an amazing response: in Riyadh alone, some 1,800 Saudis registered as candidates. Many of these were millionaires, many were seeking to trade on tribal ties, and yet others were public figures well-known to the Saudi public. The expectation of both Saudi liberals and many Western commentators was that the election would validate claims of popular support for liberalization. However, when votes were counted, it emerged that Saudis had voted for people whose defining qualities were their religious conservatism and the endorsement of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment. Even in Jeddah, the most liberal of Saudi cities and the intellectual heartland of Saudi secularism, the six candidates elected were the six candidates endorsed by Islamic scholars -- the so-called "Golden List".
Election results across the kingdom have shattered the myth of a Saudi nation repressed by its clergy; anxious to throw off the manacles of puritan Islam and adopt the nostrums of the secular West. It also offers Western cheerleaders for a democratic Middle East a clear lesson: given the vote, Muslims will overwhelmingly vote 'yes' for Islam and 'no' for secularism and Western-style liberalism.
As a regular visitor to the Middle East, it is hard not to feel the winds of change are blowing; however, they are clearly not blowing in the direction that the US and her allies have intended. In Saudi Arabia, the war on Iraq and the bellicose position taken by the US towards the religious practices of the Kingdom, has fed an already advanced Islamic revival. The West's open support for self-styled "progressives" and "reformers" has only bolstered the credibility of their opposition. By way of example, whereas once there was no purely Islamic satellite channel in the kingdom, today there are two: one for adults, and one for children.
The phenomena evidenced in the Saudi elections will continue as more Arab governments are cajoled or threatened into making further democratic reforms. Paradoxically, reforms that were meant to usher in a democratic, secular and pro-Western Middle East, will lead to more religious governments articulating a more independent foreign policy.
This should not necessarily be cause for concern. Islamic scholars have been at the forefront of opposing religious extremism; and 1,400 years of Islamic history shows a correlation between the religiousness of the government and its ability to embrace technology and advance human learning. Indeed, the West is likely to be a benefactor of the increased social, economic and political stability that comes from representative government in the oil-rich Muslim world.
The War on Iraq has frequently been cast as a test of our collective commitment to democracy and freedom. As the Saudi elections show, the real test is yet to come: can our belief in the right of all people to self-determination accommodate a Middle East that chooses the absolutism and certainty of Islam over the relativism and institutionalized atheism of secularism?
Amir Butler is executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC). He can be contacted at [email protected]
In any case, Dr Ramadan's statement is not the last word on this matter, as there were other Western-based scholars who disagreed with him.
I'll conclude this discussion by saying "Let's agree to disagree", and finish off with the following quote about hudud (on fornicators) from the Quran (24:2):
"..... Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment. "
So everybody who wants to earn respect for his country and want to develop infrastructure is potentially a secularlist. Thats funny. After reading all thes articles , I can pretty much understand why we are still backward.
Dr Syed Alwi
Let me enlighten you on what shariah was. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala laid down laws for Muslims in the Quran to follow and build their society. The laws of Allah are different and sometimes antagonizing than the laws of the West, their Constitution and all their Charters. Not all the Western laws are at loggerheads with the laws of Allah,swt, but we do not take the Western legal system as the measuring unit, if we were Muslims. We, as Muslims take the laws of God as a measuring unit. The laws of God are not Arab or Malaysian, they are Godly, Islamic, absolute. You noticed, I said the laws of Allah not Shariah. I understand your concern, there are discrepancies between the shariah and the law of Allah. Many un-Islamic influences from the Arab, Urdu, Malay, Turkish, etc., entered this code of law which in my opinion was wrongly dubbed,'Shariah Allah'. It would be rather called accordind to the place, like, 'Sharia Saud', or 'Sharia Iran', or 'Sharia Lybia',etc. To claim something as 'Sharia Allah', means that that code of laws for that purpose would have been handed down to us by none else but Allah,swt, in other words, like Allah handed us down the Constitution. Allah handed us the Quran which is our guidance to our earthen lives in all aspects not only legal ones. Alwi, if you have a problem with the hudud then tackle it within Islam. Don't bring a foreign/kafer value system to replace the Shariah. Research!
Hudud is not appliqued on Kiffer people! Kessass is what is used between mosslems and kiffers. Allah said "that wasn't allowed to any True Believer man or woman, if Allah and His messenger judged a matter to have the choice from their own" this sign of Quran is for the True believers which is a level above the level of just being a mosslem. from the sign of the Quran you can understand that refusing God's justice make you not true believer. but if you are not true believer, you still can be kiffer or just mosslem. following what you consider yourself to be:
if you are kiffer you are not affected by Hudud!
if you are just a mosslem, you hopefully from the AArabs that I spoke about in one of my other posts. the AArabs are not the arabs but the name was refering to the people who manage to choose from Islam only what pleases them in this life! if something comes against their wishes they refuse it. Allah said in Quran "the AArabs said they believed, say? you didn't believe but you just submited(become mosslem) and the believe still didn't get to your hearts" sadaka Allah Alazeem.
fortunatly for the AArabs, they won't be asked about why Mr mahathir for example didn't applique Hudud. but if an AArab preached something wrong about Hudud he will with no doubt be asked about why he preached the wrong!?.
suppose I'm an AArab! the best thing to do, since I can not reach even the level of having good Islam and leave the matters doesn't related to me, to be quiet. what being quiet gonna bring to my life as an AArab? alots! I will benefit from Mr Mahathir and others not using the rules of God and I will not be asked why in the hereafter!!!. in hereafter, they are the one to be asked about Hudud and not me, because I was not the leader. I just proved that smart AArab can have values if he thinks right...
Dr Syed Alwi
To actually go ahead and label oneself or someone else for that matter as a liberal or conservative or fundamentalist does nothing more than cause divisions amongst people both in the Ummah(in refernce to Muslims) and also in the World at large.
The fact of the matter is, it is very possible for one person to have an opinion on a certain subject which can be considered to be conservative and then have an opinion on a different subject which many might consider to be more moderate or even liberal. Thus, these kind of labels are often times misleading and unnecessary.
Furthermore, to label oneself with any one classification can be an act of self-lobotomy, because it may keep the person from actually thinking through and trying to arrive at a objective conclusion.
I have experienced it myself. I have seen people so caught up in their own definition of themselves that, if they have an opinion which may not be in keeping with the self-description of liberal, moderate or conservative-they may actually decide to change their opinion. What I want to say is, it is limiting(intelectually) to try and label oneself.
And as for labeling someone else, it just causes us to dismiss their opinions as uninformed or worse invalid. Labels, whether it be race, nationality or politico-religious leanings, gives us the satisfaction, of not having to seriously consider a persons opinion, based on their own merits. In short, it causes us to discriminate.
I myself have been called, everything from liberal to extreme, and have been called so, both as a compliment, and at other times as an attack on the validity of my arguments. It usually depends on the persons own views on a given subject, and how he has labeled himself.
When it comes to Muslims, thats the only label I care about. After that we can decide whether the perons opinions have weight, based on reasonable rationale, for each and every opinion. No need for blanket approval or disapproval. The same for non-Musli
don't get offended? buying computer and typing on it doesn't make me "A KNOW ALL MAN". we all learn with the time.
I can go to chinese discussion board and keep pretending to know chinese. most of the people who hang in the chinese board but doesn't know chinese may fail in believing that I know chinese. but the chinese won't.
the samething can be said to many muslims (maybe 100 millions of them). many muslims know things in Islam just by name! you find many speak about Hudud and they may fail to pronounce it right(like I do for chinese words :) ). later they sink in discussing this word like they understood what does it mean. if I want use my American side of thinking, I should charge this people some money to teach them what Hudud means! like that, they may quit speaking about things they don't know, in the future. unfortunatly for my pocket but fortunatly for those who share Islam with me :), I will try to break things down without charge (free, barrato, gratuit, bebalash) :).
Hudud is an Islamic act and an act in Islam does have the one who carry out the act. the one who carry out the Hudud is the leader of Islamic country or Islamic community! which mean for the general muslims who hang here: discussing Hudud is a waste of time and prove of their ignorance about Islam. the problem we live in Islam now, is we have less people educated about Islam but more Islamic teachers wannabes. I know some brothers are driven by emotion but the one with brains can work with the hadith of the Prophet "from the goodness of a true muslim to keep himself away from the matters who are not related to him"
may Allah help us to be from the people who listen and follow the best of what they heard ? Ameen
Islam is a way of life; comprising of all aspects. No matter how advanced we get, the basics will and can never change.
Who are we to announce that the laws made up by individual are superior to those of ALLAH? Technology and advancement is to make our life easier but shld never not be a basis for us to look at Syariah lightly and announce it as Barbaric/inappropriate/old.
Islam is syamil and kamil (complete and thorough). Syariah protects us; our family/descendent/name, our wealth, our mind, our life, our beliefs; so beautiful, complete and precise. Though it may not be time to put Syariah (Hudud/Qisas), the law of ALLAH, in practise in Malaysia and Singapore; as Muslims, we must realise that this is a matter of the society that we live in. If one firmly believe that the superiority of man-made law is the reason, do requestion yr faith!
I see that the good Doctor is a great believer in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and I think that is laudable. But what Dr Syed Alwi has done is to use this Declaration as a basis against which other laws are measured.
To a Muslim, this is sacrilegious. Where human-made laws or declarations disagree with Divine Laws, the latter shall prevail.
Let me ask Dr Syed Alwi a question. Part of Article 11 states "Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed." If the laws at the time the offence was committed had been Shariah law (part of which includes hudud), would it be ok?
It may be that Shariah Laws are not FULLY implemented in Malaysia and Singapore, but who is to say that it will NEVER be?
When Islamic finance/banking was in its infancy, doom-sayers were saying this it will NEVER work in a usury-corrupt world. And look where Islamic banking and finance are headed.
So, never say never. ALLAH knows best.
Dr Syed Alwi
There are South East Asian customs, which are abhorrent. There are Middle Eastern customs which are disgusting. In both cases, you will find the customs in question are un-Islamic, and go against the values of the faith.
We should all come together under the banner of Islam, in the Spirit of the common brotherhood which all Muslims take an oath too, the moment they take the Shahadaah, and work towards establishing a united "Federal Islamic Caliphate".
The World is now marching towards more of an open, borderless society. And yet there is no structure or value to which the World can aspire to, or which societies can be build on. I say Islam has all the requirements and more, through which we can establish just, vibrant, strong and stable societies. And thus, the choice to me is clear.
The point that this vagabonds (all preachers of domocrazy) refuse to get is that ..You can force a horse to a river but to make it drink the water will be something else entirely.. Yes my dear Sarah they are pushing and trampling on the muslims to their end? But you know what? Wether it remains only 1 muslim on earth or the entire world population embrace Islam, it is irrelevant. The issue is ISLAM will outlive everyone. Aint nobody gonna change an atom weight of Islam and live peacefully either here or the hereafter. I recall a section of a verse in the Quran where Allah says to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) ...you are going to die and they (also) are going to die.
So when a true believer fights for new things not to be introduce into the Deen (the true religion) of Islam, he/she is only doing a duty bestowed on him (either as individual or collective) by Allah and is equally entitle for reward from Him here or the hereafter. So despites all odds I shall continue to fight against any new innovation into the Deen and on this stand am ready to face the ultimate sacrifice if need be.
First and foremost, Shariah laws is NOT just about hudud. As an analogy, since we are both from Singapore, most times when you talk to a foreigner and mention that you are from Singapore, a possible first response you get is "Ah, that's the country that bans chewing guns". True, but that's NOT the only thing about Singapore.
I accept that hudud is simply impossible to implement in Malaysia and Singapore, but does that mean that we have to "re-interpret" (again, that much abused word) that piece of law from the Almighty?
I wonder why hudud is considered a "violation of human rights". Who decides that? The same people who also have the death penalty in their own lands? Is that not a violation of human rights? In most countries, the head of state is above the law. So, if the President/King/Sultan of a country were to murder someone, he's off the hook. In Islam, even the Prophet (pbuh) said that if Fatimah is caught stealing, her hand will be chopped off.
Times are a-changing, but certain things remain. Now that pre-marital and extra-marital sex are ok in 'other' societies, do we Muslims then "re-interpret" God's laws and make them ok. Of course not!! Some things are just absolute, even if they're more than 1400 years old.
Islam has a lot of 'Arabic' customs in it. And without doubt it's culture is inherently Arab in nature. And yes I agree with the point that the people who adapted Islam, became stronger because of it(eg. the turks, the persians)
But Islamic civilization and culture is not solely Arab. Persia itself has had a lot of influence on it. So has the Turks. And every culture in which Islam is practiced has some input into the customs they follow.
Now, Islam does not discourage one to keep and follow ones own culture, provided that culture does not clash with Shariah and the Sunnah itself. For example, drinking is Haram, no matter what your culture says. Wearing Saari or some other form of dress which does not violate the code of modesty preached in Islam, is not haram. Gambling and usury is haram, whichever culture practices it. Conducting business in whichever language is prevalent in different regions is perfectly ok.
I feel two ayahs support my view.
1. "O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most conscious of Him, Allah is all-knowing, all-aware.(49:13)
2.All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Thus I believe the only way Muslims are going to advance and prosper in this life is through unity. That is why I believe all Muslims should start working towards that unity. I believe in a
some people still live in dark ages where being impressed by phylosophers can not be overcome.
whenever you read to somebody who claim to be a muslim and you feel the tone "arab" not "arab", "wahhabi" or "kababi", "suffi" or "kotni", be sure you are facing the ignorant muslims... any muslim who have a brain know well that understanding Islam goes thru understanding arabic. smart muslims of course are those who know that learning arabic doesn't mean you are loyal to arabs or under their control. it's just learning one rich language(rich in faith) of humans languages.
my advice to my brothers and sisters arround the world: the Prophet said it clear "no difference beteween arab and non arab, black or white except with how much you fear God". it is obvious that if you fear God you will not be complexed with arabs because some of them didn't agree to whatever crazy you try to introduce to Islam. in general! if you are complexed by arabs, address the talk to them? and don't introduce your complex to Islam? 1400 years of people teaching that people are equal if you got problem with some bad apples do not make things up and generalize to satisfy your desire of vengence?.
I consider myself a true muslim who follow what Allah sent to us thru his last messenger. I consider this brothers and sisters who think themselves should be called wahhabis muslims also. I always doesn't understand why some people keep running their mouth on them more they running their mouth on Bush attacking Iraq and breaking all international laws!!!. it's clear and simple hypocrisy. And I challenge those who open their filthy mouth on this wahhabi to prove that they know what's wahhabi means! they just repeat behind the western media who need demonize some of the muslims to conquest the majority of fake muslims. I say this and I ask Allah to forgive us for what we do wrong and help us understand better this games we live? Ameen
Keep up the good work
May Allah reward you
All I can suggest you is, go back to my comment to you and re-read it carefully, perchance you'll gain some knowledge from it and insha'allah some insight too!
My regards and Peace!
Look at the "Progressive Muslims Union" for example, those people think that Athiests are Muslims! There are various interpertations of Islam, for sure, but there is also a fundamental (yeah, go ahead call me a fundamentalist) agreement that Islam is a deen, and Muslims are a faith community. Athiests cannot and will not say the shahadah. So what makes them Muslims - they say their "culture."
So, we are then back to narrow tribalism - jahiliya- (According to the the Progressive Muslims Union chair Omid Safi, this tribalism is "progress")! Actually they are duplicating, and following the Jewish people who "reformed" their religion and became an ethnic group/tribe. We see the results: secular Zionism that has wrecked so much havoc around the planet. Now Omid Safi the founder of "Progressive Islam" wants Muslims to go the same direction.
We have problems - but the solution these reactionaries are offering is like jumping from the frying pan right into the fire. Inshallah, most Muslims will see through these kinds of plans.
Brother/sister Maher Hoque.
Your words (comment 31462) are very thoughtful and balanced. Problem is who will understand? From the dialogue you see in the comments-no hope.
There is no one, progressive or blind faithed wahabi who would say that honesty/fair deal is "Bad" policy. "Kindness, God conciousness, Charity" is bad. These are Islamic, by the way.
The people who are so vocal to say "Islam can not change" "Islam is Arabia, Arabic" - have no idea what is Islam. All indications are that they have no clue, never studied The Holy Book - far from practicing it. They can only imagine very crude rituals & hope this is Islam. Pity the blind men. They can not fathom Islam is something bigger than that.
Let us keep hope. Eventually the Ummah will learn, either by using the brain or after being thoroughly trampled upon. Process is on. It will also take time - putting one billion people in the gutters. But the direction is clear. You & I know where this community is headed. You have done what is in your power. May Allah bless you.
*** Your comment:
I could not disagree more with the brother's condescending and haughty view of progressives within the Islamic world. The progressive aim is not to push Muslims worldwide towards an inherently nonreligious modernity but rather to give all Muslims, especially our women, a voice and a choice. By definition, a progressive viewpoint must accomodate a conservative voice because the choice made is less important than having the ability to make the choice. There is nothing inherently radical or unIslamic about choice. If the Saudi's or any other Muslim-majority country choose a conservative gov't, so be it. They would be no different than any other western democracy, each of which has religiously conservative political parties. They would certainly be no different than the ruling Republicans of the USA, who are in many aspects the Wahabbi's of America.
"can our belief in the right of all people to self-determination accommodate a Middle East that chooses the absolutism and certainty of Islam over the relativism and INSTITUTIONALIZED ATHEISM OF SECULARISM?"
So this is all what the garbage being preached by the West is all about. We should all go without religion and embrace DEMOCRAZY = institutionalized..... I hear you. I hope so does Bush, Blair and all those preachers.
Any "WESTENER" wish to comment? On the questioned posed I mean not on mine.
By the way, at the end of that article in the press, the "intellectual" said that he liked to spend his evenings with his friends in pubs. Go figure!!!
By the way, at the end of that article in the press, the "intellectual" said that he liked to spend his evenings with his friends in pubs. Go figure!!!
Dr Syed Alwi
we must remember that we have the greatest gift allah can give and that is islam. the west doesn't want islam to spread so let keep practiceing our relgion.
1) Allah chose Semites(Hebrews, Assyrians, Amharic and Arabs and others extinct, Aad, Thamud, etc.) to convey His message, the purpose of this is beyond your limited intelligence to ever comprehend.
2) The Quran was sent to the Arabs to set the standards and the practice. It wasn't sent to the Malaysians or Indonesians.
3) The hadiths were all actions of the prophet(an Arab) among his people the Arabs.
4) Prayers are kept in Arabic not in Malay or Indonesian.
5) Everything noble and good that we do today in the name of Islam we learnt it from the prophet,his Sahaba, the Rashideen, the four madhabs,etc., were all in Arabic and about Arab Muslims in general. Even those of different ethnicity by becoming Muslims at that time they became identical with the Arabs in speech, traditions, religion and culture.
6) The righteousness does not belong to the mob. Not in Islam. You as a Muslim are disencouraged to side with the majority against the truth, remember that. For the simple fact that the Malay and Indonesians are more and thus in majority, it is not incubent on us to follow their form of Islam if different from that practiced and taught by the Rasool,pbuh
7)It might be that the Arabs would be erring in many matters in Islam. The Modern Umah doesn't need to follow the errors of the Saudis or others that miss the point and spirit of Islam. But you cannot dismiss the origin. Whenever in trouble, return to your roots, your beginning. Even those that were not born Muslim, they were the strongest when they decided to embrace Islam. If they go wrong they return to that early stage for answers and guidance.
In conclusion, you cannot separate Islam of Arabness. If you hate Arabs is time for you to call your form of religion on another name in order not to blur the greatness of Islam. The Islam revealed to Muhammadis is a tree with Arab r
doesn't matter to be for what the brother said or against it. he is wild wild west :). he is presented as an australian who knows martin Luther king cult. I wonder if they understand what he says in Australia!?. it is nice to hear from you brother since you are in the other half of Earth. It is nice to be nice to everybody and make things go handy otherwise you won't be able to afford a ticket from Aussi to anywhere. If you need a brother to talk to when you feel lonely in the other half of the globe, you can always rely on your brother Edriss by emailing me at [email protected]
For the attention of other readers, I will make these comments.
1. Secularism or separation of church & state does not mean atheism (forced or unforced). It only means that every individual is free to practice his faith. Govt will not force. Majority will not coerce.
2. It is wrong to term Islam as a culture. Which culture? Arab? Iranian? Afghan? Pakistani? Indonesian or Malaysian? Islam is a faith that declares unity of God the creator & sustainer of this universe.It lays down rules of good behavior with fellow humans. These are: truth, honesty, fairness, equality, kindness, charity and humility. It also encourages God Consciousness so that we practice these qualities in the knowledge that God is aware & watching. It also creates the concept of meeting with the Creator- reward & punishment.
3. What relative ideas of present with constant ideas of Islam this author has in mind ? Is it constant Beard? Trousers 4 inch above ankles ? Rituals? Women as cooks, cleaners, sex gratification-child bearing machines? No rightrs, Chopping of limbs & stoning to death? Muslims are ever ready to sing and dance on the slogan-Islam is a way of life. Show me one Muslim whose way of life is what I mentioned above and I will show you one thousand who should be in hell. I will show you a dozen(50?)societies which are called Islamic but they are a stigma on Islam and on Muslims. I feel humiliated as a Muslim.
4. If Saudi, Iranian, Afghan, Pakistani or any other elections return only misguided & zero IQ fanatics to rule, all Muslims should mourn & not rejoice. When Taliban demolished Bamiyaan, I wrote against it. Many differered.Who has counted the dead in Afgh/Iraq?
Dr Syed Alwi
I think you have to be realistic about what happened in Saudi. It was not even close to being a big change.