Race for the heart and soul

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Saudi Arabia Views: 5930
5930

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]


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Saudi Arabia
Views: 5930

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Older Comments:
ZAKARIA FROM SINGAPORE said:
Dr Syed Alwi brought up Dr Tareq Ramadan's call for the moratorium on hudud. If you read Dr Ramadan's statement carefully, no where did he call for the abrogation of the hudud laws, nor did he link it to "violations of human rights".

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. "

Wassalam,
Zakaria
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FAISAL FROM USA said:
I am surprised this gentleman lives in Australia and still stuck back in 8th Century's Arabia. There were some serious concerns regarding elections in Saudi Arabia and i never saw anybody in Western world taking even a little interest in these elections. Writer has given an impression like Saudis have defied the greatest conspiracy of secular west against Islam.
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.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Firstly the Hudud is based on the Quran and Hadith. Shahih Hadith. So tell me - which traditional ulama of Islam denies the Hudud today ? If what Hudd suggests is true - then why did the ulamas respond so negatively to Tariq Ramadan's call for a moratorium on Hudud ? Because it would contradict the Shahih Hadith ! Unless you are an Inkar Sunnah (anti-Hadith) - the Hudud is for real and yes - it violates the Human Rights. In addition, there are SOME Quranic verses that does support the Hudud as it is. Ultimately religion is a matter of faith. The Muslim world has yet to learn of the necessity of secularization - in order to build modern governmental institutions. Perhaps Islam needs a Reformation just as the Christians did a few hundred years ago. But don't hold your breath. It will also take Islam a few hundred years to reform....

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Hey, Alwi, you really disappoint me. You were instructed, insulted, admonished, etc., all in a dire attepmt to make you realize that you were intoxicated with western ideas and value system. I remind you again, Shariah and the hudud are part of Islam and you cannot separate the two. Your problem stands in the fact that you see Islam as a stiff religion, thus following the ideas of the west about Islam. Alwi, how I see you is that you will not be satisfied with our form of religion(Islam) unless we(Muslims) follow your form of religion(human rights charter).

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!
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DR EDRISS FROM US said:
I have a free will and I pay my internet to say: I don't know hudud but I will keep argueing about hudud like I want :). may Allah help me?
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...

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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Its all a question of values. Perhaps you may accept the stoning to death of a married adulterer. But I cannot. To me thats very cruel. Maybe you accept the 100 lashings for an alcoholic. But I cannot because it trespasses on the civil liberties of another human. The difference between you and me lies in the different value systems that we have. I will never support the Hudud and I will always place Human Rights above the Hudud. And its not just me. There are many people who would agree with me because they too have the same values as I do. Indeed Tariq Ramadan himself has asked for a moratorium on Hudud. I am not saying that Tariq Ramadan is a Liberal - but he certainly can see the problem with the Hudud in today's world. It is in direct conflict with those values that establish the Human Rights. Conflicting !

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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MOKADDES KHAN FROM UNITED STATES said:
Dr.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
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SAMER FROM USA said:
Islam will always prevail and Allah said so in the holy Quran Alhamdulilah!
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DR EDRISS FROM US said:
I don't know chinese language but I believe I can teach chinese language better than the chinese. can you believe that? :). well! if you believe it, you don't need finish reading my post cause you won't be able to get the remaining of it. :)
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

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SHARIFAH FROM SINGAPORE said:
Interesting article and indeed true. Issue on separation of state, secularism and progressive Islam....
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!
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ZAKARIA FROM SINGAPORE said:
I'm not sure whether I should be happy about being labelled a "liberal" Muslim by Dr Syed Alwi.

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.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
In response to the various replies, I have this to say. First to Zakaria. If you can accept the profound reality that it is impossible to apply the Hudud in East Asia - then to me it makes you a liberal Muslim whether you realise it or not. There are aspects of Islam which - depending on circumstances - may or may not be implemented. We cannot sentence the apostates of Islam to death because the freedom to choose a religion is a basic human right (article 18). I do not go around asking for arbitrary changes to Islam. However it is very clear to many people - including myself - that the implementation of Islam must depend on external circumstances. A blind faith approach will simply not work. As for the links between Arabism and Islam - I will say it again - we in East Asia cannot follow the path of the Arabs. For your info - I am an Arab myself being of Hadrami descent. Perhaps because of that - I am fully conscious of the fact that East Asia cannot blindly imitate the Arabs. Their socio-political circumstances is totally different from ours.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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MOKADDES KHAN FROM UNITED STATES said:
Continuing from my previous post.
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.
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RICHARD FROM USA said:
The US and EU will continue to try to find some manner in which to bring about the fall of Islam. They will not be successful, but they will try. They will not be able to completely dominate the Middle East unless Islam falls. Islam is what stands in the way of their plans, not the dictators that currently run the Middle East. Those dictators are puppets of the West in one way or another. Those dictators are what keep the Muslims in those countries down and out. Without those dictators, the West has no hope of conquering the Middle East.
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ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
In my haste to react to the newfound definition of secularism I posted the comment No. 31491 as disagreeing to the article. That was an error I wholeheartedly agree with the author.

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.

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ZAKARIA FROM SINGAPORE said:
Dr Syed Alwi, in response to my earlier comment, brought up that "Hudud is simply impossible to implement in Malaysia and Singapore because of the nature of our societies."

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.

Regards
Zakaria
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MOKADDES KHAN FROM USA said:
This is just in reply to Hudd.
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
"Federal Isla
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DR EDRISS FROM US said:

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
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ABU MASOUD FROM USA said:
Thank you very much for bringing this point to light. Looking for future articles

Keep up the good work
May Allah reward you
MWO
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Goes without saying, Alwi, goes without saying. Are you so much wrapped in yourself that you really don't see my point? It's pretty obvious and has no racial venom whatsoever. It's the truth, brother, say it, brother! You know, it pains me to observe so much narrow mindness and short sightness in a Doctor. If you couldn't get it by now, I generously corrected you in your religious and mental aberrations, you will never get it because you already made up your mind like Bush when he decided to invade Iraq. Bush too, could not be convinced of the truth, namely, Iraq hadn't WMD. He followed his stupid plan against all reason and decency. Well, he was dubbed a 'moron' and Americans are not all very happy with him.
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!
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
This is in reply to Zakaria. Look - the Hudud is simply impossible to implement in Malaysia and Singapore because of the nature of our societies. For all the criticisms against the Liberal Muslims, they at least are not hypocritical about the Hudud. It will never be implemented in Malaysia nor Singapore and not in any East Asian country either ! Because it violates the Human Rights. You cannot go around stoning married adulterers to death. You cannot go around chopping off the hands of thieves. Its simply NOT ok to do such things in East Asia.
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PUBLICDEBATE FROM USA said:
The problem with "Progressive Islam" is not only that it is being promoted by US interests for its own agenda, but also that they want to distort the very face of Islam.

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.

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SARAH FROM HONG KONG. said:
I wish to say just a few words - in short.
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.
Br. Mukhlis
*** 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.
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ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
The author asked,

"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?"

Emphasis mine.

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.

Peace?
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OMRAN FROM EARTH said:
I read some where that the prophet peace upon him said that the muslims will follow the christians and jews even if it lead them to a fox hole. All this reformation buissness either from liberal point or view or the salafi point of view are simmilay that they ignore 1500 years of scholary work claiming that they only adhere to the sunnah and quran and distrusting great scholary work if they don't find proof, what difference is their approach from them to the puritans and calvanists who calimed that they were reforming the relegion back to originality?
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ZAKARIA FROM SINGAPORE said:
You hear very often the West asking for re-interpretation of Islam; and Muslims are not immune to doing the same. Dr Syed Alwi is a case in point. There was a recent article in the press in Singapore where a Malaysian Muslim "intellectual" educated at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) said the same thing. But none has given any concrete examples to back up their point. If you want to "re-interpret" (read "do away with") Allah's laws, whose laws do you adopt? His creations'?

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!!!

Regards
Zakaria
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ZAKARIA FROM SIN said:
You hear very often the West asking for re-interpretation of Islam; and Muslims are not immune to doing the same. Dr Syed Alwi is a case in point. There was a recent article in the press in Singapore where a Malaysian Muslim "intellectual" educated at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) said the same thing. But none has given any concrete examples to back up their point. If you want to "re-interpret" (read "do away with") Allah's laws, whose laws do you adopt? His creations'?

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!!!

Regards
Zakaria
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Thank you Hudd. Your racial venom has touched a raw nerve with just about everybody ! I am sure that people can now see what you represent and will know what the right choice to make is.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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AHMAD ABDULLAHI FROM SOMALIA said:
we as muslims should never change who we are for anyone the west want us to be like them thses kufers will not stop until we join their relgion.
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.
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Mr Dr Sir Alwi, we meet again, let me remind you fundamental items in the history of the message delivered to Muhammad, pbuh.
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
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AHMED FROM UK said:
Good article. Maher, grow up instead of telling people to move elsewhere because they differ with your poorly formed opinions. If the West thinks that by promoting anarchists calling themselves "progressives" will change Islam, they've got another thing coming.
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DR EDRISS FROM US said:

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]
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ABDUL RAHMAN FROM UNITED STATES said:
Islam cannot be changed! ALLAHU AKBAR!!!
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MUKHLIS FROM HONG KONG said:
Those who criticize the separation of religion and state in Europe,US & Australia should either voluntarily migrate to Saudi Arabia/Iran or the the secular states should deport them to the countries where their preferred system (Islamic Shariah) is in force. Br Amir, pls follow yr own ad.

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?
Wassalaam
Mukh
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MAHER HOQUE FROM USA said:
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.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
A very thoughtful and interesting article. It resonates with me even though there are areas of disagreement. Yes - I believe that some aspects of Islamic Syariah - especially the Hudud - needs re-interpretation in light of the Human Rights document etc. But the Muslim world is vast. Saudi Arabia and the Middle East does NOT define Islam. If the Middle East fails - then South East Asia can rise to lead the Muslim world to a more contemporary interpretation of Islam. It is only up to us to choose who we want to follow. Secondly I think that the re-interpretation of Islam is necessary since we no longer live in a 10th century Middle Eastern society. A modern, globalised interpretation is therefore vital. The point is that this is NOT a Western sponsored issue. It is a genuine problem that urgently requires our serious attention.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
even the municipal elections held in Saudi took 3 years to orchestrate into a big media publicity stunt to give the kingdom good ratings. The bottom line is that the elections were pick and choose, and was not about open voting. The registration process was so slow and lagging, that the majority of the people (mainly women) did not even get to register. What was it, 10 percent of the population actually were registered?

I think you have to be realistic about what happened in Saudi. It was not even close to being a big change.
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