The Challenge to Muslims
When people lose consciousness of the true spirit and values of their faith, their actions and practices no longer reflect the message of the religion they practice. The forms become an end in themselves as the greater vision that is meant to uplift and transform individuals and societies is lost. The significance of faith is reduced to a mere preservation of and adherence to the traditional outer practices that had once complemented and reflected the message. Religion becomes a museum for the preservation of the outer shell that was a container for the sustaining and life transforming core. Focus is turned towards concepts of individual piety and self righteousness disengaging people from humanity. It is lost to such followers that belief in the Oneness of God is an acknowledgement of the oneness of humanity and serving God is serving and doing justice to humanity. True followers of any religion must concern themselves with human rights which is the ultimate purpose of faith. When human rights are trampled, religion is betrayed.
Ideologues whose aim is to uncritically glorify the Muslims in history at the expense of other groups remain in control of the pulpits. Through the fog of deliberate misrepresentation these ideologues create an illusion of the unity of the Ummah: disregarding any appreciation of the responsibility and value of free community. Without any legitimate central authority to speak on behalf of the majority of Muslims who are Sunnis and with hardly any Government within the Muslim world having any credibility with its own people, there is a chronic deficiency of legitimacy allowing a "dictatorship" over the spread of knowledge. The spirit of free inquiry, a major reason for Islam's past glory is long buried and forgotten.
The Sharia to the Muslims is God's law, yet it is human understanding and interpretations through which it has acquired the present framework. It is clear that its dynamism needs to be revived since it is frozen in time and its relevance and applicability to the present is being called into question daily. Self appointed scholars reduce Islam to a tribal doctrine defended by zealots assigned to protect the honor and integrity of a faith that is everywhere under attack. Incapable of making the case of the perceived and real injustices to Muslims by their own and others except through violence and confrontation they are helping to nurture extremism. The wrath of tribal Islam towards those it considers its enemies is mirrored in the intolerance of fundamentalist Christians who also regard the current situation as a religious war, each party claiming God on its side.
Muslims' most glaring failure lies in their inability to reconcile Islam's doctrine, with the modern world. In failing to reconcile Islam they have opted to allow it to regress into its past. This is where the insecurity of Muslims stems from and that is, since the past is undeniable and cannot be changed, they hark to the past, because it feels secure and not threatened. The past has become a sort of "security blanket" for Muslims and they wrap themselves in it, whenever they feel threatened.
The concern regarding Islam's threat to others is necessitating not only political restructuring but more interestingly ideological retooling.
Serious and legitimate questions are being raised daily about Islam and Muslims; what do democracy and human rights mean in an Islamic society? Can democracy and human rights make any headway at all in a society deeply divided between the rich and the poor, included and excluded, educated and uneducated, enlightened and the otherwise? To these and many other such questions, which affect the peace and stability of the world order, Muslims need to furnish the answers.
There needs to be a Quranic renaissance that will reconcile Quranic passages with the social responsibilities and accountability that the Quran demands for the upliftment of the oppressed and marginalized. This is itself the true intent of the Sharia.
It is about empowerment, choice and deliberation at individual and collective levels rather than control, dependence, obedience and passive reception. Muslims must rise to the challenge.
Dr. Nazir Khaja is Chairman, Islamic Information Service based in California. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Topics: Muslims, Quran
No, I am not a Muslim, but I'll take that as a compliment. I think we probably agree on more things than we realize. The splitters would like to magnify our differences but there are a number of great big lumps in which we all are a part. Muslims and Christians should have a lot in common. The truer each of us is to our own faith, the less threatened we will be by someone whose interpretation is a bit different than our own. A less threatened world is a safer world. This should be a goal of all
The biggest danger is that the attempt at hanging on to the past interpretations and lame attempts at making them relative to the modern world becomes more important than understanding the spirit of the Quran. Maybe one can see the results of this easier by looking at the Christian Fundamentalist that these very people despise.
Interesting comments here:
"Through the fog of deliberate misrepresentation these ideologues create an illusion of the unity of the Ummah: disregarding any appreciation of the responsibility and value of free community. Without any legitimate central authority to speak on behalf of the majority of Muslims who are Sunnis and with hardly any Government within the Muslim world having any credibility with its own people, there is a chronic deficiency of legitimacy allowing a "dictatorship" of obscurantism. The spirit of free inquiry, a major reason for Islam's past glory is long buried and forgotten."
Seems the "deficiency of legitimacy" and "dictatorship of obscurantism" which this author professes to preach about may have been absent when he and his colleagues on the "American" Muslim scene endorsed Governor George W. Bush for President on "behalf of all Muslims in North America" nor any of the now infamous prior proclamations of the thoroughly discredited American Muslim Council i.e. endorsing economic sanctions on Iraq, photo-op iftars at the Pentagon, as well as "forgiving" former President Clinton on "behalf of all Muslims" for his affair with Lewinsky, even when Clinton's own baptist church officials refused to come and meet him. Legitimacy is earned not bought nor paid for by the U.S. govt.
Doing Phine and the likes agree with article like it, yes that's right, we all probably need to go the same madrassat they go to, there's probably something else our scholars at home are hiding from us, mmmmmmm?
May Allah guide us all.
But, for Quran to be re-interpreted is something one dare not even imagine... Yes, translations can be modified from language to language, but re-interpreted is not something for the lay people of the street or those who consider themselves to be doctors when they are sick.... Thanks Mr Siraj.. May Allah Almighty enlighten your heart and put you on the right path... Ameen.. With love from Abu Saleh...
Lets take stock !
1. 'idealogues' out of mimbar(mosque pulpit)
2. Radical Re interpretation of quran to suit the modern times.
3.Barring us to follow the interpretation of quran by human mind which has got stale in the past.
4. To establish justice for humanity by providing them rights of freedom.
1. For ppl who doesnt understand the value of mimbar. It is position of authority in ummah. Ppl who get to speak in Mimbar are the one who respresent this ummah. So who are these idealogues, Dr.Khaja wants to be relieved of this charge ? Aalim, scholars. Who have spent their whole life learning Allah's religion the way it was revealed.
If we are going to talk abt religion from mimbar isnt the religious doctors ellegible ? Can Dr.khaja are any other enlightened christian brothers call for christian religious priests not to represent their faith, speak for their faith? Now what makes they can do the same with Islam ? With american education Dr.Khaja thinks he has credibility to speak for ISLAM. Now, that's interesting.
2&3 can be simply negated by pointing out, existing Islam's interpretation was not by ordinary human but by Muhammed(pbuh) under constant guidance of ALLAH thro' GIbreel(a.s). If Dr.Khaja doesnt believe this, then i am sorry to say, his faith is incomplete. If he does then any radical representation cant be better than what was explained by Allah and His apostle.
4.It's funny, Muslims doesnt have power to establish justice. Swallow it hard ! we are the nation who is seeking justice and how are we to establish justice in humanity ? Trying to square free rights as justice to humanity, Dr.Khaja has done poor job in manipulating islam to the likes of west. Salaam.
The serious and legitimate questions that are being raised daily about Islam and Muslims are equally been raised daily about Western Standards and people. Muslims have to resist all attempts by the West and the Westernized Muslims to redefine Islam. The present problems facing the Muslims have been described by our beloved prophet, Muhammad (SAW), and the solutions also prescribed.
"It is expected that the nations will call other nations to share them against you (Muslims) as the eaters call each other to eat from the food in front of them in a large wooden plate" A person asked, "Will that happen because of our small number on that day?" The Prophet said, "No. Your number will be great, but you will be rubbish like the rubbish of flood-water. And certainly Allah will remove from the hearts of enemies the fear from you and surely Allah will throw Wahn in your hearts." A person asked, "What is Wahn, O Messenger of Allah? The Prophet said, "Wahn is to love this world and to hate death". (Abu-Dawood Hadith 4284)
The root of the problems facing Muslims nowadays is "Wahn" the love of this world. Some Muslims love wealth, power, position, etc more than any other thing hence they can do anything (injustices, oppression, murder, reinterpretation/misinterpretation of Qur'an and Shariah,
Also why should Mslims care about democracy (laws are made by the people for people) when they have Islam (laws are send from Allah to the people).
Writer also says "Ideologues whose aim is to uncritically glorify the Muslims in history at the expense of other groups remain in control of the mosque pulpits." My quesions is "what other groups are you trying todefend? The christians? the Jews? The Pagans of the India?
Stop attacking Islam and the Muslims. Muslim Umah is a thriving Ummah going thru problems but is still healthy in its view of life and its practice of this. The Ummah did not turn misguided nor it turned an Ummah killers like the Western nations.
wHO IS GOING TO TIE THE BELL AROUND THE CAT'S NECK?
What is 'Quranic renaissance'?
May Allah SWT guide us onto the right path and instil unity in the hrarts and actions of the Muslims on the whole planet! AMEEN.
The Quran does NOT nor will it EVER need 'reinterpretation' let alone a radical one. The fault is within the people using dubious, simple mided explanations to support their own personal points of view.
What we need is a better understanding and grasp of the core meaning through a correct & thorough understanding of the language in which it was written, (of which many even within the ME and arabic speaking world unfortnately don't have) as well as an educated and practical approach in 'translating' thses meanings and past examples into a more tangibly understandable context for todays generation. Our main problem is that we simply ignore what's inconvenient, politically, socially and even idealogically as humans to serve our ownpersonal tastes. This is a universal trait amongst humans and is part of the reason that choice and free will are so difficult and precious. After all, it is free will and choice upon which we will all be eventually judged. No matter what the worldly circumstance we may find ourselves in.
So it would seem that laziness, apathy, ignorance and cowardice are the core issues we should all be addressing, which if we continually point out to people may get a better result, simply because no one likes to be labelled as any of these things. It is only through personal responsibility and social education that we can bring about a RETURN to the very attributes and achievements we once had as an Ummah.
The challenge is wresting control of the pulpit from the ideologues and pass them to liberal minded and western educated Mulims,who sees both sides of the world, and are prepared to challenge 'tribal' interpretations of the scriptures and Quran.
How to do that? We are a long way from solutions..
The author states; "Muslims must rise to the challenge and not let others define them.". I agree with this statement 110% and I wish the author the best of luck in sending his message to all his fellow Muslims.
The West doesn't desire or need to have Muslims turn into copies of the West, however to end this conflict of civilizations this reformation is needed.