Prayers for Non-Muslims: Harussani Shows His Great Ignorance

August 22, 2010

Publlished in Malaysia Today, 22/8/10

Harussani Zakaria, the infamous mufti of Perak, seems to be on a roll these days. It’s not been a month since he gave out the now retracted opinion on football jerseys, claiming that crosses and devils on them were haram. The response to that showed that the Malays are not so easy to control after all. I guess the Malays do have a threshold of how much of Harussani they can take. Today, Harussani displayed not only his mean spiritedness but an utter ignorance for the spirit of Islam. It is almost like he completely undermines what Islam stands for.

It all began with the accusations in Penang about how during a Friday prayer sermon, Lim Guan Eng’s name was mentioned instead of the King. Of course the emotions of those with nothing better to do ran high. Oh my God, how can we possibly mention the name of this non-Muslim who is certainly condemned to hell while we the chosen people get a first class ticket to heaven, right?!

Of course, political opportunist extraordinaire Harussani had to step in. It was a perfect opportunity for him to cement some Malay unity (or perhaps Muslim unity, depending on the hour I suppose).  He then said that it is haram or forbidden for a Muslim to pray for the well-being of a non-Muslim. He should instead pray that a non-Muslim converts to Islam instead.

Of course this statement is dripping with bigotry and laced with mean-spiritedness so unbecoming of one trusted with the high office of muftiship. What is however more saddening is the sheer ignorance of the Quran displayed by Harussani in making this statement. I have compiled a few points from the Quran to show how much Harussani contradicts it.

Let us begin by asking what is the purpose of a prayer? When we pray for something, we are petitioning Allah that this wish comes true. This prayer, coming from our hearts, must therefore reflect in our words and deeds. That shows sincerity. This would also mean that our actions show our intent and we must pray for that very intent to be realised. A believer (or ‘mu’min’ in Quranic terms) is one who is sincere in his actions. Otherwise he becomes a hypocrite (a ‘munafiq’ in Quranic terms).

So what does the Quran tell us to do for people, Muslim or non-Muslim? For a start, when the Quran enjoins on us ‘ihsan’ (exactly like the Malay word ‘ihsan’ which is to do good in all shape and forms), it tells to do good for those who are close (the word is ‘dhil qurba’ mentioned in 2/83, 4/36). It never discriminates who the beneficiary of our acts are in any form. We are to do good for those who are close to us whether by proximity, geography or whatever.

Next, the Quran tells us to treat people in a better way than they treat us or at least a similar way (4/86). Once again the religious affiliation of these people is never mentioned. Therefore, if a person wishes you ‘good health’, you must wish him ‘good health and happiness’. If he treats you well, you must try to treat him even better than that. What if he prays for you? Of course you must pray for him. Perhaps with a greater sincerity if that’s possible.

Lastly, the Quran talks about treating one’s parents well. We are told to address them in terms of honour and to pray for them for God to care for them as they cared for us (17/23-24). Once again their religion or faith is utterly irrelevant. They are human beings and we pray for them.

As we can see, the Quran simply doesn’t discriminate between the people in terms of beliefs and religion. We are to do good for people and to treat them better than they treat us. Lim Guan Eng according to what we can see and as many have extolled, is doing a good job running Penang.  He has therefore wished us good in his actions and so what is the problem with us doing the same for him. It is what the Quran asks of us, to bring peace into the world and to bond with those who do, not to worry about converting them to our cultural mode of religion. Muslims must wake up and simply reject these idiocies coming from Harussani. We cannot afford to obey him and still keep our faith intact.

Educating Muslims on the Idea of Fairness

August 17, 2010

The idea of fairness is something, quite ironically, lost on the Muslims. One often sees the Muslims acting a certain way towards others then expecting the complete opposite treatment from the very same people. This childish attitude on the part of many Muslims has led to the world viewing our entire culture and civilisation as an immature people, often emotionally driven and totally lacking in rationale.

Take the planned Cordoba House. President Obama himself has spoken up for this initiative and hailed it as triumph for the freedom of religion, which is the law of the land in America. Let us take the President’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s support of Cordoba House in good faith. On the face of it, this project shows America is willing to extend its hands to the people who belong to the same faith as those who ostensibly committed the greatest act of terrorism on their soil and what’s more Cordoba House is about 200 metres away from the site of the act itself. This is in the face of opposition by Islamophobes who have a significant voice in the media.

And then we have our most famous Muslim revert in Malaysia, Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. A scholar with some Islamic credentials, Tee has apparently forgotten the welcoming spirit of Islam. He told Helen Ang of the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) to go ‘home’ because she expressed worry about the suppression of Non-Muslim societies in government schools.  Instead of Tee relying on an islamic solution, such as listening and considering Ang’s worries, he replied in such a way that it seems that Muslims simply cannot allow the expression of religions other than itself.

Was Tee’s solution Quranic? Absolutely not! Tee should know that the Quran’s social philosophy articulates its primary opponent to be oppression. No people should oppress others and oppressors must be fought against (4/75-76). The establishment of justice is equivocated with pure devotion to God (7/29). The believer must therefore judge with absolute fairness (4/58) and must never allow his hate obstruct the process of justice (5/8).

Helen Ang’s concerns are very legitimate. The overzealousness of not just religious teachers but also headmasters of schools have led to some extremely embarrassing situations for Muslims of Malaysia.

The best example of this happened yesterday, not two days after Tee’s heinous comments. We had a police report made against the headmistress of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai for making such nauseating statements against non-Muslims (who in this case were non-Malays). She said Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu.” Furthermore, according to the police report, in her former school, she called dark Indian teachers as ‘nigerians’,  she cut the religiously significant string braclets of Indian pupils and chucked non-Malays’ textbooks onto the rooftop!

I had to read this police report several times before the enormity of this woman’s crimes hit me. She is truly psychopathic and must be removed immediately but then, with people like Tee speaking the ‘go home’ talk , what can we expect really? After all, Tee who is a Chinese himself cannot understand the difference between outright racism and Islam, what can we say? Tee could have helped Ang by acting as her friend to speak to the powers that be but instead, he defended the racism and religious bigotry which fuelled Ang’s fears.

Muslims in the world seem to think that we are above everyone else and therefore deserve special rights. In Malaysia this pathetic mindset is even worse because of the equivocation Malays are by definition Muslim. So while we have Western government extending gestures of friendship albeit with significant opposition, we have also in our midst racists, religious fundamentalists and lets face it, psychopaths who help our fellow human beings think that Islam is simply not worth these noble gestures. Who can we blame really, but ourselves?

For the Muslims who abhor these attitudes, please speak up. I have seen many already in facebook and the blogosphere but we need to make our voice even louder. We need to extend gestures of friendship to our fellow human beings for the sake of God and oppose the negative attitudes in our ranks.

Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia Disappoints with Its Closed-Mindedness

June 29, 2010

It is indeed a misfortune for our great nation when the Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia lends its name to this article penned by its fellow, Md Asham Ahmed in the Star. The sheer haughtiness and arrogance displayed by Asham is embarrassing at the very least. At the most, it speaks of Islamofascist tendencies. I am not putting Md Asham in the same camp as Osama Bin Ladin but the seeds of the same kind of fascism are there. A simple ‘you are wrong, we are right, we are great’ set of tendencies. A point by point refutation of Asham’s article follows below:

  1. Asham begins by saying ‘Many Muslim thinkers and leaders today, being educated in the West and severed from their religious intellectual tradition, do subscribe to the idea that all religions are the same, subject to development and changes.

 

If Asham is claiming that Islam has not been subject to ‘development and changes’, then one must wonder where exactly he received his Islamic education from. Islam has, from the very beginning of the genesis of its religious superstructure, been subject to great ‘development and changes’ Some may even say that these ‘development and changes’ are retrogressive but that’s beside the point. Islam in the beginning did not have sciences of the Quran and hadith. The seerah itself was not compiled till 150 years after the Prophet and the opinions of the jurists were not even canonized till the closure of the doors of ijtihad. Wael Hallaq, luminary of Islamic legalism, even argues that the doors of ijtihad were never closed thus making sharia law very flexible to this very day. Of course, ulamak of the Asham variety prefer to ignore such blatant facts.

  1. Asham then makes his position clear vis-à-vis western philosophy when he says ‘So, what is called “western” philosophy is the western way of looking at life and why should a Muslim follow it when Islam has its own philosophy? In the first place why should he listen to the West? Western ideas are not necessarily correct, the best, or relevant to everybody’ .

 

Such closed-mindedness is so unbefitting to a fellow of IKIM. I simply cannot understand where Asham acquired his understanding of ‘Islamic Philosophy’? Even a cursory read of literature (like books by Majid Fakhry) pertaining to Islamic Philosophy will tell us that Islamic philosophers like Al-Farabi, Al-Kindi and Ibn Sina were respondents to Greek philosophy, the very beginnings of Western Philosophy itself. This in no way means they were mere commentators but the interaction between Islamic and Western philosophy are undeniable. Ibn Rushd’s commentaries on Aristotelian philosophy were used as textbooks in Europe for centuries. Islamic and Western philosophy fed off each other and as a result, both civilizations benefitted from this interaction.

Sadly, Asham refuses to see this. He asks why a Muslim should follow Western Philosophy when he has his own? This is akin to asking why we should learn from any civilization or culture since our own is sufficient? Is it sufficient? If it is, why can’t it achieve consensus on even fundamental issues? Does Asham know that till today, Muslims have no universal agreement on the nature of Prophet Muhammad? Some sects (like the Barelwis) claim that the Prophet’s nature was light! These are fundamental issues which we cannot agree on. So we must accept that like Western Philosophers, we are humans trying to negotiate our undeniably human religious experience.

  1. Asham very cleverly proposes to the reader ‘What a rational person would do to an idea is to subject it to rigorous examination and criticism. Take for example the western notion of freedom and human rights. A proper thinker would want to know the reason why western people think the way they do about those issues. Philosophy is human reaction to the problems of life; it cannot be separated from history’ .

 

This is a fantastic proposition. Asham should direct this proposition to Islamic civilization, culture and philosophy. It will help dilute some of his arrogance.

  1. Asham then engages with Christianity’s position in Western Civilisation, claiming that it is deficient with respect to the concept of freedom. He says ‘Experience tells him (Western Philosophy) that individual freedom can only be guaranteed when the role of religion is curbed to the effect that it does not interfere in social and political life the way it used to be in the Middle Age.’  and that ‘The Renaissance saw a widening gap between the medieval structure of thought (based upon the doctrines of Christian theology) and a growing yearning for a free inquiry into the areas of humanity and nature, using methods and assumptions not directly derived from religion.’

 

What this essentially means is that because the West responded to Christianity’s philosophy of religion (which Asham deems as anti-reason) its answer to the question of freedom is to curb the role of religion. It therefore embraced secularism.

How dissimilar is this to the Muslim political experience? Not dissimilar at all if one studies Islamic History. Early Islamic experience with the social forces of religion tells us that Muslims were divided into the pro-reason (Mutazilah) and pro-tradition camps (Ahl As-Sunnah or Sunnis). The Sunnis eventually won and with the triumph of Sunnis, Mutazilites were sidelined. Reason was suppressed and with that, some scholars believe, came the decline of the Islamic Civilisation.

Can Asham point any finger to Christianity when mainstream Sunnism has strict blasphemy and apostasy laws? One cannot even question the basic tenets of Sunnism without getting ex-communicated. Sunnism can hardly be called a religion of reason so Asham should get off his high horse. Asham’s own animosity to free inquiry can be seen below.

  1. Asham begins his attack one Prof Ali Mazrui, the target of his essay by saying ‘Professor Ali Mazrui, an ardent believer in historical relativism, thinks that Islam, like all other religions, also undergoes development and changes. Mazrui thinks that doctrinally Islam is a synthesis of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and the message of Muhammad. He holds that Islam as a civilisation began with a religious synthesis, and just as Islam had been receptive to Judaism and Christianity in the sphere of religious doctrine, so did it demonstrate receptivity to ancient Greece in the secular field.

 

One only needs to make a cursory comparison between the Quran and orthodox Islam to see the philosophical incongruence between the two. Take for example the hyper-legalism of orthodox Islam. One simply cannot find the textual basis of this in the Quran. The Quran has very few laws and is more concerned with our ethics and philosophical development yet in orthodox Islam, it’s even possible to deduce that yoga is something abhorrent! Orthodox Islam is obsessed with haram-ising the world, it seems. Where else can one find such hyper-legalism than in orthodox Judaism which coincidentally enjoyed its greatest development in Kufa during the reign of the Abbasid Islamic empire. Of course Islam as we know it was subject to influence by other religions and philosophies. It is impossible not to have been.

6. Asham then complains further about Mazrui’s interrogation of Islamic tradition. Mazrui questions classical hudud laws, the position of the companions of the Prophet and the fallability of the classical jurists of Islam and this bothers Asham greatly. Asham reasons, What Mazrui seeks to achieve is creating doubt about the truth, authenticity and finality of Islam, about the hierarchy of valid authority in the interpretation of Islam and its sources culminating in the authority of the Prophet, and reducing all to historical relativism and subjective interpretation.

Is this scholarship or mere ranting? To me, this is simply the rantings of one frustrated by those who disagree with his views. He then points fingers at Western philosophy claiming that Muslims need to shun it and stick to Islamic Philosophy. Islam he claims is pristine pure and free from human agency. In this claim, Asham is ignoring the historicity of Islamic thought.

The suggestion Asham makes to Muslims to subject Western Philosophy to rigorous criticism is very commendable but Asham should suggest the same thing to Islamic Philosophy itself. Does he worry that this might affect so-called faith? Faith should not be built upon fear of reasoning. Such faith is fake. Asham should worry less about Western Philosophy, Ali Mazrui and worry more about logical basis of his own approach to Islam.

The Irrationality of Indonesia’s New Blasphemy Law

May 6, 2010

 Published on 7th May 2010 in Malaysia Today

Indonesia took a regressive step from democracy this week with the implementation of it’s new blasphemy laws. I always looked to Indonesia as the better example of religious democracy in South East Asia. It was certainly miles ahead of Malaysia in terms of religious freedom. According to this news however, Indonesia will now uphold the ‘1965 law, which allows for criminal penalties and bans on people or groups that “distort” the central tenets of six officially recognized religions, was in line with the constitution and was vital to religious harmony.

This law , in my opinion, is a mockery of the religious freedom promised by Indonesia and worse still, an obstacle against the process of democratisation in the country. What is worse however is the logic involved in formulating such a law which utterly obfuscates the processual nature of religion itself.

Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali said that ‘The law should be upheld because if it is annulled … Islam and the Quran could be interpreted at will and people and figures could declare new prophets and establish new religions’. Let us examine what he says part by part.

He says that ‘Islam and the Quran could be interpreted at will’. Presumably the opposite of ‘interpreted at will’ is ‘interpreted in accordance with the proper method or guidelines’. I will assume that Minister Ali is a Sunni Muslim who then upholds the Sunni methodology of exegesis. If so, does he know that this methodology has little or no agreement even among its own proponents? Simply ask the Sunni exegetes how many verses are abrogated and you will find no agreement between them. Is this not ‘interpreted at will’? Why is this approved and other opinions not?

Minister Ali is also against the advent of new prophets and new religions. By what benchmark is he fixing the definition of ‘new’ here? If he was living say 1500 years ago, his definition would include Prophet Muhammad himself! Prophet Muhammad who lived slightly less than 1500 years ago faced serious opposition to his message but thank God he didn’t have to face Minister Ali who would have banned him and chucked him in jail! My point is, religions evolve whether we like it or not. People receive (or think they receive) revelations whether we like it or not. Islam actually had its first schism 30 years after the passing of Prophet Muhammad. At one point, there were over 500 schools of law. Indonesia itself was Islamised by virtue of the Wali Songo, the sufi masters whose legend has it practised some very questionable mysticism which orthodox sunnism would doubtless find heretical.

Furthermore, does Minister Ali know that within the traditions of Catholicism, Protestanism, Buddhhism, Confucianism and Hinduism, sub traditions evolve all the time. While Catholicism doesn’t officially acknowledge divergent sub-traditions (one which became the Protestant movement!) , it doesn’t attempt to ban these traditions either. Protestanism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism are actually in the spirit of diversity. New movements within these traditions spring up and dissolve all the time and no one bats an eyelid. Even within Islam, there are always movements being born and dying. They mostly don’t call themselves ‘prophets’ but rather shiekhs or pirs. This is a natural process with all religions basically.

Analysing this event, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that this move by the Indonesian government isn’t about ‘safeguarding’ any religion but rather a move to appease certain Sunni groups. Already in 2008 the notorious Ahmediyyah movement was banned. This present move, perhaps a consolidation of that ban will further move Indonesia along a slippery path towards a fascist regime. Critics of this law have said that extremists would seize upon this law as a justification to attack minorities. A pity really, given Indonesia’s previously pluralist position. Religions should never be controlled in a secular system or it would rob the people of their basic freedom.

Quran – Tool of Originalisation

May 3, 2010

Perhaps a good question we should ask before we analyse Quran as tool of originalisation is what exactly is an unoriginal Islam? In this conceptual system unoriginal Islam is Islam which has dissociated from its origins. It has transformed itself into a mere nominality called Islam instead of being substantially or elementarily Islam.

How do we know this? Well our yardstick of judgement must be Quran. Why? Because Quran asserts itself as the criteria and it is a given in our conceptual system that Quran is accepted as the ultimate authority. Muslims accept Quran wholly as being from Allah, so it follows that they would wish for Quran to express itself in the highest capacity possible.

The trick now is to bring Quran into the right frame for interpretation. There is a methodology here but it will be imported into the Original Islam system.

Islam and islam – the nominal and the substantial

April 30, 2010

If your name was George Taylor, does it mean that you know how to make clothes? What if your name was Georgina Small and you were 6 foot one? Names mean nothing in these contexts.

Islam (in these writings, always with a capitalised ‘I’) is like that. It is a name and the points to something. It doesn’t mean the attribute suggested by the name actually applies. Islam as we know it in the world becomes the adjective ‘Islamic’ thus producing the following phrases:

  • Islamic names
  • Islamic food
  • Islamic rituals
  • Islamic buildings

What do all these things mean, in reality? What makes something ‘Islamic’? If we deconstruct this idea to the bone, we will find that ‘Islamic’ really means ‘attached to a certain socio-culture, that is the socio-culture of the Arabs and their client states from a particular period. That culture has developed into the culture we see today’.

Apply this definition and you will understand why there are Muslim terrorists. Well there are Muslim (with a capital ‘M’) terrorists but what about muslim terrorists?

In this discourse, when we say ‘muslim’, what do we mean? Well, we use the small ‘m’ in the same way you would understand the following the sentence:

He is short.

The small ’s’ in ’short’ there connotes the adjective ’short’. He is a short person. He is not tall. He’s vertically-challenged. It would be different if we read this following sentence:

He is Short.

That would be equivalent to saying ‘his name is Short’, hence the capitalised ‘S’. This shows that we’re talking about names and not attributes. Short could be very tall for all we know.

So what is a ‘muslim’? As far as my reading of Quran goes, a muslim is:

  • one who instigates peace and justice in the world
  • one who seeks to construct God’s system (for peace and justice)
  • one who follows the path of the personalities in quran

and more..

So there we have it, a Muslim and a muslim. One is nominal, that is, a name one assumes without any implication of a characteristic. The other is an adjective which one assumes when one actually is something.

The Theory of Protestant Islam

April 29, 2010

In the world, it is not uncommon for us to hear calls for an Islamic Reform. While some may mark the advent of Jamaluddin Al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh as when Muslims first started thinking about reform, I personally would designate the time of Khawarij itself as the beginning of Islamic Reform. The Khawarij opposed the sectarian politics between Ali and Muawiya and called for a return to God’s laws. Islam has always needed reform because like an individual Muslim, it can easily get derailed from its agenda.

However, we need to ask, what is Islamic Reform exactly? A thorough analysis of this phrase is needed before we attempt to articulate of agenda of Islamic Reform. The word ‘reform’ means to ‘form again’, to re form. What is the form of Islam we see today? Well that form needs to be reformed into something else but what? Some may stare in disbelief when I say this but I believe on at least the level of intent, we reformists are the same as salafis in that both our agendas seek the same thing: the return to what Islam originally was at the time of the Prophet. Of course, what Islam was at the time of the Prophet is something we and the salafis would be unlikely to agree on!  Anyway, this is why I believe the word ‘reform’ is better phrased as the word ‘originoform’, a word I coined to represent a reformation which seeks to form into the mould it originally was. To me, when I participate in agenda of Islamic Reform, I am seeking to originalise Islam, to take Islam back to its original mould.

Having answered what ‘reform’ is, we must now focus on what is often overlooked and taken for granted in the phrase ‘Islamic Reform’ and the word Islam itself. What do we mean exactly when we say Islam in this context? Do we mean the tenets of Islam, the concepts of Islam, the people of Islam? Are we seeking to rewrite the Quran? Are there things in Islam which are divine and therefore beyond the possibility or need for reform? This is the crucial question which we will explore below.

Before we do so, we must first ask what is the problem with Islam today? The problem of Islam today is not the same as it was during the colonial era where Muslims were almost completely colonised and powerless to chart their own destiny. In some ways, Islam today is embroiled in problems deeper than those of their colonised past and this is the problem of Islamic Fundamentalism.

In the context of this paper, Islamic Fundamentalism is a totalistic philosophy. It does not subscribe to the notion that Islamic Fundamentalism is about suicidal terrorist attacks nor even the vitriolic rhetoric practised by hate preachers. Rather, this paper proposes that Islamic Fundamentalism be seen as a totalistic philosophy because its project is total domination of the human race.

If we think about it, the various arms all seek to play their part in this dominionist project. There is the all powerful Islamic state which then enforces its aparthied based laws [apartheid because it favours Muslims over Dhimmis due to their profession (not even practise) of religion]. There is the notion of the Islamic peoples which seek to socially engineer itself through forced conversions (by using either marriage or finance as incentive). Islamic Fundamentalism is a totalistic philosophy which as we can see from above, is not unlike the project of the dreaded Third Reich.

The root of Islamic Fundamentalism is the mindset I call ‘Salvation Excluvism’. This mindset, as its name explains, is about believing that only one’s own religion or even sect within that religion is the right one and deserving of salvation on earth as well as in the afterlife. This mindset is found in much of Islamic literature and is what I hypothesise to be the root of Islamic Fundamentalism. For the record, I do not believe that this mindset is Quranic but that isn’t the point of this discussion although it should be stated that in every impulse to Islamic Reform, there is always a call for the role of the Quran to be maximised.

What I believe is needed to precipitate the Islamic Reformation to counter the mindset of Salvation Excluvism, by questioning the boundaries of divinity and humanity within Islam. How much of Islam is divine and how much of it is a human product? This takes us back to our question above, what is Islam? For the purposes of Islamic Reformation, I propose that Islam be thought of as a ‘collective culture which began with the advent of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the Prophet of Islam, and which continued to grow and absorb Arabic as well as neighbouring cultures thereby flowering into a civilisation from which Muslims acquire their Islamic identity’.

How much of this culture, civilisation and identity is a divine product? Some Muslims believe it is entirely divine but this begs the question as to why Muslims have faced great setbacks in their civilisational march. Muslims have been responsible for some of the greatest scientific and philosophical achievements yet also have been responsible for imperialist projects, wars, massacres, opposition to science and inquiry and is currently part of some of the most backward nations on earth. It is therefore impossible to claim that our culture, civilisation and identity are divine products.

That leaves us with our texts. Islam has a number of literary genres which Muslims believe to be divine. However, except the Quran, none of this literature has escaped revision. Muslims have been very accepting of this revision as long as the revising has been performed by the correct people. Even the Quran, whose text has remained exceptionally stable, cannot escape the fact that it is only divine when it doesn’t need interpretation. The very presence of a human interlocutor takes away that divinity. Even the Prophet was told in the Quran to keep seeking knowledge in order to expedite understanding of revelation which shows his understanding was never static and hence wasn’t divine.

If we accept the arguments above then what we are left with is the realisation that Islam as we know it is a human product. It is a culture, civilisation and identity which is part and parcel of the collection of cultures, civilisations and identities of the world. It is no less valuable than any of these but can certainly not claim the title of the Chosen People either. This is what I call the mentality of ‘Salvation Incluvism’, the opposite of the aforementioned Salvation Excluvism. This mentality is about accepting the infinite diversities of the human race as long as they are peaceful towards each other.

This mentality of Salvation Inclusivism is the mentality needed to realise the Islamic Reformation.

In history, there have been many instances where members of a given ideology have broken off from the majority due to its tyranny and formed a different approach to that ideology. One of these examples is Christianity. For 1500 years, Christianity was solely expressed by Catholicism whose very name implies universality. During this time, the Catholic church claimed sole rights to purvey Christianity and this lead to oppressive attitudes towards any kind of dissent. However, there emerged several thinkers who sought to democratise Christianity and eventually, Protestant Christianity emerged. With Protestant Christianity came a far greater lalitude of interpretation due to an increase in the the access to the Bible. The power of the Catholic Church was thus severely eroded and a greater level of freedom achieved.

It is time now for a Protestant Islam to be.

What is Protestant Islam? Protestant Islam is first an foremost a platform for those who reject Islamic Fundamentalism in the definition I detailed above. This would mean that Protestant Muslims do not believe that only their approach is eligible for salvation. Rather they believe that their approach is best suited for them and that other approaches are equally valid. They are believers of Salvation Inclusivism.

With this mentality, they do not seek to dominate over other people but rather hope to nurture individuality in religion. Every person must think and approach religion, if they choose to that is, for themselves. Protestant Muslims bitterly oppose any kind of domination of the religious classes over the people. Therefore any group which joins the platform of Protestant Islam must first declare themselves to be free of any prejudice towards other approaches.

Protestant Islam is also concerned with human affairs. They adamantly do not believe in insularity, that is the mentality which limits itself to thinking about Muslim affairs alone. While Protestant Muslims are concerned about Islam and the welfare of Muslims, it also believes that social justice must be a commodity which available to all human beings. In this sense, it recognises itself as a cultural group among the collective cultures of mankind.

How can the movement of Protestant Islam be realised? In my view, by first articulating a vision. For me, it is the vision that Islamic Fundamentalism be completely disempowered and eliminated from the theatre of global politics. In its place will be Protestant Islam which will be an umbrella underwhich are several approaches to Islam, all of which recognise each other as legitimate Muslim groups.

Next, by articulating a theory of Protestant Islam and proving that Protestant Islam is an indigenous idea to the Quran itself. It has also found expression in other genres of Islamic literature and so must be recovered and showcased for Muslims to see.

Further, Protestant Muslims should have their own designation or even uniforms which show their banner. With this banner, they should create chapters in all parts of the world starting with the major cities and to work together to instigage social justice. This may come in the form of charity work or even an economic network. With this comes the strengthening of human society as well as the Protestant Muslim itself.

To summarise, Protestant Islam is a concept which I believe will provide the solution for Islamic Reformation. It is the antidote to Islamic Fundamentalism which is fast becoming known thanks to the media as the normative form of Islam. Protestant Islam can show that Muslims are accepting of each other as well people of other faiths and that their social programs are for the benefit of all. Protestant Islam is also, most importantly, completely in line with the Quran. What is left right now is for us to bring it into reality.

The Proposal Of Original Islam

April 26, 2010

Original Islam is, first and foremost, an interpretation. It is my understanding of Islam as it should be as opposed to how it is. Of course, ideally, I would like to begin tabula rasa , that is, to begin with a totally clean slate as if Islam has no had a prior history. However, while there are people who may prefer such an approach, I would guess that most people favour an approach which acknowleges Islam as it is in the world.

Original Islam acknowledges Islam in the world but proposes to Islam a project of originalisation. Originalisation is to be literally taken, that is it is about taking Islam back to its origin. Originalising for Islam is essentially about Quranisation but explores possibilities of Quranisation inside an Islamic framework. This may sound strange to Muslims, the proposal to Quranise Islam, since Islam centralises and iconises Quran, but Original Islam considers Islam at present to be far removed from the Quran. Islam contains concepts and ideas which are not only unquranic but almost opposite to the positions of Quran in some cases.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.