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K.H. Ahmed: Ijtihad is the way forward for Islam

Reader comment on item: Will Europe Resist Islamization?
in response to reader comment: Response to Plato

Submitted by Plato (India), May 24, 2008 at 22:31

Ahmed, it was a pleasure reading this post of yours. You have said many things that I am in complete agreement with and articulated them better.

>>Let me say that I understand what you are saying but believe that you start from a false premise. However, let me answer a few of the issues that you raised.<<

I appreciate the way you consider the issues facing Islam. I have found that most Muslims on this forum and many others I have visited seem to regurgitate the stuff that is taught in madrassas which have no bearing on reality.

>>First, as to a plea for a sympathetic understanding of Islam I don't believe any religion needs to be defended they are what they are – they are ideas about what the world and the universe represent – how these religions are put into effect is not the fault of the religion but the fault of the people.<<

Unless you believe religion is divinely inspired, it is basically the work of mortal men (and women). So naturally they represent a miniscule portion of the universe of ideas. What you have said comes close to Muslim claims of Islam being pure and actions by Muslims who do not understand the religion polluting it.

But I would argue for the fault to be in the ideas, for ideas influence people. The fault of people lies in their not being able to winnow the good from the bad and this is basically due to poor education.

>>As to Mansoor, I may not be able to forgive you for the fact that you have forced me to read what he has written – it barely deserves recognition, never mind a response – the man doesn't worship his God, he worships his religion and in so doing disrespects both – but keep an eye for the future and I will look to an opportune moment to write a response to Mansoor and perhaps that will give you a better idea of my positions. But it is asking a lot of me to read that stuff.<<

On reading Mansoor's replies I am also not able to forgive myself for setting him off by responding to one of his posts. He now seems to have reached the stage where he thinks Allah (or his agent) is in direct communication with him and his son, nudging and pinching them to remind them of their prayers.

>>You state <> and you list 3 Surahs as proof of the Koran's guilt. However, you ignore the historical context in which these surahs were written – much of what is written in the Koran is written in relationship to the events of the time. They were not meant as a constant means of action in the future – many of the verses relating to Jihad were written in the spiritual context not in the physical context.<<

The problem then boils down to educating Muslims, especially the practicing fatwa wielding ones, to see that most Koranic verses have a context and should not be quoted indiscriminately to justify whatever action they have in mind. Actions that we see in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan. Ijtihad should be applied to every verse to root out the ones that instigate violence and hate towards the other. 9:111 is prime example of one that cries out for such treatment.

>>The God of Islam is no more violent than the God of Christianity they are in fact one in the same – in fact within the Islamic viewpoint God is in some respects less vengeful as in Islam everybody eventually gets to Paradise. But enough of the mythical Implications of Allah's favors.<<

Monotheist religions, typically are much more violent than polytheistic or atheistic ones. Correct me if I am mistaken, but only believers in Allah (whatever sins they have committed) get to paradise after a purificatory spell in hell.

>>I am well aware of the conflict with Islam within your own country and know some of its historical underpinnings, although not as much as I possibly should – but this must to some degree color your viewpoint of the religion. <<

That must be true. We cannot escape when, where and to whom we are born and that certainly colours our viewpoints.

>>The Islam that you quote is not the Islam that I was taught – the meanings of the Sura's that you quote were presented to me in different lights.<<

The Islam that is taught is what will determine the future fate of Islam and the world. If you have been to any Wahabi/Deobandi madrassa you will realize what I am trying to say and sadly the graduates from these are the ones who are the opinion leaders among Muslims. The ideology that is taught by these schools effectively scrambles the thinking of young Muslim minds. You can see evidence of that in Muslim posters here. Mansoor, Bilawal, Naqvi, are prime examples.

>>The Islam that I was taught spoke to the equality of men and women – it spoke to the rights of women when Europe was in the dark ages – does that mean it is not mis-represented today, of course not – its fundamental tenants have been twisted by both its proponents and its opponents.<<

I am afraid that the Islam you learnt shows every sign of being smothered by the Wahabi/Deobandi version that is now prevalent.

Islam probably rightlfully claims that it was the first to give many rights to women (among the middle eastern religions). I find many Muslims use that as evidence that it is a woman-friendly faith, forgetting that other faiths have moved beyond what Islam has to offer womankind.

>> When was the last time you saw a Sufi wrap dynamite around himself, how about an alawite, a Bahai(while not a sect of Islam it views the Koran as Holy inspired).<<

A counter question to this would be when was the last time you saw minor sects from other faiths dynamiting themselves and others along with them, even the ones who had equally grave grievances.

>>My point should be obvious Islam as presented by the Wahabbis sect is indeed aggressive and violent, but Islam by itself and in its nature is not. It is the presentation by the believers of a particular group that give it this appearance.<<

Islam as a religion is as violent as the religions it claims descent from. The Wahabis seem to have managed to project the violent Medinan Islam as the preferred side of this janus faced religion. Can the Sufis, alawites and others darken the medinan side and brighten the Meccan face of Islam?

>>You state that the prophet converted the Arabs to an imperialistic race; this is not historically accurate – the early Muslims did indeed struggle with the empires that surrounded them but they were far less imperialistic than the Eastern Empire they faced from Constantinople.<<

My understanding of imperialism is that it denudes its victims of their material and cultural wealth. The promise of booty in the Koran and the demand to have no religion other than Islam leads to such a twin loss for the losers. In this the Arabs may have been less imperialistic than the Byzantines, but that is no consolation for the lost Persian civilization, the suffering inflicted on India and the flourishing slave trade from the conquests.

>>After the death of the prophet and Abu Bakr – there was indeed an explosive expansion of the Arabs and the religion but from a historical viewpoint I don't find that very surprising nor do I find it any different than the many expansions of peoples throughout history. Keep in mind I am a Turk my own ancestors were expansionary and did it all in the name of Allah – but the historical truth is the Turk only adopted the religion because it came in handy.<<

I have no great disagreement with this statement.

>>While through the ages people accept and believe in it, its introduction to Turkey is fairly well historically established as an aside for Turkish rule and need to move the caliphate. If you have not I would suggest you read Karen Armstrong's book on Islam – it is one of the better ones written by a westerner. She does an excellent job of relating sura to historical time frames.<<

I have read some of her works. They give a different western viewpoint to many claims by the so-called Orientalists. They appear more polemical than scholarly.

>>A couple of other things I would point out; Ignoring Christian propaganda, (and remember here I am not a rabid defender of Islam), during the rule of the caliphates there was little conflict between Jew and Muslim, in fact they were safer in the Arab areas of the world then they were anywhere else.<<

Compared to what the Christians were doing to the Jews of the time, I am in full agreement.

>>The angry words that one hears towards the Jews in one part of the Koran is offset by the kind words that are in other parts; again these all relate to historical moments.<<

Angry words would have been tolerable. But curses and abuse?? (apes, deaf, dumb, najees etc)

>>Are we talking Medina and the struggles there or are we talking Mecca – when it speaks to Christians are we in Abyssinia or Constantinople. It appears to me Gods feelings towards those people depended upon the current situation – but then again God was always that way about the Philistines too – Again I say keep Religion in its place if we are to overcome the difficulties in the Muslim world it must be done in a manner that they can recognize, while it may be harder it will be more productive.<<

Yes, in the Koran god's feelings mirror the current situation. The disappearance of ijtijhad from Muslim thinking and the imposition of fatwa culture has been the cause of most of the problems faced by islam.

>>I will take you one step further and say we ignore Wahabbis at our peril – we insult and ignore the moderate Muslim's at our and their peril. Watch for Mansoor if you see something I miss that you wish me to respond to let me know – I don't' get on site all the time. It would be far better to draw the Mansoors of the world into a forum for discussion - then to allow them to wander around in their ignorance of their own faith.<<

I am again in full agreement with you now.

Regards,

Plato

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