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New Islam Movement

Reader comment on item: Combating the Ideology of Radical Islam

Submitted by Zoya (Canada), Apr 13, 2003 at 00:09

As we are discussing "Combating the Ideology of Radical Islam", there is need for that. Here I would like to introduce "New Islam Movement" starting from Canada. A Pakistani Author Mr. Tahir Aslam Gora is founder of this Movement. Please have a look on outlines of New Islam Movement and then think to support moderate Islamists.

As a writer from a Muslim background and as a writer who often deals with issues relating to Islam, it is of serious concern to me that there is a disconnect between Islam on the one hand and the evolving realities of the universe and the modern world. I therefore wish to suggest that Muslims need to rethink their religion and their worldview. In making this suggestion, I fully understand that we, the Muslims, cannot adopt any religious identity other than Islam. We can, however, reform Islam in order to bring it into harmony with the modern world. I suggest the following outline for the "New Islam".

1. The adoption of democratic values in every walk of life.
2. Recognition of the right of every person to complete freedom of expression.
3. Recognition and application of internationally recognized human rights.
4. An end to the institutions of Polygamy and Jihad.
5. A recognition of the equality of women in every walk of life.
6. An end to the superiority complex that exists among Muslims with respect to the other nations of the world.
7. The creation of a practical environment of love towards all human beings.
8. A recognition of the right to participate in all kinds of arts, including dance, music & paintings without any fear of censure.
9. The formulation of modern and liberal societies in Muslim countries.
10. A recognition of the need for Muslim scholars and laypeople to engage in a frank and honest reassessment of historical Islamic personalities instead of the emotional faith that has always characterized Muslim attitudes towards such personages.
11. An end to the all-pervading fear of religious sin that characterizes Islamic society.
12. A recognition that prayer and worship are symbolic, spiritual, and above all, personal matters.
13. An end to taboos relating to food and drink, including alcoholic drinks and "halal" meat.
14. A recognition that the Quran is a symbolic, religious, and to some extent, a
Spiritual book, which is not applicable to all walks of life.
15. A recognition that the ultimate object of The New Islam is peace for all
Human beings.
16. A recognition that understanding the realities of the universe should be the basic pillar of the New Islam.
17. An appreciation of the world as a single, global society.
18. A recognition of the notion of God as a universal rather than a religious entity.
19. A replacement of the term "prophets" with the terms "Intellectuals and Leaders".

In addition to these basic points, new points and details will continue to be added as required. In an ever-changing universe, the constant evolution of an intellectual system is only rational.

Following are brief explanations of the aforementioned basic principles.

1. THE ADOPTION OF DEMOCRATIC VALUES: It is very important to understand the
Real form of democratic values. Most Muslims reject democracy as an invention of the West, whereas democracy is the common heritage of all human beings. Most Muslim nations believe democracy consists of elections or a particular system of government. In fact, democracy, in addition to elections & system of government, involves recognition of the principle "Live and Let Live". It is this kind of tolerant and flexible behavior that allows people to live together and respect all human beings in spite of differences of religion, colour and race.

2. COMPLETE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Freedom of expression has always been non-existent in the Islamic world. This is due to Muslims' need to impose the Quran and Hadith on every walk of life, whereas most daily affairs have no concern with religious scriptures. Although
Religious books do have some influence in every religion; this influence is usually limited to the clergy in Christianity and has no concern with state law. No one is allowed to express his/ her ideas in a Muslim society due to the prevailing religious rigidity. Writers and journalists are
Sometimes ordered beheaded and writers do not have permission to express their ideas about certain " special topics. Prohibition to study the books of famous and important writers such as Salman Rushdie is a typical example in this regard. A lack of dialogue is the major problem in Muslim societies. Creative ideas are strictly prohibited in our societies. We have now reached the point that all the hard work of a writer is wasted due to his/ her own "self sensorship". Most of our writers have become so impulsive in religious faith that they are ready to hang anyone arguing in favour of freedom of expression. It is a fact that nations adopting the way of drubbing instead of dialogue can never enjoy the magnificence of liberty.
Muslim societies cannot find the track of reality and truth without the adoption of real freedom of expression.

3. IMPLIMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS: International Human Rights are also rejected as they are considered an invention of the West, whereas millions of Muslims are living in the West in a better way than their own Islamic societies due to these very human rights. This is possible only due to these human rights that Muslims are living according to their religion in the Christian societies. The outline of human rights is actually a great gift for mankind. We should try to make it better instead of rejecting it.

4. END TO POLYGAMY AND HOLY WAR (JIHAD): Polygamy can never be an appreciable practice. It is normally argued by Muslims that the prophet allowed it for
the betterment of the widows and the destitute women's marital life, whereas most of the Prophet's marriages were not with such women. Here we can only say in soft words that it happened whatever it was. This inhuman practice should now be abandoned. The ‘jihad', the second name for the dominance of Islam should also be banned.

5. EQUALITY OF MEN & WOMEN: I have repeatedly written that Muslim societies provide the status of a mother, sister, daughter and wife to a woman but are not ready to accept her status as a human being and as a woman. The Modern world is appreciable in this regard that it provides equal rights to all human beings without any distinction of sex.

6. ENDING THE SUPERIORITY COMPLEX AMONG MUSLIMS AGAINST OTHER NATIONS: It is a fact that most of us do not know about the civilized way of living but even then we become guilty of human disgrace. We, the Muslims, consider other nations inferior because we think ourselves to be on the right path and uniquely entitled to heaven. The other nations are therefore considered to destine for hell. Leaving such ideas behind we can become able to understand the realities of life and the universe. Not only the Western world but also
the Chinese, Japanese, other nations of the Far East and liberal nations of East India including Hindus are on the way of understanding the beauties of the life, adopting liberal ways.
One of the major reasons in consideration of the superiority of Islam is the thinking that it is the only religion from God and so we consider ourselves as a "Chosen Nation" among all the human beings. Although most of the religions have the same ownership claim about God, the rigidity in this respect has already decreased among them, whereas Muslims are not ready to accept the reality that God is not a religious embodiment. God is actually the name of the Universe of which we are one part.

7. ESTABLISHING A PRACTICAL ENVIRONMENT OF LOVE TO ALL HUMAN BEINGS: Muslims will have to give a message of love to all the human beings. It should be
Exhibited practically.

8. PARTICIPATING IN ALL TYPES OF ARTS LIKE DANCE, MUSIC, AND PAINTINGS ETC.: The importance of art in Muslim society was felt during ‘Khalafat-e-Osmania' at the state level. But afterwards, Muslim states started to become a factor in the abolition of the arts. Now during the 21st century most Muslim societies consider the arts as an uncivilized activity and a
Serious crime according to the religion. Such an attitude is now to be ceased to enjoy the beauties of life. Life should be decorated and happy occasions should be celebrated accordingly. Muslim societies should adopt an attitude to participate in all sort of art including dance, music and
Painting etc without any feeling of religious sin. Education of these arts should be arranged & popularized by establishing Art Academies and the best quality clubs.

9. FORMULATION OF MODERN LIBERAL SOCIETIES IN THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES: Muslim societies should not become a hurdle in creating a promiscuous society in their countries according to the "New Islam". Modern liberal societies should be established in all Muslim countries. Gays and Lesbians should be provided the rights according to the International status.

10. FRIENDLY, FRANK AND INFORMAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH HISTORICAL ISLAMIC PERSONALITIES: A friendly and frank attitude should be adopted instead of
Expressing any emotional relational relationship with historical Islamic personalities. We go up to worship the Prophets, the Poise Caliphs, Imams, Sufis and Mullahs etc. We should adopt a friendlier attitude and informal relationship with them. We should get rid of the ugly habit about concealment of facts in the life of our religious personalities. For instance while trying to learn something about the life of the prophet of Islam, it should be kept in mind that being a great leader of his era, he was a human being like us. His historical greatness can also be explained
In the fact that he formulated the best human principals of his time. But being a human being he had human instincts too. His love for women for instance was due to the human instinct. He used to practice politics throughout his life because a society could not be established without political strategies. We do have the same emotions about the "Poise Caliphs". They also continue the
Political struggle and as a matter of fact, some of them were involved in the conspiracy of killing the other. There is no harm to accept these realities. They were a part of the history and same is the today's man. The Imams tried to understand the facts about religion using their wisdom in the same way. They used all the available sources of knowledge to their level best. A true saint is not actually restricted to any religion but he/she represents humanity. All the Sufis of the Muslim world (previous & coming) will no doubt be a part of the same category. Prophets used to be the
Leaders of their nations. The present intellectuals, writers, scientists, thinkers, philosophers, sincere social workers and the saints, providing guidance to the nations are not less than the prophets.

11. ENDING FEELINGS OF RELIGIOUS SIN: It is necessary end feelings of religious sin according to the "New Islam" to save the human energies from rusting with this feeling. This is also important to make one's mind free and liberal. A sense of responsibility is rather a good feeling than sense of sin. The sense of sin about dance, singing and drinking etc. is too great in Islam, and causes Muslims to become hypocrite. Such feelings do not have any concern with today's life and universe. Muslims have now come to the point that a boy and a girl cannot
have a "date" without this sense of sin.

12. CONSIDERATION OF PRAYERS AS SYMBOLIC, RITUAL AND PERSONAL MATTERS: There is no harm in several traditional prayers and worship, but these should not
be considered as the be-all and end-all of life. It is sufficient to consider these practices to be a matter of personal consolation. Some of these practices like the sacrifice of the animals should be immediately stopped.

13. AN END TO TABOOS ON ALCOHOL AND HALAL MEAT: The prohibition of alcohol and pork is meaningless today. The alcohol drinking nations have proved themselves to be better in moral and human values. The use of alcohol will just be a personal matter in the "New Islam", having no concern with the principles of the religion. The theory of "Halal Meat" is a ridiculous
thing today.

14. CONSIDERING QURAN AS A SYMBO:IC, RELIGIOUS, AND SPIRITUAL BOOK: Quran should be considered as a symbolic, religious and to some extent a spiritual book The reality of the spirituality become evident by freely understanding the secrets and symbols of the universe. The Quran should not be considered as a book, which can be implemented in every walk of life. It is evident that no economic and social system could be developed in the light of the Quran or any other religious book. This is the reason that Canada and several European
Countries have developed such a human system which could never been developed in any Islamic country. We, the Muslim societies should have come to this level but no Muslim country is presently not even at 10% humanistic as compared to these societies.

15. ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE THE "NEW ISLAM": The ultimate objective of the "New
Islam" should only be the peace of human beings.

16. BASIC PILLAR OF THE " NEW ISLAM": No doubt, the basic pillar of the "New
Islam" should be considered to understand the secrets and symbols of the universe.

17. CONCEPT OF SHARING THE WORLD: The world is a shared global society today. It
cannot be made a shared living place for all the human beings without any intellectual struggle as all the demonstrated human rights declared up till now are the result of the continuation of the intellectual struggle. Western intellectuals brought the West out of the religious rigidity during the 20th century and separated the religion from the daily human life. Moreover they tried to make the human mind so vast that religion cannot make them slaves. It also helped the human beings to be restricted from blind faith in religion and understanding the realities of the universe. It is now duty of the intellectuals of the Islamic World to bring the Muslims out of the emotional and drubbing policies to share the beauties of the universe being shoulder to shoulder to all the nations of the world.

18. CONCEPT OF THE "UNIVERSAL GOD" INSTEAD OF THE "RELIGIOUS GOD": According to the "New Islam" God is a universal phenomenon being itself a part of humanity, all the religions and systems. It is not a specific conception but it is a universal unit to which everything in the universe is belonged.

19. USE OF THE TERM "INTELLECTUALS" INSTEAD OF THE "PROPHETS": The terms "intellectual and leaders" will be used instead of the old term of the "prophet" in the
"New Islam". The "New Islam" will grow in an extremely democratic way. There is no need of any type of Prophets, Gurus, or Leaders, but the "New Islam" will be put forward as an intellectual movement.

I do understand that ladies and gents addicted to Islamic ethics will bring arguments of ‘Aya & Hadith' and an abundance of questions in burdensome religious language but it is a fact that these terminologies have no weight today. The references from ‘Imams' also have no justification at present.
The realities of life and the universe are simple and evident, sufficient to understand the life, life after life, the universe & the universe after universe with vast & free mind. The "New Islam" is necessary for the struggle of bringing the life of the miserable nations, bound by religious rigidity, on the way of exhilaration.

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