الإسلام والتعصب الديني في العصر الحاضر
Islam, Dogmatism and Innovation in Modern Times
Dr. H. A. Yahya, Arab Thinker, Sociologist and Historian
From my introduction to my coming book: Islam Under Scrutiny in Modern Times. I wrote: I believe in this statement: “La Aqeedata Asma Min Al-Aql”, (No belief more honor than Mind-Yahya 2008).
More than a millennium ago, a poet called Abul Alaa’ al-Ma’arri described groups of religious followers as follows:
هفت الحنيفة والنصارى ما اهتدت
ومجوس حارت واليهود مضلّله
إثنــان أهــل الأرض: ذو عقلٍ بلا
دينٍ؛ وآخـــــر ديّن لا عقل له
Hanifs are stumbling, Christians all astray,
Jews wildering, Magins far in error’s way,
We mortals are composed of two great schools—
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.
Intellectuals have no problem with intellectuals unless they have opposing ideologies, the problem comes usually from fanatic theocrat, and fundamentalist especially when dogmatically they become extremists in any religion. In this article, I will bring some serious questions to Muslim Fuqaha (Muftees-scientist in religion affairs) concerning the content of some Ayat and the Prophet’s Sunnah (Tradition: his sayings, or (approving by accepting by silence while present). These are the challenges before Muslims, lay men and Muftees altogether to find way of reconciliation with modern life practices. I will only bring here a sample of these Ayat and Ahadith from Qur’an and Sunnah:
There no doubt that touching the legality of Qur’an in general or some of its content (Suras or Ayat) is a criminal offence rejected and fought in Islam, under the laws of apostates and Blasphemy. Even in the so called Democratic world (Europe and the United States), some red lines cannot be crossed freely without punishment, if not by law, it will be by moral standards and mores of the community involved. Saying this, some communities are severe and strongly oppose any type of Blasphemy. Other communities, however, permit logic and reasoning to change the noble text (for example, the bible various and different yearly publications) or ignoring some text Ayat as in Islamic societies in practice. For example: Before (9/11), in many Arab and Muslim countries, when they use Qur’an to be recited in occasions, some Ayat and Suras were ignored when it comes to kings (in those countries with Kings and monarchy rule). For instance, in (Sura al-Naml) Ant Surah, the Ayah reads on the tongue of Belkis the Queen of Yemen: “She said: Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest” (27:34). These ayat were given no permission to be recited on TV or Radio station, in case of death of kings, for its content as against kings or leaders of the country. Or when Qur’an reads on funerals, reciters ignore the ayat which talks about hell, and encourage reciting Ayat describing the flowery end of Paradise. For example, “Khthooho faghulluhu, thumma al-Jahima Salluhu” Take him (the deceased) tied, and send him to Hell”. In contrary to this, some Ayat are encouraged narration when Suras contain good ending in Paradise: “(To the righteous soul, will be said:), O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest, and satisfaction. Come back thou to Thy Lord, Well pleased (thyself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then among My devotees! Yea enter thou My Heaven!” (al-Fajr 89:27-30). While this is practiced widely officially and culturally by Arabs and Muslims, why then, it is blasphemous to mention that some Ayat are of the past, and do not commensurate with modern times practices. Muslim scholars (Fuqaha’) immediately stand firm, perceive unreliable readings of the intellectual thoughts and writings in which only question the use of certain Ayat in modern times. While 1) they accept ignoring certain Ayat in certain occasions as we mentioned above) and 2) they agree that various interpretations may be found for each Sura or ayah (Mutashabihat- doubtful in interpretations) some are mysteriously look alike. And none would understand fully these ayat. 3) They agree that every ayah has two meanings: one is crystal clear (Zahir) and obvious to all readers, and the other meaning is not clear (Batin) hidden where no one understand its true meaning unless has knowledgeable religious authority. So, I will bring some of the ayat where provided to challenge Muslim Ulama’, and Muftees and lay men alike to find a convincing answer when these ayat are interpreted in a form they dislike, and consider such interpretation as blasphemous or apostasy against such thinkers and intellectuals. I am not here talking as a Muslim but as an intellectual.
I know that if any person believes in something, he/she may perceive everything comes from their (something-religion or else) as true. Thomas Theorem of Sociology, reads: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” (Thomas 1928) even though it is far from logic or even negate human ability to believe in the technological age. Such beliefs contradict with modern science which has hypotheses and final results according to experimental and methodological research. Beliefs usually incite racism and discrimination from one group against other groups. In rational analysis, any society is divided according to beliefs or values fighting each other to prove their innocence and true visions, will not be accepted by other groups have the same qualities toward their own beliefs. And as a result, one group will be a winner for sometime, and others will be losers in the same times.
To create a society with mental openness to logic and rationality is not an easy thing in societies illiteracy rate reaches over 75% percent of its adult population. Therefore, it is expected in the Arab and Muslim world with different views emotionally oriented to accept intellectuals and thinkers’ logic and rational analysis of basic beliefs or parts of these beliefs. In such countries, people are usually used by ignorance to show their anger against any one may claim logic over belief. In sociology, and anthropology, we describe this as animalistic reactions without thinking. In other ways, an intellectual depends on logic, doesn’t need facial or hands signs, as illiterate who talks with their hands and faces expressions. They also talk more than do. While intellectuals and advanced countries of technology and knowledge, they do much than talks, like Israel, the USA, Russia and China.
When a call comes from an intellectual and thinker, the less advanced countries ban their works and writings, and their membership in certain organizations are dismissed. For example, Nawal Saadawi, a prominent Egyptian feminist writer and thinker, worked as a physician at the university and two years at the Rural Health Center in Tahla. From 1958 to 1972 El Saadawi was Director General of Public Health Education in the Ministry of Health. She worked also as the editor-in-chief on the Health magazine and assistant general secretary for Egypt’s Medical Association. Saadawi in 1972, was dismissed from her post in the ministry for publishing Al-mar’a wa-al-jins, (The woman and Sex) which dealt with sex, religion, and the trauma of female clitoridectomy which are considered all taboo subjects in Egypt. Her traditional Muslim mother had insisted on Saadawi’s circumcision at age 6. Although the practice was outlawed for a time, it was legalized again in the 1990s. The wave of illiterate people who are proud of their culture forced the government not to interfere. Saadawi’s Magazine Health was closed down and her books were censored. “Everything in our country is in the hands of the state and under its direct or indirect control, she later wrote in Memoirs from the Women’s Prison, “by laws known or concealed, by tradition or by a long-established, deeply rooted fear of the ruling authority.” The ruling authority is not an Islamic government, anyway, rather it is secular one, but under the supervision of Islamic dogma in every corner in Egypt. Al-Azhar, traditionally known as Islamic castle create fundamentalism all over the Muslim world. Such institution contributes in the slumber of Palestinians in Gaza Strip. Such an influence should be stopped and dismissed. But, unfortunately, governments are defeated by themselves to serve the poor in their countries. Islam in fact, make people accept what they have and return any bad situation to the fate and Qadar, meaning, that it is already written by God, and every one had to accept such situation. For this reason, you see many leaders practice prayers to fill the eyes with ash, and to look preservers of cultural norms.
Saadawi is an example, not the only one, she was a novelist, essayist and physician, whose feminist works have widened the boundaries of the Arab novel. Her central theme was the oppression of women and womens’ desire for self-expression. Which Islam insists that religion respects women and gives them an equal position with men in a secular state. Her books, however, have been banned in Egypt and some other Arab countries. She never said that she is ex-Muslim or agnostic or atheist, and always announced that she was a Muslim. But those whom I exposed as illiterate of modern spirit deny the right to express opinions toward certain immediate social and psychological issues considered taboos and untouchable. What do we expect from Arab and Muslim communities live under daily oppression with voices suppressed to publicize such oppression, governmental or communal by assistance from God, who is just and angry with such governmental practices.
Ayat (verses) from Qur’an: Some atheists and ex-Muslims claim that some Islamic teachings incite hatred and violence. The long debate takes three approaches: 1) one tries to defend Islam and attack anyone who ever dare to criticize it, or to touch sacred issues, like Qur’an as the word of Allah, or the Prophet’s Sunnah (Ahadith). 2) The other tries to explain what meaning of certain ayat or Sunnah, in the light of their historical context. And 3) A group division subgroup from the second calls that if Ayat were explained in the light of is historical contest, then, these Ayat which perceived to induce hatred and violence, served their purpose in the past, but in modern times, they should be altered or at least ignored from Muslim breaching Islam.
After September 11, 2001, many Muslims and apologists of Islam quickly came out with the following Qur’anic quote to show that Islam and the Qur’an disapproved of violence and killing: Two examples are in order: 1) Sura (al-Ma’idah:5.32): “Whoever killed a human being shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind ”. But this Ayah was made by God and directed to the Jews (Bani Israel) which reads in complete fashion: “That was why We laid it down for the Israelites [bani Israel] that whoever killed a human being, except as a punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as though he had saved all mankind. Our apostles brought them veritable proofs: yet it was not long before many of them committed great evils in the land. “Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the country.” The whole ayat in fact, are directed for bani Israel (Old Israelis) who knew before of execution and crucifixion earlier. These noble sentiments were in fact a warning to Jews not the Arab Muslims. Taken for Arab Muslims, then the message is put: Behave or else. Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively point out that anyone opposing the Prophet will be killed, crucified, mutilated and banished! What do Muslim fuqaha, would say? 2) Another example: the Ayah reads: “O children of Israel! Call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed on upon you, and that I preferred you, to all others (for my message).”(Qur’an 2:40 and 47 ). This Ayah, I believe it is a repetition made by two Qur’anic text collectors in the Third Guided Khalifa, Othman’s period, when he collected the existed material, which is historically, believed sometimes that ayat where found in various Sahaba possession and included without serious analysis. The Fuqaha will say, Qur’an did not change from that time, and God will protect His book. That’s may be true, but in meaning not in words shape a repetition of words. The meaning which should be carried differently by Islam followers. The Ayah was directed to Jews as given favor from God that he favored them over all others, which include all races and nations. But in reality and practice both Christians and Jews cannot be trusted as the ayah says: walan tarda al-Yahud wala Nasara hatta tattabi’a millatahum.
(3: 110) Ayah, says to Muslims, the same ayah carries Muslims favored by God too, “Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind. Enjoying what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God. If only the people of the book, had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith; but most of them are perverted transgressors. “ In his interpretation, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 151, 2nd edition) wroteunder note 434: The logical conclusion to the evolution of religious history is a non-sectarian, non-racial, non-doctrinal, universal religion, which Islam claims to be. For Islam is just submission to the will of God. This implies (1) Faith, (2) doing right, being an example to others to do right and having the power to see that the right prevails, (3) eschewing wrong, being an example to others to eschew wrong, and having the power to see that wrongs and injustices are defeated. Islam therefore, lives, not for itself, but for (hu)mankind. The people of the book, if only they had faith, would be Muslims, for they have been prepared for Islam. Unfortunately, there is unfaith, but it can never harm those who carry the banner of Faith and Right, which must always be victorious.”
3:28 “Let not the believers take for friends or helpers, unbelievers rather than believers: if any, do that, in nothing will there be help from God: except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them. But God cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal, is to God.”
Disbelievers can be found in any society, in the free world, nationalities took over people to practice justice under the law. In practice among Muslims considering that believers have to deal with only believers is against the interdependency of worl nations. Oil for example is exchanged for money, and those who are called disbelievers are dealt with and taken as helpers and friends, and partners economically.
3:85, “waman yabtaghi ghayra l Islam dinan falan yuqbala minhu” the meaning of Islam is “if anyone desires a religion other than Islam( which is submission to God) never will it be accepted of Him.”
Dogmatism in Islam considers Islam as the ONLY religion accepted by God, and no other religion will be accepted by God, This interpretation negate that believers of one God come from various religion, Christians, Sabi’a and Jews. If we understand the true interpretation and meaning – then NOT only Islam and Muslims consider the meaning of submission to One God, but all religions and beliefs. Because interpreting the meaning of Islam in the true way should not contradict Qur’an, In this way, Islam brings all religions together.
Under 418, A.Y.Ali wrote, explaining this Ayah: “ The Muslim position is clear. The Muslim does not claim to have a religion peculiar to himself. Islam is not a sect or an ethnic religion. In its view all Religions are one, for the Truth is one. It was the relgion breached by all the earlier Prophets. It was the Truth taught by all the inspired Books. In essence it amounts to a consciousness of the Will and Plan of God and a joyful submission to that Will and Plan. If any one wants a religion other than that, he is false to his own nature., as he is false to God’s Will and Plan. Such a one cannot expect guidance, for he has deliberately renounced guidance.”
3:100 “O ye who believe! If ye listen to a faction among the People of the Book, they would (indeed) render you apostates after ye have believed.” This means that (some) of the People of the Book (Jews or Christians) will render you as apostates, but other some will not render you apostates. To generalize the ayah to all People of the Book, means misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the Ayat. This note have to be understood to distinguish between two groups among (Jews and Christians) one group is good, the other is bad, meaning not to generalize the Ayah for all the Peoples of the Book.
The people of the book are not having similar qualities, some are honest, others are not, like any people on earth, Qur’an explains this division in Surah (3: Ayah 75) It reads: “Among the people of the book, are some, who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back; others, who , if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, because they say: there is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (Pagans) but they tell a lie against God and will they know it.”
La ikraha fiddin (2: 256)
Secular ayah: 3:14 Zoyyina linnasi hubu al-shahawat,
3:169 wla tahsabanna allatheena qutiloo fi sabil allh, Amwatan, bal ahyaun, inda rabbihim yurzaqoon.
The PMS and women, (2:222—223)
Facts in Qur’an:
- 1. 4:1, from one soul, one self, Adam then eve.
- 2. 3:185 Every soul shall have a taste of death.
- 3. 3:190 Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of Night and Day, there are indeed signs for those who understand.
يرجى التكرم بعد قراءة هذه المقالة إذا وافقت هوى في نفوسكم أن تخبروا أصدقاءكم لتعم الفائدة من المعلومات فيها، وشكرا لكم.
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