UI – Part 551 – Revising the Quran
Much of the following was published under the title “New Furqan – Islamic Reform” at this blog site on June 6, 2018. In light of a recent series on the ‘reform of Islam’ a reprint with modifications reflective of the points raised seems appropriate. What is added is italicized. Where sentences or paragraphs are eliminated there are marks (… or ….).
New Furqan – Islamic Reform
UI – Part 503 – New Furqan – Islamic Reform
The Islamic invasion of the world continues, and now the West, considered the areas of greatest freedom, hears daily calls for reform. If Islam were as peaceful as they proclaim, as tolerant and welcoming, the term ‘reform’ probably would never be heard or needed.
The reformers at the August 6 presentation in Aspen live in the free world. They have enjoyed and embraced the freedoms available. They see the need for Islam to reform to enjoy the same. Their approach to reform include a reinterpretation or explanation of the Quran. They focus on the Quran more than other documents, such as Hadiths and The Reliance of the Traveller, that have over time influenced political Islam and Sharia Law (in various forms and implementation)
Why must Islam be reformed and is that even possible?
In conversations everywhere, most defend Islam to an extent by noting,“not all Muslims are terrorists.” Indeed that is true. The difficult question to answer is,“what is ‘true Islam?’” The debate over the answers rage on and on, even among schools of Islamic theology….Each has a variant to the definition. Each variant causes great consternation between factions, enough all too often to cause conflict.
With the claim that the Quran is but one document, never changed and consistent, how then are there so many definitions, and schools with curriculums to explain in their own way what is ‘true Islam’? For the Quran (the Furqan) and the tenets of Islam, to include the Hadiths, interpretation is needed, thus raising a concern as to the ready common interpretation to the Scripture of Islam. With so many variables and thus interpretations there appears there is no ‘common’ interpretation.
The reformers call for redefining what the Quran alone says in light of the span of time from its 7th century origins (perfect or imported as they may be), a historical reflection of events engendering Suras, and evolving progress in societies, human rights and common law.
There are basics, such as Muhammad as the example, his life, his style, what he had to say, and laws based upon actions during his life, for Muslims to follow; Allah is god, unseen, unknowlable; the objective of Islam is a world ‘All for Allah’ governed by Sharia Law as a global constitution; there is no love of neighbor; Muslims are superior as persons to those of other ideologies (religions or otherwise); Muslims are to ‘fight’ any who resist the spread of Islam; resistance to the spread of Islam is considered persecution, an aggressive act against Muslims justifying an overt offensive response; no others may proselytize, express preferences for another ideology/religion in the presence of a Muslim as that might confuse, create doubt, or cause a Muslim to seek another path to follow (not Islam); and Jesus was mortal, not divine, although born of a virgin (Mary) and a great prophet.
The reformers basis in a secular society or national governance where there is a separation of mosque and state. Religion, all religions, can be practiced, even proselytized, side-by-side, with protections offered everyone, to include women (human rights), under this structure. without that as a start reform becomes even more difficult that it already is conceived.
To interpret Islam the Hadiths are needed, sayings and examples of the self-proclaimed prophet of Islam, Muhammad. There are thousands and thousands of pages and statements included, not all are considered applicable. Again it depends on the schools that choose which passages apply. Muhammad was a mortal. He was a militant too. He is to be emulated. He is honored, revered and protected, but not an idol, mind you, as that would be blasphemous for a Muslim as no idols other than Allah, never seen, supernatural, are permitted. And no physical idol, photo, or depiction of Allah is permitted. That would be blasphemy too as nobody knows what Allah is, might look like, or can be. So why is this human, Muhammad, essential to the laws of Islam, to be obeyed? He proclaims to be the spokesperson for Allah. Yet it was not Allah that spoke to him, it was Gabriel that revealed the worlds of Allah, so he said. For Islam Muhammad speaks for Allah having had the tenets revealed to him via Gabriel, Allah’s intermediary, memorized, shared with Companions, who also memorized what they were told, and after his death a record was made. Note that many Companions were lost in battle before what they might have recalled was brought to the fore and recorded. The Quran is thus incomplete.
Under the secular structure issues such as blasphemy, doing wrongs to the Prophet, criticizing the Quran, the tenets of Islam, even the ideology itself, apostasy, the wearing of hijabs or burqas, and more restrictions that are viewed as impenetrable boundaries on Muslims would not be permitted. Islam becomes individual and not collective. Also Muhammad, as the example for all Muslims, would been seen in a new light.
Another book provides a platform for defining ‘true Islam’ as well as how a Muslim is to live and the laws of Islam to be observed, The Reliance of the Traveller. As summarized on Amazon this text, “is a classic manual of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) rulings based on the Shafi’i School of jurisprudence and includes original Arabic texts and translations from classic works of prominent Muslim scholars such as al Ghazali, al Nawawi, al Qurtubi, al Dhahabi and others. It is an indispensable reference for every Muslim or student of Islam who needs to research Islamic rulings on daily Muslim life.”
What is clear is there are many humans that have become the voice of Islam for the fundamentalists, depending on their school of choice, or culture. There is more than one interpretation of Islam. All this is based upon history that has been poorly recorded, often erased, and badly mis-interpreted.
Needed are more moderates. The reformers made clear moderate, or the majority of Muslims (cultural and modestly righteous), support their views and a desire for less violence in the world and less actions by jihadists which tarnish the image of Islam. They prefer to be seen as a body of people who honor one god, Allah, and want Islam, the ideology, to be considered peaceful. They will remain a Muslim, not convert or leave this faith base.
So why is reform needed? Well for one, to end all the confusion; there are just too many differences of opinion among the ulema of Islam. Consistency is needed. I believe that what Islam also needs is a little humor, some joy and hope, to enter the lives of adherents.
Tawfik Hamid has a book, The Spirit of the Quran, to explain to all Muslim what is intended, which in his final analysis is not to ‘kill’ non-believers, consider themselves superior, or to seek out apostates to be eliminated, and as to judgment, “only on the Day of Judgment will you (Muslims) fully understand the Quran.” So not before, that is not in this lifetime, are Muslims to take it upon themselves to interpret or impose the Will of Allah. That would lead to a more peaceful world. His book is written in Arabic and hopefully is reaching much of the Islamic world and Muslims that do not have the benefit of living in the free world, or even have knowledge of what it is like to live free.
Another reason for reform. There is a false narrative that moderate Muslims are plentiful and more representative of Islam. That is the expression of many from the liberal community, non-Muslim, in Europe and America. (So too the reformers) What they fail to realize, even understand, is the way of life for Muslims in Muslim, Islam, dominated, countries. Those who have visited areas in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and so on, find the environments for women and non-Muslims unapologetic in the treatment they receive. A recent returnee discussing his experience showed a photograph of the entrance to a beautiful mosque, elegant wrought iron gates were the doorway to enter. Sitting to the side a woman in a blue burka crouched outside, looking in, aware women were not permitted in the areas ‘for men only.’ They too wish to honor god. In those areas Muslims cannot doubt, even question Islam. They are never to ask a scholar, an Imam, a question about Islam, that would blaspheme the Scripture of Islam. Sura 4.87 says there is to be ‘no doubt.’ Sura 4.135, 136, “Do not disbelieve the Book (Quran).” Where Islam dominates, it is the majority of the population, moderates must not reveal themselves for fear of penalties for opposing or being disobedient to the laws of Islam.
The reformers acknowledge the difficult barrier to reform in Islamland, and thus they have begun in free areas, like the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. One of the presenters was from Switzerland, another from Canada. There desire may be to build a cadre of reformers, as themselves, finding a charismatic bright light of reform that could rise-up and become attractive to the whole of Isla, in spite of resistance by the ‘Islamic mafia.’
In the free world, the West, the moderates can be more comfortable, but they do not represent ‘true Islam.’ (At least, not according to the political Islamists). They are also quiet when it comes to responses to terrorist acts, when they could be outspoken and rally against the more militant and barbaric practices of their ideology (called a religion). They are protected by the freedoms offered by the common laws and constitutions of the western nations. Unfortunately in some areas those protections are being challenged, under the guise of hate laws or Islamophobia laws, by liberals who fail to properly understand Islam. (See blog: “Similarities between Islam and Liberalism” – Read) Such laws, in places like the UK and Canada, only cater to the Islamists (the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – OIC, a funding source), and impose restrictions on freedom of speech and expression on citizens and even those considered ‘moderate’ Muslims.
There is a concern, expressed in the Quran, that asking questions might lead to answers that can turn a Muslim away from their ideology, find another path, and pursue a different religion. That is not permitted. (Sura 5.101, 102). Muslims are reminded that it is disbelievers who ‘doubt,’ thus do not be a disbeliever. And besides you can be punished severely. And there is to be ‘no doubt’ as to the message of the Quran, the directives too (Sura 2.2).
The reformers do call for discussion, even debate. Civil discourse must prevail to contrast religions and answer questions and concerns.
A New Scripture
Is a new Scripture needed? Is a new Scripture possible? For the Jews the Old Testament became a manual of Laws. It was restrictive and mechanical. For one of the Chosen to be right with God, the magnitude of works and their penchant to sin, to fall back on their own frailties, was far too great. Earning a place in heaven may have been impossible. Then came Christ.
For Muslims the Quran is similar to the Old Testament. It is restrictive and controlling. There is no freedom. As for the Jew, so for the Muslim, it is a works ideology. If a Muslim is to find Paradise with Allah the steps to be taken, that which they must do, is a constant need to meet all the requirements of Islam (as defined by the scholars, schools, interpretations by humans, etc.) They are of the mindset they must earn their way into heaven or paradise. They need a Savior, a Messiah.
They need Christ. But they do have Christ, just as does everyone. Christ made himself available and sacrificed for all of mankind. Muslims just need to open their eyes, remove the scales and find the hope and joy offered, not by works, but by faith in the Risen Lord.
Have Muslims considered the New Testament, a new Quran, or a New Furqan, its message and example, to reform Islam? It would free Muslims, allow them to doubt and ask questions, to seek clarification, and to be more tolerant of others. They can pursue their thoughts, concerns, seek understanding, find reasons, rationale for actions required, and do so without fear of chastisement. Humility might present itself, replacing the superior attitude, nature, and requirement for a Muslim.
The reformers do not call for a new scripture, only an interpretation of the Quran with naught but peaceful connotations and a historical background, leaving Judgment to Allah alone (after the moral dies.)
One problem may be that Jesus came to save us all well before Muhammad. 570 years before Muhammad. But Muhammad did not come as a savior. He professed doubts about the Bible (which he does not permit regarding the Quran) and the idea of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit being ONE. God is god in many forms, just as Allah is depicted in 99 different ways. What is the problem with three? To demonstrate the error, Muhammad suggested the trinity as a family, Father (God), Son (Jesus), and Mother (Mary). His conception was that of multiple gods, or polytheism, and suggested, in his own way, there is but one god, Allah, and thus monotheism.
Muhammad’s lack of understanding, his own doubts and confusion led to a movement, using military might, to have his native land embrace his narrative. It became his narrative or silence. His followers caused a new religion, or ideology, pursued with zeal, imperialistic goals, and rewards from the spoils of war and the benefits of control. It was a male dominated and led ideology. Women and children were pawns, useful, in the personal lives of the adult male cabal aligned with Muhammad.
But, a new Furqan is needed.
There are many who claim Islam cannot be reformed, only destroyed. The Apostasy Laws are deeply embedded. Reformers outside Islamaland are champions for a cause using a narrative that the Quran itself offers freedom, which are non-existent and not recognized by the 1 to 1.5 billion practicing Muslims. Hugh Fitzgerald avers “…that is why Islam will, unless it suffers a series of catastrophic defeats that completely demoralize the Believers, remain as it has immutably been, to our great unhappiness, for 1400 years, the sworn enemy of all of us, just for being us, the Unbelievers” (Mustafa Akyol: The Great Pretender as Reformer, by Hugh Fitzgerald, jihadwatch.org, 10/2/2017).
Let me add a comment about the Christians faith in God. Christians revere the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one, as God. But often described as God in three persons, thus the Trinity. The emphasis needed is that of unity, a united community of people, the ‘our’ written in the bible at creation. All three are God, the supernatural we ascribe to almost all etherial incomprehensible Beings, to include Satan. But Christ is God made human, as only God could do, to live among mankind to make himself known and knowable. He came as Adam, as a man, but Adam brought sin into the world. Christ, God, as man came to bring forgiveness, to take the punishment we all deserve for our sinful nature, a nature Satan encouraged and Adam (and Eve) failed to comprehend, accepting Satan’s temptation. In so doing those that comprehend and accept Christ, his sacrifice, his resurrection, as proof of being God (ascension too), find the Spirit of the Lord, His Spirit, indwelling as a guarantee, as assurance, reminding them of their conviction, thankful for His saving grace. God is indeed different from other so called gods, to include Allah. Christ called for his followers to live in a secular nation, to pay taxes and do what is required as a citizen, mindful of their personal relationship with God.
We must continue to pray for those who desire to reform Islam to find success in their efforts, and to awaken the millions and millions of cultural moderate Muslims to join their cause and their way of reading the Quran to enable peace, a separate of mosques and state, and also to allow for debate and independent thinking an inquiry. The Bible must be included in their free choice of what to study. An example is Nabeel Qureshi, an Amahdi Muslim who i, the process of debating a scholarly Christian, having the freedom to do so, with his own Islamic scholarship, found guidance, freedom and comfort in the Wold of God, to include answers, absent from the Quran.
Grace and Peace