The worst of times for Islam

A CHURCH in Peshawar gets blown up by suicide bombers sent in by religious militants, killing over 80 worshippers. In their view, by killing non-Muslims these suicide bombers would go to heaven and through this vile act, the American government may be forced to reconsider its policy of drone attacks. Around the same time Al Shabaab, a militant organisation based in Somalia, guns down nearly 70 people in a Kenyan mall, where a children’s event was being held. In Pakistan the Council of Islamic Ideology sits in judgment on whether DNA is acceptable evidence for cases of rape, while failing to differentiate between rape and adultery, and often causing blame to shift to the victim rather than the perpetrator.

The implementation of the Hudood, Qisas & Diyat and blasphemy laws make a mockery of a religion that is supposed to stand for peace and tolerance for all humanity and for all times to come.

And amidst all this, while so-called religious scholars and clerics claim that Islam is in danger, a smaller but increasingly visible group puts the blame squarely on the intrusive manner in which religion has been forced into each and every sphere of life.

Today, more than ever, Muslims are in a state of moral, social and intellectual disrepair and decrepitude. Those who claim to be religious have closed their minds to thought and reflection, follow traditions and rituals set down by their forefathers blindly and have assumed an arrogance of proportions similar to the peoples who were destroyed by God in earlier times.

Those who claim to be secular, modern and liberal see religion as an anti-rights, anti-justice set of rules that may have some relevance to an individual privately, but none at all to the collective growth of society.

Many have debated the causes due to which Muslims find themselves in their present state. Some point fingers at Western conspiracies, some at the lack of education, others at lack of internal solidarity and still others at lack of religious piety and failure to observe the tenets of Islam properly.

Our clerics are vocal, giving sermons about empty mosques, unveiled women, coeducation, ‘obscenity’ in the media and so on. A frenzy of home- and hotel-based duroos (lectures) begins. And suddenly, one observes an increase in the number of beards and burqa- and niqab-clad women.

In reality, Muslims took the decision to stagnate hundreds of years ago, when some put a stop to ijtehad. Since then, rigidity, blinkered visions and the tendency to fragment into groups added to a general intellectual lassitude and led to acceptance of rituals that were easy to perform, and interpretations that were made by others who were perceived to be learned men.


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