Why Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed?

This is a bold article authored by Raza Habib Raja for PTH. He rightly points out the need to reinterpret Islam as the clergy has closed all avenues for ijtiehad. Indeed, many of our contemporary problems are caused by the way, our self styled Mullah-experts have presented and preached particularistic version of a dynamic, peaceful and humanistic faith. Iqbal had also spoken about ijtehad and PTH supports all such voices within Pakistan and abroad. Raza Rumi

It was a day in 1994. I picked up the Daily Jang to have my daily dosage of information and news. In those PTV dominated pre internet days newspapers were the chief source for somewhat objective and independent coverage of the events. The front page was full of news about ongoing political battle between PPP and PML(N). The decade of 1990s was characterized by constant political tussle between the two major political parties. While glancing down, my eyes suddenly caught hold of a two column new article. It described an incidence which had taken place in Gujranwala.

According to the article a mob in Gujranwala , had burnt a Hafiz Quran, Hafiz Sajjad alive on suspicion of desecrating the Holy Quran. According to the details, Hafiz had burnt Quran and as soon as the nearby Mullah got the whiff of it, he issued a fatwa. A mob gathered and dragged the individual out of his home and started beating him. As they were beating him, someone in the mob stopped the others and suggested that the culprit should be meted out proper Islamic punishment of stoning. At that point, police reached the spot and took the individual into what under normal circumstances would have been a protective custody. However, soon an even larger crowd gathered in front of the police station and started to demand that Hafiz should be handed over to them. Due to the huge size of increasingly vociferous mob, the police inspector buckled under pressure and handed over the guy. They started stoning him mercilessly and thereafter set his body on fire. If this were not enough, they tied his corpse to a powerful motor-cycle and dragged it through the streets for two hours. I felt a strange revulsion and just put the newspaper down. After two days, another article appeared which gave details about the initial inquiry. It was established beyond doubt that Hafiz Sajjad was a traditional devout Muslim and while reciting Quran accidently dropped it on the stove. Although it was pure accident but someone reported it to the nearby mosque as a deliberate act. Needless to say, the Imam did not even bother to ascertain the facts and started to agitate the nearby community to take action. This agitation “convinced” people to do what they did. Although it was shocking but the reaction to all that barbarism was even more tragic. There was hardly any agitation or debate and no political party even raised that issue.

That incidence is not an isolated incidence. Our country and for that matter Muslim world has witnessed many such incidences, the most recent being what happened at Gojra and attacks on religous minorites like Ahmedis. However, the reason I have quoted this particular incidence is that it demonstrated the religion’s role in perpetuating violence, venting out of core violent instincts, complete inability of anyone near the mob to even raise a dissenting opinion, impotence of the state apparatus to give protection at the time it was taking place; and lastly, but perhaps most importantly the reluctance of political parties to stir any debate on failure of administration to give protection and on controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan. The last point also demonstrated that the issue perhaps did not register as an issue with the populace. After all, by design political parties try to stir debate on issues where there is some political meat which in turn emanates if there is some genuine concern for it in the public. That incidence, flurry of subsequent incidences and complete inability of the general public to denounce such acts coupled with a strange tendency to knit weird conspiracy theories, have made me a far more thinking person with the result being that I have eventually ended up being on the liberal side of the political spectrum with an unshakeable belief in its ideals. Pakistan in my opinion has to shake off religious conservatism to be in conformity with the modern times and to have a chance of being a progressive society with some credible record in human rights.

And yet, apparently Pakistan looks to be a relatively moderate country particularly when compared to the likes of Iran , Afghanistan , Saudi Arabia etc. Here the hardliners have never been voted in power through the ballot box. It has an independent media and relatively loose censorship standards. Anyone coming from abroad for the first time is generally bewildered at the contrast between what he actually sees and the ultra conservative picture often portrayed in the western media. However, at the critical points the ultra conservative streak riddled with a hate filled insensitive violence surfaces leaving all bewildered over the strange contradictory behaviour. It also reminds us of the menace which is always lurking below. However, the issue is not only restricted to religious inspired violence but extends to virtually all facets of society from discriminatory laws against women to financial affairs (where we are still locked in a battle whether present day interest is anti Islam). Virtually every major issue in society is seen through religious paradigm with an objective to see whether it “adheres” to real Islam or not. Moreover any violence or atrocity committed in the name of Islam will either have support or“understanding” behaviour in the form of apologetic defence. The similar pattern of making use of others (whether in terms of assigning blames or making excuses) is always order of the day.

This problem has its genesis in: power, importance and hold of religion; the way religion is interpreted; the structural authority of the power brokers of religion such as clergy; and the way the state has patronized and promoted religion.

First, the importance given to religion has virtually made it impossible to have any type of debate on it. Culturally religion has been a very dominant aspect in the entire Islamic world and has created a kind of uniformity across various nations. There will always be a raging debate on the criterion of what essentially constitutes a nation and whether Islamic world can be defined as one, but the fact remains that Islam nevertheless lends commonness across globe to the Muslim world. The importance of religion is dominant in every sphere of life and even those who may not be religiously inclined nevertheless do subscribe to Islam as an important part of their identity. Due to this importance and extremely revered status of religion, it becomes difficult to even question anything related to religion. The importance is chiefly a cultural factor and though protected and promoted by state will still be there even if state removes its patronage, though to some extent it will be diluted. I will support this argument by referring to colonial era where under the British rule, the state was not patronizing any particular religion nor the education curriculum was designed to such an end. Yet the colonial times did not see any decline in Islamic fervor and in fact saw creation of Pakistan which in principle was a religiously inspired state (though we can argue to death whether Jinnah was a secular or whether he had secular vision for Pakistan ). Moreover, often overlooked factor is that state’s patronage is partly due to cultural dominance of religion though of course it’s a reciprocal relationship where both draw strength and reinforce each other.

Second is the way religion has been traditionally interpreted. Historically religion has been interpreted as “complete” and suitable for all times and this makes any independent discussion on it extremely difficult without rousing the violent passions. Moreover, literalism dominates the interpretation where by the holy text is interpreted literally and no attempt is made to understand the context. Allegorical interpretation is virtually nonexistent which in turn makes interpretation time bound in 7th century and suited for those circumstances. This practice of literal interpretation has actually proven detrimental to Muslims as it has become an effective propaganda weapon in the hands of critics of Islam. Whenever Muslims try to argue that Islam is a religion of peace, the opponents would actually quote verses about Jihad and point to the fact that Islamic religious scholars interpret these as literally. Literalism thus becomes an extremely effective tool for the opponents and they exploit it well.

Third, the way religion is interpreted owes a lot to the people responsible for interpreting it which are the clergy and religious scholars. Broadly across Islamic world and also in Pakistan , Muslims can be compartmentalized into two groups: devout and deeply conservative; and relatively moderate. The former adheres closely to both ideology as well as rituals and is the major source of Islamic scholars and the clergy. This category is by and large inflexible and glued to literalism. They may be small in number and at times may not hold political offices (though in countries like Iran , they do), but nevertheless they are firmly in charge when it comes to matters pertaining to religion. Since they derive their power through religion, therefore it suits them that religion is always given extreme importance and the mantle of interpretation remains with them. Anyone trying to reinterpret-particularly when that reinterpretation is different from conventional one- at a PUBLIC forum is blasted and severely criticized and in some cases may end up being dead. This group has historically resisted Ijtihad and has stressed on literal and at times completely inflexible interpretation. That interpretation coupled with extraordinary supreme importance to religion creates a general mindset which is devoid of independence of thought and impotent to question anything done in the name of religion. Even people who are not deeply religious, and at least in Pakistan , they are perhaps a majority, are completely unable to question any law imposed in the name of religion.

Now this “moderate” majority may not be strictly adherent to Islamic rituals and some deviation can be observed in their behaviour from universally accepted Islamic principles. Within this group, which largely constitutes of urban population, some may invest in interest bearing instruments, not observe veil, not regularly pray, attend mixed gatherings, listen to music, drink and even indulge in sex outside (though secretly). However, a substantial bulk of this group considers religion an extremely important component of their identity. Moreover, despite not observing every ritual, this category will not debate the opinion of the clergy where modernity and religion are in conflict. This group will not vote for religious right but at the same time will not challenge their interpretation. Most importantly although this category will not vote for introducing strict Islamic laws but also will not raise voice for removal of existing controversial ordinances such as hadood and blasphemy laws. This category will feel aggrieved when fellow Muslims are in problem anywhere in the world and is quite an expert in knitting weird conspiracy theories to absolve the Muslims of anything. It is this majority which despite not strictly compliant, constitutes the “soft” and perhaps invaluable support to the clergy and hardliners at critical points. And this moderate majority is spearheaded by urban middleclass. Since the Media originates from urban middle class and targets it, therefore what this class thinks becomes the dominant opinion. Right now this class though not ultra religious is by and large conservative. A substantial segment of this class has learnt to live with the status quo and the rest even if not happy is too passive to challenge it.

The combined effect of these factors resulted in a mindset of the general populace which is too rigid, devoid of the faculty of independent thinking, subservient to the interpretation handed down by the clergy and extremely prone to a strange of denial where every atrocious act committed in the name of religion is either endorsed or if it is too grotesque is conveniently blamed on the grand conspiracy of the West. It is that mindset which has made clergy stronger than what the electoral results may suggest and moreover has ensured that religious bigotry remains imbedded in the population. It has also made population passive on matters where the dominant conservative religious opinion is clearly in contradiction of basic human rights and demands of the modern times. Moreover this mindset has contributed towards violence committed in the veil of reaction against blasphemy.

For the religion to become functionally effective and progressive rather than static and time trapped, it has to be reinterpreted metaphorically and the mantle of interpretation has to be taken away from the existing ultra conservative clergy/religious scholars. It is an extremely tall task as the importance given to religion and generational literal interpretation has made minds extremely unreceptive to any such idea. Moreover such suggestions would be branded as “kufr” and opposed by hardliners with such ferocity that even those who find the idea appealing would be afraid to raise any counterarguments as they fear being branded as kafirs. Moreover an effective tool in the hand of hardliners and their supporters is “lack” of religious knowledge in critics. Anyone trying to raise an argument would be challenged as not being “qualified” or not having diplomas in religious study. The fact that all religious curriculums are ultra conservative and any one qualified would naturally have the same ultra conservative static beliefs is conveniently ignored.

However, fortunately Islam-contrary to what these ultra conservative scholars are projecting- is a progressive religion. The counterarguments do not need to come from outside the religion but from within. There are two important facts which need to be brought out when making a case for this: 1) the spirit of Islam which is progressive; 2) concept of Ijtihad which allows independent thinking in interpretation of religious text.

Islam is a progressive religion because right from its origination it has tried to challenge status quo. Today the insistence on the Holy Quran’s verses without context has unfortunately obscured this fact. It becomes progressive as soon as you apply your mind and SEE THE CONTEXT AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES. It has to be remembered that those times were very different and what seems harsh today was in sync with those times. This fact has to be understood both by the hardliners and also by the critics who have a tendency to quote out of Quran to prove their point that Islam is a regressive religion. What is needed is the emphasis on this spirit and cultivation of understanding that insistence on interpretation without context and on literal terms is proving to be counterproductive to acceptability of Islam as a moderate religion. Moreover this also jeopardizes religion’s conformity with modern day ideals of human rights, tolerance and international cooperation.

Second is the concept of Ijtihad, which is very much a part of Islamic Philosophy and has been practised by Muslim scholars in ancient times. There is, I understand a considerable amount of debate about the scope of Ijtihad and also on who is legally allowed to indulge. However, the concept exists in Islam and therefore allows a basis for presenting an argument against literalism and can be subsequently used as a modus operandi for bringing the interpretation more in line with the modern times.

Now scepticism about the success of such efforts would not be misplaced here but these efforts have to be initiated. Focus has to be on the soft support, i.e. urban middle class, as it is the dominant class in media, armed forces and civil services. Though largely passive, conservative and offering soft support to the hardliners, this class is not religious in ultra conservative sense. Pakistan despite the presence of Taliban in its Northern parts is still lucky that compared to countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia , it does not have thoroughly radicalised middle class. This class has to be mobilized through media to begin this effort. Islamic reformists like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi have to play a critical role as they can counter the conservatives effectively on Media thus paving the way for the reform. We have to start from somewhere if we want to come out of the status quo and restore our religion’s image to the outside world.

74 Comments

Filed under Islam, Islamism, Pakistan, Politics, state, Terrorism

74 responses to “Why Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed?

  1. kashifiat

    Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed with surkha/liberal perspective

    Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed- to allow fashion shows / vulgarity

    Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed – To welcome Western culture / civilization

    Reinterpretation of Religon is Needed – for fulfilling all personal wicked desires

  2. Raza

    Did you even read the article? Or just got angry? Read it first and you will find that it does not contain any point which you have just made.
    Read it till the end and you will find why I am saying that it is needed. Ijtihad is needed and its arguments come from within the religon.

  3. @Raza

    Actually I am sick and tired of reading Kashifiat’s comments. He has nothing to say that explains the vindictive, even murderous behaviour of the bigots and regressive elements that he seems to favour, but has only a series of wild-eyed accusations against whoever raises an objection, or some completely irrelevant, frequently inaccurate accusations against questioners.

    What use is it, what good is it to hear this nonsense in season and out of season?

  4. a muslim

    Dear Raza:
    I think you are very naive.

    125 years ago a man came in India and said the orthodox interpretation of Holy Quran that 2000 years old Jesus AS is alive living in sky and will return to this earth is wrong. And he proved from Holy Quran that Jesus AS is dead. Look what is being done to him since then by people like Kashifiat.
    Pakistani Muslims and Muslims in general will present rational, tolerant, peaceful interpretation of Holy Quran only under “heavy and powerful attacks”, as warned by that guy over 120 years ago. Unfortunately, we are witnessing that today. I wish this could have been prevented. Even people like you have started questioning Mullah-mafia interpretation of Holy Quran after 9/11 and our witnessing of “heavy and powerful attacks”– both domestic and international. These attacks are in every sense of the word attack i.e. military, political, financial, ethical…..

  5. raza

    Any how, my request for the muslims to read it first till the end and then debate. The problem is that some just see the heading and get angry just like Mr kashifiat

  6. shiv

    @kashfiat

    Religion is the ganging up of a group of people under an imaginary leader who is said to get angry if you don’t agree with him and follow his dictates. Religious goons will punish you or even kill you in the name of their god. Members of this fascist group will howl and claim discrimination if you disagree with them and reserve the right to kill for this reason.

    If you look back at World War 2 and the Nuremberg trials, only Nazi leaders were tried and punished. The average foot soldier was let off using the rationalization that he was merely following the orders of his superiors and was therefore not responsible.

    This is the exact rationalization used by the moronic followers of organized religion. They claim that they merely follow the orders of their imagined god, and complain that they are totally innocent of murder. Unfortunately “god” is a cooked up entity and unlike Nazi leaders he cannot be brought to justice as he should. Predictably, goons who follow religion will claim that their cooked up god cannot be brought to justice because he is so great. That god needs to be shown his place (by critiques and ridicule) and the clergy – the people who serve as intermediaries between god and humans need to be checked and monitored for spreading lies and deceit.

    Religions have wiped out unknown numbers of cultures all over the world and they are still busy trying to spread their poison of false promises made by non existent entities. And we all sit back and watch – imagining that we are rational beings.

    God does not exist and religions are all bullshit so stop imagining things. Get a life.

  7. YLH

    Vajra,

    You should thank heavens you can’t read Urdu…because if you could read Kashifiat’s articles you would be shocked at how bigoted human beings can be and more than bigoted …simply cock sure of what they believe.

  8. @YLH

    I am beginning to wonder if, contrary to general opinion, you aren’t exceptionally patient and tolerant, rather than being impatient and intolerant. If this is the kind of opposition that faces you in unrelenting fashion, if it had faced me, I’d have gone insane with rage a long time ago.

    It is increasingly clear that religion should be kept personal, with each individual free to follow his or her own preference in private, provided that it does not interfere with the rights of others: no honour killings supported by social or religious sanction.

    As some very courageous Pakistanis and rather rude Indians have been pointing out in almost identical terms, the sooner religion is taken out of politics, the better. It must not be left to mullahs and priests to decide the constitution of a nation, foreign policy, matters of war and peace, regulation of society within one’s own nation, the normal administration of the country for which usually there is a dedicated civil service available, health administration, education and even law and order administration. We have vivid examples before us (from many countries) of what can then go wrong, indeed, of what then goes wrong with almost a trite predictability.

    How long will it take before we realise that personal faith is one thing, but simultaneously, the clergy – the people who serve as intermediaries between god and humans need to be checked and monitored for spreading lies and deceit. And along with them, their panders.

  9. krash

    There is only ONE ‘reform’ that is needed. Religion must not be imposed by force. All other issues will take care of themselves.

  10. PMA

    Now this ‘moderate’ majority may not be strictly adherent to Islamic rituals and some deviation can be observed in their behaviour from universally accepted Islamic principles. Within this group, which largely constitutes of urban population, some may invest in interest bearing instruments, not observe veil, not regularly pray, attend mixed gatherings, listen to music, drink and even indulge in outside sex (though secretly). However, a substantial bulk of this group considers religion an extremely important component of their identity. Moreover, despite not observing every ritual, this category will not debate the opinion of the clergy where modernity and religion are in conflict. This group will not vote for religious right but at the same time will not challenge their interpretation. Most importantly although this category will not vote for introducing strict Islamic laws but also will not raise voice for removal of existing controversial ordinances such as hadood and blasphemy laws. Focus has to be on the soft support, i.e. urban middle class, as it is the dominant class in media, armed forces and civil services. Though largely passive, conservative and offering soft support to the hardliners, this class is not religious in ultra conservative sense.”

    Raza Habib Raja Sahab you have hit the nail on its head. I agree with you. The Middle Class has failed us.

  11. If state and religion are separated and the state no longer promotes religions nor supports it by funding religious education and by prohibiting religious education from being taught in public schools then the importance of religion can decline. So I think what’s needed is education reform combined with a state that refuses to support religion. This will eventually make religious mythology outdated and may ultimately eliminate extremist elements. People may still follow spirituality of their own choosing but that’s their own private matter. The western societies were quite religious once but they have changed thanks to similar reforms.

    Ahh who am I kidding. Islam is very political and separation of state and religion in Islam is next to impossible. May be if majority of Muslims became Sufis, perhaps then there would be some hope🙂

    The biggest problem with religion is that it can be interpreted in any which way. Contrary to facts which can be proven scientifically, religion is composed of mythology and a set of beliefs which can be interpreted in infinite ways by any quack. On top of this we have holy books that are confusing, sayings of prophets from a distant past and values that don’t fit in the modern world so we further interpret religious teachings in desperate attempts to make them conform to our values and create new things. This in itself makes religion flawed but many of us insist on imposing our interpretations on others because it feels right to us. More of a reason to keep state and religion separate and save a society from collective psychosis.

    Interesting article.

  12. Moosa

    The idea that religion is responsible for barbarity is an idea that I considered (and dismissed fairly rapidly) as a teenager, it perplexes me that adults can give serious weight to this argument. Many of the worst barbarities in human history have been carried out by communists who have no religious belief, and this in itself suggests strongly that barbarity is not the result of religion. Barbarity is simply an expression of the human capacity for evil, that will manifest itself both in religious and non-religious societies where a person’s ego prevails over his/her spirituality. In nations where religion has strayed from its spiritual roots and become a mere formalised ritualistic tool of power, then such a nation may engage in barbarity, just as an irreligious society may engage in the same.

  13. Khidir

    Which factor do you think more significant ?

    Misinterpretation of Islam ? or a large base of uneducated and poverty stricken mass that provide conducive environment for radicalism ?

    I believe that latter factor should be addressed first. Middle class that you mention should show how Islam can be the part of solution in creating progress

  14. Sammy

    Can someone fix the spelling of religion on the title. It is religion not religon.

  15. shiv

    I have written a fair amount about the relationship of the Pakistani people and government with Islam

    I will post a quote from my ebook and link an article separately

    Quote:
    Pakistani society has both extremes. On the one hand the society has a small minority of wealthy and emancipated people among whom women can get educated and work. The other extreme is the harsh life of a woman living under the burden of strict discriminatory rules. Between these two extremes are a vast mass of Pakistanis who are more or less generally poor; they are generally uneducated, and the level of education for women is invariably less than that of men.

    The people are docile, as the British had found them. They do not easily rise up in revolt against tyranny or injustice, but individuals in such a society grow up in conditions that make their minds receptive to indoctrination into a life of terrorism and jihad.

    Here is an article:
    “An Attack on Pakistan is an Attack on Islam”
    http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/SRR/2005/03/42-an-attack-on-pakistan-is-an-attack-on-islam.html

  16. Tariq

    Hats off Raza on writing this bold and original blog! Very thought provoking and a must read for any muslim not realizing the existential threat he/she faces from fundamentalist Islam.

    Islam today needs a major reform in its understanding of relationship with people from other faiths, the influence of many of the 1400 year laws that do not make sense today and role of religion in public life.

    Unfortunately muslims are not intellectually prepared to undertake this painful but necessary journey. It is likely that they will be self destruct before this realization starts to sink in.

    Peace.

  17. Raza

    There are somethings I would like to clarify

    1) Religon’s interpretation becomes a major reason for oppression. Intolerant regimes have adopted literal intrepretation and used it to curtail human rights. yes communist regimes may also have killed but pakistan does not have communism!!
    2) I wrote this article in an effort to start some debate on the role of religon (just my two cents). One of the major reasons which has been written in the article is that religon is considered too revered and People shy away form debate on it.
    3) Someof the black laws can not be removed unless and until we are able to debate on them. Due to reverence of religon and fear of accussation of being labeled as un islamic most of the people do not want to even discuss hadood and blasphemy laws. Until and unless we can prove that they are against the spirit of islam we wont be able to remove them.
    4) Religon has to be dynamic if you want it to stay in your laws. principally I think that religon should totally seperate from state but frankly people are in no mood for that. The alternate is to call for reintrepretation and take the mantle away from ultra conservative clergy.

  18. Moosa

    Again, Arun, I think you are being simplistic, choosing your examples, and turning a blind eye to examples which do not fit in with your pre-conceptions.

    For instance, some of the greatest mass killings took place during the Mongolian invasions (Genghis Khan, Timur, etc). These invasions had no strong ideological basis. The Rwandan genocide was based on mere ethnic differences, again their was no strong ideology.

    The other problem with your idea is that… it’s an idea! Ideas lead to ideology. Humans have ideas, and the natural consequence is that ideologies develop. Sometimes those ideologies can bind societies together in a beneficial way, sometimes they cause destruction. But they’re part of the human condition, it’s almost puerile to criticise their existence. The logical extension of your criticism against religion is that we should all revert to animals and have a brain cortex which isn’t developed enough to come up with ideologies.

  19. Raza

    And yes this article is not anti islamic

    I will quote two paras out of the article

    For the religion to become functionally effective and progressive rather than static and time trapped, it has to be reinterpreted metaphorically and the mantle of interpretation has to be taken away from the existing ultra conservative clergy/religious scholars. It is an extremely tall task as the importance given to religion and generational literal interpretation has made minds extremely unreceptive to any such idea. Moreover such suggestions would be branded as “kufr” and opposed by hardliners with such ferocity that even those who find the idea appealing would be afraid to raise any counterarguments as they fear being branded as kafirs. Moreover an effective tool in the hand of hardliners and their supporters is “lack” of religious knowledge in critics. Anyone trying to raise an argument would be challenged as not being “qualified” or not having diplomas in religious study. The fact that all religious curriculums are ultra conservative and any one qualified would naturally have the same ultra conservative static beliefs is conveniently ignored.

    However, fortunately Islam-contrary to what these ultra conservative scholars are projecting- is a progressive religion. The counterarguments do not need to come from outside the religion but from within. There are two important facts which need to be brought out when making a case for this: 1) the spirit of Islam which is progressive; 2) concept of Ijtihad which allows independent thinking in interpretation of religious text.

    Islam is a progressive religion because right from its origination it has tried to challenge status quo. Today the insistence on the Holy Quran’s verses without context has unfortunately obscured this fact. It becomes progressive as soon as you apply your mind and SEE THE CONTEXT AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES. It has to be remembered that those times were very different and what seems harsh today was in sync with those times. This fact has to be understood both by the hardliners and also by the critics who have a tendency to quote out of Quran to prove their point that Islam is a regressive religion. What is needed is the emphasis on this spirit and cultivation of understanding that insistence on interpretation without context and on literal terms is proving to be counterproductive to acceptability of Islam as a moderate religion. Moreover this also jeopardizes religion’s conformity with modern day ideals of human rights, tolerance and international cooperation.

    Brothers we need debate

  20. Faisal Khan

    The author has taken up an issue which was touched upon in the past and is widely being discussed in the post 9/11 scenario. The author should have started with an explanation of Ijtihad. According to the encyclopedia Britannica,
    “In Islamic law, the independent or original interpretation of problems not precisely covered by the Qurʾān, Ḥadīth (traditions concerning the Prophet’s life and utterances), and ijmā (scholarly consensus). In the early Muslim community every adequately qualified jurist had the right to exercise such original thinking, mainly ray (personal judgment) and qiyās (analogical reasoning), and those who did so were termed mujtahids.”
    The author has also made the comparison between the “ literalism” and “allegoric” interpretation of Quran. I may also point out that most scholars oppose the literal interpretation of Quran as it was not revealed in bulk but in parts, depending upon the situation the Prophet or the Muslims were in. So you can understand the true meaning of Quran only if you take the verses in the historical perspective.
    I may also dispel the notion that religious education is the exclusive reserve of Mullah in Madrassa. If you are interested, Universities like International Islamic University and Jammia Al-Azhar provide education in Usuluddin (Principles of Religion). However, we like our sons and daughters to be engineers and doctors instead becoming religions scholars. So it is left to the poor old mullah to lead the prayer and look after the Masjid.
    It is not only Islam but, all the religions and ideologies of the world have been exploited by people to further their interests. At the time of partition of India, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were massacred based on their religion, Christians are burnt alive in India by Hindus, Tamils were famous for carrying out suicide attacks, Serbs killed Muslims in Bosnia for religion and the Israelis are persecuting Palestinians purely on religious basis – are a few such examples.

  21. Moosa

    Okay, Raza, let me throw some ideas at you, but I have to warn you that I’ve been awake all night and it’s now 6.15am here !!

    I don’t think that religion’s untouchability is the root problem at all in Pakistan. Here’s what I think is the problem:

    1. Pakistan is corrupt, through and through.
    2. Pakistan’s political leaders lack courage and moral integrity. They’re cowardly thieves.
    3. Pakistan’s religious leaders are power-hungry and have an inferiority complex.
    4. Pakistan’s political leaders have made a trade-off with the religious leaders: We’ll let you show how big and strong you are by allowing you to demonstrate your great prowess, ie you can stone young women to death and throw grenades at people in mosques who you know won’t lift a finger against you. In return, you tell people that you support Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari because of their strong islamic credentials.
    5. The silent majority of sunnis who are following the policy: “Well as long as they’re not killing us, it’s okay if they kill other innocent people”.

    Basically, I don’t see any way out at the moment. If we’re incredibly lucky, then some visionary personality like Nelson Mandela will somehow enter the Pakistani political arena. But my guess is that things will simply get worse and worse until the silent majority starts getting killed in large numbers, and then things might start to turn around. I’d advise you to leave Pakistan before that happens.

    Peace🙂

  22. Raza

    Dear faisal

    I would like to clarify that even courses in islamic university though more academic are still conservative and not reformist in nature. Moreover lets not forget that reformist like Javed ghamidi are actaully called kafirs by a substantial majority.
    You talk about contextual intrepretation. well read the article, this is what I am also saying!!!
    My question is that why we are not able to remove hadood ordinance? Why we are not able to discuss toheen e rasalat. Things like modern day Interest is a far cry from usury and yet the courts can not say that. WHY because interest is literally quoted as forbidden.

    A contetual intrepretation would have declared modern day interest to be different from usury.
    Like wise the concept of jihad has been used to recruit people by the ultra conservatives.
    These issues need debate. the problem actually starts when something is explicitly mentioned in Quran and is contradictory to modern day ideals.

  23. Raza

    Every major religon has been in some problem in the course of history and consequently has to either evolve or relegated to personal affairs only.
    My issue is that even for successful enabling of seperation state and religon minds have to be changed. With out it there wont be any seperation.
    In Pakistan, ironically people are not as hardline as Iran and I have mentioned it in my article also. The issue is that they are not able to question Mullah AT CRITICAL points. So despite the fact that while many people are not strictly adherent to core teachings and yet UNABLE TO QUESTION HARDLINERS ON HADOOD ORDINANCE, BLASHEMY etc.
    The thrust of this article is try to emphasize convincing this moderate class. Most of it is urban middle class.

  24. Khidir

    Maybe because they don’t have the credibility to question the hardliners?
    Don’t you think to be able to criticize you must first be knowledgeable ?
    Don’t you think to be able to perform ijtihad you must first know which are flexible and which are uncompromiseable?
    If you just being loud in expressing what you think is modern values, without any command on Islamic core values….hmm I think you will always be pariahs in public discourse arena. It surely will make you popular in the West, but I doubt that your “Islamic” interpretation will be mainstream,

  25. Raza

    @ Khidir

    I am just pointing out to the neccessity of debate and i am not saying that i am the suitable person for changing everything.
    Kindly read the article where i am talking about it.
    The central issue is that this argument is often given to discourage debate that oh you are not fit to discuss religon.

    WHY
    If religon is for all and for masses than YOU should be able to at least discuss.
    In pakistan everyone has become a foreign policy expert and talking about atrocities of the West. Can i ask whjat is their qualifications?
    All of us discuss pressing issues like employment electricity with out being experts on it.
    To give a solution, may be you need to be an expert but to point a problem you may not.

  26. Raza

    In democracy parties give their manifestoes to voters. Those manifestoes include program to revamp economy, education, industrial plicy et. Those voters are not experts and yet they cast votes.
    Moreover most of the existing Islamic literature is by no stretch of imagination reform oriented. It merely reinforces conservatism. However works of Mohammed Arkoun and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi are to a certain extent of the reformist nature and obviously they are controversial. Both of these along with some others have even been called kafirs.
    Secondly, I have not tried to reintrepret Islam myself but merely pointed the need to do it because clearly literalism is posing problems and has become an effective propoganda item in the hands of critics. This article is more of a social commentry and tries to evaluate literalism’s social and psychological impact on the muslims. It is by no means a purely religous article
    And right now I am in the process of reading Mohammed Arkoun’s book “Islam: to reform or to subvert?” just to have more knowledge about actual modus operandi.
    I have nothing more to add. thanks

  27. Durrenayyab

    While your synopsis of the reason why we are headed towards being a conservative and an extremist state is enlightning, it offers no concrete solution to the issue.
    The reason for the decline of the urban middle class and their facination with the ‘extremist’ elements can be attributed to the fact that our urban youth do not have any clear ideology. Infact, we are headed toward a civil war like situation, where the responsibility lies in our education system, ultra-conservatism for the poor and improvished in madrassas, and ‘americanized’ system for the elite. This divide is causing the problems in ideology that we see today. Secondly, left-wingists like you and people who are educated, affluent and have the power of independant thinking think of Islam as a religion, not as a way of life, not to be incorporated into their daily lives. If people like you were more into it, not just reciting it, but practicing it and learning more about it, we are bound to see a change in the attitude of our masses.

  28. Raza

    Dear Durrenayab

    I am not even claiming to offer a solution. Problems of centuries cannot be rectfied in one go or can be effectively solved through long and boring articles. But i am just poiting out that we need to debate.
    I would not have done that if there was a great amount of debate already going on.
    Complex problems need a consensus which will arise only if we start debate on it. We have to start from some where
    Here the moment you even mention the need you are taunted for not having the knowledge!!!
    I am not a left winger just moderately on the left
    I have case to case approach

  29. kashifiat

    Dear Raza,

    After reading your article my response was spontaneous, which proves ‘correct’ at later stage of your discussion.

    Reforms – which you pointed out

    1) Hudood Ordinance – Now after amendment in Mushraf era, Pakistan as state is same as US/Europe, where any one can establish any close relationships with mutual agreement/ understanding / willingness, no law can stop them

    2) Blasphemy law – In absence of this law where no one can bring in court, can be decide then & there, which is more harmful & damaging.

    Ijtehad is important & necessary but not on the grounds which you are identifying as left supporter or liberal /atheist mindset.

    Debate is important – which should be start – what should be the status of atheist in Muslim society, like why in elite class educational system/ curriculum Quran is not included as a subject. Why we are observing increase %age of abortion in affluent urban upper class, why fashion designer killed after their sexual attack on youth, How nude fashion designs can contribute any thing positive in a Muslim society? bala bala

    These all above are important questions which need debate

  30. Raza

    Dear Kashfiat i am not a liberal or a conservative. i am sort of a person who takes case by case approach.
    So please do not assume that i have an ultra liberal mindset. Yes overall i may be termed as slightly on the left but I have a case by case approach.

  31. Farm Boy!

    Kashif Hafeez a.k.a Mr self proclaimed Truth nothing but the Truth, can you justify the punishment handed out to a blind girl who was raped coz she couldnt identify her assailants by your godship Marde’bitch’Momin Zia ul’dog’Haq Under Hudood Ordinance??????????????………….. utterly INSANE!!!
    people & likes of you nauseate me!!!

    *puke* oh man! i couldnt stand it.

  32. Khidir

    There are always two extreme..those who think Islam froze in time and those who pursue desacralization, deconstruction, and redefinition of everything.
    I just want to remind us the concern of treating Islam as an object, subjugated by our rational mind…Let the so called Islamists and Orientalists do that.
    Honestly, I think that these kinds of debate is a waste of time. It distance ourselves from the real problems the ummah experienced.
    Let’s be busy in our amals and showed how we can realize justice, welfare, and progress. Don’t forget that those qualities are also the ideals of Islam

  33. Raza

    If it is a waste of time then why interact on this article!!!!!
    the fact that you are interacting is an indication that we do need debate.

  34. kashifiat

    Farm Boy ! Your comments reflecting your mindset, my brought up is entirely different, even for the person to whom I hate, I never used this language. Raza is witness.

    Come in decent tone and if you have COURAGE come with your real name

  35. Raza

    Dear Kashifiat

    I do agree that debate should be in civil manner and therefore personal references should be avoided. However my request to you is also to not to jump to conclusions regarding my objectives. Read the article carefully and you will find the rationale

  36. amjad

    What i don’t get is PTH’s administrators persistence in shooting themselves in the foot by not creating options for sharing their articles: by emailing others,or facebook,myspace,twitter etc. YLH,all your frustration is amounting to nothing as u r preaching to the choir.u need to reach new audiences.

  37. karun1

    I can see Raza is already defensive.

    As i said earlier Cirticism(critical enquiry) must be applied to all aspects of religion and that should include Kuran and Prophet Muhammad.(The interpretation argument is no longer acceptable).

    Pls note that such things (religious books, gods, prophets have been thouroughly scrtunised and adveresly but acceptably commented in other religions and cultures.)

  38. Raza

    dear karuni

    You know it that it is a sensitive topic for many. I have to again and again clarify that my objective is not to “change” islam. I know this would give appearance of “compromise’ and defensive. I understand but what to do!!!
    Mindsets have to be made receptive. If you are aggressive you offend and close the receptive framework.

  39. Farah

    There is a big difference between learned scholars with reformist approach and critics with Islamophobia. There is some room for reforms no doubt, but in the guise of reforms the attempt is to completely alter the face of Islam. If we want to have intelligent debates, as the author is suggesting, the first step is to ensure that the public and youth particularly has thorough access to Islamic studies and history either through curriculum or voluntary activities. Only then we should be able to debate. But islamophobes are already hating the compulsory islamiat in school system, they would hate this suggestion. Their underlying arguments is just to remove the religious sentiments from the hearts of muslims.

  40. Faisal Khan

    Dear Raza,
    Thanks for the reply to my post and so many other posts. I appariciate your effort.

    Let me confess that i only skimmed through your article before giving my opinion….. (which was not too bad either!!).

    My this confession only shows the general mindset that we have. I am a practicing Muslim – called pious by my friends, still my knowledge of Islam is limited. I spend my spare time in reading popular literature, watching tv or playing games but dont spare time to read Quran and Hadith books. Let all of us, who are concerned about Islam in Modern times, start gaining more knowledge about it. Only then shall we be able to develope a clear insite into the issues and will be able to comment upon them.

    Thanks Raza for making us think🙂

  41. Sher Zaman

    An excellent read that can play a positive role in emanating religious reformation in our country; we the middle class should have a role in condemning religious hardliners and supporting the efforts of moderate, yet thoroughly learned scholars like Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.

  42. Raza

    thanks faisal and sher zaman sahib

    Now farah, i would like to point out that the existing literature actually reinforces conservatism. The existing curriculm by no strech of imagination tries to take a critical approach. now all of us have studied Islamiat from class one till Bachelors.
    I mean i may not be an expert but at the same time i am not totally naive also.
    Unfortunately when you talk of reform you have to start thinking independently and that curriculm does not cultivate it.

  43. Farah

    Well current curriculum is very traditionalist but it does provide some basic foundation. For debate we would need more indepth curriculum inclusive of different schools of thought, but the problem is that the secularist will not want more of Islamic studies, no matter how improved the curriculum becomes. My point is that in order to reinterpret one has to study Islam a lot more, and that act itself will not go down well with the elites

  44. Raza

    Issue is the appraoch taken to intrepretation. The traditional curriculm does not even try to be critical. When some one like javed gahmadi does so, he is threathened. as long as we are not ready to show our willingness to debate, we will just be stuck

  45. karun1

    @ Raza

    Yes i agree with your prognosis. Perhaps Slow and steady wins the race.

  46. Tilsim

    @ Farah

    “But islamophobes are already hating the compulsory islamiat in school system, they would hate this suggestion. Their underlying arguments is just to remove the religious sentiments from the hearts of muslims.”

    Since when did your faith teach you to be cynical and doubt everyone’s intentions? Without honest enquiry, balance, respect for evidence and objectivity, Islamic societies are in a fossilized state. Look at the early Muslims, they sought ideas from everywhere including Socrates and Aristotle to understand the condition of man and better their societies. Let’s have an enquiring mind. If we are worthy of our faith, we need to do this.

  47. Farah

    Raza
    Who should initiate the reinterpretation dialogue? I think it has to be people with sufficient knowledge of Islam and more importantly who are not persuing an agenda which wants to drive out religion all togther.

  48. Raza

    Dear Tilsm you have head nail on its head.
    Interestingly the 10th and 11th century Islam actually encouraged independence of thought and the results were the milestones achieved by Muslims in science philosophy etc.

  49. Raza

    Dear Tilsm you have hit the nail on its head.
    Interestingly the 10th and 11th century Islam actually encouraged independence of thought and the results were the milestones achieved by Muslims in science philosophy etc.

  50. Raza

    Farah if religon is for all then every one has the right to start a dialogue.
    I mean when religon is misunderstood we are quick to point that everyone should study it rather than relying on Mullah. However when we talk of reform in religon then suddenly questions of expertise arise.
    let me tell you something here. Experts are there to give eventual solutions but the demand has to come from the masses.
    we keep on avoiding debate and keep getting stuck.
    Any how please read the article closely. You will find the rationale.

  51. Tilsim

    @ Farah

    “Who should initiate the reinterpretation dialogue? I think it has to be people with sufficient knowledge of Islam and more importantly who are not persuing an agenda which wants to drive out religion all togther.”

    I recognise that your question is posed to Raza. However, my comment would be that given the chaos arising from the current way Islam is taught by people who purport to have sufficient knowledge of Islam, one has to seriously question the traditionalist approach to interpreting the Quran and Sunnah. Do they have sufficient knowledge or are they just blind literalists trained to spread received information without further thought? This debate is as old as Islam itself. The rationalists lost and the results are there for all to see.

  52. Moosa

    Raza, the answer to your question is found in a few sparse words of the Holy Qur’an: “hudallil muttaqeen”.

  53. Raza

    Tilsim that was a very good reply

  54. PMA

    Durrenayyab (June 2, 2010 at 11:57 am):

    “Infact, we are headed toward a civil war like situation, where the responsibility lies in our education system; ultra-conservatism for the poor and improvished in madrassas, and ‘americanized’ system for the elite. This divide is causing the problems in ideology that we see today.”

  55. PGill

    I think one problem is a deep seated desire in many people to know an ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Rather than accept that ultimate truth ( or what we understand from it) is unknowable. If I think there is an ABSOLUTE TRUTH, I could very well end up believing that I have got it.

    Conservatives want to hold on to a version of the truth. Liberals want to “reinterpret” it in an authoritatitive way. This liberal interpretation will itself be new dogma of tomorrow.

    We have to start accepting that the idea of absolute truth itself is questionable, and very disruptive in a gloablised world, where many persons seem to be convinced about their own version of The Truth.

    Perhaps the belief itsekf may not be too bad and may have some good point too. However, unfortunately, most of the believers also want to force their own version of the truth down the throats of others.

    This is not a problem of Islam only, but of all isms.
    An ism as guiding star is good but an ism as sole arbiter of truth is dangerous, particularly now.

  56. Ally

    Raza Sahib,

    Well written. lekin phir bhi, the violence that we see in Pakistan has convinced me that we should follow the way of India and Bangladesh and forbid religion from politics. Its time to go secular, whether Jinnah wanted it or not!

  57. Maroof

    Without any prejudice whatsoever….i applaud the honest commentary but does any one on this forum truly honestly believe that a roll back is even possible? Given the hate that has permeated into the body politic i can only wish you luck.

  58. shiv

    If you believe in a god, and you think she has awesome powers, she should not normally need you to do her work. She is already the greatest anyway.

    Any man who says “I need to fight to protect my god” is a con man. After 1300 plus years Islam does not need con men from Pakistan who are trying to establish a positive identity for Pakistan by claiming that they are protecting Islam from the bigoted Hindus of India. Or from Ahmedis for that matter. What sort of weak god is this that needs men with beards and AK 47s to kill people in order to protect Islam against a bunch of kafirs?

    But try telling that to an average Paki? Anyone else in any other Islamic country knows.

    I can understand 15 or 20 years of stupidity. But 60 plus years? Eh? What gives?

  59. Tilsim

    @ Maroof

    There are many examples in history where roll backs occurred. Look at what happened between the warring nations of Europe or pre and post Nazi Germany or even with the advent of Islam in the Arabian peninsula.

    Optimism combined with action will get results, inshallah. It’s all our individual responsibilty to keep pushing at every opportunity against the brutes who have taken ownership of the national and religious agenda. This is primarily a struggle of ideas and ethics.

  60. Tilsim

    Sorry, I meant to say that this is primarily a struggle for ideals:

    Ideals : “values that one actively pursues as goals”

    Ethics: “well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based. “

  61. Raza

    @ Alli

    I agree but frankly that is much more difficult than reintrepretation!!! People will never let that happen…this becomes the alternate.

  62. Anwar

    Raza,
    The reinterpretation is already underway… but in predominantly non-Muslim dominated countries and primarily by the new converts. In this regards scholarly works at the Zaitoona Institute and Hartford Seminary are impressive… It needs to be seen how it trickles down to masses – change is a slow process but it has started.

  63. Maryanne Khan

    Excellent (and courageous) stuff.

    I would say to him that he is perfectly correct in making the point (amongst others that I am not in a position to comment on)

    that the middle class does not accept social responsibility when religion (the opium of the masses) is involved.

    Pakistan is suffering from what I would call ‘selective progressivism’ — the middle class saying, “we’ll run our businesses, universities, the economy, according to modern practice because it benefits us. Religion has nothing to do with our wealth, so we ignore it and its potential (in the hands of ultra-conservatives) to be anti-social, (to say the least.) Nothing to do with US, our incomes, our families.” They can be as pious as they like, but they do not hand their lives over to the Mullahs and obey their every command, (also probably because Mullahs don’t sit on the Board of Directors!)

    Someone made the point that in Antiquity, Muslim scholars red Aristotle etc but it was the Islamic world that gave the West mathematics, astronomy, jurisprudence, etc! In later centuries, the royal court of Sicily retained all the Islamic scholars remaining from the defeated Moorish Empire. What happened to the inquiring minds, the logicians discussing things, interpreting the world around them, charting new territories of the mind?

    If religion exists in a fixed interpretation, that is guarded by an ‘Elite’ who challenge anyone who has not spent his life studying it, nothing will change. Religion in this sense has become a ‘commodity’ that is under the control of a Cartel. Seems to me that modern-day Islam has divorced itself from the moral issues emerging in the context of previously non-existent realities like having the ability to kill millions with one weapon, or the fact that increasingly, the flow of information is beyond anyone’s control. . . . and prefers to camouflage the fact that religious leaders want power.

    If this is true, the way to have power is to describe yourself as being the ‘correct’ group (the Us) and anyone who challenges Us as ‘incorrect’ (and therefore Them.)

    Power rests with the Us and by definition, “We” are defined in being “Not Them.”

    so we have Muslims vs kafirs, communists against capitalists (and vice versa), Nazis vs non-Aryans (of many kinds, not just Jews), Catholics against Protestants (where the Catholics own all the land), whites against ‘coloureds’ (when the whites own the land and everything else.) We know this, and it’s always a question of who has the economic or military might to impose themselves as the dominant group.

    Religious power is always imposed through fear and reprisal on people who have nothing else.

  64. Maryanne Khan

    addendum

    please note that I am not referring to the personal, private inner dialogue that is an individual’s religious conviction.

    I was referring to ideology imposed solely to give power to an exclusive, controlling group for their own purposes.

  65. Raza

    Thanks mariyanne.
    The thrust was at middleclass and their inability to challenge clergy at CRITICAL points. Middle class generally may not be really adherent but is unable to challenge specific laws and even atrocities committed in the name of religon. This has mainly occured due to extreme reverence of religon and fear of being branded as kafirs. Moreover obviously what you have pointed out that since it does not affect them directly they are ready to be passive.
    lets not forget that hadood ordinance mostly affects lower class women.
    In addition to laws, the literal intrepretation also does the job of recruiting jehadis from lower income segments of the population. So impact of literal intrepretation is on multiple facets. Inability to challenge this on PUBLIC forum (as privately we may all be skeptical) is resulting in this strange hegemony of Ulema where they are in a position to wield a lot of power without being electorally strong.
    That was the central thrust which you have gauged correctly.
    To all my brothers and sisters, if we need to restore the glory of the religon which gave West the science and philosophy, my request is to think and think independently.
    Yes you will be discouraged and taunted. there will be people who will question that “oh you are not qualified”.
    religon was not for the experts.
    religon was for massess

  66. Raza

    contd from above
    and with your better and modern education, in fact you are better equipped to think about the philosphy of religon than those who yielded to dogmatic pattern of thinking

  67. Maryanne Khan

    Raza

    so happy to have gauged what your excellent article was espousing. Thinkers like you are much needed in this world. And in your world.

    You are utterly correct in identifying the issue as one of education, and I think back to my first visit to Pakistan years ago when I despaired at what my beloved nieces and nephews were being taught. No room to think for themselves, no real material on any subject that belonged in this century. I saw the textbooks. . .

    Critical thinking is the future of a nation and of a polity.

    I cannot condone a trend in which philosophy is subordinated to ‘doctrine’ on a national scale, where thinking is stamped out and people are told to simply accept.

    Good on you for speaking out.

    I have lived in many countries (including Pakistan) and have studied much world history, and what I have discovered is that nothing corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. And this is the case in a situation in which people are intimidated and afraid (or inconvenienced, as you say in regard to the moneyed classes) to resist dogma.

    The west, and Muslims themselves, forget the contribution free-thinking, dedicated Muslim thinkers offered the world when the west was in what even we call The Dark Ages. Oh! and guess what? That was the period of Monasticism, when Christian philosophy and social policy, even politics, was formed on the basis of (Christian) religion and a narrow class of religious students who dominated social and political thinking in terms of that religion. In that same period, the poor were dying of plague. . .

    My goodness, I sat in the Folger Library in Washington reading the original pamphlets from the 1600’s regarding the Protestant and Catholic calls to massacre one another. And those massacres happened. (O and now there’s the EU and everyone’s smiling.)

    The only hope for the peoples of the world is to know who they are, where their traditions and beliefs come from, treasure them and NOT make it a question of adversity. Diversity, yes. Not adversity.

  68. Raza

    Excellent point about Diversity not adversity.

  69. Rashid Saleem

    Pakistan as a country is still more moderate than some of its counter parts in Middle East. Agreed that the extremist element exists but it should be noted where the funding comes from for these Madrasah’s. But I must add that as a nation we have fought these ideologies at all levels and have done so with notable pride.

  70. Hira Mir

    Real Islam has been distorted by perverted religious leaders who create suicide bombers. We need to bring back the real religion on surface so that militansy is white washed.

  71. ali hamdani

    @kashifiat. I think interepretation is required with the moderate view our religion has and no space for militancy and prohibits from going to extreme.

  72. pHaze

    @Farah
    It is precisely the attitude of people like you that is the cause for such problems. On what basis do you happily assume that your view about Islams role in society is correct?. If you want the right to practice your views, then others too have a right to question your views – since it affects them too in an open society.

    @Raza, I whole heartedly agree that a open minded debate on religion is necessary. This will snatch away the obsence amount of power that these self appointed custodians of religion have. IMO the education system must be reformed first. An education which sets a foundation for the people to look at history/culture/society/religions/morality in a more objective rather than subjective way. There would be no need for ijtiehad, probably things will settle down to some equilibrium.

    Many people in this forum attribute this situation to poor youth being brainwashed. People in power – polititians, the army, judges, lawyers etc are not retards. These are the people who run the show in Pakistan. And, if they want to – they can easily stop “poor youth” from being militants, yet they dont!. What exact religious beliefs do this so called elite people have??

    @Sardar Khan
    Do you want me to make a list of number of people killed by muslims all these years. Your brain seems to reject any informations about these numbers!. By your logic then – shouldnt I too have a moral obligation to blindly hold all muslims responsible and retaliate?

    When the mullahdom throw pro-reformist muslims to kaffirdom, it makes me smile thinking that the average intellect of the kaffirs is slowly moving up!!

  73. pHaze

    Raza, One more point. Calling for ijtiehad puts you on a defensive position, since you are indirectly accepting that the Mullahs hold the key to Islam. This makes it easier for them to muscle out anyone who questions them. People must actively engage this mullahs on a intellectual front. What can the Mullahs put on the table for the masses – education? sports? jobs? culture? scientific progress? food? drinking waters? social security? food? homes?. They’ll probably have nothing worthy to contribute..

  74. Raza

    I am not suggesting that ijtihad should be done by Mullahs.
    In fact in the posts above I have actually pleaded that all of us with our better education are in better equipped to debate religion.