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Stuff To Think About

Reformation of Islam?

Last I've heard of it was during sejarah lessons about Islah movements by Syeikh (?) Muhammad Abduh and the lot of it.

After Infidel, there poses a question of whether or not there is a need to reform Islam.

Is it the reformation of Islam, or the reformation of Muslims?

In due course of this reformation, there is a debate regarding the reinterpretation of the Quran.

I've been watching some of these videos and I find them quite enlightening. I do wish there are more discussions such as these in my own classroom. The questions were also thought-provoking. I just wished that the questions or subject matter of religious discussions in classrooms were less politics oriented, which you may or may not have deep knowledge of what is going on. Why not take it to a more personal level on how you yourself evaluate your own interpretation of your religion?

Truth be told, I had wanted to become a devout Muslim, and once, my means of achieving that is following every single rule that is set for proper behaviour. After a while, it got tiring, because I had to scrutinize every single small details in my actions, which I think is not worth scrutinizing at all. Why should I burden myself with worries about whether or not my voice or the colorful clothing I wear causes arousal in men when I already know that in the Quran, it says that one aspect of modesty is covering my chest and lowering my gaze. It does not even say anything about colorful clothing. Whether or not you want to wear colorful clothing, that is up to you to decide. Why must you fuss over a small thing like that? Besides, every men have different opinions on what is arousing to them, and there is no way you can standardize a single dress code for Muslim women. As long as the way she dresses adheres to the verse in the Quran, then, it is fine. So, I took my decision to break free from the opinions of those people on how Muslim women should dress. I will do what I feel is right as long as it does not go against the Quran.

Another issue that helped me make that decision was the issue of relations between opposite sex. Sometimes, when you think too much about it, you start worrying, "was it wrong of me to start a chat on Facebook with my male friend?", "was it wrong to be courteous to the opposite sex?", "do innocent jokes with a guy friend lead to sex?". I feel restricted, as if everything led to sin. So, I decided as long as I take care of myself not to get involved in such things, I will be fine. There is nothing wrong in being friends with guys.

I've always thought "true" Islam was narrow, as what these people have always been harping on. That the ultimate state of Islam was this and you have to work hard to get there, but now, I've realized, it isn't.

These videos have a refreshing take on Islam, and if you do have the time to spare, please view all parts of it. Right to the end.

Girls, don't you just want to be like these women?

So, from what I gather, these are the issues that are being discussed in these videos.

1. Is there a need for the reinterpretation of Islam?
2. Who should do the reinterpreting? People who are qualified to do so, or the each and everyone of Muslims themselves?
3. Should ijtihad be permitted?

I'd like to note interesting points from Tariq Ramadan. He mentioned the importance of extracting principles, and that there is one Islam, but several interpretations of Islam, and some of these interpretations of Islam is acceptable.

So, Islam is not as narrow a religion as some people would perceive it is. Both Irshad Manji and Tariq Ramadan are in favour of ijtihad, of critical thinking, because in the Quran itself, there is room for that. As Irshad pointed out, there are three times more verses in the Quran that calls for the ummah to think than there are verses that tell the Muslims what is wrong and what is right. However, Dahlia Mogahed says that interpretations of irresponsible individuals was what caused these radical Islamic movements, because religion is used as a tool, an accessory for a political movement.

Islam is shumul, it is timeless, yes. But if we actually look at the principles behind those rulings, indeed it is. But if you look at the ruling itself, then, of course people say that it was culturally-based and stuck in the era of 7th century deserts. That is why Tariq Ramadan suggested the extracting of principles and applying a new model that is suited for this era that is adherent to the principles instead of merely copying the old model per se.

For example, hudud laws of the severing of hands or of stoning or public flogging. Why is it not carried out in all countries with Muslims in it? That is where masolih al-mursalah is taken into consideration. Islam is not rigid. It gives space for the ummah to carry out the rulings but with consideration of the situation they are in.

Let's look at the example of fasting in the Ramadan. There is no reason why you should not fast, unless if you're ill, old, etc. etc. There is still a flexibility to consider the "hukum" of whether or not it is wajib for a certain group of individuals. This shows that Islam is a very humane religion.

Another thing Tariq Ramadan pointed out is the fact that some Muslims consider asking questions as being defiant. I agree to this, so does Dalia and Irshad. Because we have always been taught that only a certain group of individuals with certain credentials were the only ones who have a right to say things about religion, and the rest were to obey them and blindly submit without further question. That is why when fatwas were issued, some Muslims confuse it with the actual obligations in Islam. They should be aware that fatwas are only legal opinions of these figures. You have a right whether to follow it or not.

As a conclusion, I do think we can interpret the Quran, because you can't exactly take the Quran literally, the rulings have to be matched to context, and Islam is flexible enough for this purpose, as long as you don't go against the tenets already clearly specified in the Quran. For example, you try to reinterpret the Quran so that you don't have to pray five times a day, now, that is impossible and it is deviant. But in terms of other aspects of life and "grey areas" in the Quran's explanations like governance and stuff like that, there is room for Muslims to use ijtihad or critical thinking to decide for themselves. The fact that the Quran allows this ijtihad already shows that it is timeless. The principles are timeless, but the ijtihad will ensure that the Quran can be adapted to suit the changing of times and different situations.

All in all, it has been a very good mind-stimulating activity so far this holiday.


InMine said…
Tariq Ramadhan is the grandson of Hassan al-Bana, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

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