Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yes, we do need to reform Islam to modern times

*I may be updating this later on with additional info*

I use to be actively against any kind of reformation within Islam. I rejected any "liberal" or "modern" interpretation, and held the view that there is only one true Islam, with minor differences among people regarding spiritual practices. I happily sided with Muslim leaders who said there is no moderate Islam, only one Islam. On my other blog (Answering Christians), I frequently posted about Islam and how there is only one true form. I trolled videos on Youtube and other blogs that presented views deviating from what I thought was true Islam. I went after Muslim women who rejected hijab, I went after Muslims who rejected all or parts of Islamic law (sharia), and I went after Muslims who wanted equal rights for women. I held the conservative belief that men and women are given different rights and roles according to their genders, and playing around with this is playing around with Allah's commands. I was never a hardcore salafi/wahhabi, but I was a staunch conservative who believed 7th century Islam is just as relevant and needed in this century.

However, after years of reading Islamic literature from different sects and different schools, and watching videos with differing interpretations, and considering apostasy after seeing wahhabi/salafi material, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a "one true" Islam. Islamic scholars have differed vastly in their views throughout Islamic history. That is why, for example, the Islamic Golden Age so successful. Everyone could have their own views and no one could really enforce their views on to others. People could interpret Islam according to their own culture and time. And this is what we need today.

To be honest, even hardcore right wing conservative Muslims believe in reforming Islam. Ask them about what needs to change among Muslims. They will tell you Muslims need to unite under one state with a single interpretation of Islam. Well, that itself is reform because there are multiple contradicting madhabs and interpretations, EVEN among conservative Islamic philosophies.

I still believe in Allah and his messangers (peace be upon them all), and I believe in the crux of Islam (5 pillars). The basics of Islam will always remain. For example, if muslims live in a country that uses conservative interpretations of Sharia, and then they move to a secular country, well the basics of Islam will still remain with them, even if the laws are secular. The faith aspects of Islam are the most important. But I no longer believe specific rulings are valid anymore in this century. We live in a completely different time and place, and it makes no sense that, other than the basics of Islam (again 5 pillars), we have to follow certain rulings. We need to start taking certain Islamic rulings more in a specific 7th century Arabian historical context. Because logic, reasoning, and rational thinking prevail over everything. Let me explain a few examples.

1) Islam tells men to protect and maintain women. I wrote on this earlier ( and it pretty much sums up what I believe, except I want to take more of historical approach rather than a literal one. Just as I say in the link, women today are just as educated and qualified as men, or at least in the civilized western world. Muslim women in the west contribute to family income just as much as men. The laws and societies of the west see women as equals in charge of their own lives. That is why Muslim women are so much more better off in countries that do not use conservative interpretations of Islamic law. Conservative Islamic law does not regard women as equals, and every woman's affairs are under the control of her guardian (close male relative). Sure, in the lawless 7th century where Islam improved women's rights, this made sense. At the time, the nature of women's issues made it reasonable to have her affairs under the supervision of men, whom were expected to be working and women were expected to remain at home and look after the kids. This practice predates Islam and is found in all cultures- the idea of men being the sole breadwinners. And it was still in practice when Islam was revealed so it makes sense why Allah made such a verse. But this is no longer the case. We NO LONGER live in such a time. Women today are interdependent and capable of looking after themselves.

Another idea that arises is that why should men be financially burdened and stressed out, when their wives are just as capable of earning and helping out with the finances?? If a woman does work, traditional Islamic ideology says the money she earns is hers. But does this make sense today? Studies show men are much more likely to be stressed out from work than women. Stress causes many mental and physical problems. So why should a wife's earnings be for herself only?

Do you see what I am trying to say? We have imams and sheikh's saying it doesn't matter if Harvard educated women work or don't work, they have no role in financial responsibility because that is the job of men. If a husband has a 2 year diploma in something and barely gets by in life, while his Harvard educated wife either stays at home or works, and she has no Islamic duty to help out her husband, then what kind of message does Islam send to men?? Again, I realize that such views were needed in the 7th century. A completely different time and place with different work and educational structures. But again, today we live in a pretty much completely different dimension.

2) Slavery

We live in a time where slavery no longer exists. People say Islam ended slavery, but that's only partially true. Islam encourages the FREEING of slaves, and elevates their status, but doesn't necessarily abolish the practice. That is why slavery continued to exist in Muslim countries only until recently. We live in a world where no human is a slave to another. So what do we do about the rules and regulations related to slavery in Islam? They are not valid anymore. In the exact same way we use the above point and let women be in control of their own lives.

3) Extremism

I don't actually believe Islamic scriptures cause violent groups to emerge, but radical interpretations are a problem. Madrassas in Pakistan produce Jihadi freaks who wreck havoc in the country. Wahhabi/Salafi preachers in Europe call for Sharia and constantly make provocative remarks towards non-muslims, WHILE LIVING in non-Muslim countries! And then the online Islamic forums (Ummah, Islam Awakening, Salafi chat etc.) have literally the most screwed up humans on earth. ISIS, Taliban, Al Queda, Boko Haram supporters flood these forums. And if they aren't supporters of these groups, then there still are idiots on there with their ridiculous views on women and non-muslims and Muslim countries that don't use "Sharia".

There are also countless Youtube videos and Facebook pages who have the same views as the people on those Islamic forums. For example, there are facebook groups supporting terrorist groups and terrorists! I have posted before how there are facebook groups supporting the terrorist murderer Mumtaz Qadri.

And who can forget Pakistan and Saudi Arabia's idiotic blasphemy laws? In the case of Pakistan, it isn't unusual to hear about mentally unstable Christian girls being threatened for death because somebody spread a rumour. In Saudi, no one can go against Saudi ulema. It literally is a crime to "insult" the judiciary (whom are wahhabi sheikhs).

Point is, there are interpretations of Islam that inspire people and groups to react violently.

4) Scholars, Sheikhs, Mullahs, Imaams. Alims

It is a trademark of the Muslim community to blindly follow whatever a scholar says. Any criticism if these scholars creates massive stigma, that we are "jews" who hate Islam and whatever. This causes muslims not to think and question about what they are hearing or reading. That's why every time a sheikh says something incredibly stupid and idiotic, his followers will blindly agree and aggressively go after anyone who disagrees. Islam QA is a perfect example. When I posted my article on his crazy fatwas, I received a few comments saying the usual that I don't know anything about Islam, or that I want a kaffir lifestyle, and so forth.

There are other examples like women travelling alone and men and women being alone, though there are fatwas which say women don't need mehrems and that men and women being alone itself is not haraam ( My point is, we need to update our thinking. We need to reform to suit modern day ways of life. The sad truth is every individual see's Islam differently, and I have written about the effects of culture. The muslims in the west are for the most part able to combine values like gender equality and Islam. Whereas may Muslim countries still marry 9 year old girls off. Logic and reasoning and rational thinking is the ONLY WAY Islam can progress and survive.

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