Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Interpretations of Islam ... part 2?

Gosh, it's been THIRTEEN days since my last post?!?! My, where have I been!

Well, actually, I'm really busy these days. Everything seems to be going in a million different directions, and it's becoming SO difficult to keep up!

As you all hopefully know by now, Qrratugai is a freak about interpretations, particularly the interpretations of Islam. And so, I was on this group on FB just a minute ago where someone called Amina Wadud a kafir. Now, this is the beautiful, intelligent, and honorable woman scholar of Islam who chose to lead a mixed congregational prayer and has been receiving death threats ever since because, DUH, women are FORBIDDEN to lead men in prayer. Imagine what that could mean! I mean, a WOMAN leading MEN in prayer?! What a blasphemous deed, and what a shameless woman would do something as indecent as that?! God forgive our misguided world!

Anyway, let's not let Qrratugai get all sarcastic and stuff right now. I just wanna share what this one girl said. So, she was calling Amina Wadud kafir (non-Muslim, infidel, etc.) and that she's "only spreading kufr"! So, of course, I had to reply. And I wrote:

Mind elaborating how this is spreading kufr? A lot of Muslims agree with you, but *none* of them can justify on an intellectual level why or how this is kufr or leads to kufr.

It's amusing when (typical) Muslims refer to Dr. Wadud as a kafir or whatever when they don't have the same level of knowledge and understanding as Dr. Wadud. Forget that this lady has studied Islam and women's status in Islam in depth, received a PhD in it, is widely respected(but NOT by the weak and insecure Muslims, of course), is universally read, leads scholarly events and conferences, and is no DOUBT an expert on women in Islam. Yet, OTHERS, who know nothing but what their local imams have taught them, are telling her how Islam views women. LOL. Amusing indeed. Not to mention, Wadud can VERY WELL justify what she has done and what she continues doing. Can anyone else do that? I don't think so. Their ONLY reasoning is: "God says so" -- yet without evidence or support.

Then she replied: "my knowladge might not be same as her but all i know woman can't lead prayers like imam does."
Oh geez :| But she fails to tell us *how* she knows.

One person replied to her saying
, "Please follow Allah (and Rasool), not the manmade fatwas and books of sharia written by imams. They are not part of religion in anycase."

And so I said: "Exactly. And not just that, but also, Islam is nothing without its interpretation, and it's interpreted differently depending on who is doing the interpretation. Who said that the interpretations of the men of the 12th century or so should be used even in our time? And how many women scholars have ever been "allowed" to interpret the Quran/hadith without being threatened? Let women speak for once, yo, will y'all! It's silly to make rules ABOUT us and FOR us without knowing us at all or without taking our views on them."

The person disagreed that gender has anything to do with interpretations: "The rules are already made by God. About women and about men. The silly part is not to make rules about women without knowing women, but to add and make rules that override the rules of God.
It doesn't matter if the Imam is a man or a woman, whoever he/she is, he/she is obliged to uphold the rules of God, not the rules of men."

My reply:
Well, their gender/sex starts to matter when interpretations come into play, you see. Yes, the rules have already been provided by God, but who interprets those rules? It's not like they're all that simple all the time. And that's where the problem begins: we're taught that a certain side's interpretation of God's message and rules and guidelines is *the correct one* while another side's is nothing but blasphemy, heresy, aberration, kufr, etc., etc. And so that's when we have to ask, "Really? How so? Why's A's interpretation any better than B's?" And they often say, "Because the majority supports A's interpretation." And you ask, "Why?" And they go, "What do you mean why? That's just how things are you. You can't change it -- you feminist." And you go, "Umm... okay, but just remember that majority, too, can be wrong and isn't always -- in fact, is RARELY! -- right."

My reason for making this blog post was that last comment of mine, that whole conversation starting with, "And so that's when we have to ask, "Really? How so? Why's A's interpretation any better than B's?"

No, we're not scholars, so, yes, we don't have any right to interpret the Quran. BUT!! We don't have to be scholars to use our brain and question what others have said. I don't agree with a lotta the stuff that Imam al-Ghazali said in the 12th century, but I can tell you that what he said made PERFECT sense for his own time (and society). If I lived in his time, I wouldn't be disagreeing with it. But I don't, so what's to stop me? Same thing with Imams Hanifa and the other three. Who said that what they wrote and interpreted was necessarily the "real" Islam? And why in this cruel, sad world are we STILL using their interpretation when almost much of what they've said can't even apply? Besides, didn't Imam Hanifa himself write in his books that "This is MY interpretation; it must NOT be universalized."? It's interesting what the scholars of the past used to say and do in their books. See, they'd tell you what Person or Side A's interpretation of a certain Quranic/hadith text was, what Person/Side B's was, what Person/Side C's was, etc., etc. and only THEN tell you their own. Often, this goes like, "As for me, I believe this...." or "As for MY interpretation, such and such is the case." Or "I, however, understand it to be ...." When they'd agree with a certain person or side, they'd say, "As for me, I agree with so-and-so's interpretation."

Unfortunately, today, it seems like what our favorite scholars agree with is what WE need to agree with, too :S Or what our local imam says, we MUST do :S

I could go on and on about this, especially by bringing up the great Zakir Naik into it. But I'll not burden my readers with that much -- not yet, anyway. :p I will in a matter of a couple of months or so, though, so sneak a peak in about a month or so, ka khairee.



  1. Salaamoona Qrratugai!

    The lion never sleeps ...

    ... well, maybe the lion does sleep an awful lot, but the lioness doesn't ... ;)

    ... welcome back ...

    from a dear old friend

  2. LOL!! Thanks, Tor Khan :D
    I miss CK, man! I hope it gets back up soon :S

  3. The interpretation of Islam is the major, central and pivotal issue in Muslim scholasticism. While it was always there potentially even when Islam was limited to the Arab stock of Semitic races but it became significant when Islam was exported to the Non Arab or civilized world. Arabs, being the inhabitants of Arabian Peninsula, were the residents of deserts. Thee structure of their social fabric was missing the complications of Greek philosophy and oriental logic.

    Before Greek works were translated in the during the Abbasids ,who encouraged knowledge and wisdom, the Arab history had already seen the battle of Jamal between the wife of the prophet and the son in law of the prophet ,who was the caliph at the time too, as an ugly face of difference in interpretation. Even the killing of Usman - the third caliph was the due to the same reason.

    The genius of the Jews, who were the major rivals of Ishmaelites, saw the potential of theological interpretation as a tool to break the unity of the nascent community called Muslims. Thanks to Abdullah Ibn Saba, the Jew scholar, who transformed the difference between the Wife of the Prophet and Ali into a school of thought and those who were in the camp of Ali were called Shiyaan-e-Ali.He also took advantage of the primitive nature of means of communication and the vast Arab empire under Ali and started preaching about the divinity of Ali being an incarnation of God to those who did not have information about the new religion which was propagating. Hence the Shi'ite sect was founded on a cultist version of be cont'd.

  4. Indian Interpretation of Islam: When Islam came to the land of the saints, myths and mind called India, enriched with music , poetry, arts, culture and saintly wisdom, India mind gave the highest intellectual interpretation to the city state oriented Arab cultural ideology revealed to mankind through prophet Muhammad. Indian interpretation not only gave an intellectual foundation to Islam as a philosophy of life and presented it as an explanation of existence and universe along with an integrated system of thought for the socio-politico-economic issues of humanity. The interpretation of Islam was formally performed by taking the bold initiative of translating the Quran into Persian – a step which had no precedence in Islamic history. The teaching s of the Quran were integrated into a logical network of ideas with rational explanation by Shah Waliullah in his “Hujjatullah al Baligha” which again was a pioneering step and birth of a new science which later became the foundation stone of modern Islamic scholasticism. Later on his ShaAbdul Aziz, Syed Ahmed Khan, Obaidullah Sindhi, Hameedud din Farahi, Amin Ahsan Islahi and contributed their part.

    On parallel lines Another Indian interpretation came into existence which emphasized more on the collective aspects of life with reference to modern science Iqbal and Mawdudi ,Ghulam Ahmed Pervez and Rafiuddin.These scholars interpreted Islam as a philosophy of existence as well as a potential ideology capable of becoming the social order of a modern state. “The Reconstruction of religious thoughts in Islam” by Iqbal, “Al Jihad Fil Islam” of Mawdudi, “Islam a Challenge to religion” by Pervez and “Ideology of the Future” by Rafiuddin are the master pieces of collectivistic intepreation of Islam.

    Western Interpretation of Islam: With the advent of industrial revolution and the advancement of science and technology human knowledge has evolved. After centuries of dark ages when west woke up from the deep slumber of ignorance and went through the Renaissance and Reformation ages, they almost interpreted every aspect of life according the tenets of the modern science and technology. Religion was no exception. A critical study of history in the light of scientific evolution revealed the roots and causes of prevalent myths, ideas and creeds and notions and west discarded all those concepts which were not upto mark according to the benchmarks of modern science. The scholars of Islam also could not isolate themselves from the effects and advancemtn of modern science and were compelled to interpret Islam in terms of the modern concepts which emerged after the industrial revolution.Harun Yahya, Zakir Naik, Dr Israr, Javed Ghamdi and a host of other Muslim scholars are the ones who are aware of the modern concept of science and also cognizant of the sciences of sociology, economy, politcs and philosophy of history etc.


Dare to opine :)

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