The Strange Case of the Fundamentalists
The Muslim world is at present a patchwork of competing nation sates, ruled
by political, social and judicial systems that can by no means be termed "Islamic".
Indeed in many of these countries there are laws in direct opposition to what
has been revealed by Allah to His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It seems the only Islamic quality about some of these nations is that they
happen to have Muslims in them. A large portion of the Muslim World has, for
the last two hundred years, been under the occupation, or "protectorate",
of one or another of the European powers, who gradually dispensed with the
Shari'ah (Islamic Law) and supplemented it with various Western systems.
After gaining so called "independence" these alien political and judicial
systems remained, or were replaced by other Western influenced hybrids. The
"Nationalism" of Attaturk in Turkey, the "Ba'athism" of Iraq and Syria, the
"Pan-Arab Nationalistic Socialism" of Egypt's Jamal Abdel-Nasr, and its various
offshoots such as Qaddafi's "Islamic Socialism". All of these movements freely
used "Islamic" slogans when, and if, it suited their aims. The simple multitudes
were caught up in the fervor of the new found "freedom", and in order to maintain
it they were told they must "modernize". To the so-called "intellectual elite"
this meant abandoning everything from the past, and taking on board everything
that was new. Thus the "Modernist" movement arose, lead by the likes of Muhammad
Abdu, that explained away every miracle of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
and even many of the basic acts of worship. For the first time riba (dealing
usury/interest) was legalized and the adoption of Western dress and lifestyles
was encouraged. They tried to make all of this acceptable by bypassing the
traditional methods of Islamic scholarship for personal itjihad (i.e. juristic
reasoning) and interpretation of the texts.
For others, Islam itself was merely an enemy to progress, especially in the
Soviet Union where veils were burnt, mosques demolished and scholars exiled
to Siberia - or executed. Street walls were painted with the words: "There
is no God and Lenin is His Prophet". In many places throughout the Muslim
World mosques, became empty, and women walked in mini-skirts on the street.
Then things started to change. In the face of Western and Communist power,
medicine and technological wizardry, of men on the moon and aircraft that
could circle the globe in days, of weapons of mass destruction that combined
were able to destroy the world seventeen times over, the computer chip and
nations that seemed to have reached unrivaled material prosperity and personal
freedom, there was a gradual, yet unavoidably noticeable return to Islam.
Not, mind you, only by the uneducated, impoverished peasants, but the educated,
prosperous, middle classes. Furthermore, this was not merely a return to the
mosque five times a day, and the veil for the woman, but a call for Islam
in its TOTALITY - to be re-implemented once again. For indeed the reality
that Islam makes no distinction between the private and public, between the
religious and political, had been apparent to Muslim scholars long before
the The Economist's survey deemed to point it out. Indeed it was obvious that
the situation within the Muslim countries, with their hybrid socio-judicial-political
systems, was in contradiction to the very essence of Islam itself! So various
movements started to seek to bring the Muslims back to the correct state of
affairs. This of course met with some considerable opposition from the various
governments supporting such systems. This opposition was, and still is, often
brutal in the extreme. These governments received either direct, or tacit
approval from their Western and Communist overseers, who in reality were more
aware of the potential threat of such a Muslim revival to the status quo,
and their own virtual world economic and political domination which they had
striven so hard to achieve. The last thing they wanted to see were the Muslims
back on their feet. Yet the revival continues...
Perhaps the reason why the rise in Islamic fundamentalism has been so phenomenal
is because the point the fundamentalists are making is so, well, FUNDAMENTAL!
After all, once a Muslim has become aware that believing in the validity of
laws and ways other than those ordained by Allah is to commit the unforgivable
sin of "shirk", then, as the Quran states:
"It is not for a believing man or woman, once Allah and His Messenger
have decided on a matter to have any choice therein"
[Noble Quran 33:36]
"and their response is none else than we hear and we obey"
[Noble Quran 24:51]
Indeed, that is exactly what makes a Muslim what he or she is: someone who
submits him or herself to Will of Almighty God. Of course the incompetence,
corruption and brutality of the governments, the inevitable failure of their
ideologies, and their frequent national and international humiliation has
made the task of the fundamentalist easier. Yet it is naive to presume that
this alone has given impetus to the rise in fundamentalism. Surely, if anything,
the poor and desperate condition of the Muslim masses should drive them more
earnestly to "modernization", "Westernization" and "Democracy", of which their
countries have hardly been shinning examples! Indeed, even the most common
peasant sees daily a barrage of images on the television screen (that has
become as essential as a bed in even the most humble households) portraying
the materialistic success of the Western World!
The true reasons for this persistent rise in Islamic awareness are not at
all those to which Western analysts constantly refer. The reason for their
inability to understand this phenomenon is part due to their submergence in
the purely material. Science and the "Theory of Evolution" has given them,
so they believe, proof that man is at most no more that an advanced animal,
a progressive monkey, and man's basic needs are little different, fundamentally,
to those of our supposed ancestors: food, drink, sleep, safety from predators
and sex. Satisfy these, and man should be content. The Muslim World still
has, by and large, kept more in touch with the reality of the human condition:
that happiness is not at all merely a material thing, but in fact something
more profound, and that understanding this is as important, perhaps more important,
to the well being of the human condition, than mere material gratification.
The evil results of this materialistic attitude are all too apparent in the
rotting social conditions of Western society. Its effects have also become
apparent in the Muslim lands themselves.
The second reason that the Islamic revival has proved so popular is that it
is obvious to many of the Muslims, especially the more literate and educated,
that the West itself does not really believe in "democracy", or indeed any
of those ideals, such as "Freedom of Speech", "Human Rights" and so on, which
it claims to cherish so dearly - except when it suits their self-interest.
Both of these points of view are not confined to the Muslim fundamentalists.
Indeed a growing number of Westerners are beginning to voice similar sentiments.
In fact, past defeats, the need to prove oneself, incompetent and corrupt
governments is hardly an explanation for the phenomenal rise of Islam among
Westerners. Recent estimates have, on average, put the numbers at three converts
to Islam every day in England alone. The rise is even higher in the U.S.,
and all this in spite of the incessant distortions and fabrications against
Islam by politicians and the media. Indeed in those very countries were Islam
is growing most visibly (Egypt and Algeria), the government, radio, T.V. and
press are all firmly controlled by the Secularists. In spite of all of this,
millions and millions are dying (sometimes literally) to go back to a book
fourteen hundred years old. How can this be? Surely "science" and "reason"
has dealt a death blow to the Quran and Islam, the same way it has the Bible
and Christianity? It seems not, and there are good reasons why!
This brings us on to the third reason, and in fact the most important of all,
why there is a phenomenal growth in fundamentalism, and that is Islam itself.
As the The Economist article said: "... there is good reason why the culture
of the Muslim world is regarded by many people as the West's only real ideological
competitor at the end of the twentieth century. Unlike the Confucians-and
even more unlike Latin Americans, Slavs and Japanese - Islam claims to be
based upon a transcendental certainty. The certainty is the Word of God, revealed
syllable by syllable to Muhammad"... "As a means of binding a civilization
together, there is no substitute for such a certainty. More-over, and this
is not happening anywhere else - new recruits are flocking to join this claim
to certainty" (p. 4, c. 2).
Why is it then that the survey does not, before its call for Muslims to practically
abandon their religion and commit the unforgivable sin of "Shirk" - by replacing
the laws of Allah with the laws of men - simply illustrate the Quran is not
the Word of God, or at least some good parts of it, so that a few adjustments
hear and there would only be in tune with what has happened before. After
all, this has already been thoroughly accomplished with the Bible. Recently
some of world's top Biblical scholars delegated a good seventy percent of
the words of Jesus as never having been said by him, and priests with impunity
state that sections of the Bible, such as God's destruction of homosexuals
in Sodom and Gomorrah, are not from God. Indeed science and modern Biblical
scholarship has cast so much doubt upon the authenticity of the Biblical text
as a whole that a derogatory term was coined for those who persisted in the
untenable position that it was the "Word of God": Fundamentalists! Indeed
the Christian fundamentalists claim about the Bible what the Muslims claim
concerning the Quran. Why could the Christian claim not prove an equally powerful
force, and a similar ideological competitor? The reason is that merely making
a claim is no basis for anything. The claim needs to be proven, and the weight
of evidence gives the claim force. It is very hard for the Christian to maintain
the claim that the Bible is the Word of God, because the evidence belies it.
The illusion of "Gospel" truth was maintained in the Middle Ages because it
was only available to very few, and they were priests! Others were forbidden
by Papal Decree from reading it, sometimes on pain of death. With the spread
of literacy and the dawn of the "Age of Enlightenment", the Bible reached
the hands of the people. Its internal contradictions and scientific discrepancies
became apparent and thus it gradually became discredited.
The Modern World's claim to certainty is "science" which, it claims, has been
the cause for advancement in medicine and technology. Its results are proof
of its worth, and the results have been achieved under the wing of "democracy".
Thus the two are intertwined. One of the other arguments in favor of "democracy"
is the lack of major conflict between those democratic nations for the past
fifty years, and another is the material prosperity it seems to have provided.
Indeed, it was in the The Economist where I recall reading that "the Western
nations have, more than any other civilization, succeeded in satisfying the
material needs of man". All powerful arguments. Thus there is a claim, and
evidence provided to support it. ( We shall, insha'Allah, examine the validity
of these claims later.) However things do not stop there. From the claim and
subsequent supporting evidence, the ideology should then be implemented, otherwise
the author of the survey would not be so audacious as to suggest that anyone
(let alone the World of Islam) should adopt his ideas, merely because of his
say so! He believes the weight of evidence in support of the "Modern Way of
Life" is sufficient to give his suggestions force. Part of what makes "democracy"
what it is, is the spirit of compromise and pragmatics: quite rational in
the light of human ignorance and fallibility. The problem is that the The
Economist survey somehow expects Islam to operate within a similar frame work.
Islam, however, is built upon the certainty that it is revealed by Almighty
God. This has consequences, the most important being that Allah is not ignorant
and fallible like the human being, rather He is All-Knowing and completely
perfect, and therefore when it comes to His Word there can be no question
of compromise, nor a philosophy of pragmatism except were specifically allowed.
The survey tries to get round this obstacle by putting it all down to a matter
of interpretation, but in fact Allah had already pre-empted this supposed
loop hole when He revealed Islam fourteen hundred years previously by appointing
someone to explain the verses of the Book:
Important note to learn and read quran online
There are many ways to improve the Quran recitation, here are some of them:
listen quran online with tajweed , Quran Recitation Online