A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|No Compromise in Islaam!|
|05/21/02 at 11:23:37|
dont know if this has been posted here but its worth a read . . .
The Challenge of the Century
by Dr. Aslam Abdullah
He was browsing the newly arrived copies of the Qur’an in his school library. Suddenly, his eyes stopped at one verse that dealt with Jews. He looked at the commentary and felt offended.
The verse read “Ánd Lo: We accepted the solemn pledge from (you) the children of Israel. You shall worship none but God and you shall do good unto your parents and kinsfolk and the orphans and the poor and you shall speak unto all people in a kindly way and you shall be constant in prayer and you shall spend in charity. And yet, save for a few of you, you turned away, for you are obstinate folk.”
The history teacher immediately contacted the school district complaining that the verse and the commentary were anti Jewish and anti-Semitic. The school board withdrew the 300 copies of the Qur’an and convened a meeting between Muslims and Jews scholars.
Five Muslims attended the meeting. The opening remark came from Daffer Dakheel, director of the Los Angles based Masjid Omar bin Khattab. He announced his intention to withdraw the copies of the Qur’an and apologized to Jews for hurting their feelings. Now the 300 copies of the Qur’an have been withdrawn.
Until a new translation is approved by the school district, Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Qur’an will remain withdrawn.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange Country described the decision as unfair to the Qur’an. Indeed it was. Unfair on the part of the school district to withdraw, on the part of Muslim representatives to voluntarily remove the Yusuf Ali commentary and on the part of the Jewish history teacher to take words out of context and attack the integrity of the Divine Message.
There are thousands of books, many religious, that spread hatred and animosity against those who do not subscribe to the ideas of that particular faith. There are many who incite violence. Yet, it is the first time that the Qur’an has been singled out for such a dramatic action. Indeed the Qur’an has now become the most talked about book in the academic, political and religious circles of the world.
In the West, the debate is intense as attempts are being made to discredit the Qur’an.
During the last five years, more than 70 articles have appeared in the major American and Western newspapers and journals describing the Qur’an as an intolerant book. These articles are writtan by academics and scholars whose anti-islamic agenda is well known. There are four specific attacks on the Qur’an by these so called experts:
They argue that the Qur’an is a book compiled by Prophet Muhammad and his follower over a period of 300 years.
They argue that the book was compiled on the basis of fragmented Biblical passages that Prophet Muhammad heard from Jews and Christians during his journey to Syria.
They argue that the Qur’an promotes violence and intolerance towards non-Muslims, especially towards Jews and Christians.
They argue that the Qur’an relegates women to a position of degradation.
None of these attacks are new. Almost all of them were made at the time when the Qur’an was being revealed. The Holy Book satisfactorily responded to them logically and systematically. It also warned people not to take verses out of context and interpret them according to their own socio-political agenda. However, most of the attacks emanate from the socio-political agenda that many of the attackers claim to have professed.
Those attacking the Qur’an include five categories of people with different political goals in mind. The first group consists of secular-atheistic liberals who refuse the idea of divine guidance. They believe that human society can be understood only in its evolutionary phenomena without any intervention of the Divine. They view the Divine as a figment of the human imagination. They view not only the Qur’an but all the existing religious scriptures as human endeavors to shape their environment according to their time and circumstance.
This group is active in various academic circles in the West and sets its agenda according to its political interests. It has now focused its attention on the Qur’an for two main reasons: First, it rejects the notion of the divinity and second it refuses to accept the validity of the argument that it is the divine that should be central in human thinking.
The second group consists of Zionist scholars. In this camp are two trends. One comprises of people who focus on verses dealing with the Children of Israel in the Qur’an and claim that they reflect the political aspiration of the Prophet rather than the divine will. They argue that the Qur’an’s relation with Jews is circumstantial at times, it is accommodating to Jews and at times it is hostile.
The second group uses the verses relating to Banu-Israel for their political purposes. They see the verses within the context of Zionism and Israel. In order to counter the dominant belief that the Zionism is racism, they have concocted the idea that the Qur’an is racist. They do so to shift the circle of debate and to put Muslims on the defense. Thus they bring out every reference to Jews in the Qur’an in a manner that serves their political interest.
The third group consists of Gospel Thumpers. They believe that Islam is a Christian heresy and the Qur’an is based on fragmented Biblical passages. They refute the authenticity of the Qur’an and they call it a book written by Prophet Muhammad. They believe that if they succeed in refuting the Muslim claim of the divine authenticity of the Book, they would be able to promote their theocratic views easily.
The fourth group consists of polytheists who find in the passages of the Quran an open criticism to their way of worship and thinking. They also pick verses out of the context and describe them as intolerant and violent. They argue that the Qur’an crates a mind that is unfit for modern times. They say that there is no so-called religions deviation as all religious are different ways to understand the Divine.
The fifth group consist of homosexuals who have emerged as a strong lobby in the US and many other Western nations. They view the Qur’an as an antithesis to their life-style and feel that in the presence of a divine guidance, their view on family and marriage will never be accepted by the majority of the people. They have started arguing that the Quran does not condemn their style of life and their understanding of marriage.
The five groups pose a serious challenge to Muslims not only in the West but all over the world. It is simply a matter of time before the debate becomes global and Muslims will once again be forced to be apologetic or defensive.
The apologetic behavior may result in three attitudes:
Some extra-liberal Muslims may succumb to the pressure and agree to the suggestion that certain verses of the Qur’an may either be rescinded or removed or not included in the popular version of the Qur’an. Some other may accept the premise that the Qur’an at the time of its revelation was only for that time and some of its verses have no relevance for our times.
Others may say that certain verses may be edited to suit the demands of the time. Obviously, none of these approaches will be acceptable to Muslims regardless of the intellectual and ethnic background. No one can think of tempering a slight letter of the Qur’an because of the nature of the message. Human being cannot edit the divine.
If Christian, Jewish and other religious scholars have edited their books and scriptures, they probably did so under the assumption that the theories were divine only in the spirit and not in the letter. The foundation of Islam is on the belief of the Divine origin of the Qur’an in spirit as well as in letter. What is there is there and cannot be edited, changed, or deleted.
What needs to happen is for us to develop an understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an to steer the course of history in our times rather than changing the Quran according to circumstances. There is no doubt that a large number of Muslim scholars have attempted to give their own interpretation of the Qur’an according to their limited understanding of the Divine Message. Many of them were influenced by the political and social environment of their times.
Many of them relied on Biblical narrations to develop their understanding of events that referred to Jews, Christians and other earlier religious movements. However great those scholars may be their interpretation cannot substitute the original divine message. Perhaps the greatest challenge that Muslims worldwide face is how to enliven the spirit of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an describes itself as a book of guidance and not a book of scientific discoveries, historical narration or social and political theories. As long as the guidance is received and applied in every day life, the challenge posed by vested interests can be countered effectively.
Any deviation will only put Muslims on the defense. This of course, will not change the ultimate reality that is summed up in one of the verses of the Qur’an. “We have revealed it and it is our responsibility to ensure its protection”.
(Radiance Views weekly 24 February – 2 March 2002)
Contributed by: Raafi Abdur-Rahman
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board