By Shahid Mursaleen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The tragic events of 9/11 have changed the world scene and the gap between Islam and the West has widened further. Radical Islamists have been held responsible for the horrific events and once again due to flawed journalism, anti-Islamic sentiments have been promoted in the West. Consequently Islam is now one of the most misunderstood religions and furthermore the contribution of medieval Islam on which modern western civilisation is based on is being ignored.
Interestingly Prince Charles in his lecture at Oxford University also recognised this fact and said, “If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history."
The present global political injustices are classified by international relations experts, as the worst in human history and regrettably terrorism is now linked with Islam. Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a professor and leading contemporary thinker and author, has clarified how terrorism does not belong to any religion. He makes clear that it is neither an Islamic phenomenon, Jewish or a Christian one, rather it is a social, political and an economical problem. It should be noted that as in every society extreme ideas have always existed among a minority of followers in every religion and these ideas are then justified in its name.
As is the case with other major world religions, there have also been followers of Islam who have deviated from its true message to politicise their interests. These people who adopted radical extremist ideas were declared as deviants as early as the onset of Islam by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) himself. Their ideology was based on the notions of intolerance, disrespect, ignorance, arrogance and confrontation. It has been reported that the first such deviant group started from a small village called Harura near Kufa in modern Iraq, who were then later known as the Kharijite.
It is reported in the authentic Hadith compendium of Sahih Bukhari (Hadith number 6532) that Abu Salama and Ata ibn Yasar reported that they went to Abu Sa'id al-Khudri and asked him about the Haruriyya (based on the village Hurura, Iraq), "Did you hear the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say anything?" He said, "I do not know what the Haruriyya are, but I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Some people will emerge in this nation whose prayer will make you think little of your prayers in comparison. They will recite the Qur'an, but it will not go beyond their throats. They will pass through the deen as an arrow passes through game. The archer looks at his arrow, arrowhead and its fastening and is unsure about its notch, and whether there is any blood on it.'"
In another Hadith, (no. 6535), it is reported that Yusayr ibn 'Amr said, "I said to Sahl ibn Hunayf, 'Did you hear the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say anything about the Kharijites?' He answered, 'I heard him say while pointing towards Iraq. 'Some people will emerge from there who will recite the Qur'an, but it will not go beyond their throats. They will pass through Islam as the arrow passes through game.'"
The ideology of the Kharijite is based upon disrespect as it is reported in Hadith (number 6534), in which a man called 'Abdullah ibn Dhi'l-Khuwaysira at-Tamimi verbally disrespected the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and walked away with his back towards him. After which the Prophet said “He has companions whose prayer will make yours seem paltry and whose fasting makes yours seem paltry. They will pass through the deen like the arrow passes through game. They will emerge when there are parties among the people.”
On the other hand there was the mainstream Islam or real Islam, under the dynamic leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), who created the first democratic and multicultural state of Madina providing equal rights and freedom of religious practice for minorities, Jews or Christians. In the year 622 the first written constitution of human history was drafted by the Prophet consisting of 63 articles, called the Misaq al-Madina or the Constitution of Madina, in which he ensured that all communities had equal citizenship and democratic rights. He guaranteed human and women rights, justice, peace and security for all citizens of the state. The first Islamic state was based on the principles of democracy and social-welfare and it is these very principles that were adopted later by the West. The Constitution of Madina also ensured state benefits and taxation policies.
As a political reformer and professor of law, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri analysed the constitution of Madina and consequently published the book ‘Constitutional Analysis of the Constitution of Madina.” He has catagorised the headings of the articles according to the modern legal constitutions. Dr Qadri aims to bridge the gap between Islam and the West by highlighting the fact that the modern western concept of constitution and democracy is based on the constitutional articles of the first written constitution, which was drafted by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) more than 1400 years ago. The assertion that Islam is not compatible with the modern day has thereby been clearly rejected.
It is another fact that it was Islam that laid the foundations of transmitting knowledge to later generations, upon which modern academia is based. Intellectual Islam had already started during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) when the Sahaba or companions of the Prophet were recording the Qur’an and his sayings, teachings and actions which are known as Hadith. Each and every detail was written down as well as memorised by various companions and mutually transmitted along with the chain of narrators. This ensured that the Hadith remained authentic. Islam produced Hadith scholars who memorised tens of thousands of Hadith before they compiled multi-voluminous compendia for later generations. This unique system in the Science of Hadith of transmitting knowledge by using chain of narrators has been preserved throughout the centuries, to ensure the authenticity of the knowledge. Today there are only few scholars left who have connected themselves to that chain of narrators in order to link themselves back to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in terms of transmitting knowledge. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri is one of the few scholars who has one of the shortest chain of authority consisting of only 13 narrators between himself and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In an in-depth research Dr Qadri highlights the historic fact that during pre-modernity or what is called the dark ages in the west, the Islamic world was progressive based on scientific knowledge, justice, and peaceful democratic political systems. It spanned from the Sub-Indian continent to as far as modern Spain.
Furthermore the Islamic nation was ruled under a democratic process. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not appoint his successor himself; he left it to the people or ummah to decide. After his demise Abu Bakr was unanimously elected as the first caliphate to head the Islamic state. The constitution drafted by the Prophet was followed to ensure peace and justice to humanity.
The contributions of Islam to the modern world have also been recognised by Prince Charles who expressed that "Medieval Islam was a religion of remarkable tolerance for its time, allowing Jews and Christians the right to practise their inherited beliefs, and setting an example which was not, unfortunately, copied for many centuries in the West. Islam is part of our past and our present, in all fields of human endeavour. It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart."
Contemporary organisations in the future
As the world entered into the modern industrialised era and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the last notable Islamic power, the significance of Muslim contributions to modernity were slowly being disregarded by the scholar and researcher of current time and at the same Muslim contribution became less evident. Many principles of the modern world are based on Muslim theories and discoveries; one such example is the binary calculations within Information Technology which is based on the theories of the Muslim mathematician Al-Khwarzimi, who is regarded as the Father of Algebra.
The fall of the Ottoman Empire resulted in the postmodern era, which resulted in various global injustices, wars, cruelties, oppression and human right abuses which have triggered radical extremism in the modern era. It can be argued that the global war on terror has fuelled radical extremists who act in the name of Islam, but as Prophetic Hadith shows that their ideology is in fact deviant from the mainstream Islam. These organisations are trying to highjack Islam with the slogans like “No rule but God's” - which interestingly enough was the similar slogan to the Kharijites. They ignorantly ignore the true Islamic values of democracy, justice and peace and security drafted by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
The French professor Olivier Roy has developed a theory that suggests that radical Islam has now failed and is ending and that what he calls ‘Post-Islamism’ will prevail. Professor Bayet defines Post-Islamism as the departure of the Jihadi and Salafi doctrines. Incidentally it can be argued that his term ‘post-Islamism’ is a misleading one and that in fact what he really means is that ‘mainstream Islam’ will prevail and instead it can be phrased as ‘Post-Radicalism’.
Contemporary moderate organisations like Minhaj-ul-Quran International are seen as progressive and modern Islamic organization with charismatic and wise leadership. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has presented Islam to the world in such an intellectual manner, providing a frame of reference of dialogue, integration, mutual understanding and global unity of the humanity. He has also highlighted the contributions of great Muslim thinkers, philosophers, scientists and jurists, who have laid the foundations of the revolution of the Western world.
The efforts of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri in bridging the gap between Islam and the West have been widely appreciated. Speaking at a conference on Muslims in Europe in Turkey in 2006 organised by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, he clarified that Islam provides a mutual atmosphere, peaceful co-existence and tolerance between societies. Dr Qadri further clarified that in order to bridge the gap between the West, Muslims need to be much more integrated in western societies and live and work together to promote multiculturalism and mutual understanding.
In his speeches on Islam and Politics, Dr Qadri explains how Islam introduced the concept of Parliament and the establishment of peaceful relations with other states for peaceful global co-existence. He highlights the fact that Islam guaranteed economic justice along with the system ensuring the equitable circulation of wealth. He points out that Islam eradicated all kinds of oppression, cruelties, injustices and evil practices which are detrimental to mankind. His organisation Minhaj-ul-Quran aims to revive this frame of reference to ensure global peace between civilisations.
Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri founded the organisation Minhaj-ul-Quran in order to revive the true values of Islam and to promote the intellectual aspects of Islam. It has been working in the West for the last two decades and has been successful in bridging the gap between the two cultures and societies. In order to meet with the changing requirements of the human life at social and global levels, Islam provides a process of dynamics and evolution which Minhaj-ul-Quran has adopted. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has reformed, revived and re-interpreted the teachings - a technically term known as Ijtihad - in a way to bridge the gap between cultures and societies and to face the global challenges of radicalism. This is how post-radical Islam will compete with the developmental requirements of contemporary eras and meet with the changing contemporary global political map.
Minhaj-ul-Quran emphasises the importance of forming closer links with religious leaders of other faiths and societies through diplomatic means as dialogue. It has developed the capacity for leading mainstream Islam by uniting the different groups and sects of Islam. This International organisation aims to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) using modern and scientific interpretation of Islam through the academic writings of its founder Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri. Minhaj-ul-Quran has a dynamic approach of uniting mainstream Islam through peace, tolerance and through a progressive approach.
The era of radical Islam will hopefully end sooner rather than later and the moderate Islamic approach based upon the true teachings of the Prophet will prevail. Intellectual Islam has always played a vital role in preserving the true essence of Islam. Through his various academic writings and classical scholarly works, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has provided a frame of reference for the 21st century to the Muslim ummah and the world to follow in order to ensure global peace, tolerance and security.