” What is enlightenment?-An Islamic Perspective” ( Isalm is What Muslims Do)

” What is Enlightenment? An Islamic Perspective” is a powerful article by M.A. Muqedar Khan, University Of Delware. Dr. Khan is one of the new generation of Islamic Scholars who not only forcefully argues for reasoning and independent thinking in Islam but also argues against hiding behind the argument that what Muslims do is separate from what Islam stands for. Muslims should take the ownership of what Muslims do because Islam is not confined to sacred un-implemented texts. (F. Sheikh)

Shared by Muhammad Wahid.


This essay draws on Immanuel Kant’s concept of enlightenment as an escape from self- imposed ignorance and argues that a similar concept of enlightenment can be understood  within the Muslim context as escape from self-imposed  jahiliyyah , which is understood as fear to exercise reason publicly. The article advocates for ijtihad , is critical of Taqlid , and invokes Islamic sources to invest confidence in contemporary use of reason for interpreting Islam.

Return of Jahiliyyah

An Enlightenment has come to you from your Lord (Quran 6:104).

For nearly a millennium and a half, Muslims have understood Islam as a human condition that is antithetical to jahiliyyah  (ignorance). Most historical and religious accounts of Islam begin with a discussion of the state of ignorance in Arabia and often use it as a benchmark to underscore the civilizing influence of Islam on the barbaric Arabs of pre-Islamic Arabia. The great Islamic civilization that was produced with the explosion of knowledge in the fields of philosophy, science, sociology, medicine, and mathematics still remains a central influence on Islamic identity and an example of the indubitable truth of Islam and its transformative potential. In the same vein, the rationality of Islamic beliefs and Islamic socio-political order remains a major theme in the discourses of Islamic intellectuals, scholars, and preachers. The point I seek to make is simple: Muslims have always understood Islam as enlightenment, the path that rescued humanity from ignorance,irrationality, and superstitions and catapulted human society towards the apex of civilization, towards the realization of a perfect community based on divine principles.  The present Ummah can hardly be described as a perfect community or as one that is organized around divine principles. It clearly lacks enlightenment. This is not to deny the presence of many enlightened individuals and even movements, but the overall condition of the global Muslim community can hardly be described as worthy of emulation (see Abu Sulayman). Indeed, modern revivalist thinkers of Islam are conceptualizing the present age as an age of  jahiliyyah 

. Here ignorance is defined as the absence of Islam as the central fountain from which society derives its organizational principles (see Khan 2001a, 2001b). In order to understand the fundamental causes behind this state of decay, we need to understand what enlightenment  is and how it relates to the vigor of societies. We need to learn to recognize the conditions that indicate the presence or absence of enlightenment in society and to elaborate, for popular consumption, why Islamization is enlightenment.

Kant’s Conception of Enlightenment In order to elucidate the meaning of the term “enlightenment,” I wish to turn to a famous essay by Immanuel Kant, originally published in Berlinische Monatsschrift in December 1784, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” In this essay Kant, one of the great philosophers of European enlightenment, defines enlightenment as “Man’s emergence form a self-imposed immaturity.” An enlightened man for Kant was “one who had the courage to use his own understanding.” In Islamic terms, this means one is competent to do one’s own  ijtihad  (independent thinking). Kant was seeking to liberate human reason from the shackles of stagnant religious traditions that had deprived humanity of the freedom to use reason. He lamented the fact that, due to indolence and cowardice, a great proportion of humanity remained in a state of immaturity and subcontracted their thinking and faculties of judgment to others. For Kant, immaturity was the inability of an individual to rely on one’s own understanding. Kant argued further that society could come out of such a state only if “people had the courage and freedom to use reason publicly in all matters.”  The significance of Kant’s analysis and prescriptions for modern Muslims is enormous.  The present Ummah exists in a state of unparalleled immaturity. Not only has the capacity to think independently and freely nearly disappeared, it has become illegitimate. Attempts to institutionalize and democratize the spirit of ijtihad  inspire fear among the masses and incite anger, resentment, and opposition from the Ulema, by generating discourses that have instilled a fear of reason and independent thought, have rendered the Islamic Ummah incapable of relying on its own judgment. The Ummah seems to know only one way – Taqlid (imitation).

The present Muslim world attempts to either ape the West or ape the past (a glorified and nebulous golden age). Sadly, we fail to realize that even to be good at imitation requires creativity and initiative. The condition of immaturity or  jahiliyyah  has become so  widespread that the Ulema too, have become immature, have ceased to rely on their own rational faculties, and have surrendered the cardinal function of “judgment/reasoning” to the scholarship and religious judgement of a canonized and sacralized privileged elite from the second and third centuries of Islam. True religious scholarship has been reduced to memorization and recycling of medieval opinions and methodologies. New scholars are appreciated as long as they are seen as revivers of the past, and those who seek to reform or institute new practices are immediately viewed with suspicion. We remain a civilization that is petrified to think, following those who refuse to think. In the absence of new, invigorating thought, widespread immaturity prevails (see Ahmed; Nyazee; Khan 1999b; Fadl).

Near the end of article Dr. Khan argues;

“Muslim scholars and intellectuals need to change the psyche of the masses by focusing attention not on what Islam is but on what Muslims do. The artifact of separating Islam from Muslims allows Muslims to have the best religion with the worst followers. The only way to escape this is to deconstruct the myth of the essential Islam and argue that Islam is what Muslims do and shift the burden of manifesting Islam on to human actions and away from sacred, un-implemented texts. We have to realize that Islamic civilization, in its totality, inclusive of its best and its worst, is also a  tafseer  (exegesis) of the Quran. Therefore it is not enough to glorify ideas confined to text. They are meaningless until they are realized in this duniya  (world).

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21 thoughts on “” What is enlightenment?-An Islamic Perspective” ( Isalm is What Muslims Do)

  1. Taking Kant’s description of enlightenment quoted by the author, “an escape from self-imposed ignorance” makes all religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism incompatible with enlightenment. How can one have his/her own rational perspective when one is bound by that very faith – to just believe in a creator, to consider ten commandments a code of conduct given by that creator. There can not be “an Islamic” perspective or “a Christian perspective/Jewish perspective”.
    As long as we continue trumpeting false glories of golden past without trying to verify those credits we will remain dishonest. May I ask what enlightenment author saw in early Islam that changed Arabs – was practice of slavery denounced by Islam? Weren’t the chopping of hands a “legitimate” punishment for theft, wasn’t stoning to death a punishment for adultery? Didn’t prophet himself lead Ghazu (looting of trade caravans), weren’t women of the opponent taken as commodity to be taken and gifted? Wasn’t “daawa” the most blatant aggression? How is this claim made that Islam was “enlightenment” for Arabs?
    Islam is what Muslims do, any one who doesn’t agree is in denial. I can’t even understand what “change” is referred to with the introduction of Islam; Is there any biblical story that has not been taken by Islam as true history, same God/Allah, fasting borrowed from Jews, Hajj is continued ritual, sacrifice, yes please tell me how enlightening this ritual is!!
    If any one wants to embrace enlightenment then the first thing to be learned may be facing the truth or at least an effort should be made to research what really was the truth.

  2. Islam is not what Muslims do. Muslim are those who live as God commands in the Qur’an. Muslims are those who behave like Muslims – not those who look like or known by their Muslim names

    Those who are the believers, they believe in and worship God, reform themselves, and do good deeds.

    The edifice of Islam has five sides to its structure. In other words, developing humanity to its potential as believers entails a five-step process:

    Firstly, the believers must have the desire and intention to succeed as God’s trustee on earth. Since it is through knowledge and understanding that people believe and worship God, they must acquire religious knowledge. (Know what is Islam from the Qur’an and Sunnah)

    Secondly, the belief in and worshipping God cultivate God’s love, motivate and help the believers to overcome their weaknesses of character.

    Thirdly, believers continually improve their character and behavior through repentance.

    Fourthly believers do not violate God’s commands, and they do good deeds.

    Finally, believers enforce what is right and forbid what is wrong (Both individually and in society).

    Taken from the book entitled, “Human Character and Behavior (An Islamic Perspective)” By Dr. Muhammad A Hafeez

  3. It is easy to pick up negative points for one whose own attitude to religion is negative, for which I am not surprised by Babar Mustafa’s comments on a person, who is a Prophet for the believers. What surprises me that hundreds and hundreds of Western thinkers and scholars, Christians, Jewish, atheists, agnostics and others, are either stupid or ignorant to have said all praises for a person Prophet Muhammad (pbh) the founder of Islam. I quote few of them as here: Bertrand Russell [an agnostic] in his History of Western Philosophy arguing on Mohammendan Culture and Philosophy (page 419)says, “…developed an important civilization of their own.” Much before Russell, Thomas Carlyle [a faithless] had made some powerful remarks, “He [Mahomet] is by no means the truest of the Prophets; but I do esteem him a true one ….. Our hypotheses about Mahomet, that he was a scheming Imposter, a Falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mess of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to anyone. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped around this [most successful] man, are disgraceful to ourselves only …. A false man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house.” Alphonse de Lamartine [aChatholic] in his Histoire de la Turquie stated, “The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?” Bernard Shaw said, “I have studied him [Muhammad] – the wonderful man in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ he must be called the savior of humanity, I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow.” G.E. Von Grunebaum, in his work Classical Islam remarks, “Even the non-believer [except Babar Mustafa] is prepared to see if not a miracle at least something miraculous in the fact that such a towering and finely developed structure should arise on a foundation as narrow from the point of view of population and civilization as pagan Central and North Arabia; a structure which derived its survival and its greatness from its ability to transform itself from a religious community possessed of a national political character into a commonwealth culture which was both religious and super-national …. In other words it was not the physical domination but cultural power of the new teaching, not its origin in a particular geographical and intellectual zone but its immanent universality, which proved the deciding factors in its development.” Karen Armstrong a 21st century Nun authority on the religions of the world remarks, “As a paradigmatic personality, Muhammad has important lessons, not only for Muslims, but also for Western people. … We need new solutions for our unprecedented situation, and can learn much from the Prophet’s restraint. But above all, we can learn from Muhammad how to make peace.” So far, in my knowledge, no one has challenged these as well as many other great scholars and intellectuals to be wrong in their judgments and comments. This is because in the history of the world, Prophet Muhammad is the only person who within a decade established a civilization which is still alive and is unshakeable in its religious, cultural, traditional, and political values. Billions of people believe in Islam and every day many in the West are converting to Islam. One has a right to be non-believer or atheist, but you has no right to use derogatory remarks about a person of such a high stature, a scripture which one probably hasn’t read or has not understood properly. In this Forum no one has ever insulted an atheist and nothing makes me sad, when someone instead of commenting a philosophy, or a thought, or a religion, picks up faults on the person’s character: for example I never pick up fault in the personal characteristics of Allama Iqbal, but openly agree or disagree with his thought and philosophy. MIRZA ASHRAF

  4. This discussion is about what Islam is and what Muslims do. Islam is what Quran says (revealed to/by Mohammad) and Sunnah (personal life/dealings of Mohammad) basically though it evolved into quite a different form gradually.
    If we all talk about praise and positive side only then there is no need for any dialogue – most Muslim scholars and writers did exactly same which in my view is intellectual dishonesty. One of the main reason that Muslims are such intolerant people (need not to explain) is the same attitude – of praise and praise and nothing but praise. When billions of
    people with probably 80% (my personal guess) illiterates who know nothing but what their local illiterate Imam Masjid told them (during khutba, singing and crying, dramatizing with his personal exaggerations), what else is expected other than declarations of “Wajab ul Qatal” and Touheen e Rasalat, blasphemy etc.
    If highly educated scholar like Mirza Sahib here considers my bringing up of “Ghazu” led by Mohammad as “derogatory” then I rest my case, all affiliates here can keep their head in the sand and not speak their mind. I ask every one if this fact of history is derogatory then ought you all not at least feel compelled to verify it?
    Now where did I find this history – not told by our teachers, not written about by our scholars ; None other than Karen Armstrong, the nun Mirza Sahib so revers wrote in her book “Islam”, page 19 …about the Ghazu led by Mohammad that turned into battle of Badr! We were told all glory of battle of Badr but dishonest scholars simply omitted the fact how it started. I would like to ask another question – why this nun Karen Armstrong did not convert to Islam if she had nothing but praise for Mohammad and then she wrote another book “Mohammad – A prophet for our time”…. please do get that also and read pages 118 ~ 120 where she writes more on how Mohammad accepted booty, received
    “new” (handy) revelation to not cease fight in month of Ramadan and more detailed account of Ghazu (loot) led by him. Karen Armstrong not only researched on Islam but Christianity and Judaism as well and guess what, she stopped being a nun and became “agnostic” if I correctly remember.
    There are many other aspects of Mohammad’s life which I did not bring up knowing how intolerant we are but now I would like to bring up and ask if these practices should be considered “enlightenment” from the Muslim’s perspective; Mohammad married a minor
    (some say Aisha was 6, some say 9 at the time of marriage and marriage consummated when she turned 12 and Mohammad around 50), had no more than four wives at any given time but married 11 in all. Is it a fact or a “derogatory” accusation? 800 Jews were beheaded under his watch at Medina’s square and their women distributed, taken as slaves (Kaneez), a few by Mohammad himself – is this “derogatory” accusation or a fact? Should these be considered while weighing the Islam/Muslims in the light of “Enlightenment”. If these are all derogatory and facts then I urge every one who thinks so to pull your head out of sand and call a spade a spade.
    Do I need to explain why most of the scholars refrained from criticizing or writing about the dark side of Islam and found it wise to just praise and live for another day?
    Times are changing, information is more easily, rather a lot easily, available and I don’t think I wrote anything that is already not being discussed.


  5. Here we go again. The circular debate of “what is Islam” and “What Islam is”. The arguments put forward by Mr Babar Mustafa have not been refuted, simply because they are irrefutable. Instead, the debate is being diverted to an irrational mode that since so many well-known scholars praised some aspects of the personality of the Prophet of Islam, they are accepted as proof of his divinity, but pointing out his mala fides is insulting to his followers. Isn’t that a hugely lopsided sense of fairness? In my personal opinion, the last Prophet is a public personality, whose conduct is claimed by the believers to be the best example of a perfect human being. Doesn’t that make him fair game for pointing out all the falsehood surrounding his force-decorated persona ? If people make false claims in his favor, then it is equally rightful for those who know better to point out the falsehoods.
    I like to comment on the practice and tendency of intellectual name-dropping of well-known writers and why it should be critically assessed. That is a separate debate and I’ll submit my views on it in a separate commentary.

    • Its a tendency of affirmative Islamists to cherry pick those injunctions of Quran that affirm their propaganda that Islam is a religion of peace, blah blah blah! They conveniently forget other injunctions which are in stark violation of universal human rights.
      There are conventions signed by most countries, from before the great wars, which instruct the warring nations how to deal humanely with the captured POWS, specially those who were combatants. Those conventions spell out the rights and privileges of POWS. Do those conventions match the savage edicts of Quran and Sunnah ? Which one is more humane and respectful of basic human rights ? Do those conventions allow female prisoners to be distributed among victorious soldiers to use as sex slaves, and freely exchange them with similarly captured and distributed females, under use of other soldiers ? Do the conventions allow beheading of the able bodied combatant POWS ? Do the convention of UNO permit or condone slavery or slave-like treatment with other human beings ? No, definitely not. Does Quran and Sunnah permit slavery ? Yes they do. The apologists hasten to point out that Islam exhorts the Muslim masters to be kind to slaves, again blah blah blah! What do various conventions say about equality of women in civilized society ? Does Islam grant same rights and privileges to women to run their lives according to their own wishes, (men are allowed that freedom) in respect of pursuing education, jobs, freedom to move about freely? Do Muslim women have same legal rights under laws of evidence or inheritance ? The whole thing is a huge pretense.
      Those who opened their closed minds, know from their unbiased studies, that the last Prophet lived as he wished, and only when challenged did he turn his own preferences into a cosmic system of rewards and benefits. Like many great men, he made up the rules as he went along. Much of this material was known during his lifetime, but was distorted or suppressed after his death during the process of elevating him into the “perfect model of humanity”. The apologists are quick to react and cry that their religious sentiments are hurt by such remarks. Pray understand that truth hurts. When it comes to having a frank and candid discussion on this issue, most apologists have a comatose conscience . Affirmative Muslims have a normal IQ but an EQ lowered significantly by force of dogma. Journey to discovery is a rough terrain to tread. Its your road and yours alone, others may walk with you, but no one can walk it for you.
      Just to put it on record and to be fair, other religions, both polytheist and monotheist, had similar draconian laws about women in general, captured soldiers of the enemy, and slavery. But to their credit they evolved and distanced themselves from those horrible practices. Islam is the only one which refuses to do so, and insists on their strict compliance in the 21st century because those are the divine orders of Allah and refusal or denial is punished with decapitating, thus regressing Muslims to dark ages of tribal beduins of Hijaz circa fifteen centuries ago.

      Mian Aslam

      • YES, THE TRUTH HURTS, and the truth is that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most successful Prophet in his life time. His legacy is still alive and the Truth is that it is not going to die.

        One can pick up hundreds of fault in a person, but see the successes of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was an Illiterate yet spoke in a faultless and perfect Arabic language of the Qur’an, a Soldier who knew how to fight, a Field Marshal who led his army to success, a Justice, a Politician, a Peace Maker, a Man of Great Diplomacy, a Creator of an Undying Ideology, a Developer of a Civilization that spread like wild fire within a decade and after his death on three continents of the known world. After many shaking and breaking, Islam is still a
        Civilization which has the potential to rise again. A Religion, an
        Ideology, and a Person’s successes are known pragmatically and the truth is that even today Billions of Muslims spread all over the world, cannot be shaken by hairsplitting the character of the founder of Islam. None of the commenters on Islam are aware of the fact that Islamic Jurisprudence evolved throughout the ages. The author of the original article is well aware of this fact. It is unfortunate that what we see in Saudi Arabia, and what the Wahhabis are implementing is a form seldom practiced even in the earliest days of Islamic rule. I dare say that some of our pseudo-atheist-intellectual are helping to promote the propaganda rather than helping the Muslims.

        utna hi yeh ubhray ga jitna keh daba dain gey……(Allama Iqbal)

        Do not tell Muslims the fake stories of human rights–just ask and read the predicaments of black slaves in the West, Read history and know how Red Indians have been wiped out of this continent. Child brothels are present in every Western Country. If one starts picking up faults in this pseudo-civilized Western Civilization there is an endless list. When a person is short of solid reason one comes to use the language blah, blah, blah. I wonder how people are being misled by the smart propaganda of present time, only to degrade Islam—all because the Fear of an ideology which has the potential of rising again even from its ashes. These so called atheistic-intellectuals have nothing to offer to humanity except hairsplitting of religions. After Karl Marx no one has been able to present an ideology for the humanity. Marx’s godless ideology failed and Nietzsche’s God is Dead, buried Nazism.

        Man is spiritual by his nature and that is the main reason the founding fathers of USA had to keep the label ‘On God We Trust.’
        Islam is a reality, it is dogma only for the propagandist pseudo-atheist who have neither an ideology nor any way of life. Few of the great thinkers and philosophers I mentioned in my first comment were not blah, blah, blah, but are viewed the greatest intellectuals of human history.

        Mirza Ashraf

        • It is easy to pick faults ? No Mirza Sahib, when it comes to Islam what is easy is what you do – brush the faults under the rug and announce high titles like announcing the entry of a king in the darbar. Portraying Mohammad larger than life is what pseudo intellectuals do. Has any “intellectual” from Muslims ever even accepted that there was any fault with prophet or what he claimed as revelations? When Salman Rushdi high lighted the Satanic Verses I was mad – because, like the rest of Muslims I had not heard of any such verses (thanks to Qasida gari of pseudo historians, intellectuals). I looked up to see what the fuss was about the verses and was hit hard when I found that indeed Mohammad had compromised over the destruction of idols in Kaaba and allowed the daughters of Allah (the idol) keep their status as goddesses and only when Mohammad’s companions refused to accept he received a convenient revelation that Satan had tricked in the delivery of those verses and retracted those verses. This was the beginning of my doubt that there could be an iceberg under the tip. What Mirza Sahib calls easy got Salman Rushdi go in hiding and face fatwa of Wajab ul qatal, How many have been killed and how many harassed who dared to ask questions is well known.
          There are ten coward pseudo intellectuals under every brick upturned in the Muslim world responsible for keeping fellow Muslims in the dark. I am glad you mentioned slavery in America and abuse of human rights of Red Indians and I am sure you after living in America for decades must have seen how openly these atrocities are taught in schools and discussion over it encouraged
          in classrooms – if you haven’t then please start talking to the young in your family who are in schools. Having talked and discussed these historic facts, Americans have moved forward and that is why here we have freedom of speech and expression. We all wouldn’t be discussing like we are if we were in our own countries where oppression is thriving with the help of forced distorted history.
          Islam has transformed since Mohammad and I would challenge those who call Islam a religion/ideology/civilization of peace to talk about how the first Caliphs were murdered, the schism of sectarianism that still rages, the practices of brutality that helped expand Islam, the life style of its custodians and harems.
          What is easy is to find is, titles of false praise (Field Marshal for example – imagine the FM waiting at the water well of Badr in the desert to ambush a trade caravan, Politician – who wrote Charter of Medina with “God” as the final judge and that resulted in 800 beheadings in the square with a side benefit of their women taken, I still have to hear a title awarded by “intellectuals” for coming up with Dawaah – the brazen aggression: become Muslim or pay Jizya, can’t pay, then give your child, and becoming Muslim an irreversible offer if accepted (death if tried to revert back or go out of the circle). Very Enlightening indeed.


  6. This exchange is typical of the way most discussions about Islam end up. The detractors point to events and references to devalue the faith and its achievements. The defenders go on the defensive and take every question or slight as insult or worse, blashphemy. The exchange neither informs nor furthers the debate.

    The world of Islam is in turmoil and engaged in full scale shia-sunni fratricide, devastating its people, history, diversity and tolerance. Muslims are proving fairly inept in governing countries where they are the majority and struggle to define themselves as minorities. The Islam of old was dynamic and made historic strides in improving the lot of people. The Islam of modern day is defined by narrow and static self interests that regress the values of the faith. The problem is not the faith itself but the people practising it. The past is only an effective blueprint for the future when we learn to place it in the proper context and learn from it rather than try to recreate it.

  7. Say whatever you can. Pick up as many faults. Blame him and even curse him, BUT PROPHET MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him) was the most successful person and Prophet in the history of the world and is still the leader of billions. If one Babar and Mian or some more like you are against him, it makes no difference. May GOD Bless you, Amin!

    Mirza Ashraf

  8. Mr. Wequar Azeem in his first comment had rightly said that the arguments put forward by Mr Babar Mustafa are irrefutable. They still are. I can see that anyone in Mr Ashraf’s shoes will squirm uncomfortably as he will find nothing but oft repeated rhetorics, in barely concealed anguish for “Muqabila to dil-enatawaaN ne khoob kia”. The quality of comment by Mr Ashraf can hardly be dignified with comments of any seriousness. I consider the discussion has virtually ended, because what was presented in defense of the so-called divine message and the divine messenger ring hollow with their emptiness. Nobody said the prophet of Islam was not an extra ordinary person. He definitely was. He demonstrated a high level of diplomacy which was loaded with extreme savagery in its wake. He also demonstrated inimitable commitment to his first wife, his benefactor, protector and boss, during her life-time. Once she passed away, he went on a marriage spree with 11 different females in 10 years, not counting captured females in the ghazvas. The unmentionable was the case when he took a captured and grieving woman to bed on the same night his soldiers had beheaded her husband. This is history, carefully concealed by Muslim historians to raise misguided and fake scholars among Muslims. They need to be earnest in their quest. Being affirmative is a complete waste of time on their part, and a waste of time for others who engage with them.

  9. “Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He has given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.”

    The Qur’an 7:33

    People have been told not to discuss God (or anything) if they have no knowledge about Him (or anything else). Then how people who do not believe in God could rationally discuss Him or His Messengers? One can only discuss Him and His Messengers if one has at least read and understand the Qur’an to the best of one’s ability.

    Rationally speaking, the atheists, for example, are not qualified to discuss God and His Messengers.

    M A Hafeez

    • I do not mean to lecture anyone on study of Quran. However, it seems necessary to refresh everyone’s memory about the circumstances surrounding the “Revelations” made to the Prophet and put together thirty years after his passing away, and named Mashaf or Quran.
      Please bear in mind the fundamental factors, which are summarily as follows:
      1. Quran was not revealed to a person of academic credentials. The Prophet was illiterate who did not know even the alphabets “Alif, Bey, Te….”.

      2. The language and dialect used was the one that the Prophet was familiar with since birth i.e. Arabic spoken in Makkah in the dialect of his tribe Quresh.

      3. The Ayas were simple enough for an illiterate person to understand and then pass on to the Faithfuls, including many illiterates like him, word by word.

      4. That means that even an illiterate person can narrate it for understanding of another equally illiterate person. Where do you get the impression that a person has to be an AALIM, Moulana, Mofassir and so forth to understand Quran ? This is precisely the reason why “Clergy” as an institution have no official role in Islam. The curse of Clergy in Islam is the main reason why countless sects came into being, cutting each other’s throat.

      5. Quran is a string of revelations, each of which was revealed pertaining to certain event, certain debate, or a certain impasse faced by the Prophet where he needed divine intervention to come to his rescue.

      6. Narrating any Aya in isolation, just to add weight to an argument, is fundamentally wrong and misleading. Each Aya makes sense only in the light of the context leading to its revelation.

      7. Therefore, the pseudo-scholars of Quran are faced with “Naasikh” and “Mansookh” Aya, just because they look at them, removed from their contexts.

      When I responded to the comments of Mirza Ashraf, I included the historical events relating to revelations in Quran.
      Evidently the commentators are trying to be loyal to the faith they inherited at birth, and not acquired through scholarship, research and logical evaluation.

  10. I have been casual reader of the Forum writings/thoughts envisaged by the intellectuals and writers on socio economic and religious topics.The debate on the topic under question have taken a turn towards deep divide between believers and non believers which in my opinion is not a healthy sign for the forum.Any discussion on the debating forums have limitations,the administrators put halt on these kind of debate which leaves behind non congenial memories.To me this forum shouldn’t be used against an eternal religion and faith………….those non believers who posted derogatory and illogical comments have no moral courage to post these non sense ideas on other holy faiths,it is
    only the believers on this forum who tolerated their obnoxious remarks,they should be thankful to the editorial board of this forum who let them have their point of view to publish on this august publication.
    my appeal to the editorial board is to review its policy what to go on air r not.
    Tahir mahmood.

    • This is another display of a pure and unique variety of a Faith follower.
      If they desist from explicitly claiming or alluding to the divinity of the Message and/or the Messenger,
      this includes all supposedly divine messages, without first establishing the ‘divinity’, then they invite the ridicule of a precise rebuttal.
      If they cannot take the heat, they should leave the kitchen.
      Calling names like an embittered widow is all they end up doing.
      Come up with solid rationale and reasoning, or shut up.
      Is the Editorial Board mandated to promote the empty boasts and unproven claims of divinity,
      or act as honest moderators to judge the material submitted by measures of intellectuality?

      Please do note lead me to understand that TF-USA is a platform for Tableegh and DAWA.
      ISIS and Al-Qaeda are enough for that kind of menace.
      Why not exclude Religions/Faiths as out of bounds for debate on this forum?
      Because the subject becomes an unfair dialogue between sense and non-sense, with no end in sight.
      The Forum will be well-advised to steer clear of such discussions.

      • Now I understand the level of logic and sagacity, Main Aslam displayed in his previous continued comments on religion or seen or ethics.
        He believes that Taliban and ISIS are there to tableeg and Daawa.
        Are you serious or kidding?
        What school of ignorants you belong or follow?
        We definitely need to review such judgments.
        When you close the eyes in day light and claim it’s dark, it is deplorable condition of state of mind.
        May God save us from all kind and shape of evils.
        Tahir Mahmood.

    • When tall claims of Enlightenment are made (by the believers) all they talk about is how their prophet showed the right path
      but when some questions are raised on the conduct of prophet (of Islam here)
      I expect Islamic scholars to first confirm or deny the incident/event and then
      if it is established that indeed that particular incident took place,
      it is their moral duty to justify the actions as they happened or have enough courage to admit that what happened was wrong.

      Taking up that event (massacre of Medina is being referred here) does not count as derogatory.
      However if believers consider the reference to this event derogatory then all they are doing is admitting that the conduct of their prophet was unbecoming.
      It should be noted here that no one but they themselves chose to not defend it and instead took offense over merely asking for explanation.
      Wouldn’t it be better to talk about it instead of sweeping it under the rug?
      If our scholars/believers don’t mind and acknowledge that the prophet Mohammad was normal human being and a man facing repeated betrayal by the Jews of Medina
      because of the fact that the previous betrayals were not punished,
      finally had had enough and the only way to end these betrayals was what he did,
      then they would not have to declare this question derogatory.
      Such punishments were quite the norm in those days and in that region particularly.
      The thing is our scholars choose to refuse to talk about it and pretend that they are offended.
      Similarly the Ghazu (raids to loot) are not acknowledged and if the believers do not raise the prophet to larger than life status
      there is perfectly reasonable explanation that Quresh of Mecca had monopolized the trade leaving no means of survival for the people of Medina.
      My point is that the Islamic scholars are responsible for intolerance that has become hallmark of Muslims,
      and are responsible for keeping masses in the dark and creating a false image of prophet Mohammad.
      It wasn’t so hard to keep things in perspective and understandable but champions of praise and Qasida Gars have distorted history
      which hasn’t helped Muslims at all. Had I learnt about these incidents from the beginning, from our own history books, the image of prophet Mohammad would not have come crashing down.
      Other religions are not any different either – Christians won’t talk about Lady Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus for example.
      The new generations are quite understanding and capable of relating the past to the culture and traditions of the past
      and telling the truth is much better than hiding behind lies and denials.


      • I could not believe the following remark was made by a supposedly scholarly person.
        “Since an
        atheist has no ideology, no social system to offer as an alternative to
        religion as a social way of life, he is left with no views other than
        hairsplitting the life of the Prophet and the Scripture.​”
        I’m not here to defend the atheists. But I must say the above comment strongly indicated a complete absence of intelligence, forget about the intellect, that seems unthinkable altogether in his case. I’m not mincing my words only to let him have a taste of his own medicine.
        If God is alive, what part is he playing in China, India, USA or Brazil ?
        The alternatives to religions have been introduced and practiced in all countries of the world except KSA, Iran and partially Pakistan. You have constitutions, civil & criminal laws flowing from it, social norms, traditions, which by the way are way older than religions. All of these narratives provide guidelines for acceptable behavior and acceptable conduct of the individuals and families and entire ethnic segments of population. The law enforcement agencies are there to make sure those laws are followed and violators are apprehended and punished. That job is not left for Munkir-Nakeer or for Judgement in after-life. Just ask the so-called/self-styled scholars whether the judicial systems of the largest nations like China, India, USA are run under religions or their commandments or the man-made secular laws.​ Does any country of Europe, Australia or Newzealand conduct itself under any religion or faith ? Why is any religion or faith necessary for individual or for collective life ? The evidence against it is mountainous. Unfortunately, if a mind is paralyzed by religion, it cannot see it. Please open your eyes and see that obsolescence has already done away with the religions from minds of the educated and enlightened people. Only the unsophisticated minds, benumbed by Faiths and dogma attempt to uphold the God and His countless religions. Ever wonder why God(s) could not make up his mind to send one Messenger with proof for all times to come, with one religion, for all times to come, just like Mother Nature who made one whole set of laws and enforced them on day 1 FOR ALL TIMES TO COME.

  11. Criticism, comments, and suggestions which relate to an ideology or a way or a system or a religion has always been welcomed and has often been discussed throughout Islamic History. But I would not put the personal life of the Prophets, or sages or even the Scriptures to scrutinize derogatively. We need to understand that even in this modern age, we cannot bring to book the Prophets or the Sages of the past nor we can change the Scriptures. However, we can discuss the system which they presented or the ideology they have reflected. We need to discuss what is practicable today and in what form we can benefit from it. Since an atheist has no ideology, no social system to offer as an alternative to religion as a social way of life, he is left with no views other than hairsplitting the life of the Prophet and the Scripture.

    Nietzsche presented the ideology of “Uberman” declaring God is dead which was adopted by the Nazis, and instead of God, the Nazis died. Karl Max successfully presented a godless ideology of Marxism, and today God is living and Marxism is dead. It is very easy to be an atheist as one has just to say ‘no God and no religion’ for which there is no need of an intellectual probing. I would like to quote here Mirza Ghalib’s famous ‘sher’ which instructs us to comment or criticize the way of those who have left and sift through every ‘naqsh-e-rah’ rather than the personal life of the past sages.

    بے تیشہء نظر نہ چلو راہے رفتگاں
    ہر نقشِ ِراہ بلند ہے دیوار کی طرح

    Mirza Ashraf

  12. This discussion chain highlights the divides between the faithful and those who question dogma in various forms.
    The debate focuses on Islam but the issues are universal.
    Some hold the view that all things religious are beyond question while others can be vehement in presenting every event as they see it to challenge and even bait their opponents.

    I believe this forum is providing a unique and essential service.

    It provides a format where after people have vented their emotional arguments they would be faced with the compromise of reason and context.
    Perhaps then we can learn to tolerate if not accept other points of view.
    One side does not have to vanquish the other but just learn to make room for all.

    The forum provides a good starting point.

  13. Someone forwarded to me the comments of AA. What a bombastic prose of hot air and no substance ; typical of pleaders with no case tha willt hold in a court. All I can say is that jelly fish which has no brain survived for last 6 million years and so can AA. One can be a jelly fish blowing adjectives, sans real arguments. What a waste of time ! Hiding behind the real or designed initials is in itself a camouflage, for crying out loud. He should come out with an intelligent response to what I said in my concluding remark in the following words ” Ever wonder why God(s) could not make up his mind to send one Messenger with proof for all times to come, with one religion, for all times to come, just like Mother Nature who made one whole set of laws and enforced them on day 1 FOR ALL TIMES TO COME.”. For all I know he will either duck and keep quiet or come out with another set of expletives, instead of counter proofs and counter arguments.

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