New American denominations

About Islam Religion feature

African American denominations

Moorish Science

The Moorish Science Temple of America is an American organization founded in 1913 AD by Prophet Noble Drew Ali, whose name at birth was Timothy Drew. He claimed it was a sect of Islam but he also drew inspiration from Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Taoism. Its significant divergences from mainstream Islam and strong African-American ethnic character[57] make its classification as an Islamic denomination a matter of debate among Muslims and scholars of religion.

Its primary tenet was the belief that they are the ancient Moabites who inhabited the Northwestern and Southwestern shores of Africa. The organization also believes that their descendents after being conquered in Spain are slaves who were captured and held in slavery from 1779–1865 by their slaveholders.

Although often criticised as lacking scientific merit, adherents of the Moorish Science Temple of America believe that the Negroid Asiatic was the first human inhabitant of the Western Hemisphere. In their religious texts, adherents refer to themselves as “Asiatics”,[58] presumably referring to the non-Mongoloid Paleoamericans (see Luzia Woman). These adherents also call themselves “indigenous Moors”, “American Moors” or “Moorish Americans” in contradistinction to “African Moors” or “African Americans”.

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in Detroit in 1930,[59] with a declared aim of “resurrecting” the spiritual, mental, social and economic condition of the black man and woman of America and the world. The group believes Fard Muhammad was God on earth,[59][60] a belief viewed as shirk by mainstream Muslims. It does not see Muhammad as the final prophet, but Elijah Muhammad as the “Messenger of Truth” and only allows people of black ethnicity and believes they are the original race on earth.

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Nation of Islam
In 1975, the teachings were abandoned and the group was renamed the American Society of Muslims by Warith Deen Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad.[61] He brought the group into mainstream Sunni Islam, establishing mosques instead of temples and promoting the Five pillars of Islam.[62][63] Thousands (estimated 2 million) of African Americans joined Imam Muhammad in mainstream Islam.[64] Some members were dissatisfied, including Louis Farrakhan, who revived the group again in 1978 with the same teachings of the previous leaders. It currently has from 30,000 to 70,000 members.[65]
Five Percenter

The Five-Percent Nation was founded in 1964 in the United States.

United Nation of Islam

United Nation of Islam was founded in 1978 by Royall Jenkins, who remained as a member of Nation of Islam until after the death of Elijah Muhammad but later split from the organization in 1978.

Hispanic American denominations

Hispanic Muslims are the Latino Americans who are of the Islamic faith. They are an ethno-linguistic group of citizens of The United States with origins in the countries of Latin America or the Iberian peninsula.

Organizations of Latino Muslims

The organizations of Latino Muslims include the Latino American Dawah Organization and Alianza Islámica. The Alianza Islámica is the oldest Latino Muslim organization in the United States. It was founded in 1975 by a group of Puerto Rican Islamic converts. Other Latino Muslim organizations include the La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América (LALMA), Latino Muslims of Chicago, the Latino Muslim Association of the San Fernando Valley (LMASFV), Alameda Islamica: Latino Muslims of the Bay Area, PIEDAD, the Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA), and Islam In Spanish.

Ahmadiyya Islam

About Islam Religion feature

Ahmadiyya Islam

The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was founded in India in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the promised Messiah (“Second Coming of Christ”) the Mahdi awaited by the Muslims and a ‘subordinate’ prophet to Muhammad whose job was to restore the Sharia given to Muhammad by guiding or rallying disenchanted Ummah back to Islam and thwart attacks on Islam by its opponents. The followers are divided into two groups, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam, the former believing that Ghulam Ahmad was a non-law bearing prophet and the latter believing that he was only a religious reformer though a prophet in an allegorical sense. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims and claim to practice the pristine form of Islam as re-established with the teachings of Ghulam Ahmad.

In many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.[51]

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies of the world’s reformer during the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy. He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims.[52][53][54] The adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement are referred to as Ahmadis or Ahmadi Muslims.

Ahmadis thought emphasizes the belief that Islam is the final dispensation for humanity as revealed to Muhammad and the necessity of restoring to it its true essence and pristine form, which had been lost through the centuries. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.[55] The Ahmadis were among the earliest Muslim communities to arrive in Britain and other Western countries.[55]

Ahmadiyya adherents believe that God sent Ghulam Ahmad, in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. They believe that he divested Islam of fanatical beliefs and practices by championing what is in their view, Islam’s true and essential teachings as practised by the Prophet Muhammad.[56] The Ahmadiyya Community is the larger community of the two arising from the Ahmadiyya movement and is guided by the Khalifa (Caliph), currently Khalifatul Masih V, who is the spiritual leader of Ahmadis and the successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He is called the Khalifatul Masih(successor of the Messiah). .

Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement

The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement also known as the Lahoris, formed as a result of ideological differences within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, after the demise of Maulana Hakim Noor-ud-Din in 1914, the first Khalifa after its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The main dispute was based on differing interpretations of a verse [Quran 33:40] related to the finality of prophethood. Other issues of contention were the Kalima, funeral prayers, and the suitability of the elected Khalifa (2nd successor) Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad (the son of the Founder). The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement is led by a President or Emir.

Kharijite Islam

About Islam Religion feature

Kharijite Islam

Kharijite (literally, “those who seceded”) is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, later on fought against him and eventually succeeded in his martyrdom while he was praying in the mosque of Kufa. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.

Ibadi

The major Kharijite sub-sect today is the Ibadi. The sect developed out of the 7th century Islamic sect of the Kharijites. Historians and a majority of Muslims believe that the denomination is a reformed sect of the Khawārij. Nonetheless, Ibadis see themselves as quite different from the Kharijites. Believed to be one of the earliest schools, it is said to have been founded less than 50 years after the death of Muhammad.

It is the dominant form of Islam in Oman, but small numbers of Ibadi followers may also be found in countries in Northern and Eastern Africa. The early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi.

Ibadis usually consider non-Ibadi Muslims as unbelievers, though nowadays this attitude has highly relaxed.[citation needed] They approve of the caliphates of Abū Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, whom they regard as the “Two Rightly Guided Caliphs”. Specific beliefs include: walāyah, friendship and unity with the practicing true believers and the Ibadi Imams; barā’ah, dissociation and hostility towards unbelievers and sinners; and wuqūf, reservation towards those whose status is unclear. While Ibadi Muslims maintain most of the beliefs of the original Kharijites, they have rejected the more aggressive methods.[citation needed]

Extinct groups

The Sufris (Arabic: سفريين‎) were a sect of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries, and a part of the Kharijites. They believed Sura 12 (Yusuf) of the Qur’an is not an authentic Sura. Their most important branches were the Qurrīyya and Nukkarīyya.

The Harūrīs (Arabic: الحرورية‎) were an early Muslim sect from the period of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs (632-661 CE), named for their first leader, Habīb ibn-Yazīd al-Harūrī.

The other extinct branches of the Khawarij were Azraqis, Najdat, and Adjarites.

Sufism

Sufism in Islam is represented by schools known as Tasawwufī-Ṭarīqah. Sufism is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam. It is not a sect, rather it is considered as the branch of Islamic teaching that deals with the purification of inner self. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of “intuitive and emotional faculties” that one must be trained to use.[34] Tasawwuf is regarded as a science of Islam that has always been an integral part of Orthodox Islam.In his Al-Risala al-safadiyya, Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya describes the Sufis as those who belong to the path of the Sunna and represent it in their teachings and writings.

Jurist and Hadith master Ibn Taymiyya’s Sufi inclinations and his reverence for Sufis like ‘Abd al-Qadir Gilani can also be seen in his hundred-page commentary on Futuh al-ghayb, covering only five of the seventy-eight sermons of the book, but showing that he considered tasawwuf essential within the life of the Islamic community.

In his commentary, Ibn Taymiyya stresses that the primacy of the Shari`a forms the soundest tradition in tasawwuf, and to argue this point he lists over a dozen early masters, as well as more contemporary shaykhs like his fellow Hanbalis, al-Ansari al-Harawi and `Abd al-Qadir, and the latter’s own shaykh, Hammad al-Dabbas: The upright among the followers of the Path—like the majority of the early shaykhs (shuyukh al-salaf) such as Fudayl ibn `Iyad, Ibrahim ibn Adham, Ma`ruf al-Karkhi, al-Sari al-Saqati, al-Junayd ibn Muhammad, and others of the early teachers, as well as Shaykh Abd al-Qadir, Shaykh Hammad, Shaykh Abu al-Bayan and others of the later masters—do not permit the followers of the Sufi path to depart from the divinely legislated command and prohibition

Imam Ghazali narrates in Al-Munqidh min-al-dalal:

The vicissitudes of life, family affairs and financial constraints engulfed my life and deprived me of the congenial solitude. The heavy odds confronted me and provided me with few moments for my pursuits. This state of affairs lasted for ten years but wherever I had some spare and congenial moments I resorted to my intrinsic proclivity. During these turbulent years, numerous astonishing and indescribable secrets of life were unveiled to me. I was convinced that the group of Aulia (holy mystics) is the only truthful group who follow the right path, display best conduct and surpass all sages in their wisdom and insight. They derive all their overt or covert behaviour from the illumining guidance of the holy Prophet, the only guidance worth quest and pursuit.

Ba ‘Alawiyya

The Ba’Alawi order was founded in 13th century in Hadramaut, Yemen by al-Faqih Muqaddam Muhammad bin Ali Ba’Alawi al-Husaini. He received his ijazah from Abu Madyan in Morocco via two of his students. This sufi order is an offshoot of Qadiriyyah. The members of this Sufi way are mainly sayyids whose ancestors hail from the valley of Hadramaut,

Bektashi

The Bektashi Order was founded in the 13th century by the Islamic saint Haji Bektash Veli, and greatly influenced during its fomulative period by the Hurufi Ali al-‘Ala in the 15th century and reorganized by Balım Sultan in the 16th century. Because of its adherence to the Twelve Imams it is classified under Twelver Shia Islam. Bektashi are concentrated in Turkey and Albania and their headquarters are in Albania[citation needed].

Chishti

The Chishti Order (Persian: چشتیہ‎‎) was founded by (Khawaja) Abu Ishaq Shami (“the Syrian”; died 941) who brought Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day Afghanistan. Before returning to the Levant, Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local Emir (Khwaja) Abu Ahmad Abdal (died 966). Under the leadership of Abu Ahmad’s descendants, the Chishtiyya as they are also known, flourished as a regional mystical order. The founder of the Chishti Order in South Asia was Moinuddin Chishti.

Kubrawiya

The Kubrawiya order is a Sufi order (“tariqa”) named after its 13th-century founder Najmuddin Kubra. The Kubrawiya Sufi order was founded in the 13th century by Najmuddin Kubra in Bukhara in modern Uzbekistan.[35] The Mongols had captured Bukhara in 1221, they committed genocide and killed nearly the whole population. Sheikh Nadjm ed-Din Kubra was among those killed by the Mongols.

Mahdaviya

Mahdavi Islam (Arabic: مهدوي اسلام‎) is a sect within Islam founded by Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the 15th century CE. Jaunpuri declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer in Islam, and the denomination takes its name from the term Mahdi (“guided”). Mahdi e Maud (The Promised Mehdi) is believed to have said “Mazhab ma Kitab Allah (Qu’ran) wa Ittebah e Rasool Allah (Muhammad).”

Mahdavi

Mahdavia was emerged as a consequence of Jaunpuri’s declaration of himself to be the Hidden Twelfth Imam of the Ithnā‘ashariyyah madhhab, the prophesied redeemer in Ithnā‘ashariyyah Shia Islam, while on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1496 (AH 901), in a similar fashion to Báb-Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází’s declaration of Bábí faith at the Kaaba.[36] The Mahdavi regard Jaunpuri as the Imam Mahdi, the Caliph of Allah and the second most important figure after the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Both the prophet and imam are considered to be masum (معصوم “infallible”)[37] Mahdavis follow the doctrine of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.They strictly adhere to the five pillars of Islam. About five million Mahdavis populated in Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and also in the Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.

Zikri

The Zikri is claimed to be based around the teachings of Muhammad Jaunpuri. In religious practice, the Zikris differ greatly from mainstream Muslims and the Mahdavis. A main misconception that Zikris perform prayers called dhikr five times a day is a major one, in which sacred verses are recited, as compared to the orthodox practice of salat. Most Zikris live in Balochistan, but a large number also live in Karachi, the Sindh interior, Oman and Iran.

Mawlawiyya

The Mevlevi Order is better known in the West as the “whirling dervishes”.

Muridiyya

Mouride is a large Islamic Sufi order most prominent in Senegal and The Gambia, with headquarters in the holy city of Touba, Senegal.[38]

Naqshbandīyyā

The Naqshbandi order is one of the major Sufi orders of Islam. Formed in 1380, the order is considered by some to be a “sober” order known for its silent dhikr (remembrance of God) rather than the vocalized forms of dhikr common in other orders. The word “Naqshbandi” (نقشبندی) is Persian, taken from the name of the founder of the order, Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari. Some have said that the translation means “related to the image-maker”, some also consider it to mean “Pattern Maker” rather than “image maker”, and interpret “Naqshbandi” to mean “Reformer of Patterns”, and others consider it to mean “Way of the Chain” or “Golden Chain”.

The conception of Naqshbandi may require more elaboration and clarity as the explanation to this effect creating ambiguity and complicity with in it. The meanings of “Naqshbandi” is to follow the pattern of head of the former. In other words, “Naqshbandi” may be taken as “followup or like a flow chart” of practices exercised by the head of this school of thought.

Khālidīyyā

Khālidīyyā Sufi Order is a branch of the Naqshbandiyya Sufi Silsilat al-dhahab. It begins from the time of Khalid al-Baghdadi and continues until the time of Shaykh Ismail ash-Shirwani. Nowadays İsmailağa and İskenderpaşa jamias are the most active branches of Khālidī Ṭarīqah in Turkey.

Sülaymānīyyā

Sülaymānī Ṭarīqah is an offshoot of Naqshbandi Islamic Ṭarīqah founded by Sülaymān Hilmi Silistrevī in Turkey.[39] It was estimated that there were more than two million followers in Turkey in the early 1990s.[40] They are the most active branch in the private Hāfīz education in Turkey.

Haqqānīyyā

Haqqānīyyā Ṭarīqah is an offshoot of Naqshbandi Islamic Ṭarīqah founded by Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi in order to spread the Sufi teachings and the Unity of belief in God that is present in all religions and spiritual paths as announced by its official website.

Ni’matullāhī

The Ni’matullāhī order is the most widespread Sufi order of Persia today. It was founded by Shah Ni’matullah Wali (d. 1367), established and transformed from his inheritance of the Ma’rufiyyah circle.[41] There are several suborders in existence today, the most known and influential in the West following the lineage of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh who brought the order to the West following the 1979 Revolution in Iran.

“Naqshbandi” does not meant for images or patterns followed by the followers of this school of thoughts. “Naqshbandi” manes the “flow chart” OR to follow the sayings and doings of former.

Nurbakshi

The “Noorbakshia”[42] (Arabic: ش‎) also called Nubakshia is an Islamic sect and the Sufi order[43][44] and way that claims to trace its direct spiritual lineage and chain (silsilah) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, through Ali, by way of Imam Ali Al-Ridha. This order became famous as Nurbakshi after Shah Syed Muhammad Nurbakhsh Qahistani who was attached with Kubrawiya order Sufi order (“tariqa”) .

Oveyssi (Uwaiysi)

The Oveysi (or Uwaiysi) order claim to be founded 1,400 years ago by Uwais al-Qarni from Yemen. Uways received the teachings of Islam inwardly through his heart and lived by the principles taught by him, although he had never physically met Muhammad. At times Muhammad would say of him, “I feel the breath of the Merciful, coming to me from Yemen.” Shortly before Muhammad died, he directed Umar (second Caliph) and Ali (the first Imam of the Shia) to take his cloak to Uwais. “According to Ali Hujwiri, Farid ad-Din Attar of Nishapur and Sheikh Muhammad Ghader Bagheri, the first recipient of Muhammad’s cloak was Uwais al-Qarni. The ‘Original Cloak’ as it is known is thought to have passed down the generations from the prophet Abraham to Muhammad, to Uwais al-Qarni, and so on.”[45]

The Oveyssi order exists today in various forms and in different countries. According to Dr. Alan Godlas of the University of Georgia’s Department of Religion, a Sufi Order or tariqa known as the Uwaysi is “very active”, having been introduced in the West by the 20th century Sufi, Shah Maghsoud Angha. The Uwaysi Order is a Shi’i branch of the Kubrawiya.

Godlas writes that there are two recent and distinct contemporary branches of the Uwaysi Order in the West:

Uwaiysi Tarighat, led by Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha’s daughter, Seyyedeh Dr. Nahid Angha, and her husband Shah Nazar Seyed Ali Kianfar. Dr. Angha and Dr. Kianfar went on to found another the International Association of Sufism (IAS) which operates in California and organizes international Sufi symposia.

Now developed into an international non-profit organization, the Oveyssi order has over five-hundred thousand students with centers spanning five continents. With the use of modern technology and reach of the internet, weekly webcasts of the order’s lecture and zekr sessions are broadcast live through the order’s official website.[46]

Qadiri

The Qadiri Order is one of the oldest Sufi Orders. It derives its name from Abdul-Qadir Gilani (1077-1166), a native of the Iranian province of Gīlān. The order is one of the most widespread of the Sufi orders in the Islamic world, and can be found in Central Asia, Turkey, Balkans and much of East and West Africa. The Qadiriyyah have not developed any distinctive doctrines or teachings outside of mainstream Islam. They believe in the fundamental principles of Islam, but interpreted through mystical experience.

Senussi

Senussi is a religious-political Sufi order established by Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi founded this movement due to his criticism of the Egyptian ulema. Originally from Mecca, as-Senussi left due to pressure from Wahhabis to leave and settled in Cyrenaica where he was well received.[47] Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi was later recognized as Emir of Cyrenaica[48] and eventually became King of Libya. The monarchy was abolished by Muammar Gaddafi but, a third of Libyan still claim to be Senussi.

Shadhiliyyah

The Shadhili is a Sufi order founded by Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili. Followers (murids Arabic: seekers) of the Shadhiliyya are often known as Shadhilis.[49][50]

Suhrawardiyya

The Suhrawardiyya order (Arabic: سهروردية‎) is a Sufi order founded by Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi (1097–1168).

Tijaniyya

The Tijaniyyah order attach a large importance to culture and education, and emphasize the individual adhesion of the disciple (murīd).

Shia Islam

About Islam Religion feature

Shia Islam

Shia Islam (شيعة Shia, sometimes Shi’a; adjective “Shia”/Shi’ite), is the second-largest denomination of Islam, comprising 10-13%[4][5][6] of the total Muslim population in the world.[7] Shia Muslims, though a minority in the Muslim world, constitute the majority of the populations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, as well as a plurality in Lebanon.

In addition to believing in the authority of the Qur’an and teachings of Muhammad, Shia believe that Muhammad’s family, the Ahl al-Bayt (the “People of the House”), including his descendants known as Imams, have special spiritual and political rule over the community[8] and believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs.[9]

The Shia Islamic faith is broad and includes many different groups. There are various Shia theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. The Shia identity emerged soon after the martyrdom of Hussain son of Ali (the grandson of the prophet Muhammad) and Shia theology was formulated in the second century[10] and the first Shia governments and societies were established by the end of the ninth century.

Significant Shia communities exist on the coastal regions of West Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia (see Tabuik). The Shia presence is negligible elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Muslims are predominantly Shafi’i Sunnis.

A significant syncretic Shia minority is present in Nigeria, centered around the state of Kaduna (see Shia in Nigeria). East Africa holds several populations of Ismaili Shia, primarily descendants of immigrants from South Asia during the colonial period, such as the [Khoja].

According to Shia Muslims community,[11] one of the lingering problems in estimating Shia population is that unless Shia form a significant minority in a Muslim country, the entire population is often listed as Sunni.[11] The reverse, however, has not held true, which may contribute to imprecise estimates of the size of each sect. For example, the 1926 rise of the House of Saud in Arabia brought official discrimination against Shia.[12] Similarly, after the forced conversion of Sunnis to Shias during the Safavids’ rule, anti-Sunni sentiments and persecution have remained in Iran where they are often not allowed to pray or build mosques.[13]

Schools of Shia jurisprudence

Shia Islam is divided into three branches. The largest and best known are the Twelver (اثنا عشرية iṯnāʿašariyya), named after their adherence to the Twelve Imams. They form a majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.[14]

The Twelver Shia faith is predominantly found in Iran (90%), Azerbaijan (85%), Bahrain (70%), Iraq (65%), Lebanon (40%),[15] Kuwait (25%), Albania (20%), Pakistan (25%), Afghanistan (20%).

The Zaidi dispute the succession of the fifth Twelver Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir, because he did not stage a revolution against the corrupt government, unlike Zaid ibn Ali. They do not believe in a normal lineage, but rather that any descendant of Hasan ibn Ali or Husayn ibn Ali who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is an imam. The Zaidi are mainly found in Yemen.

The Ismaili dispute the succession of the seventh Twelver Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, believing his older brother Isma’il ibn Jafar actually succeeded their father Ja’far al-Sadiq, and did not predecease him like Twelver Shia believe. Ismaili form small communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Syria, United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda, Portugal, Yemen, China, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia[16] and have several sub-branches.

800px-Branch_of_Shi'a_Islam

Branching of Shi’a Islam at a glance.

Twelver

Twelvers believe in twelve Imams. The twelfth Imam is believed to be in occultation, and will appear again just before the Qiyamah (Islamic view of the Last Judgment). The Shia hadiths include the sayings of the Imams. Many Sunni Muslims criticise the Shia for certain beliefs and practices, including practices such as the Mourning of Muharram (Mätam). They are the largest Shia school of thought (93%), predominant in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain and have a significant population in Pakistan,India,Afghanistan Kuwait and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. The Twelver Shia are followers of either the Jaf’ari or Batiniyyah madh’habs.

Ja’fari jurisprudence

Followers of the Jaf’ari madh’hab are divided into the following sub-divisions, although these are not considered different sects:

• Usulism – The Usuli form the overwhelming majority within the Twelver Shia denomination. They follow a Marja-i Taqlid on the subject of taqlid and fiqh. They are concentrated in Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, and Lebanon.

• Akhbarism – Akhbari, similar to Usulis, however reject ijtihad in favor of hadith. Concentrated in Bahrain.

• Shaykhism – Shaykhism is an Islamic religious movement founded by Shaykh Ahmad in the early 19th century Qajar dynasty, Iran, now retaining a minority following in Iran and Iraq. It began from a combination of Sufi and Shia and Akhbari doctrines. In the mid 19th-century many Shaykhis converted to the Bábí and Bahá’í religions, which regard Shaykh Ahmad highly.

Batini jurisprudence

On the other hand, the followers of the Batiniyyah madh’hab consist of Alevis and Nusayris, who developed their own fiqh system and do not pursue the Ja’fari jurisprudence.

Alawism

‘Alawi – Alawites are also called Nusayris, Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya. Their madh’hab is established by Ibn Nusayr, and their aqidah is developed by Al-Khaṣībī. They follow Cillī aqidah of “Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn at-Tabarānī fiqh” of the ‘Alawis.[17][18] Slightly over one million of them live in Syria and Lebanon.[19]

Alevism

Alevi – Alevis are sometimes categorized as part of Twelver Shia Islam, and sometimes as its own religious tradition, as it has markedly different philosophy, customs, and rituals. They have many Tasawwufī characteristics and express belief in the Qur’an and The Twelve Imams, but reject polygamy and accept religious traditions predating Islam, like Turkish shamanism. They are significant in East-Central Turkey. They are sometimes considered a Sufi sect, and have an untraditional form of religious leadership that is not scholarship oriented like other Sunni and Shia groups. They number around 24 million worldwide, of which 17 million are in Turkey, with the rest in the Balkans, Albania, Azerbaijan, Iran and Syria.

Anatolian Qizilbashism and Alevi Islamic School of Theology

In Turkey, Shia Muslim people belong to the Ja’fari jurisprudence Madhhab, which tracks back to the sixth Shia Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (also known as Imam Jafar-i Sadiq), are called as the Ja’faris, who belong to Twelver Shia. Although the Alevi Turks are considered a part of Twelver Shia Islam, their belief is different from the Ja’fari jurisprudence in conviction.

• “The Alevi-Turks” has a unique and perplex conviction tracing back to Kaysanites Shia and Khurramites which are considered as Ghulat Shia. According to Turkish scholar Abdülbaki Gölpinarli, the Qizilbash (“Red-Heads”) of the 16th century – a religious and political movement in Azerbaijan that helped to establish the Safavid dynasty – were “spiritual descendants of the Khurramites”.[20]

• Among the members of the “Qizilbash-Tariqah” who are considered as a sub-sect of the Alevis, two figures firstly Abu Muslim Khorasani who assisted Abbasid Caliphate to beat Umayyad Caliphate, but later eliminated and murdered by Caliph Al-Mansur, and secondly Babak Khorramdin who incited a rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate and consequently was killed by Caliph al-Mu’tasim are highly respected. This belief provides strong clues about their Kaysanites Shia and Khurramites origins. In addition, the “Safaviyya Tariqah” leader Ismail I is a highly regarded individual in the belief of “Alevi-Qizilbash-Tariqah” associating them with the Imamah (Shia Twelver doctrine) conviction of the “Twelver Shi’a Islam”.

• Their aqidah (theological conviction) is based upon a syncretic fiqh system called as “Batiniyya-Sufism”[21] which incorporates some Qarmatian sentiments, originally introduced by “Abu’l-Khāttāb Muhammad ibn Abu Zaynab al-Asadī”,[22][23] and later developed by “Maymun al-Qāddāh” and his son “ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maymun”,[24] and “Mu’tazila” with a strong belief in The Twelve Imams.

• Not all of the members believe that the fasting in Ramadan is obligatory although some Alevi-Turks performs their fasting duties partially in Ramadan.

• Some beliefs of Shamanism still are common amongst the Qizilbash Alevi-Turkish people in villages.

• On the other hand, the members of Bektashi Order have a conviction of “Batiniyya Isma’ilism”[21] and “Hurufism” with a strong belief in the The Twelve Imams.

• In conclusion, Qizilbash-Alevis are not a part of Ja’fari jurisprudence fiqh, even though they can be considered as members of different Tariqa of Shia Islam all looks like sub-classes of Twelver. Their conviction includes “Batiniyya-Hurufism” and “Sevener-Qarmatians-Ismailism” sentiments.[21][25]

• They all may be considered as special groups not following the Ja’fari jurisprudence, like Alawites who are in the class of Ghulat Twelver Shia Islam, but a special Batiniyya belief somewhat similar to Isma’ilism in their conviction.

• In conclusion, Twelver branch of Shia Islam Muslim population of Turkey is composed of Mu’tazila aqidah of Ja’fari jurisprudence madhhab, Batiniyya-Sufism aqidah of Maymūn’al-Qāddāhī fiqh of the Alevīs, and Cillī aqidah of Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn at-Tabarānī fiqh of the Alawites,[17][26] who altogether constitutes nearly one third of the whole population of the country. (An estimate for the Turkish Alevi population varies between Seven and Eleven Millions.[27][28] Over 85% of the population, on the other hand, overwhelmingly constitute Maturidi aqidah of the Hanafi fiqh and Ash’ari aqidah of the Shafi’i fiqh of the Sunni followers.)

Further information: Al-Hallaj, Sevener, Qarmatians, Baba Ishak, Babai Revolt, Hassan Ala Dhikrihi’s Salam and Nur al-Din Muhammad II
The Alevi ʿaqīdah
Some of their members (or sub-groups) claim that God takes abode in the bodies of the human-beings (ḥulūl), believe in metempsychosis (tanāsukh), and consider Islamic law to be not obligatory (ibāḥa), similar to antinomianism.[29]
Some of the Alevis criticizes the course of Islam as it is being practiced overwhelmingly by more than 99% of Sunni and Shia population.
They believe that major additions had been implemented during the time of Ummayads, and easily refuse some basic principles on the grounds that they believe it contradicts with the holy book of Islam, namely the Qu’ran.
Regular daily salat and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan are officially not accepted by all members of Alevism.
Furthermore, some of the sub-groups like Ishikists and Bektashis, who portrayed themselves as Alevis, neither comprehend the essence of the regular daily salat (prayers) and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan that is frequently accentuated at many times in Quran, nor admit that these principles constitute the ineluctable foundations of the Dīn of Islam as they had been laid down by Allah and they had been practised in an uninterruptible manner during the period of Prophet Muhammad.

Ismā’īlīsm

The Ismailis and Twelvers both accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima Zahra and therefore share much of their early history. However, a dispute arose on the succession to the Sixth Imam, Ja’far al-Sadiq, who died in 765 CE. The Ismailis accepted Ja’far’s eldest son Ismā’īl (ca. 719- ca.755) as the next Imam, whereas the Twelvers accepted a younger son, Musa al-Kazim. As of 2015, Ismā’īlīs are concentrated in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. The Nizārī Ismā’īlīs, however, are also concentrated in Badakhshan (mainly, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan),[30][31] Central Asia, Russia, China, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Australia, North America (including Canada), the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and in Africa as well.[citation needed] Their total population is around 13 to 16 million (excluding the Druze population) – nearly 1% of the overall world Muslim population – and gets closer to a total of 20 million Ismā’īlīs with the inclusion of the Druzes.
Tāiyebī Mustā’līyyah

Mustaali – The Mustaali group of Ismaili Muslims differ from the Nizāriyya in that they believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph, al-Mustansir, was his younger son al-Mustaʻlī, who was made Caliph by the Fatimad Regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah. In contrast to the Nizaris, they accept the younger brother al-Mustaʻlī over Nizār as their Imam. The Bohras are an offshoot of the Taiyabi, which itself was an offshoot of the Mustaali. The Taiyabi, supporting another offshoot of the Mustaali, the Hafizi branch, split with the Mustaali Fatimid, who recognized Al-Amir as their last Imam. The split was due to the Taiyabi believing that At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim was the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Hafizi themselves however considered Al-Hafiz as the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Bohras believe that their 21st Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim, went into seclusion and established the offices of the Da’i al-Mutlaq (الداعي المطلق), Ma’zoon (مأذون) and Mukasir (مكاسر). The Bohras are the only surviving branch of the Mustaali and themselves have split into the Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Alavi Bohra.

• Dawoodi Bohra – The Dawoodi Bohras are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Dawoodi Bohra and the Sulaimani Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Pakistan and India.

• Sulaimani Bohra – The Sulaimani Bohra named after their 27th Da’i al-Mutlaq, Sulayman ibn Hassan, are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Sulaimani Bohra and the Dawoodi Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Yemen.

• Alavi Bohra – Split from the Dawoodi Bohra over who would be the correct dai of the community. The smallest branch of the Bohras.

• Hebtiahs Bohra – The Hebtiahs Bohra are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 39th Da’i al-Mutlaq in 1754.[citation needed]

• Atba-i-Malak – The Abta-i Malak jamaat (community) are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 46thDa’i al-Mutlaq, under the leadership of Abdul Hussain Jivaji. They have further split into two more branches, the Atba-i-Malak Badra and Atba-i-Malak Vakil.[32]
Nīzār’īyyah
Nizārī – The Nīzār’īyyah are the largest branch (95%) of Ismā’īlī, they are the only Shia group to be have their absolute temporal leader in the rank of Imamate, which is currently invested in Aga Khan IV. Their present living Imam is Mawlānā Shah Karim Al-Husayni who is the 49th Imam. Nizārī Ismā’īlīs believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah was his elder son al-Nizār. While Nizārī belong to the “Imami jurisprudence” or Ja’fāriyya Madhab (school of Jurisprudence), believed by Shias to be founded by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq they adhere to sumpremacy of “Kalam”, in the interpretation of scripture, and believe in the temporal relativism of understanding, as opposed to fiqh (traditional legalism), which adheres to an absolutism approach to revelation.
Durziyyah

Druze – The Druze are a small distinct traditional religion that developed in the 11th century. It began as an offshoot of the Ismaili sect of Islam, but is unique in its incorporation of Gnostic, neo-Platonic and other philosophies. Druze are considered heretical and non-Muslims by most other Muslims because they are believed to address prayers to the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt, whom they regard as “a manifestation of God in His unity.” The Druze believe that he had been hidden away by God and will return as the Mahdi on Judgement Day. Like Alawis, most Druze keep the tenets of their Faith secret, and very few details are known. They neither accept converts nor recognize conversion from their religion to another. They are located primarily in the Levant. Druze in different states can have radically different lifestyles. Some claim to be Muslim, some do not, though the Druze faith itself abides by Islamic principles.[citation needed]

Zaidiyyah

Zaidiyyahs historically come from the followers of Zayd ibn Ali, the great-Grandson of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. They follow any knowledgeable and upright descendant of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, and are less esoteric in focus than Twelvers and Ismailis. Zaidis are the most akin sect to Sunni Islam amongst the Shi’ite madh’habs. A great majority of them, more than Seven Million people who constitutes less than 1% of the World overall Muslim population, lives in Yemen.[33]

Ghulāt movements in history

Muslim groups who either ascribe divine characteristics to some figures of Islamic history (usually a member of Prophet Muhammad’s family (Ahl al-Bayt)) or hold beliefs deemed deviant by mainstream Shi’i theology were called as Ghulāt.

Sunni Islam

About Islam Religion feature

Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam and are known as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h or simply as Ahl as-Sunnah. The word Sunni comes from the word sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Therefore, the term “Sunni” refers to those who follow or maintain the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad. In many countries, overwhelming majorities of Muslims are Sunnis, so that they simply refers to themselves as “Muslims” and do not use the Sunni label.

The Sunnis believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, and after an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr Siddique, Muhammad’s close friend and a father-in-law, as the first caliph of Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abu Talib) as “al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn” or “The Rightly Guided Caliphs”. Sunnis also believe that the position of caliph may be attained democratically, on gaining majority votes, but after the Rashidun, the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule because of the divisions that started by the Umayyads and others. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, there has never been another caliph as widely recognized in the Muslim world.

SCHOOLS OF SUNNI JURISPRUDENCE

Madhhab is an Islamic term that refers to a school of thought or religious jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. Several of the Sahaba had a unique school of jurisprudence, but these schools were gradually consolidated or discarded so that there are currently four recognized schools. The differences between these schools of thought manifest in some practical and philosophical differences. Sunnis generally do not identify themselves with a particular school of thought, simply calling themselves “Muslims” or “Sunnis”, but the populations in certain regions will often – whether intentionally or unintentionally – follow the views of one school while respecting others.

Hanafi

The Hanafi school was founded by Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man. It is followed by Muslims in the Levant, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Western Lower Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, the Balkans and by most of Russia’s Muslim community. There are movements within this school such as Barelvis and Deobandi. They are concentrated in South Asia and in most parts of India.

Maliki

The Maliki school was founded by Malik ibn Anas. It is followed by Muslims in North Africa, Western Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, in parts of Saudi Arabia and in Upper Egypt. The Murabitun World Movement follows this school as well. In the past, it was also followed in parts of Europe under Islamic rule, particularly Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily.

Shafiʿi

The Shafiʿi school was founded by Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafiʿi. It is followed by Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Eastern Lower Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Palestine, the Philippines, Singapore, Somalia, Thailand, Yemen, Kurdistan, and the Mappilas of Kerala and Konkani Muslims of India. It is the official school followed by the governments of Brunei and Malaysia.

Hanbali

The Hanbali school was founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal. It is followed by Muslims in Qatar, most of Saudi Arabia and minority communities in Syria and Iraq. The majority of the Salafist movement claims to follow this school.

Ẓāhirī

The Ẓāhirī school was founded by Dawud al-Zahiri. It is followed by minority communities in Morocco and Pakistan. In the past, it was also followed by the majority of Muslims in Mesopotamia, Portugal, the Balearic Islands, North Africa and parts of Spain.

Ex-Muslim author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for reform of Islam as we know it

About Islam Religion feature

Death threats … author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says Islam is ‘unique in its atrocity’.

THERE was a time when author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali believed it all.

She believed that, according to Islam, the infidel should die, that the Koran is infallible, that those who violated sharia law — thieves, gays, adulterers — deserved to be stoned to death or beheaded, as they were each Friday in a public gathering place she and her brother called “Chop-Chop Square.”

Today, she is that rare thing: a public intellectual who, despite death threats and charges of bigotry, calls for an end to Islam — not just as the faithful know it, but as we in the West think we know it.

‘Snapped out of it’ … author Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s suggested amendments to Islam are shocking to the faithful. Picture: Amos Aikman Source: News Corp Australia

“The assumption is that, in Islam, there are a few rotten apples, not the entire basket,” Ali tells The New York Post. “I’m saying it’s the entire basket.”

In her book, Heretic, Ali argues for a complete reformation of Islam, akin to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Though her own education led her to reject Islam and declare herself an atheist, she believes that for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, there must be another way.

“If you are a child brought up to believe that Islam is a source of morality” — as she was, in Africa and Saudi Arabia — “the Muslim framework presents you with the Koran and the hijab. I don’t want to be cruel and say, ‘You grow up and you snap out of it.’ But maybe we who have snapped out of it have not done our best to appeal to those still in it,” she says.

A ‘Useless’ Label

In Heretic, Ali says there are three kinds of Muslims. There are the violent, the reformers, and what she believes is the largest group — those who want to practice as they see fit and live peaceably but do not challenge the Koran, the Muslim world’s treatment of women and the LGBT community, or terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam.

Yet she refuses to label this group as moderate. She believes they have done nothing to deserve it. “I’ve never believed in the word,” Ali says. “It’s totally useless. I think we’re in a time now where we demand answers from Muslims and say, ‘Whose side are you on?’ ”

Rejecting Islam … Ali’s ‘Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now’. Picture: AP Photo / Harper Collins Source: AP Raised Muslim … Ayaan Hirsi Ali used to believe the Koran was infallible. Source: News Limited

Ali argues for five amendments to the faith. “Only when these five things are recognised as inherently harmful and when they are repudiated and nullified,” she writes, “will a true Muslim reformation have been achieved.”

Those five notions are:

The infallibility of the Prophet Mohammed and the literal interpretation of the Koran

The idea that life after death is more important than life on earth

Sharia law

Allowing any Muslim to enforce ideas of right and wrong on another

Jihad, or holy war

Rejecting these ideas, some of which date to the seventh century, is a shocking proposition to the faithful.

“The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world,” Ali writes, “is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here.”

Dissent and Die

Ali has first-hand experience. In November 2004, after collaborating with the Dutch artist Theo van Gogh on the documentary Submission — which criticised the Muslim world’s abuse of women — van Gogh was shot to death by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The assassin attempted to decapitate him and stabbed him in the chest, leaving a note affixed by the knife. It was a death threat against Ali.

She was forced into seclusion and given a 24-hour security detail. Today, she lives with her husband and young son in the United States yet remains a target.

“In no other modern religion,” Ali writes, “is dissent still a crime, punishable by death.”

She knows the greatest criticism she faces is that she is Islamophobic, that she is accusing all Muslims of adhering to jihad, to abuse, to the establishment of a caliphate.

In the book, Ali cites a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center on Muslims’ beliefs. It found that in Pakistan, 75 per cent think those who leave Islam should be put to death. In Bangladesh, 43 per cent thought so. In Iraq, 41 per cent.

Those who believe sharia is the infallible word of God: 81 per cent in Pakistan, 65 per cent in Bangladesh and 69 per cent in Iraq.

She also cites a 2007 Pew study that found that among 18- to 29-year-old American Muslims, seven per cent had favourable opinions of al Qaeda, and they were twice as likely as older Muslims to believe suicide bombings in the name of their religion were warranted.

War of Ideology

This is where Ali thinks the US administration under president Barack Obama has failed.

“He has acknowledged Islamophobia, which is the worst thing you can do for Muslims who are trying to turn things around,” she says. Whether it’s ISIS or al Qaeda or the Taliban or so-called lone wolves — such as the Boston Marathon bombers or the Charlie Hebdo attackers or the suicide bomber who blew up 15 Christians in Pakistan last week or the ISIS suicide bombing that left 137 fellow Muslims dead — when these people say they are killing in the name of true Islam, Ali says, believe them.

Delicate balance … Ayaan Hirsi Ali says US president Barack Obama’s acknowledgment of Islamophobia is a mistake. Picture: AP Photo/Susan Walsh Source:AP

She accepts that Mr Obama’s administration is attempting a delicate balance — that to declare war on Islam is exactly what these fighters want — but says more can be done.

“Obama is saying, ‘Listen, Muslims, I’m on your side. I respect your beliefs, and I’d like you to help me fight these attacks committed in the name of your religion,’ ” Ali says. “He’s delivering, and they’re not.”

Western Europe, she says, is turning away from the threat of self-segregating Islamic immigrants at its grave peril. A 2009 study by the think tank Citivas found 85 operational sharia courts in Great Britain alone.

“I think with the Arab world, the West thinks we’re fighting an inferior enemy,” Ali says. “Look at the language we use: It’s jihad, it’s insurgency, it’s asymmetric.” Ali thinks the West, and the US especially, should look to the lessons of the Cold War and recognise we are waging a battle of ideas — that in 17 Muslim majority nations, the state religion is Islam.

“We did not say the Soviet system was morally equivalent to ours; nor did we proclaim that Soviet communism was an ideology of peace,” Ali writes. “In much the same way, we need to recognise that this is an ideological conflict that will not be won until the concept of jihad itself has been decommissioned.”

The ‘Mother Lode’

The greatest obstacle to an Islamic reformation is the diffuse nature of the religion itself. Unlike Catholicism, there is no leader, no papal equivalent to endorse or denounce jihad. In fact, there is no hierarchy of any kind, and any man who wishes can declare himself an imam.

Meanwhile, groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban are successful precisely because they have top-down leadership, codified warfare and an explicit, simple goal. “These groups are adapting to modern technology, to modern innovations in organisation and management,” Ali says. “They know that without a hierarchy, human beings understand nothing.”

She is gratified by the stance taken by Sam Harris, a prominent American neuroscientist and author of The End of Faith.

“Sam realises that among religions, Islam is unique in its atrocity, that everything we said about [violence in] Christianity and Judaism was hundreds of years ago. He calls Islam ‘the mother lode of bad ideas,’ which is extremely brave,” she says.

With Heretic, Ali is calling on those Muslims who reject jihad, acts of terror, and the subjugation of women and infidels to organise, to challenge, to speak out loudly and often against violence committed in the name of Allah — and she is calling on the West, to actively demand it.

“This is a transformation of the West as we know it,” she says. “We’re at the beginning, and what we do right now is going to be consequential.”

This story first ran in the New York Post.

Transformation … Ali is calling on those Muslims who reject jihad, acts of terror, and the subjugation of women and infidels to speak out. Source: Supplied

March 23, 2015  | Maureen Callahan | New York Post | Source: news.com.au "Ex-Muslim author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for reform of Islam as we know it"

Why Americanized Muslim Reformers Are Failing | The Counter Jihad Report

About Islam Religion feature

Frontpage, by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby, Nov. 12, 2015:

For many years we in the United States have regularly heard from a small number of Muslim American “reformers” who aspire to change Islam in ways that will make it more “modern” and compatible with American values such as freedom of speech and religion, and the equality of all people. 

According to these reformers, such change would rescue Islam from the “perverted” and “radical” interpretations of the jihadists, and return it to the way the reformers claim Muhammad originally taught it: as a religion that commanded peace and tolerance toward all, and promoted the rights of women.

These aspiring reformers seem to be generally Muslim males who were either born in the United States, or have spent a significant portion of their life in the United States.  They have used the freedoms in the United States to explore Islam and to strike out on their own in providing an interpretation of that religion that conforms largely to American values. 

These personal interpretations commonly focus on Islam as a religion of peace that has been perverted by a few radical jihadists, and the aspiring reformers present Islam as such to non-Muslim audiences.  I use the term “Americanized Muslim reformer” as a general reference to these aspiring Muslim reformers.

But what most non-Muslims don’t realize is that Islam prohibits exactly what these Americanized Muslim reformers are trying to do.  Let’s look in the Koran, the holy book of Islam considered by Muslims to consist of the timeless, perfect, unchangeable words of their god Allah.

Islam was Perfected during the Time of Muhammad

Allah states in 5:3 of the Koran that the religion of Islam was perfected and finalized during the time of Muhammad:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion[.]

In 15:9 Allah states that the Koran cannot be changed.  According to Muslim scholars, 2:85 of the Koran prohibits picking and choosing among its verses (e.g., Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 1, p. 88).

And to reiterate this, the prophet Muhammad said the penalty for denying a verse of the Koran was death:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever denies a Verse of the Qur’an, it is permissible to strike his neck (i.e. execute him)[.]”

Sunan Ibn Majah, No. 2539

And Muhammad talked about being in Paradise to greet the Muslims who died after him, and seeing some of those Muslims taken away because of changes they had made to Islam after he died:

“There will come to me some people whom I know and they know me, and then a barrier will be set up between me and them.”  Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri added that the Prophet further said, “I will say those people are from me (i.e. they are my followers).  It will be said, ‘You do not know what new changes and new things (heresies) they did after you.’  Then I will say, ‘Far removed (from mercy), far removed (from mercy), those who changed, did new things in (the religion) after me!’”

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Nos. 7050-7051

And once an issue has been decided in the Koran and/or in the teachings of Muhammad, it is blasphemy for a Muslim to disagree with that decision.  This is plainly stated in the Koran, e.g:

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger, have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.  And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.   (33:36)

Their god and their prophet say that Islam cannot be changed after the time of Muhammad, so what are the Americanized Muslim reformers to do?  Below are some of the major approaches I have found taken among these reformers.  These approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and the use of more than one of these approaches, or variations thereof, is not uncommon.

The Koran Only

There are Muslims known as “Koranists.”  They believe that the only source of Islamic Doctrine is what is found in the Koran.  The Koranists reject the Sunnah (the teachings and example of Muhammad).

But the Koran itself specifically rejects the premise of the Koranists.  These are some of the Koran verses that stress the importance of the Sunnah of Muhammad:

• He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), has indeed obeyed Allah[.] (4:80)

• And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination! (4:115)

• Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. (33:21)

• And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).  And fear Allah; verily, Allah is Severe in punishment. (59:7)

In the Koran Allah specifically commands Muslims to obey and follow the teachings and example of Muhammad.  So where does a Muslim find such teachings and example, including in matters such as how to pray, actions to be taken during the Hajj, or ablution?  They are not in the Koran, they are in the Sunnah.

The Koranists not only ignore the words of Allah, but they ignore the words of their prophet Muhammad:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I have left two things with you.  As long as you hold fast to them, you will not go astray.  They are the Book of Allah and the sunna [sic] of His Prophet.

Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas, 46.3

So in defiance of the commands and teachings of their god and prophet, the Koranist Muslims ignore the Sunnah.

Personal Interpretations of Salad Bar Islam

This approach is probably the one most used among the aspiring Americanized Muslim reformers and was the genesis for my first article about Fantasy Islam.  With this approach, changing Islamic Doctrine runs the gamut from a few tweaks here and there, to Islam being simply whatever the individual Muslim wants it to be.  The common denominator is that the changes are based on the personal opinion of the aspiring reformer.

With this approach, hadith collections that have been considered authoritative since the 9th Century are questioned, with certain hadiths among them actually being deemed false, solely on the basis of the individual Muslim’s opinion.

Verses of the Koran that are specific can be deemed allegorical, the eternal words of Allah can be judged applicable only to a specific time period, and verses of the Koran can be completely dismissed, solely on the basis of the individual Muslim’s opinion.

With this approach, the Doctrine of Abrogation, based on 2:106 of the Koran, is frequently dismissed. This Doctrine is fundamental to understanding Islam, and it states that if there is a conflict between the messages of two “revelations” in the Koran, then the most recent “revelation” is the one to be followed. 

Consequently, a “revelation” made in Medina would supersede a similar, earlier “revelation” made in Mecca if there was a conflict between the messages of the two. 

The significance is that the “revelations” in Mecca tended to be more peaceful and accommodating toward non-Muslims than the verses later “revealed” in Medina. 

The verses from Medina are generally more belligerent and intolerant, and more inclined to make sharp differentiations between Muslims and non-Muslims. 

By ignoring the Doctrine of Abrogation, the aspiring Muslim reformer can concentrate on the Meccan verses, which, however, while more appealing to non-Muslim ears, simply don’t carry the weight of Islamic Doctrine anymore.

This approach also dismisses centuries of accepted Muslim scholarship in the form of authoritative Koran commentaries (tafsirs), such as the Tafsir Al-Qurturbi, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, andTafsir Al-Jalalayn.
This approach also dismisses such 20th Century tafsirs as Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan and Tafsir As-Sa’di.  Dismissing authoritative tafsirs allows the aspiring reformer to then rely on new, personal interpretations of the meaning of verses in the Koran, even though such interpretations might directly conflict with the writings in authoritative tafsirs over the centuries.  These new interpretations are based solely on the individual Muslim’s opinion.

These aspiring reformers apparently ignore the fact that Muhammad had his own opinions about Muslims following this approach:

Muhammad bin Jarir reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Prophet said, ‘Whoever explains the Qur’an with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him assume his seat in the Fire.’ 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, pp. 32-33

Muhammad said: The most truthful speech is Allah’s Speech, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.  The worst matters are the newly invented (in religion), every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a heresy, and every heresy is in the Fire.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, p. 588

Inaccurate Historical Information

It is not unusual to find Americanized Muslim reformers presenting historical information that is simply inaccurate. Here are three common examples:

The peaceful conquest of Mecca:  You will hear that when Muhammad led an army of 10,000 Muslim warriors against Mecca in 630 AD, the Meccans surrendered peacefully and there was no bloodshed. 

You might even hear that Muhammad specifically prohibited the killing of any individuals.  In reality, there was some resistance by the Meccans that resulted in the battle deaths of 2-3 Muslims and 12-13 Meccans. 

And before entering Mecca, Muhammad had ordered the killing of nine specific individuals, including four women.  Some of these individuals were subsequently captured and killed, while others saved themselves by converting to Islam before they could be killed. 

As Muhammad explained it:

If anyone should say, The apostle killed men in Mecca, say God permitted His apostle to do so but He does not permit you.

The Life of Muhammad, p. 555

The Verse of the Sword is a pejorative term created by non-Muslims:  You might hear Muslims claim that non-Muslims created the term “Verse of the Sword” to disparage 9:5 of the Koran.  Here is the first part of that verse:

Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun [non-Muslims] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush[.]

In reality, Muslim scholars have referred to this verse as the “Verse of the Sword” for centuries (e.g.Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, pp. 375 and 377).

The Verse of the Sword was revealed before it was revealed:  You might hear Muslims claim that 9:5 was among the verses “revealed” during the early period of Islam, when aggressive threats by militarily strong non-Muslims were being made against the young, weak Muslim community. 

You might also hear the claim that this verse was applicable only to a particular time period and/or circumstance in the past (e.g., Zuhdi Jasser claimed it was “revealed” in and applicable only to 623 AD).

In reality, 9:5 was among the verses “revealed” in late 630 AD and early 631 AD.  By this time Muhammad had already conquered Mecca, and the remaining non-Muslim tribes on the Arabian Peninsula, confronted by the burgeoning Muslim armies, were flocking to Medina to convert to Islam. 

And these verses were not related to a specific battle or to a specific tribe, but rather were directed toward all non-Muslims (Life of Muhammad, pp. 617-619; The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, pp. 77-79; and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, pp. 370-376).

And there is no basis in Islamic Doctrine for the claim that 9:5 has no relevance today.  Such a claim ignores the facts that Muslims believe the Koran consists of the eternal words of Allah, and Chapter 9 of the Koran was the last chapter to be “revealed” to Muhammad. 

Consequently, the commands found in Chapter 9 were Allah’s final, timeless instructions to the Muslims on how to deal with non-Muslims.

Their Audience Appears to be Mainly Non-Muslims

Americanized Muslim reformers appear on non-Muslim media and in front of non-Muslim organizations on a frequent basis, and almost always after a major jihadist attack.

But what I have yet to hear about is the number of mosques and Muslim organizations that allow these aspiring reformers to come in and advocate for their personal version of Islam. 

The Muslim reformers are vocal about their appearances on non-Muslim media and in front of non-Muslim organizations, but when it comes to any occurrence of similar appearances in mosques and in front of Muslim organizations, there seems to be silence.

Based on my research into the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska, I think these Americanized Muslim reformers are silent because they seldom, if ever, are allowed to present their personal version of Islam in a mosque or in front of a Muslim organization. 

The Tri-Faith Initiative is an experiment in interfaith dialogue and coexistence between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.  However, in a series of articles I have shown that Islamic doctrine prohibits such a venture and actually maligns, and preaches violence against, Jews and Christians (here, here,here, and here). 

And I have also shown that most of the money for this initiative comes from non-Muslim organizations and a few aspiring Muslim reformers, with apparently no support for the initiative from mosques and Muslim organizations in Nebraska (here and here).

When I have corresponded with Tri-Faith partners and proponents, and Nebraska mosques and Muslim organizations, about what Islamic Doctrine teaches and the lack of support for the Tri-Faith from the greater Muslim community in Nebraska, there has been only silence from the Muslims and character attacks on me from the non-Muslims.

Conclusion

Here are reasons why Americanized Muslim reformers are failing:

1.0 They create their own versions of Islam, relying on their own personal opinions and interpretations, and arbitrarily dismissing parts of Islamic history and centuries of established Muslim scholarship.

2.0 They claim to follow the Koran, but actually go against verses of the Koran by arbitrarily dismissing one of the two columns upon which Islam rests: the Sunnah of Muhammad.

3.0 They go against the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad by picking and choosing, and actually dismissing verses in the Koran.

4.0 They personally decide which hadiths are authentic, again arbitrarily dismissing centuries of established Muslim scholarship.

5.0 As a result, their beliefs are heretical.  And as Muhammad said above, every heresy sends one to the Fires of Hell.

6.0 Because these reformers are heretics, they have little, if any support for their reforms from the greater Muslim community in the United States.

7.0 Consequently, the reformers have to appeal to non-Muslims to help them reform Islam.  This would be as if Martin Luther had relied on Muslims for his main support during the Reformation.

8.0 So what are the chances of success for an Americanized Muslim heretic and his non-Muslim followers to change Islam from that which was taught by Muhammad to that which is advocated by the heretic?  Zero.

Does it really matter that Americanized Muslim reformers are going around trying to create personalized, “modern” versions of Islam? 

Yes, because they are relying on non-Muslims for support.  And to get that support, the reformers are presenting “the true” Islam as a religion of peace, similar to Christianity and Judaism, and able to be modified and modernized.  And the reformers are presenting the jihadists as outliers who have perverted and hijacked that religion. 

But the reality is that the Muslim reformers are perverting and hijacking the religion, and it is the jihadists who are following the Islam taught by Muhammad.

How one understands a religion, whether correctly or incorrectly, is a major factor in how one welcomes it adherents. In terms of the mass migration of Muslim “refugees” into Europe, the European leadership and many Europeans in general appear to think that Islam is as the aspiring reformers have presented it. 

So the Muslim “refugees” have been generally welcomed with open arms.  But would there have been such a welcome if the realization had been more wide spread that the reformers are heretics with little support in the greater Muslim community?

There is support in the United States for the Obama administration’s call to bring in tens of thousands of these Muslim “refugees.” 

But before allowing this to happen, we must ask the question that the Europeans should have asked, but for whom now it is too late to ask: Will these Muslim “refugees” follow the Islam of our Americanized Muslim heretics or will these “refugees” follow the centuries-old intolerant, supremacist, violent teachings of their god Allah and their prophet Muhammad?  The fate of Western culture lies in the answer.

Just as it is obligatory to accept the commandments proven by the textual evidence from the Qur’an, and that it is utter disbelief to reject them, so are the commandments proven by the hadeeths of the Messenger of Allah.  It is obligatory to act by them, and it is sheer disbelief to deny them.

Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 1, pp. 622-623

Nov. 12, 2015 | Frontpage, by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby| Source: counterjihadreport.com "Why Americanized Muslim Reformers Are Failing | The Counter Jihad Report"

You Can’t Reform Islam Without Reforming Muslims

About Islam Religion feature

Islam hasn’t changed because Muslims don’t want it to

Every few years the debate over reforming Islam bubbles up from the depths of a culture that largely censors any suggestion that Islam needs reforming.

But Islam does not exist apart from Muslims. It is not an abstract entity that can be changed without changing its followers. And if Islam has not changed, that is because Muslims do not want it to.

Mohammed and key figures in Islam provided a template, but that template would not endure if it did not fit the worldview of its worshipers. Western religions underwent a process of secularization to align with what many saw as modernity leading to a split between traditionalists and secularists.

The proponents of modernizing Islam assume that it didn’t make the jump because of Saudi money, fundamentalist violence and regional backwardness. These allegations are true, but also incomplete.

If modernizing Islam really appealed to Muslims, it would have taken off, at least in the West, despite Saudi money and Muslim Brotherhood front groups. These elements might have slowed things down, but a political or religious idea that is genuinely compelling is like a rock rolling down a hill.

It’s enormously difficult to stop.

Muslim modernization in the West has been covertly undermined by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, but for the most part it has not been violently suppressed.

It suffers above all else from a lack of Muslim interest.

Muslims don’t spend much time fuming over a progressive mosque that allows gay members or lets women lead prayers. Such places occasionally exist and remain obscure. They don’t have to be forcibly shut down because they never actually take off. The occasional death threat and arson might take place and the average ISIS recruit would happily slaughter everyone inside, but even he has bigger fish to fry.

The best evidence that Muslim modernization has failed is that even the angriest Muslims don’t take it very seriously as a threat. The sorts of people who believe that Saddam Hussein was a CIA agent or that Israel is using eagles as spies have trouble believing modernizing Islam will ever be much of a problem.

They know instinctively that it will never work. Instead Muslims are far more threatened by a cartoon mocking their prophet for reasons that go to the heart of what is wrong with their religion.

ISLAM IS NOT AN IDEA. IT IS A TRIBE.

Talking about reforming the words of Islam is an abstraction. Islam did not begin with a book. It began with clan and sword. Even in the modern skyscraper cities of the West, it remains a religion of the clan and the sword.

The left has misread Islamic terrorism as a response to oppression when it is actually a power base. It is not the poor and downtrodden who are most attracted to the Jihad. Instead it is the upper classes. Bin Laden wasn’t a pauper and neither are the Saudis or Qataris. Islamic terrorism isn’t a game for the poor. It becomes the thing to do when you’re rich enough to envy the neighbors. It’s a tribal war.

To reform Islam, we can’t just look at what is wrong with the Koran or the Hadiths. We have to ask why these tribal calls for violence and genocide, for oppression and enslavement, appealed to Muslims then and why they continue to appeal to Muslims today.

The modernizers assume that Western Muslims would welcome a reformation of Islam. They are half right. The reformation that they are welcoming is that of the Wahhabis trying to return it to what it was. It’s hard to deny that ISIS touches something deep within Muslims. The gay-friendly mosques don’t.

Understanding Islam only in terms of the Koran makes it seem as if Muslims are unwillingly trapped by a tyranny of the text, when the text is actually their means of trapping others into affirming their identity.

There is no reforming Islam without reforming Muslims. The reformers assume that most Muslims are ignorant of their own beliefs, but even the most illiterate Muslim in a village without running water has a good grasp of the big overall ideas. He may hardly be able to quote a Koranic verse without stumbling over it, he may have added local customs into the mix, but he identifies with it on a visceral level.

Its honor is his honor. Its future is the future of his family. Its members are his kinfolk. Like him, it ought to have been on top; instead it’s on the bottom. Its grievances are his grievances.

THE REST IS JUST DETAILS.

The progressive diverse mosque is the opposite of this tribal mentality. It is the opposite of Islam. Its destruction of the tribe is also the destruction of the individual. The Western Muslim who already has only a shaky connection to the culture of his ancestral country is not about to trade Islamic tribalism for anonymous diversity. Islam tells him he is superior. The progressive mosque tells him nothing.

Whether he is a Bangladeshi peasant watching soccer matches on the village television or a Bangladeshi doctor in London, it is the violent, racist and misogynistic parts of Islam that provide him with a sense of worth in a big confusing world.

THAT IS HOW ISLAM WAS BORN.

Islam began in uncertain times as empires were tottering and the old ways were being displaced by strange religions such as Judaism and Christianity, when its originators mashed bits of them together and then founded their own crazy wobbly murderous empire built around a badly plagiarized religion.

It was horrible and terrible for everyone who wasn’t a Muslim man, but it worked.

Islam is less of a faith and more of a set of honor and shame responses. It’s a cycle of oppression and victimhood. It’s the assertion of identity by people who see themselves as inferior and are determined to push back by making themselves superior. The responses are familiar. We saw it in Nazi Germany as the defeated nation became a master race by killing and enslaving everyone else.

But it’s not those at the bottom most driven by such dreams. It’s the desert billionaires who have money, but no culture. It’s the Western Muslim doctor who still feels inferior despite his wealth. It’s a merchant named Mohammed with a lot of grudges who claims an angel told him to kill all his enemies in Allah’s name.

IT’S ISLAM. AND IT’S MUSLIMS.

The things that we believe, bad or good, reflect the bad or good inside us. When Muslims support killing people, it’s simplistic to assume that they are robotically following a text and will follow any other text slipped in front of their faces, instead of their passions and values. Religions may make people kill, but it starts when people make religions kill.

The good devout Muslim may kill because the Koran tells him to, but he would not do so if the Koran’s justifications of violence did not speak to him on a deeper level. The Nazis were following orders, but they wouldn’t have followed them if Nazism didn’t connect with their fears, hopes and dreams.

The text is only half the problem. The other half is in the human heart.

Reforming Islam is not a matter of crossing out certain words and adding others. Religions carry a powerful set of values that appeal to people on a deep level. To change Islam, we would have to understand why its ugliness still speaks to Muslims. To change it, we have to change them.

When we talk about reforming Islam, what we are really talking about is reforming Muslims.

October 20, 2014 | Daniel Greenfield | Source: frontpagemag.com "You Can’t Reform Islam Without Reforming Muslims"

The Five Pillars of Islam | Core Beliefs | Shape Muslim Thought, Deed, and Society

About Islam Religion feature

The Five Pillars of Islam are core beliefs that shape Muslim thought, deed, and society. A Muslim who fulfills the Five Pillars of Islam, remains in the faith of Islam, and sincerely repents of his sins will make it to Jannah (paradise).

If he performs the Five Pillars but does not remain in the faith, he will not be saved.

1.0 SHAHADA
i. The Shahada is the Islamic proclamation that “There is no true God except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

ii. This is the confession that Allah is the one and only true God, Allah alone is worthy of worship, and that Allah alone is the sovereign lord who does what he wills with whomever he wills.

It means that all his rules and laws found in the Koran are to be followed.

It means that the Christian doctrine of God as a Trinity is false–as are all other belief systems, including pantheism.

iii. Muhammad is the true and greatest prophet of Allah, and recognition of Muhammad as the Prophet of God is required.

It was through Muhammad that Allah conveyed the last and final revelation.

2.0 PRAYER (SALAT)

i. Prayer involves confession of sins, which begins with the purification of the body and ends with the purification of the soul. Prayer is performed five times a day.

The first prayer is at dawn and the last at sunset.

ii. The names of the prayers are Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha.

The Maghrib prayer is the sunset prayer.

Isha is the prayer that is said after sunset.

There is also a prayer that is said right after Fajr known as Shurooq.

3.0 FASTING (SAUM)

i. The month of Ramadan is the month of fasting in Islam.

It is an act of worship where the faithful follower denies his own needs and seeks Allah.

Usually, this fasting entails no drinking, eating, or sexual relations during the daylight hours for the entire month of Ramadan.

4.0 ALMS-GIVING or CHARITY (ZAKAT)

i. This is about charity given to the poor.

It benefits the poor and helps the giver by moving him towards more holiness and submission to Allah.

Alms-giving is considered a form of worship to God.

5.0 PILGRIMAGE (Hajj)

i. This is the pilgrimage to Mecca.

All Muslims, if they are able, are to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

It involves financial sacrifice and is an act of worship.

Muslims must make the pilgrimage the first half of the last month of the lunar year.

by Matt Slick | Source: carm.org "The Five Pillars of Islam|Core Beliefs|Shape Muslim Thought, Deed, and Society

The Impossibility of Reforming Islam

About Islam Religion feature

My agnostic, ex-Muslim friend Mohamed and I came to the end of our rope as we both engaged Muslims in debates, dialogues, whatever you call it, and it seemed to lead nowhere.

Mohamed suggested that we needed to cease pointing out to Muslims all about the faults of Islam and seek a different approach. The “new” approach he suggested was to reform Islam.

At first, I thought he was joking, thinking, which Muslim in his right mind would still give me his attention if I took the whole of his religion apart into pieces and then put it back together for him and say, “Here it is! Your religion, that is! It needed some fixing and we repaired it all for you!” And yet this is exactly what modern Muslims themselves are attempting to do!

With the escalating news of Islamic terrorism rampant all over the news media, Arab intelligentsia have expressed anxiety as well disenchantment with Islam as is in its current Orthodox form.

A reformed Muslim feels the weight of embarrassment laid on him by the Islam of the Quran and so demands that Islam be re-imaged into modernity.

A command of Mohammad to “kill the infidels” is rendered as “kill them” insofar as they attack you; “beat your wife” is also going to be rendered as “beat her on her buttocks with a feather”, and so on.

They are desperate to save Islam from the quagmire it has eventually declined into in the 21st century.

Such Islam, as is, does present problems for humans who want to be in keeping with the civilized world in which all human beings are ontologically equal.

Being a human being is qualification enough to be a citizen, not necessarily what their personal beliefs, color or creed are.

Arab intellectuals nowadays are faced with a dilemma: they acknowledge Islam as an integral religious component of the Muslim identity, and yet this very component is the bane of the Muslim individual, as if one is talking about cells that are self-destructive of themselves over a certain period of time.

As a result, “modernist” Muslims are astonishingly willing to incorporate all the progress and ideals of Western civilization into their Islam.

Book markets and Arab TV have Mohamed Arkoun, Mohamed Abed Al-Jabiri, Fatima Marnissi, Mohamed Shahrour and a few others who are proponents of الإسلام الحداثي “modernist Islam” which they hope will take them past the impasse created by الإسلام التقليدي i.e. “traditional Islam”.

Traditional Islam appeals for the majority of Muslims, the common everyday people, while “modernist Islam” is so sophisticated that it appeals to the select few of Arab intelligentsia in the academic world.

It is their fine brains which have creatively given birth to it. Reformed Islam holds a rag in hand in order to do some patch up work for traditional Islam.

Yet, traditional Islam, founded as it is on the original sources of the Quran and the traditions of Mohammad, is insulted that somebody would dare to approach it with such a “rag” of reform.

If the Quran explicitly says to beat the wife in the case of her disobedience (nushūz), Dr Shahrour would say that this beating is just symbolic and it means something totally different.

My Isamili friends who believe in the sinlessness of prophets would not accept the fact that Moses, indeed, killed the Egyptian, but “killing” here has its own esoteric interpretation تفسير باطني .

If Mohamed Arkoun is such a modernist of a Muslim thinker, why did his Islamic zeal heat up when he heard of Salman Rushdie’s blasphemous novel “Satanic Verses”, so much so that he asked that the blasphemer Rushdie be killed?

No doubt, Islamic history seems to record, as long as he is loyal to Islam, those Islamic sentiments will come up in time and the spirit of Islam will kick in and take over the Muslim’s emotions, showing itself full scale.

Soon, Islamic modernism would be supplanted by the passionate spirit of Jihad and the vengeance of an angry Allah.

This modernism of Islam won’t last for too long, and sooner or later we are faced with the actual intolerant heart of the Islamic religion.

Islam is obviously bound by the rigidity of the doctrine of tanzīl, i.e. mechanically dictated Quranic revelation descending verbatim from Allah.

The instrumentality of man might have a place for considerations of reform, but even in the revelation of the Quran itself man is utterly passive and resigned to what had been written from the beginning in the Preserved Tablet اللوح المحفوظ.

Human agency is not acknowledged, and so man is seen as passively involved in the process of Quranic revelation. To a Muslim, there is no way he would ever think of his Quran along the lines of “the Sabbath was made for man”. It is the other way around; man is a slave of Allah and, therefore, a slave to the rigid text of the Quran.

A Muslim wants to be “modern” and at the same time his religion tells him that a woman is half a man in inheritance, court witnessing, etc.

His religion also tells him throughout the Quran to cut of the hand of a person who steals, administer a hundred lashes with a whip mercilessly to both the single woman and the single man who have sexual intercourse, and stone them to death if they are married.

Should a Muslim obey his Quran or should he be a “modernist” and try to be a progressive?

In Arabic media, over the Internet, TV, books, and so on a Muslim is pleased to introduce himself as “مسلم حداثي”Muslim hadāthī, i.e. modern progressive Muslim.

Let us give it a try and confront his alleged modernism with the Islamic Law i.e. Shari’ah. How long will this modernism last?

How can he reform the Quran code of Islamic law without going against his own religion? Will reformed Islam, even along economic, social and ethical lines be actually Islam any longer?

If Reformed Islam would put all institutions on equal footing, then it is not Islam any longer but secularism as we know it in America and Europe where the main principle is separation of Church and State.

The Islamic law of apostasy is abrogated socially in Egypt, but when they are confronted with an actual case of conversion from Islam to Christianity, Baha’ism or whatever religion other than Islam, then the fervor of Islamic zeal boils up in their blood and they begin to demand that the apostate, murtad, be killed.

They can’t stand the idea of somebody choosing something else over Islam.

The Islamic Law, shari’ah, is fundamentally based on the authoritative text of the Quran and confirmed by the Traditions of Mohammad. Islam is not some mystical form of New-Age spirituality, another type of spirituality existing in our world, but it is originally a political, state religion.

The Quran intended for Islam to be nothing less than an ideology. Muhammad’s military tactics in Medina finally culminated in Allah’s victory نصر الله والفتح and he conquered Mecca and the people of Arabia had no choice but to “submit” to Muhammad, the conqueror of Mecca.

What about the treatment of non-Muslims under the Islamic Law?

If a Muslim truly obeys the plain text of the Quran to go ahead and fight against the Jews and Christians till they pay tax tribute (Repentance 9:29) or see that Jews will always be the worst in enmity to Muslims, who is to blame here?

According to the Islamic Law, “An infidel who has to pay his poll-tax, jizya, should be treated by the tax collector with disdain; the collector remaining seated and the infidel standing before him, the head bent and the body bowed.

The infidel should personally place the money in the balance, while the collector holds him by the beard and strikes him on both cheeks.”1)Nawawi;  E C Howard;  Lodewijk Willem Christiaan van den Berg, Minhaj et talibin : a manual of Muhammadan law ; according to the school of Shafi (Lahore : Law Pub. Co., 1977, 1914), 467.

I once said to a Saudi Salafi that I was bothered that Ibn Taymiyya said that the blasphemer cursing the Prophet should be killed.

Because I abandoned Islam and have my views on it, I, too am a blasphemer whose blood should be shed. This is now a Salafi Muslim that I found to be cheerful, genial-spirited and I was happy to get calls occasionally from him in Qassim, Saudi Arabia where he is currently teaching as a professor of Islamic theology.

With such innocence he passively yielded to his Prophet, replying to me, “But such a person goes straight to Paradise after he is killed because he gets purged!”

This is Islam, the religion of death, at its best: take people’s lives, deprive them of the God-given life, shed their blood under the pretext of purging them of sin, and after all that say, “oh, but they are going to Paradise!”

Modernism is genuine if it is seeking human dignity as its primary goal, when we fully realize that the Sabbath was made for man, not vice versa.

As a Muslim, I was willing to swallow a lot of what Mohammad did, such as his too many wives and concubines, etc.

But when I read that verse of Jizya in surat Repentance 29 that commands Muslims to humiliate Christians in whatever way possible for not submitting to Islam, I said to myself, “This cannot be a prophet from God; this is not seeking the wellbeing of humankind.

A true God who made all people would never allow a human being to violate the dignity of another person in the name of God.

When it comes to the violation of human dignity in the name of the Creator I can’t help but say, “No way! This religion can’t be sent by God in order to save humanity”.”

In Christianity, the aim of God is man himself/ herself, as the goal of man remains always God هدف الله هو الإنسان كما أن الله هو هدف الإنسان.

God is seeking man and has made everything for man, and for his/ her sake He takes the initiative of love. Man reciprocates that and realizes that his true Paradise is to make God the goal of his/ her life as well.

It stands to reason that when a Muslim adopts the three principles of the French Revolution, currently the motto of France, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, i.e. “Liberty, equality, fraternity (brotherhood)”, he is plainly indicting the teaching of his own Prophet as well as the heritage of Islam over fourteen gloomy centuries.

In essence, he is announcing the bankruptcy of Islam to which he is still holding dearly and claiming it as his identity.

Under Islam which we meet in the character of Mohammed as well as the oppressive text of the Quran, there is no such thing as liberty or equality, much less brotherhood when humans are classified into Muslims and infidels/ kuffārكـُفار .

Liberty means respect for the individual as an individual and that he/ she is entitled to full human dignity in his or her autonomous sovereignty regardless of what they do in their personal lives.

Fraternity, based on the Quran, is only extended to fellow-Muslims while non-Muslim are given contempt, thus pressuring them to give in to the alleged “guidance” of Islam.

The Muslim is thus caught forever in the past by Islam while his thoughts, education and heart long for the progression of the modern world. How can he drag the policies of the sixth century into the light of today?

By Timothy Abraham | Source: answering-islam.org "The Impossibility of Reforming Islam"

References   [ + ]

1. Nawawi;  E C Howard;  Lodewijk Willem Christiaan van den Berg, Minhaj et talibin : a manual of Muhammadan law ; according to the school of Shafi (Lahore : Law Pub. Co., 1977, 1914), 467.