Search for “Modernity” by itself is a commendable desire and a natural urge of humankind. If this urge wasn’t there, man would not have reached from stone-age to atomic era, couldn’t have gained access to aeroplanes and spacecrafts from camels and bullock carts, nor would have progressed to electric bulbs and search lights from wax candles and earthen lamps. All these material advancements and scientific achievements, which have put nooses on the planets and conducted their buckets to bottom of sea, are in fact an importunate effect of man’s inherent trait that he’s a “modernist” an avaricious of “better to best” achievements.
Hence Islam, being a natural religion, is not opposed to modernism as far as it implies to be modern in the simple sense of the word. Very often it has been appreciated and given encouragement. We can find so many examples in the Prophet’s ﷺlife where he urged Muslims to use modern technology of that time like Salman Farsi’s new technique was adopted in the battle of Ahz’aab, on the advice of Salman Farsi new weapons were used in the battle of Taif, Ibn kathir and tabqat ibn saad has mentioned that some sahabas were sent to Syria to learn the techniques of manufacturing of new weapons.
Not only in warfare materials, prophet ﷺ also advised people to adopt modern concepts and techniques in trade and agriculture…
However, in its own sphere it remains a reality that whereas modernity has elevated man’s material status to great heights, given him newer inventions and provided him with better means of comfort and ease in life, it has, at the same time, caused man to suffer from many depravities and led him to many disastrous ends. It is due to the same modernity that human history is full of Pharoahs, Shiddads, Hitlers and Mussolinis….. It is the same modernity that has engulfed the whole world in the tornado of nudity and obscenity, and has provided an excuse for fornication, and more so it has led under thunder claps to the passage of a bill in the British House of Commons to legalize homosexuality. It is the shadow of the same modernity that Western women are openly displaying banners on the streets demanding legalization of abortion. And it is the same modernity which is providing argument for justifying marriage with true sisters, daughters and other blood relations.
It proves that “Modernity” is a double-edged sword which can be used for the benefit of mankind and to cut its own throat. Hence any new thing is neither acceptable just for being new nor refutable just because it is new. That much is clear oblivious but the most important question is, “What is the criterion to decide which invention is useful and acceptable and which is harmful and not acceptable?”
One way to determine this standard is to follow the dictates of reason alone. Hence, in secular societies this decision rests with logic and reasoning. But the difficulty in it is that those people who robbed humanity of all the attributes of morality and character in the name of “Modernity” and put it on the road to barbarism and brutality were all men of reason and philosophy, and there were none among them who had not made pure intellect as their guide. The reason is that once free of the Divine Guidance of Wahy “intellect” becomes a beloved of every Tom, Dick and Harry, so that each of the different kinds of contradictory elements, consider it to be their exclusive property, while in fact it belongs to none of them. In such an “intellect” on can find glamorous justifications for every evil concept and filthiest of action. For example, the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki cause humanity to sweat with shame, but the scholarly and world-famous book “Encyclopedia Britannica” has mentioned disasters caused by Atomic Bombs in their cities after the introductory sentence as follows”
“Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill estimated that by shortening the war the Atomic Bomb had saved the lives of 10,000,00 US soldiers and 250,000 British Soldiers”. (Britannica Vol.2. p-647, 1950)
Several examples of similar rational interpretations can be presented.
With due apologies to modesty I would like to present another example in the light of which the correct position of pure intellect would become clear.
In the history of Islam there has passed a sect known as ‘Batiniyah’. A renowned leader of this sect Ubayd-Ullah Al-Qirwani has written:
“What can be more surprising that a person having claim to wisdom acts so stupidly that he has with him a beautiful sister or daughter. His wife is not so pretty, he marries hi daughter or sister to a stranger. If these ignorant ones had any trace of wisdom they would have known that they themselves had a greater right on their sisters and daughters than a stranger. The main reason of this stupidity is that their Master has forbidden good things on them.”
No matter how you react to this disgusting and repulsive, statement, it is an oblivious example of what havoc is caused by human reason when it is not guided by Divine Guidance. What argument is there with reason to reject this hideous suggestion marrying ones real daughter and sister? Hence we see that the dream of ‘Ubayd-Ullah Qirwani is coming true centuries afterwards, and voice are being raised in some Western countries to legalize marriages with real sisters.
In short, carried away by the wave of Modernity, if the decision for good and bad is left on reason alone the result will be that no value of life will remain intact. Besides, man will be lost in the labyrinth of contradictory opinions and concepts from which no way out can be traced. The intellectual level of every person is different from the other. The reason is that, independence from the Divine Guidance of Wahy is regarded by man as freedom, but in fact he becomes the slave of his beastly passions and sensual desires. This is the worst form of servility. In the Qur’anic Phraseology it is termed as Haw’a that is passion, and it is about that the Qur’an declared:
“If truth becoms subjected to their passions great tumult will occur between the earth and skies and the creations therein” (23:71)
[Here author addresses to the “Institute of Islamic Research” which was established by the government to carry out necessary researches in different fields of Islam but according to the author they started “distortion” in the name of “Research”. Though these following passages addresses to the IIR headed by Dr. Fazlur Rahman at that time, but apply to all the modernists of our time.
The author has given some insightful explanations to the concerns of modernists which are really an eye opener for those Muslims who advocate western values and spent their whole lives in defense of modernity at cost of their Islamic values and obligations. ]
“The modernists of Islam want to make amendments to Islam by considering Islam equal to Christianity and scholars of Islam parallel to popes and regard themselves as Luther and Russo of their time. In this way they want to become the Reformers of the Muslim nation by opposing and defaming the religious scholars. They aspire that some Henry VIII will soon appear and he will grace them by accepting their ideology and then officially implementing it forever. Thus the coming generations will regard them in such high esteem as in case of hero-worship with Luther and Russos etc.”
We may be excused if you find our tone unmannerly but if you have any claim to realism, be realistic in analyzing your approach. While seeking the solution to your problems you have the fear of being called conservative or superstitious or uncivilized by the West. This complex doesn’t allow you to give a serious thought to the true Islamic virtues. You are always anxious to give Islamic sanction to all those things that have a label of liberalism on them. May be that this line of action brings you some good name in the Western circles, but this is never going to solve your problems nor will it give you the status of a living and free nation. It is not sensible.
We may seem to exaggerate about your mode of action an honest and realistic self-analysis will testify to the truth of our claim.
You have observed that the West has based its entire banking system on “Interest”. This is the system which is regarded as one of the prominent virtues of modern civilization. So, you started investing all your energy to make the interest permissible in trading system. You never bothered to ask yourself if the interest was really inevitable for banking system and why cannot this be run on the Principles of ‘Mudaribah provided by Islam and Why the Islamic Principle of ‘Mudariba’ cannot be adopted in Banking? At the cost of the opposition of the Muslim Ummah you have compound interest but you never cared to find out the principles of interest-free banking which assures more equitable distribution of wealth.
The “Insurance” is regarded as a symbol of civilization in the West. You accepted it as it was and tried to give it Islamic sanction by making fabricated interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah. But you never knew that there was an easier and fairer way of making some minor changes in the prevailing insurance system and thus bring them in conformity with the established principles of Islam, making it a more useful institution.
The Western countries have recently launched great campaigns to preach “Family Planning”. You also followed them in propagating it. For this purpose you consumed your energies to misinterpret the laws of Islam in favor of family planning. But you never thought how china is surviving with its 700,000,000 population? According to Chu-en-lai every new child brings a message of prosperity. In the hue and cry of the Western world you looked at the one mouth of a newly born child and felt uneasy to think from where to feed it? But you did not see the two hands of the child to work. The small country like Israel realized the importance of population and has been using all the means of increasing its population. The westerner had said that population rise is dangerous for developing countries. You accepted this “Sincere advice” and imposed birth control as a law, but you failed to see how Vietnam had humbled the big power like America and Why the Western countries are scared of China? Americans had declared that in the east they would give financial aid only to those countries who would adopt the birth control. You took it as a sympathetic gesture from them but you did not try to argue why Israel gets the lion’s share in aid in spite of being against birth control?
A very substantial number of modern economists are against limiting the family size and birth control. Having been impressed by their latest arguments such economists are constantly increasing in number, but our “Modernists” are still embracing Malthus’ outdated theory that has been thrown away by the march of time some two centuries ago. I do wish to quote here the views of modern poet, Iqbal, who said:
“POWER OF THE WEST IS NOT DUE TO FLUTES AND GUITARS, NOR DUE TO
DANCES OF VEIL LESS GIRL, NOR DUE TO THE SPELL OF THEIR MAGICAL
BEAUTY, NOR TO THEIR NAKED LEGS, NOR TO THEIR TRIMMED HAIR STYLES.
THEIR SUPREMACY IS NOT DUE TO SECULARISM, NOR IS THEIR PROGRESS DUE
TO LATIN SCRIPT. THEIR POWER IS DUE TO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. IT IS
THIS FUEL THAT IS BURNING IN THEIR LAMPS. WISDOM DOESN’T LIE IN HOW
YOUR CLOTHES ARE TAILORED, AND THE TURBAN IS NO OBSTRUCTION FOR
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.”
You heard that Polygamy is considered to be a crime in Western countries. In order to free yourself from this blame you made the excuse that Islam had allowed it only in some emergency conditions and now it is no more permissible. For this purpose you left no stone unturned in pulling and dragging the meanings of the verses of Holy Qur’an. But did you ever try to investigate why Westerners never feel the need of more than one Wife? Thanks to modern civilization and the open practice on un-registered polygamy in every hotel, every night club and every park, there is no need of getting oneself involved in regular life. The Westerners had publicized that polygamists are cruel to their wives. You started pleading that polygamists are cruel to their wives. You started pleading that the fundamental conception of Islam is to stop such a tyranny hence polygamy is forbidden in Islam. But you shut your eyes from the naked reality that there are innumerable people who are extremely cruel to their single wife. In fact the number of such people is greater. Hence this argument requires that single marriage also should be banned.
You observed that the Westerners Consider Hijab (Woman’s veil) as a vice, so you started fabricating the established injunctions of Islam. But you never cared to think that by unveiling their women what disaster the West has brought, to their homes? Did you ever care to know, what is the cause of unabated grief of the serious thinkers of the West on this issue?
You came to know that co-education is practiced in Western countries. You started advocating for it as an insignia of civilization, but never bothered to think of the reasons behind the dreadful scene of American culture presented by Kinsley Reports before the world? Did you ever think who is responsible for the ever increasing unlawful sexual relations in the young generation? What is the cause of the ever decreasing standard of education?
You have read that many of the Westerners deny miracle and hold them as superstition. Very obediently you also followed the example and tried to reject the miracles described by the Qur’an in detail As a result of this you converted the entire Qur’an into a poetic and metaphorical book. But you never thought that those who had initially denied the miracles had also called the existence of God as the worst form of superstition. They had even mocked at Prophetﷺ Hood and Divine Revelations.
Further, you never paid any attention to the face how rapidly the most recent researches of scientific knowledge are making miracle more acceptable to human intellect.
Keeping all these facts in view, for God’s sake, please tell us if there is any exaggeration in our assessment that you pay no heed to finding an Islamic and intellectual solution to these problems. On the contrary you are always looking for the Western ideologies. Whatever you receive from them as permissible you spend all your energy to prove it in conformity with Islam, with no concern to what damage you causing to the Qur’an and Sunnah. When you notice any signs of dislike for something on the faces of prohibited in Islam even at the cost of giving away explicit injunctions of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Even a man with ordinary common sense knows that “Research” means “Search for Reality” and a researcher holds the position of a judge. It is his obligation that without forming any preconceived ideas and pre-drawn conclusions he should examine all the relevant matters thoroughly and impartially, consider all possible aspects of the problem with utmost honesty and add the weight of his judgment to the right side of the argument. On the contrary, if any one seeks and searches the arguments to support a preconceived idea or judgment he is certainly not the seeker of truth nor do his efforts in this direction deserve to be called ‘research work’
The duty of a research worker is not to collect arguments for a predetermined idea but to determine an idea in the light of arguments. He does not drag the arguments towards his judgment but the arguments drive him towards a judgment. But the process of working of our modernists is quite opposite. They believe that arguments are to serve a decision rather than the decision being dependent on arguments. This is what they think the correct method of research and this is what they teach as a methodology of research. They commonly make suggestions in their oral and written statements:
“We want to interpret the Qur’an and the Sunnah in a manner that it conforms to the needs of our time”.
It is clear admission to the fact that they want to bring the Qur’an and Sunnah to reconcile with their decisions and no to make their decisions to correspond with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. That is they will first decide as to what are the needs of time and then to try and find these arguments they will make such interpretations of the Qur’anic verses and propheticﷺ traditions as to conform to their predetermined needs of the time. This is what is termed as the “Distortion of meaning”. This way of argumentation can never be supported by any sensible person of the world. If the process of research is allowed to move in reverse direction then there will be no way left to protect the integrity of the truth. This is because in this way every illogical claim can be supported by argument. Nothing in the World would then be devoid of argument, and as they say: Everything can be proved by everything”. Once it is decided that a certain thing is to be proved through the Qur’an and Sunnah, and for this purpose you have decided to give new interpretation to the Qur;an and Sunnah, it would obviously mean that anything found supporting this idea would be presented as an argument no matter how weak and baseless it be and even the strongest argument against it would be thrown away being incompatible with present day life.
You probably know that the Christian missionaries, while preaching their religion in the Muslim world, always prove their beliefs through the Qur’an and traditions before common Muslims. For Example, they say that Qur’an has called Jesus, as “Kalimatullah” which implies that he was Allah’s attribute of “Kalam” and the Bible of John also says the same. Also, the Qur’an said that Jesus was “Ruhullah” which implies that his relation with God was the same as that of Soul with body, and the same is said by Paul. They further say that the Qur’an said: “We supported Jesus with the holy spirit” and the same has mentioned in the Bible that the Holy Ghost was sent to Jesus in the form of a pigeon.
In this way they prove their concept of Trinity, and similarly they prove their other concepts from the Qur’an by means of this “New interpretation”.
One may argue that our comparison of “New interpretation” of modernists with the new interpretation” of Christians is exaggerated, but that is not true. The readers may go through their articles on the subject and the truth of our statement will become quite apparent.
We come across numerous interesting “New interpretations” in the book named “Islam” written by the Director of Islamic Research, Dr. Fazlur Rehman. According to him only three daily Salah were originally made obligatory, and two more were added in the last years of the prophet’s ﷺ life. Hence their number has possibility of accepting changes.
Same has been mentioned in the monthly “Fikr o Nazar, Vol: 5, pg 259” “…..there were 3 daily Salah is also supported by the incidence that there is one narration according to which prophetﷺ has converted the four salah into two…..”
This is the “new interpretation”. According to this, on one side “the flood of authentic prophetic ﷺ traditions” which described the number of salah as five from the very beginning of Islam is false and self-invented; on the other side the single narration describing the incidence of “combining two Salah” has been considered them as most reliable. Then again the term “combining two Salah” has been taken to mean that the Prophet ﷺ had converted four in two. This is the most interesting example of the expertise in the “New Interpretation”.
This is just one example that we have presented. If you go through the exegeses of these modernists you’ll come across many “master pieces” of their “new interpretations”; Wahy is interpreted as the Prophet’sﷺ own words; Angels mean water, electricity, (natural forces) etc.; Iblis as the fantasy; Jinns as the savage tribes; mankind as the civilized people; Death is unconsciousness, disgrace or disbelief; life means honor and dignity, state consciousness or embracing Islam etc.
If you keep the above exegetic points in view you’ll know that we have not exaggerated at all. Anyway, this was just a parenthesis. We wanted to impress that if we adopt the style of making arguments dependent on preconceived thoughts even Christianity can be proved from the Qur’an itself, and so can be Judaism, Socialism, and Capitalism. Adopting the same style Dr. Parvaiz has proved Darwin’s theory of evolution in his book “Iblis aur Adam” from the Qur’an. Also he’s derived an economic system of socialist style from the Qur’anic Phrase (Establish your prayers of worship). It is the same style of interpretations by which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani had pleaded that by Damascus the prophet ﷺ had meant Qadiyan, the Mirza’s headquarters.
Thus we see that the system of modernists is that they first fix some ideas themselves, label them as the exigencies of time and then impose the Qur’an and Hadith through their “New interpretation” on them.
Another example is the statement of Dr. Fazlur Rahman in which he has said that meat of an animal is lawful and permissible to eat even if it is slaughtered without the name of Allah pronounced on it, while the explicit injunction of Qur’an is this:
And eat not that (flesh) over which Allah’s name has been pronounced. (al-qur’an)
But since this was against the views of Dr. Fazlur Rahman, he based his arguments on a narration of Hadhrat Aisha and on saying of Imam Shafi which is perhaps the weakest argument of all his juristic inferences (as has been admitted by the scholars of Shafi school of thought), while his (Fazlur Rahman) own view about the application of a tradition is as follows:
“If a tradition tells anything that is not in conformity with the apparent Qur’anic injunction I would attribute it to the specific historical era rather than to the Prophet ﷺ himself”. (Monthly Fikr o Nazr, Vol 2.)
Apart from the fact that his inference from Hadhrat Aishah’s narration is highly misleading, Dr. Fazlur Rehman should not seek argument from this according to his own principle cited above. On what ground has he attributed this tradition to the Holy Prophet ﷺ?
As far as Imam Shafi is concerned, The Dr. has commented about him as under:
“The enlightened views and quick understanding of Imam Sha’afi did create a mechanic system which undoubtedly led to stabilization of social and religious structure of our mediaeval era, but due to it we have been deprived of modern thinking and creative intellect. (Monthly Fikr-o-Nazar, Vol 1)
If Imam Sha’fi had committed such a fundamental error how can you quote him as authority on the validity of a religious precept? Does it not become apparent from the above examples that Dr. Fazlur Rehman and his coworkers have no set criterion for research in their mind? Not only that they have not taken into consideration any of the established rules of Jurisprudence, they do not even follow the rules framed by them.