Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
Nor is the other problem Islam’s problem: the one that some people coyly or mischievously refer to as Islam vs. modernity. For, Islam was always the soul of modernity, no matter at what point of history you looked at it.
To this day, Islamic teachings and principles remain cutting-edge material whether it is in science and technology or in human and social affairs in general.
True, Muslim societies at times lagged behind – socially, educationally, politically, technologically, economically, morally and otherwise. And many of them continue to do so to this day.
But that was not because of Islam, but rather for exactly the opposite reason: the absence of a true and total commitment to Islam. In other words it was due to the onset of a pervasive condition of post-Islam that had beset Muslim societies at different times and places.
And the backwardness of Muslim societies on these indices of general human progress was almost directly proportional to the degree to which they departed from the teachings of Islam and the Qur’an.
ISLAM VS. MUSLIMS
Here are just a few examples of how Muslims turned their back on Islam creating a situation of Islam vs. Muslims.
For example, Islam says education is a basic Islamic requirement. Muslim societies generally turned their back on it.
Islam says women had the same rights as men. Muslim societies often began treating women as second-class citizens.
Islam ended political tyranny. Muslims put it right back in business.
Islam came to free humanity from the clutches of “religion” and “holy men.” Muslims put the clock right back to where it was before Islam.
Islam said God created Muslims to invite people to Allah. Muslims said you must be joking.
I am not going to stop talking about it till the Muslims get it. And till the scientists affiliated with the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) get it too.
It was not the ASM that first discovered the miracle of washing hands, which it did in the mid-1990s. But it was Islam – the Qur’an and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – that first made it not only a recommendation but a most important compulsory daily requirement – in the first half of the 7th century. Not just once a day but as much as five times a day if need be.
And ever since, Muslims have been practicing it most faithfully in every time and place on earth, without a day’s, hour’s or moment’s let up.
And it took the ASM 1400 years to get to see a glimpse of what Islam was talking about.
But then did the ASM give the Qur’an, Islam, Muslims and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, any credit for borrowing their idea and copying their 14-centuries old practice? Not to my knowledge.
HOW ABOUT CIRCUMCISION?
Every opportunity everyone got, they ridiculed Islam as a “religion” that advocated female genital mutilation. As if that was a central teaching of Islam. And as if it was a universal Muslim practice through the ages.
But truth and honesty has never been the long suite of many of these critics – should I say enemies? – of Islam. To them, any stick is good if it is thick enough and long enough to beat Islam and Muslims with.
But Allah – once again – seems to have turned the tables on those who hate and fear truth. Those who seem to care for nothing except their own personal, political, religious and other agendas and gains.
Now the United Nations wants the male population in Africa to be circumcised as a protection against the spread of the deadly disease of AIDS.
The science is clear, says the UN. According to scientific research, male circumcision seems to reduce the risk of AIDS infection by 40-50 percent.
Excuse me, but that sounds like something that we Muslims have been preaching and practicing for the past 1400 years. Where were you people all this time?
And unlike female genital mutilation as they call it, which is mostly a fetish of the critics of Islam, especially many in the Western media, male circumcision has been a central Islamic and Muslim practice through the past 1400 years in all parts of the Muslim world.
So, next time someone wants to lecture Muslims about Islam vs. Modernity, just ask them to remember who taught whom how to live a civilized life on earth: whether it is to wash hands or to circumcise if you are a male.
IT ISN’T REALLY ABOUT ISSUES
What most naïve and decent people in this world don’t understand is that these fights are not always about issues and principles. They are not a matter of honest disagreement over facts. They are not about truth.
The fight is really over wealth and power. It is over land and its resources. And it is about how to keep large human populations under control and bondage and deprive them of their God-given rights of freedom and title to their own lands and resources and wealth.
That is what most of these fights are about.
That is why the arguments never end. And that is why those who “borrow” ideas and practices from Islam and Muslims rarely ever give credit where credit is due.
That is because, in most cases, the idea is not to discover or illumine the truth and embrace it, but the idea is mostly to keep the Muslims guessing, off-balance and in bondage in perpetuity.
That is why Christianity continued to embrace Islam piecemeal right through the ages and not once did anyone ever hear a squeak about it, leave alone a word of appreciation or acknowledgment.
HOW CHRISTIANITY EMBRACED ISLAM
As time went on, many practitioners and advocates of both science and faith in the Christian world tried to find ways of reconciling one with the other. As a result, many of them eventually embraced positions that were closer to Islam than to the ways and beliefs of their own native “religious” dogmas and origins.
Thus, the older and wiser Christianity grew, the deeper and more pervasive its embracement of Islamic teachings became. But sadly and unfortunately, in practically every case it happened without giving Islam or Muslims any credit.
Nor did the Muslims possess the skills, sophistication and the tact needed to either demand or extract such recognition.
As a result, it was in the Christian West, and not in the Muslim East, if you will, that most people believed that there was no room for thinking, questioning, reasoning, logic, evidence, facts, data or analysis in matters of faith and religion. However, that did not prevent Christian thinkers and scholars from spending lifetimes looking for what they thought would be “proofs” for the existence of God.
So, this great faith vs. reason or religion vs. science debate or controversy has not really been Islam’s problem. It was largely a Christian and Western problem. The credit for this sad mess in human affairs belongs almost entirely to the Christian West.
“RELIGION”: A MATTER OF MYSTERIES
People in the Christian West – and elsewhere – often pitted faith in direct opposition to anything they could reason about or talk rationally and intelligently about. Faith involved “religion,” and that which people call “religion” was often a jumble of all kinds of mysteries, big and small, which could only be addressed by certain cadres of holy men, some anointed through special rites and some others born into the holy hierarchy.
These “holy men” of religion then became the keepers of these mysteries and owners of the keys to unravel them. By the same token, they also became the arbiters of people’s spiritual destinies, not only in life but also after death. Some of them even issued tangible tokens and tickets to paradise.
That meant, ordinary people should dutifully accept everything that was given to them by these holy men of mystery and they should not exercise their own faculties of reason to think, to question, to argue about and to agree or disagree with what was being said, whereas Islam was just the opposite of all that.
Let me repeat that: Islam was just the opposite of all that.
So, for Christians, intelligence, God’s very special gift to humanity, had no role to play when it came to defining a human being’s relationship with God. It was all “faith,” and “faith” had little to do with intelligence, knowledge, science or even common sense or the evidence of one’s own senses.