As part of an endeavour to try and unpack what we mean by ‘Modernity’, it might prove useful to distinguish a series of warnings about what to avoid when trying to be a Real, Living-It Muslim (i.e. a Mu’min – Believer).
Tag Archives: culture
There is a view of the world that designates ‘culture borrowing’ as the sole explanation as to why a later culture may contain features that mirrors or matches a pre-existing culture. Often this is the most probable or plausible explanation. Let us call this the ‘Negative-Material-Contingent’ explanation of cultural continuity, which utilizes solely secular or empirical evidences, attempting to find patterns and then make general deductions based on the material evidence available. Its blind-side is with the dearth of material evidence its generalisations will become wider and, therefore, more likely to be off-the-mark. Another blind-side is not only its delimitation to material evidence but its insistence to deny any explanation involving ‘genuine’ revelation. Such an explanation will never be factored-in as plausible, because this approach has no measuring tool to assess the veracity of such a truth-claim and its possibilities. (See ‘The Challenge of the Qur’an‘ for an example of an attempt to demonstrate in ‘Open’ secular terms, material evidences for revelation.)
What is the challenge of the Qur’an?
Well, traditionally – that is to say – qur’anically, the challenge was literary or perhaps one of orality, because the culture the Qur’an came into was a time where the poets were esteemed and would hold sparring verbal competitions like modern day spoken word slams and rap battles; spontaneity and immediacy was the order of the day.
However, putting the spontaneity aside to make things easier for the challengers, the Qur’an itself says, a number of times with slight differences of emphases each time, the following:
Ten Surah Challenge: ‘Or do they say, “He invented it”? Say, “Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”‘ (Qur’an 11:13)
1. The Real Captain Jack
“The legendary Captain Jack Birdy, once sung about by every balladeer in England, might have all but been forgotten, yet his memory remains as the spirit behind the fictional character Captain Jack Sparrow played by Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise… Who was John Ward, the British Naval officer? Who was Captain John Ward, the privateer endorsed by the Crown of England? Who was Captain Jack Birdy, the privateer turned pirate betrayed by that same Crown? And finally, who was Yusuf Reis, formerly Captain Jack Birdy, formerly Captain John Ward, who would rescue thousands upon thousands of Spanish Jews and Muslims fleeing the Moriscos and Conversos expulsion of the 16th and 17th centuries? These were all one man. With so many characters wrapped in one, the stories of his adventures are exponentially more exciting than anything a Hollywood film could capture…” Read More here >
The historian and former banker, Benedikt Koehler, in his lecture on ‘Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism’ appears at a loss to explain what happened to the critical inquiry and dynamic underpinning that was the distinctive feature of the Early Islamic zeitgeist (watch from 49.05).
A young Hamza Yusuf once remarked bitterly in an old lecture that he was trying to calculate the exact day when all the Muslims collectively got together and – crank! – ‘switched their brains off ‘. (I will try and locate the exact lecture in due course.) Despite his frustrations in the joke, this notion – the implication – posits the ‘Closing of the Gates of Ijtihad’ scenario. We will explore this train of thought in due course (see below).
But what is being probed is the issue that where once the Muslim world was in a position of power, leading the world in sciences, economics and culture, now the same world has fallen to an all-time low. So what happened?
It is easy to watch the above video for just 23 seconds (to hear that in Islam, apostasy means death) then stop, pack our bags, go home with our understanding that Islam is a wicked religion and have our prejudice against Islam, confirmed.
If we continue to watch after 23 seconds, suddenly we realise there is a bit more to understand.
This is Assim Al-Hakeem and in summary, the content of his talk after 23 seconds is as follows:
1. Not anyone can mete out the judgment for apostasy.
2. The ‘procedure’ must be understood first.
3. He gives an example: If a random person says ‘I don’t believe anymore’, can we kill him? No.
4. The ‘Procedure’ = i) check that the condition has been fulfilled; ii) check that the criteria can be made to NOT apply to this person [as a fail-safe].
5. How is the ‘Procedure’ performed? a) a panel of Muslim judges/scholars to question the person, first, to try and persuade them out of apostasy; b) if he still insists to apostatise, the verdict is given ONLY by the Muslim ruler (the ‘Imam’, meaning ‘leader’ – not ‘Imam’, meaning ‘the normal guy that leads the prayer’); c) then the Muslim ruler must make a decision.
6. Al-Hakeem then gives random, modern anecdotes of people applying and meting out judgements against perceived-apostates on a day-to-day level. This is blatantly wrong. The doer of that action could end up in hell! Because the layman does not have the right to issue takfir (identify and confirm in a legal sense that a person is a kaffir (‘The one that covers the Truth’/ ‘unbeliever’/ ‘disbeliever’).
7. Never do anything without knowledge. One must be really careful when dealing with these things.
Now, there is something very important that is not noted in this video. Check out the next link to contextualise the issue: Continue reading
“The rules for having a productive and insightful conversation across religious and cultural lines are not all that different than the rules for having meaningful interpersonal relationships.”1
I stand on one side of the space
– This “great divide” –
From the other, where stand you…
I, a part of my culture,
You a part of yours.
You see how representing our own we only ever appear
Apart. Continue reading