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Question & Answer

Why Muslims Bunker

April 05 - 2006

One thing, which unites all Muslims, which most people - including true followers of a religion - can miss, is the fact that it's a reaction to modernity and modernism. Muslims bunkering mentality isn't directly connected to ancient religious practices; instead, it's a deliberate and self-conscious attempt to reconnect to those religious practices which are against the  evil influences of the modern world. An attempt to understand religion of Islam through commentaries of different scholars often becomes the contention in understanding Islam. Thus, it is important that people understand Islam for its adoption in their lives directly from The-Qur’an while its understanding could come from Ahadiths Sahih, Atharats Sahih and commentaries from monotheistic Islamic scholars which should not affect obedience to the law of Almighty Alloh but to understand it better.

It does not mean that The-Qur’an is difficult to understand, The Qur’an has been sent down in a very rich understandable language. Those who have a determination to understand it with their purity of heart, do so in a very short time. But all people are not equal; their knowledge of Arabic, analogies, technicalities, patience and intelligence would affect everyone’s understanding. That is where Muslims of diverse origin, add value to Muslim culture which may not be compatible with Islamic values. If every one adheres to The-Qur’anic ideals literally, the gap between Muslim communities all over the world would narrow and they could be analogous to Mo’mineen defined and described in The-Qur’an.

In the February, 1990 issue of Political Quarterly, Tariq Maudood writes: The Muslim world has created many historical empires and its relation to the West has not always been that of an inferior; on the contrary, continental Europeans can remember a time when they trembled before the conquering might of Islam, and Muslims can remember when Europe was synonymous with backwardness and they were the leaders in civilisation and technology, one of the legacies of which was the renaissance of Western Europe. It has, like any civilisation, faced major epochal challenges. In the early medieval period, it was a theological intellectualism. It was defeated by the establishment of a dogmatic unifying Islam which proved disastrous for philosophical, critical and, ultimately, religious thinking, the price of which is paid to this day.

In the early modern period, the problem came to be conceived by many as one of eclecticism. It was felt by many, such as Shah Waliullah of Delhi (1703-64), that the spread of Muslim power and the mass conversions had brought into Islam a wide range of beliefs, superstitions, religious practices and social customs of the new Muslims and of conquered peoples such as the Hindus, Pagans and others such that Islam was no longer the simple, rational, anti-idolatrous, egalitarian faith that had made history.

In this sense of impurity and decline, are the origins of the major modern reform movements: fundamentalism and modernism. Each insisted on the need to break with historically received orthodoxy and to return to a fresh study of The-Qur’an and the Prophet as exemplar either in order to re-enact it and shut out all other influences (fundamentalism) or in order to distil its universal message from its historical manifestation so as to apply it to new historical circumstances (modernism).

Because fundamentalism is a reaction to modernity, it always carries a bit of modernity with it — this makes fundamentalism a thoroughly modern phenomenon, something which earlier religious believers wouldn’t have recognized and probably wouldn’t have been comfortable with. The fact that fundamentalist and modernist approaches to religion develop at the same time should be people’s first hint that something funny is going on; if you look more closely, you’ll find that they often develop hand-in-hand as well. Many Muslims have been found to reject modernism to adopt fundamentalism while many have said good-bye to fundamentalism and adopted modernism in such a way that even most modern would not be that modern. Can’t we Muslims be fundamental in Islam and modern in social dealings?

Early religious beliefs within Muslims are diverse and eclectic enough that they could readily give rise to the multiplicity of forms we see today. It is only because of such diversity that Muslims have been able to survive in numbers, the willingness and ability to adapt is what makes it possible for a religion to fit in with new cultures. But its quality degraded and put Muslims and Muslims in the wars over Fundamentalism and Liberalism.  The war in Afghanistan, sectarian conflict in Iraq, Pakistan and India could be given as examples. That makes a virtue out of unbending dogmatism, which, in turn, renders adaptation as a sin. Those who want to be good Muslims can be fundamentalist in their Halal and Haram concepts but could be as modern as anyone in the west when it comes technocracy of modern world. By doing so, they can be a perfect example of Islam where social divine values decorated with modern modalities of living add value to mass acceptations.

This would prevent polarized fundamentalism and adapting to new cultures much easier, but also to new developments within a culture. Polarized Fundamentalism give rise to Bunkering mentality but struggle against it is beneficial for Muslims, but it can’t thrive and spread in such circumstances as most of us want to establish. Islamic Fundamentalism should not stand in opposition to creativity, philosophy, and critical thinking — all of the things, which have allowed human culture to progress and improve over the centuries. Let us be fundamentalist in following The Qur’an and Nabi Muhammad (SAW) but modern to its modalities. Thou shall take the torch of Islam from base to apex of human society. That is when; the purpose of Almighty Alloh’s religion is served.


Auth. Qamrul Khanson   |  Islamic Spirituality   |  Qhutba Archives   |  Marital Affairs   |  Canadian Muslims   |  World Politics
Copyright @ 2006 Qamrul A. Khanson