A Muslim seeks deep reform of his faith

Iqbal Syed Hussain writes a cry—from—the—heart essay in the Pakistani newspaper, The Nation, deploring the corruption and delusions which are so characteristic of contemporary Islam:

In the 21st century, when the world is moving fast and some nations have already reached the stars, Muslims remain far from the horizons. Decadence, illiteracy and orthodoxy are the pronounced facets of the current Muslim culture. Deluded by their fantasies they are entrenched in illusions, vanities and misconceptions. Illiteracy, sectarian strife, and misconceived perceptions have further added to their despair.

The delusion that besets the Muslim mind represents a deep psychological betrayal that leaves severe scars on the body politic of the Muslim Ummah. It is a period of anguish, despair and delusion, which many Muslims fail to recognize. They brush aside the realities by declaring that they are the darlings of God and everything will be resolved in their favour.

The essay is entitled "The Muslim Delusion" by which he means living in the past and belieing Allah will make right any material, intellectual or other failings, letting Muslims off the hook.

The Muslim delusion based on past achievements is not likely to play any significant role in the transformation of our destiny but consciousness of present experiences and the quantum of concrete contributions will be the driving forces to impact our destiny, politics, economy and civilization.

Generally the essay is long on criticism and short on specifics, but there are some worthwhile suggestions.

Our extreme orthodox sections need to be coaxed into a more knowledgeable and intelligent conversation on religion and modernism, science and dogmatism. They have to be brought into a debate which should establish how humility and balance are restored to the corridors that refuse to be familiar with other's point of view. Jihad and ljtihad have to be examined in context of new situations and realities.

Like Japan's Meiji modernizers, he seeks to take elements of tradition and bend them to modernization.

The ensemble of doctrines, traditions, values and norms that built the past civilization may contain the seeds for the realization of ideals that we aspire. The great civilization that Islam cultivated could be revived to reveal the real facets of a humane life. Humanizing the civilizations will be the next stage, which will need in larger measure the growing components of insight and innovations. To reach this, we will have to be far from fantasies and vanities.

If change is to come to the Islamic world, and reconciliation with modernity be achieved, it is via thinkers like Mr. Hussain. I just hope he is not physically attacked by those Muslims whose arguments cannot stand the light of open inquiry.

Thomas Lifson  8 13 06

Update: 1:50 PM PDT

Helen of Caribpundit writes:

I question whether Iqbal Syed Hussain seeks reform or just a different way of doing the same thing. Remember, the goal of Islam is global domination and the bringing of the entire world into the Dar ul Islam by proselytization, and if that fails, war. Thus, when Hussain writes
 
"Religion and violence ought not to be mixed in modern age, which merits new strategies and new technologies. Riding camels, living in caves and deploying Stone Age weapons cannot help us defeat the enemies. Muslims may be good warriors of Allah, but employing wrong policies in varying situations may not merit divine blessings, they could lead to fatal consequences."

he is being self—contradictory. On the one hand, no mixing of religion and violence. Hussain advocates, I think, a kind of secularity which if it develops would permit the propagation of the lie that Islam is a religion of peace. That's the corollary to his "no mixing of religion and violence." The modern age, he argues, "merits new strategies and new technologies" to do what? Is Hussain talking about modes of living? I would say not. He is talking about war making and advocating that the Islamic world develop a new paradigm for war that does not interweave it with its ideological underpinning in the Koran. All Hussain argues here is that the ideology be out of sight but not out of mind.

Furthermore, his next sentence confirms my reading of the first in this paragraph. Who are "the enemies" and how did they so become? Hussain reveals his Islamic mind and Koranic thinking here. The enemies of Islam are those who will not accept and submit—the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, in a word, the "infidel," and Hussain is as much a part of the jihad as any jihadist with a bomb belt. The difference is that Hussain uses a pen rather than explosives, but the goal of both are the same—"defeat [of] the enemies." His next statement that "Muslims may be good warriors of Allah" is of a piece with this interpretation. 

Hussain has no problem with the jihad, he just wants it waged, as John F. Kerry would say, "differently" and "better." That differently and better waged jihad is one in which the West will not be able to point directly at the Koran and its nihilist teachings because the jihad will be waged by 'secularist' Muslims.
 
Thus, in my view, the "reform" that Hussain is articulating is taqqiyah because he fears that the jihad in its present form will "lead to fatal consequences," for Islam.
 
I believe James Arlandson has an article on your site in which he writes the following: "... When the Messenger was in Mecca for thirteen years....there were no commands to fight his people because the Muslims were few and their enemies were more powerful and outnumbered them. So it was wise for Allah to prevent his messenger and the Muslims from physical jihad by hand, and only allowed them spiritual jihad by words.... (Sura 25:52)"

Right now, the West is thought to "outnumber" the Muslims in terms of "new technologies" and, perhaps, "new strategies." Thus, Hussain counsels "reform." 

I were you, I would not waste my time fearing that Hussain would be harmed. It is quite likely that his Islamic readers are sifting between the lines and hearing him loud and clear.

Iqbal Syed Hussain writes a cry—from—the—heart essay in the Pakistani newspaper, The Nation, deploring the corruption and delusions which are so characteristic of contemporary Islam:

In the 21st century, when the world is moving fast and some nations have already reached the stars, Muslims remain far from the horizons. Decadence, illiteracy and orthodoxy are the pronounced facets of the current Muslim culture. Deluded by their fantasies they are entrenched in illusions, vanities and misconceptions. Illiteracy, sectarian strife, and misconceived perceptions have further added to their despair.

The delusion that besets the Muslim mind represents a deep psychological betrayal that leaves severe scars on the body politic of the Muslim Ummah. It is a period of anguish, despair and delusion, which many Muslims fail to recognize. They brush aside the realities by declaring that they are the darlings of God and everything will be resolved in their favour.

The essay is entitled "The Muslim Delusion" by which he means living in the past and belieing Allah will make right any material, intellectual or other failings, letting Muslims off the hook.

The Muslim delusion based on past achievements is not likely to play any significant role in the transformation of our destiny but consciousness of present experiences and the quantum of concrete contributions will be the driving forces to impact our destiny, politics, economy and civilization.

Generally the essay is long on criticism and short on specifics, but there are some worthwhile suggestions.

Our extreme orthodox sections need to be coaxed into a more knowledgeable and intelligent conversation on religion and modernism, science and dogmatism. They have to be brought into a debate which should establish how humility and balance are restored to the corridors that refuse to be familiar with other's point of view. Jihad and ljtihad have to be examined in context of new situations and realities.

Like Japan's Meiji modernizers, he seeks to take elements of tradition and bend them to modernization.

The ensemble of doctrines, traditions, values and norms that built the past civilization may contain the seeds for the realization of ideals that we aspire. The great civilization that Islam cultivated could be revived to reveal the real facets of a humane life. Humanizing the civilizations will be the next stage, which will need in larger measure the growing components of insight and innovations. To reach this, we will have to be far from fantasies and vanities.

If change is to come to the Islamic world, and reconciliation with modernity be achieved, it is via thinkers like Mr. Hussain. I just hope he is not physically attacked by those Muslims whose arguments cannot stand the light of open inquiry.

Thomas Lifson  8 13 06

Update: 1:50 PM PDT

Helen of Caribpundit writes:

I question whether Iqbal Syed Hussain seeks reform or just a different way of doing the same thing. Remember, the goal of Islam is global domination and the bringing of the entire world into the Dar ul Islam by proselytization, and if that fails, war. Thus, when Hussain writes
 
"Religion and violence ought not to be mixed in modern age, which merits new strategies and new technologies. Riding camels, living in caves and deploying Stone Age weapons cannot help us defeat the enemies. Muslims may be good warriors of Allah, but employing wrong policies in varying situations may not merit divine blessings, they could lead to fatal consequences."

he is being self—contradictory. On the one hand, no mixing of religion and violence. Hussain advocates, I think, a kind of secularity which if it develops would permit the propagation of the lie that Islam is a religion of peace. That's the corollary to his "no mixing of religion and violence." The modern age, he argues, "merits new strategies and new technologies" to do what? Is Hussain talking about modes of living? I would say not. He is talking about war making and advocating that the Islamic world develop a new paradigm for war that does not interweave it with its ideological underpinning in the Koran. All Hussain argues here is that the ideology be out of sight but not out of mind.

Furthermore, his next sentence confirms my reading of the first in this paragraph. Who are "the enemies" and how did they so become? Hussain reveals his Islamic mind and Koranic thinking here. The enemies of Islam are those who will not accept and submit—the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, in a word, the "infidel," and Hussain is as much a part of the jihad as any jihadist with a bomb belt. The difference is that Hussain uses a pen rather than explosives, but the goal of both are the same—"defeat [of] the enemies." His next statement that "Muslims may be good warriors of Allah" is of a piece with this interpretation. 

Hussain has no problem with the jihad, he just wants it waged, as John F. Kerry would say, "differently" and "better." That differently and better waged jihad is one in which the West will not be able to point directly at the Koran and its nihilist teachings because the jihad will be waged by 'secularist' Muslims.
 
Thus, in my view, the "reform" that Hussain is articulating is taqqiyah because he fears that the jihad in its present form will "lead to fatal consequences," for Islam.
 
I believe James Arlandson has an article on your site in which he writes the following: "... When the Messenger was in Mecca for thirteen years....there were no commands to fight his people because the Muslims were few and their enemies were more powerful and outnumbered them. So it was wise for Allah to prevent his messenger and the Muslims from physical jihad by hand, and only allowed them spiritual jihad by words.... (Sura 25:52)"

Right now, the West is thought to "outnumber" the Muslims in terms of "new technologies" and, perhaps, "new strategies." Thus, Hussain counsels "reform." 

I were you, I would not waste my time fearing that Hussain would be harmed. It is quite likely that his Islamic readers are sifting between the lines and hearing him loud and clear.