Saturday, December 02, 2006

Do-It-Yourself- Islam

Dr Gibril Fuad Hadad comments on the statement given by Mohd Asri a Mufti from a state in Malaysia.

The function of Saudi-trained clerics is to propagate Do-It-Yourself
Islam. Since irony is terra incognita to them, they may even do so in
the name of reclaiming Islam from the clerics. They also mention
"reform," "renewal," "Qur'an and Sunna" in the same ironic/absurd
vein since we all know that DIY

Islam spells chaos, not reform, not renewal, and certainly not
Qur'an and Sunna. But how appealing to TV viewers, internet
surfers, and DIY Muslims everywhere!

Allah Most High said He had raised the Ulema above the non-ulema in
rank; but Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, the 35-year old Mufti of the
Malaysian state of Perlis, wants each Muslim to be his or her own mufti.
Our Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said that Allah Most
High reserves the understanding of the Religion to those for whom He
desires the greatest good. But Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin says:
"Religion deserves to be understood by everybody."
Evidently, he finds Allah and His Prophet conservative and in need of
renewal. "Overhaul," as he puts it.

Asri dismisses the Muslim ulema but admires Turkish picturebook author
Harun Yahya. Asri mocks the traditional Malay ustaz for teaching the
jurisprudence of snow in snowless Malaysia rather, he claims, than teach
prayer to new Muslims. Many a professional with poor Arabic are better
read in Islam and "might have memorised more hadith," Asri
suggests, than a traditional scholar of Qur'anic commentary. Asri
has a doctorate, he is a mufti. It must be true. After all, he witnessed
a traditional preacher confuse the aedes mosquito with AIDS once. This
is what Asri, a Malaysian Salafi, would like you to believe is the state
of things in Muslim Malaysia. Then there is all this talk about the need
to "kill off ideas and understanding. "

Asri thinks light of "the scholars of old" but much of
"science today." He actually says: "The Quran speaks
many times of the greatness of God in the signs that we see all around
us. The scholars of old could not grasp such verses thoroughly, but
science can do so now." "They" are reactionary while
"Islam puts forth arguments." The subversion of persons by
abstractions is only one of the many ironies of the grammar of islamism.
A much greater irony, of course, is that islamism is the greatest threat
to Islam today. Machiavelli himself could not dream up worse perversion
than what a mufti in the most ostensibly advanced Muslim society on
earth can stand up before Muslims and teach nowadays.

A few days ago the young "leader" of a group named
"Tawhid and Jihad" shot Syrian border guards as he attempted
to make his way into Lebanon, then, rather than get arrested, blew
himself up with an explosive belt. It does not take an Einstein to
divine the slippery slope that leads from "youngest-ever"
muftis preaching revisionism, to 28-year old "Tawhid and
Jihad" suicides in our times. It is a fact that the Islamic podium
in Southeast Asia is now dominated by the Ikhwan al-Muslimin. If
so-called Progressives want you to do away with your Muslim identity,
so-called Salafis teach you to do away with yourself. The suicide is
spiritual and intellectual as well, since they convince their blind
followers that they are "thinking for themselves" and
according to "Qur'an and Sunna!"

The rule of boys and the podium of the ignorant are among the signs of
the end of times predicted by our Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and
peace. Islamist Islam can be compared to an adolescent Hulk alternately
throwing huge, uncontrollable tantrums and sermonizing incoherently at
his parents, the neighbors, their dog, and everything else in the world.
How can we best treat this confusion and extract it from our midst? Two
steps seem paramount for people of Islamic learning and educated lay
Muslims alike, although respective emphases differ:

1. Acknowledge the odd good point each newfangled movement may forward,
and expose the endless errors and incoherences that dominate their
discourse. This requires greater knowledge and representation of what
they themselves claim to speak for, namely, the main and ancillary (e.g.
logic and language) sciences of the Qur'an and Sunna as taught by
Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a.

2. Reconnect our professionals and graduates about their own scholarly
tradition so they can tell gold from plastic and tin. This necessitates
firsthand connection with a traditional, non-Wahhabi teacher as well as
pursuing the reform of the soul. TV muftis, websites and picturebooks
are a delusion. So is party activism.

Asri says he believes "two movements will influence the minds of
Malaysians in the future: one is the Salafiyyah movement. The second...
is that of liberal Muslims." Malaysians should beg to differ one
and all. Surely their heritage is richer than to blinker its sons and
daughters into a bankrupt alternative. What do the accomplished elders
and their graduates and communities say? Where is the voice of the
Muslim majority in Malaysia? They are best qualified to silence those
who think contemporary Malaysians must be (how horrible to say!) either
Wahhabi-Salafis or liberal-progressive s.

May we learn and re-learn, calmly and methodically, to differentiate
between authentic voices of Reason and Learning on the one hand, and, on
the other, immature voices promoting rebellion and self-destructive

Allahumma! Arina al-haqqa haqqan wa-urzuqna ittiba`ah, wa-arina
al-batila batilan wa-urzuqna ijtinabah.


GF Haddad


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