26 September, 2013


Humko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat laikin
Dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib yeh khayaal achcha hai
[I know the truth of the Paradise / But, Ghalib, this idea serves to keep entertained]
[Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, Ghalib - 27 December 1797 – died 15 February 1869]

It seems a far cry today for today’s Ghalib to write such stuff and remain in a Muslim mohalla, with due acceptance of the community. We live in a world where fatwas are administered against taking photographs, women working at offices, retraction of inadvertently given triple talaq… against interest, insurance, and a hundred other issues.

You question veracity of Quran as the inviolable word of God you are condemned a heretic. You question Mohammed’s ‘last prophethood’ you are ex-communicated. You convert out of Islam you are a justified target for killing as an apostate.

We spend more time, energy and resources on punishing Muslims for their liberalism, inquiry, difference of views than on constructive work and on institution building - even for the benefit of Muslims.

But we were not so always. We learn that the Mutazallite Muslims, for instance, dared to question attributes of Allah and the creation of Quran. Where have they gone? How have they disappeared? Why? Whither Ijtihad [reinterpretation] now?

This thread is dedicated to discussing nothing but the radical thought, unconventional ideas and practices amongst the Muslims today and in the yore. Unconventional from the dominant Wahabi style of Islam.

We shall attempt to probe if Islam leaves space for free inquiry, for reinterpretation and adaptation in the face of emerging challenges that the global politico-economic situation, the scientific discoveries and the technological advances are throwing up. Overall we shall probe the possibility of the Muslims standing up again with their heads held high in the comity of the communities of 21st century earth.

I urge members to refrain from taking the line “but so and so other communities also have this obnoxious practice”. This is one reason why we landed where we did. Instead let us focus what went wrong with us, due to our negligence and what can we now do, given the world as it is. Over to you, friends: Muslims and non-Muslim well-wishers of Muslims.

Post of Yu Hassan
The 'radical' as seen in the early centuries of Islam was 'Mutazallite' thought itself since in its enthusiasm for rational justification of all matters of faith it ended up denying some of the widely accepted tenets of the faith itself such as those concerning the attributes of Allah, creation of the Quran, etc. The bitter and stubborn fight put up by the orthodoxy finally led to the decline of this school. The 'falasifa' school rose up next as Greek philosophical texts began to be translated into Arabic. Al-Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Sina, and others wrote commentaries on the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and added their own ideas. 'Ikhwan as-Safa' was another group devoted to Greek philosophy.

The reaction to these schools of thoughts came mainly from Sufism and Orthodoxy (who themselves were initially at odds with each other). The four great Imams and the Traditionlists fought for the cause of the theology and revelation against unbridled rationalism. Al-Ashari developed a powerful system of 'Kalam' to counter the arguments of the Mutazillites. Ghazali championed the cause of the Sufis and also refuted the arguments of the philosophers.

The ancient internal rivalry between pure Revelation and pure Rationalism, Faith and Reason manifested in the various sects and creeds throughout Islamic history continues to this day in various new guises and forms across the globe.

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