The Real Islam

A few days back, one of my colleagues delivered a lecture in an international conference in which he presented the understanding of our teacher, Mr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, on Jihad and how Muslims are expected to behave with non-Muslims. He informed the audience that Jihad, according to Mr. Ghamidi was binding on Muslims only for them to eliminate oppression and religious persecution in the contemporary world. He also clarified that this view contends that the Jihad launched by the prophet, alaihissalaam, was specific to the times of the rusul (messengers) who came to ensure that their message dominates during their times and that their adversaries (kuffar) are annihilated. Such aggressive jihad was specific to their era alone and is no more applicable to our times, nor is the requirement that all non-Muslims should be considered enemies of Muslims and therefore should not be taken as friends.

At the end of the lecture, a Jordanian Muslim participant came complaining to the speaker that he had done a disservice to Islam. Explaining what he meant, he mentioned that what was described in the lecture was the Islam he had learnt about and believed in right from his childhood. That, he said, was the only true Islam. He lamented the fact that the extremist Muslims have hijacked the true Islam. One should present Islam, he said, not as a point of view presented by this scholar or that. One should state it confidently as the only true Islam.

My feeling is that what this Jordanian friend mentioned may not be the truth in the academic world of Muslim scholars. However, many common, intelligent Muslims do not resort to the world of Islamic scholars to learn what the correct interpretation of Islam is. The Islam learnt and believed in through the simple, objective reading of the Qur’an is very close to the real understanding of God’s word. What religious scholars say is quite often the reflection of the point of view they have already decided to follow, in many cases because of the madrassah (religious seminary) they were taught in. Since academic debate and critical examination of views in the light of Qur’an, sunnah, hadith, and common sense is lacking in our academic world and most scholars today sheepishly following what the earlier scholars have said, what people receive through these scholars is quite often contrary to what the true understanding of Islam is.

Ghamidi Sahib recently met a traditional scholar who told him that what he was presenting to the people was a new Islam. Mr Ghamidi responded to him by telling him that what he was presenting was the original, oldest Islam. He told the scholar that what he and his likes were presenting were versions of Islam that were three to seven hundred years’ old. “We are attempting to jump back to the times of the prophet to bring out what the original message of Islam is” he said. That Islam has to be based on the teachings of the Qur’an, sunnah, and hadith, all of which ought to be understood through the sincere and unrestricted use of intellect and not through the opinions of the scholars of the later days, which is what most of the Muslim scholars of today are doing.

9 thoughts on “The Real Islam

  1. Khalid Mahmood

    Ghamidi sb, you and your colleagues are light in the darkness through which we Muslims are passing these days, only Allah can reward you for your efforts, and I hope that you have also prepared peoples to carry out your good work even after you. Our generations and the coming ones need people like you in all times.

    I totally agree with Ghamidi sb’s view that Jihad is to be fought for the reasons explained by him, and only while conditions are fulfilled but who is going to make these people understand who continuously make speeches to exploit innocent Muslims and defame Islam for their personal gains.

  2. Najam Mahmud

    Indeed the correct way of understanding the real Islam is to refer to the Holy Quran as the basis for all knowledge and then understanding the Sunnah and Hadith in its light. Anything that cannot be linked back to the Quran cannot be declared an integral part of Islam. We must be very careful when we assume that something is or is not part of Islam. Allah has protected the Holy Book for this very purpose that no matter how much time passes the word of Allah remains pure and provides guidance to those who truly want to submit to his will and stay on course to becoming true Muslims.

  3. Isa Khan

    In my view Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is one of the few fountains of learning in today’s Islamic world. However, some people might not like his views. Some might even find them ultra modern and, in some cases, iconoclastic. But what they do believe, as many like me do, is that he tells the sour truth. And the fact that he defends his views with sound and strong reasons makes them convincing and his detractors defenceless. What those who criticize him badly need is bring counter evidence. One thing more: Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is bold. And this is exactly what distinguishes him among the crowd. He presents his perspective without toeing a particular sectarian line.

  4. Ishrat

    Whatever Mr. Ghamidi and people inspired by him (colleagues) said in the conference was their own understanding of Islam. And that should not be interpreted as according to Quran or Sunnah. Don’t you think that it confuses more than clearing other people’s thinking? On the one hand, their idea may get acceptance to the non-believers and, on the other hand, it may cause confusion/disturbance within the believers.

    [Dr. Khalid’s response to this comment.]

  5. Affan Rauf

    Just a comment on the above comment: Same is the case with all other religious scholars. What they present is their own understanding of Islam. And they, too, are certainly not flawless. And definitely in some cases their understanding goes against Quran. (e.g. rajam for adultery unless it comes under fassaad-fi-lard). On the other hand Mr. Ghamidi and co. hold opinions that never violate Quran and sunnah, then how can you say “that should not be interpreted as according to Quran or Sunnah”? That’s a strange statement. Then what else is “according to Quran and Sunnah”?

    I don’t think Mr. Ghamidi and co. are confusing people. Instead they are trying to eliminate the confusion (i.e. good-for-nothing complexity) introduced by others.

  6. NMJ

    It’s all very well saying that yours is the real Islam. You also infer that your rulings are based on the Quran and the Sunnah and the rulings/beliefs of other scholars aren’t. But there is no traditional scholar who will say that the Quran and the Hadith don’t form the basis of their belief. What we cannot avoid is the fact that the Quran and the Hadith have to be interpreted. Given a choice of over 1200 years of Hanafi scholarship and 60 odd years of Dr. Ghamidi’s scholarship, I know what I would choose.

    Wahhabi/salafi/Ahl-e-Hadith thought has existed only since the 18th/19th century. It is sheer ignorance and/or arrogance on the part of Muslim modernists to suggest that the scholarship of people as great as Imam Ghazali is deviant. Not even the early Salafis and Ahl-e-Hadith leaders said that!

    There has been general consensus amongst the ulema on core issues which has been disturbed by the Salafis. The Salafis are spreading fitna. They often either veer towards extreme intolerance or excessive liberalism. While there are are obviously major differences between the two, there is one common theme between what Osama bin Laden and Amina Wadud say: forget about traditional scholarship, let’s go and interpret the Quran and Hadith ourselves!

    [Dr. Khalid’s response to this comment.]

  7. Imran Adeeb

    I fully agree with the opinion of Ghamidi sb. He is a true scholar of our religion and a bulwark against the onslaught of Islamic extremism. I suggest that his views should be incorporated in the school/college text books of Islamiyat for giving our students a balanced and moderate knowledge of Islam.

  8. Irfan Haider

    In my quest towards ‘What Islam is?’, I came across many good religious scholars. Ghamidi sb is of course the one I am inspired by the most. What I learnt from Mr. Ghamidi and his school of thoughts (SOT) is that learning Islam is a process in which you have to be very open in listening, analyzing, comparing and ultimately accepting or rejecting a particular view without letting any prejudice of ours to influence this process. This SOT, in my perception, is better depicted by a famous saying of Imam Shafa’i:

    “I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.”

  9. Abdul Momin

    Indeed the correct way of understanding the real Islam is to refer to the Holy Quran as the basis for all knowledge and then understanding the Sunnah and Hadith in its light. Anything that cannot be linked back to the Quran cannot be declared an integral part of Islam. We must be very careful when we assume that something is or is not part of Islam. Allah has protected the Holy Book for this very purpose that no matter how much time passes the word of Allah remains pure and provides guidance to those who truly want to submit to his will and stay on course to becoming true Muslims.

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