Inventing a New Islam

Islam, when practised in its pure form as revealed to and practised by Allaah’s Messengers, is eternal in terms of its teachings and absolute in its applicability. It is above and beyond any human concepts of segregating humanity into groups and factions whether these segregations are based on time (eras), geography (continents), age (youth, old), generations, culture or traditions, etc. Hence, people practising pure Islam will think, approach matters, act and behave in a similar fashion regardless of how old they are, where they come from, and which society they have been living in, even if their opinions or practices differ in minor details, which is quite natural among intelligent human beings. In other words, among the true Muslims, things like generation gap and significant cultural disparities should ideally be non-existent. Also, in that sense, there can be no Pakistani, Saudi, Egyptian, Malaysian or West Indian Islam.

Unfortunately, things do not go that way. Islam does not remain pure. When Shayŧaan cannot make Muslims denounce Islam altogether, he ensures that he moves them away from the straight path of pure Islam through inciting them to adopt tiny and seemingly insignificant variations from its pure practices and/or add seemingly innocuous little new practices in their lifestyle. Soon people become accustomed to these seemingly small variations or additions and start considering those changes as normal/original parts of Islam. Once people are conditioned to earlier changes, more tiny variations and more little, new practices continue to be added to what is already there. Before long, these successive small changes make their religion significantly different from pure Islam they were taught, without people even realizing that they have invented a new religion. That is how people started worshipping idols, although Adam had taught his children the pure Towĥeed of Islam. Little by little, people got so far away from original Islam that by the time of Nooh, Towĥeed seemed to them a strange and foreign concept. The same happened to the children of Nooĥ.

Shaytaan is helped by another factor. Human beings like to conform to the communities they live in. They especially mimic those who are rich, famous and wield authority and power in the society. Shaytaan’s work of misguiding Muslims becomes quite easy if Muslims are surrounded by non-Islamic culture and environment, to which they start to conform, often unwittingly, while thinking that they are practising real Islam. A study of Banee Israaeel gives a very clear picture of the process and circumstances through which this phenomenon occurs. That is how Moosa’s pure Islam turned into Judaism and even the severe warnings of Dawood and ‘Eesa could not stem that tide of degeneration.  

Sometimes people create variations deliberately with the good intention of ‘inventing a local Islam’ and making ‘Islam’ relevant to local realities. That is how ‘Eesa’s pure Islam became Paulite Christianity.

It is through all of the above-mentioned Satanic processes that we ended up with Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Saudi, West Indian, African versions of Islam as well as with Brailvi, Deobandi, Sufi, Shi’i, Salafi versions of Islam. When all of these different versions of Islam are coming together either in Europe or in North America, problems are being encountered that are frustrating those who want to see the Ummah work together and succeed. Exploiting this sad state of affairs and capitalizing on their religious school degrees, forefather’s credentials, white skin or anti-Islam rhetoric some ‘Muslim intellectuals’, very much hailed and supported by the Western press, are promoting the idea of inventing Canadian, American, European, moderate or progressive Islams. Many young Muslims, tired of their parents’ ignorance of the real Islam and infighting due to their ethnic version of Islam, have started gullibly adopting that thinking and the slogan of ‘local Islam’ is becoming fashionable among them.

Those young Muslims in Europe and North America have a golden opportunity to adopt the pure Islam mandated by Allaah and His Messenger, which will bring blessings to their own Muslim communities as well as to their societies in general.

All we need is the revival of that pure Islam mandated by Allaah SWT and demonstrated in practice by Muĥammad ŜA‘WS -- nothing less, nothing more.

No, we do not need to invent any ‘local’ Islam. Invention will lead us to the Fire.

Pure Islam is very liberating. It frees Muslims from the baggage of their backgrounds and the shackles of the environment in which they are living. It also liberates them from feelings of helplessness caused by matters in other people’s control by shifting their attention to self-actualization in terms of personal excellence. It allows people to look at the potential of what they can do instead of being concerned about what wrongs others are doing. It instils in its adherents a constructive spirit of investing their time in constant action, rather than wasting it in arguments and criticisms.  It gives them a clear vision of what they should achieve and provides them a practical framework for making it happen. It makes Muslims proactive, taking charge of their destiny through hard work and intelligent deployment of whatever meagre resources they have at their disposal, rather than reacting to others’ agendas, complaining about other’s injustices or dwelling upon what is not in their control. It empowers people from inside to liberate people from being bogged down by the pressures and problems outside their control. That is why Bilal’s voice declaring ‘Aĥad’ could not be suppressed under heavy weight of stones nor could it be silenced by the pain of burning skin.

This Islam does not expect its adherents to detach themselves from the society they live in to practice their religion. Rather, it obligates them to work at multiple fronts simultaneously. While constantly working on one’s personal excellence and concentrating upon proactively achieving their targets and goals, Muslims must be genuinely interested in the well being of the people around them and must be fully engaged in the society in which they live. Unlike common concepts of religiosity or spirituality that encourages people to withdraw from society, Islam’s spirituality is attained through wholesome interaction with people in the society, serving them in every way possible and addressing their needs – whether moral, psychological, social, financial or spiritual. A Muslim serves all people, irrespective of their religion, whether they are neighbours, colleagues, classmates or people at large in the society -- even those people who are temporarily around him/her. A Muslim is known for kindness and concern for the well-being of people just like the Prophet was famous for helping common folks both before and after prophethood. He was concerned about the well being of even the women who used to throw garbage on him.

It also demands that Muslims must work to improve the overall environment of the society in which they live – whether it is the social, political or economic environment. A Muslim’s role is to contribute constructively towards the betterment of the society, like the Prophet did through acts such as his leading participation in Ĥilful-Fudhool and amazingly brave help to a visiting trader to obtain payment for his goods when denied by the powerful chief Aboo Jahl.

These actions must be an important part of daily life wherever a Muslim is (whether he or she is a visitor to a society, temporarily living in that society or a long term resident) and at whatever stage of life he/she is at (whether a student, in a transitory phase of life or well settled).

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