This is one hell of a courageous piece written by Dr. Farzana Hassan. More of these voices are needed to shake up numerous outdated aspects of the Traditionalist and dominantly accepted interpretations of the Quran today.
Interpretations that keep the Muslim mind locked in shackles and enslaved to dogmatism.
Faith need not be like that.
And Dr. Farzana seems to largely agree with me in her piece, except for some small details like the one I discuss below.
RELEVANCE OF QURAN IN THE 21ST CENTURY
by Dr. Farzana Hassan
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I begin by quoting a few verses of the Quran:
“Those who disbelieve from among the people of the book and the idolaters will not desist from disbelief, until there came to them the clear evidence—A messenger from Allah reciting to them the pure Scriptures. Therein are lasting commandments.” (Quran 98: 2—4).
The reference here is to the eternal character of the Quran. It is a claim made by the Quran fourteen centuries ago– a claim which in my opinion is quite extraordinary in the light of more or less established truths. The bulk of humanity has witnessed and attested to these truths over time: that societies perpetually evolve and social norms change, therefore all societies need to reconsider the laws regulating altered ethics. It is also a claim that has not as yet been tested, as undoubtedly scripture is often treated as sacrosanct, demanding abject loyalty from the faithful.
Today I speak as a sceptic. And as a sceptic, I want to examine the validity of such claims, both in the light of modern circumstances, and in the light of the many theological constructs that have thus far attempted to confer some legitimacy to such claims.
Islam discourages critical inquiry of the Quran.
I disagree with that last sentence.
It is the dominant understanding of the Islam today which discourages critical inquiry of the Quran. Not Islam as a whole since its birth, and throughout its history of evolution until today.
Nope. Not Islam as a complete whole.
I can tell you from personal experience that making such a claim is unhelpful.
This is because it puts faithful Muslims in a difficult position, wherein they struggle between remaining fully loyal to their faith and valid skeptical doubt.
Such claims make it seem as if critical inquiry of the Quran has no room in Islam, and that if a Muslim does want to engage in such an activity, then it amounts to disloyalty, sinfulness and erosion of faith.
This maybe – and in fact is – the case in the eyes of most Islamic scholars today, and the majority of current Muslims who have been influenced and indoctrinated by them.
However, the bulk of today’s breed of Islamic scholars aren’t representative of all the generations of Islamic scholars that lived before them.
The bulk of today’s breed are a product of the Ash’ariyya’s victory over the Mu’tazila.
A victory that I believe me was one of the main – probably the main #1 reason – why the Islamic Civilization and Golden Age of Islam, fell to its knees.
Seriously, I’ve talked to many like-minded heretical Muslims who value reason, and often, I hear them say “if only the Mu’tazila had won. Islam today would be so different.”
Heck, you know what, watch the video below just so you can understand the immense contributions made by the Muslim scholars and scientists of yesterday. Contributions made by people who valued reason.
Algebra. Algorithm. And ironically, even alcohol.
LOL, I know, awesome.
But it doesn’t stop there. Like I said, just watch this video now from Neil Tyson, one of my most favorite scientists, to get a good idea.
It’s absolutely pathetic how so many Islamic scholars today love to brag endlessly about the great scientific achievements of the Islamic Civilization, but at the same time despise the philosophical foundations and high emphasis on empiricism that built its very Golden Age.
If you have no idea who the Mu’tazila are, I highly encourage you to learn more about them, starting with this.
And while, you’re at it, continue reading Dr. Farzana’s awesome piece.
By contrast, Christianity and Judaism, the other two great monotheistic faiths, permit a liberal theology to scrutinize scripture without penalty. Islam rejects the idea entirely. But I wonder. Why must any document, old or new, religious or secular, be exempt from the scrutiny of intellectual processes that could enable an understanding of its true essence?
Such thoughts have inspired me to delve into today’s topic, which seeks to either establish or dismantle the notion that the Quran relates well to modern times.
… For example, does the Quranic injunction enjoining women to wait four months before ramarrying after the passing of their husbands have relevance for modern times? This provision was put in place for seventh century Bedouins to be able to make determinations of paternity and lineage in the absence of medical tests. But now, with all the medical advances that enable such determinations through a simple test, I question the relevance of such a provision to our modern circumstances.