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Culture, science and violence the Quranic approach

“Culture … is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (the new encyclopedia Britannica)

The word ‘civilized’ uses as the synonymous for human being. It has various dimensions and interpretations; as the words culture, science and violence have. The need of man for being ‘civilized’ is the inherent call which flourished the society. The ideology which leads the man can channelize this to a meaningful society. That is why, Allah chooses him for His representation (Khalifah) in this world. He also provide with the cultural tool (the pen- qalam) in the first revelation (wahy) itself to ease this duty. The concepts of Ihsan, Tazyeen etc drown by Quran are the clear indication to the aesthetic sence of Quran.

“Culture, science and violence a Quranic approach” is an academic study by Dr. Obaidullah Fahad which analyze in-depth the Islamic concept and ideological necessity of utilizing these tools. The author clears the doubt that may arise from the title itself in the introduction. He says “culture, science and violence – the varying and complementing ingredients of a dynamic collective life- are defined as interdependent and something intermingled entities in the chapter al Hadid 57th chapter of Holy Quran”. He explains the whole discussion on the base of this surah itself. He draws the basic features, characters and scope of culture, science and violence in the Islamic civilization. He argues that the connotations of bayyinat, kitab, mizan, qist, hadid and ghayb of 25th verse of surah.

The discussion starts with definition and features of Islamic culture. The flow of Quran in describing its teachings indicates the aesthetic approach. The concept of culture and aesthetics should base on the basic principles of Islamic values. This culture is totally responsible to its world view, its specific ideas of tawhid, hurriyat, adl, musawat,takrim and so on. It is not confined in fine arts, literature and poetry; it covers all the aspects of human life.

The culture develops from the freedom of expression. Islamic culture directs this freedom in the right path. It should reflect the concept khalifathullah. It should look after peace, equality and harmony of the society. The dynamic view of it represents the broad concept, the accomodationist and futuristic approach. Islamic culture has been the forerunner of science and technology; awakening and advancement rooted in this dynamism. Human dignity is the corner stone of this culture. Takrim denotes the respect, honour and dignity to all the human beings irrespective of religion, region and culture and so on.

Muslim intellectuals have realized that women are deprived of their Islamic rights even in Islamic society. It is not enough to recite the holy verse of the Quran and to quote Prophetic traditions in favour of women rights. Most of the Muslim Ulema are of the opinion that Islam cares religious women only in the family or with regard to the religious education. It is not so. Women equally share with men the social and political responsibilities and the Quran is very clear about it. The author discussed the gender equality and Islam in a full-fledged chapter itself. An interesting and detailed discussion on the terminologies of quran, qawwam and fadilah concludes agreeing iniquity of feminine and masculine characters but equality in the responsibilities of each.

The second part of the book deals with science and its discourse with Quran. The author presents this chapter on the bases of a study on Sayid Qutub’s views. He analyses the three reaction on science

1. the extreme reaction who says that the scientific development is not possible, nor even desirable in an Islamic society

2. the second reaction has been to reinterpret the faith in order to reconcile the demands of modern science and civilization with teachings and traditions of Islam.

3. The third attitude has been to treat the requirement of science and modernity as essentially unrelated to the direct concerns of religion and faith.

Quran as the book of guidance, it is a torch in the darkness of paganism and polytheism that does enlighten the mind and soul of mankind. It is the criterion for right and wrong it mainly does differentiate between lawful and unlawful, good and bad and permissible and no permissible. And the directions of Quran provoked the thinking on the things around man. This fruited in the Islamic history and contributed to different branches of science.

The last part of the discussion divided into two chapters which is related violence. The first of the two deals with the true meaning of jihad and the second on the topic violence and the Quranic irhab. He scholarly addressed this controversial issue and discussed it deeply by analyzing the modern Islamic scholars.

The author mainly concentrates on modern discourse on jihad and violence. He analyzes the orientalistic approach and also the opinion modern scholars like Abul Aala Moududi and others.

The book deals the issues on concept of addressing a plural society like India is the exclusive feature. It extents its hands to the last end which Islam allows which may call as liberal. The very needy discussion on ideological back for the cultural intervention is provided by this great work.

Culture, science and violence the Quranic approach

Dr. Obaidullah Fahad

Jnanada Prakashan, New Delhi

Research Methodology in Islamic Perspective

This book is a collection of articles aimed to explore research methodology in different branches of social sciences in the framework of Islamic values and goals. The need for such methodology arises from the context of Islamization of knowledge and claims that Islam offers the best solutions to the problems of the world.

The selection of the articles has been done in two ways i.e. the approach to the problem has been done in two ways. The first one is through a research methodology for the development of Islamic disciplines like Islamic economics, Sociology etc. The second is by the development of an Islamic Research methodology for studying Economics, Political Science, History etc.

The articles in the book are actually are presentations in a seminar held at AMU in 1991 on the title “ Research Methodology in Islamic Perspective” under the auspices of IOS and the Department of Philosophy, AMU. Also some of the articles have been selected from the journals like Islamic thoughts(Aligarh) and American Journal of Islamic Social Science (USA).

The first paper which is of Mohd Rafiudheen and which is titled “The meaning and purpose of Islamic Research” defines Islamic Research and examines the nature of research Islam intends. He says that the purpose of Islamic research is to interpret Islam in new situations.

Abdul Haque Ansari in his paper “Nature and scope of Islamic Research” presents Islam as an alternative to the modern ideologies of the world. For indulging in such research one must be acquainted with the current world and its ideologies.

The third article in the row is of M.N Siddiqui which is titled “Islamic Research and Spiritual Content of Islam”. He has spoken about the emphasis on maintaining balance between spiritual and material spheres of human existence and activities. If this is achieved then it will be the hallmark of social science.

F.R Faridi has made an excellent effort in his article “Islamic Research Methodology: some reflections” to expose the deficiencies of the current Western Methodology of research. West’s unclear notion of reality led to the deficiency in Research Methodology. Scholars of social sciences also adopted materialism as being the essence of reality and ignored or rejected the spiritual factor in studying the social realities. The application of this kind of methodology led the social scientists to view the world as purposeless. Every individual was made to be selfish even at the cost of the whole mankind. He further says that the Islamic worldview perceives the universe as a blessing of God; it is made for the service of mankind. This methodology makes the individual of the world to be responsible of his acts and thinks about the welfare of the people.

Irfan Ahmed khan in his article titled “The Islamic Method” explains and emphasizes the need for empirical research in the light of Quran and Sunna. Besides explaining the relevance of the traditional sources of research – Quran, Sunna, Ijma and Qiyas he has rightly interpreted Sama (faculty of hearing), Basar(faculty of seeing) and Fuad(faculty of insight) to emphasize the importance of experimentation in Islamic method.

The article “Quran Method of Reasoning” by Ahmed Abd-al- Hamid Ghorab explains the difference between the concepts of reasoning in the Quran and Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy is only concerned with the building of a philosophical system through abstract reasoning. The Quran reasoning not only develops a philosophical system but also it makes the people to act accordingly. The salient feature of Ghorab’s article is that he supports his points with verses of the Holy Quran.

Dr. M.Riaz Kiramani in his article “Quranic Method of Enquriy” expresses the point that there is a linkage between a research methodology and particular worldview.

Syed Zainul Abidin in his article “Problems of Islamic research in Philosophy” has tried to devise a correct methodology to study Philosophy in an Islamic perspective. Modern or Western philosophical methods are not a basis for Islamic philosophy. A researcher must believe that there exists an ultimate truth and he can reach that truth or reality through reasoning.

Irfan Ahmed Khan in his paper “Islamic research in Philosophy: Issues and Problems” tries to devise an Islamic methodology for study of Philosophy. Islamic approach to philosophy is rational, intuitional and subjected to revelation. The reason should combine revelation and by this the researcher can benefit from all the above approaches and save his work from the deficiencies in each of them. The reason, intuition and revelation when combined together complement each other.

Under the sub-title of Political Science Dr. Rashid Moten has exposed in his article “Islamization of Knowledge: Methodology of Research in Political Science” the drawbacks of Western Empirical social science which has been uncritically been accepted world wide. For alleviating this deficiency reason and revelation should be combined. He then tries to make an alternative to the Western mode of enquiry for the study of social science especially political science. He critically examines Western mode of enquiry and contrast it with Islamic alternative based on society, polity and state.

Professor Blakinship in his paper “The need for an Islamic Theory and Methodology of History” exposes the parochialism of Western approach to world history. Then he concentrates on what Muslim approach to history was till now and what it ought to be in the changing days. West’s insistence on Greco-Roman historical experience still continues. He has further tried to explore the possibility of Islamic interpretation of History. He argues that Muslim Historians should also concentrate on pre-Islamic world History to find out the truth. Muslim historians should also come out of the borders of Islamic history and embrace and explain all of human history.

Under the sub-title of economics Mohammed Anwar in his article “Islamic economics Methodology” says that the concept of Islamic economists is a fast growing phenomenon, gaining ever increasing strength as well as recognition. Islamic economists should be responsible to either create or invent a new Islamic methodology or revitalize the existing methodology so as to prevent the Muslim economist to depend on Western Methodology. He has urged the economists to create a criterion to Islamically examine economic theories and conduct research within an Islamic framework. He has tried to set up a criterion to evaluate and test the validity of various economic theories. He has also suggested that a comparative study of the Western and Islamic methodologies be done with regards to Islamic Banking.

Under the same sub-title of economics Mohammed Arif has also contributed an article titled “The Islamization of Knowledge and some Methodological issues in Paradigm Building: The General Case of Social Science with a special focus on economics”. He also deals with the Islamization of Knowledge with reference to economics. Materialism which is the essence of Western social science argues that only the sensible world can be known and nothing beyond that. In the Western pattern of materialism there is no room for divine revelation. He also says that all social scientists first develop a world view and interpret things in their respective fields of specialization.

Dr. Jameel Farooqui in his article “Islamic Perspective of Methodology in social phenomenal context” first examines some of the current methodologies in social sciences. He argues that Islam provides proper and relevant research methodology for analyzing social behaviour and phenomena. Human knowledge will be complete and true by taking into consideration the ultimate reality (knowledge of God) and divine will. Islamic theory based on revelation is not only necessary for studying beyond human perceptions but also to study the social world.

The article next to the end of the book is by Rais Ahmed titled “some thoughts on Methodology in Islamic Science”. He says that to solve the problems of man arising in nature a methodology is needed which can distinguish the truth from false. The western methodology relies only on sense, perception and reason. The Islamic Science sees or recognizes revelation as the supreme authority. He has discussed in his article how revelation is responsible for question formation and how it decides the method of study and how it provides criteria for acceptability of conclusion.

The last two chapters of the book contains the key note address of Muhammad Anwar which was prepared for the seminar at AMU and the proceedings of the seminar by M. Sirajudddin Khan.

Author: Mohammed Muqim
Publication: Genuine Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd
Pages: 279

 

The Messenger, The meanings of the life of Muhammad

The Messenger, The meanings of the life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan, who is also known as one of the most important innovators of 21ST century by Times magazine, deserves wide readership. The book has a different style of presenting events and interpreting the meanings of life of Muhammad (saw).

Though classical biographies give us a detailed account of historical facts, great achievements, or famous wars of the messenger but there is no profit in dealing with them exhaustively, this book focuses on narration of the story of his life, on situations , attitudes or words that could reveal Muhammad (saw)’s personality and what it can teach and convey us today. It approaches Muhammad (saw) life from the perspective of our own times considering how it still speaks to us and what its contemporary teachings are.

The book is strictly faithful to the classical biographies as far as chronology is concerned but constantly introduces reflections and comments of a spiritual ,Philosophical ,social , judicial ,political or cultural nature. It tries to make Messenger’s life a mirror through which readers facing the challenges of our times can explore their hearts and minds and achieves an understanding of questions of being and meaning as well as broader ethical and social concerns.

Muhammad (saw)’s relationship and dealings specially with non-Muslims, his trust and treaties with them, His overall approach towards diversity of human thoughts and beliefs is expressed many times in this book. It teaches us lessons and brings out many points which often are neglected or discarded but they play a very vital role in our understanding of how do we address the diversities and live in a plural society. It draws lessons which are crucial for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.

No book can be last word on the Prophet (saw)’s life, and as time passes we will see many more exploration of this final Messenger. Readers will find a spiritual experience while going through this discourse, It is interspersed with spiritual & philosophical meditations and shows how Muhammad (saw) message can be used to address some of today’s most controversial issues from the treatment of the poor and the role of women to the interpretation of jihad and relations with other religions.

 

Even Angels Ask

Dr Jeffry Lang a mathematician at san fransico University in US ,an atheist and agnostic at 18 turns Muslim at 28 describes his unique experience  of reverting to  Islam in his book “Even angels ask”. He discusses  his own journey to Islam in America , the answers he found most convincing in Quran, the way to approach Quran ,a way to understand GOD , an approach to find meaning in Islam and make it relevant today ,a critique to many of the ways in which Muslims are representing Islam in west. He says, his main purpose for writing this book is for his own children who are been brought up in the American society simultaneously the book also addresses to the agnostics and atheist minds, people of America, Muslims across the globe and American Muslims in specific.

The book discusses the problems faced by American Muslim reverts , among which many become apostate due to the attitude of immigrant Muslims who make up the majority in America.

He discusses in detail
• Subculture trends within the American Muslim community
• The lack of tolerance between Muslim schools of thought
• The dominance of Middle Eastern and Arabic features of merely cultural, not religious significance;
• Traditional Muslim attitudes toward women that violate Qur’anic norms often causing Muslim women to feel unwelcome in mosques;
• Over-focusing on nonessential, marginal aspects of the Islamic way
of  life, instead of looking for the general ethical and spiritual lessons of the Prophet’s Sunnah,
•and the systematic distrust shown by “native” Muslims toward contributions by Western converts.

He describes his own experience in Saudi Arabia where his inquisitive or investigative  attitude , whose way of inquiry into the basis of Islam was considered dangerous, even suspected to leading to innovation   even heresy. It requires patience on part of readers before reaching any conclusions to look at all the dimensions of arguments specially, where DR Lang questions those things about which Muslims generally are tacit.

He encourages Muslims that they should never stop asking pertinent questions about GOD, the world and themselves ,”since knowledge grows with time”, as a matter of fact ,he holds that it would be great  error indeed to rely blindly on past judgments and to ‘dogmatize opinion’. At the end he addresses the first generation Muslims of American society how to impart the spirit of Islam to the second generation (the young generation  ,most of them who have totally broken their relation with Islam).Readers will find a spiritual and intellectual appeal when Dr Lang describes the attributes of ALLAH (swt) and the five pillars of  Islam in a very unique style.
The title of the book “Even angels ask” is not a random selection , but is well thought of and suits the whole discourse of the book. Angels who  are pure and obedient to Allah ,when they are announced the news of “creation of vicegerent on earth” (2:30) ,the angels inquired Allah about the rationale of creating such a creature who will create mischief, they inquired about  the divine will. An inquisitive and enquiring minds is always required ,those who try to find the spirit and not just accept things as dogmas and traditions which ultimately leads to intellectual stagnancy and outward religiosity .The companions of Prophet always questioned the Him, our Messenger did not gave sermons but asked questions to raise curiosity ,the companions never hesitated and daringly asked about things they didn’t comprehend.

The whole approach of the Qur’an is towards developing an inquiring minds. Though there are many delicate questions about predestination and theodicy ,which cannot be solved because of man’s captivity in his mind’s categories of time and space, proper to him alone. Thus the author lefts unsolvable problem’s to higher level of awareness. More cannot be asked.
Though the book is written keeping in view the American society but still it’s appeal is relevant to all and it can give insight to all daees who are working with different Islamic movements across globe.

 

The Way to the Quran

The Glorious Qur’an, the Words of ever living GOD, It has been sent down as guide and has been guiding billions of man through centuries, changing the lives of many and will do it  for all time to come. For those who heard it for the first time from the lips of Prophet (saw) The Qur’an was a Living reality –The Book which transformed people who grazed sheeps and heards to leaders of humanity, those who gave a new civilization and stood before the world as paragon of Justice, kindness, GOD consciousness, fraternity, pioneers in the field of knowledge and sciences in various domains. Today the same

Qur’an is with us but still the people are unmoved by it, minds remain untouched, lives remain unchanged, ignominy and degradation appear to have become the lot of the followers of the Qur’an..Why? Because it is no longer read as a “Living Reality” argues Khurram Murad in his book “The Way to the Qur’an”.

In a very simplistic language and style Khurram Murad has written this book, He says that his intention for writing this book is not for scholars of Qur’an but it is for those ordinary, inexpert seekers of the Qur’an, especially the young men and women who are struggling hard to fulfill their desire to understand, absorb and live by the precepts of Qur’an.

The book describes the basic prerequisites for approaching the Qur’an, faith in its been the direct words of GOD, purity of intention and purpose, bringing gratitude and peace, acceptance and trust, obedience and will to change ourselves, hazards and obstacles created by Satan for seekers of Qur’an, trust and dependence are all discussed as part of approach to the Qur’an. The Qur’an should only be approached as a book of guidance alone, any other purpose and intention may lead to straying, it should not be approached for proving our own vested philosophies, ideas, science and technology or a book of history etc although the Qur’an has in itself the scientific facts, historical instances, logics and rhetoric but their ultimate aim is for the humans to draw lessons from them and take guidance and not merely consider it as a matter of academic discussions. Much stress being given for “Faham” of the Quran, so that if it does happen, can be implemented easily in once life, while reality remains this book is a source of “sawab” only.

There are lots of practical advices for the students of Qur’an who are aspiring to go in the inner depths of Qur’an to a level of higher consciousness where the Qur’an is reading us and it becomes a living reality for us. The very basic etiquettes required for Personal study of Qur’an and collective study both are discussed in detail. Finally the books concludes with how do we uplift ourselves from the state of just reading The Qur’an to “Living the Qur’an”

 

Ulum al-Quran

The Qur’an contains the revelations of Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, to mankind. It is the message from God to man and therefore of utmost importance to us. To properly grasp a message, one needs first of all to understand its contents exactly, and for this purpose one must study the Qur’an deeply and in detail.

Muslims have from earliest times, applied themselves not only to the message from Allah the Qur’an but also to its setting and framework, and the preoccupation with these ultimately developed into the ‘sciences’ of or ‘knowledge’ about the Qur’an, known as “ulum al-qur’an’.

The proper approach to the Qur’an, in my humble view, can be described in three stages. You must:

•    First, receive the message of the Qur’an, by hearing or reading it;
•    Second, understand the message of the Qur’an by reflecting upon it and studying its meanings;
•    Third, apply the message of the Qur’an by ordering your personal life as well as the life of society according to its message.   

The branch of knowledge, called ‘ulum al-Qur’an may be used as a means for the accomplishment of the second stage, understanding the message of the Qur’an, by understanding its setting and circumstances.

According to a general definition, ‘ulum al-qur’an denotes studies concerned with the book of revelations sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH) namely:

•    Its revelation.
•    Its collection.
•    Its order and arrangement.
•    It’s writing down.
•    Information about the reasons and occasions of revelation.
•    About what was revealed in Makka and what in Madina.
•    About the abrogating and abrogated verses.
•    About the ‘clear’ and the ‘unclear’ verses.

The term also covers Qur’an-related studies, such as:

•    The explanation of verses and passages by the Prophet himself, his Companions, their followers and the later exegetes of the Qur’an.
•    The methods of explanation.
•    The scholars of exegesis and their books.

The aim of this book as all ‘ulum al-qur’an is to help towards a better understanding of the Qur’anic message by providing information on its setting, framework and circumstances. To a great extent it is a descriptive account of the traditional subject of ‘ulum al-qur’an.

Some branches of ‘ulum al-qur’an, such as the divisions of the text, style, literary form etc.,
have only been touched upon briefly, while others that seemed more important have been dealt with in more detail. In particular such topics related to the understanding of the text (asbab al-nuzul, al-nasikh wa al-mansukh, etc.) have been treated more extensively

There are a number of matters related to the study of the Qur’an to which I have drawn special attention since this ‘Introduction’ to the ‘ulum al-qur’an is aimed at a special readership, namely, young educated Muslims with little or noaccess to the original sources on the subject. I have therefore included several topics, of special relevance for that readership, such as:

•    Orientalists and the Qur’an.
•    Translations of the Qur’an.
•    Modern interpretation of the Qur’an.
•    Language of the Qur’an.
•    Reading and recitation of the Qur’an.

Again, particularly for the benefit of these readers, I have often quoted typical examples to illustrate the various points discussed and make them more easily comprehensible.

Ahmad von Denffer
Leicester. Ramadan 1981/1401

 

 

In the Early hours

Precious but often neglected time during the night that Allah is closest and most receptive to His servants.
The Messenger of God said:
Our Lord descends each night to the nearest Heaven when only the last third of the night remains, and says: `Is anyone praying that I may answer him? Is anyone seeking forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is anyone asking, that I may give to him?’, and this continues until dawn. (Tirmidhi.)
Is the essence and theme of the book.

While The later part of each night is the most conducive period for reflection and self development. It is the occasion with the most potential for the heart to be present, alert and free of worldly concerns as the Quran declares: Lo! The vigil of the night is [a time] when impression is more keen and speech more certain. [al-Muzzammil 73:6.]

This book is a collection of inspirational advice by a dear and beloved teacher, Ustadh Khurram Murad on the subject of spiritual and self development. In it he sets out the goal of the Believer- the single-minded desire to seek the good pleasure of Allah and Paradise. He then outlines the methods and instruments which must be used in the attainment of that ultimate goal.

These spiritual exhortations that follow were originally delivered in those early hours of Summer 1993 just after Salat al-Fajr as part of a course entitled Self Development for Islamic Workers at The Islamic Foundation, Leicester. That course represented one of many similar courses Ustadh Khurram conducted for young Muslims, both male and female. He recognised that it was in the young generation’s eagerness, strength and enthusiasm that the future of the Muslim Umma lay.

Each of the seven sections in this book represents one Nasiha or Advice.
CHAPTER ONE: The Process of Self Development puts light on process of Tazkiya.
CHAPTER TWO: A Life of Remembrance : teaches Dhikr, effect in human life, type of Dhikr.
CHAPTER THREE: Relating to Allah Discusses all sorts of a slave’s connection with Allah (i.e Ibadah), Holding Unto Allah, its essence.
CHAPTER FOUR: `Relating to Allah’s Messenger, deals with the position of Sunnah in believers life, The Prophetic Mission and Our mission.
CHAPTER FIVE: Spending in the Way of Allah, against Love of this World, Types of spending, Ajr one is going to get out of these spending etc.
CHAPTER SIX: `Relating to Allah’s Creation: obligation relating to all sorts of relations we have in our day to day life, even with animals.
CHAPTER SEVEN: Meeting Allah: this is the purpose of our life to prepare for it, Men are forgetful, Our negligence, conquering fear of death etc. 

In a nut shell this book gives a real insight of process of self development and tazkiya. Each chapter shall be read in detail and should be implemented.

 

 

 

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