Understanding Islam and Islamic Movement

[২৭ নভেম্বর ২০১০ তারিখে লেখাটি মেইলে শতাধিক মানুষের কাছে পাঠানো হয়েছিল।]

Which Islam is the complete Islam?

Question like ‘which Islam is the complete Islam?’ may seem to be a silly question. History of Islam is as old as the history of human race. The first man, Adam (as.) has been descended on this earth with a way of life, a deen. Later on, prophet Ibrahim (as.) named this divine way of life, ideology as Islam considering its followers as muslim. Allah subhanuta’ala says in the holy Quran, ‘I have ordained for you such a way of life that I have ordained on Nooh …… that you establish this deen, and do not differ in this matter.’  Islam has, however, three major phases, if we take Islam as the Islam of prophet Muhammad (sm.), the same way of life that Allah has ordained on mankind at the beginning of human history.

Phases of Islam

Anyway, the major phases of Islam [of prophet Muhammad (sm.)] are: 1) the Meccan period, 2) the early Madani period & 3) the late Madani period. From the perspective of rules and regulations, these three phases are very different from each other. In the whole Meccan period, Islam was only in its conceptual form with a very few rules and regulations. After the migration at Madina, with establishment of Zumuah, rules and regulations necessary for the society and the state has been started to come in face and to be enforced.

Completion of deen

Whether the Islam of the companions who has died in the Meccan period or in the early Madani period (including the martyrs in the great battle of Badr) was complete or incomplete? Obviously, any muslim will answer that it was complete, then, what will be the meaning of ‌‍“al yaoma aqmaltu lakum deenakum…” (‘today your deen—i.e., way of life has been completed.)?

The dilemma

When it has been told that it has been completed, it implies that it was not complete in its earlier form. If so, then Islam before the revelation of ‘al yaoma aqmaltu lakum deenakum ….’ was not complete. On the contrary, if we take Islam to be completed after Mecca was conquered, we have to accept that the Islam of the companions who has died before, died with an incomplete Islam! Is it so? If not, what then?

Islam has two aspects

Then we have to say that Islam has two aspects: (1) Islam in its core or Islam as an ideology and (2) Islam in its manifestation or Islam in practice. In other words, Islam as a theory and Islam in practice. Without Islam in practice, Islam is possible. To understand this, think about the sahabah who has accepted Islam and ran towards the battle field, and became a martyr! But Islam is impossible if it lacks in theory. Any slightest incompleteness in the theory is not acceptable. In its theoretical form, Islam is called iiman.

The gradual implementation

Why the Quran was not ordained as a whole all at a time as the ten commandments of Musa (as.)? Rather, a gradual order of revelation was maintained. It was maintained for its social aspect. As much as the people and the society was ready to accept, the suitable rules were given. About the major social injunctions, we see the gradual implementation. In some injunctions we see three steps, in some injunctions we see four steps. We did not see any Islamic law which has been issued directly as a whole, and has been enforced in no time.

The best teacher with the best students

Look carefully and say if I am wrong – When the best teacher (prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) has to adopt a phase-by-phase form and gradual implementation for the best students (who has been chosen by Allah subhanuta’ala) i.e., the Sahabah, then why this phase-by-phase form will not be applicable for others? We are in fact not even better, but in a very vulnerable position as the people/victim of the aakheri jamana!

Phase-by-phase form & gradual implementation

I have told above ‘phase-by-phase form and gradual implementation’. There is something to notice that the rules and injunctions were not only implemented gradually but also revealed part by part, phase by phase. So, people did not even know what will be the next step/order. What was the problem in a single but total revelation and then gradual implementation? Aisha (r.) said in a famous narration that if people were directly ordered not to drink wine, they would not have accepted it. Society has to get ready for the higher form of morality, for the more perfect form of system, before they were informed and obligated to observe them. For desired social change, this humane/scientific approach has been maintained at that time and obviously has to be maintained for all time to come.

The issue of munsukh verses

Our social Islam has taught us that some Quranic verses are munsukh, that is, they are stopped or disfunctional. If they are not applicable for us, why those are included in the holy Quran. We know, Quran is for our guidance. So, what guidance we get from the stopped portion? No one can claim that stopped verses are haruf-e muqat-taat (mysterious alphabets) or ayat-e mutashabiah (ambigious verses). If the so-called stopped verses are clear-cut verses (ayat-e muhkam), they are the basics of the holy book (ummul kitab). How the clear and distinguished divine verses could be non-functional? If they have only historical values, then has that historical situation came only once? Or, is it something that prophet has stopped them? Where is the prophet’s saying that this and that portion of the Quran has been nullified forever?

Deductive or inductive method of understanding Islam

The great mistake has taken its most unbecoming place for the wrong deductive method of understanding Islam. It is very natural that, when the more perfect rule has come, the prior one has been cancelled, until the ideology reaches its highest manifestation. Now, we have got the whole Quran and forget the gradual development of its completion! If we miss the gradual work, the life of the man (Muhammad, peace be upon him) who introduced Islam to us, that is, the consistency line of prophecy, then, na-u ju billahi min ja-lik, Quran could be used to support any distorted matter by its references!

Islam and Islamic movement

Islam is a total and a single entity. It has to be accepted all at a time. This is what Imam Hassan al-Banna said, ‘accept Islam in to-to, or keep it aside; Islam admits no compromise’. Usually, and very unexpectedly this is taken to be the meaning of the Quranic verse, ‘afa tu minuna bi ba’dil kitab, wa takfuruna bi ba’ad…..’ (Are you believing in one part of the book, while regretting another part?).

Muslims, Quran and the Islamic state

If anyone has to maintain and practically obey the whole Quran to be a muslim, it has two problems: firstly, so many Sahabah have died before the revelation of the Quran was completed and secondly, one can’t maintain all of the Quranic rules until and unless he or she is a citizen of an Islamic state in its highest form.

What is the Islamic status of the companions who died before the victory of Makka? We know that they were not even introduced with so many Islamic matters that were revealed later on. On basis of this, can we say that their understanding and practice of Islam were incomplete? (Nā’ujubillāhi min jaalik.)

What about the status of the Muslims who are not citizens of an Islamic state? Is Islamic state a single entity which is in either form: established or not? Or, Islamic state has many levels and forms, considering the prophetic one as the utopia? In such a non-Islamic state, how the muslims can observe the punishment rules? Even though they are members of any rightly-guided Islamic movement?

What I am intended to say is that if any society is in its primary stage from Islamic perspective, matters of the next stages are only needed to be acknowledged and aimed to observe. So, their theoretical support is enough for the matters which they are unable to observe. Not only that, before the society has exhausted the earlier level, any sort of implementation of the matters of the higher stage is a category mistake.

Mixed society

I can say about present Bangladesh society, and it is also applicable for the present world situation as well that our society is a mixed society. ‘Mixed society’ is meant to be a society where some advance leveled Islamic obligations could be observed, while some are not. In this situation, what shall we do? Shall we abandon to perform all the rules and injunctions of Madina period, as the present Bangladesh society has not yet exhausted the Meccan period?

Azimot and roksat

Where it is possible to observe any matter of a higher form, we have to observe it. But we can’t impose, at least in public, the related equal-status higher matters which are not approved by the prevailing law of the land. In such a situation, proper participation in a truly guided Islamic movement is enough for an individual to fulfill one’s obligation of faith. Implementation of any Islamic order without the recognized authority is simply doing chaos (fitnah) and verily a punishable act. So, in the present mixed society situation, we have to maintain azimot (the highest standard) in our very personal and territorial aspects, and allow roksat (following the lowest approved standard) for the others of the society and the state.

Rigourism and Sunnah: the understanding of taqwa

Here is something very interesting, though it is not directly related to my topic: Prophet Muhammad (sm.) always preferred the easiest for him. The famous story of the three villagers, you know. On that context prophet (sm.) said, ‘I fear the Almighty more than anyone of you, still (I like to go for the easiest option)… whoever loves me, follow my way; whoever follows me, he will be with me in the paradise.’ Rigourism (imposing hardship to attain more perfection) was even among the companions, we see. As an example: Aiesha (r.) said that prophet would have regretted the girls to enter the mosque if he would have seen the objectionable movements of the girls. As a result, the fuqaha issued fatwa on the prohibition of the girls to attend salat in the mosque!

See, how distorted thinking captured even ummul mumineens! We know, Muhammad (sm.) never told anything, nor did anything of his own, but by the indications of Allah subhanu ta’ala. Not that he has forgotten anything to say, not that for his humanly limitations, he was unable to foresee anything which was necessary for the muslims! What were needed and what could be needed up to qiyamah, he has given us. What was not told about, we have the right to find any way about it within the given boundaries.

It is well known that Prophet Muhammad (sm.) ordered clearly, not to prohibit the girls to enter the mosques. He ordered all the muslim girls to attend the Eid prayer. How anyone can stop it? Mujatahideens (the Islamic scholars) can’t held up any prophetic injunctions for centuries together!

We know, attending prayer in the mosque is only permissible for the girls, not compulsory. But, if any permission is cancelled without proper authority, then doing it becomes obligatory (wazib) for the concerned ones, especially for the knowledgeable and capable ones. So, I think that mosques should be open for all the girls in no time. It will never be opened up until the Muslim girls start to enter the mosque without caring of permission. In fact, a mosque is the safest place for a girl. What a peculiar social Islam, Girls can do everything except to enter the houses of Allah!

Understanding of Islam by the Bangladeshi Muslims

With all the honour to the great saints who preached Islam in our country, one has to agree that Quraish Jahels’ understanding of Islam was much better than the understanding of the Islam by the Bangladeshi Muslims no matter they are educated or not. We are in general introduced with the spiritual side of Islam. But Islam is not an embodiment of spirituality alone. It has all the aspects of practical human life. A form of ‘secular-Islam’ is very popular, which is mutually exclusive to any political matter.

No politics with religion

I strongly agree with the demand, ‘no politics with religion’. But, the case of Islam is very different. If Islam is meant to be a religion, I have to say a little on this issue: yes, I fully agree with the claim and demand that there should not be any politics using the sacred religion. Let us consider the case of Islam. Make a list of the matters of politics. Then do a search in Islam about those matters. If it is found that about all those (political) matters, Islam has clear rules, regulations and obligations; then how can we say that Islam is a religion? Actually, Islam is a way of life, a total ideology, no matter anyone likes to accept it or not.

Necessary terms for an Islamic life

If anyone decides to lead an Islamic life, he has to know some fundamentals including the true meaning of some key terms like – towhid, resalat, rob, ilah, maalik, ielah, ulil-amr, ibadat, twagout, bidyat etc. Except a few, do our countrymen properly know the meaning of the key Islamic words? No. Because, we have inherited Islam from our family and society. Though, Islam is something to accept, iiman is something to achieve.

In the same Quranic verse, Allah says, ‘do ibadat of Allah and denounce the twagout’. So, denouncing, regretting and opposing the twagout (anti-Islamic force) is as much obligatory as doing ibadat of Allah. To maintain the man-made format of Islam as a so-called peaceful religion, our Islamic priests (though Islam disapproves any priest class or system) did not say the people about the Quranic order to oppose the twagout. As a result, the educated muslims even never heard that twagout and ulil-amr are very important Islamic terms to know. They, the Bangladeshi muslims, in general have heard the terms like towhid, resalat, rob, ilah, maalik and bidyat, but very unfortunately they do not know them in their true meanings, as terms, instead they know them as only some Islamic (religious!) words frequently uttered by the mullahs!

Meccan Kafer-Musrek’s understanding of Islam

So again, the then Meccan Kafer-Musrek’s understanding of Islam was much better than the understanding of Islam by the majority of the Bangladeshi Muslims. They (the unbelievers) knew what are the implications of this very little sentence: ‘ashhadu an la ila-ha illallah, wa ashhadu anna muhammadur rasulullah’. They very clearly saw the implications and true meaning of this declaration. Their objection was to surrender their ego and  authority. Establishment of authority is the very inherent trend of the Islamic system of state. They proposed him to be their spiritual leader or the governor (keeping the existing non-Islamic aspects) or to carry on his social works. But he refused all, even to marry the best girls or taking wealth. Instead, he declared that he will not go back even the sun and the moon were kept on his two hands! Whereas, our educated persons even think that ‘la kum deenakum wal ya deen’ mean mutual exclusion in the secular trend!

Islam as a religion and Islam as a movement

Concept of Islam as a religion is something like this: though gradual development was adopted by the prophet, it was a special sanction for the companions of the prophet Muhammad (sm.). Now, when there is no prophet but we have got the holy Quran as a whole with the total Sunnah, so we are obligated to follow all the rules and regulations finally fixed by the Quran, Sunnah and Ijma (consensus of the early scholars specially during the period of the enlightened 4 caliphs). If we are unable to obey all at a time? Then beg pardon and forgiveness to Allah and keep doing as much as possible.

Whereas Islam as a movement radically differs with the above concept. Where from we have to start? From the very beginning. How could we know it? From tafsiir and sunnah. Any attempt to establish Islam in any locality (may be a society, may be a state, or more), it has to get started from that position which prophet Muhammad (sm.) has maintained. So, concept building should get priority on rest of others. If we jump towards any higher form of Islam without exhausting the primary or its previous stage, we are derailed, misled and misguided. In such a situation, establishment of Islam will be simply impossible. It will be like to run on an exercise-belt. The leaders and activist will be tired and give false-self-admiration that they are doing a lot (!?), but the society is so corrupt and incapable of accepting an ideology like Islam!

Can anyone build any sustainable structure on a loose soil or mud? If there is no way but to build a bridge or building on that loose soil or mud, we see, the concerned engineer will suggest for sufficient piling first. And then the infrastructure could be built on that. The same is applicable for any society to establish any ideology.

Historical context of Bangladeshi Islam

Bangladesh was never an Islamic state. People of this country are not introduced with the key features of Islamic state. They were/are privileged with a liberal form of Islam. Very surprisingly Islam has been moderated by weakening the core of Islam itself! Actually, Islam in Bangladesh was not an intellectual Islam, in general. It is molded with Asian spirituality, Iranian culture and Hindu traditions. Social forces, more specifically the rulers and dominant parties and figures used Islam as a slogan. Neither they understood Islam, nor they intended to understand it. They have just capitalized peoples’ Islamic sentiment. Even the leaders of dominant Islamic party, frequently say like ‘people want Islam, leadership is the problem’. Giving this wrong but popularist conception, perhaps, they want to legitimate their undue steps in politics.

Proposing Islam without knowing it properly

A subtitle like the above is sensitive and confusing. It requires immediate explanation. It does not mean that the Islamists do not know Islam. Though a lot of Islamists really does not know Islam properly, yet the dominant Islamic party members really have the knowledge of Islam. This is about aqidah, the basic beliefs. They at best think that peoples’ understanding has some problems. They hardly think that they have also major inconsistencies in their understanding of Islam in the implementation level. Their mind set-up shows that the thoughts and ideas of their founder is enough!

All the Islamic forces in Bangladesh presents Islam as something like any canvasser’s magic-tablet which heals all the diseases all at once. Without the micro and macro level of study and without addressing the up-to-date problems in their depths, proposing Islam is doing against Islam. Because, Islam is not only the divine ideology, but also the only hope of this land and locality. The concerned ones may fail to materialize a nation’s hope like this, but no one has the right to turn over the future of Islam by their immature activities.

Intellectual bankruptcy

Anyway, there are two forms of Islamic system in Bangladesh. The general Muslim peoples’ Islam is not the fundamental of their life,  it’s just an aspect of their personal, social and very recently of their state life. They are too loose about the cores of beliefs and practical injunctions. On the other hand, the Islamic forces, namely the Islamic political parties, the madrasas, the non-political Islamic organizations, they are more or less authoritative and totalitarian. Though they use the concept of muashara (consultation) and muhasaba (criticism), but these are quite formatted, not free in true sense and like all the autocratic systems and power, they use the logo of democracy. Hierarchical orders are maintained very seriously. To my consideration, lacking in intellectuality is the root-cause of all these phenomena.

Reactive or proactive approach?

Islamic forces are generally negative as much as possible towards culture, specially the entertainment culture. Their women policy is quite inconsistent. Their overall attitude is not proactive, but reactive. They have failed yet to grow trust in the people that they are capable enough to ran the country. Their main excuse is the international politics. Islam could be established with all the international constraints through all-out and consistent intellectual, cultural and social activities – perhaps they have forgotten this.


Actually, they do not feel that their understanding of Islam from its implementation side is not up to the mark. Even, matters that they know, people do not know that they know. It may happen. But they do not bother it! Not untrue that they enjoy their distance with the people. They always expect that people will come to them, because they are holding Islam! Whereas prophet went to the people. Whenever they go to the people, they feel proud that they are helping for salvation of the people. That’s why, people do not take them as one of them. The Islamic ones are deceived and misguided by the people’s respect they get (as religious leaders).

To own first

The Islamic leaders has to own the people, the culture, the society and the country first, to establish Islam. To establish Islam, they must go through the prophetic gradual development. If they proceed in this way so many contemporary ‘Islamic problems’ will appear as mere pseudo-problems! Why the Islamists are debating on the burqa and neqab issue? For Islam? I don’t think so. Then, for what? They even don’t know that their Islamic frustration about hijab is for nothing. Ok, get a picture.

Islam is a concept, not a bundle of rules

If we are anyway be able to see Kkadijatul Kubra (r.), the first muslim, what will we see? Obviously not with burqa and neqab. Was her Islam incomplete? Ali (r.) was drunk and miss-read the Quran. Then the regulation was ordained, you are prohibited to stand for salat when you are drunk (‘la taqrabus salata wa antum suka-ra’). In the last sermon, prophet Muhammad (sm.) said, ‘… from today interest is totally forbidden and first of all I hereby cancel the interest claim of my uncle Abbas (r.)’.

Islam is a concept, not a bundle of rules. Usually, the Islamists tries to understand and propagate Islam from its regulative perspective. But this is wrong. Regulations are the outcome of the core of Islam. And concept is the core of Islam. Islam has not come to establish the regulations but to change the mind setup, to give a world-view. If anyone accepts this significant world-view, his or her mind setup gets ready for accepting Islamic regulations.

Fulfillment of the regulations is practically impossible for any human being, not for the prophets even. But they are ordained and obligated to keep them on trial, examine them and reward them at last. So, rules and regulations are must as the guiding signals, not the goal.

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