Return to the Qur'an, Not Reform
The primitiveness, the ugliness and the contradictions displayed in the name of Islam make it indispensable to clarify where we stand and what should be done to redirect people who have been diverted from the true path described in the Quran. Muhammad Ikbal, ill at ease at the sight of this state of affairs, had made the following remark in the 1920s: “If we are resolved to describe Islam as a system of superior values, we are obliged, first of all, to acknowledge that we are not the true representatives of Islam.” Muhammad Abduh had, before him, expressed the same truth in the following words: “If the word ‘Islam’ associates in the mind problems, dilemmas and contradictions, this is due not to Islam itself, but to the Muslims. So long as the books taught at Al Azhar and similar publications exert authority, I see no future for this community. The spirit needed to awaken the public is inherent in the Quran. Everything remaining outside the sphere of the Quran is but an obstacle preventing the Quran from being understood and experienced.” The famous Turkish poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy had the following to say to describe the plight of Islam that the interpreters had corrupted in total disregard of the clear indications of the Quran: “If it is the Quran that is understood by the word ‘Islam’, we must be in a position to acknowledge that there is no such thing as Islam, since the Quran has been raised back to the heights and the Islam on the earth today has lost all contact with it.” An American professor of Arabic origin, Ýsmail Faruki, interprets the situation as follows: “Islam is not represented by the lifestyle and behavior of Muslims, nor is it represented by any one period of history of Islam, nor by any book written on Islam. Islam is the Quran.”
This is Not a Populist Movement
This is not a populist movement. In other words what is purported here is not to make Islam attractive in the sight of large masses. The origin of it lies in the contradictions created between the Quran, which is the only source of Islam, and the actual practices developed throughout the ages. The objective is not to shape Islam into a new form that will seem attractive to the general public, but to reinstate the true Islam as revealed by God. The religion propounded in the Quran is, in fact, more gratifying for mankind, in which love and tolerance have a larger share. This is why it is generally appreciated. The main objective is not to please the public, but it is one of the consequences.
A movement whose origin is mere enjoyment by the general masses would be inclined to shape the religious practices as they seem attractive to them, and in this design, cultural traits and political ends have a great share. The renaissance and the reform movement in the wake of the French Revolution may be shown as examples. Whatever is subjective – that is human – cannot be defined as religion.
There Was a Time When No Sects Existed
During the lifetime of the Prophet and the Four Caliphs there was no religious source other than the Quran (see Chapter 11). Men were not members of any particular sect. They practiced what the Quran prescribed to them and were free in points when there was no prescription in the Quran, according to their own appreciation, customs and conventions. No opinions were told in the name of such schools as Sunni, Hanafi, Shafi, Shii, Alawi or Jafari. They simply called themselves Muslims. And this fact satisfied them. Even the most illiterate of the Beduoins during the lifetime of the Prophet practiced Islam according to their own interpretations and were Muslims. That is what we are after today: to be simply a Muslim without having to belong to any particular sect and to abide by the Quran’s dictates which never change, which involve no contradictions and which are logical and rational as laid down by God. One God, one religion and one book will clear up the confusion that the masses are suffering at present. The aim is to stick to the Quran exclusively and to refuse to acknowledge all other sources. To interpret the elbowroom that the Quran recognizes as applied in a particular period is not our objective. However, if we conceive the free zone of action about which the Quran is reluctant as a place where we are left to our own devices, we can find the true path and correct the mistakes we have committed in the name of religion. The corruptions have been mostly in points where there is no explicit commandment in the Quran (see Chapter 39).
In realizing this we must be conscious of the fact that it is God’s will. This may be established by the views expressed in Chapter 2 of our book about the exclusivity of the Quran. We shall be quoting verses other than those already cited about the self-sufficiency of the Quran to substantiate our claim. We shall presently take awareness of the fact that what has been alleged to be Islam up until now has been but a mixture of elements alien to Islam, a blend of hadiths and traditions and personal views which eventually assumed the garb of religion where truths and untruths have became inextricably mixed. Had the hadiths been a source of Islam like the Quran, it would have followed that it was hopelessly contaminated. To make clear that the sayings attributed to Muhammad cannot constitute a source of religion would liberate both Islam and the Prophet from irrelevant authorization. We shall see in the coming pages that the hadiths conflict with the Quran in many instances, that they are self-contradictory, illogical and that they have a supplementary character. When you see that the Prophet himself and the Four Caliphs were unwilling to see the hadiths written down (see Chapters 4, 10 and 11), you will see once again the rationale behind it and clear the path that leads to the Quran.