We are a group of Muslims, mostly South Asian, and some based in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia, concerned at the present state of affairs in which the very word Muslim has become synonymous with terrorism, backwardness and ignorance. Islam had come to the world to fight the Jahiliya and we Muslims being regarded all over the world today as the representatives of that same Jahiliya is something we find completely unacceptable. For as much as at least the last five hundred years religious thought in Islam has been largely stagnant, even though original, what is called orthodox Islam suggested ways in which to accept and internalise change.
Is there something we can do about it? Perhaps, not much! It is too gigantic a task for us to undertake with our meagre resources. But do we have the option to do nothing, just ‘stand and stare’? We don’t think so. There is a large body of Muslims all over the world that we know feels more or less the same way as we do. The internet gives us a facility: we can try and bring many such people together either on one platform or at least link many of the individual platforms of like-minded people that already exist.
By establishing and running this website we aim at the following:
1. Encourage serous rethinking about all Islamic postulates, point by point, in the light of our requirements today in the 21st century. Ijtihad is something we have ignored for centuries; obscurantist sections of our society have sought to keep us mired in hoary tradition and mere rituals. The task before us is, literally, to create a New Age Islam.
2. Keep the world Muslim community informed of all that is going on in the Muslim world so that they can take informed decisions. Not every body can keep track of all the events that impact us deeply as a community or monitor the world media day after day. We will endeavour to keep the community informed of the challenges facing us in different parts of the world and how our co-religionists are coping with them and if there is something we can contribute by way of advice.
3. Encourage a debate with our educated youth which seems to be going astray and becoming a prey to misguided ideologies and participating in activities that is endangering the lives of other Muslims and the work entrusted to us, that of spreading enlightenment. We simply cannot allow our own children to fall prey to these forces of darkness and Jahiliya, who are endangering the community for their own petty gains and for furthering their own political and other objectives.
4. Above all, to keep reminding ourselves of the rich spiritual traditions of tolerance and pluralism and multi-culturalism that we have inherited. It is indeed strange for any one who has inherited the following thoughts and traditions to be considered a bigot. Let me remind us of some of these right here.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve (Hawwa), an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white –EXCEPT BY PIETY AND GOOD ACTION…Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
The Last Sermon Of The Prophet (PBUH)
Kaabe mein butkade mein hai yeksan teri zia
Mein imtiaze dairo haram mein phansa raha
(The divine light equally illuminates the Kaaba and the house of idols (temple), but woe to me that I remained obsessed with the differences and distinctions between the two)
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet Once more I shall die as Man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on.
After that, soaring higher than angels,
What you cannot imagine I shall be that.”
—–Hazrat Jalaluddin Rumi
Another great mystic Mansur al-Hallaj, famous for his formulation, Anal Haq (I am The Truth: Aham Brahmo Asmi) wrote:
“Like the herbage I have sprung up many a time On the banks of flowing rivers. For a hundred thousand years I have lived and worked In every sort of body.”
And Read Rumi again:
There’s a strange frenzy in my head, Of birds flying, Each particle circulating on its own! Is the one I love everywhere? (The Essential Rumi, p. 4)
Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God, God is in the look of your eyes, in the thought of looking, nearer to you than yourself, or things that have happened to you. There’s no need to go outside. Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself. (The Essential Rumi, p. 13)
What do we mean by saying that God is not in heaven? We do not mean that He is not in heaven, but that heaven cannot encompass Him. He encompasses heaven. He has an ineffable connection with heaven just as He has an ineffable connection with you. Everything is in His omnipotent hands; everything is a manifestation of Him and subject to His control. So, He is not outside the heavens and the universe but is not totally inside them either, that is, they do not encompass Him but He encompasses them totally. Someone asked where God was before the earth, skies, and Divine Throne existed. We said that the question was invalid from the outset because God is by definition that which has no place.
(Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi, p. 221)
—–Hazrat Jalaluddin Rumi
Having inherited such grand thoughts and such broadmindedness, such concern for pluralism and equality of mankind, all its races and nationalities, Justice for all, concern for rights of not only all humans but also animals and plants, it seems strange today for a Muslim to be equated with the likes of Osama bin laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri who do not mind destroying the image of Islam as a religion of peace and submission to God and killing even Muslims, not to speak of other innocent human beings for the sake of furthering their own political ambitions and satisfying their own urges for vengeance against the authorities that may have hurt them some time in the past in some way. In today’s world where misunderstandings about Islam abound, we just have to try and bring the focus back on the essential concepts in Islamic thought – peace, contempt for aggression, submission to God and acceptance of all situations as having come from God, prayer, mercy, forgiveness as a cure for all spiritual and physical ills, reason, the spirit of inquiry, social justice and individual responsibility.
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