Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Despite The Winds of Atheism, Materialism and Social Darwinism Religion Stood Its Ground

By Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikandar, New Age Islam 29 June 2022 Islam and Muslims Too Went Through Various Phases of Revivalism, but Islam Couldn’t Be Secluded To the Individual Domain Main Points: 1. Ali Shariati is an important scholar of contemporary times who tried to reinterpret Islam. 2. Shariati's views on religion and Shia theology constitute a refreshing engagement with texts. 3. Shariati has offered new explanations about the concept of Imamate. ---- Sociology of Religions: Perspectives of Ali Shariati Author: Mir Mohammad Ibrahim Publisher: Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi, India Pages: 277 Price: Rs 395 ---- Religion is an undeniable fact of any civilization, even the Western Civilization which has its roots in Atheism, couldn’t completely negate religion but just changed its sphere of influence from Public to Private. Despite the winds of atheism, materialism and social Darwinism religion stood its ground and still holds sway over the lives of millions of people. All religions except Islam had to go through a process of reformation in the aftermath of European Renaissance, as these religions were hampering and becoming obstacles in the course of history which was in transition from superstitious to scientific, though Islam and Muslims too went through various phases of revivalism, but Islam couldn’t be secluded to the individual domain, Islam still is held in reverence and marks a distinction in the lives of Muslims. Islam never tried to obstruct the path of scientific revolution, free inquiry and healthy criticism, as Islam stood for these principles, but it must be acknowledged that a certain section of Ulema and Mullahs whose interpretation of Islam and grip on masses would wither with the scientific progress, did try their best to intimidate Muslims to keep away from accepting the fruits of Renaissance, describing them UnIslamic, but the resistance died ultimately. The opposition by these Mullahas and Ulema was reinforced by the Colonization of Muslim lands by flag bearers of Renaissance, but this attitude was more political rather than Islamic. The onslaught of the European Powers and Western civilization gave birth to many revivalists among occupied Muslim lands, who later on took the reins of Islamic and Muslim revivalism in their hands. Three personalities deserve our special attention here: Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal, who carried the banner of revivalism in South Asia, Sayyid Qutb in the Arab world and Ali Shariti, son of the Mesopotamian civilization. All the three had the similarity of visiting and studying in the west, and during their stay they became disgusted with the Western way of life, started to revolt and came back to their native countries and worked for what they upheld as Islamic Revivalism for the rest of their lives, and the latter two were martyred for their activism regarding what they assumed as Islamic Revivalism. Ali Shariati ---- The present book under review discusses Ali Shariati’s views on religion, by the noted author Mir Mohammad Ibrahim. The book is divided into four chapters, and a long Prologue is penned down by the veteran academic and researcher Dr Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi, who discusses various theories about the origin of religions, and concludes Islam as the best among all religions. In his Introduction, Ibrahim points out that, “Shariati is more concerned with the impact, usage and outcome of religious beliefs, instead of examining a belief from philosophical, scientific, logical and theological point of view. He impresses upon his readers to see whether a belief bestows a sense of responsibility, awareness, human values and boost to push forward humanity in the process of being to becoming or not”. Shariati’s religion makes him more responsible, emphatic towards humanity, which resists the status quo, in a similar manner in which Marx said that Philosophers have discovered the world, but the point is to change it and unlike Marx Shariati’s religion isn’t opium for the people, though he acknowledges the abuse of religion too, as Ibrahim further describes that according to Shariati, “Religion has played both Positive and Negative role and it is an amazing phenomenon which plays contradictory roles in the life of human beings. It destroys and revitalizes, puts to sleep and awakens, enslaves and emancipates, teaches docility and revolt. Shariati acclaims that the history of Islam itself is the story of these contradictory roles of religion among various social classes. It is the history of the war of Islam against Islam and even war of Quran against Quran”. The first chapter titled Concept of Religion: An Analysis, discusses the definition of religion from various sources as well as the theories about religion. The concept of religion too is discussed from historical, psychological, philosophical, Marxist, rational and other perspectives. At last Ali Shariati’s views about religion are emboldened, deliberated and discussed. Typology of Religion is discussed in the second chapter, which deals with the Non Semitic religions only though it is too acknowledged that distinction of religions as Semitic and Non Semitic is flawed because Quran says that to each nation we have indeed sent a Prophet, and maybe what we bracket as Non Semitic religions may in fact be Semitic ones too. Chapter third discuses Ideological Foundations of Islam and Islam holds a Tauhidic(monotheistic) way of life, plus the relationship between Islam and Science is too taken in account, bringing out its flaws with other religions especially Christianity whose clergy distorted the scripture, exploited the masses in the name of religion and reduced the religion to a mere tool of satisfying their material lust, thus Christianity had to suffer heavily in the aftermath of Renaissance which was other way round with Islam. Revolutionary Dimensions of Islam is the fourth chapter of the book and Shariati describes Imamate Ijtihad Enjoining good and forbidding evil and Hajj as the revolutionary pillars of Islam though Ibrahim describes Shariati’s theory of Imamate as partial, “Shariati tried to approach the concept of Imamate sociologically and came out with some highly scintillating, yet inconclusive insights in this intricate subject. Despite his unorthodox views about the subject, he was not successful in advocating a convincing theory of Imamate, as evident in the writings of Murtza Mutahhari or even Ayatullah Khomeni. His emphasis on the downtrodden masses and redressal of their problems, spells out clearly his permanent obsession with the Marxian paradigm of revolutionary leadership. In general Muslims, there is concept of Khilafat, which fulfils the domain of guardianship of Muslim ummah after Prophet of Islam”, (P-184) Shariati was an intellectual par excellence, but unlike the arm chair intellectuals who spent their whole lives writing tomes, attending seminars and presenting papers but Shariati was public intellectual and activist who worked to narrow down the gap between Intellectuals and Ignorant masses, as he opines that, “At present on the one hand, the intelligentsia pursue life in an ivory tower without having any understanding of their own society, and on the other hand, the uneducated masses are deprived of the wisdom and knowledge of the very same intellectuals whom they have sponsored(albeit indirectly) and for whose flourishing they provide. The greatest responsibility of those who wish to rebuild their society and bring together the unintegrated, and at times, antagonistic elements of the society into a harmonious whole is to bridge the gap between these two poles-the pole of theory and the pole of practice- and to fill this great abyss of alienation between the masses and the intellectuals”.(P-217-218). Overall the book is a welcome read, and scholarly addition to Shariati studies. The author deserves our appreciation and encouragement for penning down the scholarly treatise, and the printing is of high quality despite few grammatical and spelling mistakes which sour the taste, but the price of the book makes it affordable for all to enrich their personal study. ----- Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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