Monday, June 27, 2022

Human Nature and the Quran and Hadith Are Sufficient To Frame the Set of ‘Natural Law’, Applicable Universally

By Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikandar, New Age Islam 27 June 2022 “Any Religious Concept Would Be Acceptable If It Is Logical, Rational And Scientifically Verifiable Both To Common Sense Of The Illiterate Common Human Being As Well As To The Intellectual Of Highest Calibre” Main Points 1. Philosophy has now few takers in Muslim world 2. Is philosophy essential to understand Islam and does Islam espouse a philosophy that is different? 3. The book argues many things but leaves many debates unaddressed, although its arguments need to be engaged with. ----- Natural World Order and the Islamic Thought Author: Mohammad Shafi Khan Publisher: Not Mentioned Price: Rs 120 Pages: 219 ----- Since the inception of Islam which culminated and reached its zenith with the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAW), world witnessed the rise, zenith, downfall and revival attempts of Muslim Civilization many times. This Muslim Civilization like other civilizations was unique in its various aspects especially when related to knowledge, learning and its expansion. It was obligatory injunction of Quran described in the first revealed verse Iqra (Read) which laid foundation of a knowledge thirsty community who in turn laid foundation of various new disciplines or introduced radical changes in the existing streams and fields of knowledge. Philosophy which was a forgotten and dead discipline was revived only due to the efforts of Muslim rulers who set up translation centres for rendering the philosophical texts from Greek into Arabic and Persian. Muslim philosophers added, criticized, deducted and evolved new philosophy from the edifice of Greek Philosophy which eventually led to the rise of a chain of philosophers among Muslims whose contributions are still counted by the world history and humanity, but as is the case with philosophy it raises questions and doubts in minds, whirlpools in faith and hair splitting temperament in the society and Muslim Qaumi was no exception to the same hence giving rise to scores of philosophers who were trying to justify Quranic Principles on the basis of Philosophic Dialectics or Logic or others who were trying to reconcile the same, with philosophy enjoying an upper hand thus a yardstick for interpreting Quran as understood in the light of Philosophy. Imam Ghazali was the product of such times whose Tahafatul Falasifah(Incoherence Of Philosophers) broke the back of Greek philosophy and Logic until Ibn Rushd rebutted it in Tahafat Ul Tahafat(Incoherence of Incoherence) which granted Greek philosophy & Plato a new lease of life for more 100 years to come. This trend also gave rise to the schools of Mutazalites & Asharaites. Now the times have changed and science has replaced philosophy, now the present day Televangelists and religious scholars are using scientific principles and facts to justify their religion as the ultimate, universal and eternal truth on the face of earth sent by Divine God who had prior knowledge of science hence kept scientific secrets and miracles present in religious scriptures, thus the compatibility of religious scriptures with science is the eternal proof the religion being true and divine. Thus the yardstick of science has become essential for any religion to stand in the fray of being taken seriously as truth. Meera Nanda in her essay "Making Sacred How Post Modernism Aids Vedic Science “writes "Closed societies, if you follow Karl Popper are societies that do not allow any rational criticism or falsification of their fundamental moral laws, which treat as having the backing of inevitable laws of nature put in place by God. As past experience shows, closed societies are not anti-scientific. On the contrary, they are hyper-scientistic i.e. they claim the support of existing science for their Dogmas and in turn use these dogmas to constrain scientific research (e.g Lysen Koisan in old U.S.S.R)" The present book under review is also a serious attempt to strike a chord in the same vein with an exception that both science and philosophy has been clubbed together to initially derive Natural World order, then name it Islam and depict that it is what rationality, logic and science wants us to believe in and implement as a world order. The author in the Preface describes “The individual human being and the collective social structure” as the primary concern of his endeavour. The author well describes the present world order basically as “Agnostic and the social structure which has evolved encourage the agnostic values. Though at the personal level one is free to practice any faith but has no power to interfere in the evolution of the agnostic social structure. Nobody can deny that the present scientific and technological advancement, abolition of slavery and progress in education of all sections of societies has taken place during the present world order. But that does not mean that with some other world order these achievements could not have been possible. The civilizations would not have survived if world order had not allowed these achievements. Unfortunately the present world order has failed in every other sphere of activity of the humankind; the most important aspect of human life which has badly suffered because of the present world order is faith. The present agnostic world order is responsible for moral degradation of human beings to an extent that it will be a Herculean task to repair the damage”. To repair the damage the author resorts backs to philosophy and science which are responsible for the sceptical, agnostic and moral derogatory behaviour of Mankind. The book is divided into various chapters and the opening chapter deliberates on the “Impracticability of Democracy”. Indeed this chapter is the heart of the book and in the present day world to challenge democracy requires nerve, verve and out of box intellectual discourse which the author has because leaving democracy aside and searching for alternatives is to rise in rebellion against the religion of West for whose promotion, evolution and initiation in every land of the planet they are fighting the ‘Just’ wars even today under the civilizing mission of Operation Democracy, but before going into a critique of democracy Khan describes the Human being, his soul, Nature and Purpose and derives the factual conclusion that the seeds of vice and virtue are embedded in every human being and if he takes recourse to the Natural Order he would surely come to judge whether his action is right or wrong “Every adult human being has agreed of having the innate knowledge of right and wrong irrespective of religion and social taboo. Any intelligent reader will agree to it and he is free to consult any number of people; then he will confirm that every individual including the children have the innate knowledge of right and wrong of all his actions and thoughts. This is the most convincing indirect proof of existence of the ‘energy’ and ‘soul’ to all the people of this world and resultantly indirect proof of the ultimate failure of Darwin’s theory of evolution”.(P-14) This vice and virtue seems to be inspired by Greek Philosophers and even Zoroastrianism where Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu are in perpetual strife. The concept of Afterlife and accountability in the hereafter have been taken as yardsticks to control the vice “I have thought over this serious problem for years and have not left any relevant literature unread, which includes science, philosophy, political systems and theology and interacted with wide range of people and reached one and only one conclusion that human being has to be answerable and accountable for his evil acts after death before the perfect universal creator. The human being cannot be answerable and accountable for the content of his vices because the vices are innate in the ‘energy’ over which human being has absolutely no control of creation. The human being can exercise control over the acts of vice through ‘soul’ as the human being has the ‘freedom of action’. (P-27) The author then challenges “This is my challenge to the whole humanity to unravel any other alternative by virtue will prevail in the individual lives and the society so that there could be peaceful existence of mankind on this planet. There is absolutely no alternative”. (P-28). Then there are three purposes of life as enumerated by Khan as: Answerable & accountable to perfect Universal Creator. To be grateful to the perfect universal creator. Those who have means to know and understand the perfect universal creator and all his creations and educate others.”(P-29), But despite knowing, deducting and deliberating all this still Khan longs for “Genuine philosophers to know the Natural Laws as contained in the ‘souls’ of human beings, with the help of reason it would not be a difficult task to unravel these Natural laws”.(P-28). If genuine philosophers are needed to describe the Natural Law and Order then I fail to understand what the purpose of Prophets is, then God should have deputed Philosophers as his messengers. Here Khan fails to describe and understand this dichotomy or makes us to believe that Philosophers enjoy higher position than prophets?? Then coming on the issue of democracy Khan describes it as “Democracy has strong advocates all over the world and there are many pseudo-scholars of different religions who advocate democracy as the political system of their religion; forgetting the fact that the underlying principle of democracy is agnosticism” (P-33-34)It is a factual statement but Khan must acknowledge this fact too that underlying principle of Science and Philosophy as it emerged after Renaissance is not only agnosticism but atheism and open rebellion against God and verdicts like “God is dead”; hence negating one and using the other to justify religion and natural order don’t go well hand in hand. Now coming to the relation between Islam and Democracy Khan writes “there are some pseudo-scholars of Islam who think that Islam can be practiced in democracy and there are also other set of pseudo scholars of Islam who think that democracy is the Islamic way of life and the Shariat Law could be applied in democracy. They fail to understand that the underlying principle of democracy is agnosticism and liberty of religion and conscience and Shariat Law and agnosticism being contradictory; these two contradictory principles cannot exist together”. (P-36). A similar argument has been made by Abdur Rahman Keelani in his book Jamhuriyat Aur Islam, democracy in recent years and before has come under heavy criticism and this statement well describes it “would you like to be eaten by hundred rats or one lion”, also the dirty nexus between Capitalists, Clergy and Politicians is defeating the very essence and spirit of democracy and rendered it impractical in various societies which the author paints as “degree of corruption varies from Nation to Nation but ultimate result of all the democratic governments is sooner or later the position as is prevailing in the worst and corrupt nations will spread over other less corrupt nations” (P-47). Deriving two conclusions about democracy Khan describes them as: “In democracy the laws which impose restrictions on the individual behaviour (self-regarding actions) where under no harm to others is involved, cannot be enacted. The democracy having agnosticism and liberty as guiding principles, no restrictions on the basis of religious morality can be imposed. Hence no law can be enacted which is on the basis of religious morality and challenges the liberty of the individuals” (P-39). Though there is no imposed morality or no boundary between Democracy and Morality but democracy can’t be described as Immoral but amoral as one is free to practice his own set of morality as described and laid down by his social norms, religion or culture. Now the democracy is out of fray and search for an alternative Political System is on and the pre-requisite for this radical change is the Philosopher-King as described by Plato “The world order as such needs to be changed as it is based on the irrational principle of democracy and for doing this we need the real philosopher and real philanthropists”.(P-52-53). But Khan seems myopic in his conception because never in the world history the Utopia envisioned by Plato has been implemented and neither is it possible for a Philosopher-Philanthropist to rule, then Khan derives the Natural World Order and envisions Monarchy as the best system of governance “Plato assumes that real philosophers would be virtuous philanthropists as well. Aristotle had not explained why and how a human being can be virtuous. As already explained that there is one and only one way by which a human being can be virtuous as well as philanthropist and that is religion; such a religion has to prescribe the virtuousness as the main condition of faith and belief. Otherwise there can be no alternative by which virtue can prevail in individual and social lives. This stands already explained. Thus we are left with one political system and that is Monarchy and this political system has been declared best by Plato but in the monarchy we have to adopt the Natural Religion of which the basic axioms stands derived to make it practicable. The problems faced by Plato and Aristotle to make monarchy practicable could be resolved only by adoption of natural religion. Without these axioms of the Natural Religion, one should bear in mind, the just and peaceful existence of human being on this planet is not possible. Monarchy is the natural political system and has been declared as best possible political system by Plato as well as Aristotle due to the problems already discussed they could not identify the monarchs with his associates in the society”.(P-64-65) Then goes on in the same vein to describe the primary functioning of the State being “Law making and law making will be very simple and acceptable to the people. The laws would be framed on the basic Natural Laws which would appeal to one and all and there would be no disputes about the laws. Otherwise for every law there will be equal reason for its agreement and disagreement because right is not defined. After having defined right, the question of challenging the law would not arise. This is possible when people are educated properly and they have knowledge of psychology and philosophy. It would not be a difficult task for making the people to understand the existence of innate natural Laws and as to how to unravel these Natural Laws”.(P-66) Who will impart the knowledge of Psychology and Philosophy to masses? Who will select the Monarch Khan has a way “A committee of virtuous people could be formed who will screen the nominations of the monarch, and after the committee approves the nominations the monarch could be elected or selected. The monarch could be elected/selected by the representative of the people. The qualities of the monarch stand already defined. If the monarch is properly selected then the nation and people should feel secure. If the people are satisfied with the monarch then monarch could nominate his successor also. But successor in no case should be the heir or close relative of the monarch”.(P-78-79), but who will select the committee, should the Shura vote if there are more than one virtuous persons who are claimants of highest seat of monarchy or is it something which only virtuous elite can decide(keep in mind Pareto’s theory of elites). Regarding Punishment some stain of Rousseau’s General Will can be witnessed in this statement “The punishment or compensation has two fold purposes, a deterrent for the society for indulging in the evil acts and the revenge of the society against the criminal for the evil act. It now depends upon the society as to what type of social order they would want” (P-70-71) Stating the fruits of Monarchy and its preconditions Khan enumerates them as: “The existence of the perfect universal creator is to be accepted. The answerability and accountability after death is to be accepted and The existence of the universal Natural Laws in the human being is also to be accepted. The ultimate purpose of the political system has to be to make peace and righteousness prevail in the individual and collective lives and building a social order wherein all possible evil actions are easily detected and punished and there is absolutely no room for any sort of corruption, injustice and exploitation” (P-75), but what is the guarantee that Monarchs wouldn’t become despotic and dictators once they assume the echelons of power because power always corrupts and how to remove such an erring monarch Khan is silent. Describing the fundamental rights to be enjoyed under monarchy as “Right to live and to perform religious rituals/duties of the rational religion” but rational religion in words of Khan is “The only alternative is to derive the natural religion on the basis of logic and rationality which would be acceptable to all the rational human beings on this planet. Then a political system should have been conceived wherein the natural religion would have been the guiding principle. This is the precise object of this endeavour besides encouraging and simplifying the human self-introspection”.(P-84)but who will decide what is rational and what not because on the basis of rationality, science, civilization, dominant discourse we have/are witness to the aggression and hegemony by the Imperialists who describe their own creed as the only rationality they can understand and must be adhered to while in the process they kill and put to death other lot of indigenous and more civilized cultures and rational ways of life. “Right to information of everything except the matters of state, defence, mechanism of vigilance” is one of the fundamental rights too. Describing vigilance as “The most sensitive organization and the monarchy has to be extremely careful while appointing the people for this organization. Virtuousness especially honesty has to be main criteria besides other qualifications. There has to be secret vigilance over the vigilance personnel through whom every member of this organization shall be tested from time to time. Any laxity in this organization will cause failure of the monarchy”. (P-81) Khan here wishes to follow the footsteps of Machiavelli and Kautiliya while assigning vigilance a dominant position with dictatorial powers and we have witnessed the use of vigilance pretext by the State to eliminate the dissidents and strangulate any opposition, the dark history of Mossad, KGB, RAW, CIA are a living proof of the same. Khan can read “By Way of Deception” by Victor Ostrovesky and “Who Killed Karkare The Real Face Of Terrorism in India” by S.M Mushrif to have a bird’s eye glance into the quagmire in which the States have landed by trusting the Vigilance and how they are running a parallel government shielded from the public eye, so this monarchy can be no different from Democracy, against which Khan has initiated his solitary Jihad. Making a comeback to his rationality Khan subscribes “Any religious concept would be acceptable if it is logical, rational and scientifically verifiable both to common sense of the illiterate common human being as well as to the intellectual of highest calibre”. (P-91), Khan really needs to understand well what are the shortcomings of reason, rationality and science in describing the Eternal World and World beyond senses and observation. Khan then tries to philosophize Islam by claiming that all the previous attempts in this direction have failed “Avicenna, Algazel, Avirrose did try to correlate the philosophy of that time with the Quran but could not, because there were inherent problems with the philosophy of that time as it was based on wrong foundations and also because of lack of scientific knowledge at that time. Then there were no worth mentioning attempts to correlate the philosophy with the Quran. Iqbal came on the scene and instead of accomplishing the task of correlating the philosophy with the Quran proposed the concept that we need Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam and adapted poetic mysticism as Algazel had done centuries before. This book is precisely the accomplishment of task of ‘Reconstruction of Islamic Thought’”.(P-119), but why do we need to philosophize Islam. The problem of Khan is that he is unable to distinguish and compartmentalize the domains of Philosophy, Science and Religion and tries to amalgamate all the three with the result that all of them become the casualties of this unholy conglomeration. Why do we need Philosophy if Islam is complete and fulfils the needs, yes we can supplement and infer from Philosophy and Science but there is no need to make Religion-Philosophy or Philosophy-Science or Science-Philosophy and the vice versa and this unnatural alliance would have its repercussions and consequences on all the three. Surmising that “The rigidity of all the different law systems will eventually evaporate once there is proper discussion on the proper forum. This forum has to be under the proper theocentric political system which at present exists nowhere. After the basic allegoric verses of Quran have been understood the task of derivation of the set of ‘Natural Law’ will be a very simple and easy task. The source of the ‘Natural Law’ is the human beings and the Quran and Hadith (after testing it on the touchstone of the Quran). I am of the opinion that human nature contains the ‘Natural Law’ in the human beings and wherever humankind may face problems in framing the ‘Natural Law’ the solution shall have to sought from the Quran & Hadith. The human nature and the Quran & Hadith are sufficient to frame the set of ‘Natural Law’ which could be applicable universally” (P-144). It is a question of faith alone & what Khan proclaims that he has unveiled the allegories of Quran can’t be verdicted as the Gospel truth. Describing why the Law system of Islam couldn’t function properly Khan says “Since instead of Monarchy (Khilafat) patriarchy had stolen the power, they were neither interested nor could have been interested in this most important foundational work of the political system, so to say every Tom, Dick and Harry sat and framed the ‘law’ forgetting the fact that thereby they were violating the very Quran and dividing Muslims” (P-145). Khan seems ignorant that the Quranic Law especially related to Personal Law were never violated and remained so even during colonization plus if any ruler had tried to violate the same he was met with bitter opposition, the struggle of Ahmad ibn Hanbal(RA) stands as a testimony to the same and the present day Muslim agitations regarding the ban on Hijab or age of marriage point to the same. Committing mistakes over mistakes in his blind appreciation and passion for what Zaiuddin Sardar describes as Buccaillism and in case of Khan I would call it Platonism he writes “Let it be clear to one and all that the actual Islamic Thought could have been understood and presented by the genuine philosophers only; which only Prophet Mohammad (SAW) had understood and given. There are many secrets and hidden knowledge in the Quran which only Prophet Mohammad (SAW) can claim to have understood and known. These secrets and hidden knowledge is in the allegories which Prophet Mohammad (SAW) had tried to convey in understandable allegories, which for one reason or the other have been misunderstood. These allegories are so complicated and complex that ordinarily these allegories cannot be understood but these allegories could be understood only with the advancement of science and philosophy. Thus I have been calling the Quran the living book because with time only humankind could unravel what the Quran is all about. I am aware of the fact that there have been people who devoted their whole lives for this purpose but they were unsuccessful because science and philosophy had not advanced so much so as to understand the actual Islamic Thought as contained in the Quran” (P-169). If only Quran is meant and understood by Philosophers only then what is its essence and need for common masses?? As it is meant for whole humanity not for the elite philosophers only, plus if other like “Algazel devoted his half-life to identify the problems with Greek philosophy and presented his work in his book ‘Incoherence of Philosophers’ but still the Islamic Thought as contained in the Quran had the inherent problems which could not be explained. Algazel realized this fact and finally adopted mysticism in the later part of life. Unfortunately the time was not ripe for Algazel to give the Islamic Thought because science was not advanced enough so as to unravel the Islamic Thought from the Quran”(P-170), couldn’t too understand the same as the science and philosophy hasn’t developed much as it is today but have they reached their zenith? No after some decades they will advance more and Khan who today rejects Ghazalli and Iqbal would surely be rejected by the future philosopher and scientist because we can’t put pace on their progress and evolution. Continuing his bashing against scholars Khan writes “These scholars fail to fulfill the very definition of scholarship because scholarship is perfect understanding of the matter and presenting it, on the whole, in the simplest possible manner and explaining the complexities of the matter in the simplest possible manner. They complicated the simplest issues & brought in irrelevant, insignificant and irrational issues. This endeavour will prove that they have made no contribution whatsoever and instead have rendered the disservice to Islam by complicating the religion. Had they simply conceived the political system which is contained in the Quran they would not have dared to present the Islamic legal opinions for which they had absolutely no authority. Framing of laws and forming of the Islamic legal opinion was and is the task of monarchs, with the assistance of those who have sufficient knowledge for doing so, because it is the monarchs who had and have to rule with the help of the laws thus framed. These so called scholars gave their schools of law and legal opinions without realizing this simple fact that it is the task of monarchs. Once the Islamic thought is conceived in true perspective the rigidity of ‘Muhammadan Law’ of which there are several sources (more than four) will evaporate once the monarch takes over.”(P-179-180), but he fails to understand that even if the monarchs would interpret the law still there would be chances of difference of opinion which in turn would lead to the sectarianism? Also the whole Muslim history bears testimony to the fact that monarchs never formulated laws and philosophers never ruled, this compartmentalization still holds good though Khan tries to bridge the divide which would prove futile. Thus he suspects the Muhaditheen “Since at the time of compilation and writing of the hadith the patriarchy had replaced the monarchy (Khilafat) which being one of the primary messages of the Quran. In case the authors of the Hadith had written about the Hadith concerning Islamic Political System and the governance on those principles then thereby the patriarchs simply would have been challenged. Thus some self-contradictory hadith reached us which firstly created sectarianism and systems of Islamic theology”.(182-183) but forgets that a whole new branch of Ilm ul Rijal came into existence because of the Muhaditheen and to doubt their authenticity means to put a doubt on whole Islam. Khan seems to have been inspired by the reactionary interpretation of Islam when he claims that “the establishment of the Islamic states should be the first and foremost priority of every Muslim wherever there is majority of Muslim population. After Jihad Bil Nafs the Jihad for Islam should be the priority especially when the Islamic Political System has been conceived herein. Presently the sectarian differences have to be forgotten because logically these differences are based on irrelevant and insignificant issues and are against the very Quran and Islam and once Islamic states are established and the monarch takes over all these differences will evaporate without any confrontation”. (P-199) There is no concept of State in Islam as conceived by Khan and other Islamist Ideologues like him, Islam has a concept of Ummah which traverses the States based on regionalism, linguism or culture. Khan takes the argument well off by seeking an alternative to democracy but he fails to arrive on any concrete conclusion and bracketing Khilafat with Monarchy(P-145) is totally wrong as there is no place of Monarchy in Islam, but there is a Caliph who considers the Ummah as one body and his rule only a benediction by Allah about which he would be questioned and Islamic Ummah is no Nation-State with well-defined boundaries about which & for which the States will fight and conquer, it’s fight is only for Social Justice and Political reformation not for perpetuating the rule of monarchs who would be handicapped without a vigilance. Khan then takes this hilarity to an end when he writes “these so called scholars have misled the Muslims of the world about the actual meaning of Zakat. So far it is understood that Zakat is the property tax on the Muslims who possess the property beyond a certain limit which Muslims have to pay to the poor, orphans etc. Zakat actually is the property tax which Muslims having the property beyond a certain limit, are supposed to pay to the state to manage the affairs of the state. This is called Jizya in case of the non-Muslims living in the Islamic State:’ (P-207) To quote Khan “It is not the false facts which are injurious to the progress of science because sooner or later science will prove false facts to be false. But false views, if supported by some evidence about some obscure matter are more injurious to the progress of science. The views whether false or true views continue till the obscurity of the matter is solved”. These lines sum up the whole attempt of the author, though Khan has tried but failed in his attempt to describe natural world order and an alternative to democracy. He confuses a reader first by deriving Natural World Order, then imposing Monarchy and then labelling them as Islam and interpreting Quran as the source of legitimacy for the same. Though being a maiden attempt by the author he is successful in raising some questions but fails to answer the same, but the book is priced low hence everybody can buy, read and debate about its contents. ---- 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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