Modernism must be Governed by Divine Guidance


Beliefs & Practices, Chapter 01, Islam & Modernism / Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Modernism must be Governed by Divine Guidance

Whatever injunctions Allah has revealed in His Book or through His Messenger (PBUH) pertain to such matters that if they are let to be decided by reason they have led to aberrance; and since Allah is well aware of all the past and future happenings only His commands can be obeyed in every time. Hence it is stated:

“Allah makes clear (His commandments) to you, lest you go astray. And Allah is Knower of every thing.” (Q: 4:176)

This makes another thing about “Modernity” very clear that the need for Divine Revelations (Wahy) and commandments of Allah was felt because it was difficult to achieve true guidance in this matter through intellect alone. It is, therefore, essential that the Divine Injunctions be followed exactly as they are. It is a wrong practice that any prevalent custom of the time be first taken as correct on the basis of self-reasoning, and then attempts be made to fit the Qur’an and Traditions to it by making distant interpretations. Such a method cannot be called submission to the Will of Allah. Rather it amounts to alteration and amendments for which no man is authorized, because that would annul the very purpose of sending Divine Guidance. True submission means that the commandments of Allah should never be allowed to be altered or modified even if the entire mankind collectively so desire. Allah says:

“And perfect are the words of your Lord in truthfulness and justice; there is none who can change His words; and He is the Hearer, the Knower. And if you (O Prophet) obey most of those on earth they would lead you astray from Allah’s way. They follow nothing but surmise, and they do but guess. Surely your Lord knows best who astrays from His way. And He knows best who are rightly guided.” (Q: 6:115-117)

“(And when Our clear revelations are recited to them) those who hope not for the meeting with Us say, “Bring a Qur’an other than this or alter it. Say (O Prophet) “It is not for me to alter it of my own accord, I follow nothing, except what is revealed to me (Q: 10: 15).

This kind of true obedience may bring opposition of the people and one may face difficulties but those who stand this test of the time, are rightly guided in this world and the Hereafter. Allah says:

“And those who strive in Our way, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways. Indeed Allah is with the good-doers.” (Q: 2:69)

It is not the way of a true Muslim that he accepts what he finds to fulfill his material desires and rejects what calls for some material loss or puts him through some trials. This attitude, in Qur’anic terms, leads one to lose both in this world and in the Hereafter.

“And among Mankind is he who worships Allah upon the very edge—so that if good befalls him he is contented with it, but if a trial befalls him he turns round on his face. He loses this world and the Hereafter. That is indeed a manifest loss.” (Q: 22:11)

The only way to judge between desirable and undesirable modernism is to examine it in the light of Qur’anic injunctions. If it is not in opposition to Allah’s Commandments it may be accepted otherwise it must be rejected without misinterpreting and distorting it even though it may be against the common trend of time. Reproaches and mockery coming from the people should not be allowed to change his firm belief. A true Muslim has a clear answer to such negative remarks provided by. the Qur’an:

“Allah mocks at them and lets them loose in their impertinence in which they keep wandering.”

This attitude is meant for such affairs of life as have been ordained to be Obligatory, Incumbent, Traditional, Desirable or Forbidden and Detestable. Hence these injunctions are unalterable in every period. However, for things that fall under the category of being “permissible” man has been authorized to adopt or to abandon them according to the needs and demands of time. In fact, there are very few matters which Islamic Law has explicitly defined as Obligatory, Incumbent, Traditional, Desirable, Forbidden and Detestable, and are unalterable. On the contrary, most of the affairs of life fall under the category of “permissible” and decisions about their adoption or rejection can be made according to requirements.

We can see that the field of activity with regard to modernism as provided by Islam is very vast in which one can live a modern life without deviating from the way of Allah in the least. In them Man may apply his intellectual abilities and may achieve enormous heights of knowledge, discoveries as well as Science and Technology, and make them more and more useful for mankind.

The greatest challenge for the Islamic world today is to recognize these limits of “Modernity”, without interfering with the confined limits of unalterable injunctions of Islam. Unfortunately the present attitude of the Islamic world is in clear contrast to this. Our scholars have been markedly slow in the spheres which demanded their active efforts, while they are actively busy modernizing the unalterable Commandments of Allah with the consequence that Muslims are deprived of the amenities and comforts that modern time has provided to humanity and the evils of modernism are at liberty to prevail in our society with no check from our side. May Almighty Allah give us the ability and courage to fulfill our obligations to modern times while safeguarding our ideological heritage.

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