TOWARD A NEW ISLAM: REFORMATION & LIBERALIZATION
By Tahir Aslam Gora
As a writer from a Muslim background and as a writer who often deals with issues relating to Islam, it is of serious concern to
me that there is a disconnect between Islam, on the one hand, and the evolving realities of the universe and the modern world
on the other. I therefore wish to suggest that Muslims need to rethink their religion and their worldview.
In making this suggestion, I fully understand that we, the Muslims, cannot adopt any religious identity other than Islam. We can, however, reform Islam in order to bring it into harmony with the modern world. I suggest the following outline for the "New Islam."
In addition to these basic principles, new points and details will continue to be added as required. In an ever-changing universe,
the constant evolution of an intellectual system is the only rational course of thought and action.
The following are brief explanations of the aforementioned basic principles.
THE ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRATIC VALUES:
It is very important to understand the real form of constitutional democratic values. Most Muslims reject constitutional
democracy as an invention of the West, whereas constitutional democracy is the common heritage of all human beings. Most Muslim
nations believe constitutional democracy consists merely of elections and a particular system of government. In fact, constitutional
democracy, in addition to entailing elections and a system of government, involves recognition of the principle, "Live and Let Live."
It is this kind of tolerant and flexible behavior that allows people to live together and respect one another as human beings, in spite of
differences of religion, color, and race.
COMPLETE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:
Freedom of expression has always been non-existent in the Islamic world. This is due to Muslims' need to impose the Qur'an and Hadith on every walk of life, whereas most daily affairs have no concern with religious scriptures. In tha case of each and every major religion, its religious books do have some influence in the everyday lives of its followers and the decisions and actions of their governments. In Christianity, the authority of the religious books is usually limited to the ecclesiastical rules the clergy must follow and the moral lessons that are taught to guide, but not dominate, the personal behavior of true believers. The religious books of Christianity have no legitimate concern with controlling secular political behavior or dictating and enforcing civil laws, i.e., the laws of sovereign states.
In Muslim societies, on the other hand, no one is allowed to express his or her ideas, due to the prevailing religious rigidity. Writers and
journalists are sometimes ordered beheaded. Writers do not have permission to express their ideas about certain special topics.
In this regard, prohibition to study the books of famous and important writers such as Salman Rushdie is a typical example. A lack of
dialogue is the major problem in Muslim societies. Creative ideas are strictly prohibited in Muslim societies. We have now reached the
point that all the hard work of a writer is wasted due to his or her own "self sensorship." Most of Muslim writers have become so
impulsive in religious faith that they are ready to hang anyone arguing in favour of freedom of expression. It is a fact that nations
adopting the way of drubbing, instead of dialogue, can never enjoy the magnificence of liberty. Muslim societies cannot find the track
of reality and truth without the adoption of real freedom of expression.
IMPLIMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS:
International human rights are also rejected, as they are considered an invention of the West. Due to these very humam rights, millions
of Muslims living in the West enjoy better lives than the peoples living in Islamic societies. This is possible only because these human
rights make it possible for Muslims to live according to their religion in the Christian societies of the West. The guarantee of human rights
is actually a great gift for mankind. We should try to make it better, instead of rejecting it.
END TO POLYGAMY & HOLY WAR (JIHAD):
Polygamy can never be an appropriate or beneficial practice. It is normally argued by Muslims that the prophet allowed it for the betterment of the lives of widows and destitute women, whereas most of the Prophet's marriages were not with such women. Here we can only say in soft words that polygamy happened, whatever its purpose really was. This inhuman practice should now be abandoned.
"Jihad," another name for the dominance of Islam, should also be banned.
EQUALITY OF MEN & WOMEN:
I have repeatedly written that Muslim societies provide the status of a mother, sister, daughter, and wife to a woman but are not ready
to accept her status as a human being and as a woman. The modern, civilized world is right, proper, and beneficial in that it provides
equal rights to all human beings, without any discrimination based on gender.
ENDING THE MUSLIMS' SUPERIORITY COMPLEX VIS-A-VIS NON-MUSLIM NATIONS, GROUPS, & INDIVIDUALS:
It is a fact that most of us Muslims do not know about the civilized way of living. Even when we do, we are disgraced because of our intolerance, lack of sophistication, and unreasonable and unfair attitudes toward human beings not adhering to Muslim religious beliefs and practices. We, the Muslims, consider non-Muslim nations inferior because we think ourselves to be on the one and only right path and uniquely entitled to Heaven. We consider the non-Muslim nations to be infidel, corrupt, and immoral peoples destined for Hell.
Leaving such ideas behind, we can acquire the ability to understand the realities of life and the universe, as have the peoples of the Western world. Following the example of Western societies, the Chinese, Japanese, East Indians (including Hindus), and other nations of the Far East are on the way to understanding the beauties of human life and adopting liberal ways.
One of the major reasons for claiming and asserting the "superiority" of Islam is the belief that it is the only religion derived from and
based on the word and will of God. So, we consider ourselves as the "Chosen Nation" among all the human beings and human societies
on this earth. Although most of the major religions of the world have the same ownership claim regarding God, the rigidity of this belief
has already decreased among the adherents of non-Muslim religions, whereas Muslims are not ready to accept the reality that God is
not the embodiment of any one religion, but actually belongs to all religions and is the creator and governor of the universe of which
all human beings are a part.
ESTABLISHING A PRACTICAL ENVIRONMENT OF LOVE FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS:
Muslims will have to give a message of love to all human beings on this earth. It should be exhibited practically, i.e., in practice, and not
merely in theory or ideology.
PARTICIPATING IN ALL TYPES OF ARTS, LIKE DANCE, MUSIC, PAINTINGS, ETC.:
The importance of art in Muslim society was felt during "Khalafat-e-Osmania" at the state level. But afterwards, Muslim states started
to become a factor in the abolition of the arts. Now, during the 21st. century, most Muslim societies consider the arts as an uncivilized
activity and a serious crime against the religion of Islam. Such an attitude should be ceased so that Muslims can enjoy the beauties of
life. Life should be pleasant and decorated, and happy occasions should be celebrated accordingly. Muslim societies should adopt an
attitude favoring participation in all sorts of art, including dance, music, painting, etc. -- without any feeling of religious sin. Education
about and the teaching of these arts should be arranged. The arts should be popularized by establishing art academies and the best
FORMATION OF MODERN LIBERAL SOCIETIES IN THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES:
According to the "New Islam," the institutions and practices of Muslim societies should not constitute hurdles to creating open,
pluralistic societies in the Islamic world. Modern liberal societies  should be established in all Muslim countries. All individual
human beings should be provided basic human rights, in accordance with Western civilized, international standards.
A FRIENDLY & FRANK ATTITUDE TOWARD, BUT NOT AN EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH, HISTORICAL ISLAMIC PERSONALITIES:
A friendly and frank attitude should be adopted to replace expressions of an emotional relationship with and attachment to historical Islamic personalities. Instead of going up to worship the Prophets, the Poise Caliphs, Imams, Sufis, Mullahs etc., we should adopt a friendly attitude toward and non-emotional relationship with them. We should get rid of the ugly habit of concealing facts in the lives of our religious personalities.
For instance, in trying to learn something about the life of the Chief Prophet of Islam, it should be kept in mind that, while being a great leader of his era, he was also a human being like the rest of us. His historical greatness can be explained by relating the fact that he formulated the best human principals of his time. But it should also be related that the Prophet, being a human being, had human instincts like like the rest of us. His love for women, for instance, was due to the human instinct. He practiced politics and political manipulation throughout his life because a viable and cohesive society could not be established and maintained without political strategies.
The "Poise Caliphs" continued the political struggle and, as a matter of fact, some of them were involved in the conspiracy of killing of other Muslim leaders. There is no harm to accept these realities. The Poise Caliphs were a part of the history of Muslim peoples and were the same as present-day man.
The Imams tried to understand the facts about religion, using their wisdom in the same way. They used all the available sources of knowledge, seeking to do their level best. A true saint is not actually restricted to any religion, but represents humanity as a whole.
All the Sufis of the Muslim world will no doubt be a part of the same category.
Prophets used to be the leaders of their nations. The present intellectuals, writers, scientists, thinkers, philosophers, sincere social
workers and saints providing guidance to the nations are not less than the prophets.
ENDING FEELINGS OF RELIGIOUS SIN:
According to the "New Islam," it is necessary to end feelings of religious sin in order to save the human energies from rusting with
this irrational feeling. It is also important to make one's mind free and liberal, open to new ideas and knowledge. A sense of
responsibility is much better feeling than a sense of sin. The sense of sin about dance, singing, drinking, etc. is too great in Islam,
and causes Muslims to become hypocrital. Such feelings do not have any concern with today's life and universe. Muslims have now
come to the point that a boy and a girl cannot have a "date" without this sense of sin.
CONSIDERATION OF PRAYERS AS SYMBOLIC RITUAL & AS PERSONAL MATTERS:
There is no harm in several traditional prayers and worship, but these should not be considered as the be-all and end-all of life. It
is sufficient to consider these practices to be a matter of personal consolation. However, some of these practices, like the sacrifice
of animals, should be immediately stopped.
AN END TO TABOOS ON ALCOHOL AND HALAL MEAT:
The prohibition of alcohol and pork is meaningless today. The alcohol-drinking nations have proved themselves to be better in moral and human values. The use of alcohol will be just a personal matter in the "New Islam," having no concern with the principles of the Muslim religion.
The theory of "Halal Meat" is a ridiculous thing today.
CONSIDERATION OF THE QUR'AN AS A SYMBOLIC, RELIGIOUS, & SPIRITUAL BOOK:
The Quran should be considered as a symbolic, religious, and, to some extent, spiritual book The reality of the spirituality becomes
evident by freely understanding the secrets and symbols of the Universe. The Qur'an should not be considered as a book which can
be implemented in every walk of life. It is evident that no economic and social system could be developed in the light of the Qur'an or
any other religious book. This is the reason that Canada and several European countries have developed a humane system which
never could have been developed in any Islamic country. The Muslim societies should have come to this level of humane, civilized
political and social development, but, presently, no Muslim country is even at 10% humanistic and civilized, as compared to Canada and
particular West European societies.
PEACE -- THE ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE OF THE "NEW ISLAM":
The ultimate objective of the "New Islam" should only be the peace of human beings.
THE BASIC PILLAR OF THE "NEW ISLAM" -- UNDERSTANDING THE UNIVERSE:
No doubt, the basic pillar of the "New Islam" should be considered an understanding of the secrets and symbols of the universe.
INTELLECTUAL STRUGGLE & THE CONCEPT OF SHARING THE WORLD:
The world is a shared global society today. It cannot be made a shared living place for all the human beings without any intellectual struggle, as all the human rights declared and demonstrated up till now are the result of the continuation of the intellectual struggle. Western intellectuals brought the West out of religious rigidity during the 20th. century and separated the doctrines of the Christian religion from the affairs of the sovereign state, including the task of making and enforcing the rules and laws governing daily human life in secular matters. Moreover the intellectuals of the West endeavored to make the human mind so vast that religion could not enslave that mind. They also helped human beings to be liberated from blind faith in religious dogma and from the resulting severe restrictions on their understanding the realities of the universe.
It is now duty of the intellectuals of the Islamic world to bring Muslims out of the emotional and drubbing policies of Islamic societies,
enabling Muslims to share the beauties of the universe and Muslim nations to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other nations of
THE CONCEPT OF THE "UNIVERSAL GOD":
According to the "New Islam," God is a universal phenomenon, being itself a part of humanity, including all religions and systems of
religious belief and practice. It is not a specific conception, but is a universal unit or entity to which everything in the universe belongs.
USE OF THE TERM "INTELLECTUALS," INSTEAD OF "PROPHETS":
In the "New Islam," the terms "intellectual" and "leader" will be used, instead of the old term "prophet." The "New Islam" will grow
in an extremely democratic way. There will be no need of "Prophets" or "Gurus" of any kind. The "New Islam" will be put forward as
an intellectual movement.
I do understand that ladies and gentlemen addicted to Islamic ethics will bring forth arguments based on the Hadith and an abundance of questions in burdensome religious language. It is a fact, however, that these terminologies have no weight today. The references from "Imams" also have no justification at present.The realities of life and the universe are simple and evident, a vast and free mind being sufficient to understand the mortal life on earth, the eternal life after the mortal life, this universe, and the universe to come after this universe.
The "New Islam" is necessary for success in the struggle to bring the life of the miserable nations, presently bound by religious dogma, rigidity and tyranny, well along the way toward a future of intellectual and spiritual freedom and exhilaration.
 The term "liberal society" is used here in the traditional European sense, a term denoting an open, pluralistic society supporting and implementing political and social reforms tending toward free market capitalism, a competitive political system, representative democracy, constitutional government, the rule of law, due process of law, equal protection of the laws, liberty under law, separation of government and religion, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and other constitutionally guaranteed and protected rights and liberties comprising a very large sphere of personal freedom for each and every individual law-abiding member of the society. Here, "liberal" does not have the meaning attached to the word as it is used in contemporary American partisan politics -- a label applied to a person, group, faction, party, platform, program, or ideology advocating statism, i.e., a significantly enlarged and more generously funded taxpayer-supported social welfare state as well as a general governmental economic policy characterized by control and direction of the nation's economy by the central government, which makes and enforces all or most of the important economic decisions for the the entire country.
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Author of several books, Tahir Aslam Gora resides in Ontario, Canada, location of the operational base from which he actively
promotews his Islamic reformation and liberalization movement. He may be contacted via email at the following address:
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