Restoring progressive Islam is the need of the hour in Sri Lanka
Posted on May 12th, 2019

By Ameen Izzadeen/Daily Mirror

Colombo, May 10: The Easter Sunday terror attacks have opened the Pandora’s Box of questions on various aspects of Islam, its teachings and commands, amid an avalanche of Islamophobia, hate speech, distrust and scorn.

When the 9/11 terror attacks happened, a similar wave of Islamophobia swept the United States and the Americans began to ask questions about Islam and its alleged association with violence. Some white supremacists went to the extent of promoting nuking the Muslims.

In Sri Lanka’s mainstream and social media, a topic that was being discussed with much interest and the ridicule it rightly deserved is the reward of 72 virgins for the killers of hundreds of innocent people, including children. Does Islam preach this? Religious scholars will not be able to answer this question.

The best they could say is that the Quran, the primary source of Islamic teachings, does not say anything about 72 virgins.

True, it is not found in the Quran, which, the Muslims believe, is a compilation of the messages the Prophet received from God throughout his 23-year ministry, during which he and his followers suffered persecution, ostracisation, attacks and exile.

But the promise of 72 virgins is found in a book of Hadeeth, a term that refers to the sayings of the prophet and his traditions. Some Ulemas or religious preachers will not have the intellectual courage to admit this. This is because they still believe that Sunni Islam’s six main Hadeeth books were compiled by ‘infallible’ imams, even after modern-day Hadeeth scholars have dismissed thousands of ahadeeth — plural of hadeeth — as fake or falsely attributed to the prophet.

The so-called reward of 72 virgins is found in a hadeeth book called Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, also known as Sunan al-Tirmidhi.

Notwithstanding the presence of fake ahadeeth, both the Sunni and Shiite streams have their own canons. The Sunnis have six and the Shiites two.

It must be said here that in Islamic history, one of the biggest scandals is hadeeth literature. Islam’s first four Caliphs, who assumed leadership of the Muslim community after the prophet’s death, opposed attempts to compile the sayings of the prophet.

The first to compile a book of hadeeth was Imam Bukhari, who was born in Bukhara in Uzbekistan some 200 years after the prophet had passed away. By this time, Islam had been highly politicized with rulers misusing and misinterpreting religious teachings to consolidate their hold on power.

From the people who he met, during his 16-year travel through the Arab-Persian region, Imam Bukhari began collecting the sayings correctly or falsely attributed to the prophet. The process began when he was only 16. He collected some 600,000 ahadeeth and, sifting through this large volume, he selected only about 7,000. His students claimed the selection was made on strict criteria such as the reliability of the chain of narrators or Isnad which usually goes all the way to the time of the prophet. Imam Bukhari’s compilation came to the public domain through a disciple’s disciple, after his death.

Following Imam Bukhari, several Hadeeth collectors appeared. They claimed they adopted a similar method to select or reject the sayings attributed to the prophet.

Today, the hadeeth literature is analysed by intellectuals who say some ahadeeth are fake and incompatible with the Quran.

An enlightened and famous hadeeth scholar was Sheik Muhammad Nasir-ud-Dīn al-Albani , who died in 1999 in Jordan. He opposed extremism and did not associate himself with any school of thought. He spent his scholarly life identifying thousands of fake ahadeeth found in the so-called canons.

The learned sheikh had classified the hadeeth on 72 virgins as ‘Munkar’ which means it needs to be denounced. Hadeeth scholars acknowledge that fake ahadeeth were the creation of the Zanadiqah or the heretics, sectarian fanatics, favor seekers, storytellers, ignorant ascetics and hyper-zealous preachers.

Using modern research methodology, Muslim academics have deducted that some ahadeeth do not conform to the text and the spirit of the Quran while some contradict each other. For instance, they point out that hadeeth literature about the punishment in the grave after one’s death was contrary to the Quranic teachings, just as the carnal claim of 72 houris for the martyr.

It needs to be stressed here that, according to the Quran, those who kill innocent people while killing themselves are not martyrs, but serial killers of humanity as a whole.

Suicide bombing is a late 20th century innovation or bid’a and it needs to be rooted out from Islam, though a handful of theologians have taken pains to endorse it strictly in the context of a fight against an occupying force or an invading army.

Given the damage ISIS and its followers have caused to Islam by their un-Islamic acts, the priority for Muslim theologians today is to gear Islamic learning towards intellectualism and rational thinking.

Intellectualism demands respect for opposing views and ideas, while reason or rational thinking will enable to weed out false ahadeeth, such as the myth about the 72 virgins.

Rational thinking and intellectualism are not new to Islam. Described as the Mutazila or the rational school of Islamic theology, it flourished from the 8th to the 10th century in Iraq, the seat of the Abbasid caliphate. It was during this period that the Muslim world reached the peak of learning, making major strides in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, law, philosophy and literature.

The fall began with the emergence of the Ash’ari theology, named after its founder Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari. It grew as a counterforce to the Mutazila and soon dominated Sunni Islam, producing in its wake Jihadi Imams such as Ibn Taymiyyah, Abdul Wahab and Syed Kutub.

These imams’ teachings have become a manual for modern-day terror groups such as ISIS.

To address the multiple problems the Muslims of this country face, mainstream Muslim scholars, both religious and academic, representing different groups, need to unite to bring about a progressive Islamic theology based on the rationalist and traditionalist foundations.

This is perfectly in tune with the spirit of Islam.

In the wake of the Easter Sunday massacres, the need to de-radicalize those who are romanticizing with a dangerous and inhuman suicide ideology has become not only a security priority but also a religious responsibility upon every right-minded Muslim theologian and civic-conscious Muslim in Sri Lanka.

In Singapore, I understand, the de-radicalization process is carried out with the help of local Muslim scholars. Singapore’s state policy and surveillance systems aimed at communal harmony have also helped that nation to curb hate speech, inflammatory preaching and avert terror attacks.

(The article had appeared in Daily Mirror under the title: Mainstream Muslims must unite to about a progressive Islam)

One Response to “Restoring progressive Islam is the need of the hour in Sri Lanka”

  1. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    What the world needs is a true religion not these fictitious god based religions which don’t regard sins as sins and
    don’t make any sense in the 19th/20th/21st century.

    Following are all the sins any two legged creature can commit anywhere in the world.
    1.taking life
    2. taking what is not given
    3. sensuous misconduct
    4. false speech
    5.intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind
    No 1:1:10, 1:20:200 etc. etc. Just 1, 2 3, 4, 5. Easy to remember and admit if you are honest.
    Later religions copied them, added a few more and called it a different name but by then the emphasis was gone
    and, today we have a corrupt, money-ruling, unsafe, dangerous world thanks to too many people, countries regarding sins as sort of non-sins.

    All the law courts under the sun use them as their penal codes. Murder tops the list and the culprit who commits it
    gets the maximum punishment. If any any one thinks, murder is going to be reward with even 1 Rupee, he/she
    must be brain dead, let alone having 72 whatever to have a good time. If you look at your teeth in the mirror,
    and then look at your cat’s/dogs teeth it tells you what sort of diet we should be eating. People who think, cows,
    etc. etc. food is committing murder and going to pay for the sins in their next lives (animals too have a right to
    life, they aren’t our food, plus they contribute a lot to polluting the planet too and pass on their diseases to
    the eaters, sort of their revenge ).

    It could even be in this life. We’ve seen recently traitor alugosuwa (to Sinhalese Buddhists, Sri Lanka and
    Buddhism only) lk porisada who killed 1000s of men, women and children got blown into pieces. We’re also
    seeing now another traitor alugosuwa (to Sinhalese Buddhists, Sri Lanka and Buddhism only) Batalande wa(n)dakaya [email protected]_leech wickrama Sinhala killer worrying how to save its pathetic skin after it loses Pathala
    Man (PM) job after it has committed so many murders, treacheries, robberies, lies etc. etc.

    Buddhism disappeared from India, the birth place of the only true religion in the world, also the only one to pass
    the ‘science test’ with flying colours since it didn’t fit the society with caste system, animal sacrifices etc. etc.
    and people quickly reverted back to religions of conveniences which don’t regard sins as sins to cheat
    themselves and only to pay for them in their next 100s, 1000s of lifetimes (not as two legged creatures, but in
    the animal kingdom and go through millions of years to ‘get the promotion’ to be two legged again, sort of Theory
    of Evolution). Then invading mussies killed all the Buddhist monks and destroyed all Buddhist universities and
    got rid of the noble religion completely. What’s more former Buddhist iran, afganisthan, pakesthan, maldives, bangladesh, malayasia and indonesia were turned to mussie countries within a few hundred years of their
    arrivals in those countries, multiplied, multiplied and outnumbered the natives.

    This is what’s happening in Sri Lanka now. Mussies go to non-mussie countries in all four (never to mussie
    countries since they are hell holes already) multiply, multiply and once the numbers are right start killing the natives (brutally of course) thinking the old multiply and outnumber dirty, disgusting, sub human trick will work in this tv, phone, internet age. Sadly it’s no surrender of the country, since people come to know and fight back to
    save their livelihoods. This is exactly what happened in Buddhist Myanmar recently. Mussies crept over the
    border from bangladesh and multiplied and multiplied. When the numbers are right started murder campaign. Luckily for them, they had a patriotic leader and sprung into action. Mussies fled across the border with children coming out of ears and the country was saved. In Sri Lanka, mussies know Sinhalese are divided thanks to
    traitor UNPatriotic_rats party and during the past 50 years multiplied and multiplied and now the numbers are
    right and murder campaign has started. It is only going to be a prolonged bloodbath. You have to
    blame your traitor, greedy, crafty politicians and your fastest breeding religion aka religion of violence.

    You should take a leaf out of the Chinese people living in Sri Lanka for 100s of years, fully integrating to learn
    how to live in a foreign counry, not multiplying at all and most people wouldn’t even notice they are there.
    Mussies?They will come in all four, multiply and multiply and put up eye sore mosques (sword stores to kill
    millions of Sinhalese in one night) to drive out Sinhalese from the area, not even our sacred cities were spared
    land grabbing etc. etc and become a real nightmare for every one else. This is the nature of the mussies
    anywhere they go in the world. All these are while mussie countries don’t even allow a Buddha pictures in their
    countries. Ashamed?

    Not even a Buddha picture is allowed in the middle east. But in other countries, they want everything their way
    and finally when the numbers are high enough the natives have to be ready to die horrible deaths and surrender
    the country. Why we need a religion which doesn’t make any sense in this scientific era, when we have the only true religion in the world? Buddhism’s compassionate nature itself has been used to destroy the noble religion. Buddhism doesn’t have powerful, rich organisations or paid priests/ulamas/kana kokas etc. etc. or fast breeding
    to propagate it since it is up to the individual to make this life peaceful, well lived to make the next one even
    better. Any person with an iota of honesty will accept it.

    NASA’s missions have shown the world that, the earth’s (that is where all these 7 billion+ live) size is a ‘grain of sand’ in the vast vast vast universe where the distances are measured in light years and no scientist know where the edges are to date. Just like Buddha preached over 2,500 years ago. Charles Darwin showed the world with his Theory of Evolution how we, the two legged creatures came to be being after evolving for over 3,000 million
    years. Then his book, The tree of Life, explained how all the living things, including flies, mosquitoes etc. etc.
    came to be being. Today, all the people on the planet (honest and not brain dead only) the Theory to be 100%
    true.Darwin also explained, in Natural Selection, you have to respect the nature, since you have to fit to the environment to survive. If you have too many children, with it you need food, hospitals, homes, schools, roads travel, water, cars, transport etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. in an already overcrowded planet! Going to cause
    friction? Not at all for the brain dead. Some even might say our god will provide.

    People used to worship trees, mountains, rivers, gods in the olden days in the absence of science. All the facts
    are right us. We are not living in year 0000 or 500, but in 2018. Two legged creatures have made vast vast
    advances during the last few hundred years. They have manged to send satellites to space, built computers,
    airplanes etc. etc. super complex things from the things extracted from the earth and refined. To imagine all
    this is a divine intervention is to ridicule that giant strides mankind has made so far with brillian minds. They will surely make more and more giant strides (evolution). Sadly, same time some are busy planning the demise of
    the ‘grain of sand’ to more powerful than the next guy and getting armed to the teeth, while professing
    others to disarm and one day it can all go up in smoke with a press of few buttons. Buddha’s teachings gave
    a fix to all this. But most people don’t want to accept since you have to have a bit of honesty and compassion
    to adhere to them!

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