Javed Ahmad Ghamdi’s Attempt to Reform Islam
30 Jan, 2009
- “Islam can’t be reformed, but it can be eradicated. It can’t be molded, but it can be smashed. It is rigid, but brittle. That is why Muslims can’t tolerate criticism of it. To eradicate Islam, all we have to do is tell the truth. It’s that simple. This was not possible before, but with the help of the Internet, it is now. The absurdity of Islam is glaringly obvious. All it takes to see it is to read the Qur’an.”
Though internet is the best tool available to critics of Islam for telling the truth about Islam. But, we can not be successful without reaching the mainstream media. This seems impossible, because every anti-Islamic media and websites in most Islamic countries are banned. On the contrary, the fundamentalists are using the media of all kinds with unstinted liberty to reach the gullible Muslim youth. A few critics, working on the Internet with limited readership, can never overtake the propaganda of the Islamists to the extent that Islam would vanish with decades.
Muslim freethinkers are actually trying to cut the stem of Islam. This task is next to impossible for those while living in Islamic societies. Meanwhile, some reformists—Javed Ahmad Ghamdi in Pakistan, for example—are out there trying to cut the branches of Islam. In fact, they are facing criticism too from their audience. But many Muslims also want to get rid of their existing system. They are impressed by some aspects of Western values and want freedom and liberty. Therefore, Ghamdi's reformist agenda is very popular among the youth and the educated class in Pakistan.
Javed Ahmad Ghamdi learned a lot from his debate with Dr. Ali Sina. Ghamdi and Sina are doing the same job, but in different ways. Sina is cutting the stem but Ghamdi is trying to cut the branches first. Islam will die—either a slow peaceful, or a sudden, death. How we can kill Islam at a particular place will depend on how we choose to as well as on how the circumstances are. In Western countries, sudden death should is possible and be given a chance; but in Islamic countries, it is not possible. The first step for killing Islam in Islamic countries is to create an atmosphere, in which people can accept realities easily. Ghamdi's reformist program, which I wish to share with you here, may help foster such an atmosphere. I have given a brief account of Ghamdi's reformist agenda with links to access his work online in Urdu.
1. There is no form of Had (Prescribed Punishment) in Islam like flogging, cutting hands, stoning etc.
Ghamdi strongly condemn that there is any prescribed punishment for adulterers, and wine drinking etc. He thinks that those mentioned punishments were for only those people of Medina. And those verses are not applicable now. He has written a lot on this topic. Recent amendments in Hadod Laws in Pakistan was prompted by his research. A raped woman now will be able to get justice without need of four male witnesses via DNA tests etc.
2. Hadith can not be trusted alone. Hadith is to be seen in the light of Quran and common sense of Muslim ummah.
He strongly rejects the concept of hadith. And according to him, only a hadith which is according to Quran and “common sense of Muslims” is acceptable. Therefore, hadiths that justify pedophilia, genocides and terrorism are nullified in this way.
3. Jesus died a natural death.
Jesus died a natural death. He was not lifted up by Allah. This reformation can help Muslims to come near the Ahmadis. Who are being persecuted in Pakistan.
4. There is no penalty for an Apostate (Murtad) in Islam.
Islam allows a democratic state. Every one is free to change his religion. Those ahadith were for specific time.
Ghamdi have given some arguments against the death plenty of apostasy.
5. Claims the 7 recitations of Quran to be wrong.
There is no space for seven recitations in Quran.
6. Music and Dancing is permissible in Islam.
Music is allowed in Islam. Ghamdi gave a number of ahadith to prove the allowance of music and dance in Islam.
7. Jihad against oppression is the only jihad allowed
Jihad is not allowed unless the head of the state orders to do. Jihad is only war against persecution. The best jihad is “jihad bi nafs” which says to fight against human ego.
8. The Shahadat (testimony) of a man and woman are equal
Women and men have equal rights according to Ghamdi. And both can give testimony in court. Only in case of adultery the testimony of woman is half. Which is due to certain facts.
9. There is no concept of Purdah (Hijab / Veil) in Islam.
The concept of veil etc. is not a part of Islam. Only women and men are guided to guard their sexual organs. Ghamdi have a lot of discussion on this issue. Due to this, he is very popular amongst modern women in Pakistan.
10. Democracy is real system of Islamic state.
According to Ghamdi, the real system of Islam is democracy; Caliphate is not acceptable.
11. There would be no jaziya on non-Muslims in Pakistan.
Pakistani non-Muslims are not the dhimmis. Pakistan is bound up in a pact with the U.N., which gives equal rights to all.
And Mohammed gave equal rights to Jews of media after his migration. The “Medina Pact” is the constitution of Pakistan.
12. A woman can be the prime minister of Pakistan.
Those ahadith which say nations having a woman as the head of state will never flourish were specific for some nations. Now, any woman can be the head of state.
13. A non-Muslim can be prime minister of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a democratic country. If the people want a non-Muslim to be the prime minister, then it is allowed in Islam.
14. Keeping beard is not mandatory to Muslim men.
Having beard was the culture of that time. Even Abu Jahal have had beard. So it is not necessary to have beard in Islam.
15. Only moral teaching should be given in Islamic studies in Pakistan.
There should be moral
and ethical teachings in Islamic studies. Jihad and other subjects
should not taught to children.
16. Jihadi verses were only for those days and now those verses will be used in war time by soldiers.
The Surat Taubah and other Jihadi Surahs were revealed against the non-believers who challenged the writ of Muhammad's prophethood as a wrath of Allah. Now those verses are not applicable to every Muslim. Those verses will be used for only soldiers.
17. Pakistan was not founded on Islamic bases, but for economic reasons.
Pakistan is not a theocratic state. It is not founded on Islamic grounds. It was founded to protect the rights of Muslims from the Hindu majority. Therefore, it is not necessary to establish Islamic rule in Pakistan.
18. Pakistan should be neither Islamic nor secular but a democratic state.
The government should let the people to decide what kind of state they want. Either they want Islamic or secular state. Government should not enforce its prescribed agenda upon the people of Pakistan.
20. Quran accept evolution but rejects macro evolution of human beings.
Quran accepts the evolution of the universe but not the evolution of humans from ape.
21. Only way to spread Islam is “dawah”; sword can not be used any way.
The use of sword is now abrogated. Islam can only be spread by dawah.
22. Woman can also divorce as can a man.
Now a days, Ghamdi is working on the law for the right of a woman to divorce her husband. We will soon have laws in Pakistan that would allow women to get divorced in 90 days.
23. Islamic government can not enforce Muslims to have beard and do jihad.
Talibans are certainly wrong to enforce saying prayers and having beard etc. Islamic government have no right to force a Muslim even to participate in jihad.
24. Clash of civilization never happened in history.
Every super power wants to dominate the world as America is doing and Germany, Russia and Muslim did in history. America attacked Afghanistan due to some strategic reason. It is not a war against Islam.
25. Non-Muslims are brothers of Muslims, because all people are descendants of Adam.
Every human being is brother of other because of common ancestors.
26. Pakistan should have foreign policies on economical, not religious, bases.
Pakistan should make its policies based on economic consideration, not on religious beliefs.
27. Helping the needy is better then performing hajj.
28. All kinds of fine arts and funs are halal in Islam.
Arts, like sculptures, pictures and music, are halal in Islam.
29. There is no punishment of amputations in Islam.
There is no prescribed punishment in Islam. It is an obligation of the democratic government of Islamic states to make laws according to the conditions of the state.
30. Picture is totally halal in Islam.
Pictures and movies of living beings are totally halal in Islam.
31. Sex education is inevitable.
Sex education should be given to the youth of Pakistan. It is completely allowed in Islamic sharia.
32. “Killing of people, not in the state of war, is called terrorism.”
Killing of any civilian not in the state of war is terrorism. Whether it is done by Muslims or non-Muslim.
33. Kashmiri militants are not doing jihad.
A war can be deemed Jihad when ordered by the head of state.
34. American attacks in Afghanistan is not terrorism.
It will be called terrorism if they target civilians.
35. Muslims should accept Israel, because Jerusalem was a Jewish land before the Muslim invasion.
If Muslims do not accept Israel then why should Israel accept Muslims?
36. Zakat can be given to non-Muslims.
It is a misconception
that Zakat cannot be given to non-believers.
37. Making slave in Islam is haram.
Making slave is strongly prohibited in Islam. Slavery in Mohammed’s days was due to the early slave system. So Mohammed slowly end up that system. Now making slave is the gravest sin in Islam.
This article will show how Ghamdi is trying to change the whole face of Islam. The good thing is that he is getting popularity amongst Pakistanis. Every TV channel is trying to offer him more air-time, because many here in this "land of the pure" is tired of religious dogma. They want change. The hardcore fundamentalists are also not quiet, but the reformists are winning to some extent. The recently amended hadod ordinance is a proof of that.
Amar Khan is a Pakistan-born ex-Muslim.