ISLAM: NEW FRONTIERS
New Literature for a New Era
Islam: New Frontiers is perhaps one of the most serious and challenging books in our hands today – on just about any topic. At the same time, paradoxically, few books are perhaps more fun or exciting to read or contemplate.
How could it be otherwise?
For, the book is on Islam and Muslims, and there is no more serious or significant topic in today’s world than that one. And on top of that, the book is based almost entirely on the Qur’an, which is an extraordinary methodology to use in this time and age to say the least.
The object of the book seems to be nothing less than a complete restructuring of human thought and inquiry on the most fundamental notions of God and his creation on the one hand and the nature of humanity’s role on earth on the other hand.
If the name of the game is taking dominant sociopolitical, cultural and communication paradigms of the day and flipping them on their head, then there is no stronger candidate for that role among today’s publications than Dr. Pasha’s Islam: New Frontiers. Nor is there perhaps a book more relevant to the turbulent times through which our world is passing today. The Publishers are owed a debt of gratitude for making a publication of this moment and significance available to the English-speaking world at this juncture in our history.
If the book is read with the seriousness and attention it merits, it has the potential to have as profound and far-reaching an impact on religion, society, government and human relations as Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species eventually came to have on scientific and social thought nearly a century and a half earlier.
Dr. Pasha is perhaps one of the most fearless and original thinkers of a generation. The Muslim world – and in many ways the rest of the world – has not produced a clearer or more energetic analyst or thinker like him on the topic of Islam and Muslims since Iqbal and Maududi of India, Syed Qutb of Egypt and Ali Shari’ati of Iran. His style combines clarity and rationality with a hint of sarcasm and humor all of which make his writing powerful and irresistible, even when it unfolds in its lighter vein which it does from time to time.
In the confusion and chaos that sweep the world on Islam and Muslims today, Dr. Pasha’s Islam: New Frontiers is a must-read for everyone, everywhere. Whether in the mass media or blogosphere, and whether in the universities or in government and policy circles, and regardless of whether that person is a Muslim or a non-Muslim, Dr. Pasha’s Islam: New Frontiers is one book that no thoughtful reader can afford to miss.
Dr. Pasha is an American academic with a strong Islamic background.
Reader Reaction to the Book Islam: New Frontiers
“Dear Dr. Pasha: Thank you so much for this book. What an inspiring reading….
The book gave me so much reasons why I’ve chosen to embrace Islam as a way of life.
As a new convert, this book is an epiphany for me; you’ve absolutely encapsulated everything I do read from the meaning of the Koran, and the book epitomises Islam with tremendous sincerity, and this is what I believe Islam is all about.
Thanks again for this valuable work and Allah bless you for this good work.”
Author’s Reaction to a Reader of the book Islam: New Frontiers
It was Allah’s blessing to write it. It is Allah’s blessing to have you read it. It is Allah’s blessing that we were all guided to the Qur’an in one way or another. May Allah make his blessings last on us forever.
And may Allah bless you for reading and reacting to it in such a wonderful manner.
And may Allah bless all those who in any form or fashion helped with the editing, printing, promoting and distribution of this book.
May Allah grant it acceptance and open the hearts and minds of people for it and to his Haqq – Truth — through it
Chapter 1 What Payaam Are We Talking About?
What Payaam are
We Talking About?
The inimitable Iqbal once sent out a message to the world — from the East. In a way, it was part of the Muslim ambivalence in coming to terms with the realities of Western domination over Muslim lives, lands, resources and cultures.
He called it Payaam-e-Mashriq.
The time has now come to send a message from the West back to the East — and to the rest of the world. Hence this column Payaam-e-Maghrib.
Except that in the world of Allah, there really is neither East nor West. The Muslims would know that if they had either mastered the science of geography, as they once had, or had carefully examined the super-science of Qur’an, as they must at all times.
As it stands, the very terminology of East-West dichotomy smacks of a tacit surrender on the part of the world — Muslim world included — to the domination of Western culture, thought and influence on its thinking and imagination.
A Very Different World We Live In
But we live in a very different world today — or do we? Globalisation and all that — whatever that means!
Many Muslims in those days saw the world in dichotomous terms: Islam, Muslims and the East on one side and Christendom and the West on the other side. Colonial bards glorified this division in words such as “West is West, East is East, and never the twain shall meet.” Or words to that effect.
On the part of the West, however, this East-West division was a product of several factors that ranged from simple ignorance to willful arrogance and from garden-variety racism to rabid colonial and imperial greed and chauvinism.
Somehow, the implication, in this as well as, in much of other similar terminology and logic, was this: The West was more, the East was less; the West was right, the East was wrong; the West was superior, the East was inferior; the West was “developed,” the East was un- or underdeveloped or developing; the West was goose, the East was gander; and what was sauce for the goose can never be sauce for the gander.
Bottom-line: the two can never be regarded as equal. As a result, they cannot both be treated the same. They cannot be placed on the same ground of moral equivalency and judged by the same set of uniform rules and standards.
And there were other, more serious, consequences to this set of beliefs: The West can do anything to the East and not be held accountable for it in any way. The East on the other hand cannot do anything right. It can never win.
The game of life played according to the rules implicit in this belief system had two distinct outcomes: heads the West wins, tails the East loses. It was a masterly plan for continued and unquestioned world supremacy and domination - always to the advantage of the West and mostly at the expense of the East.
That Is Not How Islam Views The World
This, however, was not a very faithful — or even a very Islamic — representation of the world of Allah. Islam divided the world on a more practical principle of its inhabitants’ belief and behaviour and not on the relative and shifty grounds of where the sun rose from or set.
You would too if you only appreciated the fact that our earth was a roundish thing that never stood still but constantly spun around on its axis, and on top of that kept tumbling in space around the sun — or whatever it is that it does.
Someday, should Allah want it, I will deal with this issue in greater depth. Right now, I am proceeding as if the assumption of Muslim East and Christian West were true — no matter how unacceptable it is to me both personally, factually and Islamically. That is, if a Muslim can make such a distinction. I mean draw a clear line of demarcation separating his “personal” life from his “Islamic” life.
Islamic vs. Personal life
If that sort of dichotomy — personal vs. Islamic — smacks of a bit of Shirk to some of you that is because you have your basic Islamic instincts right. Just what kind of a life is that — a personal life lived outside the sphere and influence of Islam?
I did not even know there was anything outside Islam in this world. I always thought it was all Islam — and whatever was outside its pale was un-Islam and as such rejected by God. Wa many-yabtaghi ghairal Islaami Deenan fa lany-yuqbala minhu. And it makes perfect sense to me.
If Islam is the law Allah made to run his creation, and if Islam is also the law that Allah carefully tailored to meet human needs on this earth, then any life lived outside it is a strange life.
First of all it is an oxymoron. If you are in Allah’s world using the life Allah gave you, then you are automatically subject to the same universal laws of Allah that govern the universe. Second, life on earth is inconceivable without utilising Allah’s laws designed to facilitate life. It is these laws and principles that are collectively referred to as Islam.
Things Have Changed Radically
So, based on that assumption, what I am saying is this: Maybe at one time the East was Muslim and the West was Christian, and I question that, but that is no longer the case. Over the past five decades, things have changed radically. Now, there is a serious and significant presence of Islam throughout the West.
Therefore, so far as I am concerned, today’s West is a Muslim West.
I am not saying it is no longer a Christian, Judaic, atheist, secular or some other West. All I am saying is that along with everything else that the West may or may not claim to be, it is also a Muslim West.
Unlike the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propagandists, alarmists and scaremongers that have sprouted all over like mushrooms in a monsoon, I am not asking anyone in the West to move over or fall off the cliff because Muslims are coming. All I am saying is this: Could everyone please make a tad bit of room because Muslims are here, even if it means just a bit of psychological openness and acceptance.
The Only Home Millions of Muslims Know
Why? Because I live here in the West; my family lives here in the West; and millions of other Muslims and their families live here in the West. Millions upon millions upon millions of them.
In fact, the West today has more Muslims living in it than perhaps Syria; than perhaps Lebanon; than perhaps Malaysia; than Libya; than Iraq; than Jordan; than all the countries of the Persian/Arabian Gulf.
Many of these Muslims in the West are immigrants from their historical habitats in Muslim lands in the East — or their children and children’s children — while many others are local converts to the power, glory, charm and irresistible magic of the Deen of Allah from among the native sons and daughters of the West.
West is the only home my children know. It is also the only home the children of millions of other Muslims know. What is the West then if not a home to me and to them? To the extent any part of the earth of Allah can be a home to a Muslim or to any human being for that matter.
All of us were sent down here on a temporary visa, were we not? Wa lakum fil ardi mustaqarrun wa mataa’un ilaa heen, said the owner and master of the place, God Almighty, Rabbul ‘Aalameen, when we got thrown out of the Garden towards earth. It means, “You shall have temporary lodge and board on earth” — if you want to paraphrase it that way.
How much clearer does it get?
Allahu Akbar, the clarity of the words and ideas that this Unlettered Man Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, brought from Allah. What a marvel of clarity and precision it is to this day! And more today than ever before! And more in every time, age and place than every other time, age and place!
Tabaarakallahu ahsanul khaaliqeen — blessed be the finest of creators. Rabbis-samaawaati wa Rabbil ardi Rabbil ‘Aalameen — master of the heavens and earth and of the most noble throne and of all the worlds.
Prisoner of History and Geography
So, the West is the only home millions of Muslims know — on this earth that was never meant to be a permanent home for any human being to begin with.
But that is how sad the Muslim story has become in our days. Those who were meant to conquer space and time have themselves ended up becoming prisoners of history and geography. This is also the sad story of all of humanity, which is treating this earth as if it were its true, permanent and only home.
How beautifully that masterful Persian Muslim poet and seer, Rumi, captured this great tragedy of the human soul. Writing in Farsi hundreds of years ago, he said: “Bishnu as nai choon hikaayat mee kunad; Waz judaa-ee-haa shikaayat mee kunad”. Paraphrase: Harken to the lute as it tells its story — as it laments its separation from its roots.”
Sweet Or Not
What Do You Do When You Have A Home?
To a Muslim, sweetness is remembrance of Allah — thinking about Allah and talking about and to Him. And what a joy that can be! But who can turn his back on the beautiful things Allah has created for us right here in this world — including places we tend to call “home”?
We do what Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, used to do: Kaana yakoonu fee mihnati ahlihi. What a Hadith, Allahu Akbar! And what a profound impact it had on me when I first read it as a mere boy!
You want a panoramic paraphrase of that Hadith? Here it is!
You spend your time, energy, resources, imagination and inventiveness in finding ways to do household chores and duties; in taking care and meeting the needs of those in your “home”; in tirelessly teaching, guiding and educating those in your “home”, in fearlessly defending and protecting your “home” and those in it; in continually cleaning, fixing, repairing, maintaining and improving your “home”, in using every opportunity and occasion to bless your home and those in it; in being nice to the neighbors surrounding your “home” and sharing with them the wonderful things with which God has filled your “home”; and in doing the same to and with, the entire neighborhood, community, society, region, continent and planet of which your “home” may be a part.
That is what you do when you are a Muslim and God has given you a place under the sun that you call “home”. And that, unfortunately, is what many Muslims failed to do sufficiently in many of the places that they so proudly called “home”, including Spain and India. And that, unfortunately, is what many of them failed to do in the so-called West in more recent times — a West which sooner or later they will have no alternative but to call “home”.
If many of them didn’t do it so far willingly and routinely, whatever their reasons — lack of insight into the present, lack of vision about the future; lack of leadership; a pre- and post-Islamic allegiance (Jahiliyyat if you will) to their own native and ethnic cultures and backgrounds; a generalized sense of Muslim nationalism, a misguided emotional bond to territorialized Islam; a blind acceptance of a millennium — old Fiqh that divided the world into Darul Harb and Darul Islam; or whatever else — Allah will force it upon them. As Allah always imposes reality on those who are deaf and blind to the unfolding history around them.
And that is precisely what the tragedy of September Eleven did. It made many Muslims panic and scamper around — like chickens with their heads cut off — telling anyone who would listen how Islam was such a peaceful religion and how much they loved their new home — America.
I wish I knew how to translate this Aayat: Wa jaa-oo ‘alaa qameesihee bi-damin kadhib. The implication being the whole thing was quite disingenuous.
There is a certain price you pay for being a Muslim — even as you reap a rich harvest of rewards and blessings.
And there are consequences associated with misrepresenting Islam for expediency purposes. Illaa an tattaqoo minhum tuqaah — unless you fear for your life, limb and property that is. That means fear will make people do anything to protect themselves.
But that applies more to personal conduct than to a generic, global, sweeping and radical alteration and mischaracterization of the very nature of Islam to make it — or rather to make yourself — more acceptable and palatable in the eyes of others. To make the timeless and universal Deen of Allah fit the yardstick supplied by others to fit their own needs and purposes for that particular day in that particular place.
A Double Lie
And A Double Jeopardy
Our double lies may place us in a double jeopardy.
First, Allah’s Deen is anything but a religion. Second, it is plain wrong to suggest that Islam teaches people to turn the other cheek faster than the mythical Christians who are supposed to do that.
It is as wrong as spreading the lie that Islam stands for or condones violence or the shedding of innocent blood. I still remember my Qur’an, which clearly and unequivocally condemns senseless violence perpetrated by anyone on anyone.
And which says something that I have not seen too many others say or come close to saying: One life taken unjustly and without due process is tantamount to killing all of humanity — from the beginning of time till the end of time in every conceivable part of human habitat. I call this unique and powerful concept Humanicide.
And I am not aware of anyone else — other than Allah and His book the Qur’an and His Deen Islam and His Rasul, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and His people the Muslims — coming anywhere within a billion light years of saying anything even remotely resembling it.
Besides, in Religion the main performers and players are the priests, the pundits, the rabbis, the clerics. In Islam, it is every man unto himself.
Also, Religion is done on holy occasions, by holy men, in holy places, using a whole set of holy accoutrements, chanting holy chants, while the masses of the followers of religion stand around and watch from the sidelines. Since when did Islam become any or all of the above?
Moreover Religion is mostly for a fraction of one’s life — a few minutes or hours on a day or a week. Maybe a couple of hours on a Sunday. But Islam is for all of human life, all the time, twenty-four seven as they say — individually and collectively; in private life as well as in public life; in every conceivable part, aspect, segment, branch and dimension of everyone’s life everywhere.
Deen of Allah a Religion?
What Kind of Zulm is This?
So, what kind of Zulm is this that so many of us who claim to have a knowledge of the English language run around calling the Deen of Islam a religion?
Kaburat kalimatan takhruju min afwaahi-him!
How terrible is the word that comes out of their mouths!
Iny-yaqooloona illaa kadhibaa!
It is nothing but a lie.
Wa an taqooloo ‘alallahi maa laa ta’lamoon
It is grievous error to say about Allah what you have no knowledge of.
And what kind of a punishment and chastisement from Allah will be in store for those who treat Allah’s Deen in such a cavalier and irresponsible manner for so long?
Rabbanaa laa tu-aakhidhnaa in naseenaa au akhta’naa!
May Allah forgive our foolishness, forgetfulness, ignorance, error and naiveté.
That is what we have done, and want to continue to do, to this Deen? A most noble, glorious, complete, comprehensive, practical and enlightened Deen that makes all of Allah’s world work? And that makes all life on earth work?
A most amazing Deen to teach and explain which Allah sent down a whole book! And to demonstrate and establish which Allah’s Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his most noble friends and companions toiled so mightily and heroically for so long against such daunting and impossible odds?
And yet a Deen that has become so Mazloom (so helpless, mangled, distorted and abused) at our hands — its own self-proclaimed professors, adherents and champions?
Setting Humanity Free
From Religious and Political Tyranny
When Islam came, humanity was in bondage and chains everywhere. And that bondage was mostly of two kinds: religious and political.
Islam came to break humanity’s chains. It came to set humanity’s chains free. It came to set humanity free from the double jeopardy of political and religious bondage.
And it is this Deen that has now ended up — largely due to the omissions and commissions of its own self-styled followers; that is due to what they did or did not do — a prisoner to all kinds of religious and political tyranny.
But don’t let that make you lose heart. For, Allah Himself is committed to protecting this Deen from all attempts to distort, diminish or destroy it. Someday, should Allah want it, I will try and explain how Allah kept His most glorious and magnificent promise.
Wa man asdaqu minallahi qee-laa?
Who can be more truthful than Allah?
Innallaha laa yukhliful mee’aad.
Allah does not break His promise.
Peace and Human Rights
Now there you have a twain that never can or did part. For, a state of violence and conflict — absence of peace — is what results when people are denied basic human rights; foremost among which are the rights to life, liberty, equality, fair treatment, social justice and personal dignity in the form of political and economic independence and autonomy; and when they are denied the means to meet their basic physical and psychological needs, including the needs for food, shelter, education, healthcare, security and self-esteem.
That is why one of the central teachings of Islam is social justice, with truth as its principal instrument. Falsehood, on the other hand, is the worst form of violence against the minds, souls and lives of human beings. That is why falsehood has always been such a major weapon in the arsenal of bad people of all kinds, from common criminals to political tyrants and military aggressors.
Islam makes every human being a guardian of social justice and human rights for all. As a result, Islam seeks to banish social apathy from human societies and requires people to stand up for what is right, just and true — both for themselves and for others. And it requires them to do everything they can to defend their rights and freedoms as well as the overall cause of liberty, peace and justice everywhere.
Chapter 2 Drive-By Experts on Islam – and Muslims
Chapter 3 Payaam-e-Maghrib = Payaam-e-Mashriq = Payaam-e-Qur’an?
Chapter 4 Allah’s Boundaries: What a Glorious Concept!
Chapter 5 Hudoodullah: Proportionality
Chapter 6 If Not Allah, Then Who?
Chapter 7 Miracles
Chapter 8 Continuing The Story of Miracles In Islam–I
Chapter 9 The Miracle of “You The People!”
Chapter 10 The Miracle of “Smart Salaam”
Chapter 11 The Miracle of The “Unlettered Man” in The Bible
Chapter 12 Divali, Thanksgiving, Christmas! It Is Us! It Is Us! It Is Us!
Chapter 13 Did You Say “Christian Islam”? Sorry, Does Not Compute!
Chapter 14 Peace and Love: Season’s Greetings 1428/2007
Chapter 15 A New Year’s Resolution
Chapter 16 Pasha Hour International: Live From America! December 8, 2007
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