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The possibilities of interpretations of the sacred texts in Islam
London based Pakistani right activist Malala Yousafzai has advised Boko Haram to learn Islam and she even believes that the Nigeria-based militant outfit has not even studied Koran. Funny! Indeed Funny!

She was reacting to the kidnapping of around 270 girls almost a month before from schools in Chibok city in the North-Eastern Borno state of Nigeria. The militant group has threatened to sell girls to slavery if their demands are not met. They want swap between the kidnapped girls and jailed militants and possibly some ransom money in USD denominations.

The US and the UK special teams have arrived in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to assist Nigerian authorities release the kidnapped girls. While I can easily discuss the details of kidnapping and rescue operations, I avoid doing so and instead would focus on the interpretations of Islam by secularists and liberalists on one hand and those by hardliners and fundamentalists on the other. 

There can be many interpretations of Islam depending on which verses one selects to quote without being consistent. But the most authentic interpretation of Islam is the Saudi one. I am sure that even the most talented Americans professors on religion and law cannot challenge the authority of their Saudi equivalents on the latter’s truthfulness and meaning of Koran and Shariah. Now the argument that Islam is a religion of peace and that violence and extremism violate the most fundamental principles of Islam is there since the Islamic militancy became the global news item and this just cannot be fully wrong.

There is no absolute uniqueness on interpretation of Islam despite of its monolithic nature though the orthodox interpretation is the more dominant view on how sacred Islamic texts should be interpreted.

However, like other religion Islam too has diversity and variation. To be frank even the secularist Islamic view is somewhat fastidious from Western standards. The Shariah is the law of many Muslim majority nations and this is not an acceptable position from Western point of view except in certain exceptional cases, like, in the case of the Saudi Arabia.

Sure, better thing is that Islam be interpreted as by those who wish peace and harmony in the globe. But then Muslims have only two tools to vary their interpretation of Islam: the principles of ijma’ (consensus) and naskh (abrogation). The doctrine of ijma’ dictates that what the majority of Muslims believe is the authoritative interpretations of Islam and the doctrine of naskh dictates that the later verses of the Koran abrogates the earlier ones, if they are in contradiction in content and interpretation.

Before one misinterprets them let me tell that ijma’ does not permit rewriting of Islamic laws, ethics and morality; what it permits is some changes in interpretations among the possible ones due to change in majority opinion coming out of practical compulsions or theoretical reasons. Also, the naskh does not permit fundamental changes in the interpretations of Islam even though sequencing matters. Prophet Mohammad’s words is final, uncontested and the supreme for all faithful. Afterthoughts have strictly no place in Islam.

I know that arguments about ijma’ and naskh cannot be that simple and more knowledgeable persons should excuse me if I am really making mistake. But then Koran is the revelation of message of Allah to his final messenger; Islam’s last Prophet; Prophet Mohammad, through the angel Gabriel (malak Jibraaiyl in Arabic). The interpretation is mostly strictly codified with little room for subjectivity.

To say that people like Osama Bin Laden and Abubakar Shekau don’t understand Islam is just like dreaming living in an imaginary land. They know Islam very well and they know Islam better than Ms. Yousafzai. Both extremes are Muslims to the fullest. Only thing is that interpretation of Islamic texts and their consequential behavior of the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Abubakar Shekau are harmful to many people; to many non-believers too. Also, the degree of purity that such people apply may not be the most desirable thing in the Islamic world, even if it is ethically correct.

But at the same time no one should forget that Wahhabism and Salafism are gaining ground among Muslims globally. Sure, this is not that true about this part of the world. Also, in the absence of decent alternatives, it is the purity of Islam that would save Muslims from the inevitable end of fossil fuel. More Islamism is better one from many Islamic perspectives!

Sure, peace is better than conflict but then that is possible through the diktats of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is they who first need to accept moderation in Islam; not only through kind words but also by their actions. In this regard the principle of ijma’ can be of use, though the principle of naskh may take the society back into regression. All need to know that the final interpretation of Koran and Shariah rests with the Mecca and al-Azhar University for the majority of Muslims.

May be Shiites have somewhat deviant interpretation of Islam but I don’t know the Iranian counterpart of al-Azhar University to quote. Please add it yourself. I am here not talking about Islamic history where Sunnis and Shiites do differ and this is known to the whole world.

As per Islamic traditions Prophet Mohammad had no place for heathens and during his final years after getting poisoned by his Jewish slave he became very bitter and intolerant towards Jews and even towards Christians. This is the reality but then there is hope as well because the very same Prophet did consider Jesus as one of the Prophets of Islam. This forms the very basis of why Christian and Islamic world interact with each other, other than due to their mutual selfishness.

The peace on earth is possible by simultaneous embracement of more theism and more rationality and this is quite possible. No one should believe that theism and rationality are incompatible concepts and that rationality would inevitably point towards atheism. What is required is updating with time and a measurable desire for reasonable change in consistent with culture. Therefore, such changes have to be slow and gradual. Slowly, but surely, the world would then change for better.

But the key to required change is the balance among the Republican and the Democrats; a quasi-parity in electoral performance. For that both the poles need to shift towards Center and they should agree for convergence on many of the issues facing the nation. The Republicans and the Democrats both need to understand that both interests and ideologies matter. They should move forward towards more compromises.

In particular, the US should not promote much homosexuality, alternative sexuality, single parenthood and should return to family values. Such would require cultural revivalism and slight favor of conservatives over liberals.

All need to understand that Muslims’ rejection of homosexuality and pervertness on sexual matters and their emphasis on family values is praiseworthy and commendable. This needs to be appreciated by one and all but most certainly by the powerful elites of the Western world.

And if the US moves towards more family values and straightness on sexual matters then it will be in greater peace with the Islamic world; in fact with much bigger part of the world than what it is today. To be truthful, it would be too much to ponder a very positive relationship among conservatives, globally. In particular, it is very difficult for the US and the UK conservatives to come into terms with Islamic conservatives of the Middle East. But, still there is a great scope for cooperation and symbiosis among various people.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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Naim Naqvi
Please, I reiterate, please do not jump into the area where you aren’t fully informed. While I agree with many of the ideas you have given, I beg to disagree with your specific comments: “But the most authentic interpretation of Islam is the Saudi one. I am sure that even the most talented Americans professors on religion and law cannot challenge the authority of their Saudi equivalents on the latter’s truthfulness and meaning of Koran and Shariah.” In Saudi Arabia, the most popular Tafseer and Translation is published by no other but an Indian – Allama Yusuf Ali. If you read the first version of the author and the later whimsical changes in translation made by Saudi Wahabi Interpreters of Holy Book, in the name of Allama Abduallah Yusuf Ali, to suit the Wahabi Rulers dictatorship, you would be shocked and surprised. Saudis have changed the books of hadees (Taditions and History) to justify their tyrannical rule. And here I’m giving you some information about Late Learned Interpreter. Yusuf Ali (14 April 1872 – 10 December 1953) was an Indian Islamic scholar who translated the Qur'an into English. His translation of the Qur'an ranks as one of the most widely-known and used in the world. Ali was born in Surat, Gujarat in British India to a wealthy merchant family with a Dawoodi Bohra father. As a child, Ali received a religious education and, eventually, could recite the entire Qur'an from memory. He spoke both Arabic and English fluently. He studied English literature and studied at several European universities, including the University of Leeds. He concentrated his efforts on the Qur'an and studied the Qur'anic commentaries beginning with those written in the early days of Islamic history.
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