Downplaying Adverse Facts
the following are general trends worldwide though
different phrases are used in various cultures
to express them.
Q1. “But I am at peace with it” is a common defense when one is showed that one’s accepted holy book is unreliable because it is corrupted or humanly invented. Is it a careful way to choose a faith from many?
A holy book is an objective thing i.e. it exists outside our selves. And it is well known that our subjective feelings do not define objective realities. Rather, an outside object has to be judged, defined, or validated objectively. Furthermore, it is against human nature to appreciate any forged or tampered document. Therefore, embracing an apparently falsified divine-book on the ground of one’s emotional attachment to it is devoid of any wisdom.
From another angle, it is possible that by saying, “But I am at peace with it”, the defender is arguing on the ground of personal right to choose one’s faith. However, in this case, he or she evades the real question which is on the truth value of his or her faith, and not on human rights. Such evasive answers work well in this world, but will not do so before God in the hereafter.
Q2. “But there is another way to look at it” is a common argument to defend a social or religious value that is showed to be at fault by a critical analysis of the matter. Is it a valid argument to justify an alternative value?
Here the defender asserts that when you see from this angle, the objective reality appears to be x; and when you see from another angle, it appears to be not x but y. This amounts to saying that an objective reality is nothing but a matter of how you look at it. Therefore, this argument is wrong — because it denies the real existence of objective realities.
What is possible is that when you see something from various angles, you many come to know the various aspects of the same reality. But it is not possible that when you see an outside object from a different angle, its fundamental reality gets changed.
Q3. “But there is a fatwah for it” is a common argument of Muslims today to embrace a new, unconventional position in Islam. Is this argument right?
This is religious version of saying, “But there is another way to look at it.” In fact, it is worse than that as it faults the wisdom and knowledge of God. Such people, in essence, assert:
God and His messenger gave rules based on the limited nature (reality) or knowledge
of a problem that was known 14 centuries ago. But, with the passing of time, the nature
of a problem keeps evolving, or humans acquire more knowledge about it. Therefore, in
the changed circumstances, it is right that religious scholars re-interpret God’s laws and
the Sunnah (the ways of following set by the Prophet) so as to appropriate them to the
requirements of the time.
In plain words, the above argument says that the scholars can modify divine laws with time. This trend is in violation of Qur’anic teaching:
Qur’anic laws are FINAL, i.e. valid and unamendable, till the end of this world.
God, being all-knowing, gave the final laws considering the nature of problems
until the end times, and did not base them on the limited natures that were 14
centuries ago. As a matter of fact, the core reality (nature) of a problem does not
change in time.
A Fatwah is valid in Islam only if it does not alter a Qur’anic or Prophetic regulation or criterion.
Q4. “But you don’t know the intent of the person” is a common Muslim argument today asking to avoid criticizing an apparent corruptive work by a community leader, Masjid official, scholar, or intellectual. Is this argument valid in Islam?
The above argument is against common sense, the dictates of the Qur’an, and the Sunnah.
As to common sense:
(i) Humans are incapable of knowing other’s intent. Then how can we be bound to not react without knowing it?
(ii) When we witness some wrongdoing, how is it sensible to say that we are not seeing any wrongdoing because we do not know the intent of the doer?
(iii) Is a wrongdoing defined by the intent of the doer or by the violation of some established rule(s)?
(iv) A wrongdoing is wrong after all whether it is done with or without intent; and in either case it needs to be given up or corrected. Therefore, why should one bother about the intent of the doer for pointing to someone’s wrongdoing(s)?
As to the Qur’an, it is well known that it obligates امربالمعروف ونهى عن المنكر i.e. enjoining upright acts and forbidding wrong ones with no stipulation of first knowing the intent of the doer.
As to the Sunnah, it is also well known that the Prophet (PBUH) has asked Muslims to struggle to stop visible wrongdoings and corruptive works in Islam.
Regarding any wrongdoing among Muslims, he said:
من راى منكم منكرا فليغيره بيده فان لم يستطع فبلسانه فان لم يستطع فبقلبه وذالك اضعف الايمان
Whoever of you witnesses any wrongdoing, then he should change it with his hand. If he is not in a position to do this, then by his tongue. If he is not even in a position to voice against it, then by his heart. And this is the weakest grade of faith. (a Hadith in book Sahih Muslim)
Regarding corruptive works in Islam, he said:
It always happened that whenever God sent a prophet in a nation, people from his nation were sincere companions who adopted the Sunnah (the ways of following set by the prophet) and followed his commands. After these, there [eventually] came people who would say what they practiced not, and would do what they were commanded not. فمن جاهدهم بيده فهو مؤمن ومن جاهدهم بلسانه فهو مؤمن ومن جاهدهم بقلبه فهو مؤمن وليس وراءذالك من الايمان حبةخردل i.e. At that time, whoever crusades against them with his hand bears faith, and whoever crusades against them with his tongue bears faith, and whoever crusades against them with his heart bears faith, and there is no bit of faith beyond it. (Sahih Muslim, chapter Faith)
Q5.“For the sake of showing unity among Muslims, we should adopt this NEW norm” is one of today’s arguments asking Muslims to replace some conventional value with the new one that is introduced by some scholar(s), Masjid officials or other community leader(s). Is this argument valid in Islam?
The basics: the Qur’an asserts that Islam is الحق (the truth) i.e. its values are based on objective realities and moral justness. Therefore, the critical factor in Islam is just position, and not a position that satisfies the desires of the people. The Qur’an calls going after desires as taking them god (25/43, 45/23: مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ). It also says if you follow [the desires of] most of those on the land, they will mislead you from the way of God (6/116: وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ).
Islam, of course, gives communal unity a great importance. However, it asks to get united for the sake of reality and justness, and not for its own sake. Therefore, the above argument is corruptive: it is asking to derail Islam from the base God has founded it on!
There is also the question of sincerity of these people for achieving unity in the community. If they really give utmost importance to it, why don’t they accept the conventional position(s)? In this case all — the traditional and progressive folks — will be on the same page.
To the contrary, their asking for unity only on their newly coined position(s) reflects well that their real objective is their alteration (on the name of modification) in Islamic norms and values, and not communal unity.