I started reading the Quran at a very early age like many other Muslim kids. Initially it was mindless reading and memorization of few Surahs (Quranic chapters) for prayers.
My first exposure to rationale and reason in Islam happened when I started reading Mualana Maududi; may God reward him for his works. Maududi’s literature gave me the desire to think over and ponder the Quran.
Despite my efforts into the Quran, Hadith, and other subjects, I was not finding the answers to many burning questions. Indeed when I look back, I can see now I did not even have the right questions.
On the other side, things in the society (in Pakistan) were not going right. I could clearly see corruption, dishonesty and immorality in our society, friends and families, distressingly among religious people including many followers of Maulana Maududi.
Then I moved to USA. I saw more responsibility, accountability, discipline, and most importantly, freedom of speech in this country. I was impressed. Then I started noticing serious flaws in the thought process of Muslim Immigrants here. Ironically I find Local Muslim Community Leaders in US more corrupt and dishonest than anywhere else in the world.
Then came the tragedy of September 11. We noticed the outrageous sabotage and mass-killing caused two problems:
1. The West started hating Islam, Muslims and their way of thinking. A clash of civilization started. And the Modern World not only started portraying Muslims in the media as a threat to the Modern Society but also started examining Muslim ideology, faith and history. They came up with disturbing questions and serious allegations on Islam.
2. Muslim leadership around the world reacted to this animosity with a variety of dysfunctional behaviors. Some became hostile to the modern thought process; some chose passive aggressive behavior and started hiding behind conspiracy theories. Others became apologetic and mentally submitted to the idea that Islam is an old, irrelevant and impractical religion. They started incorporating many baseless ideas into Islam in order to make it acceptable to the modern world.
Over all, Muslim leaders and scholars could not answer the disturbing questions of the West. Instead, they chose to keep their followers in isolation and created a culture of rhetoric, sickening in-politics, and hypocrisy.
For me, this all changed when I started discussing these issues with Dr. Nawab. He had a different way of looking at things. He has a different way to look at the Quran and the Sunnah too. His intellectual capability and critical thought process impressed us (Dr. Shahab and me). Later on, his courage and perseverance was a guiding light for us because things were not simple and easy from there on. Rather those Muslim scholars and leaders whom we questioned, their team and their blind followers did their best to defame and ostracize us. It was God (we believe) who helped us survive their uncivil maneuvers, and sooner or later silence each of them in the “mass email dialogues.” By the grace of God, we dominated all along in the technical argumentation.
However, once we zeroed in why Muslims are suffering, why we Muslims are a corrupt and heedless mass of people divided by the various interpretations of the Quran and Hadith, we arrived at the conclusion that the root cause is that most Muslims follow their scholars, teachers, other guides, and Mosque Imams/officials, without any critical workout and questioning.
Dr Nawab devoted his time and effort to help us realize that the Quran is the Final Book of God. This is for each and every human on Earth. As a result, Almighty God has drafted it in a way that is easy to understand by all. And most importantly, you do not need to learn Arabic language to get the core guidance from it. Plus, by learning very little Arabic, you can clearly understand its guidance on all the issues you face.
Unfortunately most Muslims believe that the Quran is a very difficult book and you can understand it only by the interpretations of the “formal great scholars”. Indeed this is what almost all Muslim scholars around the world are preaching to date.
In contrast, our direct understanding of the Quran and Sunnah has caused so many positive changes in our lives. May Allah reward Dr Nawab for his efforts. Today we stand in bright light and can see things clearly. It has been like a sunrise after a dark night. We refuse to follow any idea unless we check it in light of the Quran and the Sunnah. And we are sure you can do it too. God has gifted you with a beautiful mind, a complete Guide-Book (the Quran), and the life-model of an honest and competent messenger — Muhammad, PBUH.
During the last ten years or so, we have engaged many religious leaders and scholars in USA and abroad. We sent mass-emails to the notables of ISNA, FCNA, moonsighting.com, Bayyinah of Nouman Ali Khan, Almawrid of Javed ahmed Ghamidi, our local Masjid boards and Imams … like East Plano Islamic Center, IANT, Irving Mosque, and different Imams in Dallas Fort Worth area.
Our experience showed that most Imams, religious leaders, and Masjid Board Members in US, are dishonest and corrupt (ideologically or financially). Even after repeated asking, they do not turn to transparency and accountability in their works. They manipulate Islamic Values and impose their invented rules on the community. They also do not have the intellectual capability to answer serious questions on Islam. On top of it, as hinted before, they use their people of similar invested interest and other conformists to block the voices of, harass, and spread untrue negative things about their Muslim brothers who criticize them. We have witnessed corruption, dishonesty and suppression of dissenting voices as common practices in mosques and other Muslim institutions in the US.
Until now, our means to address these issues have been through personal meetings and emails. We learned that Muslims in general do not like free speech especially when you criticize their leaders. To them, those leaders, scholars, and Mosque Imams/officials have the right to make new rules in Islam, modifying Islamic norms and values.
We are starting this “worldwide forum” with a HOPE that this uncensored, unrestricted forum will bring a positive change in the attitude of people (Muslims and non-Muslims). They will express their viewpoints with due supports freely, and discuss out differences productively. We are doing what God wanted all of us to do. That is, to be honest and stand for what is right.
Let’s come together and start using our brains. Let’s ponder the “Final and Preserved Word of God (the Quran) as well as the Authentic Practices of His Last Prophet (Muhammad, PBUH). Let’s claim Islamic Free Speech (for correction/justice), and through meaningful discussions, let’s learn the True Teachings of this religion. As well as show the world that Islam fields all questions and concerns.
May God help and guide us all.
Nov 19, 2016