How Quran can be the guiding light for mankind
Continued from page 1
21st and 22nd centuries.
But seen from the chauvinistic dictatorial Iranian-type theocracy, it is merely the replay of an outworn theme: the religious theocracy, of the ancient Pharaohs and of the medieval Christian Church. It was the revolt of Europe against such a European theocracy that was responsible for the modern European swing to secularism.
Perhaps for the Muslims the lesson of a religious dictatorship has not been clarified enough and this is the reason for the still powerful emotional pull of Iran under Khomeini for them. Yet Iran is a passing phase and the Muslims will soon be left looking for a new saviour.
Their true saviour and that of the entire world now is the Quran. The proof of this is contained in the Quran itself, in the example of the Prophet’s 23-year victorious struggle in Arabia and in the early history of Islam. Even non-Muslim historians have testified to the almost miraculous rise and rapid victory of Islam in the then world. It has also created the first spiritual-scientific civilization in the history of the world. It was a modern social experiment that did not fail.
Unfortunately, this very important fact has been covered up, not only by early Judeo-Christian propaganda (that we must say is now being corrected by Western scholars themselves, God be praised!) but also by the historical propaganda of the Muslims when they diluted the Prophet’s rational, infallible, divine teachings (the Quran) with those of the fallible human (the so-called prophetic Hadith). In this way, they have turned the potency and practicality of Islam as a way of life into an impractical and impotent mysticism that it has now become. This is what we may call the “Muslim dilemma”.
Thus we can see that the world, within the last 1,500 years, has seen two failed and one successful social experiments. The failures are the secular and religious experiments; the successful is Muhammad’s Islamic experiment. I am fully convinced that Muhammad’s Islamic spiritual-social-scientific experiment is the general model for the future, bearing in mind that the term “Islamic” is interpreted in a universal rationalistic sense anchored in the essential teachings of all God’s honoured prophets as preserved and perfected in the divine infallible Quran.
We must try to apply this third alternative to Malaysia. At one conference on the Malaysian Constitution recently, I suggested that the Quran be made a “guide” to our law. Although dogmatic traditionalists would look askance at this suggestion, they should remember that I am only repeating what the Quran actually said about itself, that it is a “guide”, a “light” and “the straight path” for mankind. The dogmatic secularists would be doing the same, for different reasons. Objectively, therefore, both the die-hard traditionalist and secularists are performing the same function of hindering the people from returning to the Quran.
They have been doing this for a thousand years. This sufficiently explains the deplorable ignorance of the masses of the true teachings of the Quran. Our young are taught to “recite” and chant the Quran thrice-finished, capping the “education” with a feast, not knowing the meaning of one word of it at the end!
I remember that not one of my religious teachers, including my honoured father, taught me to read the Quran in translation. I bought my first tafsir more than 30 years ago out of my own deep (and long-lasting) interest in Islam.
Therefore we have to begin by asking the people, especially the young generation, to read and study the Quran, and to follow its teachings. For our immediate purpose, we must start now to implement, step by step, the very rich, dynamic and rewarding socio-political ideas to be found in the Quran. Just take the habit of reading and learning from reading, for example. As all Muslims know, that is the very first divine commandment revealed to the Prophet, yet today the Muslims are perhaps its worst violators!
Our leaders and intellectuals must spend the next five to 10 years examining and studying the extremely rich philosophico-social ideas contained in the Quran and formulate them into coherent philosophical essays which we can apply to solve our problems.
Although some work of this theoretical nature has been attempted during the last 15 years or so, much of it is eclectic and hotch-potch. Many Muslim writers and thinkers suffer either from an irrational anti-Western or pro-Western bias and cannot critically and properly assimilate Western science and knowledge of the last three centuries. This is a very serious weakness which they must quickly overcome.
Let us demonstrate in the political sphere. Western political philosophy starts from the Hobbesian notion of the sovereignty of the people that is handed over to a political authority according to the theory of social contract. The sovereignty of the people is assumed without any authority except a so-called self-evident truth.
Islam’s actual position is to assert the sovereignty of God without undermining the sovereignty of the people to whom God has entrusted that authority. Thus we may say that Islam calls for a government based on the sovereignty of the people under the sovereignty of God. This position is contrary to both the secular position of “people’s absolute sovereignty” and the ecclesiastical; position of “God’s absolute sovereignty” and “no sovereignty to the people”.
God in His unbounded mercy has provided us with a comprehensive philosophical framework in the Quran.
In practical terms, our Parliament is sovereign in so far as it operates under God’s sovereignty, i.e. that its laws and decisions do not contravene His commandments in the Quran.
Proceeding from this fundamental legal position, we may enumerate the major social ideas found in the Quran:
“The belief and worship of one God only while guaranteeing absolute freedom of religion and worship, the sanctity of human life, absolute freedom of thought, righteous living, the unity and equality of Man before the law, the equality of man and woman.
“Freedom of speech within the law, promotion of learning, knowledge and science, national and international co-operation to promote good and prevent evil.
“Prohibition against aggression, the rule of just law, prohibition against slavery and child-killing, government by consultation, social leadership and responsibility to be given to those who are capable and morally upright.
“Individual and collective responsibility and accountability for every action, prohibition against injustice, slander and unjust rebellion.
“Obedience to God and due obedience to legally constituted authority, punishment for crimes, administration of justice tempered with mercy, individual and collective struggle to promote good and prevent evil.
“Socio-economic justice, wealth as a divine trust to mankind, individual rights to the fruits of his labour, social charity, prohibition against
corruption, prohibition against hoarding and usury, prohibition against extravagance and wastage.
“Sound healthy family life, monogamy as the ideal married state but allowing for conditional polygamy, due obedience of the young to parents, and care of orphans.
“The development of a spiritually sound, morally and socially responsible, mentally alert, persevering and disciplined individual and society, condemnation of pride and egoism good healthy food habits, and a comprehensive scientific methodology to develop knowledge, science and civilization.”
What a fantastic wealth of ideas! Anyone who has some knowledge of world social theories and systems can see at once the towering superiority of the above Quranic social teachings over those of other systems. Yet many of us must endeavour hard to distinguish the teachings of the Quran from the practice of present-day.
Many a thoughtful Muslim has been disillusioned by the vast disparity between the two. Is true Islam impracticable? It cannot be, and the Prophet and his early followers had abundantly proved otherwise. The first Arab-Muslim civilization is a standing confirmation.
The great simple ideas we list above all taken from various places in the Quran, cannot be more reasonable and practical. They also have a universal appeal. It is here that Islam’s social philosophy is very much relevant to the needs of our society. Only Islam, as preached in the Quran, can unite our multi-racial and multi-religious people and take us out of the present gloom and put us on the road to greater and ever greater success.
There is a general fear among liberals and Marxists to mixing religion with politics. “Keep religion out of politics” is their prescription. This is old discredited stuff from the age of European Renaissance. Present and future politics needs an ethical base rooted in a sound spiritual transcendence. This can only be supplied by a true universal religion which is Islam. (See Quran, 3:18, 30:30).
To go forward from this historic 30-year milestone, we need a national philosophy, that is comprehensive, spiritually sound, universal, modern, flexible and practical. Obviously, our national ideology, the Rukunegara (that has some semblance of a philosophical framework) is grossly inadequate in comparison to the Islamic philosophical framework that we have outlined above.
Some of its ideas are not exactly in line with the Quran (e.g. “Loyalty to King and Country” should be reworded as “Loyalty to God, King and Country”), some imperfectly formulated, and overall it is too bare and sketchy to provide a sufficient guide.
God in His unbounded mercy has provided us with a comprehensive philosophical framework in the Quran. The framework only gives us the general ideas and leaves us a very wide berth to work out the mechanics of their application according to our situation. Herein lies the unmatched superiority of the Quranic guide over others.
It is the turn of our leaders and thinkers now to apply their minds seriously and creatively to solve our many problems with the help of these great ideas. It is fervently to be hoped that our leaders, inside and outside government, will have the humility, the wisdom and the will, putting aside narrow party sectarianism and personal egotism, to awaken and pool the nation’s creative potential and resources in this great common national endeavour so that together we can set right our own disjointed time.
NEW STRAITS TIMES,
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1987