Learning from the past

Farhan Jumani

Islam is one of the major religions of the world.  Muslims  who profess Islam have become a large chunk of world population, living in different geographic locations and environments. They have different languages, different ritual and ceremonies and diverse cultural values. But among them the force of the unity is belief in the Oneness of God, the last and final prophet of Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) as their prophet and the Holy Quran as the final message from Allah.

Despite these affirmations, there is a range of conflicting views among the Muslim Ummah on the interpretation of Holy text, religious authority, ritual practices, political power and civic life.

When Islam advent in 7th century by Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) in Arab, the society was tribal divided in many clans. There was no central government system; power was in the hands of the head of few powerful tribes. Their customs favored most the rich against the poor.  There was no equal status for weaker people; many social evils like slavery, polygamy, gambling, idolatry etc were common. The holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) overhauled the society and uprooted many harmful practices. He gave them the Islamic model of good morals and ethics. For Example in pre-Arab society the value and social status of the person was recognized by the number of slaves he owned,  But Islamic model changed that value and raised the social status of a person who frees the slaves he become more noble and virtuous in the eyes of God. When Islam was initiated the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) encouraged the concept of equality of all human beings. Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) introduced the concept of Ummah according to which all Muslims are brothers to each other.  During the time of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) the central religious authority lies with him, as proclaimed by Quran that “We sent not a Messenger but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah”[4:64]. Those who rejected the ordinance of God’s Messenger were considered to have rejected His mercy. Thus, Prophet (P.B.U.H) himself interpreted the Holy Quran for the believers, but after the death of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) the challenges aroused among the Ummah was the authority and the interpretation of the verse according to their needs. I think which is still continuing among the Muslim Ummah.

The first issue as highlighted above is the central authority among the Muslim Ummah. According to the history, the issue tried to be resolved at the death of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) with the establishment of Caliphate.  Although many in earlier stage were not agreed to accept this institution but still we had the platform which represent the unity of Muslim Ummah. But after the disintegration of this authority although Muslims establish their dynasties and states but they were not able to establish the central power among the Muslim Ummah. As we have the example of the last Caliphate system of Ottoman Empire, although they establish the Sultan Caliphate system to reconcile the factions to be the ultimate arbiter over the disputes and bring peace among the Ummah, but they were not able to provide the central power to all Muslim Ummah. This institution was the last ray of hope for Muslim Ummah to unite them under the central authority but this hope breakdown when Mustafa Kamal Ataturk abolished the Sultan Caliphate and announced Turkey as a democratic republic state.  Thus, Muslim world loose the center authority of Islam which is still facing by whole Muslim Ummah until now. To resolve these issues serious reflections should be made by the leadership of Muslims.

Another issue is the interpretation of the Quranic text. As discussed Muslims are united on the last message of Allah, but after the Prophet they don’t have a central power to interpret the Quran upon which all Muslims are agreed. Now we see various sects among the Muslim  Ummah with their own interpretations ,ultimately it create division among the Ummah rather than unity. Each one of the sect thought that their interpretation of the holy text is right from the rest of all. But if we see the real essence of Islam it allows everyone to ponder upon it and find the solution of the problem, so any one can make sincere attempt to understand Quran to lead their lives accordingly.

As discussed, two important challenges are rooted in the past but remain impacting on the present. Now all Muslim around the world has to seriously reflect on and learn from the past. As In the age of Prophet (PBUH) he himself was the leader of the Muslim Ummah and had the central authority to interpret the Quran. If we see the present scenario as all Muslim Ummah facing challenges and issues not only regarding the religious life but in the material life as well. In this moment Muslim don’t have central authority to resolve the challenges or find the solutions according to the Quran. In my point of view, differences in opinions and understandings is a natural process and Islam allows this freedom but Islam do not allow the differences of ethnicity, caste ,status and language etc. as all such factors creates discrimination in society. Therefore, today, it is a dire needs all Muslims together with their consensus to establish central authority to resolve these problems. It is high time to bring change in our perspectives. As we say in our daily routine that “Necessity is the mother of Invention”. As other intellectuals are also suggesting the same. This will provide a platform to all Muslim Ummah to unite, to look for advice and help in all matters of life and to share single identity. Coming to these suggested terms will brings us peace serenity and prosperous in society.

Today if we succeed to achieve this approach of the central authority and right understanding of Quran. In the age of information and communication, We can spread the right message of Islam throughout the world. Every attempt of right Islamic world is like a drop of rain that will flow to form streams which then extend and reach out to turn into oceans. This is the power of Islam that can be manifested through the Central authority approach.

The writer is an educationist farhanjumani@gmail.com

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