Last week’s Q&A episode (1 Apr 2013) on the ABC brought together figures from various worldviews (Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism) to discuss questions about a range of matters such as religion, creation, the afterlife, values, jihad and homosexuality. In this program, the Muslim representative on the panel, Dr. Mohamed Abdulla, made a number of problematic statements with respect to Islam, such as the claim that:
1. It is not only Muslims who enter paradise, but rather anyone who believed in any of the prophets sent to humanity, including Jews and Christians who follow the original teachings of Isa and Musa (as). 2. One does not have to be a Muslim or of any particular religion to have the innate good nature and ‘human values’ that enhance society.3. 'Our’ society is a secular modern society wherein one religion cannot and must not dominate.4. Jihad means to struggle and has many meanings in Islam but has been hijacked by people like Osama bin Ladin to mean a war against disbelievers. In fact, as the clear text of the Qur’an establishes unequivocally, the only way of life acceptable to Allah is Islam and salvation rests in affirming all that which the final Prophet, Muhammad (saw), brought. The previous religions stand abrogated and, as the famous hadith declares, any Christian or Jew who knows about the Prophet (saw) but does not affirm his prophethood and message will not find salvation in the hereafter.
The Qur’an is also clear on the point that it is the guidance of Allah (swt) which enhances both individual and society, not any innate human nature, just as it is clear that Islam came to dominate over all other ways of life, not to be equal with other ways of life in subservience to secular liberalism.
As for Jihad, one only need to open any classical manual of Islamic jurisprudence, from any of the recognised schools of jurisprudential thought, to see that it is material fighting against the disbelievers in order to make the word of Allah the highest. This is its legal Islamic definition. All other meanings are linguistic.
Further, Dr. Abdulla’s comments on terrorism and extremism merely reinforced the mainstream Western narrative propagated by media and politicians in which Muslim ‘terrorism’ is the problem of the time, in which people like Osama bin Ladin are evil incarnate, in which the reactions of Muslim individuals are blown out of all proportion whilst the far worse acts of aggression by Western states are ignored, and in which the advocated solution is for the good ‘moderate’ Muslims to condemn and ostracise the bad ‘radical’ Muslims.
It should go without saying that this flawed narrated needs to be rejected, challenged and countered, not reinforced, explicitly or implicitly.
That a liberal Jewish atheist was ‘very comfortable’ with Dr. Abdulla’s characterisation of Islam and found it ‘refreshing’ is indication enough that something was wrong with it.
We remind the Muslim community and all those who carry the message of this sublime deen of the importance of presenting Islam as it is. The lure of making certain aspects of Islam seem more palatable to non-Muslims is a deceiving one. It does more harm than good. Consider the case of the Christian or Jew who goes away with the message that even according to Islam he will find salvation as a Christian or Jew, that he can be a good person even without Islam, and that Islam is pretty much the same as what he already has given all the ‘commonalities’. Does such a person have any incentive to even consider adopting Islam?
The strength of Islam is in the truth and purity of its ideas, and we would do the deen of Allah a great disservice if we did not present it as it is. Our situation living in a non-Muslim society is not worse than the situation of the Prophet (saw) in Makkah, yet he always communicated the revelation as it came, without any amendment or embellishment. We must do the same. May Allah give us all the insight and fortitude to do so.