It’s time we acknowledged that we, as Muslims, have no actual basis, no concrete principles, upon which we form our religious legislation.
Of course, we claim we do. Allegedly, we use the Qur’an, hadith, and Sunnah. But there is such a vast amount of variation throughout these sources that we differ on basic tenets of our faith.
Scholarly jurisprudence in Islam is a spectrum, a toss-up, depending on which parts of the corpus one chooses to uphold. There is plenty of material to support a variety of views, from the most intolerant to the most inclusive.
Islamic rulings seem to depend solely upon the character of whoever is interpreting them. For instance, when faced with hadith about Aisha’s age at marriage, most American scholars will descend into an avalanche of apologetics. “It was an exception! Aisha only started to live with him when she was older!”…and so on and so forth.
But at the other end of the spectrum, “conservative” scholars will instead use Aisha’s alleged age to justify the most heinous of crimes, lecturing their adherents on the benefits of marrying girls off early.
The only reason the Muslim community is not already completely destroyed is that most scholars possess some level of intact humanity, and thus make apologetic excuses for every part of traditional Islam that is otherwise unacceptable. They restrict each ruling that makes them uncomfortable, often to such a degree that these rulings almost cease to exist. You can hit your wife, they reason, but only lightly, with a miswak! Anything more is a criminal act!
Pure, unadulterated apologetics.
But we are lucky these apologetics exist. If we followed traditional Islam literally, with no moral restrictions, all of our men would be permitted to commit absolute atrocities.
And then of course there’s a spectrum of possible atrocities, a rainbow, as it were. Even on relatively tame issues of fiqh, we differ. Allow me to illustrate.
When one searches up fatwas on whether women are allowed to work in Islam, a huge collection of jurisdictions surfaces. Some scholars prohibit women from working, period. Others claim a woman can only work if her husband allows it. Which position is the right one?
This is where sectarian arguments begin. The scholars who prohibit women from working altogether must be Wahhabis or Salafis, we reason–so let’s takfir them and reject their views! The scholars who rule that women can work under all circumstances, unrestricted, are dreadfully liberal–let’s takfir them as well!
We’re left with a sea of relatively similar fatwas once we use our subjective moral values to eliminate the extreme ones–but the bickering continues.
The arguments go on, leading to even more controversial topics. Is slavery of any kind condoned in Islam? Depending on the scholar and school of thought, we can find a range of views. Are men allowed to own concubines in the modern day? It depends on whom you ask. Is it recommended for a woman to veil her face? Are men allowed to wear gold rings? Is owning a dog haram?
And so it descends, further and further, until our entire “scholarly tradition” pushes itself into the depths of unsalvageable absurdity.
This is why some converts enter Islam, hyped with the delusion that they will find their true selves within an ummah of cherubic beauty. And then the illusion shatters. It shatters when they realize that their introduction to Islam was through one scholar only, one well-intentioned man who fed them his own concocted version of purity and happiness and chand raat melas wrapped up in Islamic packaging. But his views were a mere drop in an ocean of confusion.
This confusion has consequences. While we pass off the spectrum of jurisdictions (haram, makruh) on music and art as just “a minor difference of scholarly opinion,” the Taliban use the most extreme fatwas to fuel their destruction of priceless historical sites. While we debate the specifics of Mariyah’s alleged marriage to the Prophet (sws), Daesh uses “concubines” as an excuse to kidnap and enslave thousands of minority women.
We can no longer pretend that our “minor differences of scholarly opinion” are inconsequential. Our deceptive fantasies have been proven wrong–time and time and time again.
We have no basis for our views. We have only a spectrum, obscured by apologetics, manufactured through the lens of biased, confused scholars, each full of conviction in their own beliefs.
Everyone thinks that their particular Islam, their unique synthetic blend of apologetics, dishonesty, culture, and sectarian warfare, is the correct one. Anyone who says otherwise is a deviant.
We’re not worshiping God at all. We’re merely worshiping our own egos, our nafs, and expecting to be rewarded. We desecrate our souls with false morality, drowning ourselves in falsehood, stumbling in delusion. And finally, we delude ourselves into believing we’re doing God’s work.
I can see, however, that the Muslim community is trying to save itself. We’re desperately clinging to the last shards of unity we have. Attempting to salvage some semblance of respect, to recover our lost reputation as an ummah, to reaffirm our core moral values and then rebuild our tradition from there.
We’re trying. But it’s not working.
If I could put it in words, I’d say today’s Muslim community requires some manner of major intervention–and not in the form of Western occupation.
We need an intellectual intervention, a revival of what it means to be Muslim. Before we can worry about whether a woman’s fingertips are awrah and whether One Direction is haram, we need to figure out where we stand on the Divinely constructed meter of morality.
Firstly, we must turn to the Qur’an, the Furqan, away from all external influence. We have to contemplate it for ourselves. Are we really following God’s Word when we persecute those we (perhaps falsely) deem kuffaar? Are we really following God’s Word when we shackle half our population? Are we truly listening to Scripture when we allow God’s Wisdom to be bound in chains by the personal delusions of Al Azhar-educated scholars?
The time for apologetics is over. Every single hadith and scholarly decision that runs contrary to Qur’anic principles must be discarded. We can no longer pedestalize a corpus that was never ours to follow. The consequences are too great.
Massive losses of life have occurred. We must no longer tolerate feeble excuses.