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Islam: the progressive way of life

By Elahi Bakhsh

Before Muhammad (peace be upon him) would declare his prophethood, the way of life of Arabs was like those of wild animals. The qualities of todays civilized man like knowledge, reasoning, feelings, empathy, forgiveness and spirit of sacrifice for others lacked in the people of that time. The phenomenon of might is right was prevalent there. Society was divided between two classes of masters and slaves. The master would treat their slaves in the worst possible manner. Woman was degraded to the status of personal property of man. Female children were buried alive.

There was no concept of justice, equality and morality among the people. They followed certain fallacious, wild and brutish principles of life inherited from their predecessors. If someone pointed out any flaw in their principles then they would have him neutralized the most brutish way that one can imagine. They did not allow people of reason to exist because they posed threat to their status quo. Shortly they were against any change. But there were those, as well, who in spite of being in the midst of the affairs acted differently in the manner that we call today as gentle and good. You must be thinking why I am telling about all these conditions of Pre Islamic Arab people while all of us know about it already. Well I am going to make a point, rather point out a big flaw in our understanding of Islam. Coming back to the sequence of events let’s move to the period after Muhammad ﷺ declared his prophethood.

Once He did so the whole community of Makka turned against Him except His wife Khadija (RA) and those whom I talked earlier about as being gentle and good. People who had some reason and feelings they accepted the deen and principles of Prophet ﷺ . They were people who wished to see things changed as they did not like the way their counterparts were living. They were fed up of oppression, fallacy and barbarity. While on the other hand people who were following their age old traditions and were stuck to the principles their predecessors told them became fierce enemies of Prophet. They were not in a position to accept something which appealed to reason and logic. It was because ignorance had overpowered them. In short only the enlightened and people of reason were appealed to Islamic teaching. It was because Islam bore progressive and logical principles along other attracting qualities for a good man. Now I come to the contemporary dilemma of us Muslims as far as the understanding of essence of Islamic teachings is concerned.

On one side there is this liberal whole who thinks that Islam is an old fashioned and conservative religion. On the other hand there are those traditional preachers of Islam who have played an actual role in making Islam look like a dogmatic set of ideas. Both of these are unaware of the very essence of Islam. Islam came as a refined set of beliefs which were progressive and appealing to logic to the final possible extent. And It is supposed to serve this very essence in all times and climes. Then why it is now bearing the curses of conservatism, fundamentalism and extremism. I think it is because we have deviated from the true path that we ought to keep the Ijtihad going on.

Ijtihad played a vital role to keep up the quality of Islam’s being for all times and climes but once it lost its institutionalized nature during the rule of pious Caliphs (RAn) it went into the hands of different personalities. And thus we lost the real idea behind this practice and also lost the unity among us due to its utilization by multiple personalities. It is thus a dire need of time that we should have the understanding of Islam in its very essence and sort out our differences thus defy our exploitation by others due to these differences.

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