Many people talk about Islam versus Christianity or Islam versus Judaism or Islam versus other religions, however the real challenge that the Islam is facing these days is not the other religions but the challenge of modernity. or in other words we can say the challenge of secularism or the challenge of liberalism. This is a real challenge and we see nowadays many Muslims are accepting Secular Islam or Liberal Islam. This means that The so called Muslims are developing their own versions of Islam.
Understanding The Basic Background:
In order to properly understand this topic and the challenge of Modern Islam let us first discuss some basic background.
The first thing to make clear is What is right and what is wrong? This is one of the key question to which many of us can not give an intellectual answer. In other words we can put this question as Who has the right to define what is right and what is wrong? Most of the Muslims will answer it as Allah the Almighty,The Lord and the Creator has the right to define what is right and what is wrong. However the Secular point of view will be that the God has limited rights to define what is right and what is wrong but human beings can also define what is right and what is wrong. Instead some of those who believe in Secularism Say that God has given the human beings the right to define this right and wrong in the matters related to the worldly affairs.
This is the basic background behind the challenge of Modern Islam Or Secularism.
Also those people who do not believe in God or a define supreme power come up with their own ideas to define what is right and what is wrong.
The Issue Of Democracy:
Let us first understand what is democracy? The basic idea behind democracy is to control an organization or a decision by the majority. (For example if a group of people are attending a lecture and they need to take a break and have a snack. Now they want to decide either to take a sandwich or a pizza and then they vote. if the majority of them want a pizza it is decided to serve pizza to all of them.) But there is a fundamental problem behind this idea of democracy, First of all in any matter for which voting is done we almost never find 100% consensus.
Another problem that arises in democracy is that many of the people are ignored for example the under age or those who do not wish to contribute. Again in any population different people have different educational levels and so every one decides depending on their own understanding.
The Islamic Alternative To Democracy:
The Supreme Power according to Islam is Allah the Almighty. Allah cannot be biased, He does not favor anyone over the other. He is not influenced by any motivation. So Allah has the main authority to define what is right and what is wrong.
Allah has told in the Holy Quran at many places that the Quran is the guidance for the whole mankind.
Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong)..... (Surah Al - Baqarah Chapter 2 verse 185 )What Is the Challenge Of Modernity?
The concept behind modernity is that people say that the time is changing. New technologies are developing. New things are being invented. There are things like areoplanes, internet and machines which were not present at the time of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). So as Muslims what do we need to do with these new realities. The answer to this challenge may be one of these three options:
1. Let us change our value system according to the changes we are facing with the modern age.
2. Let us suppress the changes that we are facing in our lives.
3. Let us follow a middle path.
The problem with the first option is that changing the values is not easy every time.Also at the same time it is important to understand what is actually meant by system values. Keeping aside the political values and thinking about the spiritual values. Every human being by nature has a need for spirituality. When one wants to change the value system according to modern age what is to be done with the spiritual values? Also it is almost impossible to mark lines between the different value systems. For example let us consider Honesty. It is a value that has all the components, it is needed in economical ground, the politics as well as it is connected to our spirit.
The second option is simply unacceptable as suppressing the changes in the development and technology and living a life like a thousand years ago is almost impossible
According to Third option one should not change the basic fundamentals but there may be some flexibility in some other values. This is the Islamic option for living a life in this modern age.
The Basic Fundamentals That Cannot Be Changed:
The Holy Quran and the Sunnah tell us that there are some basic fundamentals that can never be changed no matter how much the world is advanced or modernized.
Understanding It With Examples:
To understand this concept more properly let us explain it with examples.
1. The praying of Salat (Nimaz ) five times a day at the particular times is compulsory for every Muslim and this basic fundamental cannot be changed whether you are living in a Muslim country or a non- Muslim country. Whether you are working or at home. But Allah already knew what changes may occur in the world with time. so he has kept the flexibility. The timing for zohar prayer extends for about an average of 3-4 hours and one can take out a few minutes for praying this salat over this time even if he is working. Also there are flexibility for people who are travelling.
2. It is also important to know that human beings are not the only creatures on this world. There are animals, there are plants etc and if the humans keep on making changes on their own what will happen of the other living creatures.
3. Talking about feminism and modernization for women is again a good example. Islam protects the women and keeps up her values by making her a mother, a sister, a wife and a daughter. The west and the modern world wants a woman to work and ignore her main responsibility.
A woman who is working 8 hours in an office to get money and support the family is also paying the same earned money to a house maid or a day care center to take care of her child. Is it not better that she herself stays at home and take care of the child and not earning the money and then using up the money on the child's illness and daycare fees.
In short our Creator knows what changes will come in the advanced world and what the people should follow. There is no basic fundamental of Islam that cannot be followed in this modern age. It is very easy to lead a life according to Islamic principles laid in The Holy Quran and Sunnah. It is just a matter of reading the Holy Quran the guideline sent to us to lead our life and the life will become so easy.
May Allah guide us all to the true path. Ameen.