That Muslims are associated with violence does not come as a surprise given the honour killings, child marriages, mistreatment of women and minorities, genital mutilation and the harshness of the sharia as presented in traditional Islam, where adultery, apostasy, and blasphemy are punishable by death, in defiance of revelation. Islamic history reveals a pattern of violence, both in theory and in practice. Violence transpired in the persecution of dissidents finding expression in the persecution of the free willers under the Umayyads, the free thinkers under the Abbasids, and the rationalists by traditionists in subsequent ages. The latter persists to this day. Efforts to ascertain what went wrong are few. The umma deteriorated because it abandoned revelation to follow tradition. The forefathers became chief guides. But tradition cannot guide as well as revelation. A sequence of traumatic events transpired. Muslims were left wondering what was happening. They could not understand these events because their ability and will to reason became significantly eroded under the influence of tradition. They rejected analysis of the relationship between causes and effects. Under the influence of mystics – sufis – they refrained from reason and agreed to be driven by emotions. These events heralded problems. For no religion is sustainable without reason. Taqlid or the unquestioning adherence to “tradition” remains. Boko Haram “thinking” prevails in “traditional” Muslim lands. Islamophobia is a result of the misunderstanding of Islam not just by non-Muslims but by Muslims, too. This resulted in the amalgamation of, and a failure to protect the knowledge of revelation from tradition. Muslims turned to following the ways of their predecessors as if they were holy writ. Belief in punishment for leaving Islam became widespread, even though the prophet, following the Book of Allah, never put anyone to death for apostasy. These aberrant views are taught at a few universities until today. Matters were worsened by the incorporation of aberrant teachings into the worldview of Muslims. These encompass the teachings of predestination. The repression of reasoning resulted in the breakdown of reason. This facilitated the turn from revelation to tradition. The prohibition of reasoning paved the way for the corruption of legislation. By abandoning reason, exegetes and jurists excluded themselves from the mukallafun, persons in full possession of their faculty of reasoning. The ulema retreated from the use of reason under pressure from tradition, thinking that refraining from using reason in religion would render them better Muslims. But the ulema stumbled. They became irrational by surrendering to tradition. The subordination of reason to tradition found expression in the perception that tradition rules reason, that naql rules ‘aql. They made assumptions that are contrary to the teaching of revelation.
Repression of Reason and Its Effects on Islam: Emergence of Traditional and Political Islam
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