Continuity and Change in Islam

Nov 12, 2007

It is this divinely revealed book, in its most authentic and original form, that the world has in its hands today, namely, the Qur'an.

Except that God in his infinite love and mercy not only sent a book to provide guidance to humanity, but he also sent along with that book a man to teach, explain, illustrate and model that book. That man - the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam - then set about doing precisely that: to train individuals and groups, and to build and establish a complete society, culture and civilization based on the teachings and principles of that book.

Ever since that time, people called Muslims have read that book every day; they have read the sayings and words of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, verbatim on a daily basis; they have tried their best to follow his example in their daily lives; and they have observed the core and fundamentals of Islamic teachings and principles at broader levels as best as they could.

In general, Muslims did not try to change Islam to fit their own ideas and desires. Instead, they tried to build, inform and guide their own thinking and behavior in line with Islam. Islam thus provided them the general mold and framework in which they tried to cast their philosophies, ideologies, thinking, behavior, lives, personalities, societies, cultures and civilizations.

And they had good reason for doing that: they had a very good basis both in the theory and practice of Islam.

Islamic "Reformation":
Colonialism in a New Garb

Islam, owing to its being a direct divine revelation, is immutable and fixed in its core parameters. At the same time, by the very token of its being a direct divine revelation, Islam is also dynamic and resilient as no humanly devised system is or can be.

This is one of the greatest miracles of Islam - a living miracle in every age and place. It is as solid and immutable as it can be. And yet, at the same time, it is permeable and accommodating to a degree that baffles the mind and defies imagination.

That is why all talk of an Islamic Reformation along the lines of the Protestant Reformation that occurred in Christianity is either well-intentioned but naïve babble or malicious and arrogant nonsense and political propaganda - or perhaps both.

Often, it is little more than old Colonialism, Imperialism, Racism and other Western ideologies of military conquest, social and political control and economic and cultural domination in a new garb.

It is a crude and opportunistic attempt by many Western propagandists and axe-grinders to demoralize Muslims and demonize Islam and to plunder Muslim wealth and resources. It is a platform to deny the world of Islam all freedoms, rights and liberties, including political and cultural freedoms.

Protestant Reformation:
A Partial Islamization of Christianity

If those who, either on their own or for mercenary reasons, call for a Christian-type Islamic Reformation had any true sense of history, they would know that Protestant
was in reality an attempt at the Islamization of Christianity that had crystallized under the impact and inspiration of Islam.

While Christianity resisted a full and wholehearted embrace of Islam, it could not withstand the pressure to mimic and emulate Islamic teachings at least in part. That is partly how, after the Reformation, the total control of the Pope over the lives of the Christians, as we see it today among Catholics, was replaced with the primacy of the Bible as the putative word of God.

Thus came about the Reformation of the Christian religion under the impetus and in the direction of Islamic teachings.

Another Miracle:
Islam Is Dynamic and Resilient

As I said earlier, Islam, paradoxically, both resists and fosters change because, unlike man-made ideologies and philosophies, Islam is perfectly equipped, and very uniquely suited, to meet the challenge of changing human needs and situations everywhere and forever.

In fact, this was, and continues to be, one of the living miracles of Islam. It was, and remains, standing proof that Islam is a gift from God Almighty and not a human brainchild.

For, no human system of any kind can possibly withstand or deal effectively with changing times and circumstances indefinitely, as Islam has been able to do for the past 14 centuries.

It is a contradiction in terms to utter the words permanence and change in the same breath with regard to any single aspect of human life on earth, except Islam, which personifies that very contradiction in every phase and aspect of its teachings and makes it a reality.

Only a divine system can do that. No human system can either accommodate or anticipate all change without fundamentally changing itself and losing its soul and character in the process.

That is what real miracles are made of.

A World Made in the Image of Islam

Let me go a step further and clearly state what many people seem to be either incapable of seeing or saying: Today's world is in many ways a world made in the image of Islam.

Let me say that again, but somewhat differently. If you live in this world, chances are Islam played a role in your make-up and in what you do, and in the make-up of your parents and grandparents.

That is because as time went by, and as all kinds of man-made rules, doctrines and teachings failed to satisfy rapidly changing and growing human needs, the world began incrementally embracing the teachings, models and methods of Islam.

But it did so without actually acknowledging this fact and without giving any credit to Islam or Muslims.

Islam was perfectly placed to provide this kind of leadership to the world, because Islamic teachings, being totally divine in their origin and nature, contained the natural scope and flexibility to meet the strains and demands of changing times.

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