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The Paradigm Shift


Q A Ahmad

"Each one is born on the imprint of Islam, then his /her parents bring him/her up as a Jew, Magii or Christian."

(Hadith: Sahihain)

A human being undergoes two stages of life- one without using his/her intellect in the childhood and the other using intellect when grown up. In childhood, parents influence the most their religious rituals and other customs. The above saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) indicate this phenomenon of religion. After the downfall of Islamic civilisation and the isolation of religion from the efforts towards the material development of Western civilisation specially after the Renaissance, religion lost its importance in the daily living of humanity. Secularism and existentialism have taken the place of religious ideology.

Pertaining to religion the parents situation is ridiculous. A person is a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Baha'i or of whatever religion or creed because of the parents who are the vehicle for his/her coming in this world. Thus, generally the religion associated with the child is the one to which its parents are denominated in a society. Thus the vast majority of the persons known, in the present society as Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Buddhist, etc are so and so by chance - the chance of being born in a family of particular denomination.

Reversion is the change of this religion by chance to the primordial religion Islam by choice. A strange attitude prevails among the religious leaders in the propagation of their religions, they are more interested in the conversion of the persons from other religions to their religions but not interested in converting the persons of their own religion from "by chance" to "by choice". In this submission let us concentrate on Muslims. Almost all of them (with very few exceptions) are Muslims by chance. They are born in a Muslim family and hence their names and afterward their interest are associated with the religion Islam.

Muslims by chance do not feel the necessity to revert - to become Muslim by choice. The reasons are two fold: Firstly, by not doing so, they do not gain anything. It does not affect their health, their wealth, their position and their status. They can get all the privileges of Islam without fulfilling their duties and responsibilities which Islam imposes upon its followers. A Muslim by chance (by name) can marry a Muslim, can vote as a Muslim, can take the highest position in an Islamic organisation and can become President or Prime Minister of a Muslim country without having to face any questions about his beliefs and practices of Islam. Secondly, it is very painstaking and entails going through material losses in the reversion from 'Muslim by chance' to 'Muslim by choice'. One shall have to study Islam without any financial reward, one has to leave material gains prohibited by Islam, one has mostly give than to take, and one has to surrender to Allah in place of himself/herself living freely on his/her whims and fantasies. Hence to continue living as Muslim by chance is much easier than to become a Muslim by choice which is hard and demands great sacrifice.

There is a subtle difference between the situation in the early days of Islam and the present one. From the very start, in the time of Muhammad (s) there was no concept of a 'Muslim by chance'. A person even born in a Muslim family, was supposed to deal with Islam consciously at each and every step. The education system was having the basis of Islam in its curriculum and thus every Muslim from childhood was educated in Islam. Thus he/she became Muslim by choice in due course. But together with this situation, there were so called Muslims who did not have true beliefs in Islam and they played the role of hypocrites (munafiqeen) to damage Islamic society. There were also those Muslims who were weak in practice because of temptations. It is a fact that because Islam was the most important component of the society, there was not a single Muslim just because of birth alone. The Prophet (s) never envisaged that a time would come having a Muslim without knowing what is Islam - Muslims offering salat without knowing what they were uttering, Muslims listening to the whole Quran in the month of Ramadan in Tarawih prayers without knowing their meanings, Muslims reciting Quran at the time of death of another Muslim without understanding and so on. Applying to the present situation, the Prophet would have added the word Muslim in his Hadith started at the beginning "a Jew, Magii, Christian or Muslim." Let us pick one of the piece of verses in which the weak Muslims and the hypocrites are admonished. This may provoke the Muslims by chance to revert themselves to become Muslim by choice.

"O you, who have professed as the believers, believe sincerely in Allah and His Messenger and in the divine writ which He sent down to His Messenger, step by step, as well as in the revelations which He sent down aforetime. He that denies Allah, His angles, His Scriptures, His messengers and the Last Day, strays far away from the truth."

(Quran, 4: 136)

This verse directly addresses the Muslims by chance who, without realisation, declared

"la ilaha illallah Muhammad ur Rasullullah" or even not declared this phrase themselves and are registered as Muslims in the society. All these are commanded by Allah to believe sincerely in the fundamental articles of Islamic faith with all the implications. Quran has clearly emphasised that a Muslim name by birth merely brings a person in the fold of the Muslim community but does not bring him/her truly in the fold of Islam. Hence Muslims by chance should become Muslims by choice firstly by declaring truly the words "la ilaha illallah Muhammad ur Rasullullah" again even if they have done before and then to believe sincerely and seriously in Islam to the extent of moulding one's thoughts, likes, attitudes and conduct in accordance with one's beliefs. "As for those who come to believe and than deny the truth and again come to believe and again deny the truth and thereafter grow stubborn in the denial of the truth, Allah will neither forgive them nor rightly guide them.

"Give warnings of a painful torture to the hypocrites."

(Quran, 4: 137,138)

The denial of the truth implies two things: firstly outright rejection of Islam with declaration against Islam. Secondly one may pay lip-service to Islam (as most Muslims by chance do) but may not (sincerely believe in it or show by one's behaviour and conduct that he/she does not believe in Islam. These verses warn that these two kinds of denial of truth can not go side by side with the articles of Islamic faith and mislead the one away from the truth into the paths of deviation.

"As for those who takes the denies of the truth for their allies in preference to the believers, in the hope to be honoured by them, are doomed. Behold! All honour belongs to Allah alone."

(Quran, 4: 139)

The persons mentioned in the above verse may fall in the category "Muslims by chance", who do not consider the question of faith as a serious matter but play with it to glorify their whims and lusts. If any more against Islam helps them materially, they hide that they are Muslims. They deny the truth, without least hesitation, if their interest lie in disbelief. Obviously Allah will not forgive them. Sometimes such "Muslims by chance" go further. They strive to turn other Muslims away from Islam. Such persons deserve more punishment from Allah.

"The hypocrites wait to see what befalls you. Thus, if triumph comes to you from Allah, they say: 'Did we not stand on your side.' Whereas, if the disbelievers gain the upperhand, they say (to them): 'Have we not earned your affection by defending you against the believers.'

"Indeed on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will judge between you and them, and (in this judgment) Allah has left no way for disbelievers to overcome the believers."

(Quran, 4:140,141)

The 'Muslims by chance' sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly behave like the hypocrites mentioned above. At the same time they enjoy all the benefits they can derive from the present society mixing with non-Muslims and assuring them: 'we are not 'orthodox' Muslims; just by chance we are associated with them, being born into a Muslim family. We are liberal and modern like you in culture, in thoughts and in the way of life. Our interests and loyalties are the same as yours. We will take your side by denouncing Muslim terrorists very openly as well as hide your atrocities and terrorism. We have the same interpretations of justice and human rights as you have.'

As far as Islam is concerned, the main problem is of paradigm shift. Other religions, being confined to the spiritual aspect of life, are not much involved in the totality of living. Hence there is not much requirement of paradigm shift for them.

Islam being a life style and value-system in every aspect of life, needs a paradigm for daily living. The present society and the civilisation has a definite, precise and explicit paradigm to work for material success in this world. This paradigm very clearly depicts the end of life in this world and hence unaccountability of one's deeds after this life. Even in this life, if one manages to deceive others by being smart, one is termed successful.

A Muslim can not live as a true Muslim under the present paradigm. Its bearing is so intense that the apparent and temporary virtues and value-system can not over-run the influence of a wrong paradigm. This is the reason that all Dawah work, propagation of Islam, the tafseers of Quran and explanation of Islamic tenets do not work in presence of the un-Islamic materialistic and God-less paradigm of the present civilisation. In spite of all the efforts to bring Muslims toward the practice of true Islam, the present paradigm shall continue to navigate every person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who lives under it.

Hence the only way for Muslims to live Islamically is to formulate an effective and precise Islamic paradigm based on the totality of life in this world and the Hereafter with total surrender to Allah. The next important task is to shift the paradigm of the present to the Islamic one by undergoing a real Islamic education based on the absolute truth of the Quran interpreted by the Hadith.

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