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Rediscovering Islam with Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Introduction:

Islam is the eternal faith for all the humanity, irrespective of race, colour or gender. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not introduce any new faith, God chose him for reviving and culminating the original faith for all the humanity till eternity. Purpose is attainment of peace through total surrender to the ‘Will of God’ (Islam), the message preached by all the previous messengers, to their respective communities.
The Arabic "Salaam" (سلام) and Hebrew word "Shalom" (שָׁלוֹם), literally mean "peace" and are cognates of each other, derived from the Semitic Triconsonantal of Ś-L-M (realized in Hebrew as Š-L-M and in Arabic as S-L-M). Hence the word ‘Islam’, derived from Arabic root ‘S-L-M,’ meaning 'peace' or ‘submission’. In a religious context it means; ‘attainment of peace through complete submission to the will of God or his laws’. Combination of Arabic.(سلام), Hebrew (שָׁלוֹם), and English ‘Peace’ is also used as “Symbol of Peace”.
Islam is as old as the humanity. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), the first human was also the first prophet of Islam; Later he sent prophets like Noah, Enoch, Abraham (peace be upon them) and others to guide the humanity, they preached the ‘total surrender and obedience to the will of God’ (Islam). All the messengers preached and practiced the same religion .i.e ‘Submission to the will of God’ (Islam), which is not new to the mankind. Hence all the messengers and prophets along with their followers may be linguistically called as Muslims because their faith was based upon ‘total surrender to the will God’ (Islam). Allah says: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee (Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus:...”(Qur’an;42:13); “Behold! Abraham said to his father and his people: "I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship: "(I worship) only Him Who made me and He will certainly guide me." And he left it as a Word to endure among those who came after him that they may turn back (to Allah).”(Qur’an;43:26-28).
The original message of God for guidance of humanity conveyed by messengers of God got distorted with the passage of time only to be revived by an other messenger. Once humanity developed to a certain level, Allah sent the final messenger Muhammad (pbuh) with the final scripture Quran, which is protected by Allah. Even after 1400 years Quran is available in its original revealed form but with the passage of time people lack in understanding the spirit and indulge in practice of undesirable activities; Hence periodically the scholars of Islam make effort to rediscover the original message of Islam for practical application.
We are living in the age of the media. Before the advent of the modern media there were large numbers of people in the world who knew nothing of Islam. With the invention of the printing press and now the electronic media it is difficult to find today a single person who is unaware of it. But there is a clear-cut difference. In previous ages it happened that wherever Islam spread people were so impressed with it that most of them accepted it as their religion. That is why today we find more than one billion Muslims throughout the world. Strangely enough the present day publicity given to Islam has produced only a negative effect. People are now generally allergic to Islam rather than being interested in it writes, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan in his book “Islam Rediscovered”.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (born in India 1925) is a noted Islamic scholar and peace activist. He has translated the Quran in simple and contemporary English and wrote a commentary on the Quran and gives lectures on media. He has received many awards.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has made it his mission to present Islamic teachings in the style and language of the post-scientific era. Rediscovering Islam himself from its original sources, he has authored over 200 books on Islam, prophetic wisdom and peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic society. Some of which are; ‘In Search of God’, ‘Man Know Thyself’, ‘Islam’, ‘The Voice of Human Nature’, ‘Quran: An Abiding Wonder’, ‘Islam and Peace’, ‘The True Jihad’ and ‘Islam Rediscovered’.  
The theme of his book ‘Islam Rediscovered’ is being reproduced here with minor editing is evident from its title, Discovering Islam from its Original Sources. The  purpose of Maulana Wahiduddin is to present Islam as it is, drawing on its original sources rather than judging it by the later day interpretations and commentaries or the practices of present day Muslims in different parts of the world. He has made a distinction between Islam as presented by the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, and his companions (information about which is available to us in the Qur’an and the Sunnah) and Islam as represented by later Muslim generations — both in theory and practice. This is what he calls the scientific approach.
In previous centuries when Islam was introduced, people used to say: Yes, “Mr. Islam welcome to you!” Now when Islam is presented to them they say: “No thank you.” Why is there this difference? The answer is very simple. In previous centuries Islam was introduced to the people of the world through its scriptures, as it is — without the slightest change in its original message. Whereas in modern times, Islam is being introduced through the negative practices of certain Muslims as reported by the media.
There is a further and more severe problem that of selective reporting. According to their own criteria the media is interested only in ‘hot’ news, although so much ‘soft’ news is available about the Muslim people. Because of their ingrained professionalism, they do not allow this ‘soft’ news to find its way into their columns of their broadcasts.
Islam is the religion of nature. If it were to be presented in its original form, people would turn to it quite naturally. For example, when a recently converted American by the name of Gary Miller was asked why he had converted to Islam, he replied: “I didn’t convert to Islam I have rather reverted to my original religion.” [Islam is the 'primordial religion' (din-al-hanif), it seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which he is in harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Allah says: “Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the upright faith - the nature made by Allah, the one on which mankind is created - and the laws of Nature ordained by Allah cannot be changed. That is the standard of true faith (ad-den al-qayyim), but most among mankind do not know”.(Qur’an;30:30 similarly 6:161 & 4:125)]
Unfortunately, a section of Muslims is engaged in violent and aggressive activities, wrongfully indeed, in the name of Islam. It is such news as, through the media, has a great impact upon the general public and creates serious misunderstandings. People have come to take Islam as a militant religion. Since modern man is in search of peace, he finds no appeal in a religion which, as presented by the media, is one of hatred and violence.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan in this book attempts to introduce Islam as it is. It calls for a distinction to be made between Islam and the practices of Muslims. Taking a scientific attitude, you have to see Islam in the light of the Islamic scriptures and not judge it by Muslim conduct.
For surely, if you want to know what democracy is, you will examine the ideology of democracy as established by its champions. You will not form an opinion about the democratic system merely on the basis of observing some self-styled democratic nation. Everyone who wants to know what Islam is, should follow this scientific method while trying to form his opinion on Islam.
We are living in an age of information. This is the age of the knowledge explosion. Today, everyone wants to know more and more about everything, including religion. The result is that, on the subject of religion, people are far better informed than ever before. But there is a difference. About other religions, people generally know what is enshrined in their religious books. Whereas the case of Islam is the opposite. Their information about Islam is derived from unauthentic sources. The reason for this lies with the Muslims and not with anyone else.
The Muslims of modern times are engaged in violence everywhere in the name of Islam. Violence, however, is not limited only to Muslims. It is found in every community and in every group. But there is a basic difference between the two. When the adherents of other religions engage in violence, they do not do so in the name of their religion. But the violence engaged in by the Muslims is being done in the name of Islam.
These violent activities of the Muslims reach the people through the media. As modern media is a “hot news”-based industry, these violent events are flashed in the media. For this reason, people come to regard Islam as a religion of violence. It is only among Muslims that all violent activities are carried out in the name of religion. In practice, only a tiny minority of Muslims is engaged in such violent activities. However, since other Muslims neither condemn these activities, nor disown them outright, it is but natural for people to attribute their violent propensities to their religion. But the scientific way of study is to distinguish Islam from the deeds of Muslims, just as the ideology of democracy is studied by distinguishing it from the acts of democratic countries.
The aim is to present Islam as it is enshrined in its sacred scriptures, so that it may be brought before the people in its true form. The authentic source of information about Islam is the Qur’an. The Qur’an, according to Muslim belief, was revealed by God to the Arabian Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him. The second source of knowledge about Islam is the Sunnah, i.e., the words, deeds and sanctions of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him. The lives of the companions of the Prophet provide another later source. Then, there is a full stop in this matter. No other person or historical record enjoys the status of source of Islam.
However, this write up does not claim to be a comprehensive introduction to Islam. That is something which can be had only by studying Islam directly through its basic scriptures, that is, the Qur’an and Sunnah. This effort thus presents a fundamental introduction for those who want to understand Islam as it is. Its aim is to provide a proper background in the light of which the original sources of Islam may be studied.

It is hoped that this information will be useful for those who want to know about the original Islam, as opposed to the “religion” represented by certain self-styled Muslim leaders introduced to us by the media.
Read / download full book or in part: http://goo.gl/41ky3n

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Red tape... bureaucracy

With the emergence of the State, the institution of bureaucracy was set up to administer affairs such as revenue collection, implementation of law, keeping a check on crime and upholding the maintenance of social order, price regulation for commodities and the welfare of people. In the early period of history, it was a custom among rulers to appoint administrative officers from the nobility. This was not based on merit but on the privilege of their birth. The system prevailed in most countries and continued for some time without a major change.

China was the first country to introduce the institution of bureaucracy systematically, which became well-organised and well-disciplined during the Han period. According to the Chinese system, bureaucrats were selected after a meticulous and competitive examination that was open to all classes of society. They were required to study the history of China, teachings of Confucius and the values and norms of morality.

In the first stage, examinations were held in districts throughout China. Those who qualified were allowed to appear in the final examination which was held in the capital. The duration of the examination was three days and the candidates were asked to bring their bedding, food, writing materials and chamber pot. Candidates were allotted a cell where they would spend three days writing answers to the questions. In case of the death of a candidate, his body was taken away from the cell without disturbing other candidates. Copying was strictly prohibited. In one case, an invigilator was beheaded because of negligence of duty.

Those who passed the examination were appointed on high and important posts. They were allowed to wear a special dress and have a carriage for their conveyance. They were married into the nobility in order to integrate them with the ruling classes. This system continued for nearly 2,000 years only to be interrupted by the Mongols who ruled over China and brought their own bureaucrats for administration. Revived again by the Ming dynasty, these bureaucrat scholars were known as mandarins.

Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. — Laurence J. Peter
In Europe, the modern bureaucratic system was introduced by the Prussian government. The administration was divided into different units and trained bureaucrats were appointed to deal with the affairs of each department. The other European governments followed it and instituted competitive examinations for selection of the bureaucrats.

In India, the British government established the Indian Civil Services (ICS) cadre for bureaucrats. The candidates were asked to learn Latin and other classical languages and the subjects of their choice included history, economics, politics and law. The maximum age for the candidate to appear was 20 years.

Despite the regulations, which were aimed at not giving the locals a fair chance, Rabindranath Tagore’s brother passed the examination, bewildering the British government. To ensure that such an incident would not repeat in the future, the government reduced the age from 20 to 18 years. The duration of their service was to be 30 years after which they would be retired. With the passage of time, the colonial rulers had no choice but to hold these examinations in India, so that the Indians could become a part of the colonial bureaucracy.

Hannah Arendt in her book The Origins of Totalitarian State points out that imperialism and bureaucracy were co-related. The example is British India, where 1,000 British bureaucrats administered and managed the affairs of the state in the subcontinent. They were highly paid in order to prevent them from resorting to bribery and corruption. They were honest and responsible officials who served the cause of colonialism with zeal. In India, bureaucracy was sustained and the colonial rule was strengthened by administrative skills.

In Pakistan, we inherited this colonial institution which was specifically designed for foreign rulers to run the administration with an anti-people approach. The same policy continued after partition. Gradually, the competitive examinations lost their validity while influential families would interfere with the process of selection to get appointments for their children and relatives. The institution further deteriorated when the system of lateral entry was introduced and ‘favourites’ were appointed on high posts without a fair judgment of their merits. Retired army officers also have a quota fixed in the civil services.

Consequently, most bureaucrats are not capable of dealing with the complex issues of their departments, their real interest being to obtain privileges and financial benefits that come with their appointment as civil servants. To get promoted, they require recommendations by higher authorities which are only possible through sycophancy and corruption. The institution of bureaucracy has been further ruined by military dictators and inefficient and corrupt politicians. There is a distance between the bureaucrats and people and officials are not interested in either solving the problems of the masses or in their welfare.

History shows us that when government officials become corrupt, inefficient and dishonest, the society faces crisis after crisis without any solution in sight. This is the situation that the Pakistani society confronts presently.

By Mubarak Ali, dawn.com