Moderation, Thy Name Is Islam

Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai!  (Iqbal)

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Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai!  (Iqbal)
No system on earth has more iron-clad guarantees of moderation and reasonableness built right into its core than does Islam.
Nor does a system provide its adherents stronger incentives, guarantees, opportunities and mechanisms for the exercise of liberty and freedom of choice in their affairs.
The flexibility in the above example – Eat, drink but do not be wasteful! – clearly reflects the need to give individuals the freedom to make their own personal determination as to what behaviour is or is not wasteful, and where exactly those lines are located that should not be crossed.
It is an attempt by Islam – and the Qur’an – to nip in the bud totalitarian and authoritarian tendencies in individuals, groups, societies and cultures that often seek all kinds of excuses to control and truncate individual human rights, dignities, choices, freedoms – and lives.
Imagine edicts from heaven that might say: “Thou shalt not spend more than $10 on food per day!”
Or “Thou shalt eat only two loaves of bread a week!”
Or “Thou shalt only travel by donkey cart!”
If the Qur’an had shown up with statements like that, it would be no different from any other book in this world. The Qur’an, then, would have betrayed itself as a document of human roots and authorship and thus of limited use and validity.
In that case, its claim of being a direct divine revelation of universal and timeless validity and applicability will no longer be credible.
Islam Is Not Guesswork
At the same time, Islam is not guesswork to be reinvented by each generation to fit its own special wishes, preferences and proclivities or to suit the whims and fancies of specific coteries of various elites-de-jour.
Nor does Islam allow itself to be modified or reinterpreted to fit the requirements of a particular political, social or cultural climate, even though Islam is a perpetually living and dynamic system that continually meets and accommodates the challenges of change and growth in every age and place.
Thus, Islam is a set of firmly documented teachings, concepts and practices – documented in a book: fi kitaab.
And that kitaab is in our hands today, the same in every way that it was in the hands of the Companions, May Allah bless them, of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who received it directly from him in Seventh Century Arabia, who in turn received it from the angel Gabriel, peace and blessings be on him, who in turn was given it by God Almighty himself.
The same angel Gabriel that had brought divine revelations to all the other prophets and messengers of God Almighty, may God bless them all, before Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Islam, thus, is not a record of humanity’s cumulative wisdom. Nor is it the fruit of combined authorship on the part of specialists and experts over the ages. But rather it is divine wisdom in God’s own words.
That is why from the time the Qur’an first began its revelation 1400 years ago to this day, no one has been able to surpass or match the Qur’an in either its diction or its content and meaning, even though the Qur’an repeatedly challenges those who question its authenticity or divine origin to do so.
Rooted in Original Divine Text
Islam thus is raw transmission of a body of divine texts and teachings directly from the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to the rest of humanity in every age and place.
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 basisthey 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 behaviour in line with Islam. Islam thus provided them the general mould and framework in which they tried to cast their philosophies, ideologies, thinking, behaviour, 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.
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.
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 Islamisation of Christianity that had crystallised 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.
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.