Fighting for or with Islam?

Muhammad Maroof Shah

Many Muslim nations have been burning in the name of Islam. There is still a debate in Pakistan, almost seven decades after its creation that Islam is yet to be truly implemented. After every attempt to implement Islam there will be questions or criticisms on the version of Islam implemented. The fight for pure Islam is unending because interpretations are unending. Implementing Islam ideally implies establishing some image of the Ideal City or Divine City of which Farabi talked. It implies that justice rules, that beauty and perfection are sought in every endeavour, that there is no such thing as class war, that there is no discrimination of any group, that there is no alienated labour, that capitalists are not dictating terms, that environment is not polluted and such things as development discourse are not the defining mantras. It implies a state where there is nobody competing for elections, where politicians and bureaucrats don’t rule, where people are truly artists, at one with their work, never complaining.

No entertainment industry prostitutes minds and hearts but every action is a joy.  All this means that striving for establishing Islam is a perennial striving. All great thinkers have consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, contributing to this project of establishing sovereignty of God. Islam is not something to be implemented, to be fought for but universally accepted system of values that inform every endeavour aimed at contributing to perfection of both the worlds. Muslims are not a particular community but submitters to Truth. Islam is not a particular belief system but Truth itself. As such every attempt to submit to truth, in any domain is an act of Muslim. Islam is not an ideology. It is faith. It is not reducible to theological structure or a religion but the Religion, the Norm. It comprehends all definitions. None comprehends it fully. Islam was never established and can never be established in its perfect form. Even not during the Classical Age. The Prophet SAW started certain things but what happened after his death and shortly after the first four Caliphs’ rule is history. Islam promised many things but history has its own dialect. In no age can all its meanings be revealed or exhausted. Islam is open enquiry and open ended in the sense that no age can claim that it has understood or implemented it in ideal form. I recall Derrida while approaching the unfinished project of Islam. Derrida said that Justice has to be strived for but it can never be done in finalistic terms. God as Whitehead said is “unattainable” but must be sought. The truth is that Truth has infinite faces and to none is given all of it.  That is why humility is a key virtue. Islam is best understood as radical openness to reality, to truth and not assertion of certain interpretation or form of truth. Failure to note this point gives birth to fundamentalism and sectarianism.

We can’t predict outcome of talks between TTP and Pakistani government but we can safely assert that no negotiation, no human attempt will ever succeed in establishing heaven on earth, because earth is not heaven. It means Islam will always need to be implemented not as a creed, a political ideology, a legal doctrine but as search for realizing perennial values of beauty, goodness, truth and justice.

The author can be reached at: [email protected]

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