In the part one of the series of these blogs we had explored what modernity is and what it means to be modern. We had also seen that if we see modernity as disruptive changes due to new ideas then it is within our “khameer” as Muslims.
The point to ponder is this: as Muslims are we using this ‘inborn characteristic’ of our civilization or has it been lost somewhere. We have seen that Islam and modernity are compatible with each other so far as disruption of tradition and old ideas, and progress is concerned. Islam is a forward looking ideology. Islam also shuns extremes and moves the Life in the forward direction.
‘Darkness is not opposite of light, it is just the absence of light. Continued existence of a problem doesn’t mean absence of solution, but only that one cannot find that solution at that time’.
Speaking of 21st century Muslims, the terms ‘modern’ and standards of modesty, that are associated with Islam, have taken a whole new meaning. In order to mimic the dominant ideas of Western society, many Pakistani Muslims have strayed so far from our cultural values that we hardly know who we really are. It seems like we have a blind fold of flashy things on our souls. To be in the front row of this modern world we have left our values and ethics behind and lost our sense of right and wrong. On the other hand many have reacted to this and become ultra conservative even in their daily norms and habits. Hence the excessive use of Niqabs and flowing beards as a show of modesty and Muslim-hood.
Clearly in both cases we have gone to extremes. We have failed to understand the correct meanings and concept of modernity.
As discussed in the first blog of this series, phenomena of modernity is not about just ostentatious clothing and glamorized outlook. It is about ideas and attitudes. As a society while we happily adopt the technological inventions to make our life more comfortable, when it comes to social attitudes we are content to adopt the superficial and ostentatious part of flashy life, which many in the West deprecate and eschew themselves. We fail to actually change ourselves at deeper levels of morality and ethics.
Islam always encouraged the development and progress. Islam taught us to search out for new things, open up minds, and bring flexibility in our thoughts and ideas, fourteen hundred years ago. Our prophet (P.B.U.H) has given us a complete different concept of modernity to what we take it as now. Quran teaches us to open up our mind to think beyond the limits and explore new things by looking at the creation of Allah Almighty.
The modernity that Islam teaches us is the ability to accept new ideas with an open and inquisitive mind. We ought to judge these ideas against the standards of Quran. What are those standards though? We do not mean what Mullah says. But it actually means that every one of us must become an active reader and explorer of Quran, discover its meanings, and discuss in an open manner to judge and develop the ideas for a modern world.
Another thing that Islam focuses on is thinking positively and with an open mind, for spreading peace and harmony along with development and progress in the society. We should have a strong faith in Islam. And its teachings should be considered as the key of our success. These teachings include tolerance, importance of education, innovation, rights of the citizens and such other matters that make a society Just and strong. We should not get stuck in the argument that which sect to follow, because there is only one Islam and one Quran and we should follow that. And it allows full latitude to multiplicity of Fiqh within its folds.
For Muslims modernity should be all about evaluating new ideas and knowledge. We have to adopt new things and thoughts in Life, as the requirement of time, but with that we have to do this within the fundamental principles of Touheed, accountability, and middle path of Islam. We must set our limits to make sure we don’t lose our true identity in the race of meeting various self-created standards that are ephemeral and uncertain.