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Islam Negotiating the Future


"Rashid Shaz is one of those who have visualised the growing debilitating state of the Muslims but he is one of the few who have come up with the right approach to this problem. Islam Negotiating the Future; is a book that aims to correct our primary approach to Islam."

Syed Ali Naqvi in The Nation, Lahore

"Some of his ideas are radical. Shaz places unconventional proposals in the book. It is for the thinking readers now to decide what can be done with them."

Shams Afif Siddiqi in The Telegraph - Calcutta

 
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Shams Afif Siddiqi on Islam Negotiating the Future

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

In his preface to Islam: Negotiating the Future, Rashid Shaz states that it is a post-9/11 book on Islam. In the changed world after the attack on the Twin Towers, the ordinary Muslim is confused and unable to answer the charges the world is levelling against his community. Those he turns to for guidance are proving out-of-sync with the changing political scenario. Shaz’s work is important in this context.

The book’s primary concern is to make Islam come to terms with today’s world. Shaz touches upon Islam’s glorious past to build his argument on the need for change. But the transformation he advocates is not so much in thought as in outlook. Some of his ideas are radical, although he is ultimately talking about exercising reason with moderation rather than passion.

Islam is a simple religion, and the Quran regulates all aspects of Muslim life. The four important interpreters or imams of the Quran — Hanafi, Maleki, Shafei and Hambali — were all learned scholars whose interpretations are followed till this day. Shaz feels that the time has come to interpret the Quran afresh. He gives examples of some tricky problems of modern-day existence which men of the Shariat have not been able to solve satisfactorily. Shaz thinks that these problems can be resolved by going to the Quran rather than to the scholars.

The book will be of interest to any Muslim. But non-Muslims will also find food for thought in it. Islam, says the author, is not only for Muslims but a “common heritage of us all”.

The moulvis and men of Shariat who fail to move with the times are losing their control to new tools like the internet. But Shaz does not provide any ready solutions. Instead, he gives examples, asks questions, answers some and leaves others unanswered. He also compares Islam with Christianity and Judaism to show what went wrong with the other two great religions and how Islam too has been living in the ghetto of its own making.

Even though the book is on Islam, it does not give the usual, lopsided picture. Shaz steers clear of the conservative approach. He writes in a simple and straightforward manner. The only weakness of the book is that many of the ideas are repeated so often that they weaken the thought. Shaz places unconventional proposals in the book. It is for the thinking readers now to decide what can be done with them.


 

As published in The Telegraph, Calcutta.

 
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