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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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Syed Ali Naqvi on Islam Negotiating the Future

Rashid Shaz is a New Delhi based scholar who worked tirelessly on the reconstruction of Islamic thought and the revival of long cherished tradition of fresh thinking in Islam. Most of his writings focus on the need of Islamic reformation. Apart from his intellectual contributions Rashid Shaz is also a political activist who founded a Milli Parliament as a reaction to the demolition of the Babri Masjid (mosque). “Islam Negotiating the Future” is his recent endeavour to help the Muslims of the world.

Lack of education, lack of understanding and common sense has driven the Muslims all over the world between the devil and the deep sea. The devil is the anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim forces and the deep sea is of course the product of our own mistakes and follies. God is one and Mohammad (PBUH) is the prophet of God, speak truth and be gentle and do justice with the fellow human beings - these lines sums up the spirit of Islam. It’s as simple as that. The source of light is granted to the whole world what we are required to do is to come under its warmth and reflect it to the rest of the world.
The book under review discusses the fundamental questions that the Muslims are facing today. The post 9/11 world is exploiting the weaknesses that are now deep rooted in our political and social traditions. 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. Islam is a religion of common sense whose aim is to create a peaceful society. If it is the aim of Islam then how come the west labeled the Muslims as extremists and fundamentalists. It is not the question to be raised against the west. It is the question that we must direct to ourselves.

‘Death of a Discourse’ is one of the chapters of this book that says that there is no debate and no discourse among the Muslims on recent issues. Either we blindly follow the rhetoric of the mullahs or we get carried away with the charm of the west. The need is to share ideas and know each other’s understanding of Islamic thought. When we start talking about it we would feel that we know very little about Islam. It would not only persuade us to learn and read but also institute an effective way of correcting our misunderstandings. A healthy discourse would bring a lot of common sense and a lot of practicality into our lives.

Rashid shaz has been quite rational in the writing of this book. He not only supports his arguments with logic and rationality but also provides the historical perspective to the reader. No matter what we do now we cannot disconnect ourselves from the past. There can be many ways of looking at the past but the positive way is to learn from it, apply the positives and shrug off its nightmares. The problem has been persistent with the Muslims that we are not educated as we should be. The literacy rate of the Muslim countries is alarmingly low that is the reason why we are not familiar with our past. We are only familiar with the glories of Muslims but the other side of the picture is somewhat horrible but it needs to be looked at.

“Islam Negotiating the Future” brings many intellectual, sociological and political questions into discussion but the word that he is very eager to lay an emphasis on is future. He is of the view that the Muslims now should take responsibility and look forward to the future. Islam is a religion that has a vision of the future and asks its followers to build the present in a way that can ensure a better future and a better world to live in. Rashid Shaz attempts to awake the dead conscience of the Muslims by telling them that this religion is not about a specific period or era in time, its universal and it provides a peaceful path that leads to the prosperous future. We only need to look at it afresh without sectarian prejudice without preconceived notions and casting aside our own self-interests.
 

As published in The Nation, Lahore.

 
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