Hagia Sophia – a case study
The monument of Hagia Sophia in Instambul is a mute witness to the rise and fall of sectarian Islamic ideology over last 1000 years. Built in 537 AD as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, it was the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 1453 AD, after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, it was ravaged and converted into a mosque. The fall of Ottoman empire in 1918 was the greatest defeat of Islam in last several hundred years and in addition, in 1935, the establishment of Hagia Sophia as museum (in Muslim majority state) was the greatest victory of the idea of secularism in the entire Muslim world. In July 2020, this monument was again converted back in to a mosque – proving the fact that no advancement in culture in Islamic world can keep the idea of secularism and democracy alive for long time.
Afghanistan – a nation determined to remain medieval
Current Afghanistan was part of Indus valley civilization and there were important trading relationship. Taxila was the most important seat of education and cultural development and this was just on the south of Khyber. The Bactrian and Selucid empire co-existed with Buddhists cultural traditions. It was during middle ages that most of the region converted to Islam. The place has always been transit point of northern invaders intending to enter into India through the Khyber pass. Long Moghul rule during the medieval ages froze the Islamic traditions in the country. Anglo-Afghan war during late 18th century hardened the Islamic mono-cultural belief system.
in 20th century several attempts to modernize Afghan society and religion by several rulers both insiders and outsiders failed mistakably – all in the name of Islam. King Amanullah Khan during 1920’s tried to bring in modern reforms, women’s education and proliferation of technology oriented world view. The subsequent tribal revolt in several parts of the country against modernity lead to overthrow of Amanuallh Khan’s regime. Subsequently Nadir Khan and his son Zahir Shah also tried to usher in a gradual reform era and in 1964 more political reforms in terms of constitution based legal system was instituted. In 1973 a full socialist democratic system was instituted and after a series of political coup and back stabbing lead to Soviet invasion in 1979. Ever since the place has been a hotbed of international forces washing their dirty linen in Afghanistan. The hall mark of Afghanistan’s roller coaster ride from high of modernity and socialism to the low of medievalism and Taliban lead sharia ruled polity was declared on 31th August 2021 when Taliban defeated America in a 20 year old one of the most expensive battle.
Above two cases point to a fact that Islam is a monolithic belief system which is fossilized in time and any attempt to reform will destroy it. It should only be preserved in museums and should be kept away from any practical application in society. Any society attempting to import Islam in to their society through immigration or any other means should be aware that they are importing an old cultural fossil which has the potential to disrupt existing social fabric.
Allama Iqbal – Intellect confined in time
Allama Iqbal has been known to be one of the most erudite Muslim scholar of 20th century. A descendent of a Hindu Kashmiri Brahmin who converted to Islam four centuries ago, Muhammad Iqbal completed his Bachelor degree in England and became eligible to practice Law. His early world view was shaped by teachings of Nietzsche, philosophy of Rumi and at the same time he was good friends with Swami Ram Tirtha and would exchange Sanskrit literature and philosophical thoughts from him. His early writings is and excellent thought on Indian nationalism. He went to Germany to pursue his Phd in philosophical thoughts. On his return to India he became one of the greatest scholars and writers in Persian poetry and became very active in Indian political movements.
His views on pan Indian nationalism have been testimony to the fact that one his early compositions (saare jahan se achcha ” सारे जहाँ से अच्छा “) is still sung as a national song in India. His poems in (taraana-e-hind) तराना-ए -हिन्द influenced a generation of nationalist leaders to stand for the concept of Hindustan. His long writing in tasveer-e-dard (तस्वीर-ए -दर्द )only talks about Hindustan and talks about challenges of divided world view.
वतन की फ़िक्र कर नादान मुसीबत आने वाली है
तेरी बरबादिओं के मशवरे हैं आसमानों में !“
This was all before he left for Europe to pursue his higher studies to do his BA and then a PhD in Germany. When he returned from Europe, he was metamorphosed in to a pan-islamist. He writes that any political philosophy bereft of spiritual leaning has no soul. In search of the spiritual leanings to his philosophy, he turned to Islam and went deep into it and became one of the strongest supporter of two-nation-theory and advocate of Pakistan. In my opinion when he returned from Europe, he also returned with his bloated ego and aspirations. His wanted to achieve greater leadership in the Indian political movement and in order to create his own space among the tall leaders of that time, he started propounding pan-islamic ideology. If this was not the case, he would not have supported Jinnah who was anything but a religious Muslim. Jinnah did not offer namaz, he had all the anti-islam habits of drinking, away from hizab and did not follow any food discipline as per Islam. He became fearful that in a democratic India, he as Muslim will have no political place. He as not only pan-islamist, but he was anti-democracy and anti-nationalist.
“जम्हूरियत में सर गिनाये जाएंगे, वजन नहीं “
This is when Iqbal turned a proponent of separate Muslim state because he realized that Muslims can not live without power and in Indian democracy they could not have full power to have Islamist rule.
Allama Iqbal believed that for a Muslim, Islam was by itself nationalism as well as patriotism. According to Allama Iqbal, Islam transcended all blood relationships and all territorial attachments. It demanded exclusively loyalty to Allah and not to Sovereign Loyalty to Allah implied in Iqbal’s terms, “loyalty to one’s own ideal self.
In my view, Sir Allama Iqbal was the first modern Jihadi of the world who raised jihad with his pen. There was no one to indoctrinate him, he was a self taught jihadi who raised Gazwa-e-hind with his thoughts and his writings.
Core of the problem is The IDEOLOGY
What is common among all of the above case studies? Islam. The basic tenets of Islam can be summarized in to Five thoughts – I call this Islamic Pentagon Paradox ( IPP)
- Inwardness – Everyone outside Islam is Kafir – worthy of conversion or killing
- Non-inclusivity – Only Quran is true and any other thought is false
- Fossilized concept – Knowledge of entire universe was revealed in Quran, there can not be new knowledge and there can not be new prophet
- Universalism of ummah – All Muslims are brother and Islamism has to transcend above nationalism
- Jihad for the faith – every Muslim’s goal in life is to spread the faith
I leave this for the Islam scholars to cite relevant texts from Quran.
If the above five are true, then any amount of knowledge and modernization within the ambit of Islam is not possible. Any progressive thought is only possible outside these five tenets and that is impossible.
Reform in Islam is antithesis of Islam itself
When Allama Iqbal attains the height of scholarship and attains the knowledge of best of philosophical thoughts, he still decides to remain within the Islamic Pentagon Paradox and he uses all his intellect to define and defend the Pentagon rather than coming out of this rabbit hole. This is what is happening all across the world today and this is what is making Islam so easy to radicalize Muslims.