24.10.07

Spiritual Secularism


I have received various comments, most repeatedly from the dear friend "Egypt Rose", inquiring about my beliefs, ideology, and faith. In response to these inquiries, I write today about a very intimate subject, and very intimate person, Me, I always thought I am a too simple person to write about, as I am not a celebrity so basically no one shall be interested to read if I did. However, as finally someone cared to know, I shall care to write.

Despite my belief that religion is a very personal subject, yet, I do not mind share it with my friends here. Throughout my life, I have always believed in divinity, in the existence of supreme deity, I have read and still reading in all aspects related to religions of mankind, in my study I started in a chronological fashion, believing this fashion supports understanding the roots of every religion in the preceding ones, if any existed, starting with the primitive totemic faiths, to structured paganism, to ancient Egyptian faith, to Hindu faith and Buddhism, to Judaism, to Christianity with its theological and clerical sciences, to Islam with a vast of sciences from Tafseer, studying most of the major traditional Tafseers and some of the modern ones, citations, Quranic sciences, Hadieth, Feqh ...etc. Needless to mention I have studied atheism for quite long, and studied different anti-Christian and anti-Islamic streams.

So, am I done by now?

Surely I am not, it takes more than one man's life to get done with the mankind heritage of divinity and theological streams. Yet, I can say, I developed my own understanding to life and universe, based on three pillars. Science and logic, altogether with my religious faith, Islam. Forming also my own perception for the kind of utopia God wanted us to reach one day. Utopia that derives its mindsets from science and logic, while it derives its internal peace from spiritual satiety of a faith. This faith can be different from a person to another within this utopia. So, I call this utopia "Spiritual Secularism" or "Religious Tolerant Secularism"

So Finally what I believe?
Well, it might take a while to explain it, but to keep life simple, I am a Muslim, fortunately I belong to quite unpopular scholar in Islamic ideology, a scholar that had started since the beginning of revelation to "Muhammad" (pbuh) as one of its major founders was "Ali ibn Abi-Talib", the first Muslim male, it is the scholarship of the "Interpreters" or "Ahl Al-Ra'ay" if I can name it, a scholarship believes in taking the interpretation principle up to no limit, as far as it does not conflict with the broad inspirations of Quran and true Sunnah of the apostle.

This name originated from a glorious reaction of "Ali bin Abi-Talib", after Caliph "Omar ibn El-Khattab" assassination. Wherein, the assigned temporarily camerlengo, if I can say, "Abdel-Rahman ibn Ouf" first selected "Ali" to nominate him as Caliph. In the major mosque in Medina,"Abdel-Rahman" called "Ali", saying; "Give me your hand Ali to nominate you as Caliph based on Quran, Sunnah, and the principles of the two guided previous Caliphs" , "Ali" then replied with a statement revealing his understanding of a faith he witnessed since his early childhood, "Ali" said while withdrawing his hand "O' God, No, I accept it only on the basis of Quran and Sunnah, then on the basis of my own interpretation". Own Interpretation, or "Ra'ay" was the name giver for this scholarship since that specific day in the 7th century in Medina.

Throughout Islam history this scholarship stood-out the frequent attacks of fundamentalism, it excelled in its understanding with its followers, Imam "Abu Hanifah" was partially one of these followers. Yet, he was highly affected by the understanding of "Moqalidien" in some aspects. They have always represented the direct opponents to "Interpreters" scholars. These were the roots, over which "Wahhabism" specifically and fundumentalism in general have all grown and branched. Interpreters scholarship was highly enriched with the stream of "Moa'atazala" jurists like "Wasel ibn Ata'a", "Amre ibn Obaid" and the most famous "Al-Gahiz". Then due to supression of Moa'atazala, who were part of Interpreters scholarship, it became limited during the following eras to individual efforts, like those of "Averroes". Finally, it was manifested in the modern times in the thoughts of jurists and philosophers like Imam "Muhammed Abdo", "Muahammed Rashid Reda", "Abbas Al-Aqad", "Hussein Haikal" and "Zaki Najib Mahmud" in his later stages. Among the contemporary Islamic jurists, we find people like Dr."Jamal Al-Banna", Dr. "Selim Al-Awwa" and Dr."Muhammad Shahrur" very closed to its approach.

Does this mean I believe in Islam according to the understanding of any of the names I mentioned above?
No. As interpreters school does not replace an idol by another. According to apostolic teaching, only Islam and the "true" sunnah should be followed. So, you have only to abide by these two sources. Others' works are taken as models for guidance, but not as a ready made answers. Thinking and understanding is the assignment of every Muslim and every human at large. Each in his timeframe and according to the knowledge and technology avialable in his time. To explain the differences of my very own understanding of Islam, in simple and short words, I will only include the basic criteria in bullets, I wish this will not give a very shallow impression about it, but this is a nucleous for elaboration;
  • I regard Quran, Sunnah and individual interpretation as the basic foundation of the faith. So, this is common with the mainstream. Yet, my understanding of interpretation, its limits and conditions is very different. I respect the interpretations of previous scholars, but did not give it a holiness by itself. It remains man-made thoughts that bears no holiness and is not regarded as unchangeable dogmas, another point, I do not limit "Igtehad" or interpretation to clerks, any Muslim who can dedicate the effort required for a thorough understanding of a subject, is entitled to think for his own self according to his time and place obligations. Not only entitled, I can say he is required to think and interpret. Being the last of his messages to earth. God wanted Islam to be a dynamic faith that changes its layout from time to time, while keeping its moral core.
  • The role of intellectual processing of religious faith is unprecedented, I regard the mind and intellectual capacity as the major gift of God to humanity, and believe its role is to guide in all matters including faith. Why humankind only were given the choice? Because God granted them the tool to attain to the faith. Their mind and judgement. Prophecies came online with logic as reminders. Apostles were meant to remind man, to guide and help him attaining to his faith. They were not intended to force.
  • Heritage is for knowledge, not for obligation, for a book being written hundreds of years ago, this will never mean it became divine. Understandings of Bukhary and Muslim for example does not stand as an obligation to us today. Needless to mention some of the 4 major jurists in Islamic theology have changed his interpretation upon moving from one culture to another.
  • My understanding supports the democratic state foundations, and here was the sin of Interpreters as perceived by Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs, it was enough to grant them ongoing oppresion and to encourage their opponents, who makes people much easier to lead through acclimatizing people to blind subordination.
  • I answer basic questions like the reason of creation ...etc. relying on religious as well as scentific resources. All processed with the power of logic. But i have minimal interest in metaphysical thoughts, and it discourages the use of Judaism heritage texts in religious thoughts, as it is deeply metaphysical thoughts
  • Finally, it is not a stream in Islam, like Sunnat and Shiat, it is a way of thinking any Muslim can adopt, it does not have a special rituals in prayers or fasting ....etc. A man who adopts this faith can practice his usual practises, yet his mind will be favoring always enlightened opinions at any debate.
Unfortunately there is no specific sources to get the spirit of "Ahl Al-Ra'ay Scholarship". There is no short cuts here, it is only for who wants to pay effort to understand more, and it gives no Holiness or dominant position to its scientists, so you will find no clerk interested in adopting it as it has no benefits, so the hope of its popularity is minimal. Moreover, there is no ready-to-go thoughts and solutions, you have to build up your own, there is no take-away Fatwa, you have to understand the roles and develop it yourself.
This is how I perceive my faith. A Muslim who respects humanity, diversity, liberty and all other religions and thoughts came as a fruit of truth seeking throughout mankind history. A Muslim who finds secular societies the best for a Muslim to live within. Finally, a Muslim who thinks his mission is to support the excellence of mankind in all his works, deeds and words.

10 comments:

Tarek said...

Let me ask a silly question here, I am bit confused as the Mutazelah the same as Ahl El Raay or they are a sect of them, or what?

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Tarek,
It is a very good questions actually. Moatazla was a clearly defined stream in Islam history, Ahl El-Raay was not, it is a model of thinking and understanding the Islamic faith with a supreme mind prospering attitude that endroses opinions by logic according to conditions and benefit of the group. Ali ibn Abi-Talib was definitely not belonging to any stream, hey, I considered him the start of Ahl Al-Raay as he adopted a mindful pathway much less than heirtage pathway in his Fatwas. Regards

simple girl.. ..simple dream said...

actually it's ot simple at all.
it takes a real philosopher to acheive a level where u can make ur own fatwa
it requires lots of readings and studies just to grasp the real meaning of any verse of quran or hadith

but it's very enlightening post
i gain a lot of information by reading it

Amre El-Abyad said...

very intereting Eyad. Ahly el Ray seems to me like an Islamic school of thought that brings together rationality with faith.

However to my own opinion, I think that the Ummayads were the best caliphs ever. Had their rule survived, our destiny and the destiny of our civilsation would have changed:)) it was them who conquered the whole world -pakistan and Turco-Mongol central Asia,North Africa, Spain and the south of France, it was them who Arabised the empire, it was them who institutionalised Arabism.

More imporatntly, the Ummayads held their rule on secular foundations. They resisted the attempts of Juriprudents to meddle in politics:)

EmY said...

first let me say that i respect u so much & admit that u learned me manythings

i am glad reading ur words

since i were child when i do something & anyone says thats wrong Emy i always reply WHY
till now i ask why thats wrong or Haram

convince me coz if i believed something without knowing the reason it will be useless

& you always talk to our minds showing reasons & proves

all people must think & read not just take religion as they r told they should think about every detail

Ahl el raay is great scholar which we need so much now adays

thank u for ur post

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Simple Girl,
It is basically inside you, the good n bad are basically built-in our soles, you just need to train it and awaken it, Thank you and best regard

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Amre,
I agree on therms of that period, empire style was almost the only path for whatever state that wants to excel, yet, Ummayad has very negative aspects specially in managing internal affairs. and in religious matters, they started the era of fake hadieth to support their views and political situations e.g. "La Tamor Al-Ayam wa Al-Layaly Hatta Yamlek Moa'awiah" Regards

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Emy,

I am who should be always grateful for your encouraging comments that is one of the reasons keeping me writing while I am in my current non-optimal mood.

Yes dear, Allah gave us mind, ego and super-ego, only through the balance between them all we can prosper on this land in our mission to develop the earth. And asking WHY is the start of a different personality. Keep asking why dear and never subordinate just because others believe so. Regards

Haytham Harfoush said...

Just one week ago I saw Mr. Mohamed Hedia saying on his popular TV program . (you have to force & oblige your mind to be agrreable with the text). I guess that is definitely the opposite of Ahl Al-Raay way, but still the easiest way to live within a community of restricted minds. Therefore Ahl Al-Raay were and will be alawys smothered and exiled. simply their way is not welcome and discomfort.

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Brother
The drifted logic of that Hediah is the formal sponsored way of thinking. Dictatorships adores this understanding of religion, as it has always made their life easier. It is easy to lead a robotic creature than a man with mind of course. Thank you and best regards