Gems of wisdom (my humble understanding) from lectures by Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina on: Understanding human nature and natural religion – Imam Husyan’s struggle against false Muslim identity

  • Sura Rum is the summation of the entire message of Islam
  • Religion can’t be imposed because by nature human beings are resistant to imposition from the outside – Neither must be we accept our inherited tradition without questioning
  • Engagement of our own tradition means we need to engage in discussion about what we have inherited – Critical retrieval is important – we must ask why?
  • Constructive criticism is to question what we are doing and why? It does not mean we slam the entire tradition or message but learn balance
  • Haneef  – mean to walk with two feet planted on the ground in such a way that we remain balanced and do not fall
  • Din al Hanif means to maintain a faith with equilibrium – very important
  • Extremism in every form is forbidden in the Quran
  • There is lots of criticism today of modernity, secularism, westernization etc. which is healthy  – but let us engage in critique of religion itself and allow ourselves critical suspicion of dogma that is handed over generation to generation without questioning
  • This then has to be co-related between idea and practice. If we negate extremism, we must not indulge in it, if we believe in moderation and balance as mentioned in the Quran, we must explore these ideas and check ourselves from being extreme
  • Criticism alone is not enough – critical suspicion should lead to critical thought only to lead to better actions
  • Humans are the only creation of God that have potential for change & development; everything else like the sun, moon, stars, seasons etc. is fixed i.e. a butterfly will always be a butterfly, a tree remains a tree and a bird stays a bird. But humans develop, change, evolve and only through critical reflection will they change for the better. Difference between other creations and humans is that humans can guide their future (different schools of thought have different views on this. Hannafi scholars say that at 120 days the fetus in the womb is developed to the extent that its entire future is decided)
  • A reflection of the divine is in a woman/mothers face – Mariam reflects the divine.
  • How do we deal with criticism of our Prophet from the outside? There is criticism of Mohammad in history books. He is called the ‘armed Prophet’- we can’t say this did not happen – Mohammad pbuh fought 24 battles and carried arms. We have to find out WHY? And this can only happen by knowing our history. Prophet took up arms to protect those who were unprotected and without arms; he took up arms only when there was no other choice and it was necessary; he took up arms to protect the sanctity of home  – this was Qital, not Jihad.