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Islam and the contemporary world: Evaluating their compatibility

By Ghadia Cheema

‘Religious people are usually backward, illiterate and irrational. If we allow dogma to rule the world then there will be nothing but chaos and bloodshed everywhere. Islamists today are extremists and terrorists. They are trying to inculcate their historic 1400 year old agenda in the world of today where machines rule. How can such a historic civilization that dictated the lifestyles of the old Arabian men be suited to the rapid needs of today? Oh wait, you think my attitude is also bordering on extremism? Well let me correct you, I am a moderate man with moderate ideas; sound intellect drives my choices. While I do accept the notion of Islam being the final word of Allah for humanity, I believe it has its own sphere and should be kept in it such. Why do we need to bring religion in our everyday lives? After all, is it wholly, completely, perfectly and absolutely compatible with the Contemporary world?’

The above is an example of language and ideas that we often come across in today’s world, which act as a smoke screen for many young minds of today. The society we live in is leaving no stone unturned in creating doubts and skepticism in our minds regarding religion in general and Islam in particular. This article will analyze what truly Islam has to offer and whether it can be applied to the contemporary world.

First and foremost, we need to be clear on whether man or his creator is more wiser, knowledgeable and more suitably perfect for carving out the laws of the human society. Indeed, the answer to this should not house any doubt whatsoever. When we profess that we are dependant upon a higher authority for all our needs and wants, then we are asserting that the Creator, Allah, is indeed the most knowledgeable and wisest. Once this is established, we the need to find the source from where we can attain the rules coined by our creator. Of course the last revealed message is Islam so Islam can show us the way that is most suitable for humans to sustain themselves in this world and to live with harmony and peace. But we don’t want this to happen. We don’t want to implement Islam in the world of today. We call it out-outdated and old fashioned. The word of Allah holds no importance for us. Why? We accept and still we don’t obey. Why? Where does the problem lie?

There are several reasons for this, but we will be dealing with just a few. Firstly, we have adopted an illusionary concept of freedom. It doesn’t mean doing whatever we want (because this is not logically and realistically possible), rather it means, rejecting the obedience of all creatures and their concoctions and submitting oneself to the obedience of the One and Only. His love will set us free, free from every type of imitation and fabrication and will enable us to enjoy originality in its true sense. Today, man feels hesitant in obeying one true Lord with the fear that he may lose his freedom and will have to carry on orders given by Allah, without realizing that by not doing so, he is actually moving in the directions set by media, society, dominating human cultures and everything except Allah. If we realize that becoming a slave of Allah alone is the highest form of independence, then our attitude towards religious discourse and practice will not be so inimical. As Prophet Yusuf asked his companions while in prison,

‘’O my two companions of the prison! (I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves better, or the One Allah, Supreme and Irresistible?’’ (12: 39)

Secondly, we have clearly been told in the Holy Quran that after this last religion, no new message will arrive from the Almighty Lord. Allah says in the Holy Quran,

‘’Today I have completed your religion for you, and have completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.’’ (5: 3)

Even Prophet Eesa on his arrival in this world again, will be following the word of Allah revealed on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islam is not a an old concept only applicable to history; in fact, it is a lifestyle that can be moulded to any day and age. Till this day, humankind has not been able to produce a single verse or miracle like that of the Holy Quran, and yet claim that it is backward, out dated and not suitable for us today. Islam gave many scientific concepts unknown to the man of that era, and science is still struggling to decode the mysteries of this world, and many times has to refute its own theories but, at the end, after much struggle, when scientists reach the truth, it is always compatible with the information found in the Holy Quran. What’s more modern then?

Mankind has endeavoured to set several governing mechanisms but all in vain: Allah has set out laws for every walk of life, laws that are perfectly according to the nature of man, but man likes to test his own abilities rather than relying on his creator. What a shame! What an ego!

We should be confident that obeying Allah doesn’t mean extremism, rather it is the only thing required from us in this world. Allah says in the Holy Quran

‘’I have not created the human beings and jinn except for the purpose of worshipping Me.’’ (51:56)

History is a witness to the testimony that it were Muslims who, for the first time ever, and beyond the universally accepted Greek theories and hypothesis, emphasized the importance of direct observation and experimentation. They were the ones who brought mere philosophy into the realm of rationality. That is what we call science today. The Quran says:

‘’And you shall not follow blindly any information of which you have no direct knowledge. You must verify it for yourself. In the court of your Lord, you will be held accountable for your hearing, sight, and the faculty of reasoning’.’ (17: 36)

So, following Islam is not a formula for blind faith, ancient philosophies or extremism, rather it is the perfect system for today, tomorrow and till the end of this world. What we need to do is discard pre-conceived notions from our minds, study Islam thoroughly and then decide whether it is compatible in today’s world or not. Passing judgments without understanding something is a great injustice and unfortunately this is being done with Allah’s message. May Allah guide us towards the right path and then may we remain steadfast on that path until we reach paradise. Ameen.




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