Is Javed Ahmad Ghamidi relevant?

Is Javed Ahmad Ghamidi relevant?

Islam is the only deen revealed by Almighty Allah. It is the universal truth and the deen of all Prophets from Adam to the last messenger Mohammad (s.a), same in the content and diverse in Sharia with respect to the demands of various ages and as per the needs of the people of the time. Sharia in its development reached culmination in the era of the prophet Muhammad (s.a) and deen as a whole flourished to its full bloom including Sharia. Since then it has been practiced in a large part of the world and has created a great civilization of its kind.
Throughout its magnificent past, Islam however underwent certain changes in terms of its interpretations and jurisprudence. In jurisprudence the four Imams – Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Malik and lmam Ahmed bin Hanmbal – are known and largely followed in the whole Muslim World. Parallel to it the Muslim populace is by and large influenced and inspired by the four towering figures of thought considered as the four Imams of Islamic thought who interpreted deen as a whole and attracted millions of adherents all over the world. The first of these four lmams is Imam Ghazzali, known as Hujjat ul Islam, who made the mystical interpretation (Sufi tabeer) of deen and influenced the majority of Muslims of his time. Quite contrary to this mystical interpretation, the second great thinker, Imam Ibn e Taymiyyah, arrived with an extremely opposite interpretation adhering to the Quran, Sunnah and the tradition of Sahaba. This interpretation can be appropriately named as Salafi interpretation (Salafi tabeer). It also inspired and mobilised many Muslims to establish governments on this principle, the type of which we still witness in Saudi Arabia. At the end of the 17th century another great soul, Shah Waliullah Dehlvi, appeared on the scene from the subcontinent and endorsed both the extreme ideologies (Sufi and Salafi) as right and brought them under a wonderful collaboration. In the modern era in the 20th century, a man of phenomenal brilliance, Syed Abul Ala Moududi, emerged from the same subcontinent and inspired and enthused millions of Muslims, especially young and intellectual minds, with his unique interpretation which some critics have named as a political interpretation of deen.
The journey of knowledge can never be stopped. The process of thesis and antithesis has always been the guaranteed way to reach the logical conclusion. We have known that the entire superstructure of Platonic sciences was demolished by Aristotle and the latter’s by Newton and then Newton’s by Einstein to keep the evolution of science going.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is a well-known Islamic scholar, exegete, a leading religious figure, and an educator. He studied Philosophy and English Literature at Govt College Lahore and Islam from various scholars throughout his early years. He joined Mawlana Mawdudi’s Jamaat-e-Islami, was influenced by the works of Imam Hamiduddin Farahi, and from 1973 studied under the tutelage of Amin Ahsan Islahi.
Ghamidi is presently on a mission to reinterpret deen as per his understanding. He also has produced a counter narrative of religion in response to the traditional narratives. The paradigm shift Ghamidi has made in interpreting deen is quite unprecedented. It invited strong opposition and objections from critics and Muslim scholars. His novel declarations on various issues like beard, music, hadood, hijab and arrival of Jesus etc are quite stunning to some and pleasing to others.
But what makes the big difference is that in Ghamidi’s paradigm the factors or constituents of deen in terms of their significance and centrality are displaced and given a new place. Though it is not new and every thinker has done it, but he himself criticizes the former thinkers while terming them traditional, inappropriate and illogical. In the framework of Syed Moududi, the chief purpose of sending the prophets towards people is to establish deen with all its constituents or for implementation of Sharia to present and complete hujjat for the people of the world. He explained that deen as an organic whole certifies peace, prosperity, harmony and all kinds of blessings in this world and guarantees salvation in the hereafter. For this purpose he emphasized that deen must have the sovereignty to manifest itself in full sense as it is the complete code of life. So it becomes the foremost obligation of Muslims to establish deen as a sovereign power in order to live in its blessed system.
Ghamidi on the other hand declares that there is no obligation on Muslims to establish deen and make it a sovereign power. He clarifies that the messengers have not been sent for this purpose at all. Almighty selects His messengers so that reward and punishment can be meted out in this world through them before the actual Day of Judgment. It becomes a miniature rehearsal of what is going to take place on that Day. These messengers are told that if the people honour their covenant with God, they will be rewarded in this very world and if they do not do so, they will be punished in this very world. The result is that the very existence of these messengers becomes a sign of God, and it is as if their people can observe God walking on earth and delivering His verdicts. On the basis of the signs of truth that they have directly observed, they are directed to propagate the truth and present to the people with full certainty the very guidance of God the way they have received it from Him. In the terminology of the Quran, this is called shahadah.
The self-made deduction upon which the entire superstructure of his thought and tabeer is standing is exclusively based on his own assumption. It is debatable and is neither acceptable to common sense nor supported by any clear evidence from the Quran and Sunnah. In his book Meezan he provides a list of the contents of deen and assures that deen in its essential contents can be practised and observed in whatever situations and conditions and in composite cultures as well.
Fact remains that it is unanimously maintained that deen is not mere an idea or outlook to see and perceive this world like other worldviews. It is a complete code of life that determines not only human thought but actions as well. So it is pertinent to concede that deen demands a specific culture and civilization and the socio-political atmosphere conducive to its sustenance. How can a faith like Islam be contained and preserved under alien systems and cultures which render it extremely vulnerable to distortion and undesired influences.
Moreover, deen and sharia are complementary to each other. Sharia to deen is what dress is to the body and the body is to the soul. To observe and implement sharia is as important as deen itself. Sharia not only represents and reflects deen in every walk of life but also promotes it extensively. In the absence of its state and sovereignty many orders of sharia are not obeyed and complied with, which defaces Islam and damages its moral fibre. Not to talk of various contents and components of deen, mere faith cannot be safeguarded in the environs contaminated by other ideas and traditions. How can vegetables be cultivated under the massive shadow of a Chinar tree? This is what Syed Moududi stands for. He justifies it with convincing arguments and social analysis.
Moududi makes the Quran and Seerah (biography of the Prophet) more relevant. He declares that the challenges and hardships faced by the prophet Muhammad (s.a) and his companions at every stage of the movement to establish deen (Aqamat e deen) can be in similar manner faced today by the person and persons who strive and struggle individually and collectively for the same sacred cause. And the guidelines at each step and stage given by Allah to those noble souls are available again in Quran to guide, encourage and help these noble souls as well, who are the travellers of the same path.
Ghamidi on the other hand reiterates that one is only accountable to whatever portion of deen is available to or possible to act upon. While talking about how to understand the Quran he advises that the Quran should be taken as a Shakespearean drama to understand well where various characters converse and communicate, act, feel and face the situations and leave the message for the readers indirectly.
Moududi brings God, revelation and the believers into a direct contact whereby the believers get fresh directives and guidelines, instructions and inspiration out of the Quran at every point of their psychological and mental state caused and created by the various stages of the struggle made for Aqamat e din. Ghamidi’s approach deprives us of the real stimulation, inspiration, motivation and nectar of the Quran, making the major portion of it irrelevant and limiting it specifically to the prophet and his times. Dr. Iqbal puts it as:
Jab tak na ho teray zameer pe nazool e Quran
Girah kusha hei na razi na sahib e kashaf
As distancing invisibly from a certain point in the beginning leads towards a huge gap at the end, Ghamidi’s stance may apparently seem to be not much different and distant but it tends to take us far away from the real message and essence of Islam or deen.

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