The religious experience of Christian Europe cannot be compared with the religious experience of the Islamic world. The Reformation period in 16th century Western Europe also called the Protestant Reformation was a reaction to the Church policies. The Church had become a major impediment to all sorts of individual and societal progress and development. The Protestant Reformation was an attempt to moderate the teachings of Christianity which conflicted with the needs of the time. However, in the case of Islam it was opposite. Islam first brought the Arabs and then the other regional communities, out from darkness of ignorance in to the light of faith and reason. This light became the source of strength and courage which made them leaders in matters of faith and material progress (for more info on this fact click here). The progress Muslims achieved in early Islam, medieval age and modern history were all based on faith, not an abandonment of it, because sole material progress unchecked by faith leads towards a sort of extremism and gradual destruction, as can be observed in the modern technological revolution. Similarly a blind attitude towards religious teachings also causes one to loose insight and wisdom, which results in ignorance and extremism, something that Europe experienced throughout the medieval age (hence called Dark Ages) such as intolerance, gender persecution, minority persecution, sectarianism & violence.
Unfortunately the blind following of religious teachings has also caused many Muslims of our time to suffer the same fate. But that has mainly to do with the dichotomy placed in to the education system of the East after colonization by the West. The Islamic education was separated after education system was secularized in many Muslim countries which resulted in Madrassah (Islamic seminary) educated students to have less awareness and expertise of worldly sciences and wisdom. Such a system lowered Islam down to the level of a maddhab i.e. a part of Islam that is only concerned with the application of its rituals and ways of practices, and nothing more. Hence Muslims experienced degeneration only after they dichotomized (divided) Islam and formed an incomplete relationship with its complete teachings found in the Quran and the Prophetic hadith. The Islamic experience is unlike that of Jews, Christians and other communities, who lost portion of their scriptures and then experienced distortion and misinterpretations by clergy of the remaining portion: first causing separation of masses from Church and then a complete separation of Church and State. Its due to this Marmaduke Pickthall rightly said: "It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in."
The Protestant Reformation of West did not succeed either, as ultimately it led towards Renaissance which was abandonment of religious teachings altogether. The European revolutions of the Renaissance were anti religion in their approach, partly because of skepticism towards mysterious dogmas taught and promoted by the Church, such as "Original Sin" & "Trinity" or "Chosen People" in Judaism. Attempts were made to reform such concepts to make more sense to its followers. When such attempts, failed it either resulted in further schisms or abandonment of entire teachings resulting in acceptance of Atheism or Agnosticism by their followers.
Fortunately for Islam, its teachings are in conformance with human reason and form a harmonious relationship between spiritual and physical needs without any contradiction. Allah ﷻ has referred to Muslims in the Quran: (Al Baqara 2:143) “Thus We have made of you ummatan wasatan (a nation justly balanced)” – Ummatan Wasatan means "middle nation", "the best nation", and a "nation justly balanced". This phrase captures the essence of Islam and reflects in a practicing Muslim's life. Just like our physical well being requires that we eat a balance diet similarly our economic, social and spiritual well-being demands finding balance and moderation. Islamic teachings provide that balance and moderation. Hence something that makes sense is not easy to change or make the people abandon.
A quick comparison of the belief system of Islam with belief systems of other religions will differentiate how there is a complete balance found in Islamic teachings and how manmade distortions lead towards extremism and schisms. For instance let take the belief in One God. In other religions people worship animals, celestial bodies and forces of nature, then there are those that altogether deny the existence of God. The sun, fire, water, earth are mere creations of One Almighty God. He alone created the entire Universe and He alone is its Lord, hence He alone should be worshiped. Islamic monotheism is the truth. Atheism & Polytheism are extremist distortions of this basic truth. Lets mention the beliefs in prophets. In other religions prophets are declared to be son of God; others consider these chosen ones as ordinary human beings who committed all types of sins. Then there were those who killed their prophets, and those who blindly follow false prophet claimants (even within deviated Muslims). But Islam justly balances this belief. Allah ﷻ chose messenger from human beings to convey to them His guidance. They were all humans, not divine, as they were meant to be exemplars for humanity, yet they were the best of all humans and they spoke with Divine Authority. They deserved the deepest love, devotion & obedience from humans. One only needs to compare the depiction of prophets in the Quran with that in other scriptures to appreciate this difference. The latter shows the distortions produced by human imagination, the extremism that creeps in when God’s Words and Teachings are no longer preserved. Similar is the case of religious practices. Christianity & Judaism are 2 extremes. In the former love and spirituality replaced law, in the latter Law made life unbearable. The reformists in both tried to find escape and led to other extremes. This is why the Western world went from one extreme to another: from pleasure is sin asceticism of Church to the sin is in liberalism of today's modern Secular West. In Islam spirituality & law both are necessary for a balanced life and well being, which leaves no room for confusions that may cause ignorance.
What led towards the success of Protest Reformation Movement was 2 main things: scripture distortions - misinterpretations and clergy corruption. But the fact about Islam is that it came to Arabia at the time when the society was experiencing widespread jahilliya (evil and ignorance) and within 23 years of its introduction it was successful in eliminating all forms of jahilliya from that society. Despite passage of almost 15 centuries, the Islamic teachings enshrined in Quran and Propetic hadith remain intact, and the complete usage of that guidance can help its followers succeed today as it did in the past. Thus what Christianity experienced would be meaningless to attempt with Islam.
5/30/2022 02:51:30 am
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