Important to appreciate broad definition of Islam


Haj Mohamed

Published: 4:02 AM, September 21, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 23, 2013

I feel that the commentary, “Counter fundamentalism with ‘critical Islam’” (Sept 11), was written with an “allopathic medicine” mindset, where one treats the symptoms rather than the causes of diseases.

For example, the authors cited Syed Qutb’s works (symptoms) without mentioning what led to them (causes).

A month after 9/11, religious scholar Karen Armstrong wrote in an article entitled September Apocalypse: Who, Why and What Next? in The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom.

She stated: “Qutb developed his militant ideology in the concentration camp in which he, and thousands of other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were interred by (then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel) Nasser, often without trial, and having done nothing more incriminating than handing out leaflets.”

She also mentioned how the United States supported autocratic rulers in the Arab world, which made some Muslims feel like “prisoners in their own countries”.

The commentary in TODAY stated that “at the heart of Islamism is an orientation that upholds the supremacy of ‘Islam’ versus everything else deemed ‘unIslamic’”. The authors also asked: “Could Muslims be at home with modern values?”

I think it is important to have an appreciation of the broad definition of Islam.

For example, while it has been reported that last year’s korban ritual in Singapore nearly did not occur owing to Australia’s “new” livestock rules, which comply with international animal welfare standards, much of these standards were already advocated by the Prophet Muhammad.

Many of the modern values and international standards cited today were already in place in 7th-century Arabia. The difference lies in usage of terms: Muslims call it “Islamic law”, while non-Muslims call it standards, secular laws, et cetera.