It is realized that the title of this column may be a little intimidating at the outset. But the intention is indeed contrary. Provocation has two shades of meaning. It could mean to emotionally upset somebody enough to generate a reaction, as what happened in France recently that the editors of the paper Charlie Hebdo provoked a violent reaction from few Muslims by printing highly derogatory cartoons of their Prophet, they knew, Muslims love and hold in great esteem. On the positive side provocation may also mean to stimulate the mind to new ideas and deeper analyses of issues that do require to be explored. It is in this sense that we have called the issues for discussion and debate ‘The Provocatives’.
The Spark has initiated this column to bring to debate, in the drawing rooms and at dining tables of Muslims ideas, statements, analyses of current affairs, questions related to their attitudes, understanding and practice of their faith, and challenges posed by a changing world which is advancing on its natural evolutionary path. Hopefully the provocatives for the mind given below will stimulate discussions, critical analyses and in-depth understanding of issues and their nuances. Unfortunately, because of their intellectual lethargy, even the educated Muslims either accept rigid explanations of antiquity given by Mullahs or avoid dealing with controversial matters, pushing them under the rug with a sense of escapism. We believe Muslims need to do their own homework in matters relating to their faith so as to be able to dynamically update their understanding and draw responsible conclusions of their own. The purpose is to develop among Muslims a clear sense that it is primarily their responsibility to take the divine guidance in their lives seriously, comprehend it according to their own sincere research, interrogation and understanding and not outsource them to Mullahs and so called scholars.
For this issue of Spark we have selected the following provacatives. We urge you to bring them on the table for a lively and dynamic discussion with your spouses and family members. In the course of the discussion, if questions are generated we urge you to refer to Quran, authentic sayings of the Prophet and other sources of knowledge as appropriate. We would like to impress upon you that ‘Ijtihad’, the finding of appropriate solution to any problem after critical analysis is your individual right and responsibility, not a monopoly of a Mullah or a scholar as has been erroneously understood for centuries. Muslims need to understand that there are no pre-conditions of scholarship to qualify them for Ijtihad. This has been a nonsensical dogma that has been grilled into the very psyche and intellect of Muslims by those who wanted to monopolize understanding of their faith… On the contrary every Muslim can acquire enough knowledge pertaining to any issue at hand and be able to honestly analyze it as it relates to his or her unique circumstances and make Ijtihad.
Here we go!