A Simple Thought – Monday, 8th November 2021

Islam – how I wonder what you are

If you are reading this, you are most likely a Shi’a Muslim by birth, but what makes us so similar to the rest of humanity, is how little we seem to know about religion and its role in our lives. We frequently find ourselves asking questions such as why we were put in this path by the Almighty, and while the answer is simplistically related to contributing to the overall progress and harmony of society as per stipulated divine laws, demagogical leaders have made it amply clear that religion will, in fact, remain the opium of life, leaving everyone else to keep questioning the relevance and the fairness within today’s religions.

Islamophobia is the result of hard work marketing by politicians who needed to create a lasting enemy to justify wars (wars that turn profits) after the fall of Communism’s hotbed in the Soviet Union. Judaism today is popularly associated with the wholesome and uncompromising acquisition of land that is believed to be only theirs, and therefore rendering tremendous credence to the whole political movement, while literally presiding over a massacre.

Christianity, a model Muslims must look at carefully, has at best disintegrated into several benign parts, where the practice is minimal or controlled. If Muslim scholars, leaders, and clerics continue to claim sovereignty over religious principles and teachings, and muffle questions through high voltage emotions or simply indifference, that day is not far, in my view, when we will also split into many unjoinable pieces, each with their own version of Shia Islam.

The Shia community is blessed to have dedicated schools that nurture scholars of the highest calibre in terms of knowledge that is sourced from Islamic sources. But if they remain incapacitated, by and large, in the face of mischievous questioning from those who really want to know, as well as those who are driven by the agenda of hate, this high-powered body of knowledge will come to naught.

The world is being fast pushed to the precipice of impatient answers, and the manufacture of alternate responses that satiate the minds of young people, has escalated manifold. It is only fair that the true custodians of knowledge brace for this new challenge and protect the institution of Shi’ism, even if it means shedding off some hard and fast rituals, that have over the years been mistaken as religion itself.

If in the face of questions or objections, our only response will be to walk away or to expel the argument, then the questioners will congregate in a separate space causing a tremendous loss to Islam as a whole. And we may end up continuously wondering, like the famous rhyme of curiosity ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star..’, Oh Islam, how I wonder what you are. For Islam, true to its claim is a religion for all generations, and the parameters created by the scholars of each time, must be adjusted here and there to allow the group to move forward and remain relevant globally. To those unrealistic demands which detach us potentially from the crux of the message as contained in the Holy Book, we will have no recourse of course, but to try, we must.

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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