Islam. The fastest growing religion in the world, which heralds in its waking the call for peace, love, and submission, in every awakening, meets with mixed reactions from both adherents and oppositions alike. The religion of Islam has a following of over 1.6 billion of the population of the world and counting. Yet, this does not safeguard it from criticism, thus leading to a large population of the world misunderstanding its purpose. Gotten from the root word “sa”, “la”, “ma”, Islam propagates peace, obedience, and total submission to the will of Allah. It enjoins good and forbids evil, shaping the life of Muslims all over the world, and regulating their political, economic, and social outlook to life. In this sense, it would be right to say that Islam is not just a religion, but also a way of life.
The advent of Islam started in the 7th century when Muhammad (SAW) was given the mandate of prophethood. Meditating in a cave as was his custom, he was visited by Angel Jubril who was sent by Allah and was ordered to read in the name of Allah. Subsequent revelations would be in this form. From members of his family to the people of Arabia, and ultimately the world, the Prophet has spread the word of Allah across the globe. When Islam came, it sought to reform the human race, giving clarity to what was unknown, guiding aright, and imploring the good attributes of man. Centuries later, it is still a guide to those who err, those who seek the truth, and those who long for eternity in/with Allah. Understanding the concept of Islam, one can say it is a tool to right the wrong, a light to guide the way, and salvation to those who seek recompense. Should it then be said that such a complete religion need to be upgraded, or better still modernized?
The religion of Islam has five pillars that uphold its tenets. They are Iman, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj. They mean the testimony of faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage to the holy house. The first step to Islam is to affirm that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger. This belief would lead one to follow the dictates of Allah to pray at dawn, afternoon, evening, sunset, and night. Giving a portion of one’s wealth to the poor not only caters for their need, but also encourages love, and togetherness among people of diverse background. Fasting is enjoined on every adult male and female, that is capable. Pilgrimage to the holy house should be done at least once in a person’s lifetime if such an individual is capable. These pillars are a summary of what can be known as Islamic culture. In other words, Islamic civilization. To be a Muslim is to conform to the articles of faith, which are six in number. They are the belief in Allah, the prophets, the books, the angels, the Last Day, and belief in destiny whether good or bad. Needless to say, all these serve as a source of guide and direction for adherents. A religion that forbids evil, preaches godliness, togetherness, love, submission, and peace, would serve as the ultimate guide and ensure near perfection of a people. It would be right to note that people are bounded by their ways, their culture, their civilization.
“O prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters, and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks around them. That will be better so that they may be recognized, and not harassed. God is ever forgiving, and merciful” Qur’an 33 vs 59. The verse above talks about the manner of dressing of the believing women, as ordained by Allah, and revealed to the prophet. Before the advent of Islam, females were scantily clad, with almost nothing for covering. To give women the respect and honor that they deserve, it was ordained that women should cover themselves as this would safeguard them from the prying eyes of men. Not only that, in recent times, science and research have proved that the extra coverage of the body protects one from the ray of the sun. The ozone layer which serves as a shield to protect humans from the sun is depleted. Covering then is essential, as too much exposure to the sun could cause skin cancer. History speaks of patched leaves and fabricated cotton, of wrappers and garlands, of beads and bleached plants, but never enough to protect and to shield. As opposed to this, with Islam, came the description of the proper wear for both male and female. In recent times, a large quantity of the Muslim population finds themselves drifting from this form of dressing. They justify their actions under the banner of “Islamic Modernism”. Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 33, verse 33, that “and stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the time of ignorance…” This is a call to those who err and go back to the old ways. One should be careful to note that the hijab has different political and social status, in different regions of the globe. While it is accepted in some countries, it bullies and condemns the wearer in another. This though should not be a basis for adding “slight changes” to the dress code in order to be accepted into such a society.
In as much as times have changed, the policy of Islam has not. Another major problem that has eaten deep into the fabrics of Islam is the introduction and acceptance of intermingling of the opposite sex. An intermingling of the opposite sex is not allowed n Islam, as this is a primary cause for Zina. The situation of the world in recent times is such that schools, cafeterias, cinemas, and the workplace bring about intermingling. The free mixing of both sexes has brought about more harm than good. In the end, it is the female that bears the consequence of mixing more than men. The society is at such a dwindling state and is saddled with different kinds of diseases and afflictions, all of which is a product of untamed passion and non-adherence to the dictates of Allah. A hadith of the Holy Prophet goes “no man is alone with a woman, but the third person present is the Shaytaan”. Issues of intermingling have destroyed families and friendships alike, leading to divorce, enmity, and self-loath. Various examples can be cited in the instance of work colleagues. Sometimes a male colleague can walk in on a female staff who has uncovered because she is in an office with only women, or a boss can pressure his female staff simply because he is drawn to her intellectually. Where there is no barrier as to how to relate to the opposite sex, boundaries would be crossed.
When Islam came, it came to solve the problems of mankind and guide the daily activities of man. Islam teaches the proper methods of reacting to situations, how to act, mingle, respect humans, animals and plant alike, and live. Islam came to free people from the clutches of savagery, and restore order to a world that was once chaotic. Allah says that every individual would be rewarded in kind, even if it is just an atom weight of good or bad. Also, He says that “the true believers are those only who believe in God and His messenger, and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of God. Such are sincere…” Qur’an 49 vs 15. To attain goodness in the hereafter, one must strife here on earth and follow the dictates of Allah, using the prophet as a guide.
There can never be Islamic modernism because it is in itself modern. It can never be reformed, neither can it be changed, for it is the perfect words of Allah. Allah says in Quran 5 vs 3, “ …I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religion…”. The perfect words of Allah cannot be contested, reformed, changed, or modernized.