ISLAM is a fairly unique religion in the sense that everyone is considered equal no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what race or creed, and especially not in rank or position.
It is one of the few faiths where ordinary people have the right to be leaders. For example, any sane adult is allowed to be an imam and lead a congregation in prayers.
And, there is no intermediary between an individual and God. We do not need any religious authority figure in order to pray or to communicate with God. The line between us is always open no matter who you are.
What that means is that there is no one who is above the other when it comes to the religion. And in that sense, Islam is quite democratic, to put it in modern terms.
So when certain quarters say that people should stay silent and not comment about the religion because they are not in the position to do so, I find that highly oppressive.
Any Muslim (or anyone for that matter) should be able to question or even voice out concerns when it comes to Islam because it is their right to do so and no one can take that right away.
And this is especially so when it comes to public matters such as governance and jurisprudence because as it already so obviously states, it has everything to do with the public.
There is such term as Shura in Islamic governance whereby the consultation of the people is obligatory in order for a particular government to function.
The Majlis Shura should also consist of members from all layers of society and not just those deemed to be of authority. Hence, everyone is represented when consultation is made.
This, in essence, already shows that Islam strives to achieve a society that gives equal opportunities to every and any individual to have a voice and to participate in society.
It should also be pointed out that there has never been, in Islam, the concept of blasphemy. This is a concept that was created by those who didn’t want their authority to be questioned.
I truly believe that Islam is a religion that calls for it’s followers to constantly criticise and ask questions in order to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to improve themselves and society.
Society will only be able to open up to intellectual discourse and debate when there exist a culture of constant questioning and criticising, This should definitely be encouraged because only then will we evolve.
We should not be scared to question and discuss things we do not understand because how else will be able to find the answers and to clarify things?
I would like to take a peek into history to see how a civilisation that does not consult the people and denies them the right to question things fared in its survival.
One of the greatest Islamic empires was the Abbasid Empire which ruled their land from 750 to 1517. They ruled all of the Arab peninsular, North Africa and parts of Asia Minor.
But their downfall came when they became too authoritarian. They felt that their rule was bestowed upon hereditary terms and that they were born to do it. Hence, they became more feudal.
They ceased to realise that individuals must have a say in how their lives are governed. And their empire that had lasted for centuries came to an abrupt end.
So let’s encourage constructive criticism, questions, discourse and debates. Everyone has a right to comment. Hopefully, society will benefit and we will evolve into far better people. It’s just the Islamic way.