I’ve known Ahmad Zaman for almost two years now, an unconventional Muslim who seems to have his own theories about everything from the Revelation of Quran to the Political Development on this planet. There are a lot of things me and him disagree on however the idea behind this discussion was to explore his ideas and not to prove each other wrong. Hope you’ll enjoy the discussion.
Obviously RH means Raheel Hassan and AZ is Ahmad Zaman in this discussion below …
RH: Ahmad, do you ever have doubts on Islam ?
AZ: I was raised in a Deobandi household. as I grew up and my intellect developed, I started to realize the Islam I was exposed to appeared to be very ‘elder-centric’ ie all the sh*t flew in my direction because I was the youngest and I had to accept it because…I was the youngest.
Once I escaped my home through college placement my mind started to wander. I rejected Islam and believed in nothing, but my mind kept wandering.
I considered Christianity but rejected it as nonsensical: God needed to beget a son and kill him to save humankind from sin? WTF????? Why doesn’t the All-Powerful simply remove sin without needing to kill anyone? furthermore, humans beget because they have a limited lifespan and want offspring to continue with their lineage. Why does an eternal God need to beget?
I also thought about Atheism because I noticed a common theme: atheists tended to be very superficial and very much ‘living for the moment’ (ie drinking, partying, libertine-ism etc etc) without a moments thought about the consequences of their actions. I also had a problem believing that there was no afterlife, after all if someone committed terrible crimes in this world and died without being punished, that seemed a strange form of justice. Furthermore if a person murdered one or 20, the punishment would remain the same (eg x number of years in jail) and that didn’t seem very satisfactory to me either (perhaps I have a brutal instinct!).
So I continued believing in nothing until I finally made my peace with God by reintroducing myself to a simplified version of Islam without any of the baggage
RH: Still do you agree that your desire that there must be an afterlife because it makes sense and the actual reality may be two entirely different things. Its possible that how against the sense it might appear to you, life still may not have any meaning
AZ: if life has no meaning then libertines and societal collapse is the only possible consequence, since nobody has any reason to live by any laws and Nafs (Soul) becomes the SOLE purpose of life
RH: I agree with what you are saying. First of all i didn’t say Life MUST not have a reason. All I’m asking is that Its Still possible that there might be no meaning and all the meanings may have been Self Assumed by humans themselves.
AZ: And I stated the consequence of assuming life has no meaning. If life has no meaning then ALL laws are worthless and people are free to live as they please irrespective of the consequences of their actions, eventually resulting in societal collapse. Now think about that. there are 300M folks in America with ~200M guns. You don’t really wanna be telling Americans that ALL laws are worthless and they are free to do as they please
RH: Again I say I dont disagree with ya and Im not telling you that there is No meaning. But please answer this that its still possible that the meaning was human invention because of the same concerns etc that you just mentioned.
AZ:Well, yes you can propose a theory that men called themselves prophets and delivered law to turn lawless folks into law-abiding ones…but really there is no reason to follow those laws and people may as well return to lawlessness
RH: Ok Thanks
AZ: And 300M folks in America are suddenly singing “hallelujah thank you Raheel Hassan for freeing us from federal and state laws, now we can do as we please”
RH: Now about your lawlessness argument, I guess. It depends on individuals and societies as we have seen that a lot of Godless societies have also managed to achieve peace, law & order while still not believing in Afterlife.
AZ: America is the role model for capitalist thinking since it was created as a capitalist country. thus the consequences of removing afterlife will be clearer in America than any other country
RH: So you agree that your state of being at peace with a certain ideology isself thought and there is a possibility (not necessarily it is) that it might be wrong and didn’t exist at all. By the way, I’m trying to keep discussion as generic as possible. America is the last country I worry about and so should you as I remember you lived in England
AZ: We are discussing the consequences of removing law from society in countries, and as you know changes impacting America often have a cascading effect upon the rest of the world, so it makes no difference where you live. Whatever happens in America will usually impact the country you are living in within a short period of time. Of course global technologies e.g. Internet, Facebook etc etc make such impacts even faster
RH: OK so in your opinion removing the idea of Afterlife may have consequences. That gets back to my previous point that the way you’ve concerns the ancient humans may have had exactly the same concerns and they basically invented this idea
RH: So correct me if I’m wrong but the idea of afterlife is the central theme in your acceptance of Religion ? Because you fear that without the concept of Afterlife it will be a disaster
AZ: Its normal to think a certain train of thought until something superior comes along to challenge and replace it, otherwise you will be in a constant state of personal conflict and flux, unable to think anything.
In some ways I think this is analogous to a person being at sea in high tide looking for solid ground on which land so he/she can escape the rough rivers. he/she will remain on that territory until he/she discovers something superior.
I think you are suggesting that the person should remain stuck in high tide in the hope of finding the perfect solution…which perhaps never comes, since every folks can identify weaknesses in every solution
RH: No Im not suggesting anything. I wouldnt suggest any ideas as this thread is about you not me
AZ: Yes, there is no logic in following law if there is no afterlife, since by definition law is restrictive and if there is no afterlife then you do not want ANY restrictions in this life which therefore means NO law
RH: So lets go back to the OP. Are there things about Islam that you still have doubts about ?
AZ: What do you mean doubts? kindly expand your question as it is too vague
RH: Doubts in a sense that things that still don’t make sense to you about Islam
AZ: There is stuff in the Quran that makes no sense to me. however this is down to lack of understanding of what Allah is saying.
Islam is very simple and there is nothing that doesn’t make sense to me
RH: Please share some of the things from Quran that still dont make sense to you (even because of lack of understanding)
AZ: Well for example when Dhul Qurnain saw the sun rising from muddy waters. this clearly makes no sense unless what Allah is saying isn’t in Arabic but some other language. And this is a major issue with the Quran, working out what was revealed in Arabic dialect and what was revealed in some other language. As you know there was no language called Arabic per-Quran which makes interpreting the Quran a little challenging
RH: What do u mean there was no Arabic ? Quresh had a dialect thats true and Quran is in Quresh Dialect that is also true but it doesnt mean there was no Arabic at all
AZ: Each tribe had their own dialect of Arabic, which means there were potentially 30+ dialects. It was Caliph Uthman who standardized the Quran on the Hijazi dialect
RH: True. But still they were Arabic dialects.
RH: Besides that Muddy Warer thing what else dont make sense to u in Quran ?
AZ: There was another apparent conflict in the Quran:
- Adam and eve were created from potted clay
- Man came from the waters
These two didn’t make much sense together until I debated Asad Omer and concluded a theory about evolution which reconciles these two Quranic assertions
RH: By the way I’m hoping you know that Arabic is evolved from Nabatean language. But thats an entirely different topic.
AZ: True its not relevant to this topic
RH: So you don’t believe that humans were created from Clay
AZ: Exactly, but there was no single standard Arabic that the Quran was revealed in
AZ: Adam and Eve were, humankind wasn’t. Allah played a clever trick
RH: Every lang has had dialects, obviously god had to choose at least one dialect. Its much better than using various dialects which could have been such a disaster
AZ: Yes but the Quran wasn’t even revealed in one dialect of Arabic. furthermore it has words from non-Arabic languages and I even suspect it has Greek words in there
RH: I would say it was still in the same dialect but yes it did use words from other languages such as Persian words e.g. Behesht for Paradise. But that also makes sense because not every language has proper words for everything so it had to borrow words
AZ: Exactly. which is why it isn’t easy to work out what Allah is saying
RH: Not necessarily – You take the meaning from other lang and just use it in right context
RH: Are humans made from clay ?
AZ: Exactly. which requires intense knowledge of several languages
RH: Not intense but yes I agree it adds to the confusion.
AZ: False. you need intense knowledge to understand why Allah chose those specific words. Maybe its merely because no equivalent Arabic word existed, or perhaps Allah used those words for some other reason
RH: Why False ? Just to understand what Behsht means in Persian you don’t have to have intense knowledge of Persian. Should you ?
AZ: Why did Allah use that word? do you know? Was he merely appealing to the Persians…or does Behsht have a specific meaning to the Persians that the Arabs needed to know about?
RH: Do you believe heart really thinks ? Or is it metaphoric ?
AZ: Not my sphere of expertize so I cannot comment either way
AZ: I have no opinion on Quranic verses that make no sense to me. I simply stick to my sphere of understanding which is law
RH: Thats alright
RH: What about Slave Girls in Quran
AZ: If we assume “what your right hand commands” means slaves already in ownership then I think:
1. Allah permitted Muslims to keep their existing slaves
2. Allah forbade the roots of slavery (eg war prisoners) thereby laying the foundations for killing the entire industry
RH: How it forbade slavery ?
AZ: Well, if you are forbidden from enslaving anyone then what happens?
RH: I know what happens im asking where did it say its forbidden
AZ: Rrules for war prisoners are laid out in the Quran.
RH: Just give me a simple example
- Indeed, the righteous will drink from a cup [of wine] whose mixture is of Kafur,
- A spring of which the [righteous] servants of Allah will drink; they will make it gush forth in force [and abundance].
- They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread
- And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive,
- [Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah . We wish not from you reward or gratitude.
This set of verses establishes a foundation for war captives to be treated on a similar footing to the needy and orphans
RH: I still cant see how it forbids slavery but Im happy to move on and not make this a quran verse thread
AZ: If I give you three options for dealing with war captives and none of them include enslaving them, will you then enslave war captives?
RH: Was Prophet Muhammad an ideal human being ?
AZ: Al-Amin was sent as a role-model for humankind though the hadith don’t always make this clear. in fact the hadith seem to be a big enemy of Al-Amin … which is a little ironic
RH: What is this Al-Amin thingy ?
AZ: Al-Amin simply means “trustworthy”. its a title that I use as shorthand
RH: Where did you read he was Amin ?
AZ: Sorry can not recall, but it was years ago. never realized I would need to source this!
RH: Ok I mean was it in Quran ?
AZ: I’m not sure, possibly not
RH: But you’re happy to accept it as possibly a true hadith / tradition because it portrays a good picture of Prophet ?
AZ: Well such a title would be appropriate for a role model for humankind
RH: So you have already decided that he is the role model hence anything that fits our view to support him being role-model we should happily accept while anything that goes against it should be rejected
AZ: The man lived 1400 years ago and the closest traditions were written 100+ years after he died. You are not going to get enough quality material about him to determine whether or not he was a good role model. Even the gospels are better evidence and despite that many folks claim Jesus never existed!
AZ: The man lived 1400 years ago and the closest traditions were written 100+ years after he died. You are not going to get enough quality material about him to determine whether or not he was a good role model
RH: I know your stand on this and i have no plans to argue on the same topic again and again. All I’m saying is that u have already accepted the desired outcome and now you are happy to use that same hadith that may or may not have quality but still accept it because it supports your view
AZ: Yes, I have an established position on Al-Amin [since that is the land base I reached from the choppy waters] and I reject hadith [as fabricated] that conflict this view
RH: Good I appreciate your honesty. Thanks I’m done
AZ: You’re welcome, take care