Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, June 1st, 2020

Fundamentalism, a curse or blessing for modern world!


Fundamentalism, a curse or blessing  for modern world!

16th century marks the dawn of modernization with Muslim world at the peak of civilization when West had just begun. The three Islamic states namely Safavid dynasaty in Persia, Sultanate of Usmani in Asia, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa and Mughal dynasty in South Asia. The three dynasties were known for their expertise in Art of architecture, painting and construction respectively. They liked modernization and avoided adopting required changes and acquainting them with changing era. Muslims kept distant from all such cultural changes occurring steadily then, instead adopted fundamentalist approach; pursued by West pre-modernization.           
Modernization began with Renaissance in Europe, which meant rebirth of knowledge. The jewel of thought provoking huge collection of knowledge thought out by ancient philosophers and scientists, was buried deep down by ignorance stricken societies from ancient past to 14th century, was searched out. The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art. Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists.
Before Renaissance the dignified work of many ancient social and political scientists got under-shadowed. One of the mind blowing ancient philosophers and scientists, Aristotle originated the study of formal logic; enriched almost every branch of philosophy and made numerous contribution to science, before 300BC. Implicit in his writings is the attitude that every aspect of human life and society may be an appropriate object of thought and analysis; the notion that universe is not controlled by blind chance, by magic, or by whims of unreliable deities, but that its behavior is subject to rational laws; the belief that it is worthwhile for human beings to conduct a systematic inquiry into every aspect of natural world; and the conviction that we should utilize both empirical observations and logical reasoning in forming our conclusions. This set of attitudes after being revived, in contrary to traditionalism, superstition, and mysticism has not only profoundly influenced western civilization but proved to be turning point in the course of their history.
Influenced by the knowledge of ancient philosophers and scientists the emphasis placed on man, his intellect, and his life on Earth. Since then, evolution of thought was encouraged, reason and logic based opinion and explanation was supported and rich investments were made on new discoveries. The culture of seeking knowledge based on rational approach was developed. People began looking into future than past. The new inventions were planned. It was rational realistic discourse of thinking and perceiving the natural phenomenon that fruited the modern technological advancements.
Modernists believe in science, technology, expertise and especially education as the grand solution to societal weaknesses. Presenting educational development as instrument to nation-building and socioeconomic development, recommending the implementation of a progressive curriculum - with an emphasis on practical, adult, and teacher training in a national system of education, as a basis for self-development have led the modern world ahead to accomplishment. Instead of being dominated by tradition, societies undergoing the process of modernization typically arrive at governance dictated by abstract principles of rationalism and liberalism. Modernism coined with rationalism and liberalism have come forth to sort out a sustainable salvation to human social, political and scientific problems.
In modern sense, rationalism is any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification. In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive”. Liberalism on the other hand is a broad political ideology based on the ideas of liberty and equality. Generally, liberals support ideas such as capitalism, constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion;  almost all Islamic countries across the globe is devoid of these characteristics.
A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. Islamic Fanatics and fundamentalists laid strong emphasis to Islamic fundamentals followed by interpretation of a specific version of Islam. The fundamentalists restrained themselves to fundamentals of Islam i.e. Quran and Sunnah. They strongly condemned rational approach and considered that in contrary to Islamic teachings; suppressing logic and reason based on interpretation of natural phenomena; instead, maximum potential effort is exerted on memorization than encouragement to search and seek new evolutionary thoughts. Freedom of thoughts that could seek new reasonable interpretation to problems was strongly discouraged; stating that every problem finds its solution in Islamic teachings, and any rational extension is unacceptable .The door to rationalism is closed and Islamic civilization is pushed to extreme darkness.
Muslim fanatics have affected the true and malleable icon of religion badly after its deepened politicization. Islam has become the most publicized religion with members who display fanatic tendencies. Ever since Osama bin Laden’s fatwa in 1998, the world has known about radical jihad. Bin Laden’s concept, though, is very different from the actual meaning of the term. In the religious context, jihad most nearly means working urgently for a certain godly objective, generally a positive one. There are portions of the Qur’an where military jihad is used. In fact Jihad in these uses is always defensive. ‘Jihad’ doesn’t endorse acts of military aggression, but ‘jihad’ is invoked in Qur’anic passages to indicate how uses of force are always subject to restraint. This kind of jihad differs greatly from the kind most commonly discussed today. The Islamic state of Afghanistan, with Shariah courts, established during the reign of Taliban, accompanied by immense human rights violation, prevalent social injustices, great suppression of women, mass massacre of innocent citizens, suspension of fundamental rights i.e. liberty, expression and exercising one’s religion.
Societies living in the domain of fundamentalism, including that of Muslims, suffer deepened frustration due to elevating moral corruption, terrorism, extremism, lawlessness, inequality,  suspension of rights of expression, liberty, equality, extreme denunciation of logic and reason, exercising one’s religion and disregarding rich human values based on flawed discrimination of race, caste, gender, religion and region.
To give a rational ending, man must go for modern thoughts comprising realism, naturalism, rationalism and liberalism being equated with human being who stands supreme; supplied with the aptitude to bring about desired and required changes in the world we dwell and capable of building worldly heaven by countless effort; surpassing one’s potentials and talents vanishing blind practices and leading towards intellectual illumination. Hence, a vibrant, democratic, potent, progressive, modern and liberal world can’t be dreamt unless modernism and liberalism defeat fundamentalism.

The writer is an educationist, social and human rights activist. He can be reached at asmatyari@gmail.com.

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