What Lies Beneath : Unravelling the Muslim Identity (1)

In these turbulent and most challenging times, our identity as Muslims have been in the limelight and argued upon by both Islamic and secular scholars. Labels like the “fundamentalist”, “extremist”, and “progressive Muslims”, have pervaded mass media texts. Now, and in most recent times, labels such as “salafi”, “Ikhwanul Muslimin”, “Hizbut Tahrir” and the likes have captured the attention of netizens. What really is our identity?

When Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alahi wassalam delivered the message of Islam, there was only one Way. The Way of the Prophet and the Sahabas. Fourteen hundred years later, we can unravel so many different versions, so what happened to the messages of the prophets before Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alahi wassalam happened to his too. He is the seal of the prophets, and hence there will be no other prophets sent to us to ‘save’ us and brings us back to the original deen.

Every Muslim claims to be upon the Qur’an and Sunnah. Even the Syiah, the Muta’zilah, the Sufis, Ahmadiyah and so on and so forth. Syaikh Albani (may Allah have mercy on him) indicated that one must vehemently declare his real muslim identity, as delaring that being upon the Qur’an and Sunnah does not give you automatic status to be upon the truth. With so many depictions of a Muslim identity in the world today, how can we be discerning that the path or the way that we have chosen was the original faith that was delivered to Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him)? Or do we belong to the category of Muslims that believe Islam must be accomodating to the changing times. If so, to what extent can Allah’s laws be changed?

Our faith is not blind. It is built on a deep-seated understanding of Islam according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and there are many scholars who are grounded firmly on the methodologies will refute any deviation. We are mindful of the Prophet’s words, warning us of such deviance.

The Prophet Shallallahu ‘alahi wassalam had said : “Indeed, the Children of Israel divided into seventy one sects and my Ummah will divide into seventy two sects, all of them in the fire except one and that is the Jamaah (that which I and my Companions are upon).”

The Nation of Islam (NOI) whose followers refer to themselves as Muslims believe that “Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W.Fard (an African American) Muhammad, July, 1930; the long-awaited “Messiah” of the Christians and the “Mahdi” of the Muslims.”

THe NOI is but one of the deviant seventy one sects of Islam. As true Muslims, we can say so with full confidence because of our tawheed. We believe that Allah sustains and maintains creation without any need from it, or for it. We reject the incredulous and pompous idea that as Creator, He chose to be in the womb of his own creation for the purpose of being given birth to, live as a human and only redeem his creations from the sins of the world and unite them as one. We uphold the fact that Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala is the Majestic Creator:

“There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” [Ash-Shoora, 42:11]

Many Islamic adherents believe that the most dangerous of these deviant sects is the Syiah. The Syiah are clearly the enemies of Islam since the times of Uthman Bin Affan radiyallahu anhu. What is most disturbing now is the threat of Liberal Islam that is a new phenomenon globally that is spread together with American-led globalization and imperialistic culture and thinking. As such, there must be a criteria to distinguish them so as not to cloud the Ummah.

The basic principles that Liberal Islam stands upon are as such :

1. Total acceptance of secularism and Western values.
2. The freedom of ijtihad and disregard Orthodox Islam.
3. Reconstruction of the Shari’ah.
4. Truth is relative.
5. Pluralism in faith (all religions preach the same truth)

As the liberals have come forward and more aggressive in spreading their version of Islam, we have to beware of the projects and groups that are under the same banner. Among them are, the Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL), Muslim Refusenik, Islam Progressif, Islam Moderat, Islam Substansial, Islam Fundamental and many more.

Suffice for us to know the essence and principles that these Liberals uphold, and strategise to defend our true religion from being diluted. There are too many facts to show that the threat of Liberal islam is not towards the physical and economics of Islamic adherents, but towards the aqeedah and Islam itself. It is a chronic disease that has to be diagnosed, monitored and treated with care. It is better to be preventive as the costs would be too large to bear. As a disease, Liberal Islam attacks Islam when its Ummah is at its weakest.

Irshad Manji and Hirsi Ali

The great proponents of Liberal Islam are Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Both of them have written their books and have great following among women who wants to find personal freedom and demand for economic stability.

Irshad Manji, the author of the controversial book titled, The Trouble with Islam Today, idolises the West. She is highly regarded in the West after confessing that it is not the Muslims who are at fault for the Muslim malaise, but Islam itself. As such, she calls for a renewal of Islam which is not tied down by literalism and terrorism. She was applauded for her bravery by the West, at the same time received numerous death threats from Islamists. Her confession on being a lesbian further created much uproar.


The real threat from Liberal Islam is the continual call for reconstruction of the Shari’ah and the interpretation of the Qur’an using the hermeneutics, the method used to translate the Bible and the Torah. The scholars that have been propagating and actually taken up these projects are Mohamed Arkoun, Fazlur Rahman and Abu Zayd.

As this has been a lengthy article, I will elaborate more on these scholars in my next write-up to shed light on their endeavours.


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