Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion regarding a new Canadian comedy sitcom known as “Little Mosque on the Prairie” aired on Canada’s CBC network, it centers on a community of Muslims who have moved to a rural part of Canada. CBC believes that the series will break down stereotypes and improve relations between Canada’s Christian majority and the Muslim community. The show drew two million viewers for its debut. Since then, Muslims have been commenting on the sitcom, with many believing that this is a positive step for Islam and the Muslims, and with others less than enthusiastic about its significance. After going through the first three episodes I was compelled to write something.
As many of us are aware of, as Muslims our constitution is the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and when it comes to contemporary issues we have to take the Qur’an and Sunnah as our governing rule of law and our measuring tool to reach a conclusion. So what I present here is not just my personal opinion that I came up with by following my ego, rather it is based upon supportive evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah as understood by the early Muslims consisting of the Companions and all those who followed in their footsteps. So let us take the Qur’an and Sunnah as our legislator, and let us look at how our pious predecessors dealt with situations like this, and then after the truth is made clear from the falsehood let us submit to the truth, that is if we really claim to be Muslims.
Anyone who watched the first few episodes will have realized that the producer has an agenda that she is trying to push forward, a message that she is trying to get across to both the Muslims and the non-Muslims in Canada, this agenda can be summarized in the following list of points:
1. The Message to the Muslims:
a) We need to put the Traditional Orthodox version of Islam behind us and move on to adopt the Western Modernist Liberal Progressive approach to Islam.
b) We need to adopt the Western approach to Women’s rights (Feminist approach).
c) We need to integrate into the Western society.
d) The young Muslims must look down upon the ‘old-style backward’ Muslims and must take a stand against against them.
2. The Message to the non-Muslims:
a) There are extreme elements in the Muslim community who don’t want to progress into the modern world, whereas the majority of the Muslims do.
b) Islam can be changed and watered down to meet the standards of the Modern Western world. c) The Muslim community is always in conflict and can never come to terms with each other.
Examples of this agenda being pushed forward:
1. Mockery of serious devout practicing Muslims and displaying them as being backward people who have no affiliation with modern day society.
2. Un-Islamic music being played in the background.
3. The Hijab not being worn properly by the Muslim women.
4. Over-intermingling between the genders.
5. A clean shaven Imam.
6. Shaking of the hands between the genders, especially the Imam.
7. The flirting of the girl with the Imam.
8. The claim that Islam is democracy.
9. The barrier issue between the men and the women.
10. The Imam asking the reverend for guidance and advice (as if Islam does not have the solution to every problem).
11. Muslim spouses making out in public.
Now I’m not going to reply to each of these points respectfully, rather I’m going to comment on the general idea that the show is portraying, and that is the idea of modernism and progressiveness that the Muslims must adopt.
Firstly, it is important to know that the modernist movement that is being spread among the Muslims in the West can be traced back to, ideologically at least, one sect in the past. This sect is known as the Mu’tazilah
, which dates back to the third century after Hijrah
. Although they accepted the Qur’an and Sunnah they made their own Ta’weel
(interpretation) of it, and said that the ‘Aql
(intellect) takes precedence over the Naql
(the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah). However, over time this school of thought died out. The modernist movement of today did not evolve from them, however they are very similar to them. The modernist movement is saying that the West and the world has changed and that Islam must become “civilized” to meet this change, and it is trying to harmonize Islam with modern values of human rights and freedom. So they look at the Qur’an and Sunnah and try to interpret it according to their own views based on the modern western world. This leads them to reject the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah outright, or to try to reinterpret them.
The main factors for the spread of the modernist movement in the West:
1. A lack of Islamic knowledge from its correct sources.
2. A lack of scholars available to teach the people and to refute the modernist ideology.
3. Being disconnected from the Muslim world, its people, its Islamic based principles, values, traditions which go back 14 centuries.
4. It allows Muslims to become part of and integrate into the Western society without having to be recognized as Muslims.
5. It grants Muslim women equal rights as Muslim men, and encourages the woman to forget about her modesty and take on the role that Allah has specified for men.
6. It allows Muslims to practice an easy and flexible version of Islam, far from its correct teachings.
7. It calls for an end to religious differences between Islam and Christianity, and promotes inter-faith dialogue.
8. Much of the non-Islamic literature, scholars, and institutions in the West reflect the modernist thinking.
9. It is endorsed by the private and governmental sectors, and is therefore recognized as the mainstream version of Islam that is to be accepted.
Some of the main points that act as the driving force for the modernist movement:
1. They look to the West and try to reinterpret the “old religion” with modern science and modern times. They assume that:
a) The present situation is advanced or different, so you hear some of them say: “this is not the Prophet’s time!”
b) Religion is relative to time and place, so you hear them say: “therefore we need to judge Islam in light of modern science!”
c) The way of thinking of a society is based on its environment, so they say: “therefore we must practice Islam according to the Western environment we live in!”
2. The methodology they use is the way they mislead people to the wrong conclusions. They claim to be scientific, but they are usually inconsistent or have no proof or foundation for their beliefs. Some of the means and principles they use include:
a) The Sunnah and Hadeeth. They claim the Qur’an to be authentic and that they only follow “authentic” Ahadeeth
. However, the method they use to judge the authenticity of Ahadeeth
is the ‘Aql
(intellect). And although they claim to follow only “authentic” Ahadeeth
, it turns out that many of them use “weak” and “fabricated” Ahadeeth
to help prove their points and arguments. It is also to be noted here that they especially dislike Ahadeeth
which have specific meanings and prefer ones which only have general principles.
b) Vague terms without defining them. They use terms like democracy, freedom, and equality, but they never define what they mean by them. The danger in using vague terms is that a knowledgeable person will pass over the word or concept thinking they meant the Islamic or acceptable definition while in fact they did not, while others may believe what they are saying is true.
c) Concealing relevant information that is available on the subject. That is, from the Qur’an and Sunnah. They only present that which will support their views. This tactic is used to avoid beliefs that they do not like, so they just do not mention them.
d) Forcing their interpretation onto the text by using their ‘Aql
(intellect). Many of them say that Islam is the “rational” religion. This is true if you mean everything is from Allah and there is no contradiction, but to say that we can study everything in Islam by judging it with only our intellect is unacceptable and there is also no proof for this. To avoid implementing what the Qur’an and Sunnah says, they say we need to follow the “spirit” of Islam and not worry about the laws in specific. But it is clear from the Qur’an and Sunnah that we are to take both.
e) Strange and rejected opinions. They try to revive some of the old opinions that got buried over time because the scholars rejected them, and this is because these opinions help them to prove their points, and so they say that such and such writer said it in the past so it must be a valid opinion. They try to open the door to these opinions and choose what is the most suitable and easy to follow. However, we are supposed to look for the opinions that are the closest to the truth, not the most suitable and easiest.
Now that the reality of the modernist movement has been made clear, the question arises: what do the true teachings of Islam have to say about all of this?
One of the fundamental aspects of Islam is complete submission to what has come to us of this religion from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his Companions, for they knew his Sunnah best, they loved him more, and they followed the teachings of Islam better than those who came after them. We have been commanded to follow and forbidden to innovate. This is because of the perfection of Islam and the sufficiency of what Allah and His Messenger (SAW) have given to us. Then there came after the Companions the Tabi’een
, they were the followers of the Companions, they were the best of generations after the Companions, and they took their understanding of Islam directly from the Companions. After that there came the Taba-Tabi’een
, they were the followers of the Tabi’een
, they were the best of generations after the Tabi’een
, and they took their understanding of Islam directly from the Tabi’een
. These are the three best generations of Islam that we as Muslims have been ordered to follow. All the succeeding generations who followed in their footsteps till our time are known as Ahl-us-Sunnah Wal-Jama‘ah
(those who adhere to the Sunnah – the narrations of the Prophet (SAW) – and the Jama‘ah
– the beliefs and methodology of the general body of the Companions). Ahl-us-Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah
believes that there is only one true Islam that will be accepted by Allah, and this is proven by the Qur'an and the Sunnah:
1. Allah said: “Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam.”
[Aal ‘Imran 3:19]
2. And He said: “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him.”
[Aal ‘Imran 3:85]
3. And He said: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”
4. Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA) related that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) drew a line with his hand (in the sand) and said: “This is Allah’s path, leading straight.”
He then drew lines to the right and the left of that line and said: “These are the other paths, on each path there is a devil who calls to it.”
He then recited: “And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not other paths, for they will separate you away from His path.”
[Al-An’am 6:153] [Ahmad]
5. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Indeed the children of Isra’eel split up into seventy-two sects, and my Ummah will split up into seventy-three sects, all of them are in the Fire, except one.”
It was said: Who is the (saved) one? He replied: “That which I and my Companions are upon.”
6. And he (SAW) said: “For indeed those of you who live after me will see much disagreement, so stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Caliphs after me. Hold onto it and bite down on it with your molar teeth (i.e. strictly adhere to it). And beware of newly invented matters, for verily every newly invented matter is a Bid’ah and every Bid’ah is a going astray.”
[Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]
7. And he (SAW) said: “There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah victorious upon the truth, not being harmed by those who oppose them, until the command of Allah comes, and they are upon that.”
8. And he (SAW) said: “This knowledge will be carried by the trustworthy ones of each generation. They will expel from it the alteration of those going beyond bounds, the false claims of the liars, and the false interpretations of the ignorant ones.”
All of these above statements are clear-cut supporting evidence that prove that the only true version of Islam that Allah will accept is that Islam that was practiced and understood by the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions and all those who followed them till the Day of Resurrection. As for those who go off on a different path, other than that of the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions, and come up with their own understanding of how Islam should be practiced, such as the modernist understanding of Islam, then none of them are following the true and correct teachings of Islam, and it will not be accepted from them by Allah.
It is important to note here that there will be those among the Muslims who will say that there is no need to be so harsh or extreme. In response to this, I say that the truth is clear from the falsehood, the choice is yours to either accept or reject, because in the end it doesn’t matter whether you feel your opinion is correct or I feel my opinion is correct, rather we must go back to the fundamentals. As Muslims we’ve been ordered to submit completely to the will of Allah, not partially, Allah says:
“O you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan. Verily, he is to you an open enemy.”
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
18th of Muharram 1428