"The Dignity of Adam", a Quran-based inspirational

adamIn the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

One of the most memorable stories of my high school days is from T.H. White’s “The Onceand Future King”. In it, a badger explains to the future King Arthur why Man has supremacy over all creation:

As God was completing His creation, He gave the entire Animal Kingdom a chance to choose tools for themselves. The Eagle chose wings and talons to fly and snatch its prey. The Lion chose sharp teeth and claws to rule the land. The Fish chose fins to swim about freely. The Badger chose garden forks as its hands to explore the earth. Finally, only Adam was left to make a choice. After deep reflection, he requested, “Please God, leave me with my feeble hands so that I can make whatever I need for myself.” His request was granted, and soon enough Adam became master over all creation.

A similar allegory is in the Holy Quran in 2:30-2:31:

When God announced his plan to place Man as viceroy on Earth, the angels, anxiously proclaimed, “Will you place on it a creation that will cause disorder and shed blood (with his Free Will)?! Whereas we strive to establish Your glory in the Universe (in total submission).”

Then God overruled the angels’ concerns and showed them that Adam had the capacity to learn. The Quran refers to this potential (17:70) as the Dignity of Adam.

Unfortunately, the world is wired such that we adults forget that learning is not restricted to schooling. At what time in our busy working lives do we relegate this capacity to learn, this Dignity, to our children, retaining precious little for ourselves? It’s as if we diverge from the path of Adam onto that of eagles, lions, and badgers. Perhaps every few years you youngsters should celebrate the endeavors of learning that we adults undertake, on this very stage. What an honorable event that would be. But, most certainly I digress…

With that I congratulate you, Dear Graduate on your well-deserved and hard-earned graduation party. Please keep learning, teaching, and sharing with us for years to come. And let this celebration serve as a reminder that learning is not a phase in life but rather the meaning of life itself. It is the Dignity of Adam.

Congratulations and God bless you,

Fawad Ahmed

The Reformation of Muslim Thought: is Javed Ghamidi's Al-Mawrid the Answer?

Last week, I had the privilege of attending Pakistani scholar Javed Ghamidi’s Q&A event in Orlando, FL. Many Muslim “moderates” see his organization, Al-Mawrid as a lighthouse in these Muslim Dark Ages. I have prepared an analysis of the event and my humble opinion regarding Mr. Ghamidi’s approach to Islamic Thought. Let me begin my stating other scholars should take note of this gentleman’s pleasant demeanor. Mr. Ghamidi is as humble and lighthearted as he is a powerhouse of Islamic knowledge. A local masjid boycott and armed guards at the event served as stark reminders of the times. Thankfully, the session proceeded without incident. This is an open letter and will be shared with Al-Mawrid and the event organizers. I have cited my father, Dr. Shabbir Ahmed’s works in this essay for supportive position. He is a non-sectarian reformist scholar and exponent of the Quran based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

4:3: If you fear (that the society) shall not be able to do justice with orphans, in order to accommodate widows and orphans, men of sound finances and character shall be encouraged to marry these widows; two, three, and four (4:127). If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly, then you must not take additional wives, and may continue with what you already have (4:129). This will prevent injustice and financial hardship (see footnote 1).

(Note: these were the conditions in which the Prophet (S) and Companions took on multiple wives, when many Muslim men had been slain and there was a need to accommodate their widows and orphans.)

7:157: …(The Messenger) enjoins upon them the Right, and forbids them the Wrong. He declares Lawful all good things, and declares Unlawful only the unclean things. He relieves people from the burdens they carried. He breaks the shackles that they used to wear, (of mental and physical slavery), and brings them from darkness to Light.

I understand that many colleagues will recoil at a Quranic understanding seeming to promote an “Islamic State”. But, note two points:

1) Current “Islamic” Republics and extremist groups are not following Quranic Islam, but rather an “Islam No. 2” beclouded by false, intolerant, oppressive traditions. That is why a Reformation of Muslim Thought is the need of the hour.

2) Living in a Western Republic, you do not have to do much to realize Islamic values at different levels: personal, societal, or governmental.  Has the Light of Deen not been spreading imperceptibly throughout the world since the time of Adam as promised in the Quran?

9:32: They seek to extinguish Allah’s Light by their utterances (61:8). But Allah will not allow this to pass, for He has Willed to spread His Light in all its fullness even though the rejecters may detest it. He it is Who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the True Deen (The System of Life), that He may cause it to prevail over all religions and systems of life.

     Hence, we Muslims should not consider Western democracies as totally un-Islamic. Actually, these republics uphold Quranic principles such as freedom of religion and expression (2:256), equality before the law (4:135), presumption of innocence (49:6), gender equity (4:32, 33:35), social safety nets (9:60), rule of law (33:60), and strong ethics (70:21-70:33) better than our homelands. People naturally gravitate toward places that uphold Quranic values, just as the Prophet (S) moved to Medina from Mecca during the oppressive early years of His mission. (Certainly, there are shortcomings in the West in morality and foreign policy we should try to correct with our freedom of expression and voting rights.) As Mr. Ghamidi pointed out, God’s Divine Laws are changeless and will reward any who align with them, regardless of labels.  Let the Reformation of Muslim Thought take hold right here: in a free, ethical society.

     In conclusion, in an age when Islam is considered a system of blind following, superstitions, and human rights violations such as blasphemy laws, stoning, sex slavery, child marriage, and obliteration of the Arts, most Muslim organizations (even American-based) are either defensive about or even justifying these atrocious traditions. In contrast, Javed Ghamidi’s Al-Mawrid is brave enough to stand for Quran-based Human Rights and Reason. Let us return to the question at hand: is Al-Mawrid the Answer to the Reformation of Muslim Thought? In my educated opinion, it should be a part of it. We will continue to do our part. Please do your part and also support Al-Mawrid to your capacity.

Note: I have offered my humble, educated observations as a Student of the Quran. Feedback is welcome.

References (all searchable for free download on the internet):
1. The Quran as it Explains Itself, Quran translation by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed.
2. “The Quran Calls for Coexistence not Clash”,
Malaysian Insider, by Fawad Ahmed
3. A History of Prophets, by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed