Monday, April 28, 2014

Ibadhism, The Cinderella of Islam (Introduction)

You are ALL invited to read about the Cinderella of Islam, a book by Soud H. Al Ma'awaly.

But why this book has this unique title? The author says:

"Some of those who reviewed the book before publication were not happy with its title. They felt the name was reminiscent of a fairy-tale while Ibadhism was a fact which existed within the Islamic community. The word Cinderella means a person or thing of unrecognized or disregarded merit.

          In all Islamic sects there are differences not only among themselves but also within each one of them. These differences are the result of disagreements in the interpretations of the Qur’an or Hadiths or historical events. They are tolerated and papered over if they occur within a group of sects. They are only magnied and made serious if the Ibadhi sect is involved.

          And the fact that they share the same beliefs in the basic principles of Islam and that Ibadhis differ only in the subsidiary issues is not enough, in the eyes of the sectarian fanatics, to qualify them for full membership of the Islamic brotherhood. The sectarian fanatics are determined to exclude the sect from the mainstream of Islam and to treat them as heretics or even apostates.

          For the reasons stated above, the author could nd no better title than the one he has chosen for the book." [Soud H. Al Ma'awaly]

And, here is the contents List of the book with direct links to each chapter.

About the Author
Chapter 6: Allah’s Attributes
-          Part 1
-          Part 2
Genealogical Charts

I know that you are so excited to read the book. So let's start to read The Introduction. Bismillaah.

          Thanks to Allah, the Almighty for creating us in a world of innite diversities in which people of different races, complexions, languages and religions live together; in each group some are tall, others short, some are fat while others are slim. Within each race, there are tribes and within a tribe, clans and within a clan, there are families. Thus the chain of varieties is endless, both in the animal and in the plant kingdoms. Life would have been boring and monotonous if the world we live in consisted of uniform creation, and thus we perceive the wisdom of Allah.

          As in the physical, so in the spiritual world. There are different religions in which some people worship one God, some several gods, and others no god at all. So we have Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, paganism and several others. And in each religion there are sects, and in each sect further sub-divisions. Thus among Christians there are Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants with their multiple subdivisions. And so in Islam, we have Sunnis, Shias, and Ibadhis and in each sect there are sub-sects.

          Strangely enough, the followers of each sect claim that their sect or Madh-hab is the right one and the others are wrong or heretic. What is the basis of their claim? Have they studied the teachings of all religious schools and then come to the conclusion that their madh-hab is right and the rest wrong? No! In all honesty their claim is based on one factor and one factor alone, namely, that they happen to be born into that particular religion and sect, that is the religion and sect of their parents. A Sunni Muslim is so because he was born of Sunni parents, and the same is true of those born of parents of other religious denominations. In other words, we belong to a particular madh-hab by accident of birth, and not by choice. It is true, though, there are some people who change from one faith to another but those are relatively very small in number, they are the exception to the rule. The general rule is that millions of people are born every day into one or other of the world’s religions, and into one or other of the madh-hab of their parents.

          The inuence of parents at home and teachers at school on children is tremendous and indelible. If a parent persistently and over a long period of time tells his child, for example, that the sun is god and at the same time enumerates the various benets the sun bestows on man, the child will eventually grow up to worship the sun. The father can go on with his indoctrination by telling his son or daughter that anyone who does not believe the sun is god is an indel (kafir) and should therefore be killed. Children brought up under such religious environment grow up to become blind, fanatic adherents of their religion or sect. In the above example, the sun has been selected as an object of worship but the reader can substitute the dogma of his madh-hab for the sun and he will find it fits in perfectly. Many of us are thus the products, if not the slaves, of our upbringing and parent’s prejudices.

          What is to be done then? The solution is, while giving religious lessons to children, we should at the same time make them respect other people’s religions and madh-habs. In this Way we should be able to promote an atmosphere of religious tolerance, understanding and respect for people of other faiths and sects. In actual fact the majority of people work towards that end, but unfortunately there are a few religious and sectarian fanatics in positions of influence who are bent on fomenting dissension and misunderstanding among people of different religions and sects. In secular societies parents refuse to have their children indoctrinated with religious teachings and prefer them to make their own free choice when they grow up as adults. Finally since we blindly adopt the religion or madh-hab of our parents we have no right to criticize other religions or sects. It would have been different if our religious or sectarian beliefs were based on rational grounds. But, regrettably, for some sects, rationalism is tantamount to heresy!!

          Ibadhism is one of the most misunderstood Islamic sects, and is wrongly considered as one of the Khawarij group of sects that are regarded as heretic or even apostate that has deviated from the mainstream of Islam. This is not the opinion of all Muslim scholars, at least at present, but it is still held by a core of sectarian fanatics partly as a result of ignorance and prejudice and partly due to political ambitions to dominate all or part of the Islamic world. The main issues of contention between the Ibadhis and some other sects are two, the first arising from historical events which happened after the death of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) or, to be more precise, during the third and fourth administrations of Caliph Uthman and Caliph Ali respectively. The second issue of dispute results from the interpretation of certain Qur’anic verses dealing with the events expected to take place in the Hereafter. Fortunately there are no serious disagreements in the present life as to the forms of Worship, for we all pray five times a day together, fast during Ramadhan together and perform pilgrimage once a year together at the same place and time, and most important of all, we all believe in the same one God who has no partner, and in the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the last of His messengers. We are also generally agreed on what acts are lawful (halal) and what acts are unlawful (haram) with probably a few minor differences.

I will deal first with the historical issues.
>>>>>> (To be Continued)

Ibadhism, The Cinderella of Islam, by Soud H. Al Ma'awaly, pg: 7-9.

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