Salam Ramadhan untuk semua. Semoga madrasah Ramadhan dapat mejadi medan tarbiah untuk sama-sama memperbaikan kelemahan diri dalam menuju Redho-Nya.
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Baru dua hari sahaja berpuasa, sudah ada suara-suara songsang perihal kongsi raya. Deparaya. inilah salah satu implikasi pulralisma agama yang dibawa oleh John Hick. Dan semalam selepas terawih, saya dan Nas (ujanakisah.blogspot.com) sambil-sambil pekena teh tarik kat HS Cafe, kami bersembang tentang Gubra dan kaitannya dengan Pluralisma agama. Di sini saya turunkan assignment tentang topik ini yang baru sahaja saya siapkan untuk subjek Issues in Islamic Thought. Selamat membaca dan semoga beroleh manfaat.
PLURALISM FROM AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE
Religious pluralism viewed all religions as equal validity but use various approaches to arrive the Truth. They said that all religions are same in the essence but differ only in term of the form. It refers to the unity of religion at the internal, formless, inward and esoteric level. This idea also suggests that each religion comes from the same source- the Absolute Truth. Therefore, each religion contains within itself a measure of absolute Truth and at the same time is a valid method. No one in any particular religion may condemn those who are in other religions because all religions are equally valid.
This idea of religious pluralism is a very dangerous exposition to Islamic faith (Al-Aqidah). It will lead to the confusion for assuming all religions are valid and same in their essences. Regarding this matter, there is contradiction of two perspectives, Western and Islamic point of view in perceiving this issue. Hence, it requires proper response from Islamic perspective. We have to know how Islam deals with this challenge and what is the best solution for it.
Misconception of the Term Islam
Some orientalists and supporters of this modern concept have deliberately limited Islam to the meaning of submission in its general sense. Whereas Islam as ‘din’ has many primary significations and wider aspect. The submission to God in Islam is differed from the submission that was understood by other religions.
Al-Attas in his book Islam and Secularism said that submission in Islam is in the sense of conscious, willing submission. He said that the concept of submission is common to all religions, but not all religions perform real submission. Submission to God’s Will means also obedience to God’s Law. The word denoting this sense of submission is aslama, as in the Holy Quran:
ومن أحسن دينا ممن اسلم وجهه الله
Who can be better in religion (din) than one who submit (aslama) his face (i.e., his whole self) to God…” (Al-Nisa’: 125)
The din referred to is none other that Islam.
ومن يتبع غير الإسلام دينا فلن يقبل منه
If anyone desires a religion (din) other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him…” (Ali-Imran: 85)
Al-Attas added, what make Islam different from the other religions is that the submission according to Islam is sincere and total submission to God’s Will.
Besides, there is no evolutionary process in Islam. Islam did not undergo the process of change. It was perfect from the very beginning since it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (p.ub.u.h). Therefore, we can say that the idea of relativism that has become the turning point to the concept of religious pluralism cannot be accepted in Islam because Islam had revealed with a complete teaching, in term of its name, faith (Aqidah) and practice (Syariah).
Islam comes directly from Allah, it is inherent unchangeable and causes mankind to evolve within its framework and to progress by understanding and applying its message. But the concept, religions, systems that men have devised for themselves outside Allah’s guidance must always change because man feels constrained by them as his demands increase and his needs evolve. Man feels the need to update principles, transform rules and completely overturn them. In contrast to this, the Islamic concept not require any updating or change, for the One who made it sees without any limitation of time and space, know without any defect of ignorance or error and decides without any influence or prejudice or selfish desire.
The Nature of God and The Concept of Tawhid in Islam
Although in every religion there are the recognition of the existence of Supreme Being, but we cannot considered that these belief of Supreme Being equally valid to all religions. The concept of God in Islam is totally different from other religions. This concept of God is expressed in the concept of Tawhid. God has His own Essence, Attributes and Names and Acts which cannot be associated with anything or anybody. He is the One and Only God, the Only Maker and object of worship.
“The Islamic concept rests on the principle that the Divine Being is distinct form His creation. Divinity belongs exclusively to Allah Most High, while creatureliness is common to everyone and everything else.”
Besides, we cannot say that the concept of God in Islam is equal with the concept of God in other religions. This is because, in some religion human can personify God himself and this allow for symbolic representation. But this attempt of depicting God by means of figurative representations or abstract symbols is do not accepted in Islam. The Islamic creed which says, “I testify that there is no object of worship except the One and Only God”, implies the existence of the transcendental realm of the Creator which is permanent and the natural realm of creation which is transient. Al-Faruqi explained that Tawhid distinguished Islam from Trinitarian Christianity where the dualism of creator and creatures is maintained but where it combined with a divine immanentism in human nature is justification of the incarnation. For Tawhid, the two realities are separated.”
While Hinduism, they acknowledge one Divine Being called Brahma. But this Brahma who had been said as the real Being and who is entirely Good, is incarnated or diffused into the non-existent which is entirely evil. Thus, Brahma is not the Creator of this world, which is not-existent, evil and imperfect, but he is diffused in it. Besides, the concept of Karma reject the concept of Oneness of God in Hinduism because it is Karma which determines the cycle of birth and rebirth which creates and repeats cycle of Universe. In addition, Hinduism also has a Trinity: Lord Brahma (the Creator), Lord Vishnu (The Giver of life) and Lord Shiva (the Destroyer).
Thus, we can say that the Islamic concept of God is the only concept that suit on the foundation of a complete and pure belief in the Oneness of God.
In addition, God which had been described by other religions is only as rabb only and not ilah. Therefore in other religions, God is described only in the level of Rububiyyah, which only acknowledge the existence of God or Supreme Power. But in Islam, the nature of God is referred to both levels; Rububiyyah and Uluhiyyah, which acknowledge God and regarded Him as the object of worship who does not take any partner rival or equal.
In fact, the concept of pluralism can be challenged by the concept of Tawhid. Therefore, Muslims should face this challenge by be firmed with our faith and belief. We have to look back to our teaching of Aqidah which can give us the best and absolute way and solution to face the challenge of pluralism nowadays. We have to bear in mind that the orientalists and the supporters of this modern concept try to bring doubt to us regarding our religion. They try to bring us to belief that our religion is not the only religion that is true; all religions in this world are equally valid.
The first part of Islamic creed (kalimah syahadah) states that, “There is no object of worship except the One and Only God.” Islam is the only religion which affirms the unity of God by full submission to Him. Therefore, this conception of Tawhid is the best mechanism that determined the truthfulness and falsity of a religion, which at this point can make us easily differentiate between the truthfulness of Islam and the falsity of other religions.
The form of submission to God in Islam, according to al-Attas, is fulfilling the purpose for man’s creation and existence, as God had said in the Holy Quran:
وما خلقت الجن والإنس الا ليعبدون
I have only created the Jinn and Man that they may serve Me (Al-Dhariyat: 56).
He said that man’s obligation to serve God is normal because it comes as a natural inclination (fitrah) on the man’s part to do so. Submission here is means conscious, willing submission.
This willing submission make Islam differ from other religions. It is a mistake to think belief in One God alone is sufficient in true religion, and that such belief guarantees security and salvation. For example, although Iblis submit to God but due to its arrogance, disobedience and rebellion, he is still considered as a misbeliever (kufr) and his submission according to al-Attas is unwilling submission. Therefore, we can say that other religions do not submit in real submission, but they prefer to submit in their own way, manner or form neither approved nor revealed and commanded by God.
The exclusive and inclusive aspect of Islam
Islam is both exclusive and inclusive. The exclusive aspect of Islam is covering the theological or metaphysical manner, faith and ritual. This exclusive aspect is inline with the characteristic of Islam itself which is constancy. There are certain aspects in Islam which cannot be changed and it is fixed particularly the aspect of Aqidah. Therefore, Islam rejects Pluralism which promotes the equality of religion which says that they are internally the same. Islam does not compromise in the matters that related with faith (Aqidah). Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did not compromise with the non-believers in the way of worship. God says in the Holy Quran:
قل يأيها الكافرون. لا أعبد ما تعبدون. ولا أنتم عبدون ما أعبد. ولا أنا عابد ما عبدتم. ولا أنتم عبدون ما أعبد. لكم دينكم ولي دين.
Say: “Unbelievers! I do not worship what you worship nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship neither will you worship what I worship. You have your own “religion” and I have mine. (Al-Kafirun: 1-6)
Islam is different with other religions because it is constant regarding its objectives and aims. It is also constant in terms of principle, general method, religious ethical values, constant in basic religious text (Quran and Hadith) and also constant in its articles of faith and articles of Islam. Whereas some aspects in other religions especially in their laws are always changed according to time, places and the authority that holds the law.
Besides the exclusiveness of Islam, there are also inclusive aspects of Islam. This inclusiveness is inline with the characteristic of Islam which is flexible. Islam is the only religion that has the constancy and flexibility in its teaching. These two characteristics which included in Islam proof the miracle of this teaching and also proof that Islam is relevance in any time, places and situation. We can see the flexibility of Islam in term of its form and mechanism, branches and details, in term of its worldly affairs and flexible in term of rational sources.
Besides, another characteristic of Islam which is universal allows Muslims to deal with other religions. Even though Islam is exclusive in term of faith and Tawhid, but this does not mean that Muslims can discriminate others and have no respect to other religions. Islam asks us to propagate Islam but it does not mean that we can force others to accept the teaching. God says in the Holy Quran:
لا إكره في الدين
Islam always encourages the Muslims to treat the minorities and people of other faiths with respect and dignity. Quran and Sunnah never close the door of religious dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims are also encouraged to have good interaction with the non-Muslims in all aspects of life; social, economic and culture.
Hence, we can say that Islam does not reject totally the existence of other religions, but in aspect that related to faith, Islam will not compromise. Therefore, the concept of pluralism that promotes the equality of religions especially in term of their essence is indeed contradict with the message of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) which is Tawhid, the Oneness of God. Thus, Muslims should be firmed in their belief and not easily being influence with the propaganda of the orientalists and supporters of this modern concept.
IMPLICATION OF PLURALISM TO ISLAM
The issue of pluralism has become a very dangerous treat to Islam. As what we have been discussed before, Islam reject this concept because it has dangerous impact towards Islam. If Islam recognizes this concept, Islam will directly addresses itself to the equality of religion and reject the calls for the dominion of Islam over all other religions. Allah had said in his Holy Quran:
He it is Who sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over all religions, although the polytheists may be averse. (Al-Taubah: 33)
In the context of Islam, the shari'ah brought by God is understood as the perfection of all previously ordained ways. The divine call to follow the law of Islam is extended to all humanity, not merely to those of a specific cultural setting:
And We did not send you but to all people as a bearer of good tidings and as a warner, but most people do not know. (Saba’: 28)
With regard to the question of the correctness of faith, the position of Islam is clear. At various times it human history different faiths and laws were decreed by Allah. At present, however, there is but one divinely ordained religion, Islam, which requires belief in tawhid, prophecy (nabbuwah), and the Resurrection (ma'ad). As God says:
O you who believe! Believe in Allah and His Apostle and the Book which He has sent down to His Apostle and the Book which He sent down before; and whoever decries Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles and the Last Day has indeed strayed off, far away. (Al-Nisa’:136)
The claim of this concept that all religions are equally truth will automatically give great impact to da’wah al-Islamiyyah that had been the most important mean to convey the message of Islam to others. The Quran enjoins the believers to invite others to the faith. Different revelations had been given to different peoples, but they are expected to recognize the divine source of Islam and to heed its invitation.
Unto every people have We prescribed tire rites of devotion which they .observe, so they should not dispute with you about the affair. So call unto your Lord. Indeed, you are on the right way. (Al-Hajj: 67)
Da’wah cannot be separated from Islam. If we say that all religions are true, the concept of da’wah will not relevance anymore. Indeed, da’wah has been the basic and essential duty of the Prophets. All of the Prophets were sent to this world to call people to Islam and to believe in One, Absolute God.
O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings, and Warner. And as one who invites to God’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light. (Al-Ahzab: 45-46)
Da’wah is including admission, inviting, request and call to come to Islam as faith and as a way of life, as al-din. Da’wah is the most obvious Sunnah of the Prophet. Therefore, after Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) had left this world, da’wah become the personal duty of every Muslim which is called as a part of his or her responsibility and obligation in Islam. Da’wah is the fulfillment of those commandments to call mankind unto the way of Allah. This invitation is done to whole mankind despite their race, colors, places and situations. Besides, it is effort by Muslims to enable other men to share the benefit from the teaching of Islam. Hence, if religious pluralism is accepted in Islam, this responsibility of da’wah will not relevance anymore.
Besides, if all religions are considered as equal, why preaching da’wah is obligatory to all Muslims? Muslim ummah had being designed as ‘the best’ and ‘middle most community’ in the Quran. They have duty to carry the message of Islam to mankind at large. In the Holy Quran, when Allah had announced for Muslims to be ‘the best among nations’, it is not without responsibility.
Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors. (Ali-Imran: 110)
Therefore from the ayah we know that Muslims are responsible to enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong and believe in God and this responsibility is not only confined to the Muslim masses, it is defined to address to whole mankind. Hence, the responsibility and obligatory of Da’wah itself had rejected the concept of pluralism which claim that all religions are equally truth.
The greatest implication of Pluralism is it is afraid to be a slippery slope to the case of apostasy among Muslims. The case of Azlina Jailani@ Lina Joy is one of the examples of believing in this concept. She claims that she never believes in Islam and since 1990 she had believed fully in Christianity and had been attending Mass every Sunday. She further claims that the clause 1 of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees to every person ‘the right to profess and practice his religion’ gives her absolute freedom to renounce Islam and become Christian. Therefore, it is afraid that Muslims who had been influenced with this dangerous concept will easily renounced Islam. It is because they reject the calls for the dominion of Islam over all other religions and believe that all religions are equally true. Indeed, this action is considered as the greatest sin in Islam and a dangerous treat to Islam.
In conclusion, pluralism has a dangerous impact towards Islam and had become a challenge to Islam nowadays. To ensure that Muslims will not be influenced with this concept, Muslims have to be firm in our doctrine of Tawhid and believe that there is no true religion besides God except Islam as what had stated in the Holy Quran. Besides, we can say that accepting this concept means that we have to accept the teaching of other religions are inline with the teaching of Islam. How can a contradict teaching can be regarded as equally true at the same time? We cannot say that Syirik and Tawhid both are true. Hence, this concept of Pluralism is automatically rejected from the doctrine of Islam.
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