Javed 𝐆𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐝𝐢 must refrain from 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐟𝐢𝐫ism and Puritanism

Almost a thousand years ago, the medium of Theology (ilm-i-kalam) came to the fore in the world of Islam to accuse believers as infidels. The pioneer of this art of takfir (excommunication; declaring people guilty of apostasy) was Imam Ghazali. He began the process of interrogating new ideas in light of the Qur’an and Hadith. By declaring Ibn Sina and Al-Farabi etc. as infidels, he endangered the lives and faith of their followers too. Since then, the slogan of “Islam is in Danger” has been echoing against knowledge, reason, and critical thinking. Theologians started to harass and intimidate men of reason and knowledge.

Although the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongol army and the burning of Dar al-Hikma (City of Wisdom) may be considered as a formal declaration of the end of the Golden Age of the Muslims, little attention is paid to the reasons for not being able to rise after this destruction. After all, those who started from scratch and rose to prominence could have risen again after that loss, because now, outside of Baghdad, there were scholarly books of their elders that later benefited Europe. Shortly afterward, Muslims restored political and economic power in the form of the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Empire, and the Mughal Empire, but the scientific decline continued. The reason for this was the double-edged sword of Takfeer and Puritanisn. Taymiyyah (Scholar/Mujaddid) promoted takfeer started by Imam al-Ghazali and ignorance began to dance everywhere. He bullied logic by writing, Ar-Radd ‘ala al-Mantaqiyyin (The refutation of the Logicians), and in particular engaged in the Takfeer of pluralistic Sufis (including Ibn Arabi) and other sects.

Nowadays, Javed Ghamdi’s social media pages and channels are waging a literal jihad against Sufis (including Ibn Arabi) with the allegation Shirk, (Sin of idolatry or polytheism i.e., the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides Allah) even though Ghamdi himself fled from Pakistan out of fear of such thinking and has sought refuge in the land of the trinity, i.e the United States. Today, Ghamdi is spreading sugar-coated takfiriyyah against Sufis, sniffing out “shirk” and “kufr” and rejection of the finality of Prophethood from their books, and thus putting their lives in danger by declaring Sufism a parallel religion in a religiously charged society of Pakistan. Some people considered Ghamdi to be a follower of Imam-Ibn-Rushd. He turned out to be a follower of Ibn-Taymiyyah. Ghamdi was also linked to a thousand-year-old takfeeri chain of command, in the name of theology (ilm-i-kalam), which began in the time of Imam al-Ghazali that led the Muslims from their Golden Age to “Boko Haram” and the blowing up of schools by Taliban.

We have to move away from the blind alley of Takfirism, Puritanism and Wahhabism (A conservative Islamic creed centered in and emanating from Saudi Arabia). The fatwas of polytheism and disbelief restrict thinking and make the researcher victim of dual thoughts and ideology that could be in conflict with his faith. If we do not get rid of the intellectual terrorism poised by Imam Ghazali and Ibn-Taymiyyah centuries ago, then the next thousand years will pass in intellectual bankruptcy and obliviousness too. Ghamdi is doing the same thing with a modern make-up as Dr. Israr Ahmed and Dr. Zakir Naik used to do with beards.

A few years back, with elegant western suiting and fluent English, Dr. Zakir Naik was considered a torch-bearer of enlightened and modernized preaching. Parents were satisfied with their children attending to his lectures. But his propagandizing soon degenerated into Puritanism and resulted in the finding of terrorists from the youth of modern educational institutions, examples of which abound from Saad Aziz of Karachi to Rohan Imtiaz of Dhaka. 15-20 years, down the line, the clean-shaven jihadists will attack every person and group that Ghamdi has stamped with shirk and parallel religion. Because the basic ‘Takfiriyyah” is right there, just the tone and the words are different. These words are also pulling an individual out from pluralistic and tolerant practices of Islam into the blind well of ‘Wahhabism’.

We have to adopt the scientific thinking of Ibn-Rushd and Ibn Sina and at the same time we have to embrace the pluralism of Bulleh Shah, Khwaja Ghulam Farid and Rumi. Beliefs should not be the medium to differentiate between a Muslim and an infidel and the right of others to intellectual and religious freedoms must be respected. The time has come to throw the Takfiri and anti-science ideologies into the dustbin of history