KUALA LUMPUR: The religious authorities’ aversion to the use of reason in understanding Islamic texts is against the spirit of challenging prevailing views on the religion as practised by Muslim scholars during the early stage of the development of the Islamic jurisprudence, a theologian told a forum today.
Speaking at a forum convened by Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) on the question, “Is reason a threat to faith and society?”, Isham Pawan Ahmad said it was this that allowed a Muslim scholar like Imam Shafie to challenge the prevailing religious ideas of his time including those of Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah, whose teachings led to the development of the Maliki and Hanafi schools in Sunni Islam.
He said had Shafie’s criticism of other scholars been made in this era when dissenting views are silenced, he would have got into trouble with the authorities.
“The religious authority would have arrested the guy,” said the associate professor in Theology at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Isham said Shafie had opposed many ideas by Imam Malik, who founded the Maliki school of jurisprudence.
He said Prophet Muhammad too rebelled against his society in the early stages of his prophethood.
“Islam is a religion that rejects the idea of authority. If it wasn’t for the Prophet rebelling against the authority of the time, Islam would have never been established,” he said.
Isham added that it was the Prophet’s challenge of the status quo that infuriated the Arab leaders of that time.
“Prophet Muhammad’s call would not have been denounced if he had not called for an equal society, where there was no aristocratic Arab leaders.”