The corruption of tradition

Let’s be honest; I am not a big fan of tradition and rituals in organized religion. But there is some part of me that see’s logic in having certain rituals and traditions as part of any faith. My view is that organized religion is “organized” only because it has these rituals and traditions. But more often than not, tradition/rituals have intertwined with culture over the past few centuries to make faith immensely complicated! A universal faith for mankind in my opinion really shouldn’t be that complicated. In fact it should be as I like to call it “simple yet complex”- Simple enough to adopt  for everyone, and complex enough to convince each individual in its own way .So it got me thinking if there is any difference between a traditions/ rituals and culture. Are they mutually exclusive?

Islam as we see it today for instance has a diminishing line of what was part of Arab culture and what the prophet of Islam, Muhammed (pbuh) preached as part of his message to the world. Many of the practices in Islam today are very clearly aspects of Bedouin life that were carried forward by the various Muslim armies, missionaries and traders through the Hadith (Islamic text with historical accounts of day to day incidents in the prophets life) as they visited new lands in the middle ages. Some of these aspects were generously used for good but unfortunately a few of these aspects were also abused to the point where it has crept into the Islamic stereotype even today. Some very prominent examples of this stereotype include the 4 wives that every Muslim ‘must’ have, his Jihad against the infidels and of course the very popular 72 virgins that are waiting for him in heaven.  If one reads and understands the background of these fallacies, we come to realize that culture for the most part can influence faith in such a way that it can destroy the very essence for which a faith stands for.

Like every positive change in the world, Islam came about at a time when the world had reached its absolute low point; and it came to a people who were considered barbarians of the desert. A history of the state of the world before Islam in the 7-8th centuries reveal how every country had been conquered at that time except for Arabia where the Nomads organized themselves as barbaric guerrilla fighters each with their own tribes. Muhammed (pbuh) bought about a radical change and the fact that he could organize such a ruthless set of people speaks volumes of the man he was. The 4 wives concept and the need for Jihad were brought about directly as a result of the war that was impending as the prophet went around Arabia spreading his message. The prophet looked at marriage as a way to protect and care for a woman and given that his armies of men were dying in the wars against the Anti-Islamic Quraish, he saw it fit for one man to take in more than one wife with the key concept of caring and protecting these women more than anything else. Thus began the tradition of 4 wives as mentioned in following revelation that he got
The Quran in Sura 4:3 says:

And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 305)

This tradition sadly soon got corrupted and turned into a part of Arab culture where the concept of protection soon got overwritten with pure lust and it became common for Islamic rulers in the middle ages to take in multiple wives and concubines. Tradition therefore is something that transforms into the culture of a people and it becomes absolutely essential hence to uphold the right intentions of a tradition. My hope is that the common sense prevails and we a see a future where the right intentions of a tradition are understood and followed to have a culture that is civilized and fair to men and women alike. As for the 72 virgins waiting in heaven-that’s pure bullshit made to allure desperate extremists.

1 comment:

Mohamed Firose said...

If you look at the sex ratio in today's world, it is to the tune of 4 ladies per man, on an average. (Please excuse the artificially created obscure sex ratio of northern india where sex ratio is alarmingly less). Lets suppose that every man were to get married to one lady, there would still be 3 unmarried females for every married man !
God has created this world with lots of checks and balances. The number of carnivorous animals would never come even close to the number of herbivores in a forest. Even in todays developed scenario, a natural calamity still cant be predicted nor resisted. The number of people dying around the world due to natural calamities is huge. This is in a way, is a check on the human race, that is created by the almighty.
Please do not think that i am advocating taking in multiple wives (MY wife would kill me!!!). But if someone feels that he has to marry a second time or a third time or a fourth time, for whatever reasons, then he should be given the opportunity to do so, provided he can strictly comply with the laws as laid down by the Holy Quran and the Prophets Sunna. The stigma attached to multiple marriages should be stopped, for the very reason that it has been made halal by the almighty. At the same time, those abusing it for lust and greed should be stopped and brought to task.