DAWN 03/01/2001
'Govemment being misguided'
'Pursue Modernist View of Quranic thought'

LAHORE, Feb 28: Dr Riffat Hassan, a US-based scholar, on Wednesday stressed the need for taking a modernist view of Quranic teachings.
She was delivering a lecture on Islamic Society and Civil Society: A
Direction for Pakistan at the Lahore Press Club under the joint auspices of
the United States Information Service and AmnAsia.  The lecture was followed
by a question-answer session.
Dr Hassan said there had been much discussion in the last three decades on
the nature of Islamic society.
"How one defines or describes Islamic society depends upon what one thinks
it means to be a Muslim.  The terms denote an ideal embodied in the ethical
teachings of Quran and the practice of the Prophet of Islam.  From both we
learn that mercy, compassion and justice are the most strongly emphasized
attributes of God,” she said.
Dr Hassan said considering the emphasis on the link between obligations
toward Allah and obligations toward people both in Quran and the life of
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it was difficult to understand their
compartmentalization in the minds and lives of many present-day Muslims.  It
was not surprising, however, given the fact that for many generations
Muslims had been told by their leaders that their primary duty was to engage
in "worship" rather than "service" of God—and to obey those in authority
rather than striving in the way of Allah to ensure that fundamental rights
of all creatures were honoured "in the Muslim society".
It is important for Muslims and Pakistanis who want to create an Islamic
society to carry forward the message of the Muslim modernists who raised the cry "Back to the Quran" (in effect “Forward with Quran") and insisted on the importance of Ijtihad -both at a collective level (in the form of Ijma) and
at the individual level - as a means of freeing Muslim thought from the dead
weight of outmoded traditionalism.
"Having spent almost 25 years in research on passages relating to women in
the Quran, I know that the Quran does not discriminate against women.  In
fact, in view of their disadvantaged and vulnerable condition, it is highly
protective of their rights and interests.  But this does not change the fact
that the way Islam has been practised in most Muslim societies for centuries
has left millions of Muslim women with battered bodies, minds and souls.
"No society can claim to be truly Islamic unless it recognizes, in word and
in deed, that men and women are equal before Allah and that each has an
equal right to develop his or her God-given capabilities to the fullest,"
she added.
Replying to a question, she said the present government was more human
rights friendly than the previous governments.  She said there were better
chances of something being done to protect human rights under this
government than any of the previous governments.
"I feel that Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf is sincere and rational
but some elements among his advisers and the bureaucracy are misguiding
him", she said.  She also said Gen Musharraf was being attacked from both
sides.  He was being criticized by the so-called Islamists on one side and
the human rights organizations on the other.  The human rights
organizations, she said, were not against him for his record human rights

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