I was once told, " Islam is not a system as modern muslim ideologists want it to have. Islam is also not a subject - Islam is a stance towards God I.e. the manner of surrendering."
I agreed that Islam was a stance or orientation towards god and cannot be reduced to some mechanistic system. That was common ground.
However, without qualification, such a claim relies on ideological assumptions, usually concealed, bringing everyone who makes such claims into the fold of ideology.
What did I mean by that?
Well, if Islam is not assumed to be social, collective or political, it will be a personal stance, between the individual and god. This is arguably relies on a secular individualist interpretation, reducing Islam to a religion. "Religion" is a modern construct, as historically civilisations saw matters of the divine interwoven with their systems of life, institutions, practices, traditions and so on. There was never a neat delineation between a personal faith and social matters that the notion of religion implies.
The brother then modified his stance saying, "of course it has a social and collective frame and normative - but not in the core as some ideologists think - state, identity, the watan at all. At the core its a nexus for salvation."
Whilst I fully agree salvation is never at essence about the modern nation state - however this unqualified claim of it is simply salvation again faces the same problem as the previous claim. Namely, without qualification it relies upon unexplored ideological assumptions - making all who interpret into ideologues of one persuasion or another.
If Islam is not assumed to be social, collective or political, salvation must be assumed to be a personal affair, between the individual and God.
How then to explain the voluminous evidences that oppose this rendition?
- The primordial gathering of the souls was never a personal meeting with God;
- Birth is into a social and political collective (ie family/tribe/kindship ties...);
- Even death is not alone, with salat al-janaza (the funeral prayer) read by the community over the corpse;
- The time in the grave entails accompaniment with good deeds in the form of a youth;
- Resurrection is with the a'imma (the leaders one followed), and
- The final accountability making one drag in everyone one encountered in life as the finger of blame is pointed to offload contributory sin.
There is a personal dimension to our journey in life, and a collective one.
To save "myself", I must save "ourselves".