This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
scholars when dealing with other Muslims who possess differences with belief systems and are diverse in culture. This has always created conflict and misunderstanding, like the riots and rivalry in India and Pakistan which has gone to inconsiderable extents of violence. This disturbing tendency of measuring ones faith by vigorous rejection of another's belief is indeed one of the most pressing issues of the Ummah, needing to be confronted by a counter current of the spirit of respect and tolerance of the other. For many Muslim theologians, this personality that has permeated Muslim states actually represents an obstacle to Islamic ethics and values. Seeing how difficult it is to sustain civil, political and religious rights in the Muslim states. As a result, an increasing number of Muslim scholars across the world are calling for alternative systems that can foster an Islamic vision of society and simultaneously accommodate our increasingly pluralistic societies. They believe that pluralism and the universal democratization of human rights are at the heart of the Qur'an. There are diverse opinions about the nature, shape and purpose of an Islamic state, ranging from the conservative to the very progressive. However, Islamic states as we know them today have largely failed in creating political systems that respect such ideas1.
1 Dana, Isabelle,Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 5 January 2010,
They see the vision that pluralism comprises elements of assimilation, integration and acceptance of differences, a syncretism that accepts in the words of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), “mercy in differences of the ummah” In effect, looking into more of the Islamic spirit of the Ummah than the Islamic state. For unless this Islamic spirit is felt by the Ummah and its leaders, an Islamic state will not evolve in itself into its desired form. Tunisian writer and intellectual, Mohamed Talbi, calls on Muslim societies to abandon the Islamic state paradigm and instead strive for a global ummah, a global community that shares the core values of freedom and justice. To him, Islam is embodied in the concept of "differences within unity", namely pluralism2. He writes, "I am a Muslim atom within a human molecule. My ummah is humanity, and I do not make any distinction between confessions, opinions, colour or race; all human beings are my brothers and sisters." This time of globalisation represents to him a rare opportunity to work towards this ideal. Farid Esack is another Muslim scholar, from South Africa, who argues against an Islamic state in today's world: if Islam's message is to fight for oppressed communities, then Islamic states as we currently know them are anything but Islamic. He came to this conclusion as a result of his personal experiences-first, as a student in Pakistan when he witnessed the persecution of poor and marginalised non-Muslim communities and, later, as an activist in South Africa, when he experienced solidarity with people from all faiths against apartheid.
A close ally of former South African president Nelson Mandela, Esack also proposes a different form of Islamic influence embodied in a global ummah that does not simply tolerate differences but also unites humankind beyond race and religion for a specific purpose: justice. Esack believes that the ummah cannot be defined by kinship but by acts of faith: the real ummah is a united interreligious struggle against oppression in all its forms. Abdullahi Na'im, a Sudanese Muslim intellectual who had to flee Khartoum for following the open religious doctrine of Mahmoud Taha, a Sudanese theologian and political figure who advocated political and liberal religious reform, is convinced that an Islamic state is doomed to failure and that secularism-rooted in freedom of religion, ethics and morality, and rights and duties-is by far the best system for Muslims throughout the world. This form of secularism would have to be inclusive of different worldviews and could only be built through the dialogue and exchange of a global civil society. The importance of the ummah over the Islamic state demonstrates a shift from the state-the political apparatus-to individuals and communities who become active agents responsible for implementing Islamic ideals in their pluralistic societies3. This interesting proposition, rooted in an Islamic worldview, could be a more fluid and suitable framework for our globalized world. This in itself manifests the more open discourse to accepting internal differences in the Ummah.