Can we call Islam a Progressive Religion?
Question: Can we call Islam, a 'progressive' religion? How come or why not?
Answer: It all depends on what you mean by progressiveness.
If by progressiveness you mean an attitude of being prepared to accept the truth wherever it comes from, then Islam is indeed the most progressive ideology. The Qur'an tells us that the Almighty asked the Prophet (sws) to tell the addressees to bring evidences for the claims they were making, and it tells him that in case they do bring convincing evidences, the Prophet should accept them. However, if they neither were neither willing to bring forth evidences to support their claims nor prepared to accept the truth simply because they loved their own ideology for no rational reason, then they ought to be condemned for their attitude.
For instance the Qur'an says:
Ask them: ''Bring a Book from Allah which is a better guide than these two (the Torah and the Qur'an), I will follow it, if what you say be true!'' So if they do not meet this demand, you should know that they only follow their own desires. And who is more misguided than the one who follows his own desires rather than the guidance from Allah? (28:49-50)
However, if by progressiveness you mean a tendency in an ideology to be prepared to mould itself in accordance with every changing fashion, then most certainly Islam is not progressive. Let's not forget that Islam is a message of God that has come to guide mankind. If it was prepared to change itself according to the whims of every Tom, Dick, and Harry, then it would have been a meaningless message that had no basis of its own, which of course is untrue about Islam.
In short, Islam is open to all progressive ideas that are convincing and help in improving the intellectual and material lives of humans. However, in no way, it is prepared to give in to the demands of those who would want it to bend its principles because some people don't like them. If Islamic message is from God, which indeed it is, everyone who believes in it should be convinced that true progressiveness resides in following its message properly and in accommodating all new ideas that are promising as well as acceptable to its teachings.
Will Everyone be forgiven in the Hereafter?
Question: A renowned Sufi scholar, Dr. Martin Lings, in a rare public appearance, gave a lecture at LUMS on the life after death. In his lecture, he quoted a hadith, which said that the Almighty will eventually forgive all human beings, and they will enter Paradise. He claimed that this hadith was correct, as the sequence of narrators has been traced. What do you think about this view?
Question: The question whether the Almighty will forgive every one or not in the Hereafter has been dealt with most unequivocally in the Qur'an in a number of verses. Perhaps the clearest passage in this respect is the one where the Almighty has responded to a misunderstanding of the Jews which is similar to the one mentioned in your question. The Qur'an says:
The Jews say: ''The fire shall not touch us except for a few days.'' [O Messenger], say: ''Have you obtained such a promise from Allah which He would not break? Or do you assert against Allah what you do not know?'' Nay! Those who commit evil and become encircled in sin are the inmates of Hellfire; they shall live there forever. (2:80-81)
In another passage, the Qur'an says:
Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits the sin of shirk and may forgive anyone else if He so pleases. One who commits shirk has indeed gone far away from the Right Way. (4: 116)
I cannot understand how one can form an opinion contrary to what has been mentioned so clearly in the Qur'an. The Qur'an is the book of Allah, preserved for all times to come (the Qur'an, 15:9). It is al-Furqan: the ultimate criterion for sifting right from wrong (the Qur'an, 25:1). The Prophet (sws) was required to follow each and every word of it (the Qur'an, 10:15). I am not inclined to imagine for a moment that he could have said anything that goes against a clear verdict of the Qur'an.
Manazilin the Holy Qur'an
Question: There are seven manazil in the Holy Qur'an – can you please explain what are they meant for and what their importance is?
Question: Manazilare not a part of the original presentation of the Qur'an. Like parahs, they were added later. But it seems that manazil were added earlier than parahs. In both cases, the idea is to enable a regular reader of the Qur'an to have clear targets to achieve each day. While in the earlier days, many pious believers used to complete recitation of the entire Qur'an in one week, the later people set forth for themselves the target of one month for completing the task. Manazil help in completing the first target and parahs help in achieving the second. In neither case there is any indication from the Prophet (sws) that such divisions should be introduced in the Qur'an.
The only units given by the Prophet (sws) are ayah and surah. Also, the existing sequence is the same as given to us by the Prophet (sws).
Atonement by a Rape Victim
Question: A friend of mine has been raped. She is very disturbed about it. In what way can she atone for this so that her sense of guilt is lessened in front of God?
Response: There are two possibilities why the unfortunate incident happened to your friend. It is possible that she did nothing to blame at all, and somebody just did it to satisfy his animal desire. It is also possible that your friend allowed the person the kind of liberty that ultimately inclined him to go to the extent of raping her.
In the first case, your friend need not worry about it. Indeed it is understandable that she has been emotionally bruised. However, she should take solace from the fact that the Almighty is extremely forgiving and sympathetic towards those people who have been a target of callous behaviour of others. The Qur'an tells us that there were people at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an who used to force their slave girls into prostitution although those ladies were not doing it willingly. The Almighty says about them:
And if anyone forces them into it, then surely after such a compulsion, Allah will be forgiving and merciful to them. (24:33)
If that is the case, your friend should not feel guilty. Allah is definitely merciful to people like her.
However, if your friend did allow the man some liberty to come close to her, and then on finding her unwilling to have sex with him, he forcibly fulfilled his desire, then she too has to be blamed for it. In that case she should most certainly seek forgiveness from the Almighty as much as is possible, and, in addition, should firmly resolve to adopt an attitude where by men do not come as close to her as to cause that possibility to get repeated.
Allah Almighty has desired that we be careful about the members of the opposite sex to enable us from avoiding the possibility of the kind of embarrassment your friend has gone through.