Middle East Resources

Islam's New Challenge Coping with the Proliferation of Unbelief Among the Rising Generation

Bassam Michael Madany

20 September 2022

The twenty-first century witnessed great advances in the field of communications. The Internet facilitated the dissemination of knowledge without any hindrance. Its impact on the Arab/Muslim world has been far reaching. One byproduct was the appearance in June 2022, of Qanat Al-Mulhid “The Unbeliever’s Channel,” where subjects that had been taboo, would henceforth be discussed openly and without restraint. 

Qanat Al-Mulhid (https://youtu.be/m_9egvnKA8Y,) has attracted an army of young Arab men and women who watch the famous Stars of the Arab media and add their enthusiastic approving comments.

Having read a number of these comments, I would like to classify them under two categories: the Ethical and the Scientific. Furthermore, a speaker on the Qanat is called a Shahed. He, or she gives the reason for becoming an unbeliever. As an example, this is a Shahadah (testimony) of a Saudi Mulhid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py_Nwcud9CI

The Ethical category refers to accounts or anecdotes taken from the Islamic tradition, that may scandalize the young generation as   incompatible with the ethics of modernity.

The Scientific category refers to accounts of supernatural events in Islamic history, now deemed contrary to science. In Islamic theology, the term for Supernatural is Ghaibi, i.e., hidden.  

To deal with the faith problems of young Muslims, certain reformist Arab authors, have called for the development of a modern Hermeneutics of the Qur’an. On 31 May 2009, this essay was posted on a Kuwaiti website,

So That Islam Might Not Die” حتى لا يموت الإسلام Hatta la Yamutul’-Islam.

“We must acknowledge that traditional Islam is standing in the way of progress. A reformation can only take place by adopting a distinction between Allah and Muhammad; Allah is an absolute and unchanging Being, while the Prophet is not. Doubtless, Muhammad was the founder of the Islamic Umma; but as a human being, he acted within the cultural contexts of his days. Thus, the texts which the Prophet brought forth, including the Qur’an, are purely historical texts.”

Not long after the posting of this essay, www.kwtnweer.com stopped functioning. One may speculate that the authorities decided that this website should not go on spreading such critiques of Islam.

Another reformist online Journal http://www.alawan.org representing a forum for a secular, rational, and enlightened culture, stopped its activities without explanation. Previously, it had published on 12 September 2010, 

What Is the Qur’an? ما هو القرآن؟  Ma Huwa al-Qur'an

The author, Sa’eed Nasheed is a prolific Moroccan writer who had contributed more than 20 articles and book reviews to Al-Awan.

Here are excerpts from the article:

“One day, I thought of organizing a virtual forum where readers of Al-Awan might dialogue on the subject of “What Is the Qur’an?”

So, I began to read from Surah (Chapter) Al-Nisa’ (Women):

And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. 4:24

“Actually, my right hand has never owned anyone” Thus, this Ayah (verse) doesn’t concern me.

In the same Surah, Ayah 34, I read:

“So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.”

“Now let’s suppose I began to beat my wife; that would be a criminal act; it would upset my children and the neighbors. Therefore, this Ayah is irrelevant!

“As a Muslim. I must make up my mind about Islam’s sacred texts, which are loaded with burdensome injunctions. My apprehension is shared by millions of Muslims who hesitate to express themselves about these topics.

“I do consider myself as a Muslim, both emotionally and culturally. What appeals to me in Islam, is the possibility of a direct communion with Allah, who is the exalted Supreme Being, and Who doesn’t dwell in any sanctuary, nor within any sacred text, nor in any specific religion.”

The authors of “That Islam Might Not Die” and of “What Is the Qur’an?” are two examples of reformist Muslims doing their utmost to reconcile contemporaneous Islam with Modernity.

Could it be that, since their voices have been stopped; now the young Arab generation having lost all hope for reform, have opted for the extreme positions of Qanat Al-Mulhid and the latest, Qanat of Al-Murtadi?!  

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i Al-Murtad (Apostate) is derived from Radda an Arabic term for Apostasy