As a religion, Islam does not believe in a formal clergy to interpret its value system. Islam's teachings are kept fresh through constant debate by the Ulema and evolving practice by the Muslim community.
Islamic law derives from four basic concepts, including Qiyas and Ijma. Ijma originates through a consensus among the Muslim community whereas Qiyas uses analogical reasoning to address contemporary issues facing the Ummah or Muslim community.
As Islam undergoes its internal struggles, many aspects of the religion have been hijacked by extremists. They routinely use violence and compulsion to further their deviant ideology.
Coupled with these dubious interpretations is the often unjustifiable behaviour of some Muslims. Although the list can be much longer, below are just five suspect areas:
1. Suicide is a sin. How 'Holy Warriors' can see suicide bombings as a legitimate weapon is incredulous, especially when unarmed civilians are specifically targeted. (See verse 4:29)
2. Hypocrisy manifests itself in several forms. Many Muslims have a 'holier than the Pope' attitude to alcohol. They will publicly deny consuming alcohol but will imbibe secretly. (It should be noted that the Pakistan Army recovered several bottles of vodka from the home of senior Taliban commander during their recent operation in Swat.)
3. Similar to drinking, instances of Muslims 'pretending' to fast during the holy month of Ramadan are common in certain environments. Whether it is due to peer pressure or social norms, in a sense it is tantamount to fraud.
4. Women who cover their heads and behave religiously but then enter into sexually active relationships with multiple men over time.
5. The notion that women should be economically inactive in a Muslim society is plain wrong. The Prophet's first wife, Khatija, was a successful businesswoman and merchant. She remained economically active throughout her life, even after her marriage. (The second basis of Islamic law is the Sunnah or the example set by the Prophet through his behaviour and sayings.)
When an individual indulges in particular behaviour systematically then it is consciously thought out. The behaviour itself may not necessarily be questionable. More often, it is the hypocrisy associated with the actions which is more perturbing. After all, for the truly religious it may be easy to deceive the world and even oneself, but to deceive God is another matter altogether.
There is a dire need for a suicide prevention hotline specifically aimed at potential suicide bomber recruits!
As mortals, we all sin. We sin with a regularity we would not like to admit. However, let's not add religious arrogance to our list of sins. Keep religious personal, truth is a relative concept to individuals.