The Highway Code of Good Life was described by Mr Frank Field MP in 2017 talk, in a public lecture delivered in Liverpool UK–“I believe there is an agreement amongst all the major religions, and Humanists, on what the basis of the good life is and therefore the Social Highway Code that should be sought to achieve that end.”
The missing element in the above I believe is the absence of “Rationality” and intellectual maturity of the society for which the Code is promulgated.
In order explain the relevance to this piece it is necessary to establish the accepted meaning of the words in the heading. Dictionary meanings of Polemics is as: Given to disputing, Controversial, and Esoteric is given as: Secret, Mysterious, Taught to a select few.
Polemic and Esoteric when taken in their accepted meanings given above, if applied to Traffic Highway Code, which today at least in the urban areas forms part and parcel of social good life; the safety aspect of all concerned becomes paramount. Disputing the Highway Code and its mysteries if known only to few cannot be accepted. The rationally for non-acceptance can be explained as — “There will be chaos on the roads which will jeopardise public safety”.
It is argued for the purposes of this piece that by extension the above is fully applicable to the Universal Code of Life that is promulgated by the Quran from where Islam is derived.
Polemics Given To Disputes
From the very first principles of the Book, Polemics as given to divisiveness by disputing the given Codes, is rejected outright, although intelligently arguing and analysing the merits and demerits of any code is encouraged till one is convinced. Intelligence acquired by knowledge therefore forms the basis of the rationality that plays the most important part in the application of the Code, once accepted to maintain the unity and harmony of society of Believers to live a good life. Verse 6-159 is given as an example:
6-159, as for those who dispute to divide their Deen/Code and breakup in sects, you (Oh Messenger) have no part in them in the least. Their affair is with God, He will in the end tell them the truth of their actions (Yafa’loon)! The laws of nature will manifest and the consequences of the actions taken in disputes will become clear to all.
Hence the entrenched divisive adjectives Sunni and Shia to describe the disputing sects and their various denominations to be of Islam are not acceptable by the first principle of the Code the adDeen, So polemic-ism cannot be accepted if one accepts the Book. Any other document therefore is superfluous and redundant and cannot be used as a part of the logical argument to justify differences in the practice of Islam.
Henry Ford’s statement may seem simplistic but was rational, logical and full of pragmatism for the time when he gave one choice of colour: “Any customer can have a car painted any colour so long as it is black”! Verse 6-159 is in the same vein of rationality and its wisdom.
The central figure venerated by both in the context of this sectarian division of Shia and Sunni Ali ibn Abu Talib the fourth righteous Khalif and the son-in-law of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, had served faithfully and diligently in the previous three Khalifs’ administration, as is given in history. This by no means indicate that there were perhaps no differences of opinion amongst them on the basis of application of the Code in the running of the State affairs and enacting laws for their times, for governance of State and good life of its citizens.
The process of the resolution of differences when they occurred was embedded in the system of “consultation” which was predicated in the binding of common Code of Islam. This bond was broken later as time progressed and the community of Muslims became larger and unmanageable from the centre of government due to the tyranny of distance and transport of the time, compounded by the fact that self interest of people: power, greed and above all the turning of the Code into religious dogma to suit the ruling elite polemic to emphasise the religious differences was one of the effective tool.
Esoteric: Mysterious, Taught To A Select Few.
Here then esoteric – that of Secret, mysterious and taught to a select few of the elite, was the other effective tool employed to control, with persuasion of superstition, the ignorant masses. The collusion of the Rulers, Wealthy and the Clergy was essential and one depended heavily on the other two. No different to what is happening today.
However this trium’phery of power could only effectively function in the environment of ignorance, superstition and most of all irrational spirituality of the masses. Religions are based and thrive on irrational stories of unnatural phenomenon called miracles. Examples of such miracles abound in all religions and no religion is complete without them.
Religions of Muslims, Shia and Sunni and their many denominations are not exempt, hence the prolification of religious schools in spite of the fact that the Book of Codes the Quran extols the virtue of using knowledge based intelligence in studying the functionality of the universe. The Universe that it says is not created in jest or in vain 3-191.
It is valid to argue that In the context of ancient times when mankind had not acquired even the minute fraction of Knowledge that it has accumulated till today, superstition and irrationality was the tools of trade of those times and the Clergy in order to keep a grip on masses, the esoteric religious knowledge of mysteries of God’s working was handy.
But what to say of today’s scholars, when some for example translate 6-59 and 78-19 as meaning that mankind cannot cross the barrier of space to leave the earth to go to the Moon, because the keys to the doors to heavens are with God.
Yet, conversely some would tell us that Muhammad the Messenger of God had – and they insist – bodily ascended to the farthest reaches of heavens, riding a human lady-faced mare Burraq and came back to earth within the time frame of a dark night, referring perhaps to 17-1.
Two opposite and conflicting Beliefs in the name of one and the same Islam. Neither rational nor logical. If the Book contends that God did not differentiate between any of His Apostles then why was Muhammad the last Messenger given this exclusive honour of ascendancy – Me’raaj, to the extent that he was presented to God in the throne room? The expression Me’raaj does not exist in Quran.
But credit is accrued by this story as having inspired the poet Dante to pen one of the greatest literary pieces of fourteenth century.
The story of Me’raaj is ‘one up’ on Jesus Christ as he had only ascended to heaven but has not been presented to the Father in His throne room and is awaited to return to earth sometime in the future. Religious flights of fanciful imagination have no limits when all stops of rationality are removed in the name of faith, in contradicting stories.
Esoteric-ism covers all aspects of irrationality and is used to justify contradictions and disputing of Quranic Codes without considering consequences. For that to work props are needed of spurious documents and most religions have volumes of them. Muslims to put it mildly, have libraries full of them.
The consequences of disputing Quranic Codes, say for example of 6-159 and attempts to justify the existence of sectarianism with the help of the libraries of Apocrypha are here now to see in stark reality what the conflict in Middle East and Muslim World is played in the name of sectarian divide, largely in the name of Sunni Shia polemics, tinged no doubt with various other religious conflicting dogmas and political imperatives. Irrespective of the utter misery that is wroth on millions of innocent human beings now rotting in the squalor of refugee camps.
All this was not possible without the “actions” taken by those who believe in their misguided esoteric-ism of heavenly rewards in Jannah if they were killed taking the action to inflict the above said miseries on their own brethren, let alone humanity. Such is the power of persuasion of polemics and esoteric-ism that it fails to distinguish between friends and foes.
Rest in Peace Mirza ‘Ghalib’ where ever else you are for you never were taken in by the religious Jannah. Your Islamic Code of Good life shines through this:
Hum Ma’ahid Hain’ Hamaaraa Keesh Hai Tark-eE-Rasoom,
Millatain’ Jub Mitgaeen’ Ajzaa-e-Iman’ Hogaeen’!
We are Unitarian, our faith is to break down formalities – Communities when melted into one humanity is when they become part of Iman. … Sir, Are you referring to 3-103?
A regular contributor to New Age Islam (where this article was published), Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer