Is Islam A Single Universal Tradition

1068 words - 4 pages

In this article, the historian Francis Robinson argues that Islam is a single universal tradition based on the fact that borrowed practice elements from Hinduism are needed to be considered fallacies in the religion. Those syncretic elements were combined from Hinduism by various Indian communities. The argument is if Islam is a one unified religion or rather is it a religion that embraced other religion practices from different communities. Islam is practiced differently around the world, and it is merged with local practices and other religions. And like Christianity it appears in many forms around the world. The matter is to look how they are different from one another. Anthropologists argue that the distinctive practices and beliefs should not be considered an inferior form of Islam, but they should count them as equal. Robinson argues that Indian Islam might contain Hindu elements, but they will disappear when those who practice them will gain knowledge on the actual basic practices of Islam. He argues that it happened before when Islam spread to new areas, but it is still one religion with small variations. In contrast, sociologist Veena Das argues that Robinson learns only from the historical context he read rather than learning it from people’s behavior and beliefs. Such Islamic texts give the wrong impression on how the religion is practiced by common people. She argues that religious texts are not leading to a single tradition. The different texts give dissimilar interpretations, and practices that are not practiced in reality for like in Arab countries.
Anthropologists see Islam in South Asia as more Indian in its belief. Robinson contrasts this theory with the support of the sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad. Ahmad argues that people might know the language and the text, but they do not know how people behave. Since they comprehend an autonomous idea on Islam, they are misleading others about the different practices. Ahmad clarifies it with the five pillars, who are basic principles in the real Islam and are being practiced everywhere. Ahmad explains that the contradictions between authentic and local practices came as a development of the Islamic society. They were changed for existent among other religions, and for people’s survival. In that way, it happened to be that some are closer to the ideal tradition than others whose practices were merged with local customs. Some assume that the local practices that influence the religion will be eventually eliminated. Ahmad notes that Indian Islam is still unified by the religion and folk beliefs. Ahmad cannot see how the religion is being assimilated with local tradition. He looks on how they co-exist as essential parts to a unified religion, which was needed for co-existent. His point of view reflects on how Islam is seen in India rather as an Indian Islam. Along with Ahmad’s perspective, they are limitations regarding the nature of the Indian Islam. Ahmad showed how people behave, but a person...

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