Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Just a few weeks ago, a group of young Saudis led by Ayman Al-Sharif initiated a web link that they called Makkah Almukarrama Live. The group broadcast live pictures and activities from the Grand Mosque and its surroundings. The Grand Mosque houses the Kaaba, which is the most sacred site in Islam. The broadcast was done at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which is one of the busiest times of the year. But, hundreds of Internet watchers especially non-Muslims who have never been to Makkah were fascinated by scenes of more than the two million worshippers busy in religious rites and the massive infrastructure surrounding the Grand Mosque. The worshippers numbering more than two million and scattered all over the mosque and the courtyard line up around the Kaaba in less than a minute after the call for prayer. This discipline among such a huge number of worshippers is seen by people around the world. The videos and pictures also showed the surrounding area of the Grand Mosque, a scene that is only appreciated by the millions of Muslims who have been to Makkah. Non-Muslims are not allowed to go to the two holiest places for Muslims — the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. Many non-Muslims always ask why only Muslims are allowed to enter these two cities located in the western part of Saudi Arabia? Many say they can get first-hand information about Islam in a better way if they are allowed to enter the surrounding area of the holy places. To be honest, I don’t know the exact answer. And for this reason we can only ask, can Muslims reform some of the rules of Islam? Muslim scholars can discuss the issue and the reason behind not allowing non-Muslims to enter Islam’s two most holy places. Muslim’s holy places with their greatness, massive structure and the enormous spiritual feelings play the most important role in promoting peace not only in the Muslim world, but in the whole world. A known fact is that Islam is the fastest growing religion with more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. But, why Muslims are not among today’s inventors and innovators? Why do they lack behind in science and technology? Why are they so divided? And most importantly, why Muslims still gloat over the past glory and never try to catch up with the modern-day developments? The world knows that early Muslims had contributed immensely to past civilizations. From coffee to surgery, Muslims were in the forefront. When we talk about bringing about reforms in some of the Islamic rules, it does not mean changing the teachings of Islam, rather it means utilizing the rules in a better way taking into account the present day needs. Islam encourages reading, education, transparency, respecting others and respecting women and even protecting our planet earth. Even during full-scale conflicts and wars, Islam prohibits attack on places of worship, hurting women, abusing children, hurting the elderly and even prohibits cutting of trees. In other words, a good Muslim is the one who does not hurt the other. That is why it is important for Muslims not only to talk about Islam, but to show others the good behavior of a true Muslim. As a matter of fact, there was a poll about which countries follow rules regarding transparency, social equality, respecting others and following good manners that are truly based on Islamic teachings. It turned out that places like Ireland, Sweden and Norway were the countries that followed such rules. The division among Muslims especially in this region gives a very bad image about Islam. People are killed in the name of Islam that makes one wonder why some Muslims would attack and kill others just because they belong to another sect. It is clear many of them interpret the Islamic teachings very wrongly. And that is why we need to ask why even after 1,400 years many issues remain unresolved. Islam is a religion that is appropriate for all times and places if followed and interpreted correctly. Islam is not only about dos and dont's. It is not about Halal and Haram (allowed and forbidden). Islamic teachings are pure and simple. But, Muslims have made them very complex. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) always chose the easier path, but, we today always choose the difficult path. As long as Muslims gloat over the past glory, they will not be able to deal with the future. Bringing changes to Islamic rules don’t mean changing them. It is only to follow them the right way. Early Muslim scholars and scientists had changed the world by their hard work and innovation. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Can We Use Islamic Rules in Better Way? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.