By Sanjiv Bhatla, Exclusive to New Age Islam
20 February 2018
Excerpts from the Book Islam Is Good, Muslims Should Follow It By Sanjiv Bhatla – Part 1
Exclusively selected by the author for NewAgeIslam.com
From the book
ISLAM IS GOOD MUSLIMS SHOULD FOLLOW IT
By SANJIV BHATLA
Published by CRABWISE PRESS, 2017
Paperback Edition (330 pages) available at: www.amazon.in
E-Book Edition: available in KINDLE STORE at 13 different Amazon sites like, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, etc.
Also By Sanjiv Bhatla
LOOKING BACK (A collection of poems)
HAIKU, MY FRIEND (A collection of 133 Haikus)
A SINNER SAYS (A long poem, prompted by The Dhammapada)
INJUSTICE (A Novel)
MR J HAS LEFT US (A Novel)
NINMAH’S LONELY MAN (A long poem)
ARABIA BEFORE ISLAM
Life in Brief
ARABIA AFTER ISLAM
Practical Guide for Conscientious Living
STREAMS OF THOUGHT IN ISLAM
By Muslims, And Others
THE THIRD FACTOR
I humbly say that my approach is slightly different from that of others. For example, this book has a chapter not specifically on Islamic Sharia, but on, “JUSTICE: By Muslims, and Others”. It juxtaposes the Islamic methods against that of other societies over the ages.
I sincerely could not figure out how Islamic method could claim to have evolved out of two very humane documents, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah, and yet produce such outlandish juristic decisions as it does at times in the name of Islamic Sharia. Based on my analysis, I have tried to evolve a new concept which I call, THE THIRD FACTOR. It constitutes the last chapter, and is also mentioned in brief in the opening pages of the book.
There are some other deliberations in the book which a reader may find interesting. For example, I have tried to argue that contrary to common perception, the Quran discourages the Muslims to produce more children (pp. 198-201); Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith about “women in hellfire” is wrongly interpreted by his critics (pp. 202-207); he has been called a pedophile by cynics, while in my opinion he was essentially a one-woman-man! (pp. 85-89). (Page numbers as they appear in the paperback edition.)
--------------A FEW QUOTES
“Say, you who deny the truth, I do not worship what you worship. You do not worship what I worship. I will never worship what you worship. You will never worship what I worship. You have your religion and I have mine...” The Quran (109:1-6)
“There shall be no compulsion in religion...” The Quran (2: 256)
“... Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him....Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell fire.”
“Narrated Abu Musa: We were with the Prophet on a journey, and whenever we ascended a high place, we used to say, “Allah u Akbar.” The Prophet said, “Don’t trouble yourselves too much! You are not calling a deaf or an absent person, but you are calling One Who Hears, Sees, and is very near...”
in the present case,
if he were with us
at this moment?”
Along with the guidance of The Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah, today’s Islamic jurists should ask this question to themselves while dealing with a case in hand. If they can evoke the Prophet’s spirit of kindness and fair play, their judgments would match with the best in the world.
…The Muslims set out on the pilgrimage to Kaaba, and here God was to give them a ‘tactical victory’ that had to have far-reaching consequences. Muhammad declined his Companions’ suggestion to carry some arms with them for self defense. Their group of 1400 men set forth dressed in the customary two unstitched clothes, one to cover the lower body, and the other spread across the shoulders. For his times, and given the virulence that existed between the Muslims and the Quraish, that was quite a revolutionary decision on the part of Muhammad. It was true that a large territory surrounding the Kaaba called the Haram had been declared a no-violence zone by the Quraish long ago, but the Muslims needed to travel vast tracts of land before they could reach those holy and safer precincts. This reflected Muhammad’s faith in God or in the power of non-violence —that, no human being would harm another human being if he was un-armed, and un-provoking. It is difficult to ascertain whether Gandhi was influenced by this portion of Muhammad’s history or whether he had thought up the concept entirely on his own, but more than a thousand years later he was to test the same faith in the power of non-violence during India’s freedom struggle against the British….
(MUHAMMAD: Life in Brief, page 74, paperback edition)
Muhammad’s own days, sadly, were numbered. He survived an attempt to poison him while returning from Khyber, but the incident did serious damage to his inner constitution that wasn’t fully fathomed at that time. When his victorious army was departing from Khyber, the widowed wife of one Salam ibn Mishkam roasted a lamb for Muhammad and poisoned every part of it. She particularly poisoned the shoulder of the lamb because she knew it was the Prophet’s favourite. ….She had lost her husband, father, and an uncle in that battle with the Muslims, so was she taking revenge? Muhammad asked her. She answered evasively; she said she wanted to find out for herself if Muhammad indeed was a Prophet or just another ordinary king, because a Prophet would somehow be able to know what she had done. Her reason sounded hollow, her crime was grave, yet Muhammad forgave her. To my mind, this is the strongest and complete evidence that Muhammad genuinely abhorred violence. That war had been forced upon him by dangerous shenanigans of Banu Nadir, but still, he perhaps did not fully absolve himself of the bloodshed that resulted. Deep down, though undeservingly, Muhammad perhaps felt guilty for the war in which that woman lost many of her close relatives, and which caused her great anguish and bitterness. ….
(MUHAMMAD: Life in Brief, page 93, paperback edition)
Ali’s valor on the battlefield was no doubt a great asset for Muhammad, but his remarks in the context of Tabuk mentioned above, and the situation preceding the Hijra would indicate that Muhammad considered Ali more as a trusted and indispensable brother, and not necessarily as the next leader of the Ummah. Their age difference could be the main reason. Ali was nearly thirty years younger to Muhammad —and by almost as many years to Muhammad’s closest Companions, Abu Bakr, Umar and others. This factor could have weighed against Ali when the matter of who would lead the Muslims came up after Muhammad’s death. There must have been many middle-aged Muslims among their ranks who might have resented taking orders from a thirty-year old Ali…. The situation was slightly different ten years later when Umar passed away, because Ali was now in his mid-forties. But not him, and Uthman was chosen as the Caliph this time around, and that, in a way, tested the patience of Ali and his supporters.
“What might have been is an abstraction// remaining a perpetual possibility// only in the world of speculation” — to quote a few lines from T.S. Eliot. What might have been the fate of Islam if Ali and not Uthman was chosen the third Caliph? Could it have prevented the antagonism of the Ali camp which blew up into a full-scale revolt and split the Ummah into two groups, hostile to each other, for all times to come? These are matters of conjecture, and God alone knows the answer……
There are no indications if the Prophet himself categorically opined in favour of any one of his associates as the leader of the Muslims after his death. After all, none other than Muhammad himself had received the revelation in which Abraham, the patriarch of all monotheistic religions, asked God if his descendents could be made leaders of the sect, and God replied in the negative. (2: 124)
(ARABIA AFTER ISLAM, pp 106-8, Paperback edition)
-----------Aisha’s and rebels’ forces could not withstand the might of Ali’s army. The battle was declared over when Aisha’s camel fell. But Ali forgave her — perhaps out of reverence for Muhammad, and for the memory that Aisha was Muhammad’s dearest wife. Or, because he remembered that Muhammad had taught them to be kind to women and merciful to the vanquished. Or perhaps for all of the above reasons. Ali too, like the previous three Caliphs before him was a worthy successor to the Prophet, having observed him from close quarters and imbibed all of his goodness. He did not punish or embarrass Aisha in any way, but honorably sent her back to Madina under a military escort headed by Aisha’s own brother, Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. …Aisha remained active as a teacher in Madina for the rest of her life, but took no further interest in the affairs of the State. She passed away in 678 AD, aged 64.
(ARABIA AFTER ISLAM, p 112, Paperback edition)
In the early period of Islam, when the enthusiasm for the new religion and therefore adherence to its tenets was high, the situation of Muslim women was much better compared to that of their counterparts in other societies. It degenerated into near-total submission to men once again with the passage of time. The imposition of full-body veil was a major reason for this deterioration. Such a head-to-toe covering was nowhere prescribed in the Quran, and was a stratagem of the latter-day Muslim men who perhaps wanted to re-establish their dominance over women. At the bottom of it might have been an unspoken acceptance that it was difficult to emotionally satisfy multiple wives. It led the ever-suspecting-male in them to believe that their women’s discontent would lead to infidelity if visual contact with other men was not blocked forthwith. Other men shouldn’t be able to lay eyes on their women that is, for they knew that their “brothers” were more likely to initiate a temptation than the women themselves. In a perverse way it was a back-handed compliment for the women’s fidelity! They knew that the ‘male greed’ and not female perfidy was more likely to be the reason for mischief. Otherwise, logically speaking, to prevent a yearning woman from seeking a dalliance elsewhere, it should have been the men who should have been covered from head to toe with a veil so that she didn’t go week at the knees at the sight of a strong, handsome male! (A thousand years later the same Suspicious Male got busy inventing the “chastity belt” in Europe.)
(ARABIA AFTER ISLAM, p 117, Paperback edition)
Did such attitude of Arabs discourage establishment of religious missions, like those of the Christian Church, which could have promulgated Islam in a peaceful manner? Perhaps, yes. Perhaps the situation would have been different if Prophet Muhammad had lived a little longer. ….Islam never permitted aggression, that too of a violent nature in which blood of innocents was shed. Islam taught tolerance to other religions. The Muslim zealots ignored all that. The lofty ideals of Islam, we can say, were sacrificed allegedly for popularizing Islam. The attitude of Arabs reverted to pre-Islamic voluntary aggression as the decades and centuries rolled by; their behavior became synonymous with unprovoked offensive. One can say that — not spiritually, but for all practical purposes — they reverted back to the age of Jahiliyyah. It is ironic that Islam arrived in the vast tracts of land beyond Arabia by non-Islamic conduct of the Muslims!
(ARABIA AFTER ISLAM, p 129, Paperback edition)
A reference to ‘Travelers in need’ often appears in the text of the Quran, almost always when there is a mention of orphans. I would say, to my mind, these references embody the very Spirit of the Quran: human kindness —‘concern and compassion for those who are helpless, even if temporarily’. Like a traveler. An orphan is helpless; a woman is often in a weaker position, so she is ‘helpless’ in a manner of speaking, so she deserves courtesy and tenderness; a traveler is away from home, away from his near and dear ones, so even if he is rich and strong on his home turf, he is ‘helpless’ while traveling. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Zakat, which is otherwise reserved for the poor and the destitute, can also be used for the benefit of travelers in need…
(THE QURAN, p 146, Paperback edition)
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Instead of using our sense of goodness and righteousness to get the best meaning out of our scriptures we have tried to be blindly literalistic with disastrous results.