By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age
08 December 2016
Now Germany too has banned full-face veils.
France had done that earlier. Switzerland banned minarets in 2010. Islamophobic
politicians are gaining acceptance in most European countries. Donald Trump has
already been elected President. Muslims, however, don’t get it.
They just refuse to understand why fear of
Islam is deepening in every society, India being no exception.
They just take bans on veils or minarets,
as attacks on their religious freedom. They never worry about the lack of
religious freedom in Muslim societies, not even for Muslims from minority sects
or those considered heretic.
They do not understand that religious
freedom is indivisible.
Indian Muslims have just observed the 24th
anniversary of the demolition of Babri mosque. But only recently so many Hindu
temples were vandalised in next door Bangladesh. Hindu girls are routinely
kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and raped in the name of marriage.
Hindu girls are routinely kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and
raped in the name of marriage'
But one doesn’t hear a word of condemnation
from ulema or Muslim institutions.
Does Islam Allow Freedom Of Religion?
Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow building of
temples or churches in its land. If there is one Jihad that would be
permissible according to Quran’s teachings it would be a Jihad against Saudi
Arabia, forcing it to allow worship places of other religions. When Muslims
were permitted to defend themselves with arms 13 years after the advent of
Islam, it was to protect freedom of religion per se, not just that of Muslims.
In the words of Quran (22:40): “And had it not been that Allah checks one set
of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the
mosques, in which His praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly
But how come, we feel concerned only when
it is a matter concerning a mosque or a supposedly “Islamic” veil being banned
and do not bother if Muslim and avowedly Islamic states do not allow religious
freedom to other groups.
Not only that. We have scholars who claim
that while non-Muslims have perfect freedom to practice their religion in an
Islamic state, (not quite true, of course), Muslims do not have that freedom at
all. Once born to a Muslim parent, you are doomed for ever to be a Muslim or
else. Well, your throat will be slit, no less. Indeed, there are “revered”
ulema in various schools of thought who say that if someone is seen so much as
not attending Friday prayers, his throat should be slit.
Writes Salman Tarik Kureshi, a noted
Pakistani scholar: “A person greatly admires Hazrat Maulana Rashid Gangohi, the
outstanding scholar who was one of the founders of the Deoband madrasa.
The gentleman to whom I refer is a kindly
soul, who can be depended upon for help by others.
However, when in the course of conversation
I chanced to remark that the most basic virtue lay in kindness towards others,
he contradicted me. Kindness, he contended, was reserved for “pious, practicing
Muslim girls with Islam's holy book the Quran Koran at a Madrasa Islamic
school in rural north India Uttar Pradesh India (photo for representation only)
for others, they should be given a chance to mend their ways, after which “they
would be Wajibul Qatal (liable to be killed)”.
Another person I chanced to meet — a finance
man, no less — feels that people who do not attend Friday prayers “should
simply be killed. Slit their throats!”
Denying freedom of religion to Muslims and
ex-Muslims, not to speak of non-Muslims, indeed has a long and gory history.
The Quranic dictum (2: 256) la ikraha fid
Deen [Let there be no compulsion in religion] did not leave an impact beyond
the life of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Forcible conversions started with the
first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) fighting Ridda (apostasy) wars against the
tribes who had left Islam after the demise of the Prophet. They were all
brought back to the fold of Islam or killed.
Similar is the case of Khwarij in the time
of the fourth caliph Hazrat Ali (RA) and beyond to neo-Khwarij today, also
known as Wahhabi or Salafi.
These groups mostly kill Muslims whom they
consider “heretics” including Shias and Ahmadis.
We Muslims need to be reminded of this
history to be able to understand our present. Until we start respecting and
accepting other religions and the human right of someone born a Muslim to leave
the faith, we should not expect respect from others. We should not confuse
their magnanimity with our right. Rights always have corresponding duties. Let
us Muslims discard Islam supremacism and accept for a change that Islam is a
spiritual path to salvation, one of the many. I know looking within and finding
out how we are contributing to the growing Islamophobia is difficult but we
have no option but to do so.
This article first appeared in Mail Today, New Delhi, on 8 December 2016.
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