By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef (Shahbaz Nadwi), New Age Islam
17 March, 2015
The grim situation prevailing in the Islamic world created by radical Islamists and religious extremists is a matter of concern and calls for serious thinking and introspection on the part of mainstream Muslims. However, it is necessary to realize that the distorted interpretation of religion and not religion as such, is the cause of this situation.
In fact, this situation is the outcome of so-called Islamism, being taught in our seminaries and propagated by so-called Islamic movements and political and religious parties.
To counter this extremism, it is not sufficient to inculcate secularism in Muslim societies as is done by the West and its protégé Middle East dictatorships and army rulers of Arab world, but it is necessary to give out a counter narrative to this political Islam.
Here are some outlines of this desired counter narrative, expounded by both Wahiduddin Khan and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi in their thought provoking and insightful writings. With this counter narrative, stereotypes indoctrinated by political Islam would come under strains and help the people of the world correct their understanding of Islam and refresh their thinking about Islam, its positive role and its relevance in modern world.
(1) In contrast to the popular viewpoint put forth by Maududi, Syed Qutb, followed by Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliated outfits, Islam indeed, in absolute terms, addresses an individual not a society. Of course it addresses a society too, but the society always comes in, on conditional terms. An individual necessarily will be responsible to God in Hereafter too, and not a society. Collective injunctions given in both Quran and Hadith are also meant for Muslim rulers in their individual capacity.
Hence it is a baseless notion that state is rooted in Islam's basic teachings, so it should be Islamized, as it is argued by Islamists these days. Several Muslim thinkers of twentieth century propagated the notion that Muslims were obligated to establish an Islamic state; failing to do so they will be committing a grave sin. With this propaganda, Islamists have committed a blunder in their relevant countries by creating an unbridgeable rift between Muslim and non Muslim communities of the country.
As for the political theory of establishing a theocracy, non Muslim citizens of a Muslim majority country are compelled to regard themselves as second class citizens of that country as Islamists are not ready to give them an equal status. A minimum status they could be given is only of a protected minority. Except this reduced position, non Muslims have no right in a theocracy, dreamed by Islamists in Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere.
(2) In fact Muslim majority countries may establish their united state or Common Wealth. We Muslims may dream for that and we may also struggle to realize this dream. Yet this is neither a Shariah order, nor Muslims are supposed to do this job compulsorily.
Likewise, neither Caliphate is a religious term nor does Islam pursue its followers to establish it on a global scale. In the wake of first Hijri century, Muslim world was divided in to two rival and often inimical-to-each-other Islamic empires; Abbasid Caliphate in the east, making Baghdad its seat of power on one hand, and Umayyad rule in Spain (Islamic Andulus) on the other hand .The two caliphates had been there for many centuries. And during that intellectually fertile period there lived many top most authentic scholars, great jurists and Imams of Islam. They never expressed their resentment, dislike or disagreement with this political schism of Islamic rule. No one amongst them stated that, that was anti Islam and anti Shariah practice. Why? Because there was no order in Quran and Hadith to this effect that Muslims should establish a united caliphate.
Yes, it is true that whenever an Islamic state was established anywhere in the world, revolting against its jurisdiction was considered an unpardonable sin and perpetrators of this sin, according to a Hadith, would go to Hell.
(3)In Islam the basis of nationality is not religion, e.g. Islamism is only a popular yet baseless notion, as our religious texts are silent on this subject. Neither Quran, nor Sunnah mentions that Muslims are a nation or they should be a unified nation. Yet it is clearly stated that Muslims are brothers (10: انماالمومنون إخوة (الحجرات), so accordingly, Muslims are related to each other as brothers not as a unified nation.
So notwithstanding their division into different nation states, various races and cultural communities, Muslims are brothers to each other, linked with a strong bond of Islamic brotherhood. So they are bound morally to defend their brothers’ rights if they face oppression, torture or aggression. They are incumbent to care for their brothers when they are in agony and need. Muslims should help their brothers and strive to maintain economic and social relations with them.
Muslim countries may be demanded not to close their doors upon them for job market etc.Yet they cannot be demanded that surpassing geographical boundaries, giving up all their nation states and forgiving their separate national and cultural identities, they must be transformed into one Islamic state or caliphate as they call it generally. Contrary to this popular notion, Muslims are free to form their separate nation states. Likewise, if they have full religious freedom, they can live in non Muslim countries too, as their citizens on the basis of their native land. Nothing is unlawful for them according to Quran and Sunnah.
(4) A group among Muslims may exist who claim to be Muslim or insist on their being Muslim, though they may adhere to any belief or ideology regarded by Muslim scholars or Muslim masses a false belief and untrue creed. Their belief or practices may be regarded untrue, even may be termed as waywardness or infidelity, but, since these people also present explanations in support of their belief from Islamic sources: Quran and Sunnah, they cannot be termed as non Muslim or unbelievers.
To know the right position of such beliefs, actions and creeds in the sight of God, we have only one option; to wait for the Day of Judgment. In this world people having such astray faith, are Muslims according to their announcements and confessions and must be treated as Muslims ala other Muslims, who adhere to main stream Islam. Yes, Ulema have the right to try to correct them, to call them to main stream Islam, to condemn that part in their belief, if any, as infidelity or idolatry and so on and so forth .They also have the right to let people know the truth regarding them. Yet the decision that they are no longer Muslim or they must be outlawed in Muslim society, is a divine provision. No one is entitled to give this decree himself. Everybody who has a slight insight into Quran and Sunnah knows that God did not give this privilege to any human being.
(5) In Islam idolatry, infidelity and apostasy are considered great sins. Yet no one is entitled to punish anyone on account of these sins. Again the punishment for these sins is a divine prerogative. Only God will give a befitting punishment of these sins on the Day of Judgment. Of course, He gives that also in this worldly life if He wants to. The law for that is that a messenger is sent to a people and he delivers his mission to the extent that no excuse remains for them. Then if the people persist on their polytheism, infidelity and wrong doing, they are destined to be doomed. After the last messenger of God, this door of divine punishment is closed forever.
These are some outlines of the perceived counter narrative to the popular political interpretation of Islam which is quite prevalent in today's world of Islam and which is the main cause of all trouble.
Dr.Mohammd Ghitreef is the director of Foundation for Islamic Studies, New Delhi
“In Islam idolatry, infidelity and
apostasy are considered great sins. Yet no one is entitled to punish anyone on
account of these sins. Again the punishment for these sins is a divine
prerogative. Only God will give a befitting punishment of these sins on the Day
of Judgment. Of course, He gives that also in this worldly life if He wants to.
The law for that is that a
messenger is sent to a people and he delivers his mission to the extent that no
excuse remains for them. Then if the people persist on their polytheism,
infidelity and wrong doing, they are destined to be doomed. After the last
messenger of God, this door of divine punishment is closed forever.”
I have read the detailed “Contra narrative” of Maulana Javed Ghamidi. His
theory of “The Divine plan of Allah” is defective. The law that is stated and
highlighted in the quoted para above is no law since it is not true for any of
the Prophets except Noah (pbuh).
Jesus (pbuh) was sent to the
Jews. They rejected him and did not accept his supremacy. Were they destroyed?
Yusuf (pbuh) was sent to the
Egyptians. Was polytheism and polytheists destroyed after his mission? Is there
any verse which says that all the polytheist Egyptians followed the Pharaoh and
got drowned in the sea - the women, the children, the sick, the old - every
single polytheist? No, only those who tried to kill Moses and the Bani Israel
by following Pharaoh got drowned. They were guilty of trying to unjustly kill
Moses and Bani Israel. The rest may or may not have accepted faith but they
were not guilty of kufr in the temporal dimension by trying to unjustly kill
the believers and were not destroyed.
Only in the case of Noah (pbuh)
we know for sure that the theory of “The Divine Plan of God” holds good:
(71:26) And Noah, said: "O
my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth!(27) "For, if
Thou dost leave (any of) them, they will but mislead Thy devotees, and they
will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones.(28) "O my Lord! Forgive me, my
parents, all who enter my house in Faith, and (all) believing men and believing
women: and to the wrong-doers grant Thou no increase but in perdition!"
Although in the case of Lut, Hud and Shoeb (pbut) all
the kafaru among their people were destroyed, each case is unique and different
from the rest.
In the case of the last Messenger,
there was no punishment meted out to the people by an act of God. Acts of God
are beyond human scrutiny but acts of man are not beyond our scrutiny. In the
case of the last messenger, every move is recorded in the Quran with both
context and reason and every act of the last messenger conforms to Secular Standards
of justice and not to some divine standard beyond human scrutiny. I will
discuss more of this in detail in an article. At this stage, suffice it is to
say that the contra narrative is not even in accordance with what the Quran
says on the subject and is full of holes.
These defective contra narratives although
well-meaning cannot stop extremism. As a matter of fact, such contra narratives
provide theological support to extremism. Maulana Javed Ghamidi may say that
there are certain acts which only a Prophet can do but where is the support for
such a view in the Quran? A good Muslim will follow the Prophet in everything
he did and the contra narrative coming from the most `moderate’ among the ulema
only reinforces the conviction of the extremists. The contra narrative although
well-meaning is based on false premises and arrives at wrong conclusions.