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A Critical Exposition of the Popular ‘Jihad’—Part 7


By Moulavi Chirágh Ali

"There are of course formalists and hypocrites in Islam as well as in religions of which we have more experience. The uniformity and regularity of their prostrations resemble the movements of a well-drilled company of soldiers or of machines, but the Koran denounces "woe upon those who pray, but in their prayers are careless, who make a show of devotion, but refuse to help the needy;" while nowhere is formalism more pungently ridiculed than in the common Arabic proverb, "His head is towards the Kibleh, but his heels among the weeds." We could almost excuse a touch of formalism for the sake of securing that absolute stillness and outward decorum in worship which deceives the stranger as he enters a crowded mosque into the belief that it is quite empty. Persons who hold themselves excused from the duty of worship by every slight obstacle might do worse than get infected with the sublime formalism of Cais, son of Sad, who would not shift his head an inch from the place of his prostration, though a huge serpent lifted its fangs close to his face and finally coiled itself round his neck. And if some are formal, certainly many are very much in earnest."[157]

[Sidenote: Ablutions.]

The ablutions have not been imposed as burdens, or as having any mysterious merit, but merely as a measure of cleanliness.

     "God desireth not to lay a burden upon you, but he desireth to purify you."

[Footnote 156: The institution of pilgrimage is a harmless one, and conducive to unity in religion for Arabs, and gives moreover an impetus to trade at large.]

[Footnote 157: Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ, by Marcus Dods, D.D., pp. 30-1.]

[Sidenote: Koran both abstract and concrete in morals.]

41. (4) The Koran seems fully aware of the danger of the precise and fixed system of positive precepts moulding and regulating every department of life. The danger is that the system of formalism in which men are tied down to the performance of certain religious functions, minutely and precisely fixed in respect to time, place and manner, so that neither less nor more is required of them, retains too tight a grip upon them, when the circumstances which justified it have changed or vanished away. The moral growth of those who live under such a system of minute and punctilious restraint is stunted and retarded. The tendency of mankind to formalism is so strong that they very commonly, though often unconsciously, fall into the error of imagining that there is a peculiar intrinsic merit and virtue in the mere discharge of those prescribed forms of duties and religious ceremonies. Morality is with them not in the abstract but in the concrete, as consisting of a mass of religious observances, rather than of a certain disposition of heart towards God and man. The Koran deals with vice and virtue as a whole as well as in fragmentary details. It treats of inward motives as much as of outward practice, of exhortations equally with precepts and commands. It holds up before man the hatefulness and ugliness of vice _as a whole_. It does not enclose the whole of the practical morality and piety within the narrow compass of a fixed number of precepts. It lays the foundation of that far-reaching charity which regards all men as equal in the sight of God, and recognizes no distinction of races and classes.

     120. "And abandon the semblance of wickedness and wickedness itself. They, verily, whose _only_ acquirement is iniquity shall be repaid for what they have gained."

     152. "Say: Come, I will rehearse what your Lord hath made binding on you, that ye assign not ought to Him as sharers of his Divine honour, and that ye be good to your parents; _and_ that ye slay not your children because of poverty, for them and for you will We provide; and that ye come not near to pollutions, outward or inward; and that ye slay not anyone whom God hath forbidden you, unless for a just cause. This hath He enjoined on you: haply ye will understand."--Sura VI.

     31. "Say: Only hath my Lord forbidden filthy actions, whether open or secret, and iniquity, and unjust violence, and to associate with God that for which He hath sent down no warranty, and to speak of God that of which ye have no knowledge."--Sura VII.

     33. "To those who avoid great crimes and scandals, but commit only lighter faults, verily, thy Lord will be rich in forgiveness. He well knew you when He produced you out of the earth, and when ye were embryos in your mothers' womb. Assert not then your own purity. He best knoweth who feareth him."--Sura LIII.

     13. "O men! verily We have created you of a male and a female: and We have divided you into peoples and tribes that ye might take knowledge one of another. Truly the most worthy of honour in the sight of God is he who feareth Him most. Verily God is Knowing, Cognizant."--Sura XLIX.

     143. "And every _nation_ has a quarter _of the Heavens_. It is God who turneth them _towards it_: hasten then emulously after good: wheresover ye be, God will one day bring you all together: verily God is all powerful."--Sura II.

     52. "And to thee We have sent down the Book _of the Koran_ with truth, confirmatory of previous scripture and its safeguard. Judge therefore between them by what God hath sent down, and follow not their desires, after the truth which hath come unto thee. To every one of you have We given a rule and an open way."

     53. "And if God had pleased He had surely made you all one people; but He would test you by what He hath given to each. Be emulous then in good deeds. To God do ye _all_ return, and He will tell you concerning the subjects of your disputes."--Sura V.

     127 "And vie in haste for pardon from your Lord, and a Paradise, vast as the Heavens and the Earth, prepared for the God-fearing."

     128. "Who gives alms, _alike_ in prosperity and _in_ distress, and who master their anger, and forgive others! And God loveth the doer of good."

     129. "And who, after they have done a base deed or committed a wrong against their own souls, remember God and implore forgiveness of their sins--and who can forgive sins but God only?—and persevere not in what they have willingly done amiss."--Sura III.

     21. "Vie in hasting after pardon from your Lord, and Paradise--whose outspread is as the outspread of the Heaven and of the Earth. Prepared is it for those who believed in God and his apostles. Such is the bounty of God: to whom He will He giveth it: and of immense bounty is God!"--Sura LII.

     183. "Ye shall assuredly be tried in your possessions and in yourselves. And many hurtful things shall ye assuredly hear from those to whom the scriptures were given before you, and from those who join other gods with God. But if ye be steadfast and fear God, then this verily is _God's_ decree for the affairs of _life_."--Sura III.

     16. "O my son! Observe prayer and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and be patient under whatever shall betide thee: verily this is a bounden duty."--Sura XXXI.

     38. "Yet let the recompense of evil be only a like evil; but he who forgiveth and maketh peace, shall find his reward for it from God; verily He loveth not those who act unjustly."

     39. "And there shall be no way _open_ against those who, after being wronged, avenge themselves."

     40. "Only shall there be a way _open_ against those who unjustly wrong others, and act insolently on the earth in disregard of justice. These! a grievous punishment doth await them."

     41. "And whoso beareth _wrongs_ with patience and forgiveth,--this verily is a bounden duty."--Sura XLII.

[Sidenote: Adaptability of the Koran to surrounding circumstances.]

42. (5) The Quran keeps pace with the most fully and rapidly-developing civilization, if it is rationally interpreted, not as expounded by the Ulema in the Common Law Book and enforced by the sentiment of a nation. It is only the Mohammadan Common Law, with all its traditions or oral sayings of the Prophet,--very few of which are genuine reports, and the supposed chimerical concurrence of the learned Moslem Doctors and mostly their analogical reasonings (called _Hadees_, _Ijma_, and _Kias_), passed under the name of _Fiqah_ or _Shariat_, that has blended together the spiritual and the secular, and has become a barrier in some respects regarding certain social and political innovations for the higher civilization and progress of the nation. But the Koran is not responsible for this all.

Mr. Stanley Lane Poole writes:--

     "The Koran does not contain, even in outline, the elaborate ritual and complicated law which now passes under the name of Islam. It contains merely those decisions which happened to be called for at Medina. Mohammad himself knew that it did not provide for every emergency, and recommended a principle of analogical deduction to guide his followers when they were in doubt. This analogical deduction has been the ruin of Islam. Commentators and Jurists have set their nimble wits to work to extract from the Koran legal decisions which an ordinary mind could never discover there; and the whole structure of modern Mohammadanism has been built upon the foundation of sand. The Koran is not responsible for it."[158]

I can only differ from the above in the allegation that Mohammad recommended a principle of analogical deduction.

Footnote 158: The Speeches and Table-talk of the Prophet Mohammad, by Stanley Lane Poole, pages lii and liii, Introduction, London, 1882.]

[Sidenote: Suitability of the Koran to all classes of humanity.]

43. Thus the system of religious and moral teaching of the Koran admirably suits the lower and the higher forms of humanity. The precepts which regulate some department of social life, moral conduct, and religious ceremonial are blessings to the barbarous; and that portion of the Koran which inculcates large principles, for the due application of which much must be left to the individual conscience, suits the same people when they begin to emerge from their barbarism under its influence into a higher condition, or to those already possessing the higher forms of civilization. For instance, the command to give full measure, to weigh with just balance, to abstain from wine and gambling, and to treat persons with kindness are intended for men not reaching the high forms of civilization. The teachings of the Koran regarding the graces of truth, honesty and temperance and mercy, the virtues of meekness, and the stress laid upon thoughts and inclinations are fit to instruct persons who have attained the higher forms of civilization, and have outgrown the need of positive precepts of minute detail.

     C. Ali.



     _March 1884_.

[Transcriber's Note: Despite the reference to a "Note" on page cv in the Table of Contents, no such page exists in this edition of the printed book.]       




                    |                                        |

                  Yarab.                                 Hazaramaut.

                    |                                        *

                 Yoshjab.                                    *

                    |                                      Sadif.




            |                             |

          Himyar.                       Kahlan.

            *                             |

            *           .-----------------+----------.

          Kozaa.        |                            |

            |         Rabia.                        Zeid.

          Al-Hafi.      *                            |

            |           *                         .-----------------------.

            |        Hamadan.                     |                       |

            |                                   Abad.                     *

      .-----+-----+----------.                    *                       *

      |           |          |                    *                    Ghous.

    Aslom.       Amran.      Amr.                 |                       |

      *           *           |            .------+--+-----+------.       |

      *           *     .-----+-----.      |         |     |      |       |

     Zeid.        |     |     |     |   Murrah.  Muzhij.  Tay.  Ash-ar.   |

      |   .-------+.  Bahra.  *   Bali.    |         |     |              |

      |   |        |          *        .---+---.     |  .--+-----.        |

      |  Jarm.   Taghlib.   Mahra.     |       |     |  |        |        |

      |            |                  Adi.  Khaulan. | Ghous.  Kharija.   |

      |          Vabra.                |             |           |        |

      |            |           .--------------.      |         Jadila.    |

      |    .---------.         |       |      |      |                    |

      |    |         |       Lakhm.  Ofeir.  Juzam.  |                    |

      |  Kalb.    Khoshain.    |       |        .------+------.           |

      |    |                  Dar.   Kinda.     |      |      |           |

      |  Taym Allat.                   |       Ans.  Illah.   |           |

      |                              Sukun.     |      |      |           |

  .---+-------+-----.                         Morad.   |  Saad-ul-Ashira  |

  |           |     |                                  |        |         |

  Joheina.  Saad.  Nohd.               .------------------.    Jufi.      |

              |                        |                  |               |

            Ozra.                     Harb.              Amr.             |

                                       |                  |               |

                                .----------.            Nakha.            |

                                |          |                              |

                              Raha.       Sada.   .-----------------------.



                                       |                     |

                                      Azd.                 Anmar.

                                       |                     |

                       .---------------+---.          .------+-+-------.

                       |                   |          |        |       |

                     Mazin.             Shahnvah.  Khas-am.  Ghous.  Ghafiq.

                       |                    |           |        |

      .----------+----------.       .-------+-------.  Bajila.  Ahmas.

      |          |          |       |       |       |

    Saalba.   Harisa.       |     Samala.  Doos.  Haddan.

      |          |        Jafna.

   .--+----.     |   (The Ghassinides).

   |       |     |

  Aus.  Khazraj. |



           |         |          |

          Adi.     Afsa.      Lohay.

           |         |          |

         Bariq.    Aslam.     Khozaa.

                     |          |

                  Salaman.   Mustalik.







                           |                                             |

                     Mozar (Modhar).                                   Rabia.

                           |                                             *

                    .------+----------------------------------.          *

                    |                                         |          |

                 Al-Nás.                                   Al-Yás.   .-----.

                    |                                         *      |     |

                  Kays.                                       *     Anaza. |

                    |                                      Khundif.        |

                 Aylan.                                       |         Jadila.

                    |                                 .-------+-----.        *

             .------+-----------.                     |             |        *

             |                  |                  Tábikha.      Modrika.    |

          Khasafa.           Ghatafan.                |             *        |

             *                  |                    Add.           *        |

             *             .----+------.              |             |        |

          Mansúr.          |           |     .--------+-----.      .+---.    |

             |           Aasir.      Reis.   |        |     |      |    |    |

        .----+---.          |          |    Tamim.    *   Mozeina. | Hozeil. |

        |        |         .+-----.    |      *                    |      |  |

      Suleim.  Hawazan.    |      |    |      *       *        Khozeima.  |  |

        |        |      Sad Monat |    |   Darim.     |          |        |  |

     .--+--.    Bakr.    Bahila.  |    |              |          |   Lahyán. |

     |     |     *                |    |       Saliba bin Sád.   |           |

  Makwan.  *     *            Movahib. |                      Kinana.        |

                 |                    .+--------.                |           |

           *    .+--------+------.    |         |           .----+-----.     |

           |    |         |      |    Asha.  Baghiz.        |          |     |

     .-----+.  Sakeef.  Saad.  Saasaa.          |        Abd Monat.  Nazar.  |

     |      |                    |          .---+---.       |          |     |

   Ussya.  Ril.                Aamir.       |       |   .---+-.      Malik.  |

                                 |        Zobian.  Abs. |     |        |     |

                   .-------------+-.         *          *  Bakr.    Fahr or  |

                   |               |         *          *     |    Koreish.  |

                 Rabia.          Hilal.      |          |  Zamra.      |     |

                   |                         |     Mudlij.    |     Ghalib.  |

        .----------+--+-------------.        |             Ghifar.     |     |

        |             |             |      .-+-----+------.          Loway.  |

      Kilab.        Kaab.         Aamir.   |       |      |            |     |

        *             |             *    Shahm.  Murra.  Fezára.       |     |

        *        .----+-+----.      *                                  |     |

        |        |      |    |      |            .---------------------+     |

      Rivas.  Kosheir.  *  Jaada.  Baka.         |                     |     |

                        |                       Káb               Khozeima.  |

                        *                        |                           |

                        |       .----------------+-.          .--------+-----+

                    Muntafiq.   |                  |          |        |

                              Murrah.              *          *   Abd-ul-Kays.

                                |                  *          *

                      .-------+-+-----.            |          |

                      |       |       |       .----+-.      .-+---+----.

                    Kilab.  Taym.  Mukhzum.   |      |      |     |    |

                      |                     Sahm.  Jamah.   |     | Aus Allat.

                   .--+------.                              |     |

                   |         |                        Taym Allah. |

                Kossay.    Zohra.                                 |

                   |                                             Wail.

       .-----------+---------------.                              |

       |           |               |                        .-----+---.

       *       Abd Manaf.     Abd-ud-Dár.                   |         |

       *           |                                     Taghlib.   Bakr.

       |     .-----+----------------------.                           *

      Asad.  |                            |                           *

            Hashim.                   Abd Shams.                      |

             |                            |                       Hanifa.

         Abd-ul-Muttálib.              Omayya.                      *

             |                            |                         *

     .-------+----+-----------.         Harab.                      |

     |            |           |        (Sakhr).                .------.

   Abbas.     Abdullah.   Abu Talib.      |                    |      |

     |            |           |       Abu Sofian.            Taheem   *

  Ibn Abbas.  Mohammad.      Ali.         |                           *

                                       Moavia.                        |






URL: of Part 6:ágh-ali/a-critical-exposition-of-the-popular-‘jihad’—part-6/d/11254