By Sanjiv Bhatla, Exclusive to New Age Islam
21 February 2018
Excerpts from The Book Islam Is Good, Muslims Should Follow It By Sanjiv Bhatla – Part 2
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.
…The very next verse shows the magnanimous and peaceful intent of the Quran: “If any of the polytheists seeks asylum with you, grant him asylum so that he may hear the word of God; then convey him to a place of safety...” (9: 6). The verse does not say, lead him to a place of safety only if he accepts Islam after listening to ‘the word of God’ (the revelations). It makes no reference to that pagan’s reaction to the discourse: his reaction might show that he is impressed with what he has heard, or that he has been bored by it. (And that the speaker had been wasting his time.) The verse gives that pagan full freedom to react whichever way he wants to, and yet directs the Muslim with whom he has taken asylum to ‘convey him to a place of safety’. What better proof could there be, that the Quran grants complete freedom in the matter of religion?
(THE QURAN, p 159, Paperback edition)
So, on the one hand the Khawarij issued some admirable authoritative opinions or Fatwa as mentioned above regarding adultery and theft, and on the other, they displayed a very human and humble trait of being unsure about their decisions, by resorting to Irja. The pendulum swung between definitive judgments and human reticence —between Fatwas and Irja —for the Khawarij in the initial stages. In this, a dispassionate observer like me can see the nebulous evolution of the latter-day Islamic society: in the tussle between the Muslims’ self-righteousness to issue Fatwas, and their self-doubt to withdraw to Irja. The latter could have been the basis for a liberal and pluralistic Islam —tolerant, friendly and compassionate, just as Muhammad himself advocated. The balance swung away from Irja and more towards Fatwas in later years due predominantly, one could surmise, to the fundamentally aggressive nature of the Arabs which resulted from the hostile environment they and their ancestors lived in, full of hardships and mistrust for one another. Aggression and insecurity got built into their very DNA and genes. To become moderates like the rest of the world was always going to be a struggle for the Muslims: a struggle not so much against the outer world as against their own demons.
(STREAMS OF THOUGHT IN ISLAM, pp 213-4, Paperback edition)
“(Interestingly, Prophet Muhammad’s thought in the above Hadith was also voiced by Hindu saint-poet Goswami Tulsidas roughly a thousand years after him, between (1511 —1623 AD): “Jaa Ki Rahi Bhavana Jaisi// Prabhu Moorat Dekhi Tin Taisi.” A rough translation of these Hindi lines would be: “God revealed Himself in the same image// that each believer had of Him in his heart.” Similarly, al-Hajjaj’s proclamation, Ana al-Haqq has reverberated in Hindu religious texts since times immemorial: as, in Sanskrit, Ahm Brahmaasmi. Which can be translated as, “I’m Him”.)” (The Hadith referred to here is, (Bukhari 6:60:105) -- author)
(STREAMS OF THOUGHT IN ISLAM, page 217, Paperback edition)
Imam al-Bukhari recounts in one of the Hadith in his book Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (quoted by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Words of the Prophet Muhammad, p. 31): “Umm Salamah (the Prophet’s wife) recounts an incident which took place when the Prophet was at home with her. He called out to the maid servant, and when she failed to appear, he showed signs of displeasure. Then Umm Salamah peeped out through the curtain and saw the maid playing. The Prophet, who was holding a Miswak (a twig for cleaning the teeth) in his hand, said to the maidservant, ‘if I had had no fear of retribution on Judgment Day, I would have hit you with this twig’.” Such a beautifully humane and playful, kind and forgiving retort would come naturally to Muhammad! One wonders how a latter-day Hanbali would have treated that maidservant for her defiance, for not immediately showing up on the Prophet’s call. Would that Hanbali judgment reflect the same affable and compassionate spirit as displayed by the Prophet?
(STREAMS OF THOUGHT IN ISLAM, pp 229-30, Paperback edition)
Though he was capable of originality, Ibn Taymiyya largely stayed close to the orthodox. …..When he died, a legend says that two hundred thousand men and fifteen to sixteen thousand women attended his funeral prayer. It is believed that only the funeral of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali School received a larger congregation. Could Ibn Taymiyya have stepped out of the shadows of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and used his original thinking to give some adroitness to Islamic Jurisprudence, especially when he had access to foreign juristic practices whose knowledge had been imported by the Abbasid caliphs a few decades before his times?
(STREAMS OF THOUGHT IN ISLAM, page 236, Paperback edition)
Down the ages, the societies that gave prominence to conscience-based judgments gave a better account of themselves than the ones that got bogged down with confused interpretations of holy books. It was apparently easier to articulate one’s own honest mind than to decipher God’s mysterious ambiguities! Judges’ judgments and religion-based judgments, as a result, began to drift wider and wider apart. Ironically, therefore, the non-Muslim societies were often seen to make judgments that were closer to the spirit of Islam than the ones made by the Muslims themselves, which were seen to be widely off the mark, sometimes bordering on the cruel and the ridiculous.
(JUSTICE: BY MUSLIMS, AND OTHERS, p 266, Paperback edition)
This was, then, Muhammad’s message to his common Muslims: “be safe, and do not strain your meagre brains in the matters of justice.” But not to a man of more refined sensibility like Muadh ibn Jabal. Is it too much to expect that the latter-day Muslim judges, serious and learned men as they were, should have identified themselves more with Muadh ibn Jabal than with the archetypal, simplistic, limited-in-intellect compatriots of Muhammad whom he had sought to constrain? Shouldn’t they have felt confident and conscientious to be guided by the spirit of Islam’s holy books, as Muadh was, and not so much by their literal words?
(JUSTICE: BY MUSLIMS, AND OTHERS, p 282, Paperback edition)
The learned men of Islam mistook strict adherence to Islam, with rigidly clinging to its tougher censures. They wrongly identified unflinching faith, with impatience. Islam preached anything but that! They did not remember that God forgave even a pork-eater if he did so under certain circumstances. Prophet Muhammad spared a slave girl death by stoning even though she repeatedly indulged in illicit sex, under certain circumstances. Wasn’t it absurd, then, on the part of Islam’s wise men to think that this religion was all about God’s wrath, when in reality it was all about His immense compassion?
(JUSTICE: BY MUSLIMS, AND OTHERS, p 290, Paperback edition)
The Muslim judges have been sincere in their allegiance to two factors: the Quran, and the Prophet’s Sunna which are recorded in his Hadith. They only need to go one short step further —to keep the memory of Prophet Muhammad’s personality alive in their hearts. This leads us to what I would like to call, The Third Factor.
(JUSTICE: BY MUSLIMS, AND OTHERS, p 300, Paperback edition)
There has been an important case in India in 1980s, known as the “Shah Bano Case”. It was about the rights of a divorced Muslim woman to obtain maintenance from her estranged husband. Shah Bano’s husband, an affluent lawyer himself, refused to pay even the meager amount that was sanctioned by a lower court, citing the custom of Mehr in a Muslim marriage. She appealed to the Supreme Court of India, and her husband was eventually made to provide for a much larger amount every month. The Bench comprising five judges and headed by India’s then Chief Justice observed, “…Is the law so ruthless in its inequality that, no matter how much the husband pays for the maintenance of his divorced wife during the period of Iddat, the mere fact that he has paid something, no matter how little, absolves him forever from the duty of paying adequately so as to enable her to keep her body and soul together? Then again, is there any provision in the Muslim Personal Law under which a sum is payable to the wife ‘on divorce’?”
Not even one of those five judges was a Muslim, yet the bench delivered a remark that was truly in the spirit of the Quran. The holy book says, “For divorced women a provision according to what is fair shall also be made. This is an obligation binding on the righteous.” (2: 241) The members of India’s Muslim Personal Law Board, on the other hand, were all Muslims, and they must have read the Quran a hundred times, yet they couldn’t enforce even a commonsensical imposition on the husband. This is a modern-day Muslim for you.
(THE THIRD FACTOR: EPILOGUE, p 300, Paperback edition)
It stands to reason that if Islamic jurists had set the example of kindness and compassion as advocated by Islam, and additionally of tolerance and open mindedness as displayed by Prophet Muhammad himself, then a common Muslim too would have cultivated these qualities in his day-to-day conduct. …As things stand, because of the Islamic jurists’ rigidity, a common Muslim walks around with a halo of intolerance hanging over his head. It surely puts him in a bad light in comparison to the peoples from other faiths. To love a religion is one thing; to be haughty about it is another. Muslims by and large do not seem to understand the difference.
The Muslims must not forget that God is merciful and compassionate, but He can also be wrathful and destructive. They only need to study the holy Quran a little more closely. Some of its verses are eerily prophetic. Read this, for example: “When We decide to destroy a town, We command the affluent section of its people, but they transgress therein; thus the word (sentence of punishment) is justified, then We destroy the town utterly. How many generations have We destroyed since Noah’s time? Your Lord is aware of the sins of His servants and observes them all.” (17: 16-17). These words were relayed to Prophet Muhammad nearly fifteen hundred years ago. Can we see a resemblance here with the contemporary world scenario? God is talking here of “…sins of His servants…” meaning, Islam’s own believers. The Quran also says in another verse, “It is ordained that no nation We have destroyed shall ever rise again.” (21: 95). My dear Muslim friends please take note!
(THE THIRD FACTOR: EPILOGUE, p 309, Paperback edition)
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