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Debating Islam ( 11 Apr 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Spiritual Islam Vs Bigoted Islam


By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

12 April, 2015

There is only one Hudood law on which the Quran is inflexible and that is on adultery.

(24:2) The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

The verse leaves no scopes for ifs and buts or for lessening the punishment. Any compromise on the sentence castes a doubt on your belief in Allah and the last day. Simply said, non-implementation of the law or any compromises made makes the judge and servant of the State trying the case and awarding the sentence, a disbeliever.

Does this mean that since the Quran is so inflexible in the matter of punishing those found guilty of adultery, individuals who report on such cases and help establish the charge of adultery earn divine pleasure and rewards? Let us consider how those who report on such cases are rewarded.

(24:4) And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors (Fasiq);-

Those who report without being able to establish the charge with three other reliable witnesses are given 80% of the punishment for adultery besides being categorized as wicked transgressors whose evidence is to be rejected ever after.

(24:5) Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

By no stretch of imagination can we say that a solitary witness is always a liar and neither does the Quran call them a liar. It calls them a Fasiq or a person given to wickedness.

The lesson to derive from this is that an individual who is concerned about the “sins” of others is driven by wickedness or by a hate for others rather than love. He is driven by feelings of revenge and retaliation rather than forgiveness. He takes gleeful pleasure in catching others in the wrong rather than overlooking faults.  While in Islam there is no intention to tolerate or encourage adultery, there is no encouragement for an individual to excessively bother about the sins of others either and such a person is called a Fasiq or wicked. The same term Fasiq has been used to describe those who waged battle against the Prophet. The Fasiq are therefore the enemies of humanity and all that is good and must be shunned and not encouraged in Muslim society. What this at the same time teaches you is to abhor adultery and all sin to an extent that your personal life is totally free of it.

Spirituality and Bigotry are effectively defined from this example. A spiritual person is concerned with constant refinement of self where as he progresses on the path of self-refinement, his sense of gratitude to Allah increases.  The embodiment of perfection is Allah. The embodiment of love, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness and of giving many chances to the sinners and giving them a very long respite from retribution is also Allah. A person as he progresses on the spiritual path acquires these qualities of Allah. Retribution is solely the prerogative of Allah and punishment is solely the duty of the State. A common man should not concern himself with either. A common man should represent God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and tolerance on earth unless he chooses to represent Satan.

Bigotry is excessive concern with the sin of others, of gleefully trapping and catching the sinners and punishing them or getting them punished. Bigotry is driven by hate. In a person who calls himself a “believer” or a Muslim this is disguised as a love for the “Shariat” and its implementation in the harshest form possible. Even when it comes to a believer, it is easy to see that he is either a worshipper of Allah or a worshipper of Satan irrespective of what he professes with his mouth.

We are lazy thinkers and make the mistake of categorizing spiritual Islam as Sufism and of bigoted Islam as Salafism. There are however bigoted Sufis and spiritual Salafis and the only test of who is what is what they say and what they support and their deeds.

Professor Nazeer Ahmed writes “When Shah Jehan fell ill and the armies of Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh met on the banks of the Jamuna in 1657 over succession rights to the Peacock throne, it was more than a battle between two princes. It was a contest of wills between Sufic Islam represented by Dara Shikoh and Salafi Islam championed by Aurangzeb. In this contest, the Salafis won and Muslim India charged off in the direction of exclusivism and a rigid application of Fiqh.”

Aurangzeb we must remember was a disciple of Hazrat Saifuddin Sirhindi, descendent of Ahmad Sirhindi, a Naqshbandi, so it is wrong to say that he was a Salafi or a Wahhabi, as this was before Abdul Wahhab was born and the Salafi sect did not exist at that time.

The apologists of Sufism exclude all such hardliner Sufis from ‘Sufism” by calling them pseudo Sufis. However, what they fail to realize is that the pseudos have dominated in every age and even today, Sufi websites proudly display the most outrageous communal sayings attributed to Ahmad Sirhindi. Bigotry has thrived in every age both before Abdul Wahhab and after. Shah Waliullah was a highly acclaimed Sufi as well as a “Jihadist” and a religious bigot. Incidentally, he was greatly influenced after his meeting with Abdul Wahhab. This cannot be cited as proof that bigotry among the Sufis is on account of the influence of Abdul Wahhab or his followers. Extreme religious bigotry among the Sufis is found all through the ages. The common perception of the Sufi derives from the culture of the Dargahs and the Urs celebrations in which people regardless of faith participate but this is like treating every businessman as a pluralist because he treats all his customers well irrespective of their faith and depending only on the secular criteria of their spending power!

And which category (spiritual or the bigot) is having the upper hand? The bigot rules the world of Islam from the tenth century and the evidence is in the writings of both the Sufis and the Salafis. They both consider the non-Muslim as Kafir and a war to end “Kufr” as “Jehad” which is far, far from the truth and a complete distortion of the word of God. My efforts to clear these misconceptions have received little support and encouragement even from those who call themselves moderate! This could be on account of any of the following two reasons:

1.    The ideas are not in conformity with the message of the Quran. In that case, as witnesses to the “truth” contained in the Quran, they are obliged to refute the ideas. Keeping silent is to abet and become a partner in the “falsehood” that I am trying to spread.

2.     Although considering non-Muslims as “Kafir” and fighting to end “Kufr” may be a view which is on the far right, it is safer to err by being on the far right rather than falling on the left side and be found wanting in faith.

Clearly, the choice is also on the side of either support for bigotry or support for spirituality. What makes matters worse is that none of the acclaimed masters have taken the apparently “liberal” view. Interestingly, I have taken a very literalist and fundamentalist view and therefore people are finding it difficult to refute the view since it is supported by very strong evidence from the Quran. In the absence of precedence, the Taqlidis cannot accept it either! The meaning of reform should be clear from this. It is to give up blind Taqlid, recognize the bigotry of the bigots no matter how acclaimed they were in their times, and cleanse our theology of all traces of bigotry. It is certainly not easy for the Taqlidis to give up Taqlid. It is as difficult as changing one’s belief by those whom we consider disbeliever. The disbelievers find it equally difficult to accept what we consider and say is the “truth”. The choice of accepting or rejecting the truth is faced equally by a believer and by the choices he makes; he becomes a believer or disbeliever. Let us move towards a more spiritual Islam in the true spirit of the Quran which incidentally is also by its true uncorrupted letter and strengthen our faith.


Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to