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Islamic Ideology (07 Nov 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Is Dawa A Sign Of Supremacism? Muhammad Yunus Responds To Issues Raised In Maulana Wahiduddin Khan's Essay On Dawa




 In almost a hundred verses, Heaven is promised to doers of good deeds while others promise the paradise to the observant of taqwa (righteousness, almost synonymous with Good Deeds)


Some readers of New Age Islam requested Quran exegete Muhammad Yunus to issues raised in well-known Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan's Essay On Dawa. Muhammad Yunus responds.

Ref: Dawah and the Purpose of Life By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan 


By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

7 November 2013


Dear Observer/ hats off! You extended me a dawa to punch beyond my weight. Here is my response which perhaps you will care to read. I am not sure about others.

As I read through the article I encounter a number of themes and axiomatic statements and would like to comment on each:

1. Religion of truth: In the context of the revelation, the Qur’an refers to Islam as ‘din al haq’ or ‘religion of truth 'and repeatedly declares that it is going to be established, however the pagans may detest (9:33, 48:28, 61:9). But the Qur’an also uses the epithet ‘Islam’ in a generic sense as the true religion preached by all messengers regardless of their mention in the Qur’an (2:136, 3:3, 3:84, 42:13) and accordingly, it asks Muslims to make no distinction between any of the Prophets (4:152, 2:285, 57:19) – a statement that bars the Muslims from claiming any superiority for their prophet or religion.


Thus to suggest that Islam (in its popular sense) is the only pure religion and other religions are impure will be tantamount to putting additional words into the Qur’an. However, the Qur’an claims to be the embodiment of divine speech preserved without any corruption and unparalleled in diction and a miracle of God in its own right, and a Muslim will be within his legal and moral rights to make this claim as much as people of any religion have right to make any claim about their books and deities. Accordingly, the Muslims are asked not to insult what the others hold sacred (6:108), but how many Muslim preachers avoid making left handed remarks against what others hold sacred is a big question mark.


2. Its take on common Criterion of divine judgment: "The criterion of selection for both Muslims and non-Muslims is one and the same—that is, discovery of truth and not birth into any religion. Thus, both Muslims and non-Muslims are required to stand up to the same test."

My comment: As ‘truth’ under 1 is conflated with the popular religion of Islam, the statement purports to connect divine approval with one’s acknowledgement of the truth of Islamic faith. The Qur’an is, however, unequivocally assures all believers in God – regardless of their religion that He will judge them –including the atheists and polytheists (22:17) on the basis of their deeds ('amal/ karama) and moral uprightness (taqwa/dharma - preservation against evil / control of the arrogant evil-prone self or nafs al ammara -12:53)

3. The statements, “Accountability depends on one’s knowledge.” “Everyone will be treated according to their knowledge of the truth.”

My comment:

i. These are philosophically couched sentences. In almost a hundred verses, paradise is promised to the doers of good while others promise the paradise to the observant of taqwa (13:35, 47:15, 51:15, 52:17, 54:54, 77:41). These criteria pertain to moral and functional spirituality regardless of any theological knowledge. Theological knowledge’ is contingent to environment, individual cognitive ability, theological orientation, exposure to theological discourses and the time and resources at one’s disposal after meeting the essential survival needs. It cannot therefore be standardised as a common criterion of approval for all humanity. Thus, the Qur’an does not provide any firm basis to support the above statements.

4. The article encourages ontological reflection: “Every person, by nature, seeks answers to questions such as: Who am I? What are life and death? What will happen to me after death? … Every person will be questioned whether he ignored his nature or tried to find answers to the questions it raised.”

My Comment: The quest for the ultimate truth regarding life and death as stated fall in the category of the ‘mutashabihat’ and do not constitute any definitive commandments of the Qur’an that the believers are required to follow (3:7). Therefore, as a Muslim, apart from the pillars of faith, I am required to abide by the social, moral and ethical paradigms of the Qur’an, which are of universal nature and clearly stated. I will keep away from speculating about questions, the answer of which is known only to God. Besides, person of different religions will have different eschatological imageries and that is true even among the Muslims.

Speculation on what is beyond the faculty of human mind constitutes dialectic theology – that is an attempt to understand the truth by dialectic methods. It formed the core of scholastic scholarship of medieval ages and came into Islam from Christianity. If today we call upon the Muslims to mediate and speculate on the unseen and the unknowable, we go back to their pre-Islamic orientation of religious thoughts.

5. The article raises the question: “Can, ‘inherited Islam, rather than conviction in Islam born out of genuine introspection and reflection, be adequate for salvation?”

My Comment: Religion is a happenstance today. Barring a small minority of converts and some Ulema and researchers, the entire Muslim community inherit their faith. In today’s fast life, people don’t have time to post a comment even to most critical article or even to read them, where is the time to make any pedagogic study of the Qur’an?

6. The following statement is speculative: “Not doing Dawah work is a punishable act, but the punishment will be given out in the Hereafter and not in the present world.”

My Comment: Read in isolation as a definitive (muhkam) commandment, the verse 2:159 will require all Muslims to proselytize as part of their religious duty or else incur divine wrath. The statement must be understood in conjunction with other verses on the theme, notably 2:42, 72, 140, 146, 174; 3:71, 187; 5:61. The last three of these verses expressly censor the People of the Book (the Christians and Jews of the era) for concealing some part of their revelation or truth (3:71), their pledge (3:187) and their inner thoughts as they left the Prophet after holding consultations with him (5:61).

The rest implicitly related to them as well for their knowingly hiding of a part of the revelation that was vouchsafed in them (2:42, 174), hiding the evidences of a murder (2:72), and the testimony of God (2:140). Hence the verse 2:159 unquestionably relates to the People of the Book and forms a part of the debate that the Prophet had with the Jewish tribes of Medina. To interpret them as a mandatory instruction to all Muslims for all times is thus speculative and not supported by the Quran.

7. In its concluding part, the article connects the effectiveness of ‘dawah’ with the general conduct and behaviour of the Muslims and cordial relation with the non-Muslims. The Qur’an does not however expressly ask the Muslims to go in small groups and knock at the doors of neighbouring non-Muslims or give speeches to invite people to Islam. However, purely from a democratic perspective and the inalienable right of people to sell their product even if that is an ideology – like America selling democracy to the Muslim world, albeit by force, the scholars, preachers, and televangelists of all religions have a right to convey the essentials of their religious tenets to others as much as this writer has a right to share his own understanding of his religion with all readers regardless of their religion or aversion. But any dawah work must not hurt the sentiments of people of other faiths and there must be no coercion in religion.

I know there are problems. A Christian missionary can quote from the Sira of the Prophet or the Hadith to demonise the Prophet of Islam and gutter the Qur’an and even plan to burn its hard copies under the eyes of law. A Muslim can question the very notion of God taking birth as a human being and meeting a terrible death and both can question polytheism and pantheism in their own ontological orations.

As hatred against Islam and the Muslims has become almost normative – thanks to the heinous crimes of the terrorist in the name of Islam, and even intellectuals expect Muslims to accept genocide of Rohingyas in Burma this very day as tit for tat against the destruction of Bamyan Staues some 13 years ago by a totally different creed of Muslims, and riots and hate crimes against Muslims are given immensely less publicity than the atrocities the non-Muslim are made to bear at the hands or Islamic zealots and terrorists, the preachers of Islam have taken to verbally attack faith of those people who have no sympathy with them without any sympathy either.

These preachers of religion openly claim supremacism in religious ideology, draw record crowds and mesmerize the Muslim listeners for whom the acclaimed superiority serves as an antidote to their frustrations for marginalization, sufferings and perceived injustices. The preachers and spokesmen of rival religions return like for like and the wheel of hatred turns on.

These are just my thoughts and I do not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Probably my comment would not have been any different were I not a Muslim. The problem the world faces today cannot be solved by apportioning blames. In this vicious environment the Muslim have to earn the sympathy and good will of the others by treating the terrorist outfits as the Kharijites – terrorist apostates under the cover of Islam and excel in performance, treating all humanity as their co-equal before God, probing the Qur’an in its historic context as book of guidance for all humanity and excelling in all lawful pursuits including universal education before thinking of any dawah work.

I wonder if anyone is going to read this long piece of my mind except for those who have drawn me into it.

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/by-muhammad-yunus-,-new-age-islam/is-dawa-a-sign-of-supremacism?---muhammad-yunus--responds-to-issues-raised-in-maulana-wahiduddin-khan-s-essay-on-dawa/d/14341



  • dear Observer - 11/16/2013 9:42:55 PM
    once the message of Islam becomes clear to me and i stand firm on it, i will do that. at present i do what i think is right. anybody can call it islamophobia.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/17/2013 7:55:53 PM

  • Dear Rational,

    It is Allah who relieves you of your responsibility when you convey the message clearly and in the best possible manner.

    However if you convey the message in a manner that makes the other person defensive about his beliefs, then you may be held responsible for his disbelief since becoming defensive is the same as clinging on even more closely to ones beliefs.

    So not everyone should be doing dawa but only those who have a good reputation and can convey the message gracefully and without offence.

    The rest can endeavour to at least set a good personal example.

    By Observer - 11/16/2013 9:42:55 PM

  • dear mohammed yunus.
    as per islamic belief if someone who rejects the message of God when it has reached in clear form he is liable to punishment for forever.
    you are relieving yourself from your duty of Dawa and signing the orders for hell as witness against the who rejects the message.
    the persons whop have not got the chance to have the message may be saved but these are condemned forever. is it your humanity? it is after all your belief only. otherwise there is no proof of justice day.
    you are making sure they go to hell. you are snatching even the benefit of doubt.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/16/2013 7:25:51 PM

  • Thank you Mr Yunus. I agree with your view point.

    The prophet became acceptable after building a reputation and becoming known as Amin. Only a Muslim whose character and behaviour is beyond reproach, and who shows an enlightened approach can do dawah. As I said in an earlier post, the common Muslim setting a good example is the best dawah he can do. Nothing more is expected of him.

    By Observer - 11/16/2013 10:44:01 AM

  • Dear Observer,
    Copy, Hats off, Sultan Shahin

    Kindly see my response to your query re dawah - it is not properly displayed in this comment column.

    By muhammad yunus - 11/16/2013 9:53:29 AM

  • Dear Observer,

    I endorse your statement that “Muslims have an obligation to make the Quran known and clear to mankind.” The only question is how we understand ‘the Qur’an’ in this statement?

    Does ‘dawah’ mean asking people to embrace Islam or to convey to them by speech, writing and actions what the Qur’an teaches or stands for so as to invite them to the pathways or paradigms of the Qur’an – leaving it to them to decide on conversion.

    To give a practical example, my involvement at this website and posting comments defending different facets of Islamic message is a dawah work. In the spirit of the Qur’an we all are required to invite others to what is ma‘ruf and that is what I try to do through my writings, and since I am backing my arguments upon the Qur’an, I am propagating its precepts or tenets and thus doing a dawah work in the broad sense.

    One of the brightest commentators who spotted my intention and posed a question, what if people I am imperceptibly extending ‘dawah’ dismiss me. Well my answer is divine judgment is contingent to one’s deeds and taqwa and faith in God and final accountability. I will not be judged based on my dawah because everyone is driven by his own agenda and acts according to his own station in life, but God alone knows the rightly guided. Nor will those who ignore or dismiss my dawah will be punished unless they are fully convinced of my viewpoint but insist on denying me out of malice and arrogance. They will be judged based on their deeds and taqwa and faith.

    More importantly, I neither carry the noble kiramat of the Prophet, nor am anywhere near him in conduct, behaviour and manners, nor am I reciting or writing anything that casts a spell on the commentators or scares them like donkeys hearing the roar of a line, nor am I offering any revolutionary paradigms as the paradigms of the Qur’an have permeated human society - those who burnt the widows on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands are now allowing them to remarry, those who burnt women on stakes at the slightest offence are grooming them to their highest potentials such as judges and senior diplomats with the power to award capital punishment to a man, or decide on key national issues; and the world at large has left the medieval heritage behind and developed values and norms that are close to what the Prophet taught. So what I try to share as a follower of the Prophet is known and practiced by them and what they see in me as a stereotyped Muslim is the hallmark of jahilliyah – a community that champions terrorism and bars girls from studying beyond primary level - among other vices. Therefore, if they dismiss me, they are least likely to be treated in the same manner as the unenlightened audience of the Prophet seeing the clear signs of the divine in the Prophet and the Qur’an.

    Hence, any suggestion to condemn the present day non-Muslim audience of a dawah will be simply untenable.     

    As for the professional preachers, I have already made this remark in my initial commentary on the learned Moulana’s essay – may God forgive me if I understood him wrong or made an error in judgment: “(Given) the inalienable right of people to sell their product even if that is an ideology – like America selling democracy to the Muslim world, even by force, the scholars, preachers, and televangelists of all religions have a right to convey the essentials of their religious tenets to others as much as this writer has a right to share his own understanding of his religion with all readers regardless of their religion or aversion. But any dawah work must not hurt the sentiments of people of other faiths and there must be no coercion in religion.”

    These are my views at this moment. I am neither infallible nor inflexible in my views but have no hesitation to share it with others.

    Thank you    

    By muhammad yunus - 11/16/2013 9:46:02 AM

  • radha ji. may be mr ghulam ghauss writing detail answer to your question. other stalwarts are causing deafening silence.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/16/2013 2:14:33 AM

  • The modernist such as Yunus sahib and G M sahib and reconciler mystics like Waheeduddin Khan Sahib say to their readers:please do not interpret the Quranic text according to your whimsical understanding rather you should follow the understanding and the interpretations rendered by Us or, by those whom we usually follow.
    Only then all your doubts will be removed and your curious mind will be satisfied. Any other way will definitely lead you humiliating darkness.
    This kind of advice has been the root cause of factionalism in all religions. 
    Muslims or Islam is not different in any way. We are all sincere and devout believers in the unlimited mercy of the creator for our factions.
    Let us wait for it.

    By afaqSiddiqi - 11/16/2013 2:05:11 AM

  • how much Islam changed the mangols and turks is evident from the actions of Timur-i Lang, Nadir shah Durrani. one example of change can be seen in the following:
    "Born in 1337, Timur-i Lang (Tamerlane, Timur the Lame), was the brutal Mongol ruler of Samarkand who cut a wide swath of destruction across Persia and the Middle East. This image depicts the imprisonment of Ottoman sultan Bajazet, great-grandson of Osman I. Timur had defeated Bajazet at the Battle of Ankara and kept him in a cage until he died."
    instead of beheading his enemy he caged him and took everywhere he went. there is no need to mention what Nadir shah did?
    these sultans kept large harems. to keep wath on harem eunuchs were employed and some people were made eunuchs for this purpose.
    anyone can see how women were treated.
    however some may give the examples of princes to tell the glorious side of Islam.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/16/2013 2:03:15 AM

  • The original question 'whether it is incumbent on Muslims to do Dawa' remains unaddressed. I repeat a post and request Mr. Muhammad Yunus to respond to it.


    It is clear from the following verses that Muslims have an obligation to make the Quran known and clear to mankind. 

    (39:41) Verily We have revealed the Book to thee in Truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then, that receives guidance benefits his own soul: but he that strays injures his own soul. Nor art thou set over them to dispose of their affairs.

    (3:187) And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!

    The verse (33:72)“We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish” is metaphorical and the meaning I derive from it is based on the following:

    Read the following verses which resonate with 33:72:

    (59:21) Had We sent down this Qur´an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.

    (13:31) If there were a Qur´an with which mountains were moved, or the earth were cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, (this would be the one!) But, truly, the command is with Allah in all things! Do not the Believers know, that, had Allah (so) willed, He could have guided all mankind (to the right)? But the Unbelievers,- never will disaster cease to seize them for their (ill) deeds, or to settle close to their homes, until the promise of Allah come to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise

    Asad’s interpretation of trust as reason and volition is unacceptable as reason and volition is a characteristic of both the Jinn and human and not exclusive to human.

    Man does appear to have progressively negotiated greater freedom of choice to his own harm.

    (2:61) And remember ye said: "O Moses! we cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech thy Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth groweth, -its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, Its garlic, lentils, and onions." He said: "Will ye exchange the better for the worse? Go ye down to any town, and ye shall find what ye want!".

    We see a subtle change in the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) from that of all the previous prophets. Allah strengthened Muhammad’s mission with his word alone and not with miracles signaling that from now on the word was enough to achieve what required prophets and Allah’s direct interventions earlier. God destroyed the disbelievers after the previous prophetic missions through flood (Noah), showering with brim stone (Lut) and in a similar manner those of Aad and Samud. (peace be upon all the prophets). In the case of the last prophet, everything was achieved through the agency of man alone signifying that the agency of man was enough from now on. The Quran is also unique among all the scriptures in that it is recorded and preserved exactly as revealed in a language that is spoken till today. All other scriptures survive only as translations as the language of their original recording is long dead and forgotten. Neither has God sent any calamity comparable to how He destroyed various people before. I think that there is also a hadith which says that as long as there are believing Muslims, the doomsday will not come. It would therefore appear that Man has undertaken  a trust to do the work of prophets and God for which God has given them the “The Book” or Quran.


     You may be right in saying that the present day Muslims are in no position to do dawa being barbarians in comparison with others. For them, the following verse applies:
    (6:89) These were the men to whom We gave the Book, and authority, and prophethood: if these (their descendants) reject them, Behold! We shall entrust their charge to a new people who reject them not.

    The Mongols butchered the Abbasid Caliph and Muslims in hundreds of thousands and later took on the mantle and spread the word eastward. The Turks and the Berbers similarly took up leadership elsewhere but God’s plan to preserve and propagate the Quran has never ceased. 

    By Observer - 11/16/2013 12:30:03 AM

  • radha is the rule, mr mohammad yunus (the exegete) is the exception. but mr mohammad yunus should have already perceived that, interpretation is a two-edged sword. the text is just waiting to be interpreted.

    this text is like the rorschach ink blot. it reminds anyone of everything. just depends upon our fickle moods. when we are angry, the sword verses sooth us. when we are feeling particularly secular, the 109.1 to 109.6 sound nice. right from beheading the apostate to making a saint of him, there is ample scope for much interpretation and even more interpretation here. as long as we are on this interpretation spree, we can read into it as many meanings as our feverish brain allows.

    it is only an exceptional muslim that feels comfortable with other believers. the rule is that muslims are brought up with the subtle as well as not-so-subtle messages that all non-msulims are just fuel for hell fire. it is not the case each and every supremacist muslim is a salafi or wahabi. but, if out of the ordinary muslims on this forum, so many are reluctant to accept other believers as being capable of god's mercy, we can imagine about the more hardcore ones.

    but the koranic text quoted by radha and mr mohammad yunus is the same, but they are reaching diametrically opposite conclusions.

    the koran does not name buddha. so what? it doesn't name the polymerase chain reaction either.

    the average muslim on the streets merely tolerates the kaffar. for the teaching of mr mohammad yunus to trickle down to the muslim on the streets will take anywhere from a hundred to five hundred years. until then, as far as the average muslim is concerned, all kaffar are the fuel of hell fire.
    so what? big deal. get over it.

    By hats off! - 11/15/2013 7:20:22 PM

  • @ Radha and Shahid ali

    This is an escapist argument on your part. Quran say that God has named some apostles and not others and musnad hadis gives a figure of 125 thousand or so. Where did that number come from if hadis is to also be believed as giving details that Quran missed out?

    Buddha precedes even Issa-Jesus? So why the flight and fright?

    By Rashid - 11/15/2013 6:26:12 PM

  • Rational says, "i am better with those who do good works whether they believe or not or in one or million gods." -

    Good! So you have not only learned to take the best meaning from the Quran, you have learned to use your brain. Congratulations!

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/15/2013 3:05:38 PM

  • dear muhammad yunus - 11/15/2013 9:28:38 AM
    first four points you mentioned in your comment have been repeated so many times i stopped counting. still you accuse me of repeating.
    are others also internal witnesses....once you called me?

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/15/2013 9:55:35 AM

  • Dear Radha
    Copy Khalid Suhail

    I can table the following arguments in support of my interpretation of the verse 4:152.

    1. My joint exegetic work which is the basis of my interpretation is based on the interpretation of the Qur'an by the Qur'an's internal illustrations, vocabulary and holistic message.
    2.Under p.xxii, it has an endorsement from the Director of al-Azhar Azademy of Canada which states: "The work utilizes a well established methodology to explain the Qur'an,primarily through the Qur'an.

    3. The work is endorsed by Prof.Khaled Abou el Fadl, Professor of Law and a leading internationalist jurist of Islam as "an authoritatively reliable text to teach young Muslims, or even Muslims who never had the time to study the Qur’an, or the fundamentals of their religion."

    4. The work is also approved by al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo.

    5. The counter interpretation or traditional interpretation (tafsir) quoted by Khalid Suhail Sahab draws on a discipline known as asbab al nuzul - 'the background or context of the revelation' of the Qur'anic verses. This methodology is liable to offer divergent interpretation of Qur'anic verses and does not privilege the methodology employed in my joint work and therefore cannot overrule any of its interpretations. This is earlier explained to Khalid
    Sahab, cut/ pasted below:

    "Since many of the revelations may be attributable to different circumstances or reasons (Asbab), and since these reasons were extrapolated at least half a century after the revelation, the reliability of this theological science (asbab al nuzul) is largely questionable and this could explain the extinction of original sources.  In one word your are refuting our work as it is not in conformity with those of traditional Tafsir, whereas the very object of our work is to remove the misconceptions that are liable to stem from a selective reading of traditional exegesis."

    think I have elaborated the point at considerable length and will request to read my comments closely before refuting them or else you and I will go on saying the same thing again and again.  


    By muhammad yunus - 11/15/2013 9:28:38 AM

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