By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
04 May, 2015
During a discussion on the above topic an avid reader of books confided that she enjoys reading the Harry Potter fictional books. She said that they give her enjoyment as they transport her into the fantasy world for a short time, away from the harsh realities of modern life.
Amid laughter of some, she asked, “Did you not read say ……Wizard of Oz?”
“Yes, when I was young”, replied one enthusiast of children’s classics literature.
He said that the story has some merit, for it points out such values as courage, use of intelligence and a heart for compassion and kindness, all necessary and good things for humans to have.
And added that the exposing of the Wizard as a trickster has some value too.
But in spite of the knowledge she had that the author J. K. Rawlings wrote those books for financial gain and her fame at the readers’ expense did not dampen her enthusiasm. That came as a surprise to some!
But the phrase “for short time” was discussed as significant in that she was confident she had the intelligence to get out of the fantasy world and back to reality.
Therefore, to accept the fiction as the provider of the stimulus to escape the reality of life was a conscious “Attitude” on her part.
From the time mankind was in the jungle sit had taken this escapist attitude and of handing over its responsibility to shaman and tricksters, and often on permanent basis!
This, despite the string of sages appearing through the ages with code-books to give guidance on individual and collective behaviour, with responsibility to build a civilised and harmonious human society.
The one important principle that is deduced from the above in simple terms is that it is very much one’s own “Attitude” taken to any book; Holy Scripture or otherwise, that determines what he or she wishes to extracts from it.
Muslims, not being any different to the others, have adopted for permanent the same escapist attitude to the one code-Book Quran to escape taking the responsibilities imposed on them (8-15).
They have consciously adopted instead the clergy as their guide and the fictional documents that they have successfully marketed. The same as Rawlings has done.
And that is what is discussed here in the context of Quran:
The first chapter of the Book—Fatiha, the Opening- is like the Biblical Lord’s Prayer. After glorifying the Creator of the universe, a “pledge” is made of total obedience to the one universal Creator, followed by a “plea for guidance” to the right path and protection from the wrong one.
A conscientious decision is taken by those seeking guidance.
In response to the above, the Creator responds to the plea-makers that they have the right book: the Kitab - which has no ambiguities in it, and if followed conscientiously the preconditions given in it for “Belief”, Iman, will lead them to progress and advancement.
But those with mindset to reject-Kufr will have no benefits from the Book’s guidance and will naturally suffer the inevitable consequences as a result.
It stands to reason therefore that the readers ‘pledge to safe-guard the Creator’s commands for themselves -Taqwa - will determine the practical outcome they are seeking. (Taqwa does not mean ‘fear’ as is generally translated, for which the word used in the Book is ‘Khauf’.)
As such Quran is for practical “benefits to mankind” and not a fictional, make-believe and fantasy Book for spiritual escapism or for manipulating it for vested interests. The majority of Muslims take it for that and often guided by those interests.
The Book says that, it is not to be followed blindly and compares those who do so to be “worse than animals”25-73.
This is better demonstrated by the story of Meraj-Sound like mirage, which is what it is – the miraculous night-journey of the Apostle Muhammad on supersonic winged-female transport, to the “distant mosque” in Jerusalem and from there for a Cooks tour of the heavens, and then for audience with God in His “Throne” Room.
(There is no reference to it in the Book though).
Does this not sound very much like ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy’ a literary fiction, which is supposed to be based on Christian theology?
To any person with a speck of enquiring mind, this story must raise some serious doubts. Therefore it is fair to ask few pertinent questions on it:
- What benefit was accrued from this journey by the Messenger?
- Why was he taken to Jerusalem?
- Were there any Muslims and a mosque there at the time?
-Why was he treated so differently by God compared to all the previous Apostles when the Book affirms that “none was treated differently 2-285”?
- What benefit is accrued by the reader from the story?
And many more such vexing questions!
It took a thinking, practical minded scholar like G.A Parwez (1903 to1985), in the early part of last century to give a plausible historical solution from the Book itself.
The Chapter 17, Bani Israel begins with – “Glory to God who took His servant for a journey by night from al-Haram mosque (in Makka) to the Distant mosque, whose precincts We (God) had blessed…”
In the light of the above chapter which deals about Moses and Noah and their journeys seeking refuge; Parwez’s logical and historical explanation makes lot of sense.
He offers that it was the city of Madinah to which the Apostle Muhammad had escaped during the night accompanied by a companion 9-40; for he was in grave danger to his life from the citizens of Makka.
Historically; some citizens of Madinah had come to ask the Messenger to send few of his companions with them to teach them the essentials of his Deen that he was propagating in Makka; for they liked what they had heard him preach on the previous year’s trip.
It also stands to reason that they would have built a place for gathering, a community hall—a mosque in Madinah—the “distant mosque”.
Madinah is close to four hundred kilometres north of Makka hence it is fair to say some distance away to travel in cars even in today’s terms let alone on camel back in those days.
Madinah became the centre and a capital of the Muslim State in a very short time of the Messenger’s arriving there and the region was “blessed “with prosperity.
There were no Muslims at the time in Jerusalem let alone a mosque. History shows that the first time Jerusalem received any Muslims there was some six decades later, long after the Apostle had passed away.
All in all, a very compelling explanation for a person with a modicum of practical sense, to accept it as logical.
Once positive attitude is taken to this Book as conditionally required, many doubts vanish; only if those doubts are investigated with open mind and with accumulated knowledge at hand and with applied logic rather than accepted blindly as propagated in priestly theology.
The tyranny of the vested interests, hypocrites, translators’ and short-sighted clergy clouds this very important historic real life event.
The implicit positive attitude required by the Book is therefore the basis of Iman, the Belief and trust in its guidance and then the application in real life of the instructions given.
When it is not so then the Book says: “they say that they believe but the Belief has not entered their Hearts.49-14”.
Because they and their actions clearly demonstrate being hypocritical and contrary to the Book. They may claim to be Muslims but are not with Iman-- that is they are not Momin 2-8.
The Muslim nation has wallowed in this situation for over millennia. Having taken the wrong “Attitude” to the one Book; they have found escape in the enterprise of religious industry, negating the very process of advancement!
For example, by taking negative Attitudes to the many verses that refer to the conflicts that existed at the time but ignoring the contextual conditions among Arabs then (5-35); the Book has been turned into ‘Warmongers Manual ‘to justify strategic brutalities as the world is witnessing today committed by the present day political “Islamists and jihadist “missionaries in the name of Islam the Faith of “no compulsion” 2-256!
But the same Book with positive Attitude to the numerous verses extolling the virtues of forgiveness, forbearance and fairness, it is a Guide to construct one nation of mankind (2-213) and turn it into a rainbow-community of human species on earth (35-28).
“While that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth”13-17, says the Faith Book.
Mankind has the choice.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer