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Islamic Ideology (26 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Is This the Islam of Prophet Mohammad, a Blessing to Mankind?



By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

26 March 2017

Is this Islam? Could this be the Islam of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) who was sent as a blessing for mankind? Could Islam convert a British-born into a mass killer of his own people, plowing a car into innocent pedestrians, as happened this week in a London attack on British Parliament?

Questions like this are asked everytime there is an Islamist terrorist outrage. This question was asked recently in India when a young radicalised Muslim Saifullah was killed in Lucknow, preferring what he called “martyrdom” to life, despite hours long pleadings of his brother as well as a cleric and other elders.

The same question was put in an even more poignant scene by a lady in Peshawar, crying over the blood-spattered dead bodies of her school-going children in December 2014. The proud killers of 132 innocent children and scores of female teachers were the Pakistan Taliban, students of Islamic madrasas, supposedly well-versed in the teachings of Islam. The Taliban claim to kill in the name of Islam. They claim to glorify Islam by doing so. They believe they are trying to establish the sovereignty of Allah over the world.  So, the question is inevitable. Is this Islam, indeed?

Only a fortnight ago, I was forced to ask this question in a slightly different mode. Is this pure Islam or true Islam, as Salafis, Wahhabis claim? Not for the first, nor for the last time, to be sure, over hundred devotees of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh, Pakistan, had been killed in the name of what Salafi-Wahhabis consider true, pure Islam. Salafi-Wahhabis abhor Sufism because they believe that Sufi practices resemble pre-Islamic polytheistic Hindu traditions. Any Muslim who strays from the path of what Salafis consider true Islam is an apostate and deserves to be killed. The murderer has been brainwashed by Wahhabi ulema into believing that he can be assured of a place in heaven if he kills apostates and kuffars.

Questions galore. But no real answers. Sufism-oriented Ulema and Mashaikh in India and the Sahel region of Africa are becoming more and more vociferous in denouncing Wahhabism-Salafism. No doubt Islamist terrorism is a result of the indoctrination of sections of Muslims by Wahhabi-Salafi ulema around the world. This has been possible owing to the induction of tens of billions of Saudi petrodollars over the last 40 years. Even after 9/11, in which 16 of the 19 terrorists were products of Saudi education system, the West has allowed Saudi Arabia to continue spending billions in the propagation of an extremist, desiccated version of Isam, shorn of all its beauty and benevolence.

So it is good that Sufi ulema, under attack from Wahhabi militants, are coming out to denounce the Salafi understanding of Islam. But is this enough? Do they not need to ask why it’s Salafis who are winning this ideological war? Have Sufi ulema been able to bring back to the Sufi fold even a single Islamist terrorist? After all, all the terrorists of today, at least from the South Asian and African Sahel region were part of a Sufism-oriented Islam until recently. Wahhabism existed mainly in the Arab regions. There were very few Salafis anywhere else. Easy availability of petrodollars for the propagation of Salafism has certainly played an important role. But can money alone bring about this kind of transformation? Why is the Sufi counter-narrative not effective enough to make a difference?

Writing in this space, almost exactly a year ago, I had made an earnest appeal to the Sufi Ulema and Mashaikh gathering in Delhi for an international conference. I had asked them to go beyond the usual shibboleths and utilse this great opportunity to consider this most urgent question: why is the Sufi focus on positives of Islam not working? The more Sufis and other moderate Muslims denounce terrorism, the more followers this Satanic ideology finds. I had pointed out the basic reason behind this conundrum: the radical theology of violence and exclusion and the current theology of consensus of all ulema, including Sufi ulema, are by and large one and the same. Any differences are cosmetic. ISIS and other terroist organisations may be militarily defeated tomorrow but the problem of radicalisation and violent extremism in Islam will still remain. Islam supremacism, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusivism as well as gender inequality are inherent in the current Islamic, including Sufi, theology. It is this that should concern us most.

I had an opportunity on the eve of that last March’s conclave in Delhi to meet Maulana Tahirul Qadri, a Sufi-Barelvi scholar from Pakistan, renowned for his 600-page fatwa against Islamist terrorism. I asked him two questions. One: are holy Quran’s war-time instructions, intolerant and xenophobic in nature, still applicable to us Muslims in the 2st cenury, though we could not be possibly fighting 7th century wars of the Prophet’s time? His answer: There are no intolerant verses in Quran and yes, all of them are applicable to us for ever. My second question was: by quoting a profusion of ahadith (plural of hadith, so-called sayings of the prophet) in your presentation, and considering them akin to revelation, are you weakening Khalifa Baghdadi’s terrorist ideology, which is largely based on ahadith, or strengtening it? He remained silent.

There is a hadith, according to which Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) himself ordered his followers to attack a town called Taif by showering stones with Minjaneeq (i.e. a catapult) despite the possibility of innocent civilians being killed.  When a companion ponted out that this could result in civilian killing, the Prophet is supposed to have said: “They are also from them.”  A Taliban scholar, under interrorgtion from a Pakistan Army officer, quoted this hadith to justify terrorism. Having watched the video on internet, I asked an Indian Sufi scholar, if the Prophet, in his view, could have said something that contradicts several verses of Quran and his own previous statements.  He simply said: “I have checked, this hadith is in the sihah-e-sitta (six so-called authentic books of ahadith including Bukhari and Muslim).” To all my questioning, if this meant, he believed that the Prophet himself justified killing of civilians, the Sufi scholar just remained silent. So, regardless of what your rationality may tell you, hadith, as collected even centuries after the Prophet’s demise, in the age of Arab imperialism, is believed to be akin to revelation and cannot be questioned.

It is this thinking on the part of all our ulema, of whatever school of thought, that must change, if we are going to fight violent extemism in Islam. Sufi fulminations against Wahhabism-Salafism are hypocritical until the core of their theologies remains the same. It is sheer hypocrisy to quote peaceful, pluralistic verses of Quran and teach in a madrasa books like Tafsir-e-Jalalain which say that these verses have been abrogated by later war-time verses asking Muslims to kill the kafir wherever they are found.

The fact is these verses were meant for a particular situation and do not apply to us any more. Similarly many ahadith were concocted to justify imperialist, expansionist wars fought by monarchical, dynastic khalifas, in the name of Islam. It is irrational to call them akin to revelation. The same holds true of Sharia that was first codified 120 years after the demise of the prophet and has been changing since from time to time and place to place. It simply cannot be considered divine. These aspects of the consensus core theology of Islam constitutes the root of the problem.

Clearly, moderate ulema, from whichever sect, must realise the need to introspect deeply and honestly and go far beyond their present positions, if they are serious about rescuing Islam from extremism. This should not be a sectarian endeavour. There are Muslims in all sects who want to live in peace and favour pluralism. They all need to get together and brainstorm.

Sultan Shahin is the Founding Editor of a Delhi-based progressive Islamic website, NewAgeIslam.com. He can be reached at sultan.shahin@gmail.com

(This article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi, on 26 March 2017)

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/sultan-shahin,-founding-editor,-new-age-islam/is-this-the-islam-of-prophet-mohammad,-a-blessing-to-mankind?/d/110535

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  • You are Muslim. And you don't appreciate sufis. Good. But why are you telling others.Why is your language dictatorial. Is it that your ancestors were forcibly converted, therefore you understand that language only.
    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 8:09:22 PM

  • @Ayub AliHanjura You are entitled to hold that you do not like sufis. Fine.Ayub AliHanjura sahib. But why are you bent on convincing others. Is it that from the land you come is one land were Islam was forcibly introduced? Hence;you are telling others,Be Muslims or else?
    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 8:09:03 PM

  • there is nothing like Sufism or sulfisim in Islam. we are Muslims and our religion is Islam and that is it.
    By Ayub AliHanjura - 4/5/2017 8:08:40 PM

  • Quote one book which may compare divine teachings.All top most world intellectuals,writers n scientists have confessed the existence of God n the divine books revealed from time to time to the humans as to how to live n frame society for betterment n keep away from ill deeds n bad people.It is conviction n better way of life that brought all others in this creed/umberalla by choice n no force.That is why we remain un-convinced for others. A failed man made arrangement can not be accepted blindly.
    By Syed Bashir - 4/5/2017 8:08:09 PM

  • @Bilhan Kaul Who tells u to change for us.Let us all stick to our good principles including tolerance n mutual respect.That is all we may do any good for the society we live in.
    By Syed Bashir - 4/5/2017 8:07:50 PM

  • You are told and that is good. Why bring others into umbrella?You have deep conviction, no problem. But why it seems your conviction is for others and you remain unconvinced
    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 8:07:25 PM

  • @Syed Bashir Don't challenge me sir. We know human beings especially Western people have written better books than so called God's. Poking nose. Then why Arabs came here to poke their nose.
    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 8:05:13 PM

  • @Kaul U r an atheist.Don't forge ur ill-gotten knowledge.U have neither reason nor any cause but un-necessarily poking nose in anothers affairs.We r not only told by our prophets (be peace upon them)but we have also many n sufficient proofs like "Qurran,Bible,Zaboore etc;U bring a verse like them is chalĺange to u.
    By Syed Bashir - 4/5/2017 8:02:01 PM

  • @Syed Bashir What divine commandments. God does not exsist.Don't fool because you have been told about divine commandments and you will not be opposed. In other words,don't use God to hijack reason.

    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 8:00:28 PM

  • @Bilhal Kaul So in ur opinion even "unity "differs in Islam which is based on divine commandments n followed by our prophet SAW who taught his followers genesis of Qurr'an.We have Qurra'n n Hadith to follow in every bit of our life.Those among us who differ n make changes r not muslims but renegades(" munafiqeens") who change right narrative n create fuss n friction for vested interests.As a community united we stand n divided we fall.U will not disagree to the enormous benefits of the unity which is concrete basement for welfare n peace.

    By Syed Bashir - 4/5/2017 7:57:49 PM

  • @Syed Bashir So you want communist type of unity. But remember this unity from above destroyed communists.

    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 7:52:53 PM

  • Read n learn Qurr'an n Hadith ur-self n u will come to know the way of life of a Muslim ur-self.Come out of shells n assemble under one code.No nusiance .

    By Syed Bashir - 4/5/2017 7:51:59 PM

  • @Bilhan Kaul Hahaha, p. Talking to u like I am beating drum in front of a cow. In ur saying I couldn't fine out anything so special to answer. U read my writings nicely u will get ur all answer whatever u wanna know. 
    It's not my anger. In today's world what is happening, if any where somebody fart loudly people used to try to take out Muslim's hand behind the fart also. Its a hidden policy following by some stone aged person and giving hand by so called muslim.
    Modernization in islam, Those who want to drink wine, those who want to enjoy prostitute, those who want to consume haram, those who want do haram, they r only putting logic for modernization. Not a muslim by deed or faith has any problem with the Islam. Some muslim by name (not by deed) they r trying to degrade muslim, because they can obey the rule of Islam, so grapes becoming soar. 
    To understand my writing u must have to know, who can be a muslim or what quality a person must should have to be a muslim. A person whose name is alike muslim, or because he took birth in a muslim dominated place, or he came out from a muslim mother, is not a valid point to be a muslim. So please get knowledge. All those who can't agree with the Quran and hadish or who r expert more than Quran and hadish they r just a "kafiro ki muslim". But not a muslim.

    By Syed Javed Jafar - 4/5/2017 7:51:15 PM

  • @Syed Javed Jafar Don't brag,don't alter the subject. Don't take refuge in rhetoric. And don't be rattled. I am asking you question and you are telling me ridiculous person. Allah soldiers are above discrimination. So decide it is religion that has given you anger or it is your personality.

    By Bilhan Kaul - 4/5/2017 7:48:30 PM

  • @Bilhan Kaul Hahaha sita became the mother of Ram. That's what u got from my writing. So sad to see a ridiculous guy like u
    By Syed Javed Jafar - 4/5/2017 7:43:08 PM

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