Many of the Taliban leaders and other terrorists who destroyed Afghanistan were also graduates of Deoband
By Syed Akbar Ali
“You only serve besides Him mere names that you made up, you and your forefathers. God never places any power in them. Kingship belongs only to God. He commanded that you shall not serve anything except Him. This is the perfect way of life, but most people do not know.”
Surah 12: 40
After reading, researching and also observing myself the repeated failure of Muslims throughout history, until now and also going into the future I have come to realize that this failure is simply because they have deviated from the simple, pure and unadulterated teachings of the Quran. Contrary to what the Western media says about the Quran and contrary to the fanatics hoisting aloft the Quran in their battle cries, the Quran has led me in the exact opposite direction from the fanatics. All the wrong things that they do in the name of religion – I just cannot find them anywhere in the Quran.
Every verse in the Quran should be made a pearl of wisdom for the Muslims which will easily make them successful in this life and the next. However, the Islamic countries rarely implement what is written in the Quran. Instead what they implement are the views of the priests, the religious scholars, the religious thinkers, the religious leaders and so on which are all fallible and which have failed over the past thousand years. These views are found written in the various books of theology which are also the cause of senseless argument, debate, hatred and violence for over a thousand years among the Muslims. But they just cannot let go of these old views. While ignoring the Quran they uphold the theology of the scholars as though it were written in stone. This is the main reason for the failure of the Islamic countries. If they still cannot see this obviously glaring truth, then no one can help the Muslims. They are doomed.
I translate and quote herewith part of an article written by my good friend the emeritus Professor Syed Hussein Alatas in the Mingguan Malaysia of 18 February 2006. The article was titled “Falsafah perundangan Islam” which translates to ‘The Philosophy of Islamic Law’ by PROF. DR. SYED HUSSEIN ALATAS.
Among the things I found most interesting and pertinent to the discussion here was Professor Alatas’ comment about using common sense and reason or ‘akal’. In deference to the Professor’s mastery of the Malay language it is best that I reproduce some of his comment in his very beautiful and concise Malay:
Jangan kita jijik pada perkataan akal, seolah-olah akal bertentangan dengan wahyu. Akallah yang membedakan hadis palsu dari hadis benar, sunah palsu dari sunah benar, tafsir salah dari tafsir benar, fikiran maju dari fikiran buntu, pendapat sesat dari pendapat tepat, kupasan mendalam dari kupasan cetek, fikiran gigih dari fikiran lembap, dan ucapan merendah diri dari ucapan angkuh.
Here is a brief translation:
“Let us not detest the word reason (akal) as though reason is contradictory to revelation (wahyu). It is reason that separates the false hadith from the true hadith, the false sunnah from the true sunnah, the wrong interpretations from the correct interpretations, progressive thinking from retarded thinking, deviant opinion from wise opinion, in depth analysis from shallow analysis, robust thought from weak thinking and humble speech from arrogant speech”.
In my view Professor Alatas was referring to the religious scholars’ totally debilitating and brain dead habit of giving up thinking and relying totally on the old books of the old theologians. Even when their writings are completely contradictory to common sense and reason, there is no questioning or repudiating these old scholars, as though their thoughts are written in stone. Professor Alatas gives some examples.
He quotes one of these old books of jurisprudence or ‘fiqh’ (pronounced fake) known as the Umdat al-Salikwritten by one Ahmad bin Naqib al-Misri (d 1368 AD / 769 Hijrah) which is accepted as a text in the Syafie school or sect of jurisprudence. Professor Alatas points out that this old book has many illogical conclusions and ideas. For example there are pointers about when people should or should not cry during funerals. Professor Alatas questions what is the relevance of such arguments to the everyday life of Muslims?
Professor Alatas rightly points out that there are many strange and illogical ideas in these books of fiqh which have influenced the Syariah Laws in the Islamic countries until today. One of them which is recognized by the Syariah Laws is that the minimum term of pregnancy for a woman is six months whereas the longest term of pregnancy is four years (Umdat al-Salik, Book of Divorce, Section on Iddah).
On both counts this is not true. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most premature baby James Elgin Gill was born to Brenda and James Gill on May 20, 1987, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He was 128 days premature, and weighed just 624 g (1 lb 6oz). This means the pregnancy was only 22 weeks which is five months and two weeks. This is less than six months.
But a four year pregnancy or even a 24 month pregnancy is nonsensical. However complicating the issue for the old scholars and their modern day inheritors is their own belief that one of their own heros, Imam Shafie, the precursor of the Shafie School of Fiqh was himself the product of a ‘pseudo pregnancy[’ that was at least 24 months long. So these are some of the examples of the illogical ideas which are carried in the old theology books which many regard as though they are written in stone.
Professor Alatas points out that based on these strange beliefs the Shafie School of Jurisprudence (which is incorporated into the Shariah Laws of the Shafie sect) says that a new widow should wait a minimum of four years to completely remove any doubt of pregnancy before she remarries. The Hanafi School of Fiqh says the period for the widow’s waiting shall be two years whereas the Maliki School of Fiqh says the widow should wait a longer term of five years. Is it any wonder then that despite the passage of over 1000 years, there is no recorded history of any Islamic country ever implementing a full fledged system of Shariah Laws anywhere in the world? There is none.
Then Professor Alatas also points out totally nonsensical discussions by old scholars of fiqh like Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (b 1504 AD) and Imam Ahmad al-Ramli in the old books which discuss the status of children born out of unions between humans and animals! Sadly both these confused scholars are still accepted as ‘imam’ by their supporters today.
Professor Alatas quotes more debates among the old scholars of fiqh about human children born of a pair of animals like cattle. In one example a khatib or imam of the mosque was sacrificed (and most likely eaten) by the congregation after he had led the special morning prayers for the Hari Raya Haji or Eid Kurban or Festival of Sacrifice. It was found out that the khatib was one of those strange beings who was born of parents who were cattle! Professor Alatas correctly points out that these type of crazy horse insanities are not found anywhere in the Quran.
He further points out that what these strange scholars have done is to impart the idea to the Muslims that the teachings of the Quran - which was revealed by God - are incomplete. In their view the teachings of the Quran can only be made complete by the crazy horse writings of people like Ibnu Hajar and Imam Ahmad al Ramli to be incorporated as part of their ‘Islamic jurisprudence’. May God protect us and save us all.
I believe that this is the basic and fatal flaw that is solely responsible for the demise of the Muslims including the old scholars mentioned above. They do not know the Quran. Without knowing the Quran they have embarked on acquiring religious knowledge from their own sources many of which are illogical and also false. And most unfortunately after the passage of a 1000 years, the writings of these so called religious scholars have come to be almost engraved in stone.
Today in Malaysia if a Muslim does not subscribe to the religious sect of Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaah he can be sent to jail. For example if you are a SHiah you can be sent to jail. In Shiah majority countries like Iran (and now Iraq) the opposite happens i.e. the Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaah minority can be persecuted or discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. Yet both of them will meet to perform the pilgrimage in Mecca, eat each other’s food as halal, greet each other with ‘Assalaamualaikum’ and recite from the same Quran. This is very confused.
Many of their beliefs are derived from other sources and have nothing to do with the Quran. And compounding the problem is their insistence that one cannot fully understand the Quran without referring to the same old writings of the scholars! This is what can be called a ‘Catch 22’ situation.
The revelation of the Quran brought Islam to the last Prophet. But many of the scholars do not know anything about this Quran. Then you have the scholars writing their own books of fiqh or jurisprudence like the Umdat al Salikmentioned by Professor AlAtas. After that they say you cannot understand the Quran without referring to the books they themselves have written!
I would like to quote two examples to explain further what I mean when I say that the scholars do not know the Quran. In India there are famous religious madrassahs like Darul Uloom in a place called Deoband. Folks like Nik Aziz Nik Mat the Menteri Besar of Kelantan have been educated in religion from Deoband. Many of the Taliban leaders and other terrorists who destroyed Afghanistan were also graduates of Deoband. Students spend up to seven years studying at these madrassas. Not once in the seven years do they read and analyse the Quran from cover to cover. Only in the last six months of their seven year studies are they required to mechanically recite the whole Quran in Arabic in a sing song manner where they are tested for proper pronunciation, voice control and other such things – but not the understanding of what is inside the Quran. That is why despite seven years of study at these madrassahs some of them cannot answer the simple question: How many ‘surahs’ (chapters) are there in the Quran? They do not even know that. The correct answer is 114 surahs.
So what exactly do they learn in the seven years? More fiqh, ancient stories, histories of fantastic personalities, plenty of miracles and so on. They will learn many things done by famous caliphs including one person by the name of Umar bin Abdel Aziz. Some of the scholars say that other than the Four Great Caliphs following the Prophet, Umar Abdel Aziz ranks among the greatest caliphs. So it is an endless series of “Umar Abdel Aziz said this, Umar Abdel Aziz did that” and so on. But according to them Umar Abdel Aziz ruled as caliph for just 36 months!
In 2002 some bearded folks had filed a complaint with the Council of Rulers against my writings in my newspaper column. I was called to the Pusat Islam or JAKIM (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia) and questioned over what I had written. During the meeting I was questioned about my reference to a verse from the Quran. Not surprisingly the officers handling the meeting could not provide the reference in the Quran to the verse they themselves had raised. We really cannot blame them for this weakness because in the whole scheme of religious education the role of the Quran is minimal. Muslims do not know the meaning of the Quran. How then can they put into practice the wisdom of the Quran? They go to the various flavours of religious scholars for guidance. Ignorance of the Quran has been and will continue to be the downfall of the Muslims.
And because of this problem, in our country the undue influence of the religious teachers in our schools is hastening the collapse of the Muslims or prolonging their inability to compete effectively and move up in life at par with the non Muslims. I enclose herewith a complaint by a parent in the newspaper (NST 20/2/2006) which provides just one such example of the overbearing negative influence of the religious teachers in our schools. The parent has complained that his daughter had been training for weeks to perform the Malay traditional dance called the zapin for the school sports but at the last minute the religious teacher prevailed on the school to cancel the dance because he did not like it. This is just one example. The religious teachers are teaching that our own cultures and traditions are bad or not good. Indeed there are traditions and culture that is not too good which should be discarded but we must not blindly throw out the baby with the bath water. Much common sense is needed. But let us not condemn our own traditions simply because it does not fit with some strange desert tradition that has nothing to do with Islam. Religious teachers are also imparting the prejudice in our schools that non Muslims are physically ‘kotor’ or dirty. This is completely wrong according to Islam, science and common sense. It only creates hatred towards our fellow human beings.
The Quran does say that the disbelievers are in a state of abomination or rijis but this cannot be a state of physical uncleanliness because modern science (plus the cosmetics and personal hygiene products industry) would have picked it up much earlier if indeed Muslims were even marginally physically cleaner than non Muslims. It is also a fact that the per capita consumption of personal hygiene products in the “non Islamic” countries is very much higher than in the Islamic countries.
Some ‘Muslims’ believe that they should carry a stick in their pockets at all times and use it from time to time to clean their teeth like a toothbrush. This is a most unhygienic practice because bacteria is trapped in the stick. To overcome this they still brush their teeth with a regular plastic toothbrush and toothpaste made by the non Muslims. And certainly the ‘Islamic countries’ have not been able to rid themselves of typhoid, cholera and dysentery plus a myriad other diseases which are closely linked to poor hygiene and poor cleanliness. Therefore imparting or trying to impart the feeling that the non Muslims are physically unclean is not only wrong but it leads to further confusion, prejudice, hate and ultimately utter disappointment for the Muslims themselves.
The religionists dance to their own tune. At the University ITM or UITM which is a government university in Malaysia some female students have been punished and forced to do push ups on the road tarmac for not wearing the tudung or head cover. In the incident student members of the University’s uniformed corps or ‘Wirawati’ were taken for a weekend training camp. Female students who were not wearing the tudung were pulled out of their barracks at four in the morning and forced to do painful bare knuckle pushups until some of them suffered bloody knuckles.
Needless to say this is stupidity. Some of the students were traumatized while others became hateful of the religious freaks. No one gains anything good from this type of stupid behaviour. But what is even more dangerous is that the female students were tortured by their fellow students – their peers – who had obviously imbibed the satanic value that they can inflict pain and discomfort on their peers who do not fit into their value system.
The fact that their value system is diseased is beside the point. There are many other people around the world who also believe in rather strange value systems but not all of them believe that they have the right to torture others who do not fit into their own beliefs. This is the great satanic sink hole which is destroying almost all ‘Islamic countries’. They inculcate hate, hate and more hate for their fellow man.
And most of the time the governments of the Islamic countries do not do anything about it. For example the Malaysian government does not understand that what is laid down in the law of the land and what is laid down as official government policy holds no water at all with the religionists. And the religionists also know that the government will also not do anything to prevent them from teaching their useless values. When religion crazed teachers attack students with scissors, the government only makes passing remarks which are forgotten in a day or two. There is no realisation and hence no sense of urgency to prevent the recurrence of these insanities once and for all. Possibly this is a terminal disease. The country needs really expert surgeons who can excise out and get rid of all these cancers. Here is another newsreport from The Star which makes it obvious that the Muslims in Malaysia are also doomed.
The Star Wednesday March 1, 2006: Stop sale of holy water to students, says exco member
IPOH: The move by an ustaz who is allegedly selling air penerang hati or holy water to improve pupils’ memory is ridiculous, said a Perak state executive councillor.
State Education, Human Resources and Multimedia Committee chairman Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said immediate action should be taken to stop the sale of such water to students.
He also urged parents to ensure that their children did not fall victim to the ustaz, who was clearly out to take advantage of the students.
“It is a norm among Malay parents to ask for air penerang hati for their children from people with good religious background,” he said after attending Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah’s visit to Gua Tempurung in Gopeng near here yesterday (See Page 28).
“Usually, parents will give a token sum of money to the person who blessed the water for them.
“But in this case, the ustaz himself produced the water although there was no request made and sold it directly to the children without the parents’ knowledge.”
Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir is an educationist. But it is clear from his statement that the Perak State Government has little idea about what Islam is really about. There is no mention of the Prophet ever teaching anyone about doing anything to water either to make it ‘holy’ or to use this so called holy water to improve anyone’s memory. This is just not part of Islam and neither does it have anything to do with what Islam is about.
This nonsensical ‘holy water’ is obviously a fusion of old beliefs in ‘magic’ and watching too many ‘Exorcist’ movies coupled with the ustaz’s need to fleece simple people of their money. Too many Muslims in Malaysia believe in this type of nonsense. They will continue to be fleeced by the ‘holy water’ conmen. And then we wonder why the ‘Islamic countries’ are collapsing?
Here is another news item from the Harakah which is the newspaper of choice for the religious folks. In the issue dated 16 – 31 March 2006, the Harakah paper carries an article where Malaysia’s chief genie-ologist Dr Haron Din says that it is possible for a human being to marry a genie or spirit. The Harakah which is the party organ for the PAS religious party has evolved much and does carry interesting and logical articles and comments. But unfortunately the religious folks cannot give up the nonsensical hocus pocus. Hence the article about humans marrying genies and other such nonsense.
In early 2006 there was also some sensation over a clay ‘toyol’ inside a bottle that was found on a beach in Pahang. In no time at all the figurine found its way to the local museum and made it to newspaper headlines. Malays are still fascinated by such hocus pocus. Despite black magic being clearly syirik or an act of apostasy many practitioners of black magic also double up as local religious leaders. Belief in the irrational, falsehoods and pure lies seems to be mixed up in one big bowl of ‘mee goreng’ for consumption by the fervent.
What does all this add up to? This means the Muslims in Malaysia will continue to lag behind the non Muslims. They will most certainly lag behind the Japanese, the Koreans, the Singaporeans, the Americans and the Germans because the Singaporeans and the Germans pass their exams the old fashioned way by working hard, doing their homework, doing research and applying their common sense. There are no holy water short cuts to improve one’s memory and passing examinations.
It has been a terrible mistake to give the religious teachers so much influence in our government funded schools. However there is an easy solution to this problem. But prior to that let me admit that because of their thousand year baggage, many Muslims will disagree with my view here. They will still want the religious teachers to teach their kids. This is fine. But we need to remove the religious teachers’ presence as permanent members of the teaching staff at government funded schools. This means religious teachers should be appointed directly by the Ministry of Education into a pool of relief teachers monitored by the Education Department. They can then be rotated for periods of time among area schools and focus their energies on imparting useful knowledge only and not get involved in any other activity in school. They should not be given a permanent role in our schools.
Parents who would like their children to be imbued with more Arabic culture can spend their own money and time and send their children for Arabic tuition and Arabic culture classes at the private madrassas and so on. We do not know just how much good this will do them but it is very Islamic that parents have this option available to them.
The old scholars would like to impart the view that all the Syariah laws are divine but as I have quoted from Professor Alatas above, this cannot always be the case. Other writers are also beginning to question the Syariah laws. Here is another view from another writer Dr Mozammel H Khan which asks the question “How divine are Shariah laws?”. What is important is that these voices be heard and their arguments listened to carefully. Only the Quran is written in stone. Everything else is not.
Dr Mozammel H. Khan writes from Toronto in the Daily Star (February 6, 2006) – a Bangladeshi newspaper which is available on the Internet. Dr. Mozammel H. Khan is the Convener of the Canadian Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Bangladesh.
“It is indeed a matter of great pride for the secularist Bangladeshi Muslims that the theological fight against the introduction of Shariah law was largely led by the Muslim Canadian Congress with its Director of Sharia Law, a Bangladesh born scholar, who conducted extensive research to portray, to the Muslims and non-Muslims alike, around the globe that very little of what is termed as Shariah is divine order. The name of this humble man is Hasan Mahmud who resides in the outskirts of Toronto. … His numerous citations from the authentic documents manuscripted by learned Islamic theologians from across the globe have dispelled many of the myths of Shariah and have, in fact, glorified the great religion, where the Holy Qur'an is believed to reign over any other directives or declarations. [Hasan Mahmud's Bangla website: BanglarIslam.com is a great source of most authentic Islamic documents about Sharia.]”
What is important here is that Muslims should ask the question ‘Why are these Muslim writers like Hasan Mahmud and also Dr Mozammel Khan questioning the Shariah laws, what are their reasons, what justification do they show and what evidences do they provide?’. If their views are incorrect then they can be ignored. But if there are any truths to their views then the Muslims must decide what should be their next course of action. Otherwise the Muslims are doomed. They can just bungle along. Doomed. Doomed. Doomed.
There are very many things wrong, completely wrong with the religion that is taught by the scholars and the religious folks. They do not impart a good system of values to the ummah. That is why the ummah is so lost especially in the modern world. They lack good values or high levels of integrity.
Their dislike and hatred of the rest of the world is actually misplaced and totally wrong. A good example is Islamic banking. This is actually Arabic banking. It is a fallacy and a falsehood to say that it is Islamic banking. There can be no such thing as ‘Islamic banking’. That is why millions of Muslims still do business with the normal everyday conventional bank and find it workable and helpful to their lives. Yet they are made to feel guilty because they are told that conventional banking is haram or forbidden. So every day when the Muslims go to the conventional bank to do their business they feel that they are compromising their principles. This is wasted anxiety.
In Malaysia the religious party Pas played up the hudud laws and Islamic state comedy for some time. But now after the 9 –11 event and their almost complete rout at the polls in 2004 – they have played down the hudud laws and Islamic state tune. Once again because votes are important, their principles can be flexible. As the famous Indonesian phrase goes: ‘Bisa di atur’ which means ‘it can be arranged’. At one time PAS made much hay by accusing the Government of allowing music concerts. They said music concerts were not Islamic and would encourage maksiat or loose morals. But lately they have changed even this tune. The PAS is now at the forefront of using music concerts to attract young voters. They are now eating their own hay. Whenever it suits them PAS leaders and PAS members also believe in ‘air jampi’ or ‘air doa’ – plain water actually rendered ‘unholy’ by the recitation of mantras over it. This is because many PAS supporters believe in such hocus pocus magic.
Islam has high principles and solid values. But the religion of the scholars is a religion that does not impart sufficient amounts of good values or practical principles to their ummah. Hence their ummah is severely handicapped. Not only does it make them hypocrites and the laughing stock of the world but more sadly it creates the chaos, confusion, hatred and violence in the Islamic countries. If they wish to really uphold all the principles they believe in, then they have to be at loggerheads with their neighbours and the rest of the world. But if they want to engage normally with the rest of the world, they are forced into a guilt ridden situation where they feel they have to compromise their principles.
And then to throw salt into the wound, in comparison with the rest of the world, the ummah is still left behind. The rest of the world, especially the West and now large parts of the East, is able to progress forward on a better set of values and principles. Values of honesty, courage, integrity, respect for your neighbour, freedom and democracy seem to be prevalent in the West and the fast advancing East. These values and principles have now become luxuries among the ummah. The ummah has denied itself this luxury. The ummah is doomed.
At the beginning of this chapter I have written the following verse from the Quran:
“You only serve besides Him mere names that you made up, you and your forefathers. God never places any power in them. Kingship belongs only to God. He commanded that you shall not serve anything except Him. This is the perfect way of life, but most people do not know.” Surah 12: 40
This is true for many of the more ridiculous things created by the various scholars across the spectrum of religion from the Shiahs, to the Wahhabis to the Tareqats and the Sufis etc. Often they have just created fancy names and labels and then started making mountains out of these names. God never placed any power in these things they have created. Is it any surprise then that they do not work. They are bound to fail. God has given the Muslims Islam, the perfect way of life. But unfortunately most people do not know. They prefer to create even more names, make humongous stories out of those names then find out that their lives become twisted and distorted because they try to give life to these concepts and names which they and their forefathers created.
[Syed Akbar Ali is a noted Muslim writer and activist from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org]