By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
Some years back I had wrongly tiled an article called ‘Dualism in Islam’. Fundamentally it was a wrong choice of word. Islam is strictly Unitarianism that is a system based on oneness of god-head; hence it should have been ‘Religion’ instead of Islam. We use “religion” as a generic term for all Church based faith-systems and so juxtapose religion with ‘Islam’ too!
Wrongly also because in the ad-Deen of Islam –an Arabic word for the Universal Code of values- given in’ those’ Divine Code-Books – zaalikal kitab--that inspired many a past messengers, named an unnamed in Quran who it says were sent to every nation, without giving their number, and were given the same message as Quran. However the Bible gives the number as 144000 and Musnad Hadis as 124000! Strange though, as Muhammad came five centuries later, and so the figures should be reversed
There is a buzz word called “pluralism’ lately among the enlightened Muslims scholars, who wish to distance themselves from the insularism that comes with the word Islam as it conjures up the Arabnised religion of Muslims, and therefore it negates the very fundamentals of Pluralistic society of mankind that is given in 2-4 etc as one’s ‘Belief’, ordained some fourteen centuries ago.
Islam is NOT an Arab religion although Muhammad-ur Rasullullah was an Arab—named Ahmad 61-6 -- and therefore his book had to be in Arabic and not in Esperanto which was not even invented. The previous Messengers wrote their books in their own and various mother tongues.
Today the Personality for Muslims is the person Muhammad as a focus. His every move and utterance is said to be recorded, compiled over two centuries after, in voluminous corpus called Hadis, the same title as Quran gives itself; but it questions the reader as to “what other Hadis would they then believe in after” this original Hadis 45-6 etc. Yet the later Hadis apocrypha has become the most essential document of the Muslims’ Belief, over riding and contradicting the original Book.
Not surprisingly then the Personality CULT of Muhammad is deep routed in the religions of Muslims. Non- Muslims not aware of 2-4 too think that like Christianity of Christ and Buddhism of Buddha etc, Islam must be based on the important focus and Personality of a human being, such as the Arab called Muhammad from Arabia. It is also confirmed by the fact that they perform the rites and rituals of the pilgrimage in Makkah, a city in Arabia.
(A Chinese lad once asked if the black shrouded Cube there was Muhammad’s house. How would one answer him that it is considered as god’s house. It is a case of —hum teri khoj may tujh say bhi pray jaa niklay—in our quest for you we went way pass beyond you!)
Dualism (not the 17h Century "Cartesian" definition) in the religious sense is the belief in two distinct divine deities, or worship of two divine deities in the rituals of religion.
From time immemorial it seems that it was necessary for mankind, to have a presence of some sensory and tangible form of deity or deities. A unique and universal godhead was too nebulous and remote a concept for the not so mature human intellect to grasp the all encompassing and all- Mighty creator of the universe without a three dimensional form.
Invention of various earthly facets and incarnations of god on earth was therefore undertaken by an elite and enterprising group of people called Priests, Clergy and Shaman of the various Churches or belief systems. This occurred not only to satisfy the above need of the masses, but particularly the desire of that elite group to share in the power and influence of religion, whereby they entrenched themselves as ‘go-in between’ the god or gods and the masses. This form of dual authority exists even today in almost all religions and perhaps Muslims, either innocently or by design, have fallen in that trap!
The Muslim context
Barely hundred years after the Messenger Muhammad; the taghutis (powers of evil--M Asad), raised their heads as previously with the result that ordinary Muslims fell pray to them and were enslaved by myriads of institutionalised demigods. The justification for their existence was sought in the man-made documents canonised by the church as divine for their own aggrandisement and therefore it became an article of religious faith, in contradiction of Quran 59-22, 23 & 24 for example.
As a result some issues are raised and briefly discussed here. Only a few Quranic references are given where necessary to maintain the brevity of the article. Also the acronyms PBUH or SAW are used with reference to the Messenger as the first one sounds like Prabhu the god-head and for the second, an English reader needs no explanation!
As for Muslims sending blessing on him, God has assured and vouched for that in 33-43 that HE has already done it, so it is futile to remind Him. Greatest respect and love for the Messenger lies in following his message!
A Muslim’s Pledge
Islam came to emphatically establish monotheism, “none other than Allah (112-1)” for obedience and the implementation of HIS Deen (the code) as proclaimed by Ibraham the Hanif the patriarch of the ‘people of the books’. Muslims are designated the Millat (community) of Ibrahim in Quraan. (2-135,22-78).
“Allah has said ‘do not take for obedience two gods’, for there is none like HIM, ‘then be ever conscious of ME only’ –16-51
Both, ‘Dualism’ of the Jews and Christians (Uzair and Isa as sons of God 9-30) and ‘Trinitarian-ism’ of the Christian sects -The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, of the Ahlul Qitab-people of the book are prohibited, as are all forms of polytheism. This prohibition in Islam is singularly emphatic and does not tolerate reverence to any other Being other than All Mighty God- in Arabic called Allah. For HE is the creator of the entire universe and therefore nothing HE has created can be raised to a plane of reverence-la ilaah! Ibrahim’s pledge has percolated down to Muslims through the ages:-
“I have turned my (complete) attention towards the only one who is the primal creator of the heavens and the earth. In purity of Iman (belief), as a Muslim and I am not among those who ascribe partners to HIM. My adherence (to Islam), all my endeavours and my life and death are for none but Allah, who sustains the entire universe. That is what I have been commanded and I am the first of those who submit to HIS will (6-161, to163).”This pledge is of absolute significance to the purity of Unitarianism, which makes one a Muslim.
NO where in Quran the common pledge of Muslims - laailaahaa illallah Muhammad-ur Rasullullah; including Muhammad BUT excluding all previous Messengers occur as one compound sentence in Quran! Quite logically so, otherwise it would then negate the parallel requirement of Belief in–min qablika- the preceding Messengers. The second part occurs four times and quite separately to the first as in 3-144, 33-40, 48-29 and 47-2, thus maintaining the essence of ‘Laa ilaahaa’
With the above as the bed rock of one’s Belief, there is no room to introduce any person, king, queen, despots, messengers, apostle, assistants, wali, saint, peers, mullahs, Maulanas and clergy; sandwiched between All Mighty and man kind. There is no divinity attached to any man, woman or object. Neither is there any other Book, except Quran (28-85), to establish God’s authority over mankind. Historically the revelations (Wahi) were revealed to Muhammad-ur Rasullullah at the beginning of the seventh century CE containing close to three hundred “Quls” - instructions to say and proclaim. (Many scholarly references are available on this subject).
Muhammad the Messenger (Rasool)
In the light of Quraan, the collection of Wahi, , which was compiled as Quran by Muhammad himself; it is seen that his personality has two distinct facets:
1- That he was a messenger like many before him (3-144). His messenger-ship (Risaalat) is therefore embedded in the Risaalaah, the Quraan (4-50,46-9) and nothing else (21-45). The obedience of the Risaalaah is for as long as it is with us and that is forever for God has taken its responsibility to guard it upon Himself (15-9). And HE is eternal.
The obedience of the Rasool when he was alive and directing the affairs of his people was equally emphatic, for he was a person chosen for the task and the living embodiment of the code-“O you who believe and obey Allah and HIS Apostle turn not away from him when you hear him speak” 8-20. Logically and obviously he has to be alive to speak and thus listened to!
Those instructions he gave to the nation in that time frame in accordance to the Wahi – inspirations, were therefore from a Rasool, hence the “obedience” to the practice Sunnah of Rasool was compulsory “who ever obeyed the Rasool, obeyed Allah 4-80”. Thus the obedience to God and of Quraan and the Rasool are one and the same. It is noteworthy that neither he nor the Khulafaa-Rashideen documented his personal traditions, for the simple reason that the Risaalaah (Quraan) was ‘Completed” during his lifetime 5-4.
Mohammad the man (Bashar)
2- That he was also a human being -Bashar, like any other (18-110).
His significance as a person when alive was to the ‘time’ he lived in. The recording in apocrypha of his actions, deeds and sayings as a human being, as head of state, head of family, family member, friend, father, husband, trader etc is based on reports by others, much later in historic timeframe.
“Mohammedanism” – that is cultism of Muhammad is therefore introduced concept in Islam and “Mohammadan” a slur on Muslims; for it means Muslims worship a man. His departure from the world did not leave a void. He was not a King and is not a king in waiting to come for a second coming. The Risaalaah is and will always be among the Muslims, for God has preserved it 85-22. As for the man Muhammad, “if he died or were slain will you then turn back on your heels?”3-144. As a human being he died a natural death at the age of about sixty two.
Agarchey makadeh say uthh kay chaldiya Saqi
Woh may woh kham woh surahi woh jaam baqi hay. (Iqbal-Urdu)
Although the object of enchantment has left us, the aura of his presence persists. The Book and its Message is with mankind. To accept it or reject it, mankind is free to do so 2-256.
The apologist for Hadis apocrypha may wish to argue that the meaning of Hadis in above verse is not the same as the Hadis books on the alleged sayings and actions of the Messenger. It is their prerogative to argue so on the basis of the science of language! But whatever meaning is deduced, it relates to material external to Quran (31-6). Iman in any external material therefore is a declaration of one’s lack of trust in the Quran 6-114. Faith in Hadis on par with Quraan is therefore manifest DUALISM.
An example in this context of this external material in complete contradiction is a Hadis relating to the position of a Husband - Majaazi Khuda, an earthly god viz a viz the wife, -- that “Rasullullah said- if allowed by Allah, he would have ordered the wife to worship the husband as god incarnate on earth”! This is backed by the male chauvinistic and scientific linguistic interpretation of the verses 4-34. Rasool could have never contemplated such DUALISM!
ARE THERE ANY MORE SKELETONS IN THE CUPBOARD OF THE ‘RELIGION’ OF Muslims? But then Islam is not a religion, that is, a set of man-made rituals for worship, but an ad-Deen, the code for mankind - annaas to live their life by practically. – (Refer “Islam a challenge to Religion” by G A Parvez).
However it is accepted that Hadis may have its place for a research student only in the study of culture, norms, influences and understanding the psyche of the community of people of the time when it was compiled, mainly from Central Asia. Acquisition of knowledge, scientific (45-13), historical (22-46) and archaeological (47-10) is also an obligation upon a Muslim and Quran is replete with such exaltations -- “Oh my Sustainer! Make increase in my knowledge” 22-114.
The self-canonised living saints- the Ayatullahs, the Maulanas -the slave- masters, -for that is what maula means; the Ulema,- the religious Scholars!- If only these spiritual potentates had “contemplated” the verse 35-28, they would realise the irony that the word Ulemaau –the people endowed with true knowledge- appears in one of the verses most prolific references to scientific disciplines, from climatology to genetics, they will see that an Aalim is - “…among HIS servants those truly are in awe of Allah who have (true) knowledge! 35-28”. The humility that comes with real knowledge is the key attribute of a scholar. Indeed knowledge is power but humility that goes with it is the jewel in the Crown.
“But none believed in Moses except some children of his people, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them; and certainly Pharaoh was mighty on the earth and one who transgressed all bounds” – 10-83. Tyranny/arrogance and knowledge have nothing in common.( It is note worthy that the youth of the nation is expected to stand up to the abuse of power in the above verse).To invite discourse and challenge to ones ideas is the strength of conviction and is a vital part of knowledge.
It is not just the prerogative of the professional priests displaying their piety (107-6), in flowing-gowns as a uniform of profession. The holy Book reminds them to be truthful, “would you, now look down with disdain on a tiding like this and make it your daily bread (as it were) to call the truth a lie? (56-81, 82)-M.Asad” They do not add an iota to the progressive thought process of argumentative Islam as portrayed in Quraan nor to the relevant big-picture-issues affecting Muslims of the time, because their own training precludes such matters and their self interests dictates the strategy they have adopted and that is to perpetuate religion. Could it be that this frustration led Dr Iqbal to lament:-
What constitutes a nation and what are the realities of nations!
Alas, how would these two-rakaat-imams ever comprehend!!
The priest/clergy or imam/mullah referred to here is not the individual person but a mind-set of the institution of Church. Two rakaat Imams, sums up the profession of priesthood, which has no place in Islam.
Gender and Education
In particular the illiteracy of the Muslim women is lamentable. The status quo is diligently maintained, lest the acquired knowledge inform the women of their God given rights to the detriment of the powerful Qawamoon, the male gender. The case of the Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh should be studied, as being typical of Muslim woman in society, for she could have been a heroin for Muslim women! Having seen and heard her interviews and that of her village mullah in the Western media years ago, one was appalled at the level of ignorance portrayed by the mullah, the community in general, the family and the pupil herself! Adults are what parents and teachers mould them into in childhood. One was filled with sympathy for the poor woman for what she was taught of Deen! Exposed to wider horizons later in her life, any wonder she rebelled? It was easy to deduce that she had not once read the Quran with meaning and critical analysis except by rote in Arabic for the usual thawaab for the hereafter. In its ignorance alas, the female gender however also, seems to fear the freedom Quran gives them but feels secure in the wrappings of the ‘traditional norms’, the mental chador/neqab/burqa and ‘protection of man’ – dualism in gender.
It is however too easy to heap the blame on the elite classes. For the rulers can only rule with the consent of the ruled. Mature Muslims in later age have abrogated their own responsibility to read, understand and act on the teaching of Quraan 2-121 and apply its core values to their daily lives aamanu wa amilusslihaat 95-6, believe and act righteously. We have ourselves to blame for having delivered absolute power to the clergy on the plater. They therefore, automatically become the leader of the community! In the Western countries many imported imams can’t even speak the countries’ language, and yet some are even titled Mufti of the country!
The de-facto temporal and spiritual leaders, the potentates who pitch themselves as gods on earth, are equally duty bound to eschew their Dualism with God and set free the minds of ordinary people. The mind-set of servitude to power, internally cultivated over the centuries and externally imposed, as the present-day circumstances demonstrate; have produced the traumatic situations Muslims find themselves in. One can almost hear Mohammadur Rasullullah repeat the Rasool Mose’s call in frustration “let my people go” so that Islam may be projected into the wider world in its true, progressive, tolerant, pluralistic and self confident form, beyond the confines of vested interests, dogmatism and fanaticism. Muslims are ordained to exercise their responsibility-“your responsibility is not only to follow Allah’s guidance yourself – you are an Ummah raised for the good of all humanity 3-110”
A part cannot be greater than the whole. Fragmentation of ad-Deen is therefore the fragmentation of Islam. Humiliation is the natural outcome of factionalism and divisiveness, for “ikhtilaaf incurs dreadful penalty” –(3-105)
Differences of opinion in arguments based on the ‘details’ not given in the Quran are acceptable, as Quran itself extols the virtue of intellectualism over and over again, viz the use of:- taffakur 34-46, tadabbur 47-24 ulil-albaab 3-190, 24-44, etc and warns against the danger of not using the grey matter –aqal 59-14. What is not allowed is the breakup of Tawheed ‘the oneness’, in this wrangle of opinion!
Therefore, it is about time in the 21st century, with its technological and communication advantages, for the Ummah to come to a universal agreement on Quranic core values for all to agree and adhere to. An inter-mazaahib representatives’ (scholars’) and Muslim states representatives’ dialogue is long overdue! As Fazrul Rahman in his book says, “The principles of the Quran deserve systematisation and then from these, laws should be systematically derived”. There are only the’ Qul’s to be consider.
There is no shortage of capital resources or of true scholarship in the so-called Muslim world to set up an international unifying institution to undertake such a task. Any one of the oil rich Muslim State can provide the capital required, if only the Scholars would come down of their ivory towers and use the language of the masses? Again in the words of Iqbal:
“Nature often overlooks an individual’s misdeed, but it never forgives the sins of the collective community”
To achieve the unity of Humanity 2-213 is perhaps a very distant dream, however it is essential to build now on the divine and emotional cohesion of Muslims that is put together with the Quranic stitches of Millat and Ikhwah-brotherhood, (alas sisters are only allowed if in the “hood”!). The ikhwa is supple and flexible to accommodate the intellectual differences of opinion without the irreconcilable rancour of the past thousand years. The grace of God could still be, as it was with the earlier Muslims to join their “hearts in love so that by HIS grace you became brethren 3-10”; for they belonged to the one family.
The concept of family includes the head of the family and demands commitment to it; without gender exceptions (3-195,33-35); our collective responsibility, to eradicate DUALISM in its broader meanings. As Iqbal so aptly called for:
Although the community has idols lurking under its sleaves
I am but only ordered to proclaim Lailaahaa illallaah”. This call may even unite Humanity.