By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
13 March 2018
The Grand Imam of Masjid al-Nabwi (holy mosque of Madina) Shaikh Ibrahim al-Turki urged India’s Muslim youths to follow Islam as a faith of mercy and shun violence in all situations. Speaking at Ramleela Ground in New Delhi, he made these peaceful exhortations: “Muslim youths should be cautious in the present times. Islamic theology leaves no room for clash with other civilizations. Rather, it calls for the preservation of all humanity”. He was addressing the first day of the 34th All India Ahle Hadees Conference themed “Restoration of World Peace and Protection of Humanity”. Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind is the most active organization of Salafi followers in India.
On this occasion, the Imam of Madina Mosque led the Friday prayer. In his Khutba (sermon) of Juma’a, he prayed: “May Allah make the land of India a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity and protect its citizens from all catastrophes and tabulations!” In his sermon, he also stated: “Islam spread in India like other countries with its force of ethics and morality, rather than sword. It not only propagates the safety of mankind, but also guarantees the safety of all the creatures”, as the Urdu daily Inquilab reports today.
The chief organizer of this conference and the Jamiat Ahle Hadith president, Maulana Asghar Ali Imam Mahdi Salafi said: “Conflict and hatred against each other in the name of religion have become a matter of great concern for mankind. The greatest challenge of the present time is propagation of world peace and safety of mankind. The youth should work as messengers of peace and should not be enticed by the anti-social elements”, he said.
Tellingly, the Jamiat Ahle Hadith has organized the two-day annual conference, as Maulana Salafi avers, with an aim to combat the menace of terrorism and to promote national integrity, solidarity, brotherhood and stability. While referring to Jamiat Ahle Hadees fatwa against “terrorism”, he said that Jamiat was the first one to issue the fatwa against terrorism and this conference will be helpful to convey the message of peace and “enlighten the people about the deep-rooted conspiracy of the ISIS and similar organizations that are working to disrupt the social harmony and brotherhood”.
But for many, this development is utterly surprising. They wonder as to how the Ahle Hadith in India, who emulate the ultra-orthodox Salafist brand of Islam, have come up with an outcry against the “terror tactics” of the Daesh (ISIS). Notably, a collective anti-terror fatwa endorsed by 40 senior clerics associated with the New Delhi-based Markazi Jamiat Ahle-Hadees Hind has been reiterated at his conference. In fact, the anti-terror fatwa of Ahle Hadith answers this question:
“Is it correct, as per Shariah, for Daish and others of its ilk in the name of the so-called caliphate to try to take into (their) own hands the peace and law and order, to explode bombs on main streets and other places, to destroy public and private properties and military installations, to hijack planes, to kill tourists, media-persons and foreign employees, to make nurses hostages or kill them, to attack upon non-abiding hijab women, educational institutions, offices of the newspapers and news channels and embassies, to provoke the people against the government and disturb the peace and harmony of the country?”
A collective reply to the above question was prepared by the top Muftis and Ulema of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith Hindi, as detailed in its official website.
I reproduce below the summative points of this fatwa in a slightly edited style for language clarity:
“There is no provision under the Islamic system of justice that revenge for the mistake of a person is taken from the other person." (Al Quran Surah AI lnam: 164). It is the responsibility of the government and Muslims to provide security and protection to the non-Muslims residing under the Islamic government. Those killing them can't go to Heaven." (Hadees Sahih Bukhari). Similarly, no harm can be inflicted even on disbelievers living in a situation out of war. Imam lbn Qadama says: "There is no difference of opinion among the scholars of Islam that killing of an innocent person is Haraam (Not permitted).”. Imam lbn Taimiyya and Imam Nauvi say: "Kufr (Disbelief) and Shirk (Polytheism) are the greatest sins, and afterwards comes the killing of the innocent. Hafiz lbn Hajar says: "When the uncalled for killing of animals is not allowed, how can the killing of innocent persons be allowed." (Fatahul Bari). Abdullah Bin Umar says: "The sheer (act of) of killing wherefrom coming out (surviving) is not possible, is, unquestionably, blood-letting."…… “Therefore, certain organizations' effort to take the law and order of the country into (their) own hands, to bombard and explode (bombs) at the main streets and other places, to destroy governments and individuals as well as military weapons, to hijack planes, to make foreign employees and nurses hostage, to attack women not wearing hijab and (to attack) offices of the newspapers and news channels and embassies, to provoke the people against the government and strive to disturb peace and harmony, is not allowed by Shariah.”
Highlighting the stance of the Ahl-e-Hadith on the present-day Islamic caliphate, the collective anti-terror Fatwa underpins: “Islamic caliphate has got some principles and conditions, without adhering to which nobody can become a caliph and nobody is authorized to use the prestigious title of Ameer ul Momeneen for such a terrible and cruel person.” The fatwa buttresses its position on the self-imposed caliphate of the ISIS quoting the rulings of a few progressive Saudi Salafist jurists like the Grand Mufti of Mecca and chief of the Saudi Supreme Ulema Council Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Hammad Al lbaad, Sheikh Mohammed Al Munjad and other authoritative Salafi Ulema who categorically state that the ISIS supporters have seceded from Islam and therefore are the Kharijites of the new age. It says: “In the past also, they [Kharijites) have defamed Islam by their violent thoughts and actions. What they are terming Jihad today, is actually a Fasad (mischief) and terrorism. Because Jihad has got some principles and conditions which they neither follow, nor are authorized (to perform).”
Shedding light on the disturbing ground realities, the anti-terror fatwa of the Indian Salafi Ulema goes on to state that “the acts ISIS and similar organizations are committing are so terrible that hearing their news and seeing their photographs entire humanity gets scared….These acts are being committed wearing the dress of the caliphate and in the name of Islam….“It is a matter of concern that some simple persons justify it as a reaction to the atrocities and excesses upon Muslims and others which is, no doubt, (out of) lack of knowledge and understanding…..In Islam to take revenge for (some) one's sin by killing and damaging other innocent persons is not allowed….Therefore, such organizations are terrorists and condemnable and to support and co-operate (with) them is not allowed by Shariah. It is the religious and moral duty of the conscious persons of the Muslim Ummah that they should inform the world of its threats and strive to prevent the Muslim youth, if any, from supporting Daish and those of its ilk, in any form.”
Apparently, these points in the fatwa sound good and indicate that even the Salafi Ulema and muftis in India are now joining the chorus of moderation and inclusiveness when expounding on Islam. But unfortunately, it fails to challenge the theological underpinnings of the global Jihadism which is an offshoot of the al-Salafiyah al-Jihadiyah.
While the Salafi fatwa against the ISIS does declare the present-day Islamic caliphate as ‘illegitimate’, ‘self-imposed’ and ‘un-Islamic’, it fails to question the legitimacy of this medieval notion of Islamic caliphate which is irrelevant and antithetical to the 21st century Muslims living in the pluralistic societies. It must have stated in unequivocal terms that any demand for establishing or ‘re-establishing’ the caliphate anywhere is not acceptable at any coast.
But worryingly, the medieval notion of Islamic state challenges the nation sates even today. It continues to radicalize a section of the gullible Muslims across the world. Radical Islamist outfits still thrive on the utopian concepts like ‘Ummah state’, ‘Sharia zones’ and ‘Khilafah rule’ even in the lands where Muslims are minorities, underprivileged and less educated. Inevitably, some of them fall prey to such religious rhetoric castigating nation states, democracy, pluralism, gender rights and rights for other religious communities, while at the same time being themselves minorities and taking advantage of all freedom and opportunities.
Let’s not forget that India is seen as a ‘lost Islamic space’ by the ISIS ideologues who have written in their mouthpieces ‘Dabiq’ and ‘Rumiyah’ on how to regain the ‘lost glory of Islam’ in India in general and particularly in Kashmir. At this critical juncture, Indian Ulema must protect Muslim youths from getting trapped into this rhetoric of the Islamic caliphate’s dream merchants. But sadly, their anti-terror Fatwas have become merely a trend in India now. They are frequently launched with a repeated cliché that “Islam is a religion of peace”, but remain ineffective in the absence of a sharp rebuttal to the extremist, exclusivist and supremacist theology on the basis of which terrorism is pursued.
Ironically, the above fatwa has quoted Sheikh Mohammed Saalih Al Munjad and several other 'authentic’ Salafi clerics who are known for their sermons preaching the dichotomous worldview of ‘Al-Wala' Wa-L-Bara' (loyalty with Muslims and disavowal with others) which causing mayhem throughout the world. According to an Al Jazeera study 'Arab World Journalism in a Post-Beheading Era', Shaykh Muhammad Al-Munajjid is considered one of the Salafist scholars, whose teachings inspired radical movements in the Arab world, including al-Qaeda and al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wal Sham (Daesh).
Inevitably, the anti-terror fatwa of Indian Salafis will be counted run of the mill if it does not question the above-quoted Saudi-Salafi theological masters who inculcated extremism in the Saudi Islamic textbooks. For instance, the seventh graders in Saudi Arabia are still being taught that “fighting the infidels to elevate the words of Allah” is among the deeds Allah loves the most. Tenth graders learn that Muslims who abandoned Islam should be jailed for three days and, if they do not change their minds, “they should be killed for walking away from their true religion.” Fourth graders read that non-Muslims have been “shown the truth but abandoned it, like the Jews,” and have replaced truth with “ignorance and delusion, like the Christians.”
Regular Columnist with Newageislam.com, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu writer. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, acquired Diploma in Qur'anic sciences and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies. Presently, he is pursuing his PhD in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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The Salafist anti-terror fatwa deserves appreciation. The Sufi-oriented fatwas against terrorism deserve appreciation. As regards the ideological dispute between these two groups claiming to follow the puritanical Sunni path of Islam must be resolved by taking academic efforts and leaving the most controversial issues up to Allah Almighty, at least to the point of establishing peaceful environment in the country in particular and the world in common, taking a lesson from today’s war-torn countries like Syria.
I belong to Sufi-Sunni theology and hanafi madhhab, but in today’s complex context I think, any positive effort, if it is made to any level, by any group must be appreciated and not ignored, while much better effort is needed for reformation of Muslim community with regard to peace and war concept.
The fact is also that today’s ‘reformers’ also need to be reformed. I have in my contacts many people who need to be reformed and of course they will get ready for reforming themselves if they are given chances for it, and then they too can work for reforming others. The only things we lack are sufficient resources.