By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Feb. 11, 2015
(Muhammad Yunus, co-author (Jointly with AshfaqueUllah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
The article is complementary to Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi’s article on the subject and calls a spade a spade as the caption declares on the strength of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an was memorized at the time of the Prophet. The tradition is maintained in each succeeding generation to this day. So the Qur’an that we have in our hands is exactly the same as it was first memorized. This is from the historical perspective.From a religious point of view, the Qur’an is an infallible word of God and its text is divinely protected against any corruption. Thus, both from historical perspective and Qur’anic claim, the Qur’an that we have in our hands, is its first- hand uncorrupted text, and therefore any text of a later era that refutes it or adds a totally new and contradictory meaning to it is ipso fabrication, forgery, or merely speculative.
Now let us see what the Qur’an says about the Pillars of Faith that evolved with the unfolding of the revelation.
Prayer (Salaat): The Qur’an defines Salaah (pl. Salaat), which begins with the recitation of Surah al-Fatiha, as a formalized form of praising, glorifying and remembering God, and seeking his protection, guidance and blessings. It attests that Salaah was enjoined on the Jews (2:83, 5:12), the Prophet Jesus (19:31), and the followers of Ishmael (19:54-55), and that the Prophet Abraham was regular in prayer (24:40).Accordingly, the Qur’an refers to pious people remembering God and doing Salaah in all places of worship, morning and evening (24:36/37), and His name being regularly proclaimed in monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques (22:40). It uses the word Salawat for the synagogues – the Jewish house of worship and also uses the word ‘Salaah’ to denote the pre-Islamic ritual of idol worships by whistling and hand clapping (8:35). Thus, one may surmise that from the Qur’anic perspective, Salaah represents the attempt of human mind to attain a higher level of spirituality or nearness with God.
The Qur’an is replete with exhortation to keep up Salaat, and the Muslims since the Prophet’s era have been performing Salatin an unbroken cycle of five times a day in Sunni Islam though the Shias combine some of the prayer timings to make it three times a day. No single Muslim would associate the Salaah with anything but praising, glorifying and remembering God through recitation of a portion of the Qur’an, however small. Only the stark ignorant of the Qur’an will connect it with violence or militancy.
Zakah: The Qur’an uses the term Zakah, primarily to denote ‘care and concern for humanity.’ Accordingly, many of its oft repeated phrase Aqimus Salaata Wa Aatuz Zakata (keeping up prayer and exercising Zakah) pair Zakah with Salaah thereby enjoining it on all believers, regardless of income (2:83, 2:110, 2:177, 2:277, 5:55, 22:41, 22:78, 24:37, 24:56, 27:3, 31:4, 98:5). The Meccan Muslims, the ancient prophets and the wives of the Prophet who all were mostly wanting in material resources were asked to exercise Zakah (21:73, 23:4, 33:3).The Qur’an also connotes Zakah with the purifying of one’s wealth by giving charity (9:103, 92:18). Traditionally, its plural form, zakat is translated in a restrictive sense as mandatory charity, which is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islamic faith. In not a single verse does the Qur’an conflate or confuse Zakah with any form of armed struggle.
Fasting: The Qur’an describes it as a way of showing gratitude to God for His guidance (2:185) and a means to attaining ‘Taqawa’(2:184, 2:187) – a broad notion that embraces a range of moral traits centred around curbing one’s lower instincts, sharpening one’s moral and God awareness. Not a single Muslim out of millions would overlap it with militant jihad.
Hajj is pilgrimage to Mecca primarily as devotion to God. Until the advent of air travel, Muslims from distant lands took great pains and remained away from homes for months together to undertake the hajj. It was always regarded as a mark of piety, a great honor, and people from far and wide came to see those returning from their long hajj journeys. Today it is much easier and faster, but the pilgrims are as inspired with spirituality as in the past. The Qur’an commands the pilgrims to keep their minds free from any defilement or any form of militancy during the hajj (2:197). In one word, not a single pilgrim out of millions would connect hajj with militant jihad or armed struggle.
With this Qur’anic testimony on the significance of the four ritualistic pillars or tenets of faith, which is historically and religiously incontestable, let is see how Radical Islamic ideology as advocated by Maulana Maududi gives, for the first time in the history of Islam:
“Salaat (Namaz) is a training exercise for Jihaad. Zakaat (charity) is a military fund for Jihaad. Fasting is to train like soldiers who have to stay without food at times for long periods during the Jihad. Hajj is a huge conference in nature for plotting larger scale military operations. Thus, Salaah, Fasting, Zakaat, and Hajj are in reality meant for this very preparation and training” (Fundamental of Islaam – Page: 250).
No Muslims needs any in-depth knowledge of the Qur’an or to quote any fatwa to say with absolute certainty - unless he is stark ignorant or otherwise bent on dismissing the Qur’an that the above interpretation is heretical. It directly negates and thus kills the spiritual tenets of faith. In fact it swaps the Qur’an spiritualism, God consciousness and moral awareness with militancy and warfare. It is an outrage. It is virtually a demonization of the Qur’an more insulting to the cartoons of the Prophet of Islam that shake the Muslim world. But the ignorant Muslim still follow the Maulana – whose above quoted interpretation of the Pillars of faith are heretic – outright Kufr.
Conclusion: The Radical Islam that projects Islam as a religion of violence and warfare is a heretical version of Islam – an ideology that runs counter to the Islamic message.
Let this be an open call to the Ulema of the world to call a spade, a spade; and a heretic a heretic. One drop of deadly poison in a large ‘Deg’ (utensil) of food is enough to kill all those who eat of it. Radical Islamic ideology is like a deadly poison in the cauldron of Islamic message as enshrined in the Qur’an and those who knowingly subscribe to it and harbour a militant notion of the Qur’anic message are veritably intense in Kufr and hypocrisy, who deny the truth after pledging to it and stand as Kafirin (wilful denier of an incontrovertible truth) – let there be no benefit of doubt.
The author only discharges his trust as Muslim to refute upfront any gross distortion of its clear and unambiguous tenets by any Muslim Imam or leader as left unchallenged, this gives a wrong image of Islam to the rest of the world in addition to misguiding the followers.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. KhaledAbou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.