By New Age Islam Special Correspondent
2 December 2012
Speaking on his topic: “Islam and Violence: A Historical Analysis”, Shaikh Dr. Muhammad Bin Yahya Al-Ninowy said at the very outset that “faith-inspired violence has proven much more tyrannical than even the political forms of it”. He said that therefore we need Islamic reformation to tackle this global challenge. “Religious extremism and faith-inspired violent ideologies, if not challenged and rebutted, institutionalise theoretical, verbal, and physical terrorism. The violent religious extremists erect walls of hate, xenophobia and all ungodly acts in the name of God. To put it precisely, he said, they commit all kinds of injustice and shamelessly attribute them to God and the religion”.
He traced back to the European history and said that the Europeans have gone through the same phase in the middle ages and the reaction was so extreme that people began to feel contempt and deep repugnance for their organized religions. It was a direct result of a religious violence and faith-inspired tyranny.
He continued: “Faith-inspired violence and religious extremism can cause every sort of harm, from backbiting, to slandering, stealing, lying, and even killing. All this mischief can be made under the name of God! As the “religious extremists” take the place of “God” in their imagination, everything they do is solely for “the appeasement of God”. Extremists from all the religious sects and all faith groups even the pseudo-Sufis or better called Sufi-claimers, are just as much ideological perverts as the radical and extremist Wahhabis and Salafis. I see no difference in it. He concluded his remarks on this, further saying “ghuluww (religious extremism) is a human tendency which may be fatal, if it is not corrected. However, ghuluww is not exclusive to a certain group in Islam, nor is it inherent only in the history of Islam and Muslims. This is the ultimate fate of every cult culture and cult formation”.
Speaking from a spiritual Islamic perspective on the true love for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or Hubb-ul-Rasul, Shaikh Ninowi said that Ishq-e-Rasul (love for the Prophet) today requires that we put every possible effort to ensure that no religious extremism, tyranny, injustice, or evil is attributed to Allah, His Prophet, or His Deen. “Those who perpetrate violence and tyranny in the name of Islam actually and practically believe neither in peace nor in justice, or equality or freedom. They don’t concern themselves with all these universal values unless, of course, when it comes to their rights”. “But since God is already on their side and they are with Him (in their false assumption), depriving other religious communities of their rights is “what God desires”, he averred.
Shiakh Ninowi also came hard on the Islamist ideologues and scholars of violent religious extremism who indoctrinate their followers into believing that they are speaking on behalf of Allah and on behalf of his beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). “On the contrary, he said, the reality is that Allah already spoke to us all in His Messages in the holy Books, and through his beloved Prophets.
Shiakh Ninowi maintained that “Allah already spoke to all of us, and very emphatically, when he embodied the Book in the Sirah (the Prophet’s life). Let no one tell you the extremist Islamist ideologues speak for Allah or on His Prophet’s behalf. Allah, the most Merciful and the most Gracious, does not need them as His Khalifa (caliph) or Wakil (representative). The holy Qur’an has asked the whole offspring of Adam, in an inclusive manner, to be God’s caliphs or representatives on the earth with no assumption of “Godly authority”. When we say that Islam came to abolish idols, it essentially means that all idols, especially the religious ones which are erected between man and God or His Messenger, have to be abolished”.
Touching upon the menace of religious supremacy in the Muslim community, he said that “if we do not turn directly to Quran and authentic traditions and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and question the “truths” conveyed to us by other religions, it will be a narrative of denial and religious supremacism”.
In his special message to the university Muslim students, he said: "You need to have your heart and mind open, the only people can realise the beautiful values that Islam brings to them; I think we can all then contribute to the positive society in our bid to build a better nation and humanity”.
At the end of his extensive talk, he reminded the audience of the most important last message of the Prophet Muhammad, which he delivered to all mankind in a hadith that says:
"All of you belong to Adam or all of you are children of Adam and Adam is from clay."
Shaikh Dr. Muhammad Bin Yahya Al-Ninowy concluded that “we may have different colours, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and different creeds but at the end of the day we are one people, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the above-mentioned hadith”.
The speech was followed by open Questions and Answers session on various issues facing Muslims around the world. The answers were highly appreciated by the scholars and students at the university, although they went hard on many.
It is worth mentioning that since 2001, Shaikh Ninowy has been the Imam and Khatib (preacher) of Masjid Al-Madina in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, where he delivers the weekly khutbahs (Friday sermons) and a weekly majlis (religious gathering) on Hadith. He participated in many national and international conferences on Islam, world peace, and welfare of humanity. He has been an Al-Madina Institute foundation scholar since its inception. To his credit, Shaikh Ninowy has authored many books in the sciences of Aqaid (belief) and Hadith in Arabic, some of which have now been introduced into the English language.
Al-Ninowy has also been a professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Georgia. A Syrian-origin American Sufi Islamic scholar and an Imam of Iraqi descent, he is currently on a lecture tour to different parts of India where Muslim populations have a sizeable number. Unlike his previous visits to India primarily aimed at public conferences, he now came particularly to address university students, scholars and academicians in an effort to correct the damaging interpretations of Islam that have conflated the religion of peace with violence and extremism.
A Sayid, descendent of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through his grandson Hussein ibn Ali by way of Musa al-Kadhim, his family descends from the southern Iraqi village of Ninowa, where Imam Hussein ibn Ali was martyred in a partial area which is also known as Karbala.
Well versed in Islamic sciences, including Aqidah (Islamic theology), Fiqh (Islamic jurispudence), Hadith (Prophetic tradition) Tasawwuf and Ihsan (Sufism and excellence), with ijazahs (certificate to teach). He particularly specializes in the fields of Hadith and Tawheed, he is viewed as an exceptionally worthy, thoughtful, dedicated and empathetic Arabic and Islamic scholar with a modernist, progressive and forward-looking approach to Islam.
Prior to his lecture held in Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University in New Delhi, he addressed two public conferences: Islam in America on 30th November, 2015 and Unconditional Compassion: The Main Theme of Islam on 1st Dec, 2015 at Aligarh Muslim University. Both the events were well received and were attended by prominent members from AMU management, academicians, teaching staff as well as the students of different disciplines. He addressed the audience about the position of Muslims on the current baffling issues facing the Muslim Ummah.
In his earlier talks, he eloquently spoke of the positive contributions that progressive Muslims have richly made to the American culture, while at the same time apprising the audience of the deep bearing of the events like 9/11 on Islamophobia and the defamation of Muslim community in America. He also mentioned the measures that can be taken to put an end to Islamophobia.
In Delhi, his talk was organised by the Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, in a joint collaboration with the USA Embassy and the Department of Tourism.
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