By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
October 27, 2013
Generally the call for class less human society is taken as the call for unity of religions, tolerance and acceptance of their diversity. However this call is made across the whole spectrum of interaction of human society in Quran 6-159, 3-105 etc. Application of holly labels are one of them.
The Fustian labels entrench holy and plebeian grades among people causing division of mankind
Historically the triumvirate of The Pharaohs- potentates, the Hamans-priests and the Korahs-the super wealthy; the powerful oppressive class were there in the past and are here now. But the Oppressed class often revolted against this un-natural division.
The Apostles all, have attempted to break the class barriers. Moses argued with the mighty Pharaoh and his priests, Buddha enlightened mankind with the same message by his own example and Jesus turned the tables on money lenders and took-on the temple hierarchy, and Muhammad took practical actions against the powerful temple custodians, to that effect.
However cleverness of the former and ignorance of the later has always thwarted the effort to eliminate it.
‘All men are created equal’, is just a wishful theory. For mankind as a whole and women-kind in particular are still battling for that inalienable right for equality given by the Creator!
To ‘refrain’ from applying grandiose titles, is in the context of that Divine scheme and valid only in adult, enlightened and equalitarian society where mankind is not stratified on the basis of gender, pedigree, skin pigmentation, social, material and learned holy status in particular.
Important but simple statement in Quran says:-
17-70 “We have dignified the progeny of Adam”. That means, mankind as a whole is dignified merely on the basis that is human.
Such a system is based on mankind being created as one nation 2-213; and grading on the basis of outcome-based actions that can be judged by the person’s track record 17-71,72.
However this venue of judgement is closed to mankind, as the Creator has kept that prerogative to Himself 49-13.
God’s sole right to judge presumably is to ensure that no arbitrary and pompous grading is applied in order to acquire status in the society so as to look down on others and fracture the bonds that bind mankind together.
Grading by humans has no validity in terms of righteousness in sight of the All Mighty.
It also implies that one should neither accept for oneself nor bestow such titles on others.“ …do not elevate yourself in holiness53-32”
In many religious communities and particularly among Muslim, grandiose religious titles are bestowed on men, so as to invoke them for spiritualsalvation2-165.However these are discounted by the Book,4-45.
Specifically denied are those which are applied by people based on their religious profession; the titles of Mufti and Maulana.
The Book says these are reserved for the Creator. The former is referred to in 4-176 where people asked the Messenger 4-127 to give an edict on a particular issue, it said:
‘Oh Messenger, people ask you for a Fatwa. “Say, ONLY God(lillah) gives you a fatwa….”.
The latter title Maulana- our Master- in the sense of being a master craftsman for religious rites and learned in Quranic knowledge; to be revered is again soundly rejected.
There are far too many verses to refer to, yet it is necessary to refer to somewhere it is stressed that such a Master is none other than the Creator. For example as in 3-150(lillah), or the supplication to All Mighty “you are our Master2-286”that is recited in daily prayers, or as in 9-51.
Thus no human is entitled to its application however much it is justified on cultural and linguistic basis and/or innocently bestowed on oneself and others, as for one’s profession.
Even the Apostles were not entitled to any of these titles. They were merely that:–“They, are but God’s servants raised to honour21-26”.
Scholars-“Ulema “are a completely separate class of people; knowledgeable in the working of the Universe and are dealt in the Book at various places, as those who through that knowledge are awed and in utter humility glorify the Creator.
Genuine humility is therefore the redeeming feature of the truly learned ones.
The titled elite offer various excuses such as that they have no legal authority and the honorariums are only for spiritual services rendered. To the lay person that explanation is futile, as any utterance from these Masters is taken as the gospel truth. Their getup, attire and demure stance assert their holier-than-thou position and authority in society
Even the enlightened ones often ask for a fatwa from these religious authorities. Once in a gathering of five Urdu speaking people, three were named--only as “Doctor Saheb”. On the question of whether Kangaroo meat was Halal or not, majority agreed that a fatwa should be obtained from a Maulana or a Mufti!
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, academics, policemen, workers and others, hang their gear when vacating their work sites. The Qudsi Libas-the holy regalia of the religious industry workers however remains as a permanent fixture “on show107-6”.
The position, Mufti was created by the rulers much later on in Muslim history; as a buffer between themselves and the masses. If the masses protested any edict of the king and the mufti successfully intervened then he was rewarded or else he was strung on the gallows or at least flogged in public.
To take others as protectors and intermediaries, as is established in religions, negates the very Code of the Book 18-102,the code that the learned profess to preach.
But there is no such holy agency- a go-in-between- to provide the service to acquire nearness to the Creator 39-3!
There are no such “guides” recognised in the Book10-35.It is essential to elaborate this by quoting in full. It is a verse, rather telling one, argumentative and questioning with respect to “guides and guidance”:-
“Say of your partners is there any that can give you guidance towards truth? Say: It is God who gives guidance towards truth. Is then He(God) who gives guidance towards truth more worthy to be followed or he (a’limud-deen) who finds not guidance himself unless he is guided (28-56 also)? What then is the matter with you? How do you judge?”
Mankind is informed that none will carry their burden for them. Everyone is responsible for their action and each one is individually answerable for them 17-15.
It is therefore regrettable that those who are in positions to influence and capable of showing by example, the ethics and edicts of the Book, should themselves abrogate their responsibilities and fall prey to human frailty and temptations to accept these reverential titles.
The learned a’limud-deen in fact have a perfect platform from which to perform this important task in the community to lead by example, rather than use the positions for self-glorification, in the name of their religions!
In spite of the existence and of culture of fustian religious titles, it must be acknowledged that there are yet people genuinely and honestly engaged in all communities, imparting the spirit of Divine scheme of unity. But these are far and few in between!
The righteous ones are assured of their reward:-
8-4, “Such in truth are Believers; they have grades of dignity “with their Lord” and forgiveness and generous sustenance”.
The graded ones too are part of humanity, which is created with ‘equal dignity’. But they have taken upon themselves to be a different species, contrary to the ethics of the very Book from which they claim that dignity:-
49-13, “Oh mankind, We created you from a single pair of male and female, Indeed the most honoured of you ‘in the sight of God’ are those who are the most righteous among you…”.Righteousness that must result in goodly outcomes for all!
Their credibility is hugely damaged in the ‘informed’ circles, which then is unreasonably branded as the ineffective ‘silent minority’ and blamed for not willing to come out on streets and publicly condemn the shenanigans of the piety industry operating divisibly in the name of their Faith; and to stop the damage that the industry is inflicting on society.
Self-promotion and self-preservation is an instinct in all creatures created by the Creator. But hypocrisy of classification of the learned is intellectual fraud; cowardice on the part of the silent minority, and ignorance on the part of the common people. People are confused with arguments, hence:
نقطے کے زِير و زَبر سے، ہمخُداسے جُدا ہوے
Nuqtay kay zier wa zabar say,hum Khhudaa say Judaa huway
(Merely) the emphases of the point (of view), distance us from God
The Book says that when “the conscientious” ones“seek” guidance from the Creator 1-6, it is “given” from the Book 2-2 just for asking!
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is an Indian-origin Engineer (Retd.) based in Australia for over forty years.