– An Abridged Version of the Original Article
By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009
Feb. 06, 2014
The essay pieces together relevant Qur’anic verses (paraphrased in green print) to bring across the treacherous and conspiratorial role of the hypocrites and some nomadic Arab tribes from among the Prophet’s followers to foil his mission. The narrative so evolved also shows that the Qur’an hurls the epithet of ‘Kufr’ (denial of self evident or irrefutable proposition) probably on more occasions to a faction of the Prophet’s followers than the Jews and Christians of the era as commonly held. It also shows that the Qur’an does not single out the polytheists as Rijz (abominable, 9:28) – it ascribes it to the hypocrites as well (9:95), who also incur divine curse (9:68, 33:73) and are called liars (9:42, 9:45) and deviants (Fasiqun) (9:67). With this brief introduction we embark on this exercise which is shortened and focussed version of the original that may be consulted for any further detail.
The object of this abridged version is to bring across the symbiosis between the reactionary forces of the Prophet’s era and this day in their determination to distort or dismiss the Qur’anic message, so that the reactionary elements may see themselves in the mirror of history.
The victory at Badr (624 C.E.) established the hitherto little known and derided Muhammad (pbuh) as an emerging political power. This greatly alarmed the hypocrites and they launched a campaign to marginalize him and dismiss his prophetic claims. When asked to come to what God revealed and to the Prophet, they turned their faces in aversion (4:61). The Qur’an warns that God will not forgive nor guide those who embrace faith, then deny it and yet again come to believe and then become more stubborn in their denial (4:137) and took the pagans (Kafireen) as their friends in preference to the believers (4:139), and warns the hypocrites of severe punishments (4:138). They now openly denied (Yakfur) and ridiculed the revelation (4:140), and waited to see the Prophet’s downfall.
At Uhud Battle, (on way to the battleground) a faction of Muslims who were given to hypocrisy (Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his clansmen) withdrew saying (to the Prophet), if they knew how to fight, they would have followed him (3:167). (As encounter began), the Muslims made decisive gains, when some of the defenders weakened: they argued over (the Prophet’s) order and disobeyed after God showed them what they loved of this world (victory/booty) (3:152). They fled, paying attention to no one and ignoring the Prophet calling them from behind. (The attackers struck back in full force and thus) God repaid the Muslims with affliction upon affliction so that they would not sorrow over what slipped away from them (3:153). (The revelation urged the defenders) not to despair or grieve (3:139) (and consoled them that) if they were wounded, their enemies had also sustained injuries. (It reminded them that) these were the days of changing fortune to which God subjects humankind to know which of them truly believe (3:140), that He may purge those who truly believe and destroy the fake believers (Kafireen, 3:141).
Muhammad’s faithful followers were deeply distressed and puzzled if God had forsaken him. They were extremely concerned how the hypocrites (Ibn Ubayy and his clansmen and supporters) in Medina were going to receive Muhammad when he returned. A rumour spread in the Prophet’s camp that a host has gathered against them (at Medina), so they have to be wary. But this only increased their faith (3:173), and they returned home by the grace and blessings of God, untouched by harm (3:174).
They [hypocrites] were charming in looks, deceitful in speech, commanded profound self-confidence (63:4), and turned away from the believers in arrogance (63:5). They discouraged the people of Medina from spending anything for the Meccan Muslims [Emigrants] in order to force them out of Medina (63:7), and looked forward to the expulsion of the humble ones (Muhammad and the Emigrants) after their return to Medina (63:8). However, upon his return to Medina, they came to Muhammad to bear witness that he was a Messenger of God, but they were liars (63:1), and used their faith as a cover to lead others away from the right path. They thus acted in an evil way (63:2) – first embracing faith and then denying it. It was as if their hearts were sealed and they were unable to think logically (63:3). It warns the Prophet that if the hypocrites and those who spread false rumours did not stop, God will incite him against them and they will not be his neighbours for long – they will be arrested wherever they are found and put to death (33:60/61). It was, however, due to mercy from God that the Prophet was mild to the dissenters (the hypocrites, who harboured doubts against him during the Uhud battle and defied him). This prevented them from deserting the Prophet (3:159).
Battle of Confederates (627)
(As the Muslims watched the attackers from distance,) their eyes dimmed and their hearts rose up to their throats and they imagined (weird) thoughts about God (33:10). This was a moment of trial for the believers as they were shaken by a most violent shock (33:11). The hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts said what God and the Prophet of God had promised was mere illusion (33:12). A party of them said to others to go back as it was no (safe) place for them, and a party of them sought the Prophet’s permission saying that their homes were exposed, though they were not exposed and they only wanted to flee (33:13). But had the enemy entered (the city) from the sides and asked them to dissent and join a civil war, they would have readily done so (33:14), despite their oaths of allegiance (33:15). Thus, they broke the trust (Amanah) that is placed exclusively on humankind (3:72). Accordingly, God pronounces his curse upon the hypocrites, men and women and the Meccan pagans, men and women (33:73).
The Unarmed Pilgrimage Mission (628)
In the sixth year of Hijra the Prophet declared his intention to lead an unarmed caravan to Medina for pilgrimage. The nomadic Arabs who were weak in faith preferred to stay back (48:11), as they thought the Prophet and the believers would never be able to return to their families (48:12). The Qur’an warned the nomadic Arabs who had not participated in the pilgrimage that they shall be summoned (to fight) against a nation of great might (implying Tabuk Expedition) (48:16).
Tabuk Expedition (631)
Undertaken a year after the peaceful integration of Mecca (630), the mission marked the fulfilment of the just referred Qur’anic prediction (48:16). If there were immediate gains and a convenient trip, they (the hypocrites) would have followed the Prophet, but (they knew) the journey was going to be too long, (about 350 miles) strenuous and dangerous. They swore their inability to go forth with the expedition, though God knew they were liars (9:42, 9:45). They swore by God that they supported the expedition, but in truth, they were in such mortal fear (9:56) that if only they could find any place of refuge, a cave or a crevice, they would have resorted to it (9:57). They swore to God, only to please the Prophet, but it was more proper for them to please God and His Messenger (by going forth with the Prophet) (9:62). They also feared in case any verse was revealed disclosing what was in their breast (9:64). Had they any intention to go forth, they would have made some preparations for it, but God was averse to their being sent (9:46). (God knew,) had they gone out with them, they would have scurried about among the believers seeking to stir up sedition and some of the believers might have listened to them (9:47).
The hypocrites requested the Prophet not to put them to such a hard test (9:49). They ridiculed the Prophet in their hearts, privately joked about him (9:64), and tried to stir up discord and upset matters for him (9:48). They blamed and ridiculed the believers for their voluntary donations to the Prophet, and criticized those without any means for rendering physical services (9:79) and some of the hypocrites aimed at something that was beyond their reach (9:74). Cognizant of their antipathy to their faith, the Qur’an asked the Prophet not to accept ant donation from them (9:53/54).
Hypocrites in Post Tabuk Medina
Hypocrites in Post Tabuk Medina
The hypocrites who stayed back were glad to have opposed the Prophet and boasted that they did not like to go forth in the heat (9:81). Against opposition from the community and denial (kufr) (of the Prophet’s mission), they built a mosque rivalling the mosque of the Prophet, as a rallying point for those opposed to the Prophet, but they now swore that they had good intentions (9:107). They swore by God to the Prophet to spare them (any punishment), and the revelation asked the Prophet to spare them as they were an abomination (Rijz) for whom the hell was a more fitting abode (9:95). Some nomadic Arabs came to the Prophet in Medina with excuses seeking exemption; others, who belied God and the Prophet, remained at home (9:90). The nomadic Arabs were harshly reproved to being most stubborn in unbelief (Kufr) and hypocrisy (Nifaq) (9:97). They took whatever they spent as a fine and waited for some misfortune to befall the Prophet (9:98).
(The revelation) declares that the hypocrites’ men and women were of the same kind. They enjoined the evil, and forbade the good, and held back their hands (from giving to the needy). They were oblivious of God and God was oblivious of them, and without doubt, they were the deviants (Fasiqun) (9:67). It declares that God had promised for them as well as the unbelievers (Kuffar), the fire of hell and that was enough for them, and God had cursed them and a lasting punishment was in store for them (9:68). It reminded them that almost every year they were tested; yet they declined to repent (9:126). It commands the Prophet to continue his struggle against those persistent in denying his mission (Kuffar) and the hypocrites and to be firm with them (9:73).
The revelation) forbids the Prophet to pray over any of them who had died, nor to stand by his grave (9:84). As the Prophet may still have prayed for all his followers, including the hypocrites, the revelation sounds him off that even if he sought forgiveness for them seventy times, God will never forgive them (9:80).
Finally, some of them acknowledged their faults and tried to redeem themselves by doing good deeds. The revelation declares that God may turn to them in mercy (9:102) and asks the Prophet to accept donations (Sadaqa) from their wealth (that he had refused for some time) to purify them and pray on their behalf (9:103).
The Pernicious Role of the Modern Counterparts of Islam’s Internal Enemies
The orthodox Ulema across the Islamic sects insist on interpreting the Qur’anic message in light of the secondary sources of Islam, notably, the Hadith and the Classical Sharia Law. But these disciplines evolved under the influence and patronage of the dynastic rulers, who, as the nemesis to the rightly guided Caliphs, represented the reactionary forces of Islam and cohorts of the hypocrites and believing desert Arabs intense on Kufr of the Prophet’s era. By historical symbiosis, the orthodox Ulema today are playing the role of, or at least to the tune of those reactionary forces that have over time brought about the petrifaction of its message. Accordingly, in the name of Islam, they are preaching its petrified version .
Islam is a universal, gender neutral, peaceful, progressive, intellectually effervescent, socially liberal, educationally fervent, intellect driven, democratic and pluralistic religion. But the version of Islam that is being preached round the clock in poplar TV Channels and by countless Ulema and Imams in numerous madrasas around the world is exclusivist, misogynic, violence prone, intellectually frozen, socially repressive and regimented, educationally backward, scientifically retrograde, totalitarian and monolithic. This virtually stifles the advancement of Islamic societies, blocks any reform and reduces Islam to an atavistic cult – the civilisational sediment of a petrified world religion , paving the way for yet another form of colonization. Its appropriation of terror as proclaimed by its fanatic ideologues puts into question the integrity of all peace loving Muslims. More dangerously, its militant outfits draw inspiration from their ideological mentors, notably Ibn-e-Taimiya and his followers as well as some verses of the Qur’an and Hadith accounts in stark denial of historical relativism thereby associating Islam with terrorism. Hence, the present version of theology dominated Islam and its ideologues, notably the orthodox Ulema must be resisted.
Finally, a parting message is due to the Muslim intellectual front of the modern counterparts of the hypocrites and believing nomadic Arabs, intense in Kufr of the Prophet’s era. They must understand, it is too late in history to dislodge Islam from its spiritual bastion. As there is no compulsion in religion all those sceptical of the divinity of the Qur’an must feel free to exit Islam, rather than create division and disorder within its ranks or conspire against it with the non-Muslims bent on trivializing the Qur’an and maligning the Prophet. No wonder the Qur’an referred to them as Rijz (abomination) (9:95) like the pagan Arabs (9:28), and the Prophet readily agreed to exempt them from taking part in both the Uhud battle (3:167) and Tabuk expedition (9:47).
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. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
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