By Prof. Mohsin Usmani Nadvi
Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk
15 December 2017
We should do introspection. We have committed a number of grave mistakes in our national and communal history and have suffered humiliation. If the idea of cause and effect is right then we can say that the miserable state of Muslims is a result of the mistakes made by us in the past. Though a reminder of the mistakes is not heartening but it indeed causes a change in the way of thinking. As long as the way of thinking is not corrected the direction of our efforts will also not be right.
The stream of a good character always gushes forth from a correct point of view. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the point of view correct in collective affairs. If we prepare a brief list of the mistakes made in the last one century, we will find for grave mistakes. The creation of Pakistan was the first. Although the brethren of the country (the non Muslim) are also involved in the mistakes but demand had been raised by the Muslims. Those who created Pakistan have gone to Pakistan. Now it is a thing of the past. But the bitter memories of the partition are still alive in the minds of the brethren of the country a wall of hatred still stands between the two countries. The attrition of the shadow of this wall still falls on Muslims and causes suffering to them.
The second mistake the Muslims made was about the recovery of the Babri Masjid. The issue of Babri Masjid had erupted like a volcano in the 1990s and we are still on the edge of this volcano. Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, Maulana Abdul Karim Parekh, former governor or Bihar Yunus Sabri in consultation with the leaders of our fellow countrymen had almost arrived at a solution of the issue. At the behest of Chandrasekhar, Maulana Ali Mian’s name had been suggested.
The name of Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram had been proposed as the representative of the Hindu majority community. V.P. Singh had passed an ordinance for the land which was later withdrawn. Governor of Andhra Pradesh Krishna Kant who later became the vice-President of India, Sushil Muni of the Jain Community and the greatest religious leader of Hindus Shankaracharya Anand Saraswati had approved the solution. The solution was that the Babri Mosque would stand at its place. The idols would be removed at a later period and the mosque would be opened for Namaz. A 30ft pond would surround the mosque and a railing would be erected beyond the pond. If necessity arose, electric current would be run through the railing. After that, Ram Mandir would be built on the Waqf land of the Babri Mosque and the Muslims would not have any objections. But the narrow minded Ulema and Babri Masjid Action Committee not only raised objections over it but also raised a hue and cry over it. Compulsively, Maulana Ali Mian and Maulana Parekh withdrew themselves from the solution formula. Among the critics of the formula were those imprudent and obscurantist Ulema who said that they would not give an inch of Waqf land for the temple.
In support of their stand, they gave references from the laws of jurisprudence as if they were living under the caliphate of Banu Umayyia or Banu Abbas and were citizens of Darul Islam. Although from religious point of view, it was necessary to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Moreover, the Ulema and jurists of a number of countries have flexibility in the jurisprudence minorities and are in favour of adopting a soft policy in the jurisprudential affairs of such countries in order to avoid confrontation and loss. Today, Babri Masjid has lost its existence and there is no possibility of its reconstruction. Many Muslims have lost their lives for it. Who can be held responsible for all the bloodshed?
The third mistake of the Muslim leadership was on triple Talaq. After the mentions of the mistakes made in the near or far past we need to look at the mistakes made at present impartially. The judgment of the Supreme Court on Triple Talaq has come against the stand of the Board. The Board had made another mistake. Due to his inherent humility and righteousness, the President of the Board has perhaps ignored the mistakes of the members. The office bearers of the board may be asked why the Board presented itself as a representative of the Hanfi sect when the Board comprises representatives from different sects. If the Board argues that Hanfi and Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamat from the majority in the country, then the BJP would be right to argue that since the Hindus form te majority of the population in the country, the country belongs to Hindus and they are right in imposing Hindu religion and culture on others.
The Board’s stance was not wise and prudent. What kind of justice is it that the pronouncer of triple Talaq is not considered a tyrant and not hit with lashes as was done during the caliphate of Hadhrat Umar. This stance does not provide any solace to the victims; instead it adds insult to injury. During the ancient days, there was an institution called Baitul Mal to take care of such women. It is not present today. Doesn’t jurisprudence show any consideration to circumstances of the age? Maulana Taqi Amini’s book provides light on this issue. The modern educated sections of India are very unsatisfied with the stance of the Board. It feels that the bias of the leadership is in stormy weather. People have been criticizing the Board. It was never so before. It is not heartening especially in the present circumstances.
The credibility of the Board should be maintained and for this the Board should do some introspection. In the Shah Bano case, the entire Muslim community was in support of the Board but this time the situation is different. Some people are of the opinion that the Board has become the representative of the Hanfi sect. It should have adopted the stand that since Muslims has difference of Sects on this issue; the Board does not have any stand on it. And in case, the Board was compelled to adopt a stance, in order to avoid any confrontation or interference in Shariat, it should adopt the stand in favour of Triple Talaq meaning one Talaq.
This decision would more prudent, more liberal and braver. Now the Supreme Court has authorized the Parliament to make laws on it. Now lifelong maintenance to the divorcee may be made mandatory in the new law. The judgment of the SC says that Article 25 of the Constitution grants religious freedom provided it is not in confrontation with public order, health, ethics, equality and equal rights. These words give an indication of a change in Muslim Personal Law.
Tomorrow the government may also say that the Islamic law on inheritance is against gender equality. If the Board did not adopt rigidity on Hanfi Sect, the attempt on the interference on Personal Law would go in vain but our leaders of the community left rationality behind. The principle is that a lesser evil is chosen. The scope of proclaiming triple Talaq as one Talaq exists.
Maulana Sulaiman Nadvi was a great religious scholar. A neo-Muslim came to him after giving triple Talaq to his wife. Maulana said that the person had just accepted Islam and so he was neither a Shafei, Hanfi nor Maliki. He declared triple Talaq as one Talaq and gave him the authority to take his wife back. If there were was no scope for this at all, Maulana Sulaiman Nadvi would not have permitted him to do adultery. If the statements of the four imams are not available on this issue, Imam Ibne Taimiyya and Ibne Qaiyim may be taken into the consideration who have the same opinion as Maulana Sulaiman Nadvi. And before them, Sahaba like Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas, Zubair Bin Awam and Abdur Rahman bin Auf and other Sahaba had this opinion. Among the Tabein (successors of Sahaba) many scholars adopted this stand.
In the present age, scholars of Deoband Maulana Sayeed Ahmad Akbarabadi (India), Syed Rasheed Raza (Egypt) Dr Wahhab Zaheeli (Syria), Dr Yousufl Al Qarzawi (Qatar) Sheikh Al Azhar Shaikh Muhammad Shaloot (Jamia Azhar, Egypt) and some other Ulema adopt the same stance and despite being Hanfi they have considered it necessary to come out of the obscurantist way of thinking. Again in Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Iraq and Pakistan, triple Talaq in one sitting as one Talaq is the law. After triple Talaq, leaving the divorced woman helpless and the divorcer go scot free is in no way in accordance with Islamic way of life.
This time the Board faced defeat because its stance was not correct in the first place. That’s why it is felt that the Board has lost the charismatic leadership it once had. By adopting the stance, the Board has also reduced the appeal of Islam among non-Muslims. See the issue of triple Talaq from the point of view of a non-Muslim, he will say that in Islam the husband is a tyrant and the wife or the woman is left helpless after the divorce. She does not have any arrangement for maintenance after the divorce. The Ulema do not think in this way because of a lack of missionary zeal. They do not want to project a positive image of Islam before non-Muslims.
The fourth mistake --- a grave mistake was also made by the Muslim leadership which symbolizes the stagnance of the thought and narrow-mindedness. The mistakes made before independence was not committed by Ulema. It was a political mistake made by the modern educated section of the community. After the Muslims migrated to Pakistan under the pretext of the sacred Hijrat, Muslims in India were left helpless and without real leadership. Their leadership was assumed y the religious scholars who due to their sectarian bias and narrow-mindedness were divided in groups. They were devoid of liberal thought and creative way of thinking. Nevertheless, any effort of the Muslims assumed importance only when it was approved by the Ulema. And the centre of the efforts of the Ulema was only Muslims. The non-Muslims remained out of their purview. It was a faulty and partial emulation of the Seerat (practices) of the prophet.
Though some organization indeed prepared Islamic literature for non-Muslims and some individuals launched movement s for propagation of the Deen among non-Muslims ut non Muslims did not figure in the scheme of things of Tablighi Jamat and the movement of madrasas. This is the mistake that the Ulema have not been able to realize. In this country, hundreds of madrasas were established and thousands of Ulema came out of them but not a single Alim was able to speak Lisan-e-Qaum and Lisan-e-Qaum is language which is spoken by 80 per cent of the population. Prophets and messengers of God only speak in the Lisan-e-Qaum. But the Ulema coming out of these madrasas were not able to speak Lisan-e-Qaum though the country needed such Ulema who would be acquainted with the religions of the Hindus and could speak Lisan-e-Qaum, could establish dialogue with them, clear their doubts and teach them Islam. Those graduating from madrasas can only show their oratorical skills to Muslims. In future thousands of Ulema are needed who are acquainted with the religion or culture of the Hindu and can speak to them in their own language, in Hindi or English and this cannot be possible without revolutionary changes in the syllabus of the madrasas. But unfortunately the Ulema do not understand the importance of the work. In Spain from where Muslims were driven out the gulf of language and contact existed. The Ulema and the patrons of madrasas still do not realize their mistake. Among those who come out of madrasas are neither acquainted with Hindi language nor with Hinduism, nor are they able to explain the Deen and Shariat to them. They, instead, cause the widening of the gulf already existent between them.
The ill effects of this mistake have begun to surface. Those who win the hearts are the real victors and to win hearts, it is necessary to bridge the gulf. And to bridge the gulf, it is necessary to know the language of the land and the religious psychology of the majority community. If our Ulema had stepped in the right directions and sown good seeds, today those seeds would have borne fruit and the problems we face today would not exist. The most important duty was to present the beauty of Islam in the Lisan-e-Qaum. Today Muslims are pushed to the defensive position. If Muslims had acted in that way, today other would have to defend themselves and the Muslims would have emerged winners of the heart. Indeed, people accept Islam today but in small numbers. They would have accepted Islam in hordes.
Whether Islam would be able to play its role in India in future or not would depend on the right attitude and way of thinking of our Ulema. The Muslim leadership not only is unaware of is mistakes but also suffer from bias, sectarianism, narrow-mindedness and violent mentality. Due to this unity is in tatters. The religious leadership of 18 Crore Muslims lack insight and the realization of contemporary world. They are not united. They do not know their neighbours. They very honestly believe that to avoid being misled the modern ways toeing the line of the ancestors is the right way. Like their ancestors, the present day Ulema also lack the insight. They are not ready to leave the path of their ancestors. They are not ready for the reconstruction of madrasas. If we want to avoid destruction and humiliation, we should bring about changes within ourselves.
(Published in Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu Sunday Supplement on 8th October 2017)
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