Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Is Taqiyya Used to Deceive Non-Muslims?

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam
05 November 2019
The word ‘Taqaiyyya’ literally means ‘fear, caution, carefulness, guarding against danger, or wariness. In Islamic terminology, the term refers to a precautionary denial of religious belief in cases of potential persecution, constraint and when there is a possibility of harm.
However, Taqaiyya has become commonplace in social media and journalistic discourse, particularly since 9/11, because Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of peace and Jihad is mainly a struggle against one’s own evil desires, whereas non-Muslims can see that many Muslims are engaged in killing each other as well as non-Muslims in several parts of the world. They also see that when the leader of so-called Islamic State “Khalifa” al-Baghdadi and his followers said that “Islam has never been a religion of peace, not even for a day; it has always been a religion of war,” Muslim ulema and media remained largely silent,as if they agreed with him. It has also become easy now, in the present internet age to get acquainted with Islamic history which is strewn with episodes of war and atrocities of all sorts.
Muslim hereditary kings that wore the religious garb of being a Khalifa engaged in brutal atrocities of all kinds on their own people as well as others. Non-Muslims today can also read classical theological books in which Jihad is described as a fight against infidels who refuse to accept Islam. So, when Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of peace and Jihad is mainly against one’s own nafs or negative ego, non-Muslims take it as an example of Taqaiya. 
This, however, is not the case. Muslims speak from their heart. They are saying only what they have been taught in their homes and schools. They are saying only what they believe in, regardless of what militant Jihadis may be saying and doing.
Let’s now see in some detail what Taqiyya stands for; it’s history, meaning and usage.
Taqaiyya is mostly practiced by Shias when they are subject to persecutions or compulsion. Taqaiyyya, though not so much common among Sunnis, is permitted under certain conditions such as threats to life, loss of property; while martyrdom in such cases is more honourable.
The studies of Islamic traditions suggest that Taqaiyya is agreed upon by scholars of several schools of thought in Islam. Sunnis restrict it to deal with non-Muslim persecutors and when under compulsion and persecution, while Shia scholars also justify it to deal with Sunni Majority Muslims and other necessary issues.
Sunni scholars allow Taqaiyya only under utmost compulsion and when there is fear of persecution. A popular exegete of the Quran Al-Tabari comments, “if anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him because God takes his servants as their hearts believe” (also quoted in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 134)  
Imam Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad Al-Ghazali writes in his masterpiece and the most authoritative book on Islam, IhyaUlum Al Din(“The Revival of the Religious Sciences”), “safeguarding of a Muslim’s life is a mandatory obligation that must be observed and that lying is permissible only when the shedding of a Muslim’s blood is at stake”.
But after the 9/11 attacks, a blame is often made by writers and commentators on social websites and in mainstream media that Muslims use Taqaiyyato deceive non-Muslims for the objective of expanding their religion. This is mainly a misunderstanding of the word Taqaiyyya.
The Orientalist Stefan Jakob Wimmer explains that Taqaiyya is not a tool to deceive non-Muslims and spread Islam but instead a defensive mechanism to save one’s life when it is in great danger, such as Muslims' lives during the Reconquista. Similar views are shown by Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen from the University of Copenhagen. (Wikipedia)
To sum up, Taqaiyyamay be exercised under utmost conditions of persecutions or life-threatening situations but it is not allowed for Muslims to deceive non-Muslims in any other interactions. The use of Taqaiyya for expanding the religion of Islam is incompatible with Islamic objectives, as it corrupts the soul of Islam based on submission, truth, mental and spiritual purity. Islam teaches Muslims to be straightforward in their dealings with others, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The Quran clearly condemns the acts of lying and deception in several verses;
“...then He will judge between us in truth. And He is the Knowing Judge” (30:26). At a place, the Quran terms ‘lying’ a disease of the heart which gets worse if left uncorrected, “In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease: and for them is a painful punishment because they habitually used to lie” (2:10), “Allah does not one who is a transgressor and a liar” (40:28), “This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness..”.
Such teachings of the Quran make it incumbent upon us not to deceive anyone by lying or cunning, then how can Taqaiyya be allowed to deceive non-Muslims?!
Non-Muslims should understand that Muslims are speaking from their heart when they make claims of peace and a permanent struggle against one’s own evil desires that they have to wage as Jihad. However, people must distinguish between Islam and Muslims. Islam is one thing and Muslims quite another. This is actually the case with all religions and philosophies. Christianly is a region of forgiveness and turning the other cheek, but Christians are the only people to have used atom bombs on peaceful citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to speak of killing six million Jews in the Holocaust and innumerable pogroms, massacres, genocides and atrocities of all sorts. Can we blame Christianity for these atrocities? I suppose not. Same is the case with teachings of Islam and the practices of Muslims. Muslims do not practise Taqaiyya, except in extreme cases of persecution and only to save their lives.

Muslim Organisations And Aligarh Muslim University VC Appeal Muslims To Accept Impending Supreme Court Verdict On Ayodhya With A Big Heart

By New Age Islam News Bureau
05 November 2019

Anticipating verdict of the Supreme Court on the Ramjanmbhoomi- Babri Masjid title suit Muslim organisations, clerics and intellectuals have issued appeals to the people of the country, particularly to the Muslim community, to accept the verdict with respect and maintain peace and harmony in the country.
On November 3, the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat held a meeting which was participated by the heads of Muslim organisations, Muslim parliamentarians and intellectuals. President of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Maulana Arshad Madani, former Chairperson of National Commission for Minorities, Wajahat Habibullah, President of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Sadatullah Hussain and former MP Shahid Siddiqi. Current parliamentarians Jawed Hasan and Imran Hasan were also among the participants.
All the participants unanimously asserted that the verdict of the highest court on the Ayodhya title suit must be accepted with utmost respect and peace and harmony should be maintained at any cost.
The resolution passed in the meeting said,
"We appeal to all countrymen to face the situation with patience and endurance and avoid any kind of provocation and incitement and also stick to peace and optimism whatever be the circumstances."
On November 4, the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Prof Tariq Mansoor also released an appeal to the AMU fraternity to maintain peace and harmony on the campus in particular and in the country in general. He appealed to the Muslims toreceive the verdict of the highest court of the country with respect and peace.
The appeal says:"The verdict in the Ayodhya case is likely to be delivered soon by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. It is the duty of all sections of society to show utmost respect to the decision of the highest court and not to give a statement or indulge in any activity which may vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the university campus, city and country. It is time to show the world that we Indians believe in the rule of law and will accept the decision of the highest court with maturity and respect.
I also caution all especially our peace loving and cultured students against rumours, false propaganda and fake news on social media. We must all exercise maximum restraint and maintain good will and amity all over the country. We are a nation of diverse cultures, languages, religions with a rich heritage and our great strength is unity in diversity."
The verdict of the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya land dispute case is expected soon and both the Hindu and Muslim communities are waiting for the verdict anxiously. The government has tightened security to maintain law and order after the delivery of the verdict.
On November 3, another Muslim organisation, All India Markazi Majlis-e- Chishtia, Hyderabad, held a meeting in which the representatives of the Majlis and other dignitaries participated and unanimously passed a resolution appealing to all Muslims to accept the verdict of the SC on Ayodhya issue in true Islamic spirit. The meeting was held under the leadership of Maulana Muzaffar Ali Sufi Chishti, Secretary of Majlis. The resolution said that the verdict would be welcome whether it is in favour of Hindus or Muslims. It further said that the verdict will be a historic one and will put to rest for once and all the longest land dispute in Indian history. Maulana Soofi said that the issue should not be seen as a religious issue but as a land dispute. He also appreciated the efforts of the RSS, BJP and other Hindu organisations to maintain peace and harmony before and after the judgement. He particularly applauded the statement of Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi in which he said that there was no need to celebrate the verdict. Maulana Muzaffar Ali Soofi further appealed to all the Sajjada Nasheens of Sufi shrines and imams of mosques to spread the message across to maintain peace and harmony and not to indulge in any anti-Islamic and anti- social actvity in the country find the remedy of the issue within the confines of the Constitution and the Law.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Why have Fatwas against Islamist Terrorism failed as A Counter-Terrorism Tool, Explains Sultan Shahin in a Conference in Birmingham, And Suggests the Kind of Fatwa Required

By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
22 June 2019
Numerous fatwas (edicts) have been issued by ulema (Islamic scholars) across the globe, particularly since 9/11 in a bid to stem the tide of Islamist terrorism. Tens of thousands of ulema have endorsed these fatwas issued by influential institutions of Islamic learning of all sects in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as other parts of the world. When issued, these fatwas inspiredgreat expectations. As perceptive and insightful an observer as Mr. Ziauddin Sardar proclaimed “the beginning of the end of the war of terror” when a hundred thousand Deobandi ulema endorsed a fatwa issued by the hundred-year-old Islamic madrasa in Deoband, India, “unequivocally denouncing terrorism,” in June 2008. Similarly, Sufism-oriented Barailwis, hard-line Salafis, Ahl-e-Hadeesis, have all denounced Islamist terrorism in their separate or joint statements. But terrorist ideology continues to attract our youth, particularly in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. What used to be merely a Pakistan-sponsored secessionist struggle is showing signs of tuning into an Islamist struggle for the establishment of Islamic Sharia through a universal Caliphate, very much redolent of the objectives of the so-called Islamic State or ISIS.  Popularizing the slogan of “Shariatya Shahadat,” a militant leader Zakir Musa, Burhan Wani’s successor, even threatened to kill Hurriyat leaders for calling Kashmir’s separatist movement political and not religious. Calling them “hypocrites, infidels, followers of evil”, the militant had warned to chop off their heads to be hanged in Lal Chowk in Srinagar, “if they create hurdles in the path of making Kashmir an Islamic State”.
The most intriguing question in this scenario is: why are fatwas of leading ulema of all Maslaks (sects) so ineffective in stemming the tide? The fatwas are clear and passionate in their condemnation of terrorism. The Deobandi fatwa, for instance, should have been the most influential. Most militants in the South Asian sub-continent, including the Taliban, are products of madrasas that can be called Deobandi. The fatwa says: “Islam has taught its followers to treat all mankind with equality, mercy, tolerance, justice. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism. It has regarded oppression, mischief, rioting and murdering among severest sins and crimes. … In Islam, creating social discord or disorder, breach of peace, rioting, bloodshed, pillage or plunder and killing of innocent persons anywhere in the world are all considered most inhuman crimes.”
According to this fatwa, the very purpose of Islam, the fatwa says, is “to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace”. Muslims should not co-operate with people who spread the lie of terrorism; and those who do are “committing sins of oppression”. 
Similar sentiments were expressed in fatwas from Pakistan and Bangladesh, again endorsed by tens of thousands of clerics from across these countries. Like fatwas given before in Pakistan, the recent Paigham-e-Pakistan Fatwa issued on 20 January 2019 also denounced all types of extremist ideologies and criticized the promotion of sectarian hatred, called it mischief on earth and demanded the state to resolve this critical issue with an iron fist. The forceful imposition of sharia -the common practice promoted and followed by the terrorist organizations- and the armed struggles against Pakistan have been declared Haram (Forbidden) under this fatwa. The fatwa declared suicide haram and jihad only a state’s prerogative. Scholars from all Islamic schools of thought stated that suicide attacks have been forbidden by the Qurʾān and they have been termed as Haram (Strictly Forbidden). Hence, the ones involved in such horrific crime must be considered rebels and Khawarij and shall be punished to the greater extent. Furthermore, according to the Islamic teachings this fatwa also supported military operations aimed at eradicating extremist and militant evils out of this society.
In a similar vein. the fatwa issued by over one lakh Bangladeshi Islamic scholars in August 2016 declared militancy and extremism in the name of Islam haram or 'forbidden'. The 'fatwa' was signed by some 1, 01,524 Islamic scholars belonging to Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama.
The fatwas declared, “killing of innocent people indiscriminately is not permissible in Islam, killing of children, women, old and weak people who do not take part in a war is strictly forbidden in Islam. Even killing of these kinds of people during war is not allowed in Islam. Killing of people during prayer is a heinous and severe crime.
While presenting the fatwa before the Press, Maulana Fariduddin Masoud, chairman of Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama said: “Islam is a religion of peace. In the name of Islam, some quarters are spreading extremism and terror through misinterpretation of Qurʾān and Hadith to gain their personal interests. Though many label the militants as jihadis, they are actually terrorists. Islam doesn't support terrorism. And those, who are carrying out suicide attacks with the belief to go to heaven as martyrs if they die and live as heroes if remain alive, will not go to heaven according to Qurʾān and Hadith. The participation in Namaz-e-Janaza for those religious terrorists, militants and secret attackers is also forbidden. And those who will die taking stand against these militants will be regarded as martyrs,"
These are all severe condemnations of terrorism. Then why do these fatwas have no influence on the section of our youth which listens to the militant ideologues’ rhetoric. Almost 40,000 foreigners joined the so-called Islamic state, from around the world, and, of course, it is safe to assume that many more must have wanted to join but couldn’t due to logistical difficulties. Travelling to a so-called state which was not really a state recognised by even one member of the global community was not easy. Where does militant ideology’s appeal come from and why are the passionate efforts of all our ulema not so successful? This is a question that needs to be pondered upon seriously, if we are to stem the tide of militancy from the Muslim community.
A close reading of these fatwas reveals that while these are all long on rhetoric, they are short on details and specifics, the terms in which militant ideologues talk. The influential militant ideologues like Syed Qutb, Maulana Maududi, Abdullah Azzam, Anwar al-Awlaki, Aiman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, all of them make a persuasive case of their militant ideology, comprehensive, internally consistent and coherent, based on solid foundations of Qurʾān, Hadith and events of Islamic history, particularly actions of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and the Salaf ul Saleheen. Apart from these, the militant narratives are also based on universally accepted theological doctrines of Uncreatedness of the holy Qurʾān, universal applicability of all exhortations of Qurʾān and Hadith, Abrogation of early Makkan verses preaching peace, co-existence, patience in times of adversity by later militant Madinan verses of war, exhorting Disavowal and Dissociation with Idolaters and subjugation of People of the Book, punishment of death for blasphemers and apostates, etc.
On the other hand, most of the counter-narratives of clerics, proclaiming Islam as a religion of peace are one-liners. If at all they quote Qurʾān, they quote just one verse (5:32) which says killing even one innocent person amounts to killing humanity and saving one person amounts to saving humanity. The rest is rhetoric. Strong, passionate rhetoric, absolutely, but just that -- rhetoric. There is only one fatwa among the many which takes up the issue in some detail. It’s the fatwa from Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulema. It at least acknowledges a coupleof the many militant verses that are repeatedly used by radicals in justifying violence. But it again makes the same familiar mistake of countering it by quoting early Makkan verses advocating patience in the face of adversity. The madrasas that these clerics run teaches books like Itqan fil Uloomul Qurʾān, Tafsir-e-Jalalain, Hujjatullah al Baligha, etc in which Tehreef fil Qurʾān Naskh, Mansookh, etc are discussed in great detail, giving credence to the radical narrative that verses exhorting peace in early Islam were abrogated by later verses of war. Indeed, there is a widespread view that one sword verse 9: 5 alone has abrogated 124 early Makkan verses, exhorting peace, tolerance, pluralism, co-existence, patience, etc. And there are something like 164 verses of war that were revealed later in Madina, which have by virtue of having come later abrogated earlier verses. This argument of progression of the duty of Jihad has been taken to a point where  verses 9:5 and 9:29, asking Muslims to kill the Mushrik and subjugate ahle kitab, are supposed to have abrogated not only verses teaching patience in Makka -- Inna Allah ma as-Sabireen, God is those who are patient (2:153), 11:49, 50:39, 39:10, 70:5, 15:85, 15:85, (39:10, 70:5 -- but even verses 22:39 and 2:190, permitting the use of force in self-defence. Offensive jihad has thus become an obligation for every Muslim in the view of several authorities. Even a Sufi of the highest order like Imam Abu-Hamid al-Ghazali says that Muslims should go on Jihad at least once a year. Obviously, this Jihad can only be offensive in nature.
The fact of the matter is that in every war, once a decision has been taken to go to war, people are motivated to fight, rewards are announced, punishment is prescribed for disobedience and so on. But once the war is over, these instructions are no longer considered applicable. Our tragedy is that under the Doctrine of Uncreatedness of Qurʾān and the Doctrine of Abrogation, these last verses of war in SuraTaubah like 9: 5 and 9: 29 have become the pre-eminent teaching of Qurʾān in matters of war and peace and relations of Muslims with non-Muslims. The general acceptance of Blasphemy and Apostasy as crimes punishable with death has taken even intra-Muslim discord to a new height, resulting in takfeer of entire communities and killings.
Thus, we Muslims are stuck in a situation where the radical war-mongers have an upper hand. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that ulema are not yet prepared to come up with a genuine counternarrative. They seem to think that passionate rhetoric will do the trick. I do not doubt their intentions. But when a strategy fails, one has to think of the next step. In my view, the following declarations will have to be made forcefully and repeatedly by ulema around the world for the tide to begin turning.
1.       Qurʾān has been created by God. It is a collection of verses that were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (saw) initially in Mecca, as instructions into the universal faith that has been coming to humanity since the advent of Prophet Adam (AS) on earth, through a series of prophets of equal status (Qurʾān 2:136) sent to all nations, bearing the same message. So, these initial verses that teach us peace and harmony, good neighbourliness, patience, tolerance and pluralism are the foundational and constitutive verses of Qurʾān. They constitute the fundamental message of Islam. But Qurʾān also contains many contextual verses that were revealed as instructions from time to time for the Prophet (saw) and his companions to deal with difficult existential situations that arose as both the Mushrikeen (pagans) of Makka and Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book) living in Madina mostly refused to accept the message of God coming to them through the Prophet, and decided to eliminate the Prophet and his few companions. These verses are of great historical importance and tell us the near-insurmountable difficulties the Prophet had to face to establish our religion. But despite their importance they are no longer applicable to us as instructions of war, over 1400 years after the wars were fought and won by the grace of God. We are not engaged in any war now.
2.       The Doctrine of Abrogation, as defined by radical ideologues today, is a false doctrine. God cannot be giving orders only to abrogate them later, except that some orders may be simply meant to have temporary application as in the case of war-time instructions.
3.       God does not prescribe any punishment for blasphemy and apostasy. Nor does He authorise any human, a ruler or scholar to punish any one.  So even if there is fool proof evidence that someone has committed these crimes, the punishment has to be left to God.
4.       We are now living in the world of modern nation-states; our international relations are guided by the charter of United Nations which has been signed by virtually the whole world including all Muslim majority states.  It is simply not possible today for any state to conquer new territories and establish its rule there as was the norm until the first half of the twentieth century. So, all talk of performing Jihad at least once a year should cease, even if it was indeed mandated by Qurʾān and Hadith. It is simply impractical and God does not ask us to perform impossible task.
5. There is no scriptural sanction for the call of a global Khilafat of Muslims either in Quran or Hadith. Modern pluralistic states are very much in tune with the first Islamic State evolved by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) under the constitution provided by Meesaq-e-Madina. Muslims do not need a global Khilafat, though Muslim-majority countries can cooperate more fully in the spirit of brotherhood sanctioned by Quran and even form a commonwealth of Muslim states.
6. Modern Democracy is a fulfilment of the Quranic exhortation of amrahum shoora bainahum. SoMuslims should try and strengthen Democratic institutions in the countries where they live either as a majority community or as a religious minority.
7.       Let us all accept that Islam is primarily a spiritual path to salvation, one of the many (Qurʾān 5:48) sent by God to humanity in different ages through different prophets, all of equal status (Qurʾān 2:136, 21:25, 21:92). God has asked us to compete with one another in performing good deeds [Qurʾān 2:148, 23:61] and that is what we should be focussed on. As Qurʾān came to confirm all previous faiths, we can only respect and accept all other religions as paths to the same divinity. The Doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara as propagated by radical elements is misconceived and impractical in the present highly complex and intricately interwoven global society.
I hope Ulema as well as common Muslims will consider these points in the spirit of consultation in which it is being presented and a consensus will gradually evolve.

Refutation of Jihadi Ideology: Who Are The Mushrikin Mentioned In The Quranic Verse 9:5? - Part 2

By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
12 October 2019
The first part of the refutation revolved around the linguistic analysis of the word ‘Mushrikin’ mentioned in the verse 9:5 which is often quoted by ISIS to justify the acts of violence and terrorism in the 21st century. It envisaged that there exists the possibility of further interpretation or specification in the word ‘Mushrikin’, even though it is apparent (zahir) and in plural form.
The second part now aims at investigating whether or not we can include today’s ‘Mushrikin’ into those mentioned in the Quranic verse 9:5. The methodology adopted during this investigation to reach any conclusion has been employed to discuss three important aspects of the Mushrikin of Makkah who have been referred to in this verse. The first two aspects are the creeds (Aqaid) and actions (Aamaal) of the Mushrikin living in Makkah, while the third one will lead us to know whether they were allowed to be killed in the state of ongoing war on account of their being ‘Mushrikin’ or ‘violators of the peace-treaty’ or ‘religious persecutors’. It is extremely important to take into account all these three aspects properly so as to establish any solid argument against ISIS.              
The Creeds (Aqaid) of the Mushrikin of Makkah mentioned in The Quranic Verse 9:5
The characteristic creeds of the Mushrikin of Makkah are different from the Mushrikin living in the 21st century. This can be seen in details here,-new-age-islam/what-are-the-major-characteristics-of-the-mushrikun-mentioned-in-the-quran-and-how-do-they-differ-from-the-mushrikun-living-in-the-21st-century?/d/119724
 Briefly speaking of their creeds, the Mushrikin of Makkah made the creed of Tashbih (anthropomorphism) and did Tahrif (change). They would say that angels were God’s daughters and claimed the presence of human attributes in God. When they could not comprehend the true attributes of God such as Knowledge (‘ilm) and power of hearing and seeing, they started judging these attributes in the context of their own knowledge and capability of hearing and seeing. This is how they went astray, taking God as corporal and boundable. The story of change (Tahrif), in the words of Shah Waliullah, is that “the children of Prophet of Ismail followed their grandfather Abrahim’s Sharia or Religion of Abraham (Millat-e-Ibrahimi) till ‘Amr bin Lauhaay appeared. He carved idols and made their worship compulsory for them. He also instituted superstitions, such as ‘Bahira’, Sai’ba’, ‘Wasila’ and ‘Ham’, ‘Al-Iqtisam lil Azlam’ and many others! This change took place three hundred years before the birth of the Holy Prophet. In addition to these evil practices, they adhered to the traditions of their forefathers and considered it as a decisive argument in their favour. The Prophets who had gone before had spoken about the Resurrection and the Gathering, but they had given no details, nor stated it as distinctly with all particulars as given in the Quran (though rather very summarily). Since the Arab Mushrikin were not given detailed account of life after death, they considered the happening of Resurrection as impossible and far remote. Even though these Mushrikin acknowledged the prophethood of Prophets Abraham, Ismail and also that of Prophet Moses, they felt confused about the existence of human qualities in these prophets, which constitute a veil on their perfect beauty and thus entertained doubts about them.... They considered prophets in human forms something very remote and unbelievable” (Shah Waliullah, Al-Fauz al-Kabir, trans. by G. N. Jalbani)
Among other differentiating things between the Mushrikin of Makkah and the Mushrikin living in the present century are that the “Polytheists (of Arab) described themselves as “Ahnaf” (seekers of truth), claiming to follow the religion of Abraham (Millat-e-Ibrahim). In fact Hanafi (not to be confused with the Hanafi who follows Imam Abu Hanifa) is one who follows the creed of Abraham and observes the rituals prescribed by him. These rituals include pilgrimage to Ka’aba, keeping one’s face towards it while saying prayers, bath after ceremonious uncleanliness, circumcision etc”.....The Mushrikin of Arab abandoned creeds of Abraham and “indulged in evil practices such as unlawful murder, theft, adultery, usury and usurpation.” In matters of the creeds of Abraham (peace be upon him), these Mushrikin “had in general created doubts, describing them improbable and showing no interest in comprehending them. Polytheism, belief in anthropomorphism, modification of Abraham’s scroll, denial of the Hereafter, and terming the Holy Prophet’s mission unbelievable constituted main features of their deviation from the true Religion of Abraham. In addition, they performed shameful deeds, indulged in injustice, wrong doing and corrupt practices and wiped out every semblance of God’s worship” (Shah Waliullah, Al-Fauz al-Kabir, trans. by G. N. Jalbani, p.3-4)
According to the several verses of the Quran, the act of Shirk is unforgivable sin and the perpetrators of this sin will face the torment of God Almighty on the Day of Judgment. However the Quranic verses do not stop the believers from living in peace and harmony   in this 21st century where the human beings have promised to live under the law of peaceful coexistence. As for the verse 9:5, though it mentions the word ‘Mushrikin’, it does not imply that they were fought on the basis of their Shirk or creeds. Instead they were fought because they were the religious persecutors. In other words they were fought on account of their violent actions.
The Actions (Aamaal) Of the Mushrikin Mentioned In the Quranic Verse 9:5
As for the actions (Aamaal) of the Mushrikin mentioned in the Quran, the Mushrikin had persecuted the Prophet and his followers for as long as 14 or 15 years in the city of Makkah. They inflicted all sorts of indignities upon those who embraced Islam chosen for them by Allah Almighty. They raised baseless objections to the verses revealed by Allah, derided the injunctions of Shariat and committed heartless oppression for thirteen years until the Muslims were allowed to exact a measure of retaliation.
During the thirteenth year after the declaration of his Prophet-hood, Allah commanded the prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions to migrate. They carried out Allah’s command worshipfully and migrated to Madina –nearly 300 miles away from Makkah. Still the animosity of the inveterate Mushrikin had not subsided. They inflicted fresh injuries on the Muslims; robbed them of the peace of mind and heart. A band of Arab Mushrikin would raid the pastures of the Muslims and take away their cattle. If they encounter a lonely Muslim, they would not hesitate in killing him mercilessly.
For as long as 14 or 15 years, the Muslims suffered insults, outrages and injuries at the hands of these Mushrik persecutors. The Muslims bore all these indignities with the utmost humility and patience. When the aggression and ruthlessness of the Arab Mushrikin grew more hotly than ever, Allah granted permission to the believers to take up arms in their own defence and make the violence-loving Mushrikun believe that the torch of Islam – that lights up darkness – would never be allowed to be blown out. Likewise the flag held aloft for the dissemination of the truth will never be let down, however hot they might grow. This torch will remain lit until the doomsday. And the flag of the truth will continue to flutter so long as the world exits. (Zia-ul-Quran, Vol: 3; p.218-/ The Enlightening Commentary on the War Related Quranic Verses- Part 2)
Initially the Muslims were not given permission to fight back even in defence. Later on they were allowed to fight back and there was a situation that the verse “kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them [in the state of war]” was revealed.
The ‘Mushrikin’ Were Fought As Violators of Peace-Treaty Not Because They Had Committed Shirk
From the cause of the revelation, it is well-known that they were permitted to fight back against the Mushrikin of Makka who were the religious persecutors and had violated the peace-treaty after signing it. It would not be appropriate to deduce from the verse 9:5 that they were fought because of their committing Shirk. This is also supported by the following interpretations made by the classical scholars.
Al-Baydawi (d.685H) in his book “Anwar al-Tanzeel wa Asrar al-Taweel (The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Interpretation, V. 3, p. 71, 9:5- Arabic version)”, a classical tafsir which is included in Madrasas of Indian subcontinent, writes while interpreting the verse, "فاقتلوا المشركين (أي) الناكثين", which means that the word Mushrikin mentioned in the Ayah 9:5 refers to Nakithin- those who violated peace treaties by waging war against the Muslims.
Al-Alusi (d.1270H) in his “Rooh al-Ma’ani (v. 10, p. 50, - 9:5, Arabic version), another classical book of Tafsir, writes,
على هذا فالمراد بالمشركين في قوله سبحانه: (فاقتلوا المشركين) الناكثون
Translation: “Therefore the word Mushrikin in the statement of God Almighty “so kill the Mushrikin...” means Nakitheen, i.e. those who violated peace treaties by initiating war against the Muslims.
Abu Bakr al-Jassas, a classical scholar, (d.370H) writes,
"صار قوله تعالى: {فَاقْتُلُوا المُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ} خاصّاً في مشركي العرب دون غيرهم"
Translation: “The verse (Kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them) was particular to the Mushrikin of Arab and does not apply to anyone else” (Ahkam al-Quran lil Jassas, V. 5, p. 270, Arabic edition- English translation mine)
Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti writes,
“In his commentary on the above mentioned Quranic Ayah 9:5, Imam Ibn Hatim quotes Hazrat Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him, who was the companion and cousin of the beloved Prophet peace be upon him) as saying: ‘The Mushrikin mentioned in this Ayah refer to those Mushrikin of Quraish with whom the Prophet –peace be upon him- had made treaty [of peace]” (Durr-e-Manthoor, V.3, p.655- Urdu version)
He also reports, “Imam Ibn Munzir, Ibn Abi Hatim and Abu Shaikh (may Allah be pleased with them) have quoted Hazrat Muhammad bin Ibad b. Jafar as saying “These Mushrikin are Banu Khuzaima b. Amir who belong to  Bani Bakr b. Kananah”  (Durr-e-Manthoor, V.3, p.655- Urdu version)
Such commentaries, according to other Islamic scholars, are substantiated by what the Qur’an itself says in the Ayah 13 of same chapter,
“Will you not fight against those who violated their oaths (of peace-treaties), plotted the expulsion of the messenger, and initiated the fighting against you?” (9:13)
 And the Ayah 36 of Surah Taubah says,
“and fight against the Mushrikin collectively as they fight against you collectively; and know well that Allah is with the pious.” (9:36)
Implication of these two verses (9:13) and (9:36) and comments of classical jurists as mentioned above is that the Mushrikin mentioned in the verse 9:5 were not all the Mushrikin but those who were the religious persecutors and had violated peace-treaties by waging war against the early Muslims. Hence it is not appropriate to deduce that the Mushrikin were fought because of their Shirk.
We need to consider two things here; firstly if the act of Shirk (polytheism) had been the cause of fighting, the peace-treaty would not have been signed between the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Mushrikin of Makkah. Secondly, if those Mushrikin had not been the religious persecutors or the violators of the peace-treaty, the fighting would not have occurred. This can also be understood from the Ahadith (to be referenced in the forthcoming parts) which do not grant permission to kill the women, children, disabled or old from among the Mushrikin.
A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).

Islamism and Islamophobia Have Created a Vicious Cycle of Xenophobic Violence, Sultan Shahin Asks UNHRC at Geneva to Persuade Muslim Nations to Follow UN Charter


By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
16 September 2019
 Oral Statement at 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva (9 - 27 September 2019)
General Debate, Agenda Item 3. Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Delivered on behalf of Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum

Mr. President,
Islamophobia and Islamist violence are both growing and in the unlikeliest of places.
Recent attacks on churches in Sri Lanka were as much of a surprise as the attack on mosques in Christchurch. And now copycat attacks are taking place elsewhere. A vicious cycle of xenophobic violence is in operation.
While the world suffers from Jihadist violence, Muslims in particular suffer the most causalities in sectarian wars incited by the Islamist Jihadist ideology.
And yet, even almost two decades after 9/11, Muslim nations continue to be in denial. Islamist ideology based on the Islamic theology of consensus is absolved of any responsibility for violent extremism.
The result is that Muslim children continue to be taught in madrasas Islam supremacism and contempt for other religions. Even explicitly violent passages have not yet been weeded out from text books.
The terrorism it generates takes many shapes. If Hindu, Sikh and Christian girls are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan, this too essentially comes from contempt for other religions taught in religious seminaries. In several countries including Pakistan, some Muslims do not wait for courts to pass judgements to punish those they consider guilty.
The Council should convince the offending states to establish the rule of law on the basis of the UN Charter and repeal unacceptable laws against freedom of religion and conscience.
Mr. President
The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims as “the highest aspiration of the common people,” the “advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.” This aspiration had arisen in the backdrop of “disregard and contempt for human rights” which “resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
But several Muslim-majority countries that are signatories to the UN Charter violate the human rights of their citizens, not only from the religious minorities but even the weaker sections of the majority community.
Muslim nations are not only violating UN Charter that they have committed to but also the tenets of their own religion. Several scholarly studies of the primary Islamic scripture, the holy Quran, have found that practically every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is supported by scores of verses of Quran.
Some of these studies are widely available on internet and can be verified. On the basis of and with reference to these studies, Wikipedia concludes: “The book (Quran) is largely concerned with establishing boundaries that Muslims are prohibited from transgressing. Within these boundaries the Quran treats human beings as equally valuable and endowed with certain rights by virtue of simply being human, hence Human rights. The rights bestowed upon humans in the Quran include the right to life and peaceful living, as well as the right to own, protect, and have property protected, (as per) Islamic economic jurisprudence. The Quran also contains rights for minority groups and women, as well as regulations of human interactions as between one another to the extent of dictating how Prisoners of war ought to be treated.”
But the daily news reports emanating from Muslim countries belie much respect for human rights in these countries. Coupled with violent manifestations of Islamism and Jihadism, these reports paint a very gloomy picture of the social life of Muslims as a religious community. Child marriages are rampant. Even Muslim jurists, in Saudi Arabia, for instance, justify this on the basis of Sharia.
A Saudi court ordered a few years ago the father of a 10-year-old girl to hand her over to her “husband,” disapproving of the fact that she had run away from her husband’s home. In any civilised country this so-called husband would be considered a rapist and the family of the child bride as accomplices in the crime. But the Saudi judge acting on the basis of almost universally accepted Sharia in Islam considers the marriage of a nine-year-old legitimate. The larger Muslim community seems to have no compunction in allowing this and many other such atrocities. No wonder Islam has acquired the reputation of being a backward and primitive religion.
Mr. President,
It is difficult to understand why we Muslims are not introspecting and changing course despite our religion having become practically synonymous with terrorism and backwardness. Muslims see their most revered ulema expressing regressive views that would be repugnant to any civilised society but take no action and allow them to gain currency in their societies.
 For instance, a revered Pakistani cleric Dr Israr Ahmad, formerly of Jamaat-e- Islami, says about the Quranic expression Fasad fil Arz (mischief and violence on earth), “Peace in the West is actually Fasad and the Jihad to dislodge them from power is actually Peace. Effort to create Peace by letting imperialists rule and exploit the world is actually Fasad.”
Mr. President,
Even the Barailvis of Pakistan who are considered an inclusive Sufi sect of Islam in South Asia are not immune to propagating violence in the name of protecting the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was a sermon by a Pakistani Barailvi cleric that led to the assassination of liberal Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2011. His sermon also motivated a former Chief Justice of Lahore Court to defend the despicable assassin Mumtaz Qadri, who was on the government payroll as a bodyguard of the Governor at the time he killed him.
What was the “crime” of Governor Taseer? He had shown compassion for a Christian woman Aasia Khatoon, on death row for alleged blasphemy for eight years, and called the anti-blasphemy law of Pakistan a black law, and sought its repeal. Now the Barailvi Muslims of Pakistan have declared the brutal assassin Qadri a saint, built a shrine in his name, after he was executed on the orders of the court, and gather there in hundreds of thousands to pray and seek his blessings. The judge who ordered his execution is in hiding, fearing for his life. He has been declared by Islamic scholars as wajibul Qatl (deserving death), a sentence that any common Muslim can carry out.
And, of course, this is done in the name of Jihad that is considered obligatory on all Muslims. While Jihad is a revered word in Islamic scriptures, it is its un-Islamic understanding, as taught in madrasas and found in books by very respected medieval and contemporary theologians that is mainly behind the murder and mayhem unleashed on the world today.
Mr. President,
Jihad or at least Jihad-e-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is defined by Sufis and moderate Muslims as a struggle against one’s own negative self against worldly and evil temptations. This is considered a permanent and obligatory struggle which has to be waged by every Muslim all the time. But, while this meaning of Jihad too is mentioned in passing sometimes, this is not the way Jihad is actually defined by madrasa text books. Let us see some of the definitions of Jihad in our text books:
Theological Meaning of Jihad
There is a consensus (ijma) of theologians that Jihad is to fight in the way of Allah and to facilitate it.
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Hanafi, the most popular in South Asia:
الجہاد دعوۃ الکفار الی الدین الحق و قتالھم ان لم یقبلوا۔ (قتح القدیر)
Jihad is to call people to true religion (Islam), and to fight them if they refuse to accept it.
الجہادُ بذلُ الوسع و الطاقۃ بالقتال فی سبیل اللہ عز و جل بالنفس و المال و اللسان و غیر ذالک (البدائع و الصنائع)
Jihad is to strive hard to fight in the way of Allah with life, money, tongue and with other possible ways. (al-badai’ wassnanai’)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Maliki:
قتال المسلم کافراً ذی عھد لاعلاء لکلمۃ اللہ (حاشیہ العدوی۔ الشرح الصغیر)
Fight of a Muslim with a Kafir in covenant to uphold the word of Allah is Jihad. (Hashiya al-‘adawi. Al-shrah al-saghir)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Shafe’i:
و شرعاً بذل الجھد فی قتال الکفار(فتح الباری)
Jihad is to use all of someone’s energy and power to fight Kuffar (plural of kaafir, unbelievers). (Fathul Bari)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Hanbali mostly used by Salafis and Wahhabi Muslims:
الجھاد قتال الکفار (مطالب أولي النهى)
Jihad is simply to fight Kuffar (unbelievers).
Now let us see what different schools of Islamic jurisprudence say about Jihad:
According to all four (Hanafi, Shafe’i , Maliki and Hanbali) schools of jurisprudence, there are two types of Jihad;
1.            Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) and
2.            2. Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some)
Jihad becomes Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) refuse to accept the call to Islam. And if kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities, Jihad becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) on Muslims to defend and protect their land. (al-Mabsut, vol, 10. By Muhammad bin Ahmad Sarkhasi)
Jihad according to Maliki scholars:
Allama Shistani abi Malik writes: Allama ibn e Quttan narrates “Whosoever is able to conduct jihad, jihad is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (Obligatory on some) upon Him”. And Allama Marzi Maliki writes in his book “kabeer”, that, Jihad is both Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) and Farz-e-Kefaya  فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some). Jihad is Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) for Muslims capable of jihad, living near an enemy of Islam, and it is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) on those who live far from enemies of Islam. (Ikmal al Muallim, vol. 5. P44, by Allama Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Khalfa Dishtani Abi Maliki)
Jihad According to Shafa’i Scholars
Allama Yahya bin Sharf Nawawi Shafa’I writes, “Jihad was only Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) in Prophet’s lifetime, because of the verse لا یستوی القاعدون- النساء Surah Nisa of Quran 4: 95 which says:
(“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward”.)
 But now there are two types of Jihad.
(1) Jihad becomes Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) Muslims when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) are in their cities. In this situation, if no Muslim conducts jihad, all will be considered equally guilty.
(2) Jihad becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities to kill Muslims.
Jihad According To Hanbali Scholars
Allama ibn Qudama Hanbali writes: Jihad is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) in a normal situation. But it becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) (1) when war is going on, (2) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities, (3) when ruler of an Islamic land calls for Jihad.
Mr. President,
In view of Jihad (spiritual struggle) being equated with Qital (Quranic term for fighting or killing) in all four Islamic schools of Sunni jurisprudence, it is hardly surprising that many religiously-inclined Muslims think that it is their duty to fight non-Muslims until Islam becomes dominant and Islamic Sharia is applied in the whole world.
No wonder Islam has acquired the reputation of being a religion to be feared. Islamophobic attacks on Muslims are rising in many countries. Yet, while some Muslim intellectuals and even clerics keep parroting the mantra of Islam being a religion of peace, supported by some verses from Quran, no serious attempt is being made to understand why so many Muslims are turning to Jihadism and how this process can be stopped and reversed.
My study of Jihadi literature shows that Jihadi narrative is well-grounded in commonly accepted Islamic theology, jurisprudence and history, and that is why they face no particular resistance in Muslim societies across the world. Jihadism appeals to some of our educated youth as Jihadi discourse seems to stand on very solid theological ground. All schools of thought appear to agree that Islam must dominate the world, politically as much as spiritually. Any effort made to achieve this goal is considered praiseworthy and leading to divine reward.
The mainstream Muslim clergy does not counter this narrative. In fact, there is no reason for the theologians to do so, as this is part of their own belief system. They do apply a lot of rhetoric in denying any connection between Islam and terrorism but do not make any serious attempt to tackle the root causes.
Mr. President,
As long as Muslims continue to be in denial, blaming Jihadism on machinations of Islamophobic forces and enemies of Islam, it is difficult to see any change taking place in the Muslim religious mindset in the near future.
However, the UN Human Rights Council can perhaps try to persuade the offending member-states to establish the rule of law on the basis of the UN Charter, at the very least repeal unacceptable laws against freedom of religion and expression and revise the textbooks taught in Islamic seminaries to make them more in keeping with the requirements of the UN Charter.

Refutation of the Jihadi Ideology Through the Principle of Zahir and Nass Related to the Quranic verse 9:5 Quoted To Justify Acts of Violence In 21st Century- Part 3

By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
26 October 2019
This part of the Refutation is based on the jurisprudential principle of Zahir and Nass and that when they conflict with each other the Nass is preferred.
Before delving into the subject, we would like to define Zahir and Nass. Linguistically the term Zahir means ‘apparent’, ‘plain’, manifest and ‘clear’ etc. Technically, Zahir means “whatever becomes apparent to a listener from his hearing only” or in the words of Imam Bazdawi “It (Zahir) is a name for every speech the aim of which became apparent to listener by its wording” whereas Imam Sarakhsi defines “what can be understood by pure hearing without thinking..” Zahir has a clear meaning and yet is susceptible and open to the possibility of an alternative interpretation. The main reason of this is that its apparent meaning is not always in harmony with the context in which it takes place because Zahir is not the principle theme of the text.  
Nass denotes a clear text which clarifies the reason why a sentence is expressed. The implication of Nass is that which is aimed by the speaker, while the meaning of Zahir is not meant by the speaker. 
An example is thus given that when some disbelievers of Makka claimed that both ‘bay’ (trade) and ‘Riba’ (usury) are the same. The Quran refers to their statement, “That is because they say: “Trading is only like ‘Riba (usury)’”, (2:275).
So in response to these people and to differentiate between trade and usury, Allah Almighty revealed the verse “But Allah has permitted trading (bay’) and has forbidden Riba (usury)” (2:275)
This verse is Nass in its showing differentiation between both of these terms ‘trade’ (bay) and ‘usury’ (Riba) as not being the same. And this verse is Zahir in its meaning that trade is lawful and usury is prohibited.
The ruling of Zahir and Nass is to act upon both of them. However if there is a conflict between the two, a preference is given to the Nass over the Zahir.    
Let us ponder over the Zahir and Nass related to the verse 9:5 “kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them”. This verse is Zahir in its commanding the believers to kill the Mushrikin wherever they are found, whereas this verse is Nass in its commanding the believers to fight against the religious persecutors and violators of peace-treaty in the state of war. The purpose of this verse being revealed was to grant permission of killing the religious persecutors and the militants in the state of war; as this was the situation of “kill or be killed”. The very purpose can be understood easily if all the war-related verses are taken into account, such as the verses “And if any one of the Mushrikin seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know” (9:6), “And fight in God's cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression; for, verily, God does not love aggressors” (2:190).
Thus we find that the verse 9:5 is Nass to involve several points; 1) fighting should be on the basis of persecution and not account of religious belief, 2) fighting should take place after the peace-treaty is dismissed and the war is declared, 3) fighting should take place in the state of war. These three points were the main purpose of this verse being revealed. On the contrary, the Zahir of this verse demands that since the word mentioned in this verse is Mushrikin and that is in plural form, so all of them should be killed everywhere. However the Nass (the purpose of the revelation of this verse) goes against the Zahir (apparent meaning) of this verse. And this is very popular principle also taught in the textbooks of Madrasas that when the Nass and Zahir conflict with each other, the Nass is always preferred. 
In other words, let me repeat that the command of fighting against the Mushrikin of Arab was revealed because they had persecuted the Muslims and violated the peace-treaty, and not because they had committed Shirk or Kufr. And it is in this sense that this verse is Nass. As for the Zahir of this verse, this is not in harmony with the Nass of this verse and there is consensus among the scholars of the past (Salaf) and of the present that when Zahir and Nass oppose each other, a preference is always given to Nass and not to the Zahir, so as to get better understanding of the Quran.
Having understood the verse 9:5 under the principle of Zahir and Nass, it would not be correct for the ISIS or any other similar outfits to deduce the ruling of killing the Mushrikin in the context of 21st century which is dominantly different from the context of the early days of Islam.   
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A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).

The Impending Babri Judgment: Why Muslims Must Question Some of Their Core Religious Assumptions for True Closure

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
29 October 2019
It is more or less clear that the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on the contentious Babri mosque issue very soon. Going by the recent SC judgments, it is unlikely that the court will delay the verdict any more. The recent judgments have also given us a clue as to which way the verdict will sway. However, assuming that the SC is still neutral, the highest court will deliver its verdict either in favour of the ‘Muslim party’ or in favour of the ‘Hindu party’. It cannot make both parties coparcenary as this was precisely the spirit of the Allahabad High Court judgment which the SC has already rejected. This time, the title suit will be settled once and for all.
Let us also not forget that we are talking about a mosque which was demolished in full view of TV cameras. There are cases on political leaders who enabled this to happen but all those court cases lie in shambles today. Those who exhorted the mobs to destroy the mosque went on to occupy the highest offices in the country. What has reached maturity within the court is not the criminal destruction of the mosque, but the question whether the mosque belonged to the Muslims in the first place.
In the wake of near certainty that a verdict is in the offing, Muslims must be ready with a response. It is all very well to say that Muslims will abide by the SC judgment, but it is also a fact that it is an emotional issue for Muslims. A closure for Muslims will not come through a legal verdict, but only through a well thought out response to the issue. There are two possibilities within which the verdict can come and Muslims have to be ready to respond to both these possibilities.
The first possibility is that SC decrees the title deed in favour of Muslims. There will certainly be euphoria within the community that a historical wrong has been acknowledged by the highest court of the country. However, if this is the case, then what should Muslims do? Should they then demand that a mosque be built at the same site where it once existed? Pragmatically speaking, even if the law is on the side of Muslims, they will not be able to construct a mosque on the same site. This is because the Ram Mandir is also an emotional issue for the Hindus and they will never let this happen. If Muslims press on this issue, the country will have to pay a very great cost. Also, given the nature of political context today, this might be counter-productive for Muslims.
Thus, in case of a favourable verdict, Muslims must welcome the judgment, but they should also be willing to gift the land to Hindus. In doing this, they should not put any condition on the other side; they should just gift the land as an act of pure goodwill. Such an act will not be an act of cowardice; rather it will be from a position of strength. This gesture might also become a turning point in Hindu-Muslim relations in India, which is currently extremely vitiated due to a number of factors.
The second possibility is that the SC rules in favour of a temple. Muslims must be ready for this eventuality as this seems be the most likely outcome of this decades old litigation. In this scenario, Muslims will have no option but to welcome the SC judgment with full conviction. There are sections within Muslims who might feel let down if this is the outcome of the litigation. Part of the reason for this seems to be that they are sure that the law is on their side. However, litigations like this are mostly driven by political considerations and it is highly likely that the verdict of the highest court might also be driven by political considerations. To put it brutally, Muslims have no option but to willingly give up the land. Whether they win the case or lose it, Muslims should part with the land on which once stood the Babri mosque. But even if done with honesty and sincerity, this will not be enough to bring closure of the issue for Muslims. 
A closure around the issue of Babri mosque cannot come without a deep introspection about the nature of Muslim belief and where and how we have made mistakes in the past. For the greater part of Muslim political life, we have made choices which have been counter-productive to the very ethos of pluralism and the rule of law. Muslims have demanded exceptional privileges for themselves under the garb of secularism. We need to just rewind back to the years of Shah Bano agitation and see the kind of political demands Muslims made to the state. Muslim leadership actually told the parliament and the highest court of this country that they want to live according to their own religious laws. In short, the legislative progress that the country wanted to make by reforming personal laws was seen as un-Islamic by Muslim leadership; not just the religious ones but also the so called political ‘secular’ Muslim leaders. If one community, which is the largest minority, decides to live by its own personal laws and on the other hand there is constant reformation within the religious laws of the majority community, then there is bound to be reaction against the minority community and its perceived religious privileges.
If Muslims argue that their faith is above the Constitution (as they did during the Shah Bano judgment), what stops the Hindus from arguing that it is their faith that a temple existed at the very place where Babri mosque once stood. As a minority, Muslims should have been the first to believe in the rule of law and equality before law. They should have been the first to fight for constitutional guarantees for everyone. And yet, we have seen that Muslims have done the exact obverse of what was expected of them. Granted that the current political climate has many reasons behind it, but a truthful search of its causes will bring out the part played by Muslim religious belligerence.
Part of the reason why Muslims behaved the way they did is their understanding that Islam is perfect for all times to come. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it is automatically antithetical to any kind of reform. Moreover, Islam is understood through the Quran and Hadees and therefore, it is argued that there cannot be any debate about the nature of these revelations or their suitability in the present context. Through centuries of indoctrination, Muslims have come to believe in a certain superiority of their scriptures over all other faith traditions. In a context where the majoritarian religion believes that there are multiple paths to the same truth, Islam continues to hold forth that theirs is the only path of redemption. They continue to believe that except Muslims, everyone else is destined for hell. Not only does this interpretation believe that non-Muslims are astray but it also believes that they are inferior in terms of their religious understanding. This kind of an attitude is bound to create a reaction within the majority community.
A true closure to the Babri issue and many other issues which it has given rise to will happen when Muslims genuinely start interrogating some of the fundamental hegemonic religious myths which they continue to believe in. We can start by accepting that Islam is just one of the many ways of achieving the ‘final truth’ and that there are many other religious faiths which are all equally worthy of exploration and emulation.
Arshad Alam is a columnist with