Monday, May 6, 2019

‘We Are Arriving In Bangladesh And Bengal Soon’ Says A Poster Of The ISIS In Bengali; Those Who Glorified The ISIS In 2014 Have Now Gone Underground Black-Faced






New Age Islam Edit Desk
29 April 2019
Two weeks after the ISIS conducted  fatal attacks in Sri Lanka killing more than three hundred Christians and Hindus, a poster in Bengali saying “We are coming, Insha’Allah” (Shigroi Aschee Inshallah) on a telegram channel with logo of Al Mursalat has appeared sending a wave of panic among the people of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India. Intelligence agencies of the state and the country have taken the poster seriously and have sounded an alert. Security has been beefed up in public places including Metro stations in Kolkata. According to reports, the ISIS has a presence in Bangladesh with the support of JMB (Jamiat-e- Mujahideen Bangladesh).
The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka suggest a shift in the modus operandi of the ISIS after its debacle in Syria and Iraq. It has now shrugged off its mask of the flag bearers of Islamic Caliphate with which it fooled the Muslims of the world and won the sympathy of a section of gullible Muslims and so-called Islamic scholars. Now they have come up with the real face as a terrorist organization. Now they taken to the path of Al Qaida, Taliban, Al Shabab and Boko Haram conducting cowardly attacks on unsuspecting innocent people.
This development also makes the Urdu press and the religious organizations who had supported and glorified the ISIS as the upholders of Islam and flag bearers of Islamic Caliphate responsible for what the Muslims of Bangladesh and West Bengal in particular and of India in general are going to face. The ISIS has now put up the face of  a terrorist organization without any clear ideology. They just want to harm Muslims and tarnish the image of Islam and destroy the peace of the state where Muslims live in a relatively peaceful atmosphere wielding political power.
After the ISIS attack in Sri Lanka and the release of the poster in Bengali, the NIA have rounded up some ISIS operatives who were part of ISIS module in Kerala. This is an indication of the things to come. A section of our religious leadership glorified the ISIS and many Muslim youth were misled by their propaganda and joined the terrorist organization. Dozens of Muslim youth from India also were influenced by their propaganda and joined the ISIS, though some of them later realized the mistake returned to India but by the then it was too late and the damage was done. After ISIS conducted the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka and released a poster in Bengali announcing their arrival in either Bangladesh or West Bengal, these Islamic organizations and scholars are silent. Earlier it was Al Qaida and Taliban, now it is the ISIS.  Muslims are fooled again and again by these militant organizations in the name of Caliphate or Islamic State.

Tahreef Fil Quran: How Real Are Questions of Corruption, Distortion, Deletion, Overinclusion or Abrogation in Quran



By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
26 April 2019
Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheb,
A rather acrimonious debate has been going on for some time between you and Naseer Ahmad Saheb on your expression of a feeling that some verses, inconvenient to a modern rational mind, have probably been added in Quran and Muslims should disregard them. Naseer Saheb probably wants you to accept that this makes you an apostate. However, if apostasy were to be bestowed so liberally hardly any thinking Muslim would remain a Muslim.
This debate on distortions in Quran is not new. The controversy over tahreeff il Quran, deletions, additions, a variety of changes in the wordings or vowels of words used in of Quran, etc has raged in the past 1400 years of Islam. Even a brief glance at Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti’s authoritative book on the subject al-Itqan fi Uloom al-Quran, now easily available on the internet, will reveal that there is no distortion that has not been claimed, suggested and believed in by Muslims through the ages, beginning with the companions of the Prophet who had heard Quran from the Prophet himself and recorded its verses in their memory as well in writing then and there.
However, it is also necessary to underline that by and large there is not much of a controversy among Muslims about verses having been planted in the Holy Quran by later Muslims to serve their own ends. In general, all Muslims believe in all of Quran being the word of God as revealed through Prophet Mohammad (saw). If there is a controversy it is generated by some Hadith narrations that some verses have been left out or forgotten or caused by God to be forgotten. Surah Ahzab, for instance, is reported to have been originally double or triple its present size of 73 verses. Some Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) remember it as being almost the same size as Surah Baqra (286 verses).There is also a report of a whole Surah, as long and as severe as Surah Bara’at (better known as Surah Taubah) which has 129 verses having disappeared. One report claims that an object on which a Quranic verse about rajm(stoning to death) of adulterers was written was eaten up by a goat.

Throughout the ages some Muslims have found themselves at a loss to explain the presence of some verses as exhortations from God. As for war verses, not all of them are problematic. At one-point Muslims were allowed to defend themselves as they should have been. Even today defence is allowed, not only to established governments but even to individuals and families in certain situations.  However, some verses do pose questions for Muslims living in the 21st century. For instance, verse 2-193 says:
“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.”
Here there can be no objection to the portion: “But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors,” as it is clear that it is in the context of aggression and oppression which one has to fight in any age.However, the first portion is: “Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is for Allah.” This becomes problematic, particularly as fitnah is translated by most acknowledged translators as “shirk” (polytheism, but in Prophet’s Mecca basically meant idol worship).  Then “and [until] worship is for Allah,” seems to justify the translation of fitnah as shirk, and thus goes against a moderate Muslim’s mainstay “la ikraha fid Deen (Let there be on compulsion in religion, لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِى الدِّينِ2-256)” and verse 18:29 wa man shaa’afalyomin, wamansha’afalyakfur. فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيُؤۡمِنۡ وَّمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيَكۡفُرۡ (“let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve.”)
Then, of course, there are verses from Surah Tauba (9:5, 9:29, etc) that cause disquiet in the moderate Muslim mind. This sense of foreboding is particularly enhanced by a strong and repeatedly expressed opinion by classical Islamic theologians, followed generally by ulema of all sects, that peaceful and pluralistic verses from early Meccan Islam have all been abrogated by the so-called sword verse (9:5) alone.
But none of this has led to a discrediting of these verses as word of God. No one has said that these verses have been planted in Quran.  Indeed, Hadith was created as a parallel scripture, and given in practice even greater importance than Quran in decades when virtual enemies of Islam were ruling the land of Islam in the name of Islam, mainly because it was not possible to plant things in Quran. So those who had subverted the Islamic democratic system and established monarchy used hadith narrations to plant new ideas. Muslims had written Quran down and also memorised it almost as soon as verses were revealed. Hadith started growing in a natural manner, as people recalled what the Prophet had told them all these years, but this was also used by the dictatorial kings to plant new ideas more suitable to their politics.
Different Muslims, uncomfortable with these violent verses in Quran have tried different ways of dealing with them. Some have rejected Islam as a divine religion and become and are now becoming in larger numbers ex-Muslims. Some have taken the instructions to heart and adopted radical extremism and terrorism, as a way of quick transition to Heaven through martyrdom. Others engage in what is called taaweelat or allegorical interpretations. Some Muslims try to change the very meaning of Arabic words used in these verses and say that Arabs have not understood Arabic of the Quran in all these centuries. The consensus theology is that it is every Muslim’s religious duty to help Islam conquer the world and extirpate all other religions, including those that were brought by previous prophets in whom all Muslims must believe to be a Muslim. Most mainstream Muslims accept the consensus theology but do nothing about achieving this religious goal. However, they do applaud, if not openly, at last in their hearts, when someone appears to be doing something about it.
You are alone Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheb in feeling that these verses have been probably planted in Quran at some point. You use the expression “overinclusion while compiling.” The problem is GM Saheb, that Quran was revealed in the glare of history. Verses used to be revealed in the presence of katibs, usually several, and other sahaba (companions) of the prophet. They were almost immediately written down and memorised. Also, the verses in question are in the distinctive style of the Quran. However, you are not alone in feeling a disquiet about these and some other verses. There are many other Muslims who do not want to conquer the world and remove all other religions. Moreover, you are not alone in not being satisfied with all the taawilat and interpretations and discovery of new meanings of Arabic words by non-Arabs over 1400 years after they were revealed. Those who say no one has understood the meaning of Quran also claim to believe in Quran’s claim of it being The Clear Book (al-Kitab al-Mubeen).
My own understanding is that we cannot fully comprehend the circumstances in which it had become necessary for God to give these instructions, if we do not fully understand the events happening around us today in this age of communication. Probably half of America still believes that Saddam Hussain possessed weapons of mass destruction and was hands in gloves with Osama bin Laden. So, any claim to understand the circumstances that led to these Quranic revelations one and a half millennia ago will be presumptuous in the extreme. However, as that context is no longer present today and cannot be repeated in future too, so these instructions can no longer apply to us. Let us stop giving a variety of taawilaat and even seeking to understand their purpose. This only leads to further disquiet and newer taawilaat that have no meaning. In fact, there is no particular need for us either to try to fully understand things that happened in the hoary past.
We should focus on the core message of the Quran which is that all religions have been sent by God through a long series of messengers who brought essentially the same message, asking us to remember Him always in gratitude, do good deeds and live in harmony with other creations of God. Hoqooqullah and Hoqoqul-ibad. Let us just stick to that.
 If illiterate and even ignorant Arab Bedouins, living in desert villages 1400 years ago, could understand Quran, we too should be able to understand it. Also, any eternal message is of necessity understood by different people of different intellectual levels and different eras differently. No one should be branded an apostate for doing that until he or she himself or herself declares that he has left Islam. We belong to a civilisation which did not brand apostate even someone who said:
'Mīr' Ke dīn-O-Mazhab ko Ab Pūchhte kyā Ho Un Ne To
Qashqa Khīñchā Dair Meñ Baithā Kab Kā Tark Islām Kiyā
(What can I tell you about Mir’s faith or belief? A tilak on his forehead in a temple he resides, having abandoned Islam long ago). 

Islamic Shariat and the Individual Muslim




By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
01 May 2019
In the name of bringing back the Islamic Shariat, several groups are actively engaged. The question is which Shariat? There is the stagnant Shariat of the past based on paradigms of the previous scriptures and concocted Ahadith antithetical to the letter and spirit of the Quran. It was this suffocating Shariat that prevented adoption of the printing press by a couple of centuries leaving us far behind Europe. It is the same Shariat that frowned on scientific study and promoted obscurantism. It is this Shariat that invited the wrath of Allah who inflicted colonial rule on us to give us a break from it so that we could rebuild anew. Have we rebuilt anew based on a correct understanding of the Quran dispensing with the paradigms of the previous scriptures and concocted Ahadith? We have not. So, if we are hankering for the same Shariat, is it to invite the wrath of Allah once again and have a foreign rule imposed on us?
The call is made in the name of restoring the ‘Sovereignty of Allah’! Is the sovereignty of Allah subject to us humans proclaiming and establishing it? Allah can any day impose his Will on us and take away from us our freedom and autonomy which He did when he subjected us to colonial rule. Do not fall for such misleading political slogans. Without doubt, we believe in following the Shariat of Allah or the Deen of Allah, but what the Classical Islamic Fiqh teaches us, is a hideous caricature of the Shariat of the Quran.
What does the Shariat or the Deen of Allah mean to us as individuals? It is to follow the commands of Allah in letter and spirit. No matter in which country we live, except perhaps China and Russia, we can practice our religion. As an individual, we need to follow the commands of Allah and do not for example, commit adultery. Establishing the Quranic punishment for adultery is the duty of the State and not of the individual. Even when such laws are established, our religion does not encourage us to bring the guilty to punishment. As a matter of fact, our religion actively discourages us from bearing witness, and punishes the witnesses with 80 stripes if the guilt is not established with four witnesses, even though it cannot be said that those who bore witness were lying. The religion encourages us to correct the wrong doers but not to bring them to punishment. We do not therefore become less Muslim, because the State does not implement the Quranic laws, because even if it did, we will try to correct the wrong doer rather than report to the authorities and bear witness to get the guilty punished. This is however not understood by those who hanker after the Shariat. The first thing that they do to prove that they have established the “Sovereignty of Allah” is to inflict the harsh punishments publicly on a large number of people.  What a hideous version of Islam these tyrants want to install!
It is only when a large majority of Muslims bring the Quranic Shariat in their personal lives that the laws of the State will change. Democracy is the best way, the only way, and indeed the Islamic way to bring about change in a religion that proclaims “let there be no compulsion in religion”. It cannot be imposed through violence by pressure groups capturing political office. Without exception, when they succeed, they impose a tyrannical rule.
The so called Classical Islamic Shariat, is anything but Islamic, and deserved to be uprooted through imposing colonial rule on us. What distinguishes the Quran from all previous scriptures is the overarching rule “let there be no compulsion in religion”. There can therefore be no law or rule forcing a Muslim to pray or fast or for Muslim women to wear hijab or veil or to punish a Muslim from leaving his religion. It is for the individual to decide what he or she will or will not do without impinging on the rights of others or disturbing public order.
The Quranic Shariat Differs From The Classical Shariat On Every Subject. For Example,
1. There is no punishment for homosexuality except strong Social disapproval and punishment only for public acts of indecency.
2. There is no punishment for apostasy. There is no punishment for blasphemy and heresy. There can be a law against disturbing of public order or inciting hatred but not impinging on academic independence or right to criticism.


3. The Divorce process as per the Shariat of the Quran is different from classical Islamic Shariat.


4. Classical Islamic fiq errs in the inheritance related calculations.
5. Classical Islamic fiq errs on female witnessing.
6. The Rules of war are ill-defined in classical Islamic Shariat. There is no duty imposed on the Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims and bring them under Islamic Shariat. Read: The Principles of War from the Quran
7. The relationship with the ‘other’ or the non-Muslim is ill-defined in classical Islamic Shariat.
8. Imposing ‘Jiziya’ on non-Muslims was never a religious requirement even in the Prophet’s times.
What the individual Muslim needs to do is to study the Quran carefully and understand how the bigoted Islamic scholarship has led us into a dead-end street, reject the out-dated Classical Islamic Shariat which is based on concocted ahadith and paradigms of the previous scriptures, and rebuild the Shariat afresh based on an authentic reading of the Quran. This requires the democratic process. The argument of how Islam got established in the past without the democratic process is of no relevance. We do not have in our midst today, a Prophet receiving divine revelations to guide us whom we can unquestioningly follow. We have fallible human beings with a bigoted and tyrannical view of Islam, trying to appropriate to themselves the power and position of a Prophet, and establish their tyrannical rule. Reject these pretenders.
We have the Quran, which is understood differently by different people, and therefore, no single individual, group, or sect, can have the authority to impose its view on the rest. We have no choice but to follow the democratic process. As individuals however, it is our duty to Allah, to read the Quran, understand it, and implement it in our lives in the best manner possible, and also to teach and promote it. We as a people, society, nation, and Ummah can succeed only when we do what we need to do, as an individual first.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com

The ISIS Conducted Easter Attacks on Christians to Win the Sympathy of Muslims and To Reclaim Its Lost Ground




By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
03 May 2019
The ISIS which came to prominence in 2014 with its caliphate in Syria and Iraq wielded a severe blow to Islam and destroyed the image of Muslims in the eyes of the non-Muslims of the world. It destroyed mausoleums and Mazars of important Islamic personalities and even destroyed the graves of holy prophets. It encouraged promiscuity among Muslims and promoted illicit sex among Muslims in the name of its so called jihad. Many Muslim girls and women lost their purity by joining the ISIS.  The terror outfit killed many innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in thousands and oppressed many innocent tribes whom Muslims had failed to convey the message of Islam.  Instead of admitting their failure in conveying the message of Islam, the ISIS held these tribes responsible and killed them and abducted their women and raped them.
The most painful and unfortunate part of this gory episode was that many Muslim organizations and Islamic scholars accepted them as the flag bearers of Islam and accepted Baghdadi as their Khalifa. Some of them even addressed him as Amirul Mominin. However, after the government of India on demand of New Age Islam and other right minded people banned the ISIS in India and the forces fighting the ISIS in Syria and Iraq successfully defeated them, the Muslim organizations, scholars and Urdu press stop glorifying them and last month the US announced that it had totally destroyed the so-called caliphate of Baghdadi. The humanity had taken a sigh of relief in the thought that after the Al Qaida, the ISIS had also been destroyed and it will not be able to damage Islam and Muslims of the world any more.
But the terror attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka a couple of days ago killing more than 300 innocent worshippers and holidayers and damaging churches has made it clear that the ISIS  was down but not out.  The latest news reports suggest that the ISIS has claimed responsibility for the eight attacks in Sri Lanka. Initially it was suspected that the terrorist organization of Sri Lanka, National Tawheed Jamat was behind the attacks but a press release by the mouthpiece of the ISIS, Amaq, has claimed that the people associated with Tawheed Jamat were with the ISIS. It means that the ISIS had provided support to the organization. This indicates that the ISIS had spread its tentacles in Sri Lanka and may have its members in other countries of Asia too.
The ISIS has said that the attacks were made in retaliation against the attacks on Muslims in mosques in New Zealand in March. The attacks had drawn huge condemnation from the world and Muslims had drawn sympathy. Both Muslims and non-Muslims  particularly Christians had condemned the attackers who was a radicalized Christian and the Prime Minister of New Zealand had expressed her deep anguish and condemnation over the heinous crime.  Growing Islamophobia was blamed for the attacks and the Muslims the world over had praised the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her tough actions against the culprits.  For the moment, the Muslims the world over were seen as victims and not as the perpetrators of terrorism as is generally the perception about them thanks to the black deeds of terrorist and extremist organizations like the ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Jaish-e-Mohammad etc.
But the Sri Lanka terror attacks by a terrorist organization of Sri Lanka with the active support of the ISIS has destroyed the euphoria among the Muslims by killing more than 300 innocent Christians and other non-Muslims. Some of them are Indians. The attacks smack of the modus operandi of the Al Qaida who tried to win the sympathy of the Muslims by conducting terror attacks on emotional issues close to the hearts of the Muslims. For example, the Al Qaida conducted the attack on Charlie Hebdo to win sympathy of the Muslims. Similarly, the ISIS aided the attacks on the Christians of Sri Lanka to win the sympathy of the Muslims of the world at a time their caliphate has been destroyed and they are trying to reclaim their lost ground among the Muslims.  By claiming that they took the lives of more than three hundred Christians to avenge the killing of 50 Muslims in New Zealand, they want to show to the Muslims that they are the well wishers of the Muslims and will take action when they are hurt.
But this strategy will not work for them as it did not work for Al Qaida. Muslims have rejected them and do not need them.  Muslims have realized that terror outfits like the ISIS or National Tawheed Jamat are enemies of Islam and have done them irreparable damage to Islam and Muslims.
It has also to be seen now that the ISIS have claimed responsibility for the heinous crime, how the Islamic organizations and Islamic scholars of India and the world react to it. Those Islamic scholars who had vociferously condemned the attack on New Zealand Muslims blaming Islamophobia will once again find it difficult to condemn the ISIS because they had praised and glorified the ISIS in 2014 until the government had banned them. It is expected that these black sheep will circulate conspiracy theories giving clean chit to the ISIS. Muslims should realize for once and for ever that until they reject extremist ideology and outfits in any garb, the world will see many recurrences of incidents like Christchurch and Colombo. Muslims must reject extremist thought and extremist interpretations of the Quran and Hadith.

Muslim Community, Particularly Ahmadiyas, Are Victims of the Sinhalese Backlash after ISIS-NTJ Attacks in Sri Lanka






New Age Islam Edit Desk
03 May 2019
The ISIS-NTJ attacks on Churches and hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have caused a severe backlash against the general Muslim community and other sects of Muslims in the country. According to reports, the general masses of the country have lost trust in Muslims belonging to all sects. After the attacks, the Sri Lankan government has taken a number of steps to curb Muslim extremism and to arrest culprits. Burqa has been banned and the women are being harassed by general people on streets. People are misbehaving and abusing Burqa clad women. The government has banned NTJ and Jamat Millat-e-Ibrahimi and has cracked down on extremist organizations in the country. The entire Muslim community has become untrustworthy in the eyes of the majority Sinhalese community.
The backlash has also caused severe problems to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the country. Many Ahmadiyyas are migrants from Pakistan where they are discriminated and victimized both by the government and by the Islamic extremist organization who have declared them Kafir. To live in peace thousands of Ahmadiyyas had migrated to Sri Lanka where they had been living for the last 7-8 years. Now they are being thrown out and have nowhere to go. The Sinhalese majority do not differentiate between the Ahmadiyyas and general Muslims and have become aggressive against them. Those who had been living in rented houses have been vacated by the house owners. As a result they have become refugees and do not know where to go with their families.
The Muslim community who had already been target of hate propaganda by the Buddhist nationalist organizations has become easy target of these organization post attacks. Now they have got justification of their hate propaganda in the attacks conducted by the ISIS-NTJ combine. The Buddhist extremist organization Bodu Bala Sena has been campaigning against Hindu, Muslim and Christian minority communities as outsiders for the last ten years. They believe that Sri Lanka is the holy land of the Buddhists and so Christians, Muslims and Hindus should leave the country.  Prior to these attacks, there was no bad blood between the Christian community and the Muslims. But these attacks have harmed this harmony and the Sinhalese extremist organizations have succeeded to sow the seeds of mistrust and suspicion against the Muslims.
According to latest reports, the head of the ISIS has announced that the attacks were a revenge for their defeat in Iraq and Syria. It becomes clear that by targeting Sri Lanka, it has only harmed the Muslims of the country as the whole non-Muslim population has turned against the Muslims. The damage ISIS has done to the Muslims of Sri Lanka is difficult to be repaired. It will have serious repercussions on the Muslims of not only Sri Lanka but on the Muslims of entire South Asia.

Does Islam Allow Destruction Of Churches, Temples Or Any Other Houses Of Worship Belonging To Non-Muslims?




By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
06 May 2019
Islam does not allow destruction of places of worship, but rather it guarantees the protection of churches, temples and other houses of worship belonging to non-Muslims both within and outside Islamic lands. The beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) granted a constitutional status this protection through his commands, contracts, agreements and accords. The religious rights and freedoms granted by the Prophet to the people of Najran are notable and a solid proof in this regard.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said,
“Indeed, Najran and her allies are under the protection of God and the guarantee of the Messenger of God. They are to be protected in their wealth, lives, lands and religion. This includes their priests, monks, those who are present amongst them and those who are absent and others amongst them, and their delegations and the like. They shall not be forced to change that (faith) which they are upon and no right of theirs is to be forfeited. No monk, priest or attendant amongst them should lose that which is in his possession, be it plentiful or scarce, and no fear or danger will threaten them” (This Hadith cited by Imam Abu Yusuf Hanafi in al-Kharaj, 78)
During the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the non-Muslims enjoyed similar rights as their Muslim counterparts. Whenever any army left for a military expedition, Hazrat Abu Bakr would give special instructions to the commander of the army, “Do not spread corruption in the earth and do not disobey orders….Do not drown or burn date-palm trees. Do not kill any animal. Do not cut down a fruit-bearing tree. Do not demolish a church. Do not kill any children, old people or women. Soon you shall come upon people who have secluded themselves in cloisters; leave them to engage in that for whose sake they have secluded themselves” (narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in Sunan Al-Kubra, Imam Malik in Muwatta etc)
When Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) sent Yazid b. Abi Sufyan to Syria, he said, “Do not demolish any place of worship…and do not kill an old, feeble man or an infant or a child or a woman” (Narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in Sunan Kubra)
According to a tradition cited by Imam Shaybani, Hazrat Umar bin Abd al-Aziz used to instruct his officials, saying,
“Do not demolish any church, cloister or Zoroastrian temple” (Kitab al-Hujja ala Ahl al-Madina and Imam Shafi’I in Kitab al-Umm 7:320) 
A Quranic verse 22:40 is also quoted by classical jurists and Mufasserin in order to substantiate the view that Muslims are prohibited from damaging or destroying the places of worship belonging to non-Muslims with whom there is a treaty both within and outside Islamic lands.
Allah Almighty says in the verse,
“[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah." And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” (22:40)
Hazrat Hasan Al-Basri comments on this Ayat, saying: يُدْفَعُ عَنْ هَدْمِ مُصَلَّيَاتِ أَهْلِ الذِّمَّةِ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ (translation) “The houses of worship for non-Muslim civilians shall be defended by the believers” (Ahkam Al-Quran by Imam Al-Jassas 5/83)
Imam Qurtubi wrote in his book of Tafsir,  قَالَ ابْنُ خُوَيْزِ مَنْدَادَ تَضَمَّنَتْ هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ الْمَنْعَ مِنْ هَدْمِ كَنَائِسِ أَهْلِ الذِّمَّةِ وَبِيَعِهِمْ وَبُيُوتِ نِيرَانِهِمْ translation: “Ibn Khuwaiz said: This Quranic verse includes the prohibition of demolishing the churches of non-Muslim citizens, their temples, and their places of worship” (Tafseer Al-Qurtubi 22:40)
The covenant of Hazrat Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, which guaranteed the safety of Christians in Jerusalem, their lives, their property, their places of worship is recorded by Imam Tabari as follows:
بسم اللَّه الرحمن الرحيم هذا ما أعطى عبد اللَّه عمر أمير المؤمنين أهل إيلياء من الأمان أعطاهم أمانا لأنفسهم وأموالهم ولكنائسهم وصلبانهم وسقيمها وبريئها وسائر ملتها أنه لا تسكن كنائسهم ولا تهدم ولا ينتقص منها ولا من حيزها ولا من صليبهم ولا من شيء من أموالهم ولا يكرهون على دينهم ولا يضار أحد منهم
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, This is what is granted of security by the servant of Allah, Umar, the commander of the faithful, to the people of Jerusalem. He grants them safety for their lives, their property, their churches, and their crucifixes, for their ill, their healthy, and their entire community. Their churches will not be occupied, demolished, or reduced in number. Their churches and crucifixes will not be desecrated and neither anything else of their property. They will not be coerced to abandon their religion and none of them will be harmed” (Tareekh At-Tabari 2/449)
According to a popularly cited incident, an Umayyad ruler Walid b. Abd al-Malik captured a piece of property that belonged to the Church of Damascus and made it a part of a mosque. When Hazrat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz got this news, he commanded the demolition of that part of the mosque and that it be returned to the Christians. One of the relevant reports is cited as follows;
لما استخلف عمر بن عبد العزيز رضي الله عنه، شكى النصارى إليه ما فعل الوليد بهم في كنسيتهم فكتب إلى عامله يأمره برد ما زاده في المسجد
Translation: “When Hazrat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) became the Caliph, the Christians complained to him about Walid’s seizure of the property of a church. Hazrat Umar dictated orders to his governor there, commanding him to return to the Christians the portion that was added to the mosque” (See Futhul Buldan p.150)
The afore-mentioned evidences are notable and substantiate the view that Islam does not allow destruction of houses of worship belonging to Non-Muslims both within and outside Islamic lands, or during peace-time or war-time. The radical ‘Islamist’ individuals associated with ISIS or any other extremist groups, who justify destruction of houses of worship, should learn the lesson of this article and introspect to diagnose their faults that they are making in the name of Islam and by demolishing houses of worship. The act of destructing houses of worship is an act of transgression and therefore they should return from acts of transgression and seek Tauba, otherwise they will be among those to which this verse is applied, “Allah does not like the transgressors” (2:190). The Divine punishment for transgressors is mentioned in several verses of the Quran, for example 5:87/7:55/10/74/2:61/2:65).
Those who want to join ISIS any other radical ‘Islamist’ groups should consider this Quranic verse too, which reads, “...And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty” (5:2). They should consider that they are going to cooperate in sin, aggression and transgression, for which they will have to face severe penalty. 
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, 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).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of 1989 in Allowing the Return of Taliban, New Age Islam Editor Sultan Shahin Asks International Community at UNHRC in Geneva



By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
11 March 2019
Oral Statement At United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 40th Regular Session 25 Feb to 22 March 2019
General Debate on 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,
The US is withdrawing from Afghanistan as well as from Iraq and Syria. Inspired by the Taliban declaration of victory, a radicalised terrorist in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, backed by a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist organisation, attacked an Indian military convoy, killing 40 soldiers. Similar suicide attack killed 27 elite revolutionary guards in Sistan, Iran. Emboldened Jihadists will surely carry out more such attacks in future. The gloating in Islamist circles for having “defeated” both the superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, has reached its peak.
Mr. President,
Still fresh in our minds is what happened when the international community abandoned Afghanistan in 1989. Taliban ruled and Al-Qaeda got a safe haven. A series of atrocities including 9/11 and horrors of Islamic State followed.
 In this backdrop, the complacency of the world community in allowing Taliban to govern Afghanistan is inexplicable. Jihadist strength does not come from their soldiers and territories. It comes from an ideology and ideologies cannot be defeated militarily.
Mr. President,
The Jihadist ideology is based on very solid foundations in Islamic history, scriptures and theology. Moderate Muslims have not yet succeeded in evolving a satisfactory alternative theology of peace and pluralism to challenge the current theology of violence and exclusion. Even when such a theology evolves, it will take time and effort for it to be established. Mainstream Muslims should be allowed the time and space to work out and propagate a counternarrative. I would, therefore, urge the international community not to repeat the mistakes of 1989 and invite further disasters.
Mr. President,
It will be wrong for the world community to think that Islamism has been defeated because the so-called Islamic State has lost most of its territories. Several security experts have reported that out of approximately 30,000 foreign fighters ISIS continues to have around 10,000, hiding in different parts of Iraq and Syria, 10,000 have returned to their homelands and only 10,000 killed in wars. There are no figures available for the local Arab soldiers, but there are apparently quite a few and with sufficient local support to sustain them in their hiding places. It is well-known that many thousands of Sunnis from Saddam Hussain’s former army had joined the so-called Islamic State. On top of all that, ISIS continues to have the support of tens of thousands of sympathisers around the globe who include hackers and online recruiters. Most importantly, Jihadist presence on social media and their ability to propagate their narrative is intact.
As for the Taliban, several security experts feel that they may eventually come back to rule from Kabul again following the US withdrawal, regardless of the arrangement that is worked out now. The promises of following democratic system of governance that the Taliban are making now on the negotiating table are not worth the paper they will be written on. Their publications like Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad have been arguing for decades that democracy goes against the Islamic injunction of sovereignty belonging to God alone.
 Justifying the 9/11 Attacks, Taliban scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri had given a long Fatwa that appeared in Taliban monthly magazine Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad in eight parts in 2012--2013, month after month, supporting indiscriminate killing of Innocent civilians under special circumstances. In his concluding part, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri had focused entirely on the Islamic permissibility of “brutal and mass killing of the enemy.”  Starting from the “lawfulness of burning the enemy” and “opening the dams of rivers and lakes” to drown the inmates of a fort or besieged town, launching mortar attack, the fatwa goes on to justify “releasing snakes and scorpions on the enemy even if non-combatant women and children are also present.” Then it argues, “the lawfulness of these measures including ‘demolishing their buildings, spreading poison and smoke,” if it is not possible to capture or dominate them without resorting to these practices”. Having thus “established” the justification of a terror attack against civilians, the Taliban scholar then goes on to justify the destruction of American cities and questions the sanity of any Muslim who declares “killing the Americans in New York and Washington as unlawful.”
These arguments are made quoting several reputed medieval jurists of the stature of Imam Nawawi, Allama Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdīsī, Imām al-Bayhaqi and Al-Sahihain. (Al-Sahihain refers to Sahih al-Bukhari and Shahih al-Muslim, the two books of Ahadith, considered the most authentic sources of Islamic faith after the holy Qur'an).
 Taliban scholar Al-Abeeri concludes: “Therefore, given the arguments from Shariah, it can be said that whoever said that killing the Americans in New York and Washington is unlawful actually shoots in the dark. He is saying this in ignorance. Killing the enemy by burning or drowning, destroying or damaging buildings to capture them or terrifying the enemy are the points on which the majority of scholars of Islam agree. This practice was followed by the holy companions of the Prophet. How can then someone who is blind in the love of the Americans question something which is authenticated by the Quran and the Hadith.”  (Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad, January 2013)
 I doubt that the American and Russian diplomats who are negotiating with the Taliban are asking them to renounce their radical interpretation of Islam. Even if the Taliban claim to have renounced these views, it would be folly to believe them, as they can justify in their minds making any false promises under the juristic principles of maslaha and taqaiyya. Allowing Taliban to come back to rule Afghanistan or even to share power initially is the portent of a disaster in the making. Doing that simply because the international community has lost interest in the region as it had following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 is beyond comprehension.
Mr. President,
It must be understood that whatever the ISIS and Taliban or other Islamist terrorist groups do, they are able to justify on the basis of medieval juristic opinion which has resonance with the Muslim masses, certainly with ulema (scholars of Islam) who have read and teach the same books in their seminaries. Moderate Muslim scholars are challenging these views but are far from convincing the Muslim community of the soundness of their views from a theological standpoint.
Why is this proving so difficult? Even in the brief quotes from a Taliban scholar above we have seen that Jihadists are deriving their arguments from a consensus of medieval Islamic jurists (ijmaa) and Hadith. They also quote wartime verses of Quran. Above all they quote events from established history.
While one can reinterpret scriptures and seek to change the ijma, it’s difficult to question established history. As this Taliban scholar said, “this is what the Prophet and his companions did.” This sets an example to be followed by Muslims for all time to come. This is what they claim to be doing and achieving similar successes too. For instance, they are comparing what they consider their success in defeating both superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, to the success of ill-equipped Arab Bedouins of early Islam in defeating both the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, the two superpowers of the seventh century CE.
This doesn’t mean that the Jihadist arguments cannot be questioned and countered. They can be and are. The problem is that in order to challenge them successfully, moderate scholars need to bring about a revolutionary change in their own outlook first. This they are not yet prepared to do. While taking a critical view, they seek to stay within the theoretical framework of the Shariat established by Aimma Arba, the four recognised authorities on fiqh or jurisprudence, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Maalik, Imam Shafai, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. The result is that moderates too are often arguing on the basis of the same ideas on which the jihadi edifice is built.
Let me cite an example. The self-styled Khalifa al-Baghdadi’s millenarian thesis that attracted thousands of youths from around the world, and has now proved to be wrong, was based on Ahadith, the so-called sayings of the Prophet, that had been collected decades and centuries after his demise. But when a moderate Sufi scholar Maulana Tahirul Qadri, who wrote a 600-page fatwa against terrorism, set out to counter Baghdadi’s eschatological thesis, he too based his arguments entirely on Ahadith, though a different set of Ahadith, rather than questioning the credibility of sayings gathered centuries after the Prophet’s death. Out of 600,000 Ahadith that had been collected, all but around 10,000 have been found to be either outright fabrications or of very doubtful credibility. Even in the surviving 10,000, called authentic, many have different levels of authenticity. Only the Mutawatir Ahadith, those collected from multiple sources, carrying the same statements of the Prophet, are credited with maximum authenticity. But most of the clerics, including the 126 leading religious scholars and academics from across the Muslim world who wrote a 14,000-word Open Letter to the self-styled Khalifa Baghdadi, critiquing his so-called Islamic State, stated: "... everything in authentic Hadith is Divinely inspired.” This goes completely against common sense. The Hadith was written down and compiled decades and centuries after the demise of the Prophet. How could it have been “divinely inspired,” or “akin to revelation,” as claimed by them? But clearly, even well-regarded scholars in the West, Pakistan’s Maulana Tahirul Qadri and academics from Egyptian Al-Azhar University base their arguments on the same traditional narrative.
Mr. President,
Moderate scholars cannot come up with a credible counter-narrative to the traditional Jihadist narrative whilst conceding the very ground on which the Islamist thesis is formulated. For instance, in the Open Letter, the moderate fatwa says: "It is known that the verse ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ was revealed after the Conquest of Mecca, hence, no one can claim that it was abrogated." Then the fatwa goes on to criticise Baghdadi for using coercion. But the important thing is that even the moderate fatwa has accepted the basic premise of Baghdadi and other Islamists that peaceful Meccan verses revealed before the conquest of Mecca have been abrogated or, at least, may have been abrogated, and it is the militant verses relating to war, ordering killing of Mushriks and Kafirs, that should now prevail.
 Another similar issue is the “uncreatedness” of Quran to which all schools of thought including today’s moderates subscribe. This implies that all instructions of the holy Quran, regardless of the context in which they were revealed, are applicable to Muslims for all time to come. Holy Quran gave a number of instructions during the wars that were imposed on the Prophet in early seventh century. Warriors are to fight, to lay down their lives and to kill adversaries. These are no easy tasks. Rewards are announced for following the orders and punishments threatened for not following them. But once the war is over, those orders are no longer applicable. However, even 1400 years after those wars, those instructions are considered applicable to Muslims even today. This is the position of all Islamic scholars. Modern, moderate scholars do not question this proposition. Their Open Letter says: “everything in the Qur’an is the Truth.”
Mr. President,
 The current Islamic theology of consensus of all schools of thought, called ijma, has evolved over one and a half millennium. It’s heavily influenced by the progression of history. So, much of the current theology does not justify itself on the basis of Islam’s primary scripture, the Quran.  No punishment is prescribed in the Quran, for instance, for blasphemy and apostasy. But there are anti-blasphemy laws, prescribing compulsory death sentences in several Muslim countries. Several other Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are currently facing similar demands. The classical Muslim jurisprudence of all schools of thought agrees that blasphemy by a Muslim is a form of apostasy which has to be punished with death, although they differ slightly on how and when to reach this judgement. This punishment, however, has to be awarded by the state after proper judicial scrutiny. But radical ulema now argue that since the Muslim states have become beholden to modern imperial powers or taghut (Satan) and are not awarding and executing this punishment, Muslim individuals have the right, if not the duty, to administer the punishment of death to the offender themselves. How would they determine if someone has actually committed blasphemy or apostasy? Only some scholar or a group of scholars has to issue a fatwa. The alleged blasphemer or apostate may keep claiming that he has not blasphemed or left Islam, but if a scholar says the allegations are correct, then that is usually the final word in an atmosphere of lawlessness that prevails in several Muslim countries.
This atrocity is based on Islamic Shariat’s Hudood laws which are supported by even our moderate ulema. The 126 moderate ulema, fielded by the global Muslim community to counter the Islamic State, take up the issue in their Open Letter and say: "Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law." Having accepted the basic premise of the Baghdadi tribe, the Letter goes on to criticise its implementation in the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It says: "however, they are not to be applied without clarification, warning, exhortation, and meeting the burden of proof; and they are not to be applied in a cruel manner." And so on. But once the moderates have accepted the basic premise of Hudud (Punishment) largely based on 7th century Bedouin Arab tribal mores being "unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law," what difference does actually remain between moderation and extremism?
While Muslims concede that non-Muslims living as protected minorities in Muslim-majority lands can have a measure of religious freedom, except in the Arabian Peninsula, which is reserved for Islam, those born in Muslim families or those who have embraced Islam do not have the freedom to leave the religion. As Islam is now generally considered synonymous with a State blasphemy and apostasy by a Muslim are accepted as high treason and will be punished as such. 
Twentieth century Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi described Islam as a State, justifying this proposition, but Muslims have believed in the concept, without describing it as such for centuries.  Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Shah Waliullah Dehlavi in the 18th century, or Mujaddid alf-e-Saani Sheikh Sirhindi in the 17th century or Imam Taqī ad-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah, in 13th-14th centuries or even the Sufi master Imam Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad al-Ghazali in 11th-12th century, all had similar views on this subject.
In the matter of a Muslim’s relationship with non-Muslims similar consensus prevails. Scholars of all hues are united in believing that the only possible relationship between the two can be of that of the conqueror and the conquered. The world is divided into Dar-ul-Islam (the land of Islam) and Dar-ul-Harb (the land of conflict). Under the force of circumstances, a third category has evolved, Dar-ul-Sulh or Dar-ul-Amn (the land of truce or peace). But this is necessarily a temporary arrangement. Those Muslims, who are living in the Dar-ul-Sulh, have to keep trying to change it into Dar-ul-Islam in the same way as those living in Dar-ul-Harb are supposed to do so.
Mr. President,
 While sectarian differences among Muslims can be bitter and lead to each sect declaring another sect apostate, there is complete unanimity on the Muslim dream that, as Maulana Dr Israr Ahmad of Pakistan put it, “the past glory and grandeur of the Muslim Ummah should be realised.” His mentor Maulana Abul Al’a Maududi had shown the way, in the following words that present a summary of his arguments: “while non-Muslims can be allowed to live as second-class citizens and follow their ungodly beliefs, they cannot be allowed to rule any part of the world. Non-Muslims have to be dislodged from power everywhere. Islam demands sovereignty of God to be established the world over, not in any one small part.” 
“Iqamat e Deen,” (establishing the religion of Islam in the world), Maulana Maududi said was a Muslim’s primary duty. So, when an opportunity arises to dislodge Soviet Union from Afghanistan and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic state, many Muslims from around the world listen to the call. Similarly, when an opportunity arises to remove United States from regions in Iraq and Syria, and Afghanistan, many listen to the call. These are considered golden opportunities to perform Jihad and do one’s religious duty.
So now, when the US has decided to leave both areas, a wave of joy engulfs the Islamist world, filling it with new energy to continue with its dream of eradicating non-Islam, particularly the main enemy, Shirk (polytheism, but mainly idol-worship) from the world. For a deeply religious Muslim, a graduate of a madrasa, in particular, Muslims are one nation (al-Islam millat-e-waheda) and all non-Muslims are another separate nation (al-kufr millat-e-waheda). For most Muslims there is no difference between a Christian, a Jew, or an Atheist, a Deist or an ex-Muslim or those deemed apostates. And their job is to eradicate kufr (disbelief), shirk (polytheism, idol-worship) and irtidad (apostasy) from the face of the earth and establish Islam’s dominion in the world.
Mr. President,
What do the moderate ulema say on this issue? Surprising, but they actually seem to justify the destruction of idols. Read the following from the Open Letter:"Your (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s) former leader, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi said: ‘In our opinion, it is obligatory to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry) and to prohibit all means that lead to it because of (a great Muhaddith, an authority on Hadith) Imam Muslim’s narration in his Sahih (book of authentic Hadith):  on the authority of Abu Al-Hiyaj Al-Asadi, Ali ibn Abi Talib said: ‘Should I not tell you what he [i.e. the Prophet pbuh]  sent me to do: not to leave a statue without obliterating it nor a raised grave without levelling it.’ However, even if what he said were true, it does not apply to the graves of Prophets or Companions, as the Companions were in consensus regarding burying the Prophet (pbuh) and his two Companions, Abu Bakr and Omar, in a building that was contiguous to the Prophet’s Mosque."
The impression is unmistakable that the moderate ulema are only opposed to the destruction of "the graves of Prophets or Companions," and not to the supposed obligation to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry). So, the implication is that, according to these moderate scholars, the Taliban were justified in destroying Bamian Buddhas. This is not conducive to maintaining inter-faith relations in contemporary world where all civilised peoples respect each other's right to practise their religion, where Islam itself is protected and defended despite the terror activities in its name.
On the issue of the need for a global Caliphate the moderate ulema again concur with the basic proposition of the Baghdadi clique. They say: "There is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah. The Ummah (global Muslim community) has lacked a caliphate since 1924 CE." Then it goes on to criticise Baghdadi for lack of consensus from Muslims, etc. and accusing him of sedition, fitna, etc in fairly strong language. But the problem remains the same. Moderate ulema agree with Baghdadi on the basic premise of the so-called “obligation of the umma to have a global caliphate.” This is absurd in this day and age. And coming from moderate Islamic scholars from around the world, it is absolutely ridiculous. It is important to realise that the holy Quran also does not call for a global Khilafat.
Clearly both the Baghdadi group (ISIS) and moderate ulema are equally outdated, seemingly continuing to live in the 7th century CE. Neither the extremists nor the moderates accept modern, multi-cultural, sovereign nation-states in which all citizens have equal rights to freely express themselves and practise their religion and whose borders cannot be altered through conquest. The only way a global caliphate on the medieval lines can be established if the so-called Islamic State was able to conquer the whole world and declare its leader as a Caliph of global Muslims community. It is this aspect that the moderate scholars are questioning. How can Baghdadi be a caliph for the global Muslim community without conquering large chunks of land even in the Middle East, they are asking. They are not questioning the medieval system of expanding territories by conquest.
 Islamists certainly and it would appear even moderates, still live in the world in which the greatest Sufi scholar Imam al-Ghazali (1058-1111) had asked them to go to Jihad at least once a year so as to extend the boundaries of Islam. A realistic appraisal of any situation is beyond them. If you knew their history you would understand their irrationality. Indian ulema had, for instance, gone to 14th century Muslim ruler Mohammad bin Tughlaq (the Sultan of Delhi from 1325 to 1351) and told him that all the Mushrikeen (idol-worshippers) of India, i.e., 80 per cent of the Indian population, should be declared Mushrik and killed as punishment for Shirk, the biggest crime in Islam. Tughlaq, of course, did not listen to them.
Mr. President,
This fanaticism and psychological distance from reality among ulema is not merely an Indian phenomenon. The Turkish ulema did not allow the Khilafat-e-Usmania (Ottomans), one of the largest empires in history, to import printing press from Europe for close to four centuries, claiming this was an invention of the devil. The Muslim backwardness of today started from that fatwa. In 1940s and 1950s, the major debate in the Muslim community around the world was if religion permits the use of loud speakers and radio. Later when television became available the same debate consumed a lot of our attention for years. Even today Deoband ulema, whose madrasas produced the Taliban, have allowed the use of internet only for propagation of Islam. But the most unfortunate part is that the Muslim community as a whole continues to remain under the stranglehold of ulema even today.
Until genuinely moderate Muslim scholars are able to question these theological notions about Islam and State successfully, and establish a new modern, pluralist and peaceful theology of Islam, it would be a folly to leave these elements to fester and multiply. They have and can cause much more damage to world peace. The world should unite in providing, as I said before, the moderate Muslims time and space to introspect, contest this theology of violence and exclusion and replace it with a theology of peace and pluralism.

Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of 1989 in Allowing the Return of Taliban, New Age Islam Editor Sultan Shahin Asks International Community at UNHRC in Geneva



By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
11 March 2019
Oral Statement At United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 40th Regular Session 25 Feb to 22 March 2019
General Debate on 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,
The US is withdrawing from Afghanistan as well as from Iraq and Syria. Inspired by the Taliban declaration of victory, a radicalised terrorist in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, backed by a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist organisation, attacked an Indian military convoy, killing 40 soldiers. Similar suicide attack killed 27 elite revolutionary guards in Sistan, Iran. Emboldened Jihadists will surely carry out more such attacks in future. The gloating in Islamist circles for having “defeated” both the superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, has reached its peak.
Mr. President,
Still fresh in our minds is what happened when the international community abandoned Afghanistan in 1989. Taliban ruled and Al-Qaeda got a safe haven. A series of atrocities including 9/11 and horrors of Islamic State followed.
 In this backdrop, the complacency of the world community in allowing Taliban to govern Afghanistan is inexplicable. Jihadist strength does not come from their soldiers and territories. It comes from an ideology and ideologies cannot be defeated militarily.
Mr. President,
The Jihadist ideology is based on very solid foundations in Islamic history, scriptures and theology. Moderate Muslims have not yet succeeded in evolving a satisfactory alternative theology of peace and pluralism to challenge the current theology of violence and exclusion. Even when such a theology evolves, it will take time and effort for it to be established. Mainstream Muslims should be allowed the time and space to work out and propagate a counternarrative. I would, therefore, urge the international community not to repeat the mistakes of 1989 and invite further disasters.
Mr. President,
It will be wrong for the world community to think that Islamism has been defeated because the so-called Islamic State has lost most of its territories. Several security experts have reported that out of approximately 30,000 foreign fighters ISIS continues to have around 10,000, hiding in different parts of Iraq and Syria, 10,000 have returned to their homelands and only 10,000 killed in wars. There are no figures available for the local Arab soldiers, but there are apparently quite a few and with sufficient local support to sustain them in their hiding places. It is well-known that many thousands of Sunnis from Saddam Hussain’s former army had joined the so-called Islamic State. On top of all that, ISIS continues to have the support of tens of thousands of sympathisers around the globe who include hackers and online recruiters. Most importantly, Jihadist presence on social media and their ability to propagate their narrative is intact.
As for the Taliban, several security experts feel that they may eventually come back to rule from Kabul again following the US withdrawal, regardless of the arrangement that is worked out now. The promises of following democratic system of governance that the Taliban are making now on the negotiating table are not worth the paper they will be written on. Their publications like Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad have been arguing for decades that democracy goes against the Islamic injunction of sovereignty belonging to God alone.
 Justifying the 9/11 Attacks, Taliban scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri had given a long Fatwa that appeared in Taliban monthly magazine Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad in eight parts in 2012--2013, month after month, supporting indiscriminate killing of Innocent civilians under special circumstances. In his concluding part, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri had focused entirely on the Islamic permissibility of “brutal and mass killing of the enemy.”  Starting from the “lawfulness of burning the enemy” and “opening the dams of rivers and lakes” to drown the inmates of a fort or besieged town, launching mortar attack, the fatwa goes on to justify “releasing snakes and scorpions on the enemy even if non-combatant women and children are also present.” Then it argues, “the lawfulness of these measures including ‘demolishing their buildings, spreading poison and smoke,” if it is not possible to capture or dominate them without resorting to these practices”. Having thus “established” the justification of a terror attack against civilians, the Taliban scholar then goes on to justify the destruction of American cities and questions the sanity of any Muslim who declares “killing the Americans in New York and Washington as unlawful.”
These arguments are made quoting several reputed medieval jurists of the stature of Imam Nawawi, Allama Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdīsī, Imām al-Bayhaqi and Al-Sahihain. (Al-Sahihain refers to Sahih al-Bukhari and Shahih al-Muslim, the two books of Ahadith, considered the most authentic sources of Islamic faith after the holy Qur'an).
 Taliban scholar Al-Abeeri concludes: “Therefore, given the arguments from Shariah, it can be said that whoever said that killing the Americans in New York and Washington is unlawful actually shoots in the dark. He is saying this in ignorance. Killing the enemy by burning or drowning, destroying or damaging buildings to capture them or terrifying the enemy are the points on which the majority of scholars of Islam agree. This practice was followed by the holy companions of the Prophet. How can then someone who is blind in the love of the Americans question something which is authenticated by the Quran and the Hadith.”  (Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad, January 2013)
 I doubt that the American and Russian diplomats who are negotiating with the Taliban are asking them to renounce their radical interpretation of Islam. Even if the Taliban claim to have renounced these views, it would be folly to believe them, as they can justify in their minds making any false promises under the juristic principles of maslaha and taqaiyya. Allowing Taliban to come back to rule Afghanistan or even to share power initially is the portent of a disaster in the making. Doing that simply because the international community has lost interest in the region as it had following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 is beyond comprehension.
Mr. President,
It must be understood that whatever the ISIS and Taliban or other Islamist terrorist groups do, they are able to justify on the basis of medieval juristic opinion which has resonance with the Muslim masses, certainly with ulema (scholars of Islam) who have read and teach the same books in their seminaries. Moderate Muslim scholars are challenging these views but are far from convincing the Muslim community of the soundness of their views from a theological standpoint.
Why is this proving so difficult? Even in the brief quotes from a Taliban scholar above we have seen that Jihadists are deriving their arguments from a consensus of medieval Islamic jurists (ijmaa) and Hadith. They also quote wartime verses of Quran. Above all they quote events from established history.
While one can reinterpret scriptures and seek to change the ijma, it’s difficult to question established history. As this Taliban scholar said, “this is what the Prophet and his companions did.” This sets an example to be followed by Muslims for all time to come. This is what they claim to be doing and achieving similar successes too. For instance, they are comparing what they consider their success in defeating both superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, to the success of ill-equipped Arab Bedouins of early Islam in defeating both the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, the two superpowers of the seventh century CE.
This doesn’t mean that the Jihadist arguments cannot be questioned and countered. They can be and are. The problem is that in order to challenge them successfully, moderate scholars need to bring about a revolutionary change in their own outlook first. This they are not yet prepared to do. While taking a critical view, they seek to stay within the theoretical framework of the Shariat established by Aimma Arba, the four recognised authorities on fiqh or jurisprudence, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Maalik, Imam Shafai, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. The result is that moderates too are often arguing on the basis of the same ideas on which the jihadi edifice is built.
Let me cite an example. The self-styled Khalifa al-Baghdadi’s millenarian thesis that attracted thousands of youths from around the world, and has now proved to be wrong, was based on Ahadith, the so-called sayings of the Prophet, that had been collected decades and centuries after his demise. But when a moderate Sufi scholar Maulana Tahirul Qadri, who wrote a 600-page fatwa against terrorism, set out to counter Baghdadi’s eschatological thesis, he too based his arguments entirely on Ahadith, though a different set of Ahadith, rather than questioning the credibility of sayings gathered centuries after the Prophet’s death. Out of 600,000 Ahadith that had been collected, all but around 10,000 have been found to be either outright fabrications or of very doubtful credibility. Even in the surviving 10,000, called authentic, many have different levels of authenticity. Only the Mutawatir Ahadith, those collected from multiple sources, carrying the same statements of the Prophet, are credited with maximum authenticity. But most of the clerics, including the 126 leading religious scholars and academics from across the Muslim world who wrote a 14,000-word Open Letter to the self-styled Khalifa Baghdadi, critiquing his so-called Islamic State, stated: "... everything in authentic Hadith is Divinely inspired.” This goes completely against common sense. The Hadith was written down and compiled decades and centuries after the demise of the Prophet. How could it have been “divinely inspired,” or “akin to revelation,” as claimed by them? But clearly, even well-regarded scholars in the West, Pakistan’s Maulana Tahirul Qadri and academics from Egyptian Al-Azhar University base their arguments on the same traditional narrative.
Mr. President,
Moderate scholars cannot come up with a credible counter-narrative to the traditional Jihadist narrative whilst conceding the very ground on which the Islamist thesis is formulated. For instance, in the Open Letter, the moderate fatwa says: "It is known that the verse ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ was revealed after the Conquest of Mecca, hence, no one can claim that it was abrogated." Then the fatwa goes on to criticise Baghdadi for using coercion. But the important thing is that even the moderate fatwa has accepted the basic premise of Baghdadi and other Islamists that peaceful Meccan verses revealed before the conquest of Mecca have been abrogated or, at least, may have been abrogated, and it is the militant verses relating to war, ordering killing of Mushriks and Kafirs, that should now prevail.
 Another similar issue is the “uncreatedness” of Quran to which all schools of thought including today’s moderates subscribe. This implies that all instructions of the holy Quran, regardless of the context in which they were revealed, are applicable to Muslims for all time to come. Holy Quran gave a number of instructions during the wars that were imposed on the Prophet in early seventh century. Warriors are to fight, to lay down their lives and to kill adversaries. These are no easy tasks. Rewards are announced for following the orders and punishments threatened for not following them. But once the war is over, those orders are no longer applicable. However, even 1400 years after those wars, those instructions are considered applicable to Muslims even today. This is the position of all Islamic scholars. Modern, moderate scholars do not question this proposition. Their Open Letter says: “everything in the Qur’an is the Truth.”
Mr. President,
 The current Islamic theology of consensus of all schools of thought, called ijma, has evolved over one and a half millennium. It’s heavily influenced by the progression of history. So, much of the current theology does not justify itself on the basis of Islam’s primary scripture, the Quran.  No punishment is prescribed in the Quran, for instance, for blasphemy and apostasy. But there are anti-blasphemy laws, prescribing compulsory death sentences in several Muslim countries. Several other Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are currently facing similar demands. The classical Muslim jurisprudence of all schools of thought agrees that blasphemy by a Muslim is a form of apostasy which has to be punished with death, although they differ slightly on how and when to reach this judgement. This punishment, however, has to be awarded by the state after proper judicial scrutiny. But radical ulema now argue that since the Muslim states have become beholden to modern imperial powers or taghut (Satan) and are not awarding and executing this punishment, Muslim individuals have the right, if not the duty, to administer the punishment of death to the offender themselves. How would they determine if someone has actually committed blasphemy or apostasy? Only some scholar or a group of scholars has to issue a fatwa. The alleged blasphemer or apostate may keep claiming that he has not blasphemed or left Islam, but if a scholar says the allegations are correct, then that is usually the final word in an atmosphere of lawlessness that prevails in several Muslim countries.
This atrocity is based on Islamic Shariat’s Hudood laws which are supported by even our moderate ulema. The 126 moderate ulema, fielded by the global Muslim community to counter the Islamic State, take up the issue in their Open Letter and say: "Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law." Having accepted the basic premise of the Baghdadi tribe, the Letter goes on to criticise its implementation in the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It says: "however, they are not to be applied without clarification, warning, exhortation, and meeting the burden of proof; and they are not to be applied in a cruel manner." And so on. But once the moderates have accepted the basic premise of Hudud (Punishment) largely based on 7th century Bedouin Arab tribal mores being "unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law," what difference does actually remain between moderation and extremism?
While Muslims concede that non-Muslims living as protected minorities in Muslim-majority lands can have a measure of religious freedom, except in the Arabian Peninsula, which is reserved for Islam, those born in Muslim families or those who have embraced Islam do not have the freedom to leave the religion. As Islam is now generally considered synonymous with a State blasphemy and apostasy by a Muslim are accepted as high treason and will be punished as such. 
Twentieth century Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi described Islam as a State, justifying this proposition, but Muslims have believed in the concept, without describing it as such for centuries.  Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Shah Waliullah Dehlavi in the 18th century, or Mujaddid alf-e-Saani Sheikh Sirhindi in the 17th century or Imam Taqī ad-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah, in 13th-14th centuries or even the Sufi master Imam Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad al-Ghazali in 11th-12th century, all had similar views on this subject.
In the matter of a Muslim’s relationship with non-Muslims similar consensus prevails. Scholars of all hues are united in believing that the only possible relationship between the two can be of that of the conqueror and the conquered. The world is divided into Dar-ul-Islam (the land of Islam) and Dar-ul-Harb (the land of conflict). Under the force of circumstances, a third category has evolved, Dar-ul-Sulh or Dar-ul-Amn (the land of truce or peace). But this is necessarily a temporary arrangement. Those Muslims, who are living in the Dar-ul-Sulh, have to keep trying to change it into Dar-ul-Islam in the same way as those living in Dar-ul-Harb are supposed to do so.
Mr. President,
 While sectarian differences among Muslims can be bitter and lead to each sect declaring another sect apostate, there is complete unanimity on the Muslim dream that, as Maulana Dr Israr Ahmad of Pakistan put it, “the past glory and grandeur of the Muslim Ummah should be realised.” His mentor Maulana Abul Al’a Maududi had shown the way, in the following words that present a summary of his arguments: “while non-Muslims can be allowed to live as second-class citizens and follow their ungodly beliefs, they cannot be allowed to rule any part of the world. Non-Muslims have to be dislodged from power everywhere. Islam demands sovereignty of God to be established the world over, not in any one small part.” 
“Iqamat e Deen,” (establishing the religion of Islam in the world), Maulana Maududi said was a Muslim’s primary duty. So, when an opportunity arises to dislodge Soviet Union from Afghanistan and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic state, many Muslims from around the world listen to the call. Similarly, when an opportunity arises to remove United States from regions in Iraq and Syria, and Afghanistan, many listen to the call. These are considered golden opportunities to perform Jihad and do one’s religious duty.
So now, when the US has decided to leave both areas, a wave of joy engulfs the Islamist world, filling it with new energy to continue with its dream of eradicating non-Islam, particularly the main enemy, Shirk (polytheism, but mainly idol-worship) from the world. For a deeply religious Muslim, a graduate of a madrasa, in particular, Muslims are one nation (al-Islam millat-e-waheda) and all non-Muslims are another separate nation (al-kufr millat-e-waheda). For most Muslims there is no difference between a Christian, a Jew, or an Atheist, a Deist or an ex-Muslim or those deemed apostates. And their job is to eradicate kufr (disbelief), shirk (polytheism, idol-worship) and irtidad (apostasy) from the face of the earth and establish Islam’s dominion in the world.
Mr. President,
What do the moderate ulema say on this issue? Surprising, but they actually seem to justify the destruction of idols. Read the following from the Open Letter:"Your (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s) former leader, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi said: ‘In our opinion, it is obligatory to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry) and to prohibit all means that lead to it because of (a great Muhaddith, an authority on Hadith) Imam Muslim’s narration in his Sahih (book of authentic Hadith):  on the authority of Abu Al-Hiyaj Al-Asadi, Ali ibn Abi Talib said: ‘Should I not tell you what he [i.e. the Prophet pbuh]  sent me to do: not to leave a statue without obliterating it nor a raised grave without levelling it.’ However, even if what he said were true, it does not apply to the graves of Prophets or Companions, as the Companions were in consensus regarding burying the Prophet (pbuh) and his two Companions, Abu Bakr and Omar, in a building that was contiguous to the Prophet’s Mosque."
The impression is unmistakable that the moderate ulema are only opposed to the destruction of "the graves of Prophets or Companions," and not to the supposed obligation to destroy and remove all manifestations of shirk (idolatry). So, the implication is that, according to these moderate scholars, the Taliban were justified in destroying Bamian Buddhas. This is not conducive to maintaining inter-faith relations in contemporary world where all civilised peoples respect each other's right to practise their religion, where Islam itself is protected and defended despite the terror activities in its name.
On the issue of the need for a global Caliphate the moderate ulema again concur with the basic proposition of the Baghdadi clique. They say: "There is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah. The Ummah (global Muslim community) has lacked a caliphate since 1924 CE." Then it goes on to criticise Baghdadi for lack of consensus from Muslims, etc. and accusing him of sedition, fitna, etc in fairly strong language. But the problem remains the same. Moderate ulema agree with Baghdadi on the basic premise of the so-called “obligation of the umma to have a global caliphate.” This is absurd in this day and age. And coming from moderate Islamic scholars from around the world, it is absolutely ridiculous. It is important to realise that the holy Quran also does not call for a global Khilafat.
Clearly both the Baghdadi group (ISIS) and moderate ulema are equally outdated, seemingly continuing to live in the 7th century CE. Neither the extremists nor the moderates accept modern, multi-cultural, sovereign nation-states in which all citizens have equal rights to freely express themselves and practise their religion and whose borders cannot be altered through conquest. The only way a global caliphate on the medieval lines can be established if the so-called Islamic State was able to conquer the whole world and declare its leader as a Caliph of global Muslims community. It is this aspect that the moderate scholars are questioning. How can Baghdadi be a caliph for the global Muslim community without conquering large chunks of land even in the Middle East, they are asking. They are not questioning the medieval system of expanding territories by conquest.
 Islamists certainly and it would appear even moderates, still live in the world in which the greatest Sufi scholar Imam al-Ghazali (1058-1111) had asked them to go to Jihad at least once a year so as to extend the boundaries of Islam. A realistic appraisal of any situation is beyond them. If you knew their history you would understand their irrationality. Indian ulema had, for instance, gone to 14th century Muslim ruler Mohammad bin Tughlaq (the Sultan of Delhi from 1325 to 1351) and told him that all the Mushrikeen (idol-worshippers) of India, i.e., 80 per cent of the Indian population, should be declared Mushrik and killed as punishment for Shirk, the biggest crime in Islam. Tughlaq, of course, did not listen to them.
Mr. President,
This fanaticism and psychological distance from reality among ulema is not merely an Indian phenomenon. The Turkish ulema did not allow the Khilafat-e-Usmania (Ottomans), one of the largest empires in history, to import printing press from Europe for close to four centuries, claiming this was an invention of the devil. The Muslim backwardness of today started from that fatwa. In 1940s and 1950s, the major debate in the Muslim community around the world was if religion permits the use of loud speakers and radio. Later when television became available the same debate consumed a lot of our attention for years. Even today Deoband ulema, whose madrasas produced the Taliban, have allowed the use of internet only for propagation of Islam. But the most unfortunate part is that the Muslim community as a whole continues to remain under the stranglehold of ulema even today.
Until genuinely moderate Muslim scholars are able to question these theological notions about Islam and State successfully, and establish a new modern, pluralist and peaceful theology of Islam, it would be a folly to leave these elements to fester and multiply. They have and can cause much more damage to world peace. The world should unite in providing, as I said before, the moderate Muslims time and space to introspect, contest this theology of violence and exclusion and replace it with a theology of peace and pluralism.