Sunday, September 16, 2018

Defeating Islamism and Jihadism: Evolve a New Theology of Peace, Pluralism and Gender justice, Sultan Shahin asks Muslim States at UNHRC in Geneva




By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

14 September 2018
Oral Statement, 39th regular session of UN Human Rights Council, Geneva (10-28 September 2018)
General Debate, Item 3, Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Delivered by Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor New Age Islam,
On behalf of Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum

Mr. President,
A War on Terror has been raging for 17 years now but we are no closer to defeating Islamist terror. Jihadism continues to attract Muslim youth. This is because the world has not paid enough attention to the ideology of Islamism and Jihadism.
Mainstream Muslims have considered Islam a spiritual path to salvation, one of the many. Islam aims at reforming society for a peaceful, harmonious, pluralist existence. However, due to certain historical factors, the theology and jurisprudence of Islam that evolved in the 8th and 9th centuries (CE), present Islam as a political, totalitarian ideology of supremacism, xenophobia, intolerance and gender discrimination. It is this theology of violence, exclusivism and world-domination that is taught in madrasas and sustains Islamism. But despite the Islamist violence against peaceful Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the community is still not focussed on the need for evolving a counternarrative of Islam.
 It is imperative that Muslim countries that have signed the UN Charter look into the issue urgently and work towards developing a new theology of peace, pluralism and gender justice. While several countries like Morocco and now Saudi Arabia appear to be moving in this direction, the one country that has made a solid contribution is Turkey. In a decade-long exercise 100 Turkish scholars have managed to limit the number of authentic ahadith to just 1600, out of over 10,000, and provide each hadith with context and suitable interpretation. This book of authentic Hadith has been provided to all mosques in Turkey but I hope it is made available to the global Muslim community in their own languages as soon as possible.
The present theology is simply not compatible with the requirements of living in complex, plural societies of the 21st century. Allama Iqbal, a poet-philosopher of the South Asian sub-continent had called for the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam almost a hundred years ago. Let us at least start working on it now.
But first, it’s important for us to understand what has led to the present state of affairs. Why have the Muslims ulema (religious scholars) become so tolerant, if not actually supportive, of the militant Jihadis in our midst, despite the horrendous toll, in which tens of thousands of Muslims have themselves been killed, not to speak of events like 9/11, and repeated terrorist violence in a number of cities in Europe and North America.
The so-called Islamic state which is known for broadcasting its brutalities in chilling detail has been ousted from its control of territories in Iraq and Syria, but its ideology appears to be gaining ground in Africa and South Asia. Al-Qaeda may be down but is not out; it continues to exert ideological influence on sections of Muslim youth. The Taliban which harboured al-Qaeda in Afghanistan are resurgent and the world community appears to be gradually coming round to the view that they should be allowed to share power in the Kabul administration from which they were ousted soon after 9/11 in 2001.
Islamist terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab in Africa and Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, indeed all across the world, are continuing to gain strength.
Mr. President,
While the world community may have gotten involved in issues related to Islamist extremism since 9/11, this is essentially a war of ideas within Islam which has been going on for centuries. Both God and His Prophet wanted Muslims to be a moderate, justly balanced community. An ummat-e-wasta, Holy Quran 2:143, said. Numerous verses in the Quran and narrations of Hadith, exhorted Muslims never to take to extremes, not even in matters of fulfilling religious obligations like prayers and fasting. The Prophet actually expressed his anger specifically against a group of people who wanted to pray all day and night, fast continuously for weeks, abstain from marriage, give up eating meat in order to control their lust and to renounce sleeping in beds, etc.
And yet, not long after the demise of the Prophet in 632 (CE), extremists started emerging and taking it upon themselves to decide who is a Muslim and who a Murtad (apostate), Mushrik (polytheist) or kafir (infidel) and also taking it upon themselves to punish and kill people for perceived apostasy or blasphemy. The first group to do so were called the Khwarij (the excluded). They killed thousands of Muslims including Hazrat Ali (RA), the fourth rightly guided caliph. Today our religious books, belonging to all sects in Islam, give scores of grounds on which a Muslim can be declared an apostate (Murtad), Mushrik (polytheist), or infidel (Kafir) and punished with death.
These theological views empower even individual Muslims to start delivering justice to Muslims who, they think, have committed acts of apostasy or blasphemy. The divine justice that was to be delivered by God on the Day of Judgement is dispensed here by individuals who have been brainwashed with extreme ideas of the scope and authority of divine commands like Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi 'anil Munkar (Enjoining good and forbidding wrong).
Quran, Hadith, and classical Fiqh (jurisprudence) all agree that while there is no concept of an Islamic state in Islam, only the rulers of a legitimate Muslim state can take decisions for perpetrating any kind of violence, either in a war against another state or against individuals in order to impart justice. In classical fiqh (jurisprudence) no individual or group is empowered to take any violent action on its own. But today, violence in various forms is tolerated by the community in the name of Islam. A terrorist has only to quote something from scriptures in justification, without even a reference to context, and his vile acts are forgiven. After all, Osama bin Laden never faced a fatwa of apostasy or blasphemy, while religious reformers like the famous educationist Sir Syed Ahmad (1817—1898) of India were issued scores of fatwas of apostasy by Indian Deobandi ulema as well as the Mutawalli of Khana Ka’aba in Makkah. Indeed, dissenters and reformers in various parts of the Muslim world continue to be killed by individuals and groups. So-called Islamic State chief Khalifa Baghdadi’s statement that “Islam was never a religion of peace, not even for a day,” was greeted with complete and resounding silence from Muslim ulema around the world.
Mr. President,
This apathy to growing Islamist extremism is so great that even some highly educated Muslims ask: “What if 30,000 Muslims from 86 countries joined the Islamic State in just one year? What is their percentage in a community of 1.7 billion people? How can you cite this miniscule percentage as evidence of growing extremism?”  One doesn’t know how to respond to such “intellectuals.” The fact is that even if one Muslim thinks that going to a mosque in the form of a human bomb and blowing oneself up to kill fellow Muslims during prayers will bring one divine reward, the community should have been wondering what is it in our religion that lends itself to such dastardly crimes in the hope for reaching Heaven. Radicalisation has grown exponentially, but even after thousands of terrorist crimes having been perpetrated, one or two being reported practically everyday from some part of the world, we remain unconcerned.
Indeed, the man who killed Governor Salman Taseer of Pakistani state of Punjab for showing kindness to a Christian lady accused of blasphemy, is glorified as a saint. After his judicial execution, the Sufism-oriented Barailvis of Pakistan have built a shrine in his name and hundreds of thousands visit it, seeking this vile murderer’s intercession with God for ending their woes in this life and beyond.
What is the source of this glorification of crimes committed in the name of religion? What lies behind this indifference, this unthinking, unquestioning acceptance of any crime that is perpetrated in the name of Islam? It seems Muslims actually stopped thinking and questioning with the defeat of Mutazillah, the rationalists, in the middle of ninth century (CE), i.e., a little over two centuries after the demise of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). They were told by the ulema to close the doors of Ijtihad, the Islamic principle of creative rethinking and they did. Ijtihad had been used from the time of Hazrat Umar (RA) the second rightly guided caliph who assumed office merely two years after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Mr. President,
Even after the closure of doors, ijtihad has continued to be used by individuals but without sanction from the larger community. It’s only when ulema themselves accept some innovation that it becomes acceptable to the community. Take for instance, the use of photos for a passport to go to Hajj, loud speakers or radio to recite Quran or that of internet for purposes of Dawah (inviting others to the religion of Islam). These have become acceptable to our religious divines after long debates. So, it would appear some measure of rationality does dawn upon our ulema after long, excruciating debates. It seems the time it takes for their minds to get illuminated is also getting shorter. It took ulema of Khilafat-e-Osmania (Ottoman Caliphate) almost four centuries to give religious sanction to the import of printing presses from Europe, but only a few decades to accept passport-size photographs, loud speakers, radio, television and internet.
It is not difficult to see why the world of Islam is mired in deep darkness of ignorance while the world is making progress by leaps and bounds. Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said Adonis (b. 1930) called it “a phase of extinction, in the sense that we have no creative presence in the world.” Tunisian thinker Abdelwahab Meddeb (1946 –2014) prophesied “Arab (civilisation), constrained by the framework of Islamic faith, will join the great dead civilisations.” What constraints of Islamic faith is Meddeb talking about? Can you imagine Khilafat-e-Osmania (1517–1924), the rulers of one-third of humanity for centuries, not importing a printing press, not even to propagate holy scriptures, because religious scholars thought all new inventions were works of the Shaitan (Satan). Probably, our religious scholars thought that God had lost His creativity after revealing the religion of Islam and now only Devil could invent new things. In fact, in the view of our ulema even Quran is not created by God but is uncreated and co-eternal with Him, lying in the divine vaults for aeons; He merely revealed a pre-existing Quran to humanity through Prophet Mohammad in the seventh century (C. E).
It was largely on the question of createdness or uncreatedness of Quran (khalq al-Quran) that a major conflict took place among the ulema of 8th and 9th centuries (CE), leading to the defeat of rationalist theologians. The rationalists (Motazallah) said that Quran was created by God in a particular time in history; it was a compilation of verses that came from time to time to guide the Prophet and Muslims in the evolving situation in early seventh century Arabia following the appointment of the Prophet as a messenger of God. So, many verses are contextual in nature and cannot be applied to other contexts. But the orthodox literalist ulema would not accept this. They said that Quran was unique like God and co-eternal with Him; God merely revealed the Quran and did not create its verses as the unfolding events demanded, the implication being that all verses are of eternal applicability.
Even Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash’ari, a Motazallah rationalist till the age of 40, joined the orthodox camp, though continued to use Motazallah methodology of logical arguments to support his case. But logic and reasoning were not allowed in the literalist Hanbali creed even to support their own cause. So bitter opponents of Motazallah, the Hanbalis and Ash’aris also went their own separate ways.
The uncreatedness of Quran meant that all the events that led to revelations in the Quran guiding the Prophet and his companions through the struggle and strife of the early seventh century Arabia were pre-ordained and choreographed to create opportunities for Quran’s verses to be revealed. It also meant that all those who supported the Prophet were simply meant to do so and all those who opposed the Prophet tooth and nail, including making attempts at his life, were just doing God’s bidding. How else could a pre-existing Quran be revealed?
This understanding of Islam also means that everything happening in the world, good or bad, is pre-ordained. Where is the question of reward and punishment then, the rationalist (Motazallah) ulema asked? How can God be considered Just, Kind and Merciful, if He punishes people for doing things he Himself chose for them to do? All those opposed to the use of reasoning in matters of religion, the Hanbalies, Ash'aris, Maturidis, Zahiries, Mujassimites and Muhaddithin, said God is all-powerful; He simply does things that he wills to do. In their view, imposing canons of justice and morality on God would amount to limiting his power and this cannot be done. God is not rational or just; He is the embodiment of power and will, he does what He pleases. God is the First Cause in a universe which does not have any secondary causes. No cause and effect for the orthodox ulema, only God’s will and power to do as He pleases.
In the raging theological debates in the 8th and 9th centuries (CE), both groups cited verses of Quran. The group opposed to reason also quoted numerous ahadith (believed to be sayings of the Prophet, even though collected up to three centuries after his demise). [Some verses of Quran used in this debate can be seen below in an annex attached to this oral statement.]
A century and a half after the rationalist group had been defeated and their books burnt, Imam Ghazali (1058 –1111) summed up the Islamic theology of consensus (Hanbali, Ashari, Maturidi, etc. minus Motazallah) in this way. He put the following words in the mouth of God:

“These to Bliss, and I care not; And these to the Fire, and I care not.”

It’s this supposed indifference and arbitrariness of God that Ibn-e-Rushd (1126 –1198), known as Averroes in Europe, countered in his famous book “Incoherence of the Incoherence.” This was a point-by-point refutation of Imam Ghazali’s book “Incoherence of the Philosophers.” But all of Ibn-e-Rushd’s books were burnt down in supposedly liberal Muslim Spain (1195) and he had to go into exile. Some of his books survived only because they had already been translated in European languages and gained a lot of supporters, even though his ideas were condemned by the Catholic Church in 1270 and 1277. What gained him most following in Christian Europe, despite opposition from Church, was his ‘unity of the intellect’ thesis, claiming that all humans share the same intellect. As a result, Europe got its renaissance and Muslim world pushed itself into a darkness from which it is still to emerge.

Mr. President,
Under this literalist theology, violence, xenophobia, intolerance and gender injustice become acceptable due to an interpretation of Quran and Hadith which deliberately avoided using reason and logic. Early 20th century radical ideologues like Hassan al-Banna, Syed Qutb, Syed Abul Ala Maududi and numerous later ideologues of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc have gone further than the classical jurists and come up with interpretations that even justify horrors of terrorism in the name of Muslims’ religious duty to make Islam victorious in the world. In many mosques even in the non-Muslim majority West today prayer-leaders curse non-Muslims and pray for their defeat and victory for Islam in their Friday sermons. The seventh-century war-time Arabian mindset persists.
 In classical jurisprudence Jihad or Qital ordered by the state was considered farz-e-kefaya, a communal duty which some people in the community would perform voluntarily absolving others of this duty. To defend one’s country in the event of an external attack was considered farz-e-ain, every capable individual Muslim’s religious duty. But even this was subject to the guidance and instructions and requirements of the State.  But modern ideologues have made even offensive Jihad (in other words terrorism) a farz-e-ain for all individual Muslims, and even done away with the need for a legitimate Muslim state to order such fighting.
Islamic scriptures and books of fiqh (jurisprudence) and aqaid (beliefs), can always be made to yield some sort of support for almost any position, even positions that are diametrically opposed to each other, as we have seen above in the debate between Motazallah and the Hanbalis and Ash’aris. And these become acceptable to a populace that has been told for a millennium that merely thinking a thought is unbelief or infidelity (al-fikr kufr).
We have seen in the above quotations from Quran cited by the Motazallah that God asks Muslims again and again to think, observe, learn and so on. Occasionally, He gets angry and asks Muslims, why won’t you think? See, for instance, the following verse from Quran: "Truly, the worst of all creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf, the dumb, those who do not use their reason/think." Qur'an 8:22
And here we are, a community that has accepted for a millennium that merely thinking a thought amounts to denying God’s divinity. We are where we are today largely because we have accepted our dominant theology of al-fikr kufr, leading to violence and exclusivism. Blind, unthinking adherence to the dogma (taqlid) has been our practice since the 9th century. Even the Salafi/Wahhabi who call themselves ghair muqallid (those who do not follow any school of thought) actually follow equally blindly the Hanbali jurisprudence and Ibn-e-Taimiya and Mohammad Abdul Wahhab’s theology.
Mr. President, I hope Muslims states that are signatories to the UN Charter take the issue of terrorism seriously, understand its link with our current taqlidi theology of consensus, make serious efforts to evolve a new ijtihadi theology of peace, pluralism and gender justice, and revise our madrasa text books accordingly. The new theology should be more rational, coherent and internally consistent, over which a consensus of the global Muslim community can be gradually evolved.
Thank you, Mr. President.
----
Annex 1
Motazallah view of God’s rationality and justice and encouragement to reasoning emanate from the following and similar verses in the Holy Quran:

Surely the worst of beasts in God's sight are those that are deaf and dumb and do not reason. (8:22)
Qur'an explains its verses to a “tribe, nation or community (qawm) who thinks" and chastises "those who do not use their reason" (see for instance, al-Baqara 2:164; al-Ma'idah 5:58; al-Ra'd 13:4; al-Nahl 16:12; Maryam 19: 93-95.
And He lays abomination upon those who do not reason. (10:100)
(2:164) (To guide) those who use their reason (to this Truth) there are many Signs in the structure of the heavens and the earth, in the constant alternation of night and day, in the vessels which speed across the sea carrying goods that are of profit to people, in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and thereby quickens the earth after it was dead, and disperse over it all manner of animals, and in the changing courses of the winds and the clouds pressed into service between heaven and earth.162
 “A book We have sent down to thee, blessed, that men possessed of mind may ponder its signs and so remember.” (38:29)
“That thou mayest bring forth your people from the darkness into the light ... “(14:5)

Justice:

“And We sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that men might uphold justice ... “(57:25)
“We have not sent thee, save as a mercy unto all beings. “(21:107)
“A Book We have sent down to thee that thou mayest bring forth mankind from the darkness into the light... “(14:1)
It is incumbent upon Allah to show you the right way. (16:9)
 ---

Annex 2

Hanbali-Ashari-Maturidi view of God as omnipotent, whimsical, arbitrary, wilful, despotic, not limited by canons of justice and rationality emanate from the following and similar verses of the Holy Quran (as well as many Ahadith, specially mutawatir ahadith, considered totally authentic and akin to revelation by most Muslims). I am not quoting Hadith here but apart from Quran, it was a large number of Hadith narrations that solidified their view:

“Allah does what he wills.” (14:27)
(Allah is) the Doer of what He wills.7 (85:16)
“He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, He punishes whom He pleaseth.” (2: 284)
“He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominions of the heavens and the earth and whatever is in between them and to Him is the final destination,” (5: 18)
“He punishes whom He wills and forgives whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.” (5: 40)
---
 “In their hearts is a sickness, and God has increased that sickness ...” (2:10)
God has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a covering ... “(2:7)
We lay veils upon their hearts lest they understand it ...”. (6:25)
So, does God seal the hearts of the unbelievers.” (7:101)
“God is the Protector of the believers; He brings them forth from the darkness into the light. And the unbelievers --their protectors are taghut (satanic forces), that bring them forth from the light into the darkness ...” (2:257)
---
 “So, whosoever Allah wants to Guide, He expands his breast to Islam and whoever He wants to misguide, He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky.” (Quran 6: 125).
 Also, “If Allah so willed, he could make you all one people. But he leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases and you shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” Quran (16: 93). 

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Indian Secularism: Non-Religious, Irreligious or Anti-Religious?



By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
14 July 2018
A self-confessed Secular fundamentalist Mani Shankar Aiyar writes,
 “First, Indian secularism cannot be anti-religious or irreligious, for the bulk of our people are deeply religious. Unlike in Christendom, where the word originated, secularism in India is not about pitting the state against the religious authority but about keeping matters of faith in the personal realm and matters of the state in the public realm. Second, in a nation of many faiths, where people take their faith seriously, secularism must be based on the principle of equal respect for all religions (and for those who choose not to follow any religion). As Nehru once said, ‘[Secularism] means freedom of religion and conscience, including freedom of those who may have no religion. It means free play of all religions, subject only to their not interfering with each other or with basic conceptions of our state.” (Aiyar 2004: Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist).
He further says,
“However, in regard to affairs of state, secularism translates not into equal involvement of the state in matters pertaining to each religion but rather the separation of the state from all religions. In secular India, the state must have no religion. For the state, whatever religion an Indian professes or propagates must remain a private and personal matter of the citizen. The state should concern itself not with religion but with protection for all, equal opportunity for all, equitable benefits for all. No religious community should be singled out for favours; no religious community should be subjected to any disability or disadvantage.” (Aiyar, Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2004)
Secularism is defined differently in different countries. Secularism is often used to describe the separation of public life and government matters from religions or simply the separation of religion and politics. Most of the so-called developed countries do not recognise religions, thus granting no special value to any particular religion. The beauty of India’s secularism lies in its taking a completely different course from them. India’s secularism means equal treatment of all religions by the state. With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. Though neither the constitution of India nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state, India recognizes each and every religion and seeks to give them equal respect. The citizens of India are allowed to enjoy their respective religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc. with full freedom.
Since Indian secularism gives every citizen right to fulfil his or her respective religious obligations, it will be futile to view this secularism as anti-religious or anti-Islamic.
In context of Muslims’ faith, Indian secularism does not prevent Muslims from fulfilling their basic religious obligations as mentioned in the Qur'anic verse which reads,
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (51:56).
 Indian secularism gives Muslims full freedom to worship Allah Almighty. Yes they can fulfil all their religious obligations, acquiring Taqwa and achieving spiritual development. There is no one to stop Indian Muslims from performing acts of worship—five-time prayers, fasting, Hajj, Zakat, spiritual meditations, doing Zikr [remembrance] of Allah and attaining spiritual perfection.
A number of Islamic scholars and clerics regard secularism as compatible with Islam. For example, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim, a professor of law at Emory University the author of ‘Islam and the secular state: negotiating the Future of Sharia’ says, “enforcing [Sharia] through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature, because Muslims would be observing the law of the state and not freely performing their religious obligation as Muslims” [Islam and the Secular State…Cambridge Harvard University press 2008]
The phrase “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava” or “equal respect for all religions” is popularly thought to be a Hindu concept embraced by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Gandhi. However some Hindu scholars do not accept it as a part of Hindu tradition. They attribute this phrase to Gandhi who used it first in September 1930 in his talks to his followers to quell divisions between Hindus and Muslims. However, majority of Hindus believe this phrase as one of the key tenets of secularism in India, wherein the state gives equal respect to all religions.  
In his speech during the Iranshah Udvada Utsav, 2017 (a cultural festival of Parsi community), The Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu said, “In fact, I have been saying that secularism was in the DNA of every Indian much before it was enshrined in the Constitution. ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava’ epitomizes India’s secular ethos. India is a land of diverse cultures and religions,” He further said, “The secular foundations of the country must be strengthened further and any attempt to create differences in the name of religion by vested interests and religious extremists must be nipped in the bud,”.
Indeed secularism is indispensible in a multi-cultural and multi-religious country like India. Secularism is the beauty of India, mainly because it gives equal respect to all religions and that it is not anti-religious. It is therefore obligatory for the followers of all religions to develop this Indian secularism, for which they shall have to strengthen their peaceful coexistence. Apart from that, we Indians should impart such values to our students, children and people so that can avoid being brainwashed by any anti-Indian secular Muslim or non-Muslim groups.    
Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical scholar of Islamic Sciences (Theology, Fiqh, Tafsir and Hadith), English-Arabic-Urdu Writer and Translator. So far he has written more than a hundred articles, especially on subjects like de-radicalization, counter-terrorism, Peaceful coexistence, Islamic Mysticism (Tasawwuf).

Darul Qazas or Sharia Courts: Why both must be Opposed?



By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
13 July 2018
The recent ‘desire’ of AIMPLB to establish Darul-Qazas in every district has understandably met with resistance, not just from different political parties, but also from within the Muslim community. It must be underlined though that equating this with something like a Sharia court is clearly a misnomer. Courts have the ‘power’ to adjudicate over issues; the Darul-Qaza will have no such power and as such will be more like arbitration councils.
 To be fair to the AIMPLB, such quasi-judicial bodies do exist in other communities, such as the Khap Panchayats in Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In some tribal areas, these bodies even have legal recognition. Thus, the establishment of Darul Qaza may well within be the ambit of law. Demanding for a ban on Darul Qazas while remaining silent on Khaps is clearly hypocritical.
 It should also be understood that Darul Qazas have been functioning in this country since at least 1972. If at all, these councils are to be opposed, they should be opposed in their totality, and not just the recent attempt of AIMPLB to extend the Darul Qazas to every part of the country.
Critics have pointed out that if these quasi courts have no authority to enforce their rulings, then what is the point in having them in the first place? That’s a wrong framing of the question. Suppose that they had the power to enforce its ruling, will it mean that it is okay for the country to have Sharia courts? We need to understand that modern legal system has evolved through the ages and is currently built on nearly sacred notions of human rights, equality before the law, etc.
 Systems like the Sharia, which claim divine origin, have refused to evolve and are therefore still defined by notions and precepts which are centuries old and are repelling to modern sensibilities. The Sharia law is still governed by legal inequality between men and women with women still being considered the property of men in many ways. The less said about Islam’s position on alternative sexualities, the better it will be. Will we be okay with the provision within the Sharia law that homosexuals should be put to death?
Arguments like the Sharia law is divinely inspired and therefore superior to man-made laws, as is argued by some Islamists, are simply bogus. We must concede that it is the secular law which is far ahead of any divine law simply because it has the capacity to evolve and change.
Enforcing rules need not be done only through legal means. There is something called societal pressure which creates norms and values in any society and they normally acquire the force of law over a period of time. Since most of these norms are derived from religion, those specialising in religious affairs normally acquire the status of keepers of norms and values. Thus it does not help to debate whether the Darul Qazas will have legal sanctity or not. If they continue to operate, they will eventually have the power to enforce their rulings through various methods like censoring, social boycotts, etc.
What the AIMPLB is trying to do is precisely this: it is trying to create a counter-hegemonic narrative which is largely in opposition to the modern secular logic of the Indian jurisprudence. Through these Darul Qazas, it wants Muslims to rely only on the religious law and they (the AIMPLB) become the master interpreters of this law. We must also understand that this move comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court abrogating the practice of instant triple Talaq which gave Muslim men unbridled control over their women.
Moreover, there are a bunch of petitions pending in the Supreme Court through which Muslim women are trying to outlaw the pernicious practice of Nikah Halala and even challenging polygamy. The AIMPLB knows fully well that it has a weak case in the courts. Their defence of instant triple Talaq was ridiculous to say the least and their argument that Sharia is a divine law and hence cannot be changed in increasingly being seen as illogical. Since they cannot safeguard their interests through the secular courts, they have resorted to creating and sustaining a parallel eco-system in which they will be custodians of Islamic law. Without being alarming, one can almost sense that they want to continue the practice of triple Talaq, Nikah Halala, etc. through the back door and subvert the Supreme Court ruling on the matter.
This will only lead to the gradual withdrawal of the Muslims from the annals of the state and will lead them into a world of their own; a terrifying idea given the need for Muslims to be integrating into the very crevices of the state for their own survival as a minority. But then, the AIMPLB will be very pleased with such an outcome as ultimately they want Muslims to intellectually, socially, culturally and emotionally secede from the nation.
It is therefore in the interests of Muslims to distance themselves from the fissiparous politics played by the AIMPLB and make it loud and clear that despite the hardships, they would chose the laws of the secular state over Darul Qazas. The opposition to the AIMPLB should start with questioning their very right to represent Indian Muslims. Are they an elected body? If not, then who gave them the right to abrogate to themselves to become the representative voice of Indian Muslims? Do they adequately represent the diversity of Indian Muslims? How many Shias and women do they have in their boards? Or are we just to believe that a few Sunni Maulanas can sit in judgment over the fate of entire Muslim community? It is time that this rump called AIMPLB must itself be abrogated. And Muslims themselves must take the lead in doing so.         
Arshad Alam is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

UAE Fatwa Council to Fight against Rogue Fatwas That Promote Extremist and Terrorist Narratives





By New Age Islam Special Correspondent
11 July 2018
The chairman of the newly formed Emirates Fatwa Council, Abdullah Ibn Bayyah and other high-profile Islamic scholars vowed on Monday (July 9, 2018) at an inaugural meeting to wage a pre-emptive war against extremists and rogue Fatwas that promote extremist and terrorist narratives.
Sheikh Ibn Bayyah, who is also the chairman of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, said the council would make all the possible efforts to “protect the country from corrupt Fatwas and disrupting influences that endanger the safety of society, citizens and even the entire world”. He said, “The role of the council will be a significant step for scholars and their counterparts in this blessed country”.
He further said, “The council will act against extremists who have defamed Islam”. For this purpose, the council would also train muftis, mentor their skills and promote related studies in coordination with the country’s General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
Ibn Bayyah said that we should immediately take step against extremists by using preventive measures to curb hatred and violence. The council, he said, will make society “immune to corrupt Fatwas that provoke disorder and ignite flames of war and violence instead of developing an environment of peaceful coexistence”
During the meeting, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, the president of Zaytuna University in California and one of the West’s most influential Islamic scholars, said, “Fatwas are an effort to understand what God means…. “It is a very difficult thing to do. A number of people are not qualified but they issue Fatwas…. “The Emirates is now trying to protect its own country,”
He said that the council would interpret Quranic rulings not in their literal wording, but in spiritual sense. This methodology takes into account the time, place and circumstances that the ruling applies to. “We look at the spirit of the ruling and not just the letter of the ruling. Many Fatwas are based on the letter of the ruling and do not focus on circumstances” Sheikh Hamza said.
Dr Mohammad Al Kaabi, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said that the council will also protect gullible Muslims from extremist and terrorist narratives. “It will restore the developed and clear image of Islam.”
The Fatwa council features leading scholars of Islam including Ahmad Abdul Aziz Al Haddad from the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai, Omar Habtoor Dhibi from the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Salem Mohammad Al Doubi from Sharjah Department of Islamic Affairs, Ebrahim Obaid Ali Al Ali from Umm Al Quwain Court, Shamma Yousuf Mohammad Al Dhaheri from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Ahmad Mohammad Ahmad Yousuf Al Shehi from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and Abdullah Mohammad Ahmad Al Ansari from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The Politics of Religion and the Changing Concept of Shuhuda over the Years



By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
23 October, 2015
In the Quran, the term Shuhuda is used for people who exemplify the virtues of the religion of Islam in their conduct, deeds, in patient perseverance and striving in the cause of Allah through the vicissitudes of life. They uphold what is just and fair. They provide witness or evidence of the nature of the religion of Islam through their personal example conforming to what is best in the Religion. They are the people who take the religion of Allah to other people through both precept and example and are the witnesses of Allah for having communicated the message of Allah to mankind. They establish a just and equitable system free from any kind of oppression or coercion. These are people whom anyone would like to emulate and by their character and conduct attract people to the religion of Islam. They provide witness or evidence of true Islam in practice.
The Quran does not use Shuhuda for the slain or the martyr at all. For a detailed exposition of the concept of Shuhuda, read my article: The Role Models in the Quran.
The Role Models in the Quran covered in verse 4:69 are:
The Siddiqin or the Sincere Seekers of the Truth
The Shuhada or those who provide witness or evidence to the people of the truth of Islam and of God’s promises being true by striving sincerely in Allah’s cause.
The Saliheen or the Righteous and the Virtuous
The martyr or those slain in the cause of Allah are called Maqtul Fi Sabilillah. They are not called Shuhuda. There are eleven verses in the Quran that deal with the subject of those slain in the cause of Allah and the expression used for such people is uniformly Qutelu Fi Sabilillah and not Shuhuda. The martyr or the Maqtul Fi Sabilillah is not a role model in the Quran. Martyrdom is not what a Muslim seeks or a goal that a Muslim strives for. A Muslim strives (Jahadu) in the cause of Allah (fi Sabilillah) which may be an entirely peaceful striving or fighting as per the need, but even when fighting, it is not a Muslim’s goal or desire to be slain but to prevail over the oppressors to serve the cause of Allah.
Fighting in the cause of Allah was made mandatory for all able bodied Muslims who were with the Prophet (SAW) in Medina but not on those who had remained behind in Mecca. This was because the Muslims and Islam faced the prospect of total annihilation at the hands of an enemy which was numerically superior by a factor of close to fifty or more. The verse giving permission to fight is quite revealing:
(22:39) To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid;-
(40) (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah". Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).
The justification is:
They are wronged
They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right. The permission to fight therefore only covers those who migrated to Medina and not those Muslims who stayed behind in Mecca. This is an important point to be noted. Those who stayed behind were not expected to indulge in acts of war or “terrorism” to weaken the enemy from within. This point is further strengthened by verse 8:72
They were not wronged in retaliation for another wrong or for any justifiable reason but for the only reason that they said “our Lord is Allah”
This permission extends to all people in a similar situation since the verse makes it clear that it is Allah who checks the oppressor with those who stand for justice to ensure that people of all faiths and their places of worship such as monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, are protected.
Allah will aid those who fight in his cause. The cause that is the subject here is religious persecution irrespective of the faith of the persecuted and the persecutor.
The Muslims were reluctant to fight because of their numerical inferiority and the prospect of what looked like certain annihilation. The Quran mobilizes such a demoralized and numerically inferior band of people to take up the fight with a far superior enemy to establish the truth of verse 58:21
“Allah has decreed: "It is I and My messengers who must prevail": For Allah is One full of strength, able to enforce His Will”.
The verses regarding fighting provide lessons in practical psychology on how to motivate a band of people who numbered not more than one thousand when they migrated to Medina, to fight and prevail over an enemy determined on annihilating them numbering close to a hundred thousand. Even then, the Quran does not glorify either war or dying in the cause of Allah. Every verse on fighting comes with a caution or a rider such as:
Do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors 2:190
Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression 2:193
If the enemy inclines towards peace, do you also incline towards peace, and trust in Allah 8:61
Let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do 5:8
Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.
Does the Quran Glorify those who die fighting in the cause of Allah?
The Muslims were reluctant to fight against such a formidable enemy. Apart from the fear of what looked like certain death, there were other factors that weigh with every thinking person such as:
I am in the prime of my life and have just begun to enjoy the best part of my life. Fighting and getting killed will deprive me of enjoying the only life one has.
I have just accepted Islam and have not done enough good deeds to offset my bad deeds and earn a place in Heaven. I must live longer for that and repent for all my past sins and do enough good deeds to earn a place in heaven. Dying now would mean going to Hell.
Under the circumstances, what can be expected from a just God who has given the command to fight and made it mandatory on all able bodied Muslims who were with the Prophet in Medina?  What is expected is that He should take care of the legitimate concerns and reservations. The following verses must therefore be viewed in that light:
(3:157) And if ye are slain in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.
(3:169) Think not of those who are slain in Allah´s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;
(170) They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.
(171) They glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffers not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).
The verses cited above are a precise response to the normal misgivings that any man would have taking part in a war where victory looks remote or even impossible, and death highly probable. What the verse communicates through the slain is that they have no regrets vis-à-vis the survivors and that they are rejoicing in the bounty of Allah. This sets at rest all the misgivings a person may have. The verses provide details of the “Insurance Cover” should fighting in the cause of Allah result in death. The Insurance Cover leaves a person with no excuse to shirk from participating in a war on the side of justice and against oppression. The Insurance is valid only if:
The fighting is in the cause of Allah. The only cause of Allah for which fighting is permitted is in a legitimate war against an oppressor and in the cause of justice.
The soldier fights to win the war and prevail over the enemy. The Insurance is valid only if death is incidental and not actively sought. Achieving “martyrdom” cannot be an aim. The death of a warrior does not achieve any purpose. It is a man’s striving in the cause of Allah that helps achieve Allah’s cause. Since death while fighting is a possibility, Allah provides the “Insurance Cover” only for incidental deaths and not for those who seek death.
The Quran glorifies neither war nor being slain in the cause of Allah. It only provides assurance that those who are slain in the cause of Allah are forgiven their sins and rewarded with Heaven and that they are left with no regrets vis-à-vis the survivors. There is no verse in the Quran that even asks the Muslims to seek “martyrdom”.
Changes in the Concept of Shahadah
MaulanaWahiduddin Khan writes:  “In the early period of Islam the word Shahadah was used in the sense of witnessing to the Truth. As far as giving up one’s life in God’s path is concerned, the term that was used was Qital. For example, the Quran says (2:154):
Do not say that those who are killed in God’s cause (Yuqtalu Fi Sabil Allah) are dead; they are alive, but you are not aware of it.   
In line with this Quranic verse, those who are killed in God’s cause will be called Maqtul Fi Sabilillah (one who is killed in the cause of God). Undoubtedly, such a person will receive a great reward from God, but if he is remembered in human language, he will be called Maqtul Fi Sabil Allah, one who is killed in the cause of God. During the Battle of Uhud, in the year 3 A.H., 70 companions of the Prophet were killed. This is recounted in a tradition in the Sahih Bukhari, which says: ‘On the day of Uhud,seventy among the companions of the Prophet were killed.’ (Sahih Bukhari, 4078). This example again shows that during the Prophet’s period, one who was killed in God’s cause was referred to as Maqtul and not Shahid, or martyr.
Is The Corruption In The Meaning Of Shuhuda On Account Of Greek Or Persian Influence?
The word martyr derives from the Greek martyrios which means both a witness and a Maqtul fi Sabilillah or one slain in the cause of his religion or belief system.  The Quran does not use Shuhuda for Maqtul Fi Sabilillah. Shuhuda is used for the living. A Shuhuda may die a natural death or could be slain in the cause of Allah and become Maqtul Fi Sabilillah but a Maqtul Fi Sabilillah does not imply Shuhuda.
The change in the meaning of Shuhuda to mean “martyr” is a politically motivated innovation to glorify “martyrdom” and a Bid’at. This is not a minor matter but a major Bid’at. We pray to Allah in Surah Fateha to show us the way of those on whom is Allah’s Grace (AnʿAmtaʿAlayhim). Who these people areon whom is Allah’s Grace is made clear in verse 4:69
(4:69) All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah (AnʿAma L-LahuʿAlayhim),- of the prophets (l-Nabiyīna), the sincere lovers of Truth (Wal-idīqīna), the witnesses (Wal-Shuhadāi), and the Righteous who do good (Wal-āliīna): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!
The meaning of Shuhuda as made clear by the Quran covers three types of people:
Those who do exemplary Dawa with words and by example and provide evidence (witness) of the true religion of Islam
Those who render exemplary justice and provide proof (witness) of Allah’s justice
Those who are steadfast and patiently persevere through the vicissitudes of life in the cause of Allah. Such people finally prevail and provide proof (witness) that God’s promises are true.
There is no other meaning of Shuhuda in the Quran and it most certainly does not mean “martyr”.
And now read Maududi’s translation of verse 4:69
And who-so-ever obeys Allah and the Messenger, shall be with those whom Allah has blessed-the Prophets, the truthful and the martyrs and the righteous: what excellent companions these are that one may get!
Shuhuda has not only become “martyr” but part of our prayer in Surah Fateha recited in every Rak’at of our Salat where we are asking Allah to show us the path of the martyr!  The path of the Siddiq and the path of the Saliheen are difficult. The path of the true Shuhuda is also difficult. The path of the martyr is however the easiest. Practically therefore, the martyr has become the exclusive role model for the Muslim youth through corruption of the meaning of Shuhuda! No wonder why it is so easy to incite Muslim youth to take to violence.
The behaviour of a Muslim in seeking martyrdom is glorified to ensure a steady supply of those seeking “martyrdom”. What Allah asks the Muslims is to strive in the cause of Allah in patience and with perseverance. Doing peaceful Dawah is what is required unless there is oppression. Both fighting and getting slain can only be incidental and not the purpose or goal of a Muslim. Unfortunately, this Bid’at of calling the slain Shaheed has made fighting a sought after goal with the result that the Muslims engage even in unjust fighting and have become oppressors. Oppression is the worst from of Kufr and fighting against such Kufr of the Muslims would in fact be Qital Fi Sabilillah.  Without doubt, those who fight not on the side of justice are oppressors and will die as kafir. They are those who are oppressing and killing religious minorities.
How Was The Change In The Meaning Of Shuhuda To Mean “Martyr” Achieved?
References to the slain in Islamic battles are found in many Ahadith and in Siraliterature or the biographical accounts of the Prophet. These accounts make it appear as if the early Muslims understood the meaning of `Shuhada' as referring to those Muslims who died in battle. However, MaulanaWahiduddin writes: “After the age of the Prophet, the age of his companions and the generation after them are regarded as authentic periods of Islamic history. The very same manner of referring to people who had been slain in the path of God as Maqtul Fi Sabil Allah continued to be followed in this period, too. But after this period, a change gradually emerged in the use of the term Shahadah, in the same way as changes began being made in the understanding of several other Islamic teachings, so much so that Muslims almost forgot that the term Shahadah meant Dawah and instead began to use the word as synonymous with martyrdom.
In later times, a new practice developed of people who had died in battle being called Shahids or ‘martyrs’. The word Shahid began being added to their names. So, for instance, Hasan al-Banna (the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who was assassinated in 1949) began being called as ‘Hasan al-Banna Shahid’, Sayyid Qutb (key ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was hanged in 1966) as ‘Sayyid Qutb Shahid’, Sayyid Ahmad (killed in 1831 in a war he declared against the Sikhs) as ‘Sayyid Ahmad Shahid’, Shah Ismail (follower of Sayyid Ahmad, who was killed along with him) as ‘Shah Ismail Shahid’, and so on. There were several companions of the Prophet whose lives were also sacrificed, but in none of their cases was the word Shahid appended to their names. So, although their lives were sacrificed, the Caliphs Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib are not called ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab Shahid’, ‘Uthman ibn Affan Shahid’ and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib Shahid’ respectively. The names of the Prophet’s companions were always written and mentioned along with that of their fathers (for example, Ali ibn [son of] AbiTalib), and not with the suffix Shahid, in contrast to the practice that developed later. Accordingly, Imam Bukhari, in his collection of hadith reports, has a chapter containing reports of this sort, titled Bab La Yaqulufulan Shahid, meaning ‘Chapter on Not Calling So and So a Shahid’.”
The Ahadith and Sira literature that refer to the slain as Shuhuda and make it appear that this was how the Prophet (SAW) and the people in his times understood its meaning, are clearly distortions and falsehood. The glorification of the slain by adding Shaheed to the name of the slain is also a later date innovation with the obvious intention of glorifying “martyrdom”.
Is Suicide Bombing a Shi’ite Bid’at or Innovation?
Bernard K. Freamon  in his paper “Martyrdom, Suicide, and the Islamic Law of War: A Short Legal History” writes  “The current justifications for self-annihilatory violence are the result of a major reinterpretation of the theology and religious law on martyrdom and the military jihad advanced by Shi'ite theologians and jurists in Iraq and Iran between the mid-1960s and the late-1970s. While there are great similarities between the Sunni and Shi'a approaches to the regulation of behaviour in war, the Shi'a approach to martyrdom is significantly different from that of the Sunnis. Husayn's example, with its emphasis on extreme self-sacrifice and militancy as a weapon against tyranny and injustice, has always been among the most important paradigms in Shi'a theology, although the “Twelvers,” the majority Shi'a sect, did not emphasize its militant aspects for over a thousand years. Beginning with the advent of European colonialism in the eighteenth century, the paradigm of Husayn's martyrdom began to take an increased importance as a normative reference point for anti-colonial activities among the Shi'a. Although the paradigm of the normative example of Husayn ebbed and flowed as a political rallying point for over two hundred years, it ultimately reached a zenith when an important group of Shi'a Ulema came together in the Iraqi city of Najaf in the 1960s. This group began to robustly revive and reinterpret the paradigm in a way that eventually led to self-annihilatory violent behaviour by Shi'a military jihadists, fundamentally altering the Shi'a conception of the religious law of martyrdom.
This new Shi'a discourse on jihad and martyrdom emerging from Najaf--led by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini and a brilliant Iraqi jurist named Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, and later by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, spiritual mentor of Hizbu'llah in Lebanon--rapidly proliferated throughout the Muslim world. It became an important factor in the achievement of several practical successes, particularly the Iranian Islamic Revolution and, sometime later, the ejection of Israeli, French, and American forces from Lebanon. While Sunni Islamists also worked a similar re-interpretive revival of the Sunni sources on the military jihad during this same time in Egypt and elsewhere, they never advocated self-annihilation and they did not achieve the kinds of spectacular successes accomplished by the Shi'a jihadists. The Shi'a reinterpretation of the theology and law on jihad and martyrdom, first articulated by Khomeini and the Ulema in Najaf, and later elaborated by Fadlallah in Lebanon, went much further than the Sunni reinterpretation and has profoundly influenced the behaviour of all subsequent military jihadists throughout the Islamic world.
 This revived Shi'a approach to martyrdom now dominates all Muslim conceptions of the military jihad, whether Sunni or Shi'a. This transformation of religious doctrine, championed by the Shi'a Ulema and emulated first by Hizbu'llah, then by the Palestinians and later by Al Qaeda, resulted in the appearance of a new norm of jihadist battlefield behaviour--self-annihilation--a norm that is now accepted as a valid discharge of religious obligation under the law of the military jihad by a great many Muslim jurists, Sunni and Shi'a. This conclusion effectively debunks the conventional wisdom, popular in many quarters, that self-annihilatory violence by the Palestinians and by operatives of Al Qaeda flows from either a nihilistic sense of despair growing out of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza or from adherence to Wahhabism. Wahhabism actually has very little do with the current jihadist use of self-annihilatory violence, and that Arab and Muslim despair, while an important factor, cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for such violence. Rather, it is the Shi'a theology that provides the linchpin for such behaviour.”
Shi’ite Bid’at of Suicide Bombing Gets Adopted By Sunni Islam 
The Sunni militants dropped the use of the word “suicide” and re labelled their attacks “martyrdom operations” (‘Amaliyat Istishhadiyaa), since Islam forbids suicide. By calling suicide bombing “martyrdom operations”, they have achieved the difficult task of legitimizing suicide as legitimate, legal, and laudable.  
Conclusion
We have discussed how politics has interfered with religion to transform the meaning of Shuhuda to mean martyr in order to glorify martyrdom and ensure a steady supply of young men willing to be martyred. They then made seeking martyrdom a laudable goal by reinterpreting the political killing of Hazrat Husain (RA). In the revised doctrine of martyrdom, Hussain is projected as a willing political martyr rather than a tragic figure killed for political reasons. This has transformed quietist Shi’ism into radicalized, proactive seekers of political martyrdom. The Sunnis have followed the Shia example. Political violence has thus been sanctified as holy by claiming that those who die spearheading Islamic political violence are ‘martyrs’ or Shahids like Hazrat Hussain (RA). This is the ultimate in distortion of the meaning of Shuhuda that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Quran and Hadith since:
Political violence and terrorism is not a just war
A just war is waged by a just ruler for justice and against oppression
Only the slain fighting a just war is Maqtul Fi Sabilillah entitled to God’s forgiveness.
Martyrdom is incidental and never to be sought nor desired nor a worthwhile goal for a Muslim
Those killed indulging in political violence are simply Maqtul and not even Maqtul Fi Sabilillah . Those killed in suicide bombing are guilty of committing suicide.
Those targeting non-combatants and killing them are oppressors and murderers.
Political Islam has turned the religion of Islam into a death cult of killers and murderers by glorifying fighting and calling their slain Shuhuda! These killers, their handlers and their Ulema are bound for Hell and not Heaven.
The great attraction of reformist movements has been the call to go back to the pristine Islam of the Prophet’s times and eschewing all Bid’at or innovation that has crept into the Religion of Islam. To my mind, the greatest Bid’at is the corruption in the meaning of Shuhuda to mean martyr followed by legitimizing suicide bombing through the use of the euphemism ‘martyrdom operations’ or ‘Amaliyat Istishhadiyaa’. While fighting in the cause of Allah (Qital Fi Sabilillah) is a command to fight oppression, there is no concept of “Martyrdom Operations”.
A Muslim is asked to strive in the cause of Allah through peaceful means or through fighting against oppression in a just war but he is not asked to fight seeking martyrdom or to undertake martyrdom operations! Seeking martyrdom is a major Bid’at and a recent Shi’ite innovation achieved by reinterpreting the political killing of Hazrat Hussain (RA) as a deliberate act on the part of Hazrat Hussain, who they now say, sought martyrdom to register his opposition to Yazid’s usurpation of the Khilafat and to set an example for other political dissidents to follow. His killing which was mourned over the last 1400 years is now to be celebrated! The Sunni militants have quietly adopted the new definitions.
While the militants have their own “embedded” Ulema, what is surprising is that the mainstream Ulema of sects that abhor all Bid’at and have declared war against Bid’at are silent on this major Bid’at which is misguiding thousands of our young and showing them the path of those on whom is Allah’s wrath and those who go astray and not the path of those on whom is Allah’s Grace! No good can come from corrupting the religion for political ends and the Ulema who are silent on this major Bid’at are party to the harm that is caused to individuals, the society and to the religion of Islam.
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.