Monday, December 17, 2018

Is God in Islam Just and Rational as Mutazillah believed or Arbitrary and Despotic as Hanbali-Zahiri-Ashari-Maturidi postulate? Does Quran Support Both Positions?

By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
28 Aug 2018
Dear Naseer Saheb, I am bringing our discussion to a separate thread as it has gone beyond the scope of the earlier article where we started our conversation.
You consider Mutazillah “atheists of their time” who were “more wedded to philosophy than to the Quran.” Also, you think that Asharis have “through their misinterpretations of otherwise very clear Muhkamat verses, made Islam an unjust and immoral religion, only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves."
But if you study their literature you will find that the mainspring of thinking of both these groups, indeed all Islamic scholars of all schools of thought was Quran and except in the case of Mutazillah, Hadith. All of them may have violently disagreed with one another, even thrown each other in prison and got one another lashed, but they were all very sincere seekers of the Truth of Islam. The proof of their sincerely lies in the fact that not one of them recanted, despite facing extreme persecution by the Khulafa of their times. And the source of their thinking was Quran alone in the case of Mutazillah and Hadith and Seerah too in the case of others. Apart from Zahiris and Hanbalis, all of them had studied Greek philosophy, but their primary faith was in Islam and Islamic scriptures.

Mutazallah 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).
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 end so remember.” (38:29)
“That thou mayest bring forth your people from the darkness into the light ... “ (14:5)
“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)

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, 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). 
Imam Ghazali sums up the Islamic theology of consensus (Hanbali, Ashari, Maturidi, etc. minus Mutazalah), in these words: He puts the following 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 countered in his famous “Incoherence of the Incoherence” that was a line-by-line refutation of Imam Ghazali’s “Incoherence of the Philosophers.” But all of Ibn-e-Rushd’s books were burnt down in supposedly liberal Muslim Spain and he had to go into exile. His books survived only because they had already been translated in European languages. As a result, Europe got its renaissance and Muslim world pushed itself into a darkness from which it is still to emerge.
Previous comments from the earlier thread:

By Sultan Shahin - 8/26/2018 12:33:51 PM

· Dear Naseer Saheb, you have said: "They (Islamic Scholars) have through their misinterpretations of otherwise very clear Muhkamat verses, made Islam an unjust and immoral religion, only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves."
This is how Mutazilla scholars would have, must have, responded to the now-dominant Asharite doctrine of God being Omnipotent and Omniscient, Free to implement His Will, not necessarily Just or Moral, as we humans understand these attributes. Their view was that the condition of Justice imposed on God is a limitation on God’s power and questioned His Omnipotence.  He not only guides but also misguides people and then rewards and punishes them for their behaviour.
 [“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).  
This cannot be considered just or rational by any human canon of morality and rationality. However, it is not for us mortals, Asharites said, following the Jabariyya before them, to apply our sense of morality or justice or rationality on God. His Omnipotence is not to be limited by human canons of morality or rationality or Justice.  After all, God is al-Jabbar, the Compeller. (Quran 59: 23). His power is absolute. He wills and it happens.
So, it’s wrong to say that Jabariyya or Ashariya present God as a whimsical power-lord “only because they imagine Allah to be like themselves.” This is not correct. As the Qadariyya or later Mutazallah position of human free will was based on Quran, so was the Qadariyya and Ashariyya position of total predetermination based on Quran, and in both cases, as you rightly point out, its Muhkamat (clear) verses, not on Mustashbihat (allegorical) that buttress their positions. Of course, Ashariyya and even Maturidi positions are also based on a plethora of Ahadith, in addition to Quran. But Qadriyyah and Mutazillah positions are based entirely on Quran.

By Sultan Shahin - 8/26/2018 12:33:51 PM


By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 11:10:54 AM
: “…. the essential "Zaat" of Allah, is strangely misunderstood by even the scholars, philosophers and the Sufis, and their understanding contradicts Muhkamat verses.” (This sentence has been slightly edited to remove confusion, as it has been taken from another thread. -- Editor)

Allah manifests His attributes through His creation as well as through His revelations. What the Quran and other Scriptures mostly contain is knowledge that is unavailable to man in foresight and could have only come through Divine revelations but which can be easily understood in hindsight. Science is knowledge that man can gain through foresight and most of it is left to man to unravel. The Quran merely points out to the natural phenomena that sustain life as God’s handiwork. 

The Mutazilla scholars did not distinguish between these two sources of knowledge, and took up a position, like the philosophers whom they admired, that all morality or the Deen can come from human reason alone. They were the atheists of their times and a bad influence which is why the reaction to them was strong. Perhaps, they were only reacting to the Asharite doctrine, but they took the wrong approach and were therefore easily neutralized by a single Imam Ghazali, who did a very good job of defeating them comprehensively. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung to the other extreme. If only the   Mutazilla had confined their reasoning to prove the Asharite wrong by the explicit Quranic verses, we would have had the right balance, but they were more wedded to philosophy than to the Quran.

Most of what we see of Islamic scholarship is by people from Iran or Uzbekistan and from people from other faiths who had accepted Islam. The influence of other faith systems and cultures is immense. All the six books of Ahadith are by scholars from these two regions and all the six scholars are contemporaries - strange coincidence?

The way forward is to question the wrong understanding of the scholars and not question the Quran itself. The Mutazilla, the rationalists, the atheists, the self-certified progressives and moderates will deservedly get ignored because they are not seen as Muslim in the first place.  The Quran and Islam are only for the believers and those who approach it with humility and not for those who consider the Book a 7th century anachronism as the people of the Prophet's time did calling it a Book containing "tales of the ancient". Allah allows such people to go astray.

By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 11:10:54 AM
· Shahin Saheb, what you say underlies the problem with Islamic scholars of every school. They lack the scholarship for a systematic study of the Quran and jump to wrong conclusions based on a misunderstanding of a couple of verses. Allah’s attributes of Omnipotence and Justice are misunderstood even by the likes of Imam Ghazali. While Allah says emphatically that He never changes his ways, they think that such an attribute compromises His attribute of omnipotence! They therefore imagine a whimsical, immoral God much like what you find in Greek literature. There is nothing whimsical about what God does and if Allah chooses to be bound by His own word and by His own ways and laws, that is what it is and that is anything but whimsical. If Allah has decreed a universe with a precise cause for every event, nothing can take place without an appropriate cause. Whatever Allah does follow His unchanging laws, and these are laws of cause and effect which He explains in His Book for those who are willing to listen.
The Quran Describes Three Types Of Persons:
1.       The Believer: A person who lives a life based on truth and chooses all that is good and noble is attuned to recognize and accept the truth and recognize falsehood and reject it. He is not arrogant and will therefore accept good from whatever source it comes and support it. He is a person who strives actively on the path of truth. The characteristics of a believer are described in the following verses:
(2:2) This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah;(3) Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;(4) And who believe in the Revelation sent to you, and sent before your time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.(5) They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.
Charity is one of the noblest virtues as it combines sacrifice with empathy and caring for others and is the foremost among the various practices that form part of the golden rule. The moral way of living enunciated in the revelations provides proof that this can come only from the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and from none else. Belief in the Unseen God who is the author of the divine moral code and belief in the Hereafter in which God’s justice finds perfection by design of God, is therefore easy for such people. The assurance in their hearts of the Hereafter, is what makes it easy for the believers to live a moral life in accordance with the way of living enunciated in the scriptures since they hope for the major portion of their rewards in the hereafter and not in this world. This is what makes it easy for them to sacrifice self-interest for truth, justice and for the well-being of all life on this earth without expecting returns in this life. They are people who are patient in the face of adversity and practice self-restraint. Such people progress on the path of guidance.
(16:30) To the righteous (when) it is said, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "All that is good." To those who do good, there is good in this world, and the Home of the Hereafter is even better and excellent indeed is the Home of the righteous.
With all their hopes resting with God, they care very little for the vicissitudes of this life. The believer is a faith neutral term in the Quran and is any person who believes in one God, the Hereafter and practices righteousness.
(2:62) Those who believe (in the Qur´an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
2.       The Hypocrite: The hypocrite is a weakling straddling both belief and disbelief. He is trying to maximize his gains. He wants to be on the winning side always. He is not arrogant and therefore sees the truth in flashes but since truth is not what interests him but his self-interest, he is immediately blinded by the very brilliance of the light and is left in the darkness as if he was blind. The characteristics of a hypocrite are described in the following verses:
(2:8) Of the people there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day;" but they do not (really) believe. (9) Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realise (it) not! (10) In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves). (11) When it is said to them: "Make not mischief on the earth," they say: "Why, we only Want to make peace!" (12) Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realise (it) not. (13) When it is said to them: "Believe as the others believe:" They say: "Shall we believe as the fools believe?" Nay, of a surety they are the fools, but they do not know.
These people are able to see the truth momentarily but do not follow the truth and are therefore false to themselves. Each time they see the truth and suppress it, such behaviour becomes stronger and the cognitive dissonance weaker until they reach a stage when the truth no longer bothers them and they become as it were deaf and blind to it. The following verses describe the same:
(2:14) When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;" but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: "We are really with you: We (were) only jesting." (15) Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones (To and fro). (16) These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction, (17) Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see. (18) Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path).
3.       Those Who Reject Faith Or The Kafir: The kafir is a person who has chosen to be selfish and self-centred and convinced himself that the ends of a life on this earth are to maximize his gains and pleasures adopting whatever means appear appropriate. Truth, justice, kindness matter to him not in their absolute sense but only to the extent these can serve his purpose on this earth. He is arrogant and envious of others. He wants power, money and all the good things in life to lord over. He will therefore reject any message that invites him to what is moral. The rejection is of the messenger out of envy and arrogance and of the message as it is the opposite of what he is inclined to. He will actively resist both the messenger and the message and by his behaviour become so confirmed in his rejection that he becomes totally deaf and blind to the message. They are described in the following verses:
(17:94) What kept men back from belief when Guidance came to them, was nothing but this: they said, "Has Allah sent a man (like us) to be (His) Messenger?"
Arrogance and envy of others is what makes people reject guidance in the first place.
(14:3) Those who love the life of this world more than the Hereafter, who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked: they are astray by a long distance.
(16:22) Your Allah is one Allah: as to those who believe not in the Hereafter, their hearts refuse to know, and they are arrogant.
A person who seeks immediate gratification loves the life of this world and to such a person, promises in the Hereafter are too distant, uncertain and probably appear as false. The fact that that he has gained much in this life through immoral means and the fact that he sees that any change in his present ways would cause an immediate loss in power and wealth is what prevents him from seeing the truth. His arrogance is also self-gratification through self-aggrandizement.
Surah 102
(1) The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things),
(2) Until ye visit the graves.
(3) But nay, ye soon shall know (the reality).
(4) Again, ye soon shall know!
(5) Nay, were ye to know with certainty of mind, (ye would beware!)
(6) Ye shall certainly see Hell-Fire!
(7) Again, ye shall see it with certainty of sight!
(8) Then, shall ye be questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in!).
(2:6) As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.(7) Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).
When Allah says that Allah sets a seal on the hearts of the sinners, the reference is to the natural law of Allah, whereby a person who is arrogant and dismissive of others on account of his arrogance, and is only interested in immediate gratification, is selfish, self-centred, and shuts out the voice of reason and truth, loses the ability to perceive anything except what is immediately gratifying so that it were as if ‘a seal is set upon his heart'.  It is not Allah who wrongs them, but they wrong themselves by what they choose for themselves (3:117, 9:70)
6:12 It is they who have lost their own souls, that will not believe.
(6:108) Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did.
They have by their choice, lost all their potential for nobility that man is endowed with, by wilfully inclining towards evil and rejecting what is good. Such people will never believe and they will be happy in their disbelief considering the believers to be fools and themselves to be smart.
The word kafir is a faith neutral term in the Quran. A kafir could be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, polytheist or a person professing any other faith. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall says: “In the Qur’an I find two meanings (of a Kafir), which become one the moment that we try to realize the divine standpoint. The Kafir in the first place, is not the follower of any religion. He is the opponent of Allah’s benevolent will and purpose for mankind - therefore the disbeliever in the truth of all religions, the disbeliever in all Scriptures as of divine revelation, the disbeliever to the point of active opposition in all the Prophets (pbut) whom the Muslims are bidden to regard, without distinction, as messengers of Allah.
 Understanding God’s Laws of Human Behaviour
The Role of Cognitive Dissonance
Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said in his 1925 book, Science and the Modern World: “It is easy enough to find a [self-consistent] theory . . . , provided that you are content to disregard half your evidence. The moral temper required for the pursuit of truth, includes an unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account.”
There are many people who show an unflinching determination to disregard half of the relevant evidence!
In Psychology this is called cognitive bias where we pay attention only to facts that support our prejudices. Uncomfortable evidence that contradicts our theory causes what is called cognitive dissonance. An honest way of dealing with cognitive dissonance is to revise our opinion/theory taking the full facts of the case into consideration. Dishonest ways are by way of discounting, falsifying, or by ignoring altogether the evidence that does not suit our purpose.
Not everyone feels cognitive dissonance to the same degree. People with a higher need for consistency and certainty in their lives usually feel the effects of cognitive dissonance more than those who have a lesser need for such consistency. People who have not trained themselves to deal honestly with cognitive dissonance become habitual liars and feel nothing. It is about these people that the Quran says:
(2:16) These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction,(17) Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see. (18) Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the correct path). 
People who have learnt to suppress cognitive dissonance will rarely change their stand on any issue no matter even if they are proved wrong. This is so since their stand is not based on an objective analysis and the truth in any case is unimportant to such people. The only deity they worship is self-interest. Pride and arrogance prevent such people from changing their stand even if proved wrong. The Quran says about such people:
(6:109) They swear their strongest oaths by Allah, that if a (special) sign came to them, by it they would believe. Say: "Certainly (all) signs are in the power of Allah: but what will make you realise that (even) if (special) signs came, they will not believe."?
(110) We (too) shall turn to (confusion) their hearts and their eyes, even as they refused to believe in this in the first instance: We shall leave them in their trespasses, to wander in distraction.
What made them refuse to believe in the first instance will continue to dominate their thinking and they will not believe no matter what signs are sent. This is because, through wilful rejection of the truth on all previous occasions, they have perverted their thinking progressively and completely and they are too far gone astray.
(111) Even if We did send to them angels, and the dead did speak to them, and We gathered together all things before their very eyes, they are not the ones to believe, unless it is in Allah´s plan. But most of them ignore (the truth).
(112) Likewise did We make for every Messenger an enemy,- evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If your Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone.
The laws of human behaviour which help man progress on the path of guidance or goes astray, are part of Allah’s plan and it is in Allah’s plan to allow full freedom and autonomy to man to choose whatever path he may, after providing complete guidance and making the truth clear from falsehood.
(113) To such (deceit) let the hearts of those incline, who have no faith in the hereafter: let them delight in it, and let them earn from it what they may.
(114) Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? - when He it is Who has sent to you the Book, explained in detail." They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it has been sent down from your Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.
(115) The word of your Lord does find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who hears and knows everything.
The word here refers to the laws of Allah which none can change and through which Allah ensures justice.
(116) Were you to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead you away from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.
(117) Your Lord knows best who strays from His way: He knows best who they are that receive His guidance.
The verse refers to the characteristics of persons who strays from His way and those who receive guidance.
Arrogance and Rejection of Belief
(7:146) Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right - them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and failed to take warning from them.
Arrogance to the extent that a person does not care for what is right is defiance of God. Such people will not believe in God or turn to what is right.
Whom Does God Guide?
(8:23) If Allah had found in them any good. He would indeed have made them listen: (As it is), if He had made them listen, they would but have turned back and declined (Faith).
It is the natural law of God that all those in whom is some good will incline towards His message and if God did make those in whom there is no good listen, they would still soon revert to their disbelief.
(10:32) Such is Allah, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from truth, what (remains) but error? How then are ye turned away? (33) Thus is the word of your Lord proved true against those who rebel: Verily they will not believe.
The distinction between truth and falsehood is clear and anyone who turns away from the truth is clearly a rebel. The law of Allah (Allah’s word) is that a person who turns away from the truth in rebellion, will not believe.
Can A Person Living The Life Of Error And Falsehood Change Himself?
A person has to first accept that there is a problem and make a moral choice to change and seek God’s help. He must realize that refusing to learn to deal honestly with cognitive dissonance in its most basic form, is a lie to oneself and self-deception. Matz and his colleagues (2008) found that people who were extraverted were less likely to feel the negative impact of cognitive dissonance and were also less likely to change their mind. Introverts, on the other hand, deal more honestly with cognitive dissonance. This is hardly surprising since introverts are concerned with self-image and telling a lie to one self is more difficult and the extraverts are more concerned with what others say about them. The cronies, side-kicks and sycophants of the extraverts are there to heap praise on them whatever they say or do. If there are people who confront them with their lie and embarrass them, they will be conveniently categorized as belonging to the `enemy party’ and drowned with more lies. These people will never change if they have people who support them in their lie. Politicians therefore are some of the most adept liars and practitioners of systematic deceit and the most shameless among all the liars.
 Self-awareness and a desire to change is the key to changing oneself. You know when you are disregarding information that contradicts your stand on any issue. As Socrates said “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Develop self-awareness which is the first step to change.
If there is a conflict between what you desire and what you consider right, then consciously choose what is right. Learn to admit past mistakes, apologize for these and learn to move forward. The congenital liars when confronted with evidence that proves them wrong label the evidence ‘deceptive’. To them the uncomfortable truth is deception and their own comfortable lies are the truth.
People who talk about morals speak about the ‘conscience’ or the inner voice which is nothing but the cognitive dissonance that we experience when our action does not match what we consider to be right. This is not anything that we are born with but the values that we imbibe. To develop such a conscience, read the Quran to know right from wrong.
Can Prayer Help?
Prayer is a form of self-priming and is most effective in changing one’s behaviour. Belief in God helps but it should work even without such belief if the prayer is changed to a daily resolution or pledge.
This prayer (of the Prophet) is part of my daily morning prayers:
O Allah! Purge my heart of hypocrisy,
My conduct from dissimulation,
My tongue from falsehood,
And my eyes from treachery,
For You indeed know the treacherous glance of the eyes
And that which the heart conceals.
The Quran describes the laws of human behaviour but puts the same across as what God does. This is so since these are nothing but the unchanging laws of God which work inexorably in the most consistent and unchanging fashion. People take this literally and say that if God is allowing people to go astray or sealing up their hearts, or causing them to become “deaf, dumb and blind”, how can they be blamed? This is again more of self-deception and inability to take responsibility for the moral choices they themselves make or for the path that they have chosen even though God constantly reminds them that:
(4:120) Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan´s promises are nothing but deception.
(35:5) O men! Certainly the promise of Allah is true. Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah. (6) Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.

By Naseer Ahmed - 8/27/2018 3:13:07 AM

Did Islam Change Its Policies From Inclusivism Of Early Madina To Exclusivism And Intolerance Of Religious Minorities In Later Madina Days? Ask New Age Islam Readers

By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
16 November 2018
I am receiving calls from agitated readers of an original article published on 2 August, 2018, reproduced by Urdu daily Inqilab today, of course, without acknowledgement, as is the custom with Urdu Press in India. This was written by our regular columnist Mr. Ghulam Rasool Dehlavi and is titled: How Imran Khan Will Set Up Medina-Like Islamic Welfare State? The paragraph which is troubling readers is the following:
“Some would argue that Meccan Islamic principles, as compared to the Madinite period of Islam, was more pluralistic, peaceful and inclusivist, though under compulsive circumstances. However, the Islamic state in Madina witnessed an aggressive phase including Ghazwas (Islamic battles), enactment of blasphemy laws, extradition of Jews and Christians, abrogation of the peaceful verses of Qur'an such as La Ikraha Fid-Deen (“No coercion in matters of Religion”).”
I am being asked the following questions: How can a New Age Islam columnist say that verses such as La Ikraha fid Deen which are the fulcrum of moderate Islam were abrogated in the Islamic State of Madina, when the Prophet (saw) himself was running its affairs. Were blasphemy laws indeed enacted in Madina during the Prophet’s time, when New Age Islam has been maintaining that blasphemy laws have no basis in Islam? Does New Age Islam now believe in the Doctrine of Abrogation, when it has been almost for a decade saying that none of the verses in Quran has been abrogated, though some war-time verses may not be applicable to us today? What is the meaning of “compulsive circumstances” under which the pluralistic, peaceful and inclusivist verses of Quran were revealed at Makkah? Does this mean that Quran ordered Muslims to remain peaceful only because they had no other option? If these contradictions between inclusivist and xenophobic instructions of Quran arose during the Prophet’s time itself, how can you blame later Islamic theologians like Ibn-e-Taimiya as is your custom for the present-day confusion? If Prophet himself changed from being pluralist and inclusivist in Makkah and early Madina to being intolerant and xenophobic who later evicted all religious minorities from the land of Islam, what is wrong in Pakistan starting as a secular and pluralistic nation as propounded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and then later turning intolerant of minorities?
I would simply like to ensure people who have called me to put these and similar questions that New Age Islam remains consistent in its approach, though we allow our columnists complete freedom of expression. Even in this case, I do not think Mr. Dehlavi holds the views expressed in the offending paragraph. He did start this paragraph with the words “some would argue.” It is possible to argue that this “some” includes him too, but I don’t think that would be correct. The tone and the tenor of the entire article gives a different view. As I understand, he is merely wondering if Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan would go by the early vision of Prophet’s Islamic State in Madina or by the later policies which are supposed to have abrogated the previous policies in the view of Islamic theologians followed by the terror ideologues of Pakistan. He seems to be merely seeking clarification as to which Madina model will Mr. Imran Khan follow: the early Madina model of Meesaq-e-Madina when multi-culturalism ruled or the policies of the time when “the Islamic state in Madina witnessed an aggressive phase including Ghazwas (Islamic battles), enactment of blasphemy laws, extradition of Jews and Christians, abrogation of the peaceful verses of Qur'an such as La Ikraha Fid-Deen (“No coercion in matters of Religion.”
In any case, has always believed in debate and discussion on a non-sectarian and neutral platform. Readers are welcome to express themselves on the contentious issues raised here. Primarily, what is agitating readers is that an author associated with New Age Islam for long is implying that Islam changed its policies from inclusivism and pluralism of Makkah and early Madina days to exclusivism and intolerance of religious minorities during the Prophet’s time in Madina itself. I invite all interested readers to put forward their views on the subject.
Related Articles:

Division of Knowledge between Religious and Secular in the Madrasas Must Be Abolished to Stem the Tide of Islam’s Continued Decline

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
30 October 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009
It is well known that Islamic civilization had seen phenomenal advancement of knowledge during the Abbasid Period (roughly mid-8th to mid-13thcentury) - known as its Golden era. The Muslims drew on the resources that came to their hands – the Greco-Roman heritage and the scholars of other religions who were either native citizens or gravitated to Baghdad from different parts of the world to study universal sciences and fields of knowledge that were forbidden in their lands. Thus, they inaugurated and sustained an intellectual revolution that is captured in these words by two of the most eminent scholars of this era:
“Islam, which is only half a dozen centuries younger than Christianity, created a long and brilliant civilization, which is responsible for much of the way we are today. … When a few medieval monks were desperately trying to preserve what little they knew of Greco-Roman civilization, academies and universities flourished in the splendid cities of the Muslim lands”– Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair, Islam, Empire of Faith, BBC Series, UK 2001, p. 11.
“Science is the most momentous contribution of Arab [Muslim] civilization to the modern world; but its fruits were slow in ripening. Not until long after Moorish [Islamic] culture had sunk back into darkness did the giant to which it had given birth, rise to its might. – Robert Briffault (1867-1948), Making of Humanity, p. 202.
With this summary introduction to Islam’s role in the advancement of universal knowledge, we come to the caption of this article that speaks for itself.
What has happened in the intellectual realm of Islam over the last few centuries is just the reverse of what Islam saw during the half a millennium of the Abbasid period. The historical background to this retrogression can be summed up as follows:
The surrender of Baghdad (1258 AD), the capital of the pan-Islamic Caliphate to the Mongol forces saw, apart from the gruesome massacre of its inhabitants, total eradication of its intellectual resources. The vast Abbasid libraries were burnt to ashes and the House of Wisdom -the unrivalled international center of learning of the era was destroyed. The ensuing centuries (14th – 17th) saw an explosive outburst of intellectual activity and free thinking in Europe that was driven by use of reason and thirst for Enlightenment and knowledge – known as ‘renaissance.’ This resulted in phenomenal growth in literary, artistic, philosophical, intellectual, commercial and military fields. This, in the ensuing centuries (18th-20th) ushered Europe into an era of great inventions and discoveries, proliferation of experimental research; exploitation of the forces of nature, and conversion of raw materials into an endless array of products in increasingly efficient and automated plants culminating in the modern urbanized industrialized world that is light-years ahead of the medieval ages.
As Europe was availing the fruits of its advancement and transforming its cold, dark and ramshackle villages into shining imageries of paradise (in the words of poet Laureate Muhammad Iqbal) and dotting its towns and cities with splendid museums, libraries, hospitals, universities, and rows upon rows of picturesque residential houses complete with all amenities – gardens, parks, shopping arcades, pharmacies, community centers – among other things, the orthodox Ulema remained in a state of denial and declared all scientific and civilisational advancement of Europe as the handiwork of Shaytan. Accordingly, they divided the domain of knowledge between worldly and religious, forbade the learning of all European languages and abhorred all scientific and technological knowledge and advancement. Their hostility against the so called European knowledge was so intense that among other things, they burnt down an observatory in Turkey in 1580 - just a year after its erection, and closed down the first printing press in the Islamic world in the same city in 1745. Even as recently as the later part of the nineteenth century, the Ulema in British India fought tooth and nail against the establishment of a modern university by Syed Ahmed. Ironically, to this day Muslims are bogged down with a religious education curriculum that is centered round the secondary sources of Islam rooted and stagnated in the medieval ages and often treat universal sciences in the sidelines.
This division of knowledge between Scientific/ secular and religious is nothing short of a denial to probe the ‘Signs of God’ as repeatedly invoked in the Qur’an. There are verses that speak about the movement of heavenly bodies in their orbits (21:33, 31:29, 39:5), water cycle (2:164), embryonic development in a woman’s womb (23:12-14), immiscibility of soft and saline streams of water (25:53, 27:61, 55:19), reduction in oxygen content of air at higher altitudes (6:125), graduated darkness in ocean depth (24:40) for example – that simply cannot be understood without scientific knowledge.
Besides, God alone is the source of all knowledge and it was in this very spirit that the Muslims explored and advanced all prevalent branches of knowledge during their golden era (Abbasid period) drawing freely on non-Muslim sources. So dismissing scientific or secular knowledge in later centuries was a suicidal retrogression that gradually eroded the foundations of Islamic civilization, conduced to its colonization, and in the post-colonial era, rendered it politically weak, turbulent and unstable, and educationally and industrially backward - and with turn of events in this era, a potential breeding ground of terror, violent sectarianism and extremism. In the words of Altaf Hussain Hali, the famous poet and thinker of British India – ‘If one has to see a nation’s downfall exceeding all limits – it is Islam’s incapability to rise after its fall,” (translated from Urdu).
Hence, to stem the tide of Islam’s continuing decline, there is an urgent need to treat the pursuit of all universal sciences and knowledge as part of God’s trust to humanity This is to be accomplished by incorporating all branches of universal, secular and scientific knowledge in the Islamic religious schools (madrasas), so that those graduating from these schools should qualify to join the secular academic world and become doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, scientists and professionals in other fields and thus reinvigorate the foundations of Islamic civilization. The vast theological content of madrasa curriculum that is rooted in the medieval ages can be reduced to one core ‘religious’ subject covering the universal dimensions of Qur’anic message and some social works (community service) –  for, to be a good Muslim, a growing school student does not need any knowledge of the secondary sources of Islam as taught in the madrasas - other than familiarity with the Pillars of Faith that he acquires at home or in the local mosque even without going to any school. However, as Islam’s secondary sources, notably the hadith is of highly technical – having evolved more than a thousand years ago, “it should be reserved for enlightened specialists who have attained sufficient maturity, knowledge, and training to distinguish between weak and reliable Hadith, and not to confuse them with the Word of God.” - Essential Message of Islam, p. 363
Let this short article be an eye opener for the Custodians of Islamic Faith who play a decisive role in deciding the curriculum of the madrasas world-wide.
Related Articles:
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

Quoting Qur’an’s Fighting Verses In Isolation To Promote Violence Or Defame Islam Amounts To Treacherous Misrepresentation Of Its Message Of Peace And Reconciliation

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
19 October 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
The verse 8:60 exhorts the Prophet’s followers “to prepare against them with whatever strength and war mounts you can muster by which you may deter the enemy of God and your enemy “But the very succeeding verse of the Qur’an declares:
“And if they incline to peace, then you (O Muhammad) too incline to it and rely on God. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing” (8:61)
Read together 8:60-61 make it abundantly clear that the exhortation of 8:60 was in relation to defending against an army. The instruction was to make all possible preparations to engage with it, but if it offered peace, to settle for peace.
The verse 9:5 authorizes the Prophet’s followers to “kill the pagans wherever you find them, and capture them, surround them, and watch for them in every lookout” but the very succeeding verse declares;
“If anyone of the pagans seeks your protection* (O Muhammad), grant him protection, so that he may hear the words of God; and then deliver him to a place, safe for him. That is because they are a people without knowledge” (9:6). *[Lit., ‘seeks to become your neighbour.’]
Yet another verse from the ninth Surah (al-Tawbah) declares:
“Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and plotted to expel the Messenger (from his hometown), and were the first to attack you (9:13)
Together 9:5/6/13 clarify that these verses relate to an ongoing state of hostility between the Prophet (and his followers) and the pagans, and that the instruction in 9:5 was in relation to those pagan Arabs who had expelled the Prophet from Mecca and were determined to expel him from Medina and repeatedly broke their oaths (9:13) and was not meant for those who sought peace (9:6). The people who sought peace were to be given protection, and were not to be coerced to embrace Islam.
Now if a Muslim person of this era quotes 8:60 or 9:5 or 9:13 in isolation disregarding consecutive reconciliatory verses (8:61, 9:6) and their context specificity (9:13) to instigate a group of his followers to commit any form of violence he is likening himself and his followers with the Prophet of Islam and his followers who were the direct recipients of the instructions of these verses. But such selective appropriation of Qur’an’s message to promote violence amounts to treacherous distortion of Qur’anic message.
The Prophet of Islam was commissioned on a mission “to deliver humanity from the burden that lay over it from before” (7:157) and to take humanity out of darkness into light (2:257, 5:16, 14:1, 57:9, 65:11) He had to achieve this single-handedly as the Messenger of God by introducing a series of revolutionary changes in the social order of Pre-Islamic Arabia as dictated by the revelation. His immediate audience consisted of highly fractured Arab tribes that had no political identity, no geographical boundary, no scripture or book of guidance, who roamed the barren desert highlands since time immemorial - save for a few scattered settlements near sources of water. The tribal system with all its traditions - blood vendetta, female infanticide; institutionalized slavery, usury (money lending), adultery; commercial exploitation; arbitrary punishment, and raiding the caravans of rival tribes was deeply entrenched as the normative way of the ancients (Sunnat al Awwalin) and there had never been any movement or awareness for a change. Accordingly, as the Prophet began preaching (610 AD), he was initially dismissed as an oddity, and with time encountered strong resistance from fellow Arabs that only increased as years went by with the Prophet not letting up on his mission. This resulted first in his self-exile from Mecca to Medina (622) as a lone fugitive with (only one un-named companion) (9:40),and later, when he was preaching in Medina and gaining converts, three full scale attack on him and his followers (624, 625 and 627) that we will review separately. In each case, the attackers were numerically and militarily far superior to the Prophet’s company. The Qur’an counselled and consoled during his preaching in Mecca (610-622) and guided him in Medina with military commands to defend against the attacking army. The Prophet also faced political resistance and conspiracies from the native Jewish tribes and a faction of the Muslims (hypocrites), and lived under constant threat of annihilation for almost twenty out of twenty-three years of his mission until Mecca was integrated (630). However, by the time of his death – some 2 years later, his mission was completed and Islam was established as an historical reality and almost the whole of Arabia was unified as an Umma that was ready to change the course of history. What happened in the ensuing decades is captured allegorically as follows by Thomas Carlyle, one of the iconic figures of Enlightenment:
“as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand; but lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Grenada! I said, the Great Man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame.” [1]
In one word, the Prophet accomplished a historically impossible and unparalleled task of establishing a new faith and a new nation that expanded into a global religion barely a few decades after his death and heralded the greatest civilization of the era – the Golden Age of Islam (8th to 13th century AD) out of a hoard of nomadic tribes who were living in their ancient ways since time immemorial, and were non-entities in historical terms and relativism.
So no human being can replay his role until eternity as this planet does not offer such civilisational vacuum as the Prophet’s era – that is regarded as the dark ages. Thus any Muslim attempting to play the role of the Prophet by misappropriating its fighting verses to promote violence in the name of the Prophet or Islam commits treason against the faith of Islam. Likewise, any non-Muslim quoting these verses in isolation to defame Islam does great injustice to humanity by projecting Islam – a religion of peace and reconciliation [2] as a violent religion and supporting the agenda of the Muslim terrorists of this era. Hence, God witnessing, there is a pressing need for an international fatwa (such as from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and United Nations ruling criminalizing selective quotation of the fighting verses of the Qur’an to promote terrorism or defame Islam.
This Reflection which is in sequel to my referenced technical article [2] is inspired by the following bold and categorical declaration by Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam in his September 26 2017 UNHRC debate [3].
“War-time verses of the Prophet’s time maybe important as a historical account of the near insurmountable difficulties the Prophet had to face to establish Islam but do not apply to us today in the 21st century.”
1.       []
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

Reflections on Qur'anic message - Part-13: Broader Dimension of Zakah - ‘Purifying ‘One’s Thoughts by Dispelling Defilements of Mind

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
07 October 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009.
This is in sequel to the reflections on institutional Zakat in Part-12 of this series.
Human mind is constantly stalked by evil thoughts and there is a perpetual tug of war between depravity (Fujurah) and moral uprightness (Taqwa) in man’s sub-conscious mind (Nafs) (91:8, Reflection 7). The depravity of mind can trigger a whole series of mental defilements such as anger, jealousy, greed, arrogance, hatred and contempt of others, cruelty, vengeance, and other negativities, and disturb the equanimity of mind and keep it locked in futile thoughts with adverse impacts on personal, social and family life and in the overall well-being of the community.
The Qur’an regards this theme so weighty that it raises it with the Prophet in its following very early passage (verse 74:5) that commissioned him on his Prophetic mission:
“O you enwrapped (Mudaththir) (in your thoughts) (74:1)! Arise and warn (your people) (74:2). Magnify your Lord (74:3). Purify your inner self (literally, ‘cloak’) (4).Shun all defilements (74:5). Do not bestow favour, seeking gains (6). And turn to God in patience” (74:7).
A broad cross section of Qur’anic verses is listed below under appropriate headings to bear out the crux of the Qur’an’s counselling against the defilements of mind
1.       Restraining Anger and Forgiving People:
“[The morally upright (Muttaqin)] are those who spend (in charity) in (times of) plenty as well as hardship, restrain anger and forgive people for God loves the compassionate” (3:134).
2.       Courtesy in Greeting:
“When you are greeted with a greeting, return it with a more courteous greeting or (at least) its like. Indeed God takes account of everything” (4:86).
3.       Against Talking Evil Of People:
“God does not love of evil talk in public except by one who has been wronged. (Remember,) God is All-Knowing and Aware” (4:148)
4.       To Speak Graciously:
“Tell My servants to say what is best - for verily Satan sows dissension among them, for Satan is an open enemy to man” (17:53).
5.       Shunning Arrogance:
“And do not walk arrogantly on earth - for you can neither cleave the earth apart, nor reach the mountains in height” (17:37).
“(Said Luqman to his son): ‘Do not turn your cheek away from people (in scorn), nor walk arrogantly on earth. Surely God does not love any arrogant boaster (31:18). Therefore, be modest in your bearing, and keep your voice low; (and remember) the harshest of sounds is the braying of an ass’” (31:19).
6.       To Be Discerning Against Slanderous News:
“You who believe, if a wicked person comes to you with a (slanderous) news, verify it, otherwise you may ignorantly harm (other) people, and become regretful for what you have done” (49:6).
7.       To Avoid Excessive Suspicion:
“You who believe, avoid excessive suspicion, for suspicion in some cases is a sin; and do not spy (over others), nor backbite each other. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it! So heed God and (remember,) God is Most Relenting and Merciful” (49:12).
8.       Against Backbiting:
“Woe to every backbiting critic (104:1), who amasses wealth, and keeps counting it (and does not spend in charity)” (104:2).
9.       To Conduct Oneself Graciously At Places Of Worship:
10.     Not to Be Lavish In Eating and Drinking
“Children of Adam, conduct yourselves graciously [literally “‘hold on to your God given endowments (Zinat)] at every place of worship. Eat and drink - but do not be wasteful for He does not approve of those who are wasteful” (7:31).
In a very restrictive sense fine clothes are also God’s endowments, and accordingly the verse has been traditionally rendered to imply the wearing of one’s best dress at every place and occasion of prayer. Such an interpretation is not tenable as this will be discriminatory against the poor who may not have any fine clothes to wear.
This all may be of little interest to any modern reader for none of the listed biddings or prohibitions can help him to advance in the rate race for wealth, power and social status, or add glitter, glamour or celebrity air that are most sought after in this era. As for the lay Muslims long ‘Bayans’ (sermons) and stories of the prophets, saints, Sufis, and accounts of their miracles and other similar narratives may have far greater appeal than the cut and dry pronouncements of the Qur’an. But those few of any religion or no religion that may care to heed at least some of them may be rewarded with ineffable, peace, harmony and tranquillity in life that money, power, position, glitter, glamour and celebrity air cannot buy.
Part Twelve of the Series:
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

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).