Thursday, June 2, 2022

Who Will Go to Hell?

By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam 2 June 2022 With An Exception To Sufis And People Who Believe In Sufism’s Liberal, Humane, Kind, And Broadminded Approach, Almost Every Religious Zealot Muslim Hate Non-Muslims On Many Grounds Main Points: 1. Muslims are the sole proprietors of Divine Paradise and others all Christians, Jews, Hindus, et al go to Hell. 2. Mahatma had not made any such claim as who would go to Hell or Paradise. 3. Muslims are fed this stuff of religious superiority and rudeness imbibed with this monopolizing mind-set from childhood. ------- Why do they hate us? Why did American president George W Bush raise the question immediately after the tragedy of 9/11 took place? The self-styled crusader and new born Christian American leader might have had his own agenda answering the question that 'they (the terrorists) hate us because of our free culture, democracy, liberal values, and free lifestyle.' Apart from what Bush's and his cabal's agenda was, the question is still pertinent to exploring extremist Muslim minds. With an exception to Sufis and people who believe in Sufism’s liberal, humane, kind, and broadminded approach, almost every religious zealot Muslim hate non-Muslims on many grounds. One excuse is that they are a people gone astray, people "Maghzoobo Alaihim," resulting in every Muslim being taught that Muslims are the sole proprietors of Divine Paradise and others all Christians, Jews, Hindus, et al go to Hell. On the eve of the Khilafat Movement in India, the passionate Muslim leader and demagogic speaker Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar once addressed a Muslim gathering in which Gandhi Ji was also present as a token of his support of this supposedly Muslim cause (the revival of the Muslim caliphate in Turkey). Jauhar praised Mahatma Gandhi for his support of that Muslim cause; but in the same breath, he suddenly said something very strange. His statement could be summarized as follows: I believe Mr. Gandhi is a great leader of India and a luminary Hindu, yet I have no qualms about saying that he is inferior to a sinner Muslim man. Because being a Hindu (Kafir), eventually, he will go to Hell, while a Muslim, no matter how much he has sinned, will eventually enter paradise. Gandhi's high morality did not allow him to give Maulana Jauhar a befitting answer. In any case the Mahatma had not made any such claim as who would go to Hell or Paradise. John L Esposito, an American expert on contemporary Islam, has to his credit many good and well-researched books on the subject. Among them is; The Future of Islam. By the way, I have recently read it. Esposito is generally cited as a scholar of good academic standing with sympathetic views on Islam and Muslims. He shared his own experience related to this Muslim mind-set as mentioned above. He was once invited to give a keynote address at an Islamic conference in South Africa on one occasion. After the well-attended lecture was ended, one gentleman among the audience stood. And very bluntly told the learned professor on his face," Sir, your efforts on Islam are commendable, but I am sorry, you being a non-Muslim, will go to Hell! (See the book: page 173 Oxford University Press 2010) From where this Muslim rudeness is stemming? I think it is very deep-rooted in our theology. Muslims are fed this stuff of religious superiority and rudeness imbibed with this monopolizing mind-set from childhood. It is God's prerogative to decide who would go to Hell and who would be welcomed to his Paradise. Nevertheless, our theologians always try to usurp this Godly domain and often issue fatwas sending people to Hell! In this regard, not only non-Muslims but many fellow Muslims also become a soft target of clergy's fatwas of Takfeer and ex-communication. For instance, I recall that in 2016 Abdus Sattar Edhi, founder of Edhi Foundation in Pakistan, a prominent pioneer charity worker, passed away. He was liberal, humane, and a good-doer to all irrespective of any creed, sect, religion, race, colour, or caste. Moreover, he was very often not in tune with the sectarian voices of mullahs. Otherwise, a profoundly spiritual man, fell prey to a flurry of harsh comments on social media meant to send him to Hell. The point is that Muslims have to rethink this matter profoundly and why they very often make these lofty and tall clams. Do Muslims occupy the position of chosen people? Do others (non-Muslims) are the children of a lesser God? Does God make Muslims have a monopoly on Heaven and Paradise? Do they have ensured that they should go to Paradise at all costs, whether they do good acts or do bad things? Contrary to all these tall claims, we find that Quran says: "We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed". Qur'an5:48 A prominent contemporary scholar of Islam, Javed Ahmad Ghamdi, is harshly criticized by traditionalists because he has taken a bold, clear stand on this Takfir spree our clergy is so fond of. In one of his very well-articulated articles on this subject, namely: "Islam and State: A Counter narrative," which created a heated debate in Pakistan, he said in his Urdu book Maqamat: "Some Muslims who admit and clam to be Muslims and not only that, but insist on that, yet, they adopt a belief or practice that no Muslim scholar or scholars or even all Muslims consider correct, or likewise their belief or practice is considered wrong. This can be called a deviation and misguided behaviour, but since its proponents derive a reason for it from the Qur'an and the Hadith themselves, they cannot be called non-Muslims or infidels. God's order in these beliefs and practices is that we should wait for the decision on them for the Day of Resurrection. Those who hold these beliefs (mentioned above) in the world are Muslims according to their creed and denominations. And they will be considered Muslims, and all dealing with them will be as with any member of the Muslim community. Yes, scholars and Ulama may have the right to reveal their faults and mistakes and may invite them to accept the truth. Ulama may call it aberrance and perversity if something amounts to polytheism and disbelief in their opinion and action and warn people of that. Still, the decision that they have not to be considered Muslims now or should be excluded from the community is not a prerogative for anyone because God alone can grant this prerogative. Everyone familiar with the Qur'an and Hadith knows that He did not grant this right to anyone". (See Maqamat: P: 230 Almourid Lahore 2019) Among Muslims, Maulana Azad is the only one who was the first to realize the growing poisonous communal prejudice and the danger of sectarianism among Muslims. Therefore, in his commentary on the holy book; The Tarjuman ul Quran, he has emphasized in many places that there is no monopoly of any group on truth. Furthermore, faith in God and righteous deeds is the only criterion on which any nation and community's nobility, greatness, and pride depend. He called on all human beings to come out of the confines of sectarianism and come toward the unity of religion (Wahdat e Deen). However, the Muslims of India did not respond to his call but got caught in the clutches of communal politics of the Muslim League. The whole of the subcontinent is still suffering from its bitter and astringent fruits. Maulana Azad's invitation is in fact, a repetition of this Qur'anic intimation in which it says: "Surely those who believe and those who are Judaized and Nazarene, and Sabaean, who so believe in Allah and the last day and works righteously - their wage is with their Lord, and no fear shall come on them nor shall they grieve. (2:62 Quran) In the aftermath of Khilafat of Hazrat Uthman (the third Rashid caliph), there was much bloodshed and fighting among Muslims. Then a Kalami sect, namely Murjite, to which the great Imam Abu Hanifa is said to have belonged, came up with a reconciliation theory. We should not make people Kafir and disbeliever but accept all as Muslims and leave the decision of who is right and who is wrong to God alone. In fact, this was a reasonable approach but was unfortunately overcome by the traditionalists who captured the Muslim mind, and the situation has not changed much till today. To be honest and frank, having read some relevant verses of the Quran out of context, our classical jurisprudence does not allow a Muslim to take the initiative to greet a non-Muslim, to have a close friendship and cordial relationship with him, and not hate him or look at him with contempt. If the case is this, without addressing these fundamental theological problems, how is it possible to have a society based on cordial relationships, mutual understanding, and peaceful coexistence? Muslim live as small and vulnerable minorities in over 100 countries today. At least their Ulema should apply their minds and accept Qur'an's guidance on this issue as cited above. --- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU Aligarh. 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