Indian Ulema Have No Time to Lose, Must Call Militant Quranic Verses Obsolete

The so-called Indian Mujahedeen have used in their notorious e-mails certain Qur’anic verses to justify killing of innocent civilians. These are the same verses that enemies of Islam’s pacific and humane philosophy have been traditionally using for centuries to demonise Islam. Muslims who go berserk and want to simply smite all and sundry in their crazy stupor also routinely use these verses to justify their fanaticism and probably also to brainwash the still-not-so-crazy to their cause.

New Age Islam urges Indian Ulema to come out with explicit, unequivocal statements that the Qur’anic verses like the following – “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks”- are now obsolete: they were meant for a specific situation during the Prophet’s life and do not apply today.

Also, they must clarify that the Muslim perception and belief that they alone are worthy of going to Heaven is total nonsense, according to Muslim precepts. Muslims are no better or worse than any other community. Islam has as much failed to create a New Man or for that matter a New Woman as any other reformist religion or philosophy.

The best place in the world to experience this is Saudi Arabia – the birthplace of Islam. The country takes its very name from the name of its monarch. What kind of human equality before God is that? Equality of all human beings before God is supposed to be Islam’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition), the reason Islam spread in the world with the speed of wildfire. And Saudi Muslims live under a autocratic monarch who also claims to be the Custodian of Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. Also, in their racism of the pre-Islamic Jahiliya, they treat foreign Muslim workers in their land, who are sustaining their economy, with contempt, calling them Kharjis (foreigners) and normally even refusing to pray in the same mosque as them.

An Islam-supremacist view of Muslims around the world and their treatment of all other religions as inferior is causing enormous ill-will towards us. If we were any better than others, we won’t treat others with contempt anyway. This in itself is proof that we are no better. It is a common belief that no matter how good a human being a person professing to any religion other than Islam maybe, he is not good enough in the eyes of God to go to heaven and no matter how roguish a Muslim is he is going to end up eventually in Heaven. This is absurd from an Islamic viewpoint. Allah in Quran recognises all religions and asks Muslims to treat all prophets of God – by one count, 124,000 – as deserving the same veneration as Prophet Mohammad and their followers as Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book), worthy of all sorts of social interaction including marital relations with Muslims.

It is this that leads persons like Maulana Muḥammad ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Bulandshahrī Muhājir Madanī, an Indian Sunni Islamic scholar of the Deobandi movement, as quoted in a Jihad Watch article to claim:

“Even though the disbelievers may carry out many good deeds and render great services to mankind, these deeds will not be recognized on the Day of Judgment on account of their disbelief.” By contrast, Allah will improve the condition of the believers (vv. 2, 7, 35).

Indian Ulema have no time to lose. Our youth are going astray. As a result of the Ulema’s indolence and worse, they are acquiring self-destructive ways, and are becoming a menace to society.

Some people are wondering today and asking questions in television discussions: “How can educated, sophisticated Muslims with a career and a good life to look forward to, join Jihadi organizations and destroy it all?” I am not at all surprised, however. I saw this coming at least a couple of decades ago. Not out of any clairvoyance, though, just a chance encounter with a British teenage Jihadi in the mid-1980s.

I spent a lot of time in England in 1980s. I was alerted to the coming catastrophe by a chance encounter with a young Jihadi in a progressive Pakistani friend’s house in Nottingham. This Jihadi, a student of Nottingham university and probably in his 20s, was talking to my friend’s teenage children in a room adjoining the one we were sitting in. I overheard some of his talk and went in to share his discourse. He continued when I told him I was also interested in learning what he was talking about. He was an Ahl-e-Hadeesi. The gist of his talk was that only Muslims belonging to his sect were true Muslims and that the rest were Kafiroon (unbelievers) and Mushrikeen (deviants). I asked him what would he do with the rest of Muslims, 99.9 percent of the Muslims in the world who were not Ahl-e-Hadeesi and thus really unbelievers and deviants. He replied with a nonchalance that took my breath away. Without batting an eyelid, he said: “Kill them.”

My friend was also listening in the other room. His blood-pressure rising, he came and told him to get out of his house and never to show his face again, even though he was a relative. He asked his kids to stay away from him and never to invite him in again. But from all I know I doubt if he was able to save his kids from being radicalized. This was a period when Omar Bakri, of Al-Mohajiroon, later a spokesman of Osama bin Laden, was a rage among Muslim students on university campuses in Britain. He was one of the few people in the world to be able to fill the Wembley Stadium in London with his admirers and followers.

Not to be left behind Muslim elders too were inviting Jihadis from all over the world. I distinctly remember listening to fiery speeches from crazy Algerian and Egyptian fundamentalists, in a so-called Muslim Parliament meeting. Muslim exclusivism was in full flow. Islam-supremacism had made many Muslims lose their heads altogether. These people simply did not seem interested in living in the here and now. And, of course, there were others interested in helping them reach the Hereafter. But in the process many innocent people, Muslims included, suffer horribly.

It is no surprise to me, therefore, that this killer virus has infected a section, hopefully a very small section, of Indian Muslim youth too now. But the responsibility for Islamic fundamentalist virus rests a great deal with responsible Muslims and particularly Ulema. They have made a good beginning now by repeatedly denouncing terrorism as un-Islamic. But they will need to go further and declare in unequivocal terms that certain Quranic verses, being contextual in nature as all Qur’anic verses are, have become obsolete and can no longer be quoted to justify violence against the so-called Kafirs.

In fact, a close reading of the Holy Quran suggests that there are no people on earth that can truly be called Kafir, except, of course, individuals like the revered scientist Richard Dawkins and our own beloved writer Khushwant Singh, who insist on claiming that they don’t believe in the existence of God. But then Quran asks us to treat Kafirs with great deal of respect and never to hurt their sentiments. Urdu poets have, therefore, rightly used the word Kafir to denote a rather recalcitrant beloved.

Some of the verses in question are the following. It should not be difficult to see that they were meant for a very different era and very different circumstances that prevail today:

2:216 Fighting is ordained for you, even though it is hateful to you. But it may happen that you hate a thing that is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing that is bad for you. For, God knows and you know not. [See 2:190-193, 22:39]

2:244 Fight in the Cause of God, and know that God is Hearer, Knower.

8:39 Fight and subdue those who persist in aggression until persecution is no more, and absolute freedom of religion is established.

47: 4: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

8:12 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

3:168 Those who sat at home said of their brethren, “If they had listened to us they would not have been slain.” Say (O Messenger), “Then avert death from your own selves if you are truthful.”

3:169 Think not of those, who are slain in the Cause of God, as dead. Nay, they are living! And by their Lord they are well provided for. [2:154, 3:156]

The Ulema also need to put to rest the Islam-supremacist world view of a lot of Muslims. Anyone who looks at others with contempt, for whatever reason, cannot possibly prove a well-adjusted member of human society. It needs to be debated openly among Muslims if they truly are a chosen people. Muslims need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are not a chosen people. Indeed God threatened to replace them with better people if they did not measure up to His expectations. They didn’t and it would not be too far-fetched to say that probably God has already carried out that thereat. He has replaced Muslim influence in the world with that of people whose societal vision is much closer to the egalitarian, democratic Islamic worldview than that of Muslims who are struggling with monarchy, dictatorship, military rule, corruption and oppression of the weaker elements in their society.

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