Breaking the monopoly on religion

Amaar Ahmad

In Pakistan today, very few can genuinely challenge the hateful sermons of self-righteous Mullahs. Voices that call for reason, moderation and universal human fraternity appear weak when confronted with the fire-breathing preaching of these religious parties. The state apparatus seems vulnerable and cautious whenever challenged by any party that uses a religious excuse for street violence or a puritanical argument for a perverted purpose. So sentimental are our sensibilities to religious affiliations and ‘ghairat’ that anyone that calls for a rational discourse can be labeled a traitor or blasphemer. There is no priesthood in Islam yet our masses remain pitifully attached to religious scholars who act as if they have been commissioned by God.

This problem is partly because of the lack of religious understanding both in the wider public and in the intellectual circles. Intellectual surrender of religion has gradually led the society to loose its values and state its authority to vagabonds. As a result, the civil society is unable to collectively confront the religious narrative as presented by our mainstream ‘Islamic’ parties and which holds great sway in the masses. Because the understanding of religion has been left to obscurantists so too have been our wits. If the Ulema can exploit this weakness to arouse base passions to seize Christian property in Gojra and false promises of paradise to turn madrassa students into suicide attackers, why would not the wider public blame ‘outside’ forces for our internal problems?
Our surrender begins the moment we let a Mullah define who is and who is not a Muslim. When we let him do that, he initiates the next level of proceedings; the declaration of apostasy. In his eyes, Shias, Ahmadis or even Sunnis who do not ‘toe the line’ fall outside the pale of Islam and hence become apostates. The Mullah considers that Islam proscribes death as a punishment for apostasy. Therefore such Muslims with ‘false’ and ‘ghumrah’ beliefs deserve to be killed. The argument gets even better; since helping infidels is against Islam, any Muslim who helps apostates becomes an apostate and deserves a similar fate. Furthermore, since a Muslim cannot remain married to an apostate, his or her nikah is annulled as well.

This is essentially the view of our Mullahs of how to deal with anyone they deem Kafir. Their argument is foolproof and leaves no escape for the ‘infidels’. Thus with the pronouncement of their fatwa, a person who believes in one God and Prophet Muhammad (sw) can potentially be reduced to a pitiful status.The murder of the spirit of religion therefore begins the moment we allow an ‘Alim’ to dictate our God-given faculty to sift right from wrong and adjudicate matters of faith on our behalf. Mohsin Hamid in ‘Fear and silence’ (Dawn June 27, 2010) similarly argued that such a stage-by-stage and relentless logic of Mullahs allows them to silence anyone. Even political heavyweights like Nawaz Sharif then cannot escape this black hole when challenged for calling Ahmadis brothers.

It is high time to give the Mullahs a taste of their medicine. Little do our educated and informed classes realize that each argument which the Mullah presents can be easily defeated from Quran and Sunnah (and without necessarily needing help from a humanist or liberal perspective). Since our masses are deeply affiliated to religion, it ought to be religious arguments that have the potential to break the spell of the dark magic our religious parties have cast.

No Mullah has any right to redefine a ‘Muslim’ for the ‘purposes of law and constitution’ which Prophet Muhammad has already done so. Secondly, no Mullah has any right to pass a fatwa of death against any former Muslim who no longer wishes to remain within Islam – a right which God has given to mortals for this life. For starters, the bogus logic of the Mullahs is dispelled from the Quran very clearly:

1. “There is no coercion in matters of religion” (2:256 )
2. “Whoever chooses to believe let him believe and whoever chooses to disbelieve let him disbelieve” (18:29)
3. “Your religion is for you and my religion is for me” (109:6)
4. “And revile not those deities whom they call upon beside Allah” (6:108)

The above verses should serve as a stimulus to the collective mindset of Muslims. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s current constitution is a far cry from Islam’s commandments and Jinnah’s wishes. The need of the hour is to return to Jinnah’s call for a state where Muslims, Hindus and others cease to become anything but citizens of the state for the purposes of the state. That would also explain why Jinnah had to invoke the moral and ethical teachings of Islam to urge on the citizens of the new state. Instead of reading his statements in a puritanical light they have to be taken in the right spirit – that earthly laws that legislate matters between man and God cannot be allowed. Today that would be possible when a large segment of society begins to sincerely apply its own mind and realize the demagoguery in the name of religion.

69 Comments

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69 responses to “Breaking the monopoly on religion

  1. Saeed

    Asa. I read your post with great sadness. In my opinion, your prejudiced, even bigoted, views about “Mullahs” and “Alims” are based on little knowledge. Quoting a few selected verses of the Quran, and insinuating that it covers situations you choose, is misleading. Over 1400 years of scholarship, authentication of ahadeeth, tafaseer have been wiped out by your simplistic reasoning. No doubt, politicians, sometimes in religious garb, have done a great disservice to humanity. Similarly, verbose, literate people, with little knowledge of religion but quoting selected texts, have done similar disservice. I pray to Allah SWT that He guides us all, and that He lets us recognize Truth as Truth, and guide us to follow it. And I pray that He lets us recognize Falsehood as Falsehood, and guide us to shun it. Wsa.

  2. Amaar

    @Saeed

    There is a difference between genuine scholarship and using religion for personal or political purposes. The agenda of most religious parties in Pakistan belong to the later category. Even many ahadith mention the rise of false Ulema who will lead ummat astray.

  3. Great piece! So well thought out, so well presented, so true – not only to Islam, but with regards to all religions in general, which get hi-jacked by “ignorant” people who teach hate, prejudice and intolerance. Writers like you are the hope for society. Keep up the great work!

  4. shoib rauf

    i only read few lines of your article nd donot wish to enlighten myself with your views. i found you to b a dirty stupid minded person. if mulahs can prepare people to sacrifice their lives nobody has roped you to go and preach ahgainst their preaching. at least these mullahs can assure their disciples a good living in hereafter. do librerals and enlightened ppl like you provide the poor masses even two times meal.

  5. ashraf lodhi

    @shoib rauf
    ” at least these mullahs can assure their disciples a good living in hereafter”

    Wow you made your mullahs equal to prophets and even higher. They can issue assurance on God’s behalf. Well said! You sound to me the next candidate of Jannah, at which mazar are you going to blow yourslef up?

  6. Bilal Ahmad

    I agree to the author that giving any mulla right to declare anyone Muslim or Non-Muslim has lead to catastrophic situation in our national life, but I think our nations has also supported this hateful state of affairs. In 1953 our country went through first religious riots, a judicial commission was formed which produced a comprehensive report, but it diminished into our past despite of the fact that many innocent lives were lost. After that our National Assembly gave mulla the right to take religion into his command by declaring Ahmadis as Non-Muslims. I don’t think poor Ahmadis would have been any danger if we would have let them practice their beliefs, but that hand over to mulla has created big problems for us. Frankly speaking, if our generation has to face suicide bombs outside shrines and inside hospitals and women universities then it is something our elders also played a role for, in our past.

  7. amar

    Saeed writes:
    “I pray to Allah SWT that He guides us all, and that He lets us recognize Truth as Truth, and guide us to follow it. And I pray that He lets us recognize Falsehood as Falsehood, and guide us to shun it. Wsa.”

    Such prayers show how the muslims are steeped in self-deceit and contradictions. There is no god to guide us. We have to learn to think honestly and to get over emotions first and that is what islam and muslims do not want. Your prayer to your arab god is foolish and lazy. It also shows an inefficient god and a fascist god-concept.

  8. S.A

    Excellent article Amaar! Unfortunately mullahs have a very strong hold on masses as can be seen by a few posts above. May God guide us all to the right path.

  9. amar

    S:A: writes:

    “May God guide us all to the right path.”

    Typical muslim sentence of self-deceit and show-off piety (pseudo-piety). So long muslims keep believing in such trap-crap they will be misguided, misused, tortured and sucked by their own people/leaders. Such travesty-laden sentences have made muslims lazy, sneaky-sly and incapable of taking up responsibility or doing real introspection.

  10. Shan

    Excellent analysis! merey piyarey Modoodi k bacho, no one is stopping you to practice Islam as article 19 constitution of Pakistan allows you freedom of speech but the thing that needs to be address in a hetrogeneous society like Pakistan, the freedom of speech doesn’t mean a freedom to preach hate or freedom to hurt other’s belief. What will be your opinion if all the Christian societies of West/North America where hundreds of thousands of Pakistani and other Muslims are living in, declare that from today on all the land laws will be govern by the teaching of Jeasus only then I believe you all will be standing in lane again to express your pain. Pakistan need to be a format again as democratic, secular, modern and an independent state according to Jinnah’s vision and version changing from the hypocratic version of Zia’s Islamic state otherwise our land will never breathe in peace. At least in Pakistan, there is no way to pick one single religious school of thought among 72 sects who are practising and preaching day and night their own brand of Islam.

  11. Amaar

    @Sonum Ongmo, S.A

    Thank you.

    The criticism that I have made if of pseudo-religion and not of genuine spirituality as I see from the tradition of the Prophets and founders of world religions. Unfortunately, people generally do not distinguish between a religion’s founder and the so-called scholars – who appear decades and centuries later – and who assume divine authority in its name.

  12. Anand

    Very well writtern article. Congratulations

    Simple thing is- You are muslim to yourself not for me, for me you are a fellow human being. Similarly I am a hindu to myself not for you, for you I should be a human being.
    Love and respect for fellow human beings irrespective of their religion, colour, culture and language should be the guiding principle. Once we learn to follow it, life would be far better for all of us.

    PS- Commentators plz do not drag G*d in your responses.

  13. Amaar

    @amar

    “Typical muslim sentence of self-deceit and show-off piety (pseudo-piety). So long muslims keep believing in such trap-crap they will be misguided, misused, tortured and sucked by their own people/leaders.”

    This meaning – if true – is another intellectual surrender of the Islamic phrase ‘May God guide us’.

    We stand in need of wisdom at all times and hope that our humanly weaknesses do not dent our faculty of heart and mind. That is what such a phrase alludes to – as a reminder of a need to reform and evolve.

  14. nasir

    excellent article, the bottom line is that the paki mullah is one of the worst species on Gods earth.

    @ shoib rauf – is Afia Siddiqi your girlfiend ? or have you been molested by a mullah and liked it. You need to be bitch slapped to knock some sense into you

  15. Humanity

    @ Shuid rauf
    “if mulahs can prepare people to sacrifice their lives nobody has roped you to go and preach ahgainst their preaching. at least these mullahs can assure their disciples a good living in hereafter. do librerals and enlightened ppl like you provide the poor masses even two times meal.”

    You seem to be brainwashed. I feel sorry for you, Mr. Rauf.

    A Mullah who prepares gullible 14 year old boys to sacrifice their lives, is a devil. Mullah should practice what he preaches, if he is not a hypocrite. The mullah should be the first one to sacrifice his own life to get the good living in the hereafter that he ‘assures’ his disciples. But he does not because he loves this world and he wants to live.

    The mullah can’t assure his own next breathe, and you think he can “assure the good life in the hereafter”. He has no shame in spilling blood of innocent children, because he is a shaitaan. He he wants power and control in this world, because he wants this world and not the hereafter. Good life of the hereafter and this world are promised to those who serve humanity and promote peace and tolerance. It is not for the murderers and those who preach to murder.

    Get away from the mullah if you want to save yourself from the shaitaan. God commands you to respect the rights of His creation, including their right to life. Let God judge who is or is not Muslim and who will or will not go to heaven.

    Start thinking independently. To know the difference between right and wrong, imagine how would you like to be treated by others. Stop doing those things that you would not like to be done to you. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Don’t lie to your self and don’t lie to others. Don’t hit others. Be respectful to others. Don’t think you are superior than others. etc etc. This is what Islam teaches about how to be a good human. How you pray to God in neither my business nor the mullah’s. You worship the Creator is your business.

    Use your own mind and have faith in your own humanity. Fear God and not the mullah. God will hold your hand and guide you.

    Regards.

  16. D. Asghar

    @Humanity Bhai…I have tried this in the past with Raza Raja Bhai, I will try it again with you. Did you go the Clifton Mela in Karachi way back in the 70s. Do you have a dark mole on your left arm. If so you may be my long lost brother and I need to come running to you with a theme song (la Pakistani fillum style) and yell, “Bhayya mujhey chor key mut jaana.”🙂 .I hope you are not going to respond like Raza Raja Bhai by saying, “Ammaan D. Asghar, 70’s main to main paida bhi naheen hua tha.”🙂

    Jokes aside, couldn’t agree with you more. For the record, I am a Sunni Muslim and all what you have said in your interact, I have learned from people around me in Pakistan and outside of Pakistan. ALLAH (SWT) has granted us brains to decipher right from wrong. HE has granted us with conscience, a meter of checks and balances. No matter what faith you have, any time you are about to do something wrong, your conscience gives you a warning. It is up to you pay heed to that voice or not.

    Those who do and follow the virtues taught by our beloved Prophet PBUH, are able to shun hatred, bigotry and injustice. (All the virtues of none other than the Devil). In the end, it is heart and minds which are won by kindness and “ehsaan” and not by force or fear. May ALMIGHTY guide us all to the right path. (Aameen)

  17. Humanity

    @D. Asghar Bhai
    Don’t even go there .. I can probably beat you at songs starting from Begum Akhtar’s era .. though my parents were perhaps toddlers when she was popular. That is, if you have heard of Begum Akhtar. And if you have, you will perhaps say “Bhaenna mujhey takleef sae bachanna.”:)🙂

    Nourishment of the soul like music and laughter aside, the more one thinks the more one realizes the boundlessness of Allah (SWT) mercy and love for His creation and His infinite wisdom. That he gave us free will and a conscience are perhaps the most fundamental characteristics that qualify us as ashraf-ul-makhluqaat. As you said, these attributes serve as built in guides for humans similar to the magnetic field keeping for migratory birds on course.

    Along with effort, one has to ask for guidance, like in
    “Ae Malik, tere bande hum , aeyse hauN hamanre karam
    Naikee par chalaeN aur badi sae talaeN taake haste huaY nikle dum”

    That Allah (SWT) asserts absolute control over final judgment, leaves no wiggle room for me. I have no one to point the finger at. I better take responsibility now. I also need a plan to make up for the report card, which is beyond pathetic ):

    On the day about which there is no doubt, when I will have to face my Malik (SWT), I will not even try to justify why I used my free will that way I did. Though the book of my deeds will be wide open, I will acknowledge with humility that my sins are countless, because I was weak, I was bad, I was forgetful, and that I did not know any better. I will beg my Allah, my Ghafur-ur-Raheem for forgiveness and mercy. I have faith in His immense love for his creation. I believe that He is what His names tell us He is.

    It is this hope and faith that gives me solace. It is this belief that motivates me to worship Him more out of love and less out of fear. A relationship based on love is pure and whole as opposed to the one based on fear. It is this logic that inspires me to love His creation.

    Regards.

  18. Tilsim

    Ahh, Begum Akhtar …..

    Aye Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Pe Rona Aaya
    Jaane Kyon Aaj Tere Naam Pe Rona Aaya

    Yun Toh Har Shaam Ummido Mein Guzar Jaati Hai
    Aaj Kuch Baat Hai Jo Shaam Pe Rona Aaya

    Kabhi Taqdeer Ka Matam Kabhi Duniya Ka Gila
    Manzil-e-Ishq Mein Har Gam Pe Rona Aaya

  19. Humanity

    @Tilsim

    Wah, Begum Akhtar ….

    What a poignant expression of anguish for what has become of Pakistan. Very depressing.

  20. MilesToGo

    Just add the correct interpretations of Quran at the bottom of each verse in each Quran that is printed. No chance of misreading.

  21. S.A

    @MilesToGo

    Just add the correct interpretation to the clauses of a country’s constitution every time the laws are printed. No chances of misreading.

    I throw you a challenge: Pick any verse -just any verse – from the Quran that you deem incite violence and I will answer it from the same passage itself.

  22. S.A

    @Milestogo

    By the way, dont forget to properly cite the verse and chapter.

  23. Nusrat Pasha

    @Humanity (November 2, 2010 at 4:11 am)

    * “…..Though the book of my deeds will be wide open, I will acknowledge with humility that my sins are countless, because I was weak, I was bad…..”

    Touching. Reminds me of a famous hadith. The Holy Prophet once said, “I feel envy for this prayer of Yunus [Jonah], when he supplicated: “laa ilaaha illa anta, subhaanaka, innee kuntu min-az zaalimeen”[there is no god but Thee. Thou alone art Infallible. Indeed it is I who am among the wrongdoers]”.

    I have always found this hadith spell-binding. The chief of all prophets feels envy towards another prophet. He is not envious because of the latter’s wealth or fame. He is not envious due to the latter’s having recited memorable words of self-glorification. He is envious on account of words of humility and self-negation. It is this self-negation and abandonment of the ego that invokes and invites the forgiveness, mercy and grace of God. This is the legacy of the prophets.

    Needless to add, but the legacy of the Mullah is negation of all others beside him and all those who refuse to submit to him.

  24. Milestogo

    S.a.

    I am not misreading them. Your religious brothers and Cousions are doing it. Do a service to the humanity and guide them with the your peaceful interpretations of Quran.

  25. Watty

    @Tilsim regarding Begum Akhtar

    Even this rare gem of a koyal was caught up in the bigotry of religious zealots of her time as described [courtesy Google] in the “Music of India” chronicles by David Courtney title: “The Tawaif and Anti-Nautch movement and development of North Indian classical music”.

    Begum’s lifetime however spanned a period when India lay claim to its ancient cultural heritage and witnessed the long awaited cultural renaissance in the early 20th century. Interestingly the Muslims who once played such a vital role in the development of the arts and artists seemed to lose interest for various reasons allowing the largely Hindu middle class to enthusiastically inherit, revive and further develop the various art forms which continues to be our common inheritance today – as many young progrssive Pakistanis are joyfully rediscovering.

    As for the negative aspects of the role of extreme Islam in Pakistan today, it is an alien virus imported from the oil rich Saudis and the Arabian peninsula, as Pakistan desperately tried to break free of its Indian roots in search of a new Islam based identity. I do not think this “look west” strategy has worked very well for Pakistan, if at all.

  26. IIC

    @S.A.

    This is in response to “I throw you a challenge: Pick any verse – just any verse – from the Quran that you deem incite violence and I will answer it from the same passage itself.” Well, here are few samples:

    Violence in the Quran

    Sura (2:191-193) – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

    Sura (4:74) – “So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward.”

    Sura (4:89) – “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.”

    Sura (4:91) – “You will find others who wish to obtain security from you and [to] obtain security from their people. Every time they are returned to [the influence of] disbelief, they fall back into it. So if they do not withdraw from you or offer you peace or restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you overtake them. And those – We have made for you against them a clear authorization.”

    Sura (5:33) – “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”

    Sura (8:17) – “And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”

    Sura (9:111) – “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.”

    Sura (9:123) – “O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness.”

    Sura (48:20) – “Allah has promised you much booty that you will take [in the future] and has hastened for you this [victory] and withheld the hands of people from you”

    I say the Mullahs are the followers of true Islam. They are the one on the road to Jihad, not mincing words and trying to hide behind the closet.

  27. Milestogo

    All the peaceful interpretations of Quran that Muslims come up with to defend Islam – I say make them a part of Quran – put your money where your mouth is.

  28. S.A

    @IIC

    Sura (2:191-193) – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

    Incorrect bracketed insertions: The verse only says that persecution ‘fitna’ (of anyone and not only of Muslims) is worse than murder ‘qatal’ (of anyone and not only of Muslims). In any case, it is only reminding that Muslims have already been persecuted and their fight is of a defensive nature!
    Thus there is no element of incitement to violence rather a universal principal of just self-defense.

  29. S.A

    @IIC

    Also you omitted to mention the next verse:

    “…And fight them not in, and near, the Sacred mosque until they fight you therein. But if they fight you then fight them…” (2:192).

    Clearly, it ordains cessation of fighting the moment your enemy stops. Rules of war are categorically laid and self-defense is allowed (a teaching of peace -not war-mongering- certainly!).

  30. S.A

    @IIC

    Sura (4:74) – “So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward.”

    You forgot the context only a verse later: “And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and of the weak-men, women and children-who say,’Our Lord take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors….(4:75)'”

    So, Muslims are the oppressed party being persecuted as the verse says AND they do NOT want to fight as the verse say. Conclusion: The fight is prescribed for self-defense and in protection of the weak and oppressed!

  31. Tilsim

    @ Watty

    “I do not think this “look west” strategy has worked very well for Pakistan, if at all.”

    I think you are right. The pull got momentum after Bhutto was successful in exporting Pakistani labour to Saudi. Too many people (of all social classes) came back starry eyed from the oil wealth of 1970s Arabia and put Wahabi Islam on a pedestal. I lived in Saudi too at the time and there was a huge contrast between how I saw Saudis treating us Pakistanis (and Indians) with disdain and the Pakistanis starry eyed with admiration of the fabulous wealth, lack of day to day corruption and religious simplicity (“considered to be purity”) of their co-religionists. It became a sort of role model as an alternative to the Western system in situ in Pakistan which was woefully failing to deliver. I would say if this interaction had not occurred, the romantic vision of Arabia would just have remained a certain poet’s vision.

  32. S.A

    @IIC

    Sura (4:89) – “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.”

    Again you failed to mention the very next verse:
    “Except those who are connected with a people between whom and you there is a pact,or those who come to you, while their hearts shrink from fighting their own people. And if Allah had so pleased, He would have given them power over you, then they would have surely fought you.So, if they keep aloof from you and fight you not, then Allah has allowed you no way against them” (4:90)

    Does this answer your concern?!! So the Quran is again permitting a fight against aggressors and in self-defense which must cease the moment the enemy stops its hostile action.

  33. Bin Ismail

    @IIC (November 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm)

    What you have termed as “Violence in the Quran”, could more appropriately be categorized as “Misunderstood and misapplied verses of the Quran”. One might ask “why are these verses susceptible to being misunderstood?”. Well, isn’t every single word uttered or written similarly susceptible. It all depends on who is listening or reading, on his level of understanding, his biases and prejudices and on his ability to remain connected with the general spirit of the text.

    The one reference you seem to have overlooked pertains to the most fundamental question, the question that has to be placed before any and all of the above verses become applicable – ”Permission to fight is given ONLY to those against whom war is waged, because they have been wronged” (Quran 32:39). As is clear from ths verse, the Quran permits defensive combat only. However, once the aggressor has initiated combat, the Quran instructs the defenders to show steadfastness and courage, different aspects of which have been discussed in the verses quoted by you.

    You have concluded by saying, “I say the Mullahs are the followers of true Islam. They are the one on the road to Jihad, not mincing words and trying to hide behind the closet.” May I infer from these words of yours that it is the Mullah’s interpretation of Islam that suits you most for reasons known best to you.

  34. S.A

    @IIC

    Sura (4:91) – “You will find others who wish to obtain security from you and [to] obtain security from their people. Every time they are returned to [the influence of] disbelief, they fall back into it. So if they do not withdraw from you or offer you peace or restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you overtake them. And those – We have made for you against them a clear authorization.”

    So Quran clearly says ‘So if they do not withdraw from you or offer you peace or restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you overtake them..’.
    This means that the enemies of Muslims are war-mongers and are hell-bent on fighting rather than making peace, in that case alone are the Muslims supposed to respond in kind.

    Also you did not read the previous verse
    ‘So, if they keep aloof from you and fight you not, then Allah has allowed you no way against them” (4:90)’

    Isnt that obvious? Again, the message is loud and clear: Only self-defense is permitted.

  35. S.A

    @IIC

    ‘Sura (5:33) – “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”’

    In ‘those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption’
    only those who are war-mongers and enemies of peace are mentioned. And as any sensible person would agree they are due a punishment.

    Again you forgot the earlier verse:
    ‘..whosoever killed a person-unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land-it shall be as if he had killed all mankind (5:32)’

    So violent enemies of peace and humanity have been singled out for condemnation/punishment in this verse!

  36. S.A

    @IIC

    ‘Sura (8:17) – “And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”’

    This verse is obviously NOT inciting a believer to violence!

    Rather, the context of this verse is the Battle of Badr where a 1000-strong army of Meccans attacked a small contingent of Muslims lead by the Prophet and was decimated despite superior numbers and weapons.
    Badr is close to Madina and far from Mecca; so clearly, the intent of the Meccans was hostile and aggressive and they travelled from a far for this purpose!

  37. S.A

    ‘Sura (9:111) – “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.”

    Sura (9:123) – “O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness.”’

    Again, without context! This sura detailing an important incident in the life of the Prophet already provides the context right at the beginning. Read that verse from this sura earlier on that elaborates on the above verses:

    ‘And if they break their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion then fight these leaders of disbelief-surely they have no regard for their oaths-‘ (9:11)

    So an enemy that breaks peace treaties repeatedly is being mentioned! Isnt deceit, treachery and rebellion are justification for a strong response?

  38. S.A

    @IIC

    ‘Sura (48:20) – “Allah has promised you much booty that you will take [in the future] and has hastened for you this [victory] and withheld the hands of people from you”’

    Firstly, how do you propose that this verse asks a Muslim to start unjustified hostility?

    Secondly, two verses later, you will find:
    ‘And if those who disbelieve should fight you, they would certainly turn their backs; then they would find neither protector nor helper (48:22)’

    The hostility is again being described as coming from the enemy of Muslims who have been at the receiving end of violence. Do I need to reiterate that self-defense is a universally accepted right!

  39. S.A

    @IIC and @milestogo

    As promised, your concerns have been answered for each Quranic verse from the Quran itself!

    Bin Ismail also has answered your criticism from another angle. Hope that this satisfies your urge to criticize Islam!

  40. MilesToGo

    Sir,

    I am ok with your interpretations, but these interpretations should reach every Muslim. When Muslim kids are cramming Quran, include these interpretations as part of their curriculum. Chances of them growing up to become a suicide bomber will decline.

    MilesToGo

  41. S.A

    @MilesToGo

    Fully agreed!

    Unfortunately, some Muslims get misguided precisely because they do not read the whole passage or the clergy never inform them of the whole set of verses.
    When you pick a verse out of context (without regard to the whole passage) then you can twist it any way you like and that is indeed a big problem.

  42. MilesToGo

    I find it funny when Pakistani’s rejoice in USA’s defeat in Afghanistan. USA’s defeat will haunt Pakistani’s for a long time to come.

  43. MilesToGo

    I would be glad if the correct interpretations of Quran are made a part of the Quran and reduce the chances of mis-reading.

  44. amar

    S.A. writes:
    “The hostility is again being described as coming from the enemy of Muslims who have been at the receiving end of violence. Do I need to reiterate that self-defense is a universally accepted right!”

    Hindus never invaded Arabia. Muslims invaded India. So this gives the hindus he right to defend themslves against muslims, arabs and turks and their quislings. Hindus were not enemies of muslims till muslims started invading India (starting in Sindh) and kiling and looting hindus.

    You muslims keep thinking that the muslims were everywhere and always the innocent party. When will you set aside this deceit and self-deceit? In the indian subcontinent the muslims are the guilty party since the 8th century, since the very first encounter. When will muslim children learn this truth? Even the crusades were a 300-year-belated reaction by Europeans against the islamic arabic invasion and aggression, which took place in the 8th century into Iberia and southern France.

    Muslim history-writing is biased and hence faulty.

  45. IIC

    @ S.A

    I have hit the hornet’s nest. One could argue, but this is not the right forum, I suppose. For your information, I have been reading the Quran for the last five decades, almost daily, and have read its many tafsirs. I know the context – literal as well as the historical. The bracketed insertions indicate those for whom it is addressed.

    The Quran is supposed to be “easily understood”, that’s what was said. How come so many people then misunderstood it for centuries and been breaking each others head? Now I have to go back to the Munir Commission (1953) when the Ulemas could not even define who was a Muslim and who was not. If everything is so clear, why so much of hatred, so much of killings? Surely, Hindu-Zionist-Christian conspirators are not behind this, or are they?

  46. amar

    The kuran makes grand assertions about itself and its own perfection, beauty, greatness, divinity, finality etc. In reality however it is causing more confusions, conflicts, arrogances, conceits, intolerances and even bloodshed. Muslims are not allowed to see that. So long the muslim is forced to pretend or believe that kuran is uncriticizable there will grow a fascism centred on the kuran with corresponding ill-effects.

    We cannot hope even for the slightest honesty in this matter from the muslims.

  47. S.A

    @amar

    ‘Hindus never invaded Arabia. Muslims invaded India. So this gives the hindus he right to defend themslves against muslims, arabs and turks and their quislings. Hindus were not enemies of muslims till muslims started invading India (starting in Sindh) and kiling and looting hindus.’

    If this is factually correct then indeed Hindus have a right to defend themselves against the invaders – Muslim or otherwise.

    But I doubt that historically it was as simple as you are saying. Particular in case of bin Qasim (i.e. Sindh), Raja Dahir has held hostage Muslim women/children retaruning from Ceylon. His refusal to hand over the hostages precipitated the military action against him (and justifiably so if IMO if this version of history is correct).

    In case of Mahmud Ghaznavi or Ghauri, I am much less convinced that they had a good enough moral reason to invade India.

  48. S.A

    @amar

    Alas! Your words smack of self-conceited bigotry and self-righteousness which render your venom against Quran and Muslims meaningless.

  49. S.A

    @IIC

    The Quran is supposed to be “easily understood”, that’s what was said. How come so many people then misunderstood it for centuries and been breaking each others head? ‘

    It is easily understood if you study a whole passage rather than cherry picking verses out of their context in the passage. I feel that deep inside you are convinced yourself that these verses do not incite Muslims to unjustified and senseless violence.

    The reason why people break each other’s heads is not because of Quran. They would have broken each other’s heads regardless of Quran. But by cherry picking verses someone can use religion to misinform the masses who have no idea about what the passages are saying.

    Unfortunately, literacy and even Quranic literacy -where people have read any proper and full translation – is low. Not surprising that they place their faith in the Mullahs to ‘interpret’ Quran for them.

  50. S.A

    @IIC

    The dilemma for ALL world religions has been this. The further they move away over time from their founders (e.g. Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Zaroster and Muhammad (as))
    the more intolerant and bigoted they become. Why: Because time fades the rationale for why the understanding of a text. In case of Quran that is not the reason as it is the only text to have survived in its exact form.

    Btw, it is not a problem of Islam: Many among Hindus, Christians and Jews have all been extremely bigoted and violent over the centuries.

  51. S.A

    @amar

    Just as Gita and veda incite RSS to violence and murder!

  52. amar

    to S.A.

    The version of Raja Dahir’s story is: some pirates (probably also arabs) had captured arab ships and taken hostages (incl. women) and hidden in the difficult Makran coast. Raja Dahir merely expressed his inability to catch them since the hindus were not a sea-faring people and had no good naval capabilities. If islam had been an ideology of peace and understanding then the caliph would have proposed to train Dahir’s forces into naval affairs and created a joint patrol for this infested coast. None of that happened. In fact bin Kasim’s aggression was preceded by at least two attempts to invade Sindh. The muslims/arabs were looking for some excuse anyway. If it had not been the pirates then something else. About 80 years earlier an arab/muslim brigand had attemted to land north of today’s Mumbai also, but were repulsed.

    Can you explain how my words are: “self-conceited bigotry and self-righteousness”? Is it conceit and self-righteousness to point out the aggressions, loots and fascisms of muslims? This a cheap trick to silence any criticism of islam and muslims.

  53. amar

    Gita and veda incite RSS to violence? Then reject them. No problem with that. Can you say that about the much glorified and over-rated kuran? Hindu religions are not book-dependent or fixated. There is no book-centred fascism in hindu religions. Can you say that about islam?

    So you are recognizing the real problem.

  54. Tilsim

    One solution is to reform religious education and take it out of the hands of the Mullah.

  55. Tilsim

    To reform religious education you have to take the mullah away from the State.

    To do that you have to convince the Pakistan Army leadership or there has to be an overwhelming societal revolt against Mullah orthodoxy.

    I put more trust in the latter than in the former.

  56. Tilsim

    Even though as bciv says in less educated societies reform usually is top down.

  57. S.A

    @amar

    In your mind Islam/Muslims = Evil, Hinduism/Hindus = Light

    What else is self-righteousness?

    Contrast this with
    1. Under Islamic teachings, Krishna and Buddha may be viewed as Prophets demanding our utmost respect.
    2. Under Islamic terms, a ‘Sabi’ – a person who is formally not a Muslim – yet who sincerely believes in One God, the day of judgement and does good deeds is worthy of God’s blessings and heaven. Monotheistic people of other faiths (Jews, Christians and even ‘monotheistic’ Hindus) may be called Sabis.
    3. We are forbidden to condemn even your dieties as Quran says:
    “And revile not those deities whom they call upon beside Allah” (6:108)
    4. For religious freedom:
    “There is no coercion in matters of religion” (2:256 )
    “Whoever chooses to believe let him believe and whoever chooses to disbelieve let him disbelieve” (18:29)
    “Your religion is for you and my religion is for me” (109:6)

    Peace.

  58. S.A

    @amar

    ‘In reality however it is causing more confusions, conflicts, arrogances, conceits, intolerances and even bloodshed. Muslims are not allowed to see that. So long the muslim is forced to pretend or believe that kuran is uncriticizable there will grow a fascism centred on the kuran with corresponding ill-effects.’

    What else have I been doing so far other than to show that neither Quran nor many among Muslims believe in ‘fascism’-like beliefs?

    You are attributing to us beliefs that we simply do not believe. I as a Muslim can easily say that Quran is a most enlightening book.

    The fascism only exists only in your mind.

  59. Bin Ismail

    With reference to the topic “Breaking the monopoly on religion”, let us all remember that God introduces Himself to us, in the Quran as “Rabb ul aalameen” [Lord of all the worlds]. He introduces His messenger Muhammad to us as “Rahmatun lil aalameen” [Mercy for all the worlds]. God and His Messenger, are for “aalameen” – both are universal – both belong to all Humanity.

    There is simply no scope for monopolizing such a God or such a Messenger.

  60. amar

    Your country boss Gen. Kayani said once: we keep ourselves ready not according to India’s intentions but its capabilities. He was much praised for supreme astuteness.

    Similarly we non-muslims make ourselves ready not according to what the kuran says on some nice things of life or some god-concept but according to the known abilities of the muslims to destroy us.

    So S A and bin ismail miss the point by talking unreliable niceties.

  61. Bin Ismail

    @amar (November 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm)

    “…..we non-muslims make ourselves ready…to the known abilities of the muslims to destroy us…..”

    We all, each one of us, you and I, should, in my humble opinion, at all instances, remain mindful of our own individual abilities to destroy ourselves.

    Regards.

  62. Humanity

    @Bin Ismail November 5, 2010 at 11:47 am
    “God introduces Himself to us, in the Quran as “Rabb ul aalameen” [Lord of all the worlds]. He introduces His messenger Muhammad to us as “Rahmatun lil aalameen” [Mercy for all the worlds]. God and His Messenger, are for “aalameen” – both are universal – both belong to all Humanity.
    There is simply no scope for monopolizing such a God or such a Messenger.”

    SubhanAllah! Thank you, Bin for expressing the truth in a simple yet powerful manner.

    @Bin Ismail November 5, 2010 at 9:17 pm”
    We all, each one of us, you and I, should, in my humble opinion, at all instances, remain mindful of our own individual abilities to destroy ourselves.”

    Thank you, again!

  63. Kaalket

    How does this Allameen Mercy extend to millions animals on Eid day and Kuffar on daily basis ? Is it mercy to cut the throats of millions animals and see life draining away slowly. No doubt children watch this from tender age and grow up as natural killer excelling in cruelity.
    Bin Ismael, your efforts are appreciated but God of Quran is made a partisan entity with claim of special favour for partciular group of people. How hard is it for Muslims to understand that true “Allah” is not limited to Quran and true”Allah” is beyond cursing kuffar and cant be an angry power to kill kuffar people , values and investions so enjoyed by all without descrimination . I am sorry and sad to say that Quran assign all sort of human weakness and limitation to Divine that undermine the Universality and Infinite nature of Godhood. You cant lock something in Doctrine which is beyond any doctrine or bondage. This is very immature understanding of supreme Divinity. Yes, Muhamad is Prophet of Allah of Islam and lets not impose this as universal principle or rule. In doctrine and practice, both these rules are limited to islam and Muslamans and this qualified Godhood has nothing to do with rest of the humanity or other life forms living on different planets in different galaxies .

  64. S.A

    @Kaalket

    Each instance your vegetarian body is killing thousands of bacteria and other life forms. Each day animals kill other animals and you cannot fault them for this. With or without believing in a God there is no escape from the laws of the food chain.

    You say:’your efforts are appreciated but God of Quran is made a partisan entity with claim of special favour for partciular group of people. How hard is it for Muslims to understand that true “Allah” is not limited to Quran and true”Allah” is beyond cursing kuffar and cant be an angry power to kill kuffar people , values and investions so enjoyed by all without descrimination .’

    Indeed this is exactly what being said – that Allah is not limited to caretaking of Muslims alone. If there is a God then indeed all humanity are His creation and to Him should every one turn.

    In principle you believe in exactly the same thing as Quran; that people who deny truth and stop others from accepting are ungrateful deniers. The word ‘kuffar’ simply means ungrateful deniers. Period. The term of itself is not a condemnation of a non-Muslim per se. FYI this term can apply even to a Muslim who can be equally ungrateful and deny truth.

    But in principle, ‘kaffir’ -ungrateful rejector of a blessing – is a neutral term with a negative meaning. Note that the Quran never says that Non-Muslims will go to hell. It only says that ungrateful rejectors of truth will go there. It is like saying that the ill always go to the hospital.

    I would challenge you to find a Quranic verse that specifically says that a Non-Muslim will be hell-bound.
    Only kaffirs are destined there according to Quran. Indeed Non-Muslims and Muslims can both belong to this unfortunate category.

  65. Kaalket

    SA
    I am not the one making claim of being Merciful and all Knowing etc . Why is the public throat cutting of millions of living being called animals is so pleasing to Godhood claimed in Quran? If you are equating my unconcious, unintened acts with the animal sacrificing demand by Godhood of Quran then i am sorry , its not a an apt analogy and logically and humanely it dont explain the “divine” nature and acts as promoted by Holy Book from Arabia. Expectaion ought to better and of high degree from doctrine which make claim as final Truth from Infinte source of Life,Wisdom and Purity , silenced for ever because a man died in Arabia .

  66. Tilsim

    Gul ne gulshan se gulfam bheja hai,
    sitaro ne ufaq se salam bheja hai,
    Mubarak ho apko yeh roshniyon ki raat
    Humne tahe dil se yeh paigam bheja hai:)

    Happy Diwali to all around the world including our fellow Pakistani Hindus. And, not least, to all our Indian dost who post on PTH.

    May we all have the courage to lift the veil of maya (illusion) and realise our innermost light (Atman) for the benefit of ourselves and for the benefit of others.

  67. Chote Miyan

    Tilsim Ji,
    Aapko bhi Diwali Mubarak. May the festival of lights bring happiness to everyone.
    Thank you,
    Chote(Bade) Miyan.

  68. amar

    bin ismail is an expert in bringing forth unfitting pieties instead of relevant arguments. This reveals his inability to address real issues and instead become a high-flying preacher. Jinnah hated Gandhi for similar reasons. Gandhi too had this silly or tricky habit of letting loose pious platitudes and sentiments as solutions to real problems.

    BTW – bin ismail also wrote about how islam respects other religions by declaring that islam regards Ram, Krishna etc. as imams (imam-e-hind etc.).

    But hindus don’t regard Ram or Krishna as imams. So the muslim thinks he can give his own spin to it. Then what is wrong if non-muslims refer to Mohammad as just another arab leader working for arabic hegemony (upon non-arabs) in the name of the arab god? The word god can be used as a rallying point by invaders, conquerors, imperialists and looters. That’s what he actually did.

    In any case we now know how the muslim world has sunk into self-deceit, conflicts and violence because of its beliefs and grand declarations (self-deceits) and its habit of denying truths and facts (in order to glorify islam). So we non-muslims are warned.

  69. Bin Ismail

    Dear Kaalket and Amar,

    Among other things that I seem to have uttered in your presence, was a quote from the Quran, which somehow escaped your otherwise keen attention:

    “Lakum deenukum wa liya deen”, meaning ”Your religion is for you and my religion is for me” (Quran 109:6).

    I have presented my own religious views. Most certainly you are equally entitled to yours. No need to get so uptight.

    Have a happy Diwali.