FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognised as one of its most influential Muslims1 . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
ANTI-ISLAM IN THE NAME OF ISLAM
SOME time ago, I met a Muslim who lives in America. In conversation, he mentioned that these days the image of Islam has become so negative in America that he hesitates to tell anyone he is a Muslim. ‘If anyone asks me my religion,’ he explained, ‘I say that my religion is Humanism. If I tell them that I believe in Islam, they will at once say, “Then you must be a terrorist!”
The man accused the media of creating this image of Islam. But I replied, ‘No. This image has been created by Muslims themselves. It is a fact that Muslims are engaged in violent movements in various places in the name of Islam, which the media reports. Because Muslims spearhead these violent movements in the name of Islam, the media also attributes them to Islam. How can the media call them by some other name?’
The man responded by saying that just a few Muslims were engaged in such violent movements. Hence, he protested, it was wrong to create a negative image about all Muslims. My answer was, ‘It is true that relatively few Muslims are engaged in such movements. But,
1. The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2012, Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Jordan.
it is also true that the rest of the Muslims do not openly denounce such movements. They are silent. Hence, in accordance with Islamic principles, it would not be wrong to say that even if only a few people are directly responsible for spearheading these violent and hate driven movements in the name of Islam, the rest of the Muslims are indirectly responsible for them.’
This approach of Muslims is extremely lamentable. In the name of establishing ‘Islamic Government’ and ‘The Prophetic System’ (Nizam-e Mustafa) and engaging in ‘Islamic Jihad’, such acts are being committed as are completely opposed to Islam. Instead of attracting people to the religion of God, these deeds are only driving them away from it.
The Islamic System
In present times, numerous violent movements are being spearheaded in the name of establishing the ‘Islamic System’ or the ‘Prophetic System’. These movements are a ruse for gaining political leadership in the name of Islam. This is despite the fact that launching and conducting a movement to acquire political dominance is not permissible in Islam. The aim of a genuine Islamic movement is the Islamisation of individuals, not the Islamisation of the government or the state. For centuries the Sufis focused on the Islamisation of individuals, using peaceful methods. Never did they become a source for spreading hatred and violence. The Sufis have always promoted peace and humanity, while the socalled ‘revolutionary Islamic’ movements of today are producing diametrically opposite results.
Because Muslims spearhead these violent movements
in the name of Islam,the media also attributes them to Islam.
The linking of Islam with hatred and violence is entirely the result of the misguidance of modern-day so-called Muslim leaders, who are spearheading violent movements in a quest to acquire political power. They have made Islam seem like a religion of hatred and violence, whereas the Islam sent by God is a religion of peace and concern for the welfare for all. A true Muslim is concerned about the welfare of humanity, not someone who is at war with humanity.
If someone were to sit somewhere and move one’s hands about and stand up and then claim to be offering prayers in the Islamic way, his actions would not represent the Islamic form of prayer. The Islamic form of prayer has well defined conditions. Only if an action adheres to these conditions can it be said to constitute the Islamic form of prayer.
The same holds true of Islamic Jihad (struggle in the way of God) which has clearly determined conditions or requisites. An action that fully observes these conditions would, in God’s eyes be a jihad. Anything else is meaningless agitation, certainly not a jihad in the true sense.
Islamic jihad is engaging in the path of God. To unleash war for the sake of power, wealth and other worldly things and call it jihad, is nothing but strife or fasad. Involvement in such actions cannot, under any conditions, be credited as Islamic jihad. According to Islamic shariah only an established government has the prerogative of declaring war. An individual or a group has no authority to declare war on its own against anyone in the name of jihad. No matter what complaint an individual or a group may have, it must necessarily act within peaceful limits. It is in no way legitimate for it to resort to war and violence.
The aim of a genuine Islamic movement is the Islamisation
of individuals, not the Islamisation of the government or the state.
Jihad, in the form of qital or war, is a wholly defensive action. Aggressive qital or offensive war is forbidden in Islam. Even if faced with an aggressive attack from another community, all possible efforts should be made to stave off war. War can be resorted to only when all efforts to stave it off or avoid it have failed. The opponents of the Prophet sought to entangle him in war and confrontation on more than eighty occasions, but he was able to avoid fighting through wise action. Only on three occasions (the battles of Badr, Uhud and Hunayn), when no option was left but war, did he participate in fighting.
Another aspect of a legitimate war in Islam is that it should be an open affair. To engage in secret military actions is unlawful in Islam. Proxy war is also regarded by Islam as illegitimate, because in such a war the government uses a group to engage in violence by providing it covert assistance, but it does not directly participate in the war.
These days, a few Muslims are resorting to violence against their imaginary enemies through hijacking and taking people hostage. Such tactics are completely illegitimate in Islam. These misguided people have absolutely no fear of being held to account by God. Else they would never do such terrible deeds which target and harm innocent people. These cowardly actions are wholly against humanity as well as against the religion of God.
An instance from the life of the Prophet illustrates why taking people as hostages is un-Islamic. Opponents of the Prophet in Makkah captured some Muslims and kept them prisoners. The Prophet had entered into a treaty with the Makkans at Hudaybiya. While entering into this treaty, he did not ask the Makkans to return the captured men. He unilaterally announced freeing all Makkan polytheists falling into Muslims’ hands and sending them back. This indicates that even if their opponents took hostages, it was still not legitimate for Muslims to retaliate similarly.
The Real Culprits
Who then, are really responsible for stirring up a storm of hatred and violence in the name of Islam? Muslim youth engaged in these hate-driven and violent acts cannot be responsible. The blame falls squarely on the so-called ‘Islamic thinkers’, who in the name of ‘Islamic Revolution’, gave these youth an ideology that led to such devastating consequences. These so-called ‘Islamic thinkers’ have concocted a false political interpretation of Islam.
No matter what complaint an individual or a group
may have, it must necessarily act within peaceful limits.
The method of Islam is the method of dawah (communication of the message of God). The opposite is the method of politics. The two are direct opposites—dawah is based on peace, politics is based on confrontation. People who choose the political method consider others their enemies. This has resulted in Islamic movements turning into political movements and unfortunately associating Islam with all those terrible deeds.
By its inherent nature, dawah looks upon opponents as potential friends. Typically, politicians see others as their rivals and foes. This is why dawah-related action engenders a ‘mercy culture’, while political agitation produces a ‘hate culture’. In a society characterized by ‘mercy culture’, goodness will flourish; ‘hate culture’ will only spread violence. Goodness can never coexist with hatred.
The Real Work To Be Done
The fact of the matter is that the present-day political agitations and the violence fermented by Muslims are not just un-Islamic but are also completely useless. Recent history provides ample evidence of this.
By its inherent nature, dawah (communication of the
message of God) looks upon opponents as potential friends.
In the first half of the 20th century, most Muslim countries were directly or indirectly under the control of Western powers. Then, movements for their independence were launched. Today, these Muslim countries are politically independent. Some 60 in number, Muslim states taken together form the largest block among the members of the United Nations. Despite this, Muslims carry no weight at the global political level. The reason being that in the ancient past political dominance counted for everything; today it has been reduced to a secondary status. Presently, education, knowledge, science, technology and economics are considered more important. Merely being politically independent does not count for much in today’s world.
Muslim countries are today considerably behind others in these nonpolitical spheres and consequently lack a standing on the global map. Most of their people are poorly educated or uneducated. In the fields of science and technology, they are still dependent on Western countries. By modern standards, they have not achieved economic progress. Despite being politically sovereign, they are backward in areas that matter. In reality, they are still dominated by others.Several Muslim countries have, so they claim, witnessed an ‘Islamic Revolution’—for instance, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. However, these so-called ‘Islamic states’ are suffering from the same serious problems as secular Muslim states. These so-called Islamic countries are as backward as the latter in the intellectual and economic fields. The real work today is to help Muslims advance in these spheres. This work has nothing to do with politics or political dominance. Such non-political work is possible only in a purely peaceful framework. There is no occasion to spread hatred or instigate violence. This work is entirely positive and motivating.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan