, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
We Indian Muslims too were shell-shocked at the Taliban-planned assassination of Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad on March 2. He was the only Christian Minister in the Pakistan government. Like him, his Muslim progressive-predecessor, Dr. Salman Taseer, who was Governor of Punjab, met the same fate on January 4. He was killed by his bodyguards. The late governor was bold, outspoken and too-liberal, who did not hesitate in sowing wild oats in the womb of an Indian girl, while they, decades ago, were students in London (may Allah forgive him).
What is a matter of grave concern for the Indian Muslim leadership is besmirching the image of Islam by illegal and dastardly attacks. Awarding punishment is the duty of the State. You and me cannot do it. What however hurts us, and what has hurt us in the past also, is the uninformed allegation that Islam is intolerant of dissent and insensate to fundamental human rights and privileges.
This fact not only facilitates the task of ‘professional’ critics but gives credence to the so-called half-baked experts of Islam in plural Bharat.
For example, Mr. Wahiduddin Khan, in an 800-word story in The Times of India (Jan 10, 2011) claimed that “according to Islam blasphemy is simply a misuse of freedom and not a cognisable offence; blasphemy is not liable to incur legal punishment... In the Islamic scriptures, the Qur’ān and the hadith, there is no injunction to deliver physical punishment to one who commits blasphemy.”
The truth is that for such absolutely irresponsible assertions a lot of audacity is required.
Does the verse 12 of Al-Tawbah not say in clear-cut terms? : “But if they break their pledges after making them and attack your faith, make war on the leaders of unbelief that they may desist, for they have no regard for their pledged words.”
“Pledges here mean their acceptance of Islam and their oath of allegiance to it. What it implies is that if, having accepted Islam, they commit apostasy, the Muslims should make war on them. In dealing with apostates, Abu Bakr acted on the directive set forth in this verse” – abridged version of Tafheemul Qur’ān, Page 381.
Add to it what the Last Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) has said: “If any person (Muslim) changes his religion, finish him off.” This tradition has been repeated by Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Osman, Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Maaz bin Jabal, Hazrat Musa Ashari, Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas and Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed and is found in all authentic books of holy tradition.
For a proper appreciation of the Islamic standpoint, the real position of Islam among various religions has to be fully understood: “He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the Guidance of the True Religion that He may make it prevail over all religions, howsoever those who associate others with Allah in His divine might detest it.”
Al- Tawbah, 33
This verse makes it clear that the purpose of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) was to establish the supremacy of the Guidance and the Right Way revealed to him by God and make them prevail over all other systems of life.
In Verse 39 in Al-Anfal, Allah subhanahu wa taala says: “And fight against them until the mischief ends and the way prescribed by Allah – the whole of it – prevails.”
Add to it Verse 143 of Al-Baqarah: “And it is thus that We appointed you to be the community of the middle-way so that you might be witness to all mankind and the Messenger might be a witness to you.”
RITES AND RITUALS
These verses sufficiently prove what sort of religion Islam is. It is not a religion in the sense the word is used the world over. It is not the sum total of a few rites and rituals. It is not based upon any sort of mythology, traditions or hearsay. Islam is the name of a multi-dimensional, value-based, live, dynamic and vibrant system. It is an, rather the, ideology of Divine Origin. It is the last word of God that makes it unique, significant and important. Its ultimate target is creation of an evil-free society and a State which does not brook any quarter to vice, duplicity and hypocrisy.
Islam is tolerant, magnanimous and catholic in dealing with all the varieties of non-Muslims under its suzerainty. But to all this, there is a limit. It allows dissent and respects difference of opinion, which it encourages also within limits. But not beyond a certain point. It is not a free for all thoroughfare, enabling jay-walkers to enter into it according to their sweet will and abandon it whenever they feel inclined to do so. Islam does not force anybody to embrace it. Everybody is free to either reject it or accept it. It does not demand acceptance at the dagger point. It is a sober, serious way of life and of course it demands seriousness and total devotion. Understandably, it is not tantamount to asking for the moon.
SOCIETY AND STATE
Islam envisages a society, a State in which Allah is sovereign and His Writ alone runs large. Man is His vicegerent upon earth. How can jay-walkers man it? Allah demands total surrender, complete obedience and absolute submission from His vicegerent. How can a less-than-serious man or woman fit in this framework? It would have been alright if it would have the case of certain lifeless rituals and rites. But here the case is different. As Islam envisions a Deen, a system, a society, a State, and that too a model one, so that others may emulate it. No religion has today a flawless divine book. Their prophets’ Shariahs have been corrupted by their followers down the centuries. It is Qur’ān and Qur’ān alone, whose commas, semi-colons and full stops have not been changed at all. It is completely error-free, uncorrupted and free from any faux pas.
Here a question goes uncommented upon. What attitude do others adopt towards non-conformists?
The first important point that has to be remembered here is they do not envisage a society or a state as their Books are replete with human editing. The followers of Judaism and Christianity did away what was unpalatable to them and replaced their divine injunctions with human thoughts. It speaks about those holy books’ infirmity. Then look at the life of their followers. Do their characters reflect the character of Prophet Abraham and Christ (peace and blessings of Allah be to them)?
If you have a glance at their laws and by-laws, you will find their criticism of Islam utterly baseless. For example, if one is a Britain-born citizen (read subject) of England or has acquired British citizenship, he has no right to adopt any other citizenship while living in the United Kingdom. More: no British subject, while living in Britain, can adopt citizenship of a State, which is at war with England. This crime is “high treason”, that means death penalty.
Furthermore, if any British citizen, while living in England, acts in such a manner that provides strength to the enemy of the British monarch, invites death penalty as punishment. Even that British citizen deserves death who dares to change the domestic laws or who threatens the monarch or his spouse or elder daughter.
Take now the case of America, which gives the United States and the federal constitution the place that the British monarch enjoys over there. The American statute gives its locally born citizens from the US born parents and those who legally adopt US citizenship that place that the UK statute gives to its subjects and aliens. After giving up the US citizenship, the US citizen cannot adopt the citizenship of his previous country.
NATIONALISM ALL THE WAY
It is the profusely condemned nationalism and nationalism alone which constitutes the bedrock, the sheet-anchor and the very life-blood of the western governance. In Islam it is the sovereignty of God ushered by His vicegerent upon earth that runs into the veins of governance and statecraft. Here are no two yardsticks to judge things.