Sunday, April 20, 2008

Muslim Ulema to introspect

Alhamdu Lillah, praise the Lord, every Muslim and non-Muslim should read this article by Sultan Shahin. It is one of the finest articles I have read and it gets our five star rating. Meaning, read, forward and circulate.

Mike Ghouse


Muslim Ulema urgently need to introspect
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Indian Muslims stand against terrorism, but do the
ulema have the vision to save them from the
ever-expanding web of radical Islamism

By Sultan Shahin

Deoband: Nudged by persistent and growing
identification of Islam and Muslims with terrorism at
the national as well as global levels since September
9, 2001, Indian Muslim clerics of all hues finally
came together to pronounce an unequivocal fatwa
against terrorism of all kinds. In an event organised
by Dau-ul-Uloom, Deoband, 6,000, heads of madrassas
from across the country along with the heads of
organisations sponsoring their institutions, joined
hands despite their sectarian differences to say with
one voice that terrorism of all kinds was against the
peaceful principles of Islam and to exhort Muslims to
stay away from such dastardly activities as in Islam
even the killing of just one innocent person amounted
to the killing entire humanity.

The sleepy town of Deoband, 140 kms east of Delhi,
famous around the world primarily for hosting this
premier Muslim religious educational institution, the
Darul Uloom, came alive on February 25, with tens of
thousands of Muslims, clerics and ordinary souls,
streaming in from all over the country, to support the
historic anti-terrorism declaration that the Muslim
religious community was about to make in a rare
display of unity across the otherwise widening
sectarian divide. The Deobandis, Bareilwis, Wahhabis,
Ahl-e-Hadees, in short the Sunnis of all hues were all
there. The Shias had already participated in another
get-together organised by Jamia-ul-ulema for the same
purpose in Delhi over a year ago at a smaller level.

What exactly they said is important and needs to be
quoted at some length before one tries to judge its
significance. The Declaration announced: “This All
India Anti-Terrorism Conference attended by the
representatives of all Muslim schools of thought
organised by Rabta Madaris Islamiah Arabia (Islamic
Madrasas Association), Darul Uloom Deoband, condemns
all kinds of violence and terrorism in the strongest
possible terms.”

As a prelude to this declaration, the convention
stated: “Islam is the religion of mercy for all
humanity. It is the fountainhead of eternal peace,
tranquillity, security. Islam has given so much
importance to human beings that it regards the killing
of a single person the killing of entire humanity,
without differentiation based on creed and caste. Its
teaching of peace encompasses all humanity. Islam has
taught its followers to treat all mankind with
equality, mercy, tolerance, justice. Islam sternly
condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and
terrorism. It has regarded oppression, mischief,
rioting and murdering among severest sins and crimes.”

More significant than this and indicative of the mood
and inspiration of the conference was this
exhortation: “Moreover, this All India anti-Terrorism
Conference attended by the representatives of all
schools of thought appeal to all Muslims to continue,
as they always did in the past, their loyalty towards
the dear motherland and love and respect towards
humanity. It appeals to them to fully understand the
present alarming situation, the gravity and intensity
of the time, and feel the pulse of the present world
so that they might not be employed as tools of evils
by anti-Islamic or anti-national forces. It appeals to
them to live with dignity and pride being faithful to
the country, to keep full trust in their leadership…”

Stressing the same point, Maulana Marghoobur Rahman
said in his presidential address: “Love of one's land
is a part of our faith, and so, we, the members of the
madrasahs, disapprove of any attack on our motherland
and we will work against any terrorism in the

Admirable sentiments indeed! And need of the hour.
Statements and exhortations like this have been made
in the past, and even by the same people who were
present on the dais in the convention. But never
before had they come together as representatives and
heads of their organisations to say the same things
jointly and repeatedly in their speeches that
continued throughout the day in front of a gathering
of several hundred thousand Muslims who hold them in
high esteem. That this would have an impact on the
thinking of the entire community goes without saying.
Regardless of the ulema’s varying and indeterminate
levels of scholarship, the vast Muslim masses, many of
them illiterate and uneducated, do look up to them for
guidance in matters of religious interpretations. That
Islam is opposed to killings of innocents is no news
to any Muslim, howsoever ignorant, but that he could
get involved in terrorist events even by default, just
because he was not careful or alert enough, is
something he does need to be told and who better to
tell him this than the ulema he trusts in matters of

Based on intelligence reports, National Security
Adviser M K Narayanan has pointed out several times
that hundreds of terrorist sleeper cells lie dormant
in various parts of the country, presumably deeply
buried as ordinary people living in Muslim localities.
These or some of these could be activated at any time
of their choice by forces inimical to India’s national
integrity and jealous of and hostile to our secular
practices. It would require a truly alert Muslim
community, more than any other section of the country
to thwart their ambitions.

Listening to speeches after speeches in the day-long
conference, I could not fathom if the ulema fully
appreciate the danger Indian Muslims face from the
cult of global Jihad that goes in the name of Islam,
in fact calls itself true Islam or real Islam and
considers those who are not with it as expendable. It
cannot be easy for a Muslim to go to a mosque and blow
himself up along with scores of other innocent
religious-minded and practicing Muslims who had
gathered in a mosque for prayers.

If this is happening with sickening regularity in the
land that was a part of our own country not too long
ago, it would be foolish for us to consider ourselves
immune from the fast-spreading contagion. Such events
were unimaginable even in Pakistan until the 1980s. In
fact it is only in the last decade or so that it has
become routine. I recall visiting Islamabad in early
19990s and listening to people there talking about the
killing of an Imam of a small local mosque with shock
and disbelief. I visited the offices of Sipah-e-Sahaba
in Karachi and spent an evening in an atmosphere of
pleasant bonhomie with likeable people, without even
gathering a hint that soon they were going to become
known as remorseless killers. Clearly it doesn’t take
long for things to change when vested interests start
misusing ideology to turn genial people into monsters.

Whether or not the ulema at Deoband and other Indian
seminaries realise this, Jihadism is an ideology in
its own right. It has nothing to do with Islam, as the
ulema pointed out, quoting chapter and verse from the
Holy Quran and Sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon
him). But it approaches Muslims in the garb of true
Islam. It misinterprets the verses of Holy Quran and
concocts Hadees (Saying of the Prophet) to prove its
point and entice the unwary. A fabricated Hadees may
appear ridiculous to the knowledgeable but present
that to a gullible, trusting Muslim who loves the
Prophet more than his life and it may affect him

One Kashmiri Jihadi organisation, for instance, quotes
a so-called Hadees, according to which the Prophet
called the Jihad against India as more worthwhile
(afzal) than any other Jihad. Now anyone who knows
anything about Islam, the Prophet, the demands of the
times he lived in, or who has read the most highly
regarded Bukhari or Muslim compilations of Hadees, in
which the Prophet is said to have mentioned India only
once in an entirely different context, would
immediately dismiss this as ridiculous, but apparently
there are some who are not doing so.

There is evidence that some of our youth are beginning
to get radicalised under the onslaught of this global
Jihadist cult. Let us hope that the ulema are aware of
this and their exhortation would have a salutary
effect. There clearly is need for more such
conferences in different parts of the country. But the
ulema will do well to confine themselves to the
subject of terrorism and its dangers to the Muslim
community and to the need for alerting the Muslim
populace to enable them to face the Jihadi onslaught
which clearly is going on at a subterranean level.
Grievance-mongering, government-bashing, even
Sangh-whacking, a favourite pastime of many of our
leaders and even ulema, can wait for another occasion.

Saving Muslims from radical Islamism

Major political parties and the media have done well
to welcome and applaud Daul Uloom Deoband’s latest
effort to protect Muslims from radical Islam’s
endeavour to wean them away from their traditional
moderate stance. Though individual scholars from
Deoband as well as other groups that were present
there have been saying much the same thing in almost
the same words for quite some time, this is the first
time that institutions and organisations like Darul
Uloom Deoband, Jamiat-ul-Ulema, Jamaat-e-Islami, Ajmer
Sharif, Ahl-e-Hadees, etc. have come together to
denounce terrorism in very clear terms and call it
against the postulates of Islam.

Without detracting from the wisdom and significance of
the ulema’s (Islamic scholars’) latest endeavour,
however, I would like to make a few quick points.

While the media, particularly print, and the
mainstream political parties have done well to
highlight the main message, the ulema themselves did
not maintain their focus on the historic and
ground-breaking work they were doing. Any one who
attended the conference can be excused for thinking
that this was no more than a run of the mill
conference that Muslims periodically hold to air their
grievances against the government of the day and
demand fair and equitable treatment. Several ulema
managed to fire themselves up with their rhetoric
against the discrimination Muslims face from
intelligence agencies and security services – hardly a
suitable tenor for a session that was billed as a
seminar and an occasion for introspection and

As a result, at least some of the message got lost and
others got distorted. For instance, very few
newspapers have reported that the seminaries have now
decided to maintain their finances in good order and
transparency. They will now be able to tell how much
money they are getting, from where and how this is
being spent. As private organisations they are not
obliged to do so. But they have decided to respond to
frequent allegations of financial irregularity and
funding from abroad. The ulema get plenty of other
opportunities to rail against the government and
communal forces of Hindutva. But for several ulema,
denouncing terrorism as unislamic was just a necessary
chore. They revelled in the opportunity to denounce
and challenge those who trouble Muslims and hurt their
religious sentiments.

Introspection completely missing!

Introspection was completely missing. While the ulema
complained bitterly, for instance, about Talibanism
being ascribed to Deobandi teachings and stressed that
it was not so, no thought was given to the question as
to why was Talibanism considered Deobandi or what
could Deoband do in terms of changing its curriculum
to distinguish itself from the Pakistani Deobandi

To give a concrete example, the Taliban or Al-Qaeda
version of Islam is clearly distorting the theory and
practice of Jihad in Islam. Jihad has a much wider
significance in Islam, but in the sense of Qital
(fighting) that too in defence, it was permitted to
Muslims 14 years after the advent of Islam and God
explained and gave reasons for this landmark
permission in Surah 22 verse 39 in these words: “If
God did not check one set of people by means of
another there would surely have been pulled down
temples, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the
name of God is commemorated in abundant measure. God
will certainly aid those who aid His (cause)…”

In his exegesis, A Yusuf Ali, one of the best known
and revered translators and interpreters of the Holy
Quran says: This was the first occasion on which
fighting in self-defence-was permitted. (22.39) 2817.
To allow a righteous people to fight against a
ferocious and mischief-loving people was fully
justified. But the justification was far greater here,
when the little Muslim community was not only fighting
for its own existence against the Makkan Quraish, but
for the very existence of the Faith in the One True
God. … It affected not the faith of one peculiar
people. The principle involved was that of all
worship, Jewish or Christian as well as Muslim, and of
all foundations built for pious uses. (22.40)”

It is thus the religious duty of the Muslims to fight
to protect the Faith and worship houses of all
religions. But while we Indian Muslims are mourning
the demolition of one mosque 15 years ago, do we shed
any tears, even make a single statement bemoaning the
routine destruction of temples in Pakistan and
Bangladesh. And this while India is the only major
non-Muslim majority country where not only there is no
discrimination in our right to build and run tens of
thousands of mosques and madrassas but also the
Muslims are allowed to run their personal life in
accordance with their understanding of their religious
laws. Does the fact concern us that Saudi Arabia does
not allow the tens of thousands of Christians and
Hindus living there the human right to worship in
their own churches and temples, even though the Quran
asks us to fight on their behalf for that particular
right? Have we ever done our religious duty to protest
these injustices? No, in fact the one Muslim lady,
Taslima Nasreen, who protested in Bangladesh and
highlighted the plight of Hindus, has become a hate
figure for us. She should have been our hero. She is
doing what the religious leaders should have been
doing. Instead we love to persecute her. Our political
and religious leaders try to beat her physically and
we either applaud or keep quiet.

How can we complain against our intelligence agencies
discriminating against us, as the ulema in Deoband did
so vociferously, if we support the massive
discrimination routinely practiced against Hindus and
Christians and Jews in Muslim lands? In the eyes of
Islam stopping people from praying in the worship
places of their choice is the worst possible crime.
How come when we are in a minority we want all the
human and religious rights, but the moment we are a
majority of even 51 percent in some country, we
declare the country to be Islamic where other
religions have little right. What in Allah’s name is
Islamic about this attitude?

There are many such questions on which the ulema would
do well to deliberate and come up with answers that
distinguish them from the Taliban and al-Qaida. If
they don’t, nothing can stop the world from
associating Deoband and other religious seminaries
from the terrorist organisations that are spreading
murder, mayhem and chaos in the world.

Ulema need to rethink some fundamental questions

Obviously, Ulema need to rethink some fundamental
questions guiding Muslim-Hindu relationship. But the
question is: Do they have the necessary vision to save
Muslims from complete marginalisation?

i don't mind repeating myself in saying that Deoband
has certainly made a noble effort to discredit Taliban
and al-Qaeda theories and practices that link Islam
with terrorist acts. That even Jamaat-e-Islami was a
party to the Deoband Declaration agasint Terrorism is
particularly heartening. Alongside Syed Qutub of
Egypt, the J-e-I founder-ideologue Abul Ala Maudoodi
is considered one of the two gurus of present-day
Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Similarly
significant is the presence and approval of
Ahl-e-Hadees and other Salafi sects. Barailvi schools
that represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims in
the sub-continent are in any case more inclusive and
broadminded. So the supporting message of the Sajjada
Nasheen of Ajmer Sharif was no surprise at all. It was
a great sight, watching the ulema (Islamic scholars)
of different sects sitting together on the same dais
and not denouncing each other as Kafir.

However, this is not enough and by itself it will not
provide the Muslims with much relief. The ulema in
India have to rethink some very fundamental religious
issues that govern Muslims relationship with the
majority Hindu community. Take for instance the
question of whether Muslims should treat Hindus as
Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book, i.e. followers of one
of the 1,24,000 prophets who came prior to Prophet
Mohammad, peace be upon him) or Kafir (deniers of the
existence of God). The first Arab Muslim general to
deal with Indian Hindus was Mohammad bin Qasim, who is
something of a revered figure for many Muslims. When
he conquered Sindh the question of Muslim-Hindu
relationship arose for the first time. A committee of
ulema then decided that Hindus should be treated as
Ahle-e-Kitab, as they largely believe in the oneness
of God, treat their idols as a way to reaching God
rather than gods by themselves and their scriptures
have unmistakable passages which are almost identical
to the teachings of the Quran. Obviously Hindu avatars
have to be treated as God’s messengers who brought the
message of God just as other Islamic prophets have,
though it could not have been preserved fully due to
the antiquity of their period and the lack of
facilities in those ancient times.

Muslims are asked to have close social relations with
all Ahl-e-Kitab. But that did not happen in the case
of Hindus despite the religious verdict. Probably an
Arab sense of racial superiority – completely
unislamic by all accounts – came in the way. (By the
way it is this Arab racism and its confrontation with
Persian sense of superiority over Arab Bedouins that
is also responsible for the bitter Shia-Sunni divide.)
So they developed a system in which while they would
make friends with, sit together and dine with Hindus,
they would not allow inter-marriages, although Islam
allows Muslims to have marital relationship with
communities that come under the category of
Ahl-e-Kitab, with the life-partners maintaining their
separate religious identity, belief and practice. So
the ulema have basically devised for Hindus a new
category of semi-Ahl-e-Kitab – something that has no
sanction in the Quran or Hadees. In this they would
allow Muslims to maintain close social relations with
Hindus but not allow them to go for marital

Like the class of ulema itself which has no sanction
in Islam, this category of semi-Ahl-e-Kitab is an
innovation that has done much damage to the Muslims.
The excuse is that Hindus engage in idolatry despite
their scriptures calling for non-duality (advaita) or
unity of God. But if that is such a major or even
relevant issue, how and why do they treat Christians
as full Ahl-e-Kitab, though Christians treat Jesus
Christ (peace be upon him) as the son of God, which
amounts to ascribing physical attributes to God, and
actually worship idols of Jesus and Mother Mary.

Not that one has any problem with treating Christians
as full Ahl-e-Kitab. As a matter of fact almost all
the people in the world are indeed Ahl-e-Kitab. The
Holy Quran tell us that many prophets have been sent
before Prophet Mohammad to all corners of the world
and no prophet was sent without revelations (which are
later collected as in the case of Quran as a Book).
Arabia was probably the only part of the world where
there were people who could be called Kafir as they
had not yet been blessed with a Prophet till then and
that is why the last Prophet was sent there. So in a
religious sense the Muslims should stop calling any
community Kafir and start using the word Kafir as Urdu
poets do to describe their beloveds.

There are many similar fundamental questions that the
ulema need to resolve if they want to lead the
community to a peaceful and prosperous life in the
country and the world. The holding of this
anti-terrorism convention and the presence of such a
diverse group shows that the Muslim religious
leadership has indeed got the message that the Muslims
are quite worried at the drift of events that are
alienating them from other communities in India as
elsewhere. Deep and sincere introspection and
broadmindedness is called for.

One of the most important and urgent requirement would
be to extricate Islam from Arab follies, prejudices
and racial supremacism. We Indian Muslims must realise
that we are the inheritors of a glorious 5,000-year
old civilisation. There is no reason why we should go
by the interpretation of Arab Bedouins and desert
tribes who had no history of any intellectual or
artistic pursuit beyond writing some romantic poetry.
I am not trying to replace Arab racial supremacism
with an Indian one. We have no problem accepting the
message of God coming to us through any voice box.
Prophet Mohammad was an exemplary person the like of
which the world has never seen. He was a spiritual
master who rose to the position of a Prophet and at
the same time a consummate statesman who remains
unmatched in history. This is acknowledged by many
objective observers of world history from all
communities. So we accept the Muslim holy book without
any reservation or prejudice. But why should we also
accept as Islamic the way Arabs ran their politics
after massacring the entire family of the Prophet is
beyond my comprehension. How can we allow ourselves to
be guided by the interpretations of a people who
accepted Yazid, the killer of the Prophet’s family as
a Khalifa and allowed him to found dynastic politics
in Islam whose USP is equality of all souls and no
superiority of one person over another on any ground
except that of piety. Barring some exceptionally
gifted individuals Arabs continue to be mired in
pre-Islamic Jahiliya (age of ignorance) despite 1400
years of interaction with Islam. This is not at all to
belittle any community or race. But we Muslims tend to
forget our glorious heritage. If we need to develop
our understanding of core Islamic values like, say,
unity of God, where do we go? Of course, to our
ancient Islamic scriptures and writings that we
Muslims tend to dismiss simply as Hindu religious

The Quran does not elaborate and explain many
essential points presumably for the simple reason that
it has all been done before and those books are
available. If you want to use your intellect, as per
the repeated advice of the Quran, to understand
wahdaniat, oneness of God, for instance, there would
be no better pace to go than what are now known merely
as Hindu scriptures, though they are as much our
scriptures as theirs. Our history did not begin with
Mohammad bin Qasim as the world history did not begin
with the advent of Prophet Mohammad, though many
Muslims tend to behave as if that were the case. We
were a very advanced people much before that. We have
been blessed with many prophets before Prophet
Mohammad and Islam asks us to give them the same
respect as we accord to our beloved Prophet.

While Deoband 2008 gives us hope, one cannot but
wonder if the ulema indeed have the necessary vision
to lead the community at such a sensitive juncture. We
will have to engage in some tough debates and take
some hard decisions, if we are to save our community
from total marginalisation in the country and the
world, at least partly caused by the ulema’s own
ill-conceived decisions flouting the spirit of Islam.

Posted by SultanShahin at 4:33 AM 0 comments
Labels: Deoband, Funfamentalism, Indian Muslims,
Introspection, Islam, Jihad, Terrorism, Ulema

Please also see:

Mike Ghouse: There is one place that I disagree, but the writer has caught himself with it. He says "There is no reason why we should go by the interpretation of Arab Bedouins and desert tribes who had no history of any intellectual or artistic pursuit beyond writing some romantic poetry." This statement has failed to recognize that many a milestone prophets are Arabs; Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Their contribution to the world is unparallel. Much of the Science, Math, Astronomy, Law,physics and Medicinal work is either intiated or preserved. Nearly 2/3rds of the world follows the religions that orginated by Arabs. Except this one item, the writer has summed up the need for Muslims to introspect very well.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.