By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Some weeks ago, someone sent me a list of questions by email, seeking my responses to them. Some of these questions had to do with the manner in which many Muslims relate to people of other faiths. Among these questions was the following:
“Last Friday, I went to a mosque for the Friday prayer. The Khutba was in Arabic, but although I cannot speak Arabic, I could get a gist of some of the things the imam was saying. He was talking about the Christians and Jews in negative terms—perhaps as ‘oppressors’ of Muslims—and he also seemed to be praying for their suppression or destruction. He was talking of Muslims as persecuted people. I think he also did Dua for their victory over non-Muslims. ”
The questioner believed that the imam of the mosque seemed to think of Christians and Jews—or, probably, all non-Muslims—as by definition ‘enemies of Islam’. That is why he felt that the imam was praying for their destruction. He wanted to know my reaction to this Imam, his Khutba and his Dua.
I replied to the questioner saying that this kind of Khutba and Dua are quite contrary to the Islamic spirit. I said that I was aware that this practice is very common among Muslims. But, I added, it is a fact that this practice is quite un-Islamic. Muslims have developed what in Urdu is called a Qaumi Mazhab mentality—they wrongly conflate Islam with Muslim community identity and perceived community interests. That is why, I explained, they have developed this kind of psyche. People who think in this way cannot be good Dais. According to the Quran (7:68), the first prerequisite for being a Dai is being a well-wisher for the Madu. If you have hatred in your heart for the Madu and curse him, how can you engage in Dawah? How can you be a Dai?
Dawah work needs sincerity on the part of the Dai as well as Madu-friendly behaviour. Without inculcating this behaviour, neither can the Dai do Dawah work properly, nor will he be rewarded by God. Dawah is a great Islamic action, but it entails a necessary condition. And this condition is the maintenance of a normal relationship between the Dai and the Madu. The responsibility for establishing such a relationship devolves unilaterally on the Dai. That is, it is he, and not the Madu, who is responsible for normalizing the situation between himself and the Madu. This injunction can be found in several verses of the Quran. For example, the Quran (22:67) says: 'Let them not dispute with you on this matter. Call them to the path of your Lord—for surely, you are rightly guided'.
If praying for the destruction of non-Muslims is not the Islamic way, then, what dua should we do for people of other faiths, the questioner wanted to know.
In my reply, I said that we should pray for all on an equal basis. The Quran (1:2) refers to God as the “Lord of the Worlds” and not as “God of Muslims”. This fact has been declared in the very first chapter of the Quran. Also, the Quran (21:107) calls the Prophet Rahmatul-lil Alamin, that is, a mercy for all mankind. The Quran does not say that the Prophet is Rahmat or a mercy for Muslims alone. The Prophet prayed for the guidance of others. He never prayed for their destruction.
Of their own accord, many Muslims wrongly consider some people or communities as the ‘enemies of Islam’. Seeing others in this light is their own self-styled belief. It has nowhere been mentioned in the Quran that these people are enemies of Islam.
In this regard, Muslims are committing a double mistake—that is, first, they have developed a self-styled belief of considering some people as enemies of Islam; and, second, this belief has no sanction in the Quran. Thus, it is not their right to say that someone is an enemy of Islam. Saying so is, without doubt, an unlawful act. If you see that someone is a Zalim, or oppressor, according to your way of thinking, then why do you curse that person? You should instead engage in Dawah with him. You should communicate the message of God to him. Give the Quran to him to read and understand. Under no circumstances do you have the right to curse him. You can only pray for his guidance, convey God’s message to him and try to make him understand. Beyond this, everything lies in God’s hands.
Our responsibility is to do Dawah work, to convey God’s word to people, and to help them discover the Truth. If people express doubt or apprehension, then one should sincerely try to discuss the matter with them, rather than curse them. If you take the name of Islam, or want to do something in the name of Islam, then you must understand that there is only one domain in which you should exert your energies—and that is, Dawah work. One should explain and help people understand the message of God. One should also pray for them. But, to declare that some people are enemies and to engage in cursing against them is certainly not allowed in Islam.
Our task is to convey the message of God. The Quran says: “So, [O Prophet] exhort them: your task is only to exhort, you are not their keeper.” (88:21-22). This means that the believer’s task is to perform Dawah work. The believer does not possess the right to take any action against others. This verse enjoins on the Prophet Tazkir (make mention of God to people), Nasihat (offer sincere counsel to people), Dawat or Tabligh, that is to peacefully disseminate the message of God. This verse does not allow taking of any action; that belongs solely to God’s domain. In this verse, the Prophet is told that only peaceful Dawah is his domain, and the rest has to be left to God.
If war is active violence, then invoking God’s curse on others is passive violence. In Islam, one does not have the right to engage either in active violence or in passive violence. If you use guns or bombs or indulge in suicide bombing, it is a case of active violence. If you have hatred for others or engage in cursing them or spreading wrong and misleading propaganda against them and publishing articles against them in your newspapers or magazines, it is a case of passive violence. As a believer, you have the right to engage neither in active nor passive violence.
The chapter Al-Mudaththir of the Quran, which was revealed in the early Meccan period, addresses the Prophet in the following words: “O, you wrapped in your cloak, arise and give warning! Proclaim the glory of your Lord; purify your garments; shun uncleanness; do not bestow a favour in the expectation of receiving more in return; and for the sake of your Lord, be patient.” (74:1-7)
In these verses, the Prophet is enjoined to call people towards God, give them the good tidings of Paradise and warn them of Hell, tell them about the realities of life, and keep patience for the sake of God (74:7). Why is sabr, or keeping patience, mentioned here after the command to do Dawah work? Because people in Arabia at that time engaged in idol-worship and followed their religious beliefs and customs that they had themselves invented. The Prophet’s message was pointing out their faults to them. It was against their customs. Thus, it was natural for them to react against the Prophet and to create trouble for him and commit atrocities against him. In such a situation, the Prophet was advised to keep patience. He was not supposed to react, get provoked or to fight these people. He had to only be patient with them. Therefore, Sabr, or patience is part of Dawah. Also, keeping Sabr is something that entails great reward.
There are certain prerequisites or conditions for carrying out Dawah work. These conditions can be fulfilled only when the Dai adopts patience and tolerance. If the Dai does not remain patient, he cannot engage in the work of Dawah. For Dawah work, it is essential to maintain normalcy, that is, a peaceful atmosphere. And for that you have to be patient with the Madu, not to go about cursing him! If you think positively and wish well for the Madu, then you will be able to rightly convey the message of God to him by taking into account the demands of wisdom and Talif-e-Qalb—dealing with the Madu in a manner that causes the softening of his heart towards the Dai and the message of Islam. However, if you become negative, get provoked or develop hatred and go about cursing the Madu, then there will be no Dawah at all. The moment you develop negative feelings for the Madu, you will not be able to do Dawah work.
Hence, patience is essential for Dawah work. It is only through patience that a normal atmosphere can prevail between the Dai and the Madu. Only in such circumstances can the Dai be able to retain his positivity and well-wishing for others.
Today, curses are invoked against others with great fervour in mosques. I can say with full conviction that those people or communities whom the Muslims consider as oppressors are not oppressors at all. These communities are not anti-Muslim or anti-Islam. But, for the sake of argument, if it were true that certain groups are oppressors, even then it is not permissible for Muslims to pray for God’s wrath to come down upon them. In every situation, we have to be well-wishers for others, maintain our composure and convey God’s message to them. We must pray for their guidance, and leave everything else to God.
Muslims should pray to God to forgive them for their own wrong-doings. Instead of praying for the destruction of others, one must pray for forgiveness for one’s own faults. Muslims must abandon cursing their supposed oppressors. Instead, they should pray for forgiveness from God for themselves.
May God grant people the ability to think and to accept their own mistakes!
SB 6.17.4-5: One time while King Citraketu was traveling in outer space on a brilliantly effulgent airplane given to him by Lord Vishnu, he saw Lord Siva, surrounded by Siddhas and Caranas. Lord Siva was sitting in an assembly of great saintly persons and embracing Parvati on his lap with his arm. Citraketu laughed loudly and spoke, within the hearing of Parvati.
SB 6.17.6: Citraketu said: Lord Siva,
the spiritual master of the general populace, is the best of all living
entities who have accepted material bodies. He enunciates the system of
religion. Yet how wonderful it is that he is embracing his wife, Parvati, in the midst of an assembly of great saintly persons.
SB 6.17.7: Lord Siva,
whose hair is matted on his head, has certainly undergone great
austerities and penances. Indeed, he is the president in the assembly of
strict followers of Vedic principles. Nonetheless, he is seated with
his wife on his lap in the midst of saintly persons and is embracing her
as if he were a shameless, ordinary human being.
Ordinary conditioned persons generally embrace their wives and enjoy
their company in solitary places. How wonderful it is that Lord Mahadeva, although a great master of austerity, is embracing his wife openly in the midst of an assembly of great saints.
SB 6.17.9: Srila Sukadeva Gosvami continued: My dear King, after hearing Citraketu's statement, Lord Siva,
the most powerful personality, whose knowledge is fathomless, simply
smiled and remained silent, and all the members of the assembly followed
the lord by not saying anything.
SB 6.17.10: Not knowing the prowess of Lord Siva and Parvati, Citraketu strongly criticized them. His statements were not at all pleasing, and therefore the goddess Parvati, being very angry, spoke as follows to Citraketu, who thought himself better than Lord Siva in controlling the senses.
SB 6.17.11: The goddess Parvati
said: Alas, has this upstart now received a post from which to punish
shameless persons like us? Has he been appointed ruler, carrier of the
rod of punishment? Is he now the only master of everything?
SB 6.17.12: Alas, Lord Brahma, who has taken his birth from the lotus flower, does not know the principles of religion, nor do the great saints like Bhrigu and Narada, nor the four Kumaras, headed by Sanat-kumara. Manu and Kapila have also forgotten the religious principles. I suppose it to be because of this that they have not tried to stop Lord Siva from behaving improperly.
SB 6.17.13: This Citraketu is the lowest of kshatriyas, for he has impudently overridden Brahma and the other demigods by insulting Lord Siva, upon whose lotus feet they always meditate. Lord Siva is personified religion and the spiritual master of the entire world, and therefore Citraketu must be punished.
This person is puffed up because of his achievements, thinking, "I am
the best." He does not deserve to approach the shelter of Lord Vishnu's lotus feet, which are worshiped by all saintly persons, for he is impudent, thinking himself greatly important.
O impudent one, my dear son, now take birth in a low, sinful family of
demons so that you will not commit such an offense again toward exalted,
saintly persons in this world.
SB 6.17.16: Sri Sukadeva Gosvami continued: My dear King Parikshit, when Citraketu was cursed by Parvati, he descended from his airplane, bowed before her with great humility and pleased her completely.
SB 6.17.17: Citraketu
said: My dear mother, with my own hands folded together I accept the
curse upon me. I do not mind the curse, for happiness and distress are
given by the demigods as a result of one's past deeds.
Deluded by ignorance, the living entity wanders in the forest of this
material world, enjoying the happiness and distress resulting from his
past deeds, everywhere and at all times. [Therefore, my dear mother,
neither you nor I am to be blamed for this incident.]
In this material world, neither the living entity himself nor others
[friends and enemies] are the cause of material happiness and distress.
But because of gross ignorance, the living entity thinks that he and
others are the cause.
This material world resembles the waves of a constantly flowing river.
Therefore, what is a curse and what is a favor? What are the heavenly
planets, and what are the hellish planets? What is actually happiness,
and what is actually distress? Because the waves flow constantly, none
of them has an eternal effect.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one. Unaffected by the conditions
of the material world, He creates all the conditioned souls by His own
personal potency. Because of being contaminated by the material energy,
the living entity is put into ignorance and thus into different
conditions of bondage. Sometimes, by knowledge, the living entity is
given liberation. In sattva-guna and rajo-guna, he is subjected to happiness and distress.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is equally disposed toward all
living entities. Therefore no one is very dear to Him, and no one is a
great enemy for Him; no one is His friend, and no one is His relative.
Being unattached to the material world, He has no affection for
so-called happiness or hatred for so-called distress. The two terms
happiness and distress are relative. Since the Lord is always happy, for
Him there is no question of distress.
SB 6.17.23: Although the Supreme Lord is unattached to our happiness and distress according to karma,
and although no one is His enemy or favorite, He creates pious and
impious activities through the agency of His material potency. Thus for
the continuation of the materialistic way of life He creates happiness
and distress, good fortune and bad, bondage and liberation, birth and
O mother, you are now unnecessarily angry, but since all my happiness
and distress are destined by my past activities, I do not plead to be
excused or relieved from your curse. Although what I have said is not
wrong, please let whatever you think is wrong be pardoned.
SB 6.17.25: Sri Sukadeva Gosvami continued: O King Parikshit, subduer of the enemy, after Citraketu satisfied Lord Siva and his wife, Parvati, he boarded his airplane and left as they looked on. When Lord Siva and Parvati saw that Citraketu, although informed of the curse, was unafraid, they smiled, being fully astonished by his behavior.
SB 6.17.26: Thereafter, in the presence of the great sage Narada, the demons, the inhabitants of Siddhaloka, and his personal associates, Lord Siva, who is most powerful, spoke to his wife, Parvati, while they all listened.
SB 6.17.27: Lord Siva said: My dear beautiful Parvati, have you seen the greatness of the Vaishnavas? Being servants of the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, they are great souls and are not interested in any kind of material happiness.
SB 6.17.28: Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana,
never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets,
liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees
are interested only in the service of the Lord.
Cursing is prohibited and forbidden in islam. Allah doesn't
like curse and abuse. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said,
‘'When a person curses (La’nah; to ask that something be deprived of Allah’s
Mercy) somebody or something, the curse goes up to the heaven and the gates of
the heaven are closed. Then it comes down to the earth and its gates are
closed. Then it turns right and left, and if it does not find an entrance to go
anywhere, it returns to the person or thing that was cursed, if he or it
deserves to be cursed; otherwise, it returns to the person, who uttered it.’
[Abu Dawood]. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) also warned,
‘Those who frequently resort to cursing would neither be accepted as witnesses
nor as intercessors on the Day of Resurrection.’ [Saheeh Muslim]. Allah’s
Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, ‘A true believer is not involved
in taunting, or frequently cursing or in indecency or abusing.” [At-Tirmidhee]