By Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam
29 April, 2014
Generally a Muslim is one who belongs to the religion of Islam and has faith in Allah and Prophet Muhammad and follows the ordainments of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad.
In the Quran too, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad are called Muslims in the same way as the followers of Prophet Moses are called the Jews and those of Jesus are called Christians.
However, there are more than a dozen verses in the Quran that show that the followers of all the Abrahamic religion are considered Muslims as they have faith in one supreme God and do not believe in false gods and goddesses or do not worship the Sun, the Moon, the mountains or the rains. Even the followers of prophets prior to Abraham were called Muslims. Therefore, all the prophets were Muslims, according to verses of the Quran. The Quran announces that God has christened His believers as Muslims.
“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. “(Al Hajj: 78)
The Quran makes it clear that all those who believe in God and do not worship false gods are named Muslims, not only in the Quran but also in the previous ages. For example, Prophet Noah is addressed as a Muslim in the Quran:
“And if you turn away [from my advice] then no payment have I asked of you. My reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be of the Muslims." (Yunus: 72)
Prophet Abraham is called a Muslim who advises his sons to remain Muslims till death.
“And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], "O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims. “(Al Baquarah: 131-133)
God also declares that Abraham was a Muslim. The Quran repudiates the claims of Jews and Christians that Abraham was a Jew or a Christian.
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists. “(Al-e-Imran: 67)
Another Prophet Joseph (Yusuf) calls himself a Muslim and prays to God for death as a Muslim.
“My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, you are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous. “(Yusuf: 101)
King Sulaiman (Solomon) calls himself a Muslim and invites the Queen of Saba, Sun-worshipper to “Islam” and warns her against fighting him. Surah Al Naml gives an account of the correspondence and interaction between King Solomon and Queen of Saba. Finally, she accepts Islam and becomes a ‘Muslim’. Following are the verses:
“She said, "O eminent ones, indeed, to me has been delivered a noble letter. Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it reads: 'In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims].' "She said, "O eminent ones, advise me in my affair. I would not decide a matter until you witness [for] me." They said, "We are men of strength and of great military might, but the command is yours, so see what you will command." (Al Naml: 29-31)
“[Solomon] said, "O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" (Al Naml: 38)
“So when she arrived, it was said [to her], "Is your throne like this?" She said, "[It is] as though it was it." [Solomon said], "And we were given knowledge before her, and we have been Muslims [in submission to Allah].” (Al Naml: 40
“She was told, "Enter the palace." But when she saw it, she thought it was a body of water and uncovered her shins [to wade through]. He said, "Indeed, it is a palace [whose floor is] made smooth with glass." She said, "My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, Lord of the worlds." (Al Naml: 44)
Prophet Loth’s nation was destroyed due to the sin of sodomy. The Quran says that after God’s wrath descended on the community, no house except one house of Muslims was found there. Loth’s house was of Muslims.
“And We found not within them other than a [single] house of Muslims.” (Al Zariat: 36)
Prophet Moses tells his nation:
“And Moses said, "O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon Him, if you should be Muslims."(Yunus: 84)
Even the sorcerers who the pharaoh hired to defeat Moses ultimately gave in to Moses and declared that they became Muslims:
“And Pharaoh and his people were overcome right there and became debased. And the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah]. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Moses and Aaron." Said Pharaoh, "You believed in him before I gave you permission. Indeed, this is a conspiracy which you conspired in the city to expel there from its people. But you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides; then I will surely crucify you all." They said, "Indeed, to our Lord we will return. And you do not resent us except because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You]”. (Al Araf: 119-126)
The result of the confrontation between Pharaoh and Moses was that Pharaoh declared that there was no god but God and that he became a Muslim just before being drowned in the Sea.
“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, "I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims." “(Yunus: 90)
Finally Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is commanded by Allah to say”
“Say, Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims." (Al Anam: 161-163)
Therefore, the Quran has an inclusive approach towards the people of the Book and all those who believe in God or Allah. By the standards set by the Quran, everyone who believes in one God is a Muslim. God has named them Muslims not only in the Quran but also in the earlier scriptures revealed by God. But it is an irony that while the Arabic version of the Quran calls all the followers of previous prophets Muslims as we have read above, the Urdu translators of the Quran hesitate to translate the word Muslims as Muslims and translate the word Muslimun or Muslimeen as Hukm Bardar Or Farmanbardar, avoiding the word Muslims which the Quran itself uses. The Muslim translators of the Quran do not accept the followers of other prophets as Muslims though the Quran clearly calls them Muslims.
Aftab Ahmad is an occasional contributor to New Age Islam and a freelance journalist. He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time.
add to Naseer Saheb Observer's information with what Haider Farooq Maudoodi
told me in Lahore in 1999 (courtesy Times of India):
The Times of India
25th January 1999
Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan is one of the foremost supporters of
the current proxy war being waged by the country in the Kashmir valley. But the
founder and chief ideologue of the Jammat, Maulana Abdul Ala
Maudoodi, had opposed Pakistani support to the tribal uprising in Kashmir in
1948 as being against the tenets of Islam. For this, the Pakistan government
had charged him with sedition and he had spent several years in prison. His son
and eminent theologian Maulana Haider Farooq Maudoodi, chief of a Jamaat faction
called Jammat-e-Islami(Maudoodi) recalled this while speaking to visiting Indian journalist Sultan Shahin in Lahore and condemned
the killing of innocent people in Kashmir as a double fraud on Islam as it was
being perpetrated in the name of Jihad. In this free-wheeling
interview, he reveals for the first time that his father's attitude was that of
a drug-peddler who would not let his own children go near the stuff while
selling the same to millions of other youngsters.
Q: You have created a furore in Pakistan by opposing the
so-called Jihad in Kashmir just as your father had done by
criticizing the proxy war in the state in 1948. What inspired you to take up
the cudgels against religious extremists?
A: The Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Pakistan as
well as Kashmir are sending young men to their sure deaths by teaching them a
false doctrine of Jihad. But they do not send their own children
for this `Jihad'. Kashmiri Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed
Ali Gilani's son is studying in America. But when ordinary Muslim young men are
killed in this proxy war, the Jamaat leaders go to their son having attained
martyrdom. An old Kashmiri once pleaded with me, "Have some mercy on us.
Do spare a few of our young men to at least take us to qabristan(burian
ground). Do you want us to make our last journey on the shoulders of our
My father had said that Pakistan could not enter into such a war
with a country with which it had diplomatic relations. The right course from an
Islamic point of view would be to break all relations and declare war before
entering into any hostilities. You have opposed militancy in Kashmir being
called Jihad. Yes, Jihad can only be declared by
an established state. Neither the civil war in Afghanistan nor the militancy in
Kashmir can be termed Jihad as Islamic theology requires that Jihad be
performed by an organized state. This condition is so binding that when eminent
theologian Shah Islmail Shaheed decided to wage a Jihad against
the British, he went to Balakot in the tribal areas of NWFP and tried to
establish a government so that he could declare Jihad in the
framework of Islam. I do not think that even this fulfilled the condition, but
it shows that he too realized that only an established state could declare Jihad.
Jihad is not the right or duty of an individual or group. If
Pakistan thinks it can win a war against India, it should abrogate all
treaties, break diplomatic relations and then declare and fight a war. The
problem with a proxy war is that you cannot declare it and Muslims are not
supposed to lie and cheat. So Muslim state, particular one with pretensions of
being Islamic, simply cannot wage of proxy war.
Q: Some theologians have tried to justify militancy as coming
under the Islamic provision of `Khurooj', i.e. a kind of revolt against
established authority. Any comments?
A: Rebellion or Khurooj can only be justified
in a situation where the established government is committing what is known in
the theological terminology as Kufr-e-bawa. This means a situation
in which the government asks people to do things proscribed by God and stops
them from doing things prescribed by Him, i.e. `halal' is converted into
`haram' and `haram' into `halal'. Such a situation does
not exist in Kashmir. People are free to live according to their faith. If they
have political or other problems, they can try to sort them out democratically
and peacefully. Islam does not allow them taking up arms against the state.
Q: What is your reaction to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's
efforts to impose Shariat laws in the country?
A: It is inhuman to implement Hudood laws within the present
judicial and administrative system. Islam is for a system that does not punish
one innocent wrongly even if it means letting go ten criminals. Our police has
great expertise in writing false FIRs, in producing false witnesses and so on.
If you cut people's hands under this system, it would be the greatest outrage.
Give food to the hungry first, then think of cutting the hands of a thief. As
for Mr. Nawaz Sharif, he simply wants to acquire judicial powers as well in the
same of Islam.
Q: Do you see religious extremism growing in Pakistan?
A: Not really. The people of Pakistan are quite mature. Even
though we have not had a long democratic experience compared with the Indian
electorate, we have not allowed religious extremists like the one in Jamaat-e-Islami to
gain more than a few seats in the National Assembly. The people are aware that
these parties are led by lunatics.
Q: How come you grew up in this atmosphere of religious
extremism and yet maintain balanced view of religion?
A: I think my father was aware of the dangers of the drug he
was distributing for free. Indeed his attitude was that of heroin peddler. He
would never allow his wife or any of his nine children to have anything to do
with the Jamaat-e-Islami. He would not let us read any of his books
(he wrote about 80 books all of which have a growing sale even today in several
languages around the world). We used to be scolded if any of us was found
anywhere near a Jamaat meeting.
Yet we got to see his minions, who are now running his
organization, from very close quarters. Their character could have put us off
Islam altogether. We used to ask him how he could think of bringing about an
Islamic revolution with the help of such frauds and lunatics. He thought he
could only use the people who came to him. But in his old age, he did get a
taste of his own medicine. When he was on his death bed, these maulanas treated
him as dirt.
I do not agree with
Maududi's political interpretation of Islam or even his (veering to the right)
interpretation of the Quran in general but while criticizing him or anyone, we
should not lose sight of objectivity and fairness. You could blame him if he
was alive today if his followers did anything that is objectionable. You cannot
talk about the followers of a dead person. Things have deteriorated to such an
extent that it is inconceivable that Maududi would have put up with all the
nonsense that goes on today. To be fair to him, he stood his ground and refused
to issue the fatwa of Jehad for Pakistan army's incursion into Kashmir
disguised as tribals. His true followers refused to take part in the 'Jehad' in
Afghanistan for the same reason that an unofficial/undeclared war cannot be
Jehad. Neither did he ever hold the outrageous view that an individual could do
Jehad in his individual capacity.
As far as verse 33:33 is
concerned, he has not erred in its translation one bit and the verse translated
by 50 others mean the same thing.
As far as the extreme view
on keeping women confined to the house is concerned, you will find many Mullahs
and websites from every sect which hold the view that a woman’s place is in the
house and she cannot go out without her father’s/husbands permission. Just look
up the Ala Hazrat website for confirmation.
Dear Observer, regardless of what explanation Maulana Maududi gives to his translation of the verse (al-Ahzab 33:33), his extremist followers justify their un-Islamic pressure on women to remain indoors and not to go about any business outdoors.
Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh members, whose clergy often use Maulana Abul A’ala Maududi’s translation, are hell-bent on the literalist understanding of this Qur'anic verse. This is the translation that the Hefazat’s chief Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi quoted in his fiery speech addressing to Muslim women:
“Oh women, if you believe in the book of Allah, the Quran says about you: “Stay in your houses and do not go about displaying your fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.” He went on interpreting this verse in stark contradiction to the true Quranic essence of this verse, yet falsely attributing it to Allah: “Oh women, remain within the four walls of your home. Do not stray outside the home. Who said this? Allah did.”
Even Ahmad Raza’s Urdu translation has not done justice
to the true and complete essence of this verse.
Now we should broaden our inclusiveness even further and say that anyone who lives a moral life and does good deeds is a Muslim. At the same time we must try to squelch our takfiri tendencies.
Today, extremists resort to the misuse of a Qur'anic
verse (al-Ahzab 33:33) to justify their un-Islamic pressure on women to remain
indoors and not to go about any business outdoors. In fact, they find most of
the translations and exegesis of the Quran by their ideologues and Quran
exegetes rendered in a way that suits their misogynist doctrines. Here is the
founder ideologue of Jamat-e-Islami, Maulana Abul A’ala Maududi’s
translation of this Quranic verse that the Hefazat’s clergy often use:
“Stay in your houses and do not go about displaying
your fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.” (Sayyid Abul Ala
Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an)
According to the explanation Maulana Maududi gives to
this translation of his, the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh members are hell-bent
on the literalist understanding of the Qur'anic commandment for women: “Stay in
your houses”. This is the translation that the Hefazat’s chief Allama Shah
Ahmad Shafi quoted in his fiery speech addressing to Muslim women:
“Oh women, if you believe in the book of Allah, the
Quran says about you: “Stay in your houses and do not go about displaying your
fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.” He went on interpreting
this verse in stark contradiction to the true Quranic essence of this verse,
yet falsely attributing it to Allah: “Oh women, remain within the four walls of
your home. Do not stray outside the home. Who said this? Allah did.”
The truth of the matter is that the Arabic verb used
in this verse is “Qarna” that has been driven from the root word “al-qarār”
meaning “peace”, “calm” and “comfort”. Now it is not difficult to understand
the meaning of this verse, as it tells women: “Live in your houses with calm
and peace”. It does not seek to restrict women to the four walls of their
homes, nor does it prohibit them from going or working outside. It rather
enjoins upon them maintaining peace and security at their homes.
There is no denying the fact that some Urdu translators and
exegetes of the Quran have done great damage to the essence of the holy Quran, for
instance, Maulana Maududi’s Urdu translation and exegesis “Tafheemul Quran”. Although Tafheemul Quran has immense literary appeal, especially for the educated Urdu-speaking people, it contains
serious flaws. Through his translation and commentary upon it, Maulana has
tried hard to prove many of the Quranic verses supportive of the establishment
of the rule of God on the earth, "not a portion but the whole of it". Once you have read Tafheemul Quran thoroughly, you might be
able to see for yourself where the problems lie with this Urdu tafseer.
Many scholarly refutations against it have been
written. Most notable are "Tanqeed aur Haqq-e-Tanqeed (Criticism and the
Rights of Criticism)" by Maulana Yusuf Ludhyanwi, Tabeer Ki Ghalti (Error in Expression) by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and "The Maududi
Calamity" by Allama Yusuf Binnauri. After reading them, one can know for sure
why Maulana’s tafseer is a misinterpretation of many Islamic doctrines.
Moreover, some Islamic scholars of repute have stated
that Tafhim Al-Qur'aan of Mawlana Maududi is a tafsir bi'l ra'y (explanation
of the Quranic verses by one’s own opinion).