By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
26 September 2017
UNHRC, Item 9, General Debate, September 26, 2017,
Oral Statement by Sultan Shahin
On behalf of: Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum
Sixteen years after 9/11, the issue of Jihadi terrorism has become even more complex and widespread.
First, though Jihadism is a violent offshoot of Wahhabism and Salafism, the international community has allowed the fountainhead of Wahhabi/Salafi ideology to continue to spend tens of billions of dollars to Wahhabise the world Muslim community.
Second, we recently saw with horror, but without any protest from the international community, the sight of a UN-designated terrorist, with a ten-million-dollar bounty on his head, launch a political party and nominate another US-designated terrorist to contest democratic elections in Pakistan. Apparently, some countries can ignore UN directives with impunity.
Third, the Muslim community has failed to grasp that Jihadism spread so rapidly around the world because at its core it is not very different from the theology of consensus that informs the religious beliefs and practices of all Muslim sects. That is why Jihadis are not impressed when we Muslims either proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace and pluralism or when we try to wash our hands off Jihadism by claiming that it has nothing to do with Islam. If we Muslims want to live as honourable citizens in the 21st century’s globalised world, we must rethink our consensus theology in all its dimensions and make revolutionary changes to bring it in line with the needs of present times.
Let me elaborate a little on the similarities in the core theologies of Jihadism and mainstream Islam as well as suggest the contours of an alternative theology of peace and pluralism, inclusion and acceptance of diversity, respect for human rights and gender justice. What are the fundamental elements of theologies of all sects including Jihadism that are the same and what can be done about them. Let us discuss a few here briefly.
1. Infallibility, universality and uncreatedness of Quran, regardless of the context in which some of God's instructions came in Quran to guide the Prophet and his followers on matters that needed to be urgently taken care of then, but are no longer relevant in the vastly different circumstances today.
This belief is common to all sects and sub-sects of Islam today. There is a consensus around it. So Jihadis are not inventing a new theology if they say that those Muslims who do not follow the war-time verses of Quran literally by fighting the kuffar constantly or staying away from all non-Muslims in day-to-day matters are hypocritical, and that a good, honest Muslim is one who is perpetually engaged in offensive Jihad against non-Muslims. After all, this is what is taught in all religious schools or madrasas, regardless of the sect. We are told in our theological books that the only relationship between a Muslim and a non-Muslim is that of war, and that it is the religious duty of all Muslims to bring Islam to power in all corners of the world, either by persuasion or force.
A new theology would seek to break this consensus and try to convince Muslims that war-time verses of the Prophet’s time maybe important as a historical account of the near insurmountable difficulties the Prophet had to face to establish Islam but do not apply to us today in the 21st century. We cannot possibly be fighting similar wars. Muslims were fighting existential battles in the early seventh century. Islam was in its infancy and infants do need to be taken special care of. Now the seed that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) planted in the inhospitable terrain of the Arabian desert has grown into a giant tree with branches across the world. There is no need for us to be fighting offensive Jihad “at least once a year” as Imam Ghazali advised in late 11th and early 12th century CE.
2. There is a consensus among ulema (religious scholars) of all sects that Hadith narrations (the alleged sayings of the Prophet) are akin to revelation, even though these were collected up to 300 years after the demise of the Prophet and contradict many of the core teachings of the Quran, the exhortations of God whose messenger the Prophet was. This theology of consensus implies that the Prophet spent the better part of his prophetic career preaching against the messages revealed to him in the holy Quran.
What has actually happened is that in the 48th year of the demise of the Prophet, his entire family was massacred and reins of power taken over by scions of the inveterate enemies of Islam who had fought battles against the Prophet and joined Islam only after his victory at Mecca, in a clear bid to subvert Islam from within when they failed to destroy it from outside. But they had to rule Muslims for whom Quran was the only holy scripture, which they understood, as well as had mostly memorized and written down. To undermine Quran, and create a distance between Muslims and the Quran, they evolved over the coming decades and centuries two institutions that remain very powerful until today. One was Hadith, that was called akin to revelation, and the other was that of Ulema or clerics who were proclaimed to be of the status of heirs to the Prophet, much better able to explain religion to Muslims than they themselves could.
The new theology will have to bring the focus back to Quran, and seek to dislodge both Hadith and Ulema from their present position of pre-eminence. These institutions evolved in the era of dynastic, despotic rulers, called Khalifas. It was natural for them to look for scriptural justifications for their exploitative, tyrannical, imperialist, expansionist, and supremacist policies. Not able to find justification for their policies in the Quran, which essentially guided Muslims on a spiritual path to salvation, they naturally created another scripture and put that on the same pedestal as Quran. The ulema were also deployed to subvert the meaning of Quran’s verses of war and make contextual verses into universally applicable instructions for permanent war.
3. Sharia Laws were first codified 120 years after the demise of the Prophet and have been changing since from time to time and place to place. It is only marginally based on Quran, most of it has been borrowed from pre-Islamic Arab practices. But the theology of consensus insists on calling it divine.
The new theology will go strictly by the spirit of Quran and allow Muslims to formulate their laws according to the needs of their time and place. Laws are and should remain dynamic and just.
4. The theology of consensus propounds a Doctrine of Abrogation, whereby earlier Meccan verses preaching peace and pluralism, patience and perseverance, religious freedom for all, etc., have been abrogated by later Medinan verses of war, asking Muslims to fight, and talking about virtues and rewards of contributing to war efforts in the way of God. It is said that the so-called sword verse (9: 5) alone has abrogated 114 verses of peace and pluralism revealed in early Islam at Mecca.
The new theology of peace should emphasise that the Meccan verses are the foundational and constitutive verses of Islam. They cannot be abrogated by any later verses of war. The Doctrine of Abrogation will need to be rejected in toto. It is the latter Medinan verses of war that have lost their relevance not the original Islam preaching peace and pluralism as revealed at Mecca.
5. The concept of Caliphate has no basis in Quran, but our theology considers it almost mandatory. This consensus view needs to be corrected in the new theology.
6. The theology of consensus is of the view that Muslims should migrate from Land of Conflict (Darul Harb) which is dominated by non-Muslims to Darul Islam (land of Islam). This has no basis in Quran. This is not even practical in contemporary world, though ulema keep using these terms. Even individuals have great difficulty getting visas to visit any country, these days, what to speak of millions of Muslims settling down in, say, Saudi Arabia, the pre-eminent Darul Islam. Saudis did not take even one Syrian refugee despite their horrible situation, though Germany (so-called Darul Harb) took a million Muslim refugees out of compassion for the suffering humanity. The new theology will have to reject such medieval ideas as completely irrelevant and un-Quranic.
Clearly Muslims have much hard work to do. We will need to bring about revolutionary changes in our theology to make it compatible with the holy Quran as well as the needs of modern times.
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Since the early centuries of Islam,
exegetic sciences have followed a methodology of taqlid which is captured by
Moulana Abul Kalam Azad in these words ( Abul
Kalam Azad, Tarjuman al-Qur’an, 1931, reprint New
Delhi 1989, Vol.1. p. 42.) - also referenced p.352, Essential Message of Islam.
" an error was made in an interpretation in
the third century hijra, it is inevitably copied and recopied down
to the ninth century. No one thought for a moment to step out of the taqlid (strict
compliance with the precedent) regime even for a moment to investigate the
truth. By and by, the spirit of interpretation dipped so low that it got
restricted to merely putting new margins (with comments) on the old contents.”
Copying from, and embellishing upon past works was, however, not
all. The early exegetes presented several optional arguments while interpreting
the critical verses of the Qur’an. The later interpreters often chose the
weakest of these arguments. Thus in later periods, “only those tafsir gained
popularity for education and adoption, which totally lacked the beauty of those
(advocated by the) ancients.”10
Hence what is listed
as 'failings' is nothing but the result of the methodology of exegesis that was
specific to the classical era of Islam and it will be ignorance of the state of
knowledge of that era and somewhat childish to blame the past scholars for their
How has "shirk" itself come to mean fitna for many scholars except through bigotry?
How does fight until there is no more fitna of religious persecution become fight until the kafir disavow kufr and accept Islam?
How does Deen of Allah become worship only for Allah?
How does Shaheed become martyr?
How has kafir come to mean disbeliever?
How has permission to fight persecution become a fight to end disbelief?
Are they deaf, dumb and blind to the contradictions their interpretations gives rise to?
How many scholars are there who reject the notion of the Quran containing abrogated verses? And why are they unable to understand the Quran without treating some verses as abrogated?
Why is any part of the Quran ambiguous to them?
Is there any scholar who speaks of the "Principles of war" in Islam?
How many scholars understand Islam as a set of unchanging and eternal principles?
Why are they unable to proclaim "Let there be no compulsion in religion" is an eternal principle without qualifications? Why do scholars discuss this verse with reference to Shan e Nuzool except to limit its applicability?
Can your anonymous scholar provide cogent reasons for the failings? I do not see any connection between these failings and the era in which they lived except for certain parts of the Quran having been difficult for them to understand that are better understood today because of our knowledge of the sciences.
By Naseer Ahmed - 1/2/2018 7:38:01 AM
The following is also from the tafsir of Ibn Kathir:
And fight them until there is no more Fitnah
He (Umar) said, "That we did during the time of Allah's Messenger when Islam was still weak and (the Muslim) man used to face trials in his religion, such as killing or torture. When Islam became stronger (and apparent), there was no more Fitnah.''
Hazrat Umar (RA) was right. The fitna during the Prophet’s time when Islam was weak was the persecution of the Muslims which ended when Islam became stronger.
Bigotry among the scholars is pervasive and Ibn Kathir was one such scholar and a commentator who has covered the opinion of other scholars in his commentary many of whom were bigots. Two of my comments on the meaning of fitna are reproduced below.
I have covered the subject of Jizya in an article:
The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh) From the Qu’ran (Part 6): The People of the Book and Jiziya
ShShahin sb,The verse that is misinterpreted is 2:193/8:39 based on how two words/phrases are translated:1. Fitnatun فِتْنَةٌ 2. The complete law of Allah الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ The following is a link to 54 translations of the verse:islamawakened.com/quran/8/39/Only two translators, Muhammad Sarwar and N J Dawud have translated fitna as idolatry. The remaining overwhelming majority have correctly translated fitna as religious persecution or as oppression. As far as Tafsir is concerned, my earlier comment covered Tafsir of Ibn Kathir. Kanzul Iman is also in line with Ibn Kathir and says that the fighting is to continue until the kafaru “kufr se baaz aye aur iman laye” which implies that it equates fitna with kufr/shirk. As far as the second term is concerned, Asad, Mustafa Khattab, Safi Kaskas, Al Muntakhab, Abdel Haleem, Abdul Majid Daryabadi, and several more get it wrong and either are directly or indirectly saying that the fighting must continue until all worship Allah. More than half of them get it right with the following more explicit than others Yusuf Ali "and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere"Dr Bakhtiar : and the way of life—all of it—be for GodShabbir Ahmed: and absolute freedom of religion is established. People must be able to adopt a religion only for God's Approval, and as free choiceVickar Ahmed: and there exists justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhereBilal Mohammed: and there prevails justice and faith in God, altogether and everywhereMaududi: the way prescribed by Allah - the whole of it -prevailMohammed Shafi: and the way of life is restored in its entirety to AllahBijan Moeinian: a God pleasing “way of life” is establishedMy translation: Until the complete law of Allah prevails. Explanatory note: Until there is no compulsion in religion and all oppression ends. This is the cornerstone of Allah’s laws. By Naseer Ahmed - 12/4/2017 11:38:26 PM
Yes, you do need to resolve the following which I had addressed to you earlier also, but which remained unresponded:
The Tafseer of Ibn Kathir on verse 2:193 and 8:38 quotes a Hadith collected in the two Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim in which the Prophet (pbuh) is alleged to have said:
«أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ، حَتَّى يَقُولُوا: لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ، فَإِذَا قَالُوهَا عَصَمُوا مِنِّي دِمَاءَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ، إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا، وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَل»
(I was commanded to fight against the people until they proclaim, `There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.' If and when they say it, they will preserve their blood and wealth from me, except for its right (Islamic penal code), and their reckoning is with Allah, the Exalted and Most Honoured.)"
The implication of this hadith is clear. The battle was against disbelief and until disbelief exists. The question to Ghaus sb is does he reject this hadith as false? If no, then how does he reconcile it with his saying that the battle is only against the oppressors to end their oppression?
While translating verse 8:38, while the correct meaning of the verse is: “Tell those religious persecutors/oppressors (kafaru) that if they desist (from their religious persecution), that which is past (their various acts of persecution) will be forgiven…..”
For 12 translators the meaning of kafaru is disbelievers, who must desist from their “Unbelief” or its equivalent. They are: Yusuf Ali (from Unbelief), Al'-Muntakhab (renounce infidelity, desist from evil purpose and turn to Allah), Ali Unal: (to disbelieve themselves and prevent others from entering the fold of Islam), Muhammad TaqiUsmani (from infidelity), Syed Vickar Ahamed (from disbelief),Farook Malik (from unbelief), Dr Munir Munshey (their skepticism),Dr. M Tahir ul Qadri (from their blasphemous acts),Ali Quli Qarai [faithlessness], Dr Kamal Omar (from their blasphemous acts),Thanvi (Kufr), Kanzul Iman (Kufr Se Baaz Aye Aur Islam Laye).
Do you also reject the commentary in Kanzul Iman which says that the war was until the disbelievers give up their disbelief and accept Islam?
By Naseer Ahmed - 11/9/2017 2:19:07 AM
Naseer Saheb, just to pick your brain,
if this translation and context (shaan-e-nuzool) described in
Ibn-e-Kathir is correct, why should fitna not mean shirk? I know
you have explained this elsewhere, but it seems to me, that if this translation
is correct, God is leaving us in no doubt that shirk is fitna
that He wants extirpated. I basically want a correct translation:
Fight them until there is no [more]
fitnah and religion and every kind of worship is for Allah alone. Qur'an 2:193
Explanation of verse 2:193 Tafsir ibn Kathir
(Fight against those who believe not in
Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah
and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among
the People of the Scripture,) This honourable Ayah was revealed with the order
to fight the People of the Book, after the pagans were defeated, the people
entered Allah's religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was
secured under the Muslims' control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the
People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and
he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad
announcing his intent and destination. The Messenger sent his intent to various
Arab areas around Al-Madinah to gather forces, and he collected an army of
thirty thousand. Some people from Al-Madinah and some hypocrites, in and around
it, lagged behind, for that year was a year of drought and intense heat. The
Messenger of Allah marched, heading towards Ash-Sham to fight the Romans until
he reached Tabuk, where he set camp for about twenty days next to its water
resources. He then prayed to Allah for a decision and went back to Al-Madinah
because it was a hard year and the people were weak, as we will mention, Allah
The Order is to fight People of the Scriptures until They give the Jizyah:
----- Tafsir ibn Kathir
“Shahin sb the Quran is the word of God to be taken
literally and not for us to fool around with interpretations. I never deviate
from the literal meaning or its logical derivations. I have far too much respect for the Quran to treat
it as the speech of a child or an imbecile needing to be interpreted by
intelligent people. They are fools who take the word of God any other way
except literally while apparently, they think themselves to be
intelligent. ” By
Naseer Ahmed - 2/7/2018 1:31:44 AM
Naseer Saheb, “logical derivations” are interpretations. Is Quran “the
speech of a child or an imbecile” needing you to use your logic and reasoning
and rationality to understand its meaning. Why not just translate it? Is this
not our logic, for instance, that tells us that verses telling us that God is
formless and unique have to be considered Muhkamat (clear) and verses talking
about God’s seeing and hearing and hands and legs and throne are to be treated
as “Mutashabehat” (allegorical), whose meaning is known to God alone? Where in
Quran does God tell us that this verse is Muhkam and this verse is Mutashabeh? Obviously,
we are using our minds to understand Quran. You do the same.
Any reader of Quran knows that Quran is not a
book of mathematical formulae written with mathematical precision. Those who do
not use logic and reasoning, show to their followers, as literalist Hanbalite
scholar Ibn-e-Taimia did, by descending a few steps from their
pulpit to show the literal meaning of how God descended. Ibn-e-Taimiya said “Verily God descends [from heaven] to the sky over our own world in the same
bodily fashion as I make this descent.” But when you seek to understand how God
descended, I imagine, you would consider it
allegorical, and leave its meaning to God. This would be your interpretation or
“logically derived meaning,” whatever you call it.
However, you are quite entitled to your
opinion, as are others. You are certainly entitled to even an opinion that contradicts
all the scholars of the past millennium and a half. You are certainly entitled
to calling your interpretation a “logically derived meaning.” Let’s leave it at
I have published more than a hundred of
your articles and will continue to do so, if you continue to write. The
conclusions you reach are in most cases progressive and in line with what the
ummah needs today. These ideas need to reach a large number of people. If
nothing else they will spark debate. And debate and discussion, and all forms
of Kalam, though banned by literalist scholars like Ibn-e-Taimiya on
pain of death, have become the most urgent need of the hour. If we are to make
any progress, in my view, it will come from Muslims of all sectarian
persuasions brainstorming together, differing with one another but respecting each
other’s’ opinions. New Age Islam is such a forum, where no views, expressed
respectfully, are barred.
Shahin sb says: I told you before, giving examples from how
God says in one place good deeds lead to salvation, then says good deeds plus
this and this lead to salvation, then says good deeds plus this and this and
this and this lead to salvation. He also says Jihad in the sense of qital in
the way of God leads to salvation and so on. So, you can’t say definitively
that good deeds alone make you a Momin.
Isn’t qital when appropriate a good deed? And isn’t avoiding
qital when it becomes necessary as was the case when the Prophet was fighting
battles a sign of kufr? Wasn’t fighting to liberate Bangladesh a good deed
worthy of a momin? A momin does what is appropriate in each circumstance. If there is a verse that says there is
salvation in the service of mother and another which says there is salvation in
the service of father and a third that says that there is salvation in the
service of mankind and a fourth that says there is salvation in the service of
animals and a fifth that says there is salvation in the service of living
creatures, are these verses contradictory? It only means that there are multiple ways in
which you may attain salvation and multiple ways in which you may deserve to be
punished. So do whatever good you can and avoid evil. A momin is a person of faith who does whatever is likely to please Allah the most and avoid that which displeases Allah.
Shahin sb says: “An educated youth is not going to be fooled by arguments like “the Quran uses Kafir for those who reject the Signs of Allah and not for the disbeliever." He is bound to ask:Are you saying that a disbeliever does not reject the sign of Allah, and hence he is not a kafir? What kind of nonsense is that, he would say, and justifiably so.”
While there are certainly a few Kafir among the disbelievers in Islam who have rejected the Signs of Allah, it is also equally true that not every disbeliever is such a Kafir having rejected the signs of Allah. An educated youth is not going to be fooled by the argument that all the disbelievers in Islam are people who have rejected the Signs of Allah when he can easily ascertain for a fact that very few are even aware of what these signs are. This holds equally for those who call themselves Muslim which is why the majority of Muslims are merely those who say they believe but lack the necessary knowledge about the Signs of Allah to become good Muslims.
Shahin sb says: So, I am merely asking that we make arguments that can hold water. And we not be dishonest. We use our common sense and rationality, but say that we are using our common sense and rationality for deriving meaning from Quran, and not say instead that this is the literal meaning of Quranic verse when it is clearly not.
Shahin sb the Quran is the word of God to be taken literally and not for us to fool around with interpretations. I never deviate from the literal meaning or its logical derivations. I have far too much respect for the Quran to treat it as the speech of a child or an imbecile needing to be interpreted by intelligent people. They are fools who take the word of God any other way except literally while apparently they think themselves to be intelligent.
Shahin sb, You say: “As I have told you again and again even surah Al-Muddathir, which is the first surah in which God asks the prophet to begin his prophetic work ad proclaim his prphethood publicly refers to Meccan Mushrikin or pagans or non-believers as kafir.”
You are wrong. The verse 74:10 is speaking of the fate of the Kafirin in general, as a warning to the addressees of the Prophet. It is not calling all the Mushrikin of Mecca as Kafir. It is about the Day of Judgment and the fate of the Kafirin on that day. Through a clear description of his behaviour in verses 11 to 26, the Surah does describe one person whose fate as Kafir Allah has sealed. This is not the description of every Mushrik but of one individual. Who this person may have been is irrelevant, but tradition identifies the person as Abu Jahl who died a Kafir leading the Mushrikin in the battle of Badr. The Surah is about one individual held as an example to the rest. To understand the meaning of Kafir, read the description of one such kafir in verses 11 to 26. If you needed more proof that a Kafir is not just any disbeliever, you have it in in this Surah. A Kafir is not just any disbeliever, but an active opponent of Islam, enemy of Allah, the Messenger and the Muslims.
(8) Finally, when the Trumpet is sounded,
(9) That will be- that Day - a Day of Distress,-
(10) Far from easy for the Kafirin.
(11) Leave Me alone, (to deal) with the (creature) whom I created (bare and) alone!-
(12) To whom I granted resources in abundance,
(13) And sons to be by his side!-
(14) To whom I made (life) smooth and comfortable!
(15) Yet is he greedy-that I should add (yet more);-
(16) By no means! For to Our Signs he has been refractory!
(17) Soon will I visit him with a mount of calamities!
(18) For he thought and he plotted;-
(19) And woe to him! How he plotted!-
(20) Yea, Woe to him; How he plotted!-
(21) Then he looked round;
(22) Then he frowned and he scowled;
(23) Then he turned back and was haughty;
(24) Then said he: "This is nothing but magic, derived from of old;
(25) "This is nothing but the word of a mortal!"
(26) Soon will I cast him into Hell-Fire!
(27) And what will explain to thee what Hell-Fire is?
(28) Naught doth it permit to endure, and naught doth it leave alone!-
(29) Darkening and changing the colour of man!
Naseer Saheb, you are saying this again
Of all the people, I find it
strange that you do not understand my methods when you have published nearly a
hundred of my articles which follow the same methodology consistently. By Naseer
Ahmed - 2/4/2018 11:22:40 PM
In another comment:
I am not sure whether: Shahin sb is
speaking for himself. Or is he a supporter of the views of the bigots whom he
quotes. By Naseer Ahmed - 2/2/2018 2:50:24 AM
The above question repeated thrice
Anticipating this, I had
written the following over a week ago, on 30 January, 2018, but either you
missed it or I was not able to make my position clear:
Naseer Saheb, you know it
very well that I have no difference with you on most of your conclusions. I do
not think they are any Kafirs or unbelievers in the world, after God’s
clarification that there is no nation on earth where a prophet was not sent and
no prophet who was not given revelations, which become books when collected.
So, all nations are to me ahl-e-kitab. However, God refers to Meccan mushrikin,
pagans, non-believers, whatever you call them, as kafirin from the very
beginning of Quran.
As I have told you again
and again even surah Al-Muddathir, which is the first surah in which God asks
the prophet to begin his prophetic work ad proclaim his prphethood publicly
refers to Meccan Mushrikin or pagans or non-believers as kafir. Then God uses
the variations of kuifr, kafaru, kafirin, etc throughout the Quran from
beginning to end in a variety of situations. So, my conclusion that now
there are no more kafirs in the world, only ahl-e-kitab, is my interpretation
and my understanding of the Quran; it is not the literal Quran. For you, the
same thing is literal Quran.
why should I insist that we should call our conclusions our interpretations
rather than literal meaning of verses from Quran? What difference would
it make? The issue is not my understanding or Naseer Saheb’s. This entire
exercise we are engaged in here is to find a new understanding which is
coherent and internally consistent enough for us to take it to our educated
youth, that is turning to terrorism under the influence of how revered
theologians understand Quran and Hadith.
This youth is educated,
sophisticated, under the influence of the theology of consensus, and able to
find holes in counter-arguments or counter-narratives given to it. An educated
youth is not going to be fooled by arguments like “the
Quran uses Kafir for those who reject the Signs of Allah and not for the
is bound to ask: Are you saying that a disbeliever does not reject the
sign of Allah, and hence he is not a kafir? What kind of nonsense is that, he
would say, and justifiably so. So, I am merely asking that we make arguments
that can hold water. And we not be dishonest. We use our common sense and
rationality, but say that we are using our common sense and rationality for
deriving meaning from Quran, and not say instead that this is the literal
meaning of Quranic verse when it is clearly not.
I am only acting here as a
devil’s advocate and only because I have to; there are no representatives of
the Jihadism here or the youths who are on their way to Jihadism for us to
argue with. We have to sharpen our counternarrative and fill any holes.
after this preamble let me take up some points made by Naseer Saheb one by one:
By Sultan Shahin - 1/30/2018 11:55:02 AM
The literal meaning of “barāatun” is not “disassociated” but “freedom”. In verse 9:1 it means freedom from all the obligations arising from the treaties, since these are being dissolved through the announcement.
“Bari’” is also used in the sense of exonerated. A person charged with crimes may be declared bari or exonerated or freed of all the charges.
It therefore means “freed” or “relieved” or “exonerated” and used in the context of obligations, responsibility, charges, or blame.
وَإِن كَذَّبُوكَ فَقُل لِّي عَمَلِي وَلَكُمْ عَمَلُكُمْ ۖ أَنتُم بَرِيئُونَ مِمَّا أَعْمَلُ وَأَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
(10:41) If they charge you with falsehood, say: "My work to me, and yours to you! ye are free (barīūna)from responsibility for what I do, and I for what you do!"
Disassociated looks like a close synonym but is inappropriate and this becomes clear when an inappropriate synonym is used to disassociate with the Mushrikin of all times. This is a typical example of how the bigots distort the otherwise clear meaning of the Quran and Shahin sb, you have fallen for it!
Naseer Saheb, what you have
brought out is not literal meaning. It’s interpretation. If Quran says in its final
judgement in the long journey of revelation: 9:1 [This is a declaration of] disassociation,
from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among
the polytheists (Mushrikin). And 9:3- And [it is] an announcement from Allah
and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the
polytheists (Mushrikin), and [so is] His Messenger.
And you say that Islam’s revered theologians who say that
Islam asks Muslims to disassociate themselves from Mushrikin (polytheists) are
bigots, then this is your interpretation, your reasoning, your logic, based on
a number of factors, including other verses of Quran. If you think “disassociate”
means “associate,” then this
is not a literal translation. If you think Islam is a pluralistic
religion which asks Muslims to co-exist with other religious communities, this
is your interpretation (and of course, mine too, and that of any other sensible Muslim) of the spirit of Islam, particularly emerging from early
translation of Quran’s early Meccan verses may teach us patience and
perseverance in the face of adversity and persecution, rather than killing
Mushrikin, driving them out of the land of Islam, etc. Innallah Ma’as Sabirin,
for instance, God is with those who remain patient. But you don’t get the same
message from a literal translation of Surah Anfal and Sura Taubah that are
revelations that came at the near-end and so, are considered by most
theologians as the final message of God regarding Muslims co-existing or not with
other religious communities.
It’s on the basis of this final message that most
theologians conclude that the only possible relationship between Muslims and
non-Muslims is that of war; it is because of these verses that most of our
ulema teach their students that we should try and not have anything to do with
Mushrikin, that there are many fatwas against Muslims participating in
non-Muslim festivals and religious celebrations.
If the literalist ulema understand from the
following verses that Islam does not allow Muslims to associate with Mushrikin, how can
you blame them? After all, they are literalists, they will go by the letter.
are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have
not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their
treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous
[who fear Him]. (Can this be called a crime, an ally not defying Muslims and
not supporting any one against them?)
9:5 And when the sacred
months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and
capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of
ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them
[go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
9:29 Fight those who do not believe in Allah or
in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger
have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who
were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while
they are humbled.
concession given to the good Mushrikin described in 9: 4 is that they are
allowed to complete their term of the treaty they had with Muslims and not just
the four sacred months in which other Mushrikin are allowed to remain free.
ulema’s fault is that they are depending on the letter of the Quran. They are
depending on the literal meaning of Quran. Let us not call them bigots, only
It is this
literalism that leads giants among theologians like Iman Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam
Ibn-e-Taimiya, Imam As’ari etc. to believe that God has eyes and ears, hands
and feet and sits on a throne that is so heavy that it can be carried only be
eight sturdy men. Of course, as God is also referred to as unique in another
verse, they make the concession that God’s limbs are not like human limbs. If
you interrogate them any further they resort to the folrmula of bilā kaifa,
(Arabic: بلا كيف) [ "without asking
how", or "without how"], which means that it is not for Muslims
to ask how or why, it’s for them only to follow literally whatever Quran says.
blame revered ulema for thinking that “kill,” means “kill,” or “hand” means “hand,”
or “leg” means “leg” or “throne” means “throne.”
If you are
saying in Quran “kill” means “don’t kill,” then you have to resort to some sort
of interpretation, using your logic, reasoning, understanding of the spirit of
the book, etc. “Logically derived meaning” is interpretation, it’s not a
has led ulema to where Islam is today. Literalists don’t use logic or
reasoning. That is what the Mu’tazila or rationalists do.
Please don’t think, as Ash’aris do, that you can ride two horses at the same time. If you are deriving meanings logically, then you
are a rationalist, not a literalist. What you are doing in interpretation, not
Pray tell us
Naseer Saheb, where does the Quran say, that Surah Tauba is giving a one-time
judgement on the punishment to be meted out to those few Mushrikin, who had not
converted to Islam or gone into exile even 18 months after the Muslim victory
at Mecca. Some of these Mushrikin were good ones who had not defied Muslims or
conspired with their enemies (9:4).
the Quran tell us where does the Quran say that the wars that the Prophet fought
were to be treated as history and these instructions of disassociation from
Mushrikin is only meant to be followed during the Prophet’s lifetime.
And that is why the literalists are doing what they are doing and saying and
teaching to our kids today.
understand that this is history and it’s not applicable to us today, we need
logic, reasoning, interpretation, an attempt to understand the spirit of Islam
through its foundational verses that were revealed initially in Mecca, not
those that were revealed when war broke out as war-time instructions. We need brains
to understand that God’s seeing and hearing doesn’t mean eyes and ears, but his
ability to know everything, that his throne isn’t a literal throne, but his
might. And so on.
requires interpretation, sometimes through simple logic and reasoning, or
Tafseer, and sometimes through deeper process of what is called Ta’weel.
may lead to bigotry, and it can also sometimes lead to correct understanding. For
instance, La Ikraha fid Deen. The literal meaning is “No compulsion in
religion.” Nothing wrong with that. So, one has to basically pick and choose,
which instructions of Quran, one thinks, are applicable today and which are
not. Quran’s criminal jurisprudence and its methods of punishments have been
virtually discarded today by the entire Muslim world community, except in literalist,
Salafi Saudi Arabia, Taliban and Boko
the following Google rendition of the meaning of literalism and interpretation
will help you understand the two terms and remove any confusion in your mind:
the interpretation of words in their literal sense.
literal representation in literature or art.
adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation orinterpretation:
to interpret the law with uncompromising literalism.
a peculiarity of expression resulting from this:
The work is studded with these obtuse literalisms.
exact representation or portrayal, without idealization, as in art orliterature:
a literalism more appropriate to journalism than to the novel.
the action of explaining the meaning
"the interpretation of data"
explanation, elucidation, expounding, exposition, explication, exegesis, clarification, definition;
interpretation and application of the Bible's teaching"
analysis, reading, evaluation, review, study, examination, diagnosis;
"the interpretation of experimental findings"
an explanation or way of explaining.
plural noun: interpretations
"this action is open to a number of interpretations"
meaning, understanding, construal, connotation, reading, explanation, inference, conclusion, supposition
did not care what interpretation he put on her haste"
a stylistic representation of a
creative work or dramatic role.
"his unique interpretation of the Liszt études"
rendition, rendering, execution, presentation, performance, reading, playing, singing;
enactment, portrayal, depiction
was admirable in his interpretation of the sonata"