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Debating Islam (27 Nov 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Radical Intelligentsia of Islam and Its Orthodox Ulema Are the ‘Hypocrites’ and ‘Nomadic Arabs Intense In Kufr’ Of This Era: They Are Its Twin Internal Enemies, and Must Be Resisted



An Exposition of the conspiratorial role of the believing hypocrites and nomadic Arabs against the Prophet’s mission and its pernicious historical and present day fallout

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

November 28, 2013

Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

The essay pieces together relevant Qur’anic verses (paraphrased in green print) to bring across the treacherous and conspiratorial role of the hypocrites and some nomadic Arab tribes from among the Prophet’s followers to foil his mission. The narrative so evolved also shows that the Qur’an hurls the epithet of ‘Kufr’ (denial of self evident or irrefutable proposition) probably on more occasions to a faction of the Prophet’s followers than the Jews and Christians of the era as commonly held. It also shows that the Qur’an does not single out the polytheists as Rijz (abominable, 9:28) – it ascribes it to the hypocrites as well (9:95). It also demonstrates the largely defensive character of the Prophet’s mission, and connects some of the sensitive verses of the Qur’an often cited as examples of its condemnation of pagans and Jews to its right audience. 

The object of this exercise is to dig deep into the roots of the conflicts that, in historical perspective, led to petrifaction of Islam’s message [1], and its intellectual mortification and political decline, and, in recent decades, are manifesting, in enduring political crisis, sectarian violence, takfirism (hurling rubric of kafir or infidel on other Muslims and all non-Muslims) and growing anarchy and fundamentalism in the Muslim world and Islamic societies. Besides, in today’s globalized world with Muslims and non-Muslims living side by side in most countries, petrifaction of Islamic message adversely affects the relative performance of the Muslims, interfaith and inter-personal relations, widens civilisational gap, and under harsh political realities of the era, feeds radicalization and lends religious legitimacy to politically driven and motivated terror. Hence, this exercise is worthy of serious attention and healthy debate.

Let the readers not be daunted by its length for it gives a wide and transparent window into the Qur’an by listing, partly or paraphrased, close to a hundred of its verses relating to its interaction with its existential opponents, in an integrated and reader friendly manner.

Summary Introduction to the Prophetic Mission and Its Opposition by Internal Agents

Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Islam preached in his native town, Mecca, for the first 12 years (610-622) of his prophetic mission (610-632). In the tribal society of the era, he was bitterly opposed by his clan, the Quraysh, gained only about a hundred converts in close to twelve years, and was forced to migrate to Medina (622), some 150 miles away (a week’s journey) under perilous circumstances. A small community of Medinite converts warmly welcomed him and elected him as their leader. His faith appealed to the people of Medina, conversion picked up, his popularity grew, and soon he was elected the chief arbiter or civil head of the mixed Medinite community that comprised native pagan and Jewish tribes and the growing Muslim Umma (community). However, a faction of Medinite converts grew envious of him. They were led by Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, a prominent chief of the prosperous Khazraj tribe and virtually the temporal head of Medina before the Prophet’s arrival. These people were opportunists and entered Islam with political motives - they pretended to believe but in their hearts mocked at the new faith (2:8, 2:14) and unknowingly created disorder in the society (2:11/12). As the revelation progressed and the Prophet became increasingly powerful, the opportunist Muslims, later referred to as the hypocrites (63:1), became increasingly conspiratorial and created immense difficulties to the Prophet until their leader’s death barely an year before the Prophet’s demise (632).  

To set the stage for this narrative, it is necessary to give a heads up on the major events of the Medinite period (622-632) that bring across the vicious role of the hypocrites and the believing nomadic Arabs against the Prophetic mission. 

The Hardening Attitudes of the Hypocrites

The battle of Badr (624) marked a turning point in the attitude of the hypocrites towards the Prophet. Their attitude only hardened with the unfolding of major events, notably, the battle of Uhud (625), the Trench War (the Battle of confederates) (627), the unarmed Pilgrimage (628) and finally the Tabuk expedition (631).

The battle of Badr saw a small motley band of the Prophet’s companions defeating a vastly superior, well trained and proud Quraysh army. The battle of Uhud took place in the plains and slopes of Mount Uhud some three miles from Medina when the Quraysh sent a powerful army to avenge their humiliating defeat at Badr. The Trunch war saw a confederation of armies from all major tribes hostile to Muhammad laying a prolonged and strangulating siege to Medina and lifting the siege and returning after a severe storm blew away their tents and provisions. The unarmed pilgrimage was purely a spiritual mission. The Tabuk expedition aimed at encountering the greatest military power of the era, the Romans (Byzantines) as the Qur’an had previously predicted and was strategically a defensive move to deter the mighty Romans from attacking the fledgling and divided Muslim community after the Prophet’s imminent death. Militarily doomed to failure, the mission was inconclusive and the Prophet died soon after his return. We now delve into the Qur’an to bring across the role of the hypocrites and the nomadic Arabs and to expose the true face of the internal enemies of the Prophet.

The Qur’anic Testimony on the Conspiratorial Role of the Internal Enemies of Islam during Critical Moments of the Prophetic Mission

The Battle of Badr (624)

As the Prophet set forth (on a mission) at the order of his Lord in the cause of the truth, some (of his followers) were averse to it (not knowing the destination) (8:5). God promised them that one of the two hosts will be theirs, while they hoped to encounter the unarmed one (the Quraysh trading caravan on way back to Mecca, rich with merchandise) (8:7). (Meanwhile,) a Quraysh army set off boastfully taking the expedition as an easy way to fame (8:47). The Prophet’s followers camped at one end of the valley (of Badr), while the Quraysh army approached from the other end, and their trading caravan passed close by unnoticed as God had willed (8:42).

(Just before the battle) the Prophet had a dream in which he saw the Meccans small in number. Had the Prophet seen their full strength, (and disclosed it), many of his followers would have been disheartened and would have disputed over the matter (8:43). As the truth became clear to the Muslims (that they had to fight against the powerful Quraysh army), they were struck with horror (8:6), without realizing that it was God’s scheme to verify the truth of His Words and to cut off the roots of the pagans (8:7). The hypocrites and those weak in faith thought that their faith had deluded them (8:49).

However, (as the battle began) the devil who had assured the attackers of success turned around, and absolved himself of all his responsibilities and stood in terror of God (8:48). (So, the Muslims won a decisive victory) and took many captives (8:67). The revelation tells the Quraysh, if they wanted a judgment it was before them, and warns them to desist from any further attack and declares that their army, however large, will avail them nothing  (8:19).

The victory at Badr established the hitherto little known and derided Muhammad as an emerging political power. This greatly alarmed the hypocrites and they launched a campaign to marginalize him and dismiss his prophetic claims. When asked to come to what God revealed and to the Prophet, they turned their faces in aversion (4:61). The Qur’an warns that God will not forgive nor guide those who embrace faith, then deny it and yet again come to believe and then become more stubborn in their denial (4:137) and took the pagans (kafirin) as their friends in preference to the believers (4:139), and warns the hypocrites of severe punishments (4:138). They now openly denied (yakfur) and ridiculed the revelation (4:140), and waited to see the Prophet’s downfall. (In the minor skirmishes that followed) if the Prophet succeeded, the hypocrites readily claimed their allegiance to him but if the pagans had good luck, they secretly claimed to be on their side (4:141). They tried to deceive God; when they stood for prayer, they stood lazily for others to see them (4:142). Some of them pretended obedience to the Prophet in public, but schemed against him by night (4:81). The Prophet’s followers were, however, in two minds about these hypocrites (4:88). (The revelation commands them) not to argue or plead on their behalf (4:105, 4:107) and declares that the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire and will never find for them any helper (4:145).

The Uhud Battle

 (The revelation commanded Muhammad) to urge the believers to fight without compelling anyone (4:84). (On way to the battleground) a faction of Muslims who were given to hypocrisy (Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his clansmen) withdrew saying (to the Prophet), if they knew how to fight, they would have followed him (3:167). They also divulged matters of secrecy or alarm to others, instead of informing the matter to the Prophet and those with authority (4:83).

(On the day of the encounter), the Prophet left early in the morning to put his people at battle stations (3:121). (Before the battle started), two of the clans (Banu Salamah and Banu Harithah) almost lost hope (overwhelmed by the military superiority of the Meccan army) (3:122).

(As encounter began), the Muslims made decisive gains, when some of the defenders weakened: they argued over (the Prophet’s) order and disobeyed after God showed them what they loved of this world (victory/booty) (3:152). They fled, paying attention to no one and ignoring the Prophet calling them from behind. (The attackers struck back in full force and thus) God repaid the Muslims with affliction upon affliction so that they would not sorrow over what slipped away from them (3:153). (The revelation urged the defenders) not to despair or grieve (3:139) (and consoled them that) if they were wounded, their enemies had also sustained injuries. (It reminded them that) these were the days of changing fortune to which God subjects humankind to know which of them truly believe (3:140), that He may purge those who truly believe and destroy the fake believers (Kafireen, 3:141).

Finally, the Prophet was struck unconscious and word spread that he was killed. The attackers took the rumour on face value and left the field in glory and pride. The survivors were traumatized, and lay wounded and lifeless in the field, struck with grief at the loss of some 62 of their men.

God sent down a sense of security – an inner peace over a group of them (who were firm in faith), while others (the hypocrites) who had been anxious about themselves, were assailed with the thoughts of pagan ignorance. They said, ‘if we had any say in the matter our men would not have been killed (3:154). Those, who had stayed back, said of their brethren: ‘Had they obeyed us, they would not have been killed (3:168). (The revelation reminds them that) Muhammad was merely a messenger, other messengers had passed away before him, (and asks,) if he died or was killed would they turn on their heels? (3:144).

Muhammad’s faithful followers were deeply distressed and puzzled if God had forsaken him. They were extremely concerned how the hypocrites (Ibn Ubayy and his clansmen and supporters) in Medina were going to receive Muhammad when he returned. A rumour spread in the Prophet’s camp that a host has gathered against them (at Medina), so they have to be wary. But this only increased their faith (3:173), and they returned home by the grace and blessings of God, untouched by harm (3:174).

They [hypocrites] were charming in looks, deceitful in speech, commanded profound self-confidence (63:4), and turned away from the believers in arrogance (63:5). They discouraged the people of Medina from spending anything for the Meccan Muslims [Emigrants] in order to force them out of Medina (63:7), and looked forward to the expulsion of the humble ones (Muhammad and the Emigrants) after their return to Medina (63:8). However, upon his return to Medina, they came to Muhammad to bear witness that he was a Messenger of God, but they were liars (63:1), and used their faith as a cover to lead others away from the right path. They thus acted in an evil way (63:2) – first embracing faith and then denying it. It was as if their hearts were sealed and they were unable to think logically (63:3). It warns the Prophet that if the hypocrites and those who spread false rumours did not stop, God will incite him against them and they will not be his neighbours for long – they will be arrested wherever they are found and put to death (33:60/61). It was, however, due to mercy from God that the Prophet was mild to the dissenters (the hypocrites, who harboured doubts against him during the Uhud battle and defied him). This prevented them from deserting the Prophet (3:159).

Battle of Confederates (627)

The attackers came on them, waves upon waves. (As the Muslims watched them from distance,) their eyes dimmed and their hearts rose up to their throats and they imagined (weird) thoughts about God (33:10). This was a moment of trial for the believers as they were shaken by a most violent shock (33:11). The hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts said what God and the Prophet of God had promised was mere illusion (33:12). A party of them said to others to go back as it was no (safe) place for them, and a party of them sought the Prophet’s permission saying that their homes were exposed, though they were not exposed and they only wanted to flee (33:13). But had the enemy entered (the city) from the sides and asked them to dissent and join a civil war, they would have readily done so (33:14), despite their oaths of allegiance (33:15). Thus, they broke the trust (Amanah) that is placed exclusively on humankind (3:72). Accordingly, God pronounces his curse upon the hypocrites, men and women and the Meccan pagans, men and women (33:73).

The Unarmed Pilgrimage Mission (628)

In the sixth year of Hijra (migration) the Prophet declared his intention to lead an unarmed caravan to Mecca for pilgrimage. The nomadic Arabs who were weak in faith preferred to stay back (48:11), as they thought the Prophet and the believers would never be able to return to their families (48:12). The mission turned out to be extremely risky as the Meccans blocked their entry into their town and stationed a powerful cavalry squadron facing the plains of Hudaibiyyah where the Prophet’s company had camped. Following an ordeal that tested the nerves of his followers, the Prophet’s company made its way back to Medina, unhurt. The Qur’an warned the nomadic Arabs who had not participated in the pilgrimage that they shall be summoned (to fight) against a nation of   great might (48:16).

Tabuk Expedition (631)

Undertaken a year after the peaceful integration of Mecca (630), the mission marked the fulfillment of the just referred Qur’anic prediction (48:16). If there were immediate gains and a convenient trip, they (the hypocrites) would have followed the Prophet, but (they knew) the journey was going to be too long, (about 350 miles) strenuous and dangerous. They swore their inability to go forth with the expedition, though God knew they were liars (9:42, 9:45). They swore by God that they supported the expedition, but in truth, they were in such mortal fear (9:56) that if only they could find any place of refuge, a cave or a crevice, they would have resorted to it (9:57).  They swore to God, only to please the Prophet, but it was more proper for them to please God and His Messenger (by going forth with the Prophet) (9:62). They also feared in case any verse was revealed disclosing what was in their breast (9:64).  Had they any intention to go forth, they would have made some preparations for it, but God was averse to their being sent (9:46). (God knew,) had they gone out with them, they would have scurried about among the believers seeking to stir up sedition and some of the believers might have listened to them (9:47).

The hypocrites requested the Prophet not to put them to such a hard test (9:49).  They ridiculed the Prophet in their hearts, privately joked about him (9:64), and tried to stir up discord and upset matters for him (9:48). They blamed and ridiculed the believers for their voluntary donations to the Prophet, and criticized those without any means for rendering physical services (9:79) and some of the hypocrites aimed at something that was beyond their reach (9:74).

Classical commentators regard the expression, something beyond their reach, as an allusion to an attempt by a group of hypocrites to kill the Prophet on way to Tabuk. The imperial Byzantines army was massive in strength, well organized, well equipped and regularly drilled, had strong cavalry divisions and extensive combat experience, and did not risk any supply shortage as it stood on home ground. The Prophet’s army on the other hand consisted of an assemblage of warriors drawn from diverse Arab tribes on a relatively short notice, and was no match to the Byzantine army. Any military strategist of the era would have instantly predicted an utter defeat and annihilation for the Prophet’s army, attacking the mighty Byzantines - some 300 miles away from their own base (Medina) in the military unfriendly desert terrain. So the hypocrites must have questioned the Prophet’s sanity, and planned to finish him off. 

Hypocrites in post Tabuk Medina

The hypocrites who stayed back were glad to have opposed the Prophet and boasted that they did not like to go forth in the heat (9:81). Against opposition from the community and denial (Kufr) (of the Prophet’s mission), they built a mosque rivalling the mosque of the Prophet, as a rallying point for those opposed to the Prophet, but they now swore that they had good intentions (9:107). The revelation refers to this mosque as a building founded on the brink of a crumbling bank of eroded earth, tumbling into the fire of hell (9:109) – a building that could never cease to be a source of doubt in their hearts until their hearts were detached (9:110). It forbids the believers to stand in it, and declares that it was more fitting that they should stand in the first mosque that the Prophet had founded on Taqwa (God consciousness/ moral uprightness) (9:108).

The hypocrites made excuses to the Prophet, but the revelation informed the Prophet about them and asked them to make no excuses (9:94). They swore by God to the Prophet to spare them (any punishment), and the  revelation asked the Prophet to spare them as they were an abomination (rijz) for whom the hell was a more fitting abode (9:95). They swear to you hoping that pleadings might soften you but God does not approve of a deviant people (Fasiqin) (9:96). Some nomadic Arabs came to the Prophet in Medina with excuses seeking exemption; others, who belied God and the Prophet, remained at home (9:90). The nomadic Arabs were harshly reproved to being most stubborn in unbelief (kufr) and hypocrisy (nifaq) (9:97). They took whatever they spent as a fine and waited for some misfortune to befall the Prophet (9:98).  

It warns the Prophet that there were hypocrites all around him and among the nomadic Arabs who had grown bold in hypocrisy (Nifaq); he was not aware of them but God knew them (9:101). The Qur’an therefore adopts a stern tone against them.              

It declares that the hypocrites’ men and women were of the same kind. They enjoined the evil, and forbade the good, and held back their hands (from giving to the needy). They were oblivious of God and God was oblivious of them, and without doubt, they were the deviants (Fasiqun) (9:67). It declares that God had promised for them as well as the unbelievers (Kuffar), the fire of hell and that was enough for them, and God had cursed them and a lasting punishment was in store for them (9:68).  It reminded them that almost every year they were tested; yet they declined to repent (9:126).  It commands the Prophet to continue his struggle against those persistent in denying his mission (Kuffar) and the hypocrites and to be firm with them (9:73).

 It asks the Prophet to tell the hypocrites who volunteered to take part in any ensuing expedition that they would not go out with him as they refused the first time (when the Prophet embarked on his mission). It forbids the Prophet to pray over any of them who had died, nor to stand by his grave (9:84). As the Prophet may still have prayed for all his followers, including the hypocrites, the revelation sounds him off that even if he sought forgiveness for them seventy times, God will never forgive them (9:80).

The Qur’anic warnings had a strong impact on the hypocrites. They were also utterly demoralized and devastated. Despite all their efforts, private conferences, conspiracies and double cross spanning at least five years (Uhud to Tabuk expeditions), the Prophet gained converts, popularity and power year over year, survived the most perilous trials of his mission, and triumphed against all odds. Some of them acknowledged their faults and tried to redeem themselves by doing good deeds. The revelation declares that God may turn to them in mercy (9:102) and asks the Prophet to accept donations (Sadaqa) from their wealth (that he had refused for some time) to purify them and pray on their behalf (9:103). 

Around this time, Abdullah Ibn Ubbay, their (hypocrites’) leader, fell ill and died, and so their movement lost momentum and direction. There are reports that Ibn Ubbay had repented to the Prophet, and upon his request, the Prophet had prayed for him and at his funeral. When the Prophet’s companions reminded him of the verse 9:84 (shown in bold above) he is reported to have said that he would pray for his forgiveness for more than seventy times (9:80).     

In sum, as a spin off to the theme of this exercise, it is worth noting that Muhammad never tried, let alone punish any suspected hypocrite or believing nomadic Arab for their unremitting conspiracy and treachery in the conclusive phase of the revelation, when his mission stood at a tipping edge risking total annihilation any moment. Furthermore, the Qur’an’s extensive coverage of the machinations and intrigues of the hypocrites and the believing nomadic Arabs demonstrates that the ‘insiders’, - the Muslims themselves who had joined the faith merely for gains, were far greater and enduring enemies of his mission than its external foes, the pagans and Jews.

The Scheming Of the Internal Enemies of Islam in the Early Centuries of Islam

The transformation of Islam from a democratic Caliphate to a dynastic rule (663 AD), barely three decades after the Prophet’s death, saw resurgence of reactionary forces. The new rulers abhorred the social, moral and ethical paradigms of the Qur’an as these conflicted with their political ambitions and their craving for wealth, power, glory, lavish Haram life and distinctive privileges. Thus, since early centuries of Islam, the dynastic rulers manipulated and even coerced the Ulema to obfuscate the egalitarian, humanistic, gender neutral and pluralistic message of the Qur’an. “According to a number of sources, Imam Abu Hanifa was imprisoned by Caliph al-Mansur (754 – 775) for defying him in religion. Imam Malik ibn Anas, the founder of another school of law was also flogged during his rule” [2]. Before long, the door to any critical scholarship of the Qur’an was closed by a ruling that “Any Qur’anic verse which contradicts the opinions of ‘our masters’ will be construed as having been abrogated, or the rule of preference will be applied thereto. It is better that the verse is interpreted in such a way that it conforms to their opinion” [3]. A Hadith also came in circulation: “one who discusses about the Book of God, (the Qur'an) makes a mistake, even if he is correct” [4]. This ushered Islam into a phase that saw the subversion of the Qur’anic message, with the Hadith and juristic sciences dominating Islamic scholarship and thoughts and orthodoxy playing the role of the hypocrites and nomadic Arab followers of Islam bent on obscuring the Qur’anic message. This phase continued down the centuries, offering an easy path to the followers of Islam, especially its ruling elite, with consequent decline and degeneration. Any detail or even synopsis on the rocky downhill course of Islam over this long period will be technical, exhaustive, academic, and retrogressive to the extreme for this focused exercise. So, we fast forward to this era.       

The Pernicious Role of the Modern Counterparts of Islam’s Internal Enemies

The orthodox Ulema across the Islamic sects insist on interpreting the Qur’anic message in light of the secondary sources of Islam, notably, the Hadith and the Classical Sharia Law. But as these disciplines evolved under the influence and patronage of the dynastic rulers who represented the reactionary forces of Islam, the orthodox Ulema today are playing the role of, or at least to the tune of those reactionary forces that have over time brought about the petrifaction of its message. Accordingly, in the name of Islam, they are preaching its petrified version [1].

Islam is a universal, gender neutral, peaceful, progressive, intellectually effervescent, socially liberal, educationally fervent, intellect driven, democratic and pluralistic religion. But the version of Islam that is being preached round the clock in poplar TV Channels and by countless Ulema and Imams in numerous madrasas around the world is exclusivist, misogynic, violence prone, intellectually frozen, socially repressive and regimented, educationally backward, scientifically retrograde, totalitarian and monolithic. This virtually stifles the advancement of Islamic societies, blocks any reform and reduces Islam to an atavistic cult – the civilisational sediment of a petrified world religion [1], paving the way for yet another form of colonization. Its appropriation of terror as proclaimed by its fanatic ideologues puts into question the integrity of all peace loving Muslims.

More dangerously, its militant outfits draw inspiration from their ideological mentors, notably Ibn-e-Taimiya and his followers as well as some verses of the Qur’an and Hadith accounts in stark denial of historical relativism thereby associating Islam with terrorism. Hence, the present version of theology-dominated Islam must be resisted.

Way Forward

The truth is, all major religions have, for all practical purposes, leapfrogged the theological phase of their faiths and are now focusing on the core and universal message intrinsic to their faiths as required by the today’s globalised high paced world. But the Muslims are tenaciously clinging to their theological roots and turning a blind eye to the core, universal and humanistic trajectories of their faith, which fortunately for them, is preserved in the Qur’an. It is therefore high time for the Muslims to focus on the universal dimensions of their faith and shift their theological disciplines to the margins of their religious thoughts. This calls for taking fresh insights into the Qur’anic message in a manner that precludes all historical influences, reactionary manipulations and privileges intellect (Aql) and rational thought (Fiqh) over the opinions of the past scholars as those were inevitably informed by the historical realities and civilisational paradigms of their era. Islamic scholarship must take this task on board, though works have been initiated in this line [5].      

Finally, a parting message is due to the Muslim intellectual front of the modern counterparts of the hypocrites and believing nomadic Arabs, intense in Kufr, of the Prophet’s era. They must understand, it is too late in history to dislodge Islam from its spiritual bastion. As there is no compulsion in religion all those sceptical of the divinity of the Qur’an must feel free to exit Islam, rather than create division and disorder within its ranks or conspire against it with the non-Muslims bent on trivializing the Qur’an and maligning the Prophet. No wonder the Qur’an referred to them as Rijz (abomination) (9:95) like the pagan Arabs (9:28), and the Prophet readily agreed to exempt them from taking part in both the Uhud battle (3:167) and Tabuk expedition (9:47).     


1.       The twin growing menace: Petrifaction and Radicalization in Islam and Islamophobia – Are they interconnected? How best they can be diffused? An SOS to the Muslim Intelligentsia, Leadership and Ulema!

2.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mansur

3.       Ahmad Hussain, Doctrine of Ijma in Islam, New Delhi, 1992, p.16

4.       Sanan Abu Daud, Urdu translation by Wahiduz Zaman, Vol.3, Acc. 253, p. 118.

5.       Muhammad Yunus and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009, p. 364.

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/debating-islam/muhammad-yunus,-new-age-islam/the-radical-intelligentsia-of-islam-and-its-orthodox-ulema-are-the-‘hypocrites’-and-‘nomadic-arabs-intense-in-kufr’-of-this-era--they-are-its-twin-internal-enemies,-and-must-be-resisted/d/34621



  • Dear hats off!

    I wonder if your read this article at all but if you have not read the Sura Tauba you will not appreciate the work that went behind it and of course the beauty of Muhammad's writing in staggering bits and pieces of info here and there and leaving history to find a man to put them in order. He also left and eternal proof of how his own men were bent on foiling his mission. People may think the Muslims of later era and this day not polluted by any hypocrite or the likes of the desert Arabs of Muhammad's era but this is no more then wishful thinking. A beggar can claim to a billionaire and a sophist can conflate tamarind with pears and hemlock with honey, but the truth stands out and if you look around what the extremists are doing in the name of Islam, you will wonder if there are no hypocrites and treacherous Arabs among them. And if really there are no hypocrites and desert Arabs intense in kufr in today's umma, what they would have been like with the hypocrites and treacherous Arabs around in the Prophet's era. This is really very painful to me - a solitary unarmed man fighting the Goliath.

    The phrasing of the caption of this article may be hurtful to you/ others, but it is merely the discharge from the safety valve of my heart. What is building up inside is far bitter and God knows better. That being the case, I ignore those who cannot read my heart and so I am speechless
    I wrote this to thank you for your appreciation of my thankless job - but if you think of the divine perdition I risk by faltering in my exercise, and the ire of those whose conscience it pricks, my job is immensely dangerous as well. 

    You claim to be well versed in the Qur'an and tafsir and I have always found in you a friend and sympathizer, so I shared this outburst with you. 

    By muhammad yunus - 12/10/2013 8:25:03 AM

  • Hats Off,

    We owe to Gandhi, much of the credit for India's success as a shining democracy. 

    It is difficult to imagine the freedom struggle without Gandhi. While India would have got its freedom when it did even without the freedom struggle, the importance of the movement, which attracted some of India's best sons/daughters and built a large cadre of selfless, publicly motivated leaders who stood India in good stead after it won its freedom should never be underestimated.

    Gandhi was the foremost leader of the masses and the first one to take an extensive tour of the country and its villages and develop contact with the masses at the grass root level. He spoke their language,  dreamt their dreams and articulated their  aspirations. The other leaders, at best, had regional recognition but Gandhi became truly a leader of the masses across the country with instant recognition.

    The other leaders gained national recognition through their association with Gandhi and enjoyed reflected glory. This was equally important for India's success as a democracy. The long uninterrupted reign of the Indian National Congress at the center and in many states, is proof of the success of the leadership qualities forged during the freedom struggle as well as the building of the brand image of the party and its leaders during the freedom movement. .

    Without Gandhi,  our experiment with democracy may also have spluttered  as it did for many countries that won their independence from the British around the same time. I shudder to think what may have been our fate without him. 

    One can of course accuse Gandhi of many faults. One of these is that he was not very democratic and imposed his will on others through persuasion and cajoling and if that failed, through fasting. To my mind, those were perfectly legitimate democratic means.

    The idiosyncrasies are part of the mystique and identity of every great leader. Human beings always come as a package deal. Their weaknesses in a limited context are their greatest strengths in a wider context. One can focus on these traits in the narrow context and miss the woods for the trees.

    By Observer - 12/9/2013 1:16:12 AM

  • Saying that they were great is not the same as saying they were perfect. If the balance of their contributions was uplifting for mankind, they can be called great. It is however possible to detract from their greatness if one has the inclination to do so.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/8/2013 2:56:23 PM

  • Hats Off,

    You can pick any person of your choice who you think achieved great things. Did he or she achieve anything through condemnation, fault finding or through making unfavourable comparison with other evil persons? 

    If it is so difficult to convince anyone that what he is doing is incorrect through polite argument and discussion, what success can be achieved through condemnation and fault finding? 

    The only argument that works is appealing to their higher moral self  or by making them participate   in a change  process they feel proud to become a part of, or by showing them the way to achieve a little greatness.

    By Observer - 12/8/2013 11:50:59 AM

  • Hats Off,

    I did not use Paleys analogy of watchmaker. My reasoning was more scientific. If life did actually evolve from its lowest form, the process should have started many millenniums before the Big Bang. This argument makes creation the more probable model of reality.

    By Observer - 12/8/2013 11:24:39 AM

  • dear mr observer, i would beg to differ.
    ambedkar did not opine that the mahatma left his (ambedkar's) people in a better position. for the purposes of record, the mahatma was against untouchability but in favor of caste. luther king was historically a little late on the scene. lincoln stole his thunder already so to say. south africa was little illuminated by the mahatma. sadly his empathy for mandela's people was less than commendable. one can extend the analogy. every hero has his victims. all revolutions overturn the status quo.

    in the rise and fall of ideas and ideals, nothing stands for ever. our search for the eternal often leads us only to further doubts. like for instance your reliance on paley's analogy of the watchmaker. this does not answer. this merely begs itself. if a watch maker made this watch, the next question is who made this watch maker. and so on and so forth. for those that would yearn for a simple explanation to a complex problem, nothing can be more satisfying than a semblance of order. for order is merely an extreme case of chaos. so, only a semblance is desirable, not the order itself.

    By hats off! - 12/8/2013 9:54:54 AM

  • Yes Shahin Sb, we remember all these great people because they fought against the evil of their times and left their people much better off than they were before. They brought dignity to their people.
    By Observer - 12/8/2013 9:08:24 AM

  • Dear hats off, I agree with you fully. My comment, however, was in the context of an earlier comment by Naseer Saheb: "Read or listen to Nelson Mandela or Gandhi or Martin Luther or any person who had a profound influence on people and brought about permanent and enduring changes in society - You will not find a single word of condemnation in their speech or writings. You will find deep understanding, forgiveness and a desire to move forward. Statesmanship is about long term goals where the means are as important as the ends. Politics is tactical and about short term goals where anything goes including lies, defamation, and condemnation."

    My understanding was that these people were fighters against various evils of their time and place. I didn't know that they only expressed understanding, forgiveness and compassion for the evil-doers.

    By Sultan Shahin - 12/8/2013 7:01:33 AM

  • with all due respect to mr shahin, i think people have a tendency to put people either on a pedestal or make them merely pedestrian. there appears to be no in-between. heroes have known to be cowards and cowards have been known to have behaved heroically. we, who take the world for granted are too quick to lay credit at the feet of mere men, while entirely ignoring the context which made giants of them.

    it so happens that in all this we forget somewhere along the line that all these individuals named, gandhi, mandela and martin luther king were basically politically driven self-motivated men, who have also been described as self centered, insensitive and dictatorial. going through the novels of coetzee one gets a glimpse into the post apartheid africa. not a pretty sight by any chance.

    at the risk of sounding presumptuous, i think the circumstances have as much say in a man's destiny as his personality. or even his intentions and motivation. we all need a slogan to rally behind. for few of us have it in us to "lead". rather be lead than take the bother to lead.

    all these greats were basically political heavy weights. but as it happens often death gives them a patina of greatness. even to those who were merely at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending upon the perspective.

    this is not to deny in toto everything about these three men. gandhi's experiments in celibacy definitely detract from him as a person. similarly luther king had his share of kinks. as for mandela, it is too soon after his death, but people should go through the entire transcript of the hearing as well as try and gather contemporary opinions about these people. for example, tagore was not as impressed by the mahatma as many others were. he had his reasons.

    but the point i am trying to make is that we (all) have an unfortunate (i would say) tendency to sycophancy. perhaps the drab, dull, uneventful lives we all lead makes us pine for a small dose of heroics as well as villainy. who better fit the bill than the small men (according to us that is) who take down goliaths! and the world loves a bully!

    we probably have not yet outgrown the heroic age.especially what with the instant fame/instant shame peddled through the portals of social media. very appropriate for a generation brought up to expect instant gratification or sniffle and weep and throw tantrums.

    By hats off! - 12/8/2013 6:07:53 AM

  • I thought Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. fought against evils of apartheid, colonialism/ communalism/ untouchability and racism all their life. I also thought some other great men and women too fought against these and other evils.
    By Sultan Shahin - 12/8/2013 5:17:07 AM

  • Hats Off,

    I have myself given credit to Mr Yunus for changing my thinking with his article on why the 'Hindus of the day are not the Mushrikin of the Quran' and I dare say that what I write has influenced Mr Yunus as well. I consider that all of us are trying to influence each other to tread the right path.

    My wish is that Mr Yunus should continue to write articles that have transformative power and not articles such as this one, which can influence none except win approval from those who share similar thinking.


    By Observer - 12/8/2013 3:33:06 AM

  • dear mr observer, i remember mr aiman reyaz writing somewhere that he himself was persuaded to abandon his 'extremist' views after coming across this web site.

    that in itself has completely vindicated this website and its raison de etre.

    even if you have very strong ideas and opinions, on the koran and its prophet, as well as insight into the text, this practical consequence was probably more on account of mr mohammad yunus's thankless job, rather than your trenchant critique.

    i would wager, mr aiman's change would have more of mr yunus in it than of mr observer. even if mr yunus has managed to convince just one "extremist" (with contrite apologies to mr aiman), that is like the proverbial bird in the hand


    By hats off! - 12/8/2013 3:14:55 AM

  • Why is the debate on this article important? Read or listen to Nelson Mandela or Gandhi or Martin Luther or any person who had a profound influence on people and brought about permanent and enduring changes in society - You will not find a single word of condemnation in their speech or writings. You will find deep understanding, forgiveness and a desire to move forward. Statesmanship is about long term goals where the means are as important as the ends. Politics is tactical and about short term goals where anything goes including lies, defamation, and condemnation.

    If the goal of the website is to bring about a transformation in Muslim society, it must consciously eschew condemnation, being overly critical and being judgemental. If the goal is merely a short term political one then it is doing fine.

    The title of the article starts with a conclusion as if it is a self evident truth. The rest of the article makes no attempt to justify the title since the title is considered axiomatic and therfore the basis for the rest of the article. 

    35 paras are devoted to a 7 year period on the role of hypocrites. There were Muslims such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, Ali etc (May Allah be pleased with Al of them) who had become Muslims by accepting the faith. They were constant in their loyalty. There were others who entered Islam not as individuals but as tribes for political reasons. Faith did not enter their hearts and their alliance had more to do with the politics of the situation and they wavered with changing fortunes and even plotted with the enemy. They were hedging their bets so that they could be on the winning side, no matter which side  won. There is evidence that faith did enter their hearts eventually, and their leader repented and the Peophet (pbuh) did pray for him even though the Quran warned that they would not be forgiven even if the Prophet prayed for them 70 times. The prophet therefore prayed 71 times. The  Quranic verses served as a clear warning to the hypocrites that their game was not unknown to Allah and his Prophet and had the desired salutary effect. Hypocrisy is also not a permanent state, and is cured when faith enters the heart. If the Prophet had not  prayed for them, the hypocrites would have considered their fate as sealed based on the Quranic verses and there would not have been any incentive to reform. Hope of forgiveness is important for a sinner to reform. The Prophet, by praying for them, gave such hope and the Quranic verses by its dire warnings put fear into them. The objective of Allah and the prophet was to reform people and we can see the wisdom of the Quran and the wisdom of the Ptophet combining to transform  hypocrites into believers. Also, a point to be noted carefully is that God's speech and the speech of the Prophet is not the same. You will not find a word of condemnation in the Prophet's speech but you may find it in God's speech. God condemned Abu Lahab and his wife to eternal damnation. The Prophet in his speech or Dua never did. He did not  ever curse his enemy either. There is a clear difference in the attributes of God and the desirable attributes of man. Some of the attributes of God would be undesirable in men. For example Al Mutakabir is an attribute of God but if man has this attribute, he is damned. God's speech therefore cannot be used by man outside the context of the Quran to denounce people.

    The verses are not meant to arouse the ire of the believing Muslims against the hypocrites or to make them seek such hypocrites in every age and to condemn them and compare them to the hypocrites of the Prophet's times.

    The Quran is a book of wisdom and not meant to be misused for politics.

    By Observer - 12/8/2013 1:22:07 AM

  • Yunus Sb,

    From what you say, it looks like the progeny of the hypocrites continued to be hypocrites to carry on the tradition of hypocrisy of their forefathers and became the ulema or the rulers in order to be in a  better position to ruin the religion of Islam.

    The good believing Muslims took to farming, artisanship, trading and soldiering leaving the hypocrites free to wreck Islam from within.

    By Observer - 12/7/2013 11:55:12 PM

  • Dear Observer,

    Let me clarify (in blue) some doubts raised (cut/paste in black) in your last comment.

    i.                    You state: This account (first 35 para) covers only a 10 year period and has no relevance to the later years,

      My Comment: The account covers around seven most crucial years of the Prophetic mission (post Badr to post Tabuk) and is of utmost importance to vindicate Islam from the charge of being a violent religion and to remove speculations and embellishments from classical historical accounts. Thus, the Qur’anic evidence furnished in the article demonstrates and corrects historical records as follows (cut/ paste from article in chocolate color):  

    i)                    “Muhammad never tried, let alone punish any suspected hypocrite or believing nomadic Arab for their unremitting conspiracy and treachery in the conclusive phase of the revelation, when his mission stood at a tipping edge risking total annihilation any moment.”

    ii)                  “the Muslims themselves who had joined the faith merely for gains, were far greater and enduring enemies of his mission than its external foes, the pagans and Jews.”

    iii)                the Qur’an does not single out the polytheists as rijz (abominable, 9:28) – it ascribes it to the hypocrites as well (9:95).

    iv)                “the largely defensive character of the Prophet’s mission”

    v)                  “connects some of the sensitive verses of the Qur’an often cited as examples of its condemnation of pagans and Jews to its right audience,” thereby avoiding distortion of Qur’anic message by ascribing those verses to the others.

    vi)                Most importantly, “they piece together more than a hundred Qur’anic verses in a historical matrix to evolve a record of undoubted authenticity, for the Qur’an was uttered, memorized and recorded at the same historical point and is acknowledged to command undisputed authenticity.” This is needed to correct many anomalies in the Prophet’s classical biography that is based almost entirely on early biographic accounts, many aspects of which are embellished, speculative, inaccurate or politically motivated – all drawn on oral accounts that came to them some six generations after the revelation.

    Hence, the verses covered are of utmost importance today.

    2. Your comment: “The early period of Islam which covers seven centuries during which time the Islamic civilization reached great heights is covered by you through a single para where the ulema and the rulers are portrayed as criminals and hypocrites. This is what I have said is a travesty of truth and my previous post covers this period in more detail.”

    My response: The article focuses on the machinations of the reactionary forces in Islam that were active since its early centuries, as substantiated in the article. It does not deal with the advancement of Islamic civilizations as such but singularly focuses on how the egalitarian message of Islam was subverted with passing of centuries. As any detail on the history of Islam for the one thousand years – four hundred years or so of rise and six hundred years or so of decline would have turned the article into a historical discourse. This has been omitted and the reason for this omission has been stated in these words in the article: “Any detail or even synopsis on the rocky downhill course of Islam over this long period will be technical, exhaustive, academic, and retrogressive to the extreme for this focused exercise. So, we fast forward to this era.  

    I think your doubt and that of any readers arising out of any express mention of Islam’s rise in the first four to five centuries, can be removed by referencing to an earlier article on the theme referenced below, which offers the following elaboration (in chocolate color) on the process of Islam’s degeneration:

    The grievous fallout of the detachment of the Muslims from the Qur’an.

    As the Islamic civilization was taking long strides of advancement, its orthodox theologians and ulamas were striving unceasingly to freeze it at their era, in direct contradiction to the letter and spirit of the Qur’an. Thus, they set aside the guidance of the Qur’an and venerated theological discourses –notably the Hadith and the classical Islamic law as the necessary and sufficient vehicles for understanding and implementing the Qur’anic message. These were the ahl al Hadith - the orthodoxy. They advocated that all that had to be learnt had already been learnt during the Prophet’s time, and was contained in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s normative ways (Sunnah), and the posterity was expected to simply imitate them [9]. This resulted in stagnancy of knowledge, abhorrence against any scientific advancement, and division of universal knowledge into Islamic and European categories [10] – the former foreclosed for all time and the latter growing exponentially. Their retrogressive views were opposed by the rationalist theologians of the era – the ahl al kalam, who advocated pursuit of knowledge in all fields, and promoted material prosperity within the framework of the Qur'an. However, the orthodoxy prevailed and intellectual activity in Islam came to a virtual halt.  This happened around the end of the fourth century of Islam, marked the beginning of the decline of Islamic civilization, and set this faith and its followers on a path of decline.  

    Following continued decline for almost a millennium through to the present era, punctuated by occasional upsurge in broad historical timeframe, the Muslims have fallen into the lowest depths of a pit of failure. Any comparative assessment of the deprivations, sufferings and injustices faced by the diverse confessional communities at this juncture of history will single out the Muslims as the most deprived, devastated and uprooted community, and the biggest victims of human rights violations. From domestic violence against their own womenfolk to internecine conflicts, sectarian violence, terrorism, just and unjust wars, forced confinement in war zones and collective punishment in the name of sanctions, to the psychological trauma of Islamophobia and trivialization and marginalization in the predominantly non-Muslim countries, the Muslims have the greatest share of sufferings and humiliation in the present day world. Likewise, any comparative analysis of achievements in the diverse lawful pursuits and arenas of life (professional fields, academy, bureaucracy, sports, art and culture for example) will find the Muslims as the poorest and obscurest performer.

    Thus, in broad historical perspective it was the revolutionary social and intellectual paradigms of the Qur’an that took the Muslims to the zenith of their civilization in less than a hundred years of its advent and enabled them to lead the world for the next four to five hundred years, and it was their gradual detachment from the Qur’an that led to their stagnation, decay and downfall in the ensuing centuries.” 

    3. Your statement: “To assume that through an account of the activities of the hypocrites of the Prophets time, the Quran is informing us that such hypocrites are a permanent feature of Islamic society.”

    My Comment. If the hypocrites were active during the lifetime of the Prophet among his companions, it will be on wishful to assume that their numbers will reduce or they will vanish in later eras.

    4. You conclude with this suggestion: “People should be made to realise the need to understand the true message of Islam from a proper study of the Quran and to rely on secondary sources only when these sources are not antithetical to the message of the Quran.”

    My comment: I fully agree with you and have been engaged in exegetic work and my involvement on this website gives me an opportunity to gain from the views and criticisms of the others.

    Shall we now terminate our discussions on this theme and move forward.

    By muhammad yunus - 12/7/2013 10:31:25 PM

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