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Radical Islamism and Jihad (30 Oct 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Hefazat-e-Islam, Bangladesh: Its Doctrines Are Brazenly Un-Islamic


By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

30 October 2013 


Bangladeshi woman journalist Nadia Sharmeen aged 26 who was beaten up badly by the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh goons, now appears to be more courageous, committed and determined in her journalistic career. Being a Muslim woman, she has every Islamic right to continue with this decent and dignified job. Therefore, she speaks out in clear, strong and spirited words leaving some straightforward questions that create sparks in every thinking Muslim mind and require us to find their answers from the Hefazat-e-Islam ideologues: 

“Why would I give it (journalism) up because of some cowards? Who are they if not cowards? When 50- 60 or more of them beat up one unarmed woman? Is that their way of showing respect to women? How can they claim to be protectors of Islam when they treat women this way? How can they protect Islam if they can't protect a woman journalist at their own event?” (Political Islam & the Elections in Bangladesh, a report by Frances Harrison)

After reading Sharmeen’s account, the first thing that struck my mind is the mischievous intentions and designs of this extremist Muslim organisation behind the choice of its name: Hefazat-e-Islam, meaning protection of Islam. What Islam do the Hefazat’s activists and supporters protect by demeaning and torturing women, besieging the capital, destroying the national properties, vandalising the holy mosque (Baitul Mukarram) and burning down the Holy Quran? Don’t all these mindless acts of violence make a mockery of their tall claim of “protecting Islam” (which is the literal meaning of their name: Hefazat-e-Islam)?

These real enemies of Islam and humanity in the disguise of “protectors of Islam” attract the gullible and naive Muslims by their deceitful names like “Hefazat-e-Islam”. No doubt, many Muslims, unaware of the true version of Islam, fall prey to such terror outfits that entrap them by their illusive and deceptive names. Why don’t they come clean and openly tell us their true name: Wahhabis? After all, the world has right to know them with their true name and identity so that they can stay alert about their fatal conspiracies and deadly attacks.

The country’s largest radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh was formed in January 2010, primarily with an aim to protest against the women's equal rights policy of the Bangladeshi democratic government. Since its inception, its prime concern has been the stiff and violent opposition to all the government’s plans and schemes meant for the women empowerment and their rights equal to those of men. Right from the beginning, Hefazat’s attitude towards working and progressive women has been very hostile and appalling. Describing her own story, the Bangladeshi woman journalist Nadia Sharmeen, a staff reporter for Ekushey Television (ETV) gives a saddening account of how women journalists were mistreated at the hands of Hefazat-e-Islam goons during their rally on 6th April 2013:

“I am a crime reporter and I know that I might find myself in a difficult situation now and then. But this wasn't anything I had ever experienced. They were like a bunch of hyenas, or wild dogs, not human. I thought then, and I think now, that they wanted to kill me. They (Hefazat-e-Islam members) wanted to tear me apart, limb by limb. Why else would they start beating me from Paltan all the way to Bijoynagar? They hit every conceivable part of my body. I had to have two CT scans and ultrasonography to see if my abdomen and some other parts inside my body were alright, four X-rays of my left knee joint, left shoulder, neck.”

The reason why the Hefazat-e-Islam’s zealot members beat her blue and black was merely that she happened to be a woman journalist and went to cover their event. Obviously, the political Islam that Hefazat believes in does not sanction any such liberty to a woman. This became very clear when the Hefazat members harassed Nadia Sharmeen rebuking her loudly: "Haven't you read our 13-point demands? Why are you here? Don't you know women can't be here?" She enumerates how she was dealt with by the Hefazat members:

"On that day we had another reporter to cover the main event – the rally of Hefazate Islam. I was there standing in for the reporter who was doing supplementary stories – such as who supplied food and water to the rally and if there was any signature campaign going on…My cameraman was filming, when I was approached by a man, whom I thought belonged to Hefazate Islam. He came towards me and said antagonistically: "You're a woman, why are you here? Get out of here right now!" (Political Islam & the Elections in Bangladesh, Frances Harrison)

It should be noted that recently the Emir of the Hefazat warned the government with 13-point demands, which include banning the women’s right to work outside. Women, in the eyes of the Hefazat leaders, have been created to just stay in their husband’s homes, look after them and their belongings and raise their children. They admonish their followers in their preachy speeches not to educate their girls in schools, colleges, and universities and to confine their early school education up to grade 4 or 5. Here is the crux of a sermon delivered in July, 2013 by the Emir of Hefazat-e-Islam, Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, available on the YouTube:

“Oh women, if you believe in the book of Allah, remain within the four walls of your home. Do not stray outside the home.....You must stay in your husband’s home, protect your husband’s belongings, and raise children. These are your duties. Why should you go out? ....(O people!) Your women are educated in schools, colleges, and universities. You should educate them up to grade four or five. That way, after you marry her off, she can do bookkeeping for her husband’s earnings. That is enough.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpoI5aaFB7s)

This nasty religious speech was delivered in a big-scale programme named “Islamic grand conference” in Chittagong (Bangladesh) where the Hefazat organisation is based in. These were the remarks by the Emir of the Hefazat-e-Islam, also known as “Boro Hujur” (the greatest person) who is highly venerated by the Hefazat members and their followers and considered to be their top Islamic cleric and religious leader. It is worth mentioning that Shah Ahmed Shafi, the Hefazat’s chief studied at the leading Islamic seminary of the Deobandi school of thought in India, Darul Uloom Deoband, commonly known as Deoband Madrasa.

Ironically, while Islam gives paramount importance to the freedom of women and considers women’s participation a key to the development of human society, the Hefazat goons are vehemently opposed to women empowerment, their liberty, education and employment. While the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH) asserted that “an educated lady is the greatest blessing of God to a family”, these stereotyped and self-styled protectors of Islam frown upon the people who provide their women with higher education. Their religious guru’s regressive remark stating that girls should not be allowed to study after the grade 4-5 is a sign of his intellectual starvation. It clearly goes against the first Qur'anic revelation calling for the pursuit of knowledge to no end, and with no discrimination between men or women (96:1).

The most disturbing aspect for us Muslims is that despite brazenly violating the core Islamic principles, Hefazat enjoys the support of large number of Bengalis professing faith in Islam, a religion of peace and women rights. That is perhaps why it exerts control over the vast majority of Islamic schools and seminaries in Bangladesh. The time is not far when we will see more extremist imams and mullahs in Bangladesh graduating from their seminaries and adopting the path of extremism and radicalism paved by the Hefazat’s chief and the ilk.

The gravest threat that those future imams would pose to the country’s traditions of religious pluralism and social integrity will be seen when they would misuse the unrelated Qur'anic verses and Prophetic sayings to achieve their fanatic goals. This is what the Hefazat’s religious leaders are currently doing in their bid to impose stern restrictions on the women folk. They resort to the misuse of a Qur'anic verse (al-Ahzab 33:33) to justify their un-Islamic pressure on women to remain indoors and not to go about any business outdoors. In fact, they find most of the translations and exegesis of the Quran by their ideologues and Quran exegetes rendered in a way that suits their misogynist doctrines. Here is the founder ideologue of Jamat-e-Islami, Maulana Abul A’ala  Maududi’s translation of this Quranic verse that the Hefazat’s clergy often use:

“Stay in your houses and do not go about displaying your fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an)

Regardless of what explanation Maulana Maududi gives to this translation of his, the Hefazat members are hell-bent on the literalist understanding of the Qur'anic commandment for women: “Stay in your houses”. This is the translation that the Hefazat’s chief Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi quoted in his fiery speech addressing to Muslim women:

“Oh women, if you believe in the book of Allah, the Quran says about you: “Stay in your houses and do not go about displaying your fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.” He went on interpreting this verse in stark contradiction to the true Quranic essence of this verse, yet falsely attributing it to Allah: “Oh women, remain within the four walls of your home. Do not stray outside the home. Who said this? Allah did.”

The truth of the matter is that the Arabic verb used in this verse is “Qarna” that has been driven from the root word “al-qarār” meaning “peace”, “calm” and “comfort”. Now it is not difficult to understand the meaning of this verse, as it tells women: “Live in your houses with calm and peace”. It does not seek to restrict women to the four walls of their homes, nor does it prohibit them from going or working outside. It rather enjoins upon them maintaining peace and security at their homes. 

As for the Arabic word Tabarruj used in the second sentence of this verse (do not go about displaying your fineries), it literally means to become openly manifest and transparent before others. Here, the canonical Qur'anic meanings of this word, as has been explained by the leading Islamic scholars and Quran exegetes, are as follows: walking in a vain or alluring and coquettish manner (as interpreted by Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Abi Nujaih) or a woman's displaying of her body, dress or adornments to attract men’s attention (as interpreted by AI-Mubarrad and Abu Ubaidah).

A regular contributor for New Age Islam, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has graduated from a leading Sufi Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.), acquired Diploma in Qur'anic Arabic from Al-Jamiat ul Islamia, Faizabad, U.P., and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies, Badaun, U.P. He has also graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

 URL: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/ghulam-rasool-dehlvi,-new-age-islam/hefazat-e-islam,-bangladesh--its-doctrines-are-brazenly-un-islamic/d/14224



  • ms Varsha Sharma - 11/5/2013 12:34:09 AM
    nobody is pulling your legs for your belief in God the almighty. It is your extreme favor to Barailvi sect which is not as peaceful as it is projected here.

    your accusation against me that i am fomenting the hatred between hindus and muslims is totally baseless. it is already there because of religious and political reasons. if you want to bury your head in the sand  it is your freedom.
    i enjoy the relations i have with other communities and sub-communities including the people many hindus don't dare to have at their sides. humanity is more important than the deep religious understanding.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/5/2013 11:12:05 PM

  • dear hats off! - 11/4/2013 8:17:41 PM
    another movie that left deep impact on me is "bol" ie speak. i will check the website.
    thank you

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/5/2013 10:41:39 PM

  • All religions should see themselves as works in progress. Pointing fingers at problems in the religions of others is sheer foolishness.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/5/2013 2:52:54 AM

  • Mr. Hats off and Rational ji,
    We get the truth of a matter only when we go deeper into the essentials of any religion that has taken roots into the soil of life through the labours of great prophets, sages and seers in the past. Religion, in the sense of spirituality, is not something to be merely discussed, debated and fought over. It is, rather, a completely spiritual way of life that can only be understood by practicing it in its fullest sense and with its deep experience. But religion must also evolve with time without being degraded down by human follies. That is the point.

    But unfortunately, Mr. Hats off and Rational ji, you both seem to be dancing on the external surface of religions with your limited superficial knowledge and empty spiritual experience. I think you both are wasting much of your time. You will gain nothing out of your daily business of debating, crying ditto and overexerting yourself by writing lengthy and fruitless comments, unless you feel the inner spirit of religion.  Yes, you can satisfy and amuse your ego by doing all this stuff.

    By the way, Mr. hats off, I am not an unbeliever. I put firm and concrete faith in the existence and oneness of God, the Almighty.

    By Varsha Sharma - 11/5/2013 12:34:09 AM

  • Dear Muhammad Yunus Saheb,
    Thank you very much for giving all these explanations and beautiful Quranic exegesis which were so far unknown to me. I don't know why people don't take care not to make blunders in the interpretation of their religions
    for their own and others' safety.

    By Varsha Sharma - 11/5/2013 12:07:00 AM

  • dear mr rational, i know about the movie, but i did not see it. this was the movie that hindu right wingnuts tried to get banned and threatened to disrupt the shows.

    also you can never wake up one who pretends to be asleep. the harder you shake them, the tighter they draw their sheets about their heads, and louder they will snore. religion *is* a strange beast.

    by the way, i think you will be interested in a website called deenreasearchcenter.

    mr nasr abu zayd was another victim of al azhar, along with naguib mahfouze, farag foda and many more. but i guess in the ummah they don't count for peanuts.

    it makes a very sad reading. so nice to see you here!

    By hats off! - 11/4/2013 8:17:41 PM

  • dear hats off good morning
    there is a movie "the water" it shows the cruel side of manu shastra. there are millions of widows are forced to live in extreme inhuman condiotions. has ms sharma ever thought about those poor women who are the victims of religions.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 11/4/2013 7:20:45 PM

  • ms varsha sharma would do very well to concentrate on the manu dharma shastra, before she feels confident of advising her muslim brethren and cistern.

    they say charity begins at home, for the homeless people, charity should perhaps start in the streets.

    she would be well advised to deal with the shudras and the manual scavengers and the vrindavan widows before she takes the liberty of offering gratuitous unsolicited advice to people who in any case see no need for it or tolerate it for the mere formal courtesy of an internet forum. it doesn't mean a thing.

    they have their religion perfected by their prophet and he does not take no for an answer. any amount of proof is not going to convince them otherwise. practice is another whole new ball game altogether.

    also i wonder if ms varsh sharma would survive an argument or debate with the amir of the hefazar e islam. would he even tolerate it when a mere unbelieving woman when she goes out on a limb and suggests that he is in need of education.

    if she wants to understand him, she simply has to enroll at his alma mater and within no time she will be in total complete agreement with this amir provided the principal of the college would accept her as his student.

    By hats off! - 11/4/2013 9:33:41 AM

  • Dear Varsha Sharma,

    As lady, you may be interested to know how the verse 4:34 can be best interpreted in light of the Qur'an's holistic message, historic context and internal vocabulary. I am cut/pasting it below, extracting from my duly approved and authenticated work:

    Role of men and women in wedlock

    The Qur’an spells out the reciprocal role of men and women in wedlock (4:34):

    “Men are the supporters (qawwamah) of (their) wives because God has favored each of them in different measures (ba'dahum ‘ala ba'din),6 and because of what they spend (for them) of their wealth. The righteous women are devout (qanitatun) and guard the unseen that God would have them guard. As for those (women), of whom you fear extramarital perversity  (nushuz), counsel them, leave them (alone) in their beds and assert on them (wadribuhunna); but if they listen to you, do not seek a way against them. (Remember,) God is Sublime, Great” (4:34).

    It is one of the most critical and important verses of the Qur’an. Most commentators have interpreted it in a manner that i) admits of a man’s superior and commanding role, and a woman’s inferior and subordinate role in marriage and ii) empowers a man to beat an allegedly wayward or disobedient wife. They interpret the critical words and phrases of the verse in the following traditional lines:

    • qawwamah as ‘In charge’ (Marmaduke Pikthall), Protectors and maintainers’ (Yusuf Ali).   
    • ba'dahum ‘ala ba'din as a preferential comparison.  
    • qania’tun as obedience (to husband).   
    • nushuz as disloyalty and ill-conduct.
    • wadribu as beating (the wives).

    Thus Marmaduke Pikthall’s rendition of this verse, which is typical of the traditional, reads as follows:

    “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great” (4:34).

    Our rendition does not support a husband’s superiority or a wife’s obedience to, or being beating up by her husband regardless of cause, and is based on the interpretation of its critical words and phrases from Qur’anic illustrations. Since this is a somewhat exhaustive exercise, we have placed it in the footnote for those who may wish to verify it, or fully satisfy themselves.7

    Let us now try to further probe this keynote verse from Qur’anic illustrations.

    First, as the opening statement suggests, a man is expected to support his wife – financially and otherwise. In the context of the revelation, this gender-specific pronouncement was an historical necessity. Men left homes on trading missions without providing for their wives, who cohabited with strangers to sustain themselves (Note 7/Ch. 1.1). This needed correction and hence the gender-specific responsibility. However, the Qur’an connects the role of the man as a ‘supporter’ with his spending for his wife. Thus, in the event God favored a woman with a higher level of earning than her man, she could also play the role of the ‘supporter (qawwamah),’ as a joint awliya’ (protector) of the family (9:71).

    “The believing men (mu’minin) and the believing women (mu’minat) are protectors (awliya’) of each other: they enjoin the good and restrain the evil; they keep up prayer and give charity, and obey God and His Messenger. They are those on whom God will have mercy. (Remember,) God is Almighty, Wise” (9:71).

    The verse (4:34) is directed to the community at large and is not an injunction to be executed by the husband, and as such does not accord him any superior position over his woman. 

    Second, the linking together of the stipulations “devout (women) guard the unseen that God would have them guard,” with the exception clause, “As for those (women), of whom you fear extramarital perversity...” suggests that a devout woman is one who abstains from extramarital perversity, and therefore, the unseen (ghaib) that she is asked to ‘guard’ is nothing but her chastity.

    Third, regarding the highly controversial issue of wife beating, the concluding God’s attributes (Sublime, Great) rule out any notion of beating – even symbolically. Our rendition (‘to assert’) symbolizes a gesture of beating and is based on the Qur’anic use of this verb form in the verse 38:44, in which the Prophet Job is commanded to take a ‘tuft of grass’ in his hand and fadrib (his wife) rather than break his oath. While the Qur’an leaves it there enigmatically, Biblical accounts are accommodative of the classical Muslim commentators’ view that this simply meant flinging the tuft of grass towards his wife, as a symbolic gesture of beating.8 Some of the early scholars of Islam including al-Tabari, al-Razi, al-Shafi’i, also interpreted this verb form (wadribu) in the verse 4:34 in similar manner, while the Prophet detested the idea of beating one’s wife and is reported to have said: “Never beat God’s handmaidens.” The English language does not have any suitable word for the symbolic gesture of beating to match this situation, and so the word ‘assert’ in our rendering may be more appropriate and less misleading than the traditional word, ‘beating’ to maintaining thematic continuity with the next verse and compatibility with the broader reciprocal and equitable role of men and women as the awliya’ (protector) of one another as enjoined by the Qur’an (9:71 above).

    This brings us to the concluding injunction of the verse: “but if they listen to you, do not seek a way against them.” This raises the question, what measure a man should take if his assertiveness fails, and a breach is established between a man and his wife and the community gets to know of it. This is answered in clear and simple terms in the very next verse (4:35).        

    “If you (the community) fear breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his family and an arbiter from her family. If they wish reconciliation, God will unite them. Indeed God is All-Knowing and Informed” (4:35).

    Thus, read together the verses 4:34 and 4:35 (the passage 4:34/35) spell out not only the roles of men and women in wedlock but also the measures to be taken if a woman continues to show marital infidelity, and recommends arbitration as the final option for settling conjugal disputes. In a later verse, the Qur’an prescribes the same ultimate course of action for the reverse situation, and declares:           

    “If a wife fears extramarital perversity (nushuz) or desertion (i‘rad) from her husband, there is no blame on either of them if they mutually settle (the matter) amicably. Such settlement is best, though (our) souls are (drawn to) greed.9 But if you do good, and are heedful (tattaqu), (remember,) God is Informed of what you do” (4:128).

    If the breach persists and the peace and stability of the family is destroyed, the Qur’an allows for the termination of a marriage (4:130). Since this is an extremely painful decision that can also have serious financial implications for the financially dependent partner of the marriage, the Qur’an declares:

    “And yet if they do separate, God will provide each out of His Abundance, for God is Boundless (in resources) and Wise” (4:130).

    Under compelling circumstances however, the Qur’an also empowers women with unilateral right of separation (2:229/Ch. 34.2)" - Ch. 33.6

    Happy Diwali

    By muhammad yunus - 11/4/2013 9:14:46 AM

  • Mr. Ghulam Rasool, I have read this article and noticed the plight the lady journalist had gone through in Bangladesh .The hooligans' attitude speaks volumes and exposes the barbaric mindset of a bulk of Muslims who claim to be the followers of Islam.There appears to be a large gap between what is said in Islam  (for that matter in any religion) and to what extent it's essence is understood by it's followers.The original text being in Arabic, the regional translation into the local Urdu is grossly misunderstood, misinterpreted both by its followers as well as the Mullas who pursue their vested interests. I wonder if this is one of the reasons for this kind of  actions.Whatever may be the reason, the outcome is the barbaric action by  a large section of Muslim community world wide, bringing a bad name to the most modern and the most peace-loving religion.This is the worst tragedy of not only Muslims but of the whole mankind in this 21st century. Enlightened and intellectual people like your goodself can write volumes but action should come from the common Muslim masses to reverse the ghastly trend. Keep up the good words. May God bless you all your tribe!
    By Varsha Sharma - 11/4/2013 8:42:51 AM

  • Dear Muhammad Yunus Saheb, Thank you very much for your inspiring words. Fascinated by your erudite scholarship in Islamic sciences, I honor every word and sentence penned by you and feel a desperate urge to read more and more from you.
    Looking forward to benefit from your exegetic reflections on the verse: 33:33 in your following article.

    By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi - 10/31/2013 10:49:25 PM


    Dear Gholam Rasool Dehlvi,

    I am delighted to see this article penned by a classical Islamic scholar defining Islam very correctly as a “religion of of peace and women’s rights”, and declaring, “These real enemies of Islam and humanity in the disguise of ‘protectors of Islam’ attract the gullible and naive Muslims by their deceitful names like “Hefazat-e-Islam”. I admire your honesty in coining the caption of your article and your exegetic depth in interpreting the verse 33:33 in line with the holistic message of the Qur’an, as I have attempted to capture summarily in my following article – I give this cross reference for anyone who may be interested to drink deep into the Pierian Spring.

    Since in today’s world of cut and paste scholarship, every computer literate person can claim scholarship, I will like to quote the following lines from the English poet, Alexander Pope that I have cut/pasted from the Internet and must not be attributed to my scholarship in English literature – which is the forte of my well wisher on this forum:

    “A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.”

    By muhammad yunus - 10/31/2013 8:41:25 PM

  • Dear Ashok Malik ji, Thank you so much for reading my article and commenting on it! Indeed, we should keep our hopes high, provided we exert every possible effort to uproot all such extremist ideologies from our societies and replace them by lovely precepts of peace and integrity.

    By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi - 10/31/2013 8:43:27 AM

  • Dear Ghulam Rasool Saheb, Thanks for your article which has analysed factual down to earth principles of a civilised society. Hopefully such writings start a process of reversal of blind followings of extrimists. Ashok  

    By Ashok Malik - 10/31/2013 8:34:23 AM

  • @Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
    Absolutely right! I feel proud of you and others who  espouse the similar views with  regards to religious pluralism, social integrity and communal harmony as enshrined in Islam. People like you should be united, recognised by all the Muslims and promoted for this noble cause to rid their community of this hatred, suspecion amd voilence towards the minority comunities all over the world. Apart from the non-exixtant isue  which is knowingly created by selfish, ignorant and aggressive individuals and orgnistaions to spread terror and hatred in the name of religions.
    Thanks for your rigorous efforts, which seem to be like a beacon of light house to every one who is being misguided by the extremist groups of Wahabis.
    By Varsha Sharma - 10/31/2013 5:43:27 AM

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