CHITRAL, Nov 18: Going through the comments that the worthy writers passed on the write-up I had penned down a couple of weeks ago in chitraltoday.net, I am literally taken aback, as some of them were very touchy in their comments, about the way I criticized the ‘mullah’ mindset.
They mistook and labeled my ‘apprehension’ as prejudice and bias. They thought I meant to lash out at all religious scholars of Islam, and demean them. Some of them, kindly enough, labeled me a ‘westernized liberal’, a ‘secular extremist’ etc. And some people including my relatives and friends thought of me as ‘prone to Communism/Judaism/Christianity’ etc. Who cares!! I categorically stand by whatever I have said as my standpoint for the sake of Peace in the region.
But there are some necessary clarifications I have to make here. First, let me answer all the above allegations in just one sentence: I am a ‘Sunni’ Muslim, and I love my religion – Islam – and this is both my religious and moral duty to call a person wrong if his words or actions contradict the very spirit of the religion. We must know this is the beauty of our religion that it is not a preacher-centered religion. An Aalim/mullah/leader/preacher is never a criterion according to Islamic teachings. The criterion is only the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the Sunna of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him). We should judge a ‘leader/scholar of religion’ in the back-cloth of these three sources of knowledge and guidance, not vice versa. According to a Hadith, the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said that He has left to His Ummah, as his bequest, the Holy Quran, His Hadith and Sunna. (Timizi, Hadith: 171).
These three sources are my criteria when I criticize or condemn pseudo-scholars of religion for wrong preaching. The same I had done in the previous article that unfortunately got misunderstood in ‘true religious scholars’ circle’.
The Ulama community of Chitral mistook my criticism, and thought I meant to demonize all of them by demonizing the mullah mindset. Let me repeat: I never mean an Alim when I say ‘mullah’. Let me say for further clarification that I differentiate between a mullah (a cleric/pseudo-scholar) and an Aalim (a true scholar of religion). Ulama are ‘true religious scholars’ of Islam. I greatly respect them. I appreciate their great role in preaching the religion rightly, and maintaining the peaceful coexistence in the region for centuries. They were and are NEVER the target of my criticism.
I just condemn the pseudo-scholars (called ‘mullahs’) who, either misled by some extremist elements or due to lack of knowledge and enlightenment, preach exactly the opposite of what Islam is meant to be. The Ulama should agree with me that these very pseudo-scholars of religion are the ones whose irreligious preaching and actions earn bad name for the whole Ulama community. My criticism was and is meant for such pseudo-scholars of religion. As for the word ‘mullah’, whatever its etymology and denotation, it has been connotatively used by great scholars, like Allam Muhammad Iqbal, for ‘pseudo-scholars of religion’ regardless of whatever sect they belong to. As he says:
“Alfaaz-u Ma’aani may tafaawut nahi laikin,,
Mullah ki Azaan aor Mujahid ki Azaan aor..
Parwaaz hey donon ki isi ek fiza may
Kargis ka Jahaan aor hey, Shaheen ka Jahaan aor.”
Dil hai Musalman tera na mera
Tu bhi namazi, main bhi namazi
Main janta hun anjaam uss ka
Jis maarkey main Mullah ho ghazi
Sufi ki tareeqat main faqat masti-e-ahwaal
Mullah ki shariat main faqat masti-e-guftaar
Wo mard-e-mujahid nazar aata nahin mujh ko
Ho jis kay rag-o-pey main faqat masti-e-kirdaar
Mujh ko tou sikha di hai Afrang nay zandiqi
Iss dour kay Mullah hain kyon nang-e-Musalmani?
Ho naqsh ager baatil, takraar say kya haasil?
Kya tujh ko khush aati hai Adam ki ye arzaani?
Wahdat ki hifazat nahin bay quat-e-bazu
Aati nahin kuch kaam yahan aql-e-Khudadad
Aey mard-e-Khuda! tujh ko wo qu’at nahin haasil
Ja baith kisi ghaar main Allah ko ker yaad
Mullah ko jo hai Hind main sajdey ki ijazat
Nadan ye samjhta hai kay Islam hai azaad
By ‘mullah’ Iqbal means a pseudo-scholar of religion, who does more disservice to Islam than service, and by Mujahid he means a true, practicing Muslim. Therefore, I want to make it clear to our ‘respected Ulamas that I didn’t mean to criticize Ulama (true religious scholars), rather I wanted to criticize Mullahs (clerics/ pseudo-scholars).
Why do I criticize these pseudo-scholars then? I do because they most often preach the opposite of what Islam fundamentally is. Let us measure what such pseudo-scholars say and do, in the yardstick of what the Holy Quran and Hadith say categorically.
First, let us take sectarianism. The Holy Quran prohibits sectarianism very strongly. Allah says: ‘Hold on firmly together to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves, and remember the favours Allah bestowed on you when you were one another’s foe and He reconciled your hearts, and you turned into brethren through His grace…” (Surah Al Imran, verse: 103).
Again in Surah Al Anam, verse.159 Allah says: “As for those who have created schisms in their order, and formed different sects, (O! Prophet) you have no concern with them. Their affair is with Allah. He will tell them the truth of what they were doing.”
The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) knew and apprehended that despite these strict and categorical prohibitions the Muslims will make sectarian divisions, so He added a stronger warning that there will be as many as 73 sects of Islam and all of them will go to Jahannam except one: those who hold on firmly to the Holy Quran, the Hadith and Sunnah. (For details: Timizi, Hadith: 171 and Sunan Abu Dawud Hadith: 4579). Unfortunately, this Hadith is taken as ‘commandment of making sects’ by pseudo-scholars. (A such-minded ‘scholar’ forcefully said so while arguing with me). Imagine they take ‘apprehension’ of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) as His ‘commandment’ to make sects!!! Where are they leading us to???
In yet another place in the Holy Quran, Allah says: “(O! Prophet) Tell them: ‘O people of the Book, let us come to an agreement on that which is common between you and us, that: we worship no one but Allah, and make none His compeer, and that none of us take any others for lord apart from Allah.’ If they turn away you tell them: ‘Bear witness that we submit to Him.’” (Surah Al Imran Verse: 64)
Isn’t this verse a Master-key solution to all the problems related to sects and sectarianism?? If Islam has that much flexibility to invite Christians and Jews to have an agreement on ‘common terms’, then does it sound logical to detach and excommunicate already Muslim-sects??
About preaching Islam Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Call them to the Path of your Lord with wisdom and words of good advice; and reason with them in the best way possible. Your Lord surely knows who strays from His Path, and He knows those who are guided the right way.” ( Surah Al Nahl Verse: 125).
And again: “There is no compulsion in the matter of faith. Distinct is the way of guidance now from error…” (Surah Al Baqarah, verse: 256)
Weigh up what and how our ‘preachers’ preach!!!
Let us now turn to our preachers’ most favourite topic ‘Pardah’. It is a pleasant surprise to learn that the injunction of observing ‘Parda’ for men came earlier than for women. Making it obligatory first for men the Quran says in Surah Al Noor Verse. 30: “Tell the believing men to lower their eyes and guard their private parts. There is for them goodness in this. Allah is aware of what they do.” The obligation of ‘Parda’ for women comes in the next verse: (Surah Al Noor, Verse. 31): “Tell the believing women to lower their eyes, guard their private parts, and not display their charms except what is apparent outwardly, and cover their bosoms with veils and not to show their finery except to their husbands or their fathers or fathers-in-law….” (A long list of Muhrims given.) This is what Islam says, what is our ‘preachers’ version of ‘Parda’ by the way?? Do they ever emphasize, in their sermons, the ‘Parda’ of gaze for men?? Haven’t they imposed all the manifestations of PARDA exclusively on women??
Well all these can be just the tip of the iceberg. The irony is we don’t know what the Teachings of Islam are. We deem that whatever such ‘preachers’ preach is right. That is why the pseudo-scholars take advantage of our ignorance and preach their own moulded-Islam. It is the need of the hour to resign ourselves to the study of the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the Sunnah. After all Islam is reality, sects are not.
I had reason not to name my sect in the previous write-up, because according to the Holy Quran a Muslim should have only one introduction: “Muslim”. (Surah Al Imran, Verse: 64). The Quran further tells us that not only the Holy Prophet’s but both Issa and Ibrahim’s (Peace be upon Them) religion was also Islam (Peace): (Surah Al Imran Verses: 19 and 52 and 67).
All the above are the reasons why I don’t believe in and favour sects. My worry and apprehension about the pseudo-scholars of sects is that they can possibly become instrumental in the hands of non-state extremist elements and can turn out to be potential threat of our peaceful coexistence, if we do not wake up and educate them on time.–Zahoor ul Haq Danish