By Prof. Akhtarul Wasey
Following the Islamic State’ attacks in Paris the issue of so-called Islamic terrorism and Jihad has become a burning issue, once again. I am compelled to take a serious note of journalist Tavleen Singh’s irresponsible observations in her column in The Indian Express.
With all due respect for Ms. Singh, I, very modestly, feel it my foremost duty to explain things and remove her misconceptions. I’m sorry to observe she has very little knowledge about Islam. She has attempted to write a lot on the basis of her personal perceptions without bothering to make any serious effort to learn about Islam or even knowing the fundamental facts about this faith, unfortunately the most misunderstood religion in the world today.
She has labelled charges on Islam, the faith in general, and targeted its primary sources — Holy Quran and the life story of Prophet Muhammad. She has projected herself in such a manner that only she knows what Islam is? She has ‘firmly’ viewed that the Holy Prophet has added such commands to Holy Quran which teach Muslims to behave with all non-Muslims in an aggressive and oppressive way.
I have to feel pity for her, as it is apparent that she is not aware of even the basic fact that the Holy Quran is a divine book — word of Almighty God and not based on the narrations of the Prophet. She should have known that Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in pieces over a long period of 23 years. He did not add a single word to the holy book.
One can lay hands on several verses in Holy Quran by which the Almighty has taught the prophet himself regarding many things (Holy Quran 7-1/80). He has also been corrected by the Lord at some places (H.Q. 8/48). Almighty God has very strictly warned people against making any change in his book. The Holy Quran has stated very clearly that even the Holy Prophet does not know all the things as the real knower is God alone.
One verse of Holy Quran specifies that the Prophet was not capable of reading and writing (H.Q. 29–49). In the light of the above-mentioned fact, no one can term Islam as Faith of Muhammad except an ignorant individual who has not even opened the Holy Quran or bothered to learn about Islam.
Ms. Singh believes the Holy Quran urges its followers to behave with non-Muslims badly. Had she referred to Holy Quran’s verse no 8–60, which very clearly instructs its believers to treat non-believers nicely, politely and piously. It asks its followers to establish justice (for all) as the Lord Almighty likes the just people. The Holy Quran declares that its message is for all the human beings and not merely for its followers (H.Q. 2–186). It commands its followers to make the justice prevail and that there should be rule of justice alone.
Holy Quran, at numerous places (for instance: 2–21, 2–168, 4–1, 4–170, 10–57, etc.), addresses not Muslim alone but the whole mankind. It asks to spare even animals from any harm, leave apart the human beings. There are at least 70 verses in Holy Quran, which clearly condemn any sort of oppression. It also fixes punishment for such acts, (H.Q. 2–124, 2–255, 3–151, 5/29). There are many a verse in Holy Quran to this effect.
Further, the Holy Prophet, even during holy wars, always instructed Muslim soldiers not to attack the old, women and children and any unarmed man. He used to ask his people, not even to cut or harm the green trees and the fields, full of crops. One should take the lesson here; Islam as a peace-loving religion can ever ask its followers to adopt a harsh attitude, towards anyone, even outside the fold of Islam.
Holy Quran clearly spells out that there is no compulsion in faith and belief (H.Q. 2–256). Everyone is free to follow it or not (H.Q. 29–18). It further explains that ‘Our faith is for us and your faith is for you’ (H.Q. 6/109). Today’s age is the age of knowledge and awareness. Then, how should one blame Islam, in this 21st century, in such a manner, as evident in Singh’s article.
The columnist has further narrated that Islam terms non-believers as Kaafir, while no Indian religion uses this word for the people outside its fold. Perhaps, she has taken the word Kaafir as an expression for the downgraded. She must come to know that Holy Quran has called even Prophet Sulaiman (Soloman) as Kaafir (2/102) and also attributes the word Kaafri to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (4/60). The holy book has described the farmers and field workers too as Kaafirs.
In fact, the word Kufr means an act of denying. This is not used in a bad sense like an abuse, but to carry the meaning of concealing some thing or refusing to accept something. Any sincere person can easily comprehend the actual meaning of the word Kaafir or Kufr by referring to any one of the Arabic–English Dictionary, for evading the spread of misunderstandings. As far as other religions or faiths in India are concerned, we very widely come across the words, like naastik for atheist, adharmi for non-believer and maleech (a downgrading title, obviously for Muslims and perhaps Christians).
These words figure in many ancient and medieval Indian scriptures. It is not a secret for any scholar, researcher or student, working in the related fields. However, we should realise that all such words are the essential part of the teachings of a religion in our country.