Aghora’s radical egalitarianism makes Reza Aslan yearn for inequality – Bharavi

Man Sitting Under Tree IconAslan is truly a worthy heir to Sufi luminaries like Amir Khusrau and Ahmed Sirhindi who so eloquently expressed their contempt and detestation for the stench of idolatory and polytheism in the land of Hind. – Bharavi

Now that there is a lot of indignation in the Hindu community about the way the Muslim, Iranian-American religious writer Reza Aslan has gone about depicting Hinduism in a CNN program titled “Believer,”[1] it would help to understand issues at hand that run deeper than overt “Hinduphobia” and stereotyping.  Mr. Rajiv Malhotra and some members of the Hindu Students Council have broadcast a video “rebuttal” of sorts, questioning Aslan’s intentions in reaffirming western stereotypes of Hinduism.  

For starters, it must be noticed that Reza Aslan finds himself in the U.S.A. because his family fled the Islamic revolution in his native Iran, circa 1979. Though born in a Muslim family, he converted to Christianity, but returned or, as the terminology goes, “reverted” to Islam.  Currently, he is a professing Muslim. Had he been a true heir to his brutally extinguished Aryan-Iranian heritage, he would surely have been at least more balanced, if not more respectful and nuanced, in his depiction of the last vestiges of the common Indo-Iranian religious heritage in the multifarious forms of Hinduism in India, a civilization that gave refuge to Zoroastrian Iranians fleeing before their equally Iranian compatriots who converted to Islam. But, having been put through the wringer, as it were, of the Religions of Love and Peace, all Understanding and Compassion has been conclusively wrung out of him. What Ishwar Sharan perceptively stated of the betrayal of Hindus to the Portuguese Catholic invaders by Syrian Christians applies to him in its totality: “… [the] Christian religion … harbours in its heart a demon that divides mankind into friend and foe on ideological grounds.”[2]  The Qu’ran, which is but the “Bible in Arabic” insofar as its basic contents are concerned, bettered the instruction by summarily and firmly reinstating the original Yahvist spirit by abolishing all hints of Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s phantom gestation that, according to Christians, resulted in a case of human parthenogenesis.  

It matters little that Aslan piously proclaims his personal preference for Islam while proclaiming “good will and peace to all men” on his website, which deserves to be read in full by befuddled Hindus:[3]

That’s where religion comes in. Beyond the doctrines and dogma, the do’s and the don’t’s, religion is simply a framework for thinking about the existential questions we all struggle with as human beings.

It is, as the Sufi mystics say, a “signpost to God.”

Can you have faith without religion? Of course! But as the Buddha said, if you want to strike water, you don’t dig six 1-foot wells; you dig one 6-foot well. In other words, if you want to have a deep and meaningful faith experience, it helps—though it is by no means necessary—to have a language with which to do so.

So then, pick a well.

Different words, same thing

My well is Islam, and in particular, the Sufi tradition. Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is “truer” than other religions (it isn’t), but because Islam provides me with the “language” I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.

So … what do you believe?

But I know, just as the Buddha did, that while my personal well may be different and unique, the water I draw from it is the same water drawn from everyone else’s wells. Indeed, having drunk from many wells in my spiritual journey, I consider it my mission in life to inform the world that, no matter the well, the water tastes just as sweet.

Consider the following parable by the great Sufi master Jalal ad-Din Rumi, which I recount in my book, No god but God:

A Persian, a Turk, an Arab and a Greek are traveling to a distant land when they begin arguing over how to spend the single coin they share in common. The Persian wants to spend the coin on angur; the Turk, on uzum; the Arab, on inab; and the Greek, on stafil.

A linguist passing by overhears the argument. “Give the coin to me,” he says. Taking the coin, the linguist goes to a nearby shop and buys the travelers four small bunches of grapes.

“This is my angur!” cries the Persian.

“But this is what I call uzum,” replies the Turk.

“You have brought me my inab,” the Arab says.

“No! This in my language is stafil,” says the Greek.

The travelers suddenly realize that they were all asking for the same thing, but in different languages.

My goal—as a scholar, as a person of faith, and now as the host of “Believer” —is to be the linguist, to demonstrate that, while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.

And that, regardless of whether you, too, are a believer or not, is a lesson worth learning.

See, multiple wells, same water! Multiple languages, same grapes! Aslan’s stated goal in the series “Believer” is to convince you, like a latter-day Gandhi, that “while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.” Hell, why can’t we all just get along like one big happy family!? Where are those vasudhaiva kutumbakam hippies when you need them?

Firstly, note that the Buddha (a rank Pagan) was the one who talked about multiple wells reaching the same water. Any Abrahamic prophet worth his salt would have taken umbrage at this kind of laissez-faire approach, so there are no matching quotations from the Abrahamic traditions, especially Reza’s own. Even the oft-quoted sura 109 of the Qu’ran often bandied about by Muslims as evidence of Islam’s “tolerance” declares:

Say: O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Nor will I worship those whom you have worshipped,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way, and to me mine.

The sura is also suggestively titled “Al-Kafirun”—The Unbelievers. For different wells with the same water, you definitely have to summon Kafir help and surreptitiously slip it in while ostensibly taking a stand as a convinced Muslim.

Hindus should additionally note that even for an aspiring Sufi mystic like Aslan, it becomes a positive strain to extend real courtesy about “more often than not, expressing the same faith” to the rank Pagans/Kafirs that Hindus are with their pantheism and polytheism, thereby revelling in the great “sin” of kufr and shirk—of “associating partners with Allah.” Aslan’s pir Rumi frequently and variously uses “Hindu” as a symbol of all that is wrong, the (despicable) colour black, darkness, evil influence, and especially the nafs (the base soul) that is in urgent need of reforming. That is the lineage of teachers (guru-shishya parampara) that Aslan subscribes to. So, Hindus should thank Reza Aslan, and take his timely reminder as an opportunity to examine the true sayings and history of Sufis and their silsilas from original sources, as also the accounts of the havoc that they wrought to Hinduism, rather than the homilies dished out by several negationists who also masquerade as “eminent historians.”  No Sufi is known to have protested the treatement of Hindus and Hinduism by any sultan—no wonder Aurangzeb was lionized as a “zinda pir”—a living saint. Aslan is truly a worthy heir to Sufi luminaries like Amir Khusrau and Ahmed Sirhindi who so eloquently expressed their contempt and detestation for the stench of idolatory and polytheism in the land of Hind.

Aslan’s preoccupation with the Hindu “obsession” with purity deserves close examination. While on that job, it might perhaps not hurt to remind Aslan that, in strains of traditional Islam, especially the Shi’ism rampant in his native Iran, the Kafir is also “Najis—impure—at par with urine and feces. This is also why Pakistan was so named, for the “Pak” or “Pure” thereby separated themselves from the “najis” Hindus. Incidentally, this objective fact of Islamic jurisprudence also gives the lie to Aslan’s sanctimonious statements about the allegedly unique Hindu “obsession with ritual purity.” Islam is also concerned with ritual purity, only it is based on different assumptions (or “obsessions”). And, the very ritual act of wudu (ablutions) performed by the believers before each of their five daily prayers are testimony to the selfsame “obsession” with ritual purity. Indeed, in this case at least, while “while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.” Or obsession, just for consistency. For those who care to inquire further, the hadiths are quite explicit about “correct” methods of purifying oneself after communing with nature, based on prophetic precedent and a traceable chain of transmission (isnad), no less. We hope Aslan will remember this during the next time he rolls out his prayer mat or ascends the metaphorical CNN tower for the broadcast of the next episode of “Believer.”

Aslan was apparently attracted to Aghora because he discerned in the members of this sect a group of proto-revolutionaries who actively flouted Hindu norms of purity and caste exclusiveness (i.e. “obsessions”). Now, Aghora literally means non-ghora i.e. “non-terrible.” The followers of the Aghora path, the Aghoris, literally try to view the entire world as “non-terrible,” not merely in a metaphysical sense or for reasons of political correctness, but also in a very physical sense. They seek to go beyond the “pairs of opposites” that, in their view, arise from the illusory sensory perception of differences, of personal likes and dislikes, and feelings of pleasure and pain. And, to truly follow this idea, they conduct themselves indifferently in the extreme, even eating substances that humans normally find bizarre or disgusting, which provides what presstitutes (journalists) call a “good copy” for Aslan and his handlers at CNN.

The Aghori sadhu in the CNN video first drank some of his own urine—as in his view—there was nothing that was intrinsically “disgusting” about it. We may say that he did not just walk the talk, but also drank it and lived it. Then, he graciously wanted to extend the same courtesy to his newest acolyte in the person of Reza Aslan who promptly voted with his heels. The urine in the Aghori’s palm was, to borrow Aslan’s cordial and engaging phraseology, a very unique form of water from a very unique well that exorcised Aslan of his revolutionary zeal.

Notes

  1. CNN: Face to face with a cannibalistic sect (video clip).
  2. Ishwar Sharan, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (2010), Chapter Nine
  3. CNN: Reza Aslan: Why I am a Muslim.

Muslim clerics in India unite against televangelist Zakir Naik – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

 

Zafir Naik

Uzair Hasan RizviOne of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.” – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

Superstar Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik claims to be a messenger of peace and harmony. Through his channel, Peace TV, he broadcasts his messages to around 200 million people across India and the world. Despite this, he has never been able to unite the different branches, sects and sub-sects of Islam in India. One sign of this is the fact that these various groups continued to celebrate Eid on different days earlier this month.

However, Naik seems to have finally united India’s Muslim clerics.

Showing unprecedented solidarity, Muslim clerics from all sects have come forward to urge strong action against Naik and his channel for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims with his evangelism.

Naik’s Islam is a particularly conservative brand of Salafism, the ultra-conservative reform movement within Islam, which aims to go back to what its proponents call the fundamentals of the faith.

In the aftermath of the July 1 attacks in Dhaka, there were reports that Naik’s provocative speeches had inspired the militants behind the attack in which 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. On Sunday, Bangladesh banned Naik’s channel.

Many clerics in India have now demanded a ban on Peace TV, which is broadcast from Dubai. In 2012, the channel was blocked in India after the Intelligence Bureau red-flagged it for broadcasting malicious and so-called anti-national content. However, illegal broadcasts continue and Naik’s sermons are also available online, thus making it hard for the government to limit Naik’s popularity.

Condemnation across the board

In his Eid sermon, one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.”

Clerics from the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, which gets its name from Bareilly—the town in Uttar Pradesh where it originated from—also accused Naik of delivering anti-Islamic speeches. During his Eid sermon last week, Maulana Asjad Raza Qadri, head cleric of Bareilly, demanded a ban on Naik for his hate speeches, and said that his activities were against Islam and the culture of India.

In the past, Naik has criticised Sufism—the mystical form of Islam that has been present in India for over 1,000 years. The preacher condemned those who revere Sufi saints and visit their tombs as “grave worshippers”.

Last year, members of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims, protested at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi after the centre invited Naik for a conference. The members even lodged a complaint against Naik at a local police station, and demanded that he be arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Condemnation from Shias

Naik has also been criticised by the Shias—the second-largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam.

Shia clerics in Lucknow have accused the televangelist of propagating ideas that attracted Muslim youth to extremism.

Prominent Shia Muslim cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi demanded a complete ban on Naik’s books, speeches and lectures. “Zakir Naik is spreading terrorism,” he said. “Naik is a part of the Saudi Arabia-funded Wahhabi terror network, which creates scholars and clerics who in turn brainwash young Muslims.”

Another Shia cleric, Maulana Yasoob Abbas, led a demonstration against Naik in Lucknow during which Abbas burned Naik’s effigy and labeled him as anti-national and anti-religious. The protestors at this demonstration carried a banner, which read: “Protest Against Terrorism” and carried the photograph of Zakir Naik along with those of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.

Condemnation from Deobandis

However, the most surprising condemnation comes from the Darul Uloom Deoband, the seat of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which is headquartered in Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. The Deobandis are often referred as the Wahhabis, as they share many of their beliefs with Wahhabism. Darul Uloom has issued a series of fatwas against Naik since 2007.

The Deoband school said that religion should be learned through authorised ulema (Muslim scholars with specialised knowledge of Islamic theology) and books, and added that Naik was a self-styled preacher unaffiliated to any of the four schools of Sunni Islamic thought.

One of the fatwas issued by the Darul Uloom against Naik states that “Zakir Naik is an agent of Ghair Muqallideen, away from knowledge and wisdom from the four schools of thought, spreading mischievous things and misguiding simple Muslims to wrong path”.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the deputy imam of Lucknow’s Eidgah, had once come to the defence of Zakir Naik. He had said that if Naik had committed a crime, he should be tried under the law, but harassing the man on a big platform was unethical.

However, in 2008, the deputy imam’s uncle, Mufti Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahali, issued a fatwa against Zakir Naik describing him as kafir, or disbeliever. Following that, the Lucknow deputy imam also condemned Naik, and referred to him as a fake scholar. Then, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali said in an online statement that: “Naik has just mugged up some verses from the Quran and pretends to be an Islamic scholar.”

Solidarity from Kashmir

The one place in India where Muslim clerics have supported Zakir Naik is in Kashmir, where the Jamaat-I-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ahlihadees have condemned what they called a campaign by the government and media against Naik.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, members of the Islamic Fraternity, a Muslim youth body, held a demonstration in support of the televangelist at the Press Enclave in Srinagar last week. The report said that the protesters carried banners which read: “Dr Zakir Naik, Kashmir is with you”, “Zakir Naik is a man of peace and harmony” and “Stop false propaganda against Zakir Naik.”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of the separatist Hurriyat, too recently issued a press statement in favour of Naik in which he said that the preacher was not involved with incidents of terror in Dhaka, Bangladesh, or anywhere else.

With sentiment against him brewing in India, Naik has released a video saying that he did not inspire the Bangladeshi attackers. Incidentally, in the past, he has, on several occasions, denounced the Islamic State, to which the Dhaka terrorists swore allegiance.

However, Naik is undoubtedly an influential Salafi ideologue whose influence has grown in India and around the world over the years. In fact, last year, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented Naik with the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam, which carried a cash reward $200,000. – Scroll.in, 11 july 2016

» Uzair Hasan Rizvi is an independent multimedia journalist in Lucknow. His Twitter handle is @rizviuzair.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Zakir Naik

Must read critique of Zakir Naik and his monotheism: Punya Bhumi and the bleak landscape of one god-ism – Vijaya Rajiva

Zakir Naik & Salman Khan

Vice-President Hamid Ansari speaks only for Muslims – R. Jagannathan

Hamid Ansari

R. Jagannathan“The real tragedy is that Ansari has reduced himself to a spokesman for his community rather than the Vice-President of all of India. And this is not the first time he has done so. In September last year, he made a specific plea to give Muslims reservations in jobs, when the constitution does not allow quotas based on religion.” – R. Jagannathan

The Vice-President of India, like the President or the Prime Minister, represents the whole country—all the people, and not just some of them, or the community he or she comes from. Unfortunately, the Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari, has sometimes been talking like a spokesman for Muslims in India. This is not his job.

On 2 April, Ansari must have raised hackles all around when he called on the Supreme Court to reflect on how minorities can be protected from majoritarianism and clarify “the contours within which the principles of secularism and composite culture should operate with a view to strengthen their functional modality and remove ambiguities.”

He also wondered aloud, without any sense of irony, whether Indian democracy may not be better served with a “more complete separation of religion and politics”—when this is precisely what Muslim organisations oppose. Throughout India’s journey from 1947, Muslim institutions have opposed a uniform civil code, the triple talaq and several other things. Recently, the Jamiat-e-Islami-e-Hind had the effrontery to tell the Supreme Court it had no business looking into triple talaq, a simple gender rights issue that should have nothing to do with religion. Nor has he spoken aggressively against the Haj subsidy, something that directly brings the state into a religious activity.

Mylapore MLA R. Rajalakshmi, Secretary HR & CE M. Rajaram (second from left) and HR & CE Commissioner M. Kalaivanan (right), are in the picture.Also, is Ansari unaware of recent history, where Hindus have been ethnically cleansed from two neighbouring countries, and also from a Muslim majority state in India (J&K)? Majoritarianism, if it existed, would never have allowed the majority community to be cleansed from one of its states. Ansari also didn’t stop to think whether India’s brand of secularism is impacting Hindus more than Muslims, where states directly control major temples (Tirupati in Andhra, Siddhivinayak in Maharashtra, and Sabarimala in Kerala). The state directly controls thousands of temples in the south, and even in some places in the north. Nor does he even seem aware that courts happily intervene in Hindu religious practices, but never those of Muslims or Christians. The constitutional protections given to minorities to run their own religious and cultural institutions excludes Hindu institutions in practice.

It is possible to take a more charitable view of Ansari’s speech, but given the context in which he asked for these clarifications, it is obvious that he is only talking about Muslim concerns when the state is run by the BJP, which has obvious links to Hindu organisations.

At the outset one must make it clear that the Sangh Parivar has not helped matters by making “nationalism” a big issue, especially its narrow view of it, including the need for Indians to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” or “Vande Mataram.” The beef controversy was not only avoidable, but needed opposing. What people will eat, wear or speak cannot be imposed from above, whichever be the party in power. This statement applies equally to narrow definitions of secularism, where the Sangh alone is designated as communal, excluding many parties that are caste-based or based on support of minority communities (as in Hyderabad, Assam, J&K, Kerala and elsewhere). “Sickularism” is as bad as narrow nationalism.

However, Ansari has shown that he too is not above sectarian thinking from the way he is voicing the concerns of Muslims to the exclusion of the so-called majority.

Consider his various other statements, made at the 16th convention of Jammu University:

He said “any public discourse on India being a ‘secular’ republic with a ‘composite culture’ cannot overlook India’s heterogeneity…. A population of 1.3 billion comprising over 4,635 communities … religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of the total…. Our democratic polity and its secular state structure were put in place in full awareness of this plurality. There was no suggestion to erase identities and homogenise them.”

Muslim mother with son on JanamashtamiOne must ask: who is seeking to erase plurality? It is not the Sangh or the BJP government, despite the outlandish statements made by some members of the Sangh on “Bharat mata ki jai”. It is interesting that till some time ago, the Left used to proclaim India’s “composite culture” in order to deny its Hindu underpinnings; now Ansari is rubbishing the whole idea of a “composite culture” and says India is about “4,635 communities”.

Then he contradicts himself by referring to 19.4 percent minorities, as though they are some solid block that needs defending from the remaining 80-and-odd percent majoritarians. If India is a composite of 4,635 communities, we are all minorities and Hindus are not one solid phalanx of religious unity. There is no majority or minority. And certainly a Muslim population of 180 million cannot by any stretch of imagination be called a minority.

Ansari also failed to look at his own community’s efforts to erase plurality, with organisations like the Tabligh seeking to weed out any traces of Indian influence in Islam—worship at dargahs, veneration of pirs, etc. In Tamil Nadu, where Muslims were till recently more Tamils than Muslims, there is a concerted effort to Wahhabise them.

Elsewhere too, Muslims are learning to grow beards to emphasise difference rather than common citizenship, and even something as basic as “Ramzan” is being Arabised as Ramadan in some quarters. Ansari’s silence on this deliberate effort to separate Muslims from Indian syncretism is eloquent.

If attempts to homogenise Indians are reprehensible, surely attempts to homogenise Muslims are equally reprehensible?

Ansari also said that the “three accepted characteristics of a secular state were liberty to practise religion, equality between religions in state practice, and neutrality or a fence of separation between the state and religion.”

Muslims and Hindus play HoliThere is no bar on anyone practising any religion in India. So the first point exists in India. The second, equality between religions, does not exist, because Indian politicians have used the rights of minorities under Articles 25-30 (to run their own institutions without state interference) to ring-fence minority institutions but Hindu institutions have become personal fiefs of politicians to run their rackets. We have made a mockery of Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law, by excluding Hindu institutions from the right to administer their own institutions. And some laws primarily apply to Hindus. A recent case in point is the Bombay High Court decision to force the Shani Shingnapur temple to give women the same rights as men (…) to enter the sanctum sanctorum. But the same is not explicitly applicable to the Haji Ali Dargah or other mosques.

And then Ansari made this remark: “The difficulty lies in delineating, for purposes of public policy and practice, the line that separates them from religion…. The ‘way of life’ argument, used in philosophical texts and some judicial pronouncements, does not help … identify common principles of equity in a multi-religious society. Since a wall of separation is not possible under Indian conditions, the challenge is to develop a formula for equidistance and minimum involvement. For this purpose, principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both.” (italics mine)

Since it is obvious that only Hinduism describes itself as a “way of life”, Ansari’s target is clear: he wants the state de-Hinduised. Not objectionable in itself, but Ansari seems to want not only separation of state from religion, but also culture from religion. This is the only interpretation one can give to his statement that “principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both.”

Can faith really be hermetically sealed from the culture in which it grows? Is there no such thing as Indian Islam, where elements of local culture are inextricably mixed with elements of Islam?

Is Ansari a closet fundamentalist, who wants his faith to be untainted by local culture?

In fact, he contradicts himself again when he uses a quote from Left historian K. N. Pannikar, who said: “Whether India developed as a melting pot of cultures or only remained a salad bowl is no more the issue. The crucial question is whether Indian culture is conceived as a static phenomenon, tracing its identity to a single unchanging source, or a dynamic phenomenon, critically and creatively interrogating all that is new.”

This Pannikar observation was meant to tell Hindus to stop looking only at their past for identity validation, but Ansari seems to want to retain Indian Islam is a pure state that has nothing to do with local culture. Does he want to deny the right of Islam in India to Indianise by “critically and creatively Reservation for Muslimsinterrogating all that is new?” If Muslims want to sing Vande Mataram, as A. R. Rahman did, would Ansari think this is an unwarranted mixture of culture and religion?

The real tragedy is that Ansari has reduced himself to a spokesman for his community rather than the Vice-President of all of India. And this is not the first time he has done so. In September last year, he made a specific plea to give Muslims reservations in jobs, when the constitution does not allow quotas based on religion.

Ansari has to make up his mind whether he is just a Muslim or the V-P of India who happens to be a Muslim. – Firstpost, 3 April 2016

Reforming Islam: A moderate Muslim’s appeal – Sultan Shahin

World Sufi Forum, New Delhi, March 2016

Sultan ShahinThis appeal was made to the many learned Sufi masters and scholars who gathered at New Delhi in March 2016 for the World Sufi Forum

Respected Sufi Divines,

May peace and God’s grace be with you,

The international counter-terrorism conference […] held at Delhi [on 17 to 20 March, 2016 happened] at a delicate time. Already scores of Indian Muslim youth are known to be fighting with the terrorist army of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a few have even got themselves killed. Over 30,000 Muslim youth from 100 countries around the world joined this takfiri organisation within a year of its announcement of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Khalifa. An influential Indian Aalim Maulana Salman Nadvi even addressed him as Ameerul Momineen (another term for Khalifa) in a letter posted on his Facebook page. Muslim newspapers were in general quite welcoming of the “Khilafat” until ISIS started broadcasting its brutalities in gory details, thus bringing Islam itself into disrepute. Indian Muslim enthusiasm for the Khilafat was not surprising as our current theology calls it a religious duty for all Muslims to help establish a Khilafat. At least 18,000 Muslims had left their homes and jobs in British India in their bid to go and fight for the Khilafat-e-Osmania less than a hundred years ago. Many perished but are today revered as Shaheeds (martyrs) and ghazis (Islamic warriors).

We are living in an environment in which Muslim societies are producing armies of suicide bombers wherever and whenever required by a motivated group with necessary funding and logistics. Our madrasa children already sing songs with refrains like “zindagi shuru hoti hai qabr mein” (life begins in the grave). You can imagine what little effort is required by vested interests to turn people with such a belief system into suicide bombers. No wonder the application form for joining the so-called Islamic State army asks the potential recruits to specify their time and place of death. The ISIS knows no indoctrination is required; Islamic theological books are already doing their job for them.

Terrorist ideologues ask our youths not to wait for reaching the ISIS borders to start fighting Jihad, that has been elevated to the sixth pillar of Islam. Act as lone warriors, is the advice given to them through social media posts easily available to all. “Don’t wait to be trained in bomb-making too; don’t you have a car, just ram it into a crowd of infidels,” is another advice. Some misguided youth have already started following this advice too in different parts of the world.

Respected Sufi divines,

I am sure you will say repeatedly and fervently: Islam has nothing to do with terrorism; Islam is a religion of peace; even killing one innocent person in Islam amounts to the genocide of humanity and saving one life amounts to saving humanity (Quran 5:32). Some of you will probably also quote an iconic Quranic verse of freedom in religion like La ikraha fid deen (There is no compulsion in religion: Quran 2:256) and teachings of co-existence like lakum deenakum, waleya deen (for you your religion and for me mine: Quran 109: 1-6).

 Of course, you will be totally correct and completely justified in making all these observations. Islam is indeed a religion of peace, compassion, pluralism, co-existence, good neighbourliness, complete human equality before God, gender justice and so on.  Indeed, there are at least 124 verses that teach such humane traits. If Muslims were to follow these constitutive verses of the holy Quran, they should have been the most peaceful, pluralistic community on earth, as they have been at various places and in different periods of history.

But the situation today is dire. When self-declared Khalifa Baghdadi announced recently that “Islam has never been a religion of peace, not even for a day,” not one Urdu newspaper in India disputed this, or expressed any outrage, though most editorial columns are now written by clerics. (One Urdu columnist did criticise Baghdadi over this remark, but most Sunni Muslims dismissed that as the rantings of a Shia.)

Scholars of the moderate Muslim mainstream and Sufi ulema and mashaikh in particular have been denouncing terrorism and declaring Islam to be a religion of peace and pluralism repeatedly since September 11, 2001 when Islamist terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people in New York. This denunciation of Islamist terrorism has been going on in India much longer. For, we have been at the receiving end of Islamist terrorism since much before 9/11.

So, I would like to tell the respected divines gracing this counter-terrorism conference with their presence that the issue today is not that of denouncing terrorism as un-Islamic or declaring Islam as a religion of peace and pluralism. Not only Muslims but even the world at large is aware of that. The question before us is the following. How come the more we denounce terrorism and the more we assert Islam’s peaceful nature, the more terrorists we create. What is the source of the terrorist ideology’s strength? Why are some of our educated, intelligent, internet-generation youth listening to the terrorist ideologues and not us, the moderate, the progressive, the Sufi. Why do they consider us hypocrites? Are we indeed hypocrites? Is there some substance in their charge? After all, no intelligent, highly educated person of the 21st century would leave his well-paying job, beautiful wife, children, all living in a peaceful environment, and rush to join a war, with death or severe injury assured, unless he had a hundred percent surety of the correctness of his cause and total belief in his new-found faith. Where does this surety, this faith spring from?

Muslim youth gets the message of Islam supremacism from all the greatest theologians

Let us first see what are our educated youth learning Islam on the internet or in madrasas, colleges and universities, being told by some of our greatest, universally respected theologians? From Sufi Imam Ghazali, Hanbali Ibn-e-Taimiya and Hanafi Sheikh Sirhindi to Abdul Wahhab, Shah Waliullah, Abul A’la Maududi, Syed Qutb, and even an indefatigable promoter of peace and pluralism like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, the curious Muslim youth gets the same message of Islam supremacism, exclusivism, xenophobia, intolerance and his duty of Jihad in the sense of Qital, in varying degrees. A few specimens:

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111), considered the greatest of all Sufi theologians, and by many as next only to Prophet Mohammad in his understanding of Islam:

 “… one must go on jihad at least once a year … one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…. One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…. Christians and Jews must pay … on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits on the protuberant bone beneath his ear … they are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells … their houses may not be higher than a Muslim’s, no matter how low that is.  The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle is of wood.  He may not walk on the good part of the road.  They have to wear an identifying patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the baths …  dhimmis must hold their tongue….” (Kitab Al-Wagiz FI Figh Madhad Al-Imam Al-Safi’i pp. 186, 190, 199-203)

Imam Ibn Taymiyya (1263 – 1328) Most revered Hanbali jurist and scholar among Wahhabi-Salafi Muslims whose influence has recently grown immensely with the propagation of his creed by the Saudi monarchy:

“Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought…. As for the People of the Book and the Zoroastrians, they are to be fought until they become Muslims or pay the tribute (jizya) out of hand and have been humbled. With regard to the others, the jurists differ as to the lawfulness of taking tribute from them. Most of them regard it as unlawful….”  (Excerpted from Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1996), pp. 44-54)

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624) – Indian Islamic scholar, Hanafi jurist, considered Mujaddid alf-e-Saani, the renewer of Islam of the second millennium:

1. “… Cow sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices.”

2. “Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths is unthinkable.

3. “The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One, who respects kafirs, dishonours the Muslims.”

4. “The real purpose in levying jizya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizya, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling.

5. “Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.”

(Excerpted from Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Agra, Lucknow: Agra University, Balkrishna Book Co., 1965), pp.247-50; and Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal, Quebec: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971), pp. 73-74.)

Shah Waliullah Dehlavi (1703–1762), Highly revered Indian scholar, theologian, muhaddis and jurist:

 “It is the duty of the Prophet to establish the domination of Islam over all other religions and not leave anybody outside its domination whether they accept it voluntarily or after humiliation. Thus the people will be divided into three categories. Lowly kafir (unbelievers), have to be tasked with lowly labour works like harvesting, threshing, carrying of loads, for which animals are used. The messenger of God also imposes a law of suppression and humiliation on the kafirs and imposes jizya on them in order to dominate and humiliate them…. He does not treat them equal to Muslims in the matters of qisas (Retaliation), diyat (blood money), marriage and government administration so that these restrictions should ultimately force them to embrace Islam.” (Hujjatullahu al-Balighah, Volume – 1, Chapter – 69, Page No 289)

Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, (1703 – 22 June 1792), the founder of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi-Salafi creed:

“Even if the Muslims abstain from shirk (polytheism) and are muwahhid (believer in oneness of God), their Faith cannot be perfect unless they have enmity and hatred in their action and speech against non-Muslims (which for him actually includes all non-Wahhabi or non-Salafi Muslims). (Majmua Al-Rasael Wal-Masael Al-Najdiah 4/291)

Abul A’la Maududi, Indian ideologue, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, (25 September 1903 – 22 September 1979):

“Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State.…

“Islam requires the earth — not just a portion, but the whole planet … because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology and welfare programme [of Islam]…. Towards this end, Islam wishes to press into service all forces which can bring about a revolution and a composite term for the use of all these forces is ‘Jihad’…. The objective of the Islamic ‘jihad’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule.” (Jihad fil Islam)

A Hyderabad scholar Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi justifies indiscriminate violence in his fatwa on the concept of power in Islam. Let me quote a few lines from the writings of this Maulana who runs a girls’ madrasa in Hyderabad and is known to have been an inspiration behind Indian Mujahedin:

“Let it be known that, according to Islamic jurisprudence, fighting the infidels (kuffar) in their countries is a duty (farz-e-Kifayah) according to the consensus of ulema.…

“…  I can say with full conviction that qital (killing, violence, armed struggle) to uphold the Kalimah (declaration of faith) has neither been called atrocity or transgression nor has it been prohibited. Rather, qital has not only been ordained for the purpose of upholding the Kalimah but also stressed and encouraged in the Book (Quran) and the Sunnah (Hadith). Muslims have indeed been encouraged and motivated to engage in qital and they have been given good tidings of rewards for this.”

“It is the duty (of Muslims) to struggle for the domination of Islam over false religions and subdue and subjugate ahl-e-kufr-o-shirk (infidels and polytheists) in the same way as it is the duty of the Muslims to proselytise and invite people to Islam. The responsibility to testify to the Truth and pronounce the deen God has entrusted with the Muslims cannot be fulfilled merely by preaching and proselytising. If it were so there would be no need for the battles that were fought.

 “Jihad has been made obligatory to make the deen (religion) dominate and to stop the centres of evil. Keeping in view the importance of this task, the significance of Jihad in the name of God has been stressed in the Quran and Hadith. That’s why clear ordainments have been revealed to Muslims about fighting all the kuffar (infidels). “Unite and fight the polytheists (mushriks) just as they put up a united front against you” (Surah Tauba: 9:36)” — (Excerpted and translated from Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi’s Urdu booklet “Taqat ka Istemal Quran ki Raoshni Main,” (The use of violence, in the light of the Qur’an))

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, (born 1 January 1925), says the following:

Efforts on the part of prophets over a period of thousands of years had proved that any struggle which was confined to intellectual or missionary field was not sufficient to extricate man from the grip of this superstition (shirk, kufr). (So) it was God’s decree that he (Prophet Mohammad) be a da’i (missionary) as well as ma’hi ((eradicator). He was entrusted by God with the mission of not only proclaiming to the world that superstitious beliefs (shirk, kufr) were based on falsehood, but also of resorting to military action, if the need arose, to eliminate that system for all time. — (From Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s book Islam: Creator of the Modern World, re-printed in 2003.)

It is ironic that even an indefatigable promoter of peace and pluralism among Muslims has to say on the basis of commonly accepted Islamic jurisprudence that the prophet’s job was to eradicate unbelief from the world, even using military means. And if this is so, what would stop Bin Ladens and Baghdadis of this world claiming that they are simply carrying forward the Prophet’s unfinished mission.

The message from all these sermons is clear. Islam must dominate the world and it is the duty of every Muslim to help the process. Wherever a Muslim turns to he gets the same Islam-supremacist message. The latest among the most authoritative books on Islamic theology is a 45-volume comprehensive Encyclopaedia of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). it was prepared by scholars from all schools of thought, engaged by Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait, over a period of half a century. Its Urdu translation was released in Delhi by vice-President Hamid Ansari on 23 October 2009.

This most influential book of Islamic jurisprudence has a 23,000-word chapter on Jihad. We moderate Muslims and Sufis keep talking ad nauseam about struggle against one’s own nafs (lower self, negative ego) being the real and greater Jihad and Qital (warfare) being rather insignificant, lesser Jihad. But except one sentence in the beginning, the entire chapter talks entirely about the issues related with combatting and killing enemies, i.e.  infidels, polytheists or apostates, starting with the stark declaration: “Jihad means to fight against the enemy.”  There is no mention of real or greater Jihad. Then Ibn-e-Taimiyya is quoted to say: “… So Jihad is wajib (incumbent) as much as one’s capacity”. Then comes the final, definitive definition: “Terminologically, Jihad means to fight against a non-zimmi unbeliever (kaafir) after he rejects the call towards Islam, in order to establish or raise high the words of Allah.” (Translated from original Arabic).

It is not difficult for an intelligent, educated Muslim to discover our hypocrisy. Clearly what is censured by us moderates as radical Islamist theology is not substantially different from the current Islamic theology accepted through a consensus by ulema of all schools of thought. Late Osama bin Laden or his ideological mentor Abdu’llāh Yūsuf ‘Azzām, now called father of global Jihad, and his present-day successor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not invent a new theology. Their use of consensual theology is what lies behind their great success in attracting thousands of Muslim youth in such a short while. They will continue to attract more and more youths until we mainstream Muslims realise our hypocrisy and change course.

What are the ingredients of this consensual theology that is leading to radicalisation of our educated youth?

A few examples:

1. Following a literal reading of some allegorical verses in Quran, most Muslims now regard God as an implacable, anthropomorphic figure permanently at war with those who do not believe in His uniqueness. This is a negation of the Sufi or Vedantic concept of God as universal consciousness or universal intelligence radiating His grace from every atom in the universe. Unfortunately, Sufi madrasas themselves have abandoned, at least in the Indian sub-continent, the concept of wahdatul wajud (unity of being), for fear that this would be considered too close to the Vedantic and thus Hindu concept of God. Instead they teach Sheikh Sirhindi’s wahdatul shuhood (Apparentism, unity of appearances) in the name of wahdatul wajud. Sheikh Sirhindi had invented this concept to counter the growing influence of Sufi masters like Mohiyiddin Ibn-e-Arabi and Mansour al-Hallaj during the reign Emperor Akbar.

Most Sufi madrasas have thrown out from their curriculum mystical books like Kashful Mahjub by Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Hijweri, Awarif-ul-Ma’arif by Shaykh Umar Shahabuddin Suhrawardi, Fawaidul Fu’aad by Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Masnawi of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, Gulsitan and Bostan by Shaikh Sa’adi Shirazi, Si Asl by Mulla Sadra Shiriazi, Fususul Hikam by Shiakh Ibn ul Arabi, Life and teachings of great Sufis like Ghareeb Nawaz Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti Ajmeri (ra), Baba Fareed, Ameer Khusro etc.

2. Radical ideologues quote militant, xenophobic verses of Quran to support offensive Jihad. We moderates from Sufi stream of thought counter that by saying: look at the context. These verses came during war and had to inevitably order fighting, killings, offer rewards for martyrs and show intolerance towards the manifest enemy. It’s not unusual in wars to make binary arguments. Thus the Muslim-Kafir binary inevitably emerged during wars. After all, most of the war-time verses of Quran revealed in Medina, first permitting and then guiding Muslims in the course of various wars, were a response to the evolving situation. But we do not take the argument of these war-time verses being contextual in nature to its logical conclusion, which is, that these verses have now become obsolete; they are no longer applicable to us today when that context does not exist.

3. Not only that we do not call contextual verses of Quran obsolete, but we also agree with the radicals that Quran is an uncreated attribute of God, with all its verses, universally and eternally applicable to Muslims, without reference to context.  Every madrasa teaches that Quran is uncreated, divine, direct speech of God, as if God were an anthropomorphic being. This totally defeats our earlier argument that when dealing with Quranic exhortations, we should look at the context. What context? If Quran is an uncreated attribute of God, immutable, eternal, merely a copy of the original Quran lying in the Heavenly Vault (Lauh-e-Mahfouz), then where is the question of context? This makes it possible for militant ideologues to tell our youth that even the militant, xenophobic, intolerant exhortations of Quran that were revealed in the context of war, must be followed and implemented, as there is no controversy about their applicability today in any school of thought.

4. There is consensus in Islamic theology that Hadith, the so-called sayings of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), are akin to revelation. These were collected up to 300 years after the demise of the Prophet and rational Muslims doubt their credibility and authenticity, but even ulema opposed to ISIS, cannot bring themselves to question the Hadith-based millenarian thesis that is the primary cause of ISIS’ great success in comparison to al-Qaeda which did not stress millenarianism.

 As a couple of allegorical verses of Quran and predictions attributed to the Prophet have been interpreted to mean that the world is about to end, and Islam is about to be victorious following the end-time war being waged by ISIS, then what is the point of working for corporates run by infidels? Why not join the battle and become a martyr or ghazi just before the world ends? So goes the argument.

One of the permanent bestsellers in Delhi’s Urdu Bazar is a booklet called Qeyamat ki peshingoiyan (End-Time Predictions). I imagine a similar booklet selling on streets of Cairo, Baghdad. Damascus, Istanbul, wherever. Why should ISIS not make good use of this belief, when it has the unquestioning support of theologians of all schools of thought, including self-proclaimed moderates, who call Hadith akin to revelation. A hadith are also used to justify the killing of innocent civilians in a war, although there are repeated and clear instructions in the Quran against that. But the moment you say Hadith is akin to revelation, you are nullifying the impact of your Quranically justified claim that in Islam killing of one innocent person amounts to killing of humanity.

5. Nearly all Muslims consider Sharia as divine and immutable, even though it was first codified on the basis of some Quranic verses and pre-Islamic Arab Bedouin customs 120 years after the demise of the Prophet and completion of the religion of Islam as declared by God in Quran (5:3). The result is that even Muslims living in non-Muslim majority multicultural Europe demand Sharia-compliant laws. No wonder that those who want to practice what they believe in would want to migrate to the so-called Islamic State, sometimes even with their families.

Radicalised youth cannot be blamed for feeling that the moderate Muslims, in India, for instance, are hypocrites. They want to use their purported belief in the divinity of Sharia only for male-supremacist privileges like instant divorce and multiple marriages, whereas the radicals migrating to the so-called Islamic State are willing to accept all the rigours of Sharia’s criminal justice system, namely, cutting off hands for theft, lashes and stoning for adultery and murder, etc.

6. There is consensus in Islamic theology that helping establish and supporting a caliphate is the religious duty of Muslims, even though there is absolutely no such direction in the Quran. But those who believe in the Hadith being akin to revelation are unable to dispute ISIS’ claim to legitimacy on the basis of this Hadith: “Hadhrat Huzaifa narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Prophethood will remain among you as long as Allah wills. Then Caliphate (Khilafah) on the lines of Prophethood shall commence, and remain as long as Allah wills. Then corrupt/erosive monarchy would take place, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. After that, despotic kingship would emerge, and it will remain as long as Allah wills. Then, the Caliphate (Khilafah) shall come once again based on the precept of Prophethood.” (Musnad Ahmed inb Hanabli.)

7. Hijrat (migration) to the land of Islamic Sharia from Darul Harb where Sharia is not enforced is a religious duty for Muslims. This may appear grotesque at a time when millions of Muslims are marching to the so-called European “Darul Harb” almost barefoot in a desperate effort to escape from so-called “Darul Islam” of Khalifa al-Baghdadi. The “Darul Islam” of Saudi Arabia has refused to give refuge to a single soul, while the European “Darul Harb” is accommodating millions of Muslims. But the ulema will not allow any part of their theology to be questioned.

8. Theologians of all school believe that some early verses of Quran have been abrogated and replaced by better and more appropriate later verses. This consensual Doctrine of Abrogation is used by radical ideologues to claim all 124 foundational, constitutive, Meccan verses of peace, pluralism, co-existence with other religious communities, compassion, kindness to neighbours, etc., have been abrogated and replaced by later Medinan verses of war, xenophobia and intolerance. As long as Sufi theologians do not contest this Doctrine of Abrogation, their quoting verses from Meccan Quran has no meaning.

9. There is consensus among theologians of all school of thought that there is no freedom of religion for Muslims in Islam. Apostasy (irtidad or riddah) has to be punished by death. The only dispute is whether the apostate should be given the opportunity to seek forgiveness and revert to his earlier position. With this core aspect of theology how can Muslims confront terrorist ideologues who order death for vast numbers of Muslims on ground of their having turned apostate. In their eyes all those Muslims who are not with ISIS and other such groups are apostates, particularly all Shia, Ahmadis, Yezidis, etc. How can we prevent radicalisation of our youth unless we confront this theology?

10. The problem is there is no consensus among Muslims as to who is a Muslim? Justice Munir of the commission of enquiry set up in Pakistan following anti-Ahmadia riots in 1954 reported that no two ulema agreed on the definition of a Muslim. Ideally, Quran should be our guide, according to which even Hazrat Moosa (AS) or Moses, who surrendered to God, much before the advent of Prophet Mohammad (saw), was also a Muslim (Quran 10.90). Allah informs us of Muslims who have converted but “faith has not yet entered their hearts” (Quran 49:14), and yet God does not prescribe any punishment for them, nor are they turned out of the fold of Islam. This means that anyone who claims to believe in or surrender to God is a Muslim. The least Muslims can do is to accept irja, the position of the murjias (postponers), who said let us postpone judgement in matters of faith for the Day of Judgement. Let us allow God to judge people on matters of faith. When we humans do not know what lies in someone’s heart, who are we to punish some one for what he believes in or not. A very rational position, but Muslims will need to embrace rationality or Quran first.

11. The same is true of blasphemy. Consensual Islamic theology prescribes death for the blasphemer, even on the flimsiest of accusation. Many Muslim countries have anti-blasphemy laws, though the one that misuses them most is Pakistan. Unfortunately, Sufi-minded Muslims are in the forefront of those who advocate killing for blasphemy and some are even among the killers for blasphemy. How can we fight ISIS ideology, if our own ideology is the same?

Turkish Spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet movement calls its approach “Deradicalisation by Default.”  This mainly focuses on the positive features of Islam. Hizmet has vast resources and has deployed them well. It has already taken positions against widely accepted concepts like Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam. But ISIS continues to draw a steady stream of recruits from Turkey and elsewhere. Any strategy that doesn’t appear to be working well should be rethought.

Respected Sufi Divines,

I would, therefore, earnestly appeal to you to use the opportunity provided by the Delhi conclave to go beyond the usual shibboleths. Sufi approach of focussing on the positive features of Islam worked well at one time. There was no internet then. In the internet age everyone is a scholar. In this age of instant scholarship, nothing can be hidden or bypassed.

It must be understood, that the radical Islamist theology and the current Islamic theology of consensus are by and large one and the same. Any differences are cosmetic. ISIS may vanish tomorrow. But the problem of radicalisation will remain. Islam supremacism, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusivism are inherent in the current Islamic, and not just Islamist theology.

Focusing on positive features of Islam is an essential part of de-radicalisation or, more realistically, preventing radicalisation. But it is not bearing fruit in full measure as the core theology agreed to by nearly all Muslims militates against these positives. As briefly outlined above, this core and consensual theology nullifies the impact of all arguments made against violent extremism. It is this core theology that needs to be refuted and changed.  Let us all try and bring the core Islamic theology in line with the actual teachings of Quran and Sunnah. Let us move away from the current theology of violence and xenophobia. Let us move towards a coherent, comprehensive theology of peace and pluralism, co-existence and gender justice. – New Age Islam14 March 2016

» Sultan Shahin is the founder and editor of the multi-lingual Islamic website NewAgeIslam.com. He has acquired expertise in Islamic theology, politics, and culture as well as an empirical knowledge of the impact of religion and ideology over radicalization and radicalism. He is deeply convinced of the need for introspection by Muslims. Contact him at editor@newageislam.com and sultan.shahin@gmail.com.

Sultan Shahin

Prime Minister Modi should not mislead the people about Allah and Islam – Upananda Brahmachari

Narendra Modi

Upananda Brahmachari“Modi’s effort to prove Islam as religion of peace, in the World Sufi Forum is nothing but a step to mislead people while Islam and its radical concept of Jihad are destroying peace and humanity all around.” – Upananda Brahmachari

In his address at the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi on Thursday, 17th March 2016, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said: “Sufism is the voice of peace, co-existence, compassion, equality and a call to universal brotherhood”.

As Sufism has its non-communal reputation globally to an extent of encompassing spirituality in general, we should not differ with the PM’s version as above.

But, to fetch a greater applause from the Muslim audience, Modi told a big lie by saying, “When we think of 99 names of Allah, no one stands for force and violence. The first two names of Allah are compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Rahim”. Modi also described Islam as a Religion of Peace.

According to Quran, Allah is a most dangerous existence and dreadful identity to the non-believers! Allah may be “Rahman” (compassionate) and “Rahim” (merciful) for the Mumins (Muslim believers), but Allah is most dangerous and dreadful for the Kafirs (non-Muslim non-believers). Any interested persons may check the truth about Allah through the versions of Quran and Hadith.

North African Koran (18th century)When, PM Modi preached for Allah by saying 99 names of Allah stand free from “force and violence”, it is clearly seen that three of Allah’s names suggest otherwise. The 26th name of Allah is Al-Mudhill, means The Humiliator. The 55th name is itself Al-Matin, means The Forceful One or Firm. The 81st name of Allah is Al-Muntaqim, means The Avenger. Through further checking one can reach further illustrations of Allah with the further incitement of “force and violence”, but Allah is really an engrossed entity of fear, force and violence to that non-believer folks who are not ready to accept Allah or his prophet Muhammad.

Actually, PM Modi is getting busy more and more these days and finds no time to check the texts as placed to him before delivering it in front of the august audience. Sometimes it creates confusion, humour and cranks. Modi’s effort to prove Islam as religion of peace, in the World Sufi Forum is nothing but a step to mislead people while Islam and its radical concept of Jihad are destroying peace and humanity all around.

Prophet MuhammadPM Modi must try to know, Islam is the only religion that has to retain its membership by formally threatening to kill anyone who leaves. This is according to the example set by Muhammad.

Islam teaches that non-Muslims are less than fully human. Muhammad said that Muslims can be put to death for murder, but that a Muslim could never be put to death for killing a non-Muslim.

The Quran never once speaks of Allah’s love for non-Muslims, but it speaks of Allah’s cruelty toward and hatred of non-Muslims more than 500 times.

Modi may think himself that he is a great servant of the Nation, a big personality and as a Hindutvawadi he is doing some good. But, according to Islam, he is definitely a Kafir and deserves the curse, anger and punishment from Allah.

Allah is definitely described in Quran as:

  • Quran (5:33): “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”
  • Quran (8:12): “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”. No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.
  • Quran (8:15): “O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16) Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”
  • Quran (9:14): “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people.” Humiliating and hurting non- believers not only has the blessing of Allah, but it is ordered as a means of carrying out his punishment and even “healing” the hearts of Muslims. … or …
  • Quran (9:29): “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

“People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam “superior over all religions.” This chapter was one of the final “revelations” from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad’s companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths projecting its embodiment of force and violence in Allah and Muhammad.

Quran is full of such barbaric tenets of Islam; Allah and Muhammad both are deadliest threats to the human civilization. But, Modi spreads a big lie that “there are 99 names of Allah, no one stands for force and violence’ and ‘Islam is a Religion of Peace”.

PM Modi must stop spreading confusion. As a Hindu, Modi must not tell a lie about Allah and Islam. It is shameful. – Hindu Existence, 16 March 2016

P. DeivamuthuHindu Voice Editor P. Deivamuthu Adds

PM Shri Narendra Modi is reported to have said in the Sufi World Forum that “Islam is a Religion of Peace”.

He should know that there are 6,236 ayats (verses) in Quran. Out of these, about 1700 preach hatred, intolerance and violence. About 900 of them directly talk about killing, murdering, looting, beheading, raping etc. How can such a book be called “preaching peace”?

The Meaning of the Glorious QuranIn fact, these are the verses which are taken resort to by the ISIS and Boko Haram terrorists for dealing with their “enemies”. Do they—ISIS and Boko Haram—use a different Quran?

When these are the facts, how does Shri Modi say that “Islam is a Religion of Peace”? Is it not a blatant lie?

I quote below some of the verses from Quran (excerpted from The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an translated by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, and published by Idara Isha’at-e-Diniyat (P) Ltd., New Delhi). Let Mr. Modi decide for himself whether these can be called as the preachings of a peaceful religion.

  • Surah XXI, The Prophets, 98: “Lo! ye (idolaters) and that which ye worship beside Allah are fuel of hell. Thereunto ye will come.”
  • Surah II, The Cow, 221: “Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe….”
  • Surah VIII, Spoils of War, 65: “O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be of you hundred steadfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence”
  • Surah VIII, Spoils of War, 39: “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah…”
  • Surah IX, Repentance, 5: “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. ….”
  • Surah IX, Repentance, 23: “O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers.”
  • Surah IX, Repentance, 28: “O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will….”
  • Surah IX, Repentance, 123: “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).”
  • Surah XXXIII, The Clans, 61 “Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.”

Islam has many sects. While Sufism is a peaceful sect in Islam, Islam in toto is not a peaceful religion. Modi should have talked only about the Sufis, and should have refrained from branding the entire Islam as peaceful, which it is not.

Fortunately, most of the Muslims in India (with their Hindu roots) do not approve of the above verses of the Quran. It is the duty of every Indian, including the PM, to see that more and more Muslims abhor the violent verses in the Quran and become peace-loving—not because of but in spite of Quran. –  Hindu Voice, Bulletin No 168, 13-19 March 2016

» Upananda Brahmachari is editor of Hindu Existence, a prominent news portal instrumental in reporting and publishing Hindu relevant news since decades with qualitative editorial and article contents.

» P. Deivamuthu is the editor of Hindu Voice in Mumbai.

Narendra Modi

Dharma Sansad declares Shirdi Sai Baba to be neither God nor Guru – TOI & DNA

Sai Baba

Sai Baba“Dharma Sansad on August 25th adopted a resolution declaring Sai Baba, the 19th century mystic, was neither God nor a guru and hence cannot be worshipped and placed among Hindu Gods.” – TOI

Shirdi, Maharastra: Dwarka Peeth Seer Shakaracharya Swami Swarupanand Saraswati has sent an invitation to the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi to participate in the ‘Bruhad Dharma Sansad’.

A delegation on behalf of the seer that arrived in Shirdi on August 10 and handed over the invitation to the deputy executive officer of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi Appasaheb Shinde. The invitation extended to the trust is to attend the two day meeting — Dharma Sansad, to be held at Kabirdham in Kavardha district of Chhatisgarh on August 24-25, and present their views.

Only some time back, Shankaracharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati’s remarks against Sai Baba and the trust had raked a controversy till the devotees of Sai Baba decided to ignore the remarks.

Speaking to the media, Vidyanand, a member of the seer’s delegation, said that they had come to Shirdi on behalf of Swami Swarupananda to end the controversy following the remarks by the Shankaracharya. “Swami Swarupananda himself has sent us to end this dispute and has urged the Sansthan Trust to attend the two-day Dharma Sansad and present their views. The meet will be attended by Swami Swarupananda himself, Shankaracharyas of Shringeri and Puri Peeth and other seers,” Vidyanand said.

While the delegation met the officials of the trust and spoke to the media, they did not visit the temple. When asked about it, Vidyanand replied. “We are here to perform the duty assigned by my Guru (Shakaracharya Swami Swarupanand), which we have done. God is everywhere,” he exhorted.

While the police beefed up security during the delegation’s visit, it was informed that the delegation members did not visit the temple only to avoid a possible uproar by devotees and any chaos thereafter.

Public Relations Officer of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi Mohan Yadav, said that the delegation from Swami Swarupanand including Vidyananda has given the invitation for two-day Dharma Sansad and it has been accepted by Sansthan’s deputy executive officer Appasaheb Shinde. The invitation will be placed before three-member-committee of the Sansthan Trust to decide on it, Yadav said. – DNA, 12 August 201

Dharma Sansad, Kawardha, Chhattisgarh, 2014

Dwarka Acharya Sri Swarupananda SaraswatiDharma Sansad backs Dwarka Acharya, says Shirdi Sai Baba neither God nor Guru

Kawardha, Chhattisgarh: Backing Dwarka Peeth Seer Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, a Dharma Sansad on Monday [August 25, 2014] adopted a resolution declaring Sai Baba, the 19th century mystic, was neither God nor a guru and hence cannot be worshipped and placed among Hindu Gods.

“Dharma Sansad has adopted many resolutions, including one which stated Sai Baba cannot be worshiped as God. Kashi Vidyat Parishad will soon make a formal announcement on the decisions taken by Dharma Sansad”, spokesman Rajesh Joshi told TOI.

He said Dharma Sansad adopted many resolutions, including pressing demand for a total ban on cow slaughter, purification and preservation of Ganges, introduction of Gita, Ramayan and Mahabharata in school syllabus, early construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.

During the course of discussions sadhus from many akhadas or monasteries strongly backed the 90-year-old pontiff, who had sparked a controversy with statements against worshiping Sai Baba. The seer asked his followers to remove Sai Baba’s photographs and idols from temples where he gets the pride of place with Hindu deities.

Niranjini Akhada’s Sadhu Narendra Giri said devotees of Sai Baba should remove Sai Baba’s idols from temples and immerse them in Ganges to prevent forcing sadhus from doing it.

There has been tension at the venue for a while when three people, claiming to devotees of Sai Baba, reached and opposed the resolution and demanded an opportunity to speak out. One of the Sai devotee Manushya Mitra was pushed around at the venue as he started speaking out saying sadhus and saints were hesitant to go on hunger strike to enforce a total ban on cow slaughter and protection of holy river Ganges but were talking against Sai Baba.

Later, Mitra told reporters he feared threat to his life. However, those associated with Dharma Sansad said three Sai devotees came on their own in their personal capacity and were not deputed by Sai Baba Trust.

A heavy police contingent was deployed at the Dharma Sansad venue where more than 300 sadhus and saints had assembled to discuss the Sai Baba controversy. However, Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi and its representatives kept aloof as Sai devotees had earlier decided to ignore the controversy. – The Times of India, 26 August 2014

Shirdi Sai Baba

 

See also

Dwarka Acharya calls Shirdi Sai Baba a meat-eater, charged with hurting religious sentiments – PTI & News Nation

Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati

Image of Shirdi Sai BabaShankaracharya tells Hindus to stop worshipping Shirdi Sai Baba

New Delhi: Shankaracharya Swaroopananda Saraswati on Monday (June 23) raised a controversy by declaring that Shirdi’s Sai Baba is not a God and should not be given special place in prayers. He even compared Nirmal Baba with Sai Baba and mentioned that it is a conspiracy to divide existing hierarchy of Gods. “This is a conspiracy to divide the belief of common man. There are only two Gods — Lord Ram and Krishna,” he added. He informed that all those people who don’t want the Government to construct Ayodhya temple are spreading these beliefs that Sai Baba was a God. Even Sai Baba trust is involved in the conspiracy. – News Nation, 23 June 2013


2 – Shankaracharya Swaroopananda says Sai Baba is not a God

New Delhi: Even as scores of people have been protesting against Dwaraka Peeth Shankaracharya Swaroopananda Saraswati for his controversial remarks against Shirdi Sai Baba, the spiritual guru is refusing to withdraw his statement. Shankaracharya is making controversial statements one after another. In his first controversial comment he had told News Nation that Sai Baba is not a God and hence should not be worshipped. Later, he said that Sai Baba followers “should not enter our temples, should not take dip in Ganga and should not chant the name of Ram. Only then they can worship Sai Baba.”

Continuing his scathing attack on Sai followers, Shankaracharya has now said that Hindus should undergo shuddhikaran or ‘purification’ process and should stop worshipping Sai Baba.  “It’s their (Hindus) obligation to perform shuddhikaran by keeping a nirjala (without water) Ekadashi fast, taking a dip in Ganga and never take Sai Baba’s name,” he said.  When asked why he want to remove the word Ram from Sai’s name, he said: “Ram is worshipped since time immemorial, while Shirdi Sai Baba came after him, how can people worship him?” News Nation,  26 June 2014


3 – Case registered against Shankaracharya for his remarks on Sai Baba’s meat-eating habits

Indore: A complaint was on Thursday (June 26) filed against Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Peeth Swaroopananda Saraswati in a court here accusing him of hurting religious sentiments with his reported remarks about eating habits of Sai Baba.

Chandrakant Kunjir, a trustee of a Sai Baba temple in Sukhaliya area here, moved the Magistrate’s Court seeking registration of case against the Shankaracharya under IPC Sections 153 (promoting enmity between two communities) and 298 (statement hurting religious sentiments).

The petitioner urged JMFC Raghvendra Bhardwaj to take note of the complaint and order trial of the controversial seer.

Kunjir’s lawyer Shailendra Dwivedi said the court adjourned the hearing to August 7 when evidence in support of the complaint would be presented.

According to the complaint, the Shankaracharya had allegedly called Sai Baba a meat-eater [italics added], thereby hurting the religious sentiments of the saint’s devotees.

The Shankaracharya courted controversy a few days ago when he claimed Sai  Baba was not a God, and he should not be worshipped.

Since then, cases have been filed against him in Shirdi, which houses the world-famous Sai Baba temple, Indore and Hyderabad. – Zee News, 27 July 2013


Shirdi Sai Baba

Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi
Sadguru Sai Baba’s Boundless Glory
Food preparation, Handi and Annadaan

Baba considered Annadaan (donating food) as the holiest of the holy deeds. He followed the practice Himself and set an example for others. He Himself cooked food, gave Fatiya to each item of the food at the hands of a Maulavi and distributed the food with His own hands after performing Fatiya saying it was Guru prasad.

Baba had in His store only two Handis (large cooking vessels made of copper) – one sufficient for 50 and another for 100 people. Baba used the same Handis for cooking food for Hindus as well as Muslims.

In Adhyay 38 of Shri Sai Sat Charita, there is a long list of various dishes that were cooked by Baba. He lit an earthen stove and cooked Mutton, Khichdi or Mithe Chawal (sweet rice). He also cooked Hindu dishes. He Himself ground grains of Daal (pulses), wheat and Jondhalas (jowar). He prepared Bhakris from the flour. He soaked Daal in water, ground it, added condiments and made ‘Watli Daal’. He kneaded balls of Kanik (wheat flour) and made very wide Polis (bread). He even fermented Ambil in the Handis.

Those who ate meat were served non-vegetarian food. But, He never forced others to do so. However, Baba did make attempts to see whether the vegetarians were steadfast at staying away from meat.

Tatya Patil has noted down in his experience that, ‘‘During His first 40 years in Shirdi, Baba never ate meat.’’ However, in the later period, it is observed that Baba broke this rule – at least to some extent [italics added]. May be it was in an attempt to bring Hindus and Muslims together or to keep His own religion a secret? Baba always preached, ‘‘Don’t abstain from food. But, be regular in your habits.’’ He ate all the food articles brought by Hindu devotees with relish.

Baba helped several Muslims to progress in their Adhyatmik journey. Several Rohilas came to Him and – under His umbrage – stayed in Shirdi. Baba served the food to them. This has been noted in Shri Sai Sat Charita as well as in Diary of Shri Khaparde. – Extracted from Shri Saibaba Santhan Trust, Shirdi

Shri Sai Satcharitra
From Chapter 38

Somebody may raise a doubt here and ask – “Did Baba distribute vegetable and animal food as prasad alike to all His devotees?” The answer is plain and simple. Those who were accustomed to (take) animal food were given food from the Handi as prasad and those who were not so accustomed, were not allowed to touch it. He never created in them any wish or desire to indulge in this food. There is a principle well established that when a Guru himself gives anything as prasad, the disciple who thinks and doubts whether it is acceptable or otherwise, goes to perdition. In order to see how any disciple has imbibed this principle, Baba at times proposed tests. For instance, on an Ekadashi day He gave some rupees to Dada Kelkar and asked him to go in person to Koralha to get mutton from there. This Dada Kelkar was an orthodox Brahmin and kept all orthodox manners in his life. He knew that offering wealth, grain and clothes etc., to a Sad-guru was not enough but that implicit obedience to and prompt compliance with His order was the real Dakshina that pleased Him most. So Dada Kelkar dressed himself and started for the place. Then Baba called him back and said, “Don’t go yourself, but send somebody.” Then Dada sent servant Pandu for the purpose. Seeing him starting, Baba asked Dada to call him back and cancelled that programme. On another occasion Baba asked Dada just to see how the saltish `Pulava‘ (mutton dish) was done. The latter said casually and formally that it was alright. Then Baba said to him – “Neither you have seen it with your eyes, nor tasted in with your tongue, then how could you say that it was good? Just take out the lid and see.” Saying this Baba caught his arm and thrust it into the pot and added, “Draw out your arm and taking a ladle, put some quantity in the dish without caring for your orthodoxy and without blustering.” When a wave of real love rises in a mother’s mind, she pinches her child with her hand and when it begins to cry and shout, she hugs it close to her bosom. Similarly Baba, in a true motherly way pinched Dada Kelkar in this fashion. Really no saint or guru will ever force his orthodox disciple to eat forbidden food and defile himself thereby.

The Handi business went on for some time till 1910 and was stopped thereafter. As stated before, Das Ganu spread the fame of Baba by his kirtans far and wide in the Bombay Presidency and people from that part of the country began to flock to Shirdi, which became in a few days a place of pilgrimage. The devotees brought with them various articles for presentation and offered various dishes of food as naivedya. The quantity of Naivedya offered by them was so much that the fakirs and paupers could feed themselves to their hearts’ content, leaving some surplus behind. Before stating how Naivedya was distributed, we shall refer to Nanasaheb Chandorkar’s story showing Baba’s regard and respect for local Shrines and deities. – Extracted from  Shri Sai Satcharitra