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A Response to -- The Prophet's message of patience and tolerance
A myth is being propagated in India and the article "The Prophet's message of patience and tolerance" (Sanyasnain Khan, Times of India, July 6,1998) is a part of that campaign. It is regrettable that the Times of India should participate in the propagation of this myth about Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
The response to every point made by Khan would be very long, I would just respond to some of the salient points about tolerance of Islam made by the writer.
Khan wrote: ``A true believer is one with whom others feel secure, one who returns love for hatred.'' I wonder where Khan got this definition of "true believer" because it definitely is not in consonance with the definition of a "true believer" in the Koran. According to the Koran a believer is one who believes in the revelations given to Prophet Muhammad - all others are unbelievers. This has been made clear many times. The Koran says "There are some who declare: 'We believe in God and the Last day,' yet they are not true believers." (2:8) Even the belief in "God and the last Day" is not sufficient for the definition of a believer. Instead of showing compassion to those who did not believe in Revelations given to the Prophet, as Khan implies in his article, the Koran goes on to say, repeatedly "Those who deny God's revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of revenge." (3:5) and reconfirms it "Unbelievers are those who do not judge according to God's revelations (the Koran)" (5:45)
Those who do not believe in His revelations, God calls them "Deaf and dumb are those that deny our revelations." (6:39) and "The unbelievers are like beasts which call out to them as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb and blind, they understand nothing." (2:171)
As far God is concerned, those who do not believe in His revelations are like beasts and God Himself is not willing to forgive them much less ask His "Believers" to do so. The Koran is full of the punishments that await the unbelievers. Pardoning or showing mercy to unbelievers is not a subject of the Koran. It will be an exercise in futility and waste of precious time and space to repeat all those admonitions to the unbelievers in this reply. These are so voluminous. These need a special study in themselves.
And as far as "one who returns love for hatred" is concerned, the Koran says: "Believers, retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, and a female for a female." (2:178). For the Koran says: "Man of understanding! In retaliation you have a safe guard for your lives; perchance you will guard yourself against evil." (2:179)
The Koran preaches kindness only to fellow Muslims but such kindness to "unbelievers" is never recommended. Even Nehru, one of the great admirers of Islam has to accept "the brotherhood of Islam is limited only to Muslims."
I wonder where Khan got his definition of "true believer" and be kind to those who are not "believers"?
"Doing good to those who do not do good to him" (except unless he is a believer) is completely out of question because God in His infinite wisdom does not want His "believers" to have anything to do with the unbelievers for He says in the Koran: "Let believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful - he that does this has nothing to hope for from God - except in self-defense." (3:28) and proof against yourself." (4:145) He even forbids to make friends with believers' own fathers and brothers, for it says: "Believers, do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they choose unbelief in preference to faith. Wrongdoers are those that befriend them." (9:23)
The Koran declares "The unbelievers are your inveterate enemies". (4:101)
It may be mentioned here that all these admonitions are beyond historicity since each and every word of the Koran is the word of God, for all times for the entire world and since these are the last of God's revelations, these can never be altered or modified. To be a good Muslim, one must follow these and if some don't and fortunately not many do, but that only means that they are not being good Muslims.
Now coming back to our main subject.
The Prophet followed this dictum in his personal life and had the harshest words for his own uncle who did not become his follower. The Koran says: "May the hands of Abu Lahab perish! May he himself perish! Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him. He shall be burnt in a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with faggots, shall have a rope of fibre round her neck." (111:1-5)
Abu Lahab was prophet's uncle, and one of his staunchest opponents; the words "flaming fire" are a pun on the meaning of Abu-Lahab, 'father of flame' - the translator adds in foot-note. Even Abu Lahab's wife was not spared.
This is just one example of Prophet's tolerance directly from the Koran itself. But as I said earlier I will not go deep into this subject in this reply. With the Muslims, the person of the Prophet is a touchy subject - "tolerant and peaceful" as Islam and they are! I will keep away from that subject.
Instead of doing good to the unbelievers even if they do not do good to them, he asks His believers "When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful." (9:5) The idolaters are only to be let off if they become Muslims and pay alms levy.
The hatred of the unbelievers in the Koran is so intense that it is not satisfied with killing them in this life or burning them just once. It says: "Those who deny our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise." (4:56)
The unbelievers are the special concern of the Koran and it is difficult to appreciate God's obsession with them unless one reads the Koran himself. I wonder what kind of Islam is Khan talking of. It is definitely not the Islam of the Koran. May be there is another kind of Islam in Khan's own mind.
Khan further writes: "He (the Prophet) would tell people that "every religion has some special characteristic, that of Islam being modesty." That is again too far fetched. The Koran has no modesty about Islam because it declares again and again that Islam is the "only true religion".
The Koran says: "The only true religion in God's sight is Islam". (3:19) and goes on to say: "He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost." (3:85) - just to quote two of many verses declaring the "absolute superiority and trueness" of Islam over all other religions - even Christianity and Judaism - the religions of the Book.
The Koran has special dislike or rather hate for idolatry. It is one thing not to like something or not to believe in something. That is everyone's inalienable right to do so. But the Koran goes way beyond the decent limits of individual thinking and recognizing others' freedom of belief and thoughts.
It says: "Idolatry is worse than carnage." (2:119, 2:217…. ) and it incites its followers to "Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme" (2:193) Idolatry is the worst sin in the eyes of God: "God will not forgive idolatry, He will forgive whom He will all other sins. He that serves other gods besides God has strayed far indeed." (4:116 )
Definitely the freedom of idolatry is not to be allowed at any cost. No wonder, the Muslim invaders demolished all the temples and the idols of the infidels in India.
As quoted above in verse 9:5, it asks its followers to "slay the idolaters wherever ye find them", I hear of no compassion or tolerance or patience with the unbelievers or idolaters.
Sadly, Islam's special characteristic is not modesty or patience or tolerance. But it does have a special characteristic, no doubt and evidently it is hate of everything that is not Islamic. Its hatred of unbelievers (read non-Muslims) is unparalleled in the annals of world religions.
Khan relates the story of a woman who used to throw rubbish on his head. This is quite contrary to what the traditions of the Prophet record. It is too bad that Khan did not mention the reference. The Prophet was very intolerant of all who opposed him or Islam.
Asma b. Merwan "made no secret of her dislike for Islam; and, being a poetess, composed some couplets, after the battle of Badr, on the folly of receiving and trusting a Stranger, who had risen against his own people, and slain the chief of them in battle. …. They (the Muslims) were offended; and Omeir, a blind man of the same tribe (and according to some a former husband of Asma) vowed that he would kill the author…. It was but a few days after the return of Muhammad from Badr, that this man, in the dead of the night, crept into her apartment where Asma with her little ones lay asleep. Feeling stealthily, he removed the suckling babe, and plunged his sword into her breast with such force that it transfixed her to the couch. Next morning, in the Mosque at prayer, Muhammad, who was aware of the bloody design, said to 'Omeir: "hast thou slain the daughter of Merwan?' "Yes", he answered; 'but tell me now, is there cause of apprehension?' 'None', said Muhammad; 'a couple of goats will hardly knock their heads together for it." Not only that he (Muhammad) praised Omeir as "call him not blind; call him rather 'Omeir the seeing'. (The Life of Mahomet - Sir W. Muir)
His biographers also record that he ordered the assassination of Abu Afak - who "notwithstanding his change of faith still lived with his tribe in Upper Medina; and though (as is said) above hundred years of age, was active in his opposition to the new religion. He, too, had composed some stinging and disloyal verses which annoyed Muslims. 'Who will rid me of this pestilent fellow?' said Muhammad to those about him; and not long after a convert from the same tribe watched his opportunity, and falling unawares on the old man, as he slept in the courtyard outside his house , despatched him with his sword. (The Life of Mahomet - Sir W Muir)
Sahih Al-Bukhari records the tradition of the Prophet as "It is not fitting for a prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he has made a great slaughter in the land. (By killing the infidels). You desire the good of this world (money or ransom) but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is All-mighty, All-Wise. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 4, 150 chapter)
And this is what the Muslims across the world learn in their seminaries; not what Khan writes for the consumption of the general public.
Islam's hatred of all the non-Muslims and specially of idolatry is the reason behind all the carnage caused by the Muslim rulers and invaders in India. Many of these Muslim rulers were very pious and religious persons - true Muslims - but they had to do what they did because as "true" Muslims they had no other choice. Even today when they try to follow Islam in its "true" form - they do the same. Talibans who are trying to impose a "true" Islamic regime in Afghanistan are a prime example. Their desire and threat to demolish centuries old statue of Buddha in Bamiyan was no empty boast - it was an expression of their deep commitment to Islam. Saudi Arabia though it has made the practice of any religion other than Islam illegal is still not regarded as a "true" Islamic country because it has not yet followed the true principles of Islam as Talibans have been trying to do. It is no wonder that Aurangzeb - called a living pir by most Muslims - had also banned the practice of all religions other Islam under his rule and ordered the demolition of all other places of worship. Since as a "good and a pious" Muslim, he believed "Islam is the only true faith" and did not want his subjects to follow "untrue" faiths and thus be "burnt in the fires of hell again and again". He was a "true and good" Muslim, no one would deny and we also know all he did to further the "only true faith". It is all recorded in his own directives. The landscape of India and the absence of Hindu temples across its landscape are a living testimony to his and others' "accomplishments".
Talking of Islam, Taslima Nasreen said the other day in her interview to David Richards, a Washington Post staff writer "My mother thinks there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. But I don't think that. If you follow everything in the Koran properly, you cannot be good. In the Koran, it is written that you should beat your wife, you can marry four times and you should hate the Christians or Jews or Hindus -- whoever is not Muslim. If anyone rejects Islam, you should kill them. If people follow such beliefs, how can they be good? You cannot be good with all that hatred. If Muslims are good, it is their conscience that makes them good. Not the Koran."
It is sad indeed that Taslima Nasreen is not allowed to visit a "secular democracy" practicing "freedom of religion, expression and thought" to express her thoughts on the Koran while the Koran is allowed to express its proclamations on unbelievers and idolaters and everything else. Does that not sound a little hypocritical? Why does the media that made so much noise on the demolition of the structure of "the shame of India" keep so quiet about Taslima Nasreen?
Ayatollah Khomeini in his wisdom said: "There are eleven things which are impure: urine, excrement, sperm, bones, blood, dogs, pigs, non-moslem men and women, wine, beer and the sweat of excrement -eating camel." And went on to say "Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure, even the hair on his hand and his body hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body."
Whatever we may say of Ayatollah Khomeini, lack of knowledge of Islam is not one of them. These are the opinions of one of the greatest Muslims of this century, the father of the Islamic revolution in Iran about the non-Moslems - they are equated with urine, excrement, dogs and pigs.
The Talibans, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Alauddin Khilji, Aurangzeb, Zia-ul Haque, Ayatollah Khomeini - to mention a few -- are not aberrations of Islam; they are the "real" faces of "true" Islam.
I believe Khan is mistaking Islam with something altogether different.
I will limit my reply to these basic thoughts and not go into the details of other things that Khan has mentioned because his claims on those are even hollower than these. It would be best if the "unbelievers" themselves will read the Koran and Hadis and other literature on the life of the Prophet, specially with reference to the unbelievers and those who believe or think differently, themselves before believing the myths that are being propagated in India today. Self-enlightenment is by far the best if not the only way. I do not want to put words in others' mouth. I will just quote the words of God and leave them to the judgement of others.
May I remind again that all the "words of wisdom" quoted above are not mine; these are taken directly from the mouth of God Himself as revealed in His Final Revelations. And these are a serious matter since these can not be revised, ever. These are a matter of life and death, not for mere individuals alone but for civilizations and nations. Many a nations and civilizations have already been sacrificed at the altar of these revelations; how many more will follow I don't know. But it will depend on the people themselves. People can not be destroyed or fooled if they are not willing to be. But they would definitely be destroyed if they are not willing to save themselves from this carnage. The brave and proud Afghans are a prime example of the carnage that has visited and devastated their country.
India proudly proclaims "Satyameva Jayate". It is a mighty proclamation. It would do well for opinion makers of India to follow this proclamation and not be a party to the propagation of lies and hate. If India does not wake up to the realities of Islam today, tomorrow it would become Afghanistan or that is Islam itself. And we would have no one to blame but ourselves as Afghans have none to blame but themselves for having become and remaining to be Muslims. Should they renounce Islam, they would not be bound by what the Talibans are imposing on them - "the true Islam". True, many would be killed because giving up Islam is punishable with death - what a freedom of religion and what a concept of tolerance - but then on the other hand, their terror would be over. The future generations of Afghans would never be subjected to Islam again. Afghans should have known better what they were getting into and so should the Indians.
Adopting or protecting the message of hate disguised as tolerance and compassion is not a wise thing to do - neither for individuals nor for nations.
Note: The quotations of the Koran are taken from "The Koran" translated by NJ Dawood, Penguin Books. 1990.
In the introduction of the translation, the writer says: "In preparing this translation it has been my aim to present the modern reader with an intelligible version of the Koran in modern English. The translation, first published in 1956, has now been thoroughly revised in the light of a life-long study of the style and language of the Koran and has been brought as close to the original as English grammar and idiom will allow. Basic changes include 'God' instead of 'Allah', 'Lord of the Universe', instead of 'Lord of Creation' and 'alms' instead of 'alms tax'. …
"Throughout this rendering the standard commentaries of Al-Zamakhshari, Al-Baidawi and Al-Jalalayn have been closely followed."