Maulana Abul Kalam Azad writes in the preface to "The Life of Sarmad, the Martyr"
"In Asia, politics has always been working from behind the veil of religion Thousands of events of bloodshed were cloaked with religion. During the thirteen hundred years of Islam, the pen of the jurists has been like a naked sword. The blood of thousands of lovers of truth was shed on their verdict. Read the history of Islam of any period and you will get thousands of such examples that wherever any ruler decided to shed blood, the pen of the jurist and the sword of the general were with him. Not only the Sufis (mystics) and national leaders were made the targets, even those scholars who were critical and realistic, were made to suffer hardships at the hands of jurists, and they were relieved of their misery only after being beheaded".
The present age is in no way different. Men of understanding know the way, in which men have been misled in the name of Islam. Shah Latif says:
In our country, people are openly misled in the name of Islam. From times to time, cries of instituting a theocratic State are raised with all hypocrisy. This baseless and misleading stunt has so much confused the problems of the country that the situation has become really alarming. The well wishers of the country are worried, but it is of no avail. There is only alone way to change the situation; Islam should be interpreted in its right perspective. This way alone, can one draw the right conclusions?
Beyond doubt, for achieving peace, progress and prosperity, religion occupied the highest place in the past. These were the objectives of the major religions of the world. However, unfortunately, these objectives were put aside and religions were used to promote the vested interests of either individuals or groups of exploiters. As a result, despite the outward progress of religions, there exists among men discord in place of unity, hatred in place of love, superstition in place or reason, confusion in place of order. It is evident that religions were not an end in themselves, but they were the means to attaining unity, peace and progress of mankind.
Islam is also one of the world religions. Like the followers of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Communism, the Muslims also believe that their religion, apart from being a complete code of life, has the best philosophy. Thus, it is the only way to salvation for the human race. According to this claim, two interpretations of Islam have been presented like other religions.
One interpretation has invariably been made by the exploiting rulers and the so-called scholars with their own vested interests to protect. The other interpretation has been that of the Sufis (mystics) who gave solace to the teeming millions and were the true well wishers of people.
The first group was responsible not only for the birth of various religions and sects, but also for creating differences among them. On the contrary, the second group has been striving to unify men divided on account of religious differences into the bond of love, signifying the basic unity underlying religious diversity. Here is a resume of the interpretations presented by the ruling classes and their appointed religious commentators:
- They regard Islam as the last and the only true religion in the world, insisting that all other religions are false and discredited.
- They stress that Islam is the panacea for all ills and it is a complete code of life.
- They consider the Qur’an as the storehouse of all knowledge and teachings for this world and the Hereafter. So they emphasize on the understanding of the Qur’an, the word of God as revealed to the Prophet. They believe that it offers a solution to all the problems of all ages and that their solutions are final and eternal.
- They insist on calling Prophet Mohammed not only the last of all the prophets, but also as the last reformer and guide.
- They prescribe some of the words and acts of the Holy Prophet as binding in all cases. They claim that the Muslims are the favorite creatures of God. Their fanciful mind leads them to think that, as a single nation the Muslims are the chosen people. Further, they are destined to lead the world. This leadership shall continue till Doomsday.
- Not only that, they consider Islam as the only true and legitimate religion; they regard all those outside its pail as misguided and accursed. They consider it their religious duty to show the misguided ones the right path and spread Islam all over the world. At the same time, they regard preaching and fighting for their religion as righteous acts.
- In order to keep religion and politics under their thumb, these exploiters insist on yoking together the spiritual and temporal spheres. They regard the Caliphs as the representative of the Prophet. Similarly, they consider the Muslim king as the "Shadow of God", insisting on his obedience and claiming that this obedience is a religious obligation. In the same way, they consider the interpretation of the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet as the sole right of their favorite scholars.
3. Religion means leading life according to voluntarily accepted beliefs to preach the tenets of any religion through government or collective organizations, to force it on people by law or power is against the right of individual freedom, which is given by God. Only that preaching can be appreciated which has respect for the individual's rights and which is based on mutual understanding, love tolerance and service. Good preaching is that which aims at winning hearts. Good manners make good preaching. It is, therefore, necessary that politics and religion be kept apart. Religion is a personal and affair of individuals; it has nothing to do with collective or national matters.
4. By associating the natural religion with one group, calling that group a nation, and confining it to some social customs is against the fundamental objectives of religion. Every man of firm faith and good character is loved by God, whatever his religion. Similarly, God does not love a man, who is wicked and bad in conduct, even if he pretends to be follower of Islam. Hence, in the eyes of these mystics, the narrow bounds of religion are born of wrong and misleading objectives.
5. The Sufis (Muslim mystics), therefore, believe that all that which is based on selfishness or all that, which creates bad blood and ill-feeling among fellow men and all that which obstructs unity, peace and human progress is gross infidelity; even if it is done in the name of Islam.
Since the ignorant, the narrow-minded, the superstitious and the power-worshipper have been in majority, the interpretation of the ruling class has prevailed. Similarly, since the number of the conscientious, the selfless, the fearless and people caring not for power and pelf has always been comparatively small, the interpretation of Islam of the second group has had limited appeal.
The moderates in the second group, however, continued to preach despite the ruthlessness of the ruling classes and the unschooled sentiments of the masses. Whatever they could not preach openly, they conveyed through symbolic and language. However, to this group also belonged those who did not believe in expediency; and caring the least for consequences, they settled for nothing less than truth. Such persons the rulers and commentators of religion regarded as rebels. They were denounced by the rulers and the so-called custodians of religion they were subjected to privation and penury, torture and death Hazrat Imam Hussain, Mansoor Hallaj, Shams Tabrez, Sarmad, Shah Enayat Sufi and Makhdoom Bilawal are just a few names in the brilliant galaxy of such lovers of truth. Ibne Abbas, to quote Bokhari, once said:
Now let us test the interpretation of the exploiters on the touchstone of reason and logic so as to determined its merits and demerits. As stated in the previous chapter, the first specific slogan of this group of opportunists is that Islam is the last and the only true religion. I shall, therefore, seek to answer two questions here: What is religion? What is the reality of this slogan?
This subject is very wide. Innumerable books have been written on it. Many more are being written. I have already thrown sufficient light on the issue. However, to refresh the reader's memory, I recount the points again.
Historical and scientific research has brought the fact to light that man has been living on earth for millions of years. In contrast to it, three religions of the world namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace the beginning of man to Adam. It is said that God molded Adam out of clay and infused soul into him. After that, the human race began. Being the prototype, Adam, was the first man and also the first Prophet of God. According to this belief, the genealogical order which the Muslims present; Adam was created only 7,500 years ago. This is entirely against scientific and historical research and is, therefore, fallacious.
With regard to the existence of man, which of the two contradicting facts is to be believed? That which is a mere conventional belief or the fact which is based on knowledge and research? As a matter of fact, the world has advanced so much that except for the ignorant or those who are confined to their narrow limits, no one can dare refute scientific evading. The hold of science has become so strong that the religious scholars have started interpreting the old conventional beliefs in new ways. However, by means of recent scientific research, the existence of man for two hundred thousand years has been proved. We cannot say at this stage that age of how much more the evolution of man will take.
Believing in the evidence of historical and scientific research, I am convinced that man has existed on this planet for millions of years. I believe in scientific investigation, which shows that man evolved from the shape of animals to his present physical and mental state. Beyond doubt, it should have taken him millions of years to reach this stage of development. In the early stages, man must have led a nomadic life in the regions where water was available but his life was altogether savage. I agree with the viewpoint of the anthropologists that, during that stage of development. His increasing power of speech and physical needs, coupled with developing mental prowess, gave birth to certain beliefs and rituals which were born out of the instinct of profit and loss but were based on superstition and fear. Those primordial beliefs can rightly be called as the beginning of religion. Undoubtedly, the original beliefs and doctrines were different in every region. However, the cause of their genesis and the need for adopting them was the same. Afterwards, as time rolled on, man came out of the stage of savagery. He passed through different stages such as the nomadic, pastoral, commercial and industrial. Then he entered the age of Science. His original beliefs as well as customs went on changing as he gained in knowledge and experience.
All the great religions of the present times such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam were born within five thousand years. Even before these religions, there had been religious beliefs and rituals. This is the reason why investigations show that all the present religions appear to be based on the beliefs, customs, prayers and laws of ancient times. The above-named four religions are called major because their followers are in millions and they are spread over various parts of the world.
It cannot be denied that these major religions made big changes and additions to the beliefs and customs of their predecessors. However, these ‘big changes’ are confined to a limited conception of God, life after death, etc. In addition to the changes in these concepts, no change could be made. Superstitions, customs, social and moral laws were either kept intact or cosmetic changes were made in them. The founders of great religions knew very well the psychology of the people and had reached the conclusion that their love for convention, ignorance and backwardness would not allow them to be responsive to innovative ideas. Therefore, they refrained from making radical changes in customs and superstitions.
This is the condition of almost all-great religions. Even many of the beliefs and laws of Islam are borrowed from ancient tribal beliefs and laws. Some of these laws existed not only during the primitive Arab period, but even earlier. Most of the customs and concepts have become so outdated that they have no use in the present time, nor do they satisfy an informed and rational mind. There is no need of continuing any one of them because they appear to be ridiculously useless in modern times. For example, according to the Islamic interpretation of the exploiters and opportunists, the following beliefs are regarded as the pillars of Islam:
3. Circumambulating of Kaaba on the eve of Haj, stoning the three devils at Mana, running which is called Saee.
4. Animal sacrifice.
6. Regarding some animals as propitious or unpropitious and some as lawful and others as unlawful.
7. Making offerings for the soul of the dead.
8. The use of incantations, charms etc., for the solution of material problems.
9. Offering of prayers on graves for the fulfillment of one's desires.
10. Prayers and vigils.
Man needs to invoke some greater force for redress when he finds himself in a state of helplessness, trouble, fear and illness. It was for this reason that, from the very beginning, he started believing in powers he could invoke in exigencies for his psychological satisfaction. Modern research proves that for obtaining psychological satisfaction, he sometimes worshipped animals like a lion or a snake; and during some phase of his evolution, he prostrated himself before the sun, the fire, the river and other objects, treating them as gods. Genie, ghosts and other supernatural elements were no exception. Getting along this way, human psychology inclined towards human worship. There is enough historical evidence to show that there was a time when the magicians, reformers and kings were worshipped as gods. Idol-worship originated from there.
The idol-breaking religions of later ages regarded the wooden and stone images as superstitions, but could not get rid of the personal or physical concept of God. They conceived God sitting in some form or the other in the skies, creating and destroying creatures, distributing food to, and snatching it from, the people, noting their actions and rewarding and punishing them. Hence, they began worshipping and praising Him.
In a verse in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, it has been said "God made man in His own image." There is also Arabic saying "Allah made man in His own shape." This concept of a personal God is revealed from the ‘Islamic belief’ of the opportunists according to which God is on the seventh canopy of Heaven, seated on a throne. He has hands, feet, eyes, ears, face and body. He is the Creator of the universe, Distributor of food to the creation, Master of reward and punishment Destroyer and Preserver. The last Prophet, Mohammed, met him on the seventh heaven on the eve of his Ascent. On the Day of Judgment, He will descend to earth men's actions before sending them to heaven or consigning them to hell. Noted commentators of Islam such as Imam Malik bin Uns, Imam Ahmed bin Hambal, Imam Daud bin Ali, Imam Abu Timya, Imam Abu Qayyum, Ibne Haitham, Allama Shaukani and many others hold the same belief. (See the Religion of Islam by Mohammed Abdul Ghani).
Qur’anic verses and the traditions of the Prophet can be cited in support of this belief. Some of them are given below:
About these matters, too, the opportunists insist on adhering to old superstitions. They believe that, on the Day of Creation, when God said "Be'', the whole universe came into existence at once. Along with it, the spirits also came into being. From the spirits, God asked if they recognized Him. They replied in the affirmative. The spirits have been living in their abodes ever since. According to the allotted time, some of them come and inhabit the bodies of men and then go into purgatory where they will live till Doomsday. The spirits in purgatory wander about here and there as in the world. Sometimes they visit the earth to see their relatives. The offering of food, clothing, etc. reaches them.
When will Doomsday be? There is no clear data fixed for it. However, some of the indications about Doomsday are that people will leave villages and go to the cities. Before the dawn of that day, an angel will blow a trumpet. The noise of which will shatter the earth into pieces; the mountains will melt and appear like balls of cotton, the earth will be flattened, then rains and rivers will flood it; spirits will come back to their bodies; all men, like insects, will cover the surface of the earth. The sun will come as far down as the height of one and a quarter spear; all mankind, along with its prophets, will be lost in uncertainty; all will have to cross a bridge. Those who have made sacrifices or have got mosques built, will cross easily, the sinners will not be able to do so and will be cut down. On the other side of the bridge, in a vast plain, God will be sitting on a throne with a balance before Him to weigh the sins of every man. Those who have committed sins will be consigned to Hell while those, whose virtues outweigh their sins, will be sent to Heaven.
About Paradise, it is said that there will be palaces of silver, gold and gems, lovely gardens in which canals of milk and honey will flow. To serve the dwellers of Paradise, there will be houris, and handsome male attendants. In contrast with the beauty of Paradise, Hell has been painted as extremely horrible. It is said that it will be all fire. The condemned will be tortured in Hell in various ways and they will be consumed by fire there.
Except for the Muslims, all other men practicing different religions will be thrown into Hell; of the 73 sects of Muslims, seventy-two will also go to Hell, only one sect will reach Paradise. Just as the majority of men face hardships in this world and a few capitalists as well as landowners roll in luxuries; similarly, a large number of the sufferers will be in Hell and some will be comforted in Heaven.
These beliefs are the very edifice of the interpretation of the Islam of the exploiters and opportunists. They have painted God as such a ruthless and cruel tyrant that He will chastise the whole human race merely because it had not followed the ridiculous preaching of the opportunists. According to their interpretation, The God, the Nourisher and the Sustainer of all mankinds, will turn out to be the patron of a particular sect of the Muslims in the hereafter.
History tells us that many such beliefs have been borrowed from primitive religions and superstitions. Inside the pyramids of Egypt, which were created before the advent of Judaism and Christianity, there exist carvings and status which point out the primitiveness of such beliefs. Old mythologies, too, are based on similar Ideas. In view of these realities, I do not understand how these beliefs can help prove that Islam is either a natural faith or that it is the only religion of the world guaranteeing salvation.
3. Circumambulating of Ka’ba, stoning of Satan, kissing of stone, etc.
Most of these rituals were common among the pagan Arabs and some of them existed even before Abraham. The square building of the Ka’ba is said to be the ancient temple of the Arabs which was later refurbished and sanctified by Abraham as well as Ismail so as to convert it into a place of worship. It is said about the black stone that it came from an ancient temple. Some researchers also believe that it was the sign of one of the ancient gods called "Zohra" which was placed in a corner, in spite of the purification of the old temple. At a fixed time, people used to go there on pilgrimage every year and it was a well-known place of worship. Much like the ancient customs of worship of the sun god, it was circumambulated even at that time.
About the custom of throwing stones at the devils, it is said that it is a mark of hatred and protest against the gods disliked by the ancient Arabs and that this is a pagan practice. About the custom of running between Safa and Marwa. It is said that Hajra, the Egyptian wife of Abraham was left there all alone. There she gave birth to Ismail. Perturbed as she was, she ran to find in search of water. Hence, by the grace of God, a spring of water gushed forth from that spot. The ceremony of running is performed to commemorate Hajra’s anxiety.
In these rituals, there appears to be significance except that they are old conventions. They cannot, therefore, be deemed as obligations. In order to prove Islam as a complete code of life, the last and the final religion, which guarantees salvation to all mankinds, emphasis on these ceremonies and rituals should not be deemed necessary.
4. Animal sacrifice
The Qur’an tells us that Abraham had a dream in which God asked him to offer sacrifice of his son. When he woke up, he tried to slaughter Ismail under divined orders. However, the angels saved the boy and placed a ram in his place instead. The tradition of animal sacrifice originated from that event. The Bible, too, relates this incident but, instead of Ismail, it gives the name of Isaac. However, in both the Holy Books, the sacrifice has been said to have been made under Divine orders.
The study of ancient religions reveals that the custom of sacrificing animals had been existing thousands of years earlier than Abraham. As a matter of fact, animal sacrifice existed in almost all the ancient religions. Historical research shows that this custom is one of the superstitions of the primitive days. The sacrifice was offered and a man from the tribe was slaughtered so as to appease angry gods or to propitiate them. In those days, God was thought to be such a ferocious being that he would not be satisfied without human blood.
Abraham’s concept of God was analogous to this old belief. Therefore, in order to seek His favor, he was ready to sacrifice his son. In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, it is written that, at Mamra, Abraham beheld God along with two angels. It was noon. He welcomed all the three, entreated Him to ‘stay, with the angels, washed their feet and feasted them with the meat of a robust calf. After the feast, God communicated to him the tidings that his wife, Sarah, would bear him a son. Both of them had considerably advanced in age, so much so that Sarah had ceased to have menses. However, this prayer yielded them a child whom they named Isaac. At the time, Abraham was a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. Thus, it becomes evident as to what idea Abraham had of God, but it was in keeping with the general thinking of his age.
In those days, God was regarded as a tyrannical force that was fond of human flesh and blood. The concept of a Merciful and Compassionate God is a much later development. One is at a loss to understand as to why in the world of today, the ritual of sacrifice occupies a significant position in Islam when it is claimed that Islam is superior to other religions.
Some people call this ritual as that of ‘Islamizing’ a male child but the fact is it had existed long before the advent of Islam and the Jews practice it as well. It began with Abraham. In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, it is related that God appeared before Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old and said:
I promise to grant thee a son who will be the father of kings. They will worship me as God. Therefore, I wish thee to get circumcised and direct thy descendants to get circumcised.
Hence, Abraham got himself circumcised and his son, Ismail, too. Ismail was then thirteen years old. The Muslims and the Jews allowed this practice to continue in their religions as a tradition of Abraham.
Recent research has shown that circumcision did exist among the savages of the primitive era. The ancient tribes of Australia, New Zealand, Africa and America practiced it, and they had no concern with Abraham.
The worship of the ‘male organ of god Shive’ in India and the worship of the phallus in Greece and in other regions clearly indicates that this ritual is in some way or other related to the concept which was prevalent before the age of Abraham. However, to consider this ritual of the primitive age as a religious duty in Islam and to regard it as a great blessing in this world as well as a source of salvation in the Hereafter is strange, to say the least.
6. Regarding animals as clean or unclean
To regard some animals as clean and some as unclean is an essential religious requirement of the Muslims. The dog and the swine are considered unclean. Even the Jews regard these two animals so. However, the concept of propitious and ominous animals is neither the discovery of the Jews or of the Muslims. It existed among the Semitic Arabs much earlier than the advent of the two religions.
The origin of this concept can be traced to the era of savagery when man lived in forests and, being extremely superstitious, saw an omen in everything. In the morning when he went out in search of food, his effort was to protect himself from beasts and calamities. His urge for seeking food was the dominant factor. Different things, he regarded as signs of his success or failure. In this connection, familiar animals and birds, and their chirping and movements were good or bad omens for him. At the start of his errand, if he came across an animal which, according to his experience or the experience of his ancestors, was considered as a harbinger of success, it was regarded as propitious. However, if the animal did not do so, it was supposed to bring bad luck. This practice of treating animals as good or bad by the primitive man, the anthropologists have defined as totem and taboo. On the basis of this superstition later on, many tribes made images of the propitious animals. They kept those images with them so that they could glance at them each morning or at the start of their errand. Afterwards, these favorite animals began to the worshipped. Similarly, ways were adopted for killing the ominous animals or avoiding their baneful influence. The worship of animals such as the lion, the elephant, the cow, the snake, the crocodile, the eagle etc. is still in vogue among different tribes. Some tribes and their members are named after their favorite animals and many people see different omens even today in animals such as the cat and the fox.
Research about loathing the swine shows, that, thousands of years ago, the natives of Fragia and Lydia in Asia Minor worshipped Aetus and his wife, who were god and goddess. In their mythological tales, it was related that the boar killed the god when he went for the hunt. Therefore, for this reason, the worshippers of that god regarded this animal as taboo. The people of that region were Semites succeeding generations of the Semites, much like their ancestors, had the same hatred for animals. As the Jews and the Muslims belong to the Semitic race, they also did the same. (For further details, see Golden Bough by John Frazer).
As a matter of fact, the swine had become so loathsome among the Arabs, and its hatred had been so deeply rooted in their minds that Islam, too, could not overrule it. On the other hand, Islam confirmed it by declaring it unlawful. However, it is a proven fact that this was neither originated by Islam nor has it such a religious significance so as to be regarded as a fundamental tenet of Islam.
7. Offerings and requiems for the dead
I have already said that among the old beliefs accepted by Islam, one is that, after death, the spirit of man will stay in purgatory till Doomsday. There it roams about, eats, drinks and fulfills its needs in the same way as in this world. Hence, it is incumbent upon the descendants of the dead to arrange for his food and clothing. It is said that offerings of food and clothes made in the name of the dead benefit the deceased in purgatory. With the same beliefs, certain ceremonies such as Soyem (the third day of demise) and chehlum (the fortieth day of the demise) are observed. During this period, recitation from the Qur’an is made for the eternal peace of the departed. Requiems are held and food is offered to the needy and the destitute. At the same time cloth is distributed among the priests, the poor and the beggars. There also exists a belief that the soul of the dead comes back to his house and when it notices certain ceremonies being observed for its redemption, it is pleased. In the contrary case, it gets annoyed and returns cursing its survivors.
If we seriously study these ceremonies or beliefs, we shall know that they were not introduced by Islam but had been existing for centuries. The excavations of old tombs have revealed that, in the primitive days, the belief was common that the dead continued to have needs as they had in life. The articles discovered from the Pyramids of Egypt evidenced that the same belief of ancient people led to bury with the dead edibles, cosmetics, arms, carriages, etc. At places, attendants and wives of the dead were also buried alive so that they could serve the dead just as when they were alive. Once upon a time, this custom was common in China. When Chengez Khan, the Great Mongol, died, his wives were also buried with him along with other articles. The custom of Satti among the Hindus in India had the same purpose. In short, there has been homogeneity in the beliefs and rituals among the people of different religions and regions. The Muslims, too, continued to follow the old beliefs but in a different form. They held the ceremonies of distributing food and clothes, of recitals from the Qur’an and requiems. The Hindu ceremonies of Chaintha and Paat are different shapes of this concept.
It is strange that the Muslims say that everyone will be rewarded or punished according to his actions. However, on the other hand, it is also claimed that alms and offerings made for the dead, absolve him of sin and pave the way for his salvation. If this belief is given weight, personal acts have then no importance. This concept gives unbridled freedom to the wealthy to commit the worst of sins but earn redemption by providing food to a few priests and beggars. Thus, their inventors will save them from the punishment to be meted out to them on the Day of Judgment. Such ~i belief can in no way be said to belong to a religion which may be deemed as the final and the only faith whose followers are regarded as the best people.
8. Prayers, charms, incantations, etc.
For overcoming economic stringencies, belief ii] prayers, charms and incantations is also considered Islamic. Many books have been written on this subject and, in support of this belief, references are made to the Qur’an and the traditions. Beyond doubt, due to Wahabi teachings and also because of the modern compulsions many people have given up these practices. However, a large number of men are still clinging to them. Charms and incantations constitute the source of income for a majority of the so-called priests and occultists.
In fact, these beliefs are also pre-Islamic and are reminiscent of the primitive age. The difference is that, in the primitive age, magical incantations were intoned to achieve the desired effect. Today, the holy verses of the Qur’an and the names of God are recited. In the magical charms, impressions of other type were made, now figures are marked according to the Arabic alphabet. The names of the Qur’anic verses or of angels are also written. The custom of incense-burning or taking a sacrificial animal or other things around a patient's bed is nothing but primitive in nature.
Whatever the importance of such superstitions in the past, they are not only useless but also ridiculous today. If magical charms, incantations and recitation of verses are regarded as an inseparable part of the Islamic faith. To achieve mundane objectives, then despite the claim that Islam is the final religion of the world, the Muslims will forever remain subservient to others for the fulfillment of their needs and can never attain high status or glory. This belief obstructs the struggle for life and leads to escapism.
9. Offering prayers and holding requiems on tombs
Visiting the graves of relatives or of saints and holding requiems and offering sweets is a common practice among the Muslims. About what happens in the grave, it is believed that after the dead person is buried, two angels named Munkir and Nakir enter it, and having made the dead come to life again, they put to him some questions, such as: Who is thy God? What is the name of thy Prophet? What is thy religion? This is the reason that every Muslim is made to recite the Kalima when death approaches. After the burial, such words as "Allah is my God", "Mohammed is my Prophet" and "Islam is my religion" are engraved on his tomb so as to enable him to answer Munkir and Nakir properly
Such beliefs about the dead have come down to us from the primitive days by which the deads were supposed to participate in worldly affairs. They were worshipped and were supposed to be protectors and helpers of the living. We come to know the full facts about these beliefs from the accounts of primitives of Australia, New Zealand, America and Africa. In Japan, dead relatives are still worshipped. In Egypt, China and Central Asia, the dead was buried after mummification. The general belief was that, even after death, body and soul remained one and if the body was preserved, the (lead would have no difficulty in rising on the Day of Judgment. Along with the shroud, some instructions for the dead were also written on papyrus. In some sects of Islam, the custom of writing on the shroud some verses and a contract and burying them with the dead is reminiscent of the same ritual. Inscription of verses on the graves is considered good by all sects of Islam. The visit to the graves of saints, to entreat, to place wreaths or Chadars to get the head tonsured, to use myrtle, to beat drums or to blow the conch are various shapes of ancient customs. To claim some of these rituals as Islamic is to negate the greatness of our faith.
10. Prayers and exercise
According to the opportunists, prayer is the fundamental worship and fasting is a compulsory exercise. These two are among the five fundamental tenets of Islam. Great stress is laid on them and they are considered a vital part of Islam. Most people have been believing that prayer and fasting are the very objectives in themselves and their rules call for nothing except bowing and prostrating. Similarly, fasting is confined to its mere observance within the prescribed time limit. After offering prayers and observing fasts, Muslims think that all their wishes, no matter how outrageous or criminal will come true. It is as if the sheer observance of these tenets does not ennoble individual or collective conduct, but the observance of their tenets, creates a craving for personal desires.
This makes it evident that the beliefs or rituals, which the opportunists have considered as the soul of religion, are reminiscent of ancient traditions, which serve neither any lofty purpose of this world, or of the Hereafter. Further, these beliefs and rituals have no utility on the basis of which Islam may be considered either superior to other religions or the last and final faith.
In fact, such beliefs and ceremonies have conventional value and the law of evolution is as applicable to them as to any other field of human endeavor. Human intelligence, knowledge, customs, beliefs and codes of life have been progressing on the basis of experiments and social change. Therefore, in moral and social codes, in religious beliefs and rituals, changes are sure to take place in future according to changing needs and requirements. Therefore, to regard temporary rituals and beliefs as immutable is contrary to the larva of evolution. To confine things to the conventional beliefs, whose beginning and end are not fully known, is not only ignorance of the law of Nature (evolution) but also a proof of lack of intelligence. To regard conventional beliefs, as real Islam is a well thought-out plan of the opportunists so that they may retain their hold on the Muslim masses and people and keep them embroiled in petty affairs so that they may continue to be exploited. The opportunists are not concerned about Islam in the pursuit of their personal ends.
Beyond doubt, Islam can be called a world religion. It is because the number of its followers runs into millions and they live in almost every part of the world. By this definition, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Communism can also be called world religions. However, by calling Islam a world religion, if it is meant that the welfare of the whole world depends on its acceptance, especially, on the interpretation of Islam as made by the opportunists, it is not only self-deception but also an affront to the real teachings of Islam.
Whatever I have said in the foregoing pages can be summarized thus: in the beginning, the purposes of all religions were the same - peace, progress and unity of mankind. Thus, the beliefs and rituals of all religions were almost identical. However, as regional needs, vested interests and environment demanded change, the outward appearance and contours of religions changed. In the opinion of truth-lovers, these changes occurred only in such beliefs and rituals, which had been purely exhibitive and which were practiced by the illiterate people or those who were convention-bound. These beliefs and rituals have never had any value for the truth-lovers. The real objective and common ideals of religions have always been before them. They have full faith in the abiding truth of religions.
The following verses of the Qur’an are clearly opposed to the narrow interpretation of Islam, which is made by the opportunists. These verses confirm the point of view of the truth-lovers:
Addressing the Holy Prophet, God says:
The second claim of the opportunists is that their interpretation of Islam offers a solution for all the problems facing the human race and it is a complete philosophy of life. Before discussing this claim, I think it is necessary to answer two important questions:
For men in every age and region, the fundamental problems of hatred, violence disaffection, ignorance superstition, poverty, hunger etc., have existed for centuries. If it is claimed that Islam can offer a solution to these problems, then the interpretation of the opportunists does not make any sense. The correct solution can, of course, be found in the interpretations of the truth-lovers and the Muslim mystics. The interpretation of the opportunists, on the other hand, not only gives birth to many problems but also complicates them further. Not only among other men but even among the Muslims, the interpretation of the opportunists fans the flames of hatred and discord, thus sowing the seeds of rigid sectarianism. The so-called priests spare no time in vindicating these explanations because the opportunists pay them. Therefore, in return for the money received from the opportunists, the Muslim priests create an atmosphere, which is charged with hatred and animosity. They also incite their co-religionists to take recourse to violence and assault their opponents, promising Heaven in the Hereafter in return. Emphasizing their dogmatic faith and exhibitionist rituals, they exhort people in the name of God and the Prophet not to adopt a rational and healthy outlook. They make free use of all the inventions of the West in their daily life, but keep on denouncing all the modern sciences, which have made them possible. Thus, they decree against the study of these sciences by the Muslims. Therefore, the question arises as to how Islam, as interpreted by such unscrupulous people, can solve the problems of the Muslims and of the whole human race except by serving the vested interests of the so-called Muslim priests and their masters? Further, in order to conceal their ignorance, the opportunists claim that their version of Islam alone can be the panacea when all humanity has embraced it. It is as if problems cannot be solved without all human beings converting to Islam, even if they get annihilated in the process.
In changing conditions, new problems will continue to crop up in every country and in every age. For the solution of these problems, a rational approach in keeping with changing requirements will have to be made. To prescribe one and the same medicine for all diseases amounts to ignorance or self-deception. Take, for example, the problem of poverty. In the Islam of the opportunists, there exists no other solution except extorting money in the name of Zakat (ceases), alms and abolition of interest although modern economics has no relationship with the economics of Islam. Similarly, there is a great deal of difference between medieval and modern social life. A detailed discussion will follow in the coming chapters. In these lines, I wish to say that all those men who, ignoring the urges of the present times, regard Islam as a solution for all human ills and problems and thus affirm the interpretation of the opportunists, either deliberately try to hoodwink the people or have jaundiced eyes. As such, their vision is completely blurred. A critical study shows that the interpretation of Islam made by the self-seekers gives birth to a special theory which:
c) Impedes rational and scientific inquiry on the basis of supernatural or metaphysical elements.
d) Pollutes the peaceful atmosphere and induces co-religionists for waging a war against people with different beliefs.
e) Advocates the right of retaining private property, thus thwarting plans through which the poverty of general masses can be eliminated.
f) Distracts the attention of men from the real issues of life, purveying primitive beliefs and rituals as true religion.
g) Creates fascist tendencies in the Muslims misguiding them into thinking that they are the chosen people ordained to rule the world.
h) Lays great stress on formalism and ritual making the followers deviate from the cardinal principles of Islam.
i) Strengthens conventionalism, completely losing sight of the demands of the law of evolution.
j) Negates the feeling of brotherhood and of human dignity, creating simultaneously an atmosphere, which is charged with discord and hatred.
The same holds true with regard to cultural conditions in different regions in different stages. The primitive man lived under different conditions and had different requirements. He lived in the hollows of trees. He took shelter in the caves. He lived all naked. He was ignorant of fire weapons instruments and mode of cultivation. His daily search for food, safety from wild animals1 helplessness against natural calamities, lack of permanent abode and means of subsistence had compelled him to pass each moment of his life in the agony of perpetual fear and superstition. To suit these conditions and to satisfy his inner self, he invented certain beliefs and rituals. After that stage, developing gradually, man entered the Bedouin phase of his evolution. During that period, he started rearing animals to get milk and meat. This led him to the pursuit of new pastures. He was also exposed to certain new challenges and clash of interests. For the solution of his problems, man adopted the tribal pattern of collective life. However, the problems of the stage of development were certainly different from those of the primitive age. With the passage of time, he got disgusted with nomadic life and started permanent habitation along riverbanks. During that period, he learnt cultivation, started living in small groups and built cottages. In those days, cutting of forests, bringing virgin land under the plough, garnering grain, braving the elements and for protecting his village, he had to evolve methods other than those he had employed in his Bedouin days. After-wards, human society passed through other stages such as commercial, technical and scientific. Now the question arises: will the problems of the present stage of evolution not be different from those of the agricultural stage? Further, for the solution of the present-day problems, will not new demands and urges be given due consideration?
However, inspite of it, it is claimed that the opportunists’ interpretation of Islam with all its rituals is the solution of the problems of every age. It is nothing but ignorance and self-deception. The problems of life have always been changing under the exigencies of time and will continue to change in future as well. The laws framed fourteen hundred years ago for solving the problems of that time cannot be applied to the problems of today or those of tomorrows. Such an insistence would be against the eternal dignity of Islam. Just as the cure for every disease is according to the nature of the malady and the condition of the patient, so is the solution of a problem in accordance with the needs and demands of time. To seek a solution for the problems of all times and all regions is the very negation of the limitless variety of Nature.
In this connection, many hue and cries is raised in the name of the Shariat and the Sunnah. Although many such things are revealed from the words and deeds of the Holy Prophet, which prove that, in the domain of wordily affairs and conventional beliefs, he liked people to think and act according to their power of intellect, comprehension and experience.
For instance, somebody once asked him about the Day of Judgment. He frankly answered "I don’t know". However, if you ask a Muslim priest the same question, he will arrogantly and authoritatively give such details of the old mythological belief as if he had personally knowledge of it. In fact, by the Day of Judgment is meant a happy future for man and for this world. This meaning is not my own interpretation, but ~t was given by Shaikh-UL-Akbar Mohiuddin Ibne Arbi, a great scholar, researcher and philosopher of the Muslim world. He says:
It is an open secret that the Prophet of Islam performed his duty in a dual capacity,’ as a political and social administrator and as a prophet of God. This is the reason why he made two different pronouncements about himself. When he discharged his duties as an administrator, he said, Verily, I am a human being like you. Having said this, he confessed that acts of human virtue and otherwise could be committed by him. Therefore, in this capacity, he regarded himself a creature of God, as every other man. He, therefore, prayed to God to save him from faltering and committing transgressions. In other capacity, he claimed to be very close to Providence and the Ascent confirmed his exalted position. In the latter capacity, he was "Ahmad" without the letter "m" and "the city of knowledge" too. Therefore, to confuse the two positions is to distort reality.
This distinction makes it clear that the injunctions made by the Holy Prophet or as revealed in the Book regarding the permanent or temporary problems or the social conditions of the age, are not of lasting nature. After social condition had changed, these injunctions lost their utility. To regard them as binding for all ages and conditions is against the spirit of Islam, and the laws of Nature and the will of the Prophet.
*Without the letter "m", the word "Ah mad" is to be spelt as "Ahad" which means ‘Unique".
Ahad is one of the attributes of God.*So as to further expose the drawbacks of the interpretation of Islam as made by the self-seekers and opportunists, it will be better to judge them in the light of the problems of our own times. Let us see if a correct solution of the problem lies with them. In my opinion, the following are the main problems in the present-day world, which have caused a lot of chaos and confusion:
c) Vested class interests
d) Force and violence
Despotism is a system under which a group belonging to a certain race, creed, color, political or religious belief may impose its will on others, claiming that its ideology is the only remedy for the well being of the whole human race. At the same time, it may reject or regard as inferior the arguments and experiences of others, coercing them accept its ideology. No one should be allowed the right of dissent nor should its command be disobeyed or any argument is entertained, howsoever convincing it may be. A particular person or group may assume power or leadership and others are forced into blind conformism.
Now take a look at the opportunists, their preaching, their feelings and their behavior in the light of it. Don’t they discard all other ideologies and beliefs, only upholding their own ideology and faith as legitimate? Don’t they create an atmosphere charged with religious frenzy only to intimidate and cow down their adversaries? Haven’t they monopolized Islam, the interpretation of the Qur’an and the exegesis by force? There will be no other answer to such questions except in the affirmative. This proves that ideology; faith, feeling and behavior of the opportunists are governed by despotic tendencies.
According to the real teachings of Islam, dictatorship is not only an evil of the worst order but it is also most detrimental to the life of a nation. As far as Islamic teachings go, man is the vicegerent of God on earth and all human beings are bound by ties of equality, fraternity and brotherhood. No doubt, administrative responsibilities can be different, but on account of them, no one can be a permanent ruler and be entitled to any’ distinction or a special status. Similarly, no one is a subject or an inferior being forever. This is the reason why the Holy Prophet, despite being the Apostle of God and the administrative head of the Muslim State, had no trappings of power with regard to his living, dress and public dealing. He used to live like a commoner. He mixed with the common people and answered their questions with all politeness. He held respect for humanity so dear to his heart that he did not like even a Bedouin to stand up to honor him. Beyond doubt, he shunned all such negative values, which created division between man and man on the basis of color, creed and caste. He taught the lesson of equality, fraternity and humanism. The Prophet of Islam set mankind on the path of unity, progress and prosperity.
The Muslim mystics have shed light on this aspect of Islamic teachings. However, since this jeopardized the vested interests of the exploiters, they hatched plots against them, regarded them as heretics and finally got them sentenced. The dictators of the present age are also inflicting punishment on all those who stand for liberalism. How true was Shah Waliullah when he said:
How can the commentary (on Islam) of the self-seekers be expected to shield people and their interests?
In the world today, the problem of poverty, which the largest segment of human society is suffering from, is of utmost importance leaving aside other countries, if Pakistan is to be viewed, the largest number of its people are deprived of food, clothing, housing, medicines and job opportunities. They are denied basic necessities of life. Only five per cent of the total population of the country is prosperous.
According to the interpretation of the opportunists, the solution lies in the abolition of interest and those who are in a position to give charity and Zakat. But the question arises: can charity and religious Zakat create sufficient means by which poverty can be eliminated and the basic necessities of life provided to every citizen? The answer has to be a big "NO".
It is evident that Zakat is levied on money, silver, gold and heads of cattle. It is neither determined on property nor on income. These days, no one keeps cash in his house. People either keep their money in banks or invest it is business and industry. The banks advance the deposited money on loan to business and industry. In case of the abolition of interest, people will neither deposit money with the banks nor will the banks be able to advance loans. Therefore, investment will come to a halt. There will be a cessation of all commercial activity and the country will suffer immeasurably
At present, two economic systems are in vogue -capitalism and socialism. The capitalistic system exists in banks industries and big private enterprises by virtue of which only a few prosper, but the majority of men get poor. In the socialistic system, the concept of private property does not exist. Production and means of production are controlled by the state. Therefore, the state becomes responsible for providing food, clothing and housing to the people. Islam negates both systems. On the one hand, it is against the abolition of private property and by abolishing interest, it calls for realization of 2.5 per cent as Zakat and puts restrictions on its expenditure on the other.
As compared to the past, state machinery has become very large. For its operation and smooth functioning, large sums of money are needed. This money is acquired taxes on different items. Taxes are imposed on commodities directly or indirectly or by both methods. If people pay different taxes and they are made to pay Zakat at 2.5 per cent of the principal amount each year, they will not only get overburdened, but commercial activity will very likely collapse. Further, people will have to relapse into the primitive ages.
As far as charity is concerned, it cannot be accounted at all. It is purely a voluntary act. For its realization, neither can a rule be framed nor can one be forced into being charitable. However, it has become evident that the self-seekers and their version of Islam offer no practicable solution for the eradication of poverty, which has the majority of our countrymen in its grip. Nor do these self-seekers have the ability to solve the problems facing the people.
c) Class interest
The third formidable problem, which the world is presently confronted with, is the exploitation of the people by a class with vested interests. To this, Class belongs to the capitalists; the religious leaders fed on the charity and contributions of the capitalists, the imperialists and their agents. These people keep on trying to get hold of the government in one way or the other, leadership, wealth, production and its distribution. They try to make the most of these sources for their own benefit. Consequently, the majority is doomed to perpetual poverty. In order to perpetuate their power, the exploiters try to thrive on the slogans or individual freedom and religion. The Russians and people in other countries got fed up with religion and fraud in the name of individual freedom because these slogans did not deliver the goods. On the other hand, they shielded the interests of the exploiters. At the moment, Pakistan is the only country in the world where exploitation of religion is at its highest. Efforts are being made to present the real Islam through its misinterpretation. Undue advantage is taken of the simplicity of the people and their innate love for Islam. Thus, to benefit the vested interests of a class, slogans are being raised for the Islamic system, Islamic constitution, Islamic education, Islamic leadership Islamic society, etc. Behind these emotion-charged slogans, religious and sectarian feelings are also fanned against those who are the well wishers of the country and the people.
There is no denying the fact that the slogan of Islam did play its role in the genesis of Pakistan, but despite that Quaid-I-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, discarded theocracy and the role of religion in affairs of state in his speech delivered in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. After scores of years, religion is being revived today so as to demean and degrade the Muslims. Hectic efforts are being made to run the country on religious lines. It is evident that, as in the past, the fruits of this slogan will go to the bureaucrats, industrialists landlords, traders and the Muslim priests who are living on the crumbs of these industrialists and traders. Very true was Sachal Sarmast when he said:
d) Force and violence
The fourth important problem of the world today is the use of force and violence. It is a matter of grave concern that instead of settling disputes through negotiations and mutual understanding, violent means are employed for their solution. So long as this tendency prevails, there will neither be internal harmony and peace within the countries nor will there be a guarantee of safety from the menace of atomic destruction. Because of some of his qualities, man is the best and the noblest of all creation. However, brutality is the vice, which, at times, turns him to be worse than animals. To compel someone to accept a particular creed or way of life on the basis of brute force or terrorism is such a savage feeling for which there exists no place in a cultured society. The good men of every age have regarded violence as contemptible.
The past, history of man is full of grave and tragic events, which were caused by violence. Today, man has advanced in almost every walk of life. He has, by and large, attained control over the forces of Nature. Large and beautiful cities have sprung up all over the globe, but the way the human population is concentrated, the use of brute force can prove a thousand times more destructive than at any time in the past.
The foundation of the two major religions of the world was laid on non-violence. One of them is Hinduism and the other is Christianity. The high-caste Hindus do not eat meat because of their belief in nonviolence. Their ancestors used to say that torturing animals was nothing short of a sin. However, history is witness that their descendants, by resorting to violence, converted millions of men into untouchables. Mahatma Gandhi attained freedom for India through the weapon of non-violence, but in his free country even today, the Hindus very often let loose the orgy of communal violence.
For the Christians, the teaching of Jesus Christ, were if somebody hit you on the right cheek, turn to him the left cheek. Meaning thereby that, violence should not be retaliated with violence and that effort should be made to win the heart of the enemy through love, affection and good conduct. Millions of men in Europe, Canada, America and other parts of the world are the followers of Christ. Do they really subscribe to his teachings? Are they not the same people who have set up military bases all over the world and have subjugated more than half the people on this planet? Are they not the same people who were responsible for two World Wars in which millions of innocent people were killed and seriously wounded? Is it not a fact that despite their admission of colossal devastation in the two wars and posing themselves as the champions of peace, they have discarded its use, and in spite of subscribing to the Charter of the United Nations, they are bent upon stockpiling deadly weapons? In these circumstances, hope could be pinned only on Islam, which is basically, and essentially a religion of peace. However, it is equally deplorable that the color, in which the opportunists have painted Islam, has presented it as an advocate of violence. In this context, significant is the meaning of Jihad (holy war) as interpreted by the opportunists. In Islam, there exists no concept of an offensive war. It is always defensive. However, unfortunately, the interpretation of the self-seekers gives the impression that, in Islam also, the use of force is not only justified but also it is expedient as well. The Muslims have, as a result of this extremist belief, suffered a lot. Notwithstanding the glaring differences among Muslim mystics, Muslim rulers and the self-seekers have not desisted from provocative publicity of this belief.
In Pakistan, the self-seekers are engrossed in grinding their own axes in the sacred name of Islam. To usurp the rights of the smaller provinces against the wishes of their people. To trample democracy, to divert the attention of people from the real issues of life. To deprive men of their rights, to fan the flames of religious and sectarian feelings. To serve the vested interests of the rulers and a few bigoted obscurantists. to let loose a reign of terror in order to browbeat the opponents, to raise false and hollow slogan about religion, to impede new and progressive forces and to thwart all attempts of the saner element to create a truly egalitarian society are some of the ‘achievements’ of this group. According to the creed of the mystics or the real spirit of Islam, such cruel acts are not only the un-Islamic but unadulterated hereticism. Force and violence breed discord and disunity while Islam preaches love and peace. It regards coercion or the use of force as sin.
So grossly unjust and impervious to reason are these misguided obscurantists that if a Muslim finds it hard to be in agreement with their interpretation of Islam, they instantly condemn him as a renegade. This form of excommunication is the only device, which these opportunists have so far been able to discover. It means that Islam is not the order of God but is a limited company and they are its directors and proprietors.
People believing in the true ideology of Islam and the Muslim mystics have their faith in Jehad (holy war). But their faith is absolutely different from that of the opportunists. Unlike the obscurantists, they do not believe in usurping the rights of the people and in crushing their opponents, but in controlling themselves. They seek their enemy not outside their being but from within themselves. They deem selfishness, self-worship, violence, bigotry and hatred not only their own enemies but also the enemies of Islam. For a mystic, every man is a manifestation of divine virtues. He hates no one even the lowest.
According to the obscurantists, religion is not a personal affair of man: the Muslim priests and the rulers are also assigned a role. This interpretation safeguards their interests. Consequently, the priests and the rulers other affairs of the people. As they try to measure all the affairs by the yardstick of religion, they exploit men in the worst manner, making their lives most miserable.
The Western countries denounce the socialistic system on the plea that it makes no provision for human freedom and men has no greater value than that of a gadget in a machine. However, perhaps they do not know that in a Muslim society, which is governed in the light of the interpretation of the self-seekers, the condition of a common man is far worse than that in the socialist system. In socialist states, individual freedom is restricted for the collective good of society. However, in fake Islam, the same thing is done to serve the interests of a coterie of men. In a socialist country, the majority of the Communist Party interprets the Marxist ideology on the basis of intellect, social utility and cogent arguments but very few enjoy the monopolistic right to interpret Islam like the opportunists. Even there, no room for argument or opposition exists.
In the light of these facts, it has become evident that Islam as interpreted by the self-seekers has nothing to offer nor can it save oppressed men and women from force and violence. Further, the self-seekers and their Islam are a great obstruction in the way of peace and unity, brotherhood and mutual understanding among people.
The Real philosophy of Islam
In the above lines, important points have been discussed and there remains no room for confusion that the real philosophy of Islam is entirely different from that of the obscurantists. The real Islamic ideology is far above fake belief and rituals and the distinction of caste, creed and color. Similarly, the real Islam is free from the vices of hatred and prejudice, petty sectarian and communal feelings, class exploitation, violence and force. It does not clash with the law of evolution. Fundamentally and essentially, Islam preaches universal love and peace, equality and fraternity. For other affairs of life, it permits men of learning and intellect to modify their ways according to changing social requirements. The claim of the opportunists that their version of Islam is immutable for every age and place for each aspect of life and segment of society, and that they have every right to interfere in the affairs of an individual or of society is nothing but a conceited notion. Such an attitude is, in fact, against the teachings of Islam.
The third claim of the opportunists
The third important claim of the self-styled interpreters of Islam is that the Qur’an is the final source of information and guidance in this world and the Hereafter. They vehemently plead that:
As regards the skies, it is said that their number is seven. Like roofs, they are laid on each other. According to the modern scientific researches, there exist no such skies. Further, the belief that God authored the Book at a particular place is to limit Him. Then He sent the Qur’anic text to the Prophet through a messenger called Gabriel. These are mundane thoughts, which are woven around the concept of God.
To the mystic, the Holy Qur’an is that divine blessing which was revealed by the Holy Prophet during sublime moment and in a state of heightened inspiration. According to their concept, God is timeless and spaceless. He is far above the comprehension of human beings. He is Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent. For communicating His message, he neither needs a document to be first written and then sent through a messenger, nor does He require material means for the delivery of His message.
b) Contains all worldly and heavenly wisdom
According to the claim of the Muslim priest, there exist directions in the Qur’an for the solution of the problems of all ages. It means that it may furnish material even on matters constitutional in accordance with the needs of modern states. It may also provide guidance in economic, social, political, scientific and technical fields. The Qur’an is the source of all knowledge and contains a solution for all individual and collective problems from day of its revelation till Doomsday. On the basis of this assertion, the priest establishes his monopoly on Islam, claiming that his leadership is essential. But in order to find even an iota of truth in the jargon of the priest, when we study the Qur’an, we get four types of verses:
c) Verses regarding injunctions of a temporary nature.
d) Verses regarding secondary problems.
3. As a religion, Islam is all-natural. It is in consonance with the law of evolution.
4. All the worldly objects - body and soul, religious faiths, knowledge and information, keep on developing every day according to the law of evolution.
5. The fundamental objective of religion and that of divine guidance is to promote universal peace and unity, fellow, feeling and brotherhood.
6. Antipathy to the law of evolution breeds hatred and prejudice.
3. A description of Heaven, Hell and Doomsday is given.
These are the verses, which were revealed about the prevailing conditions then or about emergencies. When the conditions changed, those commands did not remain in force. For example, holy war or Jihad (for preaching purposes), keeping captured men and women as slaves, seizing or looting the belongings of the infidels or killing them must now be regarded to have been rescinded.
d) Verses regarding secondary problems
Which various terms of punishment are specified, keeping in view the social norms of the Prophet’s time in these verses? For example, the amputation of the hand of a thief, death penalty for murder, stoning to death for adultery or a hundred lashes as the case may be, are the sentences. The nature of these secondary problems and their demands differ according to prevalent social values. Values also change with time. Neither do the rules and laws retain their old shape nor do old injunctions retain their validity.
This law of Nature works on all religions, which have come into existence through the revealed books. It is because the revealed books reflected the social urges of their time. The conservative Muslim priest admits that owing to the changes in social norms, each succeeding divine book was an improvement on the one preceding it. Therefore, he considers the injunctions contained in other divine books as canceled. But, on the other hand, he does not acknowledged that in the Qur’an, too, there are injunctions for only a specific period which do not suit the changed conditions of the present times, although certain injunctions were outdated in the world of Islam itself centuries ago. The Muslim priest does not relent in his persistence only because he fears that such an acknowledgment may perhaps loosen his hold on society. To overcome this fear, he wants to see the Muslims much more backward as compared to the men in the rest of the world and he also wants them divided into innumerable sects. In his interpretation of Islam, there exists nothing, which may satisfy the urges of the modern scientific age. However, he makes a lot of claims regarding the solution of problems of not only earthly life but that in the Hereafter.
Beyond doubt, like other divine books, much can be gained from the Qur’an regarding certain fundamental things and, at places, it may act as a guiding force for humanity. However, in many other domains of life, we shall have to give due importance to intellect and experiment along with the cultural and social requirements of changing times.
The Fourth Claim of the Opportunists
Those who present Islam in their own color, also lay much stress that the Holy Prophet was not only the last prophet, but that he should also be considered as the last reformer and guide. Further, they plead that all the teachings and guidance ceased with him. In this context also, the versions of the Muslim priest and the Muslim mystics are different. The priest pleads that:
3. The Holy Prophet is the leader and guide only of the Muslims.
4. The Muslims alone can be his favored followers.
5. The Messenger of God was assigned this role to deliver to the world a spiritual message and a permanent system of life.
6. Mohammed was the last Prophet. No prophet shall ever succeed him, nor shall the world need a guide and a reformer after him. His religion shall last till Doomsday
- Fundamentally speaking, the Holy Prophet introduced no new religion. Islam blossomed into its real shape under the law of evolution. It has been the religion of all the previous prophets.
- The mission of the Prophet of Islam was not to give birth to new dissension and discords. His mission was to promote the feelings of love and brotherhood, removing thereby every form of prejudice.
- To limit the universal teachings of the Prophet of God to certain overt beliefs, rites and formal codes, is to undermine his lofty mission and ideals.
- To regard the Holy Prophet as the leader of only the Muslims is to contradict a fact. He is the leader, the guide and the messiah of all humanity.
- Every virtuous being in this world is his follower; all those who are not virtuous do not belong to him.
- The life of the Holy Prophet had two aspects. One was ‘revealed’ and the other was ‘concealed’. The overt aspect showed hint as he administrator, the Commander-in-Chief and the performer of all duties as a human being. This objective was fulfilled during His lifetime. It was temporarily and short-lived. The real object of his Prophethood lay in the covert aspect of his life, which included his preaching of love and brotherhood, his moral and spiritual training of men and his striving for the progress and prosperity of humanity. Beyond doubt, this objectives is of permanent value and this was the very purpose of his Prophethood. The mystic has been trying to follow the latter aspect of the Prophet’s life and has adopted a creed considerably different from that of the opportunists and exhibitionists.
- By the Holy Prophet, the mystic means that the human mind has attained to such a stage of development that, after the last Messenger, God no longer needs to guide man with revelations or super-intellect. After the Holy Prophet, the veil between the Creator and the created has been lifted and the Almighty has conveyed His eternal and final message of love to humanity after him, there remains no need for any other divine message.
The fifth slogan of the fundamentalists, who try to interpret Islam in terms of their own liking, has been that the Muslims are the chosen people of God. Therefore, it is their birthright and the foremost duty to lead the entire world. The real purpose of this slogan has been to misguide the simple-minded Muslims to prepare them to make sacrifices, thereby paving the way for the opportunists to grab power and amass wealth. On the other hand, the mystics have regarded the enslavement or exploitation 0£ the weak against the teachings of Islam.
The mystic knows very well that most of those considered, as "the chosen creatures of God" have never adopted such ways, which the Almighty approved. It was because of differences and contradictions that a large number of sects cropped up. Each sect declared the followers of other sects as infidels or renegades torturing and shedding the blood of their opponents mercilessly. Barring others, these men brutally massacred Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet, along with his relatives and friends. The dead bodies of the martyrs were trampled under horses’ hooves and their heads were spiked on spears for exhibition in towns and villages. Hundreds and thousands of the followers of the Prophet, saints, pious and upright men were first subjected to extreme torture and then they were done to death. In subsequent ages Mansoor, Sarmad, Shams Tabrez, Makhdoom Bilawal, Shah Inayat Sufi and scores of similar great men were killed by no one but by the Muslims.
Whenever a Muslim ruler decided to get rid of an upright man, his paid priests and his men-at-arms always supported him. Muslim history is replete with such events. One who tries to feed the Muslims on such hollows slogans or sheer sentiments, claiming them to be the superior beings or to be world leaders is either ignorant of Muslim history or is deliberately trying to deceive the people for personal gain. Such a person may enjoy popularity or command respect among the men of his own creed, but such popularity is short-lived because, with each passing day, the Muslim masses are becoming more and more conscious. The day is not far off when such exploiters will be fully exposed and will have no place in society.
Apart from the creed of the mystics, if the claim of the opportunists is judged in the light of reason and experiences it will fall flat on its face. A glaring example in this respect can be cited - the Punjab riots of 1953. The Government of Pakistan had constituted an inquiry commission consisting of two High Court Judges, Mr. Justice Mohammed Munir and Mr. Justice Rustam Kiyani. In their report, the learned members of Commission stated that the reputed religious scholars, who appeared before them as witnesses, had no unanimity of opinion regarding the Islamic State and the Islamic way of life. Further, each of them held a different opinion of Islam from the other. The scholar of a sect declared that the followers of other sects were misguided infidels. The learned judges expressed their opinion that if the evidence of those scholars was to be relied upon, no one could be called a Muslim.
This is the plight of the faith of these so-called Muslims, but if you look at their actions, you will come across innumerable men who are not only downright corrupt but were also lairs, hypocrites and tyrants of the worst order. These men keep on sucking the blood 0£ the poor and the indigent. They are also inimical to each other. In such a sad state of affairs, how can the Muslims be called a nation, which is based on the unity of thought and action? Such a nation has neither existed in the past, nor does it exist today nor can it exist in future. This slogan has been invented only to serve the vested interests of the ruling class, which has nothing to do with Islam in practice. In the context of the modern world. This slogan has become even more absurd because there is hardly a single Muslim country, which can be compared with any of the advanced countries of the world. Thus, when all Muslim countries are backward, how can the Muslims be regarded as "the chosen people of God" or men born to lead the world? Such a conceited notion is nothing but self-deception and ignorance.
On the very basis of such a concept of nationhood, the Pakistan Movement was initiated in the sub-continent. In 1943, a pamphlet was distributed on behalf of the Sindh Muslim league, which made the following points. It was claimed that the creation of Pakistan was essential because: -
3. Only the chaste, the upright and the God-fearing men would run the government.
4. All religions and all sects of Islam would enjoy complete freedom.
5 It would be the responsibility of the government to eliminate poverty, oppression, ignorance and economic exploitation.
6. Civil liberties would be guaranteed and free legal aid would be provided by the State to every citizen.
7 Virtue alone, not power and pelf, would be the criterion for human dignity.
3. The feelings of hatred and enmity have infected the two peoples to the extent that both are at daggers drawn with each other and, instead of ameliorating the conditions of their peoples; they squander money on the purchase of arms. Further, in order to browbeat each other the two nations dance to the tune of the great Powers.
4. As a result of bad blood between the two countries, the feelings of brotherhood, tolerance and mutual respect have vanished altogether.
3. Crude theocracy and its increasing terror have retarded objective and scientific research in the country. At the same time, it has prevented new discoveries and inventions.
4. To serve the vested interests of a particular group, the small provinces are gobbled up in the name of so-called unity. The people of these small provinces are being exploited. Under the pernicious One Unit system, the people of the small provinces were deprived of their civil rights. They were also economically, socially and culturally exploited.
5. The people of East Pakistan, * despite being in majority, were deprived of their just and legitimate rights.
6. Even after decades, there has been no settlement with India on the problem of Kashmir, nor has Afghanistan been approached for a solution of the Pakhtoonistan problem. Consequently, we are forced to spend money on a huge army, which is becoming a ruling army.
7. The rulers’ have kept on feeding the people on false slogans. These slogans are unnecessarily given the shape of political problems.
8. The people are politically conscious but attempts are made to benumb their consciousness and slogans are being vociferously raised to run the country on religious lines. Besides the laws of inheritance and marriage contract, traditional Islam has no concern with the laws of modern governments nor can Islam, as interpreted by the Muslim priest, guide a technical and scientific society.
9. As a result of the misunderstanding about Islam caused by the interpretation of the Muslim priests, young men are feeling disgusted with religion. These young people have started feeling that Islam is an instrument of force, coercion and exploitation.
*East Pakistan formed a part of Pakistan when this book was written.
The present grouping of people is artificial and unnatural. Every virtuous being, whichever religion he apparently belongs to, is a Muslim. In the same way, each bad man is a non-Muslim.
The Sixth Slogan of the Opportunists
Those who interpret Islam in the light of their vested interests very often raise the cry: [Islam is the only means of salvation for mankind. Therefore, it is necessary to wage war for its expansion.
If this slogan is analyzed, it will appear to be as shallow and misleading as other slogans raised by the opportunists. This slogan is raised only to dupe and mislead the simple-minded Muslims so that the self-seekers may fatten at the cost of the masses.
I have stated in the preceding pages that after the Holy Prophet, there has never been a unified concept of Islam nor will it ever exist. Therefore, the question arises as to what type of Islam will rid the world of its troubles so that it must be forced upon all nations. Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, an eminent scholar, commenting on these slogans of the Muslim priests, said:
Some of the Muslims in India have such a misconceived notion with regard to their nationality, which has no basis in reality. We have been thinking about an Islamic party for a long time. However, there is neither any plan about it in our minds nor does any such party exist anywhere in the world. We have confined ourselves to such a world of imagination that we have not only become all ignorant of the history, progress and struggle for freedom of all other Muslim nations but, in our own country we do not have a clear-cut and well chalked-out plan.
In the present age, where the Muslims are lagging behind in almost every walk of life, is it not self-deception to claim that they are born to rule the world? How can the Muslims rule the far more civilized, cultured, developed and powerful nations of the world? What is there in Muslim priesthood which will be a source of inspiration to the people as a whole? Is the entire world mad so as, to accept the leadership of the poor, the illiterate and the superstitious? In addition, when the nations of the world do not come to the fold of Islam of their own free will, what power do the monopolists of Islam have to force them to accept their leadership?
In fact, the greatness and sanctity of Islam in the modern times demands that priesthood should be done away with as early as possible. It is also evidently clear that priesthood is a curse, whether it is defended by the philosophy of Allama Iqbal or by the writings of Maulana Maudoodi. The efforts being made to propagate an idea based on hatred, narrow-mindedness, violence and fascism in this day and age is a curse inherited from our primitive past.
In addition to it, the concept of preaching and spreading theocracy in these times is as ridiculous as a mouse claiming the hunting down of a lion. Even those Western Powers, which enjoy superiority over all other countries of the world, by all means appear to be shunning force in their dealings with the weaker nations. These Powers have at least apparently learnt to adopt the principle of co-existence. The Russian Communists, whose fundamental faith had been to export their way of life to other regions of the world through sheer force, gave up the idea. They, too, opted for other ways such as cooperation or aid in social, cultural and economic fields. In the world of today, the only countries which believe in the employment of force are Communist China, Pakistan and Israel. It is obvious that in the present atomic age these countries cannot subjugate the entire world. A~ the most, the rulers of these countries can suppress their own countrymen who do not conform to their views. Thus, they may perpetuate their power with the help of these enticing slogans.
The Seventh Slogan of the Opportunists
"Religion and politics are inseparable". This is the seventh important slogan of the opportunists. The main objective of this slogan is that a dictator or a group of despotic men should be the rulers in a Muslim country.
Attempts are being made to run the affairs of the country in the light of the tainted interpretation of the opportunists who act as the pied pipers of the rulers. History is witness that such types of governments have proved to be extremely repressive and exploitative. They are also immune to reason and argument, justice and fair play. In modern terminology, this kind of government is called fascistic.
Hundreds of interpretations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah are in vogue and the Muslims are divided into various sects. Which sect is right and which is wrong? Who is going to decide it? In addition, can such a decision be made or not? Whatever may be the claim of some persons under their compelling vested interests, it is all-futile.
Leave the fundamental differences. There exist a lot of differences of secondary nature and there appears no hope of patching them up. For instance, take the family laws as implemented by the government. One group passionately pleads that anti-Islamic while another group hails them as Islamic, advocating their implementation with the same degree of vehemence. To top it all, both the groups glamour for the establishment of the Islamic government. There appears a glaring contradiction in the thought and Muslim history is a testimony to the fact that the mullahs (priests) have always played in the hands of the rulers and they have always justified such actions which have brought a bad name to Islam.
Except for the exploitation of the masses, there exists nothing in priesthood, which may be of any value to the modern style of life. Further, religion is created for man; man is not created for religion. When the laws of religions lost their utility because of changing conditions of life, how can things, which have merely conventional importance, benefit society?
I consider priesthood (mullahism) to be a hydraheaded evil. People should be made to know that it is a dangerous means of safeguarding the illegitimate interests of dictators and perpetuating their power. The self-seekers are using Islam as a stunt. To analyze the situation in its real perspective is the need of the hour. The Muslim masses of this country should realize as to why other Muslim countries have done away with priesthood. Why is it that in Pakistan alone there is an outcry for the Islamic system of government?
The simple folk, who are misled in the name of Islam, are ignorant of history. Had they even a modicum of knowledge about history, they would have known that religion and politics do not go together. Whenever politics is mixed with religion, nations and communities have to suffer untold miseries. In the light of historical evidence, the Hindus, the Christians and some of the Muslim countries have at last abandoned this course. The champions of politics allied with religion are not only the enemies of Islam but also the enemies of all those whom they will be fool easily. Further, by their constant harping on religion, they will soon make the people sick of it. In Russia and other countries, the growth of atheisms or disgust with religion was the result of the undue hold and narrow-minded actions of the clergy.
The mullahs in this country raise slogans for the implementation of an unadulterated Islamic system on the one hand while they support democracy, which was introduced by the Greeks and successfully practiced by the British on the other. Further, these clergies put a condition that the high officials and functionaries of the government should be well versed in religious learning. At the same time, they plead that everyone who has attained a certain age is entitled to vote and contest elections irrespective of caste and creed. They also regard the emancipation of women and their education as against the teachings of Islam. However, at the same time, they grant women the equal right to vote. They make tall talk about Islamic culture. At the same time they hit their enemies below the belt and use provocative language against them. They pronounce photography as unlawful in Islam but persuade the Press to get their own photographs published. Similarly, the mullahs proscribe dancing and music, but they enjoy them a lot on their own radio and TV sets. They condemn Western civilization but, with the sole exception of their dress, they make utmost use of comforts and luxuries, which are invented by the West. For example, they use things such as soaps, towels, flush toilets, clocks, telephones, cars, TV sets, dinner sets, sofa, tables, chairs, etc. They may probably be considering that these things do not belong to Western culture but, at the same time, they extort money in the name of religious ceremonies and rituals and think that this is sacred.
The mullahs know very well that the degree which society has changed. They can neither enact nor implement such harsh laws like amputation of hands of the thieves, stoning the adulterer, slaughtering their opponents, forcing others to keep beards, making men to pray by force and confining women to the seclusion of their homes. However, in spite of their helplessness, they keep on playing the same tune. All these contradictions of mullahism prove that these slogans are meant for hoodwinking the simple-minded Muslims and, having played with the sentiments of the masses, they try to derive the maximum benefits for the themselves.
History is witness that, because of religious domination, the Brahmins (high-caste Hindus) turned millions of men into untouchables. Siriiil~4y, in the name of religion, the Christian priests burnt millions of men and a large number of men were killed in the Crusades. Muslim history is also replete with such atrocities. The Caliphate was established in the same of Islam and Ijma (consensus) but the Caliphate degenerated into kingship. When the policy of a ruler was opposed, it was regarded as opposition to religion. Thus, sects came into being in quick succession. There existed a lot of bad blood among them and, for centuries, much human blood was shed in the name of religion. Humanism and fellow-feeling lost their appeal. The vanquished were ill-treated. They were tortured to death. The ways of torture were, however, different. Sometimes they were buried in the walls alive, sometimes they were done to death after their limbs being chopped off and sometimes their bodies were trampled under horses’ hooves. Then their heads were spiked on spears; their women and children were driven to different places as captives. Most dictators and kings to crush their opponents proudly adopted these and many other tyrannical measures.
The martyrdom of Hazrat Usman, the battles of Amir Moaviah with Hazrat Ali, the most poignant tragedy of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain. The slaughter of 120,000 people at the hands of Hajjaj bin Yusuf. In addition to his numerous battles in which thousands of people were killed. The destroyed the Omayyad graves and those of their supporters by Abu Saffah Abbasi. The bloody battles between the Abbasids and the Fatmids, the destruction of Baghdad and other parts of the Muslim world by the Mongols, downfall of the Moghuls in India after Aurangzeb are some of the events. This occurred in the name of religion and was caused by the extremist policies of some sects of Islam. Thus, it comes to be said. "Islam was daubed in its own blood". Despite all these gory and horrible events, this has been the stunt of mullahism that murderers, plunderers and tyrants are remembered by such honorific. As Amirul-Momineen (leader of the faithful), Ghazi (great warrior), Zil-lil-lah (the shadow of God), etc, and those who dedicated their lives for the honor and greater glory of mankind, those who were chaste and upright are condemned and downgraded. Mansoor was put on the gallows, Shams Tabrez was skinned alive, Sarmad was assassinated, Shah Enayat was martyred and Makhdoom Bilawal was done to death after being tortured, but the misguided mullahs never take their names. The example set by Imam Hussain provides the greatest strength and inspiration to every freedom fighter and to the righteous but the mullah does not speak about him.
Our rulers, who are wedded subservient to their vested interests, give out that they are believers in the principle of a peaceful solution to the problems. This is only to deceive the world. This way the rulers pose themselves as the champions of freedom, justice and human rights But they pay no heed to the principle of granting autonomy to the smaller provinces like Sindh, Balochistan and the NWFP whose legitimate rights they have been usurping ever since the creation of this country. In fact, all that glitters is not gold. To set up a dictatorial system of government, to crush the opposition by force, to deprive the people of their fundamental rights, are the outcomes of mixing religion with politics.
In the present times, when all the religions are struggling for their survival and are engrossed in safeguarding the beliefs with regard to the existence of God, individual liberty and life after death are concepts which can prove as deterrents against the challenge of atheism. Atheism is bent upon uprooting the fundamental beliefs of religions, thereby liberating people from the shackles of superstition. Its attendants are intellect and science. In such a state of affairs, it behooved the custodians of religions to discard bigotry superstition, hatred and narrow-mindedness and adopt a more positive approach by presenting religion in an attractive manner and projecting it as a symbol of the dignity of man, of individual and collective liberty. Thus, they could have encountered the rising tide of atheism and agnosticism. As compared to the believers in other religions, the followers of Islam, especially the Muslims of Pakistan should have come forward. Because in no other part of the world, as in this land, is such a hue and cry raised in the name of Islam and because nowhere else do there exist as many claimants and monopolists of Islam as in Pakistan.
However, we see that everything is being done contrary to the urges of the time. To combat atheism, not only that no cogent arguments are being advanced but that, as a result of the negative attitude, those holding different opinions in politics, are being victimized. In this way, ground is being rapidly paved for atheism. Whether religion retains its magnificence or loses it, they are not bothered. They stand for self-interest and nothing else.
However, if we are to save out people and the greatness of Islam from impending doom. If we wish that the noble ideals and humanity should flourish, if we want to get rid of tyranny and violence, hatred and prejudice, selfishness and avarice, we shall have to keep religion and politics apart. Further, we should in no case rely on the interpretation of the Muslim priests, but be guided by such interpretation of Islam which is capable of solving the problems of the present-day world and that, too, in accordance with the current demands.
The Mystics Interpretation of Islam
At different places in the Holy Qur’an of such:
- 1. Who do not incite trouble, nor do they create hatred and prejudice through the metaphorical verses of the Qur’an. The follow the verses of fundamental value promote fellow-feeling and peace in the world. 2. Who do not form any opinion, arrive at any decision, or profess any faith unless they have very well thought over the matter.
3. Who seek knowledge about the tribes and nations of the past either through study or through observation. Further, they look into the causes of the rise and fall of nations and learn a lesson from them.
However, if the achievements of the men of this group are to be viewed, the effects of their teachings will be seen everywhere in the world. These effects are largely visible in Greece, Egypt, Arabia, China and India. Notwithstanding the differences in caste, creed, color and country, the fundamental beliefs and principles of this group have been almost uniform all over the world.
Muslim mystics have laid the foundations of their faith on love and knowledge about God. This love and knowledge are limitless. However, like life, they are always moving and evolving. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was right when he said:
The Two groups of Muslim mystics
Muslim mystics belong to two groups. One group consists of such great men who founded their order on the basis of the Caliphate and allegiance. In this way, they chastened their souls and strengthened the moral fiber of their followers. The second group comprises such righteous men who tried to perceive truth and dedicated their lives to the promotion of peace, progress and well-being of mankind.
The first group
This group of the Muslim mystics has four orders namely, the Qadari, the Suharwardi, the Chishti and the Naqshbandi. The great saints of these orders served the people in their own ways. They not only rendered valuable services by morally uplifting the masses, but they also tried to inoculate in men feelings of endurance and fortitude. It was because of their teachings that sectarian hatred, prejudices were reduced largely, and religious tolerance was largely practiced. The saints of these orders also preached that we should desist from using force and coercion. At the same time, they stressed the need for self-control. Amity towards everyone and hatred towards none was the very essence of the mission of the saints belonging to all these four orders.
Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi, Hazrat Shibli, Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Hazrat Shaikh Abu Najeeb Suhrawardy, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri and Hazrat Khawaja Bahauddin Naqshbandi are venerable saints of these orders. These great men not only impressed men of letters but they also succeeded in attracting a large number of common people. These saints ignored the maze of outward religious rituals and yet at the same time, they reformed people by their pragmatic methods. In fact, they contributed a lot to the improvement of the morals of the common man.
The second group
In this group, there are such saints who did not deem it necessary either to establish institutions in formal way nor did they confine their teachings to particular institutions. The outward beliefs and rituals of religion lost their value in their eyes. To them, rituals were detrimental to religion. They pursued knowledge freely and tried to reach to the core of all problems. They reflected on serious questions such as: What is life? What is the purpose of life? What is the truth about life and the Hereafter?
In this connection, these saints gained considerably from the treasure of knowledge bequeathed by the old philosophers and jurists of Egypt. Iran, Greece, Arabia and India. Through extensive research, inquiry, analysis and comparison, they discovered the secret of the fundamental Unity of God, which lay hidden under the multiplicity of religions and faiths. This is the reason why, in their search for Truth they worked with unrelenting courage and perseverance. They found the outward form of faith and rituals of no value and expressed with utmost clarity the truth about the Ultimate Reality.
The saints had known that the real purpose of religion was service to humanity. However, the real purpose was thwarted and service to mankind was denied because conventional belief and lifeless rituals had come in the way. Therefore, religion ceased to be a force. Instead of love, it sowed the seeds of discord, prejudice and hatred. Thus, in the name of religion or sect, a cleavage was created between man and man each religious group became an exploiting group and the vested interests of each group clashed with other groups. Instead of being an island of peace, the world had become a pit of discord. Therefore, the saints found no other course to adopt except to preach unity. They dedicated their lives to this noble mission.
From, among these saints, there emerged two groups: extrovert and introvert saints. Both believed in the ‘Oneness of God (Wahdat-ul-Wajood). Love and pursuit of the knowledge of God inspired both.
The only difference was in the method of expression. The extrovert saints believed in no expediency ~d, along with the open preaching of the Oneness of God they bitterly criticized the clerics. On the other hand, the introvert saints employed similes, metaphor symbols and other subtle methods to express their ideas. To the first group belong such saints as Mansoor Hallaj Khwaja Fariduddin Attar, Shams Tabrez, Shaikh Mohiuddin Ibne Arbi, Sarmad, Shah Enayat Shaheed Sachal Sarmast, etc. In the second category too, there is a galaxy of notable saints such as Maulana Rumi, Shah Waliullah, Shah Latif Bhitai and many others.
The first belief of a mystic
All Muslim mystics are believers in the Unity of God (Wahdat-ul-Wajud). Therefore their first and foremost
Faith is that "in the background of the diversity of religions, their exists the Oneness of God". This faith has two facets:
As the Qur’an says:
b) The teachings of great men
The teachings of great men in every age consist of two parts: The first part is related to the reality about the universe and the purpose of life. The other deals with the organization and development of human society according to current requirements. The nature of problems, which comes under the purview of the first part, is fundamental and eternal. The problems of the second part are of a secondary and transient nature.
The reality about the universe
This topic is very wide and deals with questions such as worldly goods, creation of things, spirit and matter knowledge of the secrets of Nature and their reality. The mystic compares them with an unbounded sea or a limitless desert. He gets lost in their depths. The more he tries to delve, the more he is wonder-struck and except for bewilderment, he finds nothing. However, he keeps on marching ahead. In the words of Hafiz Shirazi:
The real purpose of life for a mystic lies in continued struggle on the evolutionary path of the universe. He regards love and attachment as a sound basis for evolution and struggle. This, he feels, is the soul of every religion. Love is a force which attracts every object and which is the ultimate source of the achievement of all objectives. He cares not as to when these objectives will materialize. The only passion of his life is to tread the right path with all sincerity and perseverance, and at the same time, he may invite others to take the same path. He is never frustrated by the vicissitudes of life nor does he lose hope for a bright future. He is fully confident of the truth of his belief.
Regarding the organization and development of human society, there have been teachings of great men in all ages. However, these teachings are of a secondary nature and, at times, of temporary value. These teachings are of three kinds: pertaining to faith, to mutual relations of human beings and to prayers as well as rituals.
As regards faith, ever since the primitive era, man’s mind has been deeply influenced by the concepts of reward and punishment, fear and temptation. These ideas were so profound and so universally established that they could not altogether be done away with. The great men were very well aware of the fact. Therefore, they instantly wiped out every superstition, which they could. However, the ideas, which were deeply rooted and could not be easily brushed aside, these great men, by the force of their personalities, made them relevant to the requirements of a prevalent social order. Those who had money and power exploited the masses in the name of superstition because they were interested in perpetuating themselves in power. And whose who, instead of power and pelf, were gifted with blessings of intellect and knowledge, tried their best to root out superstition and rendered valuable services in order to better the lot of human beings.
The men in power borrowed most of the old tribal conventions because of their own personal interests. With the help of these conventions, they managed national and social affairs. Afterwards, these conventions assumed the shape of laws. Similarly, ideas about atonement and sin, good and bad, reward and punishment as enunciated by the religious leaders, came to be established as the religious code (Shariah). Incentives of both social and religious codes are fundamentally based on optimism and hope. The only difference between them is that the reward or punishment as granted by the rulers is received in this world and during the lifetime of an individual. However, the reward or punishment as promised by the religious men is to be reaped after death. These rewards and punishments are in the shape of Heaven and Hell.
Sometimes these temporal and spiritual institutions ran counter to each other, but later, because of the identity of their interests, both cooperated with each other. Thus, power rested with the temporal lords, and the position of the religious leaders remained secondary. This was the reason why the spiritual lords had to be subservient to the temporal lords, and as the exigencies of the time demanded, religious men had to interpret
religion in accordance with the wishes of the rulers. Besides, the general masses had to obey the rulers because they could not afford to displease them. The rulers exploited the common man. So did religious as leaders. The people were ground under the crushing wheels of temporal and spiritual lords. This process continued for a very long time. In Pakistan, it is unfortunately still going on. In other parts of the world because of the increasing exploitation of rulers and religious leaders, people have revolted against them because there is a limit to human endurance.
During the last five hundred years, the world has changed radically. Social life in most countries has changed beyond recognition. People departed from conventionalism and gave serious thought to the governance of their mundane affairs. Thus, the need for a constitution arose. Consequently, democracies came into being, first in Europe and later in other parts of the world. Religion was divorced from politics. Religion came to be considered and treated as the personal affair of man. Superstition, dogma and faith were judged on the touchstone of reason, logic and intellect. Most countries have adopted this way of life. But Pakistan is the only exception where, despite enormous changes on the social and national level, some groups, for their own selfish motives and through their paid agents (priests), are bent upon misusing religion as a means of political exploitation. As stated earlier, most of the superstitions, dogmas and rituals as defended and propagated by the Muslim priests, have lost their value in the modern context. If the majesty and dignity of Islam are to be preserved, then there can be no room for these superstition dogmas and rituals. However, the rulers and the priests appear to be striving for the preservation of these ills because it is through them ills that they prosper. Therefore, they keep on supporting these evils. Abdullah Khwab has rightly said:
The teachings of the great men are fundamentally related to ethics, which is called jurisprudence in religious terminology. There have been social and moral laws in every age, region, religion and faith. The study of anthropology reveals that with the passage of time, changes have occurred in society and in moral codes. Religious laws are not immune to changes and the evolutionary process. Prophets, saints and philosophers have always initiated changes in conformity with the requirements of time. However, despite this established fact, the self-centered priest has always played a diabolical role and has obstructed the way to progress and change. In Pakistan, the Muslim priests are making hectic efforts to introduce the Islamic order. It means that they are striving to re-introduce the way of the Bedouin in an age of science and technology.
The common men and simple-minded Muslims appear to be carried away by such slogans. It is, therefore, the bounden duty of every right-thinking person to fight obscurantism. Therefore, I have been stressing this point that all laws are the products of time. No laws are eternal, nor can they ever be so. Laws also change according to changing social conditions. This is the Law of Nature and it is binding on all religions.
Another important reason is that the masses, being uneducated, are psychologically convention-ridden and are not easily prepared to renounce the age-old faiths and rituals handed down to them by their ancestors. In addition to it, the masses generally live in the past. The fourth reason is that they lack self-confidence and. therefore, are not able to solve their problems. Therefore, they seek escape in romanticizing the past. The exploiters try to make the most of these weaknesses of the masses.
The exploiters firmly believe that in case they succeed in harmonizing religion with politics, their interests will be safeguarded and, the danger of mass awakening will no longer exist. Secondly, they will enjoy future domination in religion and politics. Then they will be able to further enlarge their interests. One, who impedes their way, will be discredited as a criminal in this world and in the Hereafter. It is an irony of fate that now when an acute need is being felt to make the judiciary independent of the executive, even religion is being entrusted to the latter.
This is the problem that our society is confronted with today. Escapism is no solution. Nor should we try to seek refuge in the misty past. Had there been some attraction in the past order, our forefathers would not have given it up. The need of the day is for us to become self-confident and self-reliant. We should try to understand the problems of our age and, as our forefathers molded laws in accordance with the conditions of their time, we should modify them according to our requirements. This way we can serve our people and ourselves. The following points deserve our immediate attention:
3. Moral and social codes will be given a new shape according to the demands of modern society.
Psychologically speaking, man has proved to be more emotional and sensitive as compared to other animals. Adversity, loss, sorrow, torture, fear, anger etc. affect his peace of mind. He consequently feels restless. As medical experts have to work on physical ailments, so have the seers and psychologists to cure man of mental suffering. In the past, there existed primitive methods of treatment. Most of those methods have since been discarded. Not only that they are considered as highly primitive. In the psychological field, there did exist methods in the past that did satisfy people. Such methods were like worshipping idols, singing hymns in their honor, prayers and supplications, requiems, sacrifice of animals, charms, spells, etc. However, in the modern times, these things have lost their utility. Among the Muslims, most of these things are still in practice. Out of them, prayer is regarded not only as the most important but also as a mandatory obligation. It is regarded as the first and foremost tenet of faith. As one of the basic pillars of Islam, prayer is binding on all the ‘Muslims. As the poet says:
3. Prayer gives satisfaction to the heart.
4. Prayer leads to salvation.
5. Prayer saves one from sin
It is also claimed that God creates man. He grants him life. God nourishes man, protects him from dangers and accidents. All divine blessings are but for man. Therefore, man should be thankful to Him for His countless blessings on which his life depends. Prayer, in fact is a gesture of man’s obedience to God and an expression of gratitude to Him.
To the mystic, the concept of a personal God is unacceptable. On the contrary, he believes in a God, who has neither a body nor a shape, who is timeless and spaceless. Who is immune to human feelings, emotions and other traits. He is Self-existing and selfless. He is neither procreated by anyone nor has He given birth to anyone. He needs neither the world nor its dwellers. He is impervious to the feelings of propitiation and anger.
He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. He is much nearer to man than his jugular vein. The mystic further believes that, except God, nothing exists in the whole universe. Whatever is visible, is the reflection of His Self or of His Attributes. His Attributes and self are one and the same. This is the stage where a mystic cares not for prayer and like Bedil, he says:
By sublimation of self, is meant restraining animal instincts and feelings. Now we have to find out as to what the baser feelings are which are essentially to be controlled. What are human desires feelings and emotions? How are they created? A detailed discussion on the subject is not feasible here. In this context, I shall only say that complete freedom from natural desires is, in the first place, beyond human nature. Secondly, if there are some men who have subordinated their passions, even this will bring no good to society. This extreme measure, not based on moderation, will make people dull and insipid. There should be a role for passions in the life of an individual to the extent that Nature warrants it. The mystics have divided self into three categories: the baser self, the normal self, and the contented self.
The baser self
This is the worst and the lowest category of self. Under its influence, the desires in an individual are unbridled and, like a beast; he feels no qualm of conscience in their fulfillment. All social maladies and all man-made catastrophes are the product of this category of self. In the primitive ages, the baser self was the most dominant one. Now, after thousands of years of experience of its baneful effects, much of it has been controlled but it is still reflected in the prejudices of caste, creed and color or in the intoxication of power and pelf or in other types of evil deeply ingrained into human nature.
The normal self
A person having a normal self possesses the power to distinguish between right and wrong. He has full regard for the established norms of his tribe or society. There is no denying the fact that during different ages and in different tribes and societies, there have been different standards of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Therefore, a man of normal self generally puts some restraint on his passion. However, it does not mean that he becomes completely devoid of passion or that his passion is fully restrained. There is every likelihood that, at moments, he may become a victim of internal conflict and thus try to grab something secretly for his personal gain. Further, for the satisfaction of his self, he may find some pretext or the other.
The contented self
This is the most sublimated stage of self, which can to be achieved by very few people. Those who have reached this stage possess extraordinary wisdom and knowledge. Their will power is so strong and ability of action is so enormous that they are the masters of their self and keep away from evil deeds. However, they cannot be barred from casual falterings. Men of contented self are also liable to err.
Now the question arises that if prayer sublimates self, then a person of which category of self is profited. It is obvious that men of contented self do not need any further sublimation. Therefore, its usefulness remains for the persons of normal and baser self. However, the persons of these two categories may only be profited when they perform prayers with all sincerity, concentration of mind and submissiveness. Further, the worshipper may also know about the meanings of the words, which he is uttering, and the act, which he is performing. He may be fully confident that the object he is worshipping is present before him. He is so much inspired while in prayer that he may fall into a trance.
Look all around honestly. How many people are there who offer prayers in such a way? Is it not right that with the exception of very few, all are the slaves of their passions and the possessors of normal and baser selves? In their personal lives, they are cheats, frauds, smugglers, bribe-seekers, adulterers, usurpers, thugs, hypocrites and persons of bad conduct, but they offer prayers, as a matter of compulsion. In such a condition, is it not proved that prayer does not reform the conduct of bad people? It was for this reason that Sultan Bahu felt constrained to say:
It is an established fact that at misfortune moments or in a state of sorrow or helplessness, men feels an acute need for help from some supernatural power. At this moment of distress, worship or prayer satiates the heart. In this state, many people approach gods, goddesses, rivers, animals, God and many other objects, entreating them or Him for help. Whether his distress or difficulty is overcome through such entreaties, is a different matter. However, doubtless, one’s heart feels satisfied. Worship and prayer are, therefore, used as a sedative, a tranquilizer or a balm. However, it is also an acknowledged fact that excessive or untimely use of a medicine loses its efficacy and as in case of addiction, a medicine is no longer effective. In the same way, excess of worship and prayer loses its efficacy.
4. Prayer will lead to salvation
The fourth advantage of prayer is described as salvation. However, the mystic, as presented by the priest, does not share the idea of the Day of Judgement. The mystic knows that Heaven; Hell, Doomsday, etc. are all symbolic. These symbols are used for making those men righteous who cannot mend their ways without temptation or fear. Such things, in fact, are non-existent and worshipping non-existent things is meaningless. Besides, a mystic is intoxicated with the love of God. Every act of his is in consonance with the wishes of the Beloved and for His love, not for greed or for striking a bargain on the Day of Judgement. For a mystic, worship and prayer are for the sake of a glance at the resplendent glow on the face of the Beloved and not for any ulterior motives.
5. Prayer saves one from sin
The fifth advantage of prayer, as claimed by the priest and the exploiter, is neither acceptable neither to a mystic nor to those who know the truth. They know it that social transgressions committed society cannot be atoned for by prayer. If the contention of the priest is accepted that prayer is the key to salvation, then divine justice will appear ridiculous. Every black-marketer, blackmailer, smuggler, hoarder, usurper, robber and murderer will hope for the mercy of God if he is praying regularly. Those who hold such a view are perhaps not aware that God cannot be coaxed or bribed through worship and prayer. Those who have pained or persecuted His creatures in any manner are sure to be punished.
It is understandable that worship and prayer may be of some use for penance and abstaining from acts of transgression in future, but what about past misdeeds. Can God forgive one who has committed heinous crimes and acts of transgression? Through those crimes and transgressions, many innocent here suffered. If Cod does so, it will be against His own norms of justice. In fact, the crimes, which are being committed today, are the result of this distorted and crooked notion. In the present-day world, it is observed that smugglers black-marketers, drug-dealers and similar other persons of shady character contribute generously to the building of a mosque or other works of public utility. It is because they are under the impression that such philanthropic acts will lead them to Heaven. A mystic regards such men as hypocrites. It was about these hypocrisies that Sultan Bahu said:
The second belief of a mystic
To a mystic, all human beings are like a single body whose different limbs cannot be severed from each other. To him, real humanity is that each man may share the sufferings of another. To compartmentalize humanity into religions, sects, groups and nations is against the Laws of Nature and against the Will of God. A mystic is convinced that the real dignity of man is much higher that the petty differences of caste, creed and color. Such differences are not only artificial but also harmful. To quote Shaikh Saadi:
The Muslim mystic considers all the formal and exhibitionist aspects of all religions as worthless. He has, therefore, no concern with them. He always tries to delve into the inner spirit of religion, ignoring its outer form. To him, intellect and love are the two facets of one and the same image. For his guidance and for the guidance of others, he tries to seek refuge in intellect and love. Nothing else does attract him, nor does he need any other thing. The mystic likes not to be attached to such petty and conventional things as have lost their value. Thus, he is progressive in outlook. He likes new things, which are required at a given point in time. He perceives Nature as ever moving, ever-changing and revolutionary. Therefore, it is necessary to keep pace with change. Nothing is static or morbid for him. Since everything is moving, therefore, it is living. The mystic perceives the sun, the moon, the earth, the stars, and the planets in motion. Further, climatic change the blowing of the wind and the flow of water convinces him of the eternal evolutionary process. His eyes see human beings, animals and plants coming into existence; then growing with the passage of time; and finally, decaying. Other human beings, animals and plants replace the decaying. Except for God, nothing is eternal. How can one be expected to believe in static being or a system that has closely watched this continuous change?
This is the reason that when a ruler or a priest commands a mystic either to do or not to do a thing in the name of God or the Holy Prophet, he gets to the bottom of the intention behind the command. To the mystic, such a command betrays a dictatorial attitude and it is motivated by personal gain. A mystic is, therefore, a rebel. He construes truth to be as much within the reach of everyone as sunshine or air. No individual, group or nation has the right to monopolize truth. His fundamental principles rest on the basis of life and death. He is fully conscious of the secrets of life and believes in:
As stated earlier, a Muslim mystic is convinced that the combination of religion and politics is absolutely wrong. In his opinion, religion springs from within; it cannot be imposed from outside. It’ is, therefore, the personal affair of an individual. When a person is individually born, he also (lies individually; for his good deeds or misdeeds he himself is accountable in life; for his faith, he is supposed to be accountable on the Day of Judgement. This being so, how far are the others justified in interfering in his faith and imposing their own faith on him? Therefore, the mystic regards that every individual is free in matters of belief and may follow any religion according to his wisdom, intellect, wish, liking and experience. The mystic reposes full faith in the following verse of the Book of God:
3. In India, Raja Ram Mohan Roy did a lot for cementing ties between Hinduism and Christianity.
4. Hung Sio Chian made concerted efforts in China to bring Taoism and Christianity together.
5. In India, Moghul emperor Akbar the Great tried his best to create uniformity in Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity and the fire-worship.
6. Dara Shikoh, a great Moghul prince, endeavored to put together the collective values of all religions.
7. In Sindh, great saints such as Sachal Sarmast and Shah Enayat fought against religious and sectarian hatred and prejudices.
Equality of man is the fourth belief of a mystic. To prefer a group of persons or to regard them as superior beings on the basis of religion or sect is contrary to the mystic’s credo. Therefore, he considers priesthood (mullahism) as a curse. The following verses of the Holy Qur’an support his views:
The fifth belief of the mystic
The mystic does not distinguish between Muslims and infidels on the basis of "formal Islam and rejection of formal Islam". His belief is that the values of Islam and those of the infidels, which are according to the divine will, and the dictates of Nature, are as under:
Non-violence Force and violence
Humanism Narrow sectarianism
The values, which Islam sanctions and which are held dear by the mystics, have already been explained. I shall therefore, confined myself here to the values nurtured by the infidels.
To a mystic, each such thought or action which creates distinction between man and man thereby advocating on the one hand for the preferential rights or vested interests of a group of individuals and usurping the legitimate rights of other people, is nothing but selfishness. In the same way, any such thing which gives undue advantage to a certain sect or group is nothing short of selfishness. Further, the use of force for the enforcement of a certain belief, is nothing but sordid selfishness. Similarly, any such thing by which a certain nation or tribe thrives at the cost of others is all selfishness.
According to the mystic belief, only God has real existence. All other beings and objects are subject to decay. It is, therefore, absolutely wrong to regard diversity as reality. It is equally wrong to create any such distinction. On the basis of this belief, he feels that any prejudice or hatred created in the name of religion or sect, is a heinous crime. Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace. Anything, which becomes a bone of contention between sects groups, tribes and nations, is against the very spirit of Islam. The Muslim priest may, ever, try to draw influences from the Holy Qur’an so as to serve his vested interests, but the fact remains that it is contrary to the real spirit and message of Islam.
Fundamentally and essentially, love is the mystic’s creed. His whole existence is for the fulfillment of a noble objective love. It is the alpha and omega of his life. Love is life and hatred is death. Thus, any thought or action which impedes the message of love or which creates a gulf among individuals, sects or men of different religious denominations, is nothing but hatred. Such hatred is unjust even if it is created in the name of God.
Where love exists, there is no place for hatred. The mystic, therefore, regards hatred to be the root-cause of all evil. Hatred is that fire which burns everything. It creates a gulf between man and man. It leads to bloodshed and destruction. Therefore, in the eyes of a mystic, love, natural religion and law of evolution are one and the same thing. Similarly, hatred, hypocrisy obscurantism and hereticism are one and the same. That’s why the mystic speaks out against the Muslim priest when he perceives the latter sowing the seed of hatred and discord:
A mystic is against every form of hatred, prejudice, aggression, force, coercion and violence. He considers each one of them as evils of the worst order. These evils not only negate love, which is the very essence of the creation and existence of ma ii, but they also throttle humanism. The mystic, therefore, wants such a society to flourish in which:
c) There exists no difference among men on the basis of caste, creed and color.
d) Everyone should be free to pursue his personal beliefs.
e) There should be no clash of interest among individuals, sects or groups of individuals.