In response to an article in Organiser dated March 1, 2015, by the same author titled ‘Please, will you answer too?’, Eastern Crescent (EC), a monthly magazine, has published answers in the September and October 2015 issues. The dialogue continues here.
Question 1 : Who is kafir?
The first question was whether the Ulamas consider Hindus to be kafirs, because in the course of time they are to be eliminated. The answer to this question is indirect. With all the description, belief in many Gods, belief in afterlife not exactly on the lines described in the Holy Quran, the Hindus are kafirs. So will be with those who practising atheism and other beliefs and religious faiths. They are all kafirs. Then comes the very antithesis of all description. “Some Hindu brothers misunderstand that the word ‘kafir’ is an abusive word. This is not right. This is just to reveal the fact that so and so person does not believe in Islam. The Arabic word ‘kafir’ is not abusive nor offensive ……” (EC Sept 2015, pg 26)
I was amused to read this statement, so must have many other readers reading Urdu and English text in EC. Holy Quran (HQ) contains several passages denouncing kafirs- nonbelievers to be destined to go to hell. After the day of judgement they will be subjected to hellfire and numerous atrocities till eternity (HQ 2.217, 9.73-78 etc.). The nonbelievers will be covered with shame on the Day of Judgment (HQ 27.16). In fact the Holy Prophet (and therefore his followers) was ordained to wage Jihad against nonbelievers and hypocrites. He was urged to be firm against them as their final destination will be the hell (HQ 66.9). The believers are urged to wage Jihad against Kafirs (HQ 25.52), to slay the kafirs and even not to befriend them (HQ 66.9). The ugly fate of nonbelievers who will be subjected to the hell fire is succinctly described in HQ 41.19-20. On the background of all these ayats in the Holy text, can any true believer, Allah kabanda, ever consider kafir as an honorific term? For an average Muslim, it is abomination to be called as kafir. I have heard a truck driver abusing his cleaner (the poor chap) as “Saale Kafar”. So when any Muslim calls other person a kafir he is expressing disdain for that human being.
The feeling of disdain for kafirs extends far beyond. Sunnis consider Shias as kafirs, both of them consider Kurds, Ahamadiyas and Khojas and other minor sect peoples as kafirs. All of them in turn call each other as kafirs. Sufis are the most prominent sect with strong spiritual overtone. They too are no exception. They are ardent believers in Allah, accept Prophethood of Paigambar Mohammad, are strict followers of the faith. However theybelieve in unity with God, hakkulyakin, vahadatulvajood; they are considered wayward and kafirs by other Muslims. Sufis are under threat from Salafis all over the Islamic world and as the author Shail Mayaram states “Powerful ideas of some Sufi masters that contest annihilatory Salafist ideologies cannot be destroyed by arson and attack. (The Hindu, May 25, 2015)
The disdain that is developed towards kafirs has resulted in what I call kafirophobia in the Islamic societies. The incidents of attacks on religious places, sectarian mosques are regularly reported from the Islamic countries. After June 26 attack, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid announced that 80 mosques will be closed within a week for spreading extremism. Later on an attack on mosque in Yemen resulted in killing of 25 people and wounding of dozens more (The Hindu, Sept 25, 2015). Pakistani authorities cracked down on 48 madrasas in the Sind province involved in promoting terrorism (The Indian Express, June 6, 2015). It is to be noted that nothing of this sort of ban has come on the mosques or madrasas or these institutions being kept under Government surveillance in Bharat as it is happening in UK and Australia. It is not that these institutions are free from preaching hatred against Hindu kafirs. It is because Hindus are tolerant and just look the other way even if they come to know about it. Growth of Indian Mujahidin in Bharat is the result of these hateful teachings.
Why should the places of religious prayers be the targets of both the Governments and the terrorists in the Muslim countries? Because, these are the fountainheads of radicalisation and hotbeds of terrorist activities. Talibans owe their origin to the madrassa orientation. As mentioned above, the nonbelievers are often severely condemned in the Holy Quran. Each sect within Islam condemns others as kafirs. Over the centuries, numbers of sects and sub-sects within Islam have increased. These further added to the endemic feuds in every part of the world wherever Islam reached. Bharat too, is no exception. Reporting in The Hindu (September 27), on the recent meet of various Islamic sects held at Kozhikode in Kerala to counter IS threat, Mohamed Nazeer reports that the meet exposed the deep rooted differences among the various Islamic sects and organisations in Kerala. What leads to radicalisation? It is building up intense hatred towards kafirs and desire to punish them being nonbelievers belonging to a particular sect. They are not averse to idea of beheading kafirs. Thousands have seen the video clip where junior Owaisi of MIM expressed wish to remove the police force in Bharat for 15 min. and see the consequences for the Hindus (Kafirs) and it was followed by applause of the frenzied mob of thousands in front. Twice I witnessed in my neighbourhood in Goa the applauding mob of hundreds to the exhortation of Mullah Ruhool Amin mentioned in my March 1 article. Such a mob would not go out to garland Hindus, but surely to behead them.
Untenability of Hell and Heaven
The ancient religious texts describe existence of the life hereafter, Hell and Heaven. The last chapter of Revelations in the New Testament deals with these ideas of hell and heaven giving graphic descriptions. The mediaeval art, paintings of world renowned painters thrived on biblical ideas of the hell and heaven. In HQ too, there are graphic descriptions. The nonbelievers would undergo treatment of hellish fire, subjected to torture till eternity. The believers will be relaxing in heaven, in the lands full of gardens where there will be rivers and brooks, with plenty full of food and drinks and in the company of divine houris, the chaste female companions HQ 37.40-49, etc. Well till 1930s it could be a tenable proposition. With the advent of new cosmology, understanding of the expanding universe starting with big bang and at the end of it there will be big implosion, nothing of that sort lands, brooks and gardens etc. will ever remain. My paper on the concepts of life hereafter in different religions of oriental and occidental origin and the modern cosmology deals in depth with these concepts. To state in short, the oriental religions which preach polytheism conceive the expanding universe, whereas the Semitic religions preaching monotheism and single prophet have to be understood on the background of collapsing universe. With further development in the realms of cosmology and the final state of singularity from with the cosmos having emerged, the ideas of hell and heaven do not hold. This is an entirely different topic encompassing modern cosmology with the religious theology. It can be discussed at length. The only thing to be noted here is that the concepts of hell, heaven, atrocities and pleasures are to be accepted with the pinch of salt on the background of the modern cosmology.
Spread of Islam by sword
Although I have not raised this point, EC article deals with this topic. How the Hindus survived with majority in Bharat, is another topic of discussion. But conversion to Islam under duress is attested from the very formative years of Islam and in presence of the Holy Prophet. I quote from Life of Mohammad by Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1987 edition). It is accepted as a standard biography of the Holy Prophet. I quote here the incident of forcible conversion of Abu Sufyan, “At this point, al Abbas intervened and asked Abu Sufyan to convert to Islam and to witness, before he was put to death, that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. Faced with threat, Abu Sufyan converted and recited the confession of faith” (Page 493). Afterwards the Holy Prophet offered him some privileges. In another instance denial to convert to the Muslim faith resulted in beheadings. “(Sa’d) commanded that Banu Qurayzah should come out of their fortress and surrender their armour. Sa’d then pronounced his verdict that the fighting men be put to sword, and that their wealth be confiscated as war booty, and that the women and the children be taken as captives. When Muhammad heard the verdict, he said: “By Him Who dominates my soul, God is pleased with your judgment, O Sa’d; and so are believers” (Page 314). On that occasion some 800-900 Jews were beheaded in presence of Prophet Mohammad. Further it records that, “On that day, four hundred Jews converted to Islam” (Page 316). They accepted conversion only out of death threat. History has repeated umpteen times as late as 2015 when ISIS beheaded several unarmed Christians and flashed their pictures in media.
Freedom to choose
The oft quoted ayat HQ 2.256 literally mentions in the beginning, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” However what follows in the same ayat is the word taghut, implying human arrogance preferring evil over righteousness. The statement follows that a person has to reject taghut and accept faith in only one God implying that if one chooses to be a nonbeliever; it ends up with darkness and hell fire (HQ 2.257). This is not a choice. Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi has made elaborate comments on these two ayats highlighting wrong choice. Very few will come forward to challenge Janab Mawdudi’s interpretation. The ayat HQ 2.256 gives not the free choice, but along with HQ 2.255 and HQ 2.257 is actually a reprimand over incorrect choice of religion implying consequence of hell fire for the wrong choice.
None to be a kafir
In the world of today where one has freedom to choose to be theist, agnostic or even to be atheist, there is no reason for anyone to be labelled as a kafir or a nonbeliever. The human values which account for amicable interpersonal relations are also present in almost all the religions. But the problem arises when the right to live in this world is curtailed by stating that a particular path is the only path. So as I often repeat, a Hindu who calls other person an untouchable, a Christian who calls other person as a heathen and a Muslim who calls other person as a kafir, all are committing sin against God and humanity. In the present context let none be labelled a kafir on account of belief or disbelief in any religion, philosophy or the school of thought.
Dr Pramod Pathak (The Writer is a Vedic Scholar based in Goa and a freelancer. These are the personal views of the writer. He is responsible for his views.)
(To be concluded)