Q. Apropos the stigma of fundamentalism and terrorism against Islam, some more clarifications are needed. If terrorism for a noble cause is a virtue, every Muslim will be allowed to use force for imposing his will on another. It is universally feared that the role of a police / judge, if delegated to every individual, would paralyse the entire system of judicature and a state of anarchy is bound to prevail.
With reference to Dr. Naik’s views on fundamentalism and Islam in I.V. Nov 98, I beg to know what are the fundamentals which can never be revised by any generation? If nothing can be changed, what is the intellectual stagnation, as has been described in the same paper?
Your kind reply is sought to clarify the stigma of fundamentalism against Islam. This will also prove helpful to counter a general belief that religions have lost capacity to cope with the needs of modern age.
Faiz Mohd. Khan; Rewa
Ans. Dr. Naik, in the said article, has clearly stated; “It is true that the word terrorist is generally used for a person who causes terror among the common people. But a true Muslim should only be a terrorist to selective people, that is anti-social elements and not to the common innocent people. In fact a Muslim should be a source of peace for innocent people”. I do not think that it should generate any misunderstanding. He does not mean that every individual Muslim should take law into his own hands. For example, if there were quite a few responsible Muslims in an office, anyone would think twice before offering or accepting bribe in their presence. Qur’an declares: “Whoever becomes a Kaafir to the devil, and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break.” (2:256)
A Kaafir, in the traditional sense is a disbeliever in Allah, but in the above verse, it is clear that the word ‘Kaafir’ is used in a different sense to emphasize its true and literal meaning. The use of the word above does not create misunderstanding. Similarly, the use of the word ‘terrorist’ carries a different meaning other than its traditional meaning in the said sentence. It has been explained in the article that Islam means ‘peace’ and a Muslim terrorist should generate a sense of peace among masses. There is no place for terrorism in Islam and the specific use of ‘terrorist’, in the write-up does not signify a La-Robinhood or a lawbreaker.
Dr. Naik has nowhere written that ‘nothing can be changed’. Only the fundamentals cannot be changed. If the fundamentals of any doctrine are changed, they loses their relevance. If the fundamentals of Islam are changed, they will no more be Islamic. If you deliberate upon the other article you have referred to namely. ‘Muslim intellectual Stagnation’, it is in consonance with, rather than contradictory to, Dr. Naik’s exposition. Sticking to fundamentals does not mean stagnation. Though the principle has been well explained in the two articles, let me elaborate further to remove the misgiving.
Islam is the Deen of Nature. The inherent principles of nature remain unchanged but the application of the principles change with time and surroundings. The fundamentals never change. The Creator of nature Himself declared thus; “And no change will you find in Allah’s Sunnah and no turning off will you find in Allah’s Sunnah.” (35:43)
Allah’s Sunnah, in nature, is the unchanged and inborn laws of nature. The earth was round even when all the people including Aristotle thought it was flat. The gravitation laws were there when no one knew about them. These fundamentals did not change with time. The fundamentals of Deen remained unchanged since the first man on earth. Deen remained one, that is Islam but the way of applying the Deen in different times changed with the change in Shariah of different Prophets. Islam has five basic fundamentals. The first of them is Faith or Imaan, the loyalty towards the Lord of creation. This part includes the faith in messengers of the Lord and His books. Since the teachings of only the last Prophet (Pbuh) and the last word is safe and secure from human interpolation, the strict adherence to their guidance is part of the fundamentals of Islam or peace for man in both the worlds. The next four fundamental pillars are Salat (the prayer) Zakat (the poor’s due), Saum (staying away from certain things on certain days) and Hajj (the pilgrimage). The inherent principles spelled out by the Qur’an and the Prophet (Pbuh) remain unchanged while if the application of those principles does not change with the situation and time, there will be stagnation and the Deen will become 1400 years old.
The Prophet (Pbuh) stressed upon using Miswak (the wooden toothbrush) many times a day. The principle he stressed upon was dental care and mouth hygiene. Though the particular Miswak of Peelu tree has its own distinct advantages, the insistence upon brushing the teeth by a wooden piece of a particular tree being his Sunnah, will make the Deen 1400 years old. Based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Islamic apparel can broadly be defined as one possessing the following properties;
1. It must cover the Sat’r (the part of body required to be concealed by Shariah)
2. It should not display Takabbur (the arrogance and haughtiness)
3. There should not be undue and wasteful excess in expenditure and
4. It should not be an imitation of religious identity of another religion. (The last point should not be confused with the area culture of any region). Any costume or attire conforming to the above principles is an Islamic dress. These fundamentals regarding clothes will never change. Naming a particular set of uniform as Islamic dress, is stagnation.
The Qur’an instructed us; “And make ready against them (the enemy) all you can of power and the strength of steeds...” (8:60) Though the horses still have their use in certain battlefields, they have lost relevance in the modern day electronic and nuclear warfare. Steeds may become outdated but the fundamentals spelled out by the word of God can never become irrelevant. The Qur’an has mentioned here a principle of war preparation. To limit it to the specific order of breeding good horses, would mean that word of God can no more cope with modern times. The Qur’an is a living book. It has amazingly used ‘the strength of steeds’ instead of just ‘steeds.’ Applied in certain times and situations, it would mean good horses but applied to some other battlefields, it means ‘horsepower’ behind the arsenal. Surprisingly, the word horsepower has been preferred by physics to describe the quantum of power. God knew it.
The word of God could have nominated a few heads of income and property for Zakat to be charged on. It did not, The Prophet (Pbuh) applied the principle of ‘Numu’ (growth) on the prevalent means of income and property and charged Zakat on certain heads. The present day business has a wider scope covering a large number of means of growth-oriented property and income. Is it fair that a poor mohalla shopkeeper pays the Zakat on his business goods worth fifty thousand while a successful surgeon earning millions per year goes Scott free, as his clinic, operation theatre and instruments are supposed to be exempt from Zakat. This is stagnation.
The Shariah provided a relief in prayer for the traveller by shortening the required number of Rak’ats. The rationale behind the order reveals the unchanged principle governing the order. It was a certain amount of hardship encountered by the traveller, which necessitated the shortening of prayer. As a commoner cannot gauge the amount of hardship, the scholars, by converting the hardship into mileage of journey, based upon the means of travel of a certain time and place codified the application of the law. By sticking to the application of a different time, we have come to a strange situation. A person travelling in air comfort from Delhi to Bangalore is asked to shorten his prayer as he has crossed the journey limit fixed by old scholars for their times. On the other hand a poor man dragging a bicycle in the heat of May-June from Delhi to Hapur (a distance of 60 km) is required to offer the full prayer. This is stagnation.
To sum it up, Islam will fade away if the principle or fundamentals are changed or compromised while if the application of the principles are made static, it will not seem to cope with the pace of time. It is for the sensible and competent scholars to segregate and define the two. As the range is too vide, only the specific problems can be sorted out in a short write-up.
Q. This is with reference to Islamic flag under the heading our dialogue dated April 1996 issue. You have mentioned that the biggest flag held by general in command was white in colour and other small flags of black colour were held by all the battalion commanders. The flag was plain with no inscription on it.
But for many years I have seen that on almost all occasions people use green colour flag showing moon and written in Urdu or Arabic, ‘Nara-e-Takbeer Allah-u-Akbar’. Even our Mosques, in all over India are painted green. Recently one of my non-Muslim friends had read this issue and asked me, ‘Why are you using green flag? Are you a pro-Pakistani? But actually we should follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Then how did the green colour come?
Fatima Abdul Rehman, Bombay
Ans. Deen would become very difficult if we were forbidden to act anything, which was not acted upon by the Prophet (Pbuh). The accepted principle in this regard is that anything promoted by the Qur’an or Prophet (Pbuh) is forbidden. There is no harm in using any colour for any flag on any occasion even if it is an army flag. If Pakistan and all the Muslim majority countries used the plain white or black colour flags and Indian Muslims also used the same colour on any occasion in the footsteps of the Prophet (Pbuh) would not the same charge of being pro-Pakistani be labelled? The colour or inscription does not make any flag a pro-Pakistani flag unless it is exactly like a Pakistani flag. Many countries in their flags use the three colours used in our National flag. It does not make our flag pro-any country. To associate, imagined motives behind non-existent trifles is due to distance and mistrust between the two communities created by the interested hate mongers.
Green and white colours were the Prophet’s favourite colours and hence the Muslims, the world over often use these two colours for the things of religious significance. Mosques all over India are not painted green but if some Mosques bear green paint, it is to resemble the green dome of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina.
Q. According to Qur’an a Muslim male can contract marriage with a Christian or Jew female. Surely he can also marry a Hindu girl provided she first embraces Islam. However, the fact that the book makes an exception in favour of only Christian and Jew women seems to imply that they can continue to retain their original faiths while it is incumbent upon women of other religious persuasions to first accept Islam. Kindly clarify.
V.N. Jindal; Lucknow
Ans. Qur’an does not permit marriage with all women from the Jews, Christians or the people of book. It forbids marriage bond with all women, be they Jew or Christians, if they are Mushrik that is ascribe partners to one God. It means marriage with any Christian woman is not permitted if she proclaims, Prophet Jesus to be son of God. The rationale behind the permission of marriage with the women from the people of the book is following;
When a Unitarian Jew or Christian woman comes into the family of a Muslim, she finds that all the Prophets of God, she believes in, are revered and respected in his new home. Her husband and his family members not only honour the Prophets she believes in but they are also required to profess belief in those Prophets as part of their faith. Such adjustment of faith and genuine respect for her religious gurus may not be possible with other non-Muslim wives. Islam does not permit its followers to abuse or desecrate the deities of other religion but it does not allow compromises where partners to one God are being ascribed. Muslims are required to at least openly disown all such gods and goddesses. They are also required to reason out with all those worshippers of gods and goddesses who come in close contact with them. The religious sentiments of such non-Muslim ladies are bound to be hurt if they were married to Muslim men and the dedicate relationship of husband-wife cannot be successfully sustained.
Beside this wisdom, there is also a very clear-cut argument. Islam tells us that we have not been created for the pleasures of this world. It is but a mere testing ground for the everlasting next world. The success of Hereafter is above all worldly satisfactions. Belief in one God is the foremost principle of Islam. After Allah the Muslims are ordained to obey and respect their parents more than any other person. Qur’an asks its followers to respect and behave with their parents even if the parents are non-Muslims but they are to be disobeyed if their commands clash with the orders of the Lord. Nikah is nothing but a union by man and woman by the leave, and in the name of, Allah. A true Muslim who loves Allah more than anyone else cannot accept one as his life partner who ascribes partners to Him or does not believe in the basic purpose of a Muslim’s life in this world.