Islamic Voice
Zul Hijja / Muharram 1422 H
March 2002
Volume 15-03 No:183

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Our Dialogue


Islam is not Intolerant
Contradictions in the Bible and the Quran about Moses
Role of the Shariah Courts
Does Masjid-ul-Zirar exist now?
Punishment for Defamation
Should Friday Sermons be in the local language?



Islam is not Intolerant

S. Abdullah Tariq

Q. How can a religion such as Islam expect to thrive when it espouses jihad and revenge and all of the things that most of the other religions of the world would deem to be the work of the ‘devil’? Did the perpetrators of the recent terrorist acts expect the praise of Allah at the end of their journey, after having killed so many people? Perhaps the rest of the world should become as tolerant of Islam, as Islam is to the rest of the world.

(Danny Broadhurst ; dano@neteze.com)

Q. The Quran does not describe a peaceful, tolerant religion. The terrorists are not disobeying the holy book. They are following it to the letter. The Quran tells us: “not to make friendship with Jews and Christians” (5:51), “kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (2:191), “murder them and treat them harshly” (9:123), “fight and slay the Pagans, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem” (9:5). The Quran demands that we fight the unbelievers, and promises “If there are twenty amongst you, you will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, you will vanquish a thousand of them” (8:65). This is the bulk of the Quran. You are welcome to counter with a handful of verses like: “There is no compulsion in religion,”, and “To you, your religion; to me mine.”

But for every friendly remark like that, there are 10 calls for killing of Pagans, Jews, and Infidels, and vivid descriptions of how they will suffer in hell (boiling water poured over their heads, clothes cut from fire, etc). Can any reasonable person conclude that the Quran encourages freedom, tolerance, and equal treatment of our brothers?

Don’t get me wrong, the Christians’ Bible has the same proportion of good to bad. Jesus has benefited from 2000 years of good public relations, without a doubt. Let’s stop pretending that any of these “holy books” contain the secret for living a peaceful co-existence and recognise what is the universal truth in the practice of all ethical systems: we, as humans, have the ability to recognise good and evil, and it has nothing to do with what is written in the ancient tomes of wisdom. If all the people of the world were to follow the teachings of the ancient Prophets of their choice ‘to the letter’, we would have a non-stop world-wide holy war.

(Kevin Smith)

A. Islam could not have reached through the dormant stage of the past centuries to re-emerge once again as the fastest growing religion on earth today without its concept of Jihad. Yes, it would not have thrived if the Jihad was what you think it is and what some terrorist organisations proclaim. Assuming as you believe that the recent terrorist acts in USA were the work of so-called Muslims or Jihadis, it is obvious that this has driven millions of neutral non-Muslims away from Islam. Yet Jihad is a pious pillar of Islam which has always been attracting millions of human beings to embrace Islam. Let me explain in brief the Islamic concept of war and peace.

The Quran speaks of lifting arms in strictly two situations. In the first situation, the permission is granted to defend themselves when in a Muslim state, they are attacked by those who had already driven Muslims out of their country for the specific reason that they professed and worshipped one God. Remember, it does not allow a Muslim majority province of a non-Muslim majority country to revolt and demand a separate Muslim state. If Muslims are oppressed in a non-Muslim majority country for their religion (not for social or political conflicts), they are advised to migrate to a Muslim state, instead of taking to arms. But if an independent Muslim state is attacked by an enemy of Islam for their religion, then Quran permits them to defend. See the following order of the Quran.

“Permission (to take up arms) is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been wronged. Allah has power to grant them victory: those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah...”. (22:39-40)

The second situation is when Islam orders an attack instead of a defensive war. When a group of people are oppressed in a country and they are crying for help, Islam orders its followers to go out to fight the oppressor. The relevant order is as under:

“And why should you not fight for the cause of Allah, and for the oppressed men, women and children who say, ‘Deliver us Lord, from this city of wrongdoers, send forth to us a guardian from your presence ; send to us one that will help us” (4:75)

When the believers are attacked, they are given permission to defend, but it has been emphatically made clear that justice should not be a casualty even while fighting. As soon as the attackers pledge to keep away from sedition, the believers are ordered to stop fighting.

“Fight for the sake of Allah those who fight against you but do not transgress. Allah does not love the transgressors. Kill them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. The sedition is worse than carnage. But do not fight them within the precincts of the sacred Mosque unless they attack you there; if they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Fight against them until sedition is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight not except the oppressors” (2:190-93)

The above verses contain one of the verses objected to by Mr. Smith. The act of a self- proclaimed protector of human rights cannot match the balanced teaching of the holy Book you so much despise. In its every above mentioned phrase, there is a check. “...Do not transgress... Allah does not love the transgressors... Do not fight them near the Mosque unless they attack you... If they desist, know that Allah is forgiving, Merciful... But if they desist, fight not except the oppressors...”. Mr. Smith has taken out the sentences from in-between to prove the cruelty of the teachings of the holy Book. Similar is the case of other verses that are quoted out of context. Please consider that these instructions are not the instruction for normal peace times. These are the war time instructions when war is imposed upon the believers. Quran instructs that the war is not declared on every unbeliever. Even during the war with the unbelievers, distinction has to be made in case of those who have treaties with the believers. Treaties have to be honoured. Even with those who impose war upon the believers, instructions are given for a respite from war in the four sacred months.

“Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers, except those who have fully honoured their treaties with you and aided none against you. With these, keep faith until their treaties have run their term. Allah loves the righteous. When the sacred months are over, slay the unbelievers (who are fighting you) wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way. Allah is Forgiving Merciful. (9:4-5)

Above is another of the objected upon (9:5) verse, but in proper context it becomes altogether different from what was projected. To understand the implication of another verse 8:65, that is objected to, you have to read the context from 8:61. The instruction here is to accept a peace proposal even if there is fear of deception from the enemy. Allah gives assurance that if you do so and the enemy deceives in the garb of peace, He will help them against great odds. See the following:

“If they incline to peace, make peace with them and put your trust in Allah. Surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you, Allah is all sufficient for you... (In that case) rouse the faithful to arms. If there are twenty steadfast men among you, you shall vanquish two hundred; and if there are a hundred they shall rout a thousand...” (8:61-65)

Unless the fighting is imposed upon them, the believers are told to keep away from war even if there is a probability of treachery in the garb of their offer of peace. Can the so-called human ethics of the present Super power match with this?

“If they (the attackers) incline towards peace, make peace with them and put your trust in Allah. Surely He is Hearing, the Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you (do not reject peace on that probability, for) Allah is All-Sufficient for you...” (6:61-62) “...if they keep away from you and cease their hostility and offer you peace, Allah bids you not to harm them”. (4:90)

“If from those who ascribe partners to Allah even one person (during the war) seeks asylum with you, give him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allah and then (even if he does not embrace Islam), deliver him to his place of safety, for they are men ignorant (from the reality of Islam)”. (9:6)

Qur’an asks the believers not to lose the sense of justice even for the enemies.

“O believers, be dutiful to Allah and bearers of just witness. Do not allow your hatred for other men to turn you away from justice. Deal justly ; justice is nearer to true piety...” (5:8)

Regarding the charge of teaching not to make non-Muslim friends, the short instruction in 5:51 above quoted by Mr. Smith, is governed by the following two verses:

“Let believers not make friends with unbelievers against the (just) interests of the believers...” (2:28)

“Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion nor driven you from your homes or abetted others to do so. Allah loves the equitable. But He forbids you to make friends with those who have fought against you on account of your religion and driven you from your homes or abetted others to do so. Those who make friends with them are wrongdoers”. (60:8-9)

Remember again, the above verses are relevant only when there is war imposed upon the believers. The general instruction for all times whether it is peace time or war is given in the following verse:

“...Cooperate with every one (whether he is a non-Muslim) in what is good and pious and do not cooperate with anyone (even if he is called a Muslim) in sin and transgression...” (5:2) Br. Kevin Smith has probably read somewhere the translation of verses of the Quran taken out of context. He is absolutely misinformed that such verses outnumber the message of peace. In fact, in between the verses concerning war, there always is the directive of restraint and conciliation. The conduct of the Prophet (Pbuh) is a historical testimony to the teaching of the Quran.

In the course of war, the Prophet (Pbuh) enforced a code of conduct for the believers. “No women, no children, no old men and no labourers would be killed if they were not involved in direct combat even if they were on the battlefield to help the enemy ranks indirectly”.The Prophet (Pbuh) adhered to the above code of war and peace in his life. He had to migrate with his followers to Madinah, away from his home town Makkah, leaving all their belongings back. All the three major conflicts with the Makkans took place when they attacked on Madinah. Eight years after the migration, he marched towards Madinah to fight because the Makkans had killed his allies against a treaty made 2 1/2 years back and the oppressed allies appealed for his help. History has never witnessed such a show of compassion by a conqueror. In those 8 years, he had become so strong that the Makkans did not dare to fight him. When he was entering into Makkah with his army, his head bowed in thankfulness to God, a senior commander announced, “Today is the day of revenge”. The Prophet’s face turned red with anger and he ordered to strip the commander off the honour of bearing the flag. Then he declared, “Today is the day of compassion”. When the victorious army entered the city without resistance, he proclaimed general amnesty for all those who had tormented him and his followers for 13 years. He did not even claim the homes and belongings of his own and his followers.

Islam is not intolerant. It is the message of peace for the mankind. Jesus Christ was an esteemed prophet of Islam and a messenger of peace as were the other prophets mentioned in Old Testament. You have not read Qur’an and what you find revolting in the Bible is because of distortions and interpolations in the events therein.

We, as humans, can never show the ability to recognise good and evil without adhering to and following what you call is written in the ancient tomes of wisdom. The human rights record of USSR and China and the much tainted record of USA in Vietnam and 22 other countries since world war II testifies to it. You talk about the danger of world war because of tomes of wisdom while the world has already witnessed two world wars by the mighty wise European nations because they were wiser than the ancient tomes of wisdom. The world can only become a universal brotherhood if it heeds to the balanced teaching of the Prophets. Let no terrorist, by exploiting scriptures deceive you.

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Contradictions in the Bible and
the Quran about Moses

Q. I was asked by my Christian friend what is there in the Quran about Moses. So I studied one book but I did not understand much from it. The only knowledge that I had earlier was that Moses was kept by his mother in secrecy for three months from the king of Eygpt because he used to kill new- born babies. I knew that his name was Pharaoh, but there is no name given either in the Bible or in Quran I think. Earlier I didn’t know that Moses had any brother, but by reading something in the Bible I came to know that Moses had a brother Aaron. Is there anything given in Quran about Aaron? Secondly I was amazed when I saw the movie, ThePrince of Eygpt. In the movie, the name of the king was Remesses. I am really in a great confusion. In Bible, the name of the city is Remesses which was built by the king who brought up Moses, but in the Quran there is no such name. Initially, the story I knew of Moses was that Moses was put in a basket by his mother to be left on the river’s bank and the Pharaoh’s wife discovered him and after that Moses was treated as Pharaoh’s son because Pharaoh didn’t have any child. But Bible says that Pharaoh had sons and Moses was treated as one of his sons. Who was the king who died in the Red Sea? Was he Pharaoh or Remesses?

(Afzal)

A. The reference of Moses in the Quran appears 136 times in 35 Surahs. You may read 28:4-32; 20:17-23, 60-70, 83-96; 7:106-122, 130-133 and 26:63-66 for the Quranic narrations of Moses and Pharaoh. Moses’ brother Aaron (Haroon in Arabic), according to the Quran was made a prophet on his request to assist him. He has been mentioned 20 times in 13 Surahs of the Quran. Most of the descriptions of the tale in the Bible and Quran are similar. Quran is silent on some Biblical details and some details given by the Quran are not found in the Bible while there are a few points on which the Quran differs with the Bible on the subject.

Pharaoh was a title of all the Egyptian kings for centuries. The name of the founder of the 19th dynasty of Pharaoh, according to ancient history and archeological findings was Ramses or Rameses 1st. His grandson’s name was also Rameses who was called as Rameses II in history. Rameses city mentioned in the Bible was believed to be built by Rameses 1st. According to the Bible, the Pharaoh who brought Moses up had died when Moses was in Median and the Pharaoh who drowned were two different persons and though the Quran does not specifically state it, it seems more probable (nearly certain) from its narrations that it was the same Pharaoh who brought Moses up and who drowned. A number of Jewish and Christian scholars have also cast doubts on the part of the Bible that says one Pharaoh died while Moses was in Median. There are reasons to believe on the authority of archeological inscriptions that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the time of Moses.

Quran does not mention that Pharaoh was issueless. The historians say that he had 60 sons and 90 daughters from a number of wives. The name of one of the wives who gave birth to the next heir Merneptah was Isinofret. She may be the same lady whose name the Hadith say was Asiya. According to the Quran, the wife of the Pharaoh rescued baby Moses and declared him her son. The Bible says one of the Pharaoh’s daughters saved the baby, but we know that the Old Testament was compiled many centuries after the actual event while the Quranic revelation is the unchanged Word of God. Hazrat Asiya became a believer and according to Hadiths she was one of the four most exalted of all women from the mankind. Quran has praised her in verse 66:11.

There are many works on ancient Egyptionology in the libraries. Encyclopaedia Judaia may also shed light on some parts of the Rameses’ history, but the most comprehensive and authentic work on Pharaoh and Moses in the light of Bible, Quran and archeology is in Urdu. It is ‘Qissa-e-Firaun wa Musa’ by Dr. Abdur Rahman Momin, published by Qazi Publishers, Nizamuddin, Delhi. You must read it to satisfy all queries of your Christian friend.

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Role of the Shariah Courts

Q. I wanted to know how a woman could get a divorce if the husband refuses to divorce. I have been searching through books and the Internet and I have not found anything. I ran away from my husband 4 months ago because he was not providing and he was abusive. He refuses to take back the Mehr and pronounce the divorce. What am I to do?

(Zarqa Ekram, Bubblez_758@hotmail.com)



A. You can apply in a Shariah Court or Daar-ul-Qadha. The learned Mufti of Daar-ul-Qadha may issue notice to your husband for hearing his version of the dispute. If he is satisfied that your grievances are genuine for asking a divorce, he will order the husband to divorce by accepting back the Mehr he has paid to you. In the event of non-compliance by the husband, the Mufti himself will declare you divorced by the husband. He may act uni-laterally on your behalf if the husband does not turn up for the hearing despite several reminders of notices to him. Normally the inability of the husband to provide and his consistent bad behaviour are valid reasons for requesting for a divorce and generally the aggrieved women get justice from Daar-ul-Qadhas in cases such as yours. Of course the Mufti has to discharge a duty and he must be satisfied that your complaints are genuine. In India, there are offices of the Imarat-e-Shariah in Jogabai Extn. Okhla, New Delhi and Phulwari Sharif, Patna. Daar-ul-Qadhas, are in all major religious institutions.

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Does Masjid-ul-Zirar exist now?

Q Masjid-ul-Zirar is one of the mosques mentioned in the Quran. Which mosque is Masjid-ul-Zirar or where it existed if it does not exist any more?



A. Following is the mention of Masjid-e-Zirar in the Quran: “And there are those who put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity, to disunite the Believers, and in preparation for one who warred against Allah and His Messenger aforetime. They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good; but Allah doth declare that they are certainly liars”. (9:107)

This mosque was built by Munafiqeen (hypocrites) as a meeting place with a view to conspire against Islam and Muslims. It was constructed opposite Masjid-e-Quba. Since sincere Muslims usually prayed in the Prophet’s (Pbuh) Mosque and since Masjid-e-Quba was in the outskirts of the then Madinah city where it was inconvenient for people to go for prayers, they had chosen the conspiracy site in the name of a mosque. All-knowing Allah informed the Prophet about this through the Quranic revelation. As it had been prohibited by Allah to pray in a structure called mosque that was founded for the purpose of de-stabilising Islam, the Prophet ordered that it should be demolished. Though another new mosque was never built there, the state and the people knew of the spot till very recently i.e. early eighties of the 20th century. The Turks, during their reign had built latrines at the site so that no devout Muslim could offer Salat there by mistake. “Never stand thou forth therein (for prayer)”, was the order of the Quran (9:108). The Arabic word ‘Abadaa’ indicated that the prohibition was for all times to come. But the site was included in Masjid-e-Quba in the name of symmetry during the expansion and extension of Masjid-e-Quba in the early 1980s. Only the old original residents of the city recognise today, that part of the present Masjid-e-Quba which was once Masjid-e-Zirar and where Allah had prohibited Salat forever. The unknowing pilgrims today stand there for prayer believing that they are in Masjid-e-Quba and the reward of Salat in Masjid-e-Quba is great.

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Punishment for Defamation

Q.What would be God’s punishment in Islam for defamation? Take a case when a Muslim man accuses a Muslim woman of trying to have an affair with him just to take revenge from that woman’s husband for taking him to court for fraud?

(Larry and Rawia, lrmonette@shaw.ca)

A. The punishment to defame a chaste woman with adultery is 80 lashes in Islamic Shariah. “And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, (to support their allegations), flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors”. (24:4)

This is their punishment in this world, but if they escape punishment, much harder doom awaits them in the Hereafter.

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Should Friday Sermons be in the local language?

Q.I want to know what the sermon in Arabic on a Friday is all about? Since all I do is sit dumbly without understanding a word of it, I would like to know where I could get a translation of it.

( Samad )

A. Instead of sitting idle, you can do something better by offering Jumma in a mosque where the sermon is in the language which you can comprehend. More and more Imams in Jumma are now delivering the Khutbah (sermon) in the local native language. Khutbah means Khitaab or discourse. If the discourse is not in the locally spoken language, the very purpose of educating the masses on the issues of their need is defeated. Since one of the two sermons consists of the praise of Allah and the Durood on Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), some prayers, may remain in Arabic, but the first of the two sermons should be based on the needs and requirements of the present day instead of a crammed one and hence should be delivered in the local language to serve its purpose.

The Jumma Salat is offered in place of Zohar on Friday and the two of the four Rakaats of Zohar are replaced by the sermon in Jumma. Though the importance of the Khutbah is much emphasised in the Quran and Hadith and it should never be left or disregarded except in extreme circumstances, the sermon is not a part of the actual Salat. You are not required to offer another two Rakaats if you unfortunately miss the sermon though the sermon is in lieu of two Rakaats of Zohar. You can sit in any respectful posture while hearing the sermon. It shows that the sermon does not form a part of the Jumma Salat itself. Had the sermon been inside the Salat, the Imam would always have recited a sermon recommended by the Prophet in Arabic.

Moreover the present day first sermons are neither the same sermons as delivered by the Prophet nor they are the sermons of the Sahaba thereafter. They have been composed in the recent past. The height of absurdity is that some of them even comprise the praises of the Turkish Sultan of the early 20th century and the Imams are unmindfully cramming or reading them. Had they been the same sermons as delivered by the Prophet, there would still have been some justification behind the assertion of deliverance in the exact words of the Prophet.

The only argument the conservatives produce in their favour is that there is no report of any Sahabi delivering the sermon in any language other than Arabic. But then the local language of the Sahaba and the audience was Arabic. Why should they deliver it in any other language? The main point is that they did not stick to a fixed or prescribed text in the sermons. They delivered whatever they thought was necessary for the people at the time in their mother- tongues.

Some Imams of Jumma, feeling the need and recognising the actual spirit behind a Khutbah have discovered a way out without digressing from the conservative line. They still deliver both the sermons in Arabic while adding a third discourse in the local language before the two sermons. Those present are not bound to be attentive to the said discourse, which is not called a Khutbah. However as I said earlier, more and more Imams in Jumma are switching to the local language in the first sermon and it may not be hard for you to find such a mosque where you could go to pray on a Friday.

You still need to know the meaning of the 2nd Khutbah. The compilations of the Friday sermons are available in the market. Unfortunately, the translations are not available as according to the practice, the Khutbah is for deliverance by the Imam and not for understanding by the audience. You will have to seek help of any person well-versed in Arabic to translate one sermon in your language. The 2nd sermon is essentially the same all over, with slight variations.

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