Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Islam and Terrorism (Part 2): An Indian Shia Muslim Perspective

Expand Messages
  • yogi sikand
    Islam and Terrorism (Part 2) By ‘Khatib-e Akbar’ Maluvi Mirza Muhammad Athar (Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)   Second Majlis (continued from
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 8, 2009
    • 0 Attachment

      Islam and Terrorism (Part 2)

      By ‘Khatib-e Akbar’ Maluvi Mirza Muhammad Athar

      (Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

       

      Second Majlis (continued from part 1)


      Islam, as I mentioned earlier, is a religion of peace. When the Prophet entered Mecca victorious he held a white flag in his hand. In the past, when a monarch conquered a city, its inhabitants would hold up white flags to beg for peace, while the conqueror would vent his anger on the people and reduce the city to ruins. The Prophet could easily have done that when he captured Mecca , especially since the Meccans had so brutally persecuted him and his followers, unleashed numerous wars against them, and had slain many Muslims, including members of the Prophet’s family. Yet, when the Prophet entered Mecca in triumph he did not set about taking revenge. Rather, holding a white flag in his hand he entered the city and declared a general amnesty for the Meccans, including even for those who had taken shelter in the house of his inveterate foe, Abu Sufiyan.

       

      But this noble face of Islam was later distorted by self-styled Muslim monarchs. This is a tragic story. Monarchs started constructing minarets filled with the heads of people they had slain, laid to waste entire cities, drowned their streets in human blood and turned human lives into mere playthings. They were wrongly lionized as great conquerors and heroes, and because of this Islam got a bad name.

       

      As I had mentioned earlier, Abu Sufiyan twisted Islam to project it as a means for acquiring political power, while Abbas remained faithful to Islam’s actual prophetic mission. The same issue was played out in the battlefield in Karbala . By this time, among the Muslims there had emerged two groups—those who used Islam to grab power, and those who were firmly wedded to its true spirit and mission. These two groups were represented at Karbala in the form of the Bani Ummaiyya and the Bani Hashim respectively. The tyrant Yazid was from the Bani Ummaiyya clan, and the Imam Husain from the Bani Hashim. Yazid was the grandson of Abu Sufiyan, while Husain was the grandson of the Prophet. Those who hungered for power, who were vast in number, were solidly behind Yazid. Those who remained true to the Prophet’s mission numbered only 72, and they were with the Imam Husain. But, hundreds of years after the Battle of Karbala, the former have now all being forgotten, condemned by history, while the latter, who were cruelly martyred, are still remembered, loved and commemorated till this very day.

       

      Third Majlis

      Islam is a religion, or what in Hindi is called dharam, but, unfortunately, some people converted it into government, power and despotism for their own vested interests. When these people grabbed power they wrongly claimed that their rule was synonymous with Islam. And, when they went to war they wrongly declared that they were engaging in jihad. Because of this, they were spared any blame, while Islam got a bad name.

       

      To repeat a point I had made earlier, Islam is the religion that was preached by all the 1,24,000 prophets that God had sent to various peoples all over the world, beginning with the Prophet Adam and ending with the Prophet Muhammad. The aim of this religion was to establish peace and security in the world, to make people proper human beings and to establish a virtuous society free from oppression. But, this mission was sabotaged by those who used a distorted version of what they wrongly called Islam to bless and legitimize their tyrannical rule. And so, when their political empires began expanding , when they began building opulent palaces and tall towers and filling their coffers, people were falsely led to imagine that it was Islam that was being strengthened and glorified. And when these empires fell, historians wrongly described this as the fall or decline of Islam.

       

      But, in actual fact, this was no decline of Islam at all, for Islam remained the same. The prescribed number of daily prayers, the number of days specified for fasting in the month of Ramazan, the rules governing the Haj, the number of chapters in the Quran and so on remained the same. So did the truth of the Prophet and the unity of God. These all did not change or decline at all. How, then, can it be said that the collapse of the Muslim empires represented the decline of Islam? This wrong claim is made because people wrongly equated the rise and flourishing of Islam with the emergence and spread of Muslim political power and Muslim dynasties. Islam cannot decline, for it is a truth, and truth never declines. If all the human beings of the world become good Muslims, it would not represent rise of truth or of Islam, but, rather, the rise of human character. Similarly, if all humans turn immoral, it would not represent the decline of Islam or the truth, but, rather, the decline of human character. Thus, one can neither say that Islam experienced a rise nor a fall.

       

      It is wrongly claimed that the Prophet spread Islam with the Quran in one hand and an unsheathed sword in the other. But, undoubtedly, there were monarchs who wrongly claimed to be Muslims and misinterpreted Islam to expand their political realms. In actual fact, the Prophet spread Islam through the Quran, and his mission was carried forward by the Ahl-e Bayt, his family. When people let go off the Ahl-e Bayt, their hands grasped naked swords and wrongly shed the blood of innocents, including of the Ahl-e Bayt themselves.

       

      The basic problem is that the actions of self-styled Muslims were mistakenly taken to represent Islam. True Islam did not spread by the sword, but, rather, through the character of the Prophet and the Ahl-e Bayt. They won the hearts of people through their character. True religion aims at changing people’s hearts and minds, and this cannot come about through force. The mission of religion can never be to change anyone through force. The Quran very clearly states that there can be no compulsion in matters of religion. People can be guided only by convincing them of the difference between right and wrong. This is what Islam teaches. After distinguishing between right and wrong, Islam leaves it to the free will of every individual to choose which path he or she wishes to adopt.


      Since Islam does not countenance coercion in matters of religion, wherever such coercion exists or existed one can be sure that this was not as a result of true Islamic teachings. True religion exists where freedom of conscience exists. This principle was well illustrated in the battle of Karbala . On the one hand was the tyrant Yazid, who had assembled an entire army to seek to force Imam Hussain and his followers to accept him as the leader of the Muslims. On the other hand was Imam Hussain, who granted his followers to freely go where they wanted, leave him if they so desired. The former represented irreligiousness, the latter the spirit of true Islam.

       

      Friends! There is no question of any sort of force being used in Islam to compel people to believe. Islam cannot be identified with tyrannical [Muslim] monarchies or the lust for power. Yet, and unfortunately, tyrannical monarchs have routinely raised the banner of Islam for their own protection. By using a religious garb they were able to instill fear in the hearts of people, and scare them with the threat of hell-fire if they disobeyed them. They falsely claimed to be the ‘Shadow of God on Earth’, and instructed people not to go against them, for this, they said, would earn God’s wrath. All this was because these rulers wanted to protect their own selves.


      Friends! You will find in Islamic history two types of characters: one, those who, when Islam is being attacked, stand up to take the blows on themselves in order to protect the faith; the other, those who, when faced with attack or threat, shield themselves with Islam, so that Islam is attacked but they are saved.

       

      Numerous descendants of the Prophet were brutally slain while trying to defend Islam. Their killers, who resorted to terror in the name of Islam, did so simply in order to defend themselves. Why was the noble Imam Ali, who was faithful to God and the Prophet, and who served the needy and the poor, killed? Why did many people bear enmity and hatred towards him? It was because he was a faithful follower of the Prophet and foiled the attempts of the Prophet’s enemies to kill or harm him simply because he exhorted people to give up idolatry and to worship the one God instead. The truth of the matter is that people began opposing Ali because he had protected the Prophet from their attacks. And those people sought to attack the Prophet simply because he proclaimed the one God, He alone who is worthy of worship. And, to stir up hatred against Ali, the friend of God, these people began delivering speeches against him in the mosques, in Friday sermons and in public gatherings.

       

      This is the crux of a long and bloody story. Islam is viscerally opposed to monarchy and despotism. And that is why many members of the family of the Prophet were brutally slain by tyrannical rulers who falsely claimed to be Muslims. These members of the Prophet’s family were noble people of high character, who dealt kindly even with their enemies. But they were slaughtered simply because, following true Islamic teachings, they opposed monarchical despotism, which tyrannical rulers wrongly sought to legitimize as Islamic. This is the tragedy that Islam has for long faced.

       

      If Yazid, the murderer of the Imam Hussain, had simply called himself an Emperor it would have been an entirely different matter. An Emperor can claim to follow any religion. He can belong to any community. He who grabs power can call himself an Emperor. The character of an Emperor is not taken as a model for people to emulate. Even today there are numerous Muslim monarchs, but no Muslim considers them models to follow or imitate. The question arises as to why Yazid, who had become a monarch, went on to declare himself to be the Leader of the Believers (amir ul-mumineen) and the Caliph of the Muslims (khalifat ul-muslimeen) and demanded that his name be taken in the Friday sermons in the mosques? Why did he want to force Imam Hussain to accept him as the amir ul-mumineen and the khalifat ul-muslimeen, as the leader of Islam and the deputy of the Prophet? Had Yazid been accepted as such, what would have happened to Islam?

       

      In actual fact, it was Ali who was the amir ul-mumineen and the khalifat ul-muslimeen, because he was designated as such by the Prophet himself. He had made great sacrifices for Islam and served the Prophet faithfully. But in a short span of fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet, the tyrannical forces of monarchical despotism, represented by Yazid, played a cruel game. Yazid was known for his irreligious ways, for his regular bouts of drinking, for grabbing the wealth of the poor and so on. When such a debauch and cruel tyrant claimed to be the leader of the Muslims, you can imagine what others might think about ordinary Muslims. How can we ever accept the sort of Islam that Yazid stood for or represented? If the shariah was what Yazid championed, how can anyone ever hope for salvation? We must rise above the party-line and critically examine this issue. How could anyone ever consider Yazid to be the amir ul-mumineen, the khalifat ul-muslimeen, the successor of the Prophet? How can one consider the sort of Islam that he championed to be the true Islam? No, the true Islam was that championed by his enemy, the Imam Hussain and his followers, who numbered just 72, and who were brutally slain by Yazid and his army for championing the truth and speaking out against Yazid.

       

      Fourth Majlis

       

      As I had earlier mentioned, some ambitious people sought to convert Islam into a doctrine of despotism in order to suit their own purposes and even resorted to terror, for which Islam was wrongly blamed. These people falsely claimed to be working for the cause of Islam. When they grabbed power, they blessed it as ‘Islamic’, and when they set out to wage war they falsely claimed to be engaged in jihad. This represented a gross misuse of religion for promoting the personal interests of these tyrants.


      And this tradition continues even today. Consider, for instance, the wrong use of the term and concept of jihad. Many people have misused the notion of jihad for promoting their own interests. When some countries went to war with others they labeled their wars as jihads. And there are those foolish ones who constantly raise slogans of jihad, thereby giving Islam a bad name. It is tragic that the Muslim world remains silent on this misuse of the concept of jihad. It is the duty of the leading Muslim ulema to openly declare that this is not jihad at all but, rather, is actually a means for some selfish people to promote their own interests. Yet, sadly, even these leading ulema remain silent.

       

      Friends! Sometimes one thing gets so muddled up or mixed with another that is becomes very difficult for people to understand a particular matter. When a person fights against another, he seeks an excuse or a support for his action. For instance, suppose I have a plot of land, and my neighbor starts building a wall along the line dividing my land from his. I begin to fear that the wall might take up six inches of my land, and so I start fighting with my neighbor. I cannot garner much support if I fight in my own name. At the most, in that way I can get the help of a few family members and some friends. Many of my friends might refuse to come to my assistance, thinking it to be none of their concern. So, at once I change my strategy. It so happens that my neighbor is a non-Muslim and I am a Muslim, so I immediately start raising Islamic slogans. I start crying hoarse, ‘Oh Muslim brothers! A non-Muslim is grabbing the land that belongs to a Muslim.’ And, in this way, I at once succeed in turning the matter into a religious battle. Because of my appeals to religion, Muslims rush to my rescue. Then, they start shouting Islamic slogans and in a short while they come to imagine that Islam itself is under threat. And so, what started off as a dispute over six inches of land becomes a massive battle involving Islam. All because my six inches of land were under threat, and I converted it into an issue of Islam being allegedly under threat. I dragged Islam into the whole affair simply to save those measly six inches of land! And, in this way, I was able to attract hordes of Muslims to rush to my assistance.

       

      In precisely the same way, people have converted their own personal conflicts, disputes over property, over power, politics and governance into what they project as Islamic causes or issues. Islam has earned a bad name in exactly this unfortunate way.


      --------------------------------

      Mirza Muhammad Athar is a leading Shia cleric  from Lucknow, India . This is an edited version of a translation of two chapters of his Urdu book titled Islam Aur Dashatgardi (‘Islam and Terrorism’) (Hyderi Kutubkhana, Bombay, 2003), which consists of lectures delivered at a 10-day majlis session held in 2002 in the Masjid Iraniyan, Bombay, in the month of Muharram to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.

       

                                                                *

       

      Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore .



      Mai Dasi Kabira Ki

      Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
      Dhai Akhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe So Pandit Hoye

      Spending one's life reading the scriptures, no one becomes wise
      He becomes wise on reading a single word of love

    • sfs48@yahoo.com
      The problem with muslims is that over a period of time we have been convinced that islam is political religion. True service to islam can be done only after
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 9, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        The problem with muslims is that over a period of time we have been convinced that islam is political religion. True service to islam can be done only after assuming political power. So misplaced. Will elaborate later
        Regards
        Sajid shapoo

        Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone Essar


        From: yogi sikand
        Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 10:07:55 -0700 (PDT)
        To: <seyedjavad@...>
        Subject: [arkitectindia] Islam and Terrorism (Part 2): An Indian Shia Muslim Perspective

        Islam and Terrorism (Part 2)

        By ‘Khatib-e Akbar’ Maluvi Mirza Muhammad Athar

        (Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

         

        Second Majlis (continued from part 1)


        Islam, as I mentioned earlier, is a religion of peace. When the Prophet entered Mecca victorious he held a white flag in his hand. In the past, when a monarch conquered a city, its inhabitants would hold up white flags to beg for peace, while the conqueror would vent his anger on the people and reduce the city to ruins. The Prophet could easily have done that when he captured Mecca , especially since the Meccans had so brutally persecuted him and his followers, unleashed numerous wars against them, and had slain many Muslims, including members of the Prophet’s family. Yet, when the Prophet entered Mecca in triumph he did not set about taking revenge. Rather, holding a white flag in his hand he entered the city and declared a general amnesty for the Meccans, including even for those who had taken shelter in the house of his inveterate foe, Abu Sufiyan.

         

        But this noble face of Islam was later distorted by self-styled Muslim monarchs. This is a tragic story. Monarchs started constructing minarets filled with the heads of people they had slain, laid to waste entire cities, drowned their streets in human blood and turned human lives into mere playthings. They were wrongly lionized as great conquerors and heroes, and because of this Islam got a bad name.

         

        As I had mentioned earlier, Abu Sufiyan twisted Islam to project it as a means for acquiring political power, while Abbas remained faithful to Islam’s actual prophetic mission. The same issue was played out in the battlefield in Karbala . By this time, among the Muslims there had emerged two groups—those who used Islam to grab power, and those who were firmly wedded to its true spirit and mission. These two groups were represented at Karbala in the form of the Bani Ummaiyya and the Bani Hashim respectively. The tyrant Yazid was from the Bani Ummaiyya clan, and the Imam Husain from the Bani Hashim. Yazid was the grandson of Abu Sufiyan, while Husain was the grandson of the Prophet. Those who hungered for power, who were vast in number, were solidly behind Yazid. Those who remained true to the Prophet’s mission numbered only 72, and they were with the Imam Husain. But, hundreds of years after the Battle of Karbala, the former have now all being forgotten, condemned by history, while the latter, who were cruelly martyred, are still remembered, loved and commemorated till this very day.

         

        Third Majlis

        Islam is a religion, or what in Hindi is called dharam, but, unfortunately, some people converted it into government, power and despotism for their own vested interests. When these people grabbed power they wrongly claimed that their rule was synonymous with Islam. And, when they went to war they wrongly declared that they were engaging in jihad. Because of this, they were spared any blame, while Islam got a bad name.

         

        To repeat a point I had made earlier, Islam is the religion that was preached by all the 1,24,000 prophets that God had sent to various peoples all over the world, beginning with the Prophet Adam and ending with the Prophet Muhammad. The aim of this religion was to establish peace and security in the world, to make people proper human beings and to establish a virtuous society free from oppression. But, this mission was sabotaged by those who used a distorted version of what they wrongly called Islam to bless and legitimize their tyrannical rule. And so, when their political empires began expanding , when they began building opulent palaces and tall towers and filling their coffers, people were falsely led to imagine that it was Islam that was being strengthened and glorified. And when these empires fell, historians wrongly described this as the fall or decline of Islam.

         

        But, in actual fact, this was no decline of Islam at all, for Islam remained the same. The prescribed number of daily prayers, the number of days specified for fasting in the month of Ramazan, the rules governing the Haj, the number of chapters in the Quran and so on remained the same. So did the truth of the Prophet and the unity of God. These all did not change or decline at all. How, then, can it be said that the collapse of the Muslim empires represented the decline of Islam? This wrong claim is made because people wrongly equated the rise and flourishing of Islam with the emergence and spread of Muslim political power and Muslim dynasties. Islam cannot decline, for it is a truth, and truth never declines. If all the human beings of the world become good Muslims, it would not represent rise of truth or of Islam, but, rather, the rise of human character. Similarly, if all humans turn immoral, it would not represent the decline of Islam or the truth, but, rather, the decline of human character. Thus, one can neither say that Islam experienced a rise nor a fall.

         

        It is wrongly claimed that the Prophet spread Islam with the Quran in one hand and an unsheathed sword in the other. But, undoubtedly, there were monarchs who wrongly claimed to be Muslims and misinterpreted Islam to expand their political realms. In actual fact, the Prophet spread Islam through the Quran, and his mission was carried forward by the Ahl-e Bayt, his family. When people let go off the Ahl-e Bayt, their hands grasped naked swords and wrongly shed the blood of innocents, including of the Ahl-e Bayt themselves.

         

        The basic problem is that the actions of self-styled Muslims were mistakenly taken to represent Islam. True Islam did not spread by the sword, but, rather, through the character of the Prophet and the Ahl-e Bayt. They won the hearts of people through their character. True religion aims at changing people’s hearts and minds, and this cannot come about through force. The mission of religion can never be to change anyone through force. The Quran very clearly states that there can be no compulsion in matters of religion. People can be guided only by convincing them of the difference between right and wrong. This is what Islam teaches. After distinguishing between right and wrong, Islam leaves it to the free will of every individual to choose which path he or she wishes to adopt.


        Since Islam does not countenance coercion in matters of religion, wherever such coercion exists or existed one can be sure that this was not as a result of true Islamic teachings. True religion exists where freedom of conscience exists. This principle was well illustrated in the battle of Karbala . On the one hand was the tyrant Yazid, who had assembled an entire army to seek to force Imam Hussain and his followers to accept him as the leader of the Muslims. On the other hand was Imam Hussain, who granted his followers to freely go where they wanted, leave him if they so desired. The former represented irreligiousness, the latter the spirit of true Islam.

         

        Friends! There is no question of any sort of force being used in Islam to compel people to believe. Islam cannot be identified with tyrannical [Muslim] monarchies or the lust for power. Yet, and unfortunately, tyrannical monarchs have routinely raised the banner of Islam for their own protection. By using a religious garb they were able to instill fear in the hearts of people, and scare them with the threat of hell-fire if they disobeyed them. They falsely claimed to be the ‘Shadow of God on Earth’, and instructed people not to go against them, for this, they said, would earn God’s wrath. All this was because these rulers wanted to protect their own selves.


        Friends! You will find in Islamic history two types of characters: one, those who, when Islam is being attacked, stand up to take the blows on themselves in order to protect the faith; the other, those who, when faced with attack or threat, shield themselves with Islam, so that Islam is attacked but they are saved.

         

        Numerous descendants of the Prophet were brutally slain while trying to defend Islam. Their killers, who resorted to terror in the name of Islam, did so simply in order to defend themselves. Why was the noble Imam Ali, who was faithful to God and the Prophet, and who served the needy and the poor, killed? Why did many people bear enmity and hatred towards him? It was because he was a faithful follower of the Prophet and foiled the attempts of the Prophet’s enemies to kill or harm him simply because he exhorted people to give up idolatry and to worship the one God instead. The truth of the matter is that people began opposing Ali because he had protected the Prophet from their attacks. And those people sought to attack the Prophet simply because he proclaimed the one God, He alone who is worthy of worship. And, to stir up hatred against Ali, the friend of God, these people began delivering speeches against him in the mosques, in Friday sermons and in public gatherings.

         

        This is the crux of a long and bloody story. Islam is viscerally opposed to monarchy and despotism. And that is why many members of the family of the Prophet were brutally slain by tyrannical rulers who falsely claimed to be Muslims. These members of the Prophet’s family were noble people of high character, who dealt kindly even with their enemies. But they were slaughtered simply because, following true Islamic teachings, they opposed monarchical despotism, which tyrannical rulers wrongly sought to legitimize as Islamic. This is the tragedy that Islam has for long faced.

         

        If Yazid, the murderer of the Imam Hussain, had simply called himself an Emperor it would have been an entirely different matter. An Emperor can claim to follow any religion. He can belong to any community. He who grabs power can call himself an Emperor. The character of an Emperor is not taken as a model for people to emulate. Even today there are numerous Muslim monarchs, but no Muslim considers them models to follow or imitate. The question arises as to why Yazid, who had become a monarch, went on to declare himself to be the Leader of the Believers (amir ul-mumineen) and the Caliph of the Muslims (khalifat ul-muslimeen) and demanded that his name be taken in the Friday sermons in the mosques? Why did he want to force Imam Hussain to accept him as the amir ul-mumineen and the khalifat ul-muslimeen, as the leader of Islam and the deputy of the Prophet? Had Yazid been accepted as such, what would have happened to Islam?

         

        In actual fact, it was Ali who was the amir ul-mumineen and the khalifat ul-muslimeen, because he was designated as such by the Prophet himself. He had made great sacrifices for Islam and served the Prophet faithfully. But in a short span of fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet, the tyrannical forces of monarchical despotism, represented by Yazid, played a cruel game. Yazid was known for his irreligious ways, for his regular bouts of drinking, for grabbing the wealth of the poor and so on. When such a debauch and cruel tyrant claimed to be the leader of the Muslims, you can imagine what others might think about ordinary Muslims. How can we ever accept the sort of Islam that Yazid stood for or represented? If the shariah was what Yazid championed, how can anyone ever hope for salvation? We must rise above the party-line and critically examine this issue. How could anyone ever consider Yazid to be the amir ul-mumineen, the khalifat ul-muslimeen, the successor of the Prophet? How can one consider the sort of Islam that he championed to be the true Islam? No, the true Islam was that championed by his enemy, the Imam Hussain and his followers, who numbered just 72, and who were brutally slain by Yazid and his army for championing the truth and speaking out against Yazid.

         

        Fourth Majlis

         

        As I had earlier mentioned, some ambitious people sought to convert Islam into a doctrine of despotism in order to suit their own purposes and even resorted to terror, for which Islam was wrongly blamed. These people falsely claimed to be working for the cause of Islam. When they grabbed power, they blessed it as ‘Islamic’, and when they set out to wage war they falsely claimed to be engaged in jihad. This represented a gross misuse of religion for promoting the personal interests of these tyrants.


        And this tradition continues even today. Consider, for instance, the wrong use of the term and concept of jihad. Many people have misused the notion of jihad for promoting their own interests. When some countries went to war with others they labeled their wars as jihads. And there are those foolish ones who constantly raise slogans of jihad, thereby giving Islam a bad name. It is tragic that the Muslim world remains silent on this misuse of the concept of jihad. It is the duty of the leading Muslim ulema to openly declare that this is not jihad at all but, rather, is actually a means for some selfish people to promote their own interests. Yet, sadly, even these leading ulema remain silent.

         

        Friends! Sometimes one thing gets so muddled up or mixed with another that is becomes very difficult for people to understand a particular matter. When a person fights against another, he seeks an excuse or a support for his action. For instance, suppose I have a plot of land, and my neighbor starts building a wall along the line dividing my land from his. I begin to fear that the wall might take up six inches of my land, and so I start fighting with my neighbor. I cannot garner much support if I fight in my own name. At the most, in that way I can get the help of a few family members and some friends. Many of my friends might refuse to come to my assistance, thinking it to be none of their concern. So, at once I change my strategy. It so happens that my neighbor is a non-Muslim and I am a Muslim, so I immediately start raising Islamic slogans. I start crying hoarse, ‘Oh Muslim brothers! A non-Muslim is grabbing the land that belongs to a Muslim.’ And, in this way, I at once succeed in turning the matter into a religious battle. Because of my appeals to religion, Muslims rush to my rescue. Then, they start shouting Islamic slogans and in a short while they come to imagine that Islam itself is under threat. And so, what started off as a dispute over six inches of land becomes a massive battle involving Islam. All because my six inches of land were under threat, and I converted it into an issue of Islam being allegedly under threat. I dragged Islam into the whole affair simply to save those measly six inches of land! And, in this way, I was able to attract hordes of Muslims to rush to my assistance.

         

        In precisely the same way, people have converted their own personal conflicts, disputes over property, over power, politics and governance into what they project as Islamic causes or issues. Islam has earned a bad name in exactly this unfortunate way.


        ------------ --------- --------- --

        Mirza Muhammad Athar is a leading Shia cleric  from Lucknow, India . This is an edited version of a translation of two chapters of his Urdu book titled Islam Aur Dashatgardi (‘Islam and Terrorism’) (Hyderi Kutubkhana, Bombay, 2003), which consists of lectures delivered at a 10-day majlis session held in 2002 in the Masjid Iraniyan, Bombay, in the month of Muharram to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.

         

                                                                  *

         

        Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore .



        Mai Dasi Kabira Ki

        Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
        Dhai Akhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe So Pandit Hoye

        Spending one's life reading the scriptures, no one becomes wise
        He becomes wise on reading a single word of love

      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.