In an exclusive interview with Abdul Bari Masoud, Professor Dr Muhammad Mumtaz Ali based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia frankly put forth his views on Shari’ah guidelines. He said 80 per cent of the population is peace loving and wants to maintain harmony among the followers of various faiths and ideologies while the communal and fascistic forces want to disturb peace for their political purpose. Excerpts:
Muslims are experiencing religious persecution in numerous parts of the country. What is the best course of action in this situation? Are Muslim youth getting agitated?
In the current situation of hardship and worries, Muslim youth are subject to anger and agitation. But they have to realise that in India they have certain obligations as part of the Khair-e-Ummah. They cannot think other than Khair [good of people]. They have to think and act in terms of the good of the country. They have to work for the wellbeing of people and the country.
The current situation of hate, violence and destruction is not an issue of Muslims but it is a national issue. The whole nation needs to think about this national issue which can destroy, if not resolved, the whole country. It must be controlled. This national issue invites the serious attention and action of Muslims. They cannot be passive and simply defensive or become easy targets of barbarism. In the past they had contributed a lot for both people and country. Today they have to contribute more. India is the birthplace of 300 million Muslims. No one can uproot them if Allah the Exalted does not like it.
We, the Muslims as the Indian citizens irrespective of religion and caste, understand that whatever destruction and violence is being caused today by a small number of terrorists and enemies of humanity, culture and civilization cannot be tolerated any more. We also understand those who are destroying the peaceful environment of the country are neither the representative of any religion nor are they patriotic citizens. They are committing crimes not only against Muslims but the whole people of India and destroying the good name of our country. They are barbaric, uncivilized and anti-national. Those who are patronising them or maintaining silence against their atrocities are also not doing so for the cause of any religion especially Hinduism or the country but for their political goals. They don’t know Hinduism and Sanatan culture very well. If they know, they cannot tolerate any violence against anyone. They are simply using these names for the sake of their political agenda.
For the last eight years under the BJP government and RSS patronage no serious and intellectual effort has been conducted for the transformation of any part of the political, economic or social system based on the teachings of Hinduism. They are comfortably running the government based on liberalism and for the sake of capitalism. They only stand for capitalists using political power for their selfish interest. They are using the name of religion Hinduism as a slogan.
The 80 per cent people of India are peace loving and want to maintain harmony among the followers of various faiths and ideologies. The culprits who go against law and order and destroy life and properties are not religious by any standard of any religion. Their agenda is based on selfish and political interests. If they are serious, they should use government resources and agencies to change the current capitalist system of government. Instead, they are changing the names of streets, cities and facts of history by way of destroying the noble history of great India – the Indian sub-continent and its culture and civilization of harmony and peace.
So, definitely, Muslim youth have to come forward to protect and save both the country and people. They have to play a historic role and think about what actions they can take to save the country from destruction. The Muslim community, with courage and confidence, needs to expose, at a largescale by way of going to the masses, the real anti-religious and anti-development intentions of the right-wing organisations and their culprits who are causing the current violence and terrorism. The Muslim community, with its resources along with like-minded fellow citizens must stand like a mountain, intellectually and wisely, against the internal enemies of our country who are creating hate against each other. The Muslim youth must channelise their anger and strength through legal and democratic ways to mobilise the masses to educate the ignorant and arrogant illiterate people.
Any guidance in the Shari’ah for the Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries?
We should know first who are the people who are killing innocent Muslims in the name of jai shri Ram and destroying the properties of Muslims. These people and their leaders, religious and political, are not normal people. They are suffering from deep rooted mental diseases and they are in need of help and treatment. Muslim youth can fight against them but this is not the long-term solution. They must treat them like a doctor. Muslim youth must be sharp to turn this moment of crisis into a moment of opportunity.
Muslims must act as a whole to educate the masses about Islam, Allah, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the Shari’ah, the Qur’ān, Azan, Hijab and all other things about which they think that they are the Muslim issues or traditions which belong to Muslims alone. They have to educate people that Allah the Exalted, Who is the Creator of all people living in India and elsewhere, has sent for the guidance and wellbeing of them Islam, the Qur’ān, the Prophet Muhammad, the Shari’ah. They are not religious doctrines. They don’t belong to Muslims alone. They belong to each and every single human being who is living in any part of the world. We Muslims do not monopolise them but we are to educate fellow citizens about Islam, the Qur’ān, the Prophet Muhammad, the Shari’ah. All people are in need of the truth and reality of life and the world. They must know what is the truth and reality of their life. They should know that people as a whole benefit from all the creation such as oxygen, water, and the sun, the moon and eat all vegetables, rice, wheat and fruits and enjoy the beauty and smell of flowers. Who is the Creator of all these things? All these have been created and provided for people by none other than Allah the Exalted. The same Creator sent for the benefit of people Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’ān, the Shari’ah and many other things. They belong to all people.
Another important thing which we all should remember regarding the presence of Muslims in any country of the world and the application of the Shari’ah. Both are planned by Allah the Exalted who gave birth to or brought Muslims everywhere in the world. They are supposed to follow according to the Shari’ah the law of the land to maintain law and order. Muslims have to respect people, protect their dignity and properties because the Shari’ah guides them to create the environment of peace, harmony and happiness.
In any situation Muslims cannot break the law and order and also cannot allow others to break the law. They cannot tolerate atrocities committed by those who take law into their own hands. Muslims have to stop them but not fighting against them but embracing them; after all human beings are our family members – the family of humanity as taught by Islam and created by Allah the Exalted. We all have come from one single family of Adam and Eve. Wherever Muslims live have to live actively participating in education of people about Islam and Allah the Exalted taking interest in the process of developmental activities. They have to equip themselves with education and educate people, especially those who live around them.
Right wing Hindu organisations say Hindu Dharma is more tolerant which accepts many facets of truth. They want the Vedic dharma to be recognised as the real religion, as all Ibrahimic religions are. How can we explain it?
This question requires a serious intellectual debate. Right wing Hindu organisations, their political agents along with their supporters are not in a mode to participate in any meaningful debate on the issue of Truth with capital T. The simple reason for this unreasonable attitude is their political success. They are ruling the country, hence, they think they can dictate to everyone. They are victims of a number of illusions. Claiming anything and proving the same thing as true, authentic and universal is different. Can Truth with capital T be different, various and plural. Do we find any empirical evidence in the natural world or even in our own system of body for this? We observe that all human beings’ bodies follow a single universal system. The Truth has to be only one and whosoever will prove Truth is one will win people. This has been the historical fact which can be observed by people of reason and wisdom. Those who are devoid of the power of reasoning are unable to realise this truth.
Allah the Exalted did not ask anyone in the Qur’ān to accept anything blindly. To convince people He first granted them Knowledge and then provided empirical and historical evidences and used powerful rational arguments along with critical and comparative methods to prove His claims of Truth. It is not Muslims who are making any claim for Truth. It is Allah the Exalted Who has made several claims in several ways at several places in the Qur’ān that Truth is one, only ONE. Muslims simply accept it and follow it as they are empirically and rationally convinced.
There is a great misunderstanding about the Prophet Ibrahim and his progeny. It is made clear in the Qur’ān that the Prophet Ibrahim did not preach any religion or religions. It is denied in the Qur’ān that Allah the Exalted sent various religions. The Qur’ān explains beyond doubt that the Prophet Ibrahim, like any other Prophets, presented before mankind the truth about life and the world and the way of life which is ordained by the Creator of life and the Word claiming that the Creator possesses Un-limited knowledge and Un-limited wisdom, hence, He knows what is good for human beings. Islam was introduced from the very beginning since the time of the Prophet Adam as the Worldview and the Way of life. Hence, it is claimed that Islam is the worldview and the way of life. It has nothing to do with dogmas and doctrine. It presents the simple Truth that Allah the Exalted is the only Creator. If anyone wants to deny this Truth then he needs to deny the arguments of the Qur’ān not the Qur’ān itself.
The Qur’ān makes it clear that people are at liberty to make any claim and accept anything as being true but they need to prove it. If they fail to prove then they will be subject to punishment on the Day of Judgement on the plea that Allah the Exalted granted them the faculties of reason and sense perception along with knowledge but they did not use neither knowledge nor reason and sense perception. Rather they prefer to follow their forefathers’ views, practices and popular notions and traditions.
Shouldn’t Muslims be able to be more flexible in some of these areas?
It is not the question of choice for Muslims. Muslims are those who after having been convinced of the Truth submit wholeheartedly to the teachings and guidance of Allah the Exalted. No doubt they have to understand His teachings, keeping in mind the time and space context. Hence, it is up to the scholars of the Muslim community to guide Muslim masses.
What recommendations do you give to the community for coexistence?
Muslim scholars, leaders and all those who are able to understand the current trends of some barbaric people of our country who want to destroy it must stand together to educate people. No need for any fear, any unlawful activity or violent and terrorist actions. The people of our country are peaceful and they want to live with peace. We must build up their morale and create courage among them to face the people of violence and barbarism by launching PEACE MARCH on the streets. Public meetings of peace-loving leaders and scholars of various schools of thought and religions must be organised and addressed by them. Those who will sit silent will be equally blamed by the historians in the future.
Who is entitled to do ijtihad in the current circumstance, when all sects have their own Ulema?
It is not true to think that we do not have qualified scholars to do ijtihad. It is true that most of them have lost courage due to several factors. The courageous, honest and visionary scholars and leaders will have to come forward to guide the Muslim masses and people of other faiths. This is the test of all of us. We all have to realise that we, peace loving people, have to come forward to lead the masses to save our country and protect people. For this there is no need for any ijtihad. There are clear injunctions in the Shari’ah, which stands as a whole for peace and harmony.