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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Let us stop the harassment against fellow Muslims

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Reciprocity, a bedrock fundamental underlying the principle of justice, requires that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for others (and vice versa) to bring about sustainable peace and security for everyone in the world, and that this principle of justice should not be predicated on what others do in this regard. We need to insist on it until a genuine understanding is developed sans coercion.  “O you who believe, you shall be equitable, and observe Allah, when you serve as witnesses. Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice. You shall be equitable, for it is more righteous. You shall observe Allah. Allah is fully cognisant of everything you do” (Qur’an 5:8).

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The following six principles are important to understand the power of justice: First, we need to seriously consider the Islamic concept of shirk – that is to say, conceptually, it is a violation of or at least dilution of Allah’s dominion by our acts or tendencies that are tantamount to elevating ourselves or others to Allah.


On matters of faith, the merciful Allah gives room to people and holds out judgment till the Day of Judgment. That does not mean a thing to the dictators and a few religious leaders among Muslims who have raided Allah’s dominion and appointed themselves as His substitutes/deputies. This is as if Allah should sit out in silence while they decide in this who is a Muslim and who is not. This is like treating Islam as a private club and they are the owners. If this trend continues unchecked, very few will be left to be called Muslims.


Secondly, we cannot validate and propagate a false idea that the majority has a right to dictate the minorities to accept their status as subjects. Should the majority of people believe in the rhetoric that Muslims are terrorists and must be kicked out of the planes and prevent them from building a place of worship? 


Thirdly, we have fallen into a deep ditch led by the pied pipers to declare fellow Muslims as non-Muslims or less than Muslims. The Sunnis have declared Shiites to be non-Muslims, and Shi’ites have done the same. Each one of the groups is eager to denigrate the other: the Wahhabi, Ahle Sunnat, Nadwatul Ulema, Deobandi and so on. Who is qualified to cast the first stone? 


Fortunately, not all Muslims have done that. But do we have a significant record of speaking up against such epithets? We need to do our part. Didn’t the Prophet advise us to speak up against injustice? That is the least we can do. All right. Not all Muslims have done that but do we have a significant record of speaking up against such castings? Have you done your part? Didn’t the Prophet advise us to speak up against injustice? 


Fourth, many Muslims have been brainwashed like most others to believe in things fed by the politicians. Whatever their governments say is embraced by them as unadulterated truth. Pakistan’s dictators played the sectarian game and officially declared Ahmadiyya Muslims as non-Muslims, and many Muslims bought this to the extent that anything befalling these Ahmadies was okay. What a shame! When are we going to wake up and put our own minds to use and question the veracity of the propaganda? 


As Muslims we do not have to agree with particular sects or segments. If we believe that something is unacceptably wrong, we have the right to expose the follies of others, but we must do so within the Islamic norms and parameters.


Fifth, we have no right to deny Muslims of other sects their right to be Muslims. Let each denomination make a sincere effort to present their own merits without denigrating the other. Do we own Islam? If we cannot stand up for anyone wronged, why should anyone stand up for us? Prophet Muhammad asked to find how many Muslims were in Medina, and the only criterion was if they called themselves Muslims. Let’s respect the wisdom and norm of our Prophet, Amen. 


Lastly, Islam has pulled us out of ignorance, and we should not fall into that hole again. Justice means justice. We should defer the judgmental role to Allah in the matters of faith. There is no compulsion in religion.


“Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians – all who believe in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve” (Qur’an 2:62). 


Finally, if we really want the best for the Muslim community in particular and the humanity in general, we can do it only by adhering to justice. Let’s start cleaning our hearts from prejudice and judgment against others. If the professional owners of Islam cannot unite us to do good for humanity, let them not divide us either. Let there be no politics in religion.


Islam is large enough to absorb all the strands. Indeed, we can see the wisdom in the Prophet’s predictions that we will divide ourselves into 73 tribes. He understood the human fitra (nature) and prepared us to accept it instead of making arrogant claims to be the best, the best among us is the one who is pious and who serves humanity. 


There is indeed a net gain for Islam collectively, and we must appreciate them all. Islam is universal; it absorbs all of us in its embrace. If Muslims can stand up for everyone on a principled basis, then our voices will carry the moral weight necessary to bring a positive change for the entire humanity including us. Prophet Muhammad has given us a model to emulate: The Amin, the just, the truthful and the trustworthy to build just societies for humanity.


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