Which Islam Are We Talking About?
04 August 2015
By Saeed Qureshi
I am not an Islamic scholar but I can quote three Suras from Quran that
explicitly emphasize Muslims all over the world as one united and monolithic
fraternity. In one Sura it is stated that "all the Muslim believers are
brothers)".In another Ayah it is ordained to "hold fast to the rope of Allah
and not to fall into divisions or sects". Yet in another Ayah it is decreed
that to kill a human being is to kill the entire humanity. There should be
another one that stipulates that a Muslim cannot kill a fellow Muslim
The above quoted Suras and their contents look frivolous and useless when we
delve into the history of Muslims and also look around us in the present
times. Ever since the demise of the holy prophet Muhammad (SAWS) some 1380
years ago, the Muslims have been killing fellow Muslims on racial, regional
and sectarian grounds.
Banu Hashim the clans of Prophet Muhammad were sidelined by the shrewder
Omayyad who took the reins of the caliphate barely after 30 years or so.
Three caliphs died at the hand of the assassins.
Two wars were fought between the son-in-law of the prophet and the third
caliph Hazrat Ali and prophet's youngest wife Hazrat Aisha (RA) on one hand
and the other between Hazrat Ali and the governor of Syria Amir Muawiyya
entailing a huge number of causalities. The Omayyad snatched power from Banu
Hashim Clan and the Abbasid did the same to Omayyad.
In between the tragic massacre of Imam Hussain, the grandson of prophet and
his companions happened at Karbala. The Omayyad dynasty in Spain and that of
Abbasid in Iraq and Syria were bitter and irreconcilable enemies although
both professed the same faith. Scores of governors appointed by Abbasid in
the Berber areas were killed by the Omayyad of Spain and their heads
The successive Islamic dynasties were not even remotely models of the state
or society as Islam ordains. From Omayyad to Ottomans in the Middle East and
Central Asia, Africa, Maghreb and India the more ruthless powerful Muslim
invaders occupied the land and territories already being ruled by Muslim
The Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayubids, Mamluk, Seljuk and Ottoman dynasties were all
Islamic yet they seized the power from their Muslim predecessors by sword and
bloodshed. In India the Muslim invaders from the north deposed the already
established Islamic states use of force and intrigues.
Did you ever ponder that the Muslims are the most rigid in observance of
their religious rituals yet they are the most backward and downgraded.
Presently the Muslims are the most miserable people on earth. All over in
Islamic world, there is an unrelenting turmoil with raging civil wars
prompted by race, region and divergent faiths. Is this the way of God or
observance of the injunctions given in Muslims guiding book holy Quran?
The argument by the religious zealots that the Muslims will have good life in
paradise is least convincing. Why can't Muslims have a happy life here in
I am also not ready to buy the argument that God is annoyed with Muslims for
their sins and negligence toward observance of religious obligations and thus
the Muslims are suffering. If we Muslims believe that our God is beneficent
and merciful and we are his preferred people in comparison to non-Muslims
then God with infinite compassion and mercy can shower his blessings on the
Muslims and they should be the most prosperous and dignified nations. But the
tormenting fact is that the Muslims are primitive and poor while the bounties
of God descend preferably on non-Muslims.
As stated above it is a convoluted logic that since we are sinful therefore,
God is not kind to us and that the devout Muslims would be rewarded in the
hereafter and not in this material world. According to our faith man with
innumerable drawbacks and infirmities is like a lamb for the Satan to prey
upon who according to scriptures has infinite powers to misguide us every
moment while God simply watches from the heavens and does not stop him to
save the poor humans especially Muslims from his wicked machinations.
If Satan can defy and argue with God at the time of the creation of Adam, is
he not in a position to hoodwink and misguide the weak humans? Even if the
humans ward off the Satan's evil intrigues with constant praying, fasting and
fulfilling other religious obligations, no one is still certain if we would
still earn the reward on the Day of Judgment unless the watchful angels
sitting on out two shoulders as well as our limbs would not favorably testify
for our righteousness.
Would a God who runs the atoms at a terrific speed of 196000 miles per second
and keeps the earth rotating in its track around the Sun at 66000 miles per
hour and not to move a fraction of a centimeter from its orbit would need
physical witnesses to reward or punish a faithful who would already be
roasted in the sweltering heat of the dooms day.
On that horrific day each person would be handed over judgment by God
himself. Isn't like the court of a king although the courts of the worldly
kings have always been cozy, comfortable and cool. There should be billions
awardees till the judgment day arrives.
Yet God would administer his indictment or reward while sitting on a couch in
an open ground while the sun would be above only by the length of a pole.
Scientifically, if the sun comes down by a fraction of a millimeter the earth
and all the heavenly bodies revolving around it would burn.
A lord of the universe administering the universe on immaculate scientific
principles could have devised a system by which the good or bad deeds would
be automatically recorded and a person after the death immediately goes to
heavens or the hell. The humans have devised computers that store the
limitless information and data in seconds.
The fact is that the religions were evolved at time in the human history when
societies were very primitive and lacking in rational or scientific
explanations for this huge phenomenon that is mind boggling and is an
eloquent testimony to the power and intelligence of its creator or the
Yet our religious demagogues want us to believe god in the image of a human
being who is extremely sensitive and gets annoyed or pleased every moment by
our each and every action or movement and maintains a record of that through
two angels sitting on our shoulders.
The stark fact is that Islam as an enlightened religion has always been a
captive in the hands of biased and ignorant religious guides and preachers.
They keep emphasizing the fear and enticement dimensions of religion and
binding the ordinary Muslims in more suffocating rituals and obligations.
It all depends on the nature of the interpretations of Islamic injunctions
according to one's liking to inculcate fear or allurement as personified by
hell and heaven. And that has led to the divisions of Islam into countless
sects hampering and undermining its doctrinal unity. One such glaring
division is between Sunnis and Shias.
The Shia- Sunni conflict has cost the Muslims grievous harm, incurable
instability and persistent chaos down the centuries and which unfortunately
is still wrecking the Muslims societies. This conflict can be resolved if all
the Shias die or all the Sunnis become non- existent which either way is not
possible. So coexistence is the only way-out.
The western societies have separated the role of religion from the state and
society. Religion in those societies is now a personal obligation of an
individual which a citizen may fulfill or not. The Muslims societies should
follow the way the western societies brought about a rapprochement and
reconciliation between the irreconcilable Catholics and Protestants. The
Church with countless denominations is independent in religious domain but
remains out of the state affairs.
Let us take a look at the Muslim Spain (756-1492) where there has been
laudable peaceful coexistence not only among the Muslims sects but between
Muslims, Christians, Jews and other minorities. They all contributed towards
shaping Spain into one of the most progressive and civilized Islamic state in
Instead of fighting for a radical Islamic system in Islamic lands and also
throwing challenges to the non-Muslim societies through a kind of crusade as
ISIS and Al-Qaeda are waging, the Muslims should give utmost priority to
excel and delve in scientific and technological fields.
They should follow the advanced societies in matters of good governance,
galore of civic and social amenities and establishment of democratic order,
secular culture, freedom and openness for building up modern and progressive
states with tolerant Islam as its religion.
By sticking to the past and reviving it in the primitive and orthodox form
cannot work or succeed in an enlightened world of today that is drastically
different from those of the past. Islam allows modifications and changes as
needed by the changing times.
The American constitution drafted in 1776 is a beacon of guidance for
countries like Pakistan towards ensuring human rights, personal liberties and
human dignity. It incorporates a solid system of checks and balance and
accountability and separation of powers.
It is time for a giant leap for Pakistan and other Muslim polities to emerge
as nation states so that our coming generations can stand side by side with
the people of modern, prosperous and intellectually advanced societies. We
have a lot of human talent that needs to be unfurled.
I wonder if this miracle can happen. For that the initial breakthrough would
be tolerance, secular outlook, equality and eliminating the religious
fanaticism which is a recipe for disaster for any country worth the name.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at
his blog www.uprightopinion.com