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HVK Archives: Counting_on_kafirs=27_ignorance?Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 16:50:44 -0000

Counting_on_kafirs=27_ignorance?Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 16:50:44 -0000 - The Observer

Virendra Parekh ()
January 2, 1999

Title: Counting on kafirs' ignorance
Author: Virendra Parekh
Publication: The Observer
Date: January 2, 1999

Now that Pakistan is on the way to becoming a Muslim theocracy,
writes Syed Qaisar Mahmood in Times of India dated (2112-98), it
will be obliged to show much more care and consideration towards
its minorities.

"Under the terms of the law of the Quran and the Sunnah,
Pakistan is left with no choice but to provide all religious and
linguistic minorities full freedom of faith and the right to
perform their religious rites under full protection of the

"The Pakistan Government win have to realise that fundamental
rights of its religious minorities, Hindus, Christians and
others cannot be trampled underfoot, their civil liberties
cannot be suspended and their religious shrines cannot be
desecrated under the law of the Quran or the Sunnah.

"Islam gives non-Muslim communities living In an Islamic state
the full right not only to safeguard their culture but also to
raise their young generation in accordance with their traditions
and culture", says Mr Mahmood.

Hogwash. The tolerant, liberal and benevolent Islam that
apologists like him talk about, just does not exist. He is
evidently counting on the ignorance of the kafirs about sources
of Islam.

Significantly, he has not cited a single Quranic verse or
authoritative hadis to support his high-sounding statements.

There is nothing wrong about people trying to see the bright
side of Islam. Nobody can quarrel with private versions of
Islam that some people entertain.

But sweeping general statements about tolerance (or otherwise)
of Islam must be checked against the real, official Islam to
make sure that we are dealing with the authentic tradition and
not a syrupy misrepresentation.

The Quran does not distinguish between the majority and the
minority, but between the Muslims and non-Muslims. Its
injunctions on how the Muslims should treat the non-Muslims are
numerous, unambiguous and blood-chilling.

The Quran repeatedly promises hell to kafirs, warns believers
against mixing with kafirs, calls on them to wage war on kafirs,
encourages war against kafirs by glorifying it or by promising
lust in paradise to shaheeds who die in such a war.

To be sure, there are a few seemingly tolerant statements in
Quran (there is no compulsion in religion; unto you your
religion, unto me my religion). However, these do not bear
closer scrutiny, especially when we examine the context in which
these revelations were received.

When the Prophet was strong and powerful, when he had a free
choice between tolerance and intolerance, he shed all tactical
semblance of 'live and let live' and opted for aggression and

The Hadis or Sunnah is explicit enough, and proves that the
Prophet practised what the Quran preaches. The Prophet made a
covenant with the Jews of Medina, whom he recognised as the
people of the book.

Within a few years, two of the three Jewish clans were driven
out of Madina and the third was slaughtered to the last man.

The Prophet, In his treaty with Zoroastrians of Bahrain,
recognised them as ahl-al-kitab or the people of the book,
though they are not mentioned in Quran as such. Where are they
now? Apart from a few thousand Zoroastrians livings in abject
poverty in a few villages of Iran, the Zoroastrians have been
wiped out by Islam. Only those who fled to the land of Hindu
'fascists' have survived and prospered.

As to the religious shrines, leaving aside Ka'ba, Al-aqsa mosque
and the Dome on the Rock, we have the example of the Cathedral
in Damascus. When Islamic armies conquered Syria, Christians of
Damascus were at first allowed to keep their cathedral under the
general conditions imposed on zimmis (the protected ones).
However, Muslim clerics demanded its conversion into a mosque.

The Christians paid huge ransoms in order to be allowed to keep
their church, but the Caliph finally gave in and the church was
finally converted into a mosque. Anyway why go that far in time
and place?

Here in India, thousands of masjids, built on the sites of and
from the debris of destroyed temples provide silent but eloquent
testimony to Islamic 'respect' for religious rights of others.
And any Kashmiri Pundit can tell from his own experience what a
Muslim majority means to non-Muslims in practice.

It must be pointed out that all this is wholly in conformity
with tenets of Islam. The Hadis and the four pious Caliphs have
elaborated the principles to be applied to those who agree to
pay jiziyah.

They are allowed to live in an Islamic state under 20
disabilities which include - they are not to build any new
places of worship nor to repair any old ones, they should not
observe their religious practices publicly, they must entertain
Muslim travellers in their places of worship as well as homes,
they should not prevent any one of them embracing Islam, they
have to wear a distinctive dress showing their inferior status,
they should not mourn their dead loudly, they should not buy
Muslim slaves. Besides, non-Muslims are discriminated against
in matters of testimony before law courts, taxation and
appointments to public offices.

As the historian Sita Ram Goel says, the status of non-Muslims
in an Islamic state that of hewers of woods and drawers of
waters. They are subjected to every possible indignity and
pressure in order to force them into the fold of Islam.

These are not merely theoretical injunctions. Experience of
Hindus and others confirms that these are observed
enthusiastically in practice, to the extent permitted by the
power equation in any given situation.

However, it is equally a historical fact that people have
outgrown fanaticism present in the earlier layers of their

The Jews, for example. Moses and Joshua ruthlessly exterminated
the tribes that stood in the way of the Chosen People, at the
explicit command of Yahweh. Yet, the Jews have developed an
attitude of live and let live for the last many centuries.

This could happen to Muslims also. After all, a spokesman of
Islam extolling virtues of tolerance is definitely an
advancement. But he needs to do much more than making simple
politically correct generalisations.

As Ram Swarup, a great scholar, has pointed out, fundamentalism
is not accidental but incidental to Islam. It is inherent in
those religious ideologies which are built on a narrow spiritual
vision, have a limited psychic base and which emphasise dogma
and personalities rather than experience an impersonal truth.

That is the level at which it should be met. Striking a liberal
pose before western educated modern Hindu readership of Times of
India does not say much about the liberal credentials of the

Islam's fundamentalism is rooted in its theology, its founder
and his practices. A worthwhile liberalism in Islam would
involve a rethinking on these fundamentals like its concept of
god, the last prophet (khatimunnabiyin), and the revelation that
ends all revelations.

It will have to discuss whether the Prophet speaks for Allah or
Allah speaks for the Prophet. It will have to rethink the whole
concept of kafirs, Islam's name for its neigh hours. It. should
raise the question whether Muslims should have kafirs treat them
the way they treat kafirs.

Judged in this light, we find that most Muslims sailing under
the banner of liberalism bring no honour to it. They represent
either some variant of Muslim fundamentalism or downright
deception divorced from real Islam.

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