Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Source: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

اوریا مقبول جان صاحب کیلیئے بصد احترام کے ساتھ

محترم اوریا مقبول جان صاحب کی سیکولرازم سے نفرت کافی جانی مانی ہے۔ جناب کی آدھی نہیں تو زندگی کا بیشتر حصہ تو سیکولرازم کی لادینیت سے مشابہت میں گزار چکے ہیں۔ کتنے ہی کالم اور تبصرے اس موضوع پر تحریر کرچکے، لیکن مجال ہے جو سادہ عوام کو گمراہ کرنے سے چوک جائیں۔ یہ تحریر اوریا صاحب کے کالم باعنوان سیکولرازم کا اصل چہرہ یہی ہے کے جواب میں تحریر کررہا ہوں، جو کہ 6 نومبر کو ایکسپریس اخبار کی زینت بنا۔

حضرت سیکولرازم کی مختصر تاریخ بیان کرنے کے بعد فرماتے ہیں کہ سیکولرازم کے داعی اپنا نقطہ نظز نافظ کرنے کی غرض سے ناحق انسانی خون بہاتے رہے، آگے مسلم ممالک کی مثالیں دیتے ہیں کہ کس طرح سیکولرحکمران اس ضمن میں ظلم کی انتہا کو پہنچ گئے۔ چلئے مان لیجئے کے یہ سیکولر حکمران ظالم تھے، لیکن حضور یہ بھی تو فرمایئے کے ماضی بعید میں جو قدامت پسند مسلمان حکمران گزرے ہیں، انہوں نے کیسے کیسے کرشمے دیکھائے۔ خلافت امیّہ سے لیکر عثمانیہ خلافت تک مسلمانوں کی تاریخ جنگ و جدل، غداری، تشدّد اور اقرباپروری سے بھری پڑی ہے۔ دین کے نام پر کیئے جانے والے مظالم کی تاریخ اتنی ہی پرانی ہے جتنی کہ انسانی تاریخ۔ یہودی ہوں، عیسائی ہوں یا مسلمان، سب نے اس تاریخ میں اپنے اپنے ظلم کے باب نقش کئے ہیں۔ اسپین کی نامعروف انکویزیشن کو لے لیجیئے یہ پھر خلافت راشدہ کے بعد طاقت کہ حصول کی خاطر لگائے گئے کفر و ارتداد کے فتوے۔ فہرست کافی لمبی ہے، آگے بڑھیئے تو جناب عزّت معاب سیکولر مظالم کا ایک جغرافیہ کھینچتے ہوئے یہ نتیجہ اخذ کرنے کی کوشش کررہے ہیں کہ دنیا میں ہر سیکولر ملک میں گویا مظالم ہی ڈھائے جارہے ہیں۔ اوّل تو اوریا صاحب نے بات ہی بھارت سے شروع کی، سیکولرازم کی اندھی نفرت میں یہ بھول گئے کے بھارت میں حال ہی میں ہونے والے مظالم سیکولرازم کے نام پر نہیں بلکہ ہندو متھ کہ نام پر برپا کیئے گئے۔ یہ تو بھارت کی وہ چند سیکولر آوازیں ہیں جنہوں نے ان مظالم کے خلاف آواز بلند کی۔

اوریا صاحب کی سیکولرازم سے نفرت اسقدر شدید ہے کے اپنی تحریر کی روانی میں ایک انتہا پسند عیسائی کو بھی سیکولر لکھ گئے۔ جی حضور، ہٹلر کوئی عام عیسائی نہیں تھا، اپنے آپ کو خداوند کا دست بازو کہنے والا، خدا سے مدد گرداننے والا اور یہاں تک کے خداوند کے کام میں مدد کرنے والا یہ وہی ہٹلر تھا جس کی فوج کی پیٹی کے بکّل پر یہ الفاظ کندو تھے، خداوند ہمارے ساتھ ہے۔ تاریخ کو مسخ کرنے کی حضرت نے یہ پہلی کوشش نہیں کی، اپنی تحریروں میں پہلے بھی تاریخ کا جنازہ نکال چکے ہیں۔

اگر تو جناب سیکولرازم اتنا ہی برا ہے، تو خدارا کینیڈا، امریکا، یورپ، چین، جاپان جیسے ممالک کو مخاطب کیجیے اور ان ممالک کے حکمرانوں کو درخواست کیجیئے کہ ان میں بسنے والے تمام مسلمانوں کو دوسرے اور تیسرے درجے کی شہریت سے نوازیں۔ ان حکمرانوں کو بتایئے کس طرح وہ اپنے دین سے دوری اختیار کرکے جہنّم رسید ہوںگے۔

بنا سوچے سمجھے نفرت پالنا بھلا کہاں کی دانشواری ہے؟ اوریا صاحب ذرا ٹھنڈے دماغ سے سوچیئے، سیکولرازم ھر گز لادینیت نہیں۔ بلکہ دین پر کسی ریاست کے اختیار کو نہ ماننے کا نام ہے۔ دین میں جبر کی تو خود اللہ تعالی نے بھی ممانعت کی ہے۔ اسی لیئے اسلام میں چرچ جیسا کوئی اداراہ نہیں۔ اگر کسی بھی ادارے کے سپرد دین کی تشریح کا کام دے دیں تو بہت جلد یہ انتظام عیسائی چرچ سے مشابہ بن جائے گا، جس کی دین میں کوئی جگہ نہیں۔

Blasphemy

KASHIF SHAHZADA

The Qur’an has issued clear guidelines as to how believers are to respond in the face of insults and ridicule

Blasphemy (Greek blaptein, “to injure”, and pheme, “reputation”) signifies etymologically gross irreverence towards any person or thing worthy of exalted esteem.¹ Blasphemy is the use of offensive, and derogatory language and visual representations against personalities revered and held in high esteem in a religion. In the Judeo Christian tradition, blasphemy is a serious sin, which is according to the Hebrew Scriptures a cognizable offense incurring capital punishment. In the book of Leviticus, which is considered an inspired text by both, Jews and Christians it is stated: “Take the blasphemer beyond the confines of the camp; let all those who were listening lay their hands on his head, and let the whole people put him to death by stoning. 15 Tell the Israelites this: The man who curses his God…

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Refutation: The misconception of Aisha’s age

Many intellectuals who don’t hold a good view of Islam, time and again come up with this claim that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) got married to Aisha (may God be pleased with her), when she was merely a child. There are various claims on the matter, some quote the traditions which says that Aisha was six years old when she as married and nines years when the marriage was consummated. Others put the age of marriage at 10 and 13 at the time of consummation. So let’s explore the bits we know from historical records and the academic research which has been done on the matter.

Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s second marriage:

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was married to Khadija (may God be please with her) and their relationship lasted for more than two decades. At the time of their marriage Muhammad (peace be upon him) was twenty five (25) while Khadija was forty (40) and a widow. Polygamy in Arabia in those times (even now) was considered to be normal practice and the Arabs could marry any number of women without restriction or having to account for the social welfare of the woman.

After the death of his beloved wife Khadija, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was struck with grief. Witnessing his condition, a companion suggested that he should marry again and proposed the name of Aisha the daughter of Abu Bakar (may God be pleased with him) another companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The companion presented this proposal to Abu Bakar on the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s behalf. But at that time Aisha was already promised to Jubair (this was during the time when both Abu Bakar and Aisha were not Muslims). But now that Abu Bakar and Aisha were Muslims and deemed heretics within Mecca and the surroundings, Jubair distanced himself from claiming Aisha (broke off the engagement). Now the matter of adulthood of Aisha, it was agreed upon that the marriage will not be consummated until Aisha (may God be pleased with her) has attained adulthood. Thus the ‘marriage ceremony’ was virtually an engagement ceremony.

The misconception

So it is safe to establish that in pre – Islam Arabia, engaging young women (to be married) while they were about to reach puberty was not something out of this world. The popular misconception about Aisha’s age arises through a Hadith which is reported to be narrated by Aisha herself, the accounts of which can be found in Bukhari at two places at least.

However, the authenticity of these reports are challenged time and again by various academics. Hadith is a collection of reports about the life and actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which are reported / narrated by others to a person and it is upto that person whether to accept or reject them by testing these reports in historical context. Sometimes, the Hadith is reported and it is left on the imagination of the reader to interpret the actions or the quotations of the Prophet in anyway that makes sense and fits the context. As a rule of thumb, it should be kept in mind that if in a certain case, the Hadith is found to be contradictory to the Holy Quran, the Quran will be taken as the final authority.

Now having established the authority of the Hadith let us see what one of the famous writer / scholar of Islam has to say about the reports found in Bukhari. Maulana Muhammad Ali was the first Islamic scholar directly to challenge the notion that Aisha was aged six and nine, respectively, at the time of her engagement and consummation of marriage. This he did in, at least, the following writings: his English booklet Prophet of Islam, his larger English book Muhammad, the Prophet, and in the footnotes in his voluminous Urdu translation and commentary of Sahih Bukhari entitled Fadl-ul-Bari, these three writings being published in the 1920s and 1930s. In the booklet Prophet of Islam, which was later incorporated in 1948 as the first chapter of his book Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad, he writes in a lengthy footnote as follows:

“A great misconception prevails as to the age at which Aisha was taken in marriage by the Prophet. Ibn Sa‘d has stated in the Tabaqat that when Abu Bakar [father of Aisha] was approached on behalf of the Holy Prophet, he replied that the girl had already been betrothed to Jubair, and that he would have to settle the matter first with him. This shows that Aisha must have been approaching majority [puberty] at the time. Again, the Isaba, speaking of the Prophet’s daughter Fatima, says that she was born five years before the Call and was about five years older than Aisha. This shows that Aisha must have been about ten years at the time of her betrothal to the Prophet, and not six years as she is generally supposed to be. This is further borne out by the fact that Aisha herself is reported to have stated that when the chapter [of the Holy Quran] entitled The Moon, the fifty-fourth chapter, was revealed, she was a girl playing about and remembered certain verses then revealed. Now the fifty-fourth chapter was undoubtedly revealed before the sixth year of the Call. All these considerations point to but one conclusion, viz., that Aisha could not have been less than ten years of age at the time of her nikah, which was virtually only a betrothal. And there is one report in the Tabaqat that Aisha was nine years of age at the time of nikah. Again it is a fact admitted on all hands that the nikah of Aisha took place in the tenth year of the Call in the month of Shawwal, while there is also preponderance of evidence as to the consummation of her marriage taking place in the second year of Hijra in the same month, which shows that full five years had elapsed between the nikah and the consummation. Hence there is not the least doubt that Aisha was at least nine or ten years of age at the time of betrothal, and fourteen or fifteen years at the time of marriage.” (Bukhari, Book of Qualities of the Ansar, by Maulana Muhammad Ali)

To understand the events which the author is discussing, the tenth year of the Call which Muhammad Ali refers to is ten years after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his first revelations from God almighty, bestowing Prophet-hood on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). “Hijra” is Arabic for emigration, it signifies the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers towards Yathrib (later known as Medina).

More Research

Many more scholars took up the issue following Maulana Muhammad Ali and concluded that Aisha might have been much older than what Muhammad Ali has pointed out. A pamphlet by Abu Tahir Irfani (published by the Anjuman Isha‘at Islam, Bombay, India) points out as follows:

  1.  The famous classical historian of Islam, Ibn Jarir Tabari, wrote in his ‘History’:

    “In the time before Islam, Abu Bakar married two women. The first was Fatila daughter of Abdul Uzza, from whom Abdullah and Asma were born. Then he married Umm Ruman, from whom Abdur Rahman and Aisha were born. These four were born before Islam.” (Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 50. )

    Being born before Islam means being born before the Call.

  2. The compiler of the famous Hadith collection Mishkat al-Masabih, Imam Wali-ud-Din Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khatib, who died 700 years ago, has also written brief biographical notes on the narrators of Hadith reports. He writes under Asma, the older daughter of Abu Bakar:

    “She was the sister of Aisha Siddiqa, wife of the Holy Prophet, and was ten years older than her. … In 73 A.H. … Asma died at the age of one hundred years.” (Mishkat al-Masabih, Edition with Urdu translation published in Lahore, 1986, vol. 3, p. 300–301)

    This would make Asma 28 years of age in 1 A.H., the year of the Hijra, thus making Aisha 18 years old in 1 A.H. So Aisha would be 19 (nineteen) years old at the time of the consummation of her marriage, and 14 or 15 years old at the time of her nikah. It would place her year of birth at four or five years before the Call.

  3. The same statement is made by the famous classical commentator of the Holy Quran, Ibn Kathir, in his book Al-bidayya wal-nihaya:

    “Asma died in 73 A.H. at the age of one hundred years. She was ten years older than her sister Aisha.” (Vol. 8, p. 346.)

    Apart from these three evidences, which are presented in the Urdu pamphlet referred to above, we also note that the birth of Aisha being a little before the Call is consistent with the opening words of a statement by her which is recorded four times in Bukhari. Those words are as follows:

    “Ever since I can remember (or understand things) my parents were following the religion of Islam.”

This is tantamount to saying that she was born sometime before her parents accepted Islam but she can only remember them practicing Islam. No doubt she and her parents knew well whether she was born before or after they accepted Islam, as their acceptance of Islam was such a landmark event in their life which took place just after the Holy Prophet received his mission from God. If she had been born after they accepted Islam it would make no sense for her to say that she always remembered them as following Islam. Only if she was born before they accepted Islam, would it make sense for her to say that she can only remember them being Muslims, as she was too young to remember things before their conversion. This is consistent with her being born before the Call, and being perhaps four or five years old at the time of the Call, which was also almost the time when her parents accepted Islam.

The evidence by Muhammad Ali

In his Urdu translation and commentary of Sahih Bukhari, entitled Fadl-ul-Bari, Maulana Muhammad Ali points out reports of two events which show that Aisha could not have been born after the year of the Call. These are presented as follows:

  • The above mentioned statement by Aisha in Bukhari, about her earliest memory of her parents being that they were followers of Islam, begins with the following words in its version in Bukhari’s Kitab-ul-Kafalat. We quote this from the English translation of Bukhari by M. Muhsin Khan:

    “Since I reached the age when I could remember things, I have seen my parents worshiping according to the right faith of Islam. Not a single day passed but Allah’s Apostle visited us both in the morning and in the evening. When the Muslims were persecuted, Abu Bakar set out for Ethiopia as an emigrant.” (Muhsin Khan’s English translation of Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 37, Number 494.)

    Commenting on this report, Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:

    “This report sheds some light on the question of the age of Aisha. … The mention of the persecution of Muslims along with the emigration to Ethiopia clearly shows that this refers to the fifth or the sixth year of the Call. … At that time Aisha was of an age to discern things, and so her birth could not have been later than the first year of the Call.” (Fadl-ul-Bari, vol. 1, p. 501, footnote 1. )

    According to this claim her age should have be more than fourteen (14) at the time of consummation.

  • There is a report in Sahih Bukhari as follows:

    “On the day (of the battle) of Uhud when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw Aisha daughter of Abu Bakar and Umm Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, ‘carrying the water skins on their backs’). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.” (Muhsin Khan’s translation and go down to report listed as Volume 4, Book 52, Number 131).

    Muhammad Ali’s footnote under the report quotes:

    “It should also be noted that Aisha joined the Holy Prophet’s household only one year before the battle of Uhud. According to the common view she would be only ten years of age at this time, which is certainly not a suitable age for the work she did on this occasion. This also shows that she was not so young at this time.” (Fadl-ul-Bari, vol. 1, p. 651).

Let’s expand the last account a bit more, as we have discussed in the previous section if AIsha was in fact nineteen at the time of consummation of her marriage, then one year later at the battle of Uhud she must be twenty. Adding to this, we should remember that battles which took place prior to this one, some passionate Muslim youth, out of eagerness, tried to join in the ranks of the Muslim army for battle. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) sent them back on account of their younger age. It will not be historically correct to assume that Aisha would have been just ten (10) years old during the battle of Uhud if she was performing her battle field duties at that time.

So we have ample evidence which quote the same sources from the Hadith and historical context to conclude that Aisha (may God be pleased with her) was nineteen years of age when she joined Prophet (peace be upon him) as his wife in the second year of Hijrah.

(This is part one which is written to debunk the lies put out there by those who are openly bigoted towards Islam, in Part two I will discuss the take of Christianity on marriage of young ‘virgins’ with much older men. The purpose of the article is not to disrespect Christianity, but to show the hypocrisy of the right wing Christian evangelists who use the Hadiths out of context to portray Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s as an immoral being.)

Islam and stoning: A historical perspective

Many critics of Islam allege that Islam is barbaric because it legislates the capital punishment for offenses like rape, apostasy, heresy, blasphemy etc. etc. This is not a new allegation on Islam, many critics have been using the same rhetoric for a long time now. This perception of Islam (that it condones stoning to death) is built on the historic events that occurred during the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), where he suggested stoning of people.

If you study the Holy Quran, you will be astonished to know that there is no mentioning of this punishment in the entire scripture. There is punishment but death (no matter in what shape or form) is not even remotely mentioned for this offense. In the hadith (sayings / biography of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him)) we find certain accounts for when the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) ordained the stoning of death for adulterers. These rare events should be viewed in the historical perspective of that time. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) had migrated from Mecca towards Yathrib (which was later to be known as Medina), He was made head of state by an agreement between the dwellers of Medina and the surrounding (Jewish) tribes. It is important to remember that the Prophet’s (Peace be upon Him) reputation as a shroud and honest judge had perpetrated throughout entire Arabian peninsula. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) served as an arbitrator towards the community and people of all cast, creed and religion brought their feuds and conflicts to him and returned satisfied.

Verily, Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge between men, you judge with justice. And surely excellent is that with which Allah admonishes you! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Chapter 4, Verse 59)

Having established his reputation as an unprejudiced, wise and honest judge, the people of Medina (and those of the surrounding Jewish tribes) brought their conflicts to Him in pursuit of justice. When the cases of murders, adultery and harassment, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) inquired from the people what was the punishment ordained amongst them for these offenses. And the same punishment (according to the religion of the parties) was ordained for the accused. In simple words, the ‘stoning to death’ did not originate in Islam. Let us briefly explore the origins of this punishment.

Stoning to death: History

While the origins of stoning may be unknown outside the Abrahamic religions, what is known that Aztecs used to stone the adulterers to death. The first account of stoning to death in Abrahamic religions come from Torah, which is a part of the Old testament.

12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.

13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

(Exodus 19)

Here the bible is commanding the followers to kill those who touch the Holy Mountain without touching them. In Numbers we find texts which ordain the similar punishment but for another crime.

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.

33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly,

34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.”

36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

These are two of many examples where the bible commands for spiritual crimes be met with physical (and absolute) punishment. Even sleeping or lying with an engaged woman (who is engaged to another man and not violating the woman or abusing her) is punishable by stoning. Other crimes include: blasphemy, witchcraft, adultery, Overtime however the Jewish priests enacted some doctrines in order to prevent innocent from receiving capital punishment.

The Islamic link

As stated earlier, there is no account of stoning to death mentioned in the Quran. However, we find certain judgements during the time of Prophet (peace be upon him) that certain people were killed by stoning to death. Why? well the following Hadith sheds some light on the issue:

The Jews brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from among them who had committed illegal sexual intercourse. The Prophet said to them, “How do you usually punish the one amongst you who has committed illegal sexual intercourse?” They replied, “We blacken their faces with coal and beat them.” He said, “Don’t you find the order of Ar-Rajm (i.e. stoning to death) in the Torah?” They replied, “We do not find anything in it.” ‘Abdullah bin Salam (after hearing this conversation) said to them, “You have told a lie! Bring here the Torah and recite it if you are truthful.” (So the Jews brought the Torah). And the religious teacher who was teaching it to them, put his hand over the Verse of Ar-Rajm and started reading what was written above and below the place hidden with his hand, but he did not read the Verse of Ar-Rajm. ‘Abdullah bin Salam removed his (i.e. the teacher’s) hand from the Verse of Ar-Rajm and said, “What is this?” So when the Jews saw that Verse, they said, “This is the Verse of Ar-Rajm.” So the Prophet ordered the two adulterers to be stoned to death, and they were stoned to death near the place where biers used to be placed near the Mosque. I saw her companion (i.e. the adulterer) bowing over her so as to protect her from the stones. (Sahih Bukhari 6.79, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar)

As you can see from the above account, the Prophet (peace be upon him) judged between the two parties on the basis of Torah (their religious scriptures). It was never sanctioned into Islam as far as history goes. This tradition spread through the Muslims, some of them spread the news without proper context, which was that the punishment was legislated within Torah and not Quran. Therefore after the death of Prophet (peace be upon Him) this false tradition was taken up by Muslims.

The punishment for adultery in Islam is for the perpetrator to be lashed out (which can be changed based on the culture), not put to death. This is evident from the following Hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani: A bedouin came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge My case according to Allah’s Laws.” His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, “Yes, judge between us according to Allah’s Laws, and allow me to speak.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Speak.” He (i .e. the bedouin or the other man) said, “My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death.” Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah’s Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death.” Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah’s Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death.The stoning was done to the woman because she was a jew and according to torah punishment is stoning.The son got 100 lashes because its the punishment for zina in quran.

(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50: Conditions, Number 885)

So it is safe to say that it is not Islamic law which dictates barbaric punishment, the fact is that these have nothing to do with Islam at all. Therefore all those out Islamophobes out there, when you talk about stoning, be prepared to criticize the Jews and the Christians for this cruelty not Islam. If you are curious to learn the status of capital punishments in Islam, please follow the link here.

Islam And Capital Punishment

KASHIF SHAHZADA

In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

Islam And Capital Punishment

By Kashif Shahzada

Introduction Capital punishment, or the death penalty is defined as the killing or execution of a person by a judicial process as a punishment for an offence. Capital crimes or capital offences are those that can result in a death penalty. The practice has been prevailing in numerous jurisdictions, countries and cultures and has both proponents as well as opponents. A number of religious texts also endorse and advocate capital punishment for certain religious and secular offences.

But is this penalty an Islamic one? This article gives the answer in negative due to a number of reasons based on Qur’anic proof and evidence. Capital punishment is un-Islamic because it is un-Qur’anic. The Qur’an occupies the absolute authority for Islamic legislation, hence its verdict on the matter is final and above all other…

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Islam: A peaceful religion

Co-Exist

A few days ago, Reza Aslan (an Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions), gave a fitting rebuttal to Bill Maher on his views about Islam. Reza rightly pointed out the ‘phobia’ which has taken it’s roots among ‘westerners’ (apparently after 9/11) to justify their hatred towards Islam. Reza is of the view that religion in itself isn’t violent, it is the violent nature of a certain follower which is covered up in in religious veil that gets the religion denounced. He quotes the example of the Buddhists, who claim to be the followers of the most peaceful teachings (of Buddha), yet they are involved in the brutal massacre of Rohangya Muslims in Myanmar (former Burma).

Video clip of the interview follows:

It’s a strong argument, if you take into account the fact that every religion in the world have had some sort of violent history in the past (Islam is still young compared to others). The infamous Spanish inquisition marks the darkest history of Christianity, the persecution of Christians in their early days by the Jewish depicts a period of ignorance on the part of Jews. Hindus persecuted Muslims for over a century in the undivided  sub-continent and the Buddhists’ current drive of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar are accounts of violence in the name of religion.

What Reza’s interview did is reduce (if not eliminate) the negativity in the viewpoint of those who don’t fully understand religion, specially Islam. But, as usual some criticism was due. I came across this post, which is circulating the internet and is written by two ex-Muslims (I am guessing they are atheists now since the blogs are more about atheism). They go as far as to state that everything Aslan said is completely false. So let’s take a look at the argument they are trying to sell:

Shariah Law & Gender equality

Indonesia has increasingly become more conservative. (Notoriously anti-women) Sharia courts that were “optional” have risen to equal status with regular courts in family matters. The conservative Aceh province even legislates criminal matters via Sharia courts, which has been said to violate fundamental human rights.

Let me make it clear, Islam does not have a church (a governing body that interprets the holy scriptures and is the final authority on it), which means every individual or community have their own interpretation of the Holy text. That is why we see so many sections sprung out of it in the very early ages (The Shia Sunni conflict took roots as soon as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died). True Islam keeps religion and state as affairs separate. We have examples of governing from the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) where verdicts were carried out according to the religious interpretation of the conflicting parties (Jews and Christians lived in those states governed by the Muslims). Justice system within Islamic states was heavily overhauled, eliminating conflict of interests, equality of justice for the peasant and the Calph were some of the features of early Muslim rule. Another example we see during the rule of the last ‘Rashid’ Caliph Ali (may blessing of Allah be upon him). Muaviya created an independent state and became it’s (self appointed) governor within what is now Syria (which became the center of the Umaiyyads later on) and Caliph Ali did not pose any challenge towards him.

Now the Shariah law in modern times is a separate issue altogether. These days, it has become a mean of strengthening one’s rule on the ‘throne’. Religion specific state laws were first implemented during the Abbasid Caliphate, prior to which we see little or no reference towards such laws. For example, the punishment for apostasy is no where to be found in the holy scriptures, but some how a Hadith (which isn’t even attributed to the Prophet) circulates regarding the punishment of an apostate. Regarding the issue of gender equality, Islam was the first religion to truly talk about women rights.

While talking on the issue, one must certainly keep in mind the time when Quran was revealed. It was a dark era, especially for women. Girls were buried alive upon birth in pre-Islamic Arabia. People of every religion or cast were accustomed to this ignorant practice. It will be worth while mentioning that many atheists of pre-Islamic Arabia were following these practices.

Women were denied heritage and were traded freely. With the arrival of Islam, the Arab society (of those times) saw a gradual change in their attitude towards women. The change was not abrupt, rather it eased into people over time. Muslim women fought with men at times leading them in battles, they were working on their own and traveling across the world without any man chaperoning them. Things were changing for the better until the in-fighting began once again and Muslims were forced back into dark ages.

It was then everyone started making up laws, defining them ‘religious’ and using them against rebellions and enemies of the state.

Religion promotes violence

On the contrary, take any religious scripture, you will always find messages of peace and compassion towards fellow humans, even plants and animals. The notion that religion promotes violence is truly baseless, and here’s why. All fatalities committed in the name of religion are still less than the fatalities committed otherwise. The wars fought in Europe during the dark ages, the massacre of innocent people by the Mongols, the atrocities of Alexander (apparently titled ‘the great’) and the persecution of Jews at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar are all but trailers to the crimes against humanity committed by the ‘non-religious’ states. Both the world wars are recent examples of ‘non-religious’ wars. So for all these killings, should the atheists be held responsible?

Female heads of states

The article states that famous leader’s like Benazir Bhutto and Sheikh Haseena Wajid had little to do to achieve their greatness, which is utterly preposterous. Mrs. Bhutto, even though she was the daughter of the former Pakistani Prime minister had to face tough circumstances in her country. Her father was hanged and she fought her way through a dictatorship to become the Prime minister of Pakistan. Surely, the Ex-Muslims of North America can tell us when was the last time a female head of state was chosen for America? In Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, women are free to work and have all the rights (at least in the constitution). The practice of these rights is a separate issue altogether. Pakistan is plagued with illiteracy and people are very narrow minded, it is important to note that these people still have ‘cultural’ (not religious) practices of sheer ignorance they are accustomed to in this era. Blaming religion for it is ridiculous.

FGM

You can clearly feel the ignorance of the author when he puts forth a Hadith (saying of a Prophet) to prove that FGM is supported by Islam. The Hadith of Abu Dawood clearly indicates that FGM was already a practice (within non-Muslims of that area), but the Prophet requested them to be more gentle towards the women who come with the desire for it. The article claims that ‘two major’ Sunni factions support FGM. They don’t quote their sources but let’s say even if they do support it, they will be around 25 to 30 percent of the total Muslim population. To suggest that Islam supports it is absurd.

Towards, the conclusion the author attempts to further malign Islam by articulating the age old ‘myths’ and ‘allegations’ on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I have written about them extensively in my previous posts which I hope will catch the authors’ eye.

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