The current Muslims, especially the young generation, and the “potential new Muslims ” in the western world are confused about the state of Muslim affairs. The intra-religion conflicts within the various denominations of Muslims, are harming Islam. Although, Islam forbids the creation of denominations but unfortunately Muslim scholars created these denominations anyway. There are so-called Muslims in every denomination claiming that they understand Islam better than the others. These few Muslims raise their voices so loud that the voices of the majority die-down and what ordinary people listen to, are the voices of fanatics.
These fanatics justify their beliefs and actions through Qur’an and the Hadith. Therefore ordinary Muslims are puzzled. Muslims themselves are to blame for the troubles they are causing in the name of Islam. Muslim scholars, Imams, Muftis, etc.é must bear the responsibility of pushing away Muslims from Islam. Islam, which some of us are practicing has never been practiced by the Muslims.
My heart cries when I see a son calling his own Muslim parents a “MUSHRIK” (Pagan). My heart cries when a young son leaves his Muslim parent’s home in the name of Islam because his parents wanted to attend Eid Milad-un-Nabi program. It is so sad to see that some Muslims hate other Muslims in the name of Islam. What’s going on? This religious fanaticism has deep roots. It is the responsibility of all Muslims to uproot this fanaticism. On one side Muslims are facing American aggression, and on the other side some ill-minded Muslims are spreading hate against Muslims in the name of Islam.
Let me share with you some of my experience in several programs that I attended recently. These are all true stories.
A “potential” Muslim, who is interested in Islam but has not accepted Islam yet, asked me what brand of Islam he should accept. Should he accept;
Islam followed by Sunnis?
Islam followed by Shi’as?
Islam followed by Wahabis?
Islam followed by some other sects and groups?
Imagine, if this person would have been during the time of Prophet (Peace be upon him) or his companions (May Allah’s blessings upon them) time, would he be asking these questions? He told me that he agrees with the basic beliefs of Islam especially the belief of Towheed (oneness of Allah). But there are significant differences in details among Muslims. Wahabis call Shi’as as KAFIR (non-believers) and Shi’as call Wahabis as non-believers. Wahabis call Sunnis as non-believers and Sunnis call all others as Hell going Muslims. If I become Muslim I want to be considered a believer not a non-believer.
The “crime ” of calling a Muslim, a BID’ATEE / MUSHRIK / KAFIR (non-Muslim) is not the issue of Muslims in Muslim countries anymore. Muslims have imported this horrible “crime” in North America as well. Criticizing Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and hiding his high honours is no more the responsibility of fanatic non-Muslims. Several self-claimed Muslim scholars have taken this “important” responsibility on their own shoulders. The badmouth about Allah’s Messenger in the name of TOWHEED.
In many programs there were questions and answer sessions. In these sessions, the most common questions / comments from ordinary Muslims were not related to the major current issues of Muslim Ummah. For example, what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan? What will be the future of Palestine? How the conflicts in Chechnya and Kashmir will be resolved? How can we save the honours and the properties of Muslims? How can we help to end the sufferings of human beings? But the most common questions were;
Is organizing a program called Meelad-un-Nabi permissible in Islam?
Is reading Qur’an (Qur’an Khwani) on certain occasions permissible in Islam?
Can Muhammad (Peace be upon him) intercede for us?
How much knowledge did Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) have?
Why should we praise Muhammad (Peace be upon him)? He was an ordinary human being. What is so special about him?
Can we say Salaam on Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) while standing?
How to counter the black magic?
It is very clear that the Muslims are no more interested in the bigger interest of Muslim Ummah. As an Ummah we are trying our best not to fulfill our responsibilities. The individualism is flourishing among Muslims. Every Imam, Mufti, scholar, leader wants to unite Muslims around himself. This is what anti-Islam forces want from Muslims and we are happily and knowingly serving their purpose. The anti-Islam forces want that the Muslims should remain occupied with minor issues and not find time to focus on the major issues.
Let me share with you, some of the horror stories of deep division among Muslims. These are my personal experiences.
ISCC, Ontario invited a Shi’a scholar in its May 10th program at the Ontario Science Centre. Hundreds of Muslims attended this wonderful gathering. The idea was to show Muslim unity and send a positive message to all Canadians about Islam. But a handful Muslims did not like the idea. They not only boycotted the program but they also issued a Fatwa against inviting a Shi’a scholar in the gathering of Sunnis. One of them who claims that he can cure all kinds of magic, wrote in an email to me “ééé. invited rafidhi aalim in Ontario Science centre program? Did he not invite the killers of Sahaba and Ahle Bayt? “
You may see how careless this person is? First of all Sahaba and Ahle Bayt lived 1400 years ago. How someone now can be blamed in Toronto for their sufferings? This kind of behaviour from some Muslims who apparently look like big SHAIKHS (scholars) causes confusion and distress for the Muslim community. I have seen similar attitude of many Muslims in Muslim countries.
In Toronto, I met a Muslim brother who, very proudly, told me that he did not pray Friday prayers for 10 years when he migrated to Canada. I asked him, were there no mosques in Toronto at that time? He said, ” there were several mosques but they was non belonging to his sect. “. I explained to him that he made a very grave mistake by missing Friday prayers for 10 years. This man not only insisted but he gathered few more similar minded Muslims. These Muslims, when they go to Makkah and Madinah, they do not pray behind the Imams of Grand Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. Although, I wholeheartedly disagree with the beliefs of Wahabi sect (most of the Imams in Saudi Arabia follow Wahabi sect) but I also know that it is a bigger sin to divide Muslims. Prayers are for Allah. He knows our intentions and He will accept or reject our prayers based upon our beliefs and intentions.
During a question and answer session a teenager boy who lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 years and recently migrated to Canada with his parents told me that ” Muhammad is asking too much from us. How can I love him more than my own parents and brothers and sisters?” When I tried to explain to him the Right’s of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) upon Muslims, he started quoting those verses from the holy Qur’an in which some misguided Muslims find, in their own opinion, the mistakes (A’oozo billah, I seek Allah’s refuge from Satan) of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Soon, I realized that this young boy was not trained by Christians or any non-Muslims to dishonour Muhammad (Peace be upon him) but he was trained by the Muslims. Many times, I have heard similar disrespectful comments about Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) from ” apparently ” very learned Muslim scholars.
There is not a single verse in Qur’an that can be used to undermine the high honours of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him). In fact, the entire Qur’an praises Allah’s beloved Messenger. However, the wicked hearts and eyes see the reflection of their own wickedness in the mirror of Prophethood and these Muslims do not realize their own shortcomings. They try to find anything negative in the Prophet of Islam and they still think that they are the best Muslims. What a mirage!
There are Muslims with huge grudge against the early Muslims especially the Sahabah (the companions of Prophet Muhammad, May Allah’s peace and blessings upon them). These people have nothing but one goal in their lives – to dishonour the wives and the companions of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him). They create hate among present Muslims by using the conflicts of early Muslims. These conflicts were developed and dealt with 1400 years ago. Why do we need to revive those conflicts in the 21st century, and further divide Muslims? Why do we need to judge early Muslims? Why can’t we leave this judgment for Allah? There are scholars from this sect who criticize the companions of Allah’s Messenger while the majority of Muslims see these companions as heroes. It is in the interest of all Muslims to respect each other’s beliefs and try to focus on the similarities instead of differences. Almighty Allah will decide what took place 1400 years ago among the companions of Allah’s Messenger. We all will see Allah’s Judgment on the Judgment Day (Insha Allah). Let’s not destroy our peace now.
Causes of Fanaticism Among Muslims
Wrong Focus: The current focus of majority of Imams, scholars and spiritual leaders (Murshad) is on prayers, WAZA-IF, rituals, dresses and appearance. The ordinary Muslims follow the Imams and the leaders, therefore, ordinary Muslim thinks that Islam is confined within a dress and some rituals. This is not correct. The focus of Islam is human interaction, not isolation. A Muslim prays, dresses a particular type of dress and looks like a certain kind of person but if fellow human beings are not safe from his / her tongue and hands then this person is not practicing Islam given to Muslims by Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The focus of Islam is HEART not appearance. Today’s Muslim is completely focused on appearance not heart. Unless Faith penetrates deep inside the heart the apparent Muslim is called Hypocrite in Qur’an. Once the faith purifies the heart, the appearance automatically becomes Islamic. But today’s Muslim is doing the opposite. They want to look like a Muslim regardless what the condition of heart is? This is cosmetics and creates frustration and vanity in a person’s character.
Lack of Basic Knowledge: Ordinary Muslims lack the basic knowledge of Islam. Most of the Muslim world is poor and trying to survive. Whatever time a person finds is used for bread earning. People have no time to learn Islam. Many Muslims are Muslims because they were born in Muslim families. Otherwise, they would have little or no interest in Islam. But when they face some loss in their lives or properties they resort to Islam. However, the lack of knowledge becomes an obstacle for them. At this stage they either get associated with someone who himself does not understand Islam and puts them on the wrong path OR they themselves explore Islam and end up reaching to the wrong conclusions.
Some well-off Muslims do not bother to learn the basics, but they help others to learn Islam.
Some influential Muslim leaders including self-claimed spiritual leaders (PEERS) do not want that the ordinary Muslims get education, including the basic Islamic education. They purposely keep their followers away from education in order to abuse them and misuse them.
Once a friend of mine asked a truck driver in rural Punjab (Pakistan) what is KALIMAH (Declaration of Faith)? This Muslim truck driver said, ” I do not know KALIMAH only Murshad (leader) knows the Kalimah “. The lack of basic knowledge confuses Muslims and forces them to depend on someone else’s knowledge.
Conflict of Interest: For most of our Imams, Muftis, scholars and spiritual leaders religion is the source of income. Either the mosques and Madrasas (religious schools) employ them OR they are self-employed but they depend upon the money (NAZRANA, gifts) from the people. Therefore, in order to protect their jobs and incomes they can not provide fair judgment. Therefore, on several occasions some of the Muslim leaders do not listen almighty Allah, WA LA TASH TAROO BE AYATEE THAMANAN QALEELAN (And do not sell my verses for small benefits). This is the major source of corruption in our religious leadership.
Negativism: has become a permanent style of many Muslims. They see everybody else’s action with negative approach. They suspect everybody especially someone from a different denomination. What is in someone’s heart? And what is someone’s intention? Only Allah’s knows but they do not hesitate to speculate and pass negative judgment. Some Muslims rely on rumors. They spread rumors while they know that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that it is enough for a person to be considered as a liar if he / she spreads information without validating it. Many Muslims stereotype fellow human beings.
Wrong Method of Preaching Islam: Some people who preach Islam in the community are ignorant about Islam but they want to preach anyway OR they have their own agenda, which they want to preach under the label of Islam.
Islam came to win the hearts of people not to break their hearts. But today’s Islamic preachers insult, humiliate and condemn human beings.
A friend of mine is a neighbour to a Sikh family. Both families are good neighbours to each other. Once few preachers of Islam came to my friend’s (Muslim) house to invite him to a mosque. The non-Muslim neighbour saw them. As a courtesy he approached them and invited them to his house. This was a perfect opportunity to these preachers of Islam to invite this non-Muslim fellow towards Islam. Instead of accepting his invitation one of the preacher said to him with rudeness, ” we will not come to your house because we cut and eat what you worship (cow) “. Is this Islam? Certainly, not. Muslims were never like this. From where is this kind of attitude coming from?
The Strong Bond with Favourite Religious / Spiritual Leaders: Since most of us do not know Islam very well we rely on our Imams, scholars and spiritual leaders. A sincere and a true spiritual leader (Murshad) or a scholar of Islam is like a guide. It is the responsibility of a Murshad or a scholar to guide the people and connect them with Allah and the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). A Murshad connects Allah’s creation with Allah by following the methods of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). A Murshad helps fellow human beings in developing the love and respect for Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him). In reward, Allah creates Murshad’s love and respect in the hearts of fellow human beings. For Murshad and his followers the centre of love and obedience is Allah and His Messenger. The great Sufis of Islam like Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani, Hazrat Khawaja Ajmeree, Hazrat Bahauddin Naqshbandi and many others never ever said or did any thing against the teachings of Qur’an and the Sunnah. They never divided Muslims. They united them under the flag of Islam.. They were the true MURSHADs. But in today’s world the Murshad and the scholars try to develop their own love and obedience in the hearts of Muslims instead of Allah and His Messenger’s love and obedience. The ordinary Muslim relies upon the Imams and the scholars for Islamic knowledge. If someone is trapped by those kinds of Imams and the scholars who develop their own love and obedience in the hearts of their followers, you know what is going to happen? These followers will recognize Allah and His Messenger through these Imams and scholars and they will be blind-sided. Let me share with you few examples without identifying the people.
There are Muslims who deny the five prayers. They pray twice a day only. They say that they are not required to fast in the month of Ramadhan. They say Hajj is not required. Why they deny the basic five pillars of Islam? The reason is their Imam said so. They believe that their Imam can even override Qur’an and the teachings of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Although, they claim that they are Muslims but their centre of love and obedience is their Imam not Allah and His Messenger.
A very large group of Muslim preachers strongly believe that in today’s world JIHAD is not required. If you ask them to make du’a for the freedom fighters in various parts of the world they do not make du’a for them. Why is that? Jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam. Because the spiritual leader said that the Jihad is no more a requirement and the followers have very strong bond with the spiritual leader not with Muhammad (Peace be upon him), they will listen the spiritual leader not Muhammad (Peace be upon him). These Muslims preach and practice according to a book developed by the spiritual leader of this group. If some thing is not in this book it does not exist regardless whether it exists in Qur’an or in the Sunnah of Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
A small group of Muslims prays ONLY behind the Imam of their own sect. They do not pray behind the Imam of other sect regardless both sects follow the same Fiqqah (Jurisprudence). They believe all the Muslims will go to hell except the people of their own sect. They claim that their hearts are filled with the love of Allah’s Messenger but they hate their own Muslim brothers and sisters. They are very quick in calling Muslims as KAFIRS (non-believers) while, it is forbidden in Islam to call any Muslim a KAFIR. It is against the clear teachings of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) to have jealousy and hate for any Muslim. It is against Qur’an and the Sunnah to pass judgment about Muslims. Only Allah will decide who will go to Hell. Why are they like this? Because their Murshad and Imam gave fatwa. They can not even imagine that their Murshad / Imam can make mistakes. For them, the words of Murshad are final, not the words of Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him).
A growing group among Muslims considers all Muslims BID’ATEE OR MUSHRIK OR KAFIR except their own group. They consider themselves as better Muslims and authority on Islam. The Muftis of this group forbid the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday. The founder of this group developed very sectarian beliefs. He gave a new definition to JIHAD. In his definition of JIHAD, killings of Muslims who disagree with his beliefs were permitted. That is why, the followers of this group have killed hundreds of Muslims in the name of Islam while the teachings of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) clearly says that a Muslim is a person from whose hands and tongue the other Muslims are safe. The followers of this sect are required to force their beliefs upon others. They hide and deny the high honours of Allah’s Messenger, The companions and the family of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) have no significance for them. The Imams and the Muftis of this group twist their fatawas based upon pressure groups (government, threat of loss, etc.é) The followers of this group were responsible for the destruction of Khilafatul-Islamiyah. They fought against Muslim Ottoman empire and favoured European Christian Forces. The trend still continues today. During the Gulf War, the Muftis of this group gave Fatwas to bring non-Muslim forces into Saudi Arabia.
Conclusion: If Muslims want to be respected and protected, they must not hate fellow Muslims. They must not kill or hurt any Muslim. Muslim can not be a rigid, narrow minded, fanatic and extremist. In Islam these things are considered as diseases and Islam came to cure them. Muslims must love Allah’s creation. We must not change the meanings of Qur’an and the Hadith. We must not call each other BID’ATEE/ MUSHRIK/ KAFIR OR JAHANNAMI. Let’s Allah decides who will go to hell or heaven. We can keep our differences but we must not impose our beliefs on others. There is a huge difference between EDUCATING and IMPOSING.
Muslims must stay away from any sect or group of people who are disrespectful towards Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the companions of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the family of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). But at the same time do not forget to educate them. The source of unity among Muslims is Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Only his personality and his message can bring Muslims together.
It looks like that the entire world has turned against Muslims. In media, Muslims and non-Muslims, most of the news items are always related to Muslims. The increased hostilities in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Philippines, India, etc. é is giving us a very clear message. The Muslims must unite now otherwise it will be too late for them. The chaotic situation in the Muslim world is not only putting the Muslims into danger but it is putting the entire world at risk. Why 1.6 billion Muslims are so helpless? It is very easy to blame and finger point at others but what Muslims are doing to themselves is more dangerous. Unless, internally, Muslims are strong and united, the external forces will continue crushing them. May Allah help us. Ameen.
Mr. Syed B. Soharwardy is Founder and President of Muslims Against Terrorism (M-A-T)