Never In, to be Going Out
With the pathetic inner weaknesses of the Muslims over the world, their orphanhood (in terms of political leadership), and religious leadership in a state of stupefaction, the attacks on Islam and Muslims that had remained confined to drawing rooms, corridors, private meetings and occasional public remarks, are now taken up by the all-powerful and all-penetrating media at a good pace and a good force. Cold blooded murder of 500,000 Iraqi children, shrugged off with the shrug of the shoulders, is not terrorism. Those 500,000 were not civilians. They were not children. Dogs set upon thousands of naked jailed inmates in Iraq and other places, is not terrorism by any definition. Kidnap of men in hundreds and their confinement into secret locations spread over the globe, has no trace of terrorism in it. Threats such as, “If you are not with us, you are with them, and if you are not with us, we will pulverize you,” are not statements of the terrorists. Thirteen years of bombing and destruction of the infrastructure (previous to invasion, so that it could be rebuilt by American companies), terrorizing the entire Iraqi population, day and night, (a child started with the kindergarten, finished his school, and they were still bombing his little country), did not evoke any journalist to call it terrorism of the worst kind ever witnessed by humanity. But an act of desperation and self-destruction, by those who have been given the message that it is either a life of humiliation or death, is such a heinous work, that every journalist is on his feet, fists raised high, shouting vehemently, until his throat cracks up: “Muslims are terrorists, Islam spreads terrorism, the Qur’an is a terrorist’s handbook.”
Sometimes when the stock of patience runs low and the hatred for Islam runs high, the barrels burst out. In such situations the media cannot wait for a blast. They can blast Islam and Muslims on the smallest of pretext. The Imrana witch-tale is a case in point. The allegation of rape by a father in law was taken to the Islamic Court in Deoband. In response a fatwa was pronounced. What is an Islamic Court? It is a toothless body of jurisconsults. What are its powers? It is not recognized and so, in practice it does not exist. Can it enforce its rulings? It can not. Can it override the Law of the land? No. Then what is it? In a country like India, it is a mere fatwa issuing body. What is a fatwa? It is an opinion. Who understands this better than the well-educated ignorant Muslim elites? The media.
In this particular case, the fatwa pronounced was deeply disappointing to the media. It was not the kind of fatwa that would have allowed it to show solidarity to the poor, aged, wrongly accused man. They lost the opportunity to condemn Islam on grounds that it handed down uncivilized punishment and chopped heads on small pretext. To their disappointment, the opinion at Deoband was that, if the situation was truly as stated by the alleging party, she was now prohibited to her husband. This was not at all what the media was waiting to hear. Had Deoband said that the man was guilty and should be stoned to death, it would have pleased many. The media world over would have welcomed it to make such a huge protesting noise, that creatures on a distant planet would have decided to visit the earth to find out what was going on.
The Deoband ruling refused to treat human life cheap: guillotine this man because a crime was alleged against him? (Kill 500,000 children because, their dictator given WMD by the Americans had switched over to Euro from the American dollar). The Deoband body implied by its ruling that there were two points to be noted. The man denied, the victim asserted. The man could not be stoned to death because human life is sacrosanct in Islam. (Allegations are not enough to murder 500,000 children). Allegations are not enough to sentence a single man to death. Either the accused must admit, or there must be witnesses against him. So, here is a “on-sale” witness (sometimes a government agent) who is brought into the courts to swear by all that is holy to him that the accused is guilty. But Islam says, no. The witness should not be one available for sale. Those who are above suspicion of corruptions must testify that the witness is trustworthy. Only such a person can be presented in the court as a witness. If he is proven false, he will stay in prison for a while learning Islam and good behavior. He will come out earlier, if he memorized a part of the Qur’an, prayed five times, fasted, showed all signs of repentance, and the jail authorities, who are less policemen and more reformers in the Islamic system, (jails are called “Correction Facility” in Saudi Arabia), recommend that the man could be freed even though he had not completed his term. This is the Islamic system. The witness should be beyond suspicion, or he must be civilized. The secular courts are 1500 years behind the Islamic system of trial, deliverance of justice, and as an institution for reduction of crimes.
In this case, did the woman produce any witness? No. But she wanted the man to be stoned to death. And the media wanted to hear exactly that kind of pronouncement from Deoband. But, what if the woman had produced a witness? Would the Islamic Court have delivered the judgment of death? No. Islam is a religion in which humans enjoy the greatest of rights ever given to them any time in their history. The woman would have been asked to produce a second witness, of the same class defined above: not a hired man, but a trustworthy, honorable and pious Muslim. Had she produced a second, would the accused face the firing squad? No, the court would have asked the accused: did you commit the crime? If he said no, the court would have required the woman to produce a third witness, and then a fourth witness.
What if the four witnesses, of the class that are specified, testified to the crime? Would the accused electrified on a steel chair? (Those who have been allowed to see the pain on the face of the electrocuted, have said that this is not a civilized manner of dealing death). The Islamic Court would have asked the four witnesses, in turn, in separate sessions, to testify that they saw the act perpetrated by the accused as clearly as you see a thermometer inserted into its case, a glass needle into a perfume bottle. Supposing they did, would the man be condemned to die? Far from such a foolish judgment.
The Islamic Court would ascertain that the accused was sane. Doctors would have to testify. What if he is found sane? Should he be gassed to death? Not yet. The sanctity of human life in Islam will prevent Muslim judges from taking it away. They will have to find out, is the accused major or minor? If major, is the accused to be hanged? No. No. Do not be impatient to shed blood. More questions would be asked and greater certainty would be established. Is he, e.g., by any chance phallus-less? Or, is he a eunuch? Or, is the organ dysfunctional? Is it paralyzed? It is only after such thoroughgoing investigations, which leave no room for doubt whatsoever, that a man can be condemned to death. Life is a gift from God. It cannot be taken away by the humans.
The American Secretary of State was never considered worthy of a trial for admitting that sometimes, murder of 500,000 children is justified, as the price that has to be paid for achieving the desired objectives. But this exactly is the Jahiliyy system for the destruction of which the Final Prophet was raised, and a band of followers created who would establish that system all over the world, if necessary by force because, true justice will never be in the agenda of the humanity let loose to use its own puny brain, and its own ghoulish fancies. Now, what would have happen if the accused was a non Muslim and the accuser a Muslim? The answer is, a non Muslim is far more worthier in the Islamic system than he is in his own and in the eyes of his own Law. He will not be condemned to death without the four witnesses, without other assertions.
If it is the rules of those who jump when they should squat quietly and learn lessons, who accuse the Islamic laws as unfit for a civilized world .. if they are allowed to prevail, there would be chop, chop, chop; hang, hang, hang. Or, at the other extreme it would be complete impunity. A woman is in a black man’s room two hours past midnight. She accuses of rape and the man is imprisoned for a couple of years. Why was she in his room? They were not even friends: just acquaintances. Yet the man is condemned. Another case: a woman is in the company of a white man, and is raped almost in the open. She sobs when subjected to questioning in the court. The man is declared innocent and walks out triumphantly. He is white. Did skin color play its role? Whether or not, according to Islam, the whole system is wrong. Men will never witness full justice in this system.
Coming back to the case at hand, the accusation lacked strength. (In fact, later it was discovered by the Deoband scholars after a visit that there were no circumstantial evidence either. They discovered other things, such as, there was an inheritance problem too). In any case, the case fell apart on grounds that the accuser could not produce any witness whatsoever. She should have gone home. But she insisted. So came the question. Are you sure? She said yes. Would you like to think back? She said no. It was one hundred percent true. The jurisconsults had no choice. She had to be told that on her own authority, her own assertions, her own insistence, and her own responsibility, if it was admitted that she was raped by her father in law, she should separate from her husband. She was prohibited to him.
It is a fair Islamic judgment. To tell her to go back to the son of the man who raped her would have been hard upon him. How was the husband to treat his wife? Was she his mother, or his wife? Was she the children’s mother, or their grand mother? Sometime back Newsweek magazine had carried a lengthy coverage of crime in the USA. It had cited a case. While a man was in prison, his wife told him during a visit that she had been raped by his father. The man said he would hunt down his father and kill him once out of jail. That is in a society which has lost all its sense of moral values. What about this Muslim man, belonging to a culture where, if the father caressed his wife’s hand in his presence, he would either kill him or say, “You can have her for good?” How was this husband to treat his wife, who, if she was raped, then, instead of concealing the affair, so easy to do since she did not have a witness, chose to make it public and went to a distant court to seek justice? Was his wife seeking justice, or was it mischief? Was she honoring him or was it his humiliation in public eye that she meant? Should he keep her, for fingers to be pointed at him: “This man’s wife lay with his father?” No. In a fit of anger, he could kill her. Separation was the best course. And this what Deoband suggested.
But the media immediately picked up the issue. The press and the TV gave it the headlines. Islam was unjust to women, Deoband was outdated. It must be closed. And, since Deoband is a Madrasah, all Madrasahs must be closed. Some Muslims, who think they are Muslims because they visit the mosques, declared that if this is what Islam stands for – injustice to women – then they are ready to abandon it. Those were the actual words of a few educated mosque-going persons. They did not realize that whoever said such things was never “in,” to be going “out.” The media could be forgiven on presumed ignorance, and prejudice on grounds of enmity. But, how can someone imagine that he will be forgiven, who raises an accusing finger at his Creator’s own system of justice?