Letters to the Editor
A Deceptive and Misleading Editorial
Q: This is in response to the editorial ‘Indoctrination or Ignorance’ published in the December 2011 issue of Young Muslim Digest. The editorial is a commentary on the book, Glimpses of History (Part II), written by Moulana Afzal Hussain.
Firstly, we are extremely sorry for letting this letter lie so long with the pile of other letters that we received.
Secondly, we had so entitled the editorial because, when the book in question is given as a reward (which a committee would have decided), to a boy of ten, then the strong suspicion that falls is that it is an effort to indoctrinate – ‘catch them young’ sort of thing.
That should explain the title.
Q. I would like to point out that… (you have) selected passages out of context for deriving meanings of choice…
We have chosen passages of strong objection; otherwise, there are many passages of objection.
Q. You state that according to Napoleon, “history is a set of lies agreed upon.” If that is true, then, even the Holy Qur’an and the life of the Prophet become… “a set of lies agreed upon.”
It is unfortunate that you mention the Qur’an and Sunnah as in the category of what could be placed among those writings that can be referred to as “a set of lies agreed upon.” And you do that perhaps because, it has never been stressed upon you that instead of reading “the fine literature spread around you,” you must read the Qur’an first and foremost, in its own language. Had you done that, your inner voice would have told you that it cannot be referred to as you have done. It is not a matter of belief handed down by parents. But rather, the fact is, a little study of the two sources gives rise to belief that they are divinely revealed and divinely preserved texts, and, in addition, firmly established in historical record, of unchallengeable authenticity. Any non-Muslim taking it up as a challenge to disprove their authenticity, will end up becoming a Muslim himself. How can you think they are of the same quality as a history which the learned do not trust?
Secondly, Napoleon’s definition applied to history he knew, i.e. Western History, and, obviously, the greater part of it. Obviously, he would not have meant that any book ever written in the name of history could be so described.
Q. Ibn-e-Khaldoon defines history in his Muqadimmah thus:
“Remember, the knowledge of history is an honorable, exalted, very beneficial and nobly objective and purposive science, because it informs us about the disposition and state of affairs of the nations, the life and conduct of different prophets, and informs us about the political and other affairs of the governments and kings so that if anyone wants to follow their footprints in the worldly or religious affairs, he is fully benefitted.”
But, do you know where the history of Ibn Khaldun’s definition is? It is in the governmental archives, wherever they were maintained. As for much of the history that is in bookstores, including Islamic, would meet with Napoleon’s definition more than that of Ibn Kahldun.
As an Indian historian told us (presenting many revealing examples), “The history that the professors discuss in the university corridors today, is quite very different, if not altogether new, from the history as taught in classrooms.”
You need to do some study on this topic. For illumination, you may also listen to a few speeches of the Harvard professor, Michael Parenti, or read Chris Hedges, or Chomsky, and many other intellectuals who disclose the facts behind the façade of truths as presented by the media and so-called historians.
Q. You may also note the definitions of The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, or, The World Book Encyclopedia (Vol.9, p.254h), or, the website www.pinkmonkey.com and others.
None of them is fully reliable. They mislead the masses and, if relied upon, even the so-called educated.
At all events, realities do not change because of definitions.
Q. You also disagree with the following statement of the author regarding the purpose and importance of history in human life:
“Unless we know the past of the nations, institutions and ourselves, our collective life would turn into a heap of deceptions and misconceptions.”
High-sounding words, but they are empty of meaning.
We stand by our statement made in the editorial:
“If it is true that our collective life has turned ‘into a heap of deceptions and misconceptions,’ then, it is not because we turned our backs to history as written by the great historians of the past, but because we ignored Napoleon’s assessment.”
Is it not stories, and not facts, that are the bane of today’s majority of Muslims?
In other words, true history is the affair of the specialists. On the other hand, what is current among the public is not fully reliable. In fact, since recent times, history has become a propaganda tool.
As for the author’s words, “Unless we know the past of the nations, institutions and ourselves, our collective life would turn into a heap of deceptions and misconceptions,” – sorry, we do not agree with this statement. Other words must be chosen to stress on the importance of history as a subject of study. But a truer statement concerning “collective life” should be as follows: “Unless we know the Qur’an, Sunnah, and life-history of the Salaf, our collective life would turn into a heap of deceptions and misconceptions.”
You may carefully note the words, “life-history of the Salaf” and not “history of the Salaf.” Not knowing the difference, and using the “history of the Salaf,” some have criticized even some Companions. Were they to study the life-history of the Salaf, they would have discovered contradictions between their lives and historical reports, in which the reporters themselves used the words “za`ama” (he alleged), or, “qeela” (it was said), or, simply adding at the end, “wa Allahu a`lam” (Allah knows best), which meant, “take it with a pinch of salt.”
If Islamic history as written by Islamic stalwarts is read with the above precautious statements firmly established in the mind, then, they escape Napoleon’s remark.
Q. I do not understand how could you draw erroneous conclusions and ridicule the author, when everyone agrees with him as to the purpose and importance of history?
By “everyone” you mean the Internet sites, which you have identified, or the encyclopedias, but which we have deleted to save space. But these are no authorities. You have not used your time well by studying them to arrive at the correct evaluation.
Further, disagreeing with an author does not tantamount to ridiculing him.
Q. You say that the book “has all praise for the Bhakti Movement in the chapter entitled Ancient History” (butthe criticism is not justified because the original author wrote): …
We have deleted the points that you have extensively quoted from the book under evaluation, in support of the Bhakti Movement because we are not much interested in any movement which denies the first truth: “There is no God but one.”
We do not believe that a Bid`ah act will ever benefit the humans. How then can we believe that a movement which would not refute idols, and would not announce belief in one God and His Prophets is, in some way, useful?
It was thoughtless evaluation of the Bhakti ideas that had led some Muslims of earlier times also to believe that, “after all, it was attempting some sort of reformation,” that softened their hearts for it. It is this kind of evaluation that led to the unfortunate situation of those so-called “callers to Tawheed”, to express sympathy in its favor.
It was Mujaddid al-Thani’s excellent movement which saved the day for Muslims in India, being under external attack by ideas of the Bhakti Movement, and internal attack by corrupt Sufism. These are the facts ignored by common historians which led a famous thinker to criticize Mujaddid alf-Thani (instead of expressing thanks), and it is his influence that seems to be running through the pages of the book under evaluation.
Q. You also lie and misled by commenting:
“But, perhaps, influenced by a certain movement’s policy of downgrading every contribution of the Ummah from the time of Uthman b. `Affan until the middle of the 20th century, he has unkind words for the scholars of Islam of the same period (12th to 17th century).”
In this statement… it is obvious that you are referring to Jamat-e-Islami.
It is for the reader to decide whether the description fits a particular Jama`ah. And, his choice will be his responsibility.
Q. Actually, Jamat is all praise for all the eminent Sahabas and scholars of Islam and has utmost respect for them; its literature is ample proof for it.
Then, why did you assume that the allusion is to the Jamat? Does that smack of guilty consciousness?
Q. You must fear Allah, be honest and always remember we all have to account for our deeds.
Thank you for the reminder. Reminding helps drive fear into the hearts.
Q. Further, you mislead by claiming that the author has said that great scholars right from Mujaddid Alf Thani to Nizamuddin Sahalwi were worse than the political workers. But actually, the author says:
“Of course, here and there a few persons were found who were leading clean life and had sensitive minds. However, they were not many and they were not making any concerted efforts.”
That isn’t a defendable statement, and only helps to plant doubts about Muslim scholars, who did play their role.
Further, by the words, “concerted efforts” did he mean they did not organize a Jamat, or a party, or an association, or a group of activists?
In any case, we maintain that to say that “only” a few “were leading clean life,” and that “they were not many” and that “they were not making any concerted efforts,” – is wrong.
But, rather, we say that there were many who were top-class scholars of such caliber that, to use the words “they were leading clean life,” is an insult to them. But rather, it should be said that “there could have been some religious men in those times who would, perhaps, not meet the standards expected of them.”
We strongly condemn the spirit dominating the book, as exampled above, and say, that not to say thanks to those who brought Islam to us, is ungratefulness of a serious kind.
Criticism is only allowable where specific authentic instances can be cited; which the author of the book in discussion failed to do altogether.
Q. After this, once again, you mislead by adding a few words in brackets in the beginning of the excerpt and change its entire complexion and meaning. The excerpt given by him is as follows:
“(In contrast to the state of the scholars of Islam), at such a moment of mass degradation, a movement of revival and moral values took its birth. It was Mehdavi Movement. Its torch-bearers took the rulers to task, reminded the scholars and religious leaders of their obligations and duties and called the common people to shape their lives in the light of instructions from the Book of Allah and Sunnah. They were very sincere in their attempts. So they succeeded initially, but at a later stage, their influence was checked by vested interests (meaning the scholars and religious leaders: ed.). The claim of Mehdi by the founder of this movement also came in the way of its progress and influence.” (p. 51)
We maintain that the Mahdawi Movement does not deserve the praise awarded to it, by you, or by the book’s author, or any other.
Q. In the Urdu version of Glimpses of History (Aiyeena-e-Tareekh, Part II), on page 153, the author has written a chapter entitled, Akbari Daur ke Ulma-e-Haque (The Just Scholars of Akbar’s Time)…
If the author has admitted that scholars of the past deserve our thanks, then, this is what required of us all to do.
Q. The facts about the Mehdavi Movement as described by the author of Glimpses of History have also been narrated by other eminent scholars, one among whom is Moulana Abul Kalam Azad.
Your quotation from Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad’s writings running into three pages, to prove that he judged the Mahdawi Movement positively, wasn’t necessary.
We too enjoy reading Azad. But it is for literary reasons (his Ghubar-e-Khatir is always a literary pleasure). He was one of those dozens of geniuses that the early 20th century produced. However, in religious matters, he was no authority.
Q. You then proceed to quote extensively from the chapter on Mehdavi Movement and pass insinuating remarks on the basis of wrong and false assumptions. But the author’s last comment is on the following excerpt:
“Although the claim of being Mehdi was the main handicap of this movement, his mission was quite successful in that it generated a wave for reviving the religion, its moral values and it brought a general awakening.” (p. 55)
We do not believe that a movement led by a false Mahdi (which the author admits he was) can do any good to Islamic faith.
Q. And your comments on the above excerpt are a masterpiece of insinuation and false accusations. You wrote:
“What a quixotic conclusion! Scholars, religious leaders and Sufis of five centuries failed miserably; but he who claimed to be a Mehdi, who established a new sect, whose followers do not believe that their Mehdi had gone back on his claim, who has been consistently rejected by the scholars as the false Mehdi, was quite successful!”
We stand by the general idea we expressed in the passage of ours that you have quoted above.
Q. Besides, proclaiming to be a Mehdi does not render a person Kafir; at the most, you can call it a sin or, to a lesser extent, a negligent act. If Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri had declared himself to be a Mehdi, you cannot declare him to be a Kafir and wipe out the good work he had done to revive and implement Islamic Shariah.
This is a revelation of the true natures. It reveals the true sympathies, as to where they lie. As for the effort by Jaunpuri, to implement the Islamic Shari`ah, it is similar to the Saudi Mahdi of the ‘80s of the last century, who captured the Holy Haram, and announced from the Minarets that, as a Mahdi, he and his colleagues felt obliged to that extreme step because the Shari`ah was not being implemented.
To clear out your understanding, you better consult Deoband, Banaras, Azhar, or Madinah, for their opinions about those dozens of men (including the Jaunpuri) in Islamic history, who have, so far, claimed to be a Mahdi.
Q. Lastly, I would like to say that it is the commandment of the Holy Qur’an to be just and fair in all our dealings; the Holy Qur’an says:
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily, Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” (The Qur’an, 4: 135)
D. A. K.,
It is significant that you end by quoting from the Qur’an. But you did not look into the Qur’an and Sunnah while objecting to our opinions concerning the Bhakti and Mahdawi movements. We recommend that you go back to your ten-page letter (which we have abridged here), and attempt it now. If you believe in their finality, you might change your opinions.
Sufis and Shuyukh
Q: This is in reference to the recent row wherein the newly formed AIUMB [All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board] who happen to be believers in Sufi mysticism have proclaimed themselves to be the true representatives of Muslims in India. They claim that 80 % of the Muslims in India are with them. They smack their heads over graves and ask dead people for favors. They have made allegations suggesting that Saudi Wahabis are trying to export their supposedly fanatical version of Islam and that they are trying to delink the Indian culture from Islam. They have been shown enthusiastic backing by the liberal mass media who love one Muslim faction or the other.
Wahiduddin Khan, who writes for the Times of India, says that it takes a Muslim majority country for fanaticism to flourish. He has also suggested that punishing people for blaspheming against the Prophet is a Bid`ah which the Abbasids fabricated. While these hypocrites communicate these blatant lies to the world, malign Islam and curry favor among the masses just for the heck of it, what are the veritable leaders of the Indian Muslim Community doing?
The true `Ulama’ of the Muslim community in India have lost their leadership role. They have been set aside by the educated and uneducated masses, because, in its downslide, the public has lost the ability to recognize who truly are the inheritors of the Prophet, and who the counterfeit ones are. They have never heard that he who claimed to be a leader of the Muslims is, by default, disqualified; nor do they know that no one among the earliest Muslim communities ever claimed to be a leader.
For instance, when they were given the titles of “Khalifah” or “Ameer al-Mu’minin,” the allusion was to political leadership and not religious. When Abu Bakr was made a Khalifah, his first words were, “People! I am not the best of you. If I commit an error, straighten me up.” `Umar used to refer to Bilal as, “Sayyiduna”, i.e. “Our master.” This is because the Prophet has prohibited that someone should seek leadership of the believers. He even disapproved that someone should desire to lead in the Prayers in the mosque. And the Qur’an instructed the Muslims to become leaders in piety (25: 77).
As for the Sufis, (of course, not the counterfeit ones whose business is Islam), but of the earlier times, they hated to be recognized as Sufis, as outstanding men, far from claiming to be leaders. For instance, Qurtubi, the Chief Justice of Qurtuba, used to go about bareheaded in the bazars, so that people would not recognize him as the great scholar of the time. Bishr al-Haafi went about barefoot. If he was recognized in a town, he left it. He was severally employed as laborer, gardener, coolie, and so on, and toiled for a few Dirhams for his paltry living. When the owners of business or orchard discovered who in truth their employee was, they were shocked and sought his pardon. But, by next morning, Bishr was gone. As recent as modern times, when somebody disputed with Syed Sulaiman Nadwi, the leading scholar of his time, he never revealed his own identity. When the man was told who he was disputing with, he felt bombshell-ed. He sought excuse from Syed Sulaiman, who treated the affair as of no importance. These were the Sufis – the true ones.
As regards “declaring punishment of he who insults the Prophet as a Bid`ah, invented by the Abbasids,” this itself is an invention of modern times which flies in the face of Sahih Ahadith. But, when philosophy, Fikr, ideology, and self-hoisting to the positions of “guides and leaders,” take first place in people’s life (and ambitions), then, Ahadith do not matter to them.
Q: I am a regular reader of your digest and, Masha Allah, I found it very benefiting and I think you are doing a wonderful job of spreading awareness among young minds. I have a few questions. I envy those lucky people who know Arabic. By reciting the Qur’an, they get both the reward as well as the meaning.
You should make an effort to learn just enough Arabic to be able to get a rough meaning of the Qur’an as you recite it. If you have read translations all your life, and then learn Arabic and read the Qur’an, you will discover that the translation, the best of them, do not convey almost nothing of what it conveys in Arabic.
You could benefit from a program developed by Dr. Abdul `Aziz (available on Net: Understanding Qur’an Academy), which helps get a rough idea of the meanings of the text, or the program being run by No`man `Ali Khan, or another by a Pakistani/ US Muslimah (we forget her name); which seems to be well-organized too.
Q. Sometimes I get confused whether to always recite it with translation or without it, especially in Ramadan where more emphasis is given to completing [maximum] number of Qur’an recitations. Yes, I have read the Qur’an with translation a couple of times, but still, in daily life, what is your opinion?
No, it is not necessary that you should always read the Qur’an with the translation. You can do without.
Q. What is the ruling for divorce and compensation for woman along with her kids, because after divorce with kids, how can she survive?
After divorce, a woman loses all rights of maintenance. She is free to marry another person. Until then, maintenance of the lady is the responsibility of her father, brothers, uncles, etc.
As regards the children, they are the responsibility of their father. He must meet with the complete cost of their maintenance: food, clothing, housing, education, medicine, entertainment and so forth. The father must pay out for all these expenses even if the children live with their mother. In fact, if the mother is breast-feeding any of his children, she must be paid for it by the father. So also, if the children are little, and the mother needs a maid, the father must pay for the maid to look after them. Also, the father cannot force his former wife, mother of his children, to cook the children’s food. He may send the food across, or appoint a cook at his cost.
When the female children grow up, the entire cost of their marriage is upon the father.
You are Normal
Q. I am a 23-year-old boy and I have premature ejaculation problem.
At 23 you are not a boy. You are a man. You were a boy up to the age of perhaps fifteen.
As for the problem you mention, it is no problem at all. You are normal
Q. Now within a year or two, I am going to get married. I am worried that I won’t be able to perform. I have tried some medication, but it didn’t work. Is there any cure for this?