Lakum Deenukum Waliya Deen

My Dear Fellow Muslims,

As-Salaam Alay-Kum

Norman Cousins, having over forty years of experience as a long time editor of the Saturday Review, summed up the lessons he learned in the classroom of the twentieth century in his book titled, “Human Options” as follows:

“All the world’s institutions of learning, no matter how hallowed
and ivied, remain monuments to the collective ignorance of
man in the techniques for maintaining and nurturing civilization
itself. All the efforts of religions to make men aware of their
spiritual resources are largely wasted and marginal unless
they have some bearing on the ideas and actions of the
national societies in their intercourse with one another. And
all the turnings and churnings of men and groups inside the
nations – the quest for individual growth and gain, the thrust
for even-higher levels of prosperity – all these can only be
regarded as distractions so long as the world lacks a rational
or workable method for preserving peace.”

It is unfortunate that many of my fellow Muslims, not being fond of “Reading, have severely limited their “Intellectual Ability, and thereby, most of them are out of touch with the 21st century issues. What is so disheartening is that the knowledge of many Islamic scholars has more or less remained frozen in the 7th century as they are treating the secondary sources of Islam, which trace back to an old Arabia as the base of their knowledge. The Quran was revealed over 1400 years ago, yet the minds of “Ulemas, Imams, Muftis” are still engaged in defining and re-defining the meaning of “Kufr, with no end in sight. Participating in a brief debate on the New Age Islam forum opened my eyes to what Norman Cousins termed it as “The collective ignorance of man. There is no question that the spiritual message of Qur’anic verses have been suppressed owing to the collective ignorance of modern day Muslim religious leaders possessing limited knowledge. The entire thrust for the past three decades has mainly been on strictly promoting the ritual aspects of Islam rather than the spiritual Islam.

THINK-a-little. Why are the Middle Eastern countries, still embroiled in a state of war? In the 21st century, we, the Muslims, are witnessing such heinous crimes that once belonged to the “Dark Ages. Learned Muslims being well versed in understanding Holy Qur’an have been busy turning and churning the meaning of Qur’anic verses in conjunction with certain selected excerpts from the secondary Islamic sources, which can never gain any foothold in the modern world. We are not living in an age of camels and swords, but in a digital world of iPhones and drones. Building gigantic mosques and displaying roadside billboards is where the concentration is. None dare invest in the libraries nor publish any books for the Muslim youths. Instead of stepping in “Knowledge Society” of the modern day world, many Muslims are taught to continue to live in the “Medieval Ages, day dreaming about the romantic past.

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It is indeed a fact that our religious leaders have failed to nurture the Islamic civilization to coexist in the global world with the rest of humankind. The more the headline news pops up, the more we realize that once the proud civilization, which contributed immensely to the benefit of mankind is now being led by the “Uneducated Brutes, driven by the twisted meaning of the word, “Kufr & Kafir. Be it Islamic Madrassa students or western educated Muslim youths, neither of them have any knowledge of an outstanding translation of Surah: Al-Karifun by Hasham Amir Ali (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace), author of “The Student’s Qur’an, as follows:

“The essence of this Sura, for example, is a command to make the position of the new teaching clear to its opponents and then to accept a parting of ways cordially:

“Qul … lakum dinukum wa liya din”
Say … to you is your reckoning, for me mine.

The terse and facile last line of the Sura, coming after the
alliterative and repetitious contents of the intervening four
lines, present a finale which is remarkable for both its strength
and its eloquence. “For you is your reckoning; for me, mine.”

Al-Kafirun

In Maulana Wahiddudin Khan’s recent book, “Islam and World Peace, he explicitly states that “The Qur’an does not mention the act of kufr, but it does not accord the status of being kafir to an individual group.” Maulana Saheb emphasized another crucial point that there is only one reference in the whole of Qur’an, where certain people in the ancient past were clearly referred to as Kafirs:

Qul Ya Ayyuhal Kafiroon
Say, ‘You who deny the Truth.’ (109:1)

Another great Islamic scholar, Fazlur Rahman Malik (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace), opined the meaning of “Kufr” in his book titled, “Major Themes Of The Qur’an, in three separate paragraphs as follows:

When a man “gravitates down to the earth,” his conscience
becomes dull and he cannot effectively listen to the voice of
his true, higher nature “[as though] these people are being
called from a distant place. (41:44) Further, a man not only
cannot listen, but is irritated by being constantly reminded of
the truth; this irritation, when accompanied by false humor
and pride – personal, family, national, and historical changes
into positive resistance and rejection of truth – what the
Qur’an terms kufr, practically equating it with this special kind
of pride. Just as ascending to virtue means God’s active
cooperation and help, kufr means positive desertion by God.

The Qur’an, therefore, condemns not only pride and self-
righteousness but equally hopelessness and utter despair,
which it describes as the hallmark of “unbelievers,” those
who reject truth: “Do not despair of God’s mercy for none
despair of God’s mercy except unbelievers.” Both pride and
hopelessness are equally “kufr” or unbelief, which is another   
name for the total loss of moral energy.

It is correct that the concept of “accounting” and “balancing
so vividly portrayed in numerous Qur’anic passages has as
its sociohistorical background in the commercial life of Mecca;
but this international fact is trivial in religious terms. There what
matters is the quality of an act what the Qur’an call its “weight.”
A man may be able to realize an ambitious goal but its
beneficial effects may be limited to him alone, not enhancing
the fate of others or even affecting their fate adversely. If the
effect on others is adverse, then his action, being totally
alienated from God, is an act of kufr, or rejection of truth; it
affects well only him, it is still an act of khusran, of loss. A
person may perform a heroic deed for “his own people,”
but in contradiction to the principles of justice and in
“transgression of the limits of God”; such an action would
also emanate from the state of mind the Qur’an terms kufr
for it counteracts the purposes of God for man, and the true
purpose of man himself.

Major Themes

In the chapter, “Qur’an’s Invitation To Think, Dr. Khwaja Ghulam-us-Saiyidain (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace), further elaborates on the subject matter “Kufr, by giving reference to the Qur’anic verse from Surah: Al-Anfal (The Spoils Of War) in the following paragraphs:

“Do not be like those who say we hear and they hear not. Lo!
the worst of beasts in God’s sight are the deaf and the dumb
who understand not.” (8:21-22)

They are so described because they ignore the call of God
to use their reason and reflect, which makes them fall below
the level of the beasts who are not supposed to be equipped
with reasons. The berate atrophy of the intellect through lack
of use is also, in the Qur’an phraseology, a state of kufr or
active denial of God’s gifts.

“Verily, the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are those who
choose the path of denial; they are people who will never
believe.” (8:55)

If we take the above verses together, we see that the Qur’an
describes those who do not use their minds as well as those
who adopt the path of Kufr (denial) as ‘the worst of beasts.’
In his commentary on these verses, Azad has pointed out that,
as the Qur’an sees it, he who fails to make proper use of the
senses and reason falls below the status of man and becomes
guilty of Kufr. Thus faith is presented essentially as the path
of reason and Kufr implies blindness to the Reality and the
study of Reality that surrounds us. We must, therefore, learn
to respect the senses and reason as God’s great gift, through
which we acquire knowledge. Their proper use, let us repeat,
is Shukr and their rejection or abuse is Kufr.

Hasham Amir Ali was absolutely correct in pointing out that the abusive association the word “Kufr” has acquired during the Islamic history has been carried on into the 20th century. The truth of the matter is that this very word has now become much more dangerous than ever before. Fazlur Rahman Malik cautioned that both pride and hopelessness are equally “Kufr, or unbelief, which he equates to the total loss of moral energy. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad implied that faith is path of reason, whereas, blindness to reality is “Kufr. From all such bits and pieces of explanation of the word “Kufr, one can sum up that an outright rejection and persistent abuse of “Universal Laws of Almighty Allah, or denial of an irrefutable or self-evident truth can tantamount to an act of “Kufr. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gone are the days of the world’s first-class editors like Norman Cousins. Today, many Muslim editors, journalists, media pundits, and moderators of Islamic forums believe that their own minds can be wide awakened by reading the comments from the “Islam Haters, and not to mention, “Muslim Bashers. Never mind if the comments are disgusting beyond belief. To them it is a learning curve owing to the fact that their very own “Intellectual Faculty” is distorted or handicapped to a certain degree. Why do we need others to teach us about Islam? All that is needed to understand the true meaning of “Kufr & Kafir, can be obtained from the modern day Islamic scholars, such as, Hasham Amir Ali, Fazlur Rahman Malik, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Khwaja Ghulam-us-Saiyidain (May Almighty Allah rest their souls in peace), and Maulana Wahiddudin Khan. What is so disgraceful is to continue to dwell in negativity and stoop so low by claiming that the only way to learn Islam is by reading the comments from those who spew hate and nothing else. More importantly, we should realize that many of our “Ulemas, Imams, Muftis, mainly those hailing from the Indian Subcontinent, interpret the Qur’anic message based entirely on the secondary sources of Islam or translated Qur’an and not on the Arabic Qur’an itself and its internal illustrations and holistic message.

Undoubtedly, there is deep rooted corrosion in Islam’s religious scholarship. Sermons by the radical Muslim preachers across the Islamic countries have proven to be extremely dangerous. Inciting the Muslim youths by way of misinterpreting the Qur’anic verses is a relatively easy task for the bigoted preachers. What is more baffling is that Muslim writers with superficial knowledge of Islam pose like Islamic scholars by keeping themselves busy turning and twisting the verses of Qur’an to create new theories. One can also hear the mind-boggling debate about Holy Qur’an being “created” or “uncreated.” Worst of all, there are those Muslims who have suggested reordering the verses of the Qur’an in chronological order, without realizing that anyone who believes the Qur’an to be a word of Almighty Allah must never entertain such a ridiculous notion of restructuring the verses as that will mean editing the word of Allah. It is quite apparent that the floodgate of quack scholarship has been opened by both Muslim and Ex-Muslim writers using the fictitious names to get into the limelight and make quick profit by writing a book on Islam or writing pages upon pages of comments conceivably as hired agents on the internet forums.

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We all are acutely aware of the “Censorship” imposed by the Islamic governments under the banner of “An Enemy Of The State, to those citizens, who openly protest against their government’s rigid policies. Believe it or not, similar sort of censorship is applied on some Islamic forums. An ordinary Muslim can be easily thrown out of the debate on Islamic forum under the newly established rule which can be rightly termed as, “A Stalker Of The Forum. Not only this, a Muslim will be accused of being a “Stalker, all because of trying to point out the error of the other commentators on the forum! It’s the same old filthy mentality that comes into play whenever any Moderate Muslim, wishes to participate in the debate about the current crisis that is prevailing in the Islamic world. “Right To Speak is discouraged, as for long the “Muslim Intelligentsia, preferred to keep a respectable distance from the “Truth.

Sadly, we now have the so-called liberal minded Muslims, who would much rather entertain the smearing of Islam and mockery of Qur’an from people hailing from other faiths. That’s fashionable in these days and times, as the crux of the arguments given by the selected Muslim editors/moderators of Islamic forums is that, there is much to learn from the humiliating comments about Islam, Holy Qur’an and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). To be brutally honest, such a warped mindset reminds one of a perfect quote in black and white of Martin Luther King, Jr. (May God rest his soul in peace) as follows:

Sincere Ignorance1

My fellow Muslims, how can there be a rational and workable method for preserving peace when the “Muslim Intelligentsia” do not even bother to refer to the wisdom of the great modern day scholars of Islam. It is safe to conclude that “The collective ignorance of Muslim Intelligentsia, has been mainly responsible to instill the attitude of “Indifference” in the minds of Muslims. How many of our learned men and women can give reference of the “Western Minds, or their in-house scholars whether of this era or recent past, who have thoroughly studied the root cause of “Intellectual Stagnation. How many of the elite Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh invested in modern colleges and universities to impart worldly wisdom to broaden the horizons of basic knowledge of humanity to the future generation of Muslims? Can anyone care to list the number of great Islamic books that are on the shelves of the Western libraries? If we the Muslims are incapable to answer these two important questions, then who are we to continue to indulge in misguiding the ordinary Muslims by continuing to keep their attention focused on “Kufr & Kafir”?

Let’s face it, the two deadly mental attitude of “Self-Righteousness, thinking that no one is superior than Muslims, coupled with the inferiority complex of displaying “Self-Pity, or for the lack of better word “Victimhood Mentality” rules the minds of majority of Muslims in the 21st century. Yes, we are living in one hell of a pathetic state of mind which seems to be incurable as long as we fail to come to terms with the true meaning of LAKUM DEENUKUM WALIYA DEEN. “What a formula of co-existence!” proclaim Hasham Amir Ali, and continued on by saying that “How peaceably all arguments would end if this, distilled essence of the ‘Live and let live attitude formed the finale of all unsettled disputes. Why is such a simple Qur’anic message difficult to comprehend? “Co-Existence” with humankind is the only path of reason, which every Muslim must undertake if he/she desires to live with respect and dignity on this beautiful Planet Earth. Simply put, Surah Al-Kafirun clearly commands Muslims to respect people of other faiths, period.

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Last but not the least, it is high time to reflect over how the ignorance of “Ulemas, Imams, Muftis, have collectively failed to instill the Qur’anic wisdom in the minds of the Muslim youths. Let’s think, reflect, and ponder over Fazlur Rahman Malik’s summation of the corruption of religious leaders as follows:

“The corruption of religious leaders, who were expected to be
the source of spiritual force and regeneration, is the last step in
the process of decay of a community. The natural path their
corruption takes is the easy conscience by which they come to
compromise truth with the wayward “whims [ahwa]” either of
the rich or of the community at large. In either case, they first
yield to pressure and subsequently their consciences become
easy and they compromise, with money or popularity or both.

Very respectfully yours,

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia

   A Pen1  

http://www.wethemoderatemuslims.comhttp://www.readingisliving.com

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