My Dear Fellow Muslims,

As-Salaam Alay-Kum

Syed Ameer Ali, in his book “The Spirit of Islam, reminded the readers about the precise assessment of the minds of modern day Muslims as follows:

“The present stagnation of the Musalman communities is principally due to
the notion which has fixed itself on their minds of the generality of Moslems,
that the right to the exercise of private judgment ceased with the early legists,
that its exercise in modern times is sinful, and that a Moslem in order to be
regarded as an orthodox follower of Mohammed should belong to one or the
other of the schools established by the schoolmen of Islam, and abandon his
judgment absolutely to the interpretations of men who lived in the ninth
century and could have no conception of the necessities of the twentieth.”

Isn’t that a truthful statement? Not only the independent judgment absolutely abandoned, but many Muslims are plainly ignorant about their own religion owing to their outright despise for reading. In other words, they are careless to take part in any debates that could help restore the image of Islam in these modern times. Syed Ameer Ali, cautioned us that “The Prophet had consecrated reason as the highest and noblest function of the human intellect. Our schoolmen and their servile followers have made its exercise a sin and a crime.” Little wonder that countless millions of Muslims hailing from the Indian subcontinent are highly reluctant to even get engaged in any serious dialogue about Islam in order to set the record straight.

Syed Amer Ali

Hussain Nadim, a doctoral candidate at the University of Sidney in his article, Muslim leaders unite in criticising deradicalisation efforts, dated August 3, 2015, correctly pointed out that all the sane voices of our eminent Islamic leaders have mostly been silenced by the force of status quo within the Islamic world. What is more shocking is to notice that the American Muslim leaders maintain their usual “Hush Silence, whereas, certain editors and moderators of the Islamic forums take delight in posting insulting remarks about the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam. In fact, this is the height of ignorance with which we are inflicted with, and to be brutally honest, there is no hope to awaken the consciousness of the “Muslim Intelligentsia.

Maajid Nawaz recently asked a simple question, “How far we all have to travel – yet – to reach a reasonable center in the poisonous debate?” The truth of the matter is, one of the most poisonous debates that keeps on repeating has been about the subject matter, “Jizya. On reading Raymond Ibrahim’s article, Islamic Jizya: Fact and Fiction. along with another article, Islam: Religion of Bigots from the notorious “Intellectual Bigot, named Robert Spencer, one can catch a glimpse that neither of the articles gives any reference to the explanation of “Jizya” by a renowned Islamic scholar, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace).

In his summary pertaining to “The Attitude Towards the People of the Book, Maulana Azad laid out ten important points as follows:

1. The order to fight the People of the Book is thus limited in its application.
It does not mean that the Muslims should fight every Jew and Christian,
whenever he is found, in any part of the world till they embrace Islam
or, pay the poll tax of jizia, as is the perverted view of the hostile critics
of Islam.

2. To suggest that Islam enjoins indiscriminate opposition to the People
of the Book, is to betray ignorance of the ideology of Islam and the life of
the Prophet, as also of the nobility of disposition displayed towards the
the Jews and the Christians by the companions of the Prophet, after
his passing away and of the actual history of Islam in medieval times.

3. The expression in verse 29, “till they with their own hands (for willingly)
pay the jizia and divest themselves of their arrogance” is noteworthy.
The idea is that the People of the Book should not only desist from their
unmeaning opposition to the Prophet’s endeavor to promote peace in
the state, but in lieu of their exemption from military service, offer of
their own accord monetary aid of jizia towards the expenses of the
state which guarantees their security and welfare.

“Fight those from among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews)
who do not have faith in God, nor in the Last Day, and do not consider
forbidden what God and His messenger have forbidden, and do not
acknowledge the religion of truth – until they pay tribute (Jizyah
willingly as subjects.”

Surah: Al-Tawbah (The Repentance) – Chapter: 9 – Verse: 29

4. The term jizia, in Arabic means revenue, such as from land, as also
a personal levy or tax as collected in Iran and Syria in the time of the
Prophet, from the tribes of those parts of Arabia, which had been
annexed to Iran or Syria. It was in conformity with this practice in
vogue that the Christians deputation from Najran, who waited on the
Prophet at Madina had offered, in lieu of their embracing Islam, to pay
jizia to the state. This is probably the first instance of its kind when
jizia was accepted.

5. The injunction to collect jizia, although issue with reference to 
the Jews and Christians is a general injunction, applicable to all those
non-Muslims, who live in a Muslim state and are exempted from
military service.

6. Why was the injunction of jizia issued at all? The simple reason is
this, the idea of the Prophet was not to impose on those, who would
not accept his faith to share the same burden of responsibility in the
administration of the State, as was naturally expected from the
Muslims, whose duty it was to assure security for the State and keep
peace and order, and run the administration in the interest of one and
all.

7. The idea of the Prophet was not to compel them to do military service
but to leave the question to be decided by them alone. They were free
to undertake military service even as the Muslims; but if they cared to
abstain from doing so, they were expected to share in some manner the
military expenses of the State. This is the genesis of the institution of
jizia.

8. Such was the respect shown to freedom of conscience, an attitude of
mind, for which there was no parallel anywhere in the contemporary
world of the Prophet. To take the field in the cause of the country is a
trying task involving the sacrifice of one’s life. It was not considered
proper for any State, pursuing Islamic ideology in administration, to
compel its non-Muslims population to undergo so serious a sacrifice.
They were therefore given the freedom, either to join the Muslims in
defending their country by undertaking military service, or meet in
some form the expenses of military administration. This is clearly
noted in the ordinances issued by the early khalifs of Islam.

9. The only tax that was collected from the non-Muslims was jizia and
its payment, was a matter of their own choice, and was paid in lieu of
military service, which was imposed on the Muslims as a compulsory
provision. But this needs to be noted that the benefits of the State were
open to the non-Muslims, in an equal measure with the Muslims, a
practice which is clearly peculiar to Islam and for which, there is
hardly a parallel in any other system of corporate living.

10. M. Le Bon, the well-known writer on Arab civilization, has drawn
particular attention to this feature of an Islamic State and observed, that
despite the fact that the incidence of taxation fell more heavily on a
Muslim than a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim was free to enjoy equally
well with every Muslim, all the privileges afforded to the citizens of the
State.

AZAD5

My fellow Muslims, there will never be an end to the poisonous debate as long as Muslim community leaders, writers, editors and moderators are unwilling to confront the “Intellectually Dishonest” western elites. From the perverted views about “Jizya” by a handful of schoolmen of Islam to the forceful imposition of “Jizya” by the evil men of Islam, the ordinary Muslims remain in a state of bewilderment as they are not only helpless, but also clueless. Though, I must put it on record that the “New Age Islam” forum has continued on with the oft-repeated debates about “Jizya” with no end in sight. Sadly, the editor himself is unable to muster enough courage to moderate the debate and come to some sort of final consensus. On the contrary, the trend is to encourage the commentators who spew hatred towards Islam. One may wonder why a website, which proclaims to set “New Agenda For the Twenty-First Century, would cave in to the insults and mockery about Islam, Holy Qur’an and our beloved Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him). Why can’t there be an adherence to the Qur’anic commandment, “Leave them in their overwhelming ignorance.” Surah: Al-Mu’minun (The Believers) – Chapter 23 – Verse: 54.

Truthfully speaking, what is sorely needed is “A Sense of Direction, coming forth from the “Muslim Intelligentsia. The notion that Islam can be learned from the “Intellectual Bigots, who are busy picking up wrong references to smear the religion of Islam must be stashed aside. Perhaps, by reflecting upon one of the very thoughtful quote of Norman Cousins, our “Muslim Intellectual Elite” might learn how to connect with the great works of our notable Islamic scholars of the twentieth century, such as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Syed Ameer Ali and Fazlur Rahman Malik (May Almighty Allah rest this souls in peace).

“Think of a person. Think of someone, living or dead, whose life has enriched
your own. Think back for a moment on the name or names that have given
history a forward thrust, a sense of direction, an encounter with the beautiful.
Names connected to great ideas or causes or deeds or works of art.

An intimate relationship, all at once, has come to exist between the lives of
such persons and your own. The turn of events has made you the custodian
of all their works. It is now in your power – power on a scale never before
possessed by human beings – to protect and fulfill those great works and
ideas, or to shatter them beyond recognition or repair. There is no achievement
in human experience, no record, no thing of beauty that cannot now be
rescinded and all of its benefits and traces swept into a void. It is this that
distinguishes our generation from all previous generations. We possess total
authority not only over our own time but over all the ages and works of man.
Earlier generation have had the power merely to affect history, ours has the
power to expunge it.”

We, the Muslims, must learn our own Islamic history and be forthright in giving proper explanation on the subject matter “Jizya, which was explicitly expressed by one great Islamic scholar, Fazlur Rahman Malik (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace) without mincing any words. It is as follows:

“At the political level, the Prophet’s experiences with the Jews were certainly
bitter. On his arrival in Medina, the Prophet had signed a pact with them, the
celebrated Charter of Medina, whereby they were given religious autonomy
provided that they joined the Muslims in the defence of Medina when it was
attacked. But the Jews proved to be a very unhappy and unreliable partner
in the alliance. They not only jeered at the Prophet and his new religion, but
in all cases of conflict with the Meccans they threw their sympathy and even
active support on the side of the Meccans and constantly conspired with the
“Hypocrites” in Medina itself. It is remarkable that after every major conflict
against the Meccans, the Prophet ordered operations against Medinese Jewry
which became gradually exiled and crushed out. Indeed, even the Jews of
Khaybar, a prosperous oasis in the Hijaz, had made tangible contribution
towards the Meccans’ campaign to raise an army of ten thousand men against
Medina. Khaybar was conquered and the jizya (poll-tax) imposed upon it in
9/630. This became the standard Muslim treatment for Jews and Christians,
was subsequently extended to other Faiths.”

FAZLUR

THE POISONOUS DEBATE ABOUT JIZYA can be satisfactorily explained to the western intellectuals, provided the “Muslim Intelligentsia” take pride in presenting its own pragmatic explanations about the historical concept of “Jizya” strictly based upon the contemporary world of the Prophet of Islam. “Nip It In The Bud” is something which can be done as long as the “Victimhood Mentality, and above all, the “Ghetto Thinking” mindset is purged once and for all. What, we the Muslims, must do is to come to grip with a harsh reality that there are a handful of selected “Intellectual Bigots” who are always out to smear our great religion of Islam by resorting to some distorted views of the schoolmen of Islam. Not only this, we must also be acutely aware that the “Muslim Jihadists, Terrorists & Barbarians, in our midst possess no conception of the necessities of the twenty-first century world as their minds are solely driven by the teachings of schoolmen of Islam and definitely not the divine commandments of our Holy Qur’an. Simply put, the concept of “Jizya” is not applicable in the 21st century, as the human minds have evolved and are no longer stuck in the 9th century.

Last but not least, for those “Intellectual Bigots” in America as well as around the world who are obsessed with a sole aim of portraying the image of Islam as a violent religion, why not pass the concluding remark in the chapter “The Church Militant Of Islam, by Syed Ameer Ali as follows:

“It has been said that a warlike spirit was infused into medieval Christianity by
aggressive Islam! The massacres of Justinian and the fearful wars of Christian
Clovis in the name of religion, occurred long before the time of Mohammed.

Compare again, the conduct of the Christian Crusaders with that of the Moslems.
‘When the Khalif Omar took Jerusalem, A.D. 637, he rode into the city by the
side of the Patrairch Sophronius, conversing with him on its antiquities. At the
hour of prayer, he declined to perform his devotions in the Church of the
Resurrection, in which he chanced to be, but prayed on the steps of the Church
of Constantine: for, said he to the Patriarch, ‘had I done so, the Musalmaans
in a future age might have infringed the treaty, under colour of imitating my
example.’ But in the capture by the Crusaders, the brains of young children
were dashed out against the walls; infants were pitched over the battlements;
men were roasted at fires; some were ripped up, to see if they had swallowed
gold; the Jews were driven into their synagogue, and there burnt; a massacre
of nearly 70,000 persons took place; and the pope’s legate was seen partaking
in the triumph!” [1] When Saladin recaptured the city, he released all Christians,
gave them money and food, and allowed them to depart with a safe-conduct. [2]

Islam ‘grasped the sword’ in self-defence. Christianity grasped it in order to
stifle freedom of thought and liberty of belief. With the conversion of Constantine,
Christianity had become the dominant religion of the Western world. It had
thenceforth nothing to fear from its enemies; but from the moment it obtained
the mastery, it developed its true character of isolation and exclusiveness.
Whenever Christianity prevailed, no other religion could be followed without
molestation. The Moslems, on the other hand, required from others a simple
guarantee of peace and amity, tribute in return for protection, or perfect
equality, – the possession of equal rights and privileges, – on condition of
acceptance of Islam.”

[1] Draper, History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, Vol ii, p. 22.

[2] For a full account, see The Short History of the Saracents, p. 356.

Very sincerely yours,

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia

     A Pen1  

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

 

The Attitude Towards the People of the Book

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

In verse 29, it has been pointed out that since the People of the Book, even as the polytheists of Mecca, had broken openly the pledges given to the faithful and had become a source of great danger to their security, it had become incumbent upon them to fight them, even as they had to fight the polytheists of Mecca.

At the advent of Islam, there lived in Hijaz, a number of Jewish communities. The Christians were not there in any appreciable number. They lived mostly in Yemen or on the northern frontiers of Arabia. Reference has already been made to the attitude which the Jews had displayed towards the mission of the Prophet. The attitude of the Christians, on the other hand, was different from that of the Jews. They did not display any studied hatred towards the Faith as did the Jews. When the call of the Prophet issued forth from Mecca, they did not evince any striking opposition such as the Jews had done. They kept their minds open and were indeed sympathetic towards it. That was the attitude of the Christians of Yemen in particular. They had indeed volunteered to pay the jizia in lieu of military service. In fact, a deputation of them, as referred to already in an earlier chapter, ‘Al ‘Imran,” had waited on the Prophet, to receive clarification from him on certain aspects of their doctrinal faith as presented in the Qur’an.

That was the bearing displayed by the Christians beyond the confines of Arabia, to whom the message of Islam had been conveyed in its early days. In fact, it is stated that the king of Abyssinia, the Negus of the Prophet’s time, had in his own person accepted the Faith, and about whose regard for truth, the Qur’an itself bears testimony, (vide Q. 5:83). This distinction between the respective attitudes of the Jews and the Christians has been noted in the Qur’an (vide Q.5:82).

“(O Prophet) Of all men thou wilt find the Jews and their associates (the
Meccan polytheists) the bitterest in enmity towards the believers, and thou
wilt find the nearest in friendship those who say: ‘We are Christians.” This,
because among them there are priests and monks, and because they do
not behave arrogantly.” [5:82]

And when they hear what hath been sent down to the Apostle, thou wilt see
their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth which they recognize.
They say: ‘Our Lord! We believe. Write us down therefore with those who
bear witness.” [5:83]

Surah: Al-Maidah (The Table) – Chapter: 5 – Verses: 82-83

Later on, when Islam spread beyond the confines of Arabia, the Christians dwelling in the adjoining countries, which were subject to the Roman rule, began to show restlessness at the expansion of the Islamic influence, and in fact developed hostility towards it. the first result of this hostility was the assassination of an emissary of the Prophet, Harith bin ‘Umair, who had been deputed to deliver an epistle to Shurahbil bin ‘Amir Ghassani, the ruler of Mu’ta. This event was a flagrant violation of international obligations, so much so, the Prophet had to send an armed force in the eighth year of the Hijra to fight the transgressor. At the time, Roman Emperor was camping in Syria. To him repaired the ruler of Mu’ta to seek help. The engagement that followed gave a decisive victory to the Muslims.

Then, there set a powerful reaction against the Muslims among the Christian Arab tribes of Syria. They resolved to wage war against the Muslims and the Emperor of Constantinople promised active support to them. Within a few months thereafter, the Roman armies began to pour into Syria. The Prophet himself was obliged in consequences to take the field. The expedition organized in defence is what is known as the Tabuk expedition. But when the expedition reached Tabuk, it became clear to the Prophet, that the Romans had changed their intention to proceed against the advancing force of the Muslims. The closing verses of this chapter were delivered evidently on the return of this expedition. It was in these circumstances that the revelation had come to the Prophet, to guard himself against the Christians, even as he had to, against the Jews and the mushrikin or polytheists of Mecca.

The order to fight the People of the Book is thus limited in its application. It does not mean that the Muslims should fight every Jew and Christian, wherever he is found, in any part of the world till they embrace Islam or, pay the poll tax of jizia, as is the perverted view of the hostile critics of Islam. To suggest that Islam enjoins indiscriminate opposition to the People of the Book, is to betray ignorance of the ideology of Islam and the life of the Prophet, as also of the nobility of disposition displayed towards the Jews and the Christians by the companions of the Prophet, after his passing away and of the actual history of Islam in medieval times.

While issuing the order to fight the People of the Book, at a particular stage in the mission of the Prophet, the Qur’an explains the motives at work in all the devices, which they adopted to thwart the spread of the idea of Divine Unity and of good living in consonance with a belief therein. The Qur’an refers in this connection to several prominent features of their outlook on life, which had disabled them to appreciate the truth advanced by the Prophet, and withdraw their opposition to his mission. So hardened were they, in this attitude of theirs, that there was no alternative left to the Prophet except to meet their challenge. Firstly, despite their professed belief in the Unity of God, their day-to-day living and activity belied their profession. Secondly, they openly permitted to themselves as lawful, what had been declared by their scriptures as unlawful. Thirdly, instead of making a direct approach to the simple phraseology of the scriptures themselves, they had let their scribes or doctors of religion to interpret it for them, thus allowing them to assume an authority in religion which their scriptures hardly countenanced. The cumulative result of all this was that they had to follow a way of life, which was repugnant to the way enjoined by their scriptures. This fact of their life has been already touched in a previous chapter, ‘Al-Baqarah, wherein they are referred to as a people, who say that they believe in God and the Day after while in reality they do not so believe. (Q. 2:8).

“And there are some among the people who say: ‘We believe in God and
in the Day to follow.’ In truth, believers they are not!”

Surah: Al-Baraqah (The Cow) – Chapter: 2 – Verse: 8

The expression in verse 29, “till they with their own hands (or willingly) pay the jizia and divest themselves of their arrogance” is noteworthy. The idea is that the People of the Book should not only desist from their unmeaning opposition to the Prophet’s endeavor to promote peace in the state but, in lieu of their exemption from military service, offer of their own accord monetary aid or jizia towards the expenses of the state which guarantees their security and welfare.

The term jizia, in Arabic means revenue, such as from land, as also a personal levy or tax as collected in Iran and Syria in the time of the Prophet, from the tribes of those parts of Arabia which had been annexed to Iran or Syria. It was in conformity with this practice in vogue that the Christians deputation from Najran, who waited on the Prophet at Medina had offered, in lieu of their embracing Islam, to pay jizia to the state. This is probably the first instance of its kind when jizia was accepted. This was followed by a similar attempt on the part of the Jews and the Magi of Bahrain.

The injunction to collect jizia, although issued with reference to the Jews and Christians, is a general injunction, applicable to all those non-Muslims, who live in a Muslim State and are exempted from military service. This has therefore been the practice generally observed by Muslim States in medieval times, as evidenced by the fact that the Rashidin (the first four khalifs) collected the jizia from the Sabians and the Umayyid and Abbasid khalifs from the Buddhists and the Hindus of Sindh.

There was however a difference of opinion among the Muslim jurists, in the matter of collecting  jizia from the non-Muslim Arabs. But the opinion which prevailed was to the effect that no distinction should be made in this respect. In fact, the Prophet himself had collected jizia from the non-Muslim Arabs. The question of polytheist Arabs, who had waged war against the Prophet, the mushrikin, did not call for any prolonged consideration since they had, as stated in the chapter, come around and embraced Islam before the Prophet passed away.

Why was this injunction of jizia issued at all? The simple reason is this, the idea of the Prophet was not to impose on those who would not accept his faith to share the same burden of responsibility in the administration of the State, as was naturally expected from the Muslims, whose duty it was to assure security for the State and keep peace and order in the end, and run the administration in the interest of one and all.

Islam had imposed on the Muslims compulsory military service, or what is nowadays called conscription, in moments of emergency. The case of the non-Muslims stood on a different footing from the Muslims. The idea of the Prophet was not to compel them to do military service but to leave the question to be decided by them alone. They were free to undertake military service even as the Muslims; but if they cared to abstain from doing so, they were expected to share in some manner the military expenses of the State. This is the genesis of the institution of jizia.

Such was the respect shown to freedom of conscience, an attitude of mind, for which there was no parallel anywhere in the contemporary world of the Prophet. To take the field in the cause of the country is a trying task involving the sacrifice of one’s life. It was not considered proper for any State, pursuing Islamic ideology in administration, to compel its non-Muslims population to undergo so serious a sacrifice. They were therefore given the freedom, either to join the Muslims in defending their country by undertaking military service, or meet in some form the expenses of military administration. This is clearly noted in the ordinances issued by the early khalifs of Islam. Indeed, even as the historians, Tabari and Baladhari, have recorded, jizia was not collected from the non-Muslims population, whenever they chose to join the military forces of the State.

There is another aspect of this question which needs special attention. In accordance with the provisions of the faith, there were certain taxes, specially levied on the Muslims, taxes such as zakat and sadaqat, which were not levied on the non-Muslims. These were taxes, the benefits of which went to the needy among the population of the State irrespective of the religion they followed. The only tax that was collected from the non-Muslims was jizia and its payment, as explained above, was a matter of their own choice, and was paid in lieu of military service, which was imposed on the Muslims as a compulsory provision. But this needs to be noted that the benefits of the State were open to the non-Muslims, in an equal measure with the Muslims, a practice which is clearly peculiar to Islam and for which, there is hardly a parallel in any other systems of corporate living.

M. Le Bon, the well-known writer on Arab civilization, has drawn particular attention to this feature of an Islamic State and observed, that despite the fact that the incidence of taxation fell more heavily on a Muslim than a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim was free to enjoy equally well with every Muslim, all the privileges afforded to the citizens of the State. The only privilege that was reserved for the Muslims was the seat of caliphate, and this, because of certain religious functions attached to it, which could not naturally be discharged by a non-Muslim.

 

 

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