August 10, 2011

From: Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
To: My Fellow Muslims
Subject: SURAH QAF – THE LETTER

My Fellow Muslims,

As-Salaam Alay-Kum

Praying and meditating on this holiest day of Ramadhan, I wish to bring to your kind attention a calligraphy work of an opening verse of SURAH QAF – THE LETTER by this humble writer.

quran

QAF: By the glorious Quran! Indeed, they are astonished that a warner
should have to come to them from among themselves. So these deniers of
the truth say, ‘This is indeed a strange thing, to come back to life after we
have died and become dust? That is most improbable!’ We know very well
what the earth takes away from them: We hold a book which records all
things. But they denied the truth when it came to them, so they are in a
state of confusion.” Surah QAF or The Letter (Chapter 50 – Verse: 1 – 5)

Unfortunately, today Muslims all over the world are in a state of confusion. We have truly forgotten “The Art Of Noble Living” to such an extent that we continue to remain “Foolishly Indifferent” towards recognizing our very own great thinkers and scholars of the yesteryears. Take a quick glance at the digital images of a handful of old books:

OLD BOOKS
Whilst patiently searching through the Wikipedia, to my utter surprise, I found out that the good names of K. G. Saiyidain (A Faith of an Educationist); Sir Nizamut Jung Bahadur (An Approach to the study of the Quran); Dr. Syed Abdul Latif (The Mind Al-Quran Builds); H. Amir Ali (The Student’s Quran); and Bashir Ahmad Dar (Quranic Ethics) – (May Almighty Allah rest their souls in peace) – “Does Not Exist.” What a pity? No one cared and none in the Islamic world bothered to do something about it. Fortunately, my eyes were opened to such a wonderful work of literature when I became a treasure hunter of old books owing to my long acquaintance with my Parsi friend, Cyrus Tata with whom I befriended in mid 1970s when I was living in New York City. Cyrus taught me to appreciate the true worth of antiquarian books of mankind.

Every penman and bookman has a following. I am acutely aware that many out yonder grudgingly respect some of my writings, and surely, there are quite a few who would wish that I simply disappear from the scene. Interestingly, on the 2nd day of February, 2004; an observant Muslim liked my message and decided to post it on the internet. One of the messages was an excerpt from Sir Nizamut Jung Bahadur’s (a descendant of the Hyderabad Nizam family, was an Indian English poet) book with a subtitle, “Mankind One Brotherhood. With an all-out attack on our Holy Quran by the likes of Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel, and believe it or not, a selected group of former Muslims; we Muslims must build a cohesive front consisting of our group of Islamic scholars to confront these folks not by the verbal attacks, but by intellectual debates precisely pinpointing their wrong assumptions, and ultimately, exposing their hidden motives to smear the religion of Islam.

Charles Le Gai Eaton, the Muslim intellectual writer, also known as Hasan ‘Abd Al Hakim (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace) in his magnificent book, “Islam And The Destiny Of Man” has eloquently elevated the importance of our Holy Quran in the following words:

The Quran, set on a shelf with other books, has a function entirely
different to theirs and exists in a different dimension. It moves an
illiterate shepherd to tears when recited to him, and it has shaped
the lives of millions of simple people over the course of almost
fourteen centuries; it has nourished some of the most powerful
intellects known to the human record; it has stopped sophisticates
in their tracks and made saints of them, and it has been the source
of the most subtle philosophy and of an art which expresses its
deepest meaning in visual terms; it has brought the wandering tribes
of mankind together in communities and civilizations upon which its
imprint is apparent even to the most casual observer. The Muslim
regardless of race and national identity, is unlike anyone else because
he has undergone the impact of the Quran and has been formed by it.

“SURAH QAF” opens and closes with the mention of our Holy “Quran.” The need of the hour for, we the Muslims, is to arrest our minds and pay close attention to those who are hell-bent in distorting the message of Islam. I mean to say, from the East to the West. In other words, we must occupy ourselves with trying to answer a single powerful question, “How do we protect our Holy Quran and save it from dishonor?”

Censoring and unsubscribing emails is not the answer. The truth of the matter is, it is merely a cop-out attitude. Each and every educated Muslim can take out time by engaging in communicating with our fellow Muslims, if we care enough to defend our Holy Quran. No, we do not have to be a certified Islamic scholar to raise a voice to defend our Holy Quran. Think about it! If our Islamic institutions were qualified enough, then they would have never neglected to update the wikipedia and inserted all the names of our scholarly wise men and women belonging from the Islamic world. They chose to stay aloof. Sadly, so many of them are deeply immersed in the vicious propaganda known as “Islamophobia” rather than addressing the root cause of all (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/pdf/islamophobia.pdf) the problems, that is, correcting the flawed and twisted translations of our Holy Quran disbursed right from the backyard of the Islamic countries. Why not ponder and reflect upon a striking verse from “SURAH QAF” as follows:

We created man – We know the promptings of his soul and are closer to
him than his jugular vein – and the two recording angels are recording,
sitting on the right and the left each word he utters shall be noted down
by a vigilant guardian.

My fellow Muslims, during the month of Ramadhan, Almighty Allah revealed Holy Quran to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Today, we are witnessing an insulting assault by some of the learned men and women of the Abrahimic faiths towards our Holy Quran which Muslims from all walks of life hold dear to their hearts. Undoubtedly, the fault lies within us, as we never bothered to question our Islamic scholars while they were collectively polluting the very spirit of Quranic texts by grossly mistranslating it. Supremacy and arrogance are being vividly displayed by many combined with the usual self-righteous attitude which resulted in giving a wrong impression to our fellow humans. Damage has been done as we chose to remain silent thinking that things will get back to normal without getting involved. I am afraid, now it is high time to rectify it by self- introspection and nothing else.

Simply put, it will be wise on our part to truly comprehend that while we are still breathing, we must thoroughly try to analyze the extent of the damage that has already been done. We must also remain vigilant and learn to “Protest” so that our respective actions in the defense of our Holy Quran can duly be recorded by Almighty Allah’s angels.

Last but not the least, it will be all the more fitting to end this letter of mine with a quote from “The Art of Noble Living” by Robert P. Downes, LL.D whose name also “Does Not Exist” in Wikipedia as follows:

All men have their sacred hours – hours of divine discontent, hours
of spiritual insight and noble longing – in which they become impatient
with what they are, and desire to be something better than they are.
They wake to a noble restlessness, and are constrained to live and
walk in the light of high endeavor. At such times the angel within them
stirs its wings, resolved to seek the unsullied light, and the baser nature
is rebuked and silenced, pure Resolution putting forth her arms –

To throttle with an infant godhood’s might
The snakes about her cradle.

Chapter XII: Religion and Noble Living – The Divine Impulse

Thanks again for reading, I remain

Compassionately yours,

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia

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ISLAM MISREPRESENTED

It makes one sad to think that some of our religious people professing to be exponents of the teachings of the Quran show, not only narrow-mindedness and intolerance at times, but also carelessness of truth and sincerity. A sense of false superiority arising from supposed orthodoxy, a punctilious observance of the ritual of religion and some of its negligible details relating chiefly to costume and ablution, and an arrogant assumption that they alone will be saved – all these seem to turn their thoughts away from the essentials of religion, which are truth, sincerity, purity of heart, in one word, righteousness.

Some of these sanctimonious gentlemen consider if their foremost religious duty to consign the followers of all other religions straightway to perdition. Their conception of the Diety seems to be not mercy, benevolence and grace, but wrath and vengeance personified! They think more about the anger of God than about His kindness and mercy and never-ceasing grace. I cannot think of God as being angry because anger is a human and purely animal passion, and God must be above it. His attributes must be those which are considered purest, highest and best in man, and that at the very highest and best. Anger and vengeance imply resentment, which is its nature is a personal feeling. Nothing that God does is personal to Him, however, personal it may be to us. His will, His judgment, and His deed are all one, and they are Universal Law. And in that Law are Justice and Mercy and Grace to crown Retribution.

This is the impression I get from reading the Quran. It gives the essence of the divine to us in human guise; and the language used is that of a kind father admonishing and warming his truant children in order to guide them back to the right path. There are passages in it here and there, the pathetic benevolence and divine humanity of which bring tears to our eyes. And the wonder of it all is that it is the plain and simple language of reason, though occasionally metaphorical, and the object of it is guidance of mankind by indicating the essential everlasting distinction between good and evil, between right and wrong. It does not inspire terror, but hope with its expectancy of bliss; and it purifies and confirms faith.

It is an erroneous belief – mostly inculcated by narrow-minded bigotry – that the Quran condemns the followers of all other religions to eternal perdition as ‘Kafirs.’ It does not unconditionally; and it shows a kindly feeling towards Christians, and even as regards Jews it readily makes benevolent exceptions in favor of good ones. It ever stresses the fact that all men will be judged in accordance with what they have earned by their deeds. ‘Kafirs’ in the Quranic sense are only those who are persistent polytheists and refuse to believe in the unity of God and the mission of the prophets. For from such denial it necessarily follows that their conception of the universe and of the inter-relation of all the powers and the existences in it is utterly perverse. It destroys the oneness of being and the universality of divine law. Before a God who represents these and is the paramount power, the small Deities of polytheism must appear as traitors and usurpers, and their votaries as seditionists and rebels! Is there any injustice in this? And yet the Quran enjoins forbearance towards other religions and persuasions, however false they may be. ‘Do not abuse others’ religion for they may retort by saying things against Allah.’

Experience teaches us that learning does not necessary release the mind from prejudice; and it is a well-known fact that the human mind can always find arguments for proving what it wishes to believe. It is an adept in chasing and capturing mendacious arguments for its own purposes, and once it begins to follow the scent, it is so intent on the trail, that it fails to see the true arguments lying under its very nose! This may be a reflection upon the attitude of learned writers of commentaries on the Quran who only succeed in making obscure what was transparently clear, and it may be a reflection on the lucubrations of some of the foreign scholars (or scholiasts) who have felt a call to write about the Quran and the Founder of Islam. From beneath the deliberately superimposed calm of apparently dispassionate and austerely impartial critical judgment, some of them seem to emit occasional sparks of ill-suppressed anger and ill-conceived malice. Open any introdutions to any translation of the Quran at any page at hazard, and you will observe some little sign of this. In some cases you come across a very carefully designed piece of literary work- manship heavy with unexpressed thoughts, the reservations of which are of portentous significance. It is sometimes difficult to understand what they mean to convey.

It has been alleged by some that Muhammad cannot be regarded as a prophet of truth in the absolute of the term! One wonders what is truth in its absolute meaning.

The creed of Islam is so simple and so natural that it has no need to be propped up by any quasi-metaphysical doctrine of Neo-Platonic mysticism. There is only one God, Almighty, Just and Merciful, the Creator of all that is in the universe, and Muhammad is His Apostle, because he was His creature and instrument for conveying the message of the oneness and might and majesty, of the justice and mercy and benevolence of God. He delivered it to a world in which human beings were worshipping stocks and stones fashioned by their own hands into a semblance of divine idols. The message was delivered, it was willingly or unwillingly accepted, and within a few short years it transformed Arabia and laid the foundation of a new world of thought and action, and shaped the mould of a new Civilization. A great and glaring untruth was being accepted by the human mind under the name of religion in the guise of those uncouth, ill-fashioned images. One man saw the untruth of it all in its naked deformity and had the courage to proclaim it as such, and to fight against it till he destroyed it and replaced it with a simple and majestic truth: namely, that the unseen God is One and Eternal and Almighty. That man also had the courage to say to his countrymen:

‘This is the truth and you shall believe it. I have been ordained by the Lord of Creation to convey it to the world, and I am therefore His chosen Messenger.’ Is there any imposture in this, any false doctrine, any claim that was not justified by the whole life of the man?

The Quran is nothing if it does not convey this great moral and spiritual lesson to man: ‘Thou must earn thy salvation by thy faith and thy good deeds alone; if thou dost good it is for thy own soul, if thou dost evil it is also for thy own soul, and thou shalt answer for it.’

The Prophet of Islam was not trying to discover truths. Simple truths of a universal nature were being poured into his heart by the Great Power that rules the Universe. His part was to have them believed and put into practice. No Prophet had ever done more than this.

The Prophet of Islam never professed to be introducing a new religion; neither did Jesus. They professed only to have been missioned to resort the old religion to its purity. The Quran is merely a confirmation of the divine message sent through Moses and Jesus; and Islam does not claim to be a new religion; it is a reassertion of the old faith in a less ambiguous form.

Book: AN APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF THE QURAN
Author: Sir Nizamat Jung

Publisher: SH. MUHAMMAD ASHRAF
Year: 1947

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MANKIND ONE BROTHERHOOD

The attitude of the reader towards the Quran is not to be that of a critic sitting down with the avowed object of writing an article for a literary magazine, or a paragraph for the book-note column of a journal. Nor should it be that a Doctor of Theology with a mind heavily laden with cumbersome learning and prepossessed in favor of some one system and prejudiced against all others. All scared books have a natural appeal in them, and the appeal is to unsophisticated minds. Go to them with an open mind and a clean heart, and you will not fail to find something good in them – the spirit of good, at any rate. But, for the Quran, I claim something more than this, namely, an extraordinary breadth of vision, truth to nature, insistence on practical righteousness while teaching man to live according to nature. It insists on the separation of good from evil, of right from wrong. It brings religion down from the clouds and fixes it upon solid earth as a world-compelling power, even as Socrates is said to have done in regard to philosophy. It does not confine Nature within artificial bounds, it does not prescribe any ritual as being essential to salvation. The daily prayer it enjoins is not a ‘ritual’ but a remembrance and an acknowledgement of subordination and gratitude to the Creator, and of the very essence of it is the earnest desire to be guided aright.

It makes all mankind one brotherhood. It pronounces them to belong to one religion – the religion of Nature, the religion of voluntary and cheerful submission to the laws of Nature as promulgated by its God. Does not the law of Nature comprehend all creation? It is the universality of its teaching, the truth of its prophetic visions, and the lucidity and fervour of its simple language that give to the Quran that wonderful power which moves the heart and bring tears to the eyes. Its voice is, in truth, a ringing ‘Prophet’s cry’! Get rid of the notion that it is a text-book of sermons written for the pulpit, and you get rid of much false thinking about the Quran. Get rid also of the nebulous belief that it is the mystical language of heaven, above and beyond human comprehension, and you will find it a human book sent for human guidance in this life – through which lies the way to heaven or hell.

The voice of the Quran, I repeat, with all its music and its thunder is a clear call to moral action: an inspiring, invigorating, reassuring call. There is no tremor of doubt or hesitancy in it anywhere, no trace of speculative uncertainty.

It exhorts man to rise to the full stature of completed manhood, so as to realise the divine element in his spirit. It proclaims his perfectability through righteous endeavor. It lays the foundation of his heaven in this very world of toil and strife. It encourages him to face the world as it is, to work in the midst of it, and to accept the facts of Nature as part of the great Scheme. He is neither to run away from them, nor to yield timidly to such as may be evil, but to combat them and overcome them and so save himself from their injurious effects. This is the Right Path.

The Quran makes the acceptance of the universal law the foremost duty of man. It teaches him to live in accord with it and seek and gain his balance as a sentient, rational, responsible being – passion driven but spiritually guided. Such submission to the divine order of things is Islam. It is the religion of Nature.

Book: AN APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF THE QURAN
Author: Sir Nizamat Jung

Publisher: SH. MUHAMMAD ASHRAF
Year: 1947

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