February 28, 2024

A Response To Shri Ram Madhav Who Calls Upon Indian Muslims To Abandon And Formally Disassociate From Islamic Terms – Kafir, Ummah And Jihad

Almost 95% of Muslims are indigenous. They are converts to Islam but their roots are the same as those of our other counterparts like the Hindu majority and other minority populations.
Keywords: Islamic, Jihad, Ummah, Nation-State, Ideology, Hindu, Kafir, Divine, God, Sanatan, Faith, Philosophy, Deoband
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Shri Ram Madhav (on Left) and Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed (On right)
  1. Kafir

In Sanatan tradition, Divinity is ONE (Ekam Sat) and to approach that there can be multiple routes. It further believes that all waves fall in the same ocean. Secondly, Sanatan dharma (Read Hinduism) is not in the denial mode of any other Faith or Religion; any of their Prophets or Messengers or such parallel arrangements. This includes their respective Holy Scriptures as well. Islam is no exception to it. Thirdly, besides being not in denial or rejection mode of none of the above elements of religious belief, it rather accords equal respect to all Faiths. This is what makes the Sanatan tradition unique and dynamic.

The term Kafir has been misunderstood or wrongly used. Essentially, Kafir is that person or persons who is/are in the denial mode of Islam, which believes in one Divinity. The origin of Sufi tradition or spirituality in Islam (Tareeqa) amplifies this belief and expression. One divinity is the core of Sanatan belief or Hinduism and so is of Islam. In addition to this Sanatan parampara allows and respects all modes of worship, prayers, beliefs, customs and traditions. The linking pin between Islam and Hinduism is the belief in one Ultimate Reality – the One Divinity or Ekam Sat. It accords Islam the same respect and reverence as it offers to all other religious traditions and denominations.  

Having considered the aforesaid logic no doubt or rationale must be left or find space to call or declare Hindus as Kafirs. Jamiat Ul Ulema e Hind, associated with the Dar Ul Uloom, Deoband, the largest Islamic Seminary in Asia a few years back had declared that Hindus are not Kafirs. 

  1. Ummah – Single global entity – an Idea that intervenes with the idea of Nation-State and its expression of Nationalism and Patriotism – Divided loyalties

Religious and spiritual links have no barriers or boundaries and in that context, of course, Muslims are one single entity as are their counterparts – Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Parsis or Jains. However, a notable feature of the concept of Umma is that it originates from the school of human wisdom and therefore exists more like a convention and not as an Islamic or Quranic injunction. It is essentially spiritual to the core. 

As regards the concept of Ummah, all the 57 Muslim States are nation-States and so proclaim their individual distinct nationalities. Muslims are not one global community either. They are as divided or devoid of one single identity as any other community is. Had it been Umma in the true Islamic and Quranic sense, it should fulfill the following criteria: 

  • All Muslims living in any part of the world will have the right to citizenship of that State, as are the Jews in the case of Israel.
  • Their first loyalty will be towards the dictate and dictum of that State.
  • There will be no Muslim Nation States. It will be one Khilafat, one rule and one mode and module of governance). There will be one Ruler – the Khalifa. All powers will vest in him and abiding by his command would be mandatory for the world Muslims.
  • There will be one defence, one Constitution. Sharia law shall prevail upon all actions, decisions and commands of the State.
  • The non-Muslims will be Zimmi – the exclusive responsibility of the State. They will be charged Jizya (able-bodied only need to pay, not women or children or elderly) because they cannot be asked to pay Zakat. Jizya is parallel to Zakat. To enjoy foolproof security and freedom to practice their faith, culture & tradition and the privileges of citizenship, they have to be loyal to the State and its policy. They are exempt from military services.

There is no such State. Muslim rulers apply the Principle of Convenience to call a State an Islamic State or Khilafat whenever it suits their political interests. They have applied it in the past and some of them even do so today.  Currently, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Saudi Arabia claim to be the Islamic States, but which one lives up to the above criteria? None!

Hubbul Watani (Love for motherland) is half Faith or half of Islam. Islam does not leave any room for divided loyalty or loyalties when it comes to nationalism and patriotism. When a Muslim soldier fights for safeguarding the honour, dignity and sovereignty of motherland Bharata, he is not a martyr in the eyes or context of Indian nationalism but in the eyes of Islam too, He is Shaheed. The established proviso/interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence declares India, “Dar ul Aman or Dar us Salam” – The land of peace. Over and above all this, the loyalty to and towards the State of India has the direct sanction of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). We are the children of mother India. We were born here, shall die here, buried here and will be lifted from here only on the ‘Day of Judgment’. Not only that when water is not available to do WAZU (Ablution) before prayers or else there is medical advice to avoid the use of water then it is the matti (Mud) of this very motherland that we rub on our face,  on both hands and at cheek to qualify for offer Namaz, or recite Quran or Hadees. To conclude, what is not here as an essential attachment to the Faith of Islam, why can I be asked to abandon that?

3. Jihad

Abuse or misuse of a concept cannot take away from it its textual meaning, definition, essence, message and its true spirit. The following indications may make the picture clearer: 

  • In an individual context, Jihad is about striving, struggling and attempting to seek self-purification of body, soul and spirit. This is the highest order of Jihad. Jihad e Akbar. 
  • Secondly, it is about self- capturing the evil temptations like personal greed, lust, jealousy, a personal tendency toward self-promotion, or overcoming the desire or derive of exercising the self-proclaimed right to forfeiture of moral or material rights of the poor, needy and orphan. All acts of personal, physical, moral, or material infringements fall within its domain. 
  • Thirdly, for launching Jihad in larger terms,  either by a group, political Party, Institution, Organisation, Society, Community, or by the State seeking religious counsel (Fatwa / Edict / Dictum)  from an established arrangement is a must before the law. Personal whims and wishes consisting of vested stakes or forces, being inimical to peace and harmony have no role to play here. (This method was only once adopted in our country when a fatwa to launch Jihad was issued by Ulemas against the British) 
  • Thereafter, never was a fatwa to this effect or call for Jihad ever issued or given in our country except against the British, which led to sedition becoming a crime in Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 
  • Only Ulemas through an established national-level order can give such a call to strengthen the hands of State machinery to meet the challenge or threat the State is facing to its security from within or outside. Launching a war against social evils, initiating a fight against moral turpitude; securing or safeguarding the territorial integrity, loyalty, or sovereignty of the State; countering the menace of violence, militancy and terrorism are some of those human crimes hooligans commit against the civil society, civil order. All such acts fall within the ambit and domain of Jihad in Islam.

Dialogue for seeking truce, peace and harmony are the guiding principles to move in this direction!

Jihad has nothing to do with innocent killing or killing non-Muslims or Infidels. In case of war, the call for Jihad clubs with the right to kill, rather than being killed at the hands of the declared enemy. Qital (Killing) can be the logical extension or conclusion of Jihad because Qital is the compulsion of war in self-defense. In the Islamic code, Qital is a legitimate call for killing against persecution and oppression. When all the peaceful options fail to reach the final truce and hostility of the enemy crosses the line of fire then what remains for the aggrieved party to proceed with, is nothing but a call for killing.  In fact, it is the logical conclusion of the dialogue. The Quranic verses which are often quoted out of context or objected to are related to war-like situations or else when the terms of the peace agreement are violated or breached or the situation reaches the point of no return, then only killing come as the last resort. It is a state of war. Generals do not ask their subjects to show their back and run away from the battlefield or ground. Finally, in India, Jihad has no sanction from the Muslim clergy or scholars of high achievement belonging to any schools of Islamic thought.

Qital, even being the last option goes out of the question in the Indian context when the call for Jihad in its entirety is null and void in our situation, where comes the question of Qital or killing? 

Therefore, the demand for abandoning Jihad does not arise in our Indian context. Unfortunately, Jihad is the most misunderstood and misappropriated concept. People club Jihad with Qital. Jihad is too noble a concept as an idea or proposition. Killing or Qital is an independent school. 

Association with Muslim rule

As regards Muslim rule in India all the rulers are invaders who came from different parts of the world. They and their generations stayed here and are buried too so they should be considered as people of origin. To the rulers and their families, the status of invaders is understandable but their generations living here for centuries, now deeply merged and converged into the inherent entity of India fall automatically outside this notion. Let us not get into this debate further. It will take us back to square one. Arabs, Afghans, Iranians, Turks and Mughals have been the rulers here. Indian Muslims are an indigenous community. When did they rule? I do not know. It is after 15 August 1947 that we are the inherent partners in the business of governance.

Any association, established by some of the Indian Muslims with Muslim invaders or any of the good done by them qualifies the community to share responsibilities for the cruelties carried out on the indigenous population of India and its culture and civilization. Those who say: we ruled for eight hundred years have no ground to believe it and use it as an argument. Almost 95% of Muslims are indigenous. They are converts to Islam but their roots are the same as those of our other counterparts like the Hindu majority and other minority populations. Muslim community never ruled India It has been the subject of rule as our brethren among other religious communities have been. We need to stay and attune with the history that the Indian State considers its indigenous history. Any other take or position is suicidal and self-defeating.

Note: The opinions/views expressed in this article are those of the author.

Editor’s Note: The author lays out an interpretation of basic Islamic concepts to which we hope all Muslims can subscribe in a spirit of patriotic unity and fraternity.

1 comment

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  • Sir
    Islam as it is alive today doesn’t practice any of this. Your religion is what you practice.
    Ekam Sat is taught and practiced in India. All religions other than Abrahamic religions follow and live that principle. But during the last two decades Hindus have developed a siege mindset and become increasingly violent.
    I doubt whether you can say the above principles you attribute to Islam in any open Mosque , else you will be called Khafir. You will be even assassinated outside India.
    Todays Hindu nationalism is unpleasant and violent only as a reaction to atrocities of Abrahamic religion.
    I agree with you that almost all Muslims are Indians and did not commit these destruction of temples and murders. But it will help if Muslim leadership ( if there is one) acknowledge the damages caused by invaders and voluntarily return at least some of the iconic places of worship. Such understanding and gesture will go a long way to bring peace. If not it will strengthen deep grievances against against all Muslims and lead to violent take over of lost temples. I have an instinct that majority of Muslims desires such settlement and peaceful life with others. They don’t believe in Umma concept and are no less patriotic then others here.But not one leader of Muslim say that . The Indian Muslims should be taught that , though they follow Islam they belong to the glorious civilization of Bharat and should be proud of it. But Quran and Hadeeds are so contradictory that some one can quote Quran and Hadeeds to say that you call Kill all non believers, rape their women and sell their children. This the tragedy of Islam today. It will be challenged all over the world.

Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed

Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed is the Founder President of the Inter-Faith Harmony Foundation of India. the Foundation is a forum for Inter-Faith and Inter-Civilisation Dialogue floated on behalf of Indian Muslims in 2005.

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