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Uncompromising and confused Islam

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The question is how the Quran should be read and understood today? Literally or metaphorically? The Muslim community across the world is not sure. So, they swing between the two as per the convenience.

This confusion had partly cropped-up with the spread of Islam outside Arabia. Islam is a religion of Arab and anyone who is a Muslim, but not an Arab, is a convert. Arab, here means Hijaz area of peninsular Arabia. There is a specific Arabic word, Mawli, for the non-Arab converted Muslims.

For non-Arab converted Muslims, Islam was very alien in the beginning. But later Islam could digest those converts completely at mental, physical and social levels. This is the reason why non-Arab Muslims show themselves to be more Muslim than Arab Muslims. They spent their whole life only by emulating tribal Arabs of 7th century.

In about 600 years following the advent of Islam, the religion and its political power expanded from Spain and North-West Africa in the West to China-Mongolia and North India in the East. Converted Muslims of Persian, Byzantian, African, Mongol, Turk, Afghan and South Asian stocks were responsible for that Islamic expansion.

Thus, the non-Arab converted Muslims played a big role in the spread of Islam. Quran, in whatever form and contents then, was instrumental in creating Islamic passion among them to conquer new lands and people, including their own, for the cause of Islam’s Allah. Quran gave specific commandments to all Muslims about the Islamic obligation of converting all non-Muslims of the world to Islam. Thus, literal interpretation of Quran became an essential means of Islamic teachings.

The confusion deepened with the passage of time. As the time went by, humans made progresses and achievements in all spheres of life, social to scientific. So, today camels cannot be the only mode of transportation for Muslims like 7th century Arabia. But Muslims from anywhere of the world have a soft corner for the camels. In South Asian Muslims, their attachment with Arab is seen in their love and liking for dates fruit. The tension, between progress and attachment with tribal lifestyle of 7th century Arabia, is immense among today’s non-Arab converted Muslims.

The root cause of this confusion arose from the claim of Muslims about the unchangeability of the Quran and its commandments. A case in hand is Quran 33:59. The verse revealed “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments (Jilbab) over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In Arabic, Jilbab is a big piece of cloth making outer garment that can cover head to toes of women. So literally speaking, all Muslim women must cover them with Jilbab or Burqa (sewed Jilbab) when they go out of home. But metaphorically speaking, the said verse asks women to put on modest dress.

Today one comes across Muslim women, some of whom use Burqa and fully cover body, head and face (except a slit for the eyes); some cover their head with a piece of cloth (Hijab); but rest of them are not so obsessed and keep their head and face uncovered in public. Nowhere in Quran, Allah says that Jilbab is optional. Thus, in the present Hijab (head-cover) controversy in India, whosoever says that Hijab is optional in Islam is telling lie. Iranian women today are very clear in mind. They want to disown Hijab and go against the Quran.

Coming back to India, Dr B R Ambedkar in his famous 1945 book “Pakistan or the partition of India” had reiterated the Islamic contempt for non-Muslim, when he said that to the Muslims of India, a Hindu is a Kafir and therefore, undeserving of respect and equal treatment. Dr Ambedkar also pointed out that the Brotherhood in Islam was not universal. It was restricted among Muslims only. In recent past, Indian Islamists and Leftists are fighting legal battle against Karnataka government for not allowing Hijab for Muslim girl students in government schools.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam and where the two most important and holy cities (Mecca and Medina) of Muslim world are located, has incorporated Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharat in its school curricula to infuse multiculturalism. This is unthinkable in Indian Madrasa. Saudi Arabia has also banned use of Hijab by female students in examination hall. The reformation steps taken by the Saudi Arabia, as mentioned above, have confused Indian Muslims totally. They don’t know what to do.

Looking from another side, Quran reveals dozens of verses which are intolerant, exclusive, and violent towards the non-Muslims. Quran verse 9:5 is possibly the most referred to as an example. Islamic apologist resort to merry-go-round arguments to defend those verses literally. They fail to see that what was literally true in 7th century Arabia, cannot be true in today’s multi-cultural world community. The only compromise today can be achieved by accepting those verses metaphorically.

In Arabic language, Awrah (Awrat in South Asia) means vagina and Nikah means sexual intercourse. Both have reduced the sanctity of the two words woman and marriage to lowest ebb. In 7th century Arabia use of such words could be natural in the society. But today, if one wants to carry-on with the same literal meanings, then those words become nauseating and uncouth in human society of 21st century. Barring ignorance about the meaning of these two words, today’s Muslims have accepted those two words metaphorically.

However, the Muslim Ulema don’t like to yield an inch to accept any metaphorical meaning of verses of Quran, while they accept the metaphorical meaning of the words Awrat and Nikah to avoid embarrassment. The Ulema-driven Muslim community is a confused lot now. Many such confusions started growing even during the formative period of Islam and instead of addressing those, violence was used liberally to suppress all confusions.

Ulema have their own compulsions. If they loosen their grip on Islam and Muslim community, the religion will fall apart because of its inherent lack of spirituality and they will lose their prominence in the community. The most important aspect of spirituality in Islam is Fear Allah. Islam has reduced Allah to the level of an ogre, who is keen to throw Muslims, on the day of Judgement (Akhiriyat), in unimaginable and eternal physical tortures of Jahannam (the Islamic hell) at the drop of a hat.

In a nutshell, Islam is a mental and physical slavery of 7th century tribal Arabia. In 21st century it is causing confusion among many Muslims. Is not Ex-Muslim Movement world-over today a fall out of these uncompromising attitudes and confusions of Islam? 

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