Islamic Perspectives

Who decides who’s kafir and who’s Muslim?

M Ghazali Khan

Zakir Naik’s style has antagonised many and his speeches sometimes contain objectionable expressions that cause unnecessary and avoidable misunderstanding. For this reason, he has been criticised in the past. The Bangladesh incident has only provided an excuse to his opponents to settle old scores and has given even a greater opportunity to Islamophobes on the lookout for an excuse to launch an attack on Muslims and Islam.

Not all of the critics of Naik are opposed to whatever he propounds and they think that instead of indulging in discussions on fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), history and politics if he had focused only on comparative religion his popularity could have gone much higher than his mentor late Ahmad Deedat’s. However, the fact is that on the basis of his speeches neither can a fatwa of apostasy be issued against him; nor can the allegation of spreading terrorism be proved.

Media has gettisoned objective reporting and instead dragged Naik into the dock. The Hindutva brigade has taken upon itself the task of issuing certificates of patriotism, and some of the Muslim loudmouths have taken Allah’s laws in their hands and have started issuing verdicts on who will go to hell and who to heaven. The latest to do this is a Shi’a cleric, Maulana Yusuf Abbas.

The maulana has not only held Zakir Naik liable to be beheaded but has also put a bounty of Rs 15 lakh on his head. While scholars of almost all sects have been declaring the followers of other sects kafir (apostate) and thus all of them are guilty of being takfeeri–one who declares others kafir– a term being used liberally and more aggressively, but rightly, by the Iranian media for IS. This is not to defend IS or its horrid crimes against humanity. However, today one fails to understand which Muslim sect is not Takfeeri. Even the Shi’a scholars have not spared the first three caliphs and a wife of the Prophet (PBUH) and mother of the faithful Aisha (RA), besides a majority of other Muslims.

One does not need to sift through books and archives in libraries to find this truth. YouTube has made the task pretty easy where the “scholars” (one feels disgusted to call those who use such filthy and obscene language for others as scholars) of all sects have posted venomous articles and speeches. And if all of them are true then one wonders who is a Muslim!

According to the divine criteria, as described by the Prophet anyone who believes in the Oneness of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as His last messenger, divine Books, angels and in the life hereafter is a Muslim. According to some sayings of the Prophet the fire of hell becomes haram (forbidden) on a person who has pronounced even once in his lifetime La IIaha IllaAllah (There is no god but Allah). But as far as these scholars are concerned every one of them has his own definition of a believer.

The Prophet received delegations of nonbelievers in his own mosque, Masjid-e-Nabawi, and never after their departure did he wash and clean it saying that it had been defiled. But in the Indian subcontinent mosques are washed and cleaned if a person of another sect enters there. Some mosques even carry warning signs at the gates naming the sects who are not allowed in the mosque.

Have such so-called scholars ever pondered this Qur’anic warning, “Who is more iniquitous than he who bars Allah’s places of worship, that His name be mentioned there, and seeks their destruction? It does not behove such people to enter them, and should they enter, they should enter in fear. There is degradation for them in this world and a mighty chastisement in the Next.” (Qur’an, Al- Baqara, 2:114)

The Prophet did not hesitate in leading the funeral prayer of the person whose hypocrisy was known to everyone but in this part of the world even marriages are declared null for joining funeral prayers led by scholars of another sect.

Muslims had started travelling around the world trading, preaching and spreading Islam around the world in the lifetime of the Prophet. If they got martyred or met their natural deaths in a faraway land they were buried there. But in this part of the world burials are denied to fellow Muslims in the graveyards on sectarian, sometimes even on caste basis.

The deep division in the ummah is not only because of differences between schools of thought Muslims follow but blind faith in some of the most painful incidents in Muslim history.  A large section of the ummah has turned these divisions into an untreatable social cancer. No one wants to adopt a common sense approach. How many of us can really vouch for the veracity of the live coverage of incidents around the world that we watch on our TV and computer screens and say that the angle of the picture being seen is the right one?

However, uncritical (rather blind) followers of history behave as if not only were they the eye witnesses pf those incidents described in history books but had themselves taken part in those battles. And the tragedy is that they think that based on the version of history they are being told since their childhoods they have the right to declare others as Muslims or kafirs.

The fact is that their blind faith and self-righteousness is in no way different from IS. IS too believes that it can decide who is or is not a Muslim. What makes IS different from them is that it goes a step further and violently implements what it believes in.

Anyway, whether we like it or not, for some whatever version of history they are being taught since their childhood has become part of their Iman. Centuries have passed and instead of any softness, these attitudes are becoming more inflexible and harder. What this section of the ummah should, however, consider that contrary to the propaganda they are being brainwashed with, no Muslim, with an iota of iman in him can have ill feeling for the family of the Prophet (PBUH) upon whom we send Darood five times a day. If there is any unfortunate individual who is committing this sin, May Allah SWT guide him and give him the taufeeq to do toubah.

Coming back to the Zakir Naik controversy, on the one hand there is an Islamic preacher and on the other hand there are the enemies of Islam. And Allah says in the Qur’an, “Believers! Be upholders of justice, and bearers of witness to truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may either be against yourselves or against your parents and kinsmen, or the rich or the poor: for Allah is more concerned with their well-being than you are.’ (An-Nisa, 4:135).

It is said that when Mongol warrior Halaku invaded and destroyed Baghdad in 1528 the scholars (Ulama) were busy arguing in a grand discussion whether eating a crow is haram or halal. Sadly, in the Muslim world in general, and in India in particular, the situation is not different from that of Baghdad of 1528.