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Religious Right in Their Own Words; Apostasy Punishment, Jihad and the Role of Non Muslims in the Land of Infidels
By Adnan Syed
This series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a politically Islam dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.
UNANIMITY ON PUNISHMENT FOR APOSTASY
While no simple or unanimous definition for a Muslim was given by all the ulamas, they were clearly unanimous about the punishment for apostasy in an Islamic state. The punishment for apostasy was unequivocally, death.
With this doctrine, the religious leaders were clearly referring the then foreign minister Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan. If Chaudhry Zafrullah had not inherited his present (Ahmadi) beliefs, but had voluntarily elected to become an Ahmadi, he ought to be put to death.
However, while the punishment for apostasy was unanimous, the ulamas could not agree on who exactly is an apostate. Remember various criteria that was narrated by various leaders on who constitutes a Muslim? Now the same uneasy differences were making it hard for the leaders to decide who ought to be put to death.
Maulana Shafi Deobandi said that if he were the head of state of an Islamic Government, he would “exclude those who have pronounced Deobandis as kafirs from the pale of Islam and inflict on them the death penalty if they come within the definition of murtadd, namely, if they have changed and not inherited their religious views”.
The commission further quizzed Maulana Shafi Deobandi on the genuineness of the Deobandi fatwa that declared Asna Ashari Shias as kafirs and murtadds. Maulana Sahib himself made an enquiry on this fatwa from Deoband, and received a signed copy of the aforementioned fatwa, which not only verified the genuineness of that fatwa, but went on to say that “those who do not believe in the sahabiyyat (revering the original companions of the Holy Prophet) of Hazrat Siddiq Akbar and who are qazif (guilty of making vile comments) of Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa (wife of the Holy Prophet, and daughter of Hazrat Siddiq Akbar) and have been guilty of tehrif (distorting the meaning) of Qur’an are kafirs”.
Another Alim, Mr. Ibrahim Ali Chishti, who had studied that topic, believed that Shias are Kafirs as they believe that Hazrat Ali (the fourth caliph and prophet’s cousin) shared the prophethood with the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Mr. Chishti however refused to answer if any Sunni changed his views and becomes a Shia, ought to be put to death or not.
The confusion of the Muslimness and right to kill the apostates led the justices to remark yet again that:
“According to the Shias all Sunnis are kafirs, and Ahl-i-Qur’an; namely, persons who consider hadith to be unreliable and therefore not binding, are unanimously kafirs and so are all independent thinkers. The net result of all this is that neither Shias nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims and any change from one view to the other must be accompanied in an Islamic State with the penalty of death if the Government of the State is in the hands of the party which considers the other party to be kafirs. And it does not require much imagination to judge of the consequences of this doctrine when it is remembered that no two ulama have agreed before us as to the definition of a Muslim”.
But the answers of the religious right about indiscriminate killing of the apostates had the Justices wondering about what kind of religion do these fanatic alims really represent? The positive treatment for anyone who uses independent thinking or reasoning to accept Islam, vs. the death sentence for someone who uses the reasoning to reject Islam would cast Islam as a fanatical religion, and “an embodiment of complete intellectual paralysis”. The justices pointed out that the “Quran again and again lays emphasis on reason and though, advises toleration and preaches against compulsion in religious matters”.
If anything, the chilling confusions of the political Islam that would soon strangle the new state of Pakistan, were on full display in the pages of the Munir-Kiyani Report.
PROPAGATION OF OTHER RELIGIONS
So what about the right for the non Muslims to preach kufr (way of the infidels) in an Islamic State?.
There was a broad unanimity of what to do in this case. No faith other than Islam could be preached in an Islamic State. Maulana Moudoudi had by that time written a full pamphlet on the case for apostates in an Islamic State. Since many of the alims were considering the other sects to be non Muslims already, implication was that the “non Muslim sect” would also not be allowed any proselytizing in the “Islamic” state. Case in point, the words of Ghazi Siraj-uddin Munir when question on the point:
“Q.—What will you do with them (Ahmadis) if you were the head of the Pakistan State?
A.—I would tolerate them as human beings but will not allow them the right to preach their religion”.
THE CONCEPT OF JIHAD
The interviews turned towards the doctrine of Jihad, and began focusing on the concepts related to Jihad and how they correspond to modern international problems such as international criminal jurisdiction, international conventions and rules of public international law.
Let’s get some definitions first here: An Islamic State is dar-ul-Islam (The House of Islam) where “ordinances of Islam are established and which is under the rule of a Muslim sovereign. Its inhabitants are Muslims and also non-Muslims who have submitted to Muslim control and who under certain restrictions and without the possibility of full citizenship are guaranteed their lives and property by the Muslim State. They must, however, be people of Scriptures and may not be idolaters. An Islamic State is in theory perpetually at war with the neighbouring non-Muslim country, which at any time may become dar-ul-harb, in which case it is the duty of the Muslims of that country to leave it and to come over to the country of their brethren in faith”.
Maulana Moudoudi, one of the foremost brains behind the political Islam movement in Pakistan had this to say about his idea of dar-ul-harb (house of infidels).
“Q.—is a country on the border of dar-ul-Islam always qua an Islamic State in the position of dar-ul-harb?
A.—No. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the Islamic State will be potentially at war with the non-Muslim neighbouring country. The non-Muslim country acquires the status of dar-ul-harb only after the Islamic State declares a formal war against it”.
Introduction of potential war against Dar-ul-Harb causes further complications. According to the shorter encyclopaedia of Islam, when a country becomes a dar-ul-harb (belonging to the infidels), it is the duty of all Muslims in that country to leave that country en-masse and migrate to the dar-ul-Islam. Wives who refuse to accompany their Muslim husbands in migration would be ipso facto divorced.
The obvious reference here was India where forty million Muslims were residing and if Pakistan were to become an Islamic state, those Muslims suddenly had an obligation according to these learned Maulanas to move to Pakistan.
I would slightly digress here, and point out that most of the religious right bitterly opposed Pakistan. In fact, some of the very interviewees called vile names for Pakistan and its founder before the independence in 1947. But such are the expediencies in the name of religion that the same country is now being hailed as an Islamic fortress and home to all Muslims in India by the same religious leaders. Why? Because India was now the land of the infidels. And the country they opposed tooth and nail to form was now being considered the land of the pure.
Coming back to the interviews, another question was asked now to the alims; what to do with the prisoners of war in case of a battle between the Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb. Maulana Qadri’s remarks were quite close to other replies:
“Q.—Is there a law of war in Islam?
Q.—Does it differ in fundamentals from the present International Law?
Q.—What are the rights of a person taken prisoner in war?
A.—He can embrace Islam or ask for aman, in which case he will be treated as a musta’min. If he does not ask for aman, he would be made a slave”.
The religious leaders also mentioned that ghanima (plunder) and khums (one fifth of the enemy property) were a necessary incident of a Jihad.
SO WHAT MUSLIMS UNDER THE KAAFIR GOVERNMENTS OUGHT TO DO?
But then, the justices asked the alims about what the non Muslims ought to do in a land governed by kafir governments. Mr. Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari opined that “it is not possible for a Musalman to be a faithful citizen of a non Muslim state”. When asked that if it was possible for the forty million Muslims of India to be faithful towards India, his reply was “no”.
So much for condemning the Indian Muslims as traitors in the land of their birth; but the Muslim right wing leaders were not just showing their poor understanding of the formation of modern nationalist identities; in their enthusiasm to divide the world in the believer vs. the non believer realms, they were condemning the Muslims living in non Muslim majority areas to a life of discrimination that they were eyeing for their very own minorities.
Justice Munir and Kiyani asked a simple question: If an Islamic state was to discriminate against its non Muslim population, would the religious leaders be fine if India treats its Muslim minority the same way. Some sample answers are given below:
Moudoudi: “Certainly. I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of a citizen. In fact such a state of affairs already exists in India”.
Qadri: “No objection to Muslims treated under a Hindu government as malishes and shudras under the law of Manu”.
Ghazi Siraj Uddin Munir:
Q.—Do you admit for them the right to declare that all Muslims in India, are shudras and malishes with no civil rights whatsoever?
A.—We will do our best to see that before they do it their political sovereignty is gone. We are too strong for India. We will be strong enough to prevent India from doing this.
Q.—Is it a part of the religious obligations of Muslims to preach their religion?
Q.—Is it a part of the duty of Muslims in India publicly to preach their religion?
A.—They should have that right.
Q.—What if the Indian State is founded on a religious basis and the right to preach religion is disallowed to its Muslim nationals?
A —If India makes any such law, believer in the Expansionist movement as I am, I will march on India and conquer her.”
The rampant confusion, the bloody ideologies and inherent discrimination in the political Islam shone through these interviews. We were lucky that we were able to document this confusion just seven years after our country was born. We were lucky that the designs of the religious right, with all their splendid confusion were laid bare by two respected Jurists of the new nation in such clear terms.
We were terribly unfortunate to consign this document into the archives of our history, under the dust of the long 55 years, never seriously reading the message that screamed through these pages again and again. That fusing this chaotic medieval ideology with the newly formed state was a recipe for disaster. That the religious right, in its profound fanaticism, would become a catalyst for destruction, for Pakistan and across the world. That sooner Pakistan moves firmly towards a secular, equal for all humans, and democratic Pakistan envisioned by its founder, the better it would be for its future generations. Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech figures prominently in the Justice Munir and Kiyani Report. A forgotten and uncomfortable speech for many in the new state, right wing or not, who somehow saw Pakistan as an Islamic state and nothing more.
I end this series again with more moving words by the late Justices. All of the material for this series has been taken from this report that is widely available on the internet (1). This series covers just a few, not all, of the interviews and their transcripts. I encourage all the readers to read pages 195 to 250 in particular, from where most of the interviews were reproduced.
“Pakistan is being taken by the common man, though it is not, as an Islamic State. This belief has been encouraged by the ceaseless clamour for Islam and Islamic State that is being heard from all quarters since the establishment of Pakistan. The phantom of an Islamic State has haunted the Musalman throughout the ages and is a result of the memory of the glorious past when Islam rising like a storm from the least expected quarter of the world—wilds of Arabia—instantly enveloped the world, pulling down from their high pedestal gods who had ruled over man since the creation, uprooting centuries old institutions and superstitions and supplanting all civilisations that had been built on an enslaved humanity…………..
He (the Musalman) therefore finds himself in a state of helplessness, waiting for someone to come and help him out of this morass of uncertainty and confusion. And he will go on waiting like this without anything happening. Nothing but a bold re-orientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a World Idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic in congruity that he is today….
It is this lack of bold and clear thinking, the inability to understand and take decisions which has brought about in Pakistan a confusion which will persist and repeatedly create situations of the kind we have been inquiring into until our leaders have a clear conception of the goal and of the means to reach it.
And as long as we rely on the hammer when a file is needed and press Islam into service to solve situations it was never intended to solve, frustration and disappointment must dog our steps. The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.”
Filed under: Constitution, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Islam, Jinnah, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion · Tags: Adnan Syed, azw, Constitution, India, Islam, Jinnah, Justice Munir, Munir Kiyani Report, Pakistan, religious right