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“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but him Alone”

(Quran: 98-05)

that they should worship Allah, and worship none but him Alone” (Quran: 98-05) The Real Islam

The Real Islam

that they should worship Allah, and worship none but him Alone” (Quran: 98-05) The Real Islam

therealislam2005@yahoo.com

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“The Real Islam” started out as a short essay on the basic concepts of Islam and as an overview of the concept of Aqeeda/Emaan. The idea was to let the reader judge himself or herself and see if he or she qualified as a true follower of Islam or not. However, given our recent eye-opening experiences about the prevalence of polytheistic practices primarily among South Asian Muslims, we were motivated to write about Islam in more detail. “The Real Islam” now has the trappings of a small book in which we have tried to cover the basic religious issues in South Asia, and especially in Pakistan, in a comprehensive manner.

By revisiting the basics of Islam, or what some may call orthodox Islam, we have tried to make the reader question his own belief system and analyze whether it is in conformance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah or not. After reading the entire “article”, the reader should be able to view Emaan in gestalt, and to realize the ramifications of committing Shirk (Polytheism) or endorsing Bidd’ah (innovations), which are so commonplace today in our society.

All those ideas or influences that have corrupted South Asian Islam are analyzed in their historical context, while the amalgamation of philosophies of different religions into Islam has also been discussed at length. Why is it that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been deified in South Asian Islam? Why have the titles of Data, Dastageer and Ghaus-al-Azam been bestowed on dead saints, when they belong exclusively to Allah (SWT)? Why do so many Pakistani and Indian Muslims visit the graves of dead saints and address their supplications to them? Why have Shiites and Sunnis been so busy slaughtering each other? Why do so many “Muslims” repudiate many Quranic ayahs and still consider themselves as submitters to Allah’s Will? Why have Bidd’ah- like Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Qul and Soyem, and wearing amulets- crept into the daily lives of “Muslims”? Are different sects in Islam actually Islamic? And why is it of utmost importance to practice and preach only Islam, and not other religions? Are the original Islamic values, as taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), incompatible with the modern world? We have tried our best to satisfactorily answer all these questions and to develop a true Islamic “lens” through which we should view the world, and especially the Muslim Ummah of today.

It is truly horrifying to realize that Shirk and Heresies have permeated all strata of society. Any one can see posters and banners advertising Mehfil-e-Na’at, Eid Milad gatherings, the Urs of Ali Hajveri or Sultan Bahu, the institutionalized lamentations of Shiites on Muharram 10th and many such events. It is shocking to discover how far away we all are from the true Islamic Emaan and values, and how conveniently our clergy has pawned the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for worldly gain. By the time the reader finishes this book, he will be better able to understand the reasons behind the current problems of the “Muslim” world, and why Allah has stopped answering the collective Duas of this Ummah.

In the end, we would request our reader to read the text with an open mind, and be honest with himself. We must all realize that the only true achievement in this world is to have unshakable faith in Allah and Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and to leave this world with Emaan in our hearts; because there is no other way of finding salvation on the Day of Judgment. May Allah guide all of us on the right path. Ameen!

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SECTION I:

Points of Agreement

a) Sources of Knowledge

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ii.

The Quran

Sahih Hadith

Hadith is also Wahi (Revelation)

iii. Consensus (Ijma) of Sahaba (RA)

b) Ijtihad (Inference)

c) Islam Has Been Perfected

d) The Teachings in the Quran Apply to All Humanity Till the Day of Judgment

e) Learning, Understanding and Applying Quran is Easy and Obligatory for All Humans

f) The Job of a True Muslim

g) Faith/Belief is Not a Personal Issue

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SECTION II:

The Definitions

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a) Emaan

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i. Belief of the Heart

 

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ii. Confession by the Tongue

 

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iii. Actions of the Body

 

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b) Shirk

 

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i. Shirk in Ruboobeeyah (Lordship)

 

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ii. in Ibaadah (Worship)

Shirk

 

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iii. in Asmaa-was-Sifaat (Divine Names and Attributes)

Shirk

 

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c) Innovation (Bidd’ah/Heresies)

 

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d) Taghoot

 

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i. Rejection of Taghoot (The Difference Between Emaan and Kufr)

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ii. Revered Muslims Scholars and Rejection of Taghoot

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SECTION III:

The Difference of Opinion Regarding Aqeeda (Belief System)

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a) Dividing Islam into Sects

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b) Was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Created with Noor?

 

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c) The Concept of the Dead Being Alive in their Earthly Graves

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d) Waseela (Intercession)

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e) Charging Money for the Performance of Religious Duties

 

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SECTION IV:

The Difference of Opinion Regarding Deeds (A’maal)

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a) The Uses of Quran

 

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b) Recitation of the Quran (Esaal-o-Sawaab) for the Dead

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c) Continuing Charity (Sadqa-e-Jaaria)

 

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d) Dua or Namaz-e-Janaza for Mushrik or Munafiq

 

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e) Amulets (Taweez) or Charms

 

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f) Nazar or Niaz

 

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g) Interest (Riba) based Income

 

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SECTION V:

Brief Overview

 

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a) Sufism

 

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b) Wahhabism

 

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In th e name o f Al l ah (SWT) , th e mo s t co mpas si o nate , th e mos t me rci fu l .

SECTION I:

Points Of Agreement

The fact that most of us in Pakistan have been born into Muslim families has given us a head start in our search for truth. However, this particular incidence of birth has lead many of us to believe that we ARE true Muslims: a fact that we never question in our daily lives. Our belief systems (speaking purely in the context of the Pakistani society) have developed through any or all of the following influences:

1. Our observation of our parents’ and grandparents’ religious practices. These early childhood experiences lead us to blindly follow the practices of our forefathers, without questioning their religious context and background.

2. Whatever we have learnt from our textbooks.

3. An increasingly significant influence is that of the media.

4. Our question and answer sessions with a local molvi or renowned scholar.

5. Our own efforts at consulting the Quran, Hadith and other sources of information about Islam.

Most Pakistanis read the Quran in Arabic, which is not their mother tongue. Therefore, a very small number of Pakistani Muslims actually read the entire Quran in a language they can easily understand. Secondly, our consultation of the Quran is generally limited to a particular issue troubling our minds. We read the relevant verses regarding the issues of inheritance, for instance, and not the entire book. Therefore, most of us are unable to build a complete picture of what Islam is all about.

Our knowledge of the actual belief system (Emaan) in Islam is at best limited, while our knowledge of the do’s and don’ts as listed in the Quran is selective. What most of us do not question is the complete definition of the Aqeeda/Emaan/Faith, as delineated in the Holy Quran and Sahih Hadith. So all our lives, we stay in our comfort zones, believing ourselves to be true Muslims, when this might not be the case. As a Muslim and as a human, it is every individual’s responsibility to seek the truth and spread it. It is in the same vein that this essay has been written. We have tried to explain the Aqeeda of a Muslim, the prerequisites of being able to call ourselves Muslims, the finer points regarding the definition of Emaan, with special emphasis on the concept of Taghoot (which makes up the difference between Emaan and Kufr).

At the on set, we would like to establish the framework within which this discussion will progress. This framework comprises of all the concepts about Islam that we all agree upon. These basic points are stated below, with detailed discussion on every topic:

1. All Muslims agree that Islam, the complete code of life, was perfected 1425 years ago. The conceptual framework of Islam cannot be modified, added to or subtracted from. This is why all innovations in the teachings of the Quran, or the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are termed as Bidd’ah (innovation) and are punishable.

2. It also follows from the above fact that the teachings of the Quran, as well as the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), apply to all times and all humans who will walk this earth till Qayamah.

3. There are three authentic sources of knowledge about Islam: The Holy Quran, Sahih Hadith and the Consensus of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In this essay, all references have been taken from the Quran and supported with Sahih Hadith so as to avoid any disagreements about the authenticity or truthfulness of these references. We have not quoted from the writings of any scholar or imam, as far as the basic injunctions of Islam are concerned, as their writings do not enjoy universal credibility among all the different Muslim sects. In addition, the commentaries of a scholar reflect personal opinion, which is not necessarily the same as the Quranic message under discussion.

a) SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

Let us now discuss these sources of knowledge in detail to make things crystal clear.

The authenticity of these sources has been derived from the fact that Allah himself has promised to take the responsibility of everything He revealed through His messengers from time to time and then perfected His message on His last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Who can forget the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) at the time of Hajja-tul-Wada’ (the last pilgrimage) when he said;

"I have left behind me two things, if you cling to them you will never go astray. They are the Book of Allah and my Sunnah." [al-Haakim]

i. The Quran

The best of these revelations or scriptures is of course the Quran, a set of commandments sent by Allah through His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The book is widely available in its original form. Allah says in the Quran:

“And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?” [54:17-22-32-40]

“And We have explained to man, in this Quran, every kind of similitude: yet the greater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude!” [17:89]

"And We have revealed to you a Book explaining everything" [16:89]

"We have neglected nothing in the Book" [06:38]

ii. Sahih Hadith

The second source is Sahih Hadith, which revolves around the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), each and every word that he said and each and every act he performed exemplifying the Islamic way of living. That is why we all agree that the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the best example of the teachings of the Quran. Although the treasure of Sahih Hadith has suffered a lot of alteration and modification attempts during the past eras; It is because of the promise made by Allah that he has graciously saved it in its original form: All Muslims agree that Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are the two compilations which contain all authentic Ahadeeth. Both books are collectively called 'Saheheen' and if a Hadith is found in both books, it is considered most authentic. These books are followed, in authenticity, by “Sunnan Abu-Dawood”, “Sunnan Ibn-e-Maaja”, “Jamiya Tirmidhi” and “Sunnan Nasai”. The latter four books have both authentic and weak Ahadeeth. It is Ilm-ul-Rijaal, (the science of men) through which Muslims were able to come up with a system to keep the Hadith pure and to differentiate the authentic ones from the weak ones. It should be mentioned here that a Sahih Hadith could be “Muta’shabeh” or “Muhkim.” A Muta’shabeh Hadith uses metaphors or similes to bring the point across, while a Muhkim one contains clear commandments. If ever a Muta’shabeh Hadith seems to contradict a Muhkim one, then all Quranic ayahs and Ahadeeth on a particular subject have to be reviewed together, and the Muta’shabeh Hadith is to be subordinated to the Muhkim Ahadeeth on the subject, and interpreted in light of the Quranic ayahs and Muhkim Ahadeeth.

So Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) fulfilled the trust placed upon him by Allah completely, explaining the religion to the people in its inward and outward form, making clear the lawful from the prohibited, the encouraged from the discouraged, even to the extent that he taught us the manners of going to the toilet and correct clothing etc. That is why Allah says in the Quran:

"Indeed you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for the one who hopes in Allah and looks to the Last Day." [33:21]

"So if you obey him (i.e. Muhammad), then you will be guided" [24:54]

“But no! By your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you (Muhammad) a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission.” [04:65]

Hadith is also Wahi (Revelation)

“And We appointed the Qibla which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who follows the messenger, from him who turns on his heels.” [02:143]

“Those who reject the Book and the (revelations) with which We sent our messengers:

but soon shall they know” [40:70]

Below are some of the examples from Islamic history about which we find hints and references in the Quran but without details. For details, we have to refer to Sahih Hadith. Similarly, for details of many other famous incidents such as Bait-e-Rizwan, Sulah Hudebiya, Fatah-e-Makkah and the battles of Badr, Uhd, Khandaq, Khyber, Tabook, Hunain etc. we have to refer to Sahih Hadith as we get only authentic hints in the Quran and not the details. Some examples are given below:

Islamic Obligations

“And be steadfast in Salat; practice regular Zakat; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship)”. [02:43]

What is “Salat” and how do we remain steadfast in it?

What is Zakat and how do we practice it?

What is meant by “bow down your heads” and who are the ones who bow down?

“And complete the Hajj or 'Umra in the service of Allah.” [02:196]

What is Hajj and Umra and how do we perform this service of Allah?

What is the difference between both?

“For Hajj are the months well known.” [02:197]

What are these well-known months?

“Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days.” [02:203]

What are these appointed days, and

How to praise Allah in these days?

“For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” [04:103]

What are the stated times for prayers?

“The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- … of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein…” [09:36]

What are the names of these 12 months, and

Which 4 months out of these 12 are the sacred ones?

“and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice):” [22:28]

What are the appointed days?

What does “celebrating the name of Allah over cattle” mean?

How do we do it and on what types of cattle?

“O

Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business”

[62:09]

ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on

Friday (the Day of

How do we know which day is Friday, or after which day it comes?

What is the time of this prayer on Friday?

What is meant by “the call”?

Incidents during Islamic Era

In Surah Aal-e-Imran (03), Verses 121 to 128, Allah is referring to a battle between Muslims and the Kuffaar:

Where and when did this battle happen?

What are the details?

In Surah Tauba (09), Verse 40, Allah refers to an incident in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went into a cave along with another man:

What is this incident?

Who is this second person?

Which cave was this? In what time/era did this incident occur?

In Surah Tauba (09), Verses 117 & 118, Allah refers to a hard time on Muslims and also about 3 men who stayed behind and were punished:

What was this tough time and when did it happen?

Who were these 3 men?

Why did they stay behind?

How were they punished and then forgiven?

Surah Jumua (62), Verse 11 refers to an incident when some people left Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

What is this incident?

iii. Consensus (Ijma) of Sahaba (RA)

Finally, we have the consensus of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or Ijma-e-Sahaba, which is the third most authentic source of Islamic knowledge for a Muslim. The companions had the privilege to see Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in person and heed direct knowledge from him, which undoubtedly makes them the best followers of Quran and Sunnah. Some may say that there were disagreements among the companions after the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), however, it is important to note that all such disagreements were either related to the government or other minor issues. Not a single difference of opinion was found when it came to the matter of Islamic belief (i.e. Aqeeda), which is the point of discussion here. Therefore, it should be clear in the minds of our readers that the series of battles among Aisha (RA), Ali (RA) and Muavia (RA) after the death of Usman (RA) occurred due to a disagreement over a matter related to governmental matter and not belief. This also shows that Muslims may have serious differences among them but their belief remains the same. Sadly, today we have gross disagreements regarding the basic Islamic belief system, where many sects that follow belief systems other than the one followed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions (RA), also call themselves Muslims.

Apart from the above 3 authentic sources of knowledge, there are quite a few points, which are a matter of disagreement among Muslims and it is necessary that we discuss and clarify the ambiguities about them.

b) IJTIHAD (INFERENCE)

The particular topic of Ijtihad is the most controversial one in the present time where one person does not agree with the Ijtihad done by another. We see individuals doing their own Ijtihads every day and/or Ulema doing Ijtihads on behalf of their particular sect.

To avoid any controversy, we have confined our discussion within the framework of Quran and Sahih Hadith and Consensus (Ijma) of Sahaba only. That is because this discussion revolves around Emaan and there is absolutely no room for Ijtihad in the matters of belief or Emaan, as things have already been made crystal clear. Ijtihad is to be done in Firohi (peripheral/minor) matters only and NOT in the matters related to belief and Emaan, as we cannot harbor beliefs different from those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or any of his companions. There are very clear rulings about basic Islamic belief and Emaan in the Quran and Sunnah. Can we then do Ijtihad based on the saying of a prominent scholar of our times when the belief and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions are apparent to us through Sahih Hadith?

People who scream “Ijtihad” should remember that Ijtihad, although allowed, but is valid only if it conforms to the teachings of Quran and Sunnah and does not contradict them in any way 1 . For instance, one cannot infer that the use of nail polish does not invalidate a woman’s prayers just because the Prophet (PBUH) once did his ablution without removing his socks. As there is a clear ruling that all parts of the body that are to be washed during an ablution must get wet for the ablution to be regarded as complete, therefore, the above-mentioned inference is contradictory to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s Sunnah and cannot be adopted or justified. Hence, Ijtihad too, is always done in light of the above 3 authentic sources of knowledge.

c) ISLAM HAS BEEN PERFECTED

…This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL- ISLAM… [05:03]

d) THE TEACHINGS IN THE QURAN APPLY TO ALL HUMANITY TILL THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

Allah does not change his Sunnah or criteria of judgment over time. This particular tenet must be kept in mind while interpreting the teachings of the Quran, as well as our Prophet (PBUH)’s Sunnah. Many so-called Muslim sects differ on certain dictums of the Quran, stating that they are applicable to past nations or societies and have lost their relevance in modern times. However, falsehood and dishonesty were punishable offenses 2,000 years ago and they will always fall under the category of “sin”. Allah’s judgment criteria do not alter in the least over time, as this is essential to maintaining the integrity of Allah’s word. Also as Islam was perfected 1425 years ago, whatever falls under the category of sin or good deeds shall maintain its classification till the Day of Judgment, when life as we know it shall cease to exist altogether. A case in point is that Allah has forbidden monetary compensation 2 in exchange for performing Islamic duties, like leading a prayer, or teaching the Quran. Allah has admonished the Children of Israel for selling His communications to other people, therefore it is a sin to claim monetary reward for making any effort in spreading Allah’s word, and this concept will remain unchanged till the Day of Judgment.

e) LEARNING, UNDERSTANDING AND APPLYING QURAN IS EASY AND OBLIGATORY FOR ALL HUMANS

Learning and understanding Quran is every Muslim’s personal responsibility. Quran was NOT revealed for a chosen lot. Islam, the religion of equality, thus identifies itself separate from Judaism and Christianity as both these religions engender the belief among their followers (and especially their clergy) that they are God’s chosen people. This is the reason why Islam, and particularly, the Quran have been made easy to understand for all peoples. Many Pakistanis cite the “unfathomable” philosophical depth of the Quran as an excuse to their inability (or lack of interest) to completely

1 Please refer to page 24 of this article for a discussion on the need for fiqah and Ijtihad. 2 Refer to detailed discussion on monetary compensation for religious duties on page 37 of this article.

understand the book. This kind of reasoning has not only absolved Muslims of the responsibility to read and understand this book, it has also helped create and subsidize the profession of a molvi/sheikh/scholar. The premise of the Holy Book being difficult to understand is present in every Christian and Jew mind as well. Both the aforementioned religions then require a properly trained (and paid) clergy to help ordinary people understand the labyrinthine philosophies of Christian and Jewish theology. Islam stands unique and well above these religions not only because its teachings (Quran and Sahih Hadith) still exist in their truest forms, but also because Allah has made it easy to understand for all who seek the truth.

“And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?” [54: 17-22-32-40]

“And We have explained to man, in this Quran, every kind of similitude: yet the greater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude!” [17:89]

f) THE JOB OF A TRUE MUSLIM

with ingratitude!” [17:89] f) THE JOB OF A TRUE MUSLIM By Al-'Asr (the time). Verily! Man

By Al-'Asr (the time). Verily! Man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds, which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds, which Allah has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah's Cause during preaching His religion) [Quran 103]

Surah Al-Asr is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful surahs of the Quran. It is straightforward and concise yet extremely comprehensive when it comes to differentiating Emaan with Kufr and defining the correct path a person must take in his life.

By analyzing each ayah, we learn the following imperative lessons:

Allah (SWT) starts off taking oath by the declining day and pronounces that the whole human race is in the state of failure, then follows it up by the most phenomenal declaration, which distinguishes those who submit themselves to His absolute authority and divine Will from those who do not: Believing in Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) and purifying one’s belief in Allah from Shirk (Polytheism) is the prerequisite for a person to enter Islam.

The next important message to be learnt is that only the good deeds of those who meet the prerequisite of purifying their beliefs, will be rewarded in the hereafter. Good deeds (including Ibaadah) have no meaning or reward without firm belief in Allah (or Emaan).

Once the Emaan is complete, it becomes obligatory for a Muslim to preach the clear, explicit and perfect teachings of Allah to people around him.

Then, while spreading the word of Allah, any hardships are to be endured with patience and serenity.

Majority of us see Islam as a ritualistic religion where performance of religious duties like prayers, fasting and Zakat are sufficient to earn us a place in heaven. However, in Islam, correct beliefs have the utmost importance and are the essential prerequisite for admittance into heaven. Very famous personalities like Mother Teresa or Oprah Winfrey who have made significant differences in the lives of the underprivileged, will not be able to earn Allah’s pleasure on the Day of Judgment because of the absence of Emaan in their hearts. Our good deeds surely are for our own benefit in the after life, however, what we tend to forget is that, on the Day of Judgment, the deeds of only those people will be accounted for who die having Emaan in their hearts. People who have performed outstanding good deeds in their lives, yet have died as Musrhiks (polytheists), will not even be questioned by Allah on

the Day of Judgment. There is no doubt that Emaan has certain categories ranging from weak Emaan to true Taqwa, however, Shirk in every form is unpardonable.

g) FAITH/BELIEF IS NOT A PERSONAL ISSUE

Another important duty of a Muslim, after he has corrected his own beliefs in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, is to preach the truth to his fellowmen, as outlined in the above Surah (Al-Asr). This is an obligation of the entire Muslim community. These days one very popular belief is that religion is a personal matter and no one has the right to question another human about his religious beliefs. This particular reasoning is a consequence of secular thinking in which all religions are considered equally correct. Our electronic and print media is wholly responsible for bringing this kind of reasoning in our society from western civilizations. Secondly, the recent acceptability and popularity of Sufism (“Islamic” mysticism) 3 among our intellectuals has lead to an increased fan following of this belief.

This secular way of reasoning is supported by our educated class (or by people who have rudimentary knowledge of the Quran and Sahih Hadith) by quoting only the initial part of the famous Quranic verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” [02:256]. Islam cannot be enforced upon a person through forceful means because true submission to Allah’s Will comes naturally to only those who willingly follow Allah’s teachings. However, we have to read the verse in full in order to understand its complete message:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship (Taghoot) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.”

[02:256]

This ayah does not mean that one can follow any religion, any cult or creed. This ayah is often quoted by followers of Sufism, who believe in all religions being equally correct. However, Allah makes it clear in the above verse that one must reject all false deities and influences (Taghoot) and believe in Allah alone; in other words, Islam is the only correct religion and way of life. The word compulsion has been mentioned in order to stress on willing submission to Allah’s Will and to endorse the spread of Islam through inspirational behavior and patient preaching by Muslims.

Moreover, it has been mentioned in the Quran many times that the entire Muslim community MUST spread the True word to all humankind. We, as Muslims, are encouraged to make people question their erroneous beliefs. This was precisely what our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did 1400 years ago and was ostracized by his own family. He had to live in Shaib-e-Abi-talib for three years and survive on tree roots, yet he never considered going back on his word. A natural consequence of prodding the human conscience, or making people question their beliefs, is that they strike back, trying to maintain the status quo so that they can make peace with themselves and their religious duties. Surah Al-Asr points out that whenever humans are shaken out of their comfort zones, there is natural retaliation and as harbingers of the truth, Muslims must steel themselves to all hardships coming their way. Another important thing to remember is that ignorance of Allah’s Word will not be taken as an excuse on the Day of Reckoning. All humans are born Muslims as Islam is Deen-e-Fitrat. During their lifetimes, Allah sends warnings and signs to everyone. Some try to seek the truth, but most ignore Hidayat. Therefore, it becomes a natural responsibility for those who are already aware of the Truth to spread it and fight against ignorance, so that more and more people around the world can have a good chance of finding salvation in life after death.

Finally, the last verse of this Surah warns the tellers of the Truth that hardships will definitely come in the life of anyone who struggles against ignorance and Shirk. Endurance against such hardships is characteristic of our Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (RA). Who can forget the patience of Bilal (RA) chanting, “Allah is One”, lying on the ground in intense desert heat with a heavy boulder put on his chest. Who can forget the determination and patience of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when the people of Taif were stoning him? Who can forget the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions tying stones

3 Is Sufism Islamic? For an overview of Sufism, please refer to page 53 of this article.

around their bellies to ward off hunger? As long as such tellers of Truth remain in a minority, such hardships cannot be countered through military might and must be endured at a personal level by each and every Muslim.

Now that we have established the framework within which this discussion will proceed, let us now look into the critically important concepts of Emaan, Shirk and Taghoot and then judge our own selves accordingly.

SECTION II:

The Definitions

a) EMAAN

Emaan is a combination of Belief and Actions. This particular statement could be broken down into three essential parts required for the completion of the definition of Emaan.

i. Belief of the Heart 4

ii. Confession by the Tongue, and

iii. Actions of the Body

i. Belief of the Heart

Belief of the heart is the root of Emaan. Deeds cannot be perfected if belief of the heart is not firm or complete. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

[Sahih Muslim - Book 10, Hadith 3882] …Beware, in the body there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt, and hearken, it is the heart.

For a Muslim, the best way to achieve firm belief of the heart is to submit himself to the divine will and commands of Allah. The disbelievers of all times have avoided this submission mainly because they lacked the love for truth. Allah says in Quran:

"…he brought them the Truth, but most of them are averse (unwilling, opposed) to the Truth." [23:70]

"It is not you (O’ Muhammad) that they deny, but it is the signs of Allah that the wrongdoers deny." [06:33]

In general, the truth of Allah's Oneness is clear to everyone, yet they do not accept and submit to His commands, which Allah refers to as Truth in the above verses. This is one of the major aspects, which evidently distinguishes a Momin (believer) from Mushrikeen (non-believers).

ii. Confession by the Tongue

The second important thing is verbal confession. One must remember that a simple pronouncement of the words 'La ilaha il-Allah' or Shahadah is not enough. The hypocrites during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did pronounce Shahadah with their tongues and even said their Salat in public but they were not true believers.

The verbal confession MUST accompany 1) Rejection of all types of Shirk (i.e. false gods or Taghoots) and then 2) the true belief in lordship of Allah and its related aspects. If we divide the Shahadah into two parts, we learn that:

If we divide the Shahadah into two parts, we learn that: (There is no god but

(There is no god but Allah)

The Shahadah starts with the words “La Illaha” (there is no god) “il-Allah” (but Allah), so the rejection of all false deities/gods/Taghoots/helpers other than Allah comes first.

“There is no god but Allah”. When we say these words, we announce that:

Allah is the one who is unique in all respects.

He is The Creator and The Master.

He is The Knower of the visible and the invisible.

All favors and hardships come from Him.

4 Most Pakistanis believe that simply uttering the first Kalima is enough to become a Muslim. However, this definition of a Muslim is incorrect and incomplete, as the following discussion will clarify.

He is the sole provider of aid and assistance so He (alone) is to be remembered and called on at all times.

He (alone) is to be feared (transcendently).

All hopes and trust are to be reposed into Him and all prayer are to be directed towards Him without any intermediary or intercessor whatsoever. In fact, belief in intercession in this world amounts to Shirk 5 . (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be given the authority to intercede and recommend Shifa’at for the believers, but only on the Day of Judgment).

The second part of the Shahadah is:

on the Day of Judgment). The second part of the Shahadah is: (Muhammad is the messenger

(Muhammad is the messenger of Allah)

It becomes evident from the second part of Shahadah that:

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is but a human being, a slave of Allah and His last messenger.

“Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.

[21:7-8]

Prophet (PBUH)’s tradition shall remain the last word in all respects of human life until the Last Day. The words of any one else will not be acceptable if they are not in agreement with the Prophet’s sayings and teachings. All kinds of innovations (Bidd’ah) in Islam should be rejected outright.

Only that interpretation of the Prophet (PBUH)’s tradition will be treated authentic which is certified by the actions of the Prophet’s companions (RA).

Therefore, a person who utters the Kalima verbally, yet does not believe in it or acts against it, is a Munafiq and is not a Muslim. In addition, anyone who believes in the Kalima in his heart but does not verbally state his belief is also not considered a believer, neither in this life nor in the Hereafter. The outward act of speaking the Kalima is also an essential aspect of Emaan 6 .

iii. Actions of the Body

Actions of the body are the third integral part of Emaan. True belief of the heart results in external submission to the commands of Allah. It is not possible that one’s belief of the heart is very strong but is not demonstrated by his deeds. Actions of the body in conformance with the teachings of Allah is the final step towards the completion of Emaan.

b) SHIRK

Shirk literally means partnership, sharing or associating. In Islam, it refers to the act of assigning partners to Allah in whatever form it may take.

“Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and He forgives what is besides this to whom He pleases; and whoever associates anything with Allah, he indeed strays off into a remote error.” [04:116]

[Sahih Muslim – Book 35, Hadith 6499] “And he who meets Me in the state that his sins fill the earth, but not associating anything with Me, I would meet him with the same (vastness) of pardon (on My behalf)."

5 Refer to page 33 for discussion on Waseela. 6 Refer to page 18 for further discussion on the meaning of Shahadah in the context of Taghoot.

There are 3 major forms/categories of Shirk.

i. Shirk in Ruboobeeyah (Lordship)

ii. Shirk in Ibaadah (Worship) and

iii. Shirk in Asmaa-was-Sifaat (Divine Names and Attributes)

i. Shirk in Ruboobeeyah (Lordship)

Subcategories: “Shirk of Association” and “Shirk of Negation”

This category of Shirk refers to either the belief that others share Allah's Lordship over creation as His equal or near equal, or to the belief that there exists no Lord over creation at all. The former type of shirk is common among Hindus, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians who practice “Shirk of Association”. While atheists and Jains, who believe in the absence of any god, practice the “Shirk of Negation”. Darwin's Theory of Evolution is also an attempt to explain the evolution of life and its different forms from lifeless matter without the intervention of God. These are all man-made philosophies and explanations of creation and therefore, have erroneous, strange and illogical beliefs.

What is disturbing, however, is that with time these man-made philosophies have crept among Muslims as well and now a growing majority of so-called Muslims practice Shirk in Ruboobeeyah as they believe that the souls of saints (Aulia/Sufis) and other pious humans can affect the affairs of this world, even after their deaths. It is believed that these saints are alive in their respective graves and have the power to fulfill one's needs, remove calamities, aid whoever calls on them, and intercede with Allah on behalf of the supplicant. Therefore, grave-worshippers assign divine characteristics to these “dead no more” saints, who can cause events to happen in this life, which in reality, only Allah can cause. Similarly, common among many Sufis (Muslim mystics) is the belief in "Rijaal al-Ghayb", a sheikh who occupies the station called "Qutub", from which the affairs of this world are governed.

Secondly, an example of Shirk of Negation among some Muslims is that of many Sufis like Ibn 'Arabi who claim that Allah is the only existence and all else is an illusion: “All is Allah, and Allah is all”, (i.e. Wahdat-ul-Wujood). They deny the separate existence of Allah (separate from other material objects in this Universe) and thereby in fact deny His existence. The Dutch Jewish philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, who claimed that God is the total of all parts of the universe including man, also expressed this idea in the 17th century.

ii. Shirk in Ibaadah (Worship)

Subcategories: “Major Shirk” and “Minor Shirk”

In this category of Shirk, acts of worship are directed to deities other than Allah Almighty and the reward for worship is sought from the created instead of the Creator.

Major Shirk represents the greatest act of rebellion against the Lord of the Universe, and is thus the ultimate sin. Consequently, false religion is based primarily on this form of Shirk. It is evident that all man-made philosophies in one way or the other invite their followers to worship the creation. Christians are called upon to pray to a man, a Prophet of God named Jesus (AS), whom Christians claim to have been God Incarnate. Catholics among Christians pray to Mary as the "Mother of God” as well as to human saints, whether real or fictitious.

This particular form of shirk is very common among so-called Muslims today. It also falls in the category of At-Taghoot (false deities or anything worshipped besides Allah), which is explained in detail separately in this essay.

If a Muslim allows the love of anything or anyone to come between himself and Allah, then it means that he has worshipped that thing, or that he is allowing it to dictate halal and haram for him (or define good and evil). Today, a majority of Muslims have gone so far in their love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in particular and other so-called saints in general, that they have crossed the boundaries of affection set by Allah.

They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! [09:31]

'Adi bin Hatim, who had been a Christian before accepting Islam, once came to the Prophet (peace be on him). When he heard him reciting the above Ayah [9:31], he said, "O Messenger of Allah, but they do not worship them." The Prophet (peace be on him) replied, They certainly do. They prohibit to the people what is halal and permit them what is haram, and the people obey them. This is indeed their worship of them. [Reported and classified as hasan by al-Tirmidhi and others.]

Muslims whose acts of worship fall into this category of Shirk are those who pray to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or to mystics in the Sufi hierarchy of saints, believing that they can answer their prayers, though Allah has clearly said in the Quran:

“And they serve beside Allah what can neither harm them nor profit them, and they say: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Do you (presume to) inform Allah of what He knows not in the heavens and the earth? Glory be to Him, and supremely exalted is He above what they set up (with Him).” [10:18]

An example of Minor Shirk is “Ar-Riyaa”. Islam is against exhibitionism and the practice of any of the various forms of worship done in order to be seen and praised by people is Shirk. This sin destroys all the benefits that lie in righteous deeds and brings on the one who commits it a serious punishment. It is particularly dangerous because vanity is the most common of human weaknesses and many Muslims easily fall into the trap of Ar-Riyaa. It is natural for man to desire and enjoy the praise of his fellow men. Doing religious acts to impress people or in order to be praised by them is, therefore, an evil that deserves man's utmost caution. Ar-Riyaa is also called “the hidden Shirk”. Thus great care has to be taken to ensure that one's intentions begin pure and remain pure in the way of Allah whenever righteous deeds are being done.

iii. Shirk in Asmaa-was-Sifaat (Divine Names and Attributes)

Subcategories: “Shirk by Humanization” and “Shirk by Deification”

Shirk in this category includes both the common pagan practice of giving Allah the attributes of His creation (Shirk by Humanization) as well as the act of giving created beings Allah's divine names and attributes (Shirk by Deification). It relates to cases where created beings or things are given or claim Allah's names or His attributes. For example, it was the practice of the pagan Arabs to worship idols whose names were derived from the names of Allah. Their three main idols were:

Laat: taken from Allah's name Al-Elaah,

Uzza: taken from Al-'Azeez and

Manaat: taken from Al-Mannan.

During the Prophet Muhammad's era there was also a false prophet in a region of Arabia called Yamaamah, who took the name Al-Rehman, which belongs to Allah (alone).

Among the Shiite sects is the Nusayreeyah of Syria, who believe that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)'s cousin and son-in-law, 'Ali ibn Abi Taalib (RA)’, was a manifestation of Allah (God Incarnate) 7 and give him many of Allah’s qualities. Among them are the Ismai'ils, also known as Agha Khanis who consider their leader, the Agha Khan, to be God Incarnate.

Claims of Sufis (Muslim mystics) like Mansoor al-Hallaaj that they have become one with God and as such, exist as manifestations of the Creator within His creation may also be included in this aspect of Shirk in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat.

On the whole, today, all sects, divisions and groups in the subcontinent believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is alive in his grave in Medina and listens to the calls and cries of the Ummah. Some sects believe that this sort of life is possible only for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Others go one step ahead and believe that all pious people including all messengers sent by Allah, the companions of

7 This is analogous to Christian belief about Jesus (AS). Can these Shiites be called Muslims?

Prophet (PBUH) and saints (Aulia Allah) are not dead and that they become alive in their respective graves after burial. It is believed that these pious men with supernatural powers listen to the prayers, duas, cries and Durood recited by Ummah, reply to the reciters and also plead to Allah on their behalf. The truth is that this sort of belief is clearly the gravest form of Shirk in the divine names and attributes of Allah such as “Al-Hayee (The Ever-living)” “Al-Qayyum (The Self Existing)”, “Al-Sami (The Hearer of All)” and “Al-Aleem (The Knower of All)”. We all know that Allah is the only ever living and no humans can exhibit immortality. Sadly, titles like “Daata”, “Mushkil Kusha”, “Ghous” and “Dastageer” are given to dead humans when all these titles suit the stature of Allah Almighty alone.

What is important is that some attributes and names of Allah can be applied exclusively to Him; for example “Allah” and “Al-Rehman”. While other words can also be applied to creatures. For example, one of Allah's names is "Al-Raheem", meaning Merciful, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is described as merciful using the same word (Raheem) in the Quran, [09:128]. However, it is essential to note that although, in cases such as this, the same word may be used to describe both Creator and creation, the meaning of the word is totally different when applied to Allah, the Flawless, the Exalted, for He has told us quite clearly that "there is nothing like unto Him." [Quran, 42:11]. Human language is incapable of grasping the ineffable reality called Allah. Allah’s qualities and attributes are absolute, limitless and personal. Humans may possess some of those qualities, yet they are limited and are conferred upon them by Allah Himself.

c) INNOVATION (BIDD’AH/HERESIES)

Innovation can easily be called the corruption of Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Introduction of new ways of worship into the pure Deen of Allah, ways that He did not teach, ways which were not practiced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), blemishing Allah’s Deen with our whims and desires, or blind following of our forefathers’ and religious scholars’ self-created practices, is something that Allah Himself condemns;

"Or do they have partners that legislate some religion which Allah has not given permission for?" [42:21]

“O you who believe! Do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you and do not exceed the limits; surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” [05:87]

"Follow that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and do not follow as Friends and Protectors other than Him" [07:03]

Innovations have become so widespread in the religion today that people have taken them to be a part of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We must not forget that all innovations are started with the intention of Sawaab (reward by Allah). However, what is more important is to determine if they were part of the Prophet’s Sunnah or not! When a Muslim believes that Islam was perfected for him by Allah through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 1425 years ago, then the criterion of the legitimacy of a particular religious act remains the same as it was 14 centuries ago!

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 09, Book 92, Hadith 382] Narrated By 'Abdullah: The best talk (speech) is Allah's Book (Quran), and the best way is the way of Muhammad, and the worst matters are the heresies (those new things which are introduced into the religion); and whatever you have been promised will surely come to pass, and you cannot escape (it).

The second most important thing is that an extended form of innovation may fall into the category of Shirk (Polytheism) or Taghoot, which will NEVER be forgiven by Allah. Evidently, there is a very fine line between Bidd’ah and Shirk, although both are unpardonable forms of sin.

Unfortunately, Bidd’ah are very common in our society today where lack of Islamic knowledge, false information and/or social pressure have invented ridiculous practices.

Some common Bidd’ahs are recitation of Kalima during a funeral procession (Janaza), recitation of Quran for the Dead (Esaal-o-Sawaab), celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH) (Eid Milad un Nabi), ghair Allah ki Nazar/Niaz, Khatam-ul-Quran before the start of project/business/marriage etc. and taweez (amulets) etc. 8

In this context, it is important to mention those Ahadeeth that religious scholars and molvis frequently manipulate to justify different types of Bidd’ah. This is typically done through the misrepresentation of

a particular statement or act of a Sahabi (companion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a strict

follower of Quran and Sunnah; in other words, an ideal Muslim). A selective part of the following Sahih Bukhari Hadith is often quoted out of context:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 3, Book 32, Number 227] Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, "Allah's Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate." 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'ah this is’; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night."

If we analyze the entire Hadith, as well as its background, we discover that taraweeh prayers in a

congregation were not something new as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself had led congregational taraweeh prayers during Ramadan:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 3, Book 32, Number 229] Narrated 'Urwa: That he was informed by 'Aisha, "Allah's Apostle went out in the middle of the night and prayed in the mosque and some men prayed behind him. In the morning, the people spoke about it and then a large number of them gathered and prayed behind him (on the second night). In the next morning the people again talked about it and on the third night the mosque was full with a large number of people. Allah's Apostle came out and the people prayed behind him. On the fourth night the Mosque was overwhelmed with people and could not accommodate them, but the Prophet came out (only) for the morning prayer. When the morning prayer was finished he recited Tashah-hud and (addressing the people) said, "Amma ba'du, your presence was not hidden from me but I was afraid lest the night prayer (Qiyam) should be enjoined on you and you might not be able to carry it on." So, Allah's Apostle died and the situation remained like that (i.e. people prayed individually). "

After reading the complete Ahadeeth and their context, we realize that Umar (RA) had not innovated at all; rather he had actually copied Prophet Muhammad’s tareeqah. When he saw Muslims offering taraweeh in small groups, he simply united them in a large congregation. Instead of quoting the entire incident, the advocates of Bidd’ah just quote the final statement of Umar (RA) and justify their stance.

Another Hadith that is quoted out of context is from Sahih Muslim. The Bidd’atis (innovators) use this Hadith to claim that new practices can be created in Islam:

8 A detailed discussion on these innovations is given on page 42 of this article.

[Sahih Muslim – Book 34, Hadith 6466] “Whosoever starts in Islam a good practice (Sunnah), he gets the reward of it, and the reward of all those who act on it. And whosoever starts in Islam an evil practice (Sunnah), he gets the evil of it and the evil of all those who act on it”

When the same Hadith is read in full and in proper context, it reads as follows:

[Sahih Muslim – Book 34, Hadith 6466] Jareer ibn Abdullah (RA), he said: “Some people came to Prophet (PBUH) wearing woolen garments. He saw they were in bad shape and in desperate need, so he

(PBUH) urged the people to give them charity. People were very slow to respond, and

it could be seen on his face (that he was upset). Then a man from the Ansar brought a

package of silver, then another came, then after him another and another, and his face was filled with joy. He (PBUH) said: “Whoever starts a practice (Sunnah) in Islam,

and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a reward like that of

those who followed him, without detracting it in the least from their reward. Whoever starts a bad practice (Sunnah) in Islam, and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a burden of sin like that of those who followed him, without detracting

it in the least from their burden.”

Now if we analyze the above Hadith, we discover that the word Sunnah means “practice” and does not mean “Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”. This Hadith simply means that an Ansar took the initiative and performed a good deed. His initiative inspired others to follow suit. Therefore, the Ansar will be rewarded not only for his initiative but also for the good behavior he inspired in others. Similarly, if a person took the lead in starting a bad practice and others followed suit, he will not only be punished for his sin but also for instigating others to follow him. This does not mean that the burden of the followers’ sins will be shifted onto the leader. The followers too will be answerable for their sin and their blind following of a wrongdoer.

The reader will also notice that the Ansar charity-giver did not invent a new practice in Islam: charity giving had been legislated in the early days of Islam and Allah has promised to bless the maal (wealth) of the charity-giver with manifold increase, as has been clearly stated in many Makki Surahs.

Thirdly, the abovementioned Hadith used the adjectives “good” and “bad” for practices. It is important to note that Islam has clearly defined good, bad, right, wrong, halaal and haraam. There is no room for any modification in the definition of good and bad. We are again quoting the following ayah in this regard:

“This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [05:04]

What then is the punishment of Bidd’ah and why is it said to be the worst of bad deeds? Consider the following Hadith:

[Sahih Muslim – Book 04, Hadith 1885] Jabir b. Abdullah said: When Allah's Messenger (may peace he upon him) delivered the sermon, his eyes became red, his voice rose and his anger increased so that he was like one giving a warning against the enemy and saying: "The enemy has made a

morning attack on you and in the evening too." He would also say: "The last Hour and

I have been sent like these two." and he would join his forefinger and middle finger;

and would further say: "The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is error." He would further say: I am more dear to a Muslim even than his self; and he who left behind property that is for his family and he who dies under debt or leaves children (in helplessness), the responsibility (of paying his debt and bringing up his children) lies on me."

The reason behind such strong denouncement of Bidd’ah is that Bidd’ah can turn into Taghoot and if a person becomes a part of Taghoot, he actually gets expelled from the circle of Islam because his

Emaan becomes contaminated. For instance, recitation of the Quran for the Qul, Soyem or Chaleeswan of a dead person constitutes a Bidd’ah, as we do not find any evidence from Sahih Hadith that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or any of his companions ever recited the Quran for the deceased, or organized his Qul or Soyem 9 . Many Pakistani Muslims believe that having food cooked for the participants of the Qul or Soyem is un-Islamic; whereas, the entire event is an innovation in Allah’s Deen. The problem with such innovation is that if a Muslim considers a Bidd’ah to be completely Islamic, he transgresses the limits set by Allah by adding something new to Islam (transgression is termed as Taghoot). In essence, such a person is following the religion of his forefathers or his peers for fear of social pressure and is not following Allah’s Deen. One must always be cautious about becoming a part of a Bidd’ah while considering it correct from an Islamic point of view. A Muslim should always abstain from endorsing or participating in a Bidd’ah as he faces the risk of relinquishing Allah’s Deen, and therefore, commits an unpardonable error. It is extremely important not only to stay away from Bidd’ah, but also to educate other Muslims about what constitutes Bidd’ah, because on the Day of Judgment, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will not be allowed to do Shifa’at of a Bidd’atis, and a barrier will appear between Hauz-e-Kauser (Tank of Kauthar) and the Bidd’atis, preventing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to request Allah for forgiveness of the innovator.

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 09, Book 88, Hadith 173] Narrated By 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "I am your predecessor at the Lake-Fount (Kauthar) and some men amongst you will be brought to me, and when I will try to hand them some water, they will be pulled away from me by force whereupon I will say, 'O Lord, my companions!' Then the Almighty will say, 'You do not know what they did after you left, they introduced new things into the religion after you.'"

Another Bidd’ah that is not only considered Islamic but is celebrated with religious fervor by millions of “Muslims” today is Eid Milad-un-Nabi. (This Eid is more of an identity-building measure adopted by Sunnis as against the Shia practice of commemorating 10th Muharram as a day of mourning for Hussain (RA), which represents the most significant event in the Shia calendar). The practice of celebrating Milad has gained popularity over the last decade or so due to the endorsement of the event at national level by the media. The companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who saw him, interacted with him, learnt from him and tried to follow his Sunnah in the most perfect way possible, enduring many hardships along the way, who felt pain and sadness on his death, never thought of celebrating his birthday. Why do the molvis of today- who have indulged in every poetic exaggeration possible about praising Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who proudly call themselves Aashiqaan-e-Rusool- exhibit such zeal in celebrating his birthday? Perhaps because of the food distributed by “Muslims” in the name of the Prophet (PBUH), a substantial portion of which goes to the mosques, or perhaps because of the free Umra tickets drawn for the audience, or perhaps because of the wages the molvis earn by reciting na’ats for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Recently, these Aashiqaan have started to shower the na’at-reciting molvis with 5 and 10 rupee notes. The whole event smacks of another money-earning gimmick of our greedy clergy. The food cooked for nabi kay sadaqay is haraam from Islamic point of view and cannot be consumed by Muslims. 10 The irony about these celebrations is that they actually commemorate Prophet Muhammad’s death day, and not his birthday. Historians quote 9th or 11th Rabi-ul-Awwal as the date of birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), with majority opinion leaning towards the 9th of Rabi-ul-Awwal; whereas their opinion is unanimous about 12 th Rabi-ul- Awwal being the date of death of Muhammad (PBUH).

Heresies and innovation in religion are so commonplace in “Muslim” societies today that those who abstain from Bidd’ah are actually considered to be “bad” Muslims. The reader must realize that the rejection of Bidd’ah (and Taghoot) is the first step towards “Emaan-e-Khalis”, which is a prerequisite of salvation on the Day of Reckoning.

It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book (this Quran). In it are Verses that are entirely clear; they are the foundations of the Book [and those are the Verses of Al-Ahkâm (commandments, etc.), Al-Farâ'id (obligatory duties) and Al- Hudud (legal laws for the punishment of thieves, adulterers, etc.)]; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth)

9 Also, Esaal-o-Sawaab (transfer of Sawaab of recitation of the Quran to the deceased) is not possible and is an erroneous belief. For detailed discussion, refer to page 42 of this article. 10 Refer to the topic “Nazar or Niaz” on page 47 of this article.

they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allâh. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord." And none receive admonition except men of understanding. [03:07]

"Let those beware who oppose the command of the Prophet, lest they are afflicted with fitnah (trial), or lest they are afflicted with a painful punishment." [24:63]

A detailed discussion about Taghoot follows next.

d) TAGHOOT

“Taghoot” or “Taghut” is derived from the verb “taghaa” (to transgress), and it means everything that has crossed or transgressed its limit.

The first thing Allah has obligated on the Son of Adam is to reject the Taghoots and believe in Allah. The proof for this is Allah’s saying: “And We have indeed sent to every nation a messenger (saying to his people):

‘Worship Allah alone and avoid the Taghoots (false deities)” [16:36]

So the first step towards Emaan is rejecting and disbelieving in the Taghoots, which include all things worshipped besides Allah, while being pleased with this worship. This means removing every (false) god that is worshipped besides Allah, such as a tree, a stone, the sun, the moon, an angel, a human,

a book and so on and so forth. These things have no right to be worshipped besides Allah, because they do not have any command over the affairs of the universe.

The next step after this rejection is the following of Islam sincerely for Allah alone, worshipping only Him, and affirming His right to be worshipped apart from all others. This obligation – disbelieving in the Taghoots and believing in Allah – is the reality of what is meant by Laa ilaaha il-Allah (There is no deity that has the right to be worshipped except Allah), for indeed it is first a negation and then an affirmation. It should be noted about the first Kalimah that the Arabic word “Laa” sets the tone in the definition of faith. The Kalimah starts by emphatically stating: there is NO ilah other than Allah. A Muslim must say NO to all other deities (ilah), whether human or otherwise, before worshipping Allah alone.

They (Christians and Jews) have taken their rabbis and priests as lords besides Allah, and the Messiah, son of Mary, although they were commanded to worship no one except the One Allah. There is no Deity but He, glory be to Him above what they associate with Him! [09:31]

'Adi bin Hatim, who had been a Christian before accepting Islam, once came to the Prophet (peace be on him). When he heard him reciting the above Ayah [9:31], he said, "O Messenger of Allah, but they do not worship them." The Prophet (peace be on him) replied, They certainly do. They prohibit to the people what is halal and permit them what is haram, and the people obey them. This is indeed their worship of them. (Reported and classified as Hasan by al-Tirmidhi and others.)

So whenever a Muslim allows someone other than Allah to dictate halal, haraam, right or wrong for him, he commits Shirk and cannot call himself a Muslim anymore. Similarly, anyone who consciously

repudiates any Quranic verse, or a commandment stated in the Sahih Hadith also transgresses the limits set by Allah and is not a Muslim anymore (recall that a Muslim submits to Allah’s will). This can be better explained through this example. Suppose a Muslim admits to the fact that praying five times

a day is a fard (obligation) and if he does not perform that duty, he commits a grave sin. On the other hand, take the example of a Muslim who does not say his prayers but he either invents a new way of praying (as against the tareeqah explained by Prophet Muhammad - PBUH), or he repudiates a Quranic verse by stating that prayers are not compulsory. Such a person is not a Muslim anymore.

Taghoot is a single word but it includes all such influences that compel us to go against the word of Allah. Taghoot includes the obvious pagan practices of worshipping fire or idols. But if we look deeper, Taghoot also includes Bidd’ah of our forefathers, which we have adopted blindly. (For instance, chanting verses on date pits at a funeral, or reciting the Quran and transferring the sawaab to the deceased). Taghoot also includes the practice of giving Nazar/Niaz in the name of anyone other than Allah, and considering it Islamic. It also includes the practice of celebrating Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s birthday (a significant ritual in the Sub-continent). Taghoot, thus, is any pir, molvi, electronic or print medium, practices borrowed from other cultures, Bidd’ah (innovation) of our forefathers that we have adopted over time, yet they contradict the Quran and the Sahih Hadith. By repudiating the word of Allah, can we then include ourselves in the Muslim Ummah?

Perhaps, the most understandable as well as obvious form of Taghoot is social pressure, the fear of “what will people say?” if we dare to abandon popular social practices that are expected of a “good” Pakistani Muslim. For instance, not observing the Chaleeswan (40 th day after a person’s death) is looked down upon by the entire community. Wedding traditions borrowed from Hindus, showing reverence to so-called pirs and Sufis, praying to a grave, are all manifestations of the Taghoots that have quiet deliberately created a new Islam for South Asia. The latest and most famous Taghoot on the horizon is Pervez Musharraf’s form of “moderate or liberal” Islam that is eating up even the basic tenets of Islam as revealed in the Quran.

The word Taghoot is mentioned in the Quran in quite a few verses. Some relevant verses are given below:

Quranic Reference

[Al-Baqara, 02:256] There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghoot and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

[Al-Baqara, 02:257] Allah is the Walî (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliyâ (supporters and helpers) are Taghoot [false deities and false leaders, etc.], they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.

[Al-Nisa, 04:51] Have you not seen those who were given a portion of the Scripture (book)? They believe in Jibt (superstition) and Taghoot and say to the disbelievers that they are better guided as regards the way than the believers (Muslims).

[Al-Nisa, 04:60] Have you seen those (hyprocrites) who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the Taghoot (false judges, etc.) while they have been ordered to reject them. But Satan wishes to lead them far astray.

[Al-Nisa, 04:76] Those who believe, fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghoot (Satan, etc.). So fight you against the friends of Shaitân (Satan); Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Satan.

[Al-Nahl, 16:36] And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghoot (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghoott besides Allah)." Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).

[Az-Zumar, 39:17] Those who avoid At-Taghoot (false deities) by not worshipping them and turn to Allah in repentance, for them are glad tidings; so announce the good news to My slaves

i.

Rejection of Taghoot (The difference between Emaan and Kufr)

Why has Allah stressed the importance of rejecting Taghoot? The definition of Emaan or Aqeeda is incomplete until a person worships Allah alone, and rejects all other influences that are his Ilah. We are not overemphasizing this fact by stating repeatedly that we are NOT Muslims until and unless we reject Taghoot in all its manifestations. One can aspire to the status of only a weak Muslim if he

recognizes Taghoot for what it is, does not become a part of it but at the same time lacks the courage

to openly fight against it.

By reading the definition and the above-mentioned references from Quran, it becomes evident that the true Emaan for a Muslim is not complete without the rejection of all types and categories of Taghoot. That is because only after the rejection and repudiation of Taghoot comes the acceptance of the Oneness and sole authoritativeness of Allah. This is called true Emaan. The concept of Emaan can

be viewed as a spectrum, or a scale from one to ten, with a score of 1 assigned to a weak Muslim (but

a Muslim nonetheless), and 10 assigned to a very pious Muslim, or a Momin. Those Muslims, who

possess Emaan yet do not have the courage to fight against Taghoot either verbally or through physical might, but consider evil to be evil in their hearts alone, lie somewhere near 1. Those Muslims who fight against Taghoot and endure hardships along the way, can be rated somewhere near 10. Shirk, on the other hand, does not have different shadings like the spectrum of white light. Neither can Shirk be scored on a relative scale from 1 to 10. Shirk is “Zulm-e-Azeem”, whether partners are associated in Allah’s being, His attributes or His right to be worshipped. One either commits Shirk, or he doesn’t. There is no such thing as weak Shirk, or strong Shirk. In any form, Shirk is unpardonable.

Therefore, a Muslim must always be conscious (and cautious) of the oft-encountered trap of Shirk and must abstain from associating partners with Allah in all circumstances. He must also be aware of Taghoot and must dis-associate himself from any practice, Bidd’ah or ritual, which is part of Taghoot. If Bidd’atis (innovators) chant the second Kalima during the funeral procession, then a Muslim must not only abstain from the chanting but also advise other people to refrain from this practice. This takes us back to the discussion of Taghoot and our emphasis on repudiating all false deities. Rejection of Taghoot is thus the “necessary” condition of entering the realm of Islam. Taghoot and Islam cannot co-exist, as being part of Taghoot takes us OUT of the realm of Islam, and once we are outside the boundaries of Islam (that is, we have transgressed the limits set by Allah) we cannot call ourselves Muslims anymore. A simple example can make the fine line between Emaan and Kufr clear. If any Muslim woman does not observe Pardah, yet she knows in her heart and admits to the fact that she is ignoring Allah’s commandment and is committing a sin by doing so, then she will be punished for that sin. However, such a person will still be a Muslim, maybe a low scoring ‘1’ on our Emaan scale. On the other hand, if a woman does not observe Pardah, but also calls it outdated, or backward, or stresses that this particular Islamic injunction is not applicable to present times, then she repudiates the verses of the Quran making Pardah a fard (obligation) on Muslim women. And by negating the word of Allah, she automatically gets expelled from the religion of Islam and becomes part of Taghoot. This particular belief of hers, and her consequent non-observance of Pardah, is not a sin anymore. It is now Kufr (while she herself is not a Muslim anymore but a part of Taghoot). This is precisely the reason why President Pervez Musharraf, who calls Pardah backward, and who has invented a new “liberal Islam” in many other ways is Taghoot, and all his personal statements pertaining to religion must be rejected.

ii. Revered Muslim Scholars and Rejection of Taghoot

There are many revered Muslim scholars all over the world who have excellent command over religious jurisprudence and can give the recommended solution to the peripheral, or day-to-day issues that we encounter frequently. For instance, we can easily find a scholar who can guide us correctly regarding the finer points of divorce, child custody, inheritance and other issues. Yet the topics of Emaan, Taghoot and Shirk, which collectively make up the foundation of Islam, are rarely touched upon. That is so due to the following factors:

All of us take it for granted that we understand the definition of a Muslim, and consider ourselves Muslims. Therefore, we almost always busy ourselves with issues that become relevant only after we come under the heading of “Muslim”.

We do not have the courage to denounce those so-called Islamic sects (or schools of thought), which are in obvious contradiction with the teachings of the Quran and Sahih Hadith.

Many Muslim scholars do not have the courage to risk offending different sects and consequently lose the respect, admiration and reverence of their fans.

One particular scholar, though he has authority over Tafseer of the Quran, gives a very ambiguous and confusing definition of Shirk. The psychology term “id” refers to the natural instincts/urges in humans, like thirst and hunger. Our id is inherently hedonistic in nature. When a person hesitates in leaving his warm bed for morning prayers, his id “tempts” him to choose the warm bed over duty. The human conscience (or super ego) prods him towards duty, and is responsible for the feelings of guilt if that person chooses the pleasure of sleep over prayer. According to this scholar, obeying our Nafs (id) is also Shirk, as we let our id have precedence over an order given by Allah. We disagree with this interpretation of Shirk. Islam recognizes the duality in human nature. Our bodies, by default, are hedonistic and fall for temptation. Our soul (or super ego/conscience) is inherently pure. This struggle between the id and super ego itself is what Siraat-e-Mustaqeem is all about. When our conscience wins, we obviously experience no feelings of guilt and obey Allah’s command. This duality is in all of us, and by succumbing to our id, we do not commit Shirk. Rather, we exhibit what is called “human weakness”.

The other problem with the philosophy of the Ulema of similar standing is their notion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s persona. According to many sects, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a human and an embodiment of light at the same time. Some believe him to be the first creation 11 of Allah and that the entire Universe (even the tiniest pebble) was created with the “noor” (light) of the Prophet (PBUH). Certain sub-sects of Sunnis, who are slightly more educated, are against the belief of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being “noor”; yet they believe that after his death, his soul was reunited with his body inside his grave in Medina, so that he could work as an “inter-mediator” (Waseela) for his Ummah, interceding on its behalf with Allah. The most corrupted form of this belief has extended the idea of the Prophet (PBUH) being alive in his grave to different aulia and Sufis, who are also thought to be alive in their graves and can also act as intercessors. Whereas the influence of Hinduism in this regard cannot be ignored, the famous Sufis of the Sub-continent are directly responsible for engendering this belief. The human psyche craves an object of worship that is tangible and visible. This particular craving has been satisfied by clinging to the belief that all Sufis and aulia, who are alive in their graves just like the Prophet (PBUH), can intercede with Allah on behalf of their supplicants (or grave worshippers who bring their prayers to the shrines of these people). The followers of this school of thought have thus found a tangible object to worship, whether that is in the form of the grave of a local wali, or the grave of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina.

The Quran makes use of the word “noor” metaphorically. “Noor” is seen as the “light“ of Truth effectively diminishing the “darkness” of ignorance/kufr. Quran calls itself Noor because it brings hidayat to its readers. However, our scholars today take the word “noor” literally, and thus fail to categorically refute the idea that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a “noorani” being. Therefore, they end up mollifying all the different beliefs held by all the sects in Pakistan and abroad. The telltale sign of their popularity is, of course, the hoards of people who speak of their great command over religion. Yet they too never elaborate on the concept of Taghoot, or that believing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be made of light (God forbid) is a falsehood and negation of many verses of the Quran as well as Sahih Hadith.

Another famous scholar, although a learned man, also does not denounce different sects and calls the Shia-Sunni difference to be only a political one and not a religious one. Whereas we stress that the Shia-Sunni issue is a matter of BELIEF/Aqeeda. Two entirely different beliefs about the same thing cannot both be correct. In addition, this scholar too, has never issued a statement regarding Taghoot and the fact that different sects cannot all be correct at the same time. He emphasizes on comparative religion, rather than correcting the beliefs of the existing “Muslim” lot first. In the light of Surah Asr, shouldn’t his first responsibility be to interpret the true Aqeeda for himself and then spread it to different so-called Muslim sects? Therefore, his sermons also lack the force of rejection of Taghoot. In

11 Why have we used the word “creation” for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), instead of the word “human”? Because when cornered, the proponents of this school of thought revert to the verses of the Quran mentioning the creation of Adam (AS) as the first “human.” According to them, the “noor” of the last Prophet (PBUH) was thus the first “creation” of Allah and each and every object in the universe inherently contains some of this “noor.” This concept has been borrowed from the Christian doctrine of Trinity. Refer to detailed discussion on page 25 of this article.

our opinion, almost all of today’s scholars lack the courage to preach the correct definition of Emaan, Shirk and rejection of Taghoot, because they are certain of the fact that the day they denounce the beliefs of these sects, they will certainly lose all their fan-following and will be ostracized by the entire community.

SECTION III:

The Difference of Opinion Regarding Aqeeda (Belief System)

After going through the above discussion, the readers will now be better able to judge the following concepts held in common by all existent “Muslim” sects:

a) Majority of the sects/firqas in Pakistan believe either in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be made of Noor, an embodiment of light, or that he is alive in his grave in Medina.

b) That the spirits (Ruh) are ruturned to the bodies in their respective graves on this earth and the dead can hear our supplications.

c) Waseela (intercession by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) only to Muslims). That believing in the intercession by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in this world is an “Islamic” belief.

d) That the earnings of a professional molvi are perfectly legitimate as he gets a salary for the “precious time” he devotes towards spreading Allah’s message.

The reason for including these issues under the heading of “Aqeeda” is that belief in any of the above- mentioned concepts constitutes Shirk or Taghoot and is an unpardonable sin. It is of critical importance to expel such beliefs from our thoughts and our actions; otherwise we will be committing Shirk in Allah’s divine being, His right to be worshipped (alone) and His right to directly hear and address our prayers.

a) DIVIDING ISLAM INTO SECTS

We have discussed the views and beliefs of different sects/maslaks/groups in this article. These sects are supposed to represent different schools of thought or doctrines within Islam. The division of Islam into different sects is the major reason behind the disagreements and sectarian conflict that have plagued the Muslim Ummah for centuries. The tragedy is that all “Muslims” universally accept the presence of all these sects. Moreover, “Muslims” proudly identify themselves with these different sects in order to establish their identity. All this is taking place despite the fact that many ayahs of the Quran denounce the division of Islam into different sects.

“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you have no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.” [06:159]

“Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty“ [03:105]

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.” [03:103]

[Tirmidhi - Kitabul Emaan – Abud Dawud, Volume 03, Hadith 4580] Abdullah bin Amar (RA) relates that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Surely things will happen to my people as happened earlier to Israelites, they will resemble each other like one shoe in a pair resembles the other to the extent that if anyone among the Israelites has openly committed adultery to his mother there will be some who will do this in my Ummah as well, verily the Israelites were divided into 72 sections but my people will be divided into 73 sections, all of them will be in the fire except one." The companions asked, 'Who are they O Messenger of Allah,' Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, "They are those who will be like me and my companions."

Some people take the above Hadith as an excuse for making sects while it is meant as a warning. The Prophet (PBUH) has clearly said that only those Muslims who will be like him and his companions (RA) will enter paradise. Since the Prophet (PBUH) and all his companions (RA) did not follow any sect and called themselves Muslims, therefore, the 73rd sect actually refers to the true Muslims who will always follow the original teachings of Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s Sunnah.

Fiqah

Fiqah is actually the personal opinion of one or more scholars or imams regarding the Quran and Sunnah. Whatever those scholars understood through the Quran and Sahih Hadith about the matters of Islamic Shari’at would be their personal view or Ijtihad. While this in itself is not a problem (unless the Quranic ayahs and Ahadeeth are deliberately misinterpreted to justify a wrong stance), the situation takes a turn for the worse if the writings of a scholar influence his readers so much that they start to follow his school of thought without questioning or without consulting Quran and Sahih Hadith.

In this respect, we disagree with restricting ourselves to following only one particular fiqah or school of thought. Imam Shafaee (RA), one of the most eminent scholars of Islam, has adivsed all Muslims to follow only those rulings of a particular fiqah that conform to the Quran and Sahih Hadith and reject any ruling if the reader finds it in contradiction with the Quran or Sahih Hadith.

“If I say something, then compare it to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His messenger and if it agrees to them, then accept it and that which goes against them, then reject it and throw my saying against the wall” 12

Therefore, all Muslims should have indepth knowledge of the different fiqahs, and should only follow those rulings from these fiqahs, which they find in harmony with the teachings of the Quran and Sahih Hadith. For instance, declaring that only the fiqah of Imam Abu Hanifa is correct while all other fiqahs are wrong is a flawed statement. It is possible that Imam Shafaee or Imam Malik may have brought a better interpretation of a particular act of or saying of the Prophet (PBUH).

Why did the need for a fiqah arise and why does Islam allow Ijtihad? The reason lies in the fact that human progress is a natural and continuing phenomenon. Due to the needs of changing time, the applicability of certain religious rulings needs to be checked. For example, can a Muslim watch TV or use the Internet or communicate through telephone? This is precisely the reason why a hundred years after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s death, social changes and human progress necessitated the need for a fiqah. What is important to note is that a Muslim should resort to the rulings of a scholar’s fiqah only if thorough research of the Quran, then Sahih Hadith and then Consensus (Ijma) of Sahaba (RA) does not yield a conclusive finding. Secondly, Islam is a religion that recognizes the dynamics of human progress and social changes over time. The reason why Islam remains applicable till the day of Qayamah is that it allows logical inference (Ijtihad) on issues about which the Quran and Sahih Hadith are silent or have given only a few guidelines. However, it must be emphasized that Ijtihad can be done only in peripheral or minor issues, as stated earlier in this article. Even then, only that Ijtihad is valid, which is not contradictory to the Quran and Sahih Hadith.

The problem with the so-called Muslims of today is that they rigidly adhere to the fiqah of a particular scholar and blindly follow his rulings without questioning their validity in accordance with the Quran and Sahih Hadith. This is obviously more convenient than reading the Quran and Sahih Hadith on their own. In addition, the fear of social pressure has lead people to adopt many practices just because they are popular among the masses and are considered to be Islamic.

For instance, Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) never wrote his Fiqah; it was actually written down by two of his students, Imam Abu Yousuf and Imam Muhammad, years after his death. His students had some disagreements between themselves but those were about peripheral issues and not about matters relating to Emaan. Quite recently, many scholars like Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi have attributed falsehoods to the basic belief system of Islam and a sub-sect of Hanafis has followed him blindly. What the reader must understand is that it is the Aqeeda of the Hanafis of today, which is incorrect because they have chosen to leave the actual teachings of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) and follow scholars like Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi who taught the false belief of the Prophet (PBUH) being made of Noor, life in graves and intermediation etc. This particular sect is called “Barelvi”, which is the sub-sect of Ahl-e-Sunnah wal Jamaat, the largest sect present in the sub-continent today and they do not follow the actual teaching and Aqeeda of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA).

Imam Shafaee (RA) and Imam Malik (RA) do not have significant following in Pakistan. However, millions around the globe follow the teachings of the fourth Imam, Ahmed bin Humbal. Regrettably,

12 This is a saying of Imam Shafaee, taken from Al-Majmoo’ of an-Nawawee (1/63).

along with Sahih Ahadeeth, Ahmed bin Humbal has also brought many fake and fabricated Ahadeeth in his book Masnad Ahmed. Many of these Ahadeeth are in stark contrast with either Quranic verses or with other authentic Ahadeeth. These Ahadeeth have done the same damage to the beliefs of the blind-followers of Humbali school of thought and have lead them to have faith in more or less the same beliefs as of the Hanafis. Therefore, if a reader is quoted a Hadith by someone, he should first verify whether the Hadith is authentic or not. All Sahih Bukhari Ahadeeth are considered authentic, however, the book is silent on certain subjects. In that case, if another book is consulted, the reader must verify the authenticity of the Hadith before choosing to believe in it.

Sadly, Imam Shafaee’s sound advice has been forgotten, and any scholar, who is an expert at rhetoric, easily finds many followers of his own interpretations of the Quran and Hadith. With the passage of time, Muslims have started to attach more importance to the sayings of their elders/Ulema/scholars/forefathers etc. even in the matters of belief, without even bothering to confirm their interpretations through Quran and Sahih Hadith. Now a days, it is of secondary importance for Muslims to confirm if such beliefs were actually taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or followed by his Sahaba (RA). At times, Quranic verses and Ahadeeth are deliberately misinterpreted to find justification of erroneous or Shirk-based beliefs. A case in point is the notion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being Noor, which will presently be discussed in detail. In actuality, we must not harbor a belief different from the one taught and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions (RA) because confusions regarding matters of belief as well as correct Islamic behavior have been settled centuries ago.

In this day and age, when Muslims are being continuously humiliated at the hands of more advanced civilizations, our scholars are more concerned about peripheral issues and heresies, on which all sects are in disagreement. These sects have not even been able to agree on one correct way of saying Salat, let alone other issues. In many instances, “Muslims” prefer the interpretations of their scholars to the Quranic rulings on a matter. In the same case of Salat, about which we find detailed Sahih Hadith chapters, if a scholar gives a ruling, that ruling is adopted without confirming it from Hadith.

The ONLY solution to these problems lies in our firm belief in the fact that there is no room for sects in Islam; that the fiqah of a scholar should be adopted only if the 3 sources of Islamic knowledge (that is the Quran, Sahih Hadith and Ijma-e-Sahaba) are silent on a subject, on the condition that a fiqah does not contradict the Quran and Sunnah; that the title of “Muslim” should be enough for us as this is what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions used to call themselves. We will be individually responsible to Allah for our own beliefs and deeds. It is a personal obligation on ALL of us to read, understand and apply the teachings of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in our lives. And most importantly, ignorance will not be an excuse for forgiveness on the Day of Judgment and we will not be allowed to shift the blame of our bad deeds or beliefs (if any) to the scholars of our time, as Allah will also judge them for their own deeds and beliefs.

b) WAS PROPHET MUHAMMAD (PBUH) CREATED WITH NOOR?

“The Muslims had arrived in India as conquerors. They saw their religion as infinitely superior to that of the idol-worshipping Hindus and Buddhists. The bulk of Indian Muslims were nonetheless converts: some forced and others voluntary, seeking escape, in Kashmir and Bengal especially, from the rigors of the caste system. Thus, despite itself, Islam in India, as in coastal Africa, China and the Indonesian archipelago, was affected by local religious practices. Muslim saints were worshipped like Hindu gods. Holy men and ascetics were incorporated into Indian Islam. Prophet Muhammad came to be regarded as a divinity……The Koran expressly disavows necromancy, magic and omens, and yet these superstitions remain a strong part of Sub-continental Islam. Many Muslim political leaders still have favorite astrologers and soothsayers.” 13

13 The Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali, pp. 227.

“One of the divine names of the Koran is an-Nur, the Light…An-Nur, the Light, is not God himself, therefore, but refers to the enlightenment which he bestows on a particular revelation which shines in the heart of an individual.” 14

The above-mentioned view on the divinization of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is of a famous historian, Tariq Ali, who is an atheist. While the concept of the holy Quran being Noor has been beautifully elaborated by Karen Armstrong, an ex-nun. Why is it then that our holy men and ulema have failed to see the obvious? Why is it that the Barelvis, and the Shiites desperately cling to the idea that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was Noor? (Shiites extend this further to Ali (RA), declaring him to be God Incarnate). Where did this concept come from?

Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact influence, and the exact timing of the emergence of this concept, history does provide certain facts. The striking similarity between this perception of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the Christian perception of Jesus (AS) leads one to wonder if it was the ingenuity of a mullah or a Sufi to deliberately use the Christian template and apply the same concept of creation to Muhammad (PBUH). An explanation is necessary in this regard. If we look back at Christian history and try to discover the origins of the doctrine of Trinity, which is central to Christianity, we find out that a large gathering of bishops at Nicaea on 20 May 325 A.D. had taken place in order to develop an official creed for Christians. The Christian clergy had for centuries been plagued by the idea of correctly defining the person of Jesus (AS).

The official creed signed by the delegates at Nicaea, Italy is stated below:

We believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of all things, visible and invisible, And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, The Son of God, The only-begotten of the Father, That is, of the substance of the Father, God from God, Light from light, True God from true God, Begotten not made, Of one substance with the Father, Through whom all things were made, Those things that are in heaven and Those things that are on earth, Who for us men and our salvation, Came down and was made man, Suffered, Rose again on the third day, Ascended into the heavens And will come To judge the living and the dead. And we believe in the Holy Spirit.

If the reader will notice the highlighted section of this creed, he will stumble upon the exact belief that we hear today from “Muslims” who believe Muhammad (PBUH) or Ali (RA) to be Noor. The idea of God being light is an ancient one and central to Christian belief. Many “Muslims” today are also in the habit of imagining the persona of God as ineffable light. However, what is more striking is the concept that “through him all things were made.” In other words, God’s light was somehow transferred to Jesus (AS), and from the light of Jesus (AS), all creation (on heavens and earth) took place. This is exactly the same concept held dear by the Barelvi (a sub-sect of Sunnis), Shia and Sufi sect today. They all believe in a fake (mozoo) Hadith that states:

14 A History of God by Karen Armstrong, pp. 176.

It is related that Jabir ibn Abdullah said to the Prophet: "O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, tell me of the first thing Allah created before all things." He said: "O Jabir, the first thing Allah created was the light of your Prophet from His light, and that light remained (lit. "turned") in the midst of His Power for as long as He wished and there was not, at that time, a Tablet or a Pen or a Paradise or a Fire or an Angel or a Heaven or an Earth. And when Allah wished to create creation, he divided that Light into four parts and from the first made the Pen, from the second the Tablet, from the third the Throne, [and from the fourth everything else]."

Scholars belonging to this school of thought regard Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be the absolutely first creation into which God imparted His own Noor. From Prophet Muhammad’s Noor, then, all other objects and beings in the heavens and the earth were created. All humans today, therefore, share some part of this original Noor. Based on this premise, the Sufi school of thought considers it possible to ascend the ladder back to Allah, and finally become one with the original Light of Allah. According to Sufism, the reason why it is possible to do so is because all of us, in essence, are a part of the Creator, and our souls have an inherent divine element 15 .

The concept of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being Noor is thus self-serving for certain “Islamic” sects. It helps in the deification of the Prophet (PBUH) so we could all consider him divine and worthy of some sort of worship; thus, the slogan of “Ya Rasool Allah madad (Save us, O’ Prophet).” This concept also makes it possible to imagine the Prophet (PBUH) as alive and attentive (in his grave), to the Durood-o-Salaam offered to him. An important point is that the only proper and most recommended Durood that was taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is “Durood-e-Ibrahimi” (also recited during Salat). The Durood starts with the words: Allah-humma. That is, the Durood is addressed to Allah, and the reciter requests Allah to bless Muhammad (PBUH) and his family, the way He blessed Ibrahim (AS) and his family. Yet many sects (including Ahl-e-Hadith) believe that the Durood (if recited far away from Medina) is taken by angels and offered directly to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his grave in Medina. Prophet Muhammad’s spirit is returned to his body so that he can hear the Durood, and reply to it himself, especially when the Durood is recited while standing next to his grave. First of all, how can the Durood, which is addressed to Allah, be taken to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for a reply? Secondly, why would Allah put his beloved Prophet’s soul to such discomfort, and repeatedly return it to his body while a Durood is recited every passing second in some corner of the world?

In retrospect, it then becomes clear why many sects today believe Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be alive in his grave in Medina (a la Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi) and why so many Muslims consider it an obligation to visit the shrine of the Prophet (PBUH) and beg him to intercede with Allah on their behalf. Believing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be Noor makes him remote and aloof, and therefore, divine and worthy of worship. The belief in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being alive today gives “Muslims” a straw to cling to: that they will forever have Allah’s beloved Prophet as an intercessor on their behalf. Yet again, this is a move towards convenient salvation. The danger in this philosophy has been overlooked for centuries: such a concept is pure Shirk and is an unpardonable sin.

What does the Quran have to say on this topic? First of all, we must clarify that Allah is NOT Noor. Rather, Noor is a creation of Allah. As the Quran states that Allah is an ineffable reality and human language cannot produce an adequate parable, therefore, there is no mithaal (example) of what Allah is like. Hence, the Creator (Allah) and the creation (light) cannot be one and the same. If Allah is not Noor, what then is the guiding light that is frequently mentioned in the Quran? Surprisingly an ex-nun, Karen Armstrong has already given the answer to this question. Let us now provide adequate proof from the Quran itself:

Praise be Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light. Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal, with their Guardian- Lord. [06:01]

“Surely We revealed the Taurat in which was guidance and light” [05:44]

“and We gave him (Isa) the Injeel in which was guidance and light” [05:46]

15 Refer to the basic tenets of Sufism on page 53 of this article.

Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Taghoots who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide. [02:257]

"And thus did We reveal to you an inspired book (Quran) by Our command. You did not know what the Book was, nor (what) the faith (was), but We made it a light, guiding thereby whom We please of Our servants; and most surely you show the way to the right path: [42:52]

Noor, therefore, is a word used by the Quran to either denote guidance, true knowledge or Emaan (as an antonym to the darkness of Kufr). Noor has also been used as a “parable” to describe the omnipresence of Allah and the fact that He is the source of all guidance (in Surah Noor, 24:35). The blind followers of different sects, who instead of reading Quran and Hadith themselves, conveniently rely on the sayings and interpretations of their leaders, have taken these ayahs literally, claiming that Allah Himself or some of His creations among humans such as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and/or other pious people are made of Noor.

The Shia contribution in this regard cannot be ignored. They extended the concept of Ali (RA) being Noor to their Imams, who are supposed to be divine as well. In their enthusiasm for the person of Ali (RA), they elevated him and his descendents to a position above that of Muhammad (PBUH). Shiites gave Ali (RA) and their Imams a near-divine status. The origins of this concept lie in ancient Persian paganism:

“The Shias, however, gradually evolved ideas that seemed even closer to Christian incarnation 16 …(Regarding the divinity of Ali and the Imams) They (Shias) were drawing on ancient Persian tradition of a chosen god-begotten family which transmitted the divine glory from one generation to another.” 17

Followers of different sects quote the following ayah to prove their claim that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was made of Noor:

"There has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah" [05:15]

While developing this interpretation, they are acquiescing to the same tendency that was exhibited by the Mushrikeen of Mecca, who were only willing to accept a prophet who was a supernatural being, perhaps an angel. They found it difficult to understand that a prophet could be of the same substance of creation (clay) as are other human beings; that a prophet could eat, sleep, work and get tired.

And they say: "What sort of a messenger is this, who eats food, and walks through the streets? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give admonition with him?

[25:07]

Allah could easily have appointed an angel as a prophet, but human beings could have simply raised one objection and refused to follow his sunnah: “how can we, mere mortal and flawed humans, follow the perfect path of a supernatural prophet?” Since Allah wanted us to believe that we can all follow the Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, He appointed a human being like us as prophet.

Say: Had there been in the earth angels walking about as settlers, We would certainly have sent down to them from the heaven an angel as a messenger. [17:95]

Was the Prophet (PBUH) made of Noor then? This is what the Quran has to say on the subject:

Therefore believe in Allah AND His Messenger AND the Light, which We have revealed; and Allah is Aware of what you do. [64:08]

From the above verse, we learn that it is the Quran that is addressed as noor/light/hidayat. Yet another ayah of Quran makes it even more apparent:

16 Shias believe Ali (RA) to be God Incarnate, analogous to the Christian belief about Jesus. 17 A History of God by Karen Armstrong, pp.189.

“Those who follow the Messenger-Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Taurat and the Injeel (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful.” [07:157]

The light or Hidayat sent down with the Prophet was the Quran, the guiding book that can help us all attain salvation. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and all other messengers of Allah, were human beings like us, given to the same physical limitations that all human beings have:

“And We have not sent before you but men (as messengers) from (among) the people of the towns, to whom We sent revelations. [12:109] & [16:43]

“Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.” [21:7-8]

And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O' Muhammad), then if you die, would they live forever? [21:34]

Say (O' Muhammad): "I am only a man like yourselves; it is revealed to me that your god is one Allah, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join any one in the service of his Lord.” [18:110 and 41:06]

Say: I do not say to you, I have with me the treasures of Allah, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel; I do not follow aught save that which is revealed to me. Say: Are the blind and the seeing one alike? Do you not then reflect? [06:50]

Can we then consider Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a personification of Noor? Does Noor sweat, has forefathers, parents, gets married and has children? Does Noor get tired and old? Does Noor feel hungry, gets hurt and bleeds? Is Noor given a bath with water after death? Is Noor buried? The more resourceful learned minds have come up with another solution if presented with strong arguments against the case of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being Noor. They stress that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was actually Noor but in the disguise of a human. They have coined the term libada-e- bashariat. So at times he was bashar (human), given to human weaknesses, while at other times he was Noor. While receiving divine revelation, he was in libada-e-nooraniat. Human innovation knows no ends. No wonder the Quran states heresies as the worst of bad deeds. Legend has it that the more famous of the pious Sufi saints could also exhibit a certain duality: at times they were purely human, at times divine (when they were one with Allah). If the Prophet’s persona was dichotomous, then how can we, purely human as we are, ever aspire to please Allah by following the Prophet’s Sunnah? How can we, 14 centuries later, distinguish between the Prophet’s acts as Noor and his acts as a human?

And We have not sent you (O’ Muhammad) but as a giver of good news and as a warner. [25:56]

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the best among the best of humans. His entire life had a purpose: we are to learn from his teachings and his deeds and try to apply them in our daily lives. The teachings of the Quran are simple and straightforward and have been adequately explained by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through his words and deeds. Therefore, instead of worrying about the physical make up of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), we should be more concerned about applying his teachings to our day- to-day affairs. Moreover, the Quran has laid to rest any debate about the person of Muhammad (PBUH) by repeatedly stating the he was a human: a man and a messenger of Allah.

c)

THE CONCEPT OF THE DEAD BEING ALIVE IN THEIR EARTHLY GRAVES

And they ask you (O’ Muhammad) concerning the Ruh (the Spirit); Say: "The Ruh: it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little." [17:85]

We are living in Aalam-e-Duniya. ALL humans (whether good or bad), after death, are sent to a place, which is a barrier or partition called, “AALAM-e-BARZAKH” and they shall be raised only on the Day of Resurrection 18 .

“and before them is a barrier (Barzakh) until the day they are raised.” [23:100]

It is evident that return of RUH (soul) in the dead-body (in the earthly grave) before the Day of Resurrection is against the Quran. The souls of all humans will experience Barzakh. All good people, including martyrs, messengers and prophets are blessed in Barzakh. Similarly, all bad people are tormented in Barzakh as a forerunner to eternal punishment in hell. This torment is called Azaab-e- Qabar or Azaab-e-Barzakh. Therefore, it should be understood that in this context, ‘grave’ does not stand for the ‘ditch’ dug in this earth, in which we bury the dead. Rather, “grave” refers to the life AFTER death and BEFORE the Judgment Day, namely Barzakh.

The life of Barzakh is neither identical to the life in this world, nor is it like life in the Hereafter. This we cannot fully comprehend like most other matters regarding life after death and the Hereafter. We only know through Sahih Hadith that the deceased experience a different kind of life and are rewarded or punished by Allah in Barzakh. It must be understood that all Ahadeeth must be analyzed in the light of Quran and should only be accepted if found in conformity with the Quranic information on the subject.

The Holy Quran itself has made it clear that we do not and cannot comprehend this world of souls and it has not provided extensive information on the subject. The Quran says:

And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, (they are) alive but you do not perceive [02:154]

The question is, CAN we PERCEIVE something about which Allah says “YOU DO NOT”?

There’s another ayah in Quran about martyrs which says:

"Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding "

their sustenance in the presence of their Lord

[03:169]

To understand this ayah we have to refer to Sahih Hadith given below:

[Sahih Muslim - Book 020, Hadith 4651] It has been narrated on the authority of Masruq who said: We asked 'Abdullah about the Quranic verse: "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they "

are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord

We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said: The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice.

When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). They said: O Lord, we wish that Thou mayest return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Thy way once again. When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven).

(3:169). He said:

18 Which means that the soul and the body will be re-united on the Day of Resurrection. Till then all souls will experience either torment or bliss in Barzakh (also called Azaab-e-Qabar or Rahat-e-Qabar).

This hadith proves that martyrs are given new, Barzakhi bodies that can fly and they live happily in Jannah (not graves on this earth!). Allah talks to them and keeps asking for anything they desire but when the martyrs say that they wish to be returned back into their bodies so they can again die for Him, He does not change His Will for them 19 and leaves them to enjoy in Paradise.

Both the above-mentioned ayahs [02:154 and 03:169] are often quoted as proof of life in graves. First of all, both these ayahs are about martyrs (shaheeds) and cannot be applied to all humans and/or messengers of Allah, as many died natural deaths, including our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

As for martyrs, Bukhari also brought a hadith to prove that they are in Jannah:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 64] Narrated Anas bin Malik: The mother of Hartha bin Suraqa came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Prophet! Will you tell me about Hartha?" Hartha has been killed (martyred) on the day of Badr with an arrow thrown by an unidentified person. She added, "If he is in Paradise, I will be patient; otherwise, I will weep bitterly for him." He said, "O mother of Hartha! There are Gardens in Paradise and your son got the Firdausal-ala (i.e. the best place in Paradise)."

Thus, both Quran and Sahih Hadith prove that martyrs are in Paradise and not in their earthly graves. Apart from martyrs there is another Hadith concerning the son of the Prophet (PBUH), Ibrahim (R.A):

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 2, Book 23, Number 464] Narrated Al-Bara': When Ibrahim (the son of Prophet) expired, Allah's Apostle said, "There is a wet-nurse for him in Paradise."

Next come ALL the other dead humans, including all messengers of Allah. For this we have to refer to another Sahih Hadith (copied on Page 34 of this article) brought by Bukhari (Sahih Bukhari – Volume 02, Book 23, No. 468). This Hadith tells us that all good or bad people, including Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are alive in Barzakh and not in their graves. The Hadith also tells us that during his lifetime, the Prophet (PBUH) was shown his place after death and now, after his death, he is alive in the highest and most exalted house in Jannah (Maqam-e-Waseela) and NOT in his grave in Medina!

It is obvious from both the Quran and Sahih Hadith that the real “grave” for each and every human is in Barzakh and not on this earth. We all know that humans experience different types of death. Some are burnt alive, some are blown to pieces in bomb blasts, some die in plane crashes, car accidents or other natural disasters and some are even eaten alive by animals. We also know that different religions advocate different ways of disposing off dead bodies. For instance, Hindus burn their dead and throw their ashes in the Ganges, while Parsees (Zoroastrians) believe that letting vultures and other birds eat a dead body is a more respectable way of giving it back to nature. Logically speaking, many humans never even get a grave for burial, then what does Allah mean when He says in the Quran that every human that dies is given a “grave”:

Cursed be man! How ungrateful is he! Of what thing did He create him? Of a small seed; He created him, then He made him according to a measure, Then (as for) the way-- He has made it easy (for him) Then He causes him to die, then assigns to him a grave, Then when He pleases, He will raise him to life again. [80: 17 to 22]

It is quite obvious that victims of all the abovementioned incidents, who do not find graves on earth, are given graves in Barzakh, where they experience torment or bliss, depending on their Aqeeda, as well as their deeds. Therefore, any one with a rational mind will find it difficult to believe in life in earthly graves. Another proof of the concept that graves are assigned to all humans in Barzakh is found in the incident of Pharaoh and his companions, as narrated by the Quran:

19 In other words, Allah never sends back the soul of a dead person, good or bad, back into the world of the living.

“And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and transgression, till, when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: I believe that there is no Allah save Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender (unto Him). What! now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers. But We will this day deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to those after you, and most surely the majority of the people are heedless to Our communications.” [10: 90 to 92]

“So Allah protected him from the evil (consequences) of what they planned, and the most evil punishment overtook Pharaoh's people: The fire; they shall be brought before it (every) morning and evening and on the day when the hour shall come to pass: Make Pharaoh's people enter the severest chastisement.” [40: 45-46]

Allah says in the Quran that Pharaoh and his companions are being tormented day and night and this torment will become more severe after Qayamah. So the question is, where are all these people being tormented when we know that the bodies of Pharaoh and many of his companions have been preserved in the form of mummies and are currently in Egypt, where every one can see them? They are indeed being punished in Barzakh. Let us take a look at another Sahih Hadith on this subject:

[Sahih Muslim - Book 004, Number 2026] Hisham b. 'Urwa narrated on the authority of his father that the saying of Ibn 'Umar, viz." The dead would be punished because of the lamentation of his family over him" was mentioned to 'A'isha. Upon this she said: May Allah have mercy upon Abu 'Abd al- Rahman (the kunya of Ibn 'Umar) that he heard something but could not retain it (well). (The fact is) that the bier of a Jew passed before the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and (the members of his family) were wailing over him. Upon this he said: You are wailing and he is being punished.

Where was that Jew being tormented when he was not even buried at the time of this incident? It is, then, of utmost importance for a Muslim to believe without any doubt that immediately after death, the dead are assigned a grave in Barzakh, where two angels approach him for questioning about his faith and his deeds; that the dead shall be raised only on the Day of Resurrection and therefore, cannot possibly become alive in their earthly graves:

"After that, surely, you will die. Then (again), surely, you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection". [23:15-16]

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 6, Book 60, Number 338] Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Between the two blowing of the trumpet there will be forty." The people said, "O Abu Huraira! Forty days?" I refused to reply. They said, "Forty years?" I refused to reply and added: Everything of the human body will decay except the coccyx bone (bone of the tail) and from that bone Allah will reconstruct the whole body.

The message is very clear that all human bodies will decay in the ditches dug on this earth. Then, Allah will re-create humans from the tailbone on the Day of Resurrection, and not before that. This worldly life, and then life on the Day of Resurrection are the only two lives proven through the Quran:

“How do you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life? Again He will cause you to die and again bring you to life, and then you shall be brought back to Him”. [02:28]

“They shall say: Our Lord! Twice didst Thou make us subject to death, and twice hast Thou given us life, so we do confess our faults; is there then a way to get out?”

[40:11]

The beliefs of different sects vary on this issue. The official doctrine of almost all sects/sub-sects is that the spirits of the dead are returned in their respective graves on this earth; which means in one way or the other, these sects believe in life in earthly graves and thus deny the verses of the Quran and/or Sahih Ahadeeth, thus becoming a part of Taghoot (false deities). The most absurd belief is taught by the Ahl-e-Hadith (Traditionalists) sect, who say that some part of the spirit remains with the

dead or that the spirit is returned to the body in the earthly grave from time to time. When posed with the question- “What about the people who are eaten alive by animals?”. They reply, “Their spirits are returned in the bellies of those animals”. How outrageous can one get while defending one’s sect, especially when the teachings of such sects are totally against the Quran?

(They are

things) dead, lifeless: nor do they know when they will be

raised up.

[16:21]

When a so-called Muslim believes the dead to be alive in their earthly graves, he repudiates many verses of the Quran (which repeatedly state that the dead experience a different kind of life in Barzakh). If a “Muslim” harbors such a belief, and negates the Quranic verses on the subject, he becomes a part of Taghoot (as he follows the philosophies of different scholars rather than having firm belief in the Quranic verses). As stated earlier, when a Muslim becomes a part of Taghoot, he gets expelled from the circle of Islam. Therefore, it is important that all Muslims believe in life after death (which is a basic tenet of the definition of Emaan), but they should build their concepts based on the information provided in the Quran and Sahih Hadith.

The belief in pious people being alive in their graves has lead to outright Shirk as many so-called Muslims worship the graves of dead saints. They regularly visit the shrines of these saints in order to convey their wishes to them, so that these saints can in turn convey these directly to Allah. In this context, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is thought to be an intercessor for the Ummah. This concept is elaborated in detail in the following discussion on Waseela.

d) WASEELA (INTERCESSION)

Another corruption in the beliefs of so-called Muslims today is their faith in Waseela, or intercession in this world. The idea that pious people and prophets are closer to God- and can intercede on behalf of common men and that they can ask Allah to grant a particular wish for someone- is not new. The ancient pagan traditions conferred these powers to their idols. The Mushrikeen of Mecca followed the same philosophy. The Quran bears witness to this pagan belief:

“And they serve beside Allah what can neither harm them nor profit them, and they say: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Do you (presume to) inform Allah of what He knows not in the heavens and the earth? Glory be to Him, and supremely exalted is He above what they set up (with Him).” [10:18]

“Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): "We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah." Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.” [39:03]

“And who is in greater error than he who calls besides Allah upon those that will not answer him till the day of resurrection and they are heedless of their call? And when men are gathered together they shall be their enemies, and shall be deniers of their worshipping (them).” [46:5-6]

The “Muslims” of today call upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other pious saints (who are no longer alive) to intercede with Allah on their behalf and to convey their messages to Allah. These pious men are supposed to invoke the blessing of Allah and ask Allah to grant a particular wish through the Waseela of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This particular pagan practice is now considered Islamic, and invoking the “waseela” of Muhammad (PBUH) is justified through a few Sahih Ahadeeth that mention the word “Waseela”. The problem actually lies in the lexical meaning of the word “Waseela” in Arabic compared to the meaning of the same word in Urdu. The Arabic meaning of the word is Qurb (closeness). If we look at Sahih Ahadeeth we discover that the Arabic word Waseela refers to an exalted place in heaven, which is the eternal abode of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This maqam in Jannah is closest to the divine throne of Allah Almighty and is, therefore, reserved for His beloved last Prophet (PBUH).

In Urdu, the meaning of the word Waseela is entirely different: it means “zareea (intercession)”. The scholars of many sects have adopted this Urdu lexical definition of the word, and while quoting the

following Sahih Muslim Hadith, they deliberately misinterpret the word Maqam-e-Waseela to mean intercession. In this way, the concept of intercession by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in this world, on behalf of his Ummah, is said to be in complete conformity with Islamic Aqeeda.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 04, Hadith 747] 'Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As reported Allah's Messenger (PBUH) as saying: When you hear the Mu'adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then beg from Allah al-Waseela for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah's servants, and I hope that I may be that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Waseela, he will be assured of my Intercession.

This Maqam-e-Waseela, mentioned in the above Hadith as well as in the Dua recited after Azaan, is also called Maqam-e-Mehmood. What is obvious in the above Hadith is that Waseela (the exalted place in Paradise) could only be attained after the death of the Prophet (PBUH). Moreover, the intercession, which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) referred to, is Shifa’at that he would be allowed to do only on the Day of Judgment. This has been made clear in the following two Ahadeeth of Sahih Bukhari. The first one is about the last moments of the Prophet’s life and proves that like all prophets before him, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had also been shown his place in Paradise. That is why Aisha (RA) knew the exact moment Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) chose the life in Paradise over this worldly life. The second Hadith describes life after death in Barzakh, as well as the concept of Waseela:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 721] Narrated Aisha: When Allah 's Apostle was in good health, he used to say, "Never does a prophet die unless he is shown his place in Paradise (before his death), and then he is made alive or given option." When the Prophet became ill and his last moments came while his head was on my thigh, he became unconscious, and when he came to his senses, he looked towards the roof of the house and then said, "O Allah! (Please let me be) with the highest companion." Thereupon I said, "Hence he is not going to stay with us? " Then I came to know that his state was the confirmation of the narration he used to mention to us while he was in good health.

The above hadith evidently contradicts and proves wrong the belief of different sects who declare that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preferred the company of worldly companions (by choosing life in his grave in Medina 20 ) to the company of Allah, in order to listen to and reply to the Durood-o-Salaam recited by “Ummah”, and to intercede with Allah on its behalf.

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 468] Narrated Samura bin Jundab: Whenever the Prophet finished the (morning) prayer, he would face us and ask, "Who amongst you had a dream last night?" So if anyone had seen a dream he would narrate it. The Prophet would say: "Ma sha'a-llah" (An Arabic maxim meaning literally, 'What Allah wished,' and it indicates a good omen.) One day, he asked us whether anyone of us had seen a dream. We replied in the negative. The Prophet said, "But I had seen (a dream) last night that two men came to me, caught hold of my hands, and took me to the Sacred Land (Jerusalem). There, I saw a person sitting and another standing with an iron hook in his hand pushing it inside the mouth of the former till it reached the jaw-bone, and then tore off one side of his cheek, and then did the same with the other side; in the mean-time the first side of his cheek became normal again and then he repeated the same operation again. I said, 'What is this?' They told me to proceed on and we went on till we came to a man Lying flat on his back, and another man standing at his head carrying a stone or a piece of rock, and crushing the head of the Lying man, with that stone. Whenever he struck him, the stone rolled away.

20 It is believed by these sects that the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a temporary state and he was made alive again in his grave in Medina. This Aqeeda was written down by Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, and is the basic belief of the majority of Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jama’at (Sunnis).

The man went to pick it up and by the time he returned to him, the crushed head had returned to its normal state and the man came back and struck him again (and so on). I said, 'Who is this?' They told me to proceed on; so we proceeded on and passed by a hole like an oven; with a narrow top and wide bottom, and the fire was kindling underneath that hole. Whenever the fire-flame went up, the people were lifted up to such an extent that they about to get out of it, and whenever the fire got quieter, the people went down into it, and there were naked men and women in it. I said, 'Who is this?' They told me to proceed on. So we proceeded on till we reached a river of blood and a man was in it, and another man was standing at its bank with stones in front of him, facing the man standing in the river. Whenever the man in the river wanted to come out, the other one threw a stone in his mouth and caused him to retreat to his original position; and so whenever he wanted to come out the other would throw a stone in his mouth, and he would retreat to his original position. I asked, 'What is this?' They told me to proceed on and we did so till we reached a well-flourished green garden having a huge tree and near its root was sitting an old man with some children. (I saw) Another man near the tree with fire in front of him and he was kindling it up. Then they (i.e. my two companions) made me climb up the tree and made me enter a house, better than which I have ever seen. In it were some old men and young men, women and children.

Then they took me out of this house and made me climb up the tree and made me enter another house that was better and superior (to the first) containing old and young people. I said to them (i.e. my two companions), 'You have made me ramble all the night. Tell me all about that I have seen.' They said, 'Yes. As for the one whose cheek you saw being torn away, he was a liar and he used to tell lies, and the people would report those lies on his authority till they spread all over the world. So, he will be punished like that till the Day of Resurrection.

The one whose head you saw being crushed is the one whom Allah had given the knowledge of Qur'an (i.e. knowing it by heart) but he used to sleep at night (i.e. he did not recite it then) and did not use to act upon it (i.e. upon its orders etc.) by day; and so this punishment will go on till the Day of Resurrection. And those you saw in the hole (like oven) were adulterers (those men and women who commit illegal sexual intercourse). And those you saw in the river of blood were those dealing in Riba (usury). And the old man who was sitting at the base of the tree was Abraham and the little children around him were the offspring of the people. And the one who was kindling the fire was Malik, the gate-keeper of the Hell-fire. And the first house in which you have gone was the house of the common believers, and the second house was of the martyrs. I am Gabriel and this is Michael. Raise your head.' I raised my head and saw a thing like a cloud over me. They said, 'That is your place.' I said, 'Let me enter my place.' They said, 'You still have some life which you have not yet completed, and when you complete (that remaining portion of your life) you will then enter your place.'"

Knowing that a dream of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is also Wahi (Revelation), the above Hadith proves the following:

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was shown his place in heaven where he was to live his life-after- death.

The Prophet (PBUH) is not alive in his grave in Medina but is alive in the highest and most exalted house in Jannah (Al-Waseela). This by no means is a worldly life, like the one he lived when he was alive; instead it is a Barzakhi life.

All spirits are given Barzakhi bodies, which experience torment or bliss.

This Barzakhi body will remain in existence till the Day of Judgment (Qayamah).

These Barzakhi bodies have the ability to regenerate repeatedly after experiencing torment.

All adulterers (men and women) that have died in different parts of the world are all thrown together in one pit of fire in Barzakh and will be tormented till the Day of Judgment.

Pious men, women and children also get Bazakhi bodies. The martyrs are given bodies that have wings and they are allowed to fly freely in Jannah.

Let us not forget the Ijma (Consensus) of Sahaba on this sensitive topic, who were all unanimous that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had died and had no concern whatsoever with this world after his death.

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 57. Hadith 019] Narrated Ayesha (RA): Allah's Apostle died while Abu Bakr was at a place called As- Sunah (Al-Aliya) 'Umar stood up and said, "By Allah! Allah's Apostle is not dead!" 'Umar (later on) said, "By Allah! Nothing occurred to my mind except that." He said, "Verily! Allah will resurrect him and he will cut the hands and legs of some men." Then Abu Bakr came and uncovered the face of Allah's Apostle, kissed him and said, "Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you, (O Allah's Apostle), you are good in life and in death. By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice." Then he went out and said, "O oath-taker! Don't be hasty." When Abu Bakr spoke, 'Umar sat down. Abu Bakr praised & glorified Allah and said, No doubt! Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die." Then he recited [39:30] and

[03:144].

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 09, Book 092, Hadith 374] Narrated By Anas bin Malik that he heard 'Umar speaking while standing on the pulpit of the Prophet in the morning (following the death of the Prophet), when the people had sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr. He said the Tashah-hud before Abu Bakr, and said, "Amma Ba'du (then after) Allah has chosen for his Apostle what is with Him (Paradise) rather than what is with you (the world). This is that Book (Qur'an) with which Allah guided your Apostle, so stick to it, for then you will be guided on the right path as Allah guided His Apostle with it."

The notion of revival of Prophet Muhammad’s life in this world (propagated by different sects), is thus categorically rejected. If it were not the case, Abu Bakr (RA) would have exhorted Umar (RA) to have patience until the body of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was buried in the grave and he would come to life again and listen to the cries of his Ummah! After the address of Abu Bakr (RA), all the Sahaba (RA) got convinced. Thus, the first and the greatest consensus of SAHABA (RA) on the most delicate issue of the Prophet’s death was held at a time when his dead body was yet to be buried.

Those who advocate intercession by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are coincidentally the same group that believes the Prophet (PBUH) to be alive in his grave. However, any misconceptions about the death of the Prophet (PBUH) have been laid to rest in the aforementioned Bukhari Hadith (Volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 721) narrated by Aisha (RA). Can we then make a dead person to hear? The Quran emphatically states that those who are alive cannot make the dead to hear in their graves. Therefore, all the prophets, pious men as well as Sufi saints who are so often asked to intercede with Allah, cannot even hear our supplications:

“Surely you do not make the dead to hear, and you do not make the deaf to hear the call when they go back retreating.” [27:80]

“He causes the night to enter in upon the day, and He causes the day to enter in upon the night, and He has made subservient (to you) the sun and the moon; each one follows its course to an appointed time; this is Allah, your Lord, His is the kingdom; and those whom you call upon besides Him do not control a straw. If you call on them they shall not hear your call, and even if they could hear they shall not answer you; and on the resurrection day they will deny your associating them (with Allah); and none can inform you like the One Who is Aware.” [35:13-14]

“Neither are the living and the dead alike. Surely Allah makes whom He pleases hear, and you cannot make those hear who are in the graves.” [35:22]

“And who is in greater error than he who calls besides Allah upon those that will not answer him till the day of resurrection and they are heedless of their call? And when men are gathered together they shall be their enemies, and shall be deniers of their worshipping (them).” [46:5-6]

Another misconception about the intercession issue is that of Shifa’at, which actually is intercession by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for those who die as Muslims (in the state of Emaan). However, it is of critical importance to recognize the fact that this intercession will be done on the Day of Judgment; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has not been given the authority to intercede on anyone’s behalf until the hour is established (Qayamah).

The final misconception is regarding Tawassul. A Muslim can request another alive and true Muslim to make a request to Allah on his behalf through Dua. However, as mentioned earlier, invoking Allah through the dead is not allowed. The following Sahih Hadith proves both these points by informing us that the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) never requested the blessings of Allah with the tawassul of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after his death, and instead requested other pious and elderly men to say Dua on their behalf.

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 02, Book 17, Hadith 123] Narrated By Anas: Whenever drought threatened them, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, used to ask Al-Abbas bin 'Abdul Muttalib to invoke Allah for rain. He used to say, "O Allah! We used to ask our Prophet to invoke You for rain, and You would bless us with rain, and now we ask his uncle to invoke You for rain. O Allah! Bless us with rain." And so it would rain.

e) CHARGING MONEY FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF RELIGIOUS DUTIES

This is THE touchiest topic today as people get indignant when they are told that there is no such thing as a paid clergy in Islam. Followers of each and every sect/maslak/group/division existing in today’s Muslim world are surprisingly united in favor of a paid clergy. Our molvis and scholars have made us believe that they are in the service of Allah and His religion and that Allah allows taking money/salary for this service. Nobody questions this because the whole system is designed in a way in which an ordinary man is deliberately kept away from the truth. The common man, who finds it difficult to open Allah’s book himself in order to understand what is written in it, thinks that the molvi is there to help him in all types of religious problems and rituals and naturally he has to pay the molvi for his time. The common man thinks that just like he has spent years understanding his subject of expertise i.e. physics or medicine, the molvi too has spent years studying and understanding Quran and Hadith and now he has the right to opt it as a profession and earn money for himself and his family.

This attitude is quite similar to the one in religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism. In these religions, the pundits, priests or rabbis devote their lives to religion and are bound to perform all religious acts such as communion, baptism, listening to confessions, bar-mitzvah, funeral prayers, marriages etc. on behalf of God Almighty; and in return they are paid by the state and/or by the individuals they help. We have adopted and successfully implemented the same duties in our society where the role of a pundit, pope or rabbi has been given to the molvi. Today, our molvis proudly sell Namaz, they do not recite Azaan without taking money, they do not teach Quran for free, and they have fixed fees for performing Nikah. They never forego the chance of taking money for rendering small services such as reciting Azaan in the ears of a newborn. Even fatwas are issued by properly salaried Ulema. Similarly, they have invented many rituals like “Barsi”, “Soyem”, “Esaal-o-Sawaab”, “Bismillah”, “Eid Milad-un-Nabi” and “Alam-Nashrah” etc. in order to continue earning throughout the year. So basically, these molvis have turned mosques into their shops where they enjoy easy money and a variety of feasts on a variety of occasions. All in all, Islam has been turned into a profitable industry, probably the only industry in Pakistan with never-ending profits.

One wonders- since they claim to be protecting and rendering services to Allah’s Deen by helping the Ummah- whom do they sell their time to? To Allah Almighty? In reality, to protect or defend their own sects, they have purposefully taken the masses away from real teachings of the Quran and Sunnah so that their festivities would continue. But who is to blame? Naturally, WE are to blame, as we ourselves have created this institution (paid clergy) in our society, which has no standing whatsoever in Islam!

The Quran says about such molvis and scholars:

“And believe in what I have revealed, verifying that which is with you, and be not the first to deny it, neither take a mean price in exchange for My communications (verses); and Me, Me alone should you fear” [02:41]

“They have taken a small price for the communications of Allah, so they turn away from His way; surely evil is it that they do” [09:09]

“Surely those who conceal any part of the Book that Allah has revealed and take for it

a small price, they eat nothing but fire into their bellies, and Allah will not speak to

them on the day of resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful

chastisement.” [02:174]

O’ you, who believe! Lo! Many of the rabbis and the monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. [09:34]

It is exactly the case today with Ummat-e-Muslima. When confronted with these ayahs, the molvis conveniently say that they address Jews and Christians, not Muslims.

Isn’t Allah addressing the believers (Muslims) in [09:34]?

What does Allah mean when He warns us by telling stories of the deeds of previous nations:

that we are excused/exempted from punishment for these bad deeds?

Isn’t this one of Allah’s warnings where He tells us that Jews and Christians used to commit a crime by claiming monetary reward for Allah’s communications and that we should abstain from such wrongdoing?

Wasn’t Quran sent for humanity and is relevant till the end of time?!!

So how can we restrict [02:41] just to Jews? These are all lame excuses as the following Hadith clarifies the matter for us:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 9, Book 92, Hadith 421] Narrated By Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "The Hour (Qayamah) will not be established till my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch)." It was said, "O Allah's Apostle! Do you mean by those (nations) the Persians and the Byzantines?" The Prophet said, "Who can it be other than they?"

And what type of followers and believers is Allah addressing in the following ayah?

“And most surely of the followers of the Book there are those who believe in Allah and (in) that which has been revealed to you and (in) that which has been revealed to them, being lowly before Allah; they do not take a small price for the communications

of Allah; [03:199]

Let us now see the matter in the light of Sahih Hadith:

[Sunan Abu-Dawud - Book 23, Hadith 3409] Narrated Ubaydah ibn as-Samit: I taught some persons of the people of Suffah writing and the Quran. A man of them presented to me a bow. I said: It cannot be reckoned property; may I shoot with it in Allah's path? I must come to the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) and ask him (about it). So I came to him and said : Apostle of Allah (PBUH), one of those whom I have been teaching writing and the Quran has presented me a bow, and as it cannot be reckoned property, may I shoot with it in Allah's path? He said: If you want to have a necklace of fire on you, accept it.

[Sunan Abu-Dawud - Book 2, Hadith 0531] Narrated Usman ibn Abul'As: I requested Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) to appoint me the leader of the tribe in prayer. He said: You are their leader, but you should follow on who is the weakest of them: and appoint a Mu'azzin who does not charge for the calling of Azaan.

[Tirmizi Narrator:- Hazrat Imran Bin Hussain (RA)] The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: He who reads the Quran should ask a question through the Quran from Allah. Soon such people will come who will read the Quran and will ask the questions with it from other people.

[Sahih Muslim - Book 20, Hadith 4682] It has been reported on the authority of Anas b. Malik that some people came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said to him: Send with us some men who may teach us the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Accordingjy, he sent seventy men from the Ansar. They were called the Reciters and among them was my maternal uncle. Haram. They used to recite the Qur'an, discuss and ponder over its meaning at night. In the day they brought water and poured it (in pitchers) in the mosque, collected wood and sold it, and with the sale proceeds bought food for the people of the Suffa and the needy.

[Sunan Abu-Dawud - Book 25, Hadith 3656] Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (PBUH) said: If anyone acquires knowledge of things by which Allah's good pleasure is sought, but acquires it only to get some worldly advantage, he will not experience the arf, i.e. the odour, of Paradise.

The abovementioned Ahadeeth make it clear that using the Quran as a source of income of any sort is not allowed in Islam. We also learn that even taking things as gifts is not allowed. Moreover, we cannot find even a single precedence in which any of the Sahaba ever claimed monetary reward for religious duties, or teaching the Quran. All of them used to work as traders and some even did manual labor in order to earn bread and butter for their families. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself claimed to have worked as a shepherd and as a trader. He used to sell dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir during his early life:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 03, Book 34, Hadith 285] Narrated Aisha: The companions of Allah's Apostle used to practise manual labor, so their sweat used to smell, and they were advised to take a bath.

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 07, Book 64, Hadith 270] Narrated 'Umar: The Prophet used to sell the dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir and store for his family so much food as would cover their needs for a whole year.

We also get proof from the Quran that all messengers and prophets before Muhammad (PBUH) used to work to earn their living. They never sold the message of Allah or never expected any worldly gain for it.

“It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.” [05:44]

“These are they whom Allah guided, therefore follow their guidance. Say: I do not ask you for any reward for it; it is nothing but a reminder to the nations.” [06:90]

“And, O my people! I ask you not for wealth in return for it; my reward is only with Allah and I am not going to drive away those who believe; surely they shall meet their Lord, but I consider you a people who are ignorant: [11:29]

“O my people! I do not ask of you any reward for it (Quran); my reward is only with Him Who created me; do you not then understand?” [11:51]

Say: "No reward do I ask of you for it but this: that each one who will may take a (straight) Path to his Lord." [25:57]

“Follow him who does not ask you for reward, and they are the followers of the right course;” [36:21]

In order to justify their false claims, many molvis say that during his Caliphate, Umer Farooq (RA) appointed salaries for Imams, Moazzins and Ulema through “National Treasury of Muslims” (Bait-ul- Maal). All such claims are baseless, as they do not have even a single authentic proof. We all know that the Islamic empire flourished tremendously during the era of Umer (RA) and he started many governmental departments and naturally, people were hired to work in these departments. Their salaries were paid through the Bait-ul-Maal. But how does this justify the professional role of an Imam where the matters of a mosque are not related to daily functioning of the state? A Caliph too is a government official as he is the head of a Muslim state. Does that justify the role of an Imam-e-Masjid as a professional paying job? And what about the last days of the ruler of such a huge empire?

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 05, Book 57, Hadith 50] Narrated By 'Amr bin Maimun: 'Umar further said, "O 'Abdullah bin 'Umar! See how much I am in debt to others." When the debt was checked, it amounted to approximately Eighty-Six thousand. 'Umar said, "If the property of 'Umar's family covers the debt, then pay the debt thereof; otherwise request it from Bani 'Adi bin Ka'b, and if that too is not sufficient, ask for it from Quraish tribe, and do not ask for it from any one else, and pay this debt on my behalf."

The knowledge of Quran and Hadith is something to be acquired and spread with the intention of Sawaab in the Hereafter. How could someone request Allah’s blessings on the Day of Judgment when he has already sacrificed his Aakhirat for the pleasures and mere gains of this world?

[Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 19, Hadith 3656] Narrated By Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (pbuh) said: If anyone acquires knowledge of things by which Allah's good pleasure is sought, but acquires it only to get some worldly advantage, he will not experience the arf, i.e. the odour, of Paradise.

[Sahih Muslim - Book 20, Hadith 4688] Then will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur'an. He will be brought And Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur'an seeking Thy pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called" a scholar," and you recited the Qur'an so that it might be said:" He is a Qari" and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire.

Today people bring commentaries of eminent scholars in favor of their false beliefs but are we to accept the Quran and Sahih Hadith or the so-called scholars of today? The biggest problem with the Ummah today is that we accept and blindly follow the words and fatwaas of our scholars and conveniently reject the words of Allah and his last Prophet (PBUH). We think that these so-called scholars are the best interpreters of Quran and Hadith as they come from “pure-breed” family backgrounds. What we forget is that Allah has made obligatory for each and every Muslim (pious or not) to read, understand and apply Quran and Sunnah in his life. Did Bilal (RA) have a blue-blood Muslim family background? Did he ever take wages for being a moa’zzin?

Our readers must have gleaned from this lengthy discussion that it is of utmost importance that we understand the concept of Emaan, that Emaan qualifies us to be called Muslims and to be raised as Muslims on the Day of Judgment. We must always keep ourselves away from Taghoot, and consider evil (as defined by Allah) to be evil, even if that realization remains in our hearts alone and we lack the courage to shout it out loud. We must spread the Truth to all around us, discuss different religious beliefs and tell right from wrong, no matter what hardships we have to endure along the way. Islam cannot be tailored to our convenience. It is a religion that was perfected centuries ago and has no place for further modification or addition. We must all realize that negating Allah’s verses, and Sahih Hadith takes us out of the religion of Islam, and no matter how many prayers we say during the day, or how many months we fast, these duties become mere rituals that will not help us in any way on the

Day of Reckoning. We must at least have Emaan in our hearts; the religious duties of prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj only then become incumbent on us. We will qualify for hisaab-kitaab only if we die as Muslims. Those who commit Shirk, or endorse Taghoot, shall be thrown into the fires of Hell straight away, as they will not even be considered worthy of hisaab-kitaab. That is the reality of Islam!

We all know that the strength of a tall building depends on the strength of the foundation. If the foundation is laid weak, or incorrect, no matter how tall or beautiful the building, it is doomed to collapse. Similarly, no matter how many good deeds people like Mother Teresa, or Oprah Winfrey or Edhi perform, they are meaningless if the foundation of Emaan is lacking. Above all else, Allah demands that we recognize Him the way He wants to be recognized, that we believe in His Absolute authority and His complete power over our lives. If we cannot even believe in Allah correctly, what is the point of prostrating before him five times a day?

SECTION IV:

The Difference Of Opinion Regarding Deeds (A’maal)

This section is actually an addition to the original article that we planned to write. The reason why we have included it in the main body of the article on The Real Islam is that we wanted to clearly delineate those commonly practiced traditions and rituals today that are actually Bidd’ah (innovation):

creations of the variant doctrines included in Islam. The purpose behind this discussion is to highlight the importance of abstaining from these activities, even if a Muslim lacks the courage to denounce them in public, because otherwise, one becomes a part of Taghoot (by following the ancestral practices rather than the teachings of Islam). Some of these practices are peculiar to South Asian countries, while others are prevalent in other Muslim nations as well. The reader will notice that most of these practices were adopted by the newly arriving “Muslim” Sufis 21 in the Sub-continent to appease the local population and encourage conversion to Islam. The origins of these rituals or traditions then lie in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism and even ancient paganism. Let us now discuss these practices in detail, revealing their true source as well as their standing from an Islamic point of view.

a) THE USES OF QURAN

The Holy Quran is the most authentic source of true knowledge and as stated elsewhere in this article,

it is meant as a guiding beacon for all humanity to be able to define its purpose of existence as well as

to enable it to follow the path set out by Allah. However, in South Asia, the Holy Quran has traditionally inhabited the topmost shelf of a common room closet. Its presence is thought to ward off evil. The book is read or memorized by rote in most households, while the translation of the book is never read in a language understood by the majority of the population (which does not know Arabic).

The relatives of a deceased person diligently recite the Holy Quran for about 40 days after his death as

a way of transferring the reward of the recitation to the soul of the deceased.

The Holy Quran is also held over the head of a newly wedded couple during Rukhsati. Moreover, one of the most common uses of the Quran, which has been frequently exploited by conmen of all descriptions, is as a Taweez (or an amulet) worn around the neck or tied around the upper arm. Quran is also recited these days as part of a “khatam”, generally before wedding festivities, to ensure success in business ventures, to bless the move to a new house and other such occasions. As has been stressed earlier, Quran is meant for Hidayat of its readers and not as a way of blessing a venture just through mere recitation. In addition, not a single tradition can be found in authentic Hadith that refers to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or his companions organizing a “khatam-ul-Quran” before a daughter’s wedding or before starting a new business. This particular act, therefore, also constitutes a Bidd’ah and must be refuted.

Lets see if our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or any of his companions performed any of the above- mentioned actions.

b) RECITATION OF THE QURAN (ESAAL-O-SAWAB) FOR THE DEAD

First, let’s see what the Quran states about transferring Sawaab (reward) to the dead against any good deed done by the living:

“This is a people that have passed away; they shall have what they earned and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did.” [02:134 & 141]

“Whoever does good, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is against it; and your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants.” [41:46]

21 Sufism is inherently tolerant of other religions and does not believe in strict following of the Quran and Sahih Hadith; that is why it readily assimilates practices or rituals of other religions. For an understanding of the basic philosophies of Sufism, please refer to page 53 of this article.

The Quran clearly states that each and every human being will be judged and compensated (tormented or rewarded) for his own deeds performed during his life. So each and every human will reap the harvest of what he had sown in this world. To judge if a particular action constitutes an innovation in religion (or Bidd’ah) we must look towards authentic Hadith and find proof there. In this regard, not a single Hadith can be found which mentions Quran-Khawani or Esaal-u-Sawaab. As a Muslim, we must have belief in the fact that the Quran is nothing more than a guiding book. And only those people who are alive can find guidance for themselves, and therefore, salvation in the life after death. Recitation of the Quran for a dead person cannot make any difference in his balance sheet of sins and good deeds.

This particular issue is directly related to basic Islamic beliefs, one of which is the absoluteness of the death of a person and the fact that the soul cannot leave Barzakh 22 . As Islam was perfected 14 centuries ago, we cannot accommodate this practice as a part of true Islamic practices. The only deeds that can benefit a person after his death are outlined in the following Sahih Ahadeeth:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 8, Book 76. Hadith 521] Narrated By Anas Bin Malik: Allah's Apostle said, "When carried to his grave, a dead person is followed by three, two of which return (after his burial) and one remains with him: his relative, his property, and his deeds follow him; relatives and his property go back while his deeds remain with him."

[Sahih Muslim - Book 13, Hadith 4005] Abu Huraira (RA) reported Allah's Messenger (PBUH) as saying: When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased).

[Sahih Muslim - Book 34, Hadith 6470] Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (PBUH)) as saying: He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect.

It is obvious from the above-mentioned sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that a dead person can only benefit from the following, provided he died as a Muslim:

1. His/her deeds that he/she performed during his/her lifetime

2. Sadqa-e-Jaaria (Continuing Charity)

3. If he disseminated the truth to people around him and therefore helped them to lead a better life in this world and in the Hereafter.

4. If the deceased person’s pious son prays for forgiveness, provided he did not die on Shirk.

It is crystal clear that the best one can do is to pray for forgiveness of a parent, or to complete a charitable project that the deceased had intended to do but had been unable to accomplish in his lifetime. In this regard, the concept of Sadqa-e-Jaaria should be elaborated, since the explanations given by our notorious mullahs are either inadequate or totally incorrect.

c) CONTINUING CHARITY (SADQA-E-JAARIA)

There are TWO types of Sadqa-e-Jaaria proven through Quran and Sahih Hadith:

1. Good deeds done by the deceased during his life that will continually benefit other people. For instance, if he or she had built a mosque, planted a tree or dug a well.

2. Sawaab of Sadqa-e-Jaaria is also given to the dead against the intention of a good deed, which he or she planned during his or her life but death took him and his children then completed the project.

22 For discussion of Barzakh, please refer to page 30 of this article.

The concept of the second type of Sadqa-e-Jaaria cannot be extended to reciting Quran for the dead, or saying Nawafil prayers for the deceased, or fasting with the intention of invoking Allah and requesting Him to transfer the Sawaab to the dead. It is the sole prerogative of Allah to give reward or to punish a person for his or her deeds and no one else, human or angel, has the authority to amend the ledgers that contain the details of a person’s acts in this world (the Amaal-Nama). The only exception in this case shall be granted to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the Day of Judgment when he will be able to request Allah (perform Shfa’at) for the salvation of Momineen.

What needs to be understood is that all the deeds mentioned in [Sahih Muslim – Book 13, Hadith 4005] are added to the book-of-deeds AFTER the death of a human and Esaal-o-Sawaab through recitation of Quran is mentioned nowhere. Another important thing, which should be clear to the readers is that children are not allowed to pray for the forgiveness of their parents if either of them died on Shirk. This will be discussed next.

As for the advocates of Ijtihad, it must be mentioned that Ijtihad is necessary only in those matters for which clear rulings cannot be obtained from the Quran and the life of the Prophet (PBUH) and his compaions. Since that is not the case for the concept of Esaal-u-Sawaab or Quran-Khawani, one cannot revert to Ijtihad.

The concept of Esaal-u-Sawaab is flaunted by the mullah, who gets paid for reciting the Quran, or for arranging the services of different Madrasa children for this purpose. Another short cut adopted by many so-called Muslims these days is to arrange for periodic monthly payments (called Wazeefah) to a Madrasa. Any number of recitations of the Quran can be bought against this apparent act of charity. Whether the Quran was actually recited that many times by the Madrasa students is a matter never looked into. Another outcome of these Esaal-u-Sawaab recitations is the emergence of the “Bismillah” Quran, in which the Bismillah is recited repeatedly. This is evidence of the inherent tendency of Bidd’ah to proliferate and reach any extreme, all in the name of Sawaab (reward). Thus, Bidd’ah metamorphoses into Taghoot fairly quickly.

d) DUA OR NAMAZ-E-JANAZA OF MUSHRIK OR MUNAFIQ

Another issue related with the above is the “Dua” for forgiveness of the dead. The Quran and Sahih Hadith are emphatic in this regard: Muslims are not allowed to pray for forgiveness for Mushriks, Munafiqs or anyone who died having a Belief/Aqeeda/Emaan, which was in any way against the true teachings of Islam and this ruling applies even to blood relations that is why Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was not allowed to request forgiveness for his uncle, Abu Talib, who died as a Mushrik. This injunction includes the performance of Namaz-e-Janaza as that too is a Dua.

Shirk 23 is Zulm-e-Azeem and is an unforgivable offense. A Mushrik, thus, cannot qualify for a prayer of forgiveness (after his death) as he had the audacity to challenge the oneness of Allah.

“And never offer prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave; surely they disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger and they shall die in transgression.”

[09:84]

“It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for Pagans/Polytheists, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.” [09:113]

Even Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was not allowed to say the Dua-e-Maghfirat or funeral prayer (Namaz-e-Janaza) for people who died as Mushriks.

While trying to understand these ayahs, it is important to analyze the circumstances in which these verses were revealed:

The first ayah [09:84] was revealed at the time of the death of Abdullah bin Ubai who died as a Munafiq. The details of this particular incident are given in the following Sahih Hadith:

23 What constitutes Shirk? For a detailed definition, please refer to page 11 of this article.

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 447]

Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab: When 'Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul died, Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) was called upon to offer his funeral prayer. When Allah's Apostle stood up to offer the prayer, I got up quickly and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Are you going to pray for Ibn Ubai and he said so and so on such and such occasions?" And started mentioning all that he had said. Allah's Apostle smiled and said, "O 'Umar! Go away from me." When I talked too much he said, "I have been given the choice and so I have chosen (to offer the prayer). Had I known that he would be forgiven by asking for Allah's forgiveness for more than seventy times, surely I would have done so." ('Umar added):

Allah's Apostle offered his funeral prayer and returned and after a short while the two verses of Surah Bara were revealed: i.e. "And never (O Muhammad) pray for any of

them who dies

"Later I astonished at my daring before Allah's Apostle on that day. And Allah and His Apostle know better."

(to the end of the verse) rebellion [Quran 09:84]" -- ('Umar dded),

Abdullah bin Ubai was a Munafiq and although Umer (RA) reminded Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about the deeds and beliefs of Ubai, the Prophet (PBUH) still lead his Namaz-e-Janaza since till that moment it had not been forbidden by Allah. However, right after the Janaza prayer, Allah revealed [09:84] and forbade the Prophet (PBUH) and all other Muslims from saying the Dua-e-Maghfirat or Janaza prayer for a non-believer, a Mushrik or a Munafiq. It is, therefore, a commandment all Muslims must follow.

The second important Hadith on the topic is about Abu Talib, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s paternal uncle. This particular Sahih Hadith gives detailed interpretation of verse [09:113]

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 442] Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab from his father: When the time of the death of Abu Talib approached, Allah's Apostle went to him and found Abu Jahl bin Hisham and 'Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya bin Al-Mughira by his side. Allah's Apostle said to Abu Talib, "O uncle! Say: None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, a sentence with which I shall be a witness (i.e. argue) for you before Allah. Abu Jahl and 'Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya said, "O Abu Talib! Are you going to denounce the religion of Abdul Muttalib?" Allah's Apostle kept on inviting Abu Talib to say it (i.e. 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah') while they (Abu Jahl and Abdullah) kept on repeating their statement till Abu Talib said as his last statement that he was on the religion of Abdul Muttalib and refused to say, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' (Then Allah's Apostle said, "I will keep on asking Allah's forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden (by Allah) to do so." So Allah revealed (the verse) concerning him (i.e. It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the fire [Quran 09:113]

This particular issue is highly controversial and almost all the sects present in the ”Muslim” world today have been unable to implement this ruling. Probably the biggest hindrance is Social Pressure! Since we have developed a habit of redefining Islam according to the demands of modernity, people who do follow such rulings are labeled as orthodox, fundamentalist, Wahhabi 24 , or a Fitna (satanic). Those who prefer to jump onto the bandwagon of Western modernity or easily succumb to social pressure deny such clear rulings. One oft-repeated argument in this regard starts with the predictable question-statement:

“How do we know if a person is a Muslim or not? And if a person calls himself a Muslim, verbally confirms that through reciting the Shahadah and offers Salat 5 times a day, then who are we to label him a munafiq or a mushrik?”

We hope we have already answered this question by discussing in detail the concepts of Emaan, Shirk and Taghoot earlier in this article.

24 For the background and definition of Wahhabism, please refer to page 55 of this article.

e) AMULETS (TAWEEZ) OR CHARMS

Another common usage of the Quran in our society is as Taweez (amulets). Taweezat generally are written on a small piece of paper in which different chapters or verses of the Quran are symbolized by numerals. The Taweez is seen as a guard against illness, black magic and jealousy. Some Taweezat are thought to improve the probability of success in business and marriage. Taweezat are written by “holy” men, astrologists, pirs and mullahs.

Another common benefit of the Taweez is obtained by hanging it in different rooms of a house or office in order to bless the dwelling. Taweezat are also used as instruments of black magic.

So, instead of reciting and understanding the verses of the Quran, “Muslims” get them photocopied and proudly hang them around their necks, arms or ankles, hoping that they will save them from adversity, illness or failure. A common misconception that has promoted the widespread use of amulets is the incorrect interpretation of the following verse of the Quran:

“And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, and it adds only to the perdition of the unjust”. [17:82]

This particular ayah is interpreted lexically, and “shifa” is translated as cure, healing, or remedy as meant in medical science; whereas, this ayah refers to Quran being the cure for all problems of mankind. In this regard, Quran should be perceived as a manual of instructions that will lead to true success in this life and the Hereafter. Once again, wearing amulets is nothing more than a move towards false convenience and protection that is easily bought.

We get no proof whatsoever from the lives of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions that they ever wore amulets for safety or any other purposes. An evidence regarding the recitation of the Quran as a remedy (during all kinds of illness and during the time when a Jew woman performed black magic on Prophet Muhammad PBUH), is mentioned below:

[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 714] Narrated 'Aisha (RA): “Whenever Allah's Apostle became ill, he used to recite Al- Muawidhatan (i.e. the last two Surahs of the Qur'an) and then blow his breath and passed his hand over himself. When he had his fatal illness, I started reciting Al- Muawidhatan and blowing my breath over him as he used to do, and then I rubbed the hand of the Prophet over his body.”

There are other “dum” proven through Sahih Hadith, including that of Surah-e-Fatiha. However, these have not ever been worn as amulets by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself, or his Sahaba.

Moreover, have we ever considered why was it that the savior of the world, the “Khatim-un- Nabi’yeen”, the “Rehmat-ul-lil-Aalameen” had been affected by black magic? Why did Allah allow non- Muslims to harm His beloved Prophet? The intention was to clarify the issue of the use of the Quran as a remedy. The reader must notice that the Prophet (PBUH) did not, at any occasion, wear the Al- Muawidhatan or any other ayahs as an amulet, just like the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), who lived their lives in total conformance with the Prophet (PBUH)’s Sunnah, never resorted to wearing amulets of any type. In fact, the Sahih Hadith is quite clear on the topic of wearing amulets and taking omens of any kind.

[Sunan Abu-Dawood, Book 28, Hadith 3860] Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As: “I heard the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) say: If I drink an antidote, or tie an amulet, or compose poetry, I am the type who does not care what he does”.

[Abu Dawood, Mishkat pg. 389; Tirmizi, Volume 2, pg. 28] "Esa Bin Hamza (RA) says, I visited Abdullah Bin Akeem (RA) during his sickness; he was suffering from a sickness called "Hamra". I asked him why he was not wearing the taweez that was meant for the sickness specifically. He replied, "May Allah save me from the taweez. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said, whoever hangs anything he will be entrusted to that thing only.'

[Sunan Abu-Dawud - Book 28, Hadith 3874] Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud: Zaynab, the wife of Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, told that Abdullah said: I heard the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) saying: spells, amulet and love- potions are polytheism.

[Sunan Abu-Dawud - Book 28, Hadith 3859] Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was asked about a charm for one who is possessed (nashrah). He replied: It pertains to the work of the devil.

It is important to recognize that wearing amulets or taking omens of any kind is Shirk. When a person wears an amulet, he tends to view the amulet as capable of changing particular things in his life. In this regard, an inanimate object (a piece of paper in a silver or gold casing) is thought to possess the powers of bestowing success, enforcing a change in events and even creation of certain situations. The power to change things and to affect the lives of human beings rests solely with Allah. An amulet, thus, is nothing more than a piece of paper. Similarly, those who believe that planetary movements or star formations affect their lives, or are harbingers of certain future events, also associate certain powers with inanimate celestial bodies. Stars and planets are also creations of Allah and are under His total control. Therefore, they cannot affect our lives in a positive or a negative way or have an influence on business or marriage. Such beliefs were quite characteristic of ancient paganism which had its own mythology. Ancient pagans thought the sun to be a god, and even the wind, the earth and the water were supposed to be gods. This particular belief is clearly idolatrous and Muslims must refrain from harboring such thoughts, because they constitute Shirk.

f) NAZAR OR NIAZ

One highly controversial issue today is that of Nazar and Niaz. We frequently receive food cooked on specific occasions in order to commemorate a particular event or personality. For instance, the halwa- puri cooked as part of “koonday ka khatam”, or the rice cooked on 12 th Rabi-ul-Awwal as celebration of Eid-Milad-un-Nabi, as well as haleem on 10 th of Muharram, so on and so forth. What do the Quran and Sahih Hadith say about this particular issue?

First of all, lets define these two terms. Nazar and Niaz are synonymous words. Nazar is an Arabic word while Niaz is Persian. Both these words refer to an act or deed that a person makes obligatory upon himself depending on the fulfillment of a wish or desire. If a wish or a prayer is addressed to Allah, keeping in mind that the prayer or wish is for something halaal, and that the wish can be granted only by Allah, then the intended Niaz becomes obligatory and must be discharged as a duty only in the way of Allah. Any Nazar or Niaz directed towards anyone other than Allah actually leads to punishment in the Hereafter. Thus, it is of utmost importance that Nazar or Niaz should only be intended for Allah alone.

Given the above reasoning, what is the standing or significance of the food cooked and distributed for “nabi kay sadqay” or for aulia-Allah? What about the food distributed on 10th of Muharram? Quran has prohibited a believing Muslim from eating anything over which any name other than Allah’s has been invoked. This ruling appears in the following verses:

“He has only forbidden you what dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah has been invoked; but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [02:173]

“Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked, and the strangled (animal) and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall and that killed by being smitten with the horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten, except what you slaughter, and what is sacrificed on stones set up (for idols) and that you divide by the arrows; that is a transgression. This day have those who disbelieve despaired of your religion, so fear them not, and fear Me. This day have I perfected for you your religion

and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion; but whoever is compelled by hunger, not inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [05:03]

“Therefore eat of what Allah has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for Allah's favor if Him do you serve. He has only forbidden you what dies of itself and blood and flesh of swine and that over which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked, but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring nor exceeding the limit, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [16:114-115]

It should be noted that food cooked or given in the name of anyone other than Allah is as abominable as the flesh of swine. Both these forbidden items are repeatedly mentioned together in the above ayahs. Just as we would never eat chicken meat that was cooked in a Christian household, because of our doubts about how the animal was slaughtered, or whether Allah’s name was invoked or not; similarly, chicken meat cooked in a Muslim household that has any name other than Allah’s uttered on it is forbidden for consumption.

Most Pakistani “Muslims” take the above-mentioned verses to be applicable only in the case of slaughtering of animals where as the verses clearly mention that any food item over which any name other than Allah’s has been taken is forbidden for consumption.

Given the above ayahs, many people declare that since Quranic verses are recited over the Eid Milad- un-Nabi food, for instance, so Allah’s name has been taken over it and the food is therefore, halaal. However, the intention is to transfer the Sawaab to Muhammad (PBUH) and other pious aulia-Allah. Since esaal-u-sawaab is itself an innovation, this argument does not hold true. Secondly, since the food has been cooked with the intention of giving it in the way of Muhammad (PBUH) and not in the way of Allah, reciting Quranic verses over it will not purify it. Therefore, any Nazar or Niaz in the name of anyone other than Allah is forbidden to all believers; whether Quranic verses have been recited over such food or not is of no importance. The following occasions fall under this category:

Food distributed on 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal (intention of transfer of Sawaab to Muhammad PBUH)

Food distributed on 10th Muharram (intention of transfer of Sawaab to Ali, Hussain and Hassan RA)

Food distributed on 11th Rabi-us-Saani (intention of transfer of Sawaab to Abdul Qadir Jilani)

Food distributed on 22nd Rajab, also called Koonday (intention of transfer of Sawaab to Imam Jaffer Sadiq)

Food distributed on 14th Sha’ban (intention of transfer of Sawaab to Owais Qarni)

Water coolers and fountains erected in the name of martyrs of Karbala (so as to remind the drinkers of the helplessness and intense thirst of those martyrs).

All these occasions quite clearly celebrate the piety of a famous religious personality and have nothing to do with the intention of Sadqa in the way of Allah. The list will become quite long if we include the charhawas (same as sacrifices to pagan gods in ancient times) offered on the graves of dead saints. We must emphasize here that any food items distributed on any of the abovementioned occasions, as well as on Urs of Sufi saints, are haraam and cannot be eaten. The origins of this particular tradition lie in ancient paganism when idol worshippers used to apportion crops or cooked food in the name of Allah as well as other gods like Lat, Manaat and Uzza, in order to gain their favor and to obtain their blessings 25 . Such practices are clearly polytheistic in nature and must be eradicated from the “Muslim” society of today.

25 These idols were considered as intercessors on behalf of the worshippers and could request Allah to bless the charity-giver. The charity-givers and Niaz-distributors of today have replaced Lat, Manaat and Uzza with dead saints, prophets and others known for their piety.

g) INTEREST (RIBA) BASED INCOME

While all “Muslims” are clear about the prohibition of Riba, most of them conveniently overlook the exact definition of Riba and the implications of involvement in Riba-based transactions. The high level of comfort that “Muslims” have achieved regarding Riba-based transactions is witnessed every day. Almost on a daily basis, most of us transact business with financial institutions that are clearly operating on the basis of Riba, the most ingenious creation of the clever Jewish minds that have invested the sweat and blood of many generations in the establishment of this system. Riba or interest is an accepted phenomenon now and our passivity in this regard is astonishing. One basic reason behind this passivity is our ignorance of how strong the Quranic injunctions are about forbidding Riba and that Riba cannot be justified under any circumstances. For instance, in Pakistan, many widows and retired small savers, who do not have regular monthly incomes, invest in saving certificates that pay monthly profits. This is easily justified by saying that an uneducated old woman, for example, does not have any other means of earning her bread and butter and has no choice but to resort to such saving schemes; or otherwise starve to death.

Do the Quranic injunctions exclude small savers and widows while forbidding Riba for others? Lets look at the message of the Quran first and then define what Riba is and identify those financial dealings that fall under the realm of Riba and gambling.

Riba had been explicitly prohibited in Surah Al-Room 5 years before Hijrah. The verse reads as follows:

And the Riba-based investments on your part, in order to increase your wealth on the basis of other people's (i.e., the borrowers') assets, do not increase from the point of view of Allah. However, rest assured about the acceptance of what you give by way of Zakat for the sake of Allah; those who give Zakat are the ones whose net worth increases manifold with Allah. [30:39]

The most emphatic and strongly worded prohibition of Riba is found in Surah Al-Baqarah:

[Al- Baqarah, 02: 275 to 280]

Those who take usury shall rise up before Allah like men whom Satan has demented by his touch; for they claim that usury is like trading. But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden usury. He that receives an admonition from his Lord and mends his ways may keep what he has already earned; his fate is in the hands of Allah. But he that pays no heed shall be among the people of the fire and shall remain in it forever.

Allah has laid his curse on usury and blessed alms-giving with increase. He bears no love for the ungrateful sinner.

Those that have faith and do good works, attend to their prayers and pay the alms- tax, will be rewarded by their Lord and will have nothing to fear or to regret.

O’ believers, have fear of Allah and waive what is still due to you from usury, if your faith be true; or war shall be declared against you by Allah and His Apostle. If you repent, you may retain your principal, wronging none (with an increase) without being wronged (by suffering a loss).

If your debtor be in straits, grant his a delay until he can discharge his debt; but if you waive the sum as alms, it will be better for you, if you but knew it.

* Riba has also been forbidden in [Al-Nisa 04:160] and [Aal-e-Imran 03:130].

Let us clarify at the onset that there is a consensus of Islamic scholars that bank interest, usury and riba are one and the same. Usury specifically referred to the Riba-al-Jahiliyah (or pre-Islamic Riba), which surfaced when the lender asked the borrower on the loan maturity day if the latter would settle the debt or increase the same and settle later. This increase in the amount of the loan was achieved by charging interest on the amount initially borrowed (the principal sum, Biyaaj). Such transactions

were identified typically with Jewish lenders of the time and were highly exploitative in nature (as all Riba is).

In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declare war against a person who takes Riba. One common misconception is that only the beneficiary of Riba is condemned to this fate. In actuality, if we look at authentic Hadith, we find that the following persons involved in a usurious transaction are all guilty of the crime:

[Sahih Muslim, Book 10, Chapter 40, Hadith 3881] Jabir said that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) cursed the acceptor of interest and its payer, and one who records it, and the two witnesses, and he said: They are all equal.

1. The person who lends on Riba

2. The person who pays Riba

3. The writer of the Riba-based contract

4. The witnesses to the Riba-based contract

After reading this Hadith, the reader will no doubt realize the seriousness of the crime as well as the fact that any one even indirectly associated with a usurious transaction is liable for punishment. And nowhere in the Quran or Sahih Hadith would one find any extenuating conditions from the prohibition of Riba.

Some people are of the opinion that only compound interest (interest on interest) is forbidden, while others try to advocate the permissibility of a small rate of interest just enough to compensate for inflation. (Inflation causes erosion in the real value of money). It must be clarified that simple and compound interest are just a matter of mathematical calculation. A simple interest rate of 10.50% per annum, calculated on a principal of Rs. 100 for 2 years gives the same result as an interest rate of 10% compounded annually for 2 years; the end result is Rs. 121 in both cases. The difference is just in calculation. Secondly, the presence of inflation is itself a result of the capitalistic economic system, which operates on Riba. If the Islamic economic system were followed, there would be very little or no inflation, and the absence of interest will actually get rid of inflationary pressures. Instead of going into detailed discussion about the technicalities of Riba, it is more important to state in layman terms that:

Any pre-determined rate of profit on any investment is Riba. Islam does not identify cash as “capital” and it cannot therefore earn a rent or “interest.” In Islam, money is viewed as potential capital and can only generate an income if it is converted into an asset. For instance, cash cannot earn interest sitting in a savings account. However, if it is converted into an asset like a house, it can then be rented out. Cash in itself is not an earning asset. Therefore, there is no concept of debt financing in Islam, where a loan earns a predetermined rate of interest. Profits are legitimate only on equity investments, only if there is also a risk of loss and the profit amount is variable.

Secondly, Islamic financing does not guarantee safe-play. The principal amount invested can increase or decrease depending on the performance of the business venture in which the money has been invested. Thus, the investor always has the probability of loss present in his mind.

Thirdly, Islam recognizes trading as a legitimate profit earning activity because trading or any other business activity involves considerable time and effort, in addition to monetary investment. Therefore, any amount of profit that a person earns without any investment of time and effort (money growing on its own at a predetermined rate) is haraam.

The highlighted portion above gives the basic definition of Riba and how Islam views cash. One simply cannot advance money as a loan and get a return on it. Secondly, if the debtor is in financial difficulty, then a Muslim lender is to help his Muslim brother and waive off the debt. Thus, qard-e-hasana is the ideal form of a loan. The relevant Ahadeeth in this regard are given below:

[Sahih Bukhari, Volume. 3, Book 34, Hadith 379] Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet said, “The selling of wheat for wheat is Riba (usury) except it is handed from hand to hand and equal in amount. Similarly, the selling of barley for barley is Riba, except if it is from hand to hand and equal in amount, and dates for dates is usury except if it is from hand to hand and equal in amount.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 10, Hadith 3795] Abdullah b. Abu Qatida reported that Abu Qatada (Allah be pleased with him) demanded (the payment of his debt) from his debtor but he disappeared; later on he found him and he said: I am hard up financially, where upon he said: (do you state it) by God? He said: by God. Upon this he (Qatada) said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying:

he who loves that Allah saves him from the torments of the Day of Resurrection should give respite to the insolvent or remit (his debt). This Hadith has been narrated on the authority of Ayyub with the same chain of transmitters.

It is important to note that many banks in Pakistan, under pressure from the Supreme Court ruling, have introduced Musharikah and Mudarabah based financial instruments that are currently Islamic only in name, while the actual underlying transactions are Riba-based. We have included a short list of the commonly available investment alternatives in Pakistan that are actually Riba-based:

Saving deposits, fixed time deposits at commercial banks.

National savings certificates

Special savings certificates

Regular income certificates

Defense savings certificates

Foreign exchange bearer certificates (government bonds)

Federal investment bonds (government bonds)

Term finance certificates (private corporate bonds)

Government of Pakistan Treasury bills

Provident funds. (These operate as sinking funds in which a portion of the monthly salary is automatically transferred. The monthly payments into the fund grow at a certain interest rate and are then paid as a lump sum amount on the retirement of the employee).

PLS Accounts at banks. (These profit and loss sharing accounts are actually savings deposits that pay a small amount of interest while the original principal amount remains intact).

Home financing schemes (also called leasing arrangements) offered by House Building Finance Corporation; the diminishing Musharikah home financing by Bank Alfalah and other banks.

Car financing arrangements.

Leasing as practiced in Pakistan and abroad. (Though Islam allows Ijara or leasing, it is structured in an entirely different manner and has no resemblance with current leasing arrangements on offer).

Askari Leasing’s Anza Gold certificates.

Army Welfare Trust’s Musharikah certificates (which actually pay a return known to the investor, and it is implicitly guaranteed that the principal amount will remain intact over the duration of the investment).

The money changing business, in which the same currency has two different prices on the spot (bid-and-offer price). Islam does not recognize two different prices of the same commodity at the same time.

Short selling in the stock exchange is considered gambling and is forbidden.

Stock exchange trading through badla financing.

Short-term speculative investment in the stock exchange (less than 14 days) is also gambling.

International trade financing through Letters of Credit.

Credit cards. (Debit cards are Shari’at-compliant because they do not represent a loan and are simply a safer mode of payment for purchases. Similarly, ATM cards are also legitimate).

All types of short term working capital financing like revolving credit and commercial paper that have a stated rate of interest.

The Quran emphatically states that Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) declare war against a person who takes Riba. Would the five daily prayers, the fasts, the zakat and any charity given by a Riba-eater then be admissible? How can Allah accept the salat of a person who is at war with Him and negates His commands? If a person pays or takes Riba, all his Ibadah and prayers are wasted. If, however, a “Muslim” justifies Riba and views it as halaal, he negates the Quranic injunction regarding the prohibition of Riba under all circumstances. Then, he becomes a part of Taghoot and is expelled from the circle of Islam: he cannot call himself a Muslim anymore.

SECTION V:

Brief Overviews

We have added this section in this article because we have alluded to the philosophies of Sufism and Wahhabism quite often, and the reader should know the exact official doctrine of these sects.

a) SUFISM

Perhaps the most glamorous, modern and fashionable creed to follow these days is Sufism or Tasawwuf: the only religion in the world which guarantees divinity for the believer, provided he has the good fortune of finding the most accomplished Sheikh, who has not only claimed but proven his own divinity to the masses. Sufism holds tremendous appeal for the youth, as well as for seasoned old intellectuals. That is the reason why most famous writers, poets and journalists in Pakistan belong to this religion. The key to Sufism’s appeal lies in its entrapment of human vanity, the Devil’s favorite sin. Given the weaknesses and aspirations of the human psyche, who would not want deification for himself? For in essence, that is what Sufism is all about.

The most admirable and splendid accomplishments of Sufism are:

Its success in identifying itself with Islam: Sufism is globally defined as a doctrine within Islam. It is called “Islamic mysticism.” In actuality, Sufism is a religion in itself and has nothing in common with Islam. Islam is the religion of submission to Allah’s Will: it is deen-e- bandagi. Sufism is the religion of becoming one with Allah Himself and sharing in His divinity:

it is deen-e-khudai. While Islam abhors Shirk and calls it Zulm-e-Azeem, Sufism glorifies Shirk

and calls it true accomplishment. While Islam denounces paganism, Sufism borrows from ancient pagan philosophies and creates a new set of beliefs by mixing in some Islamic elements.

The other stroke of brilliance is the institutionalization of the “Wali-hood of a Sufi”: The son of

a wali is also a wali. Therefore, the state of being a Wali is a genetically transferable trait and helps in the deification of the entire family lineage. That is why we find the family pedigrees called Chishtia, Naqshbandia, Mujaddadia, Junaidia, Rizwia, Qadria, Ashrafia and Suharwardia etc. with their respective Gaddi-nasheens, who will forever rule the hearts of the peasantry and polity in Pakistan.

Lets look at the basic tenets of this religion of the much-revered mystics, ascetics and sheikhs.

“There is a linguistic connection between the three words ‘myth’, ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystery.’ All are derived from the Greek verb musteion: to close the eyes or the mouth. All three words, therefore, are rooted in an experience of darkness and silence.” 26

It is important to note that Allah’s prophets had declared war on ancient pagan mythology. But when monotheists turned to mysticism, mythology reasserted itself as the chief vehicle of religious experience. 27 The basic premise of Sufism (which is said to be Islamic mysticism) uses the same logic, as did ancient pagans of Babylon. They believed that God was a divine primordial stuff from which other gods emerged in pairs; and from them, other spirits emerged. The divine essence became more and more contaminated till it reached humans. Yet all humans contain this divine essence and it is possible to climb the ladder back to ever greater purity until we become one with the original, pure divine raw material called God. In Sufism, God is envisaged as Light (Noor) and all of us, through silent meditation and many other physical and mental disciplines can look inwards and find God within us. Gautama Buddha, as well as the Hindu Brahmins, preached this philosophy more than 2,000 years ago. The only difference is that Sufism preaches the same philosophies under the cloak of Islam, a religion that is fundamentally against mythology.

26 John Macquarrie, Thinking About God (London, 1957), p. 34. 27 Karen Armstrong, A History of God, p. 244.

Since our aim is to provide only the basics of Sufism, we will not go into much detail. While Islam tells a Muslim to use only the Quran, Sahih Hadith and Ijma-e-Sahaba as sources of knowledge, Sufism believes in “Tareeqat”, which basically nullifies Shariat, the basics of Emaan and Aqeeda, and emphasizes blind following of the commands of the Sheikh/mentor. It is important to mention the “Trinity” of Sufism, which comprises the official doctrine of this religion:

i. Hulool

The concept of hulool says that if a person reaches the ultimate purity of Nafs (id) and Ruh (soul), he elevates himself so much that Allah steps down from his divine throne and merges Himself with that person. This belief is common among Hindus, who believe certain holy men to be avatars (different manifestations) of God on this earth. Some of their idols also qualify as avatars. A Munafiq Jew, Abdullah bin Sabah, during the caliphate of Usman (RA), spread this belief that Ali (RA) is God Incarnate and made of Noor. Abdullah bin Sabah thus invented this philosophy of hulool. (That is, Ali (RA) had reached divinity because of his piety, which prompted Allah to merge Himself with Ali (RA). Allah forbid!). Although Ali (RA) had Abdullah bin Sabah killed by throwing him into fire, this belief found popularity and kept spreading. One of the first to adopt this belief among Sufis was Mansoor Al- Hallaj, who screamed "Ana-ul-Haq" (I'm the Truth!) and was executed for this blasphemy by the caliph in Baghdad. However, the followers of Sufism glorify his impudence. For instance, Al-Ghazzali stated that Al-Hallaj had not been blasphemous but only unwise in proclaiming an esoteric truth that could be misleading to the uninitiated.

Since we are thankfully part of the uninitiated lot, we also consider Al-Hallaj to be too confident of his own glory. His claim was an obvious manifestation of how dangerous this philosophy is in leading a person towards outright Shirk.

ii. Wahdat-ul-Wujood

This is the second point in the trinity of Sufism. This theory borrows directly from Buddhism and Hinduism and claims that all things in the universe are actually God: only God exists in reality, and all objects in the universe, alive or inanimate, are manifestations of the Creator Himself. What our senses perceive is actually an illusion created by the mind. The truth of existence is that everything is an avatar of God and therefore, there is no difference between the Creator and Creation. This theory actually denies the separate existence of God, which amounts to Shirk by Negation 28 . As there is no difference between a bird and a stone, a kafir and a Muslim, the devil or the jinn, custard pudding or excrement, so even the worship of an idol can lead a person to God; the idol itself contains the essence of God, as everything is God. It is wahdat-ul-wajood then, that makes Sufism so tolerant of other religions and advocates the philosophy of all religions being equally correct. It does not matter whether a person is a practicing Jew or a Hindu, as long as he finds the right mentor (sheikh) who will guide him to Allah. From the viewpoint of Sufism then, worship in a temple, in a church or in a mosque holds the same value for God. The fact that the Quran stated 14 centuries ago that only MUSLIMS would be admitted to heaven has no importance whatsoever. This particular theory was invented and taught by famous Sufi, Ibn-e-Arabi, who is known as Sheikh-ul-Akbar.

iii. Wahdat-ul-Shuhood

This is the theory of “Fana-fe-Allah” (losing one’s self in God). Just like Hulool, in which Allah descends from His divine throne and becomes one with a person of ultimate purity of Nafs and Soul, Wahdat- ul-Shuhood means that the pious person rises up from his being and blends with Allah Almighty. This theory was practiced and preached by revered “saints” such as Ali Hajveri, Abdul Qadir Jilani etc.

One can find hundreds of points of contention between Sufism and Islam. While Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advocated in his Hajj-a-tul-Wida address that all humans are equal in the eyes of Allah and that only God-consciousness (Taqwa) elevates a person above other humans, Sufism divides people into categories:

28 Refer to the discussion on Shirk on page 11 of this article.

Ordinary humans

Aulia Allah (further sub-divided into 12 categories, with their numbers remaining constant within each category. For instance, there are only 40 Abdaals in the world; 12 or 22 in Syria, and 18 or 28 in Iraq) 29 .

Nabi

Rasool

Sheikh

Sheikh’s Protégé (Mureed)

Some Sufis have claimed that the status of a “wali” is lower than that of a “Rasool” and higher than that of a “Nabi”. If a person were to study the “accomplishments” of different Aulia/Sufis/Saints, he would discover an uncanny similarity regarding the miracles given to different prophets and the feats performed by these saints. Despite the fact that Allah has informed us that prophethood (and consquently, ability to perform miracles) came to an end with the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), many saints have laid claim to continuity of miracles through the spirit/noor of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). However, in order to deflect strong criticism, they have resorted to different terminology: While a prophet performs a miracle by raising a dead person (a miracle given to Jesus (AS)), a wali performs a karamat when he lays claim to the ability of raising people from the dead. Where as a prophet receives a revelation from Allah, a wali experiences ilhaam, that is, an idea implanted in his heart by Allah. Just as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) experienced temporary death, as claimed by these people, and is now alive in his grave, these saints too are still alive and are involved in conducting the affairs of this universe as well as interceding with Allah on behalf of their followers. These dead saints are now considered “parda-posh”, that is, they are hidden from the eyes of ordinary living humans.

According to the rules of Tareeqat, the Mureed cannot move an inch without the prior consent of the Sheikh. He is also to discontinue his salat if the Sheikh calls for him, as this is considered better (afzal) than completing the salat. To be a Mureed, it is important to follow the Sheikh without question or doubt, even if the sheikh orders the Mureed to do something against Shariat.

Can Sufism then be considered a mere variant of Islam? Can variant doctrines mutually co-exist within Islam? Can different or contradictory doctrines proliferate symbiotically within Islam? After going through the discussion on Emaan and Taghoot, the reader will agree with us when we state that Islam does NOT allow different schools of thought: its message has been perfected, and that is a basic tenet of the Islamic philosophy.

b) WAHHABISM

Those Muslims (including us) who propagate the philosophy of following “orthodox” Islam, that is, the three sources of knowledge discussed earlier, are labeled as Wahhabi. The term connotes rigidity, fanaticism, orthodoxy, as well as a resistance to reformation in the teachings of Islam. An explanation, then, is in order as to what Wahhabism actually is and what are the origins of this sect.

For Wahhabism is a sect; it is the official creed of Saudi Arabia as the ruling Al-Saud family is Wahhabi. The inspirer of this sect was Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792), the son of a local theologian in the land of Nejd, Saudi Arabia. Muhammad’s father advocated the ultra-orthodox interpretation of Islam. His young son also started to preach the return to the roots of Islam and he was particularly against the worship of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and the worship of dead saints at holy shrines. He denounced all non-Sunni as well as some Sunni sects. In 1744, while preaching in Deraiya, Nejd, a power hungry local emir, Ibn Saud, noticed his teachings 30 . Ibn Saud adopted the doctrine of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab to declare war against other sects, and initiated carnage. Thus, Wahhabism acquired the fanatic connotation. Ibn Saud entered a formal contract with Muhammad in which he made Muhammad swear spiritual allegiance only to Ibn Saud and not to any

29 For further study on this interesting topic, please refer to Maulana Shah Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Shariat-o-Tareeqat, Chapter 9, pg. 337. 30 At that time, the Caliphate was established in Istanbul, but the caliph allowed local emirs to administer their lands, as long as they swore allegiance to the Caliphate and paid the taxes.

other emir. He also had Muhammad agree that the preacher would never stop Ibn Saud from exacting necessary tributes from the subjects.

Why did Muhammad mortgage his beliefs to a petty ameer’s power designs? And why did he seal the contract by giving his daughter in marriage to Ibn Saud? By 1792, Ibn Saud had conquered the cities of Riyadh, Kharj and Qasim. In 1801, Karbala fell and a Shia massacre ensued. In 1802, the people of Taif were slaughtered. In 1803, Ibn Saud ordered the sharif of Mecca to destroy the domed tombs of the Prophet (PBUH) and the caliphs. But that was not done. And here is the undoing of this sect and its doctrine.

Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab belonged to the Humbali school of thought, which believes in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other humans being alive in their respective graves. How could he give his consent to destroy the tombs? The fact that the Humbali Aqeeda is itself a transgression (Taghoot) explains why Wahhabis are not true Muslims. It also explains why Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab so conveniently pawned his teachings to the selfish interests of Ibn Saud. However, the power hungry ameer did succeed and Saudi Arabia is, till this day, ruled by the Saud clan, which is ostentatiously supported by the United States. The Hanbali school of thought is the official doctrine of the country, though that is not voiced openly.

Wahhabism, thus, is a separate “Muslim” sect and a misnomer for people like us who believe in following the original and clear message of Islam and in peaceful preaching of the teachings of Islam.

FINAL THOUGHT:

Ittehad Bain-Ul-Muslimeen

Perhaps the most oft-discussed issue today, one that has concerned many intellectuals over time, is that of the unity of Muslims all over the world. We do not need to create a heart-rending picture of the woes of the Muslim world. What is more important is to question the approach with which this problem is being tackled and then to discuss the workable solution that will effectively end the misery of the Muslim world.

The scholars that have jumped onto the bandwagon of ethnic and sectarian tolerance include many eminent names. All these scholars advocate the philosophy of peaceful co-existence of all sects within Islam: they say that Shiites and Sunnis share the same beliefs and since the differences between them are political, they should stop slaughtering each other and make peace. Barelvis, Deobandis, Wahhabis, Ahmadis and Ahl-e-Hadith should shake hands and stop bickering over peripheral religious issues, since they are all Muslims and believe in one God. But then, so do Christians and Jews!

The question then is: “Is an ittehad possible through this approach of resignation, tolerance 31 and passivity especially when the difference between right and wrong has been laid down?” NO!!!

The reason why different Muslim sects are at one others’ throats is that the topics of debate are hardly peripheral: they are related to basic beliefs. One sect deifies Ali (RA); another proclaims divinity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), yet another declares Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be made of light, yet another sees saints sharing in the powers of Allah that are actually the sole prerogative of Allah. What Muslims have forgotten is the actual message and the belief system of Islam. They do not realize that proclaiming divinity for Ali (RA) or Muhammad (PBUH) is Shirk. We have all forgotten the meaning of Allah’s rope. Lets take another look at the following ayahs, which we have all read in our textbooks during our school years:

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslims. And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.” [03:102-103]

And here we are today, proudly calling ourselves Sunni Hanafi, Shia, Barelvi, Deobandi, Ahmedi, Ismaili, Ahl-e-Hadith, Wahhabi, Mutazili, Sufi and Salafi; we call ourselves everything but MUSLIM. That is simply because we are NOT Muslims in the first place and the disguise of loud-mouthed piety is convenient for hiding our sins. We commit Shirk, we eat forbidden food, we indulge in heresies (Bidd’ah) of a wide variety, we follow the religions and traditions of our ancestors and forego the teachings of the Quran and Muhammad (PBUH). Is ittehad then possible between such divergent belief systems?

What were the origins of Christians and Jews? Jews were once Muslims, the followers of the commandments of David (AS), Solomon (AS) and Moses (AS), the direct recipients of bounty sent from heaven (Mun Salwa). The Christians were the followers of Jesus (AS) of Nazareth, a prophet of Allah; they too were once Muslims. What is self-evident in the history of these two monotheistic religions is that they are corrupted forms of Islam. They strayed from the true path. The “Muslim” Ummah is simply repeating ancient history. There is no such thing as straying from Islam. If a person strays from the message of Islam, if he lets go of Allah’s rope, he becomes a non-Muslim: a Jew, a Christian, a Sufi, a Hindu, a Barelvi, an Ahl-e-Hadith, an Ismaili, a Shia, a Deobandi, a Hanbali, a Hanafi, a Wahhabi, a Mutazili, or an Ahmedi. One thing he cannot lay claim to is being a Muslim.

Ittehad-e-bain-ul-muslimeen has eluded the greatest thinkers, the greatest scholars and the notorious clergy for many centuries now. The key behind the possibility and the implementation of such an

31 Tolerance is the new buzzword and the latest media creed. Tolerant people (whose morals are pliant and malleable and flexible to the demands of time) are IN. Orthodox and fundamentalist is OUT.

ittehad is to rediscover our true faith and follow it in letter and spirit as it was followed in the days of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This goal can only be achieved by saying NO to sectarianism, by rejecting different “Muslim” sects, by jumping off the bandwagon of tolerance and by once again preaching the true word of Allah as commanded in Surah Al-Asr.

The believers of the philosophy we have advocated in this article are labeled as orthodox, fanatics, retrogressive, fundamentalist, Wahhabi and with many other such stereotypes. This is precisely why Surah Al-Asr calls for patience and endurance. It is every Muslim’s duty to find the true message of Islam, to apply it to his own life and to preach it to those around him. Any hardships along the way must be born with fortitude. Fear of social pressure and ostracism must be put on the backburner as Allah’s pleasure and blessing is of utmost importance. Bringing all Muslims together in one faith, ISLAM, is the only way of achieving true unity and therefore, true strength and success in this world and the Hereafter. In this context, the reader should analyze the following Hadith:

[Sahih Muslim – Book 20, Hadith 4553] It has been narrated on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said: People used to ask the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) about the good times, but I used to ask him about bad times fearing lest they overtake me. I said: Messenger of Allah, we were in the midst of ignorance and evil, and then God brought us this good (time through Islam). Is there any bad time after this good one? He said: Yes. I asked: Will there be

a good time again after that bad time? He said: Yes, but therein will be a hidden evil. I asked: What will be the evil hidden therein? He said: (That time will witness the rise of) the people who will adopt ways other than mine and seek guidance other than mine. You will know good points as well as bad points. I asked: Will there be a bad time after this good one? He said: Yes. (A time will come) when there will be people

standing and inviting at the gates of Hell. Whoso responds to their call they will throw them into the fire. I said: Messenger of Allah, describe them for us. He said: All right. They will be a people having the same complexion as ours and speaking our language.

I said: Messenger of Allah, what do you suggest if I happen to live in that time? He

said: You should stick to the main body of the Muslims and their leader. I said: If they

have no (such thing as the) main body and have no leader? He said: Separate yourself from all these factions, though you may have to eat the roots of trees (in a jungle) until death comes to you and you are in this state.

* Also quoted in [Sahih Bukhari – Volume 09, Book 88, Hadith 206]

The message given in this Hadith is soul shaking. The reader will undoubtedly be taken aback by the discovery that nothing is more important than to be a true Muslim: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) states, “until death comes to you and you are in this state.” This statement means that one must be in the state of Emaan (true faith) at the moment of death. If there is no group of true Muslims in the world, then one should separate himself from the sects that claim to be Islamic (but actually are not Islamic) even if one has to survive on tree roots because the society does not accept his doctrine and throws him in exile. Today, we see so-called Muslims inventing new religions, new traditions and new ways of worship just to obtain social acceptance. They are doing exactly the opposite of what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised in the above Hadith. Any person who is a true Muslim, who has the unshakable strength of Emaan in his heart, will find true courage to live his life in a manner befitting for a Muslim; he will not succumb to social pressure or blind following of a scholar because the pleasure and blessing of Allah will be his only motivation. Islam expects its followers to be firm in their belief in Allah, it wants them to reject all Taghoots, it wants them to be God-conscious in every living and waking moment, and above all, it expects them to hold firm to Allah’s rope no matter how difficult it becomes in these modern times. Islam is a religion of courage and of high morals. It is not a religion that can be tailored to personal convenience. Living the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and spreading the word of Allah is what our lives are all about. Do we have the courage to rise up to the challenge offered by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the above Hadith? That is the question we must all be asking ourselves.

A Message of Hope

Is there no hope for the followers of different sects, the so-called Muslims of today? What makes our older generations resistant to the message of Islam? The answer lies in the human fear of admitting mistakes and seeing failures in retrospect. What about a 60 year old man who has spent his life saying his prayers five times a day, never missing a fast and always paying the yearly zakat; who has proudly called himself a Barelvi or a Deobandi, has followed ancestral practices and has kept all his savings in a Riba-based bank account? Is there hope for him, if at the age of 60 he discovers the Real Islam and changes his entire outlook? YES!!!

[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 04, Book 52, Hadith 063] Narrated By Al-Bara: A man whose face was covered with an iron mask (i.e. clad in armour) came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first? "The Prophet said, "embrace Islam first and then fight." So he embraced Islam, and was martyred. Allah's Apostle said, A Little work, but a great reward. "(He did very little (after embracing Islam), but he will be rewarded in abundance)."

Did this man say any Salat? Did this man pay any Zakat? Did he Fast during Ramadan? He had never performed any Islamic Ibadaah. All he had with him were his good deeds (if any), but above all, he had Emaan in his heart when he died (was martyred). He gave up his life for Islam and he was forgiven because he died as a Muslim.

As a Muslim, just as we believe in the Day of Judgment, just as we believe Allah to be a strict judge of our deeds, we must also have unquestioning belief in the fact that Allah is the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, the most capable of forgiveness. He has not set an age limit for acceptance of Islam. In fact, He has encouraged all humans to search for the Truth and embrace it whenever they discover it. He is the Most Exalted, the Most Generous and that is why He promises us that:

[Sahih Muslim - Book 035, Number 6499] Abu Dharr reported Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stated: "He who comes with goodness, there are in store for him ten like those and even more than those: 'And he who comes with vice, ' it is only for that that he is called to account. I even forgive him (as I like) and he who draws close to Me by the span of a palm I draw close to him by the cubit, and he who draws close to Me by the cubit I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two hands, and he who walks towards Me I rush towards him, and he who meets Me in the state that his sins fill the earth, but not associating anything with Me, I would meet Him with the same (vastness) of pardon (on My behalf)." This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Waki'.

[Hadith Qudsi No. 34] On the authority of Anas, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Allah, the Almighty, has said: O Son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.

May Allah give us the courage to admit our past mistakes, to purify our Emaan, to follow the True path, to guide others towards the Real Islam; and may Allah help us in enduring any hardships we might face along the way. Ameen.

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