“…the Quran arouses in them (Muslims) the worst communal passion and religious fanaticism which have manifested themselves in murder, slaughter, loot, arson, rape, destruction or desecration of holy places in historical times as also in contemporary period not only in India but almost all over the world”
This passage is taken from the Calcutta Quran Petition, and it is a very accurate representation of the text presented in the scriptures, which was unfortunately overlooked by the honorable Judge. For more clarity to the reader, we will delve into the nature and content of the text. The Quran is compiled of Wahi (Revelations) which Muslims believe as the word of Allah, which were related to the Prophet through Angel Jibraeel. The Prophet rendered these revelations perfectly, word to word for his companions to record and memorise. These revelations were delivered at a number of times during the life of the Prophet, all at crucial junctures. The Quran contains 6230 verses, organized in 114 chapters. The bulk of this material is drawn from Judo Christian mythos prevalent in Arabia at that time. According to one story, the Prophet would visit market places when working as a trader for the business of his first wife Khadijah, where he came across many narrations from the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians who would also frequent these markets. The Quran, along with the Hadees, or literature containing firsthand reports from the companions of the Prophet, format the ethos of Islam. Among the companions who have narrated Hadees and Sunnah, the primary source were his young wife Ayesha, while other narrators included Abu Huraira, Anas Bin Malik, the second caliph Umar. These companions would share episodes of the conduct, actions and sayings of the Prophet, known as Sunnat. These are “practices of the Prophet regarded coequal with the injunction proffered in Quran”. There is more. Not all of what the Prophet did is considered Sunnat. To give an example, the bloodless take over of Makkah is not considered Sunnat, but the massacre of Banu Qurayzah (Jewish tribe of the Prophet’s wife Safiya Binte Huey) is considered as Sunnat. The Prophet married 9 to 11 times, but that is to considered Sunnat. However, he kept concubines, and that is considered as Sunnat.
The petition further goes on to elaborate that, “The fundamental message of Quran is contained in the message of Jihad, a complete phrase for which is Jihad Fi Sabilillah, (Jiahd leading towards Allah’s proscribed path).” With the collapse of Christianity in the west, modern rationalism and humanism have become universal. Faced with this dimension, the exponents of Jihad, who earlier made no bones about what they have stood for, have now been forced to develop a set of apologists to camouflage the true meaning of the term. The petition goes on to expose this in its full implication, using the most authentic Islamic sources.
Is Jihad really a metaphorical concept? One of the most commonly offered apologist explanation for Jihad is, that it has variances – Jihad bis Saif (of sword) or Jihad An Nafs (of soul). While it is true that Jihad has these two variances, the former is vehemently advocated and the latter is meted out to be much inferior in comparison. The proposition that the Quran holds for Jihad, is one of destruction of all non Islamic religions the world over, and this is the comprehensive meaning of the word, Jihad Fi Sabilillah. In the petition, these were two of the verses quoted in this connection:
“Let those who would sacrifice this life for the Hereafter fight in the cause of Allah. And whoever fights in Allah’s cause—whether they achieve martyrdom or victory—We will honour them with a great reward.” 4:74
“Have you not seen those who were told, “Restrain your hands [from fighting] and establish prayer and give zakah”? But then when fighting was ordained for them, at once a party of them feared men as they fear Allah or with [even] greater fear. They said, “Our Lord, why have You decreed upon us fighting? If only You had postponed [it for] us for a short time.” Say, The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who fears Allah . And injustice will not be done to you, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed].” 4:77
In these two verses, it is put out very clearly that they are supposed to fight, and fight physically. The context of the second verse brings out the meaning more clearly. The verse was revealed for those Muslims who had been pleading for restraint and wanting respite from the duty of engaging in murderous confrontations. It is better to understand the concept of Jihad as it developed along the career of the Prophet, because the verses are not in any particular order. The various chapters of Quran are labelled as per their revelation pre and post migration from Makkah to Madina, and the severity towards active Jihad is more prominent in Madni chapters. The verses revealed in Makkah consider the smaller number and less financial prowess of the followers of the Prophet, hence there was not enough strategic depth in the community. This is why the tone of the revelations is more conciliatory in nature, preaches accommodation of other people’s beliefs etc.
Muslims take inspiration from the Prophet and try to emulate his life and work. Therefore the same pattern of conflict has been enacted in every country in the last 1400 years. Wherever Muslims find themselves, such conflict patterns are created as this is the essential aim of Jihad. The three stages of Jihad, elaborating on some of the verses quoted in the petition, will be discussed in detail in the next article.
(This is the 7th article from an ongoing series of articles on The Calcutta Quran Petition. The series will continue)
What was the response of the judiciary on Calcutta Quran Petition
How the judgment on Calcutta Quran Petition completely missed the main point
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