Hard as it may seem, I can understand people rejecting change and being determined to continue to live as the Prophet lived in the 14th century. But what I cannot understand is how they are able to twist the words and actions of the Prophet, in whom they so vehemently believe, and commit such inhuman crimes in his name.
There are in fact a number of Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and Koranic verses that glorify martyrdom. But as the commander-in-chief of the Muslim army, the Prophet may have encouraged martyrdom in the battlefield to raise the morale of his soldiers. With the absence of military rank, medals and all modern methods of honouring soldiers, and with his role as spiritual leader of his followers, Mohammed could only promise mystical rewards.
Martyrdom was, therefore, limited to the battleground; the Prophet promised heavenly paradise to those who fell during battle. The holy Koran, meanwhile, admonishes Muslims not to count those killed fighting for Allah: “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision,” says a verse 169 of Aal-Imraan chapter.
Despite this, it is neither Prophet Mohammed nor the holy Koran that is to blame for today’s mayhem, simply because any rational human being would place these canonical texts in their historical perspective and realise that they applied to a different time, a different world and different circumstances.
I am unaware of any occasion or record in which the Prophet or even the holy Koran sanctioned people to kill innocent children, women, elderly and non-combatant civilians in their homes, work places, mosques and schools.
It is unfortunate that Islam - which opened the minds of people to science and research, liberated man from the worship of rocks and sculptures, challenged human beings to think and reflect, which started its message with a veneration of the written word - has been ossified into a dogma of death and ignorance.
Instead, one can see that it is modern age self-appointed prophets who have hijacked Islam for their own personal goals. Firebrand clerics such as Sayyid Abul A’la Al Mawdudi of Pakistan and Sayyid Qutub of Egypt preached their own rigid brand of Islam and converted the Muslim youth into time bombs.
It is these men and their present day disciples who reinvented Islam and preached an Islamic era of inquisition where no other faith could exist alongside Islam. It is they who made martyrdom and self-immolation the uppermost duty of the Muslims.
Classifying Muslim morality into four aspects, Mawdudi made Ihsan (Godliness) as the highest stage. Further elaborating on this, he said it was impossible for people to be counted Muhsinin (Godly people): “… who stand passively by and see the religion of God dominated by forces of kufr (infidels), the sanctions of Allah (hudud) completely ignored and divine laws being at best neglected and at worst overturned … the reign of tyranny and oppression unleashed on God’s earth by God’s rebels …”
Sayyid Qutub, himself a disciple of Mawududi, went even further to claim that the Islamic world was immersed in ignorance (jahiliyah) compared to that which prevailed in Mecca before the appearance of Prophet Mohammed.
“… The entire life of man should revert to God. Men should not take any decision in any matter or aspect of life on account of their autonomy … all systems and governments should be done away with. After the hegemony of Islam, people will not have the liberty of thought to embrace any religion of their choice …” he wrote in his seminal book The Milestones, simply brushing aside the Koranic verse which says: “There is no compulsion in religion.”
Sayyid Qutub was in such a hurry to bring about the change he wanted that he called his Egyptian fellows to launch an armed revolt against society: “… the present Egyptian society is a jahili (anti-Islamic) society. Egypt’s present system of government is a jahili system. Every Muslim should, therefore, exert that this order should come to an end. Using force in this exercise is not only permissible but obligatory …” he wrote.
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