Islam would never allow Farkhunda to be lynched

Published: March 27, 2015
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No longer can the clergy control the minds of people, especially those who are learning the divine message directly. PHOTO: AFP

People protesting against the lynching of Farkhunda. PHOTO: AFP No longer can the clergy control the minds of people, especially those who are learning the divine message directly. PHOTO: AFP

I sat comfortably on a sofa browsing through Facebook; the ambiance was comfortable as was my state of mind. And then flashed an image of Farkhunda – a video clip recorded of the beating and the burning. I clicked on it, I should not have, but I did, I did, I did.

And the realisation that Farkhunda must have hurt, she must have felt agonising pain, she must have screamed, she must have shouted, she must have cried ‘help’, she must have cried ‘murder’, she must have been shocked, she must have been scared, she must have been frightened, she must have known that it was the end, she must have, she must have, she must have, and then she must have died, dawned on me.

Shame on the people who burn questioning women, men, children, of mainstream and minority religions. Who made these self-proclaimed clerics guardians of Islam, or gate-keepers of Islam?

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a very gentle man, he was famed for his honesty, kindness and gentle ways; it was the Prophet’s (pbuh) humanity that made many a people of that era, and of today, convert to Islam. There are countless stories of born again Muslims who have studied the Prophet (pbuh) and his teachings and have changed the course of their own lives for the better.

Why?

The simple answer, because the Prophet (pbuh) was an exceptional soul, he defended the persecuted, he sided with the underdog, he insisted on being kind to people of other faiths, his own slave was the valiant Bilal Habshi, a proud black man and a favourite of the Prophet (pbuh).

How in our logic can we explain the violence of today’s interpretation of Islam?

This cannot be my Islam, a word meaning peace cannot condone violence and bloodshed, and burning alive of fellow humans – it defies logic. Hence to seek answers, I talked to Dr Aslam Abdullah, the imam and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada Jamia Masjid.

Dr Abdullah has written extensively on issues of theological importance and recently talked to Bill O’Reilly of Fox News on extremism and misinterpretation of Islamic values. Here is the link of the interview.

I sat down with Dr Abdullah and talked about the recent heinous events involving young Farkhunda and the savagery that she encountered.

What is the driving force behind the burning of fellow humans, and why are certain so-called Muslim clerics calling it Islamic, and inciting a mob to commit the most macabre acts?

Dr Abdullah: Our clergy is primarily responsible for this madness. It has created a culture of violence against anyone it deems heretic or deviant. They have created anger and hatred in the name of God. It is not Islamic. It is certainly not Muslim. It is not what the Prophet (pbuh) taught us.

It is reported by Muslim that the Prophet (pbuh) clearly stated that while we fight for God, it is wrong to misappropriate valuables acquired at wartime or peace, it is wrong to break commitments and laws that bind us with society, and it is certainly forbidden to inflict injury to the dead.

It is not what the Holy Quran teaches us. On the contrary the Holy Quran teaches us to forgive when provoked to anger. But the clergy has twisted the message of the Holy Quran and turned innocent people into monsters. They provoke and stay back and incite masses to get violent. Islam teaches tolerance while the clergy spreads hatred in the name of God.

It is difficult to convince the masses that violence is wrong and hatred is un-Islamic, since these members of the clergy, who often self-proclaim themselves to be heirs of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), misuse the name of God and the Prophet (pbuh) to promote their own sectarian biases, ideas and agendas.

The Holy Quran’s chapter five, verse 32, mentions the sanctity of human life and reminds the people that murder of one innocent person is like murdering the entire humanity. It asks believers to stand for the protection of that one human life even at the peril of their own.

What is the real and true Islamic teaching on this kind of burning, and crimes against women and humanity?

Dr Abdullah: Mutilation of human bodies is unacceptable. Burning people to death is unacceptable. Violence in any form and shape is unacceptable in Islam and there is no justification of this act in Islam. Anyone who engages in these acts is not only the enemy of the people, but also an enemy of God. It is the most loathsome act. Islam invites people to peace as says the Holy Quran in chapter 10, verse 25 that the path to Allah (swt) is the path of peace.

Why is Islam in such turmoil?

Dr Abdullah: The Muslim world is in turmoil because the religious clergy has divided Islam into sects and factions; each sect is claiming its superiority over the other and is unwilling to tolerate differences. The Holy Quran asserts the importance of unity in chapter three, verse 103 and reminds the believers that they must hold fast together and avoid divisions in all forms.

Violence has become the norm to silence others. There is hardly any debate and discussion. Matters are resolved through despotism and violence. The gatekeepers of Islam do not empower the masses of Islamic teachings. They divide them for their benefits and instil hatred against others. Unless we do not state, loudly and boldly, that there is no room for violence in Islam, or violence in the name of God, we will continue to face this madness and will remain in turmoil.

How is it so easy for men to mislead other men to commit mob crimes that defy logic? What are the Islamic views on such clerics and the Islamic teachings on crimes committed against unarmed women?

Dr Abdullah: We live in a male chauvinist and male-dominant world. The clerics give religious justification to this chauvinism by declaring men as superior, or rulers of women. They consider the presence of women an act of religious sacrilege. Women in their scheme of thought are only there to serve them. But again the main problem is the theology of hatred and violence that does not allow any differences and opposition. This aggression must come to an end if Islam wants to emerge as the true divine faith.

The Holy Quran reminds in chapter 42, verse 3742, the importance and significance of forgiveness and overlooking the mistakes of others.

What is the reason for the breakdown of humanity, civility and society in Muslim nations? Why such disconnect? Is secularism acceptable in Islam?

Dr Abdullah: Because the masses are illiterate in their religious knowledge, hence are totally dependent on a clergy that is divisive, myopic and insensitive to the divine call for peace and tolerance. Secularism in its essence means that the state should not promote any one religion, and therefore should not base its decisions on the basis of religious dictates of the clergy, but instead on the basis of the people’s will to their own welfare.

Islam does not want the state to be governed by a sectarian clergy (a clergy that has divided us into Shia, Sunni, Deobandi, Barelvi and many other schools of thought). Islam wants the people’s participation for the common good of its citizens and of all humanity.

In the case of Farkhunda, all Islamic norms were violated. The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned on occasion, (as stated in al BukhariAbu Dawud) that one is never to attack a wounded person, but she was attacked. The Prophet (pbuh) has prohibited the killing of anyone who is tied or is in captivity (al BukhariAbu Dawud). The Prophet (pbuh) has prohibited the believers from loot and plunder and burning the dead (al BukhariAbu Dawud). The Prophet (pbuh) has prohibited the believers from mutilating the corpses of the enemies (al BukhariAbu Dawud).

Farkhunda’s murder is the outcome of a theology that does not view the other as the creation of Allah (swt). Such a theology views the other as an enemy and insists that people with varied ideologies have no right to live and survive with their opinions and ideas. This murder should have created a major uproar in the Muslim world. Yet the clergy is silent. Women are the ones who are coming forward with their voices, and this is a good sign.

No longer can the clergy control the minds of people, especially those who are learning the divine message directly.

Bisma Tirmizi

Bisma Tirmizi

The author lives for the simple pleasures and her musings over a cup of tea almost always find a way to be the written word. She also writes for pakteahouse.net. Her book 'Feast With A Taste Of Amir Khusro', published by Rupa Publications, is available in stores now.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.