Turbulent History of Islam
We are living in a corrupt world, where almost everybody is corrupt. If you’re a common man, then your corruption is on a very low level; if you’re a politician, your corruption level is higher than a common man. If you are a religious celebrity, then your corruption level is higher than the politician. So this is a strange world where everybody is busy looting and plundering, making any excuse to suppress and defile others. Some people use politics and some others use religions to do this. When we speak about the entire world, we actually mean the majority of people are corrupt. Of course there are exceptions, but these exceptions are so negligible in number that their presence or absence will make no difference.
Islam is a religion which was born some 15 centuries ago and Islam has a very turbulent history. If you read history of Islam, you’ll come to know that from the very beginning, Islam has been made subject to a lot of killing. There have been a lot of people who posed to be pure Muslim leaders, but they were not after purity; they were after power, money and lust.
Most Muslims do not get tired of defending Islam. They say that it has nothing to do with any mischief or trouble.
Most of the time, I also defend Islam; but when I do, I’m defending the esoteric aspect of the religion: the Sufi Islam. The political Islam has always been turbulent right from its beginning.
Out of four of the most popular and immediate successors of Prophet Muhammad, three of them were assassinated. The first one, Abu Bakr Siddiq, was the caliph for two years; he was already old, [so he died of natural causes]. Then Umar Bin Khattab, Usman-e-Ghani and then Hazrat Ali: all three of them were killed. Then we have a very sad event that took place in Karbala. All the men in Prophet Mohammad’s household, for except Imam Hussain ul-Abidin, were killed in Karbala.
There is something. I thought a lot about it and asked, ‘What is wrong with Islam?’ It is not just today that they’re killing people. Those who know Islamic history will not be offended by what I’m saying, because they must know what Islam has been going through since its birth. Firstly, since Islam’s birth, it has been going through a lot of turmoil, misunderstandings and killing. Secondly, Islam has been through a phenomenal crisis of [not] observing respect for the elders in Islam or non-Muslim human beings. Respect is one aspect that Muslims have not observed as a whole. Sufis do observe respect, but most non-Sufi Muslims have this problem: they’re very aggressive, violent and short-sighted.
I thought a lot about why Islam has been subjected to so much killing since its birth. I ask Muslims to accept and admit the truth; there is no harm in doing so. The irony is, those who killed the household of Prophet Mohammad were Muslims. Those who killed their second, third and fourth caliphs were Muslims.
There was a Companion of the Prophet by the name of Abu Huraira. ‘Huraira’ is an Arabic word for cats and ‘Abu’ means ‘Father,’ so ‘Father of the Cats’ was his nickname. He spent a lot time with Prophet Mohammad and used to share the knowledge he obtained in company of Prophet Mohammad with people. According to narrations from the Traditions of the Prophet, we find that he was reluctant to reveal all types of knowledge that he obtained from the Prophet. He clearly said, ‘I have told you just one type of knowledge that I obtained from the Prophet. If I told you the other type of knowledge I obtained from the Prophet, you would kill me.’ So beheading, killing, chopping hands and legs off was the normal pattern of that society; otherwise he would have said, ‘You would punish me,’ or ‘You would beat me.’ However, people in that society never used these words; they only said, ‘I’ll kill you.’
When somebody does anything wrong, you don’t get angry straight away. It builds up. They do one thing wrong and you don’t like it, so you tell them, ‘Don’t do this again.’ When they do it again, you feel frustrated; then you tell them with some more authority, ‘I told you not to do it and you’re still doing it. Don’t do it again!’ If that person doesn’t listen to you and he does it again for the third time, maybe then you will show anger.
The Muslims from the Arab world, where Islam was born, consider themselves to be the only real Muslims. They think Muslims who come from places like India, Pakistan or Bangladesh are ‘fake’ Muslims.
Aggression and extremism is in the nature of [Arabs].
From this part of the ‘real’ Islamic world, for the first time if you do something wrong, they show anger with so much intensity like they have been warning you not to do it for the last 150 years.
Another thing was that people in that part of the world did have but very little intelligence. The Quran said 49:4 said so.
People must understand that a Muslim from the Arab world behaves differently from a Muslim that comes from [Indian] subcontinent. Their behaviour and temperament is different. People from subcontinent will take everything easily; they’re more into forgiving others rather than chopping their heads off. On contrary to this, the ‘real’ custodians of Islam they will not give you margin of error.
Now the question that I had in my mind is, ‘Why has Islam always been turbulent? It’s a bloody history. What is wrong with Islam?’
Not much wrong is with Islam. More wrong is with the people for whom Islam was founded.
[Killing] was in their nature. They used to kill each other on tiny issues like, ‘Why did your cow drink water from my stream?’ If you were to look at them, they would say, ‘Why are you staring at me?’ They will think that they have been humiliated and insulted, therefore [you] have no right to live. This is extremism.
If you are a common person dealing with peaceful and calm people, you yourself will feel relaxed. However, if you’re dealing with aggressive and really outspoken – almost rude – people, you will feel invited to behave the same way that they are behaving with you. Perhaps when God was sending them the religion of Islam, God was aware of their temperament and God had to keep up his standard with them. If God didn’t introduce severe punishments, they would take the Quran and Islam as a joke.
They would not believe in God’s power and authority if God was all merciful.
If I play cricket and you also play cricket, there will be an abstract, invisible bond because we share the same sport. Similarly, if God did not show anger, since they’re such angry people, they would not take it from God.
God became a little aggressive in the Quran because he was dealing with aggressive people.
In one of the Traditions of the Prophet Mohammad, he said, ‘When you’re dealing with arrogant people, deal with them with arrogance. If you don’t, then don’t blame others.’
Muslims who are from other parts of the world are not as aggressive as the ‘real’ Muslims are; they are not into fighting and killing. However people of the Arabian peninsula were historically warriors. The royal family of Saudi Arabia were pirates; they used to sell water.
In Pakistan, about 30-35 years ago, every time Eid would come, we would go to a tailor, he would measure our body and then he would stitch our suits. Now, we buy suits from Marks and Spencer’s, Macy’s, etc. However, in those times, it had to be tailor-made.
In a similar way, a religion is always tailor-made. When God customises a religion, this customisation is in accordance with the temperament and attributes of the nation that the religion is about to be introduced to.
Therefore, the religion of Islam is not suitable for non-Arabs.
Now, a major crime is being committed against the Quran: contextualised verses of the Quran are being made universalised.
There are verses that have a context, without which you can’t interpret them. If you are universalising such verses and applying them to everybody in this world, this is a crime against the Quran.
I have talked about it many times.
For example, if you ask your romantic partner to [take off their clothes] in the bedroom, then it is okay because you’re [in private]. If someone tells people your words and does not mention that it was said in the bedroom, it is a crime. Similarly, when the Quran said, ‘Go kill non-Muslims,’ this was said on the battlefield there and then, not for today. It was revealed for that moment in time.