|Kitab-ul-Taqdeer (Book of Destiny)|
How did it all happen?
The Quranic verses presented so far in this book should establish, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that:
i) the Universe operates under laws set by Allah, and
ii) Man is a responsible being who enjoys freedom of choice of right and wrong. He can choose an action but has to bear its consequence (pre-ordained by Allah). This is the Law of Results of Action, which is constant and firm. ‘Ye shall reap what ye shall sow’ is the fundamental basis of life.
Our Current (Muslim) Beliefs
Contrary to this, we have been repeatedly
told by parents, friends, teachers, religious scholars, mystics etc., and read in the various interpretations of the Quran, compilations of Hadith (Traditions of Mohammed), early Islamic literature etc., that:
Not a leaf stirs or Man moves without God’s consent. Every event in the Universe occurs only when God allows. Man cannot interfere in the function of the Universe. Not only that, Man has absolutely no control over his own affairs. Each and every event in one’s life is pre-destined even before one’s birth. Destiny is unchangeable. God is omnipotent and owns absolute power and will. At his own sweet will, He bestows poverty or affluence, honor or disgrace, health or sickness, life or death, and change of fortune etc. No human effort can affect a change in fate. Therefore, men should unflinchingly accept their destiny pre-ordained by God. The more docile and accepting a man, the closer to God he is!
The question, then, is how did such contradictory beliefs came to stay as ‘Islamic ideology’ despite the Quran being there in its original form all along? How did such a fundamental change occur?
The importance and the magnitude of the problem necessitates a thorough and deep examination of it.
The question of Destiny has been treated in Islamic literature much more than any other. Almost every religious work on Islam deals with it because taqdeer has been made one of the requisites of one’s ‘iman’ (conviction) -- I shall deal with it later in this book. All the writings on the question (treating it partly or wholly) have only complicated the already confusing situation. The reason for this aggravation was that those treatises were based not on the Quran but on philosophy and logic not remotely connected with the Holy Book. I do not propose to dwell on such writings not only because of their immense volume but also because of their being largely incomprehensible to the
The Old Scholastic Philosophy is Futile Today
average man. The archaic
style of writing and the approach to issues through scholastic philosophy is useless in the modern age and the changed attitude of men to life. Fore example, Imam Ibn Hazam Andalusi, one of the most prominent early Muslim authors, has treated the question of fate and destiny in his famous ‘alMilal waalNahal’. He opens the discussion thus:
Those who believe that action comes with ability have said that the question is: Does a ‘kaafir’ (dissenter) possess the ability of ‘imaan’ (conviction) which he has been ordered, or does he not? They have replied that: A kaafir has the ability of imaan as a replacement, i. e., he will not have dissent for ever but will replace it with imaan.
The desirable answer is: He, with his good limbs and high obstacles, is apparently able to simultaneously have dissent and imaan along as he stays a kaafir. He will remain unable unless God helps him. He can act when he is helped and thus becomes able. Now it can be said that has been made to do what he did.
I am sure one cannot gain anything from this discussion which takes up hundreds of pages! Sadly, this is the style and mode of most of the Islamic literature which is even till today taught to students of religion.
History is undependable
Who introduced anti Quranic views and how
did they come to be the very basis of Islamic ideology? Naturally, it is a question for History to answer. It is bound to come as a shocking surprise to many of my readers that, sadly, the early Islamic history is utterly unreliable from the academic and technical point of view. Since it is outside the scope of this book, I shall very briefly present the reasons for the situation:
i) The very first documented history, considered by Muslims as authentic as well as the source of all history, is the one authored by Imam Tabri. It consists of thirteen volumes. This work was compiled nearly 300 years after Mohammed. It was based not on any documented record but, by Tabri’s own testimony, on oral tradition. Such a work is obviously not very reliable. Later, all historical account were based on Tabri’s work. That is why it is know as ‘the mother of histories’.
ii) Only a neutral and objective account of events can be a true reflection of an era. Muslim history was compiled at a time when the Muslim community had already split into several sects. Therefore, all literature produced during that period could not be entirely free of sectarian philosophy and influences. The question of taqdeer, among others, has become one of the basis for sectarianism. That is why Abu Zahra Masri (Egyptian) thinks that today it is difficult even to establish the founder of the ‘fate doctrine’.
In ‘al-Mazaheb allslamia’ (the Muslim Sects), he writes:
“(when) A sect becomes an established group it is very difficult to
ascertain its original founder. Hence, it is not easy to establish the
birth of that sect.”
iii) We (Muslims) have since long adopted as firm belief the idea that all ancestral personalities, and literature attributed to them, is beyond and above criticism – it tantamounts to disrespect. Our children are taught the maxim: …………………
(It is a mistake to point out a mistake of ancestors).
Under the circumstances, not many dare cast a critical look at early Muslim literature.
The Correct Attitude to History
Having thus established the unreliability of
early Muslim history, I must point out that the events and accounts pertaining to Mohammed and his companions referred to in the Quran must be considered as authentic and true. This logically follows the authenticity of the Quran. The correct approach to really Muslim history, therefore, should be that: accounts of history in contravention of the Quranic evidence must be rejected as factually wrong; events supported by the Quran must be accepted as fact. Events and accounts not mentioned in the Quran cannot be thus tested. Since the question of taqdeer has been dealt with by the Quran, we can test the later-day beliefs and ideas against the Quran for their validity.
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The Quranic stand on taqdeer has already been presented. One can find
The Idea of Compulsion at the Dawn of Islam
reference in the Quran to
the people of the time who believed in the idea of compulsion. Sura Anaam says: ‘The polytheists will say that if Allah so willed, we wouldn’t have been polytheists nor our ancestors nor we would have adopted certain prohibitions....’ (6/149). The Quran pronounces them as rejecters of truth. (16/35, 43/20).
Sura Yaseen says: ‘And when they are asked to use their wealth to feed the hungry, the dissenters (Kaafirs) say to the Convinced (momeneen) that Allah would have provided food to the hungry if He so willed. Their hunger is Allah’s will. How can we go against His will and provide food to them?’ (36/47).
The Quran says that they are clearly misled.
This shows that, even in Mohammed’s time, there were people who believed in the concept of compulsion. The Quran rejected this view and replaced it with its positive stand. The problem of fate and pre-destiny was solved beyond the shadow of a doubt. It has been reported that Omar asked a thief why he had
Punishment for the Compulsion concept
committed thievery. He replied.
‘It was God’s will.’ Omar sentenced him to the legal punishment for stealing and extra lashes on top of it. He explained, ‘The standard sentence is for stealing. The lashes are for attributing something false to Allah’ -- (Al-Mazaaheb Al-Islamia by AbuZahra Masry. P-139 - Urdu Translation).
The concept of Compulsion could not gain a foothold in the Muslim world as long as the Quran remained the basis of their ideology. It could not have because the Quran so clearly and categorically declared it polytheistic and dissenting (kufr). But when the Quran was pushed into the background and the watchful eye of the central authority of the Caliphate (the righteous successors of Mohammed) was no more, the Muslim mind was infiltrated and polluted by various anti-Quranic concepts. The question of taqdeer was but one of them. One report says that the very first sect of Islam, formed on the basis of ideology, was the Jabariya (the Compulsionists)!
Before the advent of Islam, the people of Arabia consisted mainly of nomadic desert tribes living on dates as shepherds. They were sandwiched by the age-old glorious kingdoms of Iran and Byzantiam. Firdausi’s ‘Shahnama’ is a testimony to the Iranian’s degrading attitude towards the Arabs. These very ‘lowly’ Arabs, after having adopted Islam, ran over and captured the vast Iranian empire. The defeated and overpowered Iranians could not accept the humiliation and kept the fires of revenge raging in their hearts. They knew that the reason for the Arabs’ newly-found might was their newly-adopted philosophy of life (Islam). Hormazan, a captive governor from Iran, was brought
to Median. Omar asked him for his thoughts over the
incredible defeat of Iran by a handful of Arabs who were considered too low in the Iranian eye even to enter a battle with. Hormazan’s response was very significant. He said, “Previously it was Iran against the Arabs, Now, it is Iran against the Arabs and their Allah!”
Truly, ‘the Arabs’ Allah’ was the secret of their success. It had meant a revolutionary change in their minds and hearts which gave them the will and enthusiasm to work to establish, and even die for, a higher purpose of life. Such sentiments make a people invincible. The Persians and Byzantians both know this well. Therefore, they began working towards distancing the Arabs from this philosophy.
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The dawn of Islam was also a severe blow to the obliterated religions of
A Conspiracy by Christians & Jews
Christianity and Judaism. Furthermore,
the growing might of the Arabs not only shook the very foundations of the Byzantian Empire, it also caused the Jews to be driven out of the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, the Christians and the Jews, as well as the Persians, had reasons to be revengeful against the Arabs. They, too, had the same purpose and adopted the same scheme of operations, to alleviate the Arabs from their revolutionary philosophy of the Quran. The way to achieve it was simply to infiltrate and pollute this philosophy much in the way their own systems (Christianity & Judaism) had already been before. Thus, Iqbal uses the term
Arab & Ajam
'ajam’ not only for the Persians. It includes all non Arab groups.
His term ‘Arab Islam’ refers to the system of the Quran and ‘ajami Islam’ refers to all the anti-Quranic ideas and concepts from Zoarastrianism (the Magus), Christianity and Judaism etc. which found their way into the Islamic philosophy. That is how this divine system of Allah was transformed into the man-made religion which has been with us till today.
The distortion of Islam started with the Persians tampering with and obliterating the question of taqdeer. Zoarastriansim was based upon the problem of Good and Evil. The Persians were well aware of the impact of this concept. They knew that a group which believes in Man’s free will and his ability to shape his destiny attains great powers. The obvious way to render a group powerless is to make them reject Man’s free will, and believe in pre-destiny. Hence the distortion of Islamic ideology was begun with this particular question of taqdeer. It is a woeful tale, the death knell of the true (Quranic) Muslim Philosophy.
Asaawra was a group of Persian nobility and politicians who served as
The Asaawra of Islam
advisors to the emperors much in the way of the
‘nauratan’ of the famous Mughal emperor Akbar the Great of India. These imperial aides wore a gold bangle (السوار) as a symbol of distinction. Hence the term ‘asaawra’ for the group. (Incidentally, the Quran has used this simile of ‘gold bangles’ for the inhabitants of Paradise to symbolize their high and prestigious status).
After their defeat, the Persian army in general, and the asaawara in particular, offered Saad bin Waqqas, the Arab conqueror of Persia their conversion to Islam if accorded full Muslim rights including the right of abode in the Muslim settlements. Their wish was granted and the Persians immigrated to cities like Kufa and Basra. Today it is difficult to ascertain the reasons and motives behind this permit but, in hindsight, one tends to see it as unwise. The reason is simple. Persia, being the cradle of an ancient civilization, had several characteristics of an obliterated way of life and an ideology gone astray. Institutions like imperialism, capitalism and priesthood were their firm beliefs. Their religion was based upon the concepts of the Magus. Their intellectuals, particularly the asaawara, were masters of discussion on topics like philosophy of logic, theology and metaphysics, etc.
Arabs, on the other hand, had a life and mind as simple and unpolluted as the desert they inhabited. They had not been exposed to political maneuvering, theoretical discussion, or the intricacies of philosophy and logic. The ‘din’ (system of the Quran), which had elevated them to a position of distinction in the world, was a clear and simple one. It had a few clearly laid out concepts, The Arabs had drawn their power from that simple, pure and clear system.
It is easy to see, then, the consequences of such a clear-headed and simple group intermingling with the Persians who came with a deliberate plan (1). The simple-minded Muslims were no match to the seasoned craft of the Persians.
(1) A few years earlier, this intermingling had had a catastrophic result. Hormazan, a Persian governor, along with his companions, was permitted to settle down in Medina. They conspired and assassinated Omar, a blow from which Islam has never recovered.
Settling down among the Muslims, the Persians began to propagate their own ideas very subtly. The very first Muslim to raise the question of destiny was
Ma’abad bin Khalid Jahanni, who had adopted it from Abu Younis – one of the Asaawra. From Ma’abad the idea passed on to Gheelan Damashqi who propagated it further. According to the concept, Man is completely devoid of
Influence of Christianity
free will with his fate pre-determined. The
exponents of this concept are referred to as the Jabariya (the compulsionists).
The belief of Compulsion was also the foundation of Christian philosophy. The most bright illustration is the Christian belief of the original sin. (that Man is sinful by nature and nothing can absolve Man of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve). Also, according to the Bible, Christ’s last wish was: ‘God! Let thine be done not mine’. That was the foundation of the resigned-to-fate attitude. It has been reported that Gheelan Damashqi, an original Copt (Christian), adopted this view from a Christian who had converted to Islam before reverting to his original faith. The concept of dualism of Good and Evil was there in Judaism, too. During the period of bondage under Babylon, the Israelites came into contact with the Persians near the Iranian-controlled areas. Later, their liberation and subsequent return to their homeland happened largely due to the help of the Persians. Naturally, they were impressed by the Zoroastrians from who they adopted the concept of Good & Evil dualism. The fact that the Jews were already interested in metaphysical philosophy only served to hasten the process of Jews being influenced by the Persian thought. (The famous Jewish seat of learning at Alexandria was a center for philosophical studies).
Another historical account cites, as the founder of the concept of Compulsion, Ja’ad bin Dasham, a Muslim who had adopted the idea from a Syrian Jew. From Dasham, the idea passed on to Jaham bin Safwan, a native of Khorasan (in Persia), who propagated it so vigorously that the Jabariya came to be known as the Jahmiya. The Muslim history is likewise unclear about the name of the group. They are referred to as Jabariya (they believed in the absolute authority and control of God) as well as Qadariya (they denied Man’s power to decide). I shall discuss this in detail later in the book.
The question of the originator (Ma’abad or Jahm) and the source (Zoarastrianism, Judaism or Christianity) aside, there is no doubting the fact that this anti-Quranic concept came into Islam from non-Islamic sources. It occurred in the early days of the (Abbasid) period.
The intriguing question is how such an anti-Quranic concept was accepted by Muslims? Despite the philosophical arguments presented in its support, the Muslims could not, in all probability, have accepted it without an Islamic evidence. Lo and behold! They were presented with such an evidence! How did it all happen? It is another sorry tale. The evidence presented
The ‘Din’ Evidence for an Anti-Quranic Idea
formed the basis not only of
the question of taqdeer but also of all the anti-Quranic concepts injected into Islam.
Allah had declared the Quran as the original source of the ‘Din’. The
Messenger taught and followed the Quran. As long as it
remained so, no anti-Islamic concept could be introduced. The Conspirators attacked this foundation and propagated the notion that the ultimate authority in ‘Din’ is not the Quran alone. It is accompanied by a likeness of it – the tradition (Hadith) of the Messenger. Initially the tradition was presented as an instrument to interpret and explain the Quran. Later, it was elevated to the position of the hidden (unwritten) revelation. This notion was almost identical to the Jewish concept of two kinds of divine revelation. One is Tora shabktals (the visible, written revelation) of the Book of Moses, the other Tora Shabalfa (the hidden, unwritten revelation), consisting of the tradition of Moses, given through Aaron. The whole system of Jewish jurisprudence is based upon Mosaic Tradition. The Quran mentions only one kind of revelation – the one preserved in its entirety in the Quran. But now, the same notion of two kinds of revelation (the Quran and Mohammed’s tradition) was floated and propagated among Muslims. The Quran is called ‘the recited revelation’ while the Tradition is termed as ‘the un-recited revelation’.
Subsequently, the idea was propagated that if two pieces of revelation are found to be contradictory to each other, one of them must cancel the other. It followed logically that in case of a clash in the above mentioned two kinds of revelation, the tradition shall supersede the Quran. This notion established the tradition as the ultimate source of authority in religious matters reducing the Quran to a book to be recited as a virtue!
The Messenger did not give the Muslims any collection of his tradition. He only gave the Quran (complete and duly arranged) which we have today exactly as he did. Neither his righteous successors (the first four caliphs) nor any of the other companions compiled his tradition. Abu-Bakr & Omar (the first and the second caliph, respectively) even forbade the writing or citing of the tradition for fear of polluting the ‘Din’ (as presented by the Quran)! But, once the above mentioned concept of Hadith had been introduced, a need arose for compiling the tradition. The compilation accepted as the most authentic (that of Imam Bokhari), appeared in the third century (Hijra). Imam Bokhari died in 256 H. All the other collections (with the exception of Imam Malik’s Muatta’ which contained very few traditions) were complied after that. All these books were compiled not from any documented record but from oral tradition of the people. It is not difficult to make an academic & historical – let alone religious – assessment of tradition compiled on oral evidence about 250 year after the death of Mohammed. Nonetheless, these traditions, since most of them were attributed to Mohammed, were accepted as authentic. Rejection of any one of them meant denouncing one’s (Muslim) faith. Apart from the possibility of human error, on the part of the tradition tellers, the opportunity it gave to fabricators of Hadith is staggering. For example, Imam Bokhari (according to his own statement) collected 600,000 pieces of tradition. Sifting through this mass – on the basis of his own judgment (he had no authority or approval from Mohammed) – he selected only about 7000, rejecting about 593,000!
You may wonder why the Muslims accepted something with such a shaky base. The reasons are sentimental. Muslims have tremendous love, affection and respect for Mohammed. Every thing and anything connected to him is highly revered. The tradition (which are his actions and pronouncements) apart, people are known to kiss & prostate in front of certain impressions in stone said to be Mohammed’s footprints! Such sentiments were exploited by the fabricators of Hadith, and were they successful!
This is how anti-Islamic concepts became part of the Muslim ideology.
Tradition to support Compulsion
Here are a few examples of the
tradition about the question of taqdeer (from a very authentic collection Mishkat - chapter on taqdeer):
i) Report from Abdullah bin Omar: ‘Said the Messenger that God Almighty, 50,000 years before creating the Universe, while His throne was on water, wrote the destinies of all creatures. (from ‘Muslim’)
ii) The son of Omar reports:
‘The Messenger said that all things are subject to Destiny, even wisdom and stupidity.’
iii) Reported from Ali:
‘The Messenger said, ‘Each one of you has his fate pre-decided, i. e., paradise or hell.’
(from ‘Muslim & Bukhari’)
This is elaborated upon thus:
Abdu Hraira reports: ‘The Messenger said, “One will certainly fornicate as much as has been written by Allah. (‘Bokhari’ & ‘Muslim’)
Further: ‘The Messenger said, “Allah created Adam, caressed his back with His right hand and created his progeny from his back, and said, ‘I have created them for Paradise, so they will behave accordingly.’ Once again He caressed Adam’s back and created his progeny and said, ‘I have created them for Hell, so they will act accordingly.’
Hearing this, a man queried, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the use of doing deeds then? The Messenger replied, ‘When God creates someone for Paradise, he is made to behave accordingly. Similarly, when He creates someone for Hell, he is made to act accordingly. Then He sends them to Paradise or Hell accordingly.
(Maalik, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood)
iv) Abdullah bin Omer reports:
‘Once the Messenger emerged (from his house, probably) carrying two books. He addressed us, ‘Do you know about these books?’ We said, ‘We know not, O Messenger of Allah!’ He pointed to the book in his right hand and said, ‘This book is from Allah. It contains the names of those destined for Paradise. Nothing can be added to, or deleted from, it.’ Then he pointed to the book in his left hand and said, ‘This book is also from Allah, It contains the names of those destined for Hell. Nothing can be added to, or deleted from, it.’
v) Abu Darda reports:
‘The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Allah has done and already finished His work about each single one of His subjects in FIVE areas, i.e., they have been written as his destiny: his time (age), his good or bad deeds, his place of abode, his return and his sustenance. ‘ (Ahmed)
The collections of Hadith are full of reports such as these. Any one looking at them in the light of the Quran, and of knowledge and wisdom, is bound to have a variety of objections and questions. The fabricators of such reports had foreseen this situation and fabricated suitable reports accordingly. For example, Abu Huraira reports: ‘We were discussing the question of taqdeer when the Messenger came by. Hearing our discussion, he became red in the face – as if it was full of pomegranate juice – and said, “it this what you have been instructed to do? Is this my mission? Peoples in the past were destroyed when they discussed this problem. I put you under oath, and I do it again, never to discuss, argue or talk about the question.” (from ‘Tirmizi’)
Thus the anti-Quranic tradition about taqdeer was assured immunity from criticism. Next was another very significant step regarding the figurative language (similes, etc.) of the Quran – a well-know style. For instance, the
The Figurative and the Literal
word (عرش) in (ثم استوى على العرش ) – and
then He settled on the throne – has been taken to mean a real seat in the literal sense as well as, figuratively, the center of power and control over the universe. One can take either of the positions without jeopardizing one’s Conviction (ايمان). Other instances, however, have to be taken literally and only in one way. For example, the verse (قل هو الله احد ) – Say that Allah is One - does not allow one to accept any other position than to accept and declare that there is only one God. The Quran has laid down, categorically, the things essential for
Constituents of Conviction
one’s Conviction (popularly know as Articles of
Faith). The FIVE constituents of Conviction are Allah, Angels, Messenger, (Divine) Books, and the Judgment Day (2/177). Denying or rejecting any of these makes one a Dissenter (Kaafir) -(4/136). The Quran mentions the FIVE constituents only. But then a SIXTH article was introduced – and it has stayed – i. e., taqdeer (pre-destiny). Once again, this addition was made through tradition.
The SIXTH Constituent
For example: i) Ali reports: ‘Said’ the Messenger
that no one can be a momin (convinced Muslim) until one accepts the following: 1. Testify that God alone is worthy of worship and I (Mohammed) am His Messenger sent with the Truth; 2. Accept death as fact; 3. Accept resurrection; 4. Accept taqdeer.’ (Tirmizi; Ibn Maja)
ii) Ibn Wailmy reports: ‘Ibn Abi Kaab visited me and I told him of some misgivings I had had about taqdeer, and asked him to narrate tradition in the hope of alleviating my doubt. He said, ‘If Allah were to send calamities to people, He wouldn’t be an oppressor. If He were merciful, His benevolence would doubtlessly exceed peoples’ deeds. If you were to spend in charity gold equivalent of the Uhad (mountain), your deed will not be acceptable until you wholly accept taqdeer. You must understand that whatever reached you, had to be so; and whatever you did not get, had to be so. If you believe anything contravening this concept of taqdeer, you will burn in hellfire! Ibn Wailym further reports: ‘After hearing out Ibn Abi Ka’ab, I went to Abdullah Ibn Masud who said the same. Then I went to Huzaifa bin AlYaman who said the same. Then I went to Zaid Ibn Thaabit and he quoted the Messenger’s tradition to the same effect. (Ahmed, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maaja). That is how this concept of taqdeer, taken from Zoarastians, Christians and Jews became a part of Muslim philosophy. How important it has become to the religious minded among the
Elaboration by the late Syed Sulaiman Nadwi
Muslims can been from
Syed Sulaiman Nadwi’s serial work on the life of Mohammed. In the fourth volume, treating concepts, he talks about Allah, Angels, Books, Messengers and Dooms Day. Then he denotes an entire chapter to taqdeer with the title ‘Qaza-o-Qadr’. It opens thus:
‘Though the Quran has not listed it (taqdeer) in reference to Imaan (Articles of Faith), its frequent repetition in the Quran makes it important enough to be made another article of Faith. Therefore, some traditions have shown it to be the last constituent of Imaan’. (Seeratun Nabi, P860)
The practical implications of a particular concept becoming an ‘article of faith’ can be assessed only when the clergy wields political power. It has been decreed (by the clergy) that a Muslim rejecting any of these articles of faith becomes a ‘Murtad’ (denouncer of religion) and a murtad is punishable by death. The Muslim historical accounts testify to the bloodshed of Muslims committed by the clergy in the name of safeguarding the sixth article of faith.
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The question must arise here that when this anti-Quranic concept was
Protest against all this
being propagated was there no protesting voice
against it at all? Had the Islamic nation run out of members who would negate this alien idea by presenting the Quranic view? The fact is that such people did exist and strong protest were made. Their arguments were:
i) The ultimate authority of ‘Din’ is Allah’s Book (the Quran) which can be understood if knowledge and reason are employed.
ii) The Law of Returns is a fundamental principle of the Quranic philosophy according to which Man is responsible for his actions. The institution of divine guidance through Allah’s book and messengers and the principle of reward and punishment (both here and in the hereafter), all support the view of Man’s free will.
Rejection of this view (by the idea of Compulsion) reduces Man to the level of the inanimate (elements, minerals, etc.) and the animate (plants, animals) who have no will, and therefore, no responsibility. That is why no messenger has ever been sent to them!
These weighty arguments were rebutted by the compulsionists in a uniquely
Countering by calling names
effective way. Apart from the Hadith
(mentioned earlier), they developed a technique of labeling their opponents with derogatory names. This continues to this day. For example, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan proposed certain ideas which were strongly opposed by the conservatively religious. He had said that the secret of West’s progress lies in studying and harnessing nature, so we (the Muslims of British India) must study natural sciences. The clergy picked on the word ‘nature’ and began referring to Sir Syed as ‘Natury’ (a naturalist). Their propaganda made the word synonymous with atheism, paganism, anti-religion, etc. They advised people not to pay any attention to ‘this naturalist’. Sadly, no one ever bothered to stop and ask what the term really meant. This technique of labeling an opponent out is justly illustrated by a (perhaps fictional) story in which a Hindu trader in a village was labeled as a Wahabi (a Muslim sect detested by the majority sect of Sunnis) by the village moulvi (Muslim priest)!
The compulsionists had invented names like Mutazila and Qadariya for their opposers. Fabricated tradition also appeared claiming that the Messenger had said, : ‘The Qadariya are the Magus of this (Islamic) nation’. This made them rejecters of faith (murtad), and therefore, punishable by death! Their writings were burned, losing valuable intellectual work for ever! That was the end of Mutazila (Qadariya). Since then, the clergy has routinely used the label of Mutazila to quieten voices of reason. Consequently, the Muslim world has long forgotten the use of reason and intellect. Sir Syed was labeled as Mutazila as well as I (the author of this book)! I have been declared a kaafir by a collective decree of 1000 religious leaders!
The Compulsionists also present certain Quranic verses in support of
The Quranic Support for Compulsion
Their view. For instance
“يضل من يشاء ويهدي من يشاء “ (He misleads whom He wished and guides whom He wishes) and “يغفر لمن يشاء ويعذب من يشاء “ (He spares whom He wishes and punishes whom He wishes) etc. Let me examine in detail some of such verses which are essential to a correct understanding of the question of taqdeer.
Before I embark upon the task of explaining such Quranic verses as mentioned above, it is essential to deliberate on the fundamentals of
Fundamentals of Comprehension of the Quran
comprehension of the
Quran. First of all, please note that one of the evidences presented by the Quran in support of its claim of being divine is its consistency and absolute lack of internal contradiction (4/82). Therefore, it is not possible for the Quran to support as well as reject free will of Man.
Secondly, if one comes across apparent contradiction in the Quran, it must neither be considered superficially nor ignored. In such situations, the Quran has suggested deliberation with reason.
As far as deliberation in the Quran is concerned, there are two points of absolute importance. One is to consider all the Quranic verses about a particular topic to get the true picture. This is called “تصريف الآيات “ - repetition of verses - by the Quran. Secondly, no verse can be interpreted in a way contrary to the central themes of the Quran. For instance, one of the central themes of the book is that Allah is unique. Now, Allah has been called al-Khaaliq (the creator). Elsewhere, He is referred to as "احسن الخالقين" (the best of creators). Apparently, there is a contradiction here – if the Quran recognizes creators other than Allah, He cannot be unique. This confusion is cleared when one deliberates in the manner suggested in earlier. The Quran calls Allah “فاطر السموات والأرض “ or “بديع السموات والأرض“ (the One who has brought the Universe into existence from nothing). Only He can do it. Therefore, Allah and Man differ in their creative powers as Man can create only from matter already existing.
I propose to employ this approach later in this book to interpret ‘ verses of intention’ – “ما يشاء “, “من يشاء “, “لو شاء “, etc.
I must ask the reader to bear in mind one very important point in this regard. In the following chapters, when I use the expressions like ‘the commonly accepted translation’ or ‘the current interpretation’ etc., I don’t mean what the masses believe in. Those translations and interpretations of the Quran have been authored by learned scholars. My reader may ask here, once again bewilderingly: ‘How did learned scholars wrote what they did?
Let us ponder for a while on this.
We have seen that the very first Muslim history was complied by Imam Tabri in
Interpretations of the Quran
the fourth century (hijra). The very same Tabri
is also the first ever interpreter of the Quran. He quotes traditions of the Messenger in support of his interpretation. This made it appear to be an interpretation by Mohammed himself. Under the circumstances, no Muslim dares differ with it! Therefore, the subsequent interpretations were based upon Tabri’s book The differences, if any, were minor and even then on the basis of tradition. The translations of the Quran were bound to be influenced by these preceding interpretations.
Another Muslim attitude, handed down since generations, regarding their ancestors is that even a little bit of dissent is sinful. If the attitude towards tradition was that it has been simply attributed (subject to confirmation) to Mohammed, an interpretation other than the tradition would have been possible. This was not to be. Consequently, deliberation in the Quran has been static for centuries. The Quran should be interpreted in its own light. That is precisely what I have tried to do. As to translation, as I have said in the foreword of this book, the Quran just cannot be translated into another language. Words exactly synonymous with the Quranic lexicon simply do not exist elsewhere. Therefore, I maintain that the Quran can be interpreted but NOT translated. A verbatim translation just does not explain the meanings of the Quran. In the chapters to follow, I have interpreted the Quran in the same way – an interpretation of the Quran supported by the Quran.