Islam is often described as a religion of peace. No doubt it is. The Qur’an and the teachings of the beloved Prophet (pbuh) justify this opinion. The life of the Prophet, his companions and his staunch followers, especially the Sufis, tells us a lot about their patience, tolerance and accommodation. It is the humanity, friendliness and empathy of these holy Islamic personalities that have helped Islam to prosper. This nature still inspires non-Muslims today to turn to Islam. In the recent past, all Islamic scholars belonging to each sect preached peaceful Islam, however, surprisingly, fundamentalism took root even within these religious circles, which once claimed to represent “Sufis”. Religious organizations, which were started as non-violent, apolitical, purely religious and to promote love and harmony, have undergone a drastic change. Formerly claiming to be durood waley (those who recite salutations to the Prophet (as) – not barood waley (those who believe in weapons and ammunition) no longer feel anything wrong with harming Muslims with a different perspective.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that the often recited verse – And We did not send you, [O Muhammad [pbuh], except in mercy to the worlds” was replaced with slogans like “kill the blasphemer”. In large religious gatherings, terrifying slogans are chanted and normal Muslims do not understand whether the gathering was organized to threaten people or to call them to the path of Allah. The peaceful aspect and flexibility of Islam have been concealed and people pride themselves on presenting it as a harsh religion, which is an aberration.
Pulpits, from which voices are said to resonate to unify Muslims and promote interfaith harmony, are passionately used to spread hatred, not only against other religions but also against Muslims of other sects. To speak ill of other sects, to call Muslims of other schools of thought perverts and to make people ignore others is now a common and acceptable trend.
Most muftis (Muslim legal experts), who are empowered to rule on religious matters and meant to guide the masses according to Shariah, follow the norm and waste their caliber on trivial matters. They also yearn to be within sight in any way, which sounds like unthinkable fatwas; this orator is pagan, one must avoid listening to this scholar, and this or that ecclesiastic must be expelled from the mosque. Most of these fatwas center on promoting personal beliefs while dismissing others.
The characteristic of responding to criticism with knowledge, logic and wisdom has been dropped. Intimidating, ridiculing and bitter criticism are the newly adopted approaches to fight criticism. With the increase in the use of social media, especially YouTube, it has become child’s play to spit out a flood of abuse and scorn critics and even those with a contrasting understanding of the subject.
Extremism is not only virtual but also real. In Punjab Pakistan, two brothers from a particular sect were brutally murdered by members of other sects while the duo were at the forefront of building the Ahle-hadith mosque. In such circumstances where Muslims are not immune to this radicalism, how can the safety of non-Muslims be ensured? This is why the world ranking of religious freedom in Pakistan always disappoints. Even India, where Hindutva extremism is on the rise and ordinary Muslims feel suffocated, has also witnessed the cold-blooded murder of a Hindu tailor at the hands of two extremist Muslim men simply for sharing a post. on Facebook to support Nupur Sharma.
Fanatics have converted sacred places; shrines and mosques in combat zones. For the past few years, Pakistan’s famous Sufi shrine – Daata Ganj Baksh (Ra) has witnessed hooliganism and bigotry well inside its premises. Last year shoes were launched on Ulmas like; Molana Irfan Shah Mashadi and Molana Mufti Hanif Qureshi and were prevented from preaching. Because, according to the extremist gang, they are lenient with “Shia Muslims”. This year, influential and well-versed researcher Dr. Hassan Mohiuddin Qadri was interrupted during his speech. His crime, as extremists cite, is that he and his father, Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, believe that all Muslims, regardless of sect, are ‘believers’ and oppose the ‘fatwa-threat’ and the declaration of all others as heretics. Similarly, in Kashmir, a cleric slapped a boy inside the mosque after the boy boldly called the cleric’s great scholars infidels.
The fact that people who claim to be true followers and lovers of Prophet Muhammad (as) and Sufi saints create a scene in sacred places without caring about their sanctity is a cause for concern. And an open secret that these people enjoy the support of other prominent clerics who to their advantage sow discord among Muslims, and divide the ummah is disturbing.
Any true follower of Islam knows very well what Islam stands for. They are knowledgeable about how Prophet Muhammad (as) converted an uncivilized crowd into a true civilization. They remember how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (as) sacrificed their lives to defend the glory of Islam. True believers know well the sacrifices made by Ahle-byahh. Next come the Sufis (Awliyas), who abandoned their comforts and endeavored to spread Islam everywhere. From the Prophet Muhammad (as) to the Sufis, all have done their utmost to teach Islam and have devoted themselves to the reform of society. They taught people to live together in peace and harmony. They treated everyone the same and were deeply tolerant. This trait influenced non-Muslims and caused the spread of Islam throughout the world.
Priests who have not yet understood their responsibility must do some introspection. They must think of the afterlife and the day of resurrection – when they will be held accountable for their material deeds. They must guide their followers according to the teachings of the Koran and the Hadiths.
Emotional followers, especially young people who find Imaan in hooliganism, intolerance and violence, should know that emotions have no role in the realm of knowledge and that Islam is only about the latter. Islamic intellectuals, enlightened scholars and religiously aware should play a role in de-radicalizing young people. They should be helped in researching and reading about Islam, its Prophet (as), His companions and other pious people so that they can understand the essence of Islam. The government (especially in Pakistan) must also use its machinery to control growing intolerance for the good of the people and of Islam.
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