Leaving Islam






Muslims Are Responsible For Their Plight

By Mohammad Asghar

I lived for a time in Calcutta, India. When I was going to school there, I heard from my mentors that Muslims were the victims of the Zionist, Hindu and Christian conspiracies. I believed in their conspiracy theories. I, therefore, saw no wrong when my school hoisted the Pakistani flag every morning and we sang the Pakistani national anthem before the commencement of our classes.

Unaware of its implications, I sang the Pakistani national anthem with great enthusiasm in my school in Calcutta. I gave my approval to everything Pakistan did. I blindly supported Pakistan's fight with India over Kashmir. I lauded Ayub Khan for what he did in the name of Islam. Inspired by what I heard from the Islamic preachers, I even tried to memorize the whole Quran.

I moved to the then East Pakistan in the later part of 1950s. Here, too, I heard people talking about the Muslims being killed by the Hindus; they also narrated in details how the Jews and the Christians had been conspiring to eliminate the Muslims from the face of the earth. I was convinced by what I heard in my formative years and hoped that Pakistan would one day liberate Muslims from their plight. I also had developed a strong faith in the concept of Muslim Umma.

I stepped into the real world in 1960. Working for a bank, I realized how individuals, communities, societies and nations functioned. My association with various people convinced me that every human being has an agenda. He does nothing without a motive. The saint-like appearance as well as the exhibition of good conduct is one of the components of his agenda. Lying, cheating, forgery and murder also have links to human motives and greed.

Then came the year 1965. Pakistan and India went to war over Kashmir. India had the support of Soviet Union, which helped it with most of its essential sinews of war. United States and China were on Pakistan's side. Under a treaty signed by Pakistan and Turkey with the United States, the latter was under an obligation to defend Pakistan, but no concrete help came from the other side when Pakistan was in need of it. China stood by its friendship with Pakistan and tried to help it with whatever help it could afford at that time.

The Muslim Umma remained incoherent and inconsistent in its utterances and support of Pakistan. Even though Pakistan was fighting a war purportedly to defend the rights of a section of the Muslim Umma, no Muslim country provided material help to Pakistan. Those Muslim countries, which faced pressure from their citizenry to help Pakistan, discharged their obligation by pleading with God to make Pakistan the victor. While still Pakistan was counting on God's help, Soviet Union came forward in an effort to disengage the two warring nations.

The Soviet Union assembled Pakistan's Ayub Khan and India's Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent and mediated a ceasefire. Non-Muslim countries praised the Soviet Union for its efforts, while most of the Muslim nations thanked God for saving the Muslims from being defeated by the Indian kafirs.

Following the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, I developed an interest in the observation of human conducts. Over a period of time, I realized that while many humans bind themselves in various relationships purely for the sake of love and affection, the great majority of them base their social intercourse purely on their expediencies. To them a relationship that does not yield tangible benefits has no value and, as such, they avoid it at all cost.

In my ten years of service with two commercial banks of Pakistan, I learned another lesson: Powerful men always rule over the meek and the week. I saw how my powerful bosses from West Pakistan exploited our conditions; I witnessed how they trampled the rules on seniority and promoted juniors over their seniors; how they forced me to approve loans for those who had abundant wealth at their disposal, and also how they restrained me from helping those who were struggling to stand on their own feet.

During 1970-71, I heard how leaders incited their followers to rape women and commit murders. I saw the bodies of their victims strewn over the Railway tracts. In their frenzy, they raped their female victims and then sliced away their breasts from their chests. Many male corpses did not have their genitals attached to their bodies. I also saw the bodies of infants floating in ponds and rivers.

Later days' events opened up my eyes. I realized that I was wrong in believing what I was told by my peers as well as by the Islamic preachers. I also realized that my support of Pakistan was not only wrong, it was immoral too.

Apocryphal scriptures also tell us how the powerful invoked God for manipulating the hapless among them. Citation of an example may be appropriate here.

According to a theological description, God had created the earth for the purpose of having it inhabited by mankind. For this purpose, he is believed to have prepared a plan that covered all aspects of human, faunal, floral and celestial lives. His plan required women to conceive and then to give birth to children.

On giving a second thought to his plan, God realized that it had a major flaw. If he proceeded with his plan and created a woman first, it would bestow on her the honor of being the first human that he ever created. Even if he overlooked his egoistic urges and went ahead with her creation, this action of his was going to create another problem of a gigantic proportion: It was the thought of having to create the first man in a woman's womb.

In God's reckoning, it was a detestable plan. From his perspective, it would have been a demeaning act on his part to have a woman give birth to the first man of our world. It would also have a serious repercussion on men's' mental health: They would always have felt not only inferior to their female counterpart, their complex would also have deprived them of the hegemonistic power that God wanted them to exercise over the women's mind and bodies.

To solve the problem, God changed his plan and adopted an unnatural process: First, he created the man, and from his rib, he created the first woman. This made women second to men - - - a privilege that enables them to subjugate women and also to use them in any manner or for any purpose that satisfies not only their sexual ecstasies, but also assuages their manly egos.

The first hurdle thus overcome, God prepared to plant the first human couple on earth. But here again, he encountered another problem: How could he let humans take up residence on earth without obtaining from them the confession of his slavery. He found his solution in the game of blaming. As this game required proof before convicting a person of a wrongdoing, the Muslim scripture alleges that God felt no qualm in transforming a gentle and docile jinni into a devil. It narrates how angels opposed the creation of the first man and how God punished them for their insolence. It is also replete with various calumnies, which the narrator of the primeval stories added to God's character in order to make them lucid for his listeners.

In my opinion, the calumnies and insults that the Quran heaves upon God have backfired; angered by them, he simply abandoned the Muslims. His displeasure is evident from their conditions; they have been suffering from hunger, deprivations as well as from all kinds of conceivable ignominies and punishments, yet God does not feel it to be necessary for him to come to their rescue, despite being beseeched by them for zillions of times.

The Quran speaks of a dubious methodology that God allegedly used to control the mind of the first man and his succeeding generations. Let us explore his alleged modus operandi:

God lived in a vacuum from the time of his inception. After suffering from inactivity and loneliness for a long time, he came up with the idea of having the earth populated by humans, faunas and floras. To make sure what he planned to do was going to be good, he consulted the angels. To them, the creation of animals, plants, trees and mountains etc. appeared to be alright, but they did not like the idea of having the earth populated by humans who, they knew, were going to "make mischief and shed blood" (2:30).

The tone of the Quranic language makes it clear that the God that Muhammad referred to bore all the characters of a man. I recommend the discerning readers to read "God's Phallus" written by Rabbi Howard Eilberg-Schwartz. He proved with forceful arguments that the God of the Jews, Christians and the Muslims bears all characteristics of a man.

Also, a deep reading into Muhammad's statements that appear in the Quran makes it clear that he and God was one and the same person. Separating him from God is an impossible task.

The angels have no free will nor do they have the ability to say anything without God's permission. Therefore, the angels' forecast into futurity amounted to defying God's authority and power. He was upset. Calling them ignorant, God rejected their opposition and created, out of clay, the first human he called Adam.

In fashioning Adam, God used his legs, hands, eyes, ears and mouth (cf. 7:195). He used his hands for molding the clay into a human figure. When he saw it looked fine, he needed sun's rays to make it dry. When he located a suitable spot, he walked and placed the statue there for drying up. When it dried up, he raised the statue to his mouth's level and then passed his breath into its lungs. In no time, Adam began acting like a normal human being.

The Quran does not tell us how his wife (it has not given her a name) came into being. For her story, I need to refer to the Torah, which tells us that God had created her from one of Adam's ribs. Mindful of the pain that the surgery was going to cause, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and when he was fast asleep, he extracted one of his ribs. He made a woman out of the rib and then presented her to Adam. Adam lost no time in recognizing her; he also remembered it was he who had contributed his bone for her making (Gen. 2:21-23). Knowing that she was going to be the mother of all living, Adam called her Eve (Gen. 3:20).

In the long history of mankind, Adam and Eve were the only humans who did not have to suffer the pains of birth, unstable stages of infancy and childhood. They also did not have to struggle for anything in their life, for God made sure that they had everything to make their lives comfortable and pleasant.

After creating Adam and his mate, God drew a plan for tackling the insolent angels. The plan envisioned a learned Adam to prove that what they had told God about the humans' conduct on earth was based on falsehood. To implement his plan, God needed to prepare Adam in all respects.

He taught Adam the nature of all things. The angels were not at all involved in the teaching process. When Adam became fully prepared, God placed all things before the angels and demanded that they tell him the nature of those things, if they were truthful (2:31). Realizing how angry God was at them, the angels adopted a diplomatic posture that they believed was gong to sooth his injured ego. They told him: Glory to thee. Of knowledge we have none, save what Thou hast taught us: in truth it is Thou who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom (2:32).

Hearing the angels admit their ignorance, God asked Adam to narrate the nature of the things. Since God had prepared him for the occasion, Adam had no difficulty in describing what God wanted him to describe. Pleased by his disciple's performance, God thundered to the angels: Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heavens and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal? (2:33).

The fact that the angels conceal things from God infuriated him immensely. In a rage, he ordered the angels to bow down before Adam, his protégé (2:34). This order was to humiliate the angels. Sensing risk to their existence, all angels bowed down. A jinni who, it seems, was, at the time, in the angels' company did not bow down before Adam. Since God had ordered only the angels to bow down before Adam, the jinn rightfully believed that the order did not apply to him (read 18:50 to know who Iblis was) and as such, he was not required to do what the angels did before his eyes. God felt insulted by the jinni's sense of righteousness, honor and dignity.

It was God's plan to have mankind bow down before his authority. This ritual should have begun with the first humans he created in heaven. But instead of having them bow down before him, he made the angels bow down before the humans. If he did not want the humans to bow down before him until after Muhammad had arrived, the only conclusion one can draw from his action is this: he forced the angels to bow down before Adam not only to humiliate them, but also to press them into mankind's service.

The ways in which God is said to have been conducting himself appears to defy common sense. Strictly speaking from the viewpoint of a master, it is inconceivable that he would ever let his servant ride on his shoulders. God does not appear to have understood the difficult relationship that a servant is required to maintain with his master. Had he understood the difference between a servant and a master, he would not have posted two angels on each of their master's shoulders to record their acts and deeds. The issue of the servants watching over their masters becomes more demeaning for the latter; it emanates from the fact that their guards have the habit of distorting facts through lying and concealment.

Realizing that the jinni was right, God controlled himself and passed off the event by calling him haughty. He dared not punish the jinni for a crime he did not commit. God was also afraid of the jinni's retaliatory nature hence his retrained reaction toward his alleged disobedience of his command.

Regrettably, ordinary Muslims as well as their scholars have failed to accept the fact that God had not required the jinni to bow down before Adam. Their failure stems from the fact that accepting the truth will nullify the Quranic story on Adam and Eve's expulsion from heaven. To defend their position, Muslim scholars overlook the contents of the relevant verses of the Quran and insist that God's order equally applied to the lone jinni who, as I have said earlier, was in the company of the angels. God's alleged order was specific; he used the specific Arabic word "malaikati" in his order (2:34 et al), which means angels, and not the jinni.

Denying the truth, one reputed Muslim scholar took issue with Iblis's accusation against God (7:16, 15:39). Trying to explain the Arabic word "agwaitani" that appears in verse 15:39, he stated: ? Satan as the Power of Evil cannot be straight or truthful even before God. By his own arrogance and rebellion he {Iblis} fell; he attributes this to God. ? (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran, Vol. 1, p. 644).

The learned scholar is malicious, to say the least, for there is no statement in the Quran that supports his allegations against the so-called devil.

His score with the angels thus settled, God turned to Adam and his wife. He told them to dwell in the Garden (i.e. heaven) and to eat of the bountiful things therein. He, however, prohibited them from eating the fruit of a particular tree, lest they get harmed and become transgressors (2:35, 7:22 et al).

At the time God directed their attention to the forbidden tree, both Adam and his wife were blind. Their inability to see afforded him the opportunity to entangle them in his net of treachery.

Impersonating Iblis, God led the blind couple to the forbidden tree and induced them to eat its fruit. While they were eating the fruit, God disappeared from their midst. Eating over, their eyes opened up and Adam and his wife found themselves naked. Seeing their discomfort, God called unto them and asked: Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you? (7:22). (The Quran does not say that Adam and Eve had ever seen Iblis with their own eyes, nor does it say that they had seen him in their midst after their eyes opened up).

Having already experienced God's deceptive and fearsome nature, Adam was quick in admitting his mistake. God, being inclined to pardon him, taught him how to seek his forgiveness. Once Adam approached him appropriately, God forgave his sin (2:38).

It appears from the Quran that Adam's wife also had sought his forgiveness (7:23), but instead of forgiving her, God expelled her from heaven (7:24). Consequently, she lived her entire life with the guilt of sin; her female descendants still remain accursed in the sight of God.

After destroying Adam and his wife's self-confidence and moral, God ordered the trio (Adam, his wife and Iblis) to get out of heaven. Both the humans complied, but the jinni refused. He knew that he had committed no sin nor was he responsible for the act of Adam and his wife. He also knew that it was God who had used his name not only to malign him but also to expel him from heaven.

Being familiar with God's power and his ability to manipulate, Iblis protested mildly to him for having "put him in the wrong" (15:39). God did not rebut his allegation, rather he granted him the wish that was intended to compensate him for the injuries he suffered at God's hand (15:41, 42).

I have delved into the story of Adam and Eve to make a point and it is this: Not only men, even God used his power (provided what the Quran says is true) to subdue, control and rule over the meeker and the weaker humans. This has been going on from the time immemorial and it would continue to affect the humanity for so long as it would live on the planet earth.

Now, let us look at the role that Muslims have played in the affairs of the world; how they treated their subjects and what the non-Muslims of the present time think about them. In my endeavor to keep the narrative short, I will skip the non-essential elements of the Muslim behavior.

Muhammad, through Islam, united his people under a single banner. He also installed them at the helm of the Muslim religious rites. Hajj stands at the top of the list. In fact, by appointing his kindred the Custodian of the Ka'aba, he bestowed on them the perpetual leadership of the entire Muslim community, a privilege that the Saudis are still enjoying without ever facing forceful opposition from other Muslims of the world.

The destructive impacts of hajj on the poor nations

Not knowing that his motherland possessed a great wealth, Muhammad made the pagan rituals of hajj the most important part of Islam. This he did with a specific purpose in his mind; as it provided sustenance to the pagans in the past, its retention in Islam was also intended to support the lives of the Muslims of his native land. The Saudis depended on this income until the middle of 1960s. Its importance diminished a little after they began exporting the crude oil. Even though the crude has been bringing immense income to the Saudis, revenues from hajj still remain an important component of Saudi Arabia's yearly budget. Forecast of a declining income from hajj causes headaches to the Saudi financial planners. Having the commercial viability of the Ka'aba in their mind, the Saudis added attractive features to its precincts with the aim to increase the number of its visitors. The Saudis appear to have succeeded in their mission; they now have more hajj pilgrims than what they used to have some years ago. As planned by Muhammad, Muslims would never stop their support of the Saudis, for doing so would amount to committing an unpardonable sin.

It is a fact that Muhammad did everything to ensure a better life for his fellow countrymen. It is, therefore, in order for them to hold him in high esteem as well as to live by the doctrines he propounded for them. But why should we hold him at par with God, when he has done nothing for us?

Had he made provisions for the poor non-Saudi Muslims to have a share in the revenues that the hajj generates, I would have said that that was the best he could have done in the time he lived. But instead of providing succor to the unaccountable number of the poor Muslims, he made performance of hajj compulsory even for those Muslims who live in the distant parts of the world just to satisfy the needs of his brethren. While passing the decree, he paid no attention to the well being of a vast number of his unfortunate followers.

Animal sacrifice is the essential element of the Muslim hajj. Muhammad required each pilgrim to sacrifice at least one animal on Id day in the valley of Mina (2:196). The inclusion of the rite of sacrifice in the hajj proceedings proved to be a boon for a people for whom animal husbandry was the backbone of their economic life. So long as the hajj rituals remained a domestic affair, the Saudis had a hard time in selling their cattle heads. Internationalization of the event solved their problem; each year millions of pilgrims buy from them and slaughter millions of animals. This not only brings them wealth, it also encourages them to raise more animals for meeting the demands of their ever-increasing customers.

On the flip side, hajj has been destroying the economies of other nations of the world. To substantiate my claim, I will highlight the case of Bangladesh.

It is one of the world's poorest countries. The World Fact Book, updated on March 19, 2003, says the following about Bangladesh:

"Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single most important product. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and corruption at all levels of government. Progress also has been blocked by opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups. The BNP government, led by Prime Minister Khaleda ZIA, has the parliamentary strength to push through needed reforms, but the party's level of political will to do so has been lacking."

The following additional information may help readers in understanding my viewpoint:

1. Bangladesh has a population of over 130 million people.
2. Over 45 million of its people are unemployed.
3. Only about 275,000 people pay tax to the government. Over 30% of the taxpayers are
government employees.
4. The per capita income of its people (GNP per head of population) in 1998 was 350 US
Dollars. In the last five years time, it might have reached 450 US Dollars.
5. About 75% of Bangladesh's annual budget depends on foreign loans and aid.

The above is a dismal picture of a desperate nation. This is a nation that looks for foreign loans and aid to meet its needs. As a result, this nation owed a total loan of 17 Billion US Dollars in the year 2000. This is a nation that cannot afford to buy even a seismic equipment to monitor the intensity of earthquakes that have been hitting it for the last few years.

Yet, over ten thousand of its people took pride in performing their hajj last year. To determine the harm that hajj and its related rituals cause to the economic health of Bangladesh, let us note the following facts:

1. Each pilgrim spent over 3,000 American Dollars on his hajj last year. This means that Bangladesh lost over 30 Million American Dollars in 2002 alone on a purpose that did not help its economy, nor it brought any good to its common people.

2. In the same year, at least 500,000 Bangladeshis, who could not travel to Mecca, sacrificed equal number of animals in their homes, even though the Quran does not require them to do so. Because Bangladeshi Muslims believe that eating beef is better for their health, they prefer sacrifice of cows to other animals. Those who cannot afford cows discharge their religious obligation by sacrificing goats and sheep. For the past many years, Bangladesh has been experiencing shortage of cows and oxen. There are many farmers who cannot plough their land for the want for a pair of cows or oxen. Instead of trying to meet the farmers' needs, smugglers bring into Bangladesh "retired" cows and oxen from India in order to meet the Bangladeshi Muslims' eating habit. On the eve of hajj, the smuggled animals become handy for meeting their religious fervor. On average, a Bangladeshi Muslim spends about 100 US Dollars on a sacrificial animal. Which means that the Bangladeshi Muslims squander away 5 million US Dollars every year on a single rite of their religion.

3. Total amount that Bangladeshi Muslims spent on their hajj and sacrificial animals last year must have exceeded a staggering 35 Million US Dollars. For a poor and debt-ridden country, what this amount could do for its people is not a difficult question for anyone to answer. Had the Bangladeshi Muslims honestly invested all the money that they have spent, during the last 30 years, on hajj and sacrificial animals in projects like building roads and bridges, Bangladesh would have, by this time, joined the club of other "developing countries" of the world. But, alas! National pride does not have any value for the Muslims; for them fulfillment of their religious obligations, at any cost, takes precedence over all other things of their individual and national lives.

Nationalism Vs. Umma

Muhammad had introduced the concept of Umma for a special reason: It was a tool that he used to compel the Medinese Muslims to come to the help of the Meccan refugees. He never intended it to become an international phenomenon.

The ghost of Muslim Umma came to fore when Muslim rulers realized that they were going to lose their power and dominance over their occupied lands. Knowing that the Islam-related issues easily incite the Muslims, their leaders often used the perceived fidelity of Muslim brotherhood either to propel them to power or to prevent their fall from power. Apart from the Muslim leaders, Islamic scholars and preachers also have used, at the cost of national interests, the ghost of Muslim brotherhood to promote the interests of Islam. To make themselves effective in their propaganda, Muslim scholars and preachers relied on a statement of the Quran, which tells the faithful that the entire earth belongs to them and that they should strive hard to take over its full ownership from its infidel inhabitants.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah had India divided on the basis of Muslim majority. Creation of Pakistan was intended to be the first step towards Islamizing the entire Indian sub-continent. Muslims' revolt in the Philippines is a link of the chain that Muslims intend to use for enslaving the infidels of the land. Jemmah Islamiya of Indonesia has a grandiose plan of its own; it has a vision to turn northern Australia into a pan-Islamic state (Canberra Times, October 29, 2002).

In the matter of patriotic infidelity, the Indian Muslims do not seem to have competitors. Living in India, most of them sing the song of Pakistan. In matters in which India and Pakistan jockey for the first place, most of the Indian Muslims pray to God for making Pakistan the winner. I have seen many Indian Muslims beating their chests when India defeated Pakistan in the sport of Cricket; I have seen the same people distributing sweetmeats when Pakistan won over India.

Apart from dividing the entire humanity into Muslims and infidels, the doctrine of Muslim Brotherhood (Umma) has done nothing to salvage the Muslims from their sufferings. The Saudi Arabian government's attitude towards the displaced Muslim Palestinians is a pertinent example. Despite the fact that many Palestinians took birth on the Saudi Arabian soil, its government refused to help them by granting them citizenship. Despite the fact that many Islamic governments have been begging the entire world to make investments in their countries, not too many rich Muslim countries have come forward to help them out. Despite the fact that many Muslims have been living in grinding poverty, their "brothers in Islam" hardly feel it to be their obligation to come to their rescue. Instead, rich Muslims prefer to invest their surplus funds in the Christian dominated West where they find more avenues not only to make more money but also to lead a life, filled with all sorts of thrills.

In view of what the Muslims had been planning for the entire world, it is no wonder that non-Muslims nations took to looking at them suspiciously. Other acts that some of the Muslims undertook recently to demonstrate their hatred of the non-Muslim nations boomeranged against themselves, for most of the non-Muslim nations of the world now feel insecured in the presence of the Muslims. I will have more to say about this situation later.

Muslim and Corruption

There are 191 countries, which are members of the United Nations. Each of them has to deal with the problems of corruption. Some countries have tried to get rid of this scourge, but I do not believe, any one of them has succeeded fully in their efforts. Singapore, under Lee Kwan Yu, achieved a commendable success in eradicating the evil that plagued its economy for a long time, yet it cannot claim that it does not have corrupt people among its populace.

In fact, corruption is a worldwide phenomenon. It is like termite that eats into the vital aspects of the effected nation's economic life. Almost all people of the world recognize the baneful effect of corruption, but in the face of its rampant prevalence, all efforts have so far failed in putting this jinni into the bottle.

Corruption appears to have a special place among the Muslims. According to a report of Transparency International, published in 2003, Bangladesh topped the list of the corrupt nations of the world. Of course, the Bangladesh government dismissed the report, citing partiality on the part of Transparency International.

I lived in Bangladesh for over forty years. During my service life, which spanned from 1960 to 1971, I saw a lot of people participating in various corruptions. I began my business career in the first quarter of 1972. I moved to the United States in 1998.

In the period beginning from 1971 and ending in 1998, I noticed a marked increase in the level of corruption in Bangladesh. My stepmother died in 1995; I had to bribe the custodian of the graveyard for a place to bury her. I could not pay my real estate tax without bribing the Tax Collector. I could not get my Driver's License without making the clerk happy. I could not get the "Fitness Certificate" for my brand new car without greasing the palms of the Inspector.

I saw how judges took bribes before acquitting the accused persons. I read in the newspapers how professors changed the answer scripts of the students to declare them successful in their exams. I witnessed how police changed their charge sheets to help murderers escape punishment. I regularly gave donations to student leaders for not disturbing me at home and at my office. The amount of "gratuities and bribes" I paid in twenty-six years will appear mind boggling to many, who are not fully acquainted with the level of corruption in Bangladesh.

Islam approves bribery. In connection with the words "(funds) for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled" that appear in verse 9:60, Maulana Abul Ala Modudi wrote:

"Reconciliation of hearts means to charm or captivate. The order means that those opponents who remain active against Islam, or those people who are in the camps of the infidels or those people who have embraced Islam but are likely to return to their previous religion due to their financial constrains, those people should be given money to earn their support for Islam, or to neutralize their harmful activities against Islam or to prevent them from returning to their previous religion. For these purposes, money procured through booty or other sources can be used. If need be, zakat money can also be used. It is not necessary that the recipients have to be beggars, poor or travelers to receive the zakat money. Even those who are wealthy and rich also qualify to receive payment from the Zakat Fund" (Tafhimul Quran, Vol. 2, p. 206; above is a loose rendering of the comments made in Urdu).

Since Muhammad himself used bribery to achieve his objectives, it is not surprising that his followers have been keeping his tradition alive by giving and receiving bribes. I have not come across too many Muslims who frowned upon bribery. Nor have I heard or read any Muslim cleric who opposed the practice or issued fatwa (religious edict) against it. To me, verse 9:60 appears to be the culprit; it prevents even the conscientious Muslims from chastising the practitioners of this heinous crime.

I noticed a unique pattern that various corrupt people of Bangladesh use to expiate their sins, or should I say their crimes. Corrupt people make it a point to say their Juma Prayer in grand mosques. Before closing their weekly prayer, all participants seek God's forgiveness for the sins they committed during their life. Many can be seen crying and shedding tears from their eyes. By the time they return to their powerful seats the next day, they forget what they had promised God the previous day. They feel no guilt in violating the promise they made to him earlier in the belief that they would have another opportunity to seek his forgiveness for the sins they committed in the days preceding the upcoming Friday.

Other Bangladeshi Muslims use more ostentatious means to get rid of their sins. Knowing that hajj cleanses all sins of the sinners, they rush to Saudi Arabia every time they get the chance to perform the rites of hajj. I have seen many hajjis, some among them being my close friends, reverting more aggressively to their previous activities in order to compensate for what they missed during their sojourn in Mecca. To many Muslims, commission of sins and washing them off occasionally is a way of life. What God thinks about it is a matter that should not be difficult for a reader to fathom.

Muslim psychology

In addition to uniting the former pagans under the banner of Islam, Muhammad also had changed their ways of life. The wealth seized from the Jews and distributed among his hungry followers was an impetus for them to crave for more of it. They were willing to go to any length to sustain the lifestyle they were introduced to by Muhammad through plunder and loot.

The conquest by the Muslims of Syria, Iraq, Persia and Egypt etc. brought about additional changes to their thinking process. It dawned on them that the people of their newly acquired territories had great wealth, which enabled them to live easy and comfortable lives. Promptly, the conquerors took over their possessions and then embarked upon a journey of conquests that was intended to afford them all the comfort and luxuries of life.

All the victims of Muslim aggressions were not prepared to face a marauding force that had originated from the harsh and rugged soil of Arabia. Consequently, all of its victims crumbled in the face of its onslaughts. Having categorically barred the Muslims from establishing peaceful and affable contacts with the unbelievers (see Ali Dashti, Twenty-three Years, p. 82,83), Muhammad further urged them "not to be weak and call for peace when they were uppermost (47:35). Inspired by the above statements as well as by the commandment of verse 47:4, the invaders showed no mercy towards their victims at the time of exacting ransoms from them. Those who could not pay ransoms, converted to Islam to avoid death or the harshness of the Islamic rule, thus helping the victorious Arabs to lay the foundation of their empire. Founded in 638 A. D., the Muslim empire over a vast area of the world lasted until 1683 A. D.

The Arabs' hold on their possessions emboldened them to impose various restrictions on their non-Muslim subjects. Where the humane side of the Muslim rulers became a hurdle, the Quran overrode their concerns, for it stipulated:

Fight those who believe not
In God nor the Last Day
Nor hold that forbidden
Which hath been forbidden
By God and His Apostle,
Nor acknowledge the Religion
Of Truth, (even if they are)
Of the People of the Book,
Until they pay the Jizya
With willing submission,
And feel themselves subdued (9:29).

In making the harsh Muslim rule harsher, the above Quranic statement became handy. Deriving guidance from it, Muslims divided their non-Muslim subjects into three categories. And those were:

1.Dhimmis were non-Muslims subjects who lived in Muslim countries and agreed to pay the Jizya (tribute) in exchange for protection and safety, and to be subject to Islamic law.

2. People of the Hudna (truce) were those who signed a peace of treaty with Muslims after being defeated in war. They agreed to reside in their own land, yet to be subject to the legal jurisprudence of Islam like the Dhimmis, provided they did not wage war against the Muslims.

3. Musta'min (protected one) were the persons who came to an Islamic country as messengers, merchants, visitors, or students wanting to learn about Islam. A Musta'min was not supposed to take part in war against the Muslims and was not required to pay the Jizya, but was urged to embrace Islam. If he did not become a Muslim, he was required to return to his homeland.

For the benefit of the readers, I will briefly discuss the concept and implications of the Jizya Tax.

Jizya literally means penalty. Its payment protected the non-Muslims who lived under Islamic regimes. It also confirmed their legal status. Those who could not pay this tax were required to convert to Islam. Refusal to convert meant certain death.

Apart from penalizing the Dhimmis for living in a Muslim state, Muslims used the Jizya tax system not only to humiliate them, but also to force them to submit themselves to their superior authority. The Dhimmis tolerated the Muslims and lived under their atrocious rule due to their own weaknesses and shortcomings.

Believing that the Dhimmis were destined to suffer at the hands of their foreign masters, the later day Muslim rulers took other steps to humiliate them more effectively. In 853, Caliph al-Mutawakkil forbade Dhimmis from riding horses; they were to stick to donkeys and mules. Jews living in the 14th century Egypt had to wear a yellow turban and the Christians a blue one to publicly demonstrate their religious preferences (see The Encyclopedia of the Orient for additional information).

I believe that the Christian were forced to launch their crusades to free their brethren from the Muslim excesses. Their efforts galvanized the Christians' resistance against the Muslims, who, eventually, lost all they had captured through brute force. After losing their dominance over their non-Muslim subjects, Muslims began to disappear from the world scene. Taking their fate into their own hands, the Christians took all those steps that were necessary for them to build a powerful position of their own.

In bettering the Christians' fortunes, science played an important role. It brought them wealth, power and prestige. Using their newly acquired muscle, the Christians became a dominant force of the world. While the influence of the Christian British was waning, the powerful Christian America stepped up to fill the vacuum that the British retreat was creating across the globe.

Apart from fighting and defeating the Nazi Germany, the Fascist Italy and the Imperialistic Japan, America, along with its war allies, helped create a Jewish State in the Middle East. Unable to resist the ever-increasing Christian and Jewish power, a large number of Palestinians left their ancestral homes and took shelter in refugee camps that had sprung up in various parts of the Middle East.

To the Christian world, the establishment of the Jewish State redeemed the excesses that the Jews had suffered at the hands of the Christians and the Muslims; to the Muslims it was the usurpation of their land by a religious group of people whom they hated from the bottom of their hearts. Consequently, the Muslim world not only refused to recognize the State of Israel; it also declared a perpetual war against the Jewish State.

Knowing the precarious conditions of the Israelis, the United States supported Israel with money and the sinews of war. Knowing well that economic well being brings success, the Jews of their own concentrated on improving their economic conditions. Muslims, on the other hand, proceeded with their war preparations with the belief that their faith was enough to make them successful against the Jews. To them, belief in God and in his partisan support for Muslims were good reasons to plunge their nations into war with a nation that they believed consisted of people whom God cursed (4:46), despised (2:65) and who were destined to face disgrace on earth and the world hereafter (5:41).

Thus influenced by their beliefs but otherwise unprepared for the task, a coalition of Muslim nations attacked the tiny Israel twice. Both the time, the Jews won, proving that what decides a nation's fate and success is not the blind faith of its people; they have to have nationalism, unity, economic strength and preparedness along with technological edge to come out successful in their endeavors.

Unable to believe that Israel could defeat and annex a chunk of the attackers' territory, Muslims the world over blamed America for the ignominious defeat of their Middle Eastern brothers. The notion that America was behind the coalition's defeat coupled with the fact they lost their empire and power, made Muslims bitter not at themselves but at the Americans. Calling America the "Great Satan," Muslims began preparing themselves to settle their score with the American people. To achieve their objective, they instilled hatred of the America infidels into their children's mind; they also told them that killing infidels was an act that God approved and that he would open up the gates of heaven for those Muslims who became martyrs while trying to kill his infidel enemies.

One crop of the brainwashed Muslims attacked the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. It was inspired by an ungrateful Muslim cleric whose life America saved from being taken away by the government of his native country. Having failed to achieve the desired result, another crop attacked the same target along with some others in Washington, D. C., and Pennsylvania. This time, God's soldiers used American plans to destroy innocent humans lives and American properties. In my opinion, the attacks of 2001 on American soil was unprecedented in human history; humans fought many dangerous battles and wars but what the 19 Muslims did on that fateful day of September would continue to haunt mankind for an indefinite period of time.

America had to react in its self-defense. It attacked the nerve center of the Muslim terrorists. In the process of eliminating the Muslim terrorists, American attacks also killed some innocent people. Muslims did not like what America did to defend its citizens and their interests, for they believed America would continue to live with their terrorism without reacting with an iron fist.

What followed the attack on Afghanistan is known to all of us. Also, I do not think it is necessary for me to mention here what has happened so far in Iraq. It, however, needs to be stated here that in the conflict that the Muslims have initiated, Muslims stand to lose whatever they have achieved thus far.

After the events of September 11, the world has changed. Most non-Muslims do not trust the Muslims in the way they used to trust them before. For the Muslims, the world has become a "constricting boa." They are being denied entry to many non-Muslim countries. Immediately after the aftermath of September 11, many non-Muslim businessmen were afraid to visit the Muslim countries. How far they have been able to overcome their fear by this time remains a question for the observers to answer.

Many poor Muslims who dreamed of making their living in the non-Muslim countries would face tremendous difficulties in fulfilling their dream. Consequently, poor Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan would see a drastic fall in their Foreign Exchange Reserves. This would curtail their ability not only to meet their import and developmental needs; it would also diminish their ability in meeting their loan and interest payment obligations.

Lack of their acceptability in non-Muslim countries would deny employment to many Muslims. Tightening of immigration laws by the United States has already forced many Muslims to go back to the countries of their origin. This trend is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Muslim countries are also likely to face internal discontentment due to some of the circumstances I have mentioned above. Internal difficulties in countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia are likely to effect the social environments of their neighbors. This might create tension in the respective regions of the effected countries. How much sympathy or support Muslim countries might receive from the Christian World to resolve their problems is difficult for anyone to forecast at this time.

Are not Muslims responsible for what is happening to them now? Or should they not take responsiblity for what is likely to happen to them in future?

Mohammad Asghar writes from USA. He can be reached at [email protected]





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