We have all been brought up by our elders to not question men of our faith, some of us were given the leverage to do so and thus developed a higher level of understanding as to what Islam is and what it actually entails. Others however were taught dogmatically and rigidly and thus for them to question someone speaking from a pulpit with a long beard is almost akin to committing social murder.
Perhaps this is the core difference between the masses and the moderate elite of Pakistan the difference in which they have been taught Islam. Perhaps this is why a Karachiite is not able to accept the Islam being propagated by the Taliban while someone in Swat just bows their head and nods. This has to be so because the million strong throng of men witnessed at the Muslim Khans rally call could not be there only because of his good will. Nay they looked like they were ready to do it all for him and those were ordinary residents of Swat who no doubt are convinced that the Taliban are their saviors.
However we as a society cannot function if the moderates among us are wiped out of existence or lashed for speaking their minds. We have a task, which is to enlighten and educate the conservatives and to point out to them the vivid differences between the Prophet Muhammad’s implemented Shariah and the one being implemented by the Taliban. Obviously we each have a different interpretation of Islam and thus have to find and consult ulema who can help guide us as to where we are headed with our reasoning.
For this purpose I had the good fortune of coming in contact with Dr Khalid Zaheer an enlightened scholar of Islam who helped clear out a lot of my thoughts regarding the following three burning questions.
1. Where in our religion is beheading allowed and against what crime? How is it that the taliban are beheading people for crimes like spying?
KZ :Islam allows taking the life of another human for two — and only — reasons: If the individual is guilty of killing another human or he is, worse still, guilty of creating mischief on earth, which means he has caused the life, wealth, or honour of others to be in peril because of his misdeeds. In the latter case, such criminals are allowed to be sometimes killed in a merciless manner, if the severity of the crime so demands. If an individual kills another human for any reasons other than these two, he will be held guilty of killing the entire mankind. (Qur’an; 5:32)
Taliban are killing people for spying because they find some mentions of similar incidents of killing in the hadith. What they fail to understand is the fact that the cases mentioned in the hadith have to do with the times of the messenger alone. The Quran clarifies unmistakably the fact that the people who deny God’s messengers during their lifetime are to be subjected to divine punishments. One form divine punishments can take is through the might of the companions of the prophet. The Quran clarifies that during the prophet’s life, it was this kind of punishment that was inflicted on the enemies of Islam. It has nothing to do with any other times.
Taliban and the likes do not acknowledge that reality. They are people who cannot be talked to. Therefore the damage that has been done cannot, unfortunately, be undone by any amount of efforts.
2. Religiously speaking is it right to demand of women not to venture out of their home for work or recreation?
KZ :There is no reason why women can be prevented from stepping out of their homes. Again, during the lifetime of the prophet, his wives were asked not to step out of their homes unnecessarily, because there were hypocrites and Jews who wanted to scandalize the family of the prophet, alaihissalaam. Quran is clear in this matter too. Taliban generalize those verses and the ahadith related to them even though there are many others that clarify the real understanding.
3. Does Islam allow for annexation of land through religion, if we recall the Muslims of mecca won many battles and ruled many countries during their time, can the Taliban then capture Pakistan as their right to spread Islam?
KZ: No, Muslims can’t do it now. What happened in the first generation of Muslims again had to do with God’s laws for the messengers.
You will find that many modern-day problems are linked with two issues: Muslims i) not willing to alter their views and as a consequence ii) not understanding the clear mention of the law regarding the messengers in the Quran.
In short my friends, this is hardly the Islam brought by the Quran and taught by the Prophet through his teachings the sunnah, this is a very rigid very cruel subversion of it based on Wahabiasm and Talibanism mixed with just the added flavor of militancy to make it suitable to the needs of this section of our country. We must learn the difference and I hope this writeup will go a few steps in that direction.