Jamaat-Shibir has been fighting to impose Sharia in Bangladesh as a first step to recreate old ‘golden period’ of Ummah in near future under a Caliph. This calls for a relook into a few aspects of Islamic history to find out if the endeavor of Jamaat-Shibir is justified or not.
In 1992 more than a hundred thousand Hindu fanatics demolished a 16th century mosque in Indian town of Ayodhya. This was definitely a heinous crime by Hindu fanatics of India. However, in response Jamaat-Shibir lost no time to unlash persecution of Bangladeshi Hindu minority community and destruction of their place of worship across the whole country. Even today Jamaat-Shibir quotes the incident of mosque demolition by Indian Hindu fanatics to incite religious passion among Bangladeshis (conveniently forgetting their taking of more than required revenge against innocent Bangladeshi Hindus). Arguably so far is good. But has Jamaat-Shibir kept any track of number of old Mosques and other Islamic sites of reverence demolished by Saudi government (including the 1400 years old home of the prophet of Islam in Madina) to construct multi-storied apartments and car parking? Why Jamaat-Shibir did not dare to mobilize violent protest against Saudi people for those demolitions? Is Saudi ruling class dearer to them than prophet, his close relations and friends? Had such demolition been done by any non-Muslim group, Jamaat-Shibir would have wiped out that non-Muslim population from the face of Bangladesh.
The scholars of so called casteless Muslim society are aware of the derogatory terms like ‘Mawali’ (non-Arab Muslims) and ‘Zanj’ (Negro Muslims). Further, terms like ‘Ashraf’ (high caste Muslim who can trace his lineage from some Arab, Persian or Turk ancestor, as well as, converts from high caste Hindu), ‘Ajlaf’ (convert from low caste Hindu) and ‘Arzal’ (convert from Dalit Hindu) in South Asia (including Bangladesh) reflect the total negation of the basic principle of casteless Muslim society as propagated by the prophet. Following the death of prophet, virtual caste-based stratification entered into Muslim society from which it is yet to recover. Marriage between Ashraf and Arzal is unthinkable even in today’s Bangladesh. Moreover, claim of purity and supremacy of Saudi Arab Muslims over other Muslims is still in vogue as it was 1400 years back. No Bangladeshi Ashraf boy can marry a Saudi Arab girl. He will be beheaded. In this situation, how Jamaat-Shibir can talk of Ummah?
Prophet died in AD 632 and Qur’an was canonized about 25 years after his death during the reign of Uthman (3rd Caliph). While Sharia was canonized between 50 to 225 years after prophet’s death in five versions by five Imams, Hadith was formalized between 225 to 275 years after prophet’s death by multiple authors, of which a few are accepted as authentic. As prophet never advocated, even indirectly, about any dynasty/tribe based rule of Muslim community, we are bound to conclude that the Sharia was developed only to give religious legitimacy to early dynasty/tribe based Islamic rulers after the death of prophet. The later canonization of Hadith did further sanctification of Sharia. Most of the efforts were directed to serve the hedonistic, imperialistic & administrative interests of Muslim rulers of that period. Though Sharia was written by taking inputs from multiple sources (including Qur’an and Sunnah), Qur’an does not give any explicit or implicit directive for such Islamic law (Sharia) based political institution in favour of rulers of Ummah or Islamic countries. This is further proved by non-imposition of ‘Madina Compact’ or any compact by prophet in Mecca after he conquered that holy city. How can then Jamaat-Shibir propagate that Sharia is ‘law of Allah’ and should be implemented in Bangladesh? Do they want to defy the practice of prophet?
The ‘Golden period of Islam’ was not at all golden. The so called golden period was marred by imperialistic expansion, power struggles, dirty political games, civil wars, succession conflicts, palace conspiracies, slavery, rebellions, rifts, blood baths, cruelties, apartheid among Muslims and persecution of family members/decedents of prophet etc.. When many defeated non-believers started converting to Islam to avoid the hardship of ‘Jijiya’, conversion was discouraged to generate revenue. Even at certain point neo-converts were compelled to pay ‘Jijiya’. The achievements in science, arts and philosophy etc., what are referred to as ‘golden’, were possible during the ‘lucid intervals’ whenever Ummah showed some degree of religious tolerance, rationality and pluralism. But it is worthy to mention that Muslim scholars of ‘golden period’ like Ibn Khaldun (Historian), Ibn Sina (Physician), Al Kindi (Mathematician), Ibn Rushd (Jurist) and Ar Razi (Physician) were all accused of blasphemy and heresy. However, during the ‘manic phases’ of so called golden period, Muslims population and society had to pay dearly for mixing politics with religion. Does Jamaat-Shibir want to lure the Bangladeshis to such a false ‘golden period’ of Ummah?
Prophet’s Madina was a rogue Islamic city state under him. Between AD 623 and AD 632 about 100 military expeditions were conducted on his instructions of which prophet personally took part in 27. He never gave any directive about succession of leader of Muslim community after him. It was never made clear if such leadership would be temporal or spiritual or both for the Muslim community. Prophet gave no divine directives or set of rules under which the future Muslim community would be ruled. He had ‘Madina Compact’ for the city of Madina only. So it becomes clear that even prophet could never imagine that Islam would be a major force for imperial expansion within few years after his death. And to satisfy that unprecedented imperial expansion, Islam very quickly went into the hands of vested interests after the death of prophet and Sharia came into being.
Maudoodi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami in British India (from which Jamaat-Shibir of Bangladesh has come), very strongly advocated for implementation of Sharia in Muslim communities and Jihad in non-Muslim communities so much so that he castigated the non-observance of Sharia and Jihad as un-Islamic. He almost said that Sharia and Jihad should be as obligatory to the Muslims as the five pillars of Islam. Does Jamaat-Shibir want to give such un-Islamic liberty to Maudoodi?
But for Qur’anic injunction, Maudoodi could not proclaim himself a 20th century prophet or reformer of Islam He was surely angry with prophet of Islam to deprive him from such exalted position though he had potential. All the problems with Islam was created by prophet when he preached that (i) Islam was the only true & complete religion, (ii) he was the last & best prophet and (iii) allowed persecution of apostates from Islam. Otherwise a few more prophets or reformers would have come and made Islam rational and sensitive by now. Who knows, may be Maudoodi would have acted that way. His philosophy was an expression of frustration for not been allowed to be a prophet or reformer of Islam.
Jamaat-Shibir is the name of a wild power game in the guise of Islam. They want to impose Taliban like harsh dictatorship in the name of Islam in Bangladesh negating liberty, human dignity, human rights and rule of law. One should not forget that the persecution of Muslim women which started with daughter of prophet after his death is still in vogue under Sharia. Should Muslim women submit before Muslim men first and then Allah? Does Jamaat-Shibir want to force such misogyny in Bangladesh?
The main problems of Bangladesh are its high level of population burden, illiteracy and poverty. Centuries of false and fictitious religious brainwashing by semiliterate, self-righteous and power hungry Mulla have made majority of them fatalistic and ritualistic with obsession about the life hereafter. In last 1400 years no dead Muslim has reported back from paradise or hell, neither any will in future as paradise and hell are located in head only. The vast number of poor rural Bangladeshis are so simple minded that anecdotally they can ask the village Maulavi to consult Hadith for locating any lost cow. The common Bangladeshis have lost their initiative to fight for socio-economic development. They remain preoccupied with Iman. Some even keep on aping Arabic culture in the name of Sunnah which is a backdoor Islamic strategy for hero worshiping of prophet. The majority Bangladeshi has been kept ignorant about the controversial aspects and teachings of Islam. A small proportion who knows or doubts these, does not wish to push the issue further because of fear of persecution/death in the hands of Islamic zealots. In past months we have seen such things in Bangladesh. Jamaat-Shibir has been exploiting this situation to push their virulent agenda on fellow country people.
Bangladeshis have to decide if they want to invite more misery and sufferings for them by mixing religion with politics which is being spearheaded by Jamaat-Shibir. They will have to decide if they want a retrograde ‘Islamic state’ or progressive ‘state of secular Islam’ in Bangladesh.
PS: Any Mukto Mona contributor, if interested, may correctly translate the post in Bengali and upload it in Mukto Mona Bangla Blog.