Islam & Peace
By U. Mahesh Prabhu
A man is judged not so much by his words, as by his actions. Similarly is the case with religion. It's judged, solely, by the action of its followers and leaders.
Over the internet I have come to know of a very interesting group of people who have with them but one agenda: of convincing masses of 'Islam is a religion of peace'. Frankly I have had no issues with them, whatsoever, initially. As a firm believer in mutual co-existence and free speech I found the issue, chosen by them, to be close to my heart and, also, to be the need of the hour.
I was, then, even relaxed to know that there were finally some men, that too within Islam itself, attempting to undo the blemish what those Wahhabis had brought to it. Though I never put in my written word of gratitude to them I was praying for them to be triumphant in their task. But today I am compelled to speak otherwise. Not without a fair and valid reason, for sure.
To ensure I realized and understood their intentions accurately, I resolutely kept an eye on their activities, rather closely, both on and off the internet, through my sources, for quiet some time. It didn't took me long to realize their true intent. They were attempting to deceive people and motive them to convert to Islam, of which they had their own version, in rather very roguish manner by resorting to Negations.
Honestly I am not critical of conversions. I solemnly deem that any person should be free to follow the religious conviction of his predilection, unreservedly. But it should be through a virtue and only after realization of facts by the person aspiring for conversion. I am indubitably against depraved, shady and unjust methods of conversion, like the ones these were attempting to.
Islam, as many may know, is youngest of Semitic religions known to the mankind. It has had no great cultural, diplomatic and scholarly legacy, when it commenced its voyage from the deserts of Arabia. To expand its influence it had to entirely rely on the military prowess of its Prophet. As any Islamic scholar will confirm, Prophet Muhammad wasn't a literate. However, that is not to say that he was 'unwise' as some unjust critics of Islam might say. His genius was unquestionably commendable.
Quran wasn't given to him by Allah in a 'ready to serve format'. As per Islamic traditions it was 'revealed to him over a period of time'. Understanding his illiterate background, to make the Quran possible in the form of book he had to obtain services of some educated men. But the way in which he ensured that those educated men didn't muddled with his words, that which he had received from Allah, he would verify and cross verify and counter verify it from time to time.
Given the aforesaid context, to spread 'the word of Allah' prophet had but one road– his sword. As you see there were no scholars in Arabia, especially Islamic scholars, at that point of time. And the only peaceful method by which you could convert is by the way of debates which was completely nonexistent. And the 'holy wars' or 'Jihad' spilled blood of millions.
Any historian will concur that conflict for dominance, between Islam and Christianity, has exterminated over 17 million people, or even more, until date. Given this, it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals, including me, to trust that Islam is a religion of peace. The same is pertinent with Christianity also.
What we see today in Middle-East is no dissimilar than the conflict of the times of yore. People often misconstrue that the present-day American administration to be a 'liberal' and 'nonreligious'. That's absolutely a travesty of fact. George Bush, the swaggering American President, whose presidency, thank god, is to come to an end shortly, calls himself as a 'Reborn Christian'. If there is but one discrepancy in between the wars in the middle-east, then and now, it's that: then it was exclusively for the control of religious places, Jerusalem in particular, and now it's for oil.
True, even in India, then called Bharath; we had several caste, creeds and sects who had a lot of disparity among themselves. But as some 'scholars' would like to say, there wasn't bloodshed for the expansion. Though there were wars, it was on the intellectual and not on the military level, as it is often misleadingly stated. It was with words and seldom with swords.
But both Christians and Muslims, of course, had no such options and for them Sword was the first and the final resort. My Muslim intellectuals may well differ, but they simply cannot negate the fact that any insult on Prophet Muhammad or Islam has resulted in the 'violence', and the same is true even to this day. Or can they?
Now here's my sincere question to the Islamic scholars: How are we, the 'Kafirs', to believe that 'Islam is a religion of peace' when the entire age of Islam was led by wars and bloodshed? This, let me assert, is not a point to enrage but to seek an honest and truthful answer. I hate neither Islam nor any other faith. I say that with forthrightness. I have no axe to grind.
Further, every time a prophet is insulted there is not a single soul in the Muslim world who talks of peace. They needed no evidence when the Indian born, and now British, author Salman Rushdie was issued a fatwa by a fanatic Imam of a theocratic Islamist state for his beheading! Not one among the protestors, to the best of my knowledge, had even read Rushdie's 'blasphemous' book - Satanic Versus. Every time such issue had cropped up my question to my Muslim brothers was increasingly simple 'How could ordinary mortals insult a great prophet or Allah himself?' Greatness is that which is attained by people when they are above the criticism. Isn't it?
Yes, the same is also true, but only to a certain extent, in Hinduism. To testify the difference let me help you recall the recent 'Ram-Sethu Saga', when the Congress led UPA government's appointed office bearers made a nasty attempt of questioning the existence of Lord Ram. How many do you think, among the saints and monastery heads of Hinduism issued a diktat to behead Karunanidhi? Any guesses? Just one! To add further, you only need to go through the annals to realize the way in which, and how critically, the Mahant was criticized for having issued the diktat. Contrary to this, how many of our 'intellectuals' did really criticize the Mullahs who called for beheading of Danish Cartoonist?
A man is judged not so much by his words, as by his actions. Similarly is the case with religion. It's judged, solely, by the action of its followers and leaders. Given the people are aware of the fact that the number of people killed in the name of 'Allah!' we non-Muslims are certainly, and are very much, sceptical of affirming the statement of 'Islam being a religion of peace'.
Before I conclude, let me avow here that I live by a code, which is 'I may not love all, but I shall hate none.' I am an ardent advocate of Vedic principle that 'Hatred begets nothing, but destruction.' So it may be understood that my words here are sincere presentation of fact. I am not glum basher of Islam. I have no personal interest in bashing any religion for that matter.
Let the Muslims be free to propagate their religion, I am not perturbed by that. But my earnest appeal to them is to present truth and drop depraved, shady and unjust methods of conversion.
I am convinced that had Prophet Muhammad had a team of scholars like my distinguished intellectual friends like MJ Akbar he would have seldom retorted to wars. But the fact that he resorted to sword, which was his only available option, is a historical fact, and that which can seldom be negated.