Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nationalism—A Concept Alien to Islam

Nationalism—A Concept Alien to Islam
By U. Mahesh Prabhu

As an egalitarian nation, India has the constitutional obligation to guard the religious liberties of every citizen. Hence, recently, when Mohammad Zubair, a corporal with the Indian Air Force, was ordered to shave off his beard to maintain uniformity, he took no time in moving the country's judicial system. 'A true Muslim must keep his beard', contended Zubair's attorney, stating that it was an essential part of his faith as per the 'Hadith' and 'Sunna' (recorded customs). 'We have the constitutional right to belief and practice of religion,' he said, seeking protection of his 'right' to grow a beard.

But is growing a beard really mandatory in Islam? Yes, the Prophet has said, as reported by Abdullah-ibn-Umar, 'Act against the polytheist, trim closely the moustache and grow your beard'. Thus, following these directives of the Prophet, Zubair is following his faith. But didn't the Prophet, in the same statement, also say 'act against the polytheist…'? Then, if promoted through the ranks, would Zubair not work against the 'polytheist' Hindus? Would he not follow the directives of his Prophet then also and seek to kill his 'polytheist' countrymen?

For years now, Muslim scholars, intellectuals, and journalists, have complained of 'deprivation' and the 'lack of special privileges'. They have presented in a very viable way as to what it is that they lack. But have they ever spoken gratefully of the privileges they have received? Not that I can remember of!

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