They are apparently the greatest champions of Islam. They sport long flowing beards while commoners like me do not. They mostly wear the dresses synonymous with Islam (other than on occasion or two when they wear army or police uniform to carry forth a terror attack), while commoners like me wear Western dresses. They are the most frequent visitors to mosques, keep a copy of Quran under their arms, are seen talking of nothing but Islam and are chief votaries of Dawah (calling others to faith). This apparent relationship that they show with Islam gives all the more reasons for commoners like myself and students of Islam to seek them, talk to them on Islamic issues and follow them.
Follow them! Sad part is they are the people who give to the world the most savage and ferocious people in the name of Islamic Jihad; people who have no qualms whatsoever in pulling the trigger in the face of a child, nor hesitate in severing the head of a journalist with a dagger. These self-proclaimed champions of Islam are giving the worst name to Islam and making life difficult for all commoners like me.
This version of savage and brutal Islam gained in strength when the British supported Abdul Aziz in conquering Riyadh in 1902, consolidating control over Najd by 1922, conquering Hijaz in 1925 and then finally uniting the dominions into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. King Abdul Aziz adopted the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab (b. 1703), who was considered heretic during his lifetime by leading Sunni Muslim scholars of Islam as well by his brother Sulayman ibn Abd al-Wahhab who issued a fatwa declaring him as a heretic. As followers of this State-supported Islam grew in number, particularly when oil money began to be used to propagate it, opponents of this movement coined the term ‘Wahabi’ or ‘Wahabism’ though neither Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab nor any of the movement’s participants referred to themselves as such. It is this reason why others see them as a sect different from their own; while most Wahabis prefer calling them only Muslims. The understanding of Islam that this ‘sect’ propagates is altogether different from that of majority Sunnis and Shias. In fact, the first thing that King Abdul Aziz did, after gaining control of Saudi Arabia, was to raze to ground all the mausoleums and signs in the land, that had any relation to Ahlulbayt (Ahlulbayt is a term referring to Prophet Mohammad’s household members who have been praised and lauded in the Quran), who are otherwise held in high esteem by the majority Sunnis and Shias.
Though countries like Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have publicly distanced themselves from providing any support to terrorism or terrorists, lot many videos are available on YouTube of Sheikhs providing funds and support to terrorist organizations and even abetting in recruitments. Though it is a bitter truth that all the terrorists that the world has seen claim to be championing the cause of Wahabism, the truth is also that most Wahabis are not terrorists. Thus it is clear that one doesn’t become a terrorist by merely following the sect of Wahabism and most Wahabis are peace-loving people like majority of Muslims.
Then what is the reason that this sect alone gives to the world the greatest number of savage and brutal people, who are increasingly becoming a blot on the face of Islam? I tried to go backwards in history, beyond the time of Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahab, the Ottoman Empire, the Islam propagated by rulers like the Abbasids and the Umayyads and even before, to the time immediately after Prophet Mohammad, to see when the first traits of this brutal and savage Islam are visible in Islamic history. Interestingly, we found all that is happening in today’s world in the name of Islam had been prophesied in minute detail by Prophet Mohammad during his lifetime; the prophesies are scattered in various books of traditions related to Prophet Mohammad which were published hundreds of years before the world got to know of the terror-related facet of Islam. Let us see some of Quranic and Prophet Mohammad’s prophesies and teachings and try to analyse where and to what extent the present-day Muslims have digressed from the true teachings of Islam.
As per a tradition, Prophet Mohammad prophesied that a time will come when Islam will remain only for the namesake and Quran will only remain as a ritual, their mosques will be adorned with embellishments but won’t preach Islam, their Ulema (religious heads) will be the worst of people living under the sky. Evil will emanate from these Ulema and will return to them.
Islam will remain for namesake means all acts symbolic with Islam will remain but the real spirit of those teachings will go missing. Mosques will not endear one to spirituality but will remain as embodiments of grandeur, pomp and show. Ulema (the learned) will become worldly people and will remain the chief of all evil and thereafter the evil will return to them.
A tradition related to Ibn Abbas says Prophet Mohammad said: ‘O Muslims, you will definitely adorn your mosques on the pattern of Jews and Christians.’ The same is happening. The mosques are embellished with adornments to such an extent that they are kept closed and opened only at the time of prayers. Another tradition says that when you start adorning your mosques and Quran remains for namesake, then you will get digressed from real teachings. Another tradition says that when worldly issues start being discussed in mosques instead of pursuing spiritual excellence, a real Muslim should not sit with such ‘believers’. An oft-quoted tradition says that a time will come when those sticking to true teachings of Islam will be akin to those holding fire in their hand. Another tradition tells that a time will come when the best of possessions of a Muslim will be goats that he will take to the mountains. Prophet also prophesied a time will come when evil will set in; during that time one who is sitting will be better than one who is standing (in action); one who is standing will be better than one who is walking and one who is walking will be better than one who is running. Anyone who will lift his gaze towards these evils, evil will catch him. Prophet said in those times of evil, worshipping God and nothing else will be the best deed. Prophet even said that a time will come when opponents of faith will unite and converge to kill Muslims just like people gather around food. Someone asked will we be less in numbers during that time, and the Prophet replied you will be in plenty but will be like hay that is blown up in wind. This prophesy too is coming true now when we find that adherents to all religions of the world have started seeing Muslims as the worst of all people on earth. This is contrary to the time when people adhering to other religions cherished hope that Muslims would come and conquer them so they live a better life under Muslim rule. In another tradition, Prophet said during the end times, knowledge will decrease, ignorance will rise, adultery will increase and women will become more than men. Another tradition says that during the end times, time will start passing by quickly; usury will be prevalent and person will not distinguish between earning by rightful and wrong means. Another tradition says that a time will come when monkeys will sit on pulpits of mosques (thus meaning that most ignorant persons will become the religious leaders). Prophet Mohammad also vowed in the name of God and said the world will not end until the time will come when the murderer won’t know why he was murdering and the slain won’t know why he was being slain. Somebody asked why this would happen. Prophet replied killings will increase due to prevalence of evil. The murderer and the murdered both will be on the wrong. This shows people will fight for wrong reasons; they will fight for wrong ideology, while each person will claim to be votary of peace. As per another tradition, Prophet said during end times you will find those who grazed sheep boasting of the heights of their buildings. He also said end times will come when those who walked barefoot will become the rulers. At another place he said deaf and dumb will become the rulers, which means rulers will be least bothered seeing or hearing the truth and justice and righteousness will not be their concern. At another place, he said end times will come when the authority will be handed over to people who are not suitable. And said during end times, there will be no more good people left; only worse people will remain in the end as garbage and God will not care for them. In another tradition, he said during end times, women will be naked despite wearing clothes. He also prophesied about people who will carry whips in hand and will flog people, thereby meaning that people will harm the innocent with their weapons. Prophet has even prophesied that time will come when prior to coming of Mahdi – the final messiah – the Muslims will get confined only to small region around Medina and Khyber. Upon coming of Mahdi, justice and peace will prevail and the world will see bounties like never before. Mahdi is none else but the Kalki avatar of the Hindus.
All these prophesies show Prophet Mohammad himself knew his followers would deviate. Those who blame Islam for all the waywardness among Muslims should know that Islam is far different from the conduct of those who call themselves as adherent to Islam.
It is a universally acknowledged teaching of Islam that one who kills one innocent person is akin to killing the entire humanity. In a charter written to his governor in Egypt, Ali (the son-in-law of Prophet who constitutes one of the 14 Ahlulbayt of Quran) wrote in clear terms how a ruler need to behave with his subjects, irrespective of their faith and religion. It is a part of history that during the time of Prophet Mohammad, a clear directive was given even during war that none of the Muslims were to kill a non-combatant, not even those who had been disarmed or were without arms to defend themselves. Charter of Medina framed by Prophet Mohammad tells how a non-Muslim has to be treated when he is a subject of a Muslim rule. Prophet’s tradition says clearly that a person is not a Muslim if someone feels threatened by his hand or tongue (thereby meaning that a Muslim would not even insult another person by tongue, leave alone strike him with hand). Another tradition tells that one is not a Muslim if anyone living up to 40 houses on each side in the neighbourhood goes to sleep without food. This tradition does not tell a Muslim has to take care of households belonging to his brothers-in-faith but talks of all neighbours and implies that a Muslim has to live in such a manner that he not only remains abreast with the condition of neighbours but also help them in their hour of need. There are several instances when members of Prophet’s household (Ahlulbayt) carried sacks of food in the wee hours of night, distributing them among the poor and downtrodden of the city. Ali, even when he was the Caliph of Islam, wore garments with innumerable stitches, ate nothing more than loaf of bread and salt and took nothing more from the treasury for his family than what the poorest of the poor were getting.
If this was spiritual side of Islam, where did the militant Islam come from which included the severing of head from torso, killing of innocent children, brutal and savage treatment of those not adhering to their version of belief?
When I went back in history I found several incidents that showed behaviour similar to that of terrorists of today, which confirmed my view that this problem is not a Wahabi problem but there are certain other factors responsible for it.
Very soon after the demise of Prophet Mohammad, we find two versions of Islam that originated. One was the spiritual Islam which was being practised by Ahlulbayt (people of Prophet’s household) and some of Prophet’s distinguished companions and the other was the militant Islam being propagated by the rulers viz. the materialistic people. These two kinds of Islam have remained in conflict during all times.
The Islam being propagated by the rulers saw to it that Muslims remain as distant as possible from the real teachings. It was in their interest to see the Muslims remain ignorant and illiterate. So much so that when Muawiya (who commenced the Umayyad rule) came to fight Ali – the Caliph – he openly said he had brought those people with him who were incapable of distinguishing between a she and he camel. Muawiya meant to say that all discourses to right teaching of Islam will fall on the deaf ears of such Muslims. A shade prior to this battle, in another war instigated by Muawiya, the ignorant Muslims were even told to eat the excreta of a camel being rode by one of Prophet’s wife who had come to fight Ali. While Quran says Islam is the religion of intellect and makes it mandatory for a Muslim to accept fundamental teachings only through intellect, it suited the rulers to keep the subjects ignorant. At times, the clergy too realized it suited them to keep the adherents ignorant. Thus we see that while Ahlulbayt tried to teach the sciences to awaken the mind (the greatest of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers of the period were students of institutions formed by the Ahlulbayt), simultaneously we see that for a very long period in history, mathematics as a subject was not taught to students in madrasas lest they learn to exercise their brain. Two types of Islam were spreading at the same time – the spiritual Islam or the Islam of the Ahlulbayt and the Islam of the rulers which was opposed to the Islam of the Ahlulbayt.
Though scattered incidents of killing in self-interest were visible prior to Muawiya, we find in Muawiya’s time a full-fledged and ruthless exercise of power wherein opponents of political rule of Muawiya were killed ruthlessly in the name of Islam. While going through Islamic history, some incidents which come to notice prior to Muawiya may include the murder of Muhammad bin Qasim – the young conqueror who had come as close to India as Sind – but was called back on the basis of a canard and killed in the most gruesome of manners. Muhammad bin Qasim is said to have been tied inside the camel’s hyde, which was set on fire. We also see incidents like Khalid bin Walid (revered to this day by ignorant Muslims with the title Saifullah or ‘Sword of Allah’) killing a person because he felt attracted to his extremely beautiful wife.
Under Muawiya’s rule, we find cold-blooded murder of innumerable companions of Prophet Mohammad, particularly those who were sympathetic or close to Prophet Mohammad’s family. These included Hajr bin Adi whose grave was dug up by Al-Qaida fighters recently in Syria. Their hatred even to this day with people who were close to Ahlulbayt reveal they still continue to have the same mind-set as Muawiya and his followers had with people of Prophet’s household.
Hajr and his companions were butchered to death near Damascus. Lot many people were crucified, their tongues taken out, they were blinded and given all kinds of tortures. The women of those killed were made slaves – a mind-set which can still be seen among Al-Qaida and ISIS fighters. Beheading was common, something that is still visible.
A most vivid example available in history is that Kharijites, a group of extremely religious minded people, who began to harbour enmity with Ali. This was a group of people who offered namaz all through the day, read Quran on regular basis, wore Islam up on their sleeves yet history recounts an incident where the same Kharijites, upon encountering a man who was traveling with his pregnant wife, not only killed the man but opened the belly of the mother with a sword, took out the child and killed him.
Tortures and brutal killing in the name of Islam continued during the time of subsequent rulers who ruled in the name of Islam. So much so that Yazid – the son of Muawiya – sent an army of 30,000 soldiers who surrounded Husain (one of the Ahlulbayt referred to in Quran; who was Prophet Mohammad’s grandson and son of Ali) and his 100-odd companions in Karbala, denied water to them and their womenfolk and children for 8 days and then on the 9th day butchered all the men, including the 6-month old child of Husain. To those who have heard of narrations of the murder of 6-month old Ali Asghar, it shouldn’t come as surprise that terrorists killed 140-odd children in a school in Peshawar (Pakistan). Not only Ali Asghar was killed, but his head was cut off from his torso and displayed on top of a spear. The dead bodies of Husain and his companions were trampled under horse’s hoofs, their heads too severed from bodies and put up on spears for display. Husain’s head was severed from torso while he was still alive; and prostrated before God in worship. The heads were taken in a victorious march from Karbala to Kufa (in present day Iraq) and all the way to Damascus (in present day Syria). If you have seen in recent days the photographs of ISIS militants playing football with heads of dead opponents, you shouldn’t be surprised because it is the mind-set that has prevailed in all times. There are narrations available that Yazid used his stick to play with Husain’s head as it lay in tray on display. Most of the subsequent Umayyad rulers were no less ruthless and the succeeding Abbasid rulers showed they were far ahead of Umayyads in brutality and beastliness. Some of these Umayyad rulers ordered killing of people whose crime was they came to Husain’s grave to pay homage and respect.
Do I mean to say there is no solution to the brutal and beastly nature of Muslim terrorists as there is nothing new to what they are doing and their nature has remained one and the same during all ages? No! Have I really shown where the problem lies? Yes! If you have not noticed, I give here another prophesy of Prophet Mohammad. During his lifetime and even on his deathbed, the Prophet repeatedly said: “I am leaving behind you two things, the Quran (book) and the Ahlulbayt (people of the house, described in Quran). If you remain united with them, you will not get astray, until you come to meet me on the Spring of Kausar (in heaven).” This implied that he prophesied that Muslims would get astray the moment they leave either of the two, Quran or Ahlulbayt. This was perhaps because Quran could have been truly taught in practice by none other than Ahlulbayt. The enmity which the rulers harboured against Ahlulbayt was for this reason alone. These rulers wanted to propagate an Islam with no mention of Ahlulbayt. This Islam of the rulers not only tried to leave aside the spiritual and righteousness-seeking Islam of the Ahlulbayt but also put in place a propaganda machinery to see to it that the character of Ahlulbayt was maligned and people remain as distant from them as possible. The rulers repeatedly saw to it that not just the Ahlulbayt were tortured and killed but even their friends and well-wishers were slaughtered in the most gruesome of manners.
Thus we find that for some reason, it is the personality or nature or role of Ahlulbayt in Divine Plan because of which all enmity and savagery gets centered on them. Interestingly, while you find the most savage of all people in Islamic history were opponents of Ahlulbayt, the Wahabis are perhaps the only sect among the Muslims who give no place to Ahlulbayt whatsoever despite their repeated mention in Quran and Prophet Mohammad’s traditions. This is the reason why they have deviated to such an extent that they reveal the most ugly and reprehensible display of Islam. This is indeed the reason why while all Wahabis are not terrorists, all terrorists are Wahabis.
Even today, name of Ahlulbayt cannot be taken openly in Aal-e-Saud-ruled Arabia. The graves of members of Prophet’s household have been desecrated in modern-day Saudi Arabia and all other monuments or places having any semblance or relation to Ahlulbayt have been removed. Leaving the spiritual Islam, being shown and preached by Ahlulbayt, became the cause, as already prophesied by Prophet Mohammad, for the brutal, savage and materialistic face of Islam to emerge.
One last question: why enmity with Ahlulbayt? I have been showing in my writings there is indeed one and only one path to reach God. Ahlulbayt have been described in Prophet Mohammad’s traditions as the rope to salvation. It is they who are the Devatas of Vedas and Upanishads (they have been described as Rope and Life there as well); they are the divinities of Old Testament and it were they who were being described during all times and through all Divine Scriptures. It is they who have been given the Divine responsibility to lead and show the path to the mankind. Accounts of their lives show they were the biggest champions of peace and justice, the torchbearer of all human values and the greatest worshippers of God. They were referred to as the Ahlulbayt (People of the House) when Bayt meant Baytullah (House of God) and Muslims erroneously understood the term Ahlulbayt in Quran as ‘People of the House (of Mohammad)’ forgetting that Mohammad too had been described as one of the Ahlulbayt. While the Divinely assigned role of Ahlulbayt is to lead mankind towards its betterment and salvation, there is another power whose role is to lead us astray. It is this power who repeatedly kept working to deviate mankind from the path being shown by the Ahlulbayt. Because the power of misguidance feared people would hold on to the rope and reach the path of salvation if they realize truly the path of the Ahlulbayt. This is the reason why the most savage treatment and worst of tortures were inflicted on Ahlulbayt themselves by people who had given themselves to the beast.
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