by M J Aslam
Apart from Mongol warriors and defenders of Islam, there came hundreds of non-Muslims who spoke for Islam, defended its foundation: Al-Quran and the-Holy Prophet (PBUH)
Nowadays, former Chairman of UP’s Shia Waqf Board, Syed Waseem Rizvi , who is also producing the Bollywood movie Ram Ki Jhanambhoomi is making headlines in the media for his move to seek expunging from the Holy Quran some Ayats through the intervention of the Supreme Court of India.
Till now, we had heard of “material” written by “non-Muslims” to hurt the religious feelings of the Muslims. But, this time it is not “non-Muslim” but Syed Waseem Rizvi, not with a book but with a writ petition before the Supreme Court seeking a ban on certain verses of the Umul-Kitab [Mother of all Books] from Muslims ‘perspective’.
The Judiciary in India has not allowed such trends designed at disturbing “public order” to gain ground. Such activities have been curtailed by the courts under section 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code. [Refer author’s article “How India’s Insult to religion Law evolved published in Kashmir Life dated September 20, 2020]
In the 1980s, a similar move was initiated by some Shri Chopda seeking a ban on the Holy Quran in West Bengal. The Court dismissed the writ petition. There was furore all over India on the action of Chopda and one Molvi Sahab during the protest against Chopda’s action addressed to the public, saying: “Chopda Ka Khopda Kharaab Ho Gaya Hay”. (Chopda has lost mind.)
Has Syed Waseem Rizvi boarded the vessel of Chopda of the 1980s of Kolkatta?
Pasban Mil Gaye Kaabe Ko
Looking back to the pages of history, there are countless instances when the defence to the Quran came from the non-Muslims.
In 1258 AD, the Mongol leader Halagu Khan grandson of Ghengis Khan destroyed the then fulcrum city of Islam, Baghdad, which put an end to Abbasids’ Khifafat and with that Golden Age of Islam also ended. In 1252 AD, Baraka/Berke Khan another grandson of Chengis Khan at the hands of Muslim saints and theologians embraced Islam with several other Mongol nobles who became then defenders and champions of Islam. Baraka/Berke Khan had wars with Halagu Khan for his bloodbaths of Muslims, destruction and plunder of Muslim cities and religious institutions and masjids.
The killing of aged Abbasid’s Caliph Almustasim Billah in Baghdad in 1258 AD had greatly angered Berke Khan and his other convert-to-Islam nobles who after their conversion to Islam became devout Muslims. In the first half of the 14th century, all Mongol leaders had embraced Islam as their faith and with their coming into the fold of Islam, Islam flourished and touched new heights of zenith from the 14th century onwards through its missionary saints and sages. Baraka/Berke Khan “was chief of the Golden Horde from 1256 to 1265. He is said, one day, to have fallen in with a caravan coming from Bukhara, and taking two of the merchants aside, to have questioned them on the doctrines of Islam, and they expounded to him their faith so persuasively that he became converted in all sincerity”. (Arnold: 227-228)
It was in reference to the Mongols turning to Islam as its defenders to which Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal alluded his Urdu famous couplet: “Hai Ayan Yorish-e-Tataar Ke Afsane Se, Pasban Mil Gaye Kaabe Ko Sanam Khane Se” (The whole world knows from the Mongols/Tatars’ tales of conquest that the brave defenders of Kabah were found among the worshippers of temple idols)“. Those who came to destroy Islam, God turned them to become its preachers.
In the modern age, defenders of Islam came from the heart of Europe.
Apart from Mongol warriors and defenders of Islam, there came hundreds of non-Muslims who spoke for Islam, defended its foundation: Al-Quran and the-Holy Prophet (PBUH). I will mention only two of them.
Thomas Carlyle: He did not embrace Islam. But; it was Friday, May 8, 1840, when Thomas Carlyle changed the centuries-old perspective and mindset of Europe about the Holy Prophet (PBUH): Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a British-Scottish historian, philosopher, essayist, satirist and mathematician of the 19th Century. His work is immense in European history.
According to Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American transcendentalist and Philosopher and a great admirer of Thomas Carlyle, of all his works, it is the book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History that fits him to be called The Chief Professor in the World’s History who, unlike all previous historians, first time pierced the dark veil of preconceived notions of writers and Historians about the Great Men who made the History of the World. The book contains six lectures of Thomas Carlyle that he delivered in the month of May 1840 in London that has won him undiminished fame in the world.
On May 5, 1840, he delivered the first lecture on divinity, the concept of God under paganism, and other religions. It was his second lecture on May 8, 1840, Friday, that took the entire European World by surprise. The audience comprised thinkers, philosophers, writers, academicians, Christian missionaries, Jews, nobles and other great men of letters. In that classic lecture, he removed centuries-old misgivings from the minds of the Christian world about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A part excerpted from his lecture below here:
“Our current hypothesis about Mahomet, that he was a scheming impostor, a falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to anyone. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only. ……. It is really time to dismiss all that. The word this man spoke has been the life-guidance now of a hundred and eighty millions of men these twelve hundred years. These hundred and eighty millions were made by God as well as we. A greater number of God’s creatures believe in Mahomet’s word at this hour than in any other word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the Almighty have lived by and died by?
I, for my part, cannot form any such supposition. I will believe most things sooner than that. One would be entirely at a loss what to think of this world at all if quackery so grew and were sanctioned here.
Alas, such theories are very lamentable. ….. A false man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he do not know and follow truly the properties of mortar, burnt clay and what else be works in, it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish-heap. It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a hundred and eighty millions; it will fall straightway…… But of a Great Man especially, of him I will venture to assert that it is incredible he should have been other than true. It seems to me the primary foundation of him, and of all that can lie in him, this. ….., but is first of all in right earnest about it; what I call a sincere man. I should say sincerity, a deep, great, genuine sincerity, is the first characteristic of all men in any way heroic…..”
Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall: He embraced Islam. But, how Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall embraced Islam is very interesting to know. Known for his The Meaning of Glorious Quran, Pickthall was a born Christian who formally converted to Islam, on November 29, 1917, when he was delivering a lecture entitled Islam and Progress at the Muslim Literary Society in Notting Hill , London. The Muslim Literary Society of London was founded by world reputed Abdullah Yousuf Ali, English translator and commentator of the Holy Quran, one year before in 1916 as its President. Despite that Pickthall’s royal lineage in the knight of William, the Conqueror’s day, Sir Roger de Poictu, he had a great love for Ottoman Empire and he turned down lucrative and prestigious speaking tours and the pleasures of travel just in favour of his last and, in his eyes, greatest project, acting as headmaster to Muslim boys in Hyderabad, India. He had, before conversion, great admiration for Islam and the Muslim world. He was highly read about Islam, Quran, and Ahadith and history. He was a renowned novelist. He had a dislike for colonial powers those post World War-I.
But it was in 1917 when he announced publicly that he had embraced Islam as his faith. How did it happen? It was not all of a sudden. Actually, like every other person seeking truth and Guidance, he had certain hesitation or doubt before he would make his decision public. It was the clearance of that little doubt that he wanted to get on from Abdullah Yousuf Ali and the Muslim clergy.
He said to the Muslim Ulema: “You say, Quran is the word of God. It was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). But looking at its Chapter first Surah al-Fatihah, it is a direct communion between God and man. I don’t see God revealing this to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Where is the revelation?” The Ulema told him that he was right in thinking that Surah al-Fatihah was a direct communion between God and the man.
Now the confusion is about the point of revelation. They told him, Mr Pickthall, you know first Surah revealed to the Prophet (saw) was not Surah al-Fatihah but Surah-al-Ahaq, 96th Chapter, of the Quran which was revealed to the Holy Prophet (saw) at Makkah where God ( Allah) asks the Holy Prophet: “Read, In the name of your lord who created…” 96: 1-5. So, it is the continuation of that divine reading of what God revealed to the Prophet (saw). Surah al-Fatihah is a part of that divine reading in the name of the Lord of the universe.
Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall said: Verily, it is Word of God. His heart was filled with bliss which turned him to the path of guidance forever.
God has taken the responsibility for defending His Revelation, Al-Quran till eternity and who can destroy eternal pledge of the Creator, Maintainer and Destroyer of the world. Allah says about the Quran, “then, behold, it will be for Us to make its meaning clear”: Suratul Al Hijr: 15: 9.
(M J Aslam is the author of the 2-volume Law of Contract that was published by Thomson Reuters Publication in 2017. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)