At the global level Osama bin
Laden and Saddam Hussein have been projected as the contemporary
face of the faith, which was described by G. B. Shaw as the best
religion with the worst followers. Islam and terrorism, as
presented by the western media, are the two sides of the same
coin. If you are a terrorist you are a Muslim, and if you are a
Muslim you are a terrorist.
In the Indian
context to be a Muslim means the right to have four wives. And
their personal laws are projected as a threat to national unity.
It is a depressing
scenario. Who wants to understand the basic tenets of other
people’s religions? Communal harmony functions provide the
best example of the insular approach of even those who want to
promote the concept of respect for all religions. The Hindu
panellist speaks about the role of his religion in promoting
social harmony. Sikh, Muslim and Christian speakers project the
compassionate face of their faiths. Can the trumpeting of the
virtues of your faith help promote communal harmony?
Welcome Asghar Ali
Engineer. He has at least had the courage of conviction to share
with those who want to be informed about the most controversial
faith of the present century his understanding of Islam as a
religion of peace. Engineer is not a routine armchair
commentator. He has been condemned and assaulted for daring to
lead a movement for reforms within the Bohra community.
The book On
Developing Theology of Peace in Islam is certainly not going
to make non-Muslims shed their internalised prejudice for the
faith that is as simple and as pure as the one that salutes the
Creator as "Satyam, Shivam, Sundram". He is the truth,
the benefactor and the beautiful. Translate this Sanskrit
reference to the Supreme Being into Arabic and you may find many
a Muslim utter "Alhamd-ul-Illah" (Allah be praised) in
Quranic references, has discussed the concept of capital
punishment, secularism, democracy, compassion and the essence of
Islam. However, to use an Americanism, the book is not an
"easy read". The Roman transliteration of the Arabic
verses, to explain Islam’s position on several social,
political and ethical issues, somewhat retards flow.
who want to understand what "this fuss is all about"
in the domestic context and also in the context of the American
propaganda may find the Arabic verses in Roman script, jumping
out of every page, a "put off". The purpose of
educating the section of the Muslim population who only
passively belong to the faith, as also the non-Muslims, would
have been better achieved by merely quoting the authentic
English translation of the verses.
In chapter nine he
has discussed at great length his views "on developing
theology of peace in Islam". Does Islam really need to
develop a theology of peace to counter the wrong projection of
the faith by the various jehadi groups? The answer is a firm no.
The essence of Islamic theology is to evolve a climate of peace
and brotherhood. It emphasises the importance of giving "to
you your religion, to me mine", for achieving universal
peace and brotherhood. The theology of peace already exists in
every page of the Quran and the utterings of the Prophet of
Islam. It needs to be enforced, not developed. If the jehadis
are not stopped, they will destroy it; and like the Bohra clergy
force their own version of Islam on the pain of death.