Don’t use the K word, (Kafir or NonMuslim)

by INFIDEL on September 20, 2010

Don’t use the K word

Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN, Sep 20, 2010, 02.43am IST
Read more: Don’t use the K word – The Times of India

When Prem Chand, a 25-year-old Pakistani Hindu and member of the National Youth Parliament, died in the Islamabad air crash a few weeks ago, radical Islamism killed him a second time. The authorities who salvaged the bodies from the crash site painted Chand’s coffin black and wrote ‘kafir’ (infidel) on it in glaring red—an act which raised hackles among enlightened Hindus and Muslims across the subcontinent.

The debate on whether a non-Muslim should be called a kafir or not is not new. Nor is the controversy around the word itself. What has shocked some senior Islamic clerics more is the utter disregard shown by the authorities for a dead person’s dignity. It also betrayed their lack of understanding and complete distortion of a Quranic word.

The Quran uses ‘kafir’ for those who deny the Truth or the unity of God. Indeed, the holy book has a whole chapter named Al-Kafirun (Those Who Deny The Truth) on this; however, it has never asked Muslims to call non-Muslims kafirs. On the contrary, Al-Kafirun ends on a beautiful, conciliatory note often quoted by scholars: “Lakum deenakum waliyadeen (You have your religion and I have mine).”

Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, who heads Markazul Maarif, a Mumbai-based Islamic Research Institute, calls this verse the very kernel of Islam’s emphasis on co-existence. “There could not have been a clearer divine commandment about choice of religion,” he explains. “Islam invites everyone to its fold but doesn’t humiliate those who don’t embrace it. Using the word ‘kafir’ to abuse people of other faiths is un-Islamic.”

Scholars maintain that non-Muslims, including Hindus, should not be called kafirs for another reason. “Whether an individual or community denies the truth is a matter of his/her conscience. And since only Allah knows the conscience, nobody has the right to call a Hindu a kafir,” says Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, vice-rector of the seminary Darul Uloom Deoband ( UP).

The obscurantists say Hindus should be called kafirs because, as they claim, Allah never sent a prophet with a divine book to them. Remarkably, the Quran calls all those communities who were sent with divine books, believers.

Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer doesn’t buy the argument that Hindus never got a Prophet or a divine book. “The list of prophets named in the Quran is illustrative, not exhaustive,” he says. “Muslims believe there were 1,24,000 prophets; the Quran mentions just about two dozen. It also says that Allah sent a ‘haadi’ (guide) to every nation. So, if there is no mention of a nation or the book in the Quran, it should not mean that people of that nation or community are kafirs.”

Mazhar Jan-i-Janan, an 18th-century Sufi saint, similarly disarmed those who believed that Hindustan remained devoid of a prophet.

“How can Allah forget a great nation like Hindustan and not send His guide here?” he asked. “Maybe Ram and Krishna were such guides.” Jan-i-Janan also refused to accept Hindus as non-believers or those who hide the truth because “Hindus also call Ishwar ‘Satyam’ (Truth)”.

Engineer refers to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s heir apparent Dara Shikoh’s scholarly work Majma-al-Bahrayn (co-mingling of two oceans), which draws parallels between Islam and Hinduism. “Hindus call Ishwar ‘Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram’ (Truth, Almighty and Beautiful) , and all these are equivalent attributes of Allah—Haq, Jabbar and Jamil,” wrote Shikoh.

And finally, the disrespect shown to a dead person by calling him ‘kafir’ is also against the Prophet’s own beliefs. Once he saw the cortege of a Jew pass by. Immediately, he stood in honour of the dead person. When a companion reminded him that it was a Jew’s cortege, the Prophet shot back: “Was he not a human being?”

Read more: Don’t use the K word – The Times of India

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