Ask a Question

Dear Editors,

Why the Muslims around the world and especially in indian 
subcontinent remain emotionally charged towards their religion 
despite the fact they negate religious norms,practices, beliefs 
at every moment of their life? 
What are the philosophical rationale?



5 thoughts on “Ask a Question

  1. Citizenship, in the modern perspective of nation state, is incompatible with the traditional political philosophy of Islam that conceives of politics and governance as functions of Divine law. When people’s allegiance is with religion or a sect and not with a secular state or institutions, which they consider illegitimate or subordinate to a religious belief, they remain emotionally charged with their personal religious belief.

    The Prophet of Islam had laid the foundation of the city state of Medina by devising a secular constitution known, The charter of Medina. But Muslim political theorists, even today, insist on subsuming everything under religion, including issues of nationalism and government. They do not educate people that, if their Prophet can rule a city state within a the rules and regulations of a secular charter, why can’t Muslims in the modern time live peacefully together with other sects and religions. As in the earliest period of Islam, there was nothing uniquely Islamic about the political theory, then today, it is more easy to accept the separation of state and religion.

    • I am somewhat afraid of contradicting Mirza Ashraf about anything since I know most likely I will lose the argument. So it took me a while to muster the courage to questioning him on calling the Medina Charter a “secular” document. I would readily agree that for its time it was an extraordinarily inspired document but it is not a secular document. Almost every sentence has the word “believer” in it. Take a look at item #28: “When you differ on anything (regarding this Document) the matter shall be referred to Allah and Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Whenever Allah/God is brought into resolving a dispute(and I am not even passing judgement on whether God should or should not be the final arbiter) the document ceases to be secular. Also look at #29: “The Jews will contribute towards the war when fighting alongside the Believers. Apparently the charter treats Jews as a different category than “believers”. A secular document would mention “all citizens”. For people who have not read the whole Medina Charter I am sending a link.
      Again I am not criticizing the document itself but just its characterizing as secular.

  2. Your question already concluded that Muslims, especially from subcontinent India, are more emotionally charged. This conclusion may not be true. At present there are more geopolitical conflicts in Muslim lands and hence more in focus. These geopolitical conflicts are complex and have its roots in oppression, occupation, cultural differences and religion is exploited by opportunistic political forces. These opportunistic political forces are not just extremist Muslims, but West has also used it for political purpose like creation of Mujahedeen Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan who later turned into Al-Qaeda and creation of Hamas by Israel to divide PLO.
    I recently posted an article by Kenan Malik “ Is there something about Islam?” This article addresses basically the same question. Following are two paragraphs from the article;
    “The relationship between religion, interpretation, identity and politics can be complex. We can see this if we look at Myanmar and Sri Lanka where Buddhists – whom many people, not least humanists and atheists, take to be symbols of peace and harmony – are organizing vicious pogroms against Muslims, pogroms led by monks who justify the violence using religious texts. Few would insist that there is something inherent in Buddhism that has led to the violence. Rather, most people would recognize that the anti-Muslim violence has its roots in the political struggles that have engulfed the two nations. The importance of Buddhism in the conflicts in Myanmar and Sri Lanka is not that the tenets of faith are responsible for the pogroms, but that those bent on confrontation have adopted the garb of religion as a means of gaining a constituency and justifying their actions. The ‘Buddhist fundamentalism’ of groups such as the 969 movement, or of monks such as Wirathu, who calls himself the ‘Burmese bin Laden’, says less about Buddhism than about the fractured and fraught politics of Myanmar and Sri Lanka.”
    “And yet, few apply the same reasoning to conflicts involving Islam. When it comes to Islam, and to the barbaric actions of groups such as Isis or the Taliban, there is a widespread perception that the problem, unlike with Buddhism, lies in the faith itself.

    Link to article;



    622 C.E.

    In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

    (1) This is a document from Muhammad the prophet (governing the relations) between the believers and Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib, and those who followed them and joined them and labored with them.

    (2) They are one community (umma) to the exclusion of all men.

    (3) The Quraysh emigrants according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit within their number and shall redeem their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.

    (4-8) The B. ‘Auf according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit they paid in heatheism; every section shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers. The B. Sa ida, the B. ‘l-Harith, and the B. Jusham, and the B. al-Najjar likewise.

    (9-11) The B. ‘Amr b. ‘Auf, the B. al-Nabit and the B. al-‘Aus likewise.

    (12)(a) Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or bloodwit in kindness.

    (12)(b) A believer shall not take as an ally the freedman of another Muslim against him.

    (13) The God-fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or animosity, or corruption between believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he be a son of one of them.

    (14) A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.

    (15) God’s protection is one, the least of them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. Believers are friends one to the other to the exclusion of outsiders.

    (16) To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided.

    (17) The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of God. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.

    (18) In every foray a rider must take another behind him.

    (19) The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.

    (20)(a) The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.

    (20)(b) No polytheist shall take the property of person of Quraysh under his protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.

    (21) Whoever is convicted of killing a believer without good reason shall be subject to retaliation unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood-money), and the believers shall be against him as one man, and they are bound to take action against him.

    (22) It shall not be lawful to a believer who holds by what is in this document and believes in God and the last day to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of God and His anger on the day of resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither repentance nor ransom will be received from him.

    (23) Whenever you differ about a matter it must be referred to God and to Muhammad.

    (24) The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.

    (25) The Jews of the B. ‘Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.

    (26-35) The same applies to the Jews of the B. al-Najjar, B. al-Harith, B. Sai ida, B. Jusham, B. al-Aus, B. Tha’laba, and the Jafna, a clan of the Tha‘laba and the B. al-Shutayba. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Tha ‘laba are as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.

    (36) None of them shall go out to war save the permission of Muhammad, but he shall not be prevented from taking revenge for a wound. He who slays a man without warning slays himself and his household, unless it be one who has wronged him, for God will accept that.

    (37) The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped.

    (38) The Jews must pay with the believers so long as war lasts.

    (39) Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.

    (40) A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime.

    (41) A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family.

    (42) If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be referred to God and to Muhammad the apostle of God. God accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this document.

    (43) Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.

    (44) The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib.

    (45)(a) If they are called to make peace and maintain it they must do so; and if they make a similar demand on the Muslims it must be carried out except in the case of a holy war.

    (45)(b) Every one shall have his portion from the side to which he belongs.

    (46) The Jews of al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with the people of this document in purely loyalty from the people of this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires ought acquires it for himself. God approves of this document.

    (47) This deed will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes forth to fight and the man who stays at home in the city is safe unless he has been unjust and sinned. God is the protector of the good and God-fearing man and Muhammad is the apostle of God.

    This text is taken from A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad — A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1955; pp. 231-233. Numbering added.

    Text Version | Alternate Translation 1 | Alternate Translation 2

  4. Dr. Shoeb Sahib, please feel free in differing, criticizing any of my point. I love to be critically examined, as Confucius has said: “Learn, so you may teach; and teach, so you may learn.” Here I would like to explain the definition of Secularism, and I don’t remember from where I got this—most probably from the magazine Philosophy Now.

    “Secular does not mean “godless,” and its neutral meaning has always fought with the more negative one. ‘The secular government us [Americans] from people in other times and places where those speaking for God made the rules—rules that sometimes were corrupt and unfair.’ In politics, where it is efficacious to unite people against a common enemy, “secularism” has become that enemy’s new name. To be fair, battles in the war against secularism have been fought for about 150 years, dating back to a time when discoveries in science (especially those of Charles Darwin) and disenchantment with organized religion led a critical mass of mostly European intellectuals to declare that one could lead a moral life independent of God. By the middle of 20th century, their heirs had coined the term “secular humanism,” to mean a concern which values but not with religion. Secularist equals nonbeliever; nonbeliever equals immoral God-hater. “It is red meat for the pundits,” says Greg Epstein, Harvard’s humanist chaplain.” Today, every dollar in USA, a secular government, it is printed In God We Trust. The President takes his oath with his hand on a scripture ending ‘So God May Help Me.’

    The Charter of Medina is secular that it was neither revealed by God, nor contains any law from the Qur’an. It seems religious only because the believers have been called one Ummah. Since believers consisted of many tribes and to enter them in the contract tribe wise was not possible, as day be day more and more tribes were embracing Islam and were being inducted in the mainstream. However, this charter does not fit in the modern sense of “secular humanism,” but viewing it back in the time of 7th century it can be viewed as secular.

    Mirza Ashraf

Comments are closed.