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The Experts: Part One
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Projected Islamic Ideal
The Experts: Part One

Anwar Shaikh

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Projected Islamic Ideal

It is a serious misrepresentation of any moral or legal ideal to hold that one who commits murder, rape or robbery is a good person, and therefore entitled to a great reward.

Though no Muslim likes to be subjected to such atrocities himself, he feels a tremendous sense of pride, piety and probity when he practises these brutalities on non-Muslims as jehad in the name of Allah, who promises the highest prize i.e. paradise, for such heinous acts against humanity. Can crime be justified in the name of God? And how can a crime-loving God be respected or worshipped? The God who feels tickled when humans are tortured to glorify Him, is not Divine.

Yet, the Muslims believe that nothing pleases Allah more than such barbarities against non-Muslims. I think that it is a highly blasphemous attitude toward God and requires an honest discussion to clarify the issue. It is for this reason that I have been challenging the Muslim scholars and divines all over the world for a frank, free and fruitful debate, but their response, as expected, has materialized in a volley of fatwas only.

Since it is only the "India Post" of America that has had the courage to initiate this debate, I must congratulate the valiant ambassador of truth, which has serialized some of my essays to attract the attention of some Muslims, who have put forward their own views in defiance to mine, projecting the following as the Islamic ideal:

Allah holds man in high esteem,

Islam presented man with an utopic society, and,

There is no coercion in Islam: a person cannot be forced to accept or practise this faith against his will.

Since the attitude of correspondents has been emotional rather than logical and scholarly, I may answer these points in reasonable details:

1. Does Allah really hold man in high esteem?

The Koran explains this enigma in the myth of creation as stated in Cow, 2:25

"And when thy Lord said to the angels,
'I am setting in the earth a viceroy.'
They said, ’What, will Thou set therein one,
who will do corruption there, and shed blood,
while We proclaim Thy praise and call
Thee Holy?' He (Allah) said, "Assuredly I know that
you know not."

In simple English it means that in a meeting when Allah told Angels that He was about to create man (Adam), who would act as His viceroy on the earth, the angels spontaneously criticised the wisdom of this statement, declaring that man being murderous and corrupt by nature, would turn this planet into a place of horror. Allah retorted: "Assuredly I know that you know not." Since man has proved himself to be the agent of mischief, misery and malevolence, the angels' prediction has materialized in full details.

Surely, a person corrupt down to his core cannot be praiseworthy, even if he is called a viceroy or prince; these are empty epithets, having no genuine meaning at all. When these remarks are read with the basic nature of man as allotted to him by Allah, then emerges his true status, which clearly shows that man, by birth, is not commendable but condemnable. In fact, on this issue, Koran advocates the Christian philosophy of sin.

Here is the Islamic point of view. See how Allah taunts at the low birth of man.

(The Night Star, LXXXVI:5)
"So let man consider of what he was created;
he was created of gushing water
issuing between the loins and the breast bones."

The Koran further explains this derisory nature of man:

(The Prostration, XXXII: 7-9)
".....He (Allah) began the creation of man from clay:
Then He (Allah) made his (man's) seed from a
draught of despised fluid.
Then He (Allah) fashioned him (man) and breathed
into him of His (Allah's) spirit...."

The truth is that the Koran does not leave the reader in any doubt about the mean status of man;

(He frowned, LXXX: 15)
"Perish man! How unthankful he is!
Of what did He (Allah) create him?
of a sperm drop...."

Why is Allah cursing man and reminding him of his low status? Allah answers the question too;

(The Scatterers, 11:56)
"I have not created .... mankind
except to worship Me."

Allah wants to be worshipped because He desperately desires to be praised. For example, the Koran begins with the words: "Praise belongs to God." Again, the Cattle, VI:45, asserts "Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Beings."

How is God praised?

(Salvation, XXV:60)
"The servants of the All-merciful are
who pass the night prostrate to their Lord and

Again, the Koran adds:

(The House of Imran, III: 185)
"....There are signs for men possessed of
minds who remember Allah, standing and sitting
and on their sides...."

One can clearly see Allah's appetite for praise. His true devotee must worship Him every minute of the day. This extreme for of self-humiliation is the true adoration of Allah, who is not interested in man's obligation to his relations and society.

A man, who is a father, a son, a bread-winner, a patriot, must abandon all his worldly duties to eulogize Allah. Obviously, a person with conscience cannot suspend his moral responsibilities; only a slave can do so for having no intrinsic worth, whatever. The Koran uses the word "ABD" for a slave and a true servant. Thus, man is servile by nature and purpose. What real esteem can a slave have in the eyes of his master? His value, if any, is proportionate to the servitude in relation to his owner.

2. Now, I return to the much-vaunted assertion of the Muslims that Islam presented mankind with a utopic society.

Utopia refers to an imaginary state, first described by Sir Thomas More in his Latin political romance (1516); it refers to any imaginary state of perfection.

The first prerequisite for such a political state is that it must be based on unbendable principle: it had got to be distinctly dictatorial, oligarchic, communistic, democratic or despotic.

The plain truth is that an Islamic state is completely ambiguous on this issue, and this fact is quite clear from the Rashida Caliphate, which is supposed to provide the guiding principles of succession and governance. The Prophet Muhammad claimed that he has been sent by Allah as the Model of Behavior for mankind, and people must copy him even in the minor details of their lives such `as eating, drinking, walking, talking, sleeping, dressing, etc. The principle of succession, which forms the basis of governance, and determines the socio-political nature of the society, he never enunciated clearly. At his death, the problem of succession became very serious indeed; it was resolved by Umar through a stratagem, and can be regarded as quasi-democratic because it was established that the Caliph would not be elected from any section of the Muslim community but Quresh, the tribe of Muhammad. This is the reason that all the rulers of the Arab Empire, both in the East and the West, were not only Arab but also Qureshi.

Here the point to note is that these rulers were hereditary sovereigns, and even the quasi-democratic rule adopted in the choice of Abu Bakr, had collapsed. Umar (634-644), who succeeded Abu Bakr, was his appointee. At his death-bed, Umar nominated a committee of six men to choose Uthman (644-656), as his successor. The succession of the last Caliph, Ali, (656-661) led to a civil war.

At this conjuncture, one must realize that the Shia sect of Islam believes that only the members of the Prophet's family can be legitimately chosen to rule the world of Islam. Therefore, Ali, the cousin of the Prophet who also happened to be his son-in-law, was his true successor, and therefore, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, the first three Caliphs of Islam were usurpers. Holding them as impostors, the Shia express their indignation by insulting them publicly in their annual mourning sessions. Evidently, Islam has no particular principle of government and succession, but no utopia can be established without clearly stated political doctrine.

One must note that the said four Caliphs, who have been bestowed with godly reverence by their followers, were all murdered except Abu Bakr, who suffered a natural death; he ruled only for about two years (632-34).

Do the murders of these Caliphs prove that an Islamic state is a form of utopia? On the contrary, it demonstrates that Islam does not have a political ideology at all. This is the reason that in some of the modern Muslim states, we find theocracy, some have monarchy, some despotic rule, some dictatorship, some democracy and some brute feudalism. Again, nobody precisely knows the economic doctrine of Islam, which is an equally important constituent of a utopian state; some faithful believe that it is a form of capitalism, some think, it is an equivalent of communism, some call it socialism and some insist that it is an exposition of individual charity based on personal piety, purity and probity. The total lack of clarity on fundamental political and economic doctrines, has led to terrible conditions in most of the Islamic countries by way of human rights, distribution of wealth, education, health, dispensation of justice, law and order, morality, personal safety, and so on.

The truth about the Islamic political theory is that it advocates absolute dictatorship of Allah, who does not admit anyone's association in His affairs. Since He cannot be seen or contacted, He imposes His will on people thorugh His regents i.e. the Muslim rulers, who command in His name as followers of the Prophet Muhammad. It can take several forms, but their description lies outside the scope of this discussion.

Again, Islam is more than a civil dictatorship: it is a military autocracy. The ruler may have a consultative body to advice him but its advice is not binding on him; he can come to any decision he likes and it cannot be legally disobeyed.

A Muslim faithful is free to employ secular methods of evasion, prevarication and duplicity for setting up the Divine government. For example, when Ali's succession was contested by Muawiyah, they decided to resolve the issue by force of arms. Ali met his challengers on the plain of Siffin, south of Al-Raqqah where actual encounter took place on July 28, 657; his army of 50,000 comprised Iraqis whereas Muawiyah's soldiery consisted of Syrians. Combatants on both sides were Muslims. They were to act as sacrificial lambs on the ambitious power-altar of the two feuding heroes of Islam despite the fact that, according to the Koran, murdering a Muslim is a grave sin, punishable with the fire of hell.

Not only that, as Ali was about to win the battle, the soldiers of Muawiyah raised copies of the Koran, fastened to the ends of their lances. It was interpreted to mean that the war must be stopped at once and the issue decided through arbitration according to the Koran. It was a stratagem, a piece of trickery, legitimized by the Koran and supported by the hadith. Hostilities were stopped at once, which was the main purpose of Muawiyah, who was losing ground.

This ruse was reinforced by further deception; an arbitration was set up. Ali was represented by Abu-Musa al-Ashari and Muawiyah by Amr Ibn-al-Aas.They both were fully authorized and each had 400 witnesses to watch and confirm the decision of the two arbiters. Of course, there are different versions of their mutual verdict but it is usually believed that they had agreed in private to depose both Ali and Muawiyah with a view to stopping bloodshed of the Muslims and electing a new Caliph. However, when they met in the assembly of 800 witnesses, the legitimate Islamic rule of war popped its head again. It was Ali's representative Abu-Musa-al-Ashari, who first announced the judgment, declaring that the caliphate of his master (Ali) was null and void. On the contrary, Amr stood up and confirmed the legitimacy of Muawiyah's claim. This betrayal wrought not only the political downfall of the house of Muhammad but also eventually led to the massacre of the members, causing amongst the Muslims a permanent division, which has been the bane of Islam through all ages. Next page

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