Dear Mr. Ashraf,
It seems this dialogue has exhausted its possibilities. We seem to be repeating ourselves.
The dialogue started with my claim that Quran sanctions violence against non-believers, whom you like to call rejecters. Your argument seems to have four vital points:
- That what non-believers see as threats of violence by Allah in this life and hereafter are both justified because the rejecters broke the covenant.
- The fight of Muhammad and other messengers against the rejecters was justified because they were acting on the direct command of the Allah, they were responsible for implementing Allah’s judgment on this earth.
- The duty to fight and kill the rejecters was only of the messengers, and Muhammad was the last messenger; therefore, no believer has that duty now, nor the believers’ killing of non-believers is justified.
- This requires a contextual interpretation of the jihad verses in the Quran, that means that those verses were a duty for the followers of Muhammad at the time and in the circumstances where and when they were revealed; and are not eternal commands of Allah.
A rational dialogue, Mr. Ashraf, is possible only if the participants accept certain rules to conduct it. A tentative list of such rules, to my mind, could be as below.
Possible rules for a rational dialogue:
- When any participant asks the other to accept a claim s/he presents evidence /argument /reasons /grounds for that acceptance; nothing is asked to be accepted without adequate grounds.
- All participants try to understand each other’s language and claims as far as possible in the sense they are made by relevant interlocutor; and spare no efforts in achieving a common understanding of them.
- Each one of the participants remains consistent in the total claims s/he makes in the discussion at all levels. That is, does not make contradictory claims.
- If anyone makes two contradictory claims, and the other pints out the contradiction; then either the one who made the claim proves that there is no contradiction or reject one of the claims to make the totality of his/her own claims internally consistent.
- When authority (or testimony) is used it should be accepted to all.
If we go by these rules there are certain problems in your position. I will list some, not all, such problems below.
- Covenant with Allah
One, there is no justification for the covenant apart from Allah being the creator and all powerful. He simply created people and forced them into the covenant (as per your theory) without any choice reject this very deal and live peacefully. If the humans were given the power to think and make their own decisions then this act of Allah is inexplicable and self-contradictory. In this interpretation the Allah (actually most of the punishing Gods) is bordering on torturing people for self-glory and simple enjoyment of power.
Two, the only evidence of such a covenant you are providing is the claims of Quran or other religious books like Bible. Why should any non-believer in Islam should accept the authority of Quran? No grounds at all. Even the claim that Quran is the book given by Allah rests only on the claims of Quran itself. If the authority of the Quran is rejected by a non-believer then that claim is of no rational value. And there is no independent argument that the Quran is revealed by Allah.
- Muhammad as messenger
The fight of Muhammad against the rejecters is justified on the assumption of accepting him as the Messenger. But why should a non-believer accept that? Again on the authority of Quran, which itself is questionable.
Second, the only ground for acceptance of Muhammad as messenger of God outside Quran you have provided is the claim that “[w]hen Allah sends a messenger, he is like a sun in the sky which can’t be denied by anyone having eye sight. Such a denial is a willful rejection of truth.” Well this is spacious. Those who deny—and there were who denied in Muhammad’s life time—are declared either as not having eye sight or wilful rejecters; actually in Quran both simultaneously. Declaring them both as not having eye-sight and rejecters is self-contradictory. In any case such a declaration can be no ground in a rational sense to believe in his messenger-hood. Anyone can claim such messenger-hood or god-hood. There have been plenty of people before and after Muhammad who have claimed this. Some of them are even living today. This needs an argument or evidence that is independent of Quran and other religious books.
Till such evidence is available it could only be considered as fictitious self-justification by Muhammad, as the Quran was revealed to him.
- The Quranic verses should be interpreted contextually
This would be a welcome reading of Quran. And that is how all religious texts should be read. But then immutability and eternality of Quran will have to be compromised. Unfortunately many believers do not accept it.
Unless this dialogue answers these questions without using the authority of Quran we both are repeating ourselves.
As per your comments on what is religion and what it does, etc.; please read
https://rohitdhankar.com/2013/07/06/place-of-religion-in-public-schools-part-2/ on the same blog.
Dear Rohit ji,
In your life, I think you must talk to Dr.Zakir Naik(Expert in Islam & comparative religion)… and also visit IRF-Mumbai.
I think your all doubt will definitely clear in one shot.
Below is given address.
195 / 213, SVP Road,
Dongri, Mumbai – 400 009. (India)
Tel.: 91 22 2373 6875
Fax: 91 22 2373 0689
My dear Rohit Sir
I am sorry for the delay in submitting my acknowledgement to your latest post on ‘The Qur’an’. It happened because of my professional engagement. Sir, I am not with you to assume that our dialogue has exhausted its possibilities. It is not the possibilities, it might be the patience that has exhausted. There are infinite possibilities on the path of seeking truth. Repetition might be annoying to many, but truth must be repeated to them who deny it. Falsehood has its own tempting taste and so even those who have realized and accepted the truth need, too, to repeat it to themselves. Rohit sir, you are a teacher and you must be well aware of importance of repetition. Don’t you repeat your teachings in class room?
Sir, I appreciate your effort that you have reproduced four vital points from my arguments. You have laid down certain rules for a rational dialogue and then raised your objections to my arguments. I don’t know, being a layman, how can I discipline myself to the rules set by an intellectual. This is a dialogue between an intellectual and a common man. I can understand that we don’t have much common ground. We are on two opposite sides of a wide valley not hearing each other, probably, and so repeating ourselves. Nevertheless, I would like to address your objections to my arguments in the following lines.
Covenant with Allah: “That what non-believers see as threats of violence by Allah in this life and hereafter are both justified because the rejecters broke the covenant”. Rohit sir, in your assertion, violence is an inappropriate word. Can you use this term when a court of justice punishes a convict? Since you don’t believe in divinity so you can’t comprehend divine justice.
I know that covenant with Allah described in Qur’an can’t be an argument for one who doesn’t believe in Qur’an. But since your original writing was against Qur’an so its refutation from Qur’an itself makes a sense. I find the Qur’anic description of covenant very convincing. Humans were given power to think and make their own decision. All who opted out leave this life before their intellectual maturity (premature death) and will not face accountability. I have just shared my understanding and others are free to disagree.
Muhammad (PBUH) as messenger: “The fight of Muhammad and other messengers against the rejecters was justified because they were acting on the direct command of Allah, they were responsible for implementing Allah’s judgment on this earth”. Thank you sir, for the correct reproduction of my point. Again this is a believer’s view and others are free to disagree.
Contextual interpretation of Quranic verses: There is nothing new in it. This is a widely adopted norm to interpret the verses with reference to the historical, linguistic and theme aspects. Many verses were revealed addressing issues current to that time of history, while others were revealed addressing a general principle or a matter applicable to every time and place. All verses serve as guidance for the believers. However contrary to your claim, Rohit Sir, it is not, in any way, a comprise on immutability and eternity of Qur’an.
Rohit Sir, I have gone through your views about religion in the link on your blog. It is a good reading; a masterpiece of literature. You have penned your thought in a fantastic way and it can impress anyone who doesn’t have appropriate understanding of, what religion is.
Is everything that doesn’t appeal to an individual’s reason false? This doesn’t appeal to my reason, at all. An individual’s reasoning may contain fallacies. Where there is a creation, there must be its creator. This is pure reason. Creator must be all wise, all knower, supreme authority. Humans are intelligent creature and must have been equipped with potential to be cognizant of their creator. Vast majority of human race have always been theist. To believe in one God is to give true expression to human nature.
Rohit Sir, when I read your impressive writings there are many things in it that appeal to my reason. When I read Qur’an, everything in it, appeals to my reason. You find violence in Qur’an whereas Maulana Wahiduddin Khan spreads message of peace from the same book. Who is right and who is wrong? Whom can we appoint as judge?
Rohit Sir, the failure of our dialogue is itself a rational proof that there must be a day of accountability where all wise all knower supreme authority will decide on all the conflicts among His intelligent creatures. Sir, feel free to stop the dialogue but please do keep on thinking sincerely (sic rationally). I love to interact with you, sir. But if you decide to stop me, it will, probably, relieve a common man (who doesn’t even know what is rationality) of an intellectual torture.
Last, but not the least, I have a prayer to my Lord at this moment:
यारब वो न समझे हैं न सम्झैगे मेरी बात
दे और दिल उनको जो न दे मुझको ज़ुबाँ और
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