Does a disheveled appearance, unkempt conduct, far removed from the fine precepts of purity, cleanliness, and most importantly internal integrity, have anything to do with a religion which in its essence is a manifesto of sublime human values? Ask a child to sketch a terrorist, and in almost every case the resultant image speaks of what Islam has been reduced to: a stern face, with most ruthless contours envisaging the black game of hit and kill, an overflowing beard, seamlessly fitting in with lethal arms, tucked distastefully above the shoulders. Ask a stranger to draw the sketch of a Muslim (not a terrorist), and you find an uncanny sameness. As a Muslim, I take it as an affront to be compared with a bunch of hooligans, perpetrating most blatant crimes against humanity in the name of Islam. Imagine how religion becomes a sanction to justify any misdeed carried out on a whim. This is not Islam, and not the one which was the result of the painstaking endeavours of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam to humanize society. 

The Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam was sent as an academic to instruct and impart best qualities of head and heart. Analyzing the spatial-temporal aspects of the appointment of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa aalihi Wasallam, one arrives at an important conclusion. Allah didn’t send the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam to Medina; which was  more populated and relatively civilized than Makkah. He was not appointed amidst the Roman, Greek, Chinese, Indian or Iranian civilizations which existed in that age. He was chosen to appear among the denizens of Makkah, the most uncouth of peoples; where savagery was the order of the day. It means that the best of the academics in the universe was appointed solely to cultivate the worst of people.

A prevalent misconception implies that practising a religion turns one into a ‘sacred cow’. Islam, as a charter of laws regulates life and aims at producing best specimens of mankind and not a lot of self-appointed sacred individuals; as though poised at a high vantage point only to look down upon anyone who is ‘unlike’ them. It is strange that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam who was the bearer of divine sanctity conducted himself as a common human being; toiling day in and day out, milking the goats, helping the poor, tending the sick, looking after the orphans, participating in household chores, along with heading the first Islamic state, rendering the services as the chief of armed forces, physically involved in various enterprises of human goodness; sweating and working under the same scorching sun. Usually people who gain a certain position of respect in a society, owing to their services in any singular area of life, remain aloof from other walks of life. The respect they command is the immediate reward they reap for their assiduous contribution in any one field. Here is a Messenger who is God-sent; whose contribution to every facet of life is best par excellence and a model for the entire human race; who raised the stature of manual labour by personally working hard on all  fronts of life, as  much as his intellectual  merits rise to the loftiest height of culmination. We see Him in the middle of commoners, as if one among them, yet standing out due to His distinctions.

There is a need to delve into the Holy Quran, the most authentic scripture of Islam. The verses which throw light on the unparalleled profile of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam, highlight the best exemplar in the person of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam (68:4). His are the best virtues (33:21). He has been sent not but as Mercy for all the worlds; (21:107). Allah has especially selected the choicest of similes to define the virtues of the Messenger Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam which are humane, benign and life-giving. Mercy, for instance, transcends the fixity of binaries; black and white, Muslim and non-Muslim, the subjective notion of good and evil. Mercy demands an all-encompassing benevolence which is the merit of highest leadership. The higher the station of a leader, the greater the expression of his humanity. Allah has deemed the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam as such which means this is a divine echelon. There are innumerable examples which stand out as an incontestable witness to the countless virtues of the Holy Prophet Salallah O Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam.  The incident of the Conquest of Makkah demonstrates how he forgave all, even those who had once been thirsty of his own blood! He uttered the same Quranic verse which the Prophet Yousuf Alaihis Salam delivered while addressing his brothers; once bitterly opposed to him.

The Arabic word ‘Seerah’ (meaning modus operandi) has been derived from the word ‘Seer’ connoting action, or movement. The difference between both the terms is that of the quality of action involved. For example most of the human beings live on the margins of caliber, without mastering it to the level of proficiency. Hence their contribution to the common intellectual legacy of humanity remains minimal or nil. Yet there are few individuals, who by virtue of their highest human values of head and heart, are conspicuous, and their lives read like a flight directed to human finesse. May be, we all have a ‘seer’, for we all have a peculiar way in which we talk, smile, sleep, interact with others, but this might not be a model for others to follow. The salient feature of the Holy Prophet’s life is its exemplary nature even in the minutest of actions.

Chapter 33 of the Quraan, Al-Ahzaab in its Verse 33 underlines the infallibility of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam and his household as “And Allah only wishes to keep away all abomination from You, Ye members of the Family and to make you pure and immaculate”. How is it possible that the leadership of a religion is poised at the height brilliance and the so-called followers reflect coarseness, most animal and libidinal? If there had been an international ‘Role Model’s Day to celebrate the best role models of humanity, The Holy Prophet Muhammad Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam would top the list. Yet it is ironic, that the Muslims, privileged to be bestowed with the Leader of leaders, are no match by any means. The Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam spread Islam through the sheer force of his immaculate character. Love, compassion, sympathy, patience, tolerance, forbearance, forgiveness, mercy and humility are a few epithets to shed light on the vast ocean of his benign qualities. Islam was never spread through ‘force’ which has assumed the inevitability of mother’s milk to the Talibans of today. A distorted version of history might deem Muhammad bin Qasim or the like as forerunners of Islam in the sub-continent. Yet objectively looking into the designs of such warlords, reveals that power politics had been their stimulus, not Islam. The example of Spain is a case in point. Here Islam was enforced through coercive means and today there are no tangible traces of Islam.The Indian civilization was exposed to Islam, and its true face by the saints whose message clearly stated love for all and malice to none. Their practices and preaching based on love made quick in roads into the society and hundreds of thousands of Hindus converted to Islam. Today the mausoleums of these saints are still inundated by devotees irrespective of caste, colour, creed or even religion. There is no such memorial of warlords who abused religion for their Machiavellian designs.It is but a sorry fact that today mosques, Imambargahs and religious congregations are targeted. Who is targeting who? Mosques and religious processions are a hub of positive energy, but in Pakistan these venues have been bogged down by the weight of security measures. What are we so afraid of? People do not indulge in profanity in a Masjid, Imambargah or a Church! Who is targeting us? There is a dichotomy which needs to be dealt with seriously. The real Islam and the Islam which is entwined in power-money matrix. There is a so-called, label of Islam, which a bigoted section of the society has come to cover its ill-deeds with. Its only sin is not bigotry.  History reveals that religious groups have had a strong nexus with imperial forces, in a bid to gain power.  This opportunist group, who is better known to the world as the Taliban is practically doing everything which shows it in diabolical light and rightfully so. In a popular talk show, a survey was presented that recently in Pakistan fashion industry and film industry have progressed considerably. Not that anyone wishes that these sections also suffer the wrath of the ‘taliban’, but a question cropped up  in my mind. Yes the Talibans are out on their wily ways, have wrought havoc upon the staggering economy, law and order remains in doldrums, doctors and teachers have been targeted indiscriminately, religious scholars have lost their lives for raising their just voices; then who gets a clean chit from these so-called Islamists? In today’s Pakistan may be being attached with anything which is not even remotely Islamic, means you are safe for the time being! Afterall in mosques, Imambargahs, Milaads and the like, are crowded by Muslims who practise Islam.

Talibans are a byproduct of a marriage between fascist interpretation of Islam and international actors vying for power intend to wipe off the real Islam. They came to the limelight during the Soviet disintegration, when the US fuelled their inflated egos with dollars. If targeted killings continue unabated, people who practise Islam, the down-trodden might get alienated to the extent of giving up religion altogether at any weak moment. This appears to be the end of Talibanization. Extremism is not Islam, but the same age-old bargain between colonial powers and their money-minting, pawns acting in the name of religion.

This 12th of Rabi ul Awwal must be an occasion of soul-searching. We cannot let go of the gigantic proportions assumed by religious bigotry. Killing spree was never Islam. There is a need to rejuvenate the real values of Islam, and remove the stigma attached to it, by a few malignant elements. Islam needs to be synthesized with harmony, peace, love, forbearance and all humane values, which it accentuates. Otherwise this too is a kind of sacrilege to the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam, for he practised the finest human values, and the followers remain deficient. We all will die one day, whether it is a suicide bomb blast or targeted killing or other wise, we cannot remain safely perched inside our comfort zones, until the fire reaches our abode. The fact of the matter is the hired killers do not have religion. Those who let blood-thristy vampires sap their society of saviours; such as doctors, engineers; teachers, scholars should not await divine aid. They must forever lurk in the fear of drones!  n