“Muslim and Non-Muslim-A response to critique by Tariq Mehmood Hashmi

“Muslim and Non-Muslim-A response to critique by Tariq Mehmood Hashmi

Any comment on disparaging labels and personal attacks in this article by the learned critic, Tariq Mahmood Hashmi (طارق محمود ہاشمی) Sahib, is not likely to be useful or in good taste, but one might at least, with all due respect, very humbly ask the following questions to safeguard oneself against any immediate inclination to regard this piece as a straw man critique (attributing propositions and arguments to the critiqued author, Ghāmidī, that might not be his at all):

1.Where does Ghāmidī say in any unqualified manner (his statement not the learned critic’s own stretched interpretation) that atheists, agnostics, et al will have a chance/excuse in the Hereafter? Isn’t the quoted verse of Sūrah 7 too so clearly talking about God’s judgment against such people in the Hereafter rather than about the right of the learned critic and his pious cohorts and mentors and others to declare someone alive in this world as “kafir” and then to kill him or her/have him or her killed?

2. Anyone familiar with Ghāmidī’s discourse will testify that, by takfīr in such contexts, he refers to human judgment, after the Prophet (ṣalla Allāh ‘alayh wa sallam: sws), against other living human beings and the human decision to end their lives on that basis. His whole point is that this decision cannot be taken by any human after the Prophet (sws). For that proposition, he has given extensive arguments in his works, which need not be repeated here. What and where is a critique on those argumentations? The learned critic seems to have avoided critiques on those argumentations, and it would be indeed very useful for students like us to see his seriatim response to the actual argumentations.

3.For anyone who accepts Ghāmidī’s view that takfīr in this world along with Divine judgement of death was specific to the Prophet (sws), those who do not accept “Islam” as understood by this person will obviously be outside the category of those declared as “kafirs” and punished by the Prophet (sws) himself. In that case, how would calling them “non-Muslims” or “x’ or “y” or “z” or anything else as such be against the Qur’ān? Interestingly, “non-Muslim” is a term introduced into the Pakistani constitution and law by the consensus of traditionalist religious scholars and schools of Pakistan through their active and enthusiastic advocacy, support, canvassing and votes in the national assembly and they still take credit for it every year in the month of September when they commemorate the day it happened in 1974. Perhaps, the learned critic would also comment on that and let us know why this advocacy of theirs might be considered justified.

4. Ghāmidī has clearly and unapologetically critiqued Sufism or Taṣawwuf in terms of its foundations and also in terms of many of its views. It is very clear even to ordinary readers like myself that for the very reasons of his view on takfir by human agency after the Prophet (sws) , Ghāmidī’s critique is an academic one and that he quite clearly does not regard any Ṣūfī who proclaims himself a Muslim to be a non-Muslim let alone declare him a kāfir. Since the far-fetched inferences to the contrary drawn by the learned critic just don’t fit in anywhere in the explicit expression of Ghāmidī’s views on the subject of takfir, would the learner critic be so kind as to show a single statement by Ghāmidī where has declared any Ṣūfī (proclaiming himself a Muslim) as a non-Muslim or a kāfir? In fact, when there are statements to the contrary either by him or by his students, what foundation does the learned critic have to claim that Ghamidi's critique on Sufism/taṣawwuf is "worse" than takfīr? How does his critique become worse than the learned critic’s own concept of takfir when Ghāmidī is so clearly neither willing to declare Sufis non-Muslims/kafirs or consider them worthy of death punishment (that the learned critic believes kāfirs deserve). In fact, if they are Muslims to Ghāmidī, clearly, they deserve all good that one Muslim expects of another Muslim. Or. perhaps, Ghāmidī has himself said somewhere that Sufis are worse than kāfirs? Nevertheless, if the learned critic could kindly show us any such statement(s), apprehensions about this critique that it is an example of strawman argument will obviously not hold.

5.Those that are termed as ahl-e ḥadīth (or sometimes pejoratively “Wahhabis”) too often criticize Sufism; some of them going to the extent of declaring many Barelvīs asmushriks on account of the latter’s devotional practices in veneration of Saints, which the former regard as either shirk or bid ‘ah. Clearly, in Ghāmidī’s discourse, these Barelvīs will still not be regarded as “mushriks” or “kāfirs” and will be regarded as Muslims – a privilege that all ahl-e ḥadīth might not always afford them. So the question is, what would the learned critic say about the ahl-e ḥadīth in Pakistan: does their academic condemnation of very popular and prevalent customs as “kūndē” or “niyāz” tantamount to a “sin” greater than takfīr? On the other hand, if the learned critic himself regarded some of these practices as shirk or bid ‘ah, would he not himself be guilty of such takfīr of a large group of Indian Muslims? Clarity about the learned critic’s stances on these issues will be useful to a student to gauge the overall approach in criticism and the level of consistency in it.

Although not related to Ghāmidī’s views as such, an important question regarding the learned critic’s views will be:

Since, in view of the critic’s opinions, the first generation of Aḥmadīs would clearly be apostates, should their punishment in Pakistan not be death along with takfir? Wouldn’t then the learned critic, as his moral obligation, propose changes to the constitution that would permit the country to kill them wherever they are found within its territory? In other words, isn’t the right to life granted to them by the Pakistani constitution fundamentally against Islam? And wouldn't it be a moral obligation for all those Muslim sects within Pakistan that regard any other sect as kafirs to try and do the same: that is bring about changes in the constitution that permits them to kill those that they regard as heretics or apostates? This issue also raises some follow-up questions regarding the status of Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, but that is a separate matter that might best be discussed elsewhere. A direct, cogent and seriatim response to these questions, however, will be very useful for humble students eager to learn from the Learned critic and it is hoped in consideration of his calibre that the he will kindly and graciously respond in that manner rather than with any labels, journalistic hyperboles, or invective.

Editor's note

Editor's Note.

Tariq Mahmood Hashmi's article can be read here (غامدی صاحب کاجوابی بیانیہ، تکفیر کے مسئلے پر فکری انتشار)

For reader's understanding, it is clarified that Javed Ahmed Ghamid’s article “ Muslim and Ghair Muslim” was written in response to the Taliban's narrative and was first published in monthly "Ishraq" in October 2015 edition.

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