The Problem With Maulana Maududi’s Understanding Of The Quran – III
Muslims believe that Quran is the last word of God that contains a complete code of conduct for human life. It is, therefore, their inherent privilege and obligation to ponder over it. While doing so, it is important to remember that no one can understand and explain it better than its author (Allah) who claims that the Quran is self-sufficient and needs no outside interpretation. The Quran also puts itself forward as the final arbitrator, “Whatever you differ about, the decision lies with Allah (Quran)…” (42:10).
Maulana Maududi believed that human destiny is preordained, and all that has happened and will happen, has already been decided by Allah. In addition to a discussion in Tafheem-ul-Quran, he wrote a book about it named Masala Jabr-o-Qadr. He was of the view that humans have no control over their actions as everything is dictated by God as opposed to the view that God has knowledge of everything that will be, but humans have freedom of choice.
Maulana actually confused things which do not prevent someone from doing good or bad with things over which human beings have no control. He also gave the impression that Divine Justice is random, and depends on Allah’s mood to punish or forgive someone. He wrongly maintained that the Quran has not really addressed some elements of this matter. However, the Quran is absolutely clear about this issue in its verses (65:15-16; 46:191; 6:132), and proclaims, “Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.” (99:7-8). Allah unambiguously pledges reward or punishment in the Quran as necessitated by human deeds, without any fear or favour.
If everything was preordained, there was no point in sending so many Prophets to guide the humanity. If humans have not control over their actions, how could they be held responsible for them on the Day of Judgement? The Quran has no doubt; “Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, and any other who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteously, shall have their reward with their Lord, they shall not fear or grieve” (2:62). In another place, the Quran is equally emphatic, “Whatever misfortune happens to you, it is because of things your hands have wrought, and (if you rectify) He offers much exoneration” (42:30).
If we believe in Predestination of Fate, the outcome of human behaviours becomes meaningless. By making the critical Quranic concept of reward-and-punishment (and the Day of Judgement) redundant, a state of uncertainty would prevail. Thanks to Maulana Maududi and his ilk, Maulana Hali had warned long time ago, “A belief in Predestination has made Muslims idle, apathetic, and stagnant”.
Allah actually denotes belief in Predestination as a characteristic of Mushriqeen, “Those who give partners to Allah say that if Allah had wished we could not have given him partners nor would our forefathers; nor should we have done any forbidden thing…” (6:148). He bestowed freedom of action upon us otherwise, “If it had been thy Lord’s will, all who are on earth, would have been believers” (10:99). Allah did not want us be like other entities in the Universe whose actions are predetermined. He, therefore, gave us freedom of thought and action, “Say, this is the truth from your Lord. Let him who will, believe; and let him who will, reject it“ (18:29).
If we analyse the story of Adam and Satan, it would appear that the issue of predestination of fate was settled by the Quran for ever. Both of them were given a directive and both faltered. Adam accepted his mistake, and apologised. Satan defied, and refused to take responsibility citing “everything happens with God’s will” as his defence. This infuriated God but Satan asked for time to prove his point by keep tempting human beings to evil until they will be raised. Now Adam was given a free choice to be able to pick between the good and the evil to be fair to Satan.
I can go on pointing out how unreasonable Maulana becomes when he attempts to conform with the unreliable history of early Islam. He gets tricked into taking sides in the presumed facts of the disputes between the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), and leaves his reader more confused than before he had started. He regurgitates discourteous and unreliable stories about the Prophets (stolen from Jewish literature by our ancient sages) and treats them as Quranic facts, without caring for the status of Prophethood.
The Quran declares that everyone is equal and respectable as a human being. His or her social status should be determined by their capability (Quran 46:19), and their reverence by their personal manners and piety (Quran 49:13). In line with these principles, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prepared an Ummah, “You are the best of the Peoples, evolved from mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong…“ (3:109), which consisted of Immigrants (Muhajirin) and their hosts (Ansar) in Medina. The Quran calls these companions of the Prophet (pbuh), “… these are the real Believers; forgiveness of sins and a most excellent sustenance awaits them” (8:74).
Allah is full of praise (Quran 48:29; 8:64) for the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), “..for them are all good things; and it is they who will prosper“ (9:88). However, Maulana Maududi seems to defy the Quran by adopting a completely different view based on the blemished early history of Islam. He first issued a Fatwa that women were not fit to take part in the affairs of the state in Islam. When people argued that his stance cannot be right because Hazrat Ayesha had agitated against the shahadat of Hazrat Usman and apparently intervened in the affairs of the state. Now Maulana turned on Hazrat Ayesha (RA), and defended his wrong position by citing examples, once again, from the same questionable sources regarding the early history of Islam.
There is a consensus among Muslims that the Quran is the only reality in Islam. If history or any other source states something that clashes with the Quran; it needs to be rejected out rightly (especially when alternative versions of history are also available). Maulana Maududi believed that whosever presents himself as a candidate for the public office, should be rejected according to his understanding of the tenets of the Quran and the Sunnah.
People pointed out that, according to the sources he quoted, Hazrat Ali (RU) had also presented himself as a candidate for the Khilafah. This time Maulana turned on Hazrat Ali (RU) and basically said that he was absolutely wrong in this regard; which essentially means that Maulana perhaps understood the Quran and the Ahadees better than Hazrat Ali (RU).
The more one evaluates Maulana Maududi’s understanding of the Quran, one comes to the conclusion that he was unfortunately a traditional cleric with a touch of journalistic fondness. As a theorist, he uncritically followed traditions and Orthodoxy, and was unable to break any new ground. This was unfortunate because the Quran invites, “When it is said to them to come to what Allah has revealed (Quran), they say that enough for us are the ways we found our fathers following. What, even if their fathers were void of knowledge and guidance?“ (5:104).
Maulana also abused and made fun of those who indicated that his thinking clashed with the Quran. He is known to have called Maulana Aslam Jairajpuri, a Professor of Arabic and Persian at the Aligarh Muslim University, “zealot” and “weird” for causing such an “offense”.
We complete a full circle in this article when we come back to the question as to why Maulana Maududi did what he did? The short answer is that it was due to his persona, political beliefs, journalistic penchant, and a lack of academic penetration. The long answer requires a PhD with a critical focus on the fascinating twists and turns in his personal life.
M. Aamer Sarfraz is a philosophical psychiatrist based in London.