Every Sunday morning, eminent Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan addresses his disciples in New Delhi. An advocate of peace and coexistence, Khan is the author of 200 books on Islam and Muslims, and also publishes a monthly magazine, Al-Risala, in both Urdu and English.
Khan’s November 30, 2008 address focused on the Mumbai attacks; in it, he urged Muslims to decondition their minds and embrace a view of a peaceful Islam. A translation of his address was published by the popular Indian website www.rediff.com.
Following are excerpts from the article, as originally published in English:[i]
"Muslims Have Made Themselves the Self-Appointed Caliphs" of God on Earth
"I have studied in Muslim seminaries, madrassas and have participated in numerous Muslim gatherings, and in many of these places hatred and pride is instilled in the minds of Muslims. They are taught: 'We are the caliphs and vice-regent of God on earth.'
"I once met an Arab whose first question to me was, 'Who are we?' He then said: 'We are the Caliphs of God on earth.' I told him that this is not written anywhere in our books. The Sahih Al-Bukhari says that Muslims are witnesses of God. That is, they have to spread the message of God on earth. The same is alluded to in the Quran, that is, the task of Muslims is to spread God's message and lead a life according to His instructions.
"However, Muslims have made themselves the self-appointed Caliphs, and have launched all sorts of movements that propagate the ideology of capturing political power....
"Political power is like an examination paper. A test paper can never be the monopoly of one... hence if political power has been taken away from you then you need to have patience.
"No Muslim leader could tell this to the Muslims and pacify the political shock which they received after the breaking up of the Muslim empires in the face of Western colonialism. No one told them that their test paper of political power was over and now they should concentrate their effort on some other constructive activities like education, reform, dawah work, etc.
"In Palestine, for example, it was God's decision to give the political power to somebody else. Hence, Muslims should have accepted it, but they started fighting and now 60 years of fighting has given them nothing...."
"Before the Second World War, The Thinking of the Japanese Was Like That of the Muslims... That is, Their King... Should Rule the World"
"Before the Second World War, the thinking of the Japanese was same as that of the Muslims. Hirohito was the emperor of Japan at that time. The Japanese had the concept of Imperial Divinity, that is, their king – the so-called 'god-king' – should rule the world. Consequently, they fought with many countries. It was the Japanese who started the concept of suicide bombing known as hara-kiri.
"But in 1945 America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and the Japanese army was completely destroyed. Japan suffered a humiliating defeat. Then the Japanese developed second thoughts – that is, if the king was god then he would have saved them, but because they were severely crippled due to those bombs they realized that the king was not god.
"Hirohito then renounced the concept of Imperial Divinity, and the Japanese have never looked back since then.
"This makes me ponder as to why this hate does not get finished among Muslims. This is because Muslims' hate is a reflection of a certain mindset. The so-called 'god-king' of the Japanese was proved wrong, and therefore the concept of 'god-king' died.
"However, a mind-set cannot be done away [with] on its own. The mindset which inspires hate for others in many Muslims cannot be killed like an individual. Nor can it kill itself. This mind-set can be replaced by [means of] deconditioning alone.
"Hirohito said 'I'm not god,' and this led the Japanese to discard their unfounded notions and pave the path to progress. But the case of Muslims is very different. In their case, their mindset has to be transformed to change their thinking. The thinking of Muslims has to be changed. There has to be long process of deconditioning."
"Many Muslims Live In This Fallacy That They Are a Special Race – And When They Are Not Treated Specially, Then They Are Frustrated"
"There are two kinds of deconditioning: one is the Prophetic deconditioning; that is, the deconditioning which the Prophet did to his companions. Then the companions deconditioned some of their companions.
"But now there is no prophet, and so self-deconditioning has to be done. This is a very difficult task. Ideological deconditioning has to be done among the Muslims to help them come out of [their] hate.
"It is essential to understand that distinction between the negative engineering of the mind and the positive engineering of the mind. Today, minds are being negatively engineered with hatred and pride. Many Muslims live in this fallacy that they are a special race, and when they are not treated specially then they are frustrated and hold others responsible for their not receiving the special treatment that they expect.
"The mission of positive engineering of the mind is very difficult. You must perform merciless introspection. It is our test to convert the thinking of people from negative to positive."
The Mentality of the Mumbai Terrorists "Has Become Endemic Among Many Muslims"
"The terrorists who assaulted Mumbai had done extensive planning. This made me think why these people were so capable of negative planning, and completely lacked any inclination towards positive planning.
"This sort of mentality, unfortunately, has become endemic among many Muslims. Nobody is doing planning for the positive task of spreading God's message, and love and peace. This is because as years passed by, this work became dead in Muslims. But it alone can promote positive planning as it requires well-wishing for the whole of humankind.
"We must therefore focus our energies on spreading God's love, and restrain from any negative and destructive activities."
[i] Rediff.com (India), December 5, 2008. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.