Notes on Islam
TWO of you—Lateef and Altaf—will recollect that more than a year ago you wrote to me saying that you were puzzled by certain questions which a Missionary had put to you. I remember that Amjud or Mahmood even went so far as to ask what was the good of Islam, when countries and people professing that faith had weak governments and were crumbling to pieces under the influence of Christian Powers.2 I answered your queries only in a general way as your University education had not then advanced far enough. But I think the time has now come when I should try to explain to you what I conceive to be the true spirit of the religion of our fore-fathers.
I firmly believe that Islam is the best3 religion in the world—I mean, Islam rightly understood and interpreted and not the Muhammadanism4 of some of our formularist Maulavies,5 who say that a man goes to Hell or Heaven according as he wears his trousers lower or higher than his ankles! They have degraded our religion by paying undue attention to formulas and forms to the exclusion and neglect of its living spirit and reality6. The poet Hafiz rightly stigmatised their vain controversies when he said that چون نديدند حقيقت ره افسانه زدند "since they did not see the fact, they ran after fiction."