Monday, June 21, 2010

Betrayals of the faith

The real Islamic crisis, I think, is this.

"At the time I was learning to memorise the Koran from a very kind, mild-mannered teacher.

I asked him what exactly was wrong with the Ahmadis.

He explained to me that they didn't believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the last and the final messenger.

I said OK, maybe that makes them kafirs, infidels, but who says that kafirs can't sell cloth?

My teacher's response was a full-handed slap, so sudden, so unexpected that it rang in my ears for days to come.

That same year Pakistan's first elected parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims."

In a must-read piece, Mohammed Hanif tells us about a "former chief minister of Punjab and current federal minister didn't attend his own mother's funeral because there were rumours that she was an Ahmadi."

If ordinary Muslims cannot find the courage to look within, to look at themselves and their own hatreds with clear eyes and not face up to their own endorsements of violence, they lose the moral right to seek protection from violence and discrimination.

And this is not just about Pakistan. This is also about India. Because this is the madness on our side of the border:

"Dr. Naik recommends the death penalty for homosexuals and for apostasy from the faith, which he likens to wartime treason. He calls for India to be ruled by the medieval tenets of Shariah law. He supports a ban on the construction of non-Muslim places of worship in Muslim lands and the Taliban's bombing of the Bamiyan Buddhas. He says revealing clothes make Western women "more susceptible to rape." Not surprisingly, Dr. Naik believes that Jews "control America" and are the "strongest in enmity to Muslims."

"Of course, every faith has its share of cranks; and, arguably, India has more than its share. But it's impossible to relegate Dr. Naik to Indian Islam's fringe. Earlier this year, the Indian Express listed him as the country's 89th most powerful person, ahead of Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, eminent lawyer and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, and former Indian Premier League cricket commissioner Lalit Modi. Dr. Naik's satellite TV channel, Peace TV, claims a global viewership of up to 50 million people in 125 countries.

Somebody help! I've heard from a few 'moderate' or 'modern' Muslims that This Dr Naik fellow is worth watching, that they want to learn from him, preach like him, or emulate him. And of course, if you are a fundamentalist in a suit and tie... its kind of convenient, isn't it? Nobody thinks of you as a fundamentalist. And that's half your job done. Because nobody can dismiss you, then, the way you'd dismiss a loony with an AK-47, or a woman in a burqa and elbow-high gloves, who is so clearly far out, so clearly different from your life and your faith that you don't even feel the need to disassociate yourself from him/her.

The article goes on to say that "Senior journalist and presenter Shekhar Gupta breathlessly introduced his guest last year as a "rock star of televangelism" who teaches "modern Islam" and "his own interpretation of all the faiths around the world."

Who makes that happen? Why are there no liberal Muslim intellectuals telling Mr Gupta what he doesn't know, because clearly, he doesn't?

I personally think that these incidents and contexts are the ones that must draw our attention and outrage. If Indian muslims cannot bring themselves to say 'no' to violence against homosexuals or Ahmadis, with what face can they say 'no' to violence against Kashmiri Sunnis, or Shias, or Sufis, or indeed just plain human beings?

The time for liberal muslims to speak up is not just when riots or blasts or crazy shootings happen. Nor just when some teenager gets arrested or shot dead without a fair trial. The time to speak up is primarily - and urgently - when idiots take your faith, twist it out of all recognition and then seek to control you through the voice your democratic state has allowed them. The time to speak up is before they shut you up permanently.

And it is time to say that anyone who preaches hatred does not deserve a public platform. Not Sadhvi Ritambhara. Not Babu Bajrangi. And not Dr Naik.


Darshan Chande said...

The time to speak up "truth" is always, always NOW.

Jai_C said...


1. You may want to be a little careful with Mr.Dhume's writing generally- he is highly praised in H-rightwing circles and a quick scope of his wikipedia links does NOT reassure.

2. That said, thank you and whew! for sanity on Dr.Naik. First came across this worthy when my very modern and assumed-moderate M friend mailed across some of his writing with high recommendation.

3. re. "the time to speak up" and
"Why are there no liberal M intellectuals telling...[us]"

a) Interesting divergence from Dilip D 's line that seems to me to be that nobody is obligated to speak up or condemn or differentiate themselves as a necessity. Such condemnation is implicit, is the understanding.

b) Here is an article at IM specifically targeting Dr.Naik:

c) There *is* an element of media manipulation, the sensational stuff is played up, sober declarations by panels of M clergy against terrorism for eg. are played down.

d) Notwithstanding the above, I hope for more such outright challenges to the likes of Dr.Naik.

thank you

1conoclast said...

Oh, naik has been an idiot for the longest period. And I have yet to come across intellectual muslims praising him. It's usually the kind who like namo that like naik. ugh!

& yes, someone should call that Shekhar Gupta & give him a piece of one's mind!!!

Unknown said...

If reported progressives like Maulana Zaheer Abbas will not use modern technology or receive funding to do so, then televangelists like naik will.

And I thought televangelists was a derogatory word?

rgc said...

You know what Naik is doing? he started out as a simple speaker debating with Christians and such like and has conveniently moved on to build an empire of schools and what not.
As of the last five years, he knows that he has considerable influence and appeasement power. Hence his hold on the M population is disturbing. Its like a silent growing army.

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