First written 01/17/2015
I have been attending an educational programme since last week. Before the commencement of the programme daily, there is always a morning devotion for both Christian and Muslims. In one corner, the Christians meet for their devotion and the Muslims meet in another.
And the temples are for God: So invoke no one along with God
I resented joining either side. Christians invoke Jesus in their worship and Muslims invoke Muhammad too. Reluctantly, i joined the Muslim group. As usual, they always begin and conclude their prayers with greetings and salution to Muhammad which amount to veneration. According to their traditions, without that, prayers would not be accepted. I often stand idly when they do this.
Yesterday, one dark hefty looking man named Mr. Hassan, conducted the devotion. At the end, he delayed us briefly and addressed us thus;
“I hope you know what is going on in France, a cartoon mocking Muhammad was published and the whole of the west is supporting it”.
Half truth is Dangerous
I left that gathering with a heavy heart. It is true that Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocked Muhammad and some westerners have justified it as legal under freedom of speech, but that isn’t the full story, why is Mr. Hassan keeping half of the truth to himself?
Isn’t he aware that Charlie Hebdo and 11 others who may have no hand in the cartoon were killed by a fanatic Muslim gang shortly after the release of the cartoon? Isn’t he a Muslim, why isn’t he objective and honest in his utterance?
Ignorance is the greatest Disease of all time
As i drowned my disappointment in my brunch that morning, i realized Mr. Hassan was either ignorantly parroting what he heard or just deliberately concealed the latter part of the story. Whatever the case, it is upsetting.
Of course, people are mostly ignorant generally, not because the have no access to information but because they are lazy and dislike studying. Most Muslims are guilty of this, they know nothing about their history, very little about their religion and are unaware of the religious-political turmoil in the Muslim world. The repercussion of this ignorance is gross.
Mr. Hassan ‘s announcement that morning is dangerous, it cast out the Muslims as the only victim in the event and this feeds separatism and radicalism among Muslims. Given that most people report what they heard without confirmation, Mr Hassan devious message that morning is bound to spread like wildfire.
Honour or Victim hood
Playing the victim card is a very powerful strategy of garnering sympathy in the world today. Sometimes, this strategy is employed at the expense of honour. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn Mr. Hassan was fully aware of the terror by the Muslim gang in response to that cartoon but chose to ignore it. In that case, Mr Hassan ‘s will is to reinforce the sense of victimhood in Muslims and sustain the hatred for the west.
As such, revealing the full story will be counterproductive, awakening the Muslims to the fanatic trends thriving in their midst, therefore pitting Muslims against Muslims and dampening their reaction to the cartoon. Consequently , while the cartoons which didn’t hurt Muhammad are discussed relentlessly by Muslims, the shootings which claimed live are relatively seldom discussed. And the impression here is that Muslims consider the killing of the cartoonists as justice or not as offensive as the cartoon.
I know it too well
I know the victim card too well. Growing up in the Muslim community in 2001, we were taught that US invaded Afghanistan to kill our Muslim brothers. To cultivate a feeling of victim hood and hatred for US in us, we were never taught the atrocities by fanatic elements in our midst on the Twin Towers(9/11) and several US embassies in the Middle east.
Too often, we learn that US is the Satan who support Israel in all her oppression of our Palestinian brothers. We were never taught that our brothers heavily enjoined the service of US against the Soviet communists throughout the Soviet-Afghan war(1979-1989).
In a nut shell, our Muslim brothers tell us only half-truth. Of course, most of us have been radicalized by this and do not realize it today. But thankfully, the full truth has set me free.
Is Honour greater than Life?
Charlie Hebdo shooters and sympathizers justify their stance as defending Muhammad ‘s honour. It is difficult to fathom how killing has defended Muhammad ‘s honour. It think nothing violates Muhammad ‘s honour than his followers shedding blood indiscriminately as the shooters have done. Each time Muhammad has been ‘defamed’, the Muslim reaction has been bloody. Danish Cartoons and Salman Rushdie ‘s Satanic Verses comes to mind here.
We don’t need to ask before we realize the relevance of Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris to honour killings in Islamabad. As Muslim scholars declare death for any defamer, condemner or naysayer of Muhammad, they are ruling that sometimes, honor is more sacred than life. In adherence to such teachings, Charlie Hebdo and his colleagues paid with their life. And several Muslims in the Middle east are paying with their life for dishonoring their families today.
I still feel bitter over the whole incident with Mr. Hassan. That is why by noon that day, i didn’t hesistate to walk out on the Muslims who were gathered for the bus to convey them for the weekly congregational Salat.
Those who understand me realize my resentment of the Muslim community. Still, i nuture dreams that one day, this community will realize their enemies live among them, lead them in worship and legislate for them regarding their religion and admit that by telling only half-truth, Muslims like Mr Hassan are like a bad mother spoiling a kid who just woefully failed final exams with extravagant gifts.
However, sometimes i feel i am having a pipe dream. For one, only enlightenment and honesty will plant the seed for reform. There is too much ignorance and hypocrisy in the Muslim world for the seeds of reform to germinate. It is disappointing to note that many Muslims claim to be anti-ISIS, anti-Boko Haram, and blame the likes of Pamella Geller for painting all Muslims with one brush as terrors.
However in the Muslim world, where Islamism is the dominant theme, all Jews/Christians are painted evil with one brush, condemned as evil doers, enemies of Muslims, so filthy that they mustn’t be allowed near the ‘Holy Cities’, deserving humiliation and subjugation by ‘Jizya’.
The Muslim world is still offended and cannot get over the execution of Osama Bin Ladin or Saddam Hussein, yet these are men who persecuted and massacred innocent people.
On the flipside, several Muslims like Muhammad Taha, Farag Foda who lead peaceful movement, promoting justice, human rights, tolerance and freedom as Islamic values have been killed by mainstream Muslim authorities like the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Wahhabi regimes. The Muslim world doesn’t give a damn about these men.
Once upon a time, i found myself recounting some of the havoc by Ayatollah Khomeini; first supreme ruler and cleric of post-revolution Iran adored in the Muslim world as a saint, sage and a kind of messiah. A Muslim woman sitting by rebuked me for slandering a ‘noble, learned and exemplary Muslim’. As soon as i began citing my evidences and facts, she insist i drop the subject and respect the dead!
That event exactly captures the state of the Muslim world. Ignorance prevail, out of self-worship Muslims can often be found discussing the ills of the west and ignoring their own ills. Whoever attempt to address the ills in the Muslim society especially radicalism or religious coercion is either rebuked or forced to retreat.
Only last year, a Christian couple alleged to have disposed a copy of Quran were burnt to death in Pakistan, Mariam Ibrahim was sentenced to death and nearly executed for apostasy and adultery in North Sudan, two Churches in Katsina state of Nigeria were burnt down by Muslim mobs over an allegation that a secondary school teacher verbally dishonored Muhammad during a class, Raif Badawi was arrested and is now serving a 10 year prison term with 1000 lashes for criticizing the Saudi state and promoting more liberal, democratic and secular ideas on his blog. How many Muslims talk about these?
The ‘noble Imams’, the moderate, progressive, democratic, secular, intellectual and peaceful Muslims know this, understand this but never admit and organize to confront this cancerous mindset of dogmatism, fanaticism and bigotry that is trending in the Muslim world.