Dear Omar Bhai,
I am thankful and at the same time grateful to you for enlisting me in Asiapeace. I get good articles on current issues from all over the world focusing mostly on India subcontinent from welknown writers.
I would be thankful, if you cerculate my article on Indian Muslims which is attached here with. Your comments and others are welcome.
In our country it is a most risky job to write about the Muslim society and Islam and the risk cumulates if some non-Muslim dares to do so. Both the fundamentalists and the progressives would say how much the non-muslims know about the Muslims or their religion that they could comment on it, What right do they have? Ironically, the progressive writers and thinkers have been saying all these years that in India the Hindus and the Muslims have been living like brothers in harmony for centuries. If this observation of theirs be true then why a Muslim should not write or comment about the Hindu society and a Hindu about the Muslim society? In reply they to it may argue that the religion is an internal matter of a community and it may not be proper for somebody to interfere in it. Although it is claimed that religion is universal and for entire humanity, not restricted to any sect or community.
In fact, religion cannot be the internal matter of any community. Every religion has its own code of conduct which differs from the another to an extent that it may lead to clashes. It is the religion that determines to what extent outside the society in politics there should be relation between various religious communities and whether they should at all mix with each other or not. Even the commensal and matrimonial ties are determined by the religion. How can then it be an internal matter? So it is very necessary that one may have the freedom to write or comment about any community. May be in the initial stages there would be certain misunderstandings and ill feelings but in the long run this process would lead one to breathe in an open air outside the blind dark tunnel, and in the present circumstances it is all the more needed. It may be over courageous to write rational, factual and frank accounts but it is in the interest of the as a whole besides the community about which it is written.
My native village, where I was brought up and where I spent nearly sixteen-seventeen years of my early life, had a Muslim population of about thirty per cent and I believe the demographic figure has yet not changed. My close friends included both the Hindus and the Muslims. Often we used to discuss about each other’s religion and that too most openly without any reservation. At times we used to ridicule certain aspects of it also. I had several Muslim friends, some of whom are still alive and who were religious without even believing in the religion. They celebrated their festivals, offered Namaz (prayers) on the occasions of Id-Ul-Fitra and Id-Ul-Zuha, observed fast during the holy month of Ramzan just for show and enjoyed their food at my place. They used to listen to criticisms and even passed their own comments about Quran and Prophet Mohammed. They also laughed at certain useless rituals of the Hindu religion and passed aspersions about Hindu gods and goddesses. What a wonderful openness it was during these days without any ill feeling towards anybody.
Today, however, when I visit my native village I badly miss that old atmosphere. People do not only try to avoid discussion about religion but are extremely cautious on this issue. I only wonder where the old openness and the kinship has vanished.
I may clarify here that my relation with the Muslims was not confined to my village. I have hundreds of Muslims friends in India and abroad, some of whom are religious to the extreme while some are even non-believers. Besides, I have exhaustively studied religions which include Islam and I have also read various translations of Quran on numerous occasions. I also have some study about Hadith and Shariat. It is for these reasons that I could dare to write about the Muslim society and Islam.
Obviously the breach between the relations caused by religion is constantly widening since the last five, or may be six decades. Particularly the Muslim society has become sensitive to the extent of fanaticism or bigotry or should we say, has been made so. It has been confined in its religious cell. There are, of course, a good number of people in this community who wish to come out of this cell but do not dare to.
It may not be true to say that the fanaticism has not increased among the Hindu. It has, but despite this a majority among them are tolerant of bitter criticism of their religion.
Intolerance and fanaticism are not the monopoly of only the Indian Muslims. Sikh communities, for instance, are equally beleaguered by their Granthis and Jathedars. Recent episodes in Punjab have fully exposed their intolerance and rigidity which in the long run will harm the very interests and image of the communities, like Hindutva has damaged the interests and image of the Hindu.
There are hundreds of books available criticising Hindu gods and goddesses and religion. Same is, however, not true about Islam or the Muslims. On the contrary if someone criticises Islam or Prophet Mohammed even in far off Denmark or the USA, the Indian Muslims react violently.
This type of religious intolerance among the Muslim is India is alienating them from the mainstream and the chasm among them and the Hindus is widening, which further strengthens the religious bigotry among the Hindus.
The thinkers and intellectuals of the country on the other hand either keep criminally silent or adopt a stance of appeasement towards the Muslims, as far as religious sentiments are concerned.
Obviously it has harmed the Muslim community which is becoming the victim of an infirm mentality that leads it into a blind alley in search of emancipation.
Without properly knowing or following Islam the Muslim community is becoming too sensitive to tolerate even a bit of its criticism or comment. It has become so sensitive about its religion that it refuses to even face reality or the truth. Unfortunately, the political leaders, and even the Leftists of our country who should have been the torchbearers of secularism, to ensure their votes, helped them maintain such a mind-set.
The condition, of late, has acquired a very dangerous and explosive proportion, and it is impossible to deal with it without facing the hard and bare realities.
What is this reality that has to be faced ?
The first reality concerns the religion. It is an age old belief that the religion unites the humanity while the reality is contrary to it. Let us take Islam, for instance. Has it ever been able to unite its own followers, what to talk about whole of the humanity? Obviously not. Divided among various sects, the Muslims have indulged in violent and bloody clashes among each other for centuries. Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, Ahmadia, Ismaili, Deobandi, Barelwi etc. numerous sects of the Muslims do not even share commensal and matrimonial ties. Most of the time they are engaged in bloody conflicts and hundreds of thousands have been killed in those conflicts.
It is said that Islam means peace, dedication but then is it not true that since its origin Islam has a history of violent struggles.
Immediately after the death of Prophet Mohammed there was a big controversy on the issue of Khilafat. The Shias allege that certain people conspired and appointed Abu Bakr as the caliph while Ali was busy arranging for the last rites of the Prophet. The Shias consider Ali as the first caliph while the Sunnis consider him to be the fourth caliph. The Second caliph Omar was murdered in some conspiracy and Osman, the third caliph was also murdered while he was reciting Quran. Even Ali met with similar fate. On the 19th day of Ramzan, he was attacked with sword while he was in prostration and he died two days thereafter, on the 21st day of Ramzan. Muaviya, the son-in-law of the third caliph Osman acquired the Khilafat on his strength and is said to have manipulated the murder of Hasan, Son of Ali. Muaviya’s son Yezid subsequently captured Khilafat and arranged for the most cruel assassination of Hussain, the second son of Ali, the members of his family and his friends.
In the meantime Bani Abbasi claimed that since they hailed from the family line of Rasul they were the righteous claimant of the Khilafat. He defeated their rival in war and captured Khilafat. Hasan Ibne Sabah, who created for the first time the terrorists and suicidal squads that were called Assassins, Challenged their authority.
One may, therefore, say that since its inception various sects of Islam were engaged in violent clashes either among themselves or with the jews, christians, non believers and infidels, and these clashes are still continuing.
In Quran, there is not one but several verses, that specify most severe punishments for the atheists, infidels and the Kafirs (nonbelievers) who do not believe in one God theory of the Quran, who do not consider Quran to be the last book revealed by God and who do not consider Prophet Mohammed as the last prophet. Their place is in hell after the day of judgement where they would have to undergo the torments of Jahannum, the hell. (Surah: Al-Touba - 29.)
Do the Kafirs not have any right to challenge all these? And if they do, their arguments need to be patiently heard at least. One may agree or differ but what is the point in indulging in violence?
The incoherence of Islam as described in this essay is not the incoherence of Islam only. Almost every religion is full of such incoherences. An open discussion on all this would do a lot of good to the mankind, that includes the Muslims as well.
The religious bigots of any denomination believe in myths not in facts, and this is the root cause of clashes. They tend to forget that myths are myths while facts remain facts.
It is true that Islam did not spread everywhere with the help of sword. It did spread through peaceful means also beside the strength of sword and the history is witness to it. Where then does peace stand?
Even today the terrorists spread world over are causing death to the innocent people and that too in the name of religion.
A terrorist, must have been receiving some sort of inspiration from the religion that provokes him to sacrifice his life. There must have been something (and there is) in the Quran that citing its verses people are engaged in a warfare against humanity for centuries. The Islamic terrorists are not struggling with the U.S. as an imperialist force but as an enemy of Islam.
Any community that considers religion as its priority, must be a backward one. In fact, the priority should have been science, education, medical facility, employment and a better standard of life rather than the religion. Had it been so, the religion night have united the people.
In fact, it is the priority of religion that divides the people. It is because of clinging to the religion with complete dedication and blind faith in it that the Muslim community is lagging far behind other communities in almost every sphere, particularly that of science and education.
Science and religion have nothing in common. While Science lays stress on rationalism and reasoning, the religion negates it. Science is centred on human activities and thoughts while religion leaves everything to God and cripples the man mentally. All the discoveries of science that are enormously benefitting the mankind and human society, could be possible due to the laboratories rather than to any religious place of worship. One has got to accept this fact.
Often it is said that Islam has provided women rights equal to those of men. This observation is a blatant lie. A man, whatever may be the conditions or circumstances specified, is permitted to have four wives (Surah: Al-NISA- 3) but women do not have this permission. Witness of two women is equal to that of one man and more share in property is granted to men than women under Islam; can this be termed equality? Even for adultery the provision of punishment in Islam is more severe for woman as compared to men. For this crime Islam directs that the women concerned may be locked up in a room till she dies. (Surah: Al - NISA - 16). For disobedience or for going against the tenets, women must be chastised and if they do not follow the prescribed path, they may be beaten. (Surah: Al - BAKR, 223).
Is it equality? Why the God, the Prophet, the Caliphs are all men and not a woman? Even the procedure of divorce is easier for men than women.
According to Quran, after the final day of judgement, there is provision of beautiful Houris and Ghilmans for men but no such provision for women. There may be several other instances. According to Quran, woman is considered to be the field of man and the man may till it in the manner he deems fit. (Surah : Al-BAKR - 223).
Prophet Mohammed was illiterate and the God revealed Quran to him. In the year 665, about 33 years after the death of Prophet Mohammed (632) the third Caliph Osman compiled the verses of Quran and edited the Madina edition of it and gave it an official book form. About two hundred years thereafter Bukhari compiled the incidents related to the Prophet and gave an official shape to Hadith. Who can say for sure, how many of the verses were revealed and how many of those were later added. There should be an open discussion on it.
One more thing. There is not one but various interpretations of the verses of Quran. The Sunnis, the Shias, the Ahmadias, all have their own interpretations. The terrorists of today interpret it in their own way and talk of spreading the message of Islam world over. Who would then decide, who is right and who is wrong?
The Muslim, who is ever ready to kill or be killed on the issue of even slightest criticism of Quran, should be asked as to what extent does he know and follow the directives of Quran or whether he can do so even if he wishes to? If not, then why so much of hue and cry on its criticism?
Yes, it is true that the problem is not confined to the Muslims alone. The ever increasing intolerance on the issue of religion among the Hindus and the Sikhs is also creating a gulf of differences among the communities. If the temples, the mosques, the gurudwaras and the churches would determine the politics of the communities, naturally it would lead to clash.
Fortunately, those who indulge in temple centred politics have in India so far been unsuccessful despite their every effort. May be, at times they got momentary success in inciting excitement and communal tensions or riots but the Hindu society, in general, is free from the temple centred politics to a great extent, if not completely. The same, however, may not be true of the Muslims and to some extent the sikhs who are, by and large, easily swayed and affected by the edicts and Khutbas issued by the clerics at the Friday prayers or by the Madrasas run by various mosques or edicts from gurudwaras. On the basis of these edicts and Khutbas a common Muslim forms his own opinion. In presence of such institutions, therefore, it would be futile to expect secularism. Exceptions are of course there but exceptions are exceptions, after all.
Howsoever bitter it might be but the truth remains that as long as the Muslim society does not free itself from the cobweb of the Quran, Hadith, Shariat, Khutbas and edicts, the mosques and the madrasas, it may not be able to align itself with the mainstream of globalisation under the present modern a conditions.
The world has left the Arabian age of fourteen hundred years ago far behind. All these might have been relevant at that time for that particular region but these are not relevant any more. Therefore, to keep on clinging to the past and react violently on these issues is nothing short of promoting conflicts and sectarianism. It is a tragedy that the Muslims today do not follow the Quranic code of conduct, rather behave contrary to it, yet they believe that the writings of the Quran are the ultimate truth, that Quran has solution to all the problems of the world and that Quran is full of science, which is nothing but a deception.
If everything mentioned in Quran is the only truth why then it is not completely practised in life? It is so because it is impossible to do so. Roza, Namaz and Haj are only superfluous religious rituals that they observe and abstain from following other directives of Quran. Yes, they do take the help of the Quran and Hadith to maintain their domination over the women folk, since its serves their (men’s) vested interest.
The day the Muslims would try to practise the teachings of Quran in their lives, neither themselves would live in peace nor would allow the world to.
The liberal Muslims may refer certain verses of Quran that speak of living in harmony and practicing Jihad against the evil but there are also verses in Quran that speak of Jihad against the non-believers and their massacre, discrimination against the women, Dozakh (hell) for the non-believers and Jannat (heaven) for the Jihadis and believers where they may have plenty of honey, wine, dates, grapes and will have the Houries and Ghilman in their service. (Surrah: Al - Waqia, 11 to 26). The Quran also says that Allah has covered the eyes and ears of the non-believers with a veil and has fixed punishment for them.
(Surah: Al - Waqia 51 to 56). Nobody can save them from being astray. (Surah: Al Bakr , 6-7, 190-193 and 217: Surah : Al - Nisa, 74-84.) Clashes under such conditions are inevitable. Then where is the place for living in peace and harmony and had a man can be reformed and put to the path of Islam.
The liberals and the so called secularists always advocate that the basic tenets, teachings and preachings of almost every religion is the same and so the unity among various sects is possible only through religion.
They may be forwarded with a simple question — why do we need so many of religion instead of one? Even the history of all religions negate this concept of unity through religions. We have witnessed clashes among religions since its inception.
To establish the liberalism in the Quran the liberal section of the Muslims may quote certain verses from quran and certain incidents from the Hadith but the clerics and religious bigots have far more to quote from the quran and the Hadith to drive home their point of subjugation of the women, slaughter of the non-believers, spread of Islam by any means world over.
The propagators of Islam on the one hand claim Islam to be the most simple to comprehend religion but on the other hand they are too sensitive to allow anybody to comment on it saying that it will take ages to fully comprehend it. As such the interpretation of Islam is monopolised by clerics and the critics are forbidden to write or speak anything other then praise.
The theory of clash of civilization is not the discovery of American writer Huntington. This conflict is there since the rise of civilizaitons, particularly since the conception of religions. The conflict between the Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Middle East was also not due to the American imperialism. Jerusalem, the centre of three religions. Judaism, Christianity and Islam — had been and still is the centre of violent clashes for centuries. The American imperialists have only added fuel to the fire to serve their vested interests and they succeeded too in their design.
The same may be true about the conflict among religions, that have symbolised culture and civilization. The followers of various religions have been indulging in violent conflicts with each other to assert their domination on the human society. Even the various sub-sects of the same religion having been divided among themselves, entered into violent conflicts from time to time. This is true almost of every religion.
During the Vedic period there had been bloody conflicts among the Surs and Asurs and then among the Shaivas and Vaishnavas, the Hindus and the Buddhists, the Hindus and the Jains. The history of these incidents is known to all.
Similarly, in Christianity we find that the followers of Catholic, Protestant, Church of England and Orthodox Church are indulging in large scale massacre involving millions of people. Have there been less incidents of massacre in the name of Crusade and Jihad by the followers of Christianity and Islam?
Islam has a history of clashes and wars since its inception and its various sects viz Shia, Sunni, Ahmadia, Ismailis, Wahabi etc. have clashed, and they still do, with each other since centuries.
The Indian Muslims, by nature and character, are Indians first and then anything else. They have made unique contribution in various forms of art, literature and culture that are forbidden in Islam. Their contribution in Indian economy is many times more in comparison to their population. It may not be an exaggeration to Say that they form the back bone of Indian economy. More than half of the skilled labour and artisans in India are the Muslims. Whatever they earn through their tool in the Middle East, they deposit and spend in India rather than depositing it in some foreign bank.
Although there is no caste system in Islam but it exists among the Indian Muslims, who have lower castes and upper castes. Different communities have even the mosques of their own. This is one aspect of the picture. The other aspect being their mental block in respect of religion that prevents then from being a part of the mainstream and for which this readership and in totality the political leadership of our country should be blamed for it is they who maintain the status quo to serve their vested interests.
The backwardness among the Indian Muslims, to certain extent is due to the discrimination that was meted out to them but the principal reason for it is their blind faith in religion. Why the Muslims of Islamic countries, be it Bangladesh or Pakistan or the Saudi Arabia are back ward as compared to other countries. In Europe, and America they enjoy equal opportunities for development besides security for life and various other facilities provided by the state without any discrimination, why even there they are backward in comparison to other communities? The only answer is their blind faith towards religion and that too to the extreme.
The privileges, openness and the opportunities for development that the Muslim community enjoy in secular India is not at all possible in any Islamic country. In fact, the Indian Muslims could have provided leadership to the Muslim community as a whole but how can one guide others who himself is in dark.
The most powerful aspect of the Muslim community is that there is hardly any stream of art and culture to which they have not made a substantial contribution or which they don’t master in. They enjoy their prime position since centuries in dance, music, painting, sculpture, acting, direction, classical music, qawwalis, poetry and fiction writing etc. In fact they had contributed a lot, and they still do, in fortifying and enriching the Indian culture. It would be a statement of fact to say that the number of Indian Muslim stalwarts in the field of art and culture far outnumber those produced by the Muslim community world over.
Music, dance, Painting, even poetry etc. in not permitted is Islam despite which the Indian Muslims mastered these fine arts and strengthened the Indian culture. A Muslim of Saudi Arabia would not even dream of it.
Like any other community the Indian Muslims drink wine, trade in wine, earn interest, lend money on interest, dance and accept dowry in marriages, bring out processions on Muharram and have distinction of low caste and higher caste among them. Is all this not contrary to Islam? If it is, why then he hesitates in accepting that he is an Indian first and then a Muslim?
Indian Muslims have made most valuable contribution in the development of Indian art and Culture. There would hardly be any stream of fine arts that does not have their contribution. Indian culture would be a lame duck if their contribution in culture is taken out.
It is interesting to note that all these art forms are prohibited in Islam. In fact, Islam is a dry religion devoid of savour of life. Saudi Arabia, where Islam originated and which is considered to be the centre of pure Islam, is its glaring example.
In fact, Islam embraced various cultural streams outside Arabian territory when it reached Iran and subsequently flourished when it reached India.
Had the Muslim community of India got a proper leadership it could have emerged as an ideal secular society and could have set an example not only before the Muslim community world over but before the Hindus, the Sikhs and the other communities of India to emulate. Needless to say that it would have served their own cause besides that of the humanity as a whole, but it was not to be.
The Indian Muslim Community today is under the clutches of fanatic and regressive clerics and priests, and the opportunist political leadership, who for their vested interests do not wish them to get rid of their parochial cells and join the mainstream.
It may be partly true that in India the Muslims are discriminated against, despite which the fact remains that the liberties enjoyed by the Muslims in India far exceed those that are available to them in the Islamic countries. In spite of its various drawbacks the Indian Democratic Republic grants equal rights to every citizen irrespective of any caste, creed or religion. The principal reason for the backwardness of the Muslim society in India is its religious mind-set rather than any discrimination.
Let us presume for the time being that the Indian Muslims are backward in comparison to other communities due to discrimination, but then why they, particularly the Muslim women are backward even is Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh are no better than the Indian Muslims in the field of education.
Howsoever positive interpretations to various verses of the Quran may be forwarded by the liberal Muslim scholars, the fact remains that the Muslim clerics and priests have always dominated the society and their interpretations are considered to be authentic.
There are few verses in Quran that preach of living in harmony with the Jews and Christians while more verses are there that prevent the Muslims to believe in or make friends with the Jews and the Christians. (Surah: Al- maida - 51).
Although blind faith had been the basis of every religion but other religions changed according to the time and the credit for which goes to he continuous movement launched by the reformists and the atheists. Most of the Western countries, therefore, could establish a secular society and the benefit of which was shared by all the citizens of those countries without any discrimination. On the basis of establishing a secular society the Hindu Community underwent revolutionary changes but the ultimate goal is still to be achieved. The Hindu society not only accepted the changes but to certain extent practised it in life. Earlier there was polygamy permitted by religion in the Hindu society but it was prohibited by the Hindu Code Bill and now, by and large it is no more there. Earlier it was a common practice among the Hindus to sacrifice millions of animals on been religious festivals and rituals which has now reduced to minimal.
There has also been notable decline in having Choti, the topknots and Janeo, the sacred thread. These are some of the examples of change in the Hindu society.
The Muslim society on the other hand only had certain superfluous changes without budging an inch from the religion. It failed to wriggle out of the grip of Quran, the mosques and the Madrasas. On the contrary, since last few years this grip has tightened even more. Obviously, therefore, not only in India but through out the world the Muslim community is alienating itself.
For tolerance and for respect to all religious it is necessary to negate the violent and bigoted aspect of the religion rather than justifying it.
There are numerous countries that have accomplished achievements having marginalised religion and naturally it benefited the people of those countries beside the humanity as a whole. The rights and privileges that the Muslims enjoy in secular countries are beyond imagination in the Islamic countries. It is a suicidal mentality to cover the eyes from reality, which ultimately leads to disturbance.
It would, however, be wrong to assume that all the Muslims are fundamentalists or terrorists. A sizable section of the Muslims is although a bit liberal but is so sensitive on the issue of religion that it is cut off from the modern thoughts and ideas. They look for solution of every problem in the Quran and for them every word of Quran is eternal and the ultimate truth, beyond which they refuse to think.
Most of the countries of Europe have marginalised religion and this is one of the reasons for their miraculous development and the welfare system that benefits every citizen without any racial or religious discrimination, while the religious countries, particularly the Islamic countries are lagging far behind despite many of them having enormous oil reserve. In the name of religion the Islamic countries treat non-Muslims with discrimination and it is a crime to even imagine of a secular society there.
The Hindu-Muslim divide in India is neither due to the British nor due to the opportunist politicians who have only added to the age old breach to serve their vested interests.
The Hindus always treated the Muslims as Mlechchha (non-Aryan or sinful) and what to talk of commensal and matrimonial ties they even abstained from jointly sharing a dining table. The Muslims on the other hand considered Islam to be a superior religion in comparison to Hinduism. They always thought themselves to be the rulers and the Hindus as the ruled. Their religious rituals also enhanced their differences.
The Hindus, for instance, worship the cow while the Muslims consider it auspicious to sacrifice it and due to which there have been violent clashes between both the communities from time to time. The Hindus are idol worshippers while the Muslims are iconoclast. How can there be a unity? Of course there always had been a section among the Muslim who were not only influenced by the Hindu culture but who accepted it to a certain extent and contributed a lot more for its development.
The Muslims, particularly the skilled artisans also made a significant contribution to the Indian economy but in spite of all these important contributions they maintained an equidistance on the issue of religion, which still exists. It was this difference based on religion that led to the partition of India.
Whatever is happening in Jammu & Kashmir today in the name of the so called ‘freedom’ is also backed by religious bigotry and this so called struggle is receiving support of Pakistan only because the people of Kashmir are mostly Muslims. In fact, Pakistan is not supporting the cause of the Kashmiris.
Bihar is far more backward than Kashmir and is a victim of oppression at the hands of official and non-official Mafias. There were far more massive rigging during general elections in Bihar and U.P. than in Kashmir but none ever raised sectarian slogans. Such voices where heard in Nagaland and Mizoram but on a different issue and for which the Government of India was more responsible. Kashmir did not have to bear more oppression and injustice than the other states of India. Sectarianism and terrorism started under the shelter of Islam and the Kashmiri Pandits and the Government of India only added fuel to the fire and the sectarians exploited the conditions completely.
Ultimately we reach the same conclusion that as long as religion is a dominant factor that receives priority in our day to day life, as long as the politics is dictated by the temples and the mosques, Gurudwaras Secularism and communal harmony would be a far cry.
There are incoherences in the books of almost all the religions and Quran is no exception to it. In Quran while struggle against own vices is termed as Jihad it also speaks of Jihad against those who do not believe in the God, Quran or the Prophet. It directs one not to befriend such element and to kill them when they happen to meet. Today, having been inspired by these verses of Quran the terrorists have not only let loose violence world over but are killing the innocent people and at the same time justifying it in the name of religion. According to Quran such people will go to Jannat (heaven) after the day of judgement, where the Houries and Ghilmans (young boys) would be in their service.
Yes, Quran also says — you follow your own religion and I mine. Let us both follow our respective religions (Surah: Al - KABROON, 109) but at the same time it also says that the non-believers are the misled people and for whom the God has fixed the torments of hell as punishment. It is also said that the God has closed the eyes and ears of the misled people and He is not going to save them from being misled. (Surah: Al - BAKR - 7).
There should be open discussion about all these incoherences. People should have the liberty to speak for or against. People should listen intently and peacefully rather than drawing their daggers on least provocation or somebody’s comments.
Despite its various drawbacks and shortcomings one may learn a lot from the West in this context. It is a historical fact that at one time the western society was under the clutches of the church. Today, however, it is free from it. One can bitterly criticise Christianity and Jesus. Plays like ‘Jesus, the Bastard’ are staged and films on the controversial book ‘Da Vinci Code’ are made and exhibited wherein the Catholics and their religious head, the Pope is ridiculed but such incidences do not lead to massive violence, arson or massacre of innocent people; no edicts are issued.
These are the glaring examples of tolerance. The Muslim society, and to certain extent the Hindu and Sikh communities also, should learn a lesson from it. Open discussion and criticism lead one to distinguish between the right and the wrong. One may or may not accept but should be tolerant enough to listen to others’ points of view.
Often it is argued that the one who does not believe in the God or the religion has no right to comment on it. It is an irony that one is free to express one’s views on various issues over the earth but is prohibited to comment on religion and God.
If some religion or its God summons the non-believers to bear the torments of the hell or asks His followers to massacre the non-believers, why then the non-believers do not have the right to critisise such a God ?
So, either the religion should be treated as an individual affair and should be separated from politics or it should be parted with for ever. If any of these two choices is adopted only then it may help in maintaining unity and communal harmony. This applies not only to the Muslims but to all.
I have never been a follower of Hinduism. For me humanism is the only religion that is free from any discrimination of race, caste, nationality and religion. I love Hindus as much as the Muslims. Whatever I have written is a statement of facts. My object is not to hurt anybody’s feeling but to make people face the reality so that they may live in peace, harmony, mutual co-operation and understanding.
I believe, we have only one life and so we should make full use of it by living in peace and harmony. This can only be possible if we unitedly fight against illiteracy, hunger, acute economic disparity and for equality and social justice, which are the fundamental rights of each and every person irrespective of caste, religion and ethnicity. Let the people of universe unite on this issue and fight together to achieve the goal of dignified life.
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