November 13, 2008

life in general: muslim priests' egg-headedness & extremism

The egg-headed and extremist Muslim priests (mullahs), in mosques, create so much of noise pollution through their blaring calls for namaaz (prayer) 3-4 times a ay using loudspeakers need to be shown their place by all right-thinking citizens. Be it any organised religion's loud noise or private citizen's loud music/parties there should be zero tolerance shown by the civil and police authorities of any secular state. Across India, the namaaz calls are causing enormous irritation to all non-Muslims and even many common right-thinking Muslims but who are not courageous to defy their religious priests in these matters.
Anyway, as an aside, I came across an interesting two interviews by journalist Jyoti Punwani (who is known to be that rare journalist who is not afraid of taking on religious extremists of any hues) of two right-thinking Muslim citizens. This appeared in Mumbai Mirror dated 9 November '08. Here it is:

Jyoti Punwani talks to Hasan Kamal and Sajid Rashid, both vocal critics of religious fanaticism and terrorism.

The difference between terrorism and jihad is a topic central to the Jamait Ulema’s national conference being held over the weekend at Hyderabad. Two of Mumbai’s intellectuals — poet and lyricist Hasan Kamal and journalist and educationalist Sajid Rashid — have for long been speaking out on these issues. Excerpts from an interview:

Popular Urdu poet and Filmfare-award winning lyricist Hasan Kamal wrote recently in the Delhi Urdu daily, Hamara Samaj: “It would be self-deception to say that no Muslim can do such things,” referring to the bomb blasts. He further wrote: “There are also elements among the youth who actually think that the Taliban are ‘Muslim Mujahideen’, which they are not in any manner, (and who) perform irresponsible acts in a fit of frenzy.”
Mumbai Mirror: Strong words. Why did you write them?
HK: Because in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, the suicide bombers are all Muslim. In India too, there is an extremist SIMI faction. A section of the Urdu press, for popularity, often glorifies Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban and readers begin to think these people are fighting for Islam. Then there are those who have been misled into believing that the only revenge for Gujarat is through terror.
One cannot say that all these people are not Muslims, or that the blasts just can’t be the work of Muslims. But I am equally emphatic about the other aspect: just as all Bajrang Dalis may be Hindus, not all Hindus are Bajrang Dalis. So also, there may be some Muslims influenced by a romanticised image of Osama, but it’s wrong to demonise all Muslims. The majority, like their Hindu counterparts, are secular, tolerant and peace loving. But we cannot deny that we have our share of black sheep.
MM: What about the theory presented by almost every Muslim, that the blasts are a conspiracy by the RSS or IB or Mossad to give Muslims a bad name, and no Muslim stands to benefit by them?
HK: That’s an exaggerated view, which may be only partly correct. There are communal elements among Hindus, the police and the media, but to ascribe the blasts to them speaks of a siege mentality. Terrorists are not normal, sane people who calculate the logic of who benefits and who suffers. They act in rage. Don’t they know that among those who die, there could be Muslims too?
MM: How did readers react?
HK: Without meaning to boast, I can say mine is the most popular column. I have been saying the same things at meetings across Maharashtra and people have mostly agreed. In the past, in a room full of ulemas, I have said that Muslims should stop opposing the demand for a common civil code. There is a growing section of Muslims who feel the old religious leadership is no longer enough.
People know my intention: I condemn the RSS with the same sincerity as I condemn Muslim extremists. I have spoken out against the terror label given to Azamgarh; that’s sheer humbug.
MM: Maybe people see you as part of the film industry and so not a real Muslim.
HK: I do my namaaz, I fast. Nobody can say I’m not a Muslim. If you want to bring about reform within Muslims, you have to be a practising Muslim, or you won’t be taken seriously.
MM: At a time when the community is feeling cornered, aren’t you betraying it by writing all this?
HK: On the contrary, I feel I am helping it. It’s my duty to point out the shortcomings of my community.

Often reviled by religious Muslims as an apostate, editor of the Urdu literary journal Naya Waraq, two time recipient of the Katha Award for Urdu short stories and former head of the state Urdu Academy, Sajid Rashid has been a vehement critic of SIMI in his column in the Hindi daily Jansatta.
MM: When the entire community defends SIMI, what’s your problem with it?
SR: As long as SIMI was a religious organisation, I had no objections. But after 1993, when it put up posters saying ‘No democracy, No nationalism, No polytheism, only Islam’, and eulogising Mahmud Ghaznavi after it began talking about jihad, I started warning Muslims about the impact SIMI would have on the next generation. My own son was misled into becoming a member of its Shaheen Club, meant for kids. In my house, I had to listen to talk about Hindus and Muslims belonging to different nations, about Muslims being idol breakers who could not live with idol worshippers. I made him leave it, and today he is a secular, open-minded young man.
MM: Isn’t it true that no SIMI member has as yet been convicted?
SR: I am opposed to the wrongful imprisonment of even one innocent. But when you include in you r list of ‘innocents’ Safdar Nagori, I start suspecting the list. I know Muslims who left SIMI in 2000 because of his hardline views.
What stopped the government from applying Sec 153 A for the Ghaznavi posters; or arresting those who organised the 1997 SIMI meet at Kanpur, where Bin Laden was eulogised as an idol-breaker, and the chiefs of Hamas and the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami addressed the meet through phone? Why didn’t they stop SIMI from distributing cassettes of Maulana Azhar Mehmood outside mosques? Simply because it suited the government to have an entire generation of Muslims ruined by this ideology, just as it suits them to have an entire generation of Hindus brainwashed by the RSS.
MM: Most Muslims feel that when all their leaders had sold out, only SIMI spoke up against the injustice done to Muslims by the State.
SR: Muslims have been facing injustice for the last 50 years. But those who have fought this the most have been Hindus. Of the 10 persons who donated a lakh each to fight the Best Bakery case, seven were Hindus. When all Hindus join the RSS, I may reconsider my view of SIMI. The State discriminates against Muslims, but it has done so against Sikhs, and now is doing so against Christians too.
To fight this injustice, do you need to take up arms, or go to the ISI? What could have been worse than the massacres of Muslims in Moradabad and Maliana by the PAC in the ‘80s? Muslims were angry; why didn’t they call for jihad then? Because there was no SIMI, with its powerful backers to instigate them. Has SIMI ever done relief work? Did they help Muslims in the Srikrishna Commission?
MM: Muslims dismiss your views because they see you as a non-practising Muslim.
SR: I believe in Khuda; my identity remains Muslim. The letters I get from my Muslim readers show that they agree with me. Till now, they haven’t been told the truth about SIMI. Muslims have mastered the art of sweeping their dirt under the carpet

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