A conditional charity
Thu Nov 19 2009, 22:35 hrs
The disgraceful conduct of a UK-based Muslim charity with the victim-survivors of the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat could have been ignored as an isolated, if highly deplorable act. Sadly, this is no isolated incident. If anything, it is but the latest manifestation of a malignancy common to many Muslim outfits, in India and internationally.
For those who missed the news in the November 15 edition of this paper, here is the gist. A UK-based NRI charity named Muslim Relief Organisation (MRO) had built a colony in Detral village in Bharuch district to rehabilitate the victim-survivors of Gujarat’s state-sponsored carnage (2002). Even in charity, it seems, conditions apply.
The MRO has now issued an ultimatum to the Muslims it had helped rehabilitate: Shariah-compliant beards are a must. No rubbing shoulders with fellow Muslims in the village mosque, namaaz only in the special (sectarian) mosque we have built. Banish TV sets from your homes, all music is prohibited. Follow the "Shariah rules" or out you go of the homes we built. For you.
It can’t be an easy choice for Detral’s Muslims who, dispossessed by Hindu extremists seven years earlier, now face a second dispossession: by co-believers this time. My salaams to those village folks who at great cost to themselves have chosen freedom over capitulation to mean despots masquerading as custodians of Islam! A Google search doesn’t tell us much about the MRO or its broader ideological affiliation. But it’s easy to see where they are coming from.
The Detral ignominy is no isolated incident. Last year, televangelist Dr Zakir Naik’s flush-with-petro-dollars Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) launched a scholarship scheme for Muslim students. That you might think is a good idea. But here again, conditions apply. Before all else, the aspiring candidates must pass the "Islam test". Since IRF is the screening body, it is reasonable to assume that the would-be grantee must match-up to the sponsor’s brand of an intolerant Islam. So here is free tuition to future aspirants on IRF’s ’model answers’ to frequently asked questions:
Is it OK for Indian Muslims to sing Vande Mataram?
Model answer: Forget Muslims, even Hindus must follow the Vedas and refrain from such sinful act. (Rigveda, page…, para…, mantra…; the IRF is pretty good at playing the memory game).
Why can’t non-Muslims practice their faith in Saudi Arabia?
Model answer: Simple, stupid! Islam is the only true religion. How can sinful ways of worship be allowed in the land of the only true religion?
Were the Taliban justified in demolishing the Bamiyan Buddhas?
Model answer: But of course! Since there were no Buddhists in Afghanistan and the territory belonged to the Afghans, they were right in destroying their own property. (How did Buddhists disappear from Afghanistan? Don’t act smart!)
Model answer: Un-Islamic.
Burqa for women?
Model answer: It’s a symbol of women’s dignity while their participation in the Olympics, alongside men, symbolises degradation of women.
How to promote peace in the world?
Model answer: Through a 24/7 ’Peace TV Channel’ and mega-budget ’International Islamic Peace Conferences’ in Mumbai, London, Tokyo. Message: "My dear Hindu, Christian, Jews and the rest of you, brothers and sisters, Peace be upon you! We are here to prove with reason and logic how ignorant you are, clueless about your own faith and guilty of the greatest sin: idol worship. Convert to Islam for "Global Unity and Peace".
(No Islam, no peace? At an estimated expenditure of rupees one crore per convert, IRF’s must be the most cost-inefficient model in the conversion business).
The Sachar Committee’s report convincingly establishes the fact of institutionalised discrimination against Muslims in our ’infidel’ state? But the Muslim Relief Organisation, the IRF and their types do a much better inside job in discriminating: between Muslims (good) and Muslims (bad) in Islam’s name. It’s a discrimination that’s inevitable when faith is converted into a totalitarian ideology.
"There is no compulsion in religion" ("La ikraaha fiddeen"), says the Quran. "Diversity of opinion in my ummah is a blessing from Allah," said the Prophet. For the despots of Islam, however, not only is Islam the only true religion, "their Islam" is the only "true Islam". No space for doubt, no question of choice.
For sensible scholars of Islam, the Shariah is only a problem-solving methodology for those who seek to unravel the Divine Intent with the help of the Quran, teachings of Prophet Mohammed (Ahadith and Sunnah), consensual approach (ijma) and critical reasoning (ijtehad). But when a methodology (Marxist or Islamic) is elevated to the status of Law — frozen in time, all fresh approaches outlawed — you cannot but end up with a totalitarian ideology that by its own internal logic must aspire to the establishment of a totalitarian state (Marxist or Islamic).
It may seem like an ugly utopia for you and me. But to the hopelessly indoctrinated, a school in Mumbai, a village of bruised and battered Muslims in Gujarat, the Swat valley in Pakistan, a country named Afghanistan, or any social space big or small will do as a laboratory for the pursuit of their totalitarian fantasy.
Fortunately for the world and for the ummah itself, when given a chance to express themselves, the vast majority of Muslims — Indonesian, Malaysian, Bangladesh, Pakistani — continue to deliver a resounding ’No’ to the enemies of freedom and choice. But beware of the dangers of the malevolent, modern-day messiahs. Unlike the poor maulvi sahib from a Muslim mohalla, this seemingly sophisticated lot comes draped in suit and tie, speaks fluent English, swears faith in "reason and logic", quotes from the Vedas and the Bible as comfortably as from the Quran, oozes cash and promotes disharmony and discord in the name of peace. Don’t take them lightly for many among the new generation of otherwise well-educated but theologically ignorant Muslims assume this out-of-date medievalism to mean ’Modern Islam’.
The writer is co-editor, ’Communalism Combat’ and general secretary ’Muslims for Secular Democracy’.