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Sunday, August 28, 2005

real blasphemy

Hamidm, Dost-mittar, mohar11, Ralph, arjun, Bina, Saima and others:

There are some basic thoughts that guide me. I have mentioned them here often.

First is : pehlay inssan, phir muslamaan: pehlay ta'aleem phir tafheem: pehlay Khuda phir Rasool

Second: be good. This jokingly I have refereed to as the founding of a new order... A religion with no holy book, no prophet/s, no rituals. The individual's conscience being the inbuilt criteria to inform and guide as to good and bad.

And being human, being frail and susceptible to cross currents I do fall off these loft ideals every now and then. But am lucky or resolved. I correct and climb back. And like the venerable Shaikh Saadi said, "I learn from everybody." I continue to learn not only from the wise but also from the simpletons. My words are there for the record. In the very next interact after Urstruly's post.

This article has touched up various issues regarding the intolerance of some Muslims, (remember I call them cuckoos and bigots and a minority), the ethics of freedom of speech and expression, blasphemy, response to acts of violence, the role of us…as Muslims, non-Muslims, as citizens of other countries, as denizens of a global village.

In my first response before commenting on Bina Shah's article I said unequivocally: am against loss of a single civilian life by another individual, organization or state…. in the most controversial scene, partially clothed women are portrayed as the victims of abuse with scars on their bodies, but verses from the Quran are also inked out in black on their bare skin.

And concluded with: …to me this is simply asking for it…

This must have touched off a raw chord in some friends. I also had the temerity to agree with Urstruly some. That I disagree with some was conveniently ignored.

Silence is golden. Perhaps I should have held my peace. But for how long? The current mess the silent majority of world Muslims find themselves in cannot bear anymore silence.

The Silent Majority of Muslims need to speak up. Only then would their voice countering the cacophony of zealots and bigots be heard. This is a long over due and long to be effective endeavour. Hence this attempt to clarify and explain to myself and to my friendswhere I come from. Make no mistake. This is as much an attempt for my sake as for theirs.

Back to that one aspect I discussed and why I felt Van Gogh was asking for it.

When our children come to a certain age we tell them to look left and right before crossing the street. And never to cross the street if the signal is red. We inculcate in them at that tender age a sense of awareness, sense of safety, and self preservation.

My thoughts on Mr van Gogh were in that spirit. As denizens of the global village we know the world we live in. We know for a fact that no city or country is outside the reach of bigots and zealots. By provoking them, and by ignoring warning and threats, and by not understanding the ramifications of the damage our actions can cause he was indeed asking for it.

In the earlier cases of Salman Rushdie, the full might of a state came to his rescue. Taslima Nasreen similarly is under protection. Those who recklessly disturb the hornet's nest and then fail to heed caution sooner or later pay for it.

We read papers. We watch the media. Are we that gullible?

I am offended by the depiction of Qura'ani Verses on naked female bodies. But belonging to the silent majority, being responsible and sane, I am opposed and averse to taking the law into my own hand. And I would not kill another human being. And there are millions like me here. But, I do know that zealots and bigots do not recognize this. They are prepared to play with their lives and harm those who offend their deeply held beliefs.

This is not a simplistic and foolhardy issue like us vs. them.

Borders, nationalism, religion is a concept alien to natural disasters. And to man made disasters. Religious zeal and bigotry is man made. If we do not speak up then we are seen as condoning it. If we speak up and not do anything to alleviate the problem is much worse.

For the Muslim mess I and we are partly to be blamed. Partly because the world has shrunk. As global citizens we cannot declare it is Muslim problem and wash our hands.

Dispatching high flying bombers and raining daisy cutters has not and would not fix the problem. It will only temporarily deflect. And it will recruit more zealots for the cuckoo pupeteers. Read the full transcript of the Osama bin Bush's latest video hot.

When I mentioned that apartheid-- of old as in South Africa or the current one in Occupied Territories is our problem, friends here disagreed. No it is your problem. I disagree. Injustice, poverty, lack of education in this world is our problem. We do not live on an island. We cannot seal off. Isolationism is not an option. Or ostrichism as Saima says.

Only when we do our bid as global denizens, regardless of our nationality or religion, to lessen injustice and poverty can we rid or lessen the number of cuckoos, zealots and bigots. And this is for the long haul. And like it or not we are all in it for the ride. Only then would be able to put the Quran between Russell and ibn Warraq and not feel a tinge of guilt.

This was and remains the sole point in my discussion here. Until we address Injustice, Poverty, Education, in the less fortunate world we will continue to suffer the consequences.


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