Fundamental Muslims (by genre) are not terrorists
For some years now, there has been a trend worldwide, almost euphoric, albeit dying, but intermittently surfacing every now and then, more so among the so-called aatels, that any terrorist attack anywhere on God's earth is the handiwork of holy Muslims with tajbhi in hand.
The trouble is my affixing 'God' to qualify 'earth' may also draw the attention of some journalists, cultural activists, scientists, academics and others, here and abroad, and irk them to the extent of labelling Yours Truly as Osama's cousin.
Utter Allah (swt) in front of them, and they draw lines on their forehead without a pen.
Offer prayers, and they think the world is spinning backwards with the same clogged mind that vocalise at any opportunity that they are for freedom of speech, movement and opinion. If you sincerely believe in freedom, you should protect someone else's right to peacefully practice one's religion, any religion.
Recite the Quran, and they consider you no more than an illiterate fazil of a madrasha.
But, in Bangladesh there are millions of people, men, women and children, our parents, relatives, grandparents, friends, teachers, colleagues, acquaintances, people you do not have to know, in fact a vast majority, who remember and vow by Allah (swt), offer namaz regularly and read the holy book, even if occasionally so. They are doing it for over eight hundred years. They are following the fundamentals of their religion, just as any religious person of any faith should. Are all of these practising Muslims terrorists? Are any of them terrorists?
Yes! It is true that some organisations have signposted lslam on their letterhead, and indeed carried out violent activities to (in their words) 'establish the rule of Allah'. But aren't there many more groups and associations with Islamic labels and ideals who are working for peace on (ahem!) God's earth? If the bad can be blamed on Islam, should not the credit for the good be given to it too? Alas! Therein is exposed the real objective of the perpetrators of the anti-Islam crusade.
By that count, there have been countless terror campaigns and bombings by Christians fighting their holy war, say for instance in Ireland. Do we therefore tag all Christians as terrorists? We are not that dumb. Do the same journalists, cultural activists, academics and others involved in tainting the goodness of the fastest expanding religion in the world, ever mention in their writings or TV chat shows that Christians are the root of all problems?
A few days back there was a protest rally in the States by American Christians, who were vociferously campaigning against Barack Obama, questioning on television outright how they could trust a Muslim? They meant that they cannot accept Obama as president of the USA. Has the FBI, CIA, anybody lesser, dubbed them as 'fundamentalists', or all American Christians as such? Why should they?
In Karnataka (India), Hindus (allegedly Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad) have attacked Christian (minority) churches lethally. In defence of the state government, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa blamed certain Christian organisations such as 'New Life' for flaring up "disharmony and social tension" in the state by their unconstitutional and illegal efforts to forcibly convert or to induce conversion to Christianity. (Indian Express, 13 Oct). Earlier on 5 October 2008, the Indian Prime Minister had decided to call a special cabinet meeting to discuss a possible ban on the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad over the continuing attacks on Christians and its institutions in Orissa and Karnataka. Now do we call all Hindus terrorists? Or, do we dub the Christian missionaries as fundamentalists? We don't!
Religious believers, just as physicists, musicians, sportspersons, furniture-makers, in effect anyone pursuing systematically any wealth of knowledge shall have to be fundamentalists, that is, know the basics. A terrorist on the other hand can be anyone: a (misled) religious believer of any faith, a physicist, a musician, a sportsperson, a furniture-maker...
Unfortunately, not too many authors in this country have shown their leading positive characters to be a devoutly religious. A drama showing a good Muslim is not common. But, the reverse is an everyday affair. A village tyrant in the guise of the Union chairman in a film has to be Muslim. In a TV serial the man marrying more than once is always personified with Islamic icons, forgetting too that the divorce and remarrying rate in Bangladesh is high even among those who are not that religious.
Rarely will the life or teachings of the Prophet (saw) and his sahabis be integrated in our cultural creations for fear of the effort being branded as anti-cultural. But the same genre finds nothing wrong with the portrayal of religious icons in narrating Hindu mythological tales especially on Indian TV channels. That is the right attitude. But then why do they mark someone as fundamentalist and/or a potential terrorist if Islamic tales are narrated or if the religion itself is discussed?
This biased tirade against Muslims in general must stop for the sake of truth, sanity and peace among humankind.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008