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Islam and Pluralism ( 22 Dec 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslims’ Religious Conversion in Kashmir

We don't have to panic; we have to be responsible only

By Hassan Zainagairee

 The 'concern' of religious groups, Madrasa muntazimeen, muftees and grand muftees on the 'motivated' conversions and their pooling in 'efforts and resources' to, what they say, 'prevent apostasy in valley' has grabbed public attention for a couple of weeks last month.

 The whole debate on conversion hinges on one point, coercion. The other affiliated things like offering money, admissions and jobs etc are of the nature of baits to lure people and exploit their weaker points. Coercion chokes freedom of thought and expression. It is attack of one's faith and conscience. Coercion speaks through the barrel of gun or the muscle power of the bulldozing majority.

It squeezes the options between survival and submission. History stands testimony that power-intoxicated nations in the hour of their victory forced conversion or opened Inquisition Courts. But, let it be recognized, no Muslim ruler was ever known to have burnt Kafir to death on religious grounds. And that is why in the centres of Muslim power for centuries like Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Bhopal, Hyderabad etc the overwhelming Hindu majority maintained its growth rate. With pronouncing la ikraha fi deen (there is no coercion in your religious affairs) and lakum dinakum walya deen (to you your religion and to me mine) Islam - some 1450 years before - guided humanity to peaceful coexistence, universal brotherhood, tolerance and accommodation.

 A minority community knows its vulnerability. It can't afford to confront a majority community. But as Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has rightly said that everyone has the right to preach their religion in a legal way. Christian community cannot be denied the right. The question is did the microscopic community, in exercising their right of freedom to preach, violate the legal norms and indulged in coercive tactics or resorted to blackmail? If that is the case then missionaries working in the valley and the NGOs are to be hold accountable.

 It is said that in missionary-run schools the change in curriculum  has been affected to teach Christianity. But in doing so we ignore that like any other religious institution missionary schools too have their faith at its heart. They provide social service but cannot remain oblivious to the purpose they were raised for. We have mushroom of private institutions wherein addition to government prescribed courses the children are spoon-fed Islamic ideology and its supremacy is reigned deep in their minds. What we like for ourselves, why should we not like it for others. To cherry-pick good out of host of bad for us and dump all bad for them is duplicitous. Wait and have patience.

In Europe and the US Islam has emerged as 'fast-growing religion'. Millions have got converted to Islam and the trend continues unabated notwithstanding the malicious propaganda against Islam post 9/11. It is there from their womb, literally speaking, Islam is winning in its fold the Souls of Europe.

In the glitter of materialism and fortune, it is the spiritual appeal and moulding capability of Islam that gravitates the affluent West and conquers fortresses of hate and resistance. But Europe did not lose cool against the advances of the 'alien' faith. Why should we in a Muslim majority lose our sleep if some odd men have taken the monetary bait and embraced apostasy. Islam, we must understand, holds faith supreme; supreme to all motivations, considerations, inducements and baits. But when one chooses the extreme, Islam cannot fasten him in the unwilling sphere. It has no racial traits. That, however, does not mean we have to be complacent and watch as mute spectators. If some conversions have taken place we have to know the underlying reasons. And for that we have to, instead of blaming missionary management, put search light inwards.

 There hasn't been any major apostasy from Islam in Kashmir in the past years despite worst conditions. People suffered impoverishment, discrimination and abject slavery. But they never slackened in commitment to Islam. If today some are lured to conversion baits, it indicates decadence of social fabric and moral waywardness. We have become self-centric and are callously insensitive to the huge number of destitute, poor, widows, orphans and disabled wallowing in misery. An empty stomach cannot be satiated by speeches delivered from the pulpit. The empty sermons, fake morals, are no answer to biological imperatives. You will have a luxurious car (gifted) by someone to beam out his political appeal and there in a lonely corner a widowed mother facing hunger! Why cry Islam is in 'danger' when someone from the other faith extends help and weans her away from 'not caring' fold of Islam?

Missionary schools function and flourish in Muslim majority state and our children are enrolled in them. It is commitment of the management and academic excellence which attracts religious minded people to buy admission. That eagerness rather dying fondness, knowing mission-oriented build up of these schools, entails a cost and we should prepare for it. Second, our inability to produce alternative to missionary schools is a sad commentary on the seriousness and concern we denote. In between the opening of Delhi Public School should expose the "dedication" of people associated with opening up business shops, in euphemism, called educational institutions.

From Bandipora people run, huff and puff, to Hyderpora, crying 'Islam in danger'. But why restrict this kind of doad dhoop only to missionary schools? Grand Muftees 'summon' some pastor Khanna to his court. But your sleep is not disturbed when many a so called Muslim openly flout the teachings of Islam and indulge in profanity. You zip your mouths when forbidden are legitimized and vices are sold as virtues. You don't protest on un-named mass grave revelations? On human rights violations?

Source: The Greater Kashmir