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Islam and Pluralism ( 16 Dec 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Muslims: A wonderful model and challenge to the rest of humanity

Media silent as Indian Muslims forego holiday

By Marc Gopin


Washington, DC - Millions of Muslims across India decided to temper or even cancel festivities on their most cherished week of holy yearly celebrations, Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son in obedience to God and His mercy upon him as a result, in protest of violent acts committed in the name of Islam by the criminals who murdered so many in Mumbai.


According to a Times of India article, "They wore black ribbons, carried placards of peace, sent out emails and SMS's reiterating harmony and put up banners saluting those who died in the 26/11 terrorist attack.


Some Muslims even avoided festival purchases such as new clothes. From Chennai's Thousand Lights Mosque to Delhi's Jama Mosque, from the Khwaja Banda Nawaz Dargah (shrine) in Gulbarga to the mosques of Mumbai – Eid celebrations were subdued, in a symbolic declaration of Muslim protest against terrorism.


"At every shrine prayers were said for the grieving families in Mumbai. In the cities of Ajmer Sharief, Kaliyar Sharief (Uttarakhand) and Barabanki's Deva Sharief, communities came together burying their differences to focus on one thing: communal harmony. By showing our unity, we have spoilt the terrorists' Eid," said Qari Mohd Miya Mazhari, editor of the Urdu daily, Secular Qayadat.


"The festival of sacrifice also became a platform of protest both for celebrities as well as ordinary citizens.


"In Mumbai, actor-director Aamir Khan wore a black band on his arm. So did Jab We Met director Imtiaz Ali, lyricist Javed Akhtar and his actor-director son, Farhan Akhtar. A news agency reported that other Bollywood biggies such as Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan too preferred to stay away from the festivities."


This is an act of solidarity with the victims – Hindu, Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike – and this despite the fact that the prejudice and structural injustice that Indian Muslims experience is widespread and systemic. I have always sensed from my readings and studies that Indian Islam, the religion of one of the largest Muslim communities in the world, has always articulated a deeply ethical form of Islam. It historically has been a model to the world of a minority community asserting its identity and simultaneously arguing for a strongly non-violent ethic of religiosity.


Why does the world ignore millions of good simple people when they stand up for non-violence but keep everyone riveted when 20 or so criminals hijack a city? More importantly why is a hijacking a "Muslim event" but not the peaceful protests and statements of solidarity with Hindu victims of millions of people?


We cannot have a deep understanding of the problems facing humanity if this prejudice against peaceful expressions of religion goes on in the media. I know that "if it bleeds it leads" in the media, but the lack of attention to the majority who are peaceful is creating at least as much bleeding as the acts of terrorism.


The three Abrahamic religions share a story of Abraham and his son being prepared to offer the greatest sacrifice to God, and this Muslim holiday celebrates God's response to such devotion. I say what I am about to say in protest against the haters in our midst: I am grateful that God saved this son of Abraham so that a great culture, civilisation and religion could be born, a culture and civilisation of the Arab and Muslim world.


And I refuse to join the haters in my midst who look at these sad brainwashed criminals of the Mumbai attack and say, "They are the flower of Islam". They are no more the flower of Islam than Timothy McVeigh and his Christian Identity Movement, or the Ku Klux Klan and their burning Christian crosses, are the flower of Christianity.


Crime is crime, and we must honour the millions of Indian Muslims today who are surrendering their holiday spirit in solidarity with the innocent.


What a wonderful model and challenge to the rest of humanity.



*Dr. Marc Gopin is the director of George Mason University's Centre for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, and author of < This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

16 December 2008, <>

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'All should wear black bands to denounce Mumbai carnage'

On the occasion of Bakr-Eid Tuesday, Muslim film personalities will show their solidarity towards the Mumbai terror victims by wearing black bands and stress that terrorism has no place in Islam. But some feel that all Indians, irrespective of their religion, should adopt the symbolic gesture.


Farhan Akhtar: My request is that all Indians should wear a black band regardless of their religion and community to show terrorists and those who try and exploit this situation in the upcoming elections that their tactics to divide us will no longer work.


Irrfan Khan: Yes, I will wear the black band to send out the message that terrorists are the enemies of Islam. And they cannot divide Indians in the name of religion.


Naseeruddin Shah: The trouble with these symbolic gestures is you feel you've done your bit. We should hold on to this feeling of dissatisfaction and helplessness so that we are galvanised into action. Muslims feel obliged to take up token gestures to distance themselves from the terrorists behind the 26/11 horror. But why are Indian Muslims perpetually required to prove their patriotism?


Shabana Azmi: I'll most definitely wear the black band and urge all Indians to do so.


Iqbal Khan: Yes, I'll be wearing the black band to show that there is nothing called Islamic terrorism. I'm a Muslim and I know for a fact that Islam does not have anything to do with terrorism.


Anees Bazmi: Surely I'd be wearing a black band. Terrorism has no place in Islam.


Kabir Khan: Terrorists have no religion and this is something any thinking person would easily understand. I'm a little uncomfortable with the thought that Indian Muslims have to go that extra mile to prove their allegiance with tokens of protest like the black band. Why just Muslims? Every Indian should be wearing black bands on the same day so that all of us can stand and be counted as one nation. This would be a befitting reply to those failed nations that were created on the basis of religion. The media should give us space to condemn these madmen who have hijacked Islam with their lunatic interpretations.


Abbas Tyrewala: Yes, I'll be wearing a black armband. No clever or quotable reason for it. Just as a mark of support, solidarity and love for my city and community. And to show my rejection of violence in the name of religion, not just Islam.


Adnan Sami: Sorry, I won't wear the black band. These gestures are meaningless and cannot undo the ghastly tragedy that has fallen over our beloved city. Pardon me for saying this, but I think lighting of candles, etc is all humbug. Where was the state security when our Mumbaikars were being mowed down? We were calling the Black Cats from Delhi! Why don't we have our own Black Cats in Mumbai? After all it is the financial capital of India. What difference is a black band going to make? Will it resurrect the dead? My heart bleeds for all those who died because of these barbaric brutal misguided fools who crept in from sea to drown us in shame and sorrow.


Dia Mirza: Of course, I will wear a black band. It will give out a token signal against polarisation in the nation. It is important for the Muslim community to speak up at this time and protest against acts of terror.


Zoya Akhtar: Yes, I will and I hope all Indians and not just the Muslims, do so.


Imtiaz Ali: Yes, the black band will symbolise that disease that has hit the Muslim population-terrorism and mainstream Muslim's resolve to get rid of it.


Amna Sharif: First of all there's nothing to celebrate. And yes, I'd wear a black band on an auspicious day like Bakr-Eid, but not only as a Muslim, but also as an Indian. All of us should stand united against the brutal terrorists who are enemies of humanity and peace.


Zayed Khan: I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all my brothers and sisters from every religion against the evil and cowardly act. I will wear the black band on Bakr-Eid and urge every Muslim who loves India as much as I do to do the same. We must send out a clear and strong message to the perpetrators of this ghastly act that they can never ever win.

Indo-Asian News Service

Mumbai, December 09, 2008