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Islam and Tolerance (01 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Tarek Fatah, Liberal Hypocrisy and the Limits of Muslim Tolerance

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

01 March 2017

What is it that riles a section of Muslims against Tarek Fatah? Let’s take what his opponents accuse him of on one by one in order to understand this specific anger against an individual. A section of the clergy accuses him of being an ISI agent, hell bent on fomenting trouble in India. This section also labels him simultaneously as an RSS agent who has made a secret deal with them to ‘malign’ Islam. Although for the neutral observer, linking him to both the ISI and the RSS might seem out of place, those accusing him make this observation without even thinking whether it is making sense or not.

Even if we grant that the basic problem of the Ulema is the foreign origin of Tarek Fatah, it still does not make sense. The Ulema as a whole have a rather sympathetic view of Muslims living in so called Islamic lands. After all, they are never tired of declaring their foreign ancestry and thereby underlining the so called fact that they are different from the majority of Indian Muslims. It is beyond comprehension then that they are likely to have a problem with Tarek Fatah who has lived part of his life in the promised land of Pakistan and the holy land of Saudi Arabia.

The only possible explanation for their anger is that Tarek Fatah has been able to break the narrative hold of these Ulema in terms of representing the Muslim community in India. Before Tarek Fatah, Mullahs would opine from the TV studios, proclaiming their love for the country and yet holding a belief which would go against the very grain of spirit of this nation state. There were differences among the Ulema but then these differences were internal and there was a broad consensus on how to present Islam to the outer world.

Tarek broke such representation by calling their bluff. Well versed in their literature, he argued that the Mullahs were lying and that deep down, they still harboured the desire of seeing Islam and Muslims as the victorious party in this battle against unbelief in the land of Hindus. Forcing Mullahs to acknowledge that they regard Aurangzeb as a Wali of Allah made him the enemy of these people. Tarek was now able to put his thoughts across as someone who had a different take on Muslim history and theology and as someone who was deeply critical of his own religious tradition. This is perhaps the most problematic thing for a Mullah: being critical of their interpretation of Islam.

It is not necessary to agree with all that Tarek has to offer. You can convincingly jettison his sense of history as erroneous. You can certainly make a case that he is projecting the concerns of the present onto the past and in doing so he makes most Muslims into a villainous murderous horde. But you cannot condemn him for being critical of much of Islamic literature and history. After all, for many decades, there has been a conspiracy of silence around the authenticity of Hadith, the relationship of Muslims to the Quran and more generally about how Islamic theology has treated people from other religious traditions and what it has to say about them.

There is a sense in which, in opening up these debates, Tarek has done a tremendous service for Indian Muslims. In place of silence over some critical issues, there is now a debate and more and more Muslims are coming out, speaking their mind and are saying that the Mullah does not represent their Islam at all. If today the Mullah is threatened about their near monopoly of Islam, some credit for this must go Tarek Fatah.

The fact that he was hounded out of the recently held Jashn e Rekhta, the Urdu festival in Delhi, makes sense only if we appreciate that he has been successful in antagonizing the Mullah to the extent that they cannot even bear his presence. Of course it were not just the Mullahs who wanted him out of the premises, but also many educated Muslims. But then again, let us not forget that Zakir Naik’s biggest supporters also happen to be these so called educated Muslims.

Searching for a mooring, the Islam of the Mullah gives them some anchor where they can all park their fears and anxieties about their religion. Islam becomes like an un- reflexive unthinking canon, something which goes against the very grain of the basic spirit of this religion. But then who cares to think about the core teachings of Islam and to debate it when it is the herd mentality which defines how a Muslim should think, act and behave.

In absolute terms, the attack on Tarek Fatah must be condemned. There cannot be any context to what was pure and simple an act of heckling, intimidation and violence.  There is simply no excuse for this kind of behaviour. Certainly there are more civil ways to air one’s differences, but then who cares to keep a tab on their own instincts of hatred. I am appalled to hear excuses like Tarek Fatah shouldn’t have been there in the first place, that his mere presence ignited the mob because of his Islamophobic utterances. This is all nonsense. Nothing can justify violence, far less, when the person in question is not even speaking but has gone there in his personal capacity to buy some books.

These are all lame excuses but then such excuses have always been ready for a group of people. They are the same people who would raise the heaven and earth when the so called Hindu Right attacks liberal spaces. But then the same people are silent when the Muslim Right does the same. Why this double standard? This peculiar logic has given rise to a very hypocritical stance on right to freedom of speech where standards for both communities are different. The practice of the Liberals and Left has created a situation where the average Muslim believes that they are beyond political practices like freedom of expression. It is almost as if they have a right to offend everyone but they cannot be criticised by anyone. Tarek Fatah tested the limits of this community in terms of mounting an internal critique. His hounding must be condemned by all those who swear in the name of freedom of expression.

Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-tolerance/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/tarek-fatah,-liberal-hypocrisy-and-the-limits-of-muslim-tolerance/d/110249

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  • Hate mongring Hindus and Muslim speak for Islam.

    It is same as which Hindu is allowed to speak against Muslim for reasonable talk.

    By Aayina - 3/7/2017 1:55:44 AM

  • @Bharat Sir I always love secularism, but unfortunately I couldn't found its implementation in d country
    By Mohd Shafi Kelam - 3/6/2017 7:14:20 PM

  • @Mohd Shafi Kelam  Wake up sir. This is 21 century and secular country. Those mughals, khalifas etc all died now you can be normal human being enjoy.
    By Bharat Gadhavi - 3/6/2017 7:13:56 PM

  •  Jo koi b iss bagodey ke zuban (zeev)katehga us ko main choune inam dunga.
    By Mohd Shafi Kelam - 3/6/2017 7:13:22 PM

  • Agar musalmano ke jagah dusre log hote toh tasleema nasreen,tareek fateh k hall ,kalburge,pansare,dhabolker ke terhain ker dete yeah toh musalmano ke bardasht he ke in kutton ko bardasht ker rahe hain
    By Mohd Danish Syeed - 3/6/2017 7:12:57 PM

  • @Iqbal Hahaha those people are famous hindu haters I'm not surprised by their views. I'm hindu because I like that it's best religion, it has freedom, spirituality, knowledge, love, kindness, great philosophy. Better you come back from foreign tribal cult of Arabia. It's shallow, violent, selfish and baseless. It's not our culture. You guys makes ashamed us we have great history, culture and you guys behaving like slaves of arab and fights with own brothers, religion and culture. That's really sad.
    By Bharat Gadhavi - 3/6/2017 7:12:34 PM

  • @Bharat Truthe is spoken by Dr ambedkar in his book "riidles of hinduism" , periyar in his book "true ramayans", poula richman and wendy doniger. follow them and reform yourself
    By Iqbal Husain - 3/6/2017 7:12:09 PM

  • May be He is not perfect but at least he dare to speak truth. What he want? Reform and awareness in Muslim community. Muslims should support instead of condemning. You can use his braveness, boldness, knowledge etc for reform of Muslim community. So sad we don't have any single Muslim who can dare to oppose wrong things in islam or in Muslim community. At least one man is speaking and trying you guys should support instead of trying to shut him Down.
    By Bharat Gadhavi - 3/6/2017 7:11:39 PM

  • @Iqbal Husain In hinduism criticism is welcome and there is no Fatwa to kill those who question some nonsense. But in Islam there is no room for crticism. If qhurran says Earth is flat, if questioned as wrong it is termed as blashphemy and the person will b attacked. How can the holy book teach people to kill, rape non believers mercilessly. Recently an ISIS person raped a 12 year girl telling that it is permitted in qhurran and further said that the girl after rape is closer to God. How can this b the teachings of God? Many lacunas r there in the verses. They need to b removed and thats what Tarek or salman or many thinkers say. Why say they r crossing the limit?
    By Subbarayan Ramasethu - 3/6/2017 7:09:25 PM

  • @Jayaraman Subri By the same logic we can say that TRUE Hinduism is understood by Dr Ambedkar , periyar , mahatma Phule and kanchan ilaih .
    By Iqbal Husain - 3/6/2017 7:09:02 PM

  • @Sanjiev Paul  Bigotry of Mr sanjiv can neither be explained through terms of religion nor any other parameter. (1) religion ---->> Hijab or similar type of its various versions were used by Mother merry . Christian nuns , jewish priest and many many spiritual orders of Hinduism. except few religious groups glorifying NUDITY like rajnish and some types of sex yoga cults entire religious text of ancient types endorsed hijab or similar types of its versions. (2) human rights FREEDOM OF CHOICE. when bestility (sex with animals) , nudity clubs and nude beaches sanctioned on basis of FREEDOM of choice then likewise hijab wearing women also deserve their rights. (3) Culture is something changing with passage of time. Like in ancient india there was No concept of IDOL worship. gradually practice of worship altered read and refer to plethora of Arya Samaj literature , Rahul sankratayen , historians like DD Kosambhi etc. what was legal and normal 50 years ago in France and India may not be so now. in next 50 years many things considered to be normal today will become bad in future. Therefore culture cannot and should not alter basic human values and humanity. People who defend cruelty , arson, rape , violence are not fit to be engaged in normal debates. A Humanist is a person who condemns and abhors all cruelties irrespective of the fact whether these are committed by brutes like ISIS , boko haram or by sangh pariwar and military junta of myamar
    By Iqbal Husain - 3/6/2017 7:07:56 PM

  • @Mohd Danish when someone breaks the law, he/ she ought to be jailed. Burqa has been banned in France , so why are these Muslim women going against the law? If they do not like the law, they can easily migrate to countries like Saudi, Iran etc where Hijab is a norm. Please check and see that the Rohingyas were the first to start a spat with the Buddhist populace, trying to get their Sharia...there was naturally a backlash. You seem to be ignorant on the Palestine issue....go to youtube and see that most of the attacks are being perpetrated by the Palestine people on innocent Israelis.
    By Sanjiev Paul - 3/6/2017 7:07:10 PM

  • @Jatinder bhi please be in contest france ban all religious symbol including pagdee in schools and they have fear mashallah islam is grow in huge rate in France and europe and inshaallah the sun of islam will be arose from west sooner
    By Mohd Danish Syeed - 3/6/2017 7:06:34 PM

  • France also ban pagdee bhi if u know
    By Mohd Danish Syeed - 3/6/2017 7:06:06 PM

  • A Pakistani fellow drive away from Pakistan become a hero in our India and supported by nonsence indian is not funny?What is the future of our India Almighty know.Further to run our country pak pm advice may be needed.
    By Noor Alam - 3/6/2017 7:05:16 PM

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